Edited by renderedreversed
Seeing that I wasn’t speaking, the emperor chuckled again.
“Qinghui don’t be nervous. I love you as a brother, how can I bear to punish you?”
He slowly walked back to the desk, lifted his robes, and sat down.
“Today I had Qinghui enter the palace to tell you one thing.”
The emperor picked up his brush and took out a new piece of paper. While writing, he said, “I don’t know if Wei Country will declare war on us. If that occurs, I’m afraid that Qinghui will need to go and battle them. This war can only be won; under no conditions can it be lost. Otherwise, you and I will only have one ending.”
He handed me the paper. On top of it was just one word: “death,” written in red ink. My mouth twitched. This emperor…when he needed to be straightforward, he really was too straightforward. Before leaving the royal study, the emperor’s voice faintly called to me: “Qinghui, the war is just around the corner. Protect the military seal well.”
My heart tightened. I felt cold sweat slide down my forehead. Military seal…where was I supposed to find the military seal? Did you want me, this general, to go ask Chu Yi about it? Where did I put the military seal before? This general was really unreliable!
Back at the general’s mansion, I didn’t bother with anything else and went straight to Chu Kong’s room. This time, he was looked like he was enjoying his porridge.
The sweat gluing my back to my clothes was cold. I grabbed the bowl from the maid and said, “I’ll do it.”
The maid looked at Chu Kong. Chu Kong said, “You can retreat.”
The moment the door closed behind her, I unceremoniously sat down on Chu Kong’s bed and gave him a heavy, solemn look.
“Big bad news.”
This time, Chu Kong had learned to behave. He took the bowl from me. While sipping, he said, “You already said that before you entered the palace.”
I was anxious and shouted: “Well this time, it’s even worse!”
I told Chu Kong everything that had happened in the palace and then asked him: “Tell me, what does the emperor mean? And then there’s the military seal! I didn’t know the former general; how am I supposed to know where he hid it? A general who can’t take out his country’s damn military seal! Forget about the battlefield, I’ll be beheaded by the emperor before I even make it there.”
Chu Kong continued to calmly drink his porridge. He set the bowl aside, wiped his mouth, and then said very calmly: “Well, tell me, is the military seal this toy?”
He took a white jade tiger out of his sleeves. There was a fine tiger inscription on it. I was shocked: “From where did you steal it?”
“From the moment we began this lifetime, it was always with me. I didn’t know what this thing was before, but from its appearance I could tell that I could sell it for a high price. So I took it everywhere with me. I was thinking that after we went into seclusion on the mountain, I’d pawn it off. Well, I didn’t expect that this was indeed a treasure.”
I was completely confused.
“Wait, how come the general’s military seal is with you? From what the emperor told me today, I could tell that the emperor and the princess obviously stood on opposing sides. They’re enemies, ah.”
Chu Kong laughed. “All these causes and consequences, xiaoye already knows. Want me to clue you in? If you want to know, then call me daye1 and let me hear you admit your mistake.”
“Daye, I was wrong,” I said. “Quick, tell me what happened.”
I eagerly stared at Chu Kong. Chu Kong ground his teeth together. He didn’t utter one word for a very long time. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this arrogant boy grew stranger and stranger as the days passed by.
Meeting his demands was not right.
Not meeting his demands was also not right.
He really loved to make it difficult for people, ah.
Chu Kong’s extended silence finally ended. He slowly said, “Did you know that the throne of the emperor is currently not safe?”
“How would I know that?”
“I didn’t say you should answer!”
The veins on Chu Kong’s forehead became visible. He sighed heavily before continuing: “The current empress dowager isn’t the biological mother of the emperor. She only took care of him and watched him grow. The former emperor died early. The empress dowager took care of the affairs of the court behind a curtain; she completely controlled the state. But the emperor was growing day by day and became increasingly difficult to control. The empress dowager wants to get rid of the emperor and put someone else on the throne. The emperor is childless, so there’s no candidate. At about this time, the biological daughter of the empress dowager, Princess Qingling, got pregnant. The empress dowager wanted to make the princess’ child the new emperor.”
“But how did the empress dowager know that the child in the princess’ belly would be a male?”
“Whether it was or wasn’t isn’t important. Even if the princess gave birth to a monster, as long as the empress dowager wished it, the child would eventually become a boy.”
I understood. “They wanted to switch the child!”
Chu Kong nodded: “This way the emperor will be rid off; the empress dowager will choose a new emperor. She’ll have more control of the state. I’m afraid that the princess didn’t actually poison herself; rather, she was murdered by the spies of Wei Country. You see, getting rid of the princess and the child would keep the emperor and the empress dowager locked in battle. If the internal affairs are unstable, the one that’ll benefit the most is Wei Country. They want to take advantage of the situation and declare war. That’s why when you went into the palace today, the emperor told you that he was both pleased and worried. So he gave you a bright red “death” signal to tell you to go to war with Wei Country. You can only win; you can’t lose. If you lose, even without the empress dowager’s conspiracy, he’ll need to end his days as emperor.”
“In order to protect the emperor, do I really need to go to war?” I didn’t understand. “The army has never declared war to protect someone.”
Chu Kong’s eyebrow raised a little. “You’re right, but if you don’t protect him now, the emperor will kill you.”
I sighed: “The mortals have complicated minds.”
I turned, thought for a while, and then asked Chu Kong: “How come you suddenly understand this situation so clearly?”
Chu Kong smiled. “After you entered the palace, the empress dowager also sent someone to find me. From that man’s mouth, I got all the information I wanted. I’m not like a certain someone who only lets others reprimand her.”
Although his words were meant to provoke, I couldn’t not think seriously about this matter… There really was a gap between our intelligence.
Chu Kong lied in bed and happily said, “Now we’ve figured out everything. For now, we can’t escape the capital. We can only wait for Wei Country and Qi Country to start their war. In the midst of tumult, losing one or two people is a fact of life.”
This guy…he can even phrase our escape plan in a righteous manner.
I expressed my contempt by pouting. Suddenly a question flashed in my mind: “Chu Kong, how did the general die?”
Who stabbed him with a dagger? This general looked like he could take on anyone. But why did it look like there was no struggle?
Chu Kong closed his eyes and lazily said, “Is that still important? With all these bigger issues going on, who would still bother about their trivial love?”
- Dàyé: it means uncle. When you call someone that, it means that you’re below that person and are willing to follow him. But this word also can be used to curse someone.