Wang Chaoluan’s complexion turned pale. She immediately rushed to hold Emperor Mingde’s thigh, crying and begging: “Your Majesty, Yuan Xu is still young. How can he withstand these twenty strikes? It’s all my fault for being unable to educate him, and let him commit such a mistake today. If he committed this big mistake today. Please let me take the blame in his place, Your Majesty!”
“Imperial Father! Er Chen was wrong! Er Chen knows that he did wrong now!” Li Yuanxu was really scared now, he burst into tears in Wang Chaoluan’s bosom.
Mother and son hugged each other tightly, weeping one after another.
Emperor Mingde’s chest moved up and down violently. He watched his Fourth son that he had always doted on, kneeling on the ground, weeping and begging for forgiveness. Furthermore, there were his own footprints on his chest. Just now, when he was angry, he exerted a bit of strength and he didn’t know whether he was hurt or not. His heart had both anger and pity. Seeing the disheveled hair of Wang Guifei, crying like raindrops on a pear blossom*, his face inevitably showed an unbearable color.
(Like raindrops on a pear blossom: tear stained face of a beauty)
Li Yuanlang knew that he was bound to be held accountable today. Instead of waiting for others to attack him, he would instead fight for his life. He gritted his teeth on the spot and rushed out plopping both knees on the ground “Imperial Father, Yuanlang vows to the heaven that I have never sent Third Brother on this task, and I also don’t know how this fierce tiger had come to be. However, everything that happened today was all this child’s fault!”
Emperor Mingde sneered: “Since you don’t know of this matter, then why are you saying that this is all your fault?”
Li Yuanlang cried: “Yuanlang as an Elder Brother should have been mindful and given them reminders. Fourth Brother is still young and just wanted to have fun for a period of time, so he didn’t distinguish right from wrong. As an elder brother, I was unable to advise him on time, which led to today’s disaster. I request Imperial Father to earnestly allow me to take the Fourth Brother’s place and receive these 20 strikes!”
Emperor Mingde narrowed his eyes: “Are you telling the truth?”
“Er Chen is sincere,” Li Yuanlang kneeled down, in a willing posture: “Requesting Imperial Father to let Er Chen take the blame of Fourth Prince!”
Emperor Mingde nodded and said solemnly:
“Alright! It’s rare for you to be aware of it like this, so Zhen will allow it! But you have to remember that today’s 20 strikes are not simply being received in your Fourth Brother’s place. Regarding the tiger issue, before I find out the cause, I will not deal with you for the time being. But even if you are on the sidelines, you still won’t be able to escape this blame, so you have to take these 20 strikes from Zhen properly. I hope you will remember it from today onwards!”
Li Yuanlang, whose forehead was pressed on the ground, gritted his teeth: “Er Chen will bear that in mind.”
Emperor Mingde nodded slightly, and glanced at Li Yuanxu angrily: “You evil creature also will not be let off lightly. From this day forward, you will not be permitted to go outside your courtyard for a month. Without Zhen’s permission, you will not be allowed to step out of your room!”
“Chenqie obeys the Emperor’s decree.”
“Er Chen obeys the Emperor’s decree.”
Wang Chaoluan lowered her sob, released Li Yuanxu from her bosom, and kowtowed for the Emperor’s kindness together.
“Your Majesty…” Chu Guiren took a step forward, but was blocked by Emperor Mingde who shouted:
“What else do you want to add to the mess!”
Chu Guiren’s complexion tightened. She moved back behind Empress Sima, staring bitterly at the mother and son who were kneeling on the ground, while Empress Sima sucked in a deep breath silently.
When finished dealing with the matter on that side, Emperor Mingde walked to the front of Li Yuanmin. Disgust filled his eyes: “You stupid thing, whether you were incited by people or not, today’s disaster all started with you. It seems like if I don’t give you some guidance, I’m afraid that the shameful you will be unable to remember it for long. Drag him down too to receive 30 strikes! And Western Palace’s servants who weren’t looking after him properly will forfeit three months’ of their salaries, and each one of them will receive 10 strikes!”
