The courtiers submitted petitions for Qi Xiu Jie’s execution for more than half a month, but Li Jin Tian remained unmoved throughout, on the contrary, he even reinstated Qi Xiu Jie’s position as an Imperial Concubine.
Every night, he would dream back to that lonely and cold palace, seeing Qi Xiu Jie kneel in front of his memorial tablet and weep. That grief, suppressed to the extreme, and those deathly still eyes that could not show a hint of joy even when sitting upon the Empress seat repeatedly tormented Li Jin Tian’s nerves. He thought that Qi Xiu Jie had lived a luxurious life after his death, but found that he had also become a walking corpse. The only thing that motivated him to continue living was the thought of seeking revenge on his behalf.
In this case, it seemed that he was the lucky one for dying first, while the one left behind was trapped in endless pain and despair.
The Qi family used all their clan’s power to recover the throne, most of their clan members were killed or wounded in battle, leaving only the elderly and weak women and children. And Qi Xiu Jie also committed suicide after burying the bones of his late husband, never enjoying a bit of the glory. Li Jin Tian often woke up from this dream, his chest unceasingly stifled with pain.
He wanted to see how Qi Xiu Jie was doing, but he felt too timid and guilt ridden, so he could only live with tangled emotions day after day. Unconsciously, he’d already started believing in the two dreams. But he would rather disband the entire harem for Gao Min’s sake, these emotions could not be faked, so he wouldn’t move against the Gao family until they committed an act of treason.
On this day, the courtiers finally relented and no longer petitioned the emperor to execute the Qi family’s final spawn, expressing their concerns about the frequent invasions by the Xiyi race instead. Prince Li was the first to come forward to beg the emperor to send troops to Xiyi, followed by Gao Lang, then the rest of the court officials.
Li Jin Tian was already interested in conquering Xiyi, so he immediately expressed that he would set up troops as quickly as possible.
“Dare to question Your Majesty, do you have a suitable candidate for General?” Prince Li bowed and inquired.
“No, you can recommend me a few.”
“This small official recommends General Gao Min, does Your Majesty find this appropriate?”
Prince Li’s statement shocked the other courtiers. They all knew who Gao Min was, they also all knew that before he entered the harem, he was a fierce general that guarded the borders. But now he already belonged to the emperor, and had also given birth to a prince, how could he fraternize with soldiers again? That’s indecent!
Some wanted to step forward to oppose, but Gao Lang stepped forward to vigorously recommend his younger brother, even phrasing it in an elegant way, ‘When appointing people by their merits, don’t exclude friends or relatives’. Gao Lang knew that Li Jin Tian’s favor and tolerance for his brother was bottomless, so he’d cooperated with Prince Li to put out this bold proposal.
Li Jin Tian had bottomless tolerance for Gao Min, this was the truth, but it was all in the past. Now, Li Jin Tian was like a blindfolded person who’d suddenly been relieved of their cloth, he could finally see the circumstances of the imperial court and the harem clearly.
The courtiers who had obviously wanted to oppose silently returned to their seats after Gao Lang spoke up. Anyone could see that the imperial court had already become Gao Lang and Prince Li’s territory. The emperor was only a display piece, just nodding whenever they put forth a suggestion. Most of the beauties in the harem had already been dismissed by him, leaving behind the few that managed to bear children. They didn’t have the emperor’s favor, all of them relied on Gao Min’s tongue to live.
The harem had already been thoroughly turned into the Gao family’s territory, was there any room for the emperor? And why would Prince Li recommend Gao Min? What was the relationship between them in private?
Li Jin Tian’s heart was burning, but it didn’t show on his face, he just said in a mild tone that he would need a few days to think about it before he made a decision. Gao Lang and Prince Li did not push it, anyway, they both knew that once Li Jin Tian went back to the harem, Gao Min would find a way to convince him.
Gao Min was tired of being trapped inside the high walls of the palace. After Li Jin Tian ended the court session, he went to Yang Xin Palace and pleaded to be made commander of Xiyi.
Li Jin Tian refused by making the excuse that he needed to take care of their child, but he didn’t give up, he knelt down and coldly said, “Your Majesty once said that you’d let me walk shoulder to shoulder with you. Was your so-called shoulder to shoulder just trapping me in this golden cage to be your pet? I can sacrifice my life for Your Majesty, but Your Majesty can’t even grant me this one wish?”
He raised his eyes to look straight at the emperor, his eyes were full of reluctance and resentment. That resentment had continued from the last life into this life, in fact, it grew thicker and thicker, to the point where it could never dissolve. He had already planned to open up his heart and accept Li Jin Tian, but he didn’t expect the other man to forgive Qi Xiu Jie for no reason, so his resentment was ignited and boiling again.
At the same time, he hated himself, feeling that he should not be caught up in the whirlpool of fighting for favor like a female, living without dignity. He wanted to put on armor and pick up the sword, setting 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 resolve this conflict. But now, Li Jin Tian was stabbed by the resentment in Gao Min’s eyes. He’d thought that after three years of cuddling, even a stone could be warmed up, but he didn’t expect Gao Min’s heart to be harder than a stone. Gao Min was unexpectedly resentful of what happened in the past life, he really wasn’t willing to accompany him to the spring. This resentment might drive him to do something harmful to him one day, and he was defenseless against his attacks.
Li Jin Tian was terrified, he suddenly felt that he was really foolish for thinking he could live peacefully with Gao Min after they were reborn. He stared at Gao Min for a long time, then stormed off.
Li Jin Tian wandered aimlessly through the palace and unwittingly arrived at the Zi Chen Palace. He hesitated for a long time before stepping in.
