In the past few days, Sheng Chumu had been going into the mountains daily to hunt foxes. He was collecting fox skin to give his mother.
It was another bright and cloudless day. Sheng Chumu caught sight of a beautiful fire fox but his shot missed and the fire fox escaped. His luck was pretty good and when he was on his way back, he met a hunter with a wild fox on his shoulder.
“Eh, this wild fox’s skin looks nice. Are you selling?” Sheng Chumu inched his horse close to the hunter.
The hunter did not even turn around. “No.”
“I want to buy it to be filial to my mother. What if I give you two times of what it is worth?” Sheng Chumu asked patiently.
The hunter froze as he stopped walking. “Okay, I will sell it to you.”
The hunter bent down to untangle the fox and Sheng Chumu immediately walked over. He lowered his head to assess the wild fox. The hunter suddenly turned around, a silver light gleaned in his hands and he was fierce. Unexpectedly, there was no one behind him. While the hunter was stunned, a huge net fell from the top and trapped him.
Ye Qiulang and Zong Jianxiu had already ambushed him and they jumped out to restrain him. They took off his hunter cap and exposed Ma Haihu’s face.
Ma Haihu struggled, “Let me go! Sheng Chumu, you despicable person! You hurt my Lian Yan’er! I want to kill you!”
Lian Yan’er had arranged to meet him and he waited for her from morning till night. He did not leave even when it rained. In the end, his heart grew cold. Lian Yan’er missed their date. However, he could not understand. Only a day had passed since she said that she wanted to marry him. How could she change her mind so quickly? His leader said that brothel girls have no feelings or loyalty. There must be another reason why she did not appear. In the end, his leader finally told the truth and said that Lian Yan’er had left. His leader said that Sheng Chumu had found out that Lian Yan’er was helping him and Sheng Chumu threatened to take her life. Lian Yan’er had no choice but to leave.
Hence, Ma Haihu came to find Sheng Chumu. He believed that as long as he killed Sheng Chumu, Lian Yan’er would return.
Ye Qiulang pressed on Ma Haihu. “Our General has long been waiting for you. Look at how much our General cares for you. In order to let you live, he pretended to hunt and prepared a net all because he did not want to accidentally kill you.”
Ma Haihu gave up struggling and asked Sheng Chumu, “How did you know I was coming?”
Sheng Chumu did not say anything. Behind him, Ma Hainiu walked out. She remained silent for a while before speaking, “Brother, Leader has lied to you.”
Ma Haihu’s eyes widened.
The Emperor was looking through memorials when Prince Qin came to greet him.
“Imperial Father, you have been staying up late recently because of the amount of work you have to do. I am worried about your health.”
The Emperor was touched as he waved for Prince Qin to sit beside him. “I am the ruler of Great Tang, there are a lot of things that I have to do by myself.” He pointed at the memorials that he was going through. “For example, the decision for criminals in prison. These all concern life and I have to go through all of them one by one.”
Prince Qin read the memorial out loud, “A man named Liu, has a ‘Victory’ word on his neck and said that it meant victory over the ruler. Imperial Father, is there a need to die just because one has the word ‘Victory’ tattooed on his neck and said he would rule the world?”
The Emperor thought it was good timing. “The Ministry of Justice believes that this person has offended the power of the throne and should be severely punished. Prince Qin, what do you think?”
After thinking for a while, Prince Qin replied, “We should let him go.”
The Emperor asked, “Why?”
“Great Tang has tens of thousands of citizens and there are numerous with words tattooed on them. Those that love to boast are also too many to count. If we were to punish all of them severely, how many people would we have to kill? Moreover, if he has heaven’s will and fated to rule the world, then he is not someone that the Ministry of Justice can kill. If he does not have the fate and will of heaven, so what if he tattooed the word ‘Victory’? A ruler must be broad-minded and cannot fuss and be petty over small citizens like him.”
The Emperor smiled, “Look at what I wrote.”
Prince Qin read and was delighted. His Imperial father also said to release the man. “Imperial Father is a benevolent ruler that loves his people.”
The Emperor let Prince Qin sit on his leg. “It is not easy to be a ruler. Prince Qin, let me ask you a question. If someone hurt you, would you secretly kill him to vent your anger?”
