Chapter 152: Three Blessings
Qu Chenzhou tried to reach out his hand, but he fell to the ground. In the blink of an eye, everything from before vanished like smoke, and only the sound of the boy’s audacious laughter remained.
“You two are so troublesome! If not for that, I would have killed him already, so you two wouldn’t have to endure this complicated entanglement.”
“You dare!?” Qu Chenzhou got on his knees and sat up, his mind in a daze. He recognized the voice behind the words. “What happened to Zhongming? What just happened…”
The fiery flames had long since extinguished, leaving him with a chilling feeling in his heart. He panicked, his mind filled with uncontrollable speculations that seemed irreparable.
“What is Zhongming doing?” He stumbled over, wanting to get a clear view, but the image flickered away. All he could do was grab onto the boy’s clothes in a state of confusion.
“Was that him just now? What happened to him? Is he in danger?”
“Two bitter enemies,” the boy swung his legs and didn’t avoid Qu Chenzhou. He sneered and asked, “After all these years, your temperaments haven’t really changed, huh?”
“I… don’t understand…” Qu Chenzhou raised his head in a daze. “Do you know us?”
He remembered that the last time, they didn’t exchange so many words. The boy simply asked him to choose a door.
At that time, he was already determined to die, unable to distinguish whether it was for the sake of doing more for Zhongming before dying or for the chance to ask a final question upon their reunion, so he decisively chose the path of truth.
He remembered hearing the boy’s helpless sigh when entering the door: “Foolish child.”
“Do you not understand? You are obstinate in your own way, while he is impulsive and hot-headed.” The boy sighed helplessly. “Endure it a little longer. Both of you are too stubborn.”
“But in the end, Zhongming can’t compare to you. He always follows behind you. Even if you possess extraordinary abilities, relying solely on solitary bravery, the path you can walk is ultimately limited. Occasionally, you should turn around and look at him.”
Qu Chenzhou felt lost. Another crack of suspicion had formed between him and Zhongming, and he didn’t know when it would ignite into a raging fire, burning them to ashes.
He had chosen to bid farewell to Zhongming in the most decisive yet cruel way.
In the past decade or so of his previous life, he had only learned to gamble and trade with himself.
But now, those calculations that couldn’t be spoken aloud seemed to be seen through by someone in the void. His concealed thoughts involuntarily slipped out, unsure whether it was to defend himself or to repent.
“But… I can’t think of any other way… It’s best to separate like this.”
“Never mind, what you did wasn’t wrong,” the boy said, spreading his hands. “In this world, how many things can really be distinguished as right or wrong? The time is almost up, choose now, truth or lie?”
Qu Chenzhou struggled to stand up, swaying back and forth as he looked at the two doors.
Last time, he chose truth, and the success or failure depended on that. Although he glimpsed the secret of Huai Wang, he was also trapped in h*ll because of it.
The door of lies, on the other hand, could free him from the shackles of his natural power.
His hand rested on one of the doors.
“Master, can you tell me if that was Zhongming just now? Will… will he die?”
“That depends on his own destiny. It’s not for me to say.”
“Then… will he remember everything from before?” Qu Chenzhou asked, carrying a burdened heart, seeking an escape route for his overwhelming guilt.
“I don’t know. In his previous life, he gathered his entire soul for you. As for how many memories he can retain, only he knows.”
Qu Chenzhou suddenly felt a chill. “Gathered his entire soul… for me? What does that mean?”
The boy jumped down from mid-air and looked at the door he supported, somewhat satisfied. He smiled faintly. “Well, I can tell you this much.”
“After your death, he went mad for some reason and came to me. He knelt down and refused to get up, driving me crazy. That’s when I helped him come up with a solution.”
“What…?” Qu Chenzhou felt a chill running through his body. The lingering doubts that had haunted him since his rebirth were about to be unraveled, and he could already guess that the truth was something he didn’t want to hear. “What solution…?”
The boy extended his palm, and within the black mist appeared the familiar Cross of the Broken Soul Platform. However, the person bound to it was not him.
“Zhongming!” Qu Chenzhou wanted to step forward but had no strength. “What is this? What is this!”
“Four hundred Soul-piercing Pins infused with his soul and the imperial decree of a lifetime, in exchange for a chance for you to be reborn.”
Qu Chenzhou opened his mouth, unable to hear his own voice. He felt something flowing into his mouth, bitter and acrid, and he could hardly stand while leaning against the door.
“Soul-piercing Pins…” The name alone sent chills down to his bones. “What are they?”
