Qi Yi Ning not only looked outstanding, even his hobbies were quite elegant, he usually loved reciting poetry and painting, or going for a walk to enjoy the scenery. When not handling governmental affairs, he was often accompanied by beautiful concubines, he seemed like a very pleasant person. Especially after he suppressed the Empress Dowager and her maternal clan, gaining complete control over the imperial court. Finally relaxed, he ordered a wanton collection of beauties into the imperial capital to fill the empty harem. It was these circumstances that allowed Zhao Bi Xuan to be sent in by her family, then Zhou Yun Sheng came along and became the biggest stepping stone for her dominating two dynasties.
Given that she was the fate of the world’s daughter, regardless of how licentious Qi Yi Ning was, after meeting her, he became very affectionate and loyal. He not only ignored the other harem members, doting on her alone, he even established the Second Prince as Crown Prince when he was just over a year old. His doting on this mother and child was considered unprecedented.
Every time Zhou Yun Sheng was forced by the villain system to write down an imperial edict to promote her, his heart would bleed. At that time, he had already reincarnated more than a dozen times, his eyes had slowly widened, his ability to read the human heart cultivated to perfection. Even if Zhao Bi Xuan was outwardly loving and considerate, he could see the indifference and resentment hidden in her heart. He’d immediately disliked her, and as it turns out, she also despised him, but still deceptively postured in front of him every way she could, like a serpent, playing him for a fool.
Only God knew how many times he’d wanted to kick her out of the way and yell ‘Get out of my sight!’, but he was always stopped by the villain system’s ‘DENIED’. Because of this, he could only pretend to be infatuated, pretending and pretending for eight years. He saw through Zhao Bi Xuan’s fake love, saw through the Gong Prince and the An Prince’s disloyal hearts, and clearly saw through the imperial court’s internal strife. The only thing he’d failed to see through was the Second Prince’s origins. Until his death, he’d never thought that the child was not his own.
He’d always liked children, and the Second Prince was snow-white and cute, sensible and well-behaved, he’d sincerely loved him, and when he learned the truth, he’d almost coughed up blood. Even while Qi Jin Yu was beheading him, he still worried, when this guy becomes Emperor, how will he deal with Zhao Bi Xuan and the Second Prince’s identity? After all, the whole world knew that the mother and child were Qi Yi Ning’s favorite concubine and prince.
But since it involved the fate of the world’s children, the world’s consciousness would naturally fix the bug of the two’s identity, he never should have worried about it. Last life, he foolishly worried about these things, this life, he was going to carefully help this family of three.
Zhou Yun Sheng patiently played with the Second Prince for a while, then waved, “Time to eat.”
Zhao Bi Xuan quickly ordered the wet nurse to take the child away, then busily served Zhou Yun Sheng the dishes. After dinner, Zhao Bi Xuan unsurprisingly used the excuse of bodily discomfort to send Zhou Yun Sheng away. She didn’t want to be intimate with him, but also didn’t want him to be intimate with others, so she sent messengers to invite him over every day, then racked her brain for excuses to avoid joining him in the bed chamber.
In this harem, she had already become the target of harsh criticism, if one of the other concubines won Zhou Yun Sheng over, her situation would become very dangerous.
If it was another man, they wouldn’t be able to stand her ‘stroking the fire then quickly pouring water over it’ behavior, but since Zhou Yun Sheng was gay, this was exactly what he wanted. He wished her a good rest and strolled away. At the palace door, he looked up at the plaque hanging on the beam, three bronze words were written in flamboyant calligraphy – Feng Yi Palace.
Even as a high rank Imperial Consort, what qualifications did she have to live in the Feng Yi Palace? Zhou Yun Sheng sneered and slowly strolled back to the Palace of Heavenly Purity. He turned over the memorials piled on the imperial table, learned which time period he had returned to, and couldn’t help but reveal a melancholy expression.
