Xu Chunmu’s gaze initially avoided Chu Xie’s eyes, and he stammered, “Uh, I just felt that you must have had your reasons… I didn’t want you to die.”
Chu Xie arched an eyebrow.
It seemed that it was still due to their past lives.
“Chu Xie, why did you want to end your own life?” Xu Chunmu saw that he was in better spirits and handed him a cup of strong, bitter medicine.
Chu Xie remained silent.
Xu Chunmu sighed bitterly and placed the bowl in front of him, looking as if he wouldn’t accept any refusal. “You don’t have to say if you don’t want to, just drink it.”
The night in the Northern Territory was exceptionally long, with a brilliant starry sky stretching endlessly.
Xu Chunmu was probably the only person in this world who didn’t want Chu Xie to die.
Suddenly, his thoughts turned to Jiang Yanchi, that little rascal. If he died prematurely, would it be fortunate or unfortunate for him?
It seemed that Jiang Yanchi’s path to success would become visibly more difficult without him. Nevertheless, it didn’t matter because Jiang Yanchi no longer had any connection to him.
His focus right now was on Xu Chunmu.
With these thoughts in mind, Chu Xie drank the medicine sip by sip.
In the warm blanket, Xu Chunmu held the beautiful person, whose pale cheeks were flushed from the warmth of the medicinal soup. After finishing the bowl of medicine, the faint pink color could be seen on his lips and the tip of his nose.
He looked exceptionally attractive.
Unable to resist, Xu Chunmu’s lips curved into a faint smile as he gently wiped away a bit of residue from Chu Xie’s lips with his clean cuff.
Chu Xie was becoming drowsy, and his eyes were half-closed.
He looked like a lazy cat, tilting his head to the side before falling asleep again.
The Eastern Palace.
“Why has Lord Su summoned me?”
In the darkness behind the bushes, two maids holding lanterns retreated more than ten steps away, their footsteps softened by the flowing water from the artificial stream on the rockery. Most of the voices were masked by the sound of the running water.
The Grand Tutor dressed in a dark purple robe, seemed to have something to discuss, choosing this late hour.
“Does Your Highness know why the Lingcheng County Prince is insistent on quarreling with Young Marquis Xu and humiliating the corpse of Chu Xie?”
When Chu Xie’s name was mentioned, Jiang Yanchi slowly retracted his gaze. Su Mingan stroked his goatee and continued, “Your Highness, as the Crown Prince of the Eastern Palace, do you understand the principles of employing and using officials?”
“What do you mean by this Grand Tutor?”
Jiang Yanchi remained silent, just listening intently.
“Both the living and the dead can be used. Chu Xie has done many wrong deeds in the past, and his reputation is extremely poor. The entire court is angered but dare not speak out. Now that he has fallen from power, Jiang Jingan and the Zhao family want to trample on him to gain a good reputation, creating momentum for their takeover of the Eastern Palace. This shows their ambitious intentions.”
Jiang Yanchi, as if understanding the Grand Tutor’s intentions, took two steps back. “Is the position of the Eastern Palace so desirable?”
Grand Tutor Su sighed as he stroked his beard. “To secure a high position, one must be ruthless. Your Highness, your position as the Crown Prince is currently in jeopardy, and you should make plans early.”
Jiang Yanchi frowned. “Are you here to persuade me to execute Chu Xie publicly?”
Taking a deep breath, he suppressed the melancholy in his heart. “Grand Tutor, please leave.”
“If Your Highness can be ruthless enough to kill him, why hesitate at this last step?” Su Mingan seemed to be testing him. “Your Highness, don’t you understand the way of a ruler….?”
“Is Grand Tutor here to teach me the way of a ruler?” Jiang Yanchi felt a surge of anger in his heart. “Killing a corrupt official to gather public support, but who nurtured this corrupt official in the first place?”
“The ruler nurtured him.”
The Grand Tutor’s straightforward four words stunned Jiang Yanchi as if he had been struck on the head.
Suddenly, he became lively.
In the middle of the night, was Su Mingan here to discuss this?
