Si Tian Guan Chapter 114

Chapter 114: Thumb Ring

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When Mu Jingzhao arrived, he coincidentally saw the carriage outside the door, indicating that the owner was planning to go out.

He forcibly stopped Liu Zhongming under the weeping willow pillar.

“Zhongming, where is Little Chenzhou?”

“Shizi arrived at an inopportune time. Little Chenzhou has been sick these past few days…” Liu Zhongming suddenly realized something and asked with concern, “Is Shizi feeling unwell? Your complexion doesn’t look too good.”

How could Mu Jingzhao feel good? He had been carrying the chamber pot with him for the past few days, and the stench couldn’t be covered up no matter how much incense he burned.

Having that big embarrassment on the street that day was enough to make him want to die. But unfortunately, just as he was at his lowest point, his father, the emperor, summoned him to the palace. He weighed the pros and cons and thought that no matter what, he would be cursed whether he went or stayed at home, so he chose to pretend to be sick and stay at home.

The next day, his mother sent someone to scold him, saying that the emperor finally remembered his existence and was planning to give him a light and easy task, but he wasn’t living up to expectations.

Today, he finally had the chance to go out, so he wanted to go to the palace to apologize, but he still wanted to see Little Chenzhou first.

“Where is Little Chenzhou?” He didn’t want to waste any time. “Hurry up and let me see him.”

Liu Zhongming looked hesitant. “To be frank, my lord, this person…no matter how good-looking or ugly he is, there are always some parts that are not presentable.”

Mu Jingzhao was confused. “What do you mean?”

“A few days ago, he went somewhere to play and ate something dirty. He has been having diarrhea ever since, and now he smells bad all over. I have sent him to stay in the ear room*, so it’s not convenient for him to come out and see you.”
* a small house built next to the main house

“… “

Mu Jingzhao knew when to back down. He had suffered from diarrhea for a few days, and he knew how bad the smell was. He thought about it for a moment, stamped his foot in frustration, and left in his carriage.

“Now you know how persistent he can be,” Liu Zhongming said as he returned to his study. He saw someone with a book covering their face, and the chair they were sitting on was tilted back, only resting on two legs, rocking back and forth, enjoying the soft sunlight filtering through the window paper.

He looked even more arrogant than those rascals outside.

“What’s the big deal with his persistence? If he doesn’t pester me today, I’ll have peace today. If he does tomorrow, I’ll deal with it tomorrow.” A nonchalant voice came from under the book, “Besides, I am the Shizi’s person, and I have the Shizi protecting me.”

Liu Zhongming chuckled and dragged a chair to sit beside him. This spot was really nice with the warm sun shining down.

It was true what he said, but he didn’t believe that the extremely arrogant wild fox, Qu Chenzhou, would just let things slide and not plan for his own future, even if it meant relying on others like him.

“What kind of divination did you do for Ning Wang?” he asked.

“That tea shop,” Qu Chenzhou continued to rock his chair legs, the etiquette and rules he learned in the palace for more than ten years seemed to have gone to waste. “That tea shop will cause him some trouble and give him some errands to do. The more he annoys the emperor, the further we can advance.”

Before Liu Zhongming could ask, he added, “Don’t ask me why, I don’t know either.”

Since he said so, Liu Zhongming didn’t ask more and changed the topic, “Chenzhou, why do I rarely see you doing divination for me?”

Qu Chenzhou stopped rocking and opened the book covering his face, revealing a pair of eyes that were illuminated by the sun from below.

“What divination?”

He ignored Liu Zhongming’s question and took back the book firmly, saying, “Divination is a poison. Once you listen to it repeatedly, you can’t help but believe it. Without a divination, one won’t dare to take a step further. I already can’t stop believing in it anymore. Since I’m by your side, naturally I will help you avoid bad luck and seek good fortune. As for the rest, it’s better for you not to know.” 

Although Liu Zhongming knew that it was indeed the case, his curiosity got the better of him, “Then… have I ever had any special divinations?” 

After a moment of silence, Qu Chenzhou replied, “You are the person destined by heaven.” 

Liu Zhongming’s heart tightened, understanding why Qu Chenzhou had said that it was best to keep many prophecies to oneself. 

Seeing his serious expression, Qu Chenzhou turned to him and dropped the book on the ground. A few strands of his hair playfully refused to be held by the wooden hairpin and tickled his face. 

“Guess, Shizi. Do you think… this prophecy said that you are the one destined for me?” 

Liu Zhongming chuckled and pulled Qu Chenzhou’s half body onto his lap as he leaned back. 

The sunlight in the study was evaporating the fine dust particles and it was so quiet that one could hear the sound of them dancing. This intimacy between them was so natural, as if they had rehearsed it countless times.

“If you keep doing that,” Liu Zhongming lightly flicked his finger and scratched his soft chin, “I won’t let you stay innocent.”