Previously, because of the threat posed by the villain system, he was particularly favorable to Zhao Bi Xuan, and even began to place her family members in important positions. She was originally a common born daughter from the Wen Yuan March, descendant from an important General, her ancestors rose to great power during Da Qi’s founding. But after everything calmed down, there was peace and prosperity, and the old Emperor pursued a political strategy of heavy military suppression, so her family’s power slowly declined. However, in recent years, the barbarian tribes surrounding Da Qi unexpectedly formed an alliance, repeatedly encroaching on Da Qi’s border during the summer and autumn seasons. Zhou Yun Sheng received the second task from the system at this time, promote the Wen Yuan March.
So he hand-picked Marquess Wen Yuan’s eldest son, Zhao Xuan, to be the West General, and the man led the army to expel the Tartars. Zhao Xuan was a genius military leader, as soon as he arrived at the border, there were repeated reports of victories, and under the villain system’s coercion, Zhou Yun Sheng had to promote him again and again. On the day of the Second Prince’s birth, the man finally obtained an overwhelming victory over the barbarians, and was coated with a layer of his nephew’s ‘Lucky Star from Heaven’ golden light. Zhou Yun Sheng was ‘overjoyed at the news’, and without waiting for him to come back to the capital, he sent out an imperial edict, giving him the title Duke Yu Gou, and the position as the country’s Grand General. Because the Da Qi Empire was still heavily suppressing the military, this could be regarded as a rare military position. The man had at least a million troops under his control, enough to dominate the country.
Zhou Yun Sheng opened the top memorial, it was written by Zhao Xuan. If you could read people by how they wrote, it was not hard to see how untamable and capable Zhao Xuan was from his rigid and beautiful calligraphy. But it was a pity, the man had already cast his lot with the Gong Prince, he was the Gong Prince’s greatest support to wrestle away the throne, and also Zhou Yun Sheng’s number one enemy.
In the memorial, he relayed that the west expedition army had arrived in the encampment outside the imperial capital, and was awaiting the Emperor’s opening of the city gates for inspection.
“I came a step too late.” Throwing away the accounts book, Zhou Yun Sheng shook his head and sighed sullenly. Wen Yuan March had already become a power house, if he moved against the Gong Prince, he was bound to be eliminated by Wen Yuan March. The millions of troops Zhao Xuan had under his control were not decorative, he had to move carefully, or he would be bitten. Plus, the harem was also under the Empress Dowager’s control, and she’d instructed the Jing Guo Duchy to stir up trouble in the imperial court from time to time, so he also needed to deal with her. If he had arrived a year or two earlier, this task would’ve been much easier, he could’ve lifted a finger and crushed Zhao Bi Xuan and the Gong Prince dead.
“Your majesty the Emperor, the hour is late, you should rest. Tomorrow, you have to greet the multitude of officers and soldiers.” A gentle voice calmly brushed his ear. Zhou Yun Sheng glanced sideways and immediately smiled with squinted eyes. The imperial court and the harem each had their disputes, neither was 100% safe to keep at his side, so was this loyal High Eunuch, Liu He, also not a spy the Empress Dowager and the Gong Prince planted at his side? The only reason the former Qi Yi Ning never suspected him was because he was a gift from the Old Emperor.
Zhou Yun Sheng never trusted Liu He, but he’d also never guarded against him. He knew that he was pre-destined cannon fodder, resistance or no resistance, it made no difference. So when the An Prince rebelled, he was not at all surprised to see Liu He lead the An Prince to come capture him. The An Prince rebelled from the front, and the Gong Prince sent troops to rescue the king from the rear, allowing him to get rid of his two rivals in one fell swoop and take the throne without the slightest stigma. Who knew how many years the Gong Prince and the Empress Dowager had planned this out.
Even more ridiculous, the Gong Prince’s final words to him were complaints, saying that everything he did was a last resort, if Zhou Yun Sheng hadn’t stolen his favorite woman, and repeatedly tried to assassinate him in suspicion and jealously, he wouldn’t have embarked on this path of killing his brother to usurp the throne, he was forced. Then he wept mournfully as he beheaded his brother.
