(Last time I said I had to divide chapter 9 to two parts, but now it’s become three. And here is the 2nd part.)
The prisoner spoke in a casual and elegant manner. His every word was astonishing. After Yong Shan listened to it, he was puzzled for a while. He frowned, pondered carefully about the cause and effect. When he thought back to the past, his heart hurt severely, and a sense of ominousness was born. His eyes became sharp as he looked at Gong Wuhui, repented.
Gong Wugui laughed, seemingly pleased, “His Royal Highness is really smart, I have not seen the wrong person.”
Then he said, without any sense of guilt, “At that time, the Emperor and I had the same thought and we came to an agreement. Among the princes, the Second prince is the most talented and should be selected. However, since ancient times, the princes have been selected and crowned in an orderly manner. If the First prince was not granted the title, but the Second prince was granted instead, it would arouse resentment from everyone around the First prince’s side and a disaster would be born. Therefore, I proposed to the Emperor that the First Prince, Yong Qi should be granted the title of Crown Prince first, then abolished it later.”
Suddenly, the narrow prison cell became so quiet.
As if an invisible string was tightly pulled out of somewhere, too tight to the point of making Heaven fall and Earth rends, causing a major disaster to happen.
Gong Wuhui said a few more words. But those words were like thousands of catties of limestone suddenly thrown into the water, blowing up a huge wave in Yong Shan’s heart.
Yong Shan was once again puzzled.
As wise as the Emperor, why would he choose Yong Qi, whose body was weak and frail to crown, instead of many other qualified princes? What were his intentions? After he was crowned, why would the Emperor be so furious with just a trivial matter of a Minister requesting his mother to be the Empress? Not only had Yong Qi been abolished, his mother, Li Fei was also detained. Some Official Ministers of Yong Qi’s mother’s side had been killed, demoted, or imprisoned. The punishment was carried out without mercy.
How could a person as timid as Yong Qi, who loved poems and paints, appreciated snow and plums, be colluded with the Ministers? How was it possible for him to secretly form a streason? How could it be possible for him to plot something?
The person who was originally dazzling and elegant, the one who was granted a title of the Crown Prince last year and received many blessings and praise to the point it made his head dizzy, was suddenly thrown into the eighteenth floor of Hell all at once. On the same day he was disposed of, he couldn’t even see his mother and was directly taken to Nanlin, to put under house arrest in the name of reflecting.
All of these turned out to be just a cover!
Moreover, it was a scheme deliberately planned for the sake of getting Yong Shan to be crowned legally.
From beginning to end, because of him, Yong Qi became a scapegoat who didn’t know what he had done wrong.
But when Yong Qi was brought to the Inner Punishment Court, toward Yong Qi, he…
Yong Shan’s facial expressions changed. The more he went further into this matter, the more pain he felt in his heart. Biting his lips in silence, his eyes stopped on the small white porcelain bottle. Suddenly, his heart paused, pondering whether or not he should kill this Gong Wuhui.
Kill? But this was the person who was capable and a loyal Minister of the Imperial Court. Moreover, this person had the merit of supporting him.
Not to kill? Then what about Yong Qi and Yong Lin? There was no way that the Fifth prince, Yong Sheng would stop here. If he made a fuss and stirred up trouble, bringing about the matter of the secret letter being delivered to light, a heavy crime would fall upon Yong Qi, and once again would be brought back to the Inner Punishment Court.
Even if the crime involved his twin brother, Yong Lin, his position as the Crown Prince would not be shaken. The Emperor had also prevented him from taking any actions in the Inner Punishment Court. What if… what if Father Emperor made a decree, letting Yong Sheng lead the trial? Yong Qi falling into the hands of that nasty bastard, wouldn’t it…
Gong Wuhui’s eye, which had been reading under the candle light all year round, became cloudy as he stared at Yong Shan.
After being silent for a while, a smile appeared on the face of this considerate prisoner, “Your Highness, do you know why I want to tell your Highness about such secret events?”
Yong Shan raised his head and stared at him.
“Your Highness, you have to take care of yourself. You have to understand, in order for you to stay in the palace safely, how many people have spent and exhausted their efforts, all their hard work, even if they have to fight, they do not hesitate to do it for you. Is it an easy task to preserve a good Emperor in the future? No, it’s too difficult.” Gong Wuhui said, “For your sake, the Emperor did not hesitate to put a knife on His Highness Yong Qi, establish first and then discard later. As father and son, His Highness Yong Qi is still, after all, his flesh and blood. Do you think the Emperor would not feel distressed if he did this? This is… because it was the only last resort for the Emperor to choose. As for me…”
Gong Wuhui paused, and Yong Shan’s heart jumped abruptly.
