The news of the great victory in the northern border undoubtedly elevated the prestige of the new emperor.
With the might of 800,000 strong and robust cavalry of the Wala and Tatars, they were unstoppable as they conquered Liangzhou, Suning, and the northern Shanxi. As they approached the capital, within three months, they were all completely wiped out by the Dingyuan army. This was nothing short of a miracle, causing widespread jubilation among the people. The belief that the Emperor of the New Dynasty was the reincarnation of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, grew even stronger.
Late at night, within the Marquis Zhenbei’s residence.
The conference hall was cleared of attendants, even the trusted guards were dismissed and stationed outside in layers, preventing anyone from approaching.
A sound of shattered glass echoed from inside the conference hall. The guards exchanged puzzled looks. However, due to the Marquis Zhenbei’s orders, no one was allowed to approach under any circumstances. Thus, they all remained in their positions, not daring to make any hasty moves.
Inside the conference hall, the Marquis Zhenbei, Sima Ji, had a look of astonishment and anger on his face. His chest rose and fell heavily, as if he found it hard to believe. He then asked in a deep voice, “Yu’er, this matter is of great significance. You must not utter a single word of falsehood.”
Sima Yuer’s face was as pale as paper. He recounted all the events that had happened to him.
The more Sima Ji listened, the more shocked he became. Such supernatural events were hard to believe. However, knowing his only son well, he was certain that he would not fabricate such a story. Moreover, the details he provided answered many of his own questions.
Liang Haduo, a figure of great importance, the top general of the Wala, had never suffered a defeat like this before. The beast he described was born with incredible strength and unique talents. Without exceptional foresight, it would have been impossible to achieve such a swift victory against an 800,000-strong cavalry.
Even though Sima Ji had such composure, he couldn’t help but change his expression when he considered the depth of the matter.
“What about the Emperor?” Sima Ji pressed, “Is he in a similar situation?”
Sima Yu struggled to speak, “He is… also reborn!”
Sima Ji was instantly furious. He slapped Sima Yu’s face hard, causing him to stumble and fall onto a nearby table.
“You fool!” Sima Ji’s frustration was evident, and he took a few rapid steps forward, grabbing Sima Yu’s collar tightly. “Why didn’t you say so earlier? Why?!”
Sima Yu closed his eyes in agony. A father knows his child well, and in just a few moments, Sima Ji had already deduced his thoughts. He was so furious that he could hardly contain himself: “Useless! Useless!”
He angrily scolded, “In this world, what do those trivial emotions matter? As long as the world is in our hands, there’s no person you can’t have!”
As long as Emperor Chao Yuan carries the bloodline of the House of Sima, and when the Dragon’s Seed is born, leaving the child with the mother, this realm will be under the name of House Sima! However, his own child is exceptional in every way, except for being too affectionate. He unexpectedly fell for a woman of low birth, a girl from a humble family who is not suitable for the court. Initially, Sima Ji planned to use Emperor Chao Yuan to break his feelings for that girl from the Lin family. Not only would this sever his emotional ties, but it would also prevent him from developing any unusual feelings for the stunning Emperor Chao Yuan. But who would have thought, before he could take action, news came that the girl from the Lin family had drowned.
Originally, he thought the heavens were favoring the House of Sima. However, as he thought more about it, his heart filled with unease. Considering all the various factors, even this strange and extraordinary phenomenon couldn’t be dismissed.
That servant from the Ye You Courtyard must have been reborn, and even that son of the infamous concubine must have similarly aligned fates. They must have already formed an alliance in secret, united for their sinister purposes. He needed to prepare for this!
Furthermore, even if that ferocious beast wasn’t reborn, the attention he was receiving was too much. In the court where Sima held power, it couldn’t tolerate the existence of such a character. The ferocious beast’s father had once been quite influential, yet in the end, he was crushed by Sima Ji himself. Now, even if this ferocious beast had insight, he was nothing more than a fledgling, barely standing on his own feet. What was there to fear?
Sima Ji quickly composed himself. He squinted his eyes and said, “Let’s leave aside the rest for now. I’ll ask you this: where is the girl from the Lin family hiding?”
