Chapter 127: Born from sin
A rain in early summer thoroughly moisturized the dry and cracked land, and stopped at the perfect time.
It was a good rain.
People in the streets and alleys regained their vitality because of this rain, and went back to their respective livelihoods.
After the weather became smooth and pleasant, everything else seemed insignificant and only served as idle talk after meals.
The most talked-about person was Rong Tanhua, who had escaped from his predicament thanks to this rain. Some people envied him for his good luck, while others despised him for losing his integrity.
Among the criticisms of Rong Jiuan, the most prominent was the third son of Anding Marquis.
Even the Emperor had read and praised Liu Qingchi’s writings in his spare time, saying that they were much better than before and quite wonderful, and so he did not prevent these students from making a fuss.
However, speaking of the Anding Marquis’ family, everyone in the court wanted to get in touch with Liu Shizi, who was in the Dali Temple.
Unlike Liu Qingchi’s rising fame, since Ling He took over as the Deputy Minister of the Dali Temple, Shizi of Anding’s face had never brightened up. It was said that he had even protested and quit his position but was scolded by the Emperor, and was sent back to the Dali Temple to stay.
So it was understandable that the young Shizi was in a bad mood.
It was said that during a banquet, someone who was not sensible saw the stunning beauty behind Shizi and had the idea to tease him. However, before the person could reach out their hand, they were kicked to the ground by Shizi after only a quick glance.
This surprised Ning Wang, who dropped his chopsticks and dared not pick them up for a while.
Some people secretly said that the Shizi seemed to be a little crazy.
Ning Wang expressed that he could understand, and if he had such a disaster around him, he would have gone crazy long ago.
Whether the Shizi was crazy or not was another matter, but some people who were waiting to see a dispute between the Bai and Liu families were disappointed.
They thought that with the Spring Festival banquet, the two families would surely create some splashes, but in the end, Shizi frequently visited for a period of time, and the Bai family finally let him carry the person away.
There was no visible conflict between Bai Shiyan and the Shizi. It was a lot of noise for nothing, which left many people disappointed and returning home.
Compared to the attention-grabbing Anding Marquis family, Liao Guangming, who usually stirred up trouble, had become silent.
Although many people knew it was because of the gambling agreement at the Spring Festival banquet, the Jinxiu Ying that was rarely moved, went to the northern outskirts of the capital for training, but when talking about it, everyone knew without saying that the Jinxiu Ying may never have its former glory again.
As for whether there were more or fewer doctors in the Imperial Medical Institute, it was even more silent, and no one talked about it.
Outside was noisy, but inside the courtyard, it was peaceful and quiet, separated by a surrounding wall.
Qu Chenzhou laid in the long-absent canopy and sighed, “A dog’s kennel is better than a golden or silver one.” The bell on his head jingled a few times, like the sound of the wind passing by.
Liu Zhongming enjoyed seeing his lazy appearance. Since he couldn’t drag him away, he brought his books to the bedroom to read.
“Ding Lekang, do you know him?” Liu Zhongming sat on the bed, flipping through the book and added this name to the last page.
Qu Chenzhou showed his face from under the blanket and gestured for him to go back to look. He took a pen and crossed out a few names. “These people are not considered part of Huai Wang’s group. We don’t need to bother with them for now.”
He circled one name. “This person has a lot of dirty money behind the scenes, and it’s easy to get him into trouble. Let Fang Wuyang send someone to steal from his home, and when it’s reported to the officials, we can push it onto Ling He. There are many things he can investigate.”
Ling He was straightforward and trustworthy. Whenever there was trouble, they could push it over to Dali Temple, and they could easily wash their hands of the matter. It was really convenient.
Liu Zhongming noted everything down one by one and couldn’t help but sigh, “One by one, when will it end? We need to find a way to catch them all at once. Huai Wang’s side won’t stop causing trouble. Is there any way to catch them all in one fell swoop?”
Qu Chenzhou crawled back to bed and answered in a muffled voice, “I haven’t thought of a solution yet. We’ll have to take it slow.”
At the moment, there was no other way but to take it slow.
