The courtiers protested Qi Xiujie’s pardon for the rest of the month, but Li Jin Tian remained unmoved, he even restored Qi Xiujie’s position.
Every night, he would dream of that lonely and cold palace and see Qi Xiujie kneeling in front of his memorial tablet, weeping. His depression and extreme grief, and his occasional dead-eyed repressed smile to Xuan Wang repeatedly tortured Li Jin Tian’s nerves. He’d thought that Qi Xiujie had lived a luxurious life after his death, but he was starting to believe that Qi Xiujie had actually been heartbroken by his death. The only thing that had inspired Qi Xiujie to continue on was his desire to seek revenge on his behalf.
In this way, the one who dies first is the lucky one, spared from the endless pain and despair of being left behind.
Qi family had sent most of their forces to take back the country, the tribe also had the most casualties, leaving behind only the elderly, women and children. Qi Xiujie had stayed devoted to him and commit suicide to be with him, he never enjoyed a bit of the glory. Li Jin Tian constantly woke up from these types of dreams, his chest always crushed in grief.
He wanted to see how Qi Xiujie was doing, but he was too timid, so he lived in a tangle of emotions day after day. Unconsciously, he’d already convinced himself that the two dreams were real. But he would rather destroy the entire harem than hurt Gao Min, so he didn’t move against Gao Jia. He wanted to wait and see what they would do.
Eventually, the courtiers gave up and no longer asked him to kill Qi Xiujie, they were more concerned with the frequent attacks by West Yi, a neighboring country. Li Wang stood up first to beg the Emperor to send troops to West Yi, Gao Lang agreed with him, then the rest of the courtiers agreed.
Li Jin Tian always wanted to conquer West Yi, so he agreed and ordered the formation of an army squadron as quickly as possible.
“Dare to question the Emperor, do you have a suitable General in mind?” Li Wang bowed and asked.
“No, can you recommend me a few.”
“I recommend Gao Min as a General, does the Emperor find this appropriate?”
Li Wang’s statement shook the other courtiers. They all knew who Gao Min was, they also knew that before he entered the harem he used to guard the borders, and he was very capable. But now he was already a palace concubine, he’d also given birth to a prince, how could he go back into the army? That’s unthinkable!
Some courtiers wanted to oppose, but Gao Lang had quickly stepped forward to vigorously recommend his brother, he also promised that his brother would be infinitely grateful. Gao Lang knew that Li Jin Tian was obsessed with his brother, so he’d cooperated with Li Wang to make this bold proposal.
Li Jin Tian really was obsessed with Gao Min, if it was before, he would’ve immediately agreed to do anything that’d make Gao Min happy, but now, Li Jin Tian was like a blindfolded person who’d suddenly been relieved of their covering, he could finally see the court and the palace in a clear light.
The courtiers who had obviously wanted to oppose were silent after Gao Lang stood up. Anyone could see how much power Gao Lang and Li Wang had over them, the Emperor was only a display piece. While the two talked, the rest of the courtiers only nodded in agreement. The rest of the harem members were completely ignored by the Emperor, so he only had a few children. Those who were not favored by the Emperor all relied on Gao Min’s grace to live.
The palace had thoroughly been turned in Gao Jia’s world, was there any room for the Emperor? And why would Li Wang recommend Gao Min? Was there a closer relationship between them in private?
Li Jin Tian’s heart was burning, but it didn’t show on his face, he just said that he would take a few days to make a decision. Gao Lang and Li Wang did not push it, anyway, they both knew that once Li Jin Tian went back to the temple, Gao Min would be able to convince him.
Gao Min always felt dissatisfied and bored being trapped behind the high walls of the palace, when Li Jin Tian came back to the Yang Xin Temple, he repeatedly urged him to make him a commander again.
Li Jin Tian told him that he needed to take care of their child as an excuse, but he didn’t give up, he knelt down and coldly said, “The Emperor once said that you wanted me to walk hand in hand with you, was that hand in hand just a means to trap me in this golden cage? So I could be your pet? I protected you until death, but you can’t even grant me this one wish?”
He raised his eyes to look at the Emperor, his eyes were full of resentment. That resentment had continued from the last life into this life, in fact, it grew thicker the longer they stayed together, to the point where it could never dissolve. He’d thought that he could eventually open up his heart and accept Li Jin Tian, but he didn’t expect the other man to suddenly forgive Qi Xiujie, so his resentment was boiling again.
At the same time, he hated himself, he hated that he’d been born a Ger, making him destined to live without dignity. He wanted to wear armor and pick up the sword, and set foot on the free and expansive land of the frontier.
If the two could sit down and talk it out, they would be able to solve this problem. But Li Jin Tian was stabbed by the resentment in his eyes. He’d thought that after three years in the heat, even a stone could melt, but he didn’t expect Gao Min’s heart to be harder than a stone. Gao Min still had all his resentment form the past life, he was very unwilling when he’d accompanied him to the spring. His resentment might even drive him to rebel against him one day, and he had no way to protect himself.
Li Jin felt chilled, he suddenly felt that he was really foolish for thinking he could live peacefully with Gao Min after they were both reborn. He stared at Gao Min for a long while, then walked away.