A sudden flash of insight led him to recall a long time ago, on the Lantern Festival, when Chu Xie was critically ill but still wanted to see someone secretly.
That person was Grand Tutor Su Mingan.
Later, his mother was killed, and Chu Xie successfully supported himself to become the Crown Prince.
“Your Highness, I know you hate Chu Xie deeply. The entire world hates him as well. Such a person must exist. When you were weak, he helped you rise to power. As you grew stronger, you could step on him to rise higher. As long as it’s done properly, even the most venomous snakes and scorpions can become the sharpest blades.”
The cool breeze lifted the hem of Su Mingan’s dark purple robe, embroidered with white magnolias. Jiang Yanchi listened to the chorus of croaking frogs in the water pool, one after another, urging him with their melancholy cries.
The rippling water surface reflected the fragmented moonlight.
“Sir, someone from the Grand Tutor’s has arrived.”
“Chu Xie, don’t think you’re the only ruthless one. In these turbulent times, there are plenty of people willing to resort to violence. Do you really think that aligning yourself with that old fox Su Mingan will bring you any benefits?”
Piece by piece, fragmentary information slowly came together.
In his heart, it formed a conjecture.
“Has Lord Su and Chu Xie had a lot of secret dealings?”
Jiang Yanchi suddenly asked, and he saw a glimmer of admiration in Su Mingan’s eyes.
Su Mingan approached, standing against the moonlight, casting his shadow and obscuring his face.
“Once the rotting mud in the gutter starts to climb out, it often becomes unstoppable. Chu Xie is like that, and so are you, Your Highness. I’ve never been wrong about people. Your Highness is more suitable to be a king than the former Crown Prince and Jiang Jingan.”
Chu Xie indeed had someone behind him.
The first time Jiang Yanchi entered Chu Mansion, he found it strange.
How could Chu Xie, a person with no background who was born as a servant, climb to such a high position and remain unshaken in just a few years?
Chu Xie had long been a thorn in the side of everyone in the capital. He was stubborn and ruthless, making people dare not speak out against him, even though they were angry.
But even for such a person, there were many things that could not be easily arranged in the shadows.
It turned out that he was never alone.
Chu Xie, the eunuch close to the imperial family, was in the light.
Su Mingan, the three-time Grand Tutor and high-ranking court official, was in the dark.
Only in this way could they make the old emperor seriously ill, drag down the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister with a crushing force, and completely sweep away the influence of the former Crown Prince, supporting their own little prince with no background to become the Crown Prince.
“The evidence in Duke Rongguo’s case, was it really you who manipulated it to kill Chu Xie? At that time, Chu Xie was nearly…” Jiang Yanchi paused before continuing, “He was unconscious for many days and had no strength to plot against the Chen family.”
The more Jiang Yanchi thought about it, the colder his spine felt. A gentle breeze passed by, making it feel like the heart of winter.
“Did you already know that Chu Xie would die? He was just your pawn. Su Mingan, you…”
“Do you think he didn’t know he would die?” Su Mingan carefully chose his words, “Isn’t it just kindness begets kindness.”
Jiang Yanchi connected the dots, and the truth became clearer.
“Duke Yue’s residence changed their attitude towards Chu Xie overnight, not because they were people loyal to Ningyuan Wang and betrayed Chu Xie. Su Mingan, the Zhao family, they are all in your hands! If you really wanted to protect Chu Xie, you could have allowed Zhao family to arrive late at Zhao Prison, and I could have killed him. But you needed to kill Chen Lianzhou afterward, so you spared Chu Xie’s life, making him endure the last grudge of the influential figures in the capital for you before his death.”
“Chu Xie was your expendable pawn from the beginning. Used by you, killed by you. Is this the lesson you wanted to teach me about ruling, Minister Su?”
Su Mingan listened to Jiang Yanchi’s lengthy explanation with a calm expression and only responded after he had finished, “Yes.”
“I used him and killed him, all for you. I want to see you ascend to the throne of Great Wei. Jiang Yanchi, it can only be you, and it must be you.”
Jiang Yanchi suddenly stumbled back a few steps.
