After comforting Jiang Yanchi, he calculated that he should be able to soften Jiang Yanchi’s heart. This way, he wouldn’t immediately turn hostile and try to kill when they returned to the capital. However, Chu Xie couldn’t resist the heavy drowsiness and fell asleep.
The carriage traveled intermittently along the road, and it seemed that Jiang Yanchi had a good grasp of the dosage of the medicine. Every time Chu Xie woke up, it was nighttime.
Finally, on the eighth night, they arrived in the capital.
Chu Xie woke up on time again in the middle of the night, and he noticed that Jiang Yanchi had not returned to the palace. Instead, he had brought him directly to the Chu Mansion.
As soon as Tao Li saw him from a distance, she started crying, “Sir… sir, you’re still alive? Weren’t you buried already, sir…”
The steward found her to be inauspicious and sent her to the kitchen to brew medicine, then hurriedly called Zhu Qi to tend to Chu Xie.
Zhu Qi also found it strange. Clearly, when he had returned from the palace earlier, Chu Xie had no breath left, so how was it that he was now alive and well before him?
Chu Xie could only push all the responsibility onto Xu Chunmu: “It was because of some tricks I and the Young Marquis played that the wound actually missed the vital artery and didn’t result in death. I originally didn’t want to stay in the capital any longer, which is why I resorted to such a measure.”
Jiang Yanchi’s gaze swept over Chu Xie’s face, and he picked up the medicine that Tao Li had prepared, placing the steaming bowl by the bedside. “In the future, if you have any issues, don’t seek Xu Chunmu’s help; come to me instead.”
Without waiting for Chu Xie to respond, Jiang Yanchi began to fan the medicine with an open fan to cool it down. He added, “But stay inside the capital for now. It’s quite chaotic outside. Don’t go out.”
Chu Xie didn’t answer; he only asked Jiang Yanchi when he planned to leave.
Jiang Yanchi paused with the fan in his hand for a moment, then raised his gaze, “After drinking the medicine, tell me when you want me to leave.”
Chu Xie thought, I need to go kill someone at dawn, so the sooner, the better.
So he took the still-warm medicine and gulped it down in one go. Then, he handed the empty bowl to Jiang Yanchi and said, “I’ve finished the medicine. You can leave now.”
Seeing that Jiang Yanchi’s complexion had turned somewhat unpleasant, he comforted him, “After a long journey, you are the Crown Prince of the Eastern Palace. You must take care of yourself.”
The Crown Prince’s complexion improved slightly at this, and his eyes were slightly red. Indeed, he hadn’t slept well in the past half month. After settling Chu Xie, he left a group of Imperial Guards to guard the Chu Mansion and went back to the Eastern Palace, looking rather weary.
As soon as Jiang Yanchi left, Chu Xie immediately called the steward, “Is Jiang Jingan still in the capital?”
“He is. He was detained by His Highness the Crown Prince. He’s currently staying in Duke Yue’s residence.”
He didn’t stay in Duke Rongguo’s residence but rather in the Zhao family’s residence.
Nevertheless, it was better this way. For Chu Xie, Duke Yue’s residence was easier to infiltrate than Duke Rongguo’s residence.
Without wasting any time, at the crack of dawn, Chu Xie changed into fresh clothes. He opened the gates of the Chu Mansion, removed the two conspicuous white lanterns from the gate, and cut off the white flowers and white silk.
The first rays of morning sunlight fell on Chu Xie.
Word spread quickly, and in no time, everyone in the capital who had risen early knew that the nobleman of the Chu Mansion had faked his death. At a time when people were already anxious, this news only added to their unease.
Chu Xie didn’t waste any time either. He, along with a few hidden guards, calculated the time for breakfast and went to Duke Yue’s residence as if he were visiting just like he had for more than a decade.
The steward stumbled as he went to report, “M-Master!”
“Why are you so flustered?” Duke Yue scolded him angrily, and he slammed the long chopsticks he held onto the table with a clatter.
The steward pointed outside and said, “Ch-Chu… Chu… Chu Zhan… Zhan… Zhangyin…”
Having not heard this name for over half a month, Zhao Xuan thought he was hearing things at first. He muttered, “Chu Zhangyin…” Then, he suddenly woke up and asked, “What happened to Chu Xie?”
“Chu Zhangyin is outside!” The steward was trembling and having trouble articulating his words. “He’s right outside our residence!”
Zhao Xuan’s hand slipped, and the bowl of porridge in his hand crashed to the ground. The maids rushed over to clean up, and they changed his soaked shoes and socks, looking at his reddened feet as they asked, “Young Master, should we call a doctor…?”