Li Jin Tian walked aimlessly throughout the palace and unwittingly came to the Zi Chen Palace. He hesitated for a long time before stepping in.
Qi Xiujie was sitting at the desk writing, his head was bowed, hiding his expression. When he heard footsteps, he turned around, then was surprised. He knelt down, his eyes held disbelief and gratefulness.
“Long live the Emperor.” He bowed respectfully.
Li Jin Tian didn’t answer, he just looked deeply at him with unpredictable eyes, after a long while he slowly asked, “Have you been able to live better?”
“Yes Emperor, villain lives very well.”
Li Jin Tian was startled. This can be considered well? Living in an empty, cold palace, without luxury or personal servants? But yes, compared to the gruesome days in the prison, isn’t this infinitely better?
Li Jin Tian’s chest felt oppressed by his guilt. He sat on a chair and waved his hand. “Get up.”
Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t move, he hesitated for a moment then asked in a hoarse voice, “The villain has a matter on his heart, I dare not get up.”
Li Jin Tian suddenly had a gloomy expression, as if he knew what his question would be, but he still rubbed his forehead and tiredly said, “Ask me your doubts.”
Zhou Yun Sheng gave a cautious kowtow, then asked in a sorrowful tone, “Dare to question the Emperor, why did you destroy my family? What did we do wrong?”
“Your father and Xuan Wang secretly colluded to rebel, you didn’t know?” After saying this, Li Jin Tian felt a sudden headache. After he’d cleaned up their home, he actually hadn’t found any proof of misconduct. He could no longer swear that his decision was the right one. He wanted to search out the truth, but he was afraid of what he’d find.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s eyes darkened, he was speechless, his face haggard. He felt deep shame and knocked his head against the floor, he choked out, “So that was the case, villain actually had no knowledge of the matter. I can’t face the Emperor, please, Emperor, give me death!” He knocked his head so hard that his forehead started to bleed.
Li Jin Tian quickly reached out to pull him up, and looked into his eyes. His eyes were pure, except for shame, despair and guilt, there was no trace of resentment. He’d destroyed his family, but Qi Xiujie felt no resentment, he was also willing to die. His loyalty to him did not pale in comparison to Gao Min’s.
No, that was wrong, his loyalty was much greater than Gao Min’s. In the previous life, although Qi Xiujie had a reputation for being arrogant, he was always submissive in front of him, he never disobeyed. Although it was a rare loyalty that made Gao Min accompany him to death, Qi Xiujie had forced himself to live in humiliation, only so he could avenge him. His heart probably suffered so much dread that no one would be able to understand it.
In the end, Qi Xiujie didn’t survive and didn’t enjoy any glory, he just died quietly in the Zi Chen Palace, hanging from the beam.
Looking at the humble person in front of him, the Qi Xiujie who had completely given up on living, Li Jin Tian felt like a knife had stabbed into his heart. He’d thought he’d loved the wrong person in the last life, and he was loving the right person in this life, but in fact, it was the other way around. Qi Xiujie did everything for him, but didn’t say anything, while Gao Min always held his self-sacrifice over him, never making him forget.
He was wrong for two lifetimes, but at this point, he was so deeply in love with Gao Min that he couldn’t stop loving him. He was extremely pathetic. But Qi Xiujie was even more pathetic than he was.
Both of them were played around by fate.
Gao Min’s cold resentment contrasted with Qi Xiujie’s humbleness, and made Li Jin Tian’s guilt root deeper. He pulled the other man up, pressed him into the chair and carefully said, “I don’t blame you, I want you to live well,” he paused a moment, then added, “I’ll take good care of you. I can compensate you for whatever you want.”
Zhou Yun Sheng was silent for a while, then his eyes lit up, he hesitantly asked, “Villain wants a child, can you give me one?”
Li Jin Tian was again asked a difficult request. He knew that after their rebirth, Gao Min had poisoned Qi Xiujie because he’d suspected that Qi Xiujie was responsible for the death of his son in the last life. Li Jin Tian had felt it was psychological compensation, so he’d also secretly cooperated with the poisoning. Qi Xiujie’s womb was now completely destroyed, he couldn’t have any children.
And in the last life, in Xuan Wang’s harem, Qi Xiujie had also poisoned himself so he couldn’t give birth to Xuan Wang’s children.
The debts he owed this person increased day by day. Li Jin Tian felt an oncoming headache, and he was even more afraid to look into Qi Xiujie’s face.
Qi Xiujie was aware of the reason behind his hesitation, he added, “Villain was not asking for a biological child. Qi family has committed such a heinous crime, I dare not expect the Emperor’s favor. The other concubines have a lot of children, villain only wants to adopt one. This palace is so lonely … …”
His humble words were like a blunt knife, cutting into Li Jin Tian’s heart. He understood his meaning- he was lonely, if he doesn’t have someone to live for, he might one day end his life. Li Jin Tian’s previous hate for Qi Xiujie had long ago turned into pure guilt, he threw out a ‘pick anyone you want’ and quickly fled. His face was burning red, as if he’d received a dozen slaps.