As his head was sent flying, Zhou Yun Sheng desperately wanted to shout – I was forced too! He was an excellent example of an Inapt Emperor, what was he doing fighting to death with his brother nine years his junior? Even when his younger brother grew into adulthood, he had no way to shake his throne. The only reason he repeatedly tried to assassinate the Gong Prince was because he had to complete the system’s missions. After all, what kind of villain would he be if he didn’t plot against the male and female leads?
Scenes from the past sliding in front of him like a screen, Zhou Yun Sheng waved, “Wait upon me as I change my clothes.” He really should rest early, because tomorrow, he was likely to meet his lover in the imperial court. He had already guessed the man’s identity, and his heart was full of expectations.
The next day, the war heroes excitedly stood in the imperial court to receive rewards. Sure enough, Zhou Yun Sheng felt his lover’s presence amongst them, he looked at them one by one, then his pupils couldn’t help but darken gloomily.
How can it be him? His heart was stirring with stormy waves, but his expression didn’t change, he bestowed upon the heroes all the rewards they deserved.
The travel worn war heroes knelt and gave thanks, their eyes filled with undisguised happiness. Only a simple and honest looking teenager soundlessly opened his mouth, tweaking his ears and scratching his cheeks, obviously flustered.
“This small official is so bold as to beg Your Majesty to exchange this small official’s reward.” That teenager kneeled and cupped his hands, his cheeks pale white, obviously very nervous.
“Oh, are you dissatisfied with my reward?” Zhou Yun Sheng clearly knew the reason, but he really wanted to tease him.
“This small official would not dare! Please Your Majesty, this small official begs you to listen to his story.” The boy’s pale cheeks quickly tinted purple, his lips trembling as he quickly explained his circumstances. He was not dissatisfied with the reward, he just wanted to exchange his promotion to a high official for a title for his dead mother. He was originally a common born son from the Wu Chang March, his mother’s rank was low, but she was as beautiful as a flower, so she was often bullied by the first wife, and died of illness when he was eleven years old. Standing by her death bed, he vowed that he would earn a title for his mother and bring it back, so she could have a little bit of honor under the Yellow springs.
Of course, Zhou Yun Sheng had learned this inside story when he and the teenager gradually grew closer.
Seeking a title for his dead mother, this devotion to filial piety was something no one in Da Qi would scorn. Zhou Yun Sheng waved his generous hand, approving the exchange, and thoroughly praised the teenager. As for the status of the first son of Marquess Wu Chang and the Marchioness, Zhou Yun Sheng said that he was too busy with court affairs, and had no free time to pay attention to them. If they also wanted a title, their sons had to earn it.
Seeing the hour growing late, he waved his hand to announce a withdrawal from the court, deliberately asking the teenager and Zhao Xuan to remain.
“Bi Xuan has recently felt unwell, I fear that she misses her family. By insight, I invited the Marchioness to visit the palace a few days ago, you’re also welcome to visit. While you were campaigning in the Northwest, Bi Xuan chanted prayers for you every day, these heart felt thoughts were very heavy.” Zhou Yun Sheng waved, his dark eyes staring unblinkingly at the particularly tall and strong, extraordinarily handsome man in front of him.
He never imagined that Zhao Xuan would be his lover. In the last life, he had only seen Zhao Xuan on two occasions, the first, when he sent him off to campaign in the Northwest, the second, when he returned to the imperial court after his victory. Afterwards, the man hurriedly left for the border again and never returned to the capital, that was, until the An Prince rebelled and the Gong Prince sent troops to rescue the king, then the man led his soldiers and rushed to aid the Gong Prince, quickly seizing the imperial capital and burning most of the city’s defensives.
Zhou Yun Sheng clearly knew that the previous Zhao Xuan and the current Zhao Xuan were not the same person, but he still felt bitter resentment. Had this man already teamed up with the Gong Prince, and was now secretly helping him seize the throne? The man had no memories, for him, everything in this life was real, his family, his friends, and maybe even a wife and child.
