As the plot deviates from its intended course, without himself as a pawn, Jiang Yanchi had to take risks to secure the throne. He followed in the footsteps of Emperor Xuanhe, using external threats to eliminate internal enemies, even going as far as ordering the assassination of Ningyuan Wang. If it weren’t for Chu Xie and Xu Chunmu’s unexpected intervention, Huchi Er would have breached the North Border, and the thirteen commanderies of the North Border would have had to submit.
Jiang Yanchi was taking quite a gamble.
To secure his position as Crown Prince, he was willing to stake the entire Great Wei Empire.
Now, Jiang Jingan was in an awkward position in the capital. With the chaos in the Western Capital, the region around Lingcheng was also unsafe. He had intended to seek refuge with his uncle, Xiangnan Wang, but Jiang Yanchi had kept him in the capital.
The entire court was filled with an atmosphere of uncertainty.
No one knew what Jiang Yanchi was up to.
While Chu Xie wanted to return to the North Border to stay by Xu Chunmu’s side to prevent any changes, he didn’t know how to broach the subject. For Jiang Yanchi, was he the unforgivable Chu Xie or the Ah Mu who had once saved him?
Would he kill him or spare his life?
Despite the long journey, Jiang Yanchi was determined to bring him back to the capital.
Could it be… the former?
He could abandon the entire Western Border without a second thought, let the war rage on, and sacrifice his own life to ensure the stability of his position as Crown Prince. Why would he have any pity for his insignificant life?
Did he want to make an example out of him, publicly execute him to quell the people’s anger, and pave the way for his ascent to the throne?
Chu Xie suddenly felt restless and glanced at the pitch-black sky outside. He decided to play it safe for now.
Chu Xie lowered his gaze, trying to appear as harmless as possible.
Jiang Yanchi’s tense expression gradually relaxed, and he let out a silent sigh before saying, “Hmm.”
He reached inside and touched the hand stove to check if it still had warmth, and his hand came into contact with that soft and delicate hand. Jiang Yanchi took that hand and gently squeezed it.
Despite its fragility and the fact that the left wrist was still significantly swollen, wrapped in layer upon layer of white bandages, this hand had stirred up the storms and trials of the capital for the past ten years.
“Is it still painful?”
Seeing that Chu Xie remained silent, Jiang Yanchi loosened his embrace slightly.
“Why did you save my mother?” Jiang Yanchi asked in a soft voice.
That’s right. He had left a message and prepared to commit suicide after killing Chen Lianzhou as part of the plot. Now that Jiang Yanchi knew that Duan Se had survived, did that mean there was a higher chance of his own survival?
“She wasn’t suited to live in the capital.”
“What I’m asking is, why didn’t you kill her back then?”
Chu Xie raised his gaze from its lowered position, staring at the Crown Prince before him. “In your eyes, am I someone who should kill everyone in the world?”
The hand that held him stiffened for a moment. “No.”
Upon hearing Chu Xie’s complete silence and his lack of interest in continuing the conversation, Jiang Yanchi felt a twinge of regret for his aggressive approach.
Meanwhile, Chu Xie was trying to figure out how to temporarily secure his life from Jiang Yanchi.
Whitewashing his past was no longer an option, so he had to try selling his pitiful side.
“Jiang Yanchi, I don’t want to kill anyone.” Chu Xie lifted his hand, his fingers delicate and slender, wrapped in layers of bandages around the wrist. “But my hands are stained with blood. I can’t wash it away. People like me will surely go to h*ll, won’t they?”
He reached out and held Chu Xie’s hand, pressing it against his face and caressing it gently.
It was a strange gesture, and Chu Xie suddenly felt that playing the pitiful card might be effective. It seemed that Ah Mu, who had saved Jiang Yanchi, was currently gaining the upper hand.
“Will you kill me…”
“No, I won’t.”
Jiang Yanchi’s response came too quickly, as if he were making a solemn promise. “I will save you.”
