Si Tian Guan Chapter 155

Chapter 155: Parting

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Liu Qingru had been two months pregnant. Although there were no visible changes in her figure, she had experienced some fright during their time at the hunting ground, which caused a bit of spotting. Thankfully, she managed to hold on, but she had to be cautious and stay in bed.

When she heard the sound of the cotton curtain outside, she peeked her head out to look.

There was a soft voice from outside, saying, “Imperial Consort, Shizi has arrived.”

Liu Zhongming had already taken off his cloak in the outer room and, even when he entered the inner room, he remained seated at a distance. He smiled at her and said, “My body is still chilly. Let’s wait until I warm up before going to my sister’s place.”

Liu Qingru understood the importance of her condition and didn’t insist. While instructing the palace maid to fetch something, she asked, “Have you greeted His Majesty?”

Whether it was her imagination or not, this simple question seemed to make her younger brother pause for a moment, as if he were in a daze.

“I… I have. Is my sister’s health alright recