Gao Lang was anxious to immediately kill Qi Xiu Jie, but unfortunately, the imperial edict clearly stated that he should be executed the next day. If he killed him at an earlier date, he’d be defying imperial decree. But yesterday, he deliberately went to the prison and told the prison official that Qi Xiu Jie should be killed first thing tomorrow morning. The prison official enthusiastically agreed, not daring to disobey.
The next morning, when the sun had yet to rise, the prison official sent two executioners to bring Zhou Yun Sheng to the Meridian Gate.
“The day has not yet dawned; the yang energy is less than the yin energy. If you two do the execution at this time, when this Qi goes to the spring, this Qi will inevitably come back to disturb you two.” Zhou Yun Sheng kneeled on the execution slab, but he wasn’t panicked.
The reason why the ancients required beheadings to be carried out a 12:45pm was because the yang energy was most vigorous at this time. When the criminals turned into malicious spirits, they would immediately be scattered by the yang energy, unable to retaliate against the executioners. It was currently not yet 5:00am, the atmosphere was cold and damp, giving out an inexplicably eerie feeling.
The ancients firmly believed in these supernatural things, fearing that swinging the blade would immediately attach a malicious spirit to themselves, the two executioners glanced at each other and wordlessly decided to wait till the sun rose to carry out the execution.
Zhou Yun Sheng looked up at the sky, it was quickly approaching dawn. Li Jin Tian dreamed all night; he should now be awake. That’s right, those two dreams were illusions forcibly implanted in Li Jin Tian’s brain using his spiritual power. Gao Min was an upright person; rebellion, adultery, betrayal and other such scandals were against his nature.
But what about it? Gao Lang had murdered hundreds of people in the Qi family, and Gao Min also secretly poisoned Qi Xiu Jie, destroying his body. Such a deep blood feud could only be offset by the equal extermination of the Gao family. Zhou Yun Sheng always said that if the protagonist didn’t provoke him, he wouldn’t take the initiative to provoke them, but if the protagonist made things difficult for him, he could only pay them back a hundredfold.
Not only will he wipe out the Gao family, Li Jin Tian, Gao Min, and their son, the future emperor of Da Yan, Li Xu Yan, will all be ruined by his hands. Since he was occupying Qi Xiu Jie’s body, he would grant Qi Xiu Jie’s wishes perfectly.
Zhou Yun Sheng was lazy by nature, hedonistic, but he never slacked off on two things, his career and holding a grudge.
While waiting, the sun slowly rose and broke through the clouds, the two executioners saw that the time had almost arrived and opened the jar of liquor. After taking a few sips, they sprayed it towards the sharp blade and raised it up high.
“Wait, hold the blade!” An anxious voice stopped the falling sword in the nick of time. The two executioners turned to look, then were so frightened that their calves trembled.
“This slave sees His Majesty the Emperor, long live, long live!!”
“Get out of my way, it’s not yet 12:45, who allowed you to carry out the execution?” Li Jin Tian was furious, he kicked the two men to the ground.
“Reporting to Your Majesty, it was an order from the Prime Minister, we slaves had to obey ah!” The executioner crawled up and slammed his forehead in a kowtow.
Gao Lang? Li Jin Tian’s eyes darkened for a moment, then he thought further. If he could even openly defy his orders, was there anything the Gao family wouldn’t do? The Qi family was once known as the most prestigious family in Da Yan, yet the head of the Qi family was always cautious and respectful in front of him. Compared to the current Gao Lang, he could simply be called humble.
Not to mention the way Gao Min treated him. When he was in a good mood, he’d respond with a few sentences, when he was in a bad mood, he’d directly make a palace servant drive him away. He didn’t care at all about respecting the emperor.
Too much favor was really not a good thing, now the Gao family had a habit of disregarding imperial power. And Gao Min and my younger imperial brother, were they really having an affair? When did they start?
Li Jin Tian’s mind had really been disturbed by that dream, but after three years of being together, his feelings for Gao Min had already morphed from gratefulness to true, deep love, it was difficult for him to give up on him.
He decided to observe for a while, maybe the dream was fake, groundless. As he comforted himself, he let the attendants free the bound Qi Xiu Jie.
