Chapter 153: Live Alone
“The child of Jingyan and Concubine Liu.”
“Nonsense!” Liu Zhongming shouted angrily, “That’s clearly a baseless accusation by Qu Chenzhou. Shameless slander! My sister could never…”
“This child, Jingyan… is simple-minded,” Three Blessings muttered to himself, “Having reached such a high position, what woman can’t he have? Why must he be obsessed with a woman in the cold palace?”
Liu Zhongming instantly understood the meaning behind this and became furious, kicking Three Blessings in the chest.
“Outrageous! Are you saying… that Mu Jingyan towards my sister… Guards! Guards!”
In the empty hall, only the echoes of his hysterical roar remained, gradually fading away.
“Do you want to kill me? You killed Jingyan, the Zhou family is finished, so what meaning is there for me to live?”
Three Blessings fell to the ground and suddenly burst into mad laughter. “Yes, yes, not only did you kill Jingyan, you even killed Qu Chenzhou. His body is still hanging in the bustling marketplace.”
“Liu Zhongming, Liu Zhongming, you will regret this!”
“I… I won’t…” Liu Zhongming trembled uncontrollably, trying desperately to cover his ears, but involuntarily asked, “Why would I regret it? Why would I?”
He needed to know, he wanted to know.
“You will! You will!” Three Blessings cried and laughed, tearing at himself as if possessed by an evil spirit. “Let me tell you what has happened all these years.”
“Qu Chenzhou only speaks the truth. Aren’t you the most aware of that? How could he possibly make false accusations?”
“Jingyan and Liu Qingru indeed had a child, my dear grandson. Do you want to see him? Once you see him, you’ll know how much he resembles Liu Qingru and Jingyan!”
“Guess who sent my grandson outside the palace!”
“It was Qu Chenzhou! He said Liu Qingru poisoned him!”
Liu Zhongming felt a chilling sensation all over his body. “No… it’s impossible!”
“It’s not impossible. Qu Sitian is a prophet. Liu Qingru is in the cold palace. How could she have poisoned him? It’s because he always secretly went to the cold palace to take care of Liu Qingru. He willingly let himself be used by her!”
“It was Liu Qingru who had him accuse Jingyan in front of the late emperor. She wanted Jingyan to be condemned by everyone, she wanted the emperor to depose Jingyan. How wicked her heart is!”
“But unfortunately, the late emperor thought he had everything under control. Still, Jingyan acted decisively. The sons and grandsons of my Zhou family will one day sit in that supreme position.”
“What about Qu Chenzhou? On the night of the palace coup, he sent the child out of the palace, thinking he could turn back and save Liu Qingru.”
“The poison Liu Qingru gave him was truly vicious. The emperor should have seen how he suffered from the poison, vomiting so much blood. If it weren’t for Jingyan’s intention to use him, using medicine to sustain him, he wouldn’t have survived.”
“Yes…” Liu Zhongming ran his hand through his hair. The one Qu Chenzhou took was Shaoye: “It’s impossible…”
“Don’t believe it? Fortunately, Jingyan was fixated on Liu Qingru and never let go. He did everything possible to find that child and only then remembered many things from the past. Otherwise, he might have been deceived for even longer.”
“Your Majesty, everyone knows that it was Qu Sitian’s prophecy that caused harm to the Liu family. Do you want to know what he went through back then?”
“His Majesty asked him to divine for you, but he would rather die than utter a word. In the end, Liao Guangming force-fed him three bottles of Bihongzi.”
Three Blessings seemed afraid that he hadn’t heard clearly, as he continued closely by his ear.
“Three bottles, Your Majesty, do you know how much pain he endured? Liao Guangming didn’t want to resort to such extremes, but Qu Chenzhou kept tossing and turning, only calling out your name, constantly shouting ‘Zhongming, save me!'”
“He still hoped that you could save him.”
“For over ten hours, until his voice became hoarse, he was finally coerced into revealing your prophecy.”
Liu Zhongming trembled silently.
Ever since the interlocking nightmares of the past, he had guessed this possibility. When he heard it with his own ears, he thought he would shatter, but instead, it felt as if his soul had been hollowed out, unable even to utter the words “impossible.”
