Chapter 28.2: Early Autumn

Lu Yingying entered the Royal Palace in a sedan. She stared blankly outside the window through the cotton screen. Duke Cheng’s son had recovered. Her father was in the midst of discussing her marriage with him. Her marriage was about to be set in stone yet she could do nothing about it. Or rather, whatever she did would be useless. She only had a fierce wish in her heart, which was to meet with that person one more time!

The sedan stopped in front of the palace gates. She stepped out of the sedan and allowed the palace guards to conduct their routine checks. All of a sudden, a man wearing a general uniform walked out majestically. It was Yan Zifang.

Lu Yingying immediately rushed up to him. Yan Zifang froze but remained expressionless as he gazed at her coldly. He did not say anything. 

Lu Yingying realised that the palace guards were looking at her curiously. “Can we find a quieter place? I have something to tell you.”

“If you have something to say, you can just say it here.” Yan Zifang’s tone was unfriendly. 

Lu Yingying gritted her teeth as she revealed her palm to him. Yan Zifang looked at the pearl in her hand. “Didn’t I tell you to throw this?”

“I am returning it to you.” Lu Yingying looked slightly hopeful. “Although it isn't worth much, it is still made from the flesh and blood of an oyster. You gave it to me so now I am returning it to you. It is only appropriate.”

Yan Zifang could not deny and extended his hand to take it.

“I am getting married.” 

Yan Zifang chuckled, “Do you want to hear me congratulate you?”

Lu Yingying raised her hand and slapped him.

Yan Zifang did not budge. “You are very lucky. I do not hit women.” He whistled and a horse galloped to him. He jumped on the horse and grabbed the reins. Without any hesitation, he rode far into the distance.

In a split second, tears formed in Lu Yingying’s eyes. However, when she turned around, her eyes were already dry. With a pale face, she entered the palace.

 

The Emperor summoned the Crown Prince and Prince Zhou into Ganluo Palace to study a memorial that had just been submitted. Sun Tan and Sheng Chumu were also present.

The Emperor read a section of the account and that Master Faya was cursing Empress Zhangsun. It was recorded that she was greedy for power and superficial. She also restricted teaching of the Dharma and would go to hell when she died. The Emperor was furious and asked what kind of devious monk Faya was. How dare he write such atrocious words and be disrespectful to the Empress!

The Crown Prince took the opportunity to mention that in the past, Master Faya often entered the palace. Whenever he entered, he spent a majority of his time at Concubine Yan’s place to teach her about Dharma and Concubine Yan trusted him a lot.

Prince Zhou sneered, “Imperial Father, Master Faya entered the palace more than once or twice. He also visited the Palace Courtyard. Not only does he teach Mother, he also taught Concubine Xi and Concubine Hu. I heard that Imperial Mother also went to Concubine Xi’s place once and bumped into one of Master Faya’s sessions. Imperial Mother even listened for almost an hour. Moreover, Master Faya’s rumours occurred after he was banned from the palace. Why are you picking on what happened in the past? The reason why Faya can go around spreading rumours is because he has the support of many nobles. That is why he is not afraid to voice his opinions.”

Duke Cheng entered the palace at this time and heard this. He could not help but shift his eyes.

Prince Zhou glanced at Duke Cheng and was glad that he was here. “Duke Cheng just invited Master Faya over a few days ago. After that, he even sent people to deliver gold and jewels to Faya’s temple.”

Duke Cheng immediately defended himself. “Your Majesty, my son has been ill and I heard that praying would help heal him. Faya is famous, that is why I invited him. I did not know that he has been spreading wild and ridiculous rumours.”

The Crown Prince immediately said, “Imperial Father, you must investigate this clearly. Prince Zhou had a personal vengeance against Duke Cheng. He is taking his personal revenge.”

Prince Zhou rebutted, “Imperial Father, you must investigate this clearly. Duke Cheng has a good relationship with Faya and everyone knows that. I’m not the only one who is aware of this.”

The Emperor looked at Sheng Chumu.

Sheng Chumu reported what he knew. “Your Majesty, I have heard that Duke Cheng is close with Faya.”

The Emperor snorted as he picked up another account and threw it in front of Duke Cheng. “Duke Cheng, why do you think I called you over? The Imperial Records wrote that you accepted bribes and sold official positions. I didn’t believe it initially as you have always been honest. However, seeing how generous you are with Faya, there must be a source for your gifts.”

Duke Cheng kneeled in fright as he picked up the accounts. Trembling, he flipped through it before wailing that he had been wronged.

The Crown Prince wanted to stand up for him. “Imperial Father, Duke Cheng simply…”

The Emperor scolded, “You shut up! Duke Cheng made use of my grace to deceive me and accept bribes. He colluded with the monk and is extremely disgraceful! Your mother has fallen ill and as her son, you still want to speak up for him! Has your heart been eaten by dogs? Take down my order, Monk Faya has been disgraceful and cursed his Empress. He has misled the people and shall be beheaded!”