“They are wooden pins made from sinking wood. Before his blood runs dry, they pierce through every vein in his body to gather his soul,” the boy chuckled. “I told him that if you had entered the cycle of reincarnation, he would die in vain. But he insisted on giving it a try. I didn’t expect your soul to be so close by and be summoned back…”
“Why did you do this!” Qu Chenzhou suddenly pounced forward, but the boy evaded him with a quick movement. Qu Chenzhou fell to the ground in a daze, trembling all over. “Why did you tell him! You’re forcing him onto a path of death!”
“I didn’t force him.” The boy gestured at him. “Did you not see how he looked when he came to me? He harbored thoughts of death, living in such a state, it would be better for him to die and be spared the torment.”
“I… I…” Qu Chenzhou had never imagined that such a thing would happen after his death. If it was really true, then he would be the straw that broke Zhongming completely.
The only possibility was that Zhongming truly knew everything.
If he had known this would happen, how could he have taken this step?
“Go inside, there’s no turning back now,” the boy flicked his index finger, and it seemed as if an invisible hand lifted Qu Chenzhou, pushing him into the door. “Don’t dwell on the past, learn from it, and keep moving forward.”
Qu Chenzhou stumbled back a few steps from the forceful push, only to awaken from his daze as the radiant light inside the door gradually melted into his body. Suddenly, he turned around.
“Master, if I were to die one day, please let Zhongming… live a good life!”
Liu Zhongming felt as if he had turned into a ball of fire, dispersing into countless sparks without knowing when.
“Where is he?” He heard his own hoarse voice, strained to the limit. “Where is he?”
His mind was hazy, not even knowing who that “he” referred to, only aware that he had lost something, something incredibly precious to him, and he had lost it.
He had no idea where to look.
A high platform stood right in front of him, and he climbed up clumsily, catching sight of the Cross of the Broken Soul Platform stained with fresh blood.
His body and soul seemed to have split into two, able only to watch helplessly as the silver arrow shot through the air.
He used both his hands and feet to crawl over and block it, but he lacked the strength to stop the arrow. From behind, came the sound of flesh being pierced.
He lunged forward, seeing another arrow piercing through himself.
No one heard his hysterical cries of pain and sorrow. He fell to his knees, forcefully pressing his head against his knees.
Everything around him suddenly became silent, and he could only hear the voice of another him, choked with sobs, teetering on the edge of collapse.
“A treacherous minister who has harmed the country, not worth keeping alive, drag him out…”
He struggled but couldn’t get up, only able to watch as others dragged the body from the Broken Soul Platform.
“Hang the body for public display.”
Liu Zhongming finally let out a hoarse scream. Everything around him vanished, and he only knew that he desperately tried to grab hold of that bare foot.
But as soon as he touched it, Qu Chenzhou turned into nothingness, nowhere to be found.
“Chenzhou… Don’t go! Don’t go!”
Before he could scream in agony from the dream, the light and ethereal sensation abruptly vanished, as if he had fallen back into reality from a dream. His consciousness gradually cleared, but his body felt heavy and immobile. He was drenched in cold sweat.
Lying on his back, he gasped for air for a long while. His chest and head felt dizzy, and after some time, he vaguely remembered that he had lost too much blood earlier.
Not to mention the item Jingchen brought him, the medicinal properties of the Golden Well Jade Lan were indeed potent. He felt a scorching heat throughout his body, his blood running hot and uncontrollable, tasting blood in his mouth and nose.
The almost lifeless body laid in his arms, and he forcibly pried open his clenched teeth, feeding him the blood mixed with the warmed medicine, drop by drop.
If it was destined for them to hate each other…
He didn’t dare shed a single tear.
If they could only hate each other, it would be better to leave only one person behind, letting him become a cowardly deserter.
He couldn’t recall when he lost consciousness in the end, only hearing Jingchen repeatedly calling his name.
“Zhongming! Zhongming! You can’t feed him anymore! Stop…”
Liu Zhongming struggled to move his eyeballs, trying to open his eyes. The person by his bedside became overjoyed when they noticed his movement. “Your Majesty!”
A chill ran through him at that address, and he gave up the struggle.
Even if he returned to the old dream of his past life, so what? He had nothing left to lose. Everything was irretrievable, so what was there to fear?
Escaping from reality meant never having to face Qu Chenzhou’s life and death again, which was also a form of mercy toward him.
The person helped him up and whispered, “Your Majesty, the deposed emperor has died. He hanged himself in his residence this morning.”
Liu Zhongming sat quietly by the bedside for a moment before remembering that the deposed emperor was Huai Wang Mu Jingyan.