Tears streamed down Sima Yu’s face, and he dared not deceive any longer. He knelt heavily, pouring out everything.
Sima Ji clenched his fists. “Good, this is what a true son of the House of Sima should be.”
It seemed he thought of something, his sharp gaze narrowing slightly. “And then there’s Emperor Chao Yuan…”
Sima Yu’s heart was in chaos. Suddenly, he remembered the Emperor’s distant look. Amidst the tangle of thoughts, fear arose within him, although he couldn’t put his finger on the source of that fear.
He lowered his head and bowed deeply. “Father, I know what to do.”
On his way to the palace, Sima Yu’s thoughts were in turmoil. At times, scenes from his past life emerged before him, and at other times, he saw moments from his current life, leaving his heart in a state of turbulence. His emotions soared like a bird in the sky one moment and then plunged into icy waters the next, never finding a moment of peace.
After being announced by the chief eunuch, Sima Yu composed himself, suppressing the turmoil within him. With a controlled expression, he hurriedly walked into the inner chamber.
The palace was brightly lit, with wisps of smoke from the dragon-headed incense burner curling up, creating an atmosphere of tranquility.
The new emperor sat at the head of a table, diligently writing something. He seemed entirely focused.
Sima Yu cleared his throat, mustering a warm smile on his face as he approached and bowed respectfully. “I, Sima Yu, pay my respects to Your Majesty.”
Li Yuanmin looked up at him, a faint smile playing on his lips. “Ah, it’s you, Chongmo. Wait a moment.”
Dipping his brush into a pool of ink, Li Yuanmin quickly finished a few strokes before setting down the brush. He swept a satisfied gaze over the writing before him.
“You’ve come at the right time. I was just about to show you this.”
With a slight shake, he completed the drying of the ink on the decree. He then handed it over to the chief eunuch, who had been waiting attentively.
The chief eunuch respectfully received the decree, his manner quiet and discreet. He proceeded to hand it to Sima Yu.
Sima Yu was baffled and looked at the decree several times. Suddenly, his face turned pale. He raised his head in disbelief and stared at Li Yuanmin.
It was a decree of appointment, promoting Lin Xian, the valiant captain, from the eighth rank to the fifth rank as Deputy Chief of the Imperial Secretariat.
Li Yuanmin explained with a smile, “I originally wanted to directly grant a second rank, but I feared that the stubborn officials in the court would raise objections. So, I’ll start with this rank for now. Rest assured, I’m mindful of this matter. I won’t let the two of you have too great a disparity in status.”
Sima Yuy looked at him in a daze, finding no trace of ulterior motives in his eyes, only a serene warmth.
Lin Xian, the father of Lin Wushu, in his previous life, had been in love with her. But that love was severed by Sima Ji, his father, using another person. In this life, even though their relationship had faded, his heart remained greedy and he didn’t want to miss any regrets. Hence, one of the first things he did after being reborn was to hide her away. He had thought he had done so secretly and unnoticed.
Sima Yu’s throat moved, there was a hint of redness in the corners of his eyes. “How did you know?”
He seemed to regain his composure and hurriedly explained, “It wasn’t what you’re thinking. It was just a passing affection. I couldn’t bear to see her suffer such a fate. A Min… you understand me.”
Li Yuanmin listened and lowered his gaze. A faint smile appeared at the corner of his lips. He stood up and walked slowly towards the table step by step.
Wearing casual attire, he was slender and graceful, with only a slight bulge in his lower abdomen, which trembled slightly with his steps.
Sima Yuy’s pupils suddenly contracted, and he stared at the inexplicable protrusion on Li Yuanmin’s abdomen.
“How can this be…”
When he realized what was happening, his mind suddenly went blank. He opened his mouth, but found himself unable to utter a sound.
He had never been more afraid than he was at that moment. Trying to remain calm, his voice trembling, he asked, “Is it the Red Tiger King?”
Li Yuanmin looked at the noticeable bump on his abdomen, gently touched it with his fair hand, and a smile played on his lips. “If you want to live, you have to pay a price.”
He looked at Sima Yu, the smile on his lips still faint. “The young marquis told me about this. Isn’t that right?”
