Chapter 14: The Curtain
Chu Xie noticed that the Crown Prince’s hand was trembling and realized that the current Crown Prince was still somewhat reluctant to openly confront Chu Xie.
Yes, at this moment, he should encourage the protagonist.
He struggled a bit with the hand that was holding his and rubbed his own reddened wrist while shaking his head, saying, “I’m not leaving. Your Highness, I’ve already stolen the evidence for you; this is the opportunity I mentioned! Your Highness, the case of the Jinhuan Gambling House must not become a closed case. This is the best opportunity to bring down Chu Xie… Uh!”
The more he spoke, the more passionate he became.
Jiang Yanchi forcefully covered his mouth.
He cautiously looked around before speaking with a stern face, “Just relying on these things won’t be enough to bring him down. Stop talking nonsense and leave, quickly, leave the Imperial City tonight! Go back to your northern territory!”
Why couldn’t he get through to this protagonist?
Was he too attached to his own life?
Chu Xie changed his approach and tried to persuade him again.
“Your Highness, you asked me earlier whether the civil and military officials of the court would be disappointed in you and whether I would be disappointed if we couldn’t save the Xue family’s son. I told you that we wouldn’t be… because that was beyond our control, that was something we couldn’t resist. But now, the opportunity is right in front of you, and it’s in your hands… Do you know how much effort and risk it took for me to obtain these things, Your Highness? Are you going to remain a puppet in Chu Xie’s hands forever?”
Why could this person speak so lightly?
He had no idea how terrifying Chu Xie really was.
Hearing this, Jiang Yanchi not only wasn’t awakened by the words, but his eyes seemed to darken even more, as if he were trying to suppress a burst of anger. “Do you… do you know that even though the Xue family is powerful, they are far away? You dared to do this under their noses. If it weren’t for me protecting you, you wouldn’t have survived tonight!”
The letters and documents in his hand were slammed onto the ground with a loud “thud,” picking up dust and grass.
Chu Xie was afraid that the crucial evidence would be destroyed and quickly knelt down to carefully pick up the scattered papers. He held them close to him as if they were treasures and carefully wiped them clean, one by one.
“Don’t throw them…” Chu Xie muttered softly, “These are very important.”
Jiang Yanchi forcefully swallowed his anger.
Seeing him clutching those letters and account books, handling them with such care, and looking at him with difficulty, as if he wanted to advise him but didn’t know how to start, his fiery temper gradually subsided.
Gradually, the anger in his heart subsided.
He sensed that the look in the other’s eyes was somewhat downcast, and his voice softened again. He said, “I’m just afraid you’ll be discovered,” before collecting the letters and account books, tucking them into his sleeve.
Chu Xie understood.
He realized that the Crown Prince was overly cautious in his actions.
The Crown Prince was afraid that his identity as a spy would be exposed, leading to further investigations and possibly implicating the Eastern Palace.
He needed to encourage him further.
“Your Highness, don’t worry. I’m careful in my actions, and even if Chu Xie notices anything unusual, he won’t implicate the Eastern Palace. This is really a good opportunity right now. We should take a gamble.” Chu Xie pointed in the direction of the Crown Prince’s palace to the southeast and smiled meaningfully. “Trust me, we will win… Your Highness will move into the Eastern Palace, becoming the true heir apparent. Moreover, in the near future, you will undoubtedly rule the entire kingdom.”
“But if the Eastern Palace and Chu Xie completely fall out at this time, you…”
I knew you were worried about this.
Chu Xie understood what needed to be done and moved in front of the Crown Prince, gently holding the young prince’s hand as he comforted him, “Don’t be afraid. You are His Majesty’s son and the Crown Prince of the nation. Marquis Xu is loyal and devoted; he won’t stand idly by if he sees you harmed by Chu Xie. Look, isn’t this recent incident with the gambling house a small signal from the old marquis to you?”
Chu Xie, who knew the plot development well, knew that the Xu family would become the Crown Prince’s biggest support.
In the original plot, Xu Chunmu was the youngest grandson of the Xu family, only nineteen years old, but he commanded an army of thirty thousand. It was through his friendship with Xu Chunmu that the young Crown Prince finally had the courage to confront Chu Xie head-on.
After this incident, Chu Xie’s power would decline step by step until he was ultimately defeated and executed one and a half years later.
Now was the crucial turning point in this plot. Chu Xie couldn’t let the protagonist back down at such a critical moment.
Chu Xie sighed inwardly and had to bring out his trump card.
With a faint smile, he said, “Your Highness, it was my grandfather who sent me to help you.”
Jiang Yanchi seemed to realize something, “Are you…”
“I’m not an ordinary descendant of the Xu family. My name is Xu Chunmu, and I’m the second grandson of the main branch of the Xu family. I command an army of thirty thousand in the northern territory. Your Highness, with me as your support, you have nothing to fear.”
Jiang Yanchi remained pensive for a while.
He looked him up and down, examining his frail appearance, and asked, “You’re Xu Chunmu, the young marquis of Zhenguo Mansion?”
“Yes, wearing a mask is convenient as it may lead to recognition by people in the Imperial City. Your Highness, don’t be afraid. With me here, no one can harm you, including Chu Xie.”
Jiang Yanchi seemed lost in thought.
Could this really be Xu Chunmu? The young marquis who had been on the battlefield for many years? How could he appear so frail and weak?