What was Su Mingan thinking?
“I’ll show you a clear path, Jiang Yanchi. Before Jiang Jingan, crush Chu Xie and win the hearts of the people. Are you willing?”
Jiang Yanchi’s face darkened, and his eyes were like a hawk’s.
No, he was not willing.
Su Mingan, seeing Jiang Yanchi’s reaction, couldn’t help but feel a bit regretful. This young man still had some undesired softness in his heart, despite his determination.
Although he had the resolve to kill Chu Xie, he still couldn’t bear to dismember him into pieces.
This temperament was still lacking a bit.
“Jiang Yanchi, have you ever seen your father? Emperor Changping, Jiang Jinlin. You’ve been alive for seventeen years, but do you know what he looks like?”
Su Mingan’s eyes ignited an unnamed hidden fire, and he was determined to shackle the still-hesitant young man in front of him, dragging him into the abyss.
“I’ll take you to see him.”
In late summer and early autumn, rain fell again on the winding official road in the mountains of the Northern Territory. The carriage, covered in mud, was slowed down and easily slipped, forcing Xu Chunmu to instruct the coachman to slow down even more.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of blades cutting through the air. The coachman outside the carriage grunted and fell from his position.
The carriage suddenly shook violently. Xu Chunmu immediately lifted Chu Xie, pulling aside the carriage curtain, and mounted a horse. With one stroke of his sword, he cut the ropes behind him and spurred the horse forward.
The cold rain hit their faces, and Chu Xie woke up, only to notice several sharp arrows whizzing by his ears. His face turned pale in an instant.
He reached out and grabbed Xu Chunmu’s sleeve, “What’s… what’s happening?”
“They’re chasing us from the capital. Some people there know you’re not dead.”
Xu Chunmu’s voice was low and firm. He pulled the rainproof cloak up higher, shielding them both. “Lower your head and hold onto me.”
Ducking to avoid several poisoned arrows, Chu Xie’s heart clenched. He couldn’t afford to lose Xu Chunmu.
Even if he died, he might still have a chance to try and regain control of his body. But if Xu Chunmu died, the furious soul that would remain, he would have no hope.
“Xu… Xu Chunmu…”
Chu Xie clutched his clothes, “Put me down and save yourself.”
Upon hearing this, Xu Chunmu’s dark brown eyes grew even darker. “I won’t.”
At a fork in the road, Xu Chunmu pulled the reins to steer the horse off the main road and into a deep forest. The slender branches and twigs scraped their clothes, and a few shallow cuts appeared on their faces.
They crossed several ravines and passed through a valley.
In the midst of the pouring rain and strong winds, the horse’s hooves beat urgently. They traversed a shallow stream, splashing water all over themselves.
I will definitely save you.
A javelin suddenly flew out from the depths of a broken gorge, unstoppable, and its crimson tassel on the tip resembled the eyes of a wild beast in the dark night, fixedly staring at the two on horseback.
Xu Chunmu pulled on the reins, causing the horse’s front hooves to lift high, and the javelin pierced the horse’s hind leg instead. Protecting the person in his arms, they tumbled by the riverbank, rolling several times before finally coming to a stop. They both watched the figure in the depths of the broken gorge.
It seemed like an ambush.
This person was extremely familiar with the terrain in the Northern Territory and had apparently planned to kill them here.
How could this be?
After living through another life, after leaving the capital, why couldn’t they escape this cycle of death and danger?
Xu Chunmu looked down at Chu Xie and said, “Don’t be afraid. I will kill him.”
Chu Xie, realizing something, immediately retrieved the original text to see Xu Chunmu’s original fate.
Then he grabbed Xu Chunmu’s arm, his hoarse voice emitting a cry of shock, “Don’t go!”
The original text describes Xu Chunmu’s fate as dying from this red-tasseled Flowing Cloud Spear.
Why, Jiang Yanchi hadn’t even ascended the throne yet, why the h*ll did this spear appear now?!
Chu Xie coughed urgently, his breath uneven, clutching Xu Chunmu’s collar, “You… you will die, quickly, run…”