Upon hearing these words and observing the self-righteous expressions of those around, Xu Chunmu’s hand trembled for a moment.
Suddenly, he remembered the cheers and words of joy that had filled the crowd when Chu Xie died in his previous life.
“At last, he’s dead.”
‘Perhaps Great Wei will have some good days ahead.’
‘I heard he was a great villain. The former Crown Prince was killed by him…’
His fingernails dug deep into his palm.
In the end, nothing had changed at all.
He thought that by not favoring the young Crown Prince this time, he could witness a different outcome for Chu Xie. But things had repeated themselves, leading to the same ending.
He was dead.
The entire capital city breathed a sigh of relief. Some even wished to see him meet a more tragic fate.
As the sun set, the night grew darker.
At the western city gate.
Jiang Yanchi returned, covered in dust, and had just arrived at the city gate when Little Xizi, the young eunuch, helped him remove his outer robe and change into silk garments. “Your Highness, there’s trouble at the Chu residence again.”
Jiang Yanchi’s expression hardened. “What happened?”
“Young Marquis Xu wants to bury Lord Chu, but two dukes from Duke Rongguo’s Mansion are blocking him. The body was supposed to be buried at the dog hour, but now everyone is crowded at the Chu residence. They won’t allow him to be buried and are demanding the body be handed over for public execution…”
At the mention of the last words, Little Xizi saw a sharp glint in Jiang Yanchi’s eyes.
After taking just a few steps, he saw a familiar figure descending from the city tower, and the tall figure stepped forward, blocking the way of the Crown Prince. “Your Highness.”
Jiang Yanchi raised his head and nodded slightly. “Lord Su.”
“Would Your Highness like to accompany this official for a visit? This official…”
Jiang Yanchi cut him off with a single sentence. “Not now.” He then spurred his horse and entered the imperial city, leaving Su Mingan standing there, staring after the young Crown Prince’s retreating figure with a puzzled expression.
Outside the Chu residence, a large group of people had knelt down.
Leading them was the Chen family from Duke Rongguo’s Mansion.
Jiang Yanchi pulled on the reins when he heard Lady Chen crying, “Chu Xie framed our Duke Rongguo Mansion, and not only that, he had the audacity to come to my mansion and kill someone in the middle of the night. Now the Ministry of Punishments is dragging its feet and refusing to accept this case. We have to take matters into our own hands…”
The gates remained tightly closed.
It seemed that Xu Chunmu was still inside.
Having guarded the border for more than twenty years, the Xu family probably couldn’t handle the rough talk and unfamiliar customs of the capital city. They were not accustomed to the warmth and coldness of human emotions in this place, so they could only stay behind closed doors to delay things.
At least they were able to delay it.
Jiang Yanchi looked at the chaotic scene and frowned slightly.
Lady Chen cried even more bitterly, and she was on the verge of finding a large beam to hit the door. The former Crown Prince’s widow was also standing there with tear-stained clothes, clutching them in her arms.
Just then, a cold voice came from behind. “Who said that Duke Rongguo’s Mansion was framed?”
The sound of horse hooves clattering reached the crowd, and a person arrived in front of the two individuals, saying, “The evidence of the Duke of Rongguo’s Mansion’s poisoning of the Eastern Palace is solid. The Ministry of Punishment’s fire case files might have been destroyed, but do you think that means they won’t be held accountable?”
“Your… Your Highness…”
Duke Rongguo’s wife held the young Shizi tightly, unable to speak for a moment. “This is clearly… the work of Chu…”
“This is clearly the fault of the Ministry of Punishments; this case should have been resolved long ago. If Duchess Rongguo feels wronged, she should kneel outside the Ministry of Punishments and hope that they can investigate and clear the name of your Duke Rongguo Mansion. Why come here to kneel?”
Jiang Yanchi turned his gaze to the former Crown Prince’s widow, and his voice was icy. “Royal Sister-in-law, it has been four years since the death of Royal Brother. The mourning period has long passed. Why are you wearing this white headdress…? What does it mean?”