“Your Highness, my grandfather originally intended to protect Ningan Wang’s son as the Crown Prince. However, he was forced to send me into the Imperial City to assist you. My grandfather’s intention is clear: whoever can become the Crown Prince, as long as they are a direct member of the imperial bloodline. But under no circumstances can power-hungry individuals like Chu Xie continue to control the court.”
These words made sense.
Unexpectedly, the person before him was willing to be so valiant for the greater good of the kingdom. Such courage and determination were what a descendant of the border marquis Xu family should possess.
After pondering for a moment, Jiang Yanchi tightly grasped the evidence in his hand. “Very well, Little Marquis Xu. Let’s gamble on this together!”
Win or lose, it would be determined by fate.
If they could win…
Jiang Yanchi turned his gaze to the person behind him, whose eyes were full of determination.
I won’t let you down.
Seven days had passed.
Today, at noon, the second son of the Xue family would be escorted to the execution grounds. He was young, with a promising future ahead of him, but now he was on the brink of losing his life.
It was truly heartbreaking.
Emperor Changping remained seriously ill, disengaged from court affairs as always. However, what shocked everyone was the unexpected presence of the recently crowned Crown Prince.
It felt like an omen of some sort.
The court officials exchanged glances, and when they knelt to pay their respects, their trembling knees showed the sincerity of their obeisance. They wished they could kneel until their knees bled.
Chu Xie, upon seeing the uninvited arrival of the Crown Prince, reacted like a snake spotting its prey, his pupils suddenly contracting.
Jiang Yanchi could almost hear the hiss of a snake.
“Why has the Crown Prince graced us with his presence in the court today?” Chu Xie asked languidly, as he remained seated on the long bench next to the throne.
Jiang Yanchi stepped onto the dais, drawing closer to Chu Xie. As he approached, his gaze turned gradually sharper, like a needle, and he couldn’t help but feel a strange satisfaction.
Jiang Yanchi spoke calmly, “I am the Crown Prince of this nation. With my father’s severe illness, it is only fitting that I take on the role of assisting in governance.”
He pointed his hand towards the long bench beneath Chu Xie.
“This seat belongs to me.”
His eyes were unwavering as he stared at Chu Xie, whose complexion was becoming increasingly ugly.
Chu Xie lowered his voice, signaling the calm before the storm.
“Jiang Yanchi…. do you remember how the former Crown Prince died two years ago?”
This was the first time Chu Xie had publicly addressed the Crown Prince by his full name, abandoning the previous polite pretenses.
“I remember,” Jiang Yanchi replied without a hint of fear. “He was killed by you, and I remember it… very clearly.”
D*mn, the male lead is truly audacious.
Chu Xie couldn’t help but marvel inwardly; this protagonist’s presence was almost overwhelming him.
It was hard to believe that he was only sixteen years old.
Chu Xie’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he slammed the cup in his hand onto the ground with force. It shattered into countless pieces, and in the vast hall, you could hear a pin drop.
“You want to save the person with the surname Xue, don’t you?” Chu Xie sneered, his anger turning into laughter. “Do you have the ability?”
Jiang Yanchi retrieved the account books and letters from his embrace and threw them onto the hall floor, scattering hundreds of them in all directions.
For a brief moment, Chu Xie’s face displayed a rare sign of panic.
“You!” He suddenly stood up, clenching Jiang Yanchi’s throat. His fingers slowly tightened. This was the first time many court officials had seen him in such a frenzied state. “You have planted spies by my side! Jiang Yanchi, I thought you were just an obedient dog. It turns out I underestimated you!”
The court officials were in chaos, and the eunuch who accompanied Chu Xie hurriedly stepped forward to dissuade him. This was happening in front of so many people; they needed to maintain some decorum.
Chu Xie thought to himself, does his villainous character really seem capable of restraint?
So, he released Jiang Yanchi’s throat and gave him a hard shove, sending him tumbling down the steps.
It took him a lot of effort to do so, and afterward, he felt a dull pain in his chest. His throat carried a faint taste of blood.
Was Jiang Yanchi made of steel? Chu Xie had to use so much force to push him down.
Now, things were getting complicated. The one who tumbled down didn’t seem too harmed, but the one who did the shoving seemed to be injured.
Chu Xie sat down on the long bench, propping his head up and trying to control the itchiness. His fragile health couldn’t afford to be exposed now. Coughing a few times was fine; it could be attributed to anger.
But if he accidentally coughed up blood, revealing that he was gravely ill, there might be a rush to eliminate him overnight, perhaps as early as the next night.
With these thoughts in mind, Chu Xie managed to calm his anger. He sat down on a bench and rested his head in his hands, trying to regulate his breathing.
The lord with the faint blush on his face, still slightly panting, had a slightly delicate appearance from a distance, with a hint of charm.
Jiang Yanchi was taken aback by the unexpected word that popped into his mind.
What a mess of thoughts.
Gathering his thoughts, Jiang Yanchi stood up, step by step, each one carefully chosen. He continued to speak calmly, “It’s clear from your haste and your reaction that there’s no need for further investigation; this evidence is genuine. Is it really just a shadow transaction involving imperial officials at the Jinhuan Gambling House? I don’t think so.”
Two years had passed, and Jiang Yanchi had grown to a height of seven feet. He now stood before Chu Xie with an indescribable aura of oppression.
His usually clear and gentle eyes now gleamed with a chilling light.
“You’re also involved in smuggling salt, aren’t you?”
The court officials seated behind finally picked up the evidence and examined it closely. Their faces turned pale; smuggling salt was a grave offense, and for ordinary citizens, it was punishable by the extermination of their entire family.
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