Sticking to the previous topic, Liu Zhongming asked, “Do you still remember Ding Lekang?”
“He’s also in the grasp of Huai Wang?” Qu Chenzhou chuckled, “It seems that when he strikes, he aims to kill. Ding Lekang, the Jinwu Guard, is the closest to the emperor, and he’s pretty skilled. Mu Jingyan is waiting for the emperor to act.”
“If that day really comes, the palace will be lively,” Liu Zhongming flicked the name roster with two fingers. “It’s easy to get rid of people, but if we take out Ding Lekang, who knows what will come up next. I’ll let the news out to Bo Yan. With Liao Guangming gone, Bo Yan should have time to straighten out the Southern Bureau.”
Mentioning Liao Guangming, he remembered something.
“A few days ago, I went into the palace and got scolded by the emperor. He should know that Pan He is already in my hands and only scolded me twice. Is that a good thing?”
“It’s still too early to be happy. Pan He was in Liao Guangming’s hands for over half a year, and nothing came out of it, let alone the current situation.”
To get the burial mound in the northern suburbs, Liao Guangming sent the person over, but Pan He’s eyes were blind and his throat was mute.
They could only take the loss and accept the person.
Liu Zhongming had planned to let a doctor take a look and see if Pan He’s throat could be healed, but Qu Chenzhou directly dashed his idea. “Don’t waste your effort. The mute medicine used in the Jinxiu Ying, not mentioning curing it, it also silences the voice.”
Liu Zhongming could only give up.
As the person who was sent over was not conscious, he was thrown into the dark room under the earthen berm and arranged according to Xu Ziwen’s suggestion. For the time being, he did not let Pan He know that his hiding place had been moved. Instead, he only allowed Ling He to come over and help watch after curfew.
“The doctor said that in another three to five days, Pan He should be awake,” Liu Zhongming pushed the person inside and leaned against the bed, feeling a bit anxious.
Before Pan He woke up, they had better figure out a way to crack his tough exterior. Torture was not a good method – could the Jinxiu Ying still be lacking in a skilled interrogator?
“Did you notice anything?” he asked.
“No,” Qu Chenzhou shook his head helplessly. The next divination could only be done in a few days. “Watch Ling He. ‘a child born from sin’… is there any clue?”
These days, Liu Zhongming had gone to the libraries of Jinxi Academy and Hanlin Academy, but the sea of books was vast, and he could not let anyone know what he was looking for. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack, with no starting point.
In the end, he could only try to find his father, but unexpectedly got an answer.
When his father heard that he was planning to seize the throne, he remained silent as if he were made of stone. But when he heard those three words, he was inexplicably shocked.
In his father’s hesitation, he knew that Qu Chenzhou’s desperate efforts were not in vain. There must be an extremely important truth behind “a child born from sin.”
“Father said that you can’t find anything about ‘a child born from sin’ in any book, because it was just something a street fortune-teller made up.”
“At that time, the Emperor was only fifteen or sixteen years old and often fell ill.”
As the servant brought in some freshly cut seasonal fruits, Qu Chenzhou wanted to eat while lying down, but Liu Zhongming used a piece of melon to prop him up.
He could not possibly know about the emperor’s past when he was young, but since he could see this divination again from the elderly emperor, it must be greatly related to the past.
“Because of illness, he was desperate and sought fortune-tellers?” he asked.
“Does it sound absurd?” Liu Zhongming chuckled. “But Father said that from then on, the emperor became more obsessed with ghosts and gods. After ascending to the throne, he personally promoted the position of the Si Tian Guan.”
“What did the fortune-teller say about the ‘child born from sin’?”
Liu Zhongming fed him another piece of fruit.
“The so-called ‘a child born from sin’ is when the mother was originally pregnant with a pair of twins, but only one was born alive, and the other died in the womb during childbirth.”
“That fortune-teller said that the surviving child was born with guilt, having swallowed the fate of his brother’s life,” Liu Zhongming explained.
Qu Chenzhou chewed slowly, pondering the meaning.
“So the emperor… is the child born from sin!” he shivered slightly. “Does that mean the fortune-teller said that the emperor is weak and sickly because of his innate guilt?”