It was as if he had already seen the snow blades and frost knives coming towards him, and he didn’t want to dodge or could not dodge.
“The Bai family…”
“The Bai family will definitely rebel? The Liu family fell, even if he doesn’t say anything, do you think the emperor will spare the Bai family?”
Three Blessings laughed slyly, “If it weren’t for the phrase ‘the Bai family will definitely rebel,’ the late emperor wouldn’t have executed Bai Shining on the spot. But would there still be a chance for Bai Shilei to escape and defect from the capital? Would you get tens of thousands of elite soldiers to use?”
“Your Majesty, do you still remember the Battle of Rongcheng? Do you still remember Yingshan City? If Jingyan hadn’t been deceived by him, listened to his words, and sent the wrong people, do you think you would have a chance to escape?”
“If it wasn’t for him spreading false accusations to the late emperor and Jingyan, if it wasn’t for him killing those loyal and capable generals, did you really think there was no one in Dayu who could extinguish this fire of yours?”
“Everyone in the world can hate him, except you, Liu Zhongming!”
“But in the end, he died by your hand! How satisfying! How satisfying!”
This incessant repetition felt like a tightly wound rope, tightening around Liu Zhongming’s neck, making it difficult for him to breathe.
He knew this was Mu Jingyan’s revenge, he knew that the other party wanted to drag him down into h*ll together, but he also knew more clearly that Three Blessings’s words were true.
But what kind of despair did the weak and timid Qu Chenzhou experience to become the resolute person he is now?
It was he who abandoned the person and let Chenzhou be trapped among a pack of wolves.
Chenzhou approached him step by step, treading on thorns, but what had he really done?
Three Blessings looked at him as if a vulture had seen rotten flesh, almost laughing through tears.
“Liu Zhongming, you will regret it!”
“Do you know what kind of days Qu Sitian lived in the palace after Jingyan discovered the deception?”
“Don’t say it!” Liu Zhongming was on the verge of collapse. He remembered it. That one word, “Jingyan,” was the source of his suspicions, but he didn’t expect it to be the nightmare of Qu Chenzhou in h*ll. “Don’t say it!”
Three Blessings crawled up from the steps and grabbed his clothes, preventing him from evading.
“They drugged him and made him kneel and beg for someone to do him.”
“The emperor had never seen him in such a lascivious state. I’m afraid no one in the world would have expected that even an immortal descending to the mortal realm would moan so seductively!”
“Has the emperor searched the Star Gazing Pavillion? Did you find many interesting things? Those were all things used on him.”
“Do you dare say that you humiliated him and tortured him only for the sake of righteousness? Is there truly no personal grudge involved?”
Liu Zhongming felt as if hot oil had been splashed on him, and he leaped up, grabbing the sword by his bedside and striking it down.
Three Blessings disappeared without a trace, but his voice echoed like an evil spirit, laughing madly and lingering in the air.
“Liu Zhongming, did Qu Sitian ever plead with you to spare Jingyan’s life? Did you think he was devoted and still had lingering feelings for Jingyan? Hahaha!”
“He was afraid that if Jingyan died, he would definitely leave a way to deal with you. How naive he was, hoping that Jingyan, in order to cling to life, would keep these secrets buried forever in his belly!”
“Even until the end, he still thought of you, afraid that you would know something, afraid that you would be saddened by him!”
“But what about you? You didn’t even want to listen to a word from him. You silenced him with poisoned wine!”
“He waited for you in the palace for ten years, and finally, he waited for you! And then, what did you do to him?”
“He was paraded through the streets, tortured in the dark dungeon, all because he felt he owed you. He willingly endured it, but he never held any resentment against you.”
“Your Majesty, think carefully about how you treated him!”
“Qu Chenzhou’s body… is still hanging in the busy streets, subject to ridicule and insults. Hahaha, treacherous courtier, deserving to die! How satisfying, how satisfying!”
“No…” Liu Zhongming went mad, swinging his sword and striking at the air. “Stop it!”
“Liu Zhongming, you killed Jingyan, you killed the person in this world who was most loyal to you. Enjoy the rest of your life!”