As soon as the voice fell, the officials present had all sorts of expressions.
Everyone knew that Emperor Mingde hated the Third Prince. For today’s incident, the biggest perpetrator had only received a light as a feather, one-month confinement. The Third Prince had always been cautious and timid as a mouse, so how could he have done this kind of evil deed? Obviously, he was used by other people, yet he received the heaviest punishment. They couldn’t help but sigh.
On the other side, the Eldest Prince Li Yuanqian pursed his lips slightly. There was lingering fear in his heart. His Fourth Brother always showed off his talents and skills to him, eager to win him over in all aspects. This beast house raising ferocious beasts matter, he had long known about it. Originally, he had wanted to use this matter to suppress the Fourth Prince, but the Left Prime Minister had obstructed it. Now, he finally knew of his uncle’s acute foresight, and couldn’t help glancing at Left Prime Minister Zhao. His gaze revealed a thankful expression.
“Er Chen obeys the Emperor’s decree….” Li Yuanmin seems to be afraid, he shrank back his two shoulders, his face carrying a flattering expression, “Er Chen still has things to request.”
“Speak!” Emperor Mingde was impatient.
Li Yuanmin swallowed his saliva: “Today’s disasters are all caused by the stupidity of Er Chen. And Er Chen is also willing to follow the example of Second Brother to compensate Imperial Father and take the blame in the place of Fourth Brother. Besides these 30 strikes, I also request Imperial Father to pity this Yeyou Court slave to work at my Western Palace as study companion.”
As soon as these words came out, there was a loud discussion among the ministers.
According to Autumn Selection’s usual practice, every princes have to select at least one study companion. Other princes are easy to deal with, but this unlucky and ominous Third Prince, who was loathed by Emperor Mingde couldn’t find a place to settle down. How could the Marquis and noble descendants let the fate of their whole clan be ruined and form a connection with him? So, everyone avoided him. Originally, before the Autumn Selection, Emperor Mingde was still worried about what to decide on this person’s candidate. Now, hearing his opinion like this, his heart couldn’t help but move.
In fact….it’s a good idea. On one hand, it excused him from the worry of arranging a candidate assistant minister to the Western Palace. And on the other hand, this evil creature, good or bad also had a prince status, so it allowed this criminal’s son be removed of his slave record and act as his study companion. It could be considered as giving him a favor and in this way, it would also appease the hearts of the generals present.
Immediately, after caressing his beard and considering it for half a day, he cleared his throat and pretended to ask: “What do all my dear officials think?”
How could the clever ministers fail to understand Emperor Mingde’s meaning, they immediately stated in succession that it was good and praised His Majesty for his kindness.
Emperor Mingde was pleased. He ordered the eunuch to instantly step forward and compose an Imperial edict.
Below the high platform, Sima Yu’s eyes floated dark. Today, both father and son originally had another plan. But unexpectedly, it got interrupted by the sudden appearance of the fierce tiger. Presently, he could only restrain himself for the time being, and plan again in the future. He anxiously looked at his Marquis Father, who wasn’t that far away from him. The other party didn’t seem to have any distress from his big plan being obstructed. His face still remained like a spring breeze, chatting and laughing with the officials on the side.
In the end, it’s because he was still young, and his experience was insufficient.
He took a deep breath and the disappointed feeling inside his heart scattered a bit. Looking into the distance, that person had already been taken by the Imperial Guard to receive the strikes.
Seeing his weak and flimsy back, he suddenly felt a sense of inexplicable anxiety. This Third Prince was not the same as he expected.
But to where the difference was, he couldn’t tell.
He was paying attention to his figure, and an indescribable feeling came to his heart.
Another person who had been paying attention to Li Yuanmin from the beginning to the end was Ni Lie. His breath was hot, and his 10 fingers were tightly pinched into his flesh. From that glance at the beginning, his inside was filled with indescribable distress. And this distress along with that Emperor who punished Li Yuanmin 30 strikes also had reached its peak.
He thought the other party would look at him again, but until he was escorted past his iron cage by the Imperial Guards, he still never looked at him.