“Father said it was exactly that,” Liu Zhongming nodded. “The emperor’s birth mother was not remarkable, and when she gave birth, the late emperor didn’t even bother to take a look, so not many people knew about this.”
The two of them looked at each other, both recalling the words that Yu Gonggong had said before: “Does Shizi know what ‘Bing Dilian’ means?”
The Emperor and his unborn brother were supposed to be “Bing Dilian,” but only the Emperor, this “child born from sin,” was left.
“What happened next?” asked Qu Chenzhou softly.
Since the Emperor had heard this explanation, he could not have let himself continue to be sick because of it. The rest of what the fortune-teller said was likely closely related to the matter they were investigating.
“I also asked my father what happened next,” sighed Liu Zhongming softly. “But unfortunately, my father didn’t take it to heart at the time and just thought it was nonsense from a sorcerer, and he took the Emperor away.”
“But later, the Emperor’s illness gradually improved. It wasn’t until a long time later that he realized that the Emperor might have secretly gone to see that fortune-teller behind his back.”
“But too much time had passed, and it was impossible to find that person again. So, other than the Emperor himself, no one knew what that person had said to him.”
The only clue was broken again, and all they could rely on was the blind and mute Pan He.
Pan He, Bing Dilian, child born from sin… These things fell in front of them, which even Qu Chenzhou had not anticipated.
If Pan He was as tight-lipped as he was in the hands of Liao Guangming, then if Liao Guangming has any accidents in Luo City, it is feared that the Jinxiu Ying will only end up as a scapegoat for someone else.
“After it gets dark today, I’ll go over too,” Qu Chenzhou couldn’t sit still anymore. “I’ll figure out some way with Ling He.”
Seeing that he was about to set off, Liu Zhongming followed suit and hesitated to speak, “You…and Ling He…”
“Rest assured, Shizi,” Qu Chenzhou tried to reassure him. “He can’t argue with me. Even if we fight, he’s not my match.”
Liu Zhongming couldn’t bear it any longer, “I mean, Ling He is an honest man. Don’t bully him.”
Now Ling He could only come over at night when no one was around. After working hard for several days with no results, he couldn’t help but feel upset. When he had nowhere to vent his frustration, he ran into Qu Chenzhou.
When he heard the rushed report from his men, he heard Qu Chenzhou coldly settling accounts with Ling He.
From the manpower and financial resources spent since rescuing Rong Jiuan to the time and effort spent pushing the two of them to become Imperial Scholar and Assistant Minister of the Dali Temple, the benefits, advantages, and future prospects.
Ling He was an honest man, but he was rendered speechless by Qu Chenzhou’s words. In the end, he was even persuaded by Qu Chenzhou’s calculations and silently took out ten taels of silver as compensation, pushing it towards Qu Chenzhou.
Liu Zhongming stood outside the door, leaning his head against the wall, feeling very sympathetic towards Ling He.
After all, they were allies now. Rong Jiuan took the trouble to teach his younger brother with all his heart, and Ling He ran back and forth, which was hard work. It was not a good thing that Qu Chenzhou was always thinking about beating people up.
Sometimes he even wondered if it was a mistake to teach the Little Fox martial arts.
“Being too rigid makes one easily broken,” Qu Chenzhou smiled slightly. “And if you keep too many things bottled up inside, it will ruin a person.”
“What about you?”
Liu Zhongming followed him out and stood on the steps, asking him, “What about your heart?”
Qu Chenzhou had already walked past the, and then he stepped on the water and came back. He stood on the step below, raising his foot to reach for the height difference between them.
“Shizi,” they were quite far apart, but Qu Chenzhou still had a distance to go even after standing on his tiptoes, and answered evasively, “There’s some sweetness in my mouth.”
Liu Zhongming leaned down.
The soft lips were his home, and unconsciously, he had become accustomed to finding peace and comfort in them.
It was sweet, the faint sweetness of fruit extending from their tongues deep within.
The little fox was breathless from his kisses.
“Zhongming, my heart… is with you.”