Sima Yu’s face turned red. He had no regard for his own dignity anymore and croaked, “Guards! Summon the imperial physician!”
“Quickly! Fetch the imperial physician!”
Holding a medicine box, He Yunyi hurriedly arrived at the main hall. His anxious gaze first fell on Li Yuanmin, seeing that he was fine, which brought him some relief. However, this relief didn’t last long before anxiety surged again.
How could he reveal his pregnancy in front of outsiders? Especially in front of the Regent prince’s son, Sima Yu?
Seeing Li Yuanmin smile gently, as if to reassure him, he said, “Physician He, please examine my pulse. Be sure to tell the young marquis everything you find out.”
He Yunyi’s brows slightly furrowed, but when he saw Li Yuanmin’s composed expression without a hint of panic, he cleared his throat and stepped forward to take his pulse.
Before half an incense stick’s worth of time had passed, Sima Yu couldn’t wait any longer and asked, “How far along?”
He Yunyi glanced at Li Yuanmin, who had already closed his eyes, seemingly resting. He lowered his head and replied, “It’s been more than six months.”
Sima Yu’s breath suddenly became heavier. Feeling like a hot potato, he stood still. He abruptly turned his head, his eyes reddening slightly. “Take it out!”
He Yunyi exclaimed in shock, “No, it’s not advisable!”
Perhaps realizing his own loss of composure, He Yunyi eased his breath slightly. He bowed earnestly and said, “Please pardon me, Young Marquis. His Majesty’s fetus has reached such a stage of development that inducing a miscarriage would be perilous. Moreover, His Majesty’s constitution is frail. Using such drastic measures could lead to….”
He swallowed nervously, his voice trembling slightly, “Bleeding to death.”
Swaying his body heavily, Sima Yu closed his eyes tightly. After a long, long moment, he took a deep breath and opened his eyes again. He clenched his teeth fiercely, “Life and death are beyond human control… Moreover, His Majesty is blessed and well-protected. How could a mere concoction endanger the royal body? Just bring it!”
He Yunyi couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He said urgently, his voice trembling, “It’s not advisable! It’s a matter of life and death! Moreover, he’s the ruler of the nation! How can Young Marquis be so impulsive?”
Seeing the highly regarded imperial physician acting so defiantly, Sima Yu couldn’t contain his anger, “How dare you! You’re just a physician, and yet you’re acting so insolently! Are you not afraid of implicating your entire family?”
A light laughter broke the stalemate between the two. It was Li Yuanmin, who had remained silent until then. He spoke, his demeanor still warm and gentle, as if they hadn’t been discussing such a serious matter just moments ago.
Taking a sip of tea and setting the cup aside, he said to Sima Yu, “Why get so angry, Chong Mo? Resorting to violence and killing at every turn doesn’t befit the reputation of a scholar from Danyang.”
Standing up, he adjusted his sleeves and continued, “Let’s leave for now. We can discuss this matter further later.”
Sima Yu’s mind was in turmoil, unable to think straight. He looked at Li Yuanmin’s visibly pregnant belly, finding it glaringly disturbing. At that moment, he wasn’t thinking about the fate of his family or about wielding power over the world. There was only one thing he was absolutely certain about – he had to eliminate the illegitimate child in Li Yuanmin’s womb. Only his own child could exist; there was no room for anyone else’s in his belly!
He roared hysterically, and soon dozens of Imperial Guards rushed in hastily.
Sima Yu’s eyes were blood-red in a horrifying manner, “Your Majesty needs to rest. Let’s take him to the rear hall temporarily. He must not step out of the hall.”
However, the Imperial Guards didn’t move an inch. Li Yuanmin, who was at the forefront, just lightly massaged his temples, appearing somewhat weary.
After a while, the leader of the Imperial Guards walked towards Sima Yu, his expression grave:
“Young Marquis, this is a solemn place in front of His Majesty. You must not make such a disturbance. Please leave.”
A chilling feeling gradually rose from the soles of Sima Yu’s feet, making him shiver all over. He glanced at the leader, who should have been obedient to his Sima family, but the situation was not as expected. How many hidden hands had the Red Tiger King left? How many of their confidants were controlled by that ferocious beast?