His face was calm and undisturbed, as if he wasn’t going to be punished.
Ni Lie clenched his teeth and closed his eyes.
Outside the Imperial School, the stick that Taishi used to hit had risen and fallen in succession. The wooden stick was thick as a child’s arm, hitting their buttocks, letting out a heavy sound. Li Yuanmin gritted his teeth, and grabbed the bench underneath him tightly. Cold sweat had long soaked his clothes, acute pain came and appeared to be endless.
Beside him was Li Yuanlang who cried out: “You son of a bi*ch! I definitely won’t spare you!”
Li Yuanmin ignored him, his mind was in a trance under the severe pain.
It hurts, it hurts too much.
Even sunlight turned into a blade, piercing into his eyes. It stabbed his eyes so that he couldn’t see his unclear future.
Li Yuanlang’s 20 strikes had long been finished. His lips had already been bitten inside and out, dripping blood. His pupils were full of hatred, like a Raksha, rigidly staring at Li Yuanmin:
“I will definitely kill you!”
The fierce, hoarse voice echoed like a curse.
Along with the last heavy sound, Li Yuanmin’s 30 strikes had finished. The palace servants took the stick, and went back inside the courtyard to report.
Li Yuanmin laid down on the bench and slowly turned his head over with difficulty:
“Don’t worry… You can’t kill me…” He coughed violently and vomited a mouthful of bright red. However, he didn’t seem to care at all, and showed a smile.
“Because… Wang Chaoluan will never believe you anymore… Your twenty strikes…all for nothing…”
Regarding the tiger matter, besides the two of them, no one else could be sure of the truth. Before this incident, Li Yuanmin had already cut the tie between him and Wang Chaoluan.
Li Yuanlang’s eye sockets were splitting, he yelled and prepared to jump over. But, he ended up rolling to the ground because of the sharp pain.
“Li Yuanmin!” He exhausted all his strength and roared. Soon after, his fierce complexion couldn’t take in a breath and his eyes rolled white, and he fainted in this way.
Li Yuanmin coughed again, the light and shadow in front of him became dimmer. He looked at Li Yuanlang, who was unconscious on the ground, and laughed, not knowing whether he was laughing at him or himself.
So tired, Li Yuanmin thought, tired and painful.
His eyelids were getting heavier and heavier. When the world in front of him drew a long line, he instantly fell into the darkness.
Li Yuanmin was in a coma for three days.
When he woke up, he opened his eyes to see Ni Lie’s pair of beast-like eyes. His pupils were very black and somewhat cold, like two black jade in the cold night. Li Yuanmin couldn’t help but reach out and touch it.
When he touched the warm skin, he suddenly realized that this was not a dream.
The corners of his mouth twitched, and the bloodless lips showed a hard smile.
He thought, he finally rescued the child.
“A Lie…” Li Yuanmin laughed, laughed until tears came out, then called him, “A Lie.”
Ni Lie, originally had stock piled a lot of things to ask him. Why did he lie to him? Why did he save him? Why, why? However, when this A Lie sound came out, he didn’t know why, but the inexplicable stuffiness in his heart disappeared into nothing.
He only closed his mouth. With a cold face, he allowed the other’s fingertips to lightly touch his eyebrows and cheeks, as if painting something.
In the afternoon, the Imperial edict came down. Inside it the Third Prince, Li Yuanmin was to become King Guangan, and was bestowed the territory of Lingnan. After he recovered, he was to set off immediately.
Lingnan was a miasma vessel state far away from the capital. It is custom to be resolute, fearless, and have a strong endurance as since ancient times, and has been a place with lots of hardship since ancient times. But, ever since he received this Imperial edict, Li Yuanmin’s heart couldn’t help but pound and jump all over.
——In this life, he finally had the opportunity to step out of the Imperial City’s sky.
He naturally knew why this Imperial edict came so urgently. After all, Ni Lie’s identity was special and embarrassing, he couldn’t stay in the palace for a long time. That’s why Emperor Mingde had arranged a place for both of them.
In any case, since the start of his plan regarding this tiger matter, this was already the best result that he could think of.