Qu Chenzhou pretended to get up, but was pressed back onto Liu Zhongming’s lap. He then took advantage of Liu Zhongming’s strength to lift the two chair legs, rocking it back and forth.

“What do you mean, not letting me stay innocent? This speed? I like it faster.”

Liu Zhongming was no longer unfamiliar with this matter and even had an unprecedented desire for this body. His face immediately turned red. With one hand reaching into his shirt, he didn’t even care about the person in his arms as they trembled slightly, he groped for the deadly birthmark on the small of his back, catching them in a panic.

“Please spare me, Shizi…”

Liu Zhongming had something on his mind and didn’t continue fooling around. He just held Qu Chenzhou and whispered, “Chenzhou, I had a dream last night.”

Qu Chenzhou’s heart skipped a beat, then quickly realized that his stiff posture couldn’t hide anything from Liu Zhongming.

“A dream?” He slowly relaxed, “I often dream too.”

Liu Zhongming slowly rubbed his flat and soft belly with the palm of his hand and asked in a slow voice, “What do you dream about?”

What else could he dream of? Those things were unforgettable, how could a small jade pendant make him forget completely?”

Stroking his chin, Liu Zhongming answered for him, “Is it about the past?”

Qu Chenzhou only swayed lightly and asked back, “What did you dream of, Shizi?”

“Perhaps it’s also about the past,” this was the first time Liu Zhongming had mentioned it to someone other than his brother and Shi Yan, “it was a messy dream.”

“I dreamed of Jinxi Academy, where I met you, or maybe someone else, but I can’t remember, so I replaced his face with yours.”

“I dreamed that Shi Yan came with his men to arrest me, and was shot down by Fang Wuyang and died.”

“I dreamed that I was standing far away from the Marquis Mansion, as if waiting for someone, and saw thick smoke coming from there.”

“Then there were many chaotic scenes of war and I didn’t know who I was or where I was. The fragments were scattered and couldn’t be put together.”

“Someone told me that my sister had died, that the Liu and Bai families were both gone, but I didn’t know what had happened and who to hate.”

After pausing for a long time, Liu Zhongming finally couldn’t express the lingering passion and love from his dream, so he lowered his head and asked softly, “Chenzhou, tell me, is this my past life?”

Chenzhou looked up, his hand twisting on Liu Zhongming’s earlobe, sliding down his cheek and to his neck, and deftly slipping a finger into his pocket to retrieve the jade thumb ring hanging inside. 

“Shizi, this thumb ring is a precious item,” he said, stablizing the chair with his foot and standing up, then walking behind Liu Zhongming to put the ring back on his thumb. “Don’t take it off again.”

Liu Zhongming looked down at his hand, then the arm around his shoulder withdrew, taking away the pleasant scent with it. 

After bathing last night, he fell asleep before he could put on the thumb ring under his pillow. Long-lost nightmares and sweetness flooded in like a bursting dam, rushing in waves.

Perhaps he had been bound for too long, as each scene flashed before his eyes like a revolving lantern, it left before he could see it clearly.

After waking up from the dream, he sat there stunned for a long time before realizing that what troubled him was not the old stories of strangers from the past, but the people around him.

He wanted to get closer to Chenzhou, to show his sincerity, to be open and honest with others, to boldly move forward a hundred steps and gain just one hesitant step from the other.

Although this time he didn’t ask “who are you” directly, the other party was so intelligent and insightful that it was impossible not to know.

But after putting on the thumb ring for him, Qu Chenzhou only left a shallow remark.

“Shizi, I wasn’t a good person in the past. If you know too much, you will be disappointed.”

The two basked in the sun, feeling warm and cozy, but now there was only one person left in the study, giving off an inexplicable chill.

In the end, Liu Zhongming just sighed and didn’t stop Qu Chenzhou from leaving.

He felt that Qu Chenzhou must have a huge scar in his heart that couldn’t be touched.

Who doesn’t have secrets? This would be the last time.

He put the thumb ring on his hand – since it was a good thing, he would not take it off again.

Before he even entered Kunning Palace, Mu Jingzhao knew that today would not be a good day. As soon as he crossed the threshold, he saw someone coming towards him with great momentum, so he instinctively hugged his head.

This undignified posture further infuriated the Empress.

Her sharp nails dug into Mu Jingzhao’s wrist, and with a sudden jerk, she pulled away one hand and without saying a word, slapped him across the face.

Mu Jingzhao staggered a few steps after being hit, not daring to disobey and could only kneel on the ground, his voice containing a resentful cry, “Why did you hit me?”

“Why?” The Empress was so angry at his naive question that she choked up. “Do you know what good things you’ve done lately? The Ministry of Justice has accused you of wrongdoing in seven or eight books, and yet you act as if nothing is wrong?”