Zhao Bi Xuan gave birth to the Second Prince for the Gong Prince, if this incident was found out, everyone in Wen Yuan March would be executed. In order to survive, in order to secure their glorious family status and provide for their future generations, they had no choice but to ally with the Second Prince and Zhao Bi Xuan.
And now, Zhou Yun Sheng was carrying great humiliation and hatred, a deep rooted enmity with the Wen Yuan March and the Gong Prince, he would not give up until they were both destroyed. Troubled, Zhou Yun Sheng had never felt so troubled, just as he calculated his plans to eradicate this person, he immediately found out that the other man was his lover, truly, fate must be mocking him!
Massaging his tensed eyebrows, Zhou Yun Sheng no longer wanted to see his lover’s handsome, stiff sculpture-like face, he waved him away once again, urging “Go see Bi Xuan.”
Zhao Xuan lowered his eyes and respectfully promised, from start to finish, his line of sight never strayed from the Emperor’s lapel, never looking directly at his holy face. Of course, he was not being cowardly, he just wasn’t interested in the Emperor’s appearance.
After Zhao Xuan left, Zhou Yun Sheng led the teenager and slowly walked back to the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The boy’s name was Meng Kang, 18 years old this year. He’s had an amazing appetite since childhood, and grew up as strong as an ox, because of this, the Wu Chang March’s masters and servants ridiculed and bullied him, especially Marquess Wu Chang’s Madame. He was a thorn in her flesh, and she deeply desired to get rid of him. Marquess Wu Chang rarely paid attention to the common born children, so after the boy’s mother passed away, the first wife got her wish and quickly sent him off to the barracks, anticipating his death. Meng Kang had his fill of beatings and humiliations since childhood, he’d clearly experienced the world’s hypocrisy, but his heart hadn’t grown crooked, on the contrary, he learned how to greater appreciate and repay kindness. Because Zhou Yun Sheng granted his mother a title today, and even allowed her to move into the ancestral graves, he felt lifelong gratefulness to him.
In the last life, when the An Prince instigated a rebellion, he saved Zhou Yun Sheng and forcefully broke out of the encirclement, then acted as his shield, dying by a barrage of arrows. Zhou Yun Sheng had repeatedly tried to send him away, but he refused, bluntly vowing to die for the Emperor. Already used to seeing only the dark side of humanity, Zhou Yun Sheng’s heart was colder than anyone else’s, but also warmer than anyone else’s. If someone treated him badly, he would pay them back a thousand fold, but if they were good to him, he would always remember them.
He’d thought, if his lover was here, he would definitely be the silly boy who’d sacrificed himself for him, but the reality was exactly the opposite of his expectations. But either way, it didn’t affect his determination to repay this silly boy.
Zhou Yun Sheng motioned Meng Kang to sit by his side, and sensibly asked him about his experience in the army, naturally inquiring about his life experience. In the last life, Meng Kang also exchanged his reward for a title, but when he returned home, the Marchioness secretly suppressed him from the dark, and even married him off to her niece in order to control him. That woman was the Marchioness’ puppet, she secretly reported all of Meng Kang’s political moves to the Marchioness, who had her spy and push Meng Kang into precarious situations several times, making him lose assignments, his good future almost destroyed.
In this life, Zhou Yun Sheng would never let those demons and monsters once again plot against this boy.
After hearing his story, Zhou Yun Sheng not only granted him his original reward, when he returned to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, he thought about it, then gave Meng Kang a grand manor and immediately wrote a plaque, so internal affairs could start building it. The Emperor himself granted him a manor and handed down a plaque, if he didn’t immediately move in, it could be seen as disrespectful. Meng Kang was honest and straightforward, but he was not stupid, he knew that the Emperor was showing consideration for him, and his pair of ox eyes watered, moved to tears.
“An eight foot tall strong man, why are you crying? Where did this gigantic young lady come from, quickly wipe your tears.” Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, he tossed over his bright yellow handkerchief. He still remembered when he was unjustly imprisoned in the dungeon with Meng Kang, he was also like now, lying in front of him and weeping, the smooth marble floor turned slimy, making Zhou Yun Sheng almost slip and fall. This guy’s rough exterior and teddy bear heart remained unchanged, how nostalgic.
