“What! Yu He is Emperor Yang’s son?” The Emperor was shocked as he looked at Concubine Xi kneeling in front of him.
Sweat droplets appeared on Concubine Xi’s forehead. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
The Emperor concentrated on her. “Tell me the details.”
Concubine Xi was cautious of her words. “I could not understand why Concubine Yan suddenly turned against me. Now that I think back, Concubine Yan’s attitude towards me changed when Your Majesty allowed my cousin, Wang Zuozhong, to enter the palace. He told me that he had coincidentally bumped into Yu He in the Imperial Garden and said that Yu He looked familiar. At that time, I did not think much of it. However, when I met Concubine Yan later on, I casually brought it up. I did not mean anything by it but I believe that it was then that Concubine Yan became wary of me. She was afraid that I would expose her, hence she has been trying to get rid of me.”
The Emperor replied, “But these are all assumptions.”
“Your Majesty, my grandfather was an official in the Sui Dynasty and I have lived in Chang’an ever since I was young. Emperor Yang took the throne when he was fourteen years old. He was always travelling around and never stayed in Chang’an for more than two-hundred days. The princes and princesses that he doted on would also be able to travel with him while the rest were left in Chang’an. Amongst those that were left in Chang’an, there was one named Yang Lian. Because his mother’s status was low and he did not gain the Emperor’s favour, he was never given the prince title and was not outstanding. Back then, my cousin was his play partner for a period of time. I offended him once and was thrown into the water by him. Because of that, I got sick and stopped playing with him. After many years, things stayed the same but people changed. I never thought of him anymore. I never expected him to be in the palace and so near to me.”
“How are you so sure that Yu He is Yang Lian?” This was a serious matter.
“As he aged, although his appearance has changed, his silhouette remains the same. In the past, I never thought of it, but now that I remember, he is looking more and more like his past self. I am very sure that he is Yang Lian! Moreover, when he was young, he had been struck by lightning once and had an ugly scar on his right arm. Your Majesty will know as soon as you check!”
As this matter was huge, the Emperor did not hesitate and immediately summoned Yu He. When Yu He entered Ganlou Palace, he saw Concubine Xi and his expression changed slightly.
The Emperor ordered immediately, “Yu He, roll up your right sleeve.”
Yu He switched back to his respectful expression and calmly rolled up his sleeve, exposing half his arm.
Concubine Xi was shocked, “Ah! This….”
On Yu He’s upper arm, there was a horrifying scar. However, it did not seem like it was caused by lightning but more like it had been scalded.
“I loved to play when I was younger and accidentally knocked over a pot of boiling water. That is how I got my scar.” He had suspected that the scar he got when he was younger would pose danger. Hence, before he entered the palace, he intentionally scalded himself. Today, he was thankful he did so.
Concubine Xi’s gaze was still suspicious.
The Emperor asked, “At what age did you scald yourself?”
Yu He replied, “Around five or six years old.”
The Emperor spoke meaningfully, “At such a young age, you are quite lucky to have only scalded your right arm.” He had seen a lot of crafty characters before. To try and hide their identity, they would create a new injury on top of their old injury. They had a bigger conspiracy.
Yu He could hear his insinuation. “I do not dare to hide from you. At that time, not only was my right arm scalded, a huge portion of my shoulder was scalded as well. Please forgive me for my insolence.”
He took off his shirt. There was a horrifying scar on his right shoulder.
The Emperor looked at Concubine Xi before speaking to Yu He, “You can leave.”
Yu He finally left. The internal attendant that the Emperor had sent to look through old files came back to report that Yang Lian had died during the chaos in Chang’an. There was a record of his death.
Concubine Xi thought about it but still felt that she recognised the right person. “Your Majesty, he could have…”
The Emperor waved dismissively and sent Concubine Xi off. He thought about it by himself for a long while. If Concubine Xi recognised wrongly, what explanation was there for Concubine Yan to keep on pressuring her? And Yu He’s scar. How could it so coincidentally be on the right side as well? Moreover, he even thought of covering it up. It was frightening how detailed Yu He could be.
