Chapter 4: Chu Xie
* position title
A voice called out from behind, and Chu Xie saw Zhao Xuan, Duke Yue’s Shizi, dismounting from his horse. He greeted Chu Xie with a bow and asked, “What a rare encounter, meeting Zhangyin Chu at the hunting grounds.”
Zhao Xuan Shizi, was a few months older than Chu Xie, but he still had a youthful and spirited look. He had a well-proportioned physique and made a crisp and efficient dismount.
“Oh, staying at home can be quite boring. I brought some people out to relax a bit.”
He didn’t return the courtesy of a bow to Zhao Xuan and slightly raised his chin instead, creating some distance between them. Only then did Zhao Xuan notice the unfamiliar child standing behind Chu Xie.
He glanced at the young boy, who seemed to be around thirteen or fourteen years old. “I haven’t seen this person before, which family is this young master from?”
Chu Xie, who was known for his manipulative political maneuvering and had often outwitted others, was both feared and sought after by many. Despite their fear, many people still wanted to engage with him.
However, they had never seen Chu Xie playing the role of an attendant, leading around some young noble.
He couldn’t help but take a closer look at the young boy.
“This child is Jiang Yanchi,” explained Chu Xie.
Zhao Xuan’s expression changed.
Jiang Yanchi, that Jiang Yanchi?
At this delicate moment, why did Chu Xie bring this mother and son out of the Cold Palace?
One should know that the eldest son of Ningyuan Wang, who is protected by Marquis of Zhenguo mansion, is already on his way to the capital.
Zhao Xuan was not naive. He looked back and forth between the three of them and, after some careful consideration, vaguely guessed Chu Xie’s intentions.
He pulled Chu Xie aside and walked a few more steps. “Are you trying to place this child on the throne?”
Chu Xie openly admitted it,
“You’re mad. He has some Yue Clan blood in him! No one will agree to make him emperor! Besides, the Marquis Zhenguo, Ningyuan Wang, and Duke Rongguo, all three are jointly supporting the candidacy of Jiang Jingan for the crown prince position. Why would you wade into this troubled water?”
“Jiang Jingan cannot become emperor,” replied by Chu Xie, “The Emperor has his own biological sons, so there’s no chance for him.”
“But Jiang Jingan is the legitimate grandson of the late Emperor! Moreover, Ningyuan Wang and Marquis Zhenguo both control military power. This won’t be an easy situation to deal with…”
Chu Xie cast a sidelong glance at the child who was stumbling not far away on the horse and stated confidently, “I want Jiang Yanchi to become the emperor.”
You might ask why.
Because, d*mn it, this is the script I must follow.
“The Qintian Observatory has calculated that recently, there has been a red halo in the northwest, a sign of the movement of the imperial star and the rising of the Purple Weasel star. And where is Jiang Jingan currently? In the northwest! Moreover, a few days ago, he passed by the Yunhua Temple and casually drew a divination lot, and it turned out to be the Emperor’s Decree! There’s only one in a thousand miles! This must be fate!”
The Emperor’s Decree, for heaven’s sake. Superstitious nonsense.
Chu Xie’s mind started working, and Zhao Xuan inadvertently awakened him.
He pulled the child off the horse, patted the dust off his sleeve, and said, “Let’s go.”
“What are we doing?”
Chu Xie looked at Duan Se and said, “Niang Niang will know when we get there.” He then turned to Zhao Xuan and waved his hand, indicating that he had something to do and would leave first.
The Lingmiao Temple was always filled with the scent of burning incense. As Chu Xie watched the abbot hand the divination cylinder to Jiang Yanchi, the child glanced back at him outside the temple. Chu Xie nodded gently, indicating that he should boldly draw the divination lot.
One lot was drawn.
The temple’s bell rang suddenly, startling the magpies perched in the trees.
“It’s the Emperor’s Decree…”
“The Emperor’s Decree…”
“How could this be? Didn’t Ningyuan Wang’s son…”
There was a stir among the people in the temple. The elderly abbot, with a sincere expression, bowed in prayer before the Buddha.
Jiang Yanchi glanced at the lot in the abbot’s hand, tilting his head slightly. Through the gaps between the numerous figures outside, he saw the person who had remained motionless, standing still outside the temple.
He didn’t smile.
His eyes gazed emptily at the Buddha in front of him.
In that moment, Jiang Yanchi felt something.
This person dared to tamper with such matters—he didn’t believe in gods or Buddhas at all, and that made him fearless. People who didn’t believe in gods or Buddhas were often quite frightening.
After leaving the temple, Jiang Yanchi remained silent throughout the journey back.
The disturbing premonition weighed heavily on his heart, making it difficult to breathe.