“You know in your heart that what I’m saying is true! All the witnesses, Jingyan had prepared them long ago. Go and ask, go and listen! They will all tell you!”
Three Blessings’s voice distorted and gradually dissipated. “You killed him! You will regret it!”
Liu Zhongming suddenly reversed the sword, pressing it against his chest, and the gleaming blade pierced into his body.
A sharp pain pierced his heart.
He suddenly bounced up, leaning over the edge of the bed, vomiting a mouthful of blood, silently sobbing in the silence.
Darkness and silence surrounded him, the place he was most familiar with. A rope hung from the curtain, the other end tied to a bell outside the canopy.
But no one would ever push that bell with their fingertips again.
Liu Zhongming gasped for breath, lying prostrate on the edge of the bed. A bright circle gradually formed amidst the crimson on the floor, drop by drop, flowing from his eyes, dripping from his nose.
Throughout past lives and present, Qu Chenzhou had always silently followed him, step by step.
He thought of their encounter beneath the corridor of Jinxi Academy, never imagining that the words “Qu Sitian” would lead to the life and death devotion of another person across two lifetimes.
He was the true evil demon, relying solely on a little love and joy, pushing two people into the depths of h*ll twice.
He thought of the gentle smile and profile under the sunlight, the frantic efforts Qu Chenzhou made to hurriedly send him to Nianhua shop, and someone screaming his name with a torn heart in the midst of the torture.
Every detail from his memories spun around him like a carousel.
He also remembered the person on the Cross of the Broken Soul Platform, who even in death had a faint smile of relief on his lips.
Qu Chenzhou had chosen that path of death himself, and he hadn’t even considered any means of preservation.
The body held in his arms in the snow had been tortured beyond recognition, the once exquisite face now pallid and haggard, the unmatched eyes unable to open.
Liu Zhongming bit down on the hard edge of the bed and began to wail in his throat.
What had he done? What had he done?
Qu Chenzhou had been reborn and had exhausted himself in thinking for him, but he had never let go of his suspicions and doubts.
Faced with the pill offered to him that night, Qu Chenzhou had swallowed it calmly.
At that time, Qu Chenzhou had clearly said, “I am willing to die for Shizi, without regrets even in death.”
But he hadn’t believed it.
Qu Chenzhou had said, “I don’t blame him, my heart is with you, Zhongming. I have wandered alone for so long, but I promise you, we will be together in life and death.”
But he hadn’t believed it.
In the past life, in this life, Qu Chenzhou’s words, even at the cost of his life, had proven true.
The one who always broke his promises was him.
That person had peeled away his skin and bones, burned his flesh and blood for him, but he only had repeated tests and doubts.
There should have been more trust.
That birthmark was Qu Chenzhou’s most vulnerable spot, and that jade pendant represented their enduring love and longing across two lifetimes, but he had destroyed it all, not even letting Qu Chenzhou’s desperate pleas soften his heart.
He only knew of the overwhelming anger from being deceived, pretending not to hear Qu Chenzhou’s choked sobs before he fell unconscious.
There should have been more trust!
If he hadn’t been blinded by anger, he should have known that everything Qu Chenzhou said at the Ten Li Pavilion was true.
— Shizi’s current power is too far from that position without the help of a benefactor.
— I can promise Shizi three things: first, granting him control over the military; second, ensuring the Concubine safely gives birth to a little prince; and third, helping the little prince ascend to the supreme throne.
— I have many things I want, and since you can’t give them to me, I’ll take them myself.
He finally understood what Qu Chenzhou intended to do.
That precarious position he walked on was the greatest support for him, and the person willing to risk their life to assist him… was Qu Chenzhou himself.
He tasted the bitter consequences of his doubts, and Qu Chenzhou didn’t even give him a chance to redeem himself, leaving without looking back.
“Chenzhou…” Liu Zhongming pulled the blanket over himself, like withered leaves rustling in the cold wind. “Chenzhou… how could you deceive me…”
— Why did he leave alone on that path of death without a backward glance?
— Why did he cruelly leave him behind to live alone?
“Chenzhou… why didn’t you kill me…”