Tian Chen Palace.
Gao Min was practicing his martial arts, his personal attendant saw that his teapot was empty and went to re-brew some more.
In the rack, he found Gao Gui Jun’s favorite drink, Liu An Gua Pian, he tiptoed to reach the tea cans, and found a small piece of paper stuck to the bottom. He looked around quietly, saw no one, and quickly removed the piece of paper.
He unfolded the small square of rice paper and found only four words – send Gao Min home.
This was a simple job. The servant let out a relieved breath and burned the paper over the stove.
He went back into the practice room and raised the teapot, indicating that his master should take a little break. Gao Min was indeed tired, so he put the sword back into the scabbard and wiped away his sweat while he got a cup.
“Master, when your slave left the palace to buy supplies, I met grandmother by the shop keep. She said that her home’s Chinese scholar tree had blossomed, it was fragrant and good-looking. Master, can you remember? We loved to climb the trees to pick fruit for grandmother when we were younger.” The attendant suddenly opened.
Gao Min’s face showed a reminiscent look, he smiled, “Of course I remember, after we picked the Chinese scholar tree grandmother would never let us leave. She made us sit and watch her chop seasonings, then made us Chinese scholar tree buns. Even the Imperial chief doesn’t compare to her buns.”
The servant smiled and eagerly nodded.
Gao Min gave him a funny look, then threw out his sleeves and said, “Great, now you woke up my chan chong. Quick, let’s go back to the palace to pack up, we’re heading home.”
The attendant hastily agreed, then while they were walking, he suddenly called out, “We should stop by the Imperial study to pick up young master. It’s been a long time since he saw his uncle and his grandfather.”
Because of Li Jin Tian’s indulgence, Gao Min actually never thought about this matter, so he brought his son and Li Wang out of palace. That afternoon, Li Jin’s spy sent in a secret report.
“You saw Li Wang enter Gao house?”
The spy nodded.
“What are they doing?” Li Jin Tian’s expression and tone was very calm, but his hand placed on the table was clenched.
“Slave doesn’t know.” The spy pressed his head lower.
“You don’t know? I spent so much effort to cultivate you, and you can’t even find out this small thing?”
“Replying to the Emperor, Gao family’s home is surrounded by Deathmate soldiers, they patrol for 24 hours without interruption. I’m afraid we can’t get too close.”
Deathmates? Since ancient times, only the Emperor could have Deathmates, just what was the Gao family? Yes, what’s the difference between Gao Jia and the Emperor’s house now? Compared to the millions of private soldiers in the hands of Gao Jia, even the group of Deathmates were not worth mentioning.
Li Jin Tian didn’t get angry, he just laughed, laughing at his own stupidity. Once upon a time, when Qi Jia was considered the top family in Da Yunguo, they could only turn out a dozen guards and one hundred servants. If such a family was considered the best family in the country, then what was Gao Jia now?
He’d personally infested his palace with tigers! Li Jin Tian had never regretted exterminating Qi home as much as he did now. Just imagining Gao Min and Li Wang having an affair in Gao house gave him an extremely painful headache.
He massaged his anxious temple and the sharp pain slightly eased, he opened, “Continue observing at a distance, don’t relax. Now, what about Six Princes’ injury?”
He’d banned Six Princes for half a year in punishment. Li Jin Tian had his own considerations, one was to allow him to hide from Gao father and son, and secondly, it was to give him time to recover from his injuries.
“The doctor you secretly sent returned early, he said that the prince’s injury would have no serious consequences, he’ll be better after two months of rest.”
“I made the doctor relay some words to Qi Gui Jun, did he understand?” Li Jin Tian tensed up. He didn’t want Six Princes to be too conspicuous, so he’d ordered Qi Xiujie to claim that Six Princes’ knee bone was scraped, so he couldn’t do any strenuous exercise in the future. A prince who could not inherit the throne would not enter Gao Jia’s eyes, so they needed to keep things secret.
Li Jin Tian had to admit, Qi Xiujie was right, even he, the Emperor, couldn’t openly move against Gao Jia at the moment. He could tolerate the arrogance of Gao Jia’s domineering, but he couldn’t endure Qi Xiujie’s misunderstanding. He was afraid Qi Xiujie would think that his punishment was because he wanted to get rid of Six Princes. After all, everyone knew that he greatly favored Gao Min father and son.
“Qi Gui Jun said that as long as you order it, he and Six Princes will always comply.”
After listening to this, Li Jin Tian’s eyes turned hot and humid, he secretly thought: Yes, for two lifetimes, Qi Xiujie has always respected me. How could he feel resentful and misunderstand me? If I had not lost that memory after rebirth, if the person I loved was still Xiujie, how happy could we have been now?
Thinking of this, Li Jin Tian suddenly felt exhausted. He sent the spy away, then hid himself in the shadows, his thoughts unknown.
Gao Min was out at war for two or three years, so he was no longer able to bear the confinement in the palace. He’d scarcely took his son out to play, so now he often brought him to visit Li Wang. He knew that Li Wang had deep feelings for himself, but he was grateful for all his kindness, so he didn’t refuse his companionship. He also wanted his son to get closer to him.
Li Wang was a powerful royalty, he would be a big help to his son.
In the normal path of fate, Gao Min being close to Li Wang only made Li Jin Tian feel a bit of jealousy, but now that he’d completely lost Li Jin Tian’s trust, being close to Li Wang pushed Li Jin Tian to madness.
After receiving the secret report, Li Jin Tian’s initial anger had turned into insidiousness, his change in mentality was pushing him to a very dangerous edge. Just one more push and he would be completely irrational.
As for how to push him, Zhou Yun Sheng had long ago planned it out. If Gao Min had left him alone, he wouldn’t have been able to use this move. But Gao Min hated Qi Xiujie, he was obviously going to provoke him.