The Emperor immediately wrote a few Imperial Decrees and requested for the internal attendants to deliver them quickly. He then called Concubine Yan over before he took a sip of tea.
“Cao Yangde, am I right to do this?” The Emperor was not really asking for a suggestion but wanted reassurance.
“Your Majesty has always been brilliant.” Chief Cao was clear.
“The process in which Great Tang was built…” The Emperor seemed to be recalling the past. “I cannot let down the ministers that sacrificed their lives to build and pave the way for Great Tang. I cannot let down the citizens that have finally gone through the struggles to have a peaceful life even more. In order to protect myself, I had to fight brutally with my brothers. I had no choice but to kill one of my own sons as well. This is enough! The Li blood cannot flow because of this throne anymore. I hope that they will be able to understand this difficult arrangement of mine and not think that I am favouring this person or that. I hope to protect the previous relationship of the entire royal family.”
Chief Cao did not say anything. He knew when he should keep quiet.
Soon, Concubine Yan and Yu He entered the palace. They look amicable.
“Your Majesty, is there something you require from me?”
The Emperor’s gaze flitted across Concubine Yan and Yu He’s face, looking like he wanted to figure something out. “Concubine Yan, Concubine Xi told me that Yu He is Emperor Yang of Sui’s Prince Yang Lian.”
Concubine Yan was shocked and immediately kneeled. Yu He kneeled as well.
Concubine Yan frowned, “This...is complete nonsense. I neglected Concubine Xi in the harem and I don’t blame her for resenting me. However, she cannot make up these kinds of horrifying rumours. How can she simply say someone is Emperor Yang’s prince? Your Majesty, please summon Concubine Xi over. I am willing to talk it out with her directly. If she cannot produce solid evidence, Your Majesty has to stand up for me.”
The Emperor’s expression did not change. “The only evidence that Concubine Xi could say was that she once saw that Yang Lian’s hand had a huge scar from a lightning strike. As for this point, I have already summoned Yu He to check. Yu He’s scar is from a scald and not a lightning scar. However--” He finally got to the main point. “I am still not rest assured.” In the big picture, the truth was never important.
Being well-versed in things like this, Concubine Yan immediately noticed things were not right.
The Emperor spoke warmly, “I have known you for over ten years. No matter how they spoke about your identity as the Sui Dynasty’s princess, I always wished that you could safely accompany me till I am old.”
Concubine Yan was confused. “Yes...Your Majesty, I am willing to follow you for life.”
“Hence, I will personally help you get rid of any suspicious person by your side.” The Emperor’s expression suddenly turned serious. “Guards!”
The internal attendants delivered a cup of wine and presented it to Yu He. Concubine Yan was shocked.
The Emperor spoke coldly, “Repeated rumour becomes a fact and public opinion is enough to obscure the truth. More so in the palace. Since there is a rumour about Yu He being Emperor Yang’s prince, regardless of whether it is the truth, there is no place left for you. Concubine Yan is Emperor Yang’s daughter and she has already suffered. With you serving her, it will just add more trouble. Drink this cup of wine as your loyalty to Concubine Yan.”
Concubine Yan kneeled in front of the Emperor. “Your Majesty! Yu He has served me for so many years but has never made a mistake. Please be magnanimous, Your Majesty!”
“Concubine Yan, I am doing this for your sake. As long as Yu He dies, the rumours will disappear and you won’t have to suffer the indignance. I will treat you well in the future and always protect you.” The Emperor was stern. “Yu He, what are you waiting for?”
Yu He slowly picked up the cup of wine. “Thank you, Your Majesty.” He turned to look at Concubine Yan. “Take care, Your Highness, I will be going first!”
