Si Tian Guan Chapter 129

Chapter 129: Game

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Although there were no traces of rainwater on the ground, the air was no longer dry and hot as it was during the drought.

Yu Dexi had the bamboo curtains outside the Qingliang Hall taken down, which helped keep the summer heat outside.

“Your Majesty,” he handed a cup of sugar snow to him and said softly, “take a break.”

Emperor Yu was getting old, and the sudden temperature change during the rainy days had caused him to catch a cold for two days. He read a book under the light that shone through the curtains for a while before feeling a bit sleepy.

Yu Dexi bent down and pushed the cup towards him, then stood straight with his hands down after taking the book and placing it aside.

Perhaps due to the timely rain, Emperor Yu’s mood had been good all along. He ate a few bites of sugar snow before leaning back on the soft couch and asking slowly, “Why haven’t we seen Liao Guangming for a while?”

Yu Dexi replied quickly, “This servant was mentioning it before, it seems like something’s missing these days. When Your Majesty asked, I suddenly remembered that it is General Liao.”

Emperor Yu slightly opened his eyes and cursed with a smile, “You are so confused, how can you not be as good as me?”

“Your Majesty handles tens of thousands of affairs, and remembers everything in detail. How could I dare to compare myself?” Yu Dexi replied in a hurry, “I only saw Shizi yesterday, and when Your Majesty asked about it, I remembered that General Liao had already gone outside the capital to train troops.”

Emperor Yu scooped up another spoonful and asked, “Why did it come back to Zhongming again?”

“I heard it from hearsay, and it’s just for Your Majesty’s amusement. It’s said that the land that General Liao looked at happened to be where Shizi’s land is. I heard that Shizi made a lot of money by selling it again this time.”

“This Zhongming,” Emperor Yu laughed, “is truly a clever person. Underestimating him would be a mistake. It’s safe to say he has ambitious plans.”

Yu Dexi listened carefully, sensing that there was more to his words. He waited until the emperor had eaten most of his bowl before speaking cautiously. “I heard that this time, Shizi not only took a lot of silver, but also took Pan He.”

After saying this, he stood still and held his breath, waiting for a response. He couldn’t make out whether the emperor’s reply was one of admiration or ridicule.

“I said it before, Zhongming has big ambitions.”

Observing the emperor’s expression, Yu Dexi probed further, “Shizi is exceptionally intelligent, and is sure to be an outstanding talent in the future.”

This time, Emperor Yu closed his eyes as if he had fallen asleep. It was only when Yu Dexi lightly massaged his leg that he sighed.

“In the end, he’s still different from Ah Zheng.”

Yu Dexi understood what was implied.

Over the years, he had heard a lot about the emperor and Marquis Liu’s affairs. 

The emperor has a place in his heart where he cannot let go of his guilt towards Marquis Liu, but more so, he is worried. Marquis Liu’s heart is calm and without desires, like still water. However, like a drifting duckweed without roots, neither the Liu nor the Bai family can feel at ease. 

The previous Shizi, Liu Qingyan, had learned a lot from Marquis Liu’s character. Fortunately, the person who now held that position was Liu Zhongming.

When the accounts of Pan He’s ship were reported in Shizi’s report, he saw a smile on the emperor’s face.

Greed is good. Since Shizi has thrown out the rope around his neck, how can the emperor not take hold of it?

The Bai and Liu families, which had been floating for decades, could finally be grasped, something solid.

“This servant is illiterate,” he laughed, “This servant doesn’t know if this is an example of the student surpassing the master.”

“Smooth-tongued,” Emperor Yu laughed and glanced at him. “You’re a capable little fellow, but don’t praise him too soon. Wait until he has accomplished something before you do so. How is Jinping Village doing?”

“The Emperor can rest assured that everything is fine. These are all people personally selected by this servants, and they will not have any accidents.”

“Don’t overdo it, and don’t let people go there too often. That place is already remote, don’t make it too conspicuous.” When speaking of this, Emperor Yu couldn’t help but caution more: “Keep your mouth shut even more.”

Yu Dexi nodded in agreement, focusing on controlling the strength under his hands. After a moment, he heard a question from above: “Did Bo Yan ever talk to you about why Liao Guangming suddenly wanted to attack him?”

“Commander Bo is upright and cautious, he doesn’t gossip about others. It was this servant who was too talkative and asked once, but Commander Bo only said that it was probably a misunderstanding.”

Yu Dexi vaguely replied.

He had followed the Emperor for more than ten years and knew that the Emperor was not actually asking him, but just wanted someone trustworthy to talk to and get some ideas.