One day, while Gao Min was in the barracks, the imperial study had a half-day. Li Xu Yan stayed in the Yang Xin Temple to keep his Emperor Father company. At noon, the attendants brought in lunch and respectfully served the two masters.
“Father, have you recently gotten a tribute of red bayberry?” Li Xu Yan pointed to the plate of plump red bayberries and asked.
“Yes, two baskets of tribute, take a basket back if you like it.” Li Jin Tian smiled kindly.
“Huang Shu also likes them, can I send him some?”
“Whatever you want.” Li Jin Tian’s smile was unchanged, but his eyes were faintly colder.
Five Princes sighed, “Huang Shu takes care of me a lot on the weekdays, so I naturally have to reciprocate.” He knew the feelings between Jun Father and the Emperor was very good, so there was no taboo words between them.
“Well, send him some later.” Li Jin Tian clenched his chopsticks, then he said, “Quickly eat, before the food cools.”
Five Princes nodded, put a bayberry into his plate, then told the servant, “Bring me a pot of soy sauce.”
The servant quickly handed over the soy sauce, then he saw him pouring it on the bayberry, mixing it with the chopsticks, then popping it into his mouth. His expression while chewing was very satisfied. This method of eating bayberries was learnt from Li Wang.
Li Jin Tian also curiously tried some soy sauce. It was sour, sweet, salty, and astringent. All kinds of tastes burst onto the tongue and he almost vomited on the spot.
He twisted his brow, and stared at the boy opposite him.
At this time, the Head Eunuch suddenly joked, “Five Princes, did you learn this way of eating from his Royal Highness Li Wang? You two not only have similar tastes, even your eyes are the same. You look like you were made from his mold. The nephew is like his uncle, these words really apply here.”
Five Princes laughed without a word, he didn’t notice how the words could be taken another way. He and Li Wang were blood related, it’s not strange to look similar.
But Li Jin Tian was suddenly thrust into inescapable thoughts, his heart disturbed. He couldn’t even find out what Gao Min and Li Wang do in secret after deliberately monitoring them. What if the two knew each other before they entered the palace? When Gao Min had entered the palace, Queen Mother was still alive, and Li Wang was her favorite son, so he visited the palace quite often. The two could’ve easily met in secret.
Li Jin Tian felt growing horror, the chopsticks in his hand almost snapped in half. If Five Princes is not my child, then Gao Min and Li Wang really do have a reason to assassinate me, because I’m hindering their three-person family reunion. No wonder Li Wang would say ‘the day we’ve been waiting for finally arrived’, no wonder!
After finding out this critical missing link, Li Jin Tian consciously made up his own explanations. His internal organs burned, the pain was unbearable. The Head Eunuch noticed his abnormality and quickly inquired.
“There’s nothing wrong with me, the troubles in the south have recently turned serious, so I have a lot of sleepless nights.” He managed to wave his hand.
Five Princes walked over to pat him on the back, he comforted, “Father don’t worry, Jun Father has been preparing to attack the people in charge of the rebellion. With Jun Father there, they won’t be able to stir up more trouble.”
Li Jin Tian not only didn’t feel relieved at these words, even his soul started burning. He nodded and sent Five Princes back to his palace. Then he summoned his spies.
“Bring me a drop of Five Princes’ blood.”
This order was quite strange, but the spy didn’t question, a moment later, he brought a drop of blood to the Emperor.
Li Jin Tian sent the spy away, then prepared a bowl of water. He dropped the prince’s blood into the water, then he immediately bit a fingertip and dropped in his own blood. The two drops of blood beads met, but even after a long time, they did not fuse. Instead, gradually, a red mist drifted up from the water, and ultimately dissipated.
Li Jin Tian finally gave up. He pushed away the imperial table and laughed crazily, he laughed and laughed, then burst into tears. He couldn’t believe that the person he loved most in the world was actually a liar, and even his carefully cultivated heir was a bastard. Why did Gao Min accompany him to death in their last life? Ah yes, Li Wang had suggested that he and Gao Min escape in a different direction in order to confuse the pursuers, while he hid. But he had stubbornly wanted to stay with Gao Min.
At that time, did they intend to run away together? And he got in the way.
Li Jin Tian continued convincing himself that his explanation was reasonable, and he felt even more furious. Li Jin Tian ran out of the Yang Xin Temple with bloodshot eyes and instinctually arrived at the Zi Chen Palace.
Qi Xiujie was standing by a table, painting. Six Princes was nestled to his side, his arms warped around his Jun Father’s free arm, rubbing his shoulder, as if he couldn’t be away from his father for a second. Six Princes had grown taller and his facial features had opened up, he visibly resembled Li Jin’s teenage self.
The warm scene made Li Jin Tian’s footsteps pause. Then he suddenly ran over and kicked away the table, picked Qi Xiujie up over his shoulder and strode toward the inner hall, his voice hoarse, “Everyone, leave us alone!”
How could Li Xudong possibly leave? He was about to run after them when he saw Jun Father slightly wave, his expression casual, as if the raging Li Jin Tian was just a powerless clown.
Li Xudong clenched his teeth, but stopped running after them.
Chinese scholar tree, aka Japanese pagoda tree:
Chan chong- Craving Worm. Szdaily “The Chinese assume that if a person craves for food, it is because the “food-craving worms” are in play in his or her body.”
Deathmate – A word I made up. The sentence said soldiers that would die in loyalty. There’s no English equivalent, so I wrote Deathmate.
Huang Shu – Royal Uncle
If you regularly watch ancient Chinese dramas, you’ve probably seen the blood water trick. According to reddit, it has a 1 in 4 chance of being correct, since it relies on the parents having the same blood type as the child.