Zhou Yun Sheng remained kneeling on the execution slab, cupping his hands, “Thank you, Your Majesty, for treating this villain leniently for a moment, but this villain doesn’t deserve this mercy. This villain’s family was loyal to Your Majesty and to Da Yan, this villain’s father dedicated himself day and night to Your Majesty, yet is there a reason for why he met such an end? But, as the saying goes, if the Emperor wants his courtier to die, they have no choice but to die. This villain’s family surely ought to offer their necks, and this villain also doesn’t dare hope to obtain a pardon. This villain now only has one wish, please grant it Your Majesty.”
His eyes were mournful, but not resentful, even while wearing blood-stained prison garb, his noble grace was not reduced, prideful and unyielding. Seeing such a Qi Xiu Jie reminded him of the Empress who struggled in Xuan Wang’s harem but never gave in. Li Jin Tian’s eyes flushed a bit, he looked away and asked in a hoarse voice, “What is your wish?”
That dream was too real, repeatedly upsetting his strained nerves.
“This villain merely wants to ask, what mistake did this villain’s family commit to make Your Majesty exterminate it so quickly? Please Your Majesty, let this villain die with understanding.” After saying this, Zhou Yun Sheng forcefully knocked his head, then straightened his waist and looked directly into the emperor’s eyes, a taboo.
Stumped by this question, Li Jin Tian didn’t answer for a long time. The head of the Qi family had always been very cautious, he also strictly controlled his clan members. If he had not experienced the first life, Li Jin Tian would’ve never doubted the Qi family’s loyalty. After he was reborn, he couldn’t tolerate a slave who betrayed their master, so he collaborated with Gao Lang and Prince Li to fabricate hundreds of groundless criminal charges to frame the Qi family.
Now that Qi Xiu Jie asked him for the truth, he really couldn’t tell him the truth. That dream once again surfaced in his mind, causing his already anxious and uncertain heart to shake severely.
If after he died in the last life, the Qi family had really restored the throne and preserved his bloodline, then didn’t he mistakenly murder his loyal subjects? In the last life, Prince Li took advantage of the chaos to rescue him from the palace, but it was Gao Min’s hand that he held, and it was Gao Min’s face that he gazed at when he finally departed. Did they already have an affair in the last life?
When he was reborn in this life, he gave the Gao family the greatest trust, gave Prince Li the highest authority, gave Gao Min the most honorable status, and in contrast, he wiped out the loyal Qi family. Now, Gao Lang, Prince Li, and Gao Min were fully capable of making him a figure head and subverting his imperial power, and he’d lost the Qi family and the other influential families’ support. Unexpectedly, he completely lacked the power to fight back.
Thinking of this, Li Jin Tian broke out in cold sweat, his legs could not stop trembling and he almost fell down.
“Take Concubine Qi back to the Zi Chen Palace,” when he spoke again, his tone was very weak. When he saw that the servants’ supported him up in a very rough manner, he quickly added, “Call an imperial physician to the Zi Chen Palace immediately, diligently wait on him.” Then he covered his face and walked away, not daring to look at the blood-stained Qi Xiu Jie again.
Zhou Yun Sheng soaked in the bath, unconcernedly using the hot water to wash the wounds covering his body. This body looked broken, but the insides were actually very strong, it wouldn’t require a few days for it to fully recover.
With Li Jin Tian’s command, the imperial physician didn’t dare neglect him. After thoroughly taking his pulse, he wrote out a prescription and sent people to prepare it. Zi Chen Palace originally belonged to Qi Xiu Jie, the furnishings were very luxurious, but because of the Qi family’s collapse, it was emptied out. All of Qi Xiu Jie’s retainers had either been killed or betrayed him, leaving only a few cleaning maids.
The breeze shifted the white gauze curtains, making the huge palace look even lonelier. Zhou Yun Sheng draped his damp hair over his shoulders, reclined on the soft couch near the window, and stared at the first rays of sunlight spilling from the rising sun. He let out an amused smile.
