Sheng Chumu led troops to barge into Prince Zhao’s Residence. As soon as they entered, they saw a huge pile of firewood on a tall platform in the hall. Prince Zhao held a fire as he stood in front of the firewood. The remainder of Prince Zhao’s troops surrounded the platform like an iron hoop. Beneath the platform, the corpses of Prince Zhao’s concubines, internal attendants and officials were lying flat on the ground. They had taken poison. Whether they were willing or not, there was only one outcome.
“Your Highness, what are you trying to do?” Sheng Chumu already knew.
Prince Zhao’s eyes lost hope and were slightly crazy. “I like grand heroic gestures like shooting tigers and capturing wolves. Even if I cannot live, I have to die grandly.”
“Why?” Sheng Chumu was calm.
“Rebellion is an unforgivable crime. Even if I return to Chang’an, only death awaits me. Since I am going to die anyway, I would rather be the one to finish myself off!”
“Your Highness, please wait. I still have something to say.” His brother-in-law’s words of capturing Prince Zhao alive kept nagging in his mind.
Prince Zhao already knew that he would lose out when it came to Sheng Chumu. “I know you are a crafty person. Don’t even think about asking me to get off this platform! Let me tell you. Not only is there firewood, I am also covered in oil. I am determined to die here!”
“When did I say I was going to change your determination to die? You are right. Rebellion is an unforgivable crime. Even if I lie to you now and say that you will be able to live even after being captured to Chang’an, you won’t believe me.” Sheng Chumu turned back and asked for a torch. He took out a letter from his sleeve. “Before I came to Qi City, Concubine Xi requested for me to deliver a letter to Your Highness. I accepted it in a moment of sympathy.”
Behind Sheng Chumu, his assistant commander, Fan Yingcai, and soldier, Ye Qiulang, saw the words “To: Brother Chumu” written clearly on the letter. They exchanged glances, a helpless look on their faces.
However, Prince Zhao was in no position to take notice of their expressions. “Mother wrote me a letter?”
Sheng Chumu waved the fire torch and burned the letter. Prince Zhao was furious. “How dare you burn the letter my mother wrote for me?”
“I have already burned it. Is there a need to get agitated? After all, you and your mother are about to meet in the afterlife. When you meet, you can talk to her in the netherworld. That is all you will be able to do anyway.” He was going to see if this person had any filial piety in him.
Prince Zhao froze before shouting, “No, I am guilty but my mother is innocent!”
“Concubine Xi is innocent? How can that be? The entire Chang’an knows that Concubine Xi cooperated with you to rebel. With Concubine Xi’s family as backing, it is the only reason why you could be so bold as to kill Qian Wenjing and raise an army.” This was nonsense that he made up.
“No, no! My rebellion army has nothing to do with my mother or uncle’s family!” Prince Zhao waved the torch he was holding wildly.
“Your Highness, please do not be agitated. Hold the torch properly. If you accidentally set yourself on fire, a dead person cannot testify.”
Prince Zhao muttered, “A dead person cannot testify?”
“Now, other than you, who else would be able to tell the Emperor the truth of the entire rebellion? If you tell the Emperor the truth, the Emperor is brilliant and he would be able to make a decision on whether Concubine Xi was involved or not. But all these are useless. Since you have already decided to die, nothing will change your mind.”
Prince Zhao let out a long wail as he finally got off the platform and allowed the soldiers to tie him up.
At this moment, Lu Qi walked in and gestured secretively to Fu Tao. Fu Tao turned into another corridor by himself.
Sheng Chumu pretended not to notice and spoke in a mocking tone, “General Lu, you came just in time. I have already done all the difficult things and all that is left for you is to gather the remnants.”
Lu Qi snarled in response, “If not for my troops battling it out at West Gate, how would you have entered the city so easily?” Looking at the dejected Prince Zhao, he said, “I thought that since Prince Zhao decided to rebel, you must have had a realisation. I never expected you to be so fearful of death.”
Sheng Chumu knew that the reason why the Crown Prince recommended Prince Han was because he could not stand how Prince Han was favoured. He wanted to make Prince Han become infamous for killing his own brother. Lu Qi chose to stand on the Crown Prince’s side and naturally wished for Prince Zhao to die.
Sheng Chumu could not be bothered to get through to him. He saw the pile of corpses and suddenly asked, “Where is their Chief Imperial Guard, Jisun Chenxin?”
Sheng Chumu did not go into battle blindly. He had investigated his enemy’s main force and general thoroughly. Moreover, Jisun Chenxin was one of the Crown Prince’s men.
Sheng Chumu found someone to question. He found out that Jisun Chenxin had left three thousand elite troops to Douzi Ridge. However, when he thought deeper, he did not think it was possible. All the routes to Douzi Ridge had been cut off.
Lu Qi found it strange as well. “Three thousand elite troops. If they did not go to Douzi Ridge, where could they have gone?”