Chu Xie wanted him to become the Crown Prince.
Jiang Yanchi finally confirmed this.
Just as they returned home, a notification of death was delivered to their residence.
Without even opening it, they heard the steward say, “My lord, the Crown Prince… has taken his own life.”
Jiang Yanchi’s pupils suddenly contracted, and his gaze fell upon the notice of death.
Chu Xie’s fingers were slender and graceful, untouched by even a speck of dust.
The servants handed him a warming stove and draped a snowy white cloak over his shoulders.
His face was hidden in the warm snowflake fluff, and his eyelashes fluttered like butterflies, concealing the darkness and silence that filled his eyes.
“For now, don’t tell His Majesty. His health is not good, and he may not be able to bear this sad news.”
The words were gentle and considerate.
He, alone and fearless, had no qualms about being bound by power. However, he hoped that his mother could live a safe, happy, and carefree life forever.
As for the crown prince position, he could do without it.
But the next day, news spread throughout the capital that the young prince in the Chu Residence had drawn the Emperor’s decree. Almost everyone in the city discussed who would become the new crown prince, whether it would be the young prince or the young county prince.
The battle for the crown prince position was like an arrow drawn to the bowstring.
It had to be released.
An arrow was shot.
It traced an arc through the air and landed in the grass, far from hitting the target, even missing it by a large margin.
The master had been diligently teaching for several days, but the young highness still couldn’t draw the bow.
In the Great Wei, the country was established through martial prowess. To be honest, they had never seen a prince as useless as this.
Chu Xie, perched on a distant platform, munched on melon seeds. When no one was around, he didn’t need to put on a fake smile, and he vented his frustration to the system.
“Is he capable or not… He doesn’t recognize characters, can’t draw a bow, and is neither scholarly nor martially talented. Did I pick the wrong male lead?”
“You didn’t pick the wrong one. It’s him, surnamed Jiang, named Yanchi, with the courtesy name Feng Yu,” the system confirmed seriously and comforted, “He might be… a late bloomer.”
“Late bloomer?” Chu Xie threw a handful of melon seeds onto the table and complained, “He’s going to be too late! The son of that royal family is about to arrive in the capital, and he’s talented in both literature and martial arts, a true all-rounder! My own family’s child is like this. How am I supposed to follow the script and get him on the throne? I give up. This mission is too difficult. This male lead is a complete failure!”
Hearing that Chu Xie wanted to give up, the system panicked.
“There will definitely be a turning point later! Host, don’t rush… Besides, even if the male lead is a bit weak, your villain BUFF is still very strong. You need to think of a way…”
Think of a way? You want me to think of a way!
Chu Xie was overwhelmed, and he sat back down.
As soon as he sat down, he saw the young Crown Prince, who was helpless and apologetic, shoot another arrow. This time, he shot it farther, almost hitting the target, but still falling short.
Chu Xie watched the young highness, who seemed out of his depth and was earnestly apologizing. He felt a wave of darkness pass over him.
“He grew up in the Cold Palace and doesn’t know anything properly… Host, how can you be so critical of him…”
Another arrow was shot, and this time, he didn’t even draw the bowstring properly. As soon as he released it, the arrow slipped from his hand and fell in front of him.
“At the very least, he’s… very cute…” The system’s voice grew weaker.
The young highness picked up the arrow, crouched on the ground, and looked like he was on the verge of tears after failing so many times.
Chu Xie was on the verge of tears too.
Little ancestor, what’s going on? You seemed fine a few days ago. How did you turn out to be such a loser?
“He went to war later on. Let me see… It was when he was eighteen… Oh, right, it was the year after you were executed by Ling Chi.”
Chu Xie’s temples throbbed.
He had almost forgotten about Ling Chi.
Chu Xie, such a formidable character, was executed by such a loser… Do you even know how to write “Ling Chi”?
He was getting really frustrated.
“Isn’t there another guy who’s supposed to come into the story? They said he’d be helping from the righteous side. Where is he? If he doesn’t come to help soon, I might as well be done for.”
What a trashy protagonist.
An utterly helpless figure.
“Let me see… It’s almost time, just two more months. Host, please hold on a little longer. After Jiang Yanchi is crowned Crown Prince, the second host will arrive in two months… Then you won’t be fighting alone anymore…”
Two more months?
Chu Xie felt like pulling out his hair.
They even said they would torment him later, make him suffer. Look at his wilted appearance, always acting like a little girl, so submissive.
Just like his clueless mother, who does nothing but cry, if we really torment him, he might end up jumping into the moat.
By then, don’t even mention the two supporting roles breaking down, the main storyline will collapse even faster, and we’ll skip straight to the bad ending.