Li Jin Tian had gone back on his word and pardoned Qi Xiu Jie, Gao Lang and Gao Min would inevitably feel resentful of this. If Li Jin Tian was his normal self, he would willingly lower himself and do anything to appease them, but now, suspicions filled his heart. The more the two complained, the more Li Jin Tian would feel apathetic.
But this wasn’t the end, in the future, Gao Min will put forth requests to be more involved in politics, crusade against the barbarians on the battlefield, and other such things. In the original story, Li Jin Tian would agree to each request and even vigorously support him, but now, Li Jin Tian would only suspect that the Gao family was consolidating power.
Once the seeds of doubt are planted, it’s difficult to uproot them.
Zhou Yun Sheng only needed to sit on the sidelines and look on as they destroyed each other, there was no need to dirty his own hands. Of course, after eliminating this group of people, he still needed to cultivate the next emperor of Da Yan. He was very lazy, after completing Qi Xiu Jie’s wish, he wanted to leave the palace and travel around the world, he had no interest in being trapped on the cold and lonely throne. The emperor needed to get up earlier than the roosters and sleep later than the dogs, he was also continuously monitored by the courtiers, it really wasn’t a job a human could do.
Oh right, he needed to find his lost lover again before traveling the world. I wonder who he is this time?
Thinking of this, Zhou Yun Sheng stroked his lips and smiled gently.
In the throne room, Gao Lang interrogated Li Jin Tian in front of the other courtiers about his decision to let Qi Xiu Jie go. He repeatedly stressed that this was like letting a tiger return to the mountain, asking him to change his mind. The other ministers were incited by him and kneeled down to petition. Even Prince Li came forward to put pressure on Li Jin Tian.
For the first time, Li Jin Tian directly felt the strong influence Gao Lang and Prince Li had among his court. The seeds of doubt that had taken root quickly grew into towering trees. He rejected Gao Lang’s request to execute Qi Xiu Jie and stormed off.
He went back to the Yang Xin Palace; Gao Min was already waiting inside. He was browsing through the memorial book, occasionally stopping to write down comments with the imperial brush, while his attendant carefully laid out the tribute tea on the imperial desk, brewing it in a familiar way.
This scene made Li Jin Tian’s pupil violently contract for a moment, but then he remembered the scene of Gao Min and himself embracing before dying in the last life. No matter what, this man was willing to accompany him to the spring, that kind of loyal friendship couldn’t be faked. It was just a dream; how could events in a dream be taken seriously? Gao Min and Prince Li never interact with each other; how could they be having an affair?
After telling himself this, Li Jin Tian finally calmed down, he slowly walked over and tried to embrace Gao Min.
But Gao Min slapped him away with the accounts book, coldly asking, “Did you pardon Qi Xiu Jie?”
Li Jin Tian didn’t respond.
Gao Min continued, “Did you forget how he betrayed you and joined Xuan Wang? You killed his whole family, beware that he will seek revenge on you.”
“How can he take revenge? He’s the only surviving member of the Qi family, and his body was destroyed by your poison, so he can’t even have children. How can he take revenge like that?” Li Jin Tian tiredly rubbed his eyebrows and sighed, “He can’t do anything, let him go.”
He stopped himself from thinking about what the Qi family did after Xuan Wang took the throne in the last life. If that was real, his actions were equivalent to personally breaking his sharpest sword and offering his weakness for others to take advantage of. After living two lives, he could never be so foolish, he thought to himself.
Struggling between trust and distrust, Li Jin Tian felt a major headache.
Gao Min saw his discomfort but didn’t care in the slightest, he merely sneered and flung his sleeves out as he left.
Looking at his retreating back, Li Jin Tian felt a cold chill in his heart.
Meridian Gate- Wu men, the south gate of the Forbidden City
The spring – the Yellow Springs / the underworld of Chinese mythology
Concubine– Previously translated as Gui Jun, Noble Monarch, the Ger version of Imperial Concubine. I’m substituting it with the word Concubine cause I think it rolls off the tongue better, but I might change my mind later.
Memorial – Wikipedia “A memorial to the throne was an official communication to the Emperor of China. They were generally careful essays in Classical Chinese and their presentation was a formal affair directed by government officials.”