Once out of the two men’s line of sight, the Crown Prince took Zhou Yun Sheng’s hand, his expression gentle.
“Why, were you worried I’d lose my temper just now?”
“It was this small minister’s misunderstanding, Your Highness is wise and brilliant, how could you speak carelessly? This small official really cannot assist Your Highness, this small official is ashamed.”
Zhou Yun Sheng was not flattering him, after the Crown Prince’s mind was reinstated to soberness, his clever and ruthless methods also returned. Without any man’s reminder, he would be able to steadily sit on the throne. This often made Zhou Yun Sheng feel like he was redundant. Many times, Zhou Yun Sheng suspected that the muddle-headed Crown Prince who was manipulated into losing his status as heir for two lifetimes, and this man before him were two different people.
The Crown Prince smiled brightly, squeezing the youth’s fingers, he said in a low voice, “Yun Sheng’s presence is my greatest assistance. If there was no Yun Sheng, today’s me would not be here.” Here he paused a little, then intimately caressed the young man’s cheek, his voice lowering even more, “Every day, I am grateful the heavens sent you to my side. When you worry about me, I am very happy.” Extremely happy.
Zhou Yun Sheng dropped his head, afraid to speak. The era was different, his identity was different, the way he handled his emotions should also be different. Although this man often gave him a familiar throbbing, he wouldn’t hastily take that step. Shen Yi Bin’s wish was for the Shen family to prosper, for his family to live in peace and joy. If he made the wrong move, these wishes that should’ve originally been achieved would come to nothing.
The Crown Prince saw that he was refusing to respond, and originally wanted to say something, but then he heard footsteps approaching from behind and had no choice but to drop the subject.
Yu BaoTian thought that the Crown Prince was merely putting on an act, and wouldn’t be able to persist for a few days. How could he expect that the Crown Prince would leave to survey the dangerous circumstances of the dam every day, personally go to the disaster area to appease the people, and labor night after night to examine and approve the account books submitted by each county. Gradually, he allowed the starving and scattered people of Liang Jiang to regain vitality.
He thought about the common people’s thoughts, suffered the common people’s suffering, was anxious about the common people’s concerns. He didn’t pay attention to enjoyment, striving for good governance, constantly working, in a brief few months, he’d actually thinned down to a skeleton. Yu BaoTian took this all in and was moved, his attitude when dealing with the Crown Prince was no longer as extreme as before. Every three days, he sent a report to Beijing, describing all of the Crown Prince’s deeds, his words hinting at his wholehearted acceptance and extreme reverence, causing the Tian Chen Emperor to be very pleased.
The Crown Prince was so capable, increasingly setting off the Seventh Prince’s mediocrity. The Seventh Prince was anxious, inevitably using some tricks.
One day, the governor of Liang Jiang, Wang Bin, hosted a banquet in his official residence to entertain the Crown Prince.
Wang Bin was the Crown Prince’s subordinate, his daughter was a concubine in his East Palace, and she was quite favored. Therefore, his relationship with the Crown Prince could be considered very close. This Wang Bin played a great part in the Crown Prince’s loss of power in the first lifetime.
The Crown Prince of the first lifetime didn’t suffer from HanShi San poison, but the scheming from others was no less toxic. The Crown Prince had a smooth life, aloof and remote, after a long time, he inevitably became more and more conceited, and his supervision of his subordinates was also weak. No matter how powerful the person, with a group of pig teammates dragging them down, they could be easily defeated. And Wang Bin was the leader of the pig teammates.
He was very greedy, after seven or eight years of seizing the funds distributed by the court for the purpose of reinforcing the dam, Liang Jiang’s dam was fragile like cardboard, one poke could break it. When the Crown Prince was ordered to come down for disaster relief, he was afraid that the Crown Prince would examine this matter, so he intercepted 80% of the disaster relief money and offered it as tribute to the Crown Prince, and also sent two beauties to bewitch the Crown Prince.
While the Crown Prince and the beauties were rolling in the hay, a heavy rain poured outside. It burst open the highest point of Liang Jiang’s dam, resulting in a surging flood that engulfed countless towns and people, its power could be described as an immeasurable catastrophe. The Crown Prince was rescued from the official residence with his trousers missing, extremely nauseating.