The former Crown Prince’s widow realized something was amiss. The Emperor was seriously ill now, and this act was a grave taboo. “I dare not… how could I curse the Emperor! This is… my impropriety, I…”
Jiang Yanchi walked over to her, dismounted from his horse, and lowered his voice. “Royal Sister-in-law, if I ascend the throne, my brother was my real brother, and my nephew is a legitimate royal family member. But Jiang Jingan is the son of Ningyuan Wang. If he becomes the Emperor, you and your family will be relegated to a collateral branch, and you might end up with a desolate fief. Your life will only become more difficult… Don’t dwell on the past and be swayed by a few people’s manipulations. Stand on the right side. Consider the future for the sake of my nephew. People must think about the future.”
The young Crown Prince’s words were clear and to the point, piercing right through the crucial points.
The former Crown Prince’s widow opened her mouth but couldn’t speak. She bowed her head and refrained from arguing further.
It was so noisy.
It felt like many voices were mixed together, making Chu Xie’s head ache.
He could also hear the sounds of instruments and the hurried efforts of doctors trying to save him, but it was as if he were locked in a black box, unable to see or touch anything.
“Host! There’s a problem. You can’t reborn right now…”
“What’s the problem?” Chu Xie slowly regained some awareness and asked in a daze.
“Your original body… seems to have been occupied by another soul… I’ve tried many times, but we can’t seize control of that body… unless he voluntarily gives up, we can’t enter that body…”
In the darkness, a deep voice, cold and somewhat familiar, echoed.
“Return to that place, go back to Great Wei.”
“…?!” Chu Xie was shocked and hadn’t said anything yet when he heard the mechanical sounds of instruments growing distant, while inexplicable noise and crying grew closer.
What on earth was going on?
Whose voice was this, and who had taken over his original body?
“If you want me to return your body to you, that’s possible. But you must do one last thing for me.”
Who the h*ll are you?
Is there no moral bottom line left when one invades someone else’s nest and threatens them?! Can’t return to my own body? I just finished explaining the will over there, and now, after finally completing the character arc, I have to be reborn!
“Nine months later, Crown Prince Jiang Yanchi will ascend the throne. That will be the time for Xu Chunmu’s death.”
The voice was low and chilling.
“I want you to save him.”
The voice gradually faded away.
The surroundings were hollow, shrouded in darkness.
The noise grew louder, reaching a critical point, and then turned into a buzzing sound. Chu Xie slowly opened his eyes amidst this piercing noise.
“We are repairing your life-threatening injuries. Three, two, one… Host, try to take a breath…”
Chu Xie hesitated for a long while before weakly exhaling and then slowly inhaling, regaining his breath. His body felt numb, as if he had no sensation at all. After a while, the cacophony of voices arguing outside reached his ears.
“Zhao Xuan, get out of here!”
It was the angry voice of Xu Chunmu.
Yes, he was back again.
This… d*mn it.
“Xu Chunmu, the person is already dead. Why do you want to offend the entire capital city for a corpse?”
Jiang Jingan’s voice, carrying a hint of a subtle threat, could be heard. “Think carefully about whose hands this world will be in the future.”
“Why doesn’t the County Prince understand that the person is already dead? Why won’t you let go? He’s barely cold in the grave, and if he hears these voices, are you not afraid that he’ll…?”
“Oh, this kind of person, once they die, they’re probably already dragged to h*ll by little ghosts. There’s no time for them to wander the human realm at night.”
Jiang Jingan was about to say something else when a servant rushed over and conveyed a message to Zhao Xuan, who then told Jiang Jingan that the Crown Prince was outside and it seemed like he was going to ensure a proper funeral for Chu Xie.
Jiang Jingan didn’t want to face Jiang Yanchi directly at the moment, so he had to leave through a side door, but before leaving, he glanced at Chu Xie’s corpse with a sense of unease.
He just felt somewhat uneasy.
“County Prince, the Crown Prince is coming in.”
Zhao Xuan reminded from the side.
Jiang Jingan could only leave first.
Finally, after things settled down, Xu Chunmu squatted down by the coffin, looking somewhat dazed. He rested his head on his hand, lost in thought.
Chu Xie, what have you done all these years?
How did you end up in such a situation?
Thinking of the face that carefully applied nail polish for him in the middle of the night, Xu Chunmu’s heart gradually became bitter.
Suddenly, a pale hand extended from the coffin and weakly tugged at his sleeve.
Jiang Yanchi finally managed to completely drive away the people outside. Now, he stepped into Chu Xie’s memorial hall, where white silk was hung all around, and plain lanterns lit the Chu Mansion, casting a bright yet dim light.