Watching Meng Kang puff and puff as he blew his nose, Zhou Yun Sheng supported his forehead on his hand and laughed out loud.
Zhao Xuan was the son of the first wife, Zhao Bi Xuan was a concubine’s daughter, although the two were siblings, they were separated by different wombs, so their feelings were not deep. When they met, they greeted each other mutually, visited the Second Prince, then said their goodbyes. Before Zhou Xuan could walk into the Palace of Heavenly Purity, he heard a burst of bright laughter flow along the house beams and fly outside, intense like the collision of an army, but also calming like a breeze sweeping over grasslands.
His ear tips unable to stop trembling at the sound, he stood at the door, awaiting a summons.
Liu He politely greeted him then walked inside, announcing that Duke Yu Gou was seeking an audience. This was Zhao Xuan’s newly granted title, which made him an even higher ranked official than his father, Marquess Wen Yuan. This title was granted to him as early as when he was returning to the imperial capital in triumph, it was already recorded and couldn’t be altered. Zhou Yun Sheng could only blame himself for arriving too late, he was too late to hold back Zhao Jia’s growth.
“Let him come in.” Zhou Yun Sheng put away his smile, his heart depressed.
Zhao Xuan’s ear tips were still trembling, so he immediately noticed the displeasure hidden in the man’s gloomy voice. He quickly scoured his memories for any times he had slighted the Emperor, but could only conclude that it was a case of ‘The boss is uneasy at the subordinate’s promotion’. He couldn’t hold back a secret sneer, since ancient times, has any enormously powerful General gotten a good ending? Even the fierce General who helped found Da Qi was thrown away after he was used up, this showed that receiving the Emperor’s suspicion and jealousy was a common occurrence.
He rubbed the ornamental thumb ring on his left hand and walked in to greet the Emperor.
“Stand up. This West expedition has been very exhausting for you, and the time is not early, why don’t you stay here tonight and accompany me to dinner? Tomorrow I will make arrangements for another feast to reward the soldiers, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content.” Zhou Yun Sheng endured and endured, but in the end he couldn’t help but grip the other man’s hand and pull him up, covertly caressing the back of his hand in the process.
Zhao Xuan thanked him for his favor and tucked his hand into his sleeves, clenching a fist. For some reason, the slice of skin the Emperor touched felt scalding hot.
At the mention of dinner, Meng Kang felt an oncoming headache. He was very afraid of banquets, because he needed to put on a refined appearance while facing a table full of delicacies, holding back his drooling, and naturally, he could never eat enough to feel satisfied, it was simply torture! Seeing his face turning red and white, Zhou Yun Sheng couldn’t stop snickering. This boy was always the same, his thoughts all written on his face, others could read him at a glance.
“Liu He, don’t give him a bowl, directly bring young General Meng the rice tub.” Zhou Yun Sheng couldn’t help but speak up when he saw the palace maid lay out small sized wine cups and bowls on the table. He gestured to the two people seated at his side, his mood light.
Liu He stood up at a loss, thinking that he had misheard.
Zhao Xuan’s pupils flashed. He hadn’t expected the Emperor and Meng Kang to become so intimate in such a short time, even amiably taking care of this awkward dining table event. He couldn’t help but glance over, surprised to see the Emperor smiling brightly at Meng Kang’s flushed red face, his beautiful jade-like face shimmering, gorgeous like spring flowers. He stared fixatedly, barely managing to drag his eyes away.
“Your majesty the Emperor, this small official will use these bowls, they’re very big, more than enough to eat.” Meng Kang wasn’t very eloquent, after fumbling around he could only choke out this sentence.
“Yes, enough to fill you up at your fourth or fifth bowl.” Zhou Yun Sheng tapped the edge of his bowl with his silver chopsticks, inadvertently glancing in Zhao Xuan’s direction. But from start to finish, the other man kept his head down, seemingly deferential, so his heart felt even more depressed.