Sun Tan, who had been quiet, suddenly burst out, “Your Majesty! The Crown Prince has been surrounded by night and he has been bewitched. His numerous actions have made me feel bad for him. I do not wish to see the Crown Prince fall any further. Your Majesty, as his father I hope you will exercise your power and get the Crown Prince back on the right track! If not, the future of Great Tang will be in trouble!”

The Crown Prince was stunned as he looked at Sun Tan. He did not understand what Sun Tan meant.

The Emperor’s gaze was icy. “What has the Crown Prince done that made you so upset?”

“The Crown Prince...he…” Sun Tan could not complete his sentence. “Not only was he bewitched by Duke Cheng, he has also been seduced by a lowly actor named Chen Ji. They have done immodest acts!”

The Emperor was shocked and anxious. “What?” He glared at the Crown Prince and shouted his name, “Li Chengqian! Speak!”

The Crown Prince was flustered as he kneeled down. “Imperial Father, this has nothing to do with Chen Ji…”

As the Emperor saw how the Crown Prince immediately defended Chen Ji, he felt like this issue was undeniable. He kicked the Crown Prince. He wanted to kick him once more but Sheng Chumu kneeled down and held onto his leg.

Sun Tan quickly interrupted, “The Crown Prince is still the root of Great Tang. Your Majesty, please reprimand and guide him but not injure him.”

The Crown Prince withstood the pain and kneeled once again. “Imperial Father, I have already cut off all ties with Chen Ji and have nothing to do with him.”

The Emperor could not hit to vent his anger and redirected it. “Cut off? Seducing the Crown Prince and doing immodest acts. How can I let such a lewd man live! Crown Prince, I order you to bring me Chen Ji’s head! If not, you will no longer be the Crown Prince!” He would not pass down the empire, which he worked so hard to obtain, to this kind of son.

The Crown Prince stiffened as desperation flashed through his eyes.

 

Luoye [1] Alley. Maybe it was because of the name, the leaves fell especially early. 

In the small yard, Chen Ji and Lu Yingying were facing each other. Although they did not know each other, they were fated to meet because of the Crown Prince. When Fu Rou heard that the Emperor wanted to kill Chen Ji, she begged Lu Yingying, who was about to leave the palace, to hurry and tell Chen Ji to escape. 

“The Emperor wants to kill me?” Chen Ji lowered his head.

“Head Seamstress Fu happened to overhear His Majesty’s tirade and asked me to inform you. Hurry and leave.” Lu Yingying looked at the man in front of her. He had clear eyes. Even though she did not know the full story, she felt like he was not a bad person.

However, Chen Ji sat on the stone chair and shook his head while smiling. “I am not going to run away.”

Lu Yingying was confused. “Why not?” This concerns his life!

“The Emperor ordered the Crown Prince to kill me. If I escape, what is the Crown Prince going to do?”

“The Crown Prince is of royal descent, if he cannot complete the Imperial Decree, he will at most be punished. However, if you stay here, only death awaits you.”

“I was recklessly born into this earth and lived a low life. Dying is no big deal. Thank you for rushing here to inform me. When you see Head Seamstress Fu, please help me to thank her for our friendship.” Chen Ji poured himself a cup of alcohol and raised it as if to say goodbye. “To live or die is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to live according to one’s wishes. You should leave.”

Lu Yingying’s eyes lit up. That’s right, the most important thing is to live according to one’s wishes. She liked Yan Zifang. It did not matter what Yan Zifang thought, she would not change her feelings. She turned to walk out of Chen Ji’s yard and onto the path she chose for herself.

Chen Ji had no idea that his words had changed a person and continued pouring and drinking his alcohol. Soon, his yard would be dyed red. He suddenly threw the cup and started singing. Heroes were always brave, they would rather fear death than be greedy to live. 

Chen Ji pulled out the dagger from his waist. Facing the direction of the Eastern Palace, “However Your Highness has treated me, will be how I repay you. I know myself--” He pierced the dagger into his heart. He chuckled, “Death!”

 

Some time later, the door of the small garden suddenly burst open. The Crown Prince dashed in. He knew what he wanted to do. He was going to send Chen Ji away and then beg his Imperial Father for forgiveness.

“Chen Ji, I will never let you be a discarded piece--” He stopped as he looked at the scene in front of him in horror.

Chen Ji was kneeling upright in the middle of the yard where they had once practiced swordplay. His back was straight as a dagger stuck out from his chest. A small smile was plastered on his face and he was no longer breathing.

The Crown Prince fell onto the ground and tears misted up his eyes before drying up. His eyes were left dull and hopeless. 

 


1. Luoye means falling leaves in Chinese

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Coca's Thoughts

Did you guys expected this? *Cries*