Zhao Xuan came to his senses and lifted his foot to walk outside, “What nonsense are you spouting? How could Chu Xie…”
He opened the door with a creak and saw a tall figure outside, clad in a white silk robe that was as clean and crisp as a clean slate.
Chu Xie rarely dressed so plainly, looking like a mourner.
With a jade bun and jade hairpin, his scattered hair on his temples was somewhat messy but couldn’t conceal those peach blossom-like eyes.
Zhao Xuan was starting to doubt whether he was dreaming or not. He took a few steps backward, intending to close the door, but with a glance from Chu Xie and a signal, the guards from the mansion had already propped open the door to the Zhao Mansion.
Chu Xie knew that the situation was different from before. His power and influence were no longer as they used to be. To get Zhao Xuan to hand over the person obediently, he needed to scare him a bit first.
So he slowly pushed open the folding fan in his hand, covering the cold and sarcastic arc at the corner of his mouth, and said softly, “Zhao Xuan, it seems you were quite dissatisfied with me in the past.”
Zhao Shizi trembled all over, then raised his eyes to look at the eight divinatory trigrams mirror above.
Just as Zhao Xuan was thinking that this person must be a real demon, clearly dead, yet now standing before him so vividly, Chu Xie said with a smile, “You want me to die a horrible death, don’t you? Well, forget it, I won’t die.”
Zhao Xuan, listening to the familiar voice and tone, broke out in a cold sweat, his neck damp with perspiration. He pointed at Chu Xie and asked, “How can you cheat a corpse…?”
“Shizi, you’re joking. I didn’t cheat a corpse; I cheated you.”
Chu Xie took a step forward, glanced at Duke Yue behind Zhao Xuan, raised his voice slightly, making sure the Duke could hear, “I didn’t know that even the Zhao family is a lapdog of Ningyuan Wang.”
“I… No, Ah Xie, please listen to me…”
“It’s a pity that with the chaos in the northwest and the death of Ningyuan Wang, he’s completely gone now—useless.” Chu Xie’s gaze swept around the mansion as if he were looking for someone.
Zhao Xuan seemed to have guessed something.
“Chu Xie, you have offended His Highness the Crown Prince. Even if our future days are difficult, do you think you can find a better way out? The situation is unstable now, it’s better for us…”
“Chaos?” Chu Xie interrupted him with a snap of his fan, then clenched it in his hand. “I like chaos the most.”
Duke Yue approached and, seeing Chu Xie up close, confirmed that Ningyuan Wang’s fate in the northwest was not a coincidence. It seemed that Chu Xie was behind it all.
He actually dared to manipulate the young Crown Prince to commit such a treacherous act, even planning to kill the county marquis.
Chen Lianzhou’s death could be accepted, but now, even Ningyuan Wang, who commanded an army of two hundred thousand, couldn’t escape his clutches.
Could it be that the whole world was going to change its surname to Chu?
“Do you want to let bygones be bygones and mend old wounds?” Chu Xie smiled, his autumn eyes shimmering with a ripple of blue. “Sure, you hand over Jiang Jingan to me.”
“The entire lineage of Ningyuan Wang’s three sons has perished on the battlefield, and now only this one remains. The current Lingcheng Wang has already lost his backing, and he can’t shake the position of the Crown Prince. How could Zhangyin not do a good deed, so…”
Chu Xie seemed to find something amusing.
“Me do good deeds?”
Hearing this mocking tone, Zhao Xuan’s face turned pale. He asked, “What do you want Jiang Jingan, Lingcheng Wang, to do? You should give us an explanation first so we can respond.”
Chu Xie’s eyes, as clear as distant mountains, turned cold. There was a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth as he said, word by word, “I want to flay him alive.”
With these words, everyone in the hall was shocked.
Seeing that Zhao Xuan remained motionless, Chu Xie sneered.
“What’s the matter, Zhao Xuan? You were ready to whip me three hundred times in front of him, but now you won’t let me execute him in front of you. You wall weed, how can you be swayed by the wind so easily? This won’t do.”
“Can it be the same?” Zhao Xuan’s complexion changed rapidly. ‘You want to take a man’s life right before my eyes, while he only sought to defile your corpse!”
“Oh,” Chu Xie seemed to grasp something. ‘Then I’ll let him become a corpse first. You can come and defile it afterward, alright.”