“I… ” Mu Jingzhao’s voice weakened under his mother’s anger, but he bravely defended himself.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. The teahouse was selling inferior tea, and I only drank it once, which made me bedridden for days. It was him who benefited from it, and I even had to pay for damaging his stall. If I accuse him of poisoning the Di* Prince, he wouldn’t have enough heads to lose.”
* di = first son of main wife

“Speaking of Di Prince,” the Empress forcefully pointed at his forehead, “if you keep causing trouble like this, no title can save you. Do you know who owns that teahouse? It’s opened by the family of the woman that Mu Jingde, took as a concubine. He gave it to her maternal family,  otherwise, why would the Ministry of Justice be targeting you?”

Mu Jingzhao was provoked and stood up with a loud noise. “Who do you think I am? What kind of thing is Mu Jingde? Why should I suffer for some cheap woman he brought into our family?”

The Empress’s heart ached, and she had already raised her hand.

Mu Jingzhao saw that he was about to get slapped again, so he quickly knelt down again, with red eyes, “Since my father sees me so unfavorably, why not send me away early? Why have me suffer such humiliation for no reason?”

The Empress gently lowered her hand and pulled him into her arms, tears streaming down her face as well.

Mu Jingzhao continued to cry endlessly.

“What’s the point of being the Di Prince? Father didn’t even think about himself back then. If he hadn’t been raised under the name of the Empress Dowager, he wouldn’t have had a chance…”

“Shut up!” The Empress’s sadness dissipated, and she couldn’t bear it anymore, scolding him and interrupting his words.

The palace attendants quickly stepped back and closed the curtains.

The Empress opened the window a little and looked outside, gradually calming down in the cool breeze.

“You should be more diligent and try to please the emperor by doing more things. Spring Festival preparations are underway, and since you’ve lost your previous task, you should take the initiative to supervise. When the Spring Festival is held beautifully, the emperor will naturally give you credit.”

Mu Jingzhao was unhappy, but under the pressure, he still reluctantly agreed, “Okay.”

“As for the tea shop, you can have someone accuse them of plotting against you first. As long as you act submissive and obedient in front of the emperor, your uncle can suppress the few accusations.”

The Empress put her hand gently down, pulled him into her arms, and couldn’t help shedding tears.

Mu Jingzhao couldn’t stop crying.

“What’s the point of being the legitimate Di Prince? Father never thinks about himself. If he hadn’t been raised under the Empress’s name back then, he wouldn’t have had a chance…”

“Shut up!” The Empress’s sadness dissipated, and she couldn’t bear it any longer, interrupting his words.

The palace attendant who was standing by moved far away and pulled the curtains outside.

The Empress pushed open the window a crack and looked outside. Gradually, she calmed down in the chilly breeze.

“You need to work harder and do more to please the Emperor. The spring banquet is being prepared all over the place. You lost your previous job, so go and actively seek supervision. When the spring banquet is successful, the Emperor will naturally credit you with the achievement.”

Mu Jingzhao was unhappy in his heart, but under the pressure, he still reluctantly agreed, “Yes.”

“As for the tea shop, you can tell them that they tried to harm you first. Just a few pieces of paper are enough, as long as you are submissive and obedient in front of the Emperor, your uncle can be suppressed.”

“Mu Jingde is really trying to go against you this time, even dragging down the Shizi Hua and the Imperial Censorate. But Shizi Hua is too timid and easily withdraws when the wind blows against him.”

“Mu Jingde recently recruited a crazy person named Ren Rui. Reportedly, he is crazy. If he’s not used properly, he’ll end up as bones. Since Qi Wang has lost Jiang Xingzhi, find a smart…”

The Empress stopped in the middle of her words, still uneasy. “You don’t need to worry about this matter. Just focus on doing your job well.”

Mu Jingzhao didn’t dare to interrupt and could only nod obediently. He was scolded and reminded for a long time before he left with his head down to find a job.

The Empress’s mouth was dry, and she picked up the tea cup. She saw her son walking with his head down from the window and her suppressed anger finally burst out. She slammed the tea cup onto the ground.

A palace maid, Min Yue, hurriedly came in and ordered someone to clean up the mess on the ground before coming to pour her another cup of tea.

The Empress concealed her sourness in her eyes. After finishing the cup of tea, she asked, “Min Yue, did Jingzhao come to ask me for repayment? I’m wasting my efforts…”

Min Yue had been with her for years and understood her pain. She comforted her softly, “Your Majesty, don’t worry too much. The prince is still young, he will understand your hardships in the future.”

The Empress had been hearing these words for many years, and she knew that they could only serve as a comfort. After a long pause, she asked again, “Has Xi Yu recovered from her illness?”

Xi Yu was the name for Madam Liu.

Min Yue replied, “I asked and was told that it was just a minor cold at first, but it gradually became more serious. It seems that she may not even be able to attend the spring banquet.”

With so many things going wrong, the Empress could only spit out the word “useless.”

Min Yue waited patiently for a while, and when she saw the Empress’s expression gradually easing, she asked softly, “Your Majesty, do you still need to go and pay respects to the Empress Dowager today?”

“Yes,” the Empress narrowed her eyes slightly, “I naturally have to.”

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