“Bury him and entrust it to Jingchen,” he said with a sidelong glance, noticing the person’s sudden raise of their head and immediate lowering, as if wanting to say something but hesitating. “Is there something else?”
“I dare not conceal it from Your Majesty,” the person hesitated for a moment but answered truthfully, “The person guarding outside the door said that before his death, he kept laughing maniacally, uttering delusional words, saying… saying that you will definitely regret it.”
“Regret…” He muttered to himself like a lost soul, unable to distinguish which Liu Zhongming he was now.
Can he really regret it? Countless people watched him from behind, national enmity, family hatred, deception, and betrayal, should he regret it?
“You will regret it…”
It was that old voice again. He had been driven almost to madness by this voice in Huanyi building. It was the voice he feared the most deep down, the voice that concealed things he dared not face.
“Who?!” He jumped up like a startled prey, shouting sternly, “Who are you?”
The people walking back and forth in the palace seemed to have turned into ephemeral bubbles, dissipating in the mist. He could only see an old man with a stooped figure, standing with his hands hanging down under the steps, wearing a worn-out robe.
“Who am I indeed…”
As if not knowing that the person in front of him could take his life at any moment, the eunuch chuckled in a hoarse voice, chattering like an ordinary old man.
“After so many years, I’ve almost forgotten who I am. They all call me Three Blessings, I’ve been called that for more than half a lifetime.”
“Just a slave, what blessings or misfortunes can there be?”
“I know what he did was wrong, and I know he shouldn’t have sat on that throne. But what can I do? After all, he is my flesh and blood.”
“All my sons are gone, dead by his hands…” Three Blessing, the eunuch, choked on his words, “Even this appearance of mine is thanks to him. But what can I do? He is my only son left.”
“Even if he does wrong, he is still the root of my Zhou family.”
Liu Zhongming shuddered. He vaguely remembered that someone had told him something very important, something he should have recalled. But now, this body seemed to be controlled by someone else, beyond his control.
It felt as if there were two people desperately struggling in his mind, causing him a splitting headache, and he could only hear his own roaring voice.
“Wh-what is this! Why is it in your possession!”
Before him were two jade artifacts. The emerald hairpin was the one his sister wore when she entered the palace for the selection, and he and Qingchi had watched as his brother painstakingly carved it. There was no way he could mistake it.
But the other piece, it was even more familiar than that jade hairpin.
Around the edge of the small, translucent jade ring was a pale jade bell. He didn’t even need to touch it to remember the sound of that jade bell.
Eunuch Three Blessings placed the two jade artifacts in front of him, took a few steps back, and knelt down, lamenting sorrowfully.
“Jingyan… He was just an ignorant child. He’s my only root. What he asked of me, how could I refuse? Why bother? How can I live after this?”
“What is this! How did it end up with you!”
Liu Zhongming stared fixedly at the jade ring, trembling all over. They were like two madmen confronting each other, each saying their own words, both imprisoned in their own narrow cages.
Three Blessings picked up the jade pendant and showed it to him.
“It took Your Majesty several years to find that child. These two things were found in that child’s home.”
“Your Majesty,” Three Blessings turned the jade pendant around, grinning, “You killed Qu Chenzhou, you will regret it.”
“I won’t!” It was as if those two words suddenly burned him. Liu Zhongming roared loudly, his voice filled with anguish, “I won’t! Why should I regret it! He brought calamity to the country…”
He trembled and couldn’t continue speaking. Three Blessings helped him continue, “He brought calamity to the country and harmed loyal subjects. He deceived the people and seduced Your Majesty. It was he who caused the deaths of thousands of lives from the Liu and Bai families.”
“Your Majesty, Jingyan asked me to tell you that all those things were indeed done by Qu Sitian. It’s not worth feeling sorry for that treacherous villain.”
“But while everyone in the world can curse him, only you can’t.”
“Does Your Majesty know who this jade pendant was given to…” Three Blessings seemed to remember something amusing and laughed uproariously, “It was given to the child of Jingyan and Concubine Liu.”
I see that everyone is worried about the choice. Let me explain: Little Qu endured a difficult journey through the night and reaching the end was not easy. The subsequent choices won’t be as difficult for him as in his previous life because he possesses the ability [to touch the truth]. When he wants to gather more useful information, he can say lies, just like an ordinary person, without any restrictions. He can still divine fortunes. So, this time as the Si Tian Guan, first, he knows how to make the Emperor comfortable, and second, he can freely chatter. It’s not as difficult as the previous life. Most importantly, after Zhongming regains his memories, Chenzhou is no longer fighting alone. He doesn’t have to rely solely on sacrificing himself like before.
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