It was bright and yet gloomy.
Jiang Yanchi felt a dull pain in his heart. His footsteps were slower, as if he were afraid of startling someone.
Entering the main hall, he saw that the coffin had already been sealed, nailed shut.
He couldn’t see the face one last time?
He scattered some of the fruits that Duan Se had given him in front of the coffin, reached out, and touched the long nails on the coffin. His eyes reddened in rings.
For these three days, he had been in a daze, as if he couldn’t think clearly about anything. But seeing Duan Se had brought back some vitality to him. His thoughts were even clearer now than usual.
He had just found Ah Mu.
And now, he was dead.
Together with Chu Xie, they were completely buried in this coffin.
The pitch-black coffin lid concealed all the good and evil, grudges and grievances. Soon, it would be completely buried in the yellow earth.
The things he wanted to know…
He could never know now.
Xu Chunmu held a white candle, standing in front of the coffin. When he saw Jiang Yanchi standing there, he was startled for a moment and almost dropped the candle.
“Your… Your Highness…”
Jiang Yanchi looked at the candle in his hand with a dim expression, not really questioning.
“Yes, thank you, Your Highness. At least we didn’t miss the auspicious time for the burial.” Xu Chunmu observed Jiang Yanchi’s expression and placed the candle in front of the coffin before covering it with a plain shroud. “Your Highness, are you considering escorting him for his journey?”
Xu Chunmu hesitated without moving. It seemed like he was politely declining.
Jiang Yanchi explained further, “I didn’t kill him. On that day, I saved him. The wound in his chest… it was self-inflicted.”
Xu Chunmu’s hand paused, and the lantern flickered as if it was about to be blown out by the wind, nearly extinguishing the flame. His face turned pale.
He didn’t want to live anymore.
“I thought Your Highness hated him as much as the others did.”
Jiang Yanchi remained silent.
As everything was prepared and they turned to leave, Jiang Yanchi covered the hint of sorrow in his eyes and said, “Let’s go.”
The coffin was lifted out of the Chu Mansion, and the servants walked steadily on the stone-paved road. A chilling breeze blew toward them, carrying a somewhat eerie atmosphere.
They were afraid too. They had heard that Chu Zhangyin, despite his high position, had done many unspeakable things. They were afraid that even in death, his resentful spirit would not find peace and might even turn into an evil ghost.
Their pace involuntarily quickened, and in no time, they had left the capital city.
“Your Highness, I’m really not suited to be your Crown Princess.” Xu Chunmu chose his words carefully. “I prefer the carefree environment in the northern border. Tonight, I plan to set off for the northern border.”
“Very well,” Jiang Yanchi’s voice was low, as if it didn’t really register.
“After tonight, I won’t return to the capital city. But Your Highness need not worry—I will expand the territory for you along the northern border, sparing you the trouble and worries.”
“You also feel that the Western Capital’s Imperial City is a place where one doesn’t want to stay for long, don’t you?” Jiang Yanchi said emotionlessly. “The so-called Imperial City is just a city built upon a pile of dry bones. All the splendor and prosperity you see are like flowers growing on the nutrients of those bones.”
“It only makes people want to leave and those who wish for death to die.”
In the dark night, Xu Chunmu caught a glimpse of the profound sadness in Jiang Yanchi’s eyes.
“Your Highness, that’s a bit too harsh.”
When they arrived at the burial site, looking at the freshly dug pit, Jiang Yanchi asked with a deep gaze, “Will a person lying this deep underground feel cold?”
“They won’t feel cold once they’re dead.”
Xu Chunmu waved his hand, and the coffin was lowered into the earth. The pit was gradually filled with shovelfuls of soil until it was level.
Once all the dust had settled, Jiang Yanchi extinguished the lantern in his hand and, illuminated by the dim moonlight, he gazed at the newly dug grave before him.
Jiang Yanchi’s voice remained cold. “How much do you know about Chu Xie?”
Xu Chunmu’s entire body trembled.
“The Yongan Rebellion began with a complaint filed by the Chen family and resulted in a bloodbath in the capital city and the thirteen border counties. Three ethnic groups fought bitterly, and the land was left in ruins. Thousands were slaughtered in the imperial city, and the bloodshed continued…”
“He must have wanted to kill Chen Lianzhou because he was involved in the Yongan Rebellion, isn’t that right?”
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