When the news returned to the capital, the Tian Chen Emperor was obviously furious, and the Crown Prince was naturally abolished.
The second lifetime’s Crown Prince was poisoned by Xie Yu Rou’s HanShi San. This Crown Prince’s methods were even more muddle-headed, forget about two establishments and two abolishments, he was directly judged beyond redemption. After the Crown Prince’s miserable death, not only did he not receive a posthumous name and title, he couldn’t even enter the Imperial Tomb, his outcome was very depressing.
But Zhou Yun Sheng was here, the situation was greatly different in this world. The Crown Prince had experienced the devastation of HanShi San, and became wiser and more tolerant. A strong sense of crisis made him unable to relax, so his supervision over his subordinates was very strict. As early as three years ago, he’d noticed Wang Bin’s movements, and had ordered him to return the stolen silver and reinforce the dam every year.
So this time, even if it rained fiercely for ten days straight, the upper dam was impregnable. Far away in the capital, Xie Yu Rou was unaware of the Crown Prince’s private actions, and was quietly looking forward to the arrival of the catastrophe.
Putting it another way, the Crown Prince’s current discernment and impeccability, it really was thanks to Xie Yu Rou’s blessings.
Wang Bin, although he was not as muddled as in the first lifetime, it was difficult to change a boot-licking nature. So, as soon as the Crown Prince had leisure time, he set up a banquet to tighten their relationship. His daughter started losing favor three years ago, how could he not worry?
Wang Bin was a provincial-level official, the Crown Prince still had to give him some face, so he not only came on time for the banquet, he also gave him some praise. Fortunately, Wang Bin was also knowledgeable, the banquet was not overly luxurious, there were only a few homemade dishes, but the women sitting at the table were thorns severely stabbing into the Crown Prince’s eyes.
These women were too beautiful, excellent figures, glittering eyes, graceful and elegant bearings, not a thing was unpleasant to the eyes. Being served like this was something normal, but two were also sent to accompany Shen Yi Bin, sitting on his left and right. They even casted amorous glances and ambiguously teased him. What was this?
The Crown Prince endured until he saw one of the women actually smile tenderly and fall into Shen Yi Bin’s arms. The backlog of anger finally broke out. He overturned the banquet and pulled the young boy away, storming off in a huff, only leaving behind a meaningful ‘Behind the vermilion gates, wine and food go to waste, while people are freezing to death by the roadside’.
Wang Bin went pale with fright.
After Yu BaoTian heard the story, he clapped and laughed heartily, praising the Crown Prince’s wisdom, calling him the country’s big fortune and so on. The matter was also reported in a memorial to the Tian Chen Emperor.
After reading it, the Tian Chen Emperor was exceedingly pleased.
After the Crown Prince pulled the young man into the carriage, he still couldn’t calm down his anger, his chest undulated, like a beast was struggling to break free.
“Your Highness, you cannot be too excited, your body will be unable to bear it.” Zhou Yun Sheng sighed, fishing out a pill and holding it up to the Crown Prince’s mouth.
The Crown Prince’s eyes were very dark and very bright, heavy love stirring in his pupils. He stared at the young man, then opened his mouth, taking the pill along with the youth’s fingers into his mouth, his tongue teasing.
Zhou Yun Sheng immediately retrieved his fingers, hung his head, and remained silent.
The Crown Prince clenched his hands into fists. He wanted to pull him into his arms and grope him, wanted to tear off his humble robes and violate him, wanted to pry open his mouth and suck in his bodily fluids along with his soul. But he could only think about these things.
He knew that he’d lived a terrible life for these few years, if he let this young man carry the stigma of a crafty and fawning official, his career would be destroyed. The only thing he could do for now was ascend the throne. Once he climbed to that supreme throne, he could protect the youth under his wings, and clear all obstacles before him.
Thinking up to here, great sadness and heavy helplessness plagued his heart. The Crown Prince sighed faintly, then stroked the young man’s cheek before slumping back into his seat.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s heart was stabbed by a thorn, the intense pain made his brows wrinkle.
When the Crown Prince left Liang Jiang, thousands of citizens lined the street to send him off, some people kowtowed, some tore open their garments, the scene was very moving. In addition, the people from each prefecture and each county gathered under parasols to send him off, after spreading out, they seemed to hide the sky and cover the earth. The heir, the Crown Prince, had finally won the recognition of the people.