Sheng Chumu suddenly exclaimed as he ran out. “This is bad. Prince Han!”
He and Lu Qi had attacked from two different routes and the base camp had been left empty. Jisun Chenxin was going to attack Prince Han!
Outside Chang’an, red leaves were blown by the wind, shining in brilliant autumn colours. What was more outstanding than the red leaves were the various colourful tents; they looked like wild flowers that bloomed in the mountains.
The Emperor and Empress were out on an autumn excursion. This was because the Empress’ health seemed to have improved slightly and the Emperor wanted to bring her out to relax. He even invited high-ranking officials to bring along their family members. With the natural stream as a divider, men and women each toured half the mountain range.
Although Consort Han had been invited, she intentionally distanced herself from Empress Zhangsun. She really did not want to see the Crown Princess’ proud face. After the Crown Princess gave birth to a prince, the Crown Prince had gone through the Hong Yide case. There were people surrounding and taking care of the Crown Princess as she had finally made it through all the troubles. However, Consort Han detested that she kept creating obstacles for the Han Mansion behind the scenes as well as in broad daylight. The Crown Princess was selfish and did not care about the relationship between the biological brothers nor between sister-in-laws. She was short-sighted.
In a nearby tent, several noble ladies were talking loudly about Consort Liang. They did not know that Lu Yingying and Consort Han were in the same tent. They spoke about how Consort Liang did not smile nor speak freely and did not know how to flatter others. They also said that she had a strange personality and did not interact with anyone. She was just a duke’s daughter but after she married the Grand Prince, she became arrogant and haughty.
Consort Han heard everything clearly. However, she saw that Lu Yingying’s expression did not change in the slightest. She praised Lu Yingying in her heart. In her position, she should not care nor be wavered by what others thought about her.
After a while, Lu Yingying stood up.
“Consort Liang, where are you going?”
Lu Yingying’s face remained cold. “It is a little stuffy sitting here. I am going to take a walk.”
Consort Han nodded. “That’s good. Remember that there will be an acrobatics show soon and the Empress might summon us.”
Lu Yingying acknowledged before walking out.
The water in the stream was so clear, the bottom could be seen easily. Lu Yingying squatted by the side as she saw little fishes fighting to swim upstream. She just wanted to be washed away by the current and float right out of Chang’an, all the way to Guangzhou and into the vast ocean.
She did not blame anyone, including Grand Prince Liang. However, if she could choose, she would have chosen not to listen to her father back then when he asked her to become the Crown Princess. At least her days would have been peaceful.
A shadow of an eagle appeared across the water. Lu Yingying turned back and found Yan Zifang standing behind her. She immediately stood up and spoke accusingly, “The beginning of autumn is celebrated by a hanging curtain as a boundary between men and women. How dare you cross over?”
One corner of Yan Zifang’s mouth turned up. “I am a man that likes to cross over. I thought you knew that.”
“I know that you are a cowardly man.” She walked away as she said this.
“I heard the Grand Prince Liang has been mistreating you.”
“Yes.” She halted in her steps and answered honestly.
“Do you need my help?”
“Yes.” She might as well.
“How can I help?” He would try his best.
“Leave everything behind and take me away. I want you to not hesitate even if we would be homeless, have to resort to begging and are chased by Grand Prince Liang’s men to the ends of the earth and were to die horribly.” She suddenly smiled.
“...I can’t do it.” She knew he would not be able to do it, so why did she smile?
“Then castrate yourself and not go near any women for my sake. Only if you cut off having children and grandchildren then can I feel comforted.” She smiled even deeper.
“...I can’t do that.” She was playing with him. He could tell.
“Men…” She continued walking forward but he suddenly hugged her from behind. Ignoring how she was struggling, he lifted her hand as her sleeve rolled down, exposing the various bruises on her skinny wrist. It was cruel.
Yan Zifang was stunned. At the same time, anger rose within him!
Lu Yingying took the chance to escape as she turned around and slapped him. “How dare you!”
The corners of his lips split open as Yan Zifang tasted blood. He did not move to wipe it away. “You hit really hard.”
Lu Yingying slowly neaten her outfit as she glanced at him loftily. She looked aloof and untouchable. “Yan Zifang, let me tell you the truth. Now that things have come to this, you are not worthy of me. I am now Grand Prince Liang’s wife and shall die along with him.” She turned sharply and walked away without looking back.
Yan Zifang stood on the spot. For the first time ever, he felt as if his heart had been cut by a knife. It was a completely different feeling from when he had been rejected by Fu Rou. The feeling was foreign and made him feel helpless.
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I highly recommend watching episode 36. Haha. The fight scene was pretty epic. And you can watch Yingying slap Yan Zifang too!
There are more scenes with Prince Zhao, and you could see how Chumu got them to open the East gate as well.