Meng Kang didn’t think the Emperor would find out about his large appetite so quickly, embarrassed, he glanced at the Grand General with a request for help in his eyes.
Zhao Xuan opened his mouth to help him out, but the Emperor unexpectedly waved, “Liu He, bring the rice tub over, on imperial orders young General Meng must eat till he’s full today. If he doesn’t finish eating, he is not allowed to leave the palace.”
Liu He held back a smile and promised, ordering the palace maid to directly fetch a small rice tub and place it in front of Meng Kang.
Meng Kang glanced at General Zhao then glanced at the Emperor, his heart tangled. In the end, who gossiped about him having an appetite as big as an ox? It actually ended up spreading all the way to royalty! Ba, since it’s an imperial order to eat, he could only obey it. Moreover, the imperial chef’s craftsmanship had a fully justified reputation, even with just a slight whiff of the dishes, he couldn’t stop drooling, if he didn’t use the tub to catch it, he feared that it would flow to the ground. Holding fast to a do or die mentality, Meng Kang thanked the Emperor for his favor and pulled the rice tub closer.
Zhou Yun Sheng had meticulously instructed the imperial kitchen to cook a few of the boy’s favorite dishes, picking up a dish, he directly poured it into his tub and warmly said, “Eat slowly, don’t choke.” In the last life, when the boy died in his arms, his last words were: “We’ve been on the run for three days and three nights without a full meal, I fear that I’ll become a starved ghost. Your Majesty, please don’t forget to roast a suckling pig for this small official someday.”
Such a ridiculous statement, but it concealed a desolate helplessness, making Zhou Yun Sheng break out in tears, unable to wipe them all away. After reincarnating so many times, at that time, Meng Kang was the only one who had willingly given up his life for him. Although the boy was motivated by a mixture of feudalistic ethics and loyalty to the Emperor, there was also deep, sincere feelings, so Zhou Yun Sheng was never able to forget about him.
Recalling the past, Zhou Yun Sheng waved to Liu He, “Have the imperial kitchen bring out the roast suckling pig.”
The silent Zhao Xuan suddenly looked up at him. Zhao Xuan was well aware of each of his subordinates’ preferences, which naturally included Meng Kang. Among the dishes spread over the table, nine out of ten of them were Meng Kang’s favorite dishes, even odder, the boy always rambled about how he dreamt of eating a roast suckling pig when he returned from the border. Why did the Emperor know so much about this nameless young General, to the point of seeming like they’re old friends? What was he planning to do, cultivate Meng Kang and use him against him?
Thinking of this, Zhao Xuan’s eyes clouded, but he quickly covered it up. Meng Kang was courageous, but he wasn’t very astute, he was incapable of supporting and commanding a whole army, how could he rebel against him? The Emperor ascended the throne at 11, and was skillful enough to take over the government by the time he turned 14, he would never rely on such an unrealistic scheme. Ba, no matter what he’s scheming, my calm will not break.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s line of sight frequently touched upon the other man’s face, so he immediately read his worries, and couldn’t help but sigh deeply in his heart. His lover had amnesia, so he had never expected lighting to fall and the ground to quake as soon as they met, falling madly in love at first sight. The other man came to this world a long time ago, while his consciousness was assimilating with the world, his subconscious slowly went into hibernation, it would probably be very difficult to wake him up.
Looks like this life needs some grinding. At this thought, Zhou Yun Sheng raised his glass and warmly said, “Duke Yu Gou, have a toast with me.”
Zhao Xuan raised his glass respectfully, his face full of reverence, but his heart was still. He couldn’t afford to reveal the slightest bit of fear of imperial power.
Gong and An- Honorifics. 恭-Gong-Respectful and 安-An-Peaceful
Common born – the child of a concubine.
Sent troops to rescue the king– 勤王- to serve the king diligently / to save the country in times of danger / to send troops to rescue the king. Used sarcastically I think, under the guise of ‘saving the king’ he killed him and stole his throne.
Burning most of the city’s defensives– 燒了大半座城池- Think that’s what it says.
Eight foot tall- Ancient measurements