Now, when the Emperor brought it up, it was just for asking himself. He only needed to give a casual response.

“A misunderstanding?” Emperor Yu sneered.

Yu Dexi lowered his head and dared not speak.

The more Commander Bo retreated, the more angry the Emperor became.

These two Senior and Junior brothers had been at odds for some time, but Liao Guangming’s behavior was unprecedented. At worst, it was his impudence, but at best?

Initially, the Emperor was only dissatisfied with Liao Guangming’s competitive behavior, but what was most unacceptable was Ning Wang.

It was said that after the Spring Festival Banquet, Ning Wang heard some incompetent noble children open a betting pool at the banquet, betting on Liao Guangming and Ren Rui’s winning rate. Without hesitation, Ning Wang bet on Liao Guangming.

But during the mess in Luo City two years ago, everyone saw it clearly that Luo City was the battleground for Qi Wang and Ning Wang.

If Liao Guangming loses in his mission to exterminate the bandits this time, the emperor might take into account their long-standing relationship and go easy on him. But if he wins against the seasoned soldier Ren Rui, the emperor will surely suspect someone else is helping him from behind.

From the moment he accepted the bet at the spring banquet, his fate was sealed. But it remains to be seen whether Liao Guangming can handle the life-or-death situation.

Yu Dexi stole a glance and saw that Emperor Yu was dozing off. He ordered someone to bring in a thin quilt and carefully covered him. As he was about to leave, he noticed the old man’s eyelids twitching and asked in a soft voice, “Your Majesty, would you like me to send for one of the concubines to attend to you?”

Emperor Yu was indeed tired and did not move with his eyes closed. “Call Qingru to come in one hour.”

Yu Dexi was not surprised. Previously, the emperor had caught a cold and the consort had been tirelessly taking care of him day and night, so he was very fond of her.


He replied softly and tiptoed down the steps. As he was about to leave, he heard another order.

“Yu Dexi, remember this: If Zhongming handles this matter well, I will give him a pleasant surprise.”

Yu Dexi answered softly and stood at the door for a while. Soon, he heard the Emperor’s even and steady breathing and then left quietly.

The eunuch outside the door promptly brought him tea. He took a sip before issuing another command.


“It’s getting hot. Don’t forget to send two pieces of Xiaoyun chiffon to the Lijing Palace.”

“Xiaoyun chiffon? “

Qu Chenzhou hugged his arms and leaned against the flower rack, watching Liu Zhongming pack his things.

“It’s suitable for summer and the concubine will surely look very beautiful wearing it.”

Liu Zhongming glanced dissatisfiedly – he was discussing important matters, but the little fox was pretending to be foolish.

“The emperor really values me,” he knew that Qu Chenzhou must also want to know the key point: “I had just sold the mountains and forests to Liao Guangming not long ago, and he already made a move on my sister’s side.”

“Isn’t this good? The emperor thinks it’s his favor, but look at this, Pan He knows a secret that may be very important to the emperor, and he is eager to win over Shizi.”

“What’s there to win over for someone like me?”

Recently, they often asked and answered each other like this, sometimes so tacitly as if they were one person.

“What’s wrong with Shizi? Shizi is fine,” Qu Chenzhou didn’t speak nicely to him: “Aside from that, which nobleman in the capital would bother to pack luggage for their servants?”

Liu Zhongming threw a piece of clothing at him, and said angrily: “Don’t make trouble out of nothing. If not, you pack it yourself.”

Qu Chenzhou took the clothing down, smilingly refused to do it himself: “Shizi doesn’t need to pack, I’m just going to spend a few days with Fang Wuyang. Why bring so much stuff? It’s not like we’re going on an outing.”

“That area is surrounded by wilderness, with cold winds and heavy dew. If you have to guard at night, you’ll catch a cold and fever when you get back.”

Liu Zhongming didn’t stop, and continued to ask: “Where do you think the emperor sees my value?”

“Everywhere,” Qu Chenzhou answered seriously this time, “greedy, lustful, impulsive, and irritable. But even so, Shizi is still able to outshine Liao Guangming and smoothly obtain Pan He.”

Not to mention, behind Liu Zhongming, there are also the powers of the Bai Liu families. Anyone would be happy to take the initiative to pick up the rope thrown by him.

Everyone thinks they are well-prepared, and everyone thinks they are the one walking in front.

Liu Zhongming sighed, “Chenzhou, do you think the emperor is worried about being deceived?”

“That’s why emperors have always been suspicious. What are they afraid of?” Qu Chenzhou reminded him, “If he isn’t afraid, why bother with such meticulous scheming? It’s even worse when he gets older. Look at Liao Guangming.”