It was as if his alter ego had taken over.
Jiang Yanchi was indeed a peculiar person.
For the sake of the throne, he could ruthlessly discard the nine commanderies of the Western Border like a mad dog, displaying the demeanor of an ambitious and heartless schemer. Yet, up close, he appeared somewhat childlike, easy to deceive and coax.
Chu Xie had an idea.
He summoned the system.
“What’s my next task?”
“Host, are you planning to follow the plot now? Didn’t you say you wouldn’t follow the plot anymore…”
“It’s a situational decision. Hurry up and tell me.”
The system quickly displayed the information. “Currently, the completion rate of the plot is 85%. The next plot after ‘Zhao Xuan’s Heart’ is… ‘Kill Jiang Jingan.'”
Yes, Chu Xie recalled the plot summary from the original storyline.
In the original plot, Chu Xie killed Jiang Jingan but managed to escape the charges, igniting the anger of the entire capital city. Later, Jiang Yanchi, unable to tolerate Chu Xie any longer, plotted to bring him down using the death of Jiang Jingan. However, due to insufficient evidence, Jiang Yanchi narrowly lost the case. Chu Xie, realizing that he could no longer control the young Crown Prince, attempted to assassinate him in the suburbs but was framed for the murder of the Eastern Palace. He was eventually executed in the marketplace…
Wait a minute.
“The next task after Jiang Jingan’s death isn’t the suburban assassination, is it?”
“We’re not sure about that… You have to complete this task, whether you succeed or fail, before unlocking the next plot task.”
D*mn it, if that’s the case, this plot must be successful.
The main storyline has deviated too far from the original plot now.
Killing a currently weakened Jiang Jingan is much easier than attempting to assassinate Jiang Yanchi, who sits securely as the Crown Prince.
“Why do you want to unlock the plot again, Host?”
“I want to know why Xu Chunmu died back then…”
Chu Xie continued to analyze the plotline while organizing the information he had gathered in the North Border. “I initially thought that Xu Chunmu died at Chu Xie’s hands while protecting the righteous path. However, it seems that it’s not the case. In this life, I didn’t kill him. I even left with him to the North Border, but that cursed red tassel spear still appeared. If it weren’t for Xu Yi’s troops being nearby in that secluded valley, both of us would have died there.”
“Xu Chunmu’s fate may have nothing to do with Jiang Yanchi or you.”
Chu Xie analyzed vigorously. “So, whether it’s the original plotline where Xu Chunmu earnestly protected Jiang Yanchi, or the distorted plotline where Xu Chunmu was in love with me, or even this life where he clearly escaped all the plotlines and became a bystander… he still can’t escape his destined death.”
“Host, your reasoning seems to make sense.”
Unable to solve this mystery, he would die a confused death when he returned.
What about Little Yin?
The original Chu Xie was a ruthless person. He would take over his body and undoubtedly kill Little Yin out of anger. Thinking of his little sister, Chu Xie suddenly turned pale and hesitated.
He needed to return to the real world.
Little Yin couldn’t be without him.
No matter how difficult this world was, he had to successfully complete it.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jiang Yanchi noticed that something was amiss. Seeing Chu Xie’s forehead covered in fine sweat, he assumed it was due to the jostling of the carriage. He halted the carriage and had someone bring a warm drink.
As if thinking that the bumps in the carriage were causing him great pain, Jiang Yanchi handed him a bowl of medicine. “Drink this; it’s a painkiller. After drinking it, rest well, and we’ll arrive in the capital soon.”
During the night, Chu Xie seemed docile, consuming the entire bowl of medicine. There were remnants of the medicine left on his lips, and Jiang Yanchi used his fingertips to wipe it clean. He watched as Chu Xie’s eyelids gradually drooped, signaling drowsiness.
He had to keep Jiang Yanchi stable first, make him believe that this body was mostly inclined toward goodness, and give himself a chance. Then he could kill Jiang Jingan.