Prince Qin shook his head. “No I won’t. Because that will go against the law.”
The Emperor continued to ask, “What if you really really hate him? What if you hate him so much that you cannot be bothered with the law? You are a prince.”
Prince Qin persisted, “No. Teacher said that someone who acts on impulse will hurt their own character. If you indulge in your own desires and act rashly without caring about anything, you may have a moment of happiness, but you will hurt your own innate character. I do not want to distort my own nature just because of an enemy. If he is in the wrong, then he should be punished according to the law. Only that way will everyone be satisfied. By abusing your own punishment, any reason will be negated. That is very stupid!”
The Emperor was slightly surprised, “Are you still learning from Court Lady Fu?”
Prince Qin replied, “Yes. Imperial Mother said that she would be my teacher so she will be my teacher for life.”
The Emperor praised, “That is good.”
The next day, during morning court, Situ Zhen once again stepped out to make an appeal. However, this time it was not to appeal on Prince Han’s behalf but to bestow the position of Crown Prince on Prince Qin. This appeal caused a huge uproar. One group supported Prince Zhou while the other group supported Prince Qin and they quarrelled endlessly.
The Emperor listened to them for a long time before finally speaking. When he spoke, he asked Fang Xuanling to not just enjoy the show.
Fang Xuanling replied that he had momentarily been absent-minded as he had been recalling the final years of the Wude era. The current Emperor had yet to ascend the throne and was pressured by the then Crown Prince Yin. At the time, the Empress had kept poison around her waist and expressed that if anything happened to the Emperor, she would not live either.
As Fang Xuanling spoke, the old ministers started to recall the past as well. They all recollected how the Empress had gone through tough times with the Emperor in the past. This caused the Emperor to take in deep breaths as he seemed to be on the brink of tears.
In the end, although they did not come to a conclusion as to who would be the Crown Prince, the fact that Prince Zhou had been putting a lot of effort into studying court matters recently had been completely ignored.
When Concubine Yan heard the news, she was neither angry nor frustrated. Instead, she was calm. Ever since she gave birth to her son, there was not a day that she was not scheming to help her son obtain the throne. After waiting for so many years, she did not mind waiting a few more days. Moreover, the biggest obstacle had been cleared. All she had was patience.
Concubine Yan spoke, “The previous Crown Prince was the son of the Empress. He plotted to force his father to become the Grand Emperor. Prince Han is also the son of the Empress and he also disappointed the Emperor greatly. All these people brag about being loyal but how could they forget these two important things? Does it mean that as long as they are the Empress’ child, they would be good?”
Yu He replied, “Your Highness is Sui Dynasty’s princess. Prince Zhou is His Majesty and Your Highness’ child. The two royal blood of Yang and Li flows within him. When it comes to it, Prince Zhou’s bloodline is still more valuable than children from the Empress.”
“How could they not understand that? It is because they know it too well and that is why they are more fearful. They don't want the Sui Dynasty’s Yang family to revive. However, can they stop heaven’s will?” Concubine Yan chuckled coldly, “Since they say that Prince Qin is the son of the Empress and is guided by heaven’s will, then let them open their eyes and witness heaven’s will.”
Anyone who poses a hindrance to her son will not have a good ending. This was heaven’s will.
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The Yan thing is really confusing. As mentioned in the previous chapter(s), Concubine Yan is supposed to be Concubine Yang. I didn't want to change it to Yan blood because the Yan in her name is definitely not the right word. Concubine Yan's Yan is 颜 (which means colour). The royal blood should be Yang (which is 杨）Yang is a very common Chinese last name. Meanwhile, I have never seen anyone with the character 颜 for their last name. It just seems too wrong to change it to the Yan blood, especially when it's royalty related.... Also, Yan Zifang's Yan is 严 (which means strict). Chinese can be really confusing since the pinyin may look the same and they may also sound alike, but it's actually a different character.
If you guys are confused, just remember that it's supposed to be YANG for Concubine Yan. It was just changed to Yan for the drama, due to Chinese censorship. I have only changed her name to Concubine Yan, but her bloodline is still Yang.