The saying goes that people in high positions are easily misled. Liao Guangming is probably still caught up in his fear of the emperor being idle. He still naively believes that his only reliance is the emperor’s trust, not realizing that he has been drawn into the battle between two princes.

What the emperor hates the most is having his trusted confidants be partial to others.

“Fortunately, Ning Wang has a habit of being nosy. Otherwise, if we couldn’t settle the bet, we would have to take further action and put in more effort.”

Although this was just a casual remark, under Qu Chenzhou’s planning, even if Ning Wang wasn’t so impulsive, he would probably not be able to escape. But somehow, Liu Zhongming remembered what Qu Chenzhou said earlier – he suddenly thought, if that were really the case, would the emperor be willing to succumb to coercion and give that position to Ning Wang?

He certainly won’t!

The reason is straightforward – because Ning Wang is not talented enough. He lacks both literary and martial skills, and if we don’t consider his status as the legitimate son, he pales in comparison to his two elder brothers.

Except for a few officials who insisted on choosing him as the legitimate heir, many people who have witnessed Ning Wang’s conduct cannot help but reconsider their support for him.

But how did Ning Wang become like this?

“Chenzhou, I haven’t asked you before. If you don’t want to answer, it’s okay,” he learned not to push too hard. “In the past, what happened to the three Wangye’s? Who became the emperor?”

“It was Huai Wang.”

Liu Zhongming wasn’t surprised by this answer. Huai Wang was already popular among the officials. What surprised him was what Qu Chenzhou said next.

“The emperor couldn’t make up his mind. Even if Ning Wang were sent to a fief, and Qi Wang had already died, the emperor still delayed in appointing the heir.”

“Some officials saw the emperor’s hesitation, and there were various rumors, none favored Huai Wang.”

“Later, someone in the palace accused Huai Wang of coveting the emperor’s concubines, and others claimed that Huai Wang was gathering troops in the provinces. The emperor was furious and sent people to investigate.”

“Before anything could be confirmed, Huai Wang took the initiative and forced the emperor to abdicate, becoming the new ruler.”

At this point, Liu Zhongming understood. No wonder Qu Chenzhou had previously said that some people with military power would rebel.

“I see now. Neither the Southern Bureau nor the Jinxiu Ying can fall into the hands of Huai Wang.”

He was still somewhat distressed. The various regional military governors were dispersed, and even if he could reach those faraway places, it would be difficult to make the emperor believe him immediately.

Qu Quanzhou remained silent. He wasn’t a god, nor could he control everyone. Under absolute imperial power, they were all boats that could be overturned at any moment.

“Fang Wuyang will be here soon. Take him to the reception hall first.”

Liu Zhongming didn’t want his own troubles to make others unhappy, so he spoke up and, seeing the person leave, lowered his head to tidy up his baggage.

As a dog that was useful and easy to manipulate, he knew that it wasn’t just the emperor who was interested in him.

He could tell from his mother’s actions that the Tang family had some ulterior motives. Rejecting his mother’s face wasn’t enough to make them back off, and he even received an invitation from the empress.

He couldn’t not go.

Liu Zhongming silently felt around in the exquisite eight treasure box.

The red string that he had personally woven was almost covering the bottom of the box. The one at the very bottom was hard, it was the wooden hairpin, and he only noticed the difference from before when he twisted it in his hand.

In the sunlight, the word “ming” in the center of the hairpin had been rubbed smooth.

He stared at it for a long time, took out his dagger from his sleeve, but before the blade could fall, he noticed some marks on the hairpin.

It seemed that ink had been absorbed into the wood grain, repeatedly, in the same place, writing the same word. Over time, those ambiguous and soft ink marks had fallen.


One side was him, and the other side was his little fox.

No wonder the last time he touched Chenzhou’s hair, his hand was stained with dark dirt.

The sly and shy thoughts of the little fox were hidden in a place where he didn’t want Liu Zhongming to notice.

Engraving their names on the hairpin, he held his thoughts carefully and playfully teased him.

Liu Zhongming wanted to carve the name “Chenzhou” several times, but he couldn’t bear to destroy the ink marks. He just smiled foolishly and traced the word with his fingers.

Chenzhou, ah.

All the fear and anxiety facing the thorns dissipated with each stroke.

Author’s Note: Changed the cover… I’m on vacation, so busy [wipes tears], I don’t even have time to write. But seeing the cover being criticized again, haha [laughing], because there is too little time, I hastily drew one [covering face].

As we all know, every time it’s criticized, I will change it.

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