Concubine Yan suddenly crawled up and rushed to knock over the wine. She hugged Yu He and bawled, “I don’t agree to this! I will never agree!”
The Emperor was not surprised. After all, the rumour that Yu He was a prince of the previous dynasty could not have been made out of nothing. Moreover, to Concubine Xi, who has lost her son, she would not stand to gain anything from hurting Concubine Yan. The Emperor knew that this was most likely not a lie.
“In this world, it is not sworn kinship that is easiest to bring to light. It is true flesh and blood. Concubine Yan, you have accompanied me for so long, have you never forgotten the already lost Sui Dynasty?” His heart turned cold. He suddenly thought of the favour that he had shown her, other than the title of Empress, she had everything equivalent to the Empress.
Concubine Yan placed everything at stake and looked straight at the Emperor. “If Great Tang is destroyed, would you forget Great Tang? Would you forget the Great Tang royal blood that flows in you?”
“But you are my concubine, you are a mother of my prince! All these years, I have...treated you…” The Emperor suddenly grabbed his chest, his face filled with pain.
Concubine Yan was shocked and did not know how to react.
The Emperor looked at the cup of tea on his table before looking at Chief Cao in disbelief.
Chief Cao was calm and composed. “His Majesty’s arthritis has blown up again. It seems like it is more serious this time. I am afraid that it would be difficult for him to wake up.”
“Cao Yangde, I have never treated you poorly, you...you…” The Emperor swiped the tea cup but Chief Cao nimbly caught it.
“Your Majesty has treated me well. However, the one that I am indebted to is the emperor of the previous dynasty. On Emperor Yang’s travels, he saved me as I was about to starve to death. Although it was a casual instruction for him, he saved my life and I was able to enter the palace. I had food to eat and clothes to wear. I could even study along with the other internal attendants. To me, this was kindness that gave me a new lease of life. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to repay him before he was killed. When Chang’an was invaded, I was just a small internal attendant. Hence, I was able to stay in the palace to continue serving. However, I have always wished for my benefactor’s children and grandchildren to take over the palace once again and restore it to its former glory. Today, it is finally time.” Chief Cao remained polite, “Your Majesty, you should rest.”
“Great Tang is supported by heaven, the violent Sui...dream on…” The Emperor’s head tilted as he fell to the side of his throne, unmoving.
Ganlou Palace fell silent. All of sudden, there was a clatter. The internal attendant that had served the poison wine to Yu He was still around. He took a few steps back in fright. He turned, wanting to escape. Concubine Yan was faster than him and Yu He had a murderous intent. The both of them surrounded the internal attendant. One of them covered his mouth while the other strangled him. Very soon, the internal attendant stopped breathing.
It was only then that Concubine Yan felt the fear and fell to the ground. She looked at the motionless Emperor.
Chief Cao walked up to help her. “Your Highness, His Majesty had already decided to kill Yu He. However, he did this out of love for you and did not want things to spread and ruin Your Highness’ name. That is why other than us today, the other internal attendants and guards were instructed to stay far away. This is Your Highness’ blessing and Great Sui’s fate.”
Concubine Yan’s voice trembled, “Is...he dead?”
Chief Cao smiled, “He is still alive. He is just on the brink of death.”
Yu He spoke, “Your Highness, things didn't turn out as we expected and it is too late to be scared. We can only adapt.”
Concubine Yan took a deep breath as her eyes turned sharp. She slowly walked to the Emperor’s side, touching his face. Sorrow and determination fought in her eyes.
Chief Cao and Yu He hid the internal attendant’s body.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty…” Concubine Yan suddenly raised her voice, “Men! His Majesty has fainted from his arthritis attack! Men!”
She loved him but had to choose between love or her country.
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Oh no...! And omg, the drama did not even include this. It's very confusing to watch after episode 46. -_-" I think they were forced to cut down from 69 episodes to 55, so it's super confusing. I hope some of you guys came from the drama! :P