Gong Wuhui examined Yong Shan for a moment, and then sighed faintly, “For Your Highness, the Emperor was willing to give up his own flesh and blood, why can’t I bear to give up a life? No matter what threats the Fifth Prince used to threaten Your Highness, once I die, it can be considered that Your Highness will pass a difficult time this time. A minister can do their duty and die without regrets.” After talking, he stretched out his hand.
Yong Shan only thought that he was going to get the white porcelain bottle, but before he could think carefully, his hand reached out immediately, placing his palm on the bottle with a stern and solemn face.
Gong Wuhui was also slightly taken aback. After taking a look at Yong Shan, he understood, “Your Highness can rest assured, it’s not time yet. Your Highness personally visited the prison today. If I die like this, wouldn’t it let outsiders have an opportunity to frame Your Highness? Gong Wuhui would not do such a stupid thing.” Having said that, he couldn’t help but sighed slightly.
He was ordered by the Emperor to secretly observe the characteristics of princes for ten years. No one caught his eyes, except for the Second prince who was always reluctant to express his emotions. However, for Gong Wuhui, whether it was Yong Shan’s depressions living in the Palace, his admiration for Yong Qi, or his eccentric resentment toward his mother, he could see it all. Ten years later, he often had a feeling of a parent looking after his child.
However, if these feelings were to leak out, of course it would be disrespectful to His Highness. If only…
Gong Wuhui carefully looked at the boy in front of him. Sixteen years old, it was not an exaggeration to say that he was still a child. The path to the throne wasn’t an easy path to take. It was really hard to keep him safe and became like today. But which road he chose in the future required him to hobble alone, and one step was destined to be more difficult than the other.
Did the current Emperor ascend to the throne in the same way?
“It’s the first time I have a chance to have a close conversation with Your Highness. I am overjoyed. Let me give Your Highness a small gift.”
Gong Wuhui spread out the white paper on the case table, picked up the writing brush and dipped it with ink. He meditated for a moment before starting to write something. His handwriting movements were quick and powerful.
The minister has committed a crime of slandering the Royal family. Now he was trapped in the prison cell. Under the eyes of Heaven, he is ashamed.
Only His Highness earnestly enlightened him. The way he was scolding, telling him earnestly that as a minister, he must pay great respect to the Emperor was full of grace and kindness. The minister has reflected on it and thanked him with tears of gratitude.
The minister wrote this letter, hoping for His Highness to keep it as hidden evidence and wait to observe the changes without repentance.
Sincerely, may Heaven bless.
Each stroke was as fast as the wind, strong and powerful. The white paper was painted with a few lines of natural and vivid calligraphy.
After finishing his writing, Gong Wuhui held the tip of the paper with both hands, then gave it a blow to dry the ink. When the ink was dried, he handed it to Yong Shan, “Please put it away, Your Highness.”
Yong Shan’s obsidian eyes were staring at him for a while, and then he reached out to take it. He took the small white porcelain bottle on the case table along the way when he stood up. Holding it in his hand, he said, “Death is not necessarily the only way to solve the problem. If I think about it again, there will eventually be solutions to solve these two matters.”
Outside the prison cell, stood the guards who had been waiting for a long time with their backs sore. Seeing Yong Shan come out of the cell, they breathed a sigh of relief and hurriedly accompanied him out.
On the outside of the Imperial Prison, the winter sun had already hung up high in the sky with some silver line of sunlight spreading straight down to the Earth. Yong Shan, who had just come out of the damp and cold prison, was exposed to the heat, and yet his body trembled for some unknown reasons.
He half-squinted his eyes, glanced at the sun hanging high up in the sky, and exhaled a long breath, “I have seen everything that should be seen. Bring the sedan chair and go back ba.”
As soon as he arrived at his palace, he was greeted respectfully by Cheng Dafu at the door.
“Your Highness is back.” Then the clever Chang Defu humbly said, “When His Highness Yong Qi had lunch today, he said he would have only spinach with sesame oil and no need to add meat, which I think is good but it’s too light.”
“Where is he now?”
“After eating, he is taking a nap in the room.”
Hearing he was taking a nap, Yong Shan thought of how obedient and how Yong Qi let his guard down when he fell asleep. Yong Shan’s hanging heart after visiting the prisoner was lightened a little. He waved his hand to dismiss everyone, and walked alone to the room arranged for Yong Qi.