Unlock all the plotlines.
Deduce the true cause of Xu Chunmu’s death.
Suffering from drowsiness, Chu Xie suddenly regained some clarity. He lifted his hand as if grasping for the last straw of salvation, clutching Jiang Yanchi’s sleeve. “Your Highness, I don’t want to kill anyone. I just want to be an ordinary person, but I’ve committed so many sins, and I…”
That hand clutching his sleeve seemed to be grabbing onto the little crown prince’s heart.
“Don’t think like that,” Jiang Yanchi said, lowering himself to press his face against Chu Xie’s head. His eyes reddened suddenly. “None of that is your fault.”
A hand slipped behind Jiang Yanchi and hung loosely around his neck.
Without the warmth of the stove, that hand was as cold as rain, soaking through his back. Close examination revealed that without the scent of cypress to mask it, the medicinal odor on him was overwhelming.
He called out his full name, causing the Crown Prince to become bewildered.
“Sometimes, it feels like as long as one person is alive, there is still hope in this world.” Chu Xie’s voice sounded near, full of resentment, longing, confession, and tears.
“That’s why I saved Duan Se back then.”
Jiang Yanchi’s entire body shivered, and in an instant, he wanted to tightly hold onto the person beneath him, crushing him into his very bones. But in a moment of hesitation, he feared that any slight movement would cause that fragile, snow-like body to shatter and disintegrate.
His nose tingled, but he gritted his teeth and suppressed his actions.
“You are the future monarch of Great Wei, and while you can resent, you mustn’t despair. Crown Prince, I understand the bitter loneliness of being left to stand alone. I don’t want you to fall into such a pit of despair. This world is cruel, seemingly devoid of any hope… but sometimes, all it takes is a single star in the long night to give people the strength to endure the darkness and look forward to the warmth of dawn.”
Just like Little Yin’s existence, which made him fearless in the face of any adversity. He became a bastion, an unyielding shield, the strongest support for that child, trying every method in desperate situations, seeking a way out in the face of insurmountable odds, crossing mountains and rivers just to return home.
He understood that feeling.
“I know what that woman means to you, Your Highness. By keeping her, I can also preserve the last bit of hope and goodness in your heart.”
A tear fell from Jiang Yanchi’s jawline, landing on Chu Xie’s cheek.
“I’m sorry; it’s my fault.”
Jiang Yanchi choked up, “I shouldn’t have incited the barbarian tribes to invade the Western Region, and I shouldn’t have repeated the mistakes of Emperor Xuanhe… as the Crown Prince, I’ve disappointed you, haven’t I.”
Seeing the Crown Prince in such a state, Chu Xie suddenly felt deeply helpless in this world.
This was fundamentally a world where the original host, Chu Xie, couldn’t possibly survive. Although all the plotlines had not been fully unlocked yet, he could already guess that the original host’s identity was likely related to the surviving members of the Shen family from twenty-three years ago when the entire family was wiped out, leaving only him alive.
Carrying such hatred, with no hope of redemption, he could never escape this destined death as long as he continued to live in this world of power, wealth, and struggles.
Xu Chunmu couldn’t save him.
This hatred was a deep-rooted despair that left its mark in his bones. As long as he remained entangled in this cycle of hatred while pursuing his ambitions, there was no possibility of a good ending.
He had traveled through this world, experienced over a decade of the plotlines, and he understood very well—everyone’s life was like a filthy, muddy puddle.
This included the male lead of this story, Jiang Yanchi.
If Duan Se died, he would end up just like Chu Xie, drowned in the additional layers of hatred. Even if he ascended to the throne, his life afterward would be like walking on knives and through fire, forever in solitude.
“I have someone very important too,” Chu Xie’s voice was as gentle as water. “As long as she can live well, I feel that no matter how difficult it gets, I still have the courage to go on.”
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