Looking at the person on the table who remained calm and composed, a sudden fear surged in Sima Yu’s eyes. His chest heaved heavily, unable to maintain his composure any longer. He hurriedly rushed out of the hall.
He Yunyi breathed a sigh of relief, only then realizing that his back had been soaked with a layer of cold sweat.
He wiped the sweat off his forehead and was about to disregard etiquette to ask Li Yuanmin some questions, but he noticed that Li Yuanmin’s gentle gaze had already focused on his face.
“Zhihe, don’t worry.”
Li Yuanmin smiled gently. Even though He Yunyi had countless questions in his heart, under this gentle and unwavering gaze, he gradually lost the desire to inquire. He returned the smile, “Alright, then I’ll go back.”
Li Yuanmin nodded.
Outside the hall, several dark clouds appeared in the previously clear sky, indicating the brewing of a storm.
In early July, the Dingyuan Army returned to the capital.
The court held a grand military ceremony at the Xuanwu Gate. Emperor Chao Yuan himself ascended the towering platform and personally rewarded the tens of thousands of Dingyuan Army soldiers who fought for Bei’an.
The people of the capital poured out, forming a sea of people under the towering Xuanwu platform. Finally, the citizens of Bei’an saw Emperor Chao Yuan’s resplendent face, resembling that of a bodhisattva. They spontaneously knelt down, shouting “Long live.”
The resounding cheers seemed to shake the heavens and the earth, continuing without dispersing.
The army camp was stationed outside the city, while the deputy generals and above were stationed in the capital. Even before the Dingyuan Army set out, Emperor Chao Yuan had already granted Dingyuan Army’s chief commander, Ni Lie, a grand and majestic General’s Mansion. However, that night, General Ni Lie, who returned in triumph, declined numerous banquets. Quietly, he appeared in the inner palace.
The imposing chief commander who commanded thousands of troops and had an awe-inspiring presence was kneeling on the ground like a servant, personally washing the Emperor’s feet.
The tall and mighty general gripped the snow-white jade foot tightly in his hand, firmly holding it in his palm, “I, for the sake of Your Majesty’s country and nation, have exhausted all my efforts and wasted my life.”
His burning eyes were intense, “So now Your Majesty should bestow his subject a marriage with His Majesty.”
He no longer wanted to have a clandestine affair. He wanted to openly possess him. Since he saw him at the military ceremony, he had been eager to make such a decision.
The Bodhisattva in the hearts of the people of Bei’an, he wanted to selfishly possess him!
However, the person before him, who was so resplendent and extraordinary, gently freed his foot from his grasp. His toes, white with a hint of red, moved slightly upward, brushing against his Adam’s apple, gently pressing.
Ni Lie’s eye sockets were bloodshot. He swallowed heavily, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down. His gaze met the affectionate and watery gaze of the other, and he gasped for breath, grabbing the snowy foot and biting down on it.
Li Yuanmin cleared his throat. The person before him pounced on him like a wild beast.
With a loud crash, the bright yellow bed shook, and the curtain tore with a sound, almost tearing apart. Li Yuanmin’s face turned red, and he was eventually frightened by the appearance of the person, who seemed like a wolf or a tiger.
“Our child… Be careful, our child…”
Ni Lie pressed his forehead against his, restlessly undressing him. With red-rimmed eyes, he complained in a hoarse voice, “I’ve been suffering! Three months in Beixiang! I’ve really suffered!”
His heavy breath sprayed onto his face like a gust of wind, “Jiaojiao, it’s all your fault!”
Li Yuanmin’s heart ached at the sound of it. His eyes welled up with tears. Like comforting a child, he gently stroked the back of his neck, embracing his head in his arms, and admitted his mistake in a muddled manner, “I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you, alright?”
He gently kissed him, pressing down on him with his bulging belly, and pinning him beneath him.
Black hair scattered, and a cold fragrance filled the air.
At this moment, there was nothing more important than comforting this restless and thirsty beast.
The author has something to say:: Finally reached the plot summary, and the story is nearing its conclusion after three months of serialization. It’s been a joyful journey!
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