“Host, you have to think of a way… If you don’t come up with a solution soon, our little protagonist’s position as the crown prince will be taken by that little county prince…”
“You d*mn… Always asking me to come up with a solution! I’ve thought of so many solutions along the way, but the protagonist is so useless that he can’t even compete for the position of the crown prince. Do you think it’s appropriate to let the villain come up with a solution?” Chu Xie was getting angry and couldn’t help but vent, “What can the villain do? The villain is also desperate!”
“Cry, all of you just know how to cry!”
With a dripping sound, Chu Xie closed the system.
Chu Xie felt a cold wind on his face and instinctively wrapped his cloak around him while hugging the golden warming stove.
“At least this stove still has some warmth.”
“Prepare the sedan chair. We’re going out.”
At a small inn along the official road several miles outside the city, a group of officials dressed in luxurious attire sat and enjoyed their tea.
The horse-drawn carriage bore the conspicuous characters ‘Ning An.’
It was the entourage accompanying the son of Ning An Wang, Jiang Jingan.
Jiang Yanchi concealed himself in the shadows of the woods, observing from afar. The horses came to a halt, and everyone’s attention was drawn to the beautifully carved redwood sedan chair with beaded curtains.
Ning An Wang had been away in the northwest for quite some time, and most of his followers had grown accustomed to the harsh cold.
It was the first time they had seen such a beautiful sedan chair.
When the beaded curtains were lifted, Chu Xie, holding a golden warming stove and draped in a pure white cloak, gracefully stepped down from the carriage. Palace guards supported him.
The officials couldn’t help but stare, and even the tea cups in their hands were forgotten, leaving them with red marks from the scalding tea.
Such a beautiful person.
Autumn eyes like a crescent moon, brows like distant mountains. Delicate hands whiter than those of a woman.
He was incredibly good-looking. Were all the people in the imperial city like this?
Hearing some commotion outside, County Prince Jiang Jingan walked out from the relay station and coincidentally made eye contact with Chu Xie, who had just stepped out of the sedan chair.
Jiang Jingan’s throat constricted, and he hesitated for a moment.
Chu Xie hadn’t spoken yet, but his pitch-black eyes turned and met Jiang Jingan’s gaze.
He thought, “Finally, I’ve caught you, you little rascal.”
At a time like this, causing chaos and fighting for the throne, what’s the point?
Lord Chu came to teach you how to behave.
A serene smile adorned his face as the beautiful figure approached. The delicate scent of cypress filled the air and a gust of cold wind lifted a strand of his hair, creating an enchanting scene.
“If it isn’t the County Prince.”
Ah, the beauty’s voice was pleasant as well.
Jiang Jingan felt his heart melt, and he was so absorbed in looking at Chu Xie that he unconsciously nodded. He cleared his throat, feigning composure, and politely greeted, “It’s been a while since I’ve been to the capital. May I ask which esteemed person you are in the court?”
“I am Chu Xie.”
Those four words hit him like a thunderbolt on a clear day.
Chu Xie, on the other hand, remained completely calm. He found a clean spot, had his attendants wipe it down again, and then sat down leisurely. He also ordered a pot of hot tea.
“Why has the County Prince come to the capital?”
“Oh, I heard that His Majesty is seriously ill, and Duchess Rongguo is my aunt. It was at her request that His Majesty allowed me to come in place of my father to visit…”
“I see,” Chu Xie smiled charmingly, almost dazzling the County Prince in this remote and desolate place.
“But this is not a good time. The capital has been quite chaotic lately.”
Jiang Jingan inquired, “Are you referring to the matter of the Crown Prince? Honestly, I came here because I wanted to see my cousin, the Crown Prince, again…”
Chu Xie interrupted him with feigned sorrow, “the Crown Prince has already been imprisoned in the Zhao Prison.”
Jiang Jingan’s back stiffened.
A bone-chilling coldness pierced his soles and surged up to the top of his head.
“What did you say?”
“I said the Crown Prince has been in Zhao Prison for ten days.”
Hearing this, Jiang Jingan gasped for a cold breath.
Although Chu Xie’s expression appeared to be filled with sorrow and regret, the glint in his eyes was ice-cold.
“So pitiful. I visited him once in Zhao Prison, and his body, truly, had no unscarred flesh. Even the wolf-toothed whip they used had spikes on it, and with one lash!” Chu Xie gazed at Jiang Jingan, and as he spoke, he noticed Jiang Jingan’s shoulders trembling. A sinister smile crept across Chu Xie’s lips. “That blood would congeal into pearls, dripping down bit by bit.”
The County Prince before him had a look of trembling unease in his eyes.
His knees went weak, and he nearly stumbled to the ground in a few faltering steps. Fortunately, one of his attendants reached out to support him, helping him stay on his feet.