Qi Xiu Jie was standing behind a desk, practicing his writing. His head was bowed, hiding his expression. When he heard the servant’s announcement, he seemed very surprised, eyes full of disbelief and gratefulness.
“This villain attends to the Emperor.” He knelt down respectfully.
Li Jin Tian didn’t tell him to rise, just looking at him with deep and unfathomable eyes, after a long while he slowly asked, “Have you been well lately?”
“Replying to the Emperor, this villain’s life is very good.”
Li Jin Tian was slightly startled by his words. This can be considered a good life? Living in an empty palace without luxurious furnishings or personal servants, just like the cold palace? But yes, compared to the gruesome prison, isn’t this infinitely better?
Feelings of guilt attacked his heart once again, making Li Jin Tian feel suffocated in his chest. He sat on a chair and waved his hand, “Get up.”
Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t move, he hesitated for a moment before replying in a hoarse voice, “This villain has an unsettled matter on his heart, so he dares not get up.”
Li Jin Tian suddenly had a gloomy expression, as if he knew what his question would be about, but he still rubbed his brows and tiredly said, “Don’t hesitate to ask your doubts.”
Zhou Yun Sheng gave a cautious kowtow, asking in a sorrowful tone, “Dare to question Your Majesty, why do you want to destroy my Qi family? What did we do wrong?”
“Your father and Xuan Wang secretly colluded to rebel; didn’t you know?” When he said this, Li Jin Tian felt pangs after pangs of weakness in his heart. When he was purging the Qi family, he actually hadn’t found any proof of misconduct. He could no longer swear that his decision to wipe out the Qi family was the right one. He wanted to find the truth, but was afraid to touch the truth.
The light in Zhou Yun Sheng’s eyes died, a haggard look on his face. He felt deep shame, knocking his head against the floor serval times, he choked out, “So that was the case, this villain actually had no knowledge of this matter. This villain is ashamed to face Your Majesty, please, Your Majesty, put this villain to death!” After saying this, he knocked his head a few more times, so hard that his forehead started to bleed.
Li Jin Tian quickly reached out to pull him up, then looked into his eyes with resolve. His eyes were a pure black, except for shame, despair and guilt, there was no trace of resentment. He’d destroyed his family, but Qi Xiu Jie 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 last life, although Qi Xiu Jie had a reputation for being arrogant, he was always submissive in front of him, he never disobeyed. Although the type of loyalty that made Gao Min accompany him till death was rare, Qi Xiu Jie had forced himself to live in humiliation, trying every possible means to avenge him. His heart bore so much suffering that it was probably even more painful than death.
That’s why Qi Xiu Jie couldn’t hold out after it was over, he didn’t enjoy the glory he should’ve enjoyed, just dying alone in the Zi Chen Palace, hanging from the roof beam.
Looking at the person who was humbled into dust in front of him, who had completely given up on living because of him, Li Jin Tian felt like a knife was stabbing into his heart. In the last life, he thought he’d loved the wrong person, but in fact he hadn’t; In this life, he thought he loved the right person, but in fact he was wrong again. Qi Xiu Jie did everything for him, but didn’t say anything, while Gao Min constantly brought up his kindness in the last life, afraid he would forget it.
He was wrong for two lifetimes, but at this point, he was so deeply in love with Gao Min that he couldn’t take it back. He thought he was extremely pitiful. But the Qi Xiu Jie in front of him whose heart had died, was a million times more pitiful than he was.
Both of them had been played by fate.
With Gao Min’s cold resentment as a contrast, Qi Xiu Jie’s humbleness made Li Jin Tian’s guilt towards him root even deeper. He forcefully pulled the other man up, pressed him into the chair and cautiously urged, “I don’t blame you, you must live well,” he paused a moment, then added, “I’ll take good care of you. I can compensate you for whatever you want.”
A flicker of light broke out from Zhou Yun Sheng’s dead eyes, he hesitantly asked, “Is it okay for this villain to want a child?”
Li Jin Tian was once again stumped by his question. He knew that Gao Min had poisoned Qi Xiu Jie soon after rebirth, because he suspected that Qi Xiu Jie was responsible for the death of his son in the last life. Li Jin Tian treated it as compensation and pretended not to know, he even secretly cooperated. Qi Xiu Jie’s body was already completely destroyed, he absolutely couldn’t have any children.
And in the last life, in Xuan Wang’s harem, Qi Xiu Jie had also destroyed his own body so he wouldn’t give birth to Xuan Wang’s evil spawn.
This was simply a rotten debt that couldn’t be summed up. Li Jin Tian felt a splitting headache, and he was even more afraid to face Qi Xiu Jie.
Qi Xiu Jie seemed to sense the reason behind his hesitation, he added, “This villain was not asking for a biological child. This villain’s family has committed such a heinous crime, this villain doesn’t dare hope for Your Majesty’s favor once again. These days, there are many children in the palace who have lost their Imperial Concubine Mother or Father, this villain only wants to adopt one. This villain is already all alone in the world……”
His humble words were like a blunt knife, cutting into Li Jin Tian’s heart slice by slice. He understood his meaning- he was all alone in the world, lonely and helpless, if he doesn’t have someone to console him, he might give up on living like in the last life. The degree of Li Jin Tian’s hate towards Qi Xiu Jie before was the degree of guilt he felt now, he threw out a ‘pick anyone you want’ and quickly fled. His face was burning red, as if he’d received a dozen slaps.
Xiyi- Western Barbarians, it’s supposed to be a people, but the author is treating it like a place. idk