Originally he wanted to take a look through the window, but since it was closed by curtains, he simply and quietly opened the door and walked in. Two little attendants were surprised as they saw him coming in and stood up in a hurry, but they were dismissed by the wave of his hand. He then walked to sit quietly on the edge of the bed.
Yong Qi was wearing the same clothes he saw today. Probably he was too lazy to change his clothes, for him intending to sleep just for awhile.
Yong Qi, sleeping with his clothes revealing the overwhelmed inner garment, even if it was a little wrinkled, it looked tempting. His eyes were closed. His eyelashes moved with the rhythm of his gentle and even breath. Looking at the side, there was a book lying not too far away from his hand.
Yong Shan picked it up and took a look. It turned out to be a book of “Lao Zhuang”. He smiled then put the book aside.
(T/N: Founders of Daoism.)
He leaned his back on the bedpost, folded his hands, and looked at Yong Qi taking his nap.
The dazzling sunshine was warm and bright, faintly shining through the bamboo window, crossing through the curtain and going straight into the room. The room at midday was quiet, and Yong Shan’s mind, which had been disturbed for a long time, seemed to be swept gently by a brush. Suddenly, there was nothing left, only this still picture in front of him.
Only he and Yong Qi.
Yong Shan’s heart suddenly quieted down.
He felt his own breathing, peaceful and even, without the usual tension and stagnation, as if at this moment, not only Yong Qi but also himself were asleep.
He loosened himself from tension, and with a smile on the corner of his lips, he quietly watched Yong Qi sleep.
This happiness was hard to describe.
Yong Qi, my brother Yong Qi.
After staring blankly for an unknown period of time, he sat up straight, and stared at the sleeping person. After a long while, he finally bent down, put his nose on Yong Qi’s face, and let out a soft breath.
His touch was gentle and tender.
Should I wake him up? Yong Shan thought.
Yong Shan remembered that he had seen this scene before. He didn’t remember what year it was, but it was the same afternoon that he saw Yong Qi falling asleep in the stone pavilion in the garden after reading a book. Obviously it was Yong Shan who saw him first, but at that time he could only stand and watch like an idiot from a far distance. Later, Yong Lin came. Without any hesitation, he walked into the pavilion and blew his breath into Yong Qi’s peaceful and quiet face, while giggling. Yong Qi was awakened and suddenly straightened up from the stone table. Yong Shan had no idea what he said at that time, but it made Yong Lin laugh more triumphantly. Yong Lin then stretched out his hand and scratched Yong Qi’s neck, making Yong Qi laugh as well.
They were so happy that they didn’t even see Yong Shan standing in the dark.
The carefree laughter was like a knife, cutting Yong Shan’s heart into pieces.
If he could be like Yong Lin, walking into the pavilion without any hesitation. If he could be like Yong Lin, just approach Yong Qi’s body casually, and breathe on his face…
(T/N: sound of exhale.)
Yong Shan pursed his lips, then let out another breath.
The warm breath blew the fine strands of hair hanging behind Yong Qi’s ears swept across his jade-like cheek.
Yong Qi’s cheeks were beautiful and soft. It would make people go more crazy, if those cheeks were to be stained with teardrops on them. When he was detained in the Inner Punishment Court, he had shed tears almost every day. Yong Shan disliked him for being weak. A man can shed blood, but not tears. On one hand, Yong Shan hated him shedding tears like a woman. On the other hand, he secretly liked the way his brother looked when he was sobbing, so he deliberately made him cry and beg for mercy almost everyday.
Brother, do you know?
You shouldn’t have been taken to Nanlin, shouldn’t have been sent to the Inner Punishment Court, and there shouldn’t be any tears in your eyes.
In Father Emperor’s heart, in fact, he has always understood you very well.
There was no need for a trial at all. From the very beginning, Father Emperor knew that you were innocent.
All of this is for me, do you understand?
I’m really afraid there will come a day when you will know it all.
Yong Shan slowly pressed his lips against Yong Qi’s lips.
The touch was gentle and it felt good.
Yong Shan really couldn’t think of any softer and more beautiful lips in the world to compare with Yong Qi’s. On one hand, he was afraid of awakening Yong Qi. On the other hand, he couldn’t stop the itching in his heart. After struggling for a long time, while still holding back his pounding heartbeat, he let out his tongue, licking between Yong Qi’s overlaid lips lightly.
“Un…” A low groan escaped Yong Qi’s breath.
Yong Shan sat up abruptly. Looking closely at Yong Qi again, it seemed that he hadn’t woken up yet. The desire in his lower abdomen clamored even more intensely, and while being unable to control the reason he had always been proud of, Yong Shan slowly leaned in.