“You! You’re distorting my intentions!’ Zhao Xuan furrowed his brow tightly and appeared somewhat anxious. “Ah Xie, we had no prior grievances, so why do you have to provoke me over such trivial matters? In the end—”
Chu Xie, worried that things might drag on and take a turn for the worse, abruptly interrupted Zhao Xuan’s long-winded moralizing, saying, “Hand it over.”
Seeing the fierce determination in Chu Xie’s eyes, the Duke was well aware of Chu Xie’s methods from the past. When you’re on the verge of a crisis, you can’t afford to pass up on immediate opportunities, no matter how small they may be.
In situations like this, one could only temporarily give in. He ordered someone to bring Lingcheng Wang out of the side room.
In any case, with Jiang Jingan dead, Chu Xie will draw the ire of many, and in due time, heaven would come to collect him.
One could only do their best and leave the rest to fate.
Chu Xie saw Jiang Jingan and immediately ordered the guards from Duke Yue’s residence, “Hold him down.” Zhao Xuan couldn’t bear to watch and kneeled on the ground, trembling as he held Chu Xie’s hand, saying with a quivering voice, “Victory and defeat are common in war, and I understand that. But now, I implore you, give him a quick death, don’t let him suffer.”
Chu Xie didn’t say much either, he drew a long knife with a swish and aimed it at Jiang Jingan’s heart.
Zhao Xuan tightly closed his eyes, unable to watch any longer.
“You dare to kill me, Chu Xie! You dare!” Jiang Jingan roared angrily. “I’m telling you, even if I become a ghost, I won’t let you go!”
He had heard this threat too many times.
Chu Xie sneered, “Then become a ghost, I’ll be waiting.”
With that, he raised his knife and thrust it towards Jiang Jingan’s heart.
A long arrow came flying through the air. It didn’t have much force, but it was enough to deflect Chu Xie’s knife several inches, causing the blade to graze Jiang Jingan’s arm, which began to bleed profusely.
Chu Xie turned around and saw the young Crown Prince standing at the entrance of the Zhao mansion, holding a longbow. The Prince, with a pale face, stepped over the threshold and rushed toward him. Duke Zhao and his grandson immediately knelt down as if they had seen a savior. “Your Highness, Your Highness!”
The Crown Prince’s face was as white as wax as he approached. He quickly took the knife from Chu Xie’s hand and threw it far away. Then, he summoned a physician and had Jiang Jingan taken away for treatment.
The Crown Prince’s eyes were bloodshot, and he hadn’t had a moment’s rest. He had rushed over as soon as he received word that Chu Xie seemed to be leaving the mansion. He hurried over immediately and indeed saw Chu Xie heading towards Duke Yue’s residence.
He could not ignore the matter of Zhao Xuan attempting to poison him. Given his vengeful nature, he was sure to seek retribution.
However, he didn’t expect that Zhao Xuan was still alive, and instead, he was about to kill Jiang Jingan first.
Why did he want to kill so many people just because things didn’t go his way? Jiang Yanchi remembered that one night, Chu Xie had shivered and said, “I don’t want to kill anyone,” and now he was watching Chu Xie, with such swift and decisive actions, about to plunge a knife into someone’s heart.
He found it deeply unsettling.
Suddenly, he grasped Chu Xie’s wrist, pulling him several steps away from the Duke’s residence.
“What are you doing, Your Highness?”
“I’m taking you to see a doctor,” Jiang Yanchi’s voice was heavy.
Chu Xie struggled fiercely, tugging at the wound on his wrist. He let out a low cry, and surprisingly, the Crown Prince loosened his grip.
Before he could turn around, Jiang Yanchi grabbed his forearm, pulled him into his embrace, and guided him into the carriage waiting outside the mansion. To prevent any resistance, he untied the sheer sash that bound Chu Xie’s waist and deftly wrapped it around his wrists, securing them together. Chu Xie was pressed down inside the carriage, his wrists bound, as he grimaced with discomfort.
“Back to the Eastern Palace!”
Chu Xie was furious. He was so close to unlocking the entire plot!
This turn of events had alarmed Jiang Jingan, and he feared that he might try to escape from Duke Yue’s residence in response. It would be difficult to find another opportunity as good as this to exact his revenge.
“Chu Xie!” Jiang Yanchi’s voice sounded almost like grinding teeth, and his eyes had a hint of anger. He threatened, “If you dare to kill anyone again, I will…”
Chu Xie interrupted him, “What will you do? Jiang Yanchi, by me killing him, you secure your throne. Why not just turn a blind eye to it, and we can both be at ease…”