The Seventh Prince had waited for the Crown Prince to take in a few prostitutes, adding a few blemishes to his performance on this assignment. But he didn’t expect the Crown Prince to angrily rebuke Wang Bin, and make his popularity as heir rise to a new level. The Seventh Prince couldn’t seize a bit of fault, so he had no choice but to lay down the flag.
Far away in the capital, Xie Yu Rou learned that the dam was actually safe and sound, and the Crown Prince was wise and revered. Her inner panic was simply too difficult to describe.
This life, her ultimate goal was to be Empress Dowager, the most respectable woman in DaZhou. If the Seventh Prince didn’t ascend the throne, what was the point of her rebirth? At least in the last life, she’d climbed to the 2nd ranked Imperial Concubine position, in this life, she was only a prince’s concubine. It was inferior to even the first life, not to mention, her enemy Shen Qiao Dan was alive and living in prosperity.
Whenever she thought about possible future misfortunes, Xie Yu Rou couldn’t sleep soundly. Fortunately, she knew that there was one more great opportunity to get rid of the Crown Prince, and finally calmed down.
Because the Crown Prince had weakened his health from overworking, the convoy moved very slowly. But when they were not even out of Liang Jiang’s border, the Seventh Prince suddenly fell ill. Not long after, the Crown Prince also fell unconscious.
“This, this is a plague, we must put them into quarantine!” The imperial physician felt their pulse, then shouted in alarm.
The imperial guards quickly requisitioned a local noble’s courtyard and carried the two princes in. Then they wrote to Beijing to report on this matter. The Tian Chen Emperor was greatly alarmed, immediately dispatching several imperial physicians to rush non-stop to Liang Jiang, carrying carriages full of precious medicinal ingredients.
The Crown Prince and the Seventh Prince’s palaces each sent a concubine to wait upon them in their sick beds. In the first lifetime, the Seventh Prince was also infected with the plague, and Shen Qiao Dan was sent to take care of him, thus, her friendship with the Seventh Prince deepened. In this lifetime, Xie Yu Rou had long been preparing to wait upon the sick prince, and Shen Qiao Dan had already lost interest in the Seventh Prince, so she naturally didn’t fight for the opportunity.
The Crown Prince’s body had been hollowed out by HanShi San, so the plague was extra menacing. The disease had barely flared up, and the patient was already at death’s door. The Seventh Prince was fated to have this calamity, and he’d contracted the disease earlier than the Crown Prince, so his situation was also not optimistic.
Zhou Yun Sheng took care of the unconscious Crown Prince every day, but when Concubine Wang-shi arrived, he had no choice but to withdraw to his room.
He had barely stepped out when the Crown Prince woke up. He saw the figure at the foot of his bed, and disappointment flashed through his eyes, he whispered, “Where is Yun Sheng?”
Wang-shi used a handkerchief to cover her nose and mouth, cautiously asking, “Who is Yun Sheng?”
The Crown Prince’s personal attendant answered on her behalf, “Reporting to Your Highness, Official Shen took care of you day and night for four days, he only retired when the Lady Concubine arrived.”
The Crown Prince’s disappointment disappeared, smiling slightly. He pointed to Wang-shi and said: “I don’t want her, call Yun Sheng back.”
This was also what Wang-shi wanted, she quickly followed the servant out.
two establishments and two abolishments- This is referencing Prince Yunreng, the only prince in China’s history to be established as crown prince twice, and abolished twice.
Summary, he was established when he was a year old, and was personally raised and taught by Kangxi Emperor. When he grew up, he did a lot of bad things and was abolished, then it was discovered that the first prince had hired some lamas to cast evil spells on him, so the emperor forgave him and re-established him as crown prince. Then he staged a coup, and was once again abolished.
Behind the vermilion gates, wine and food go to waste, while people are freezing to death by the roadside – Line from ‘From the Capital Go to Fengxian’ a poem by Du Fu, a popular Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty.
Prostitutes- For simplicity’s sake, I called them prostitutes, but they are referred to as ‘skinny horses’. The girls are taken from poor families, trained in singing, dancing, and other arts, then sold to the rich. Because they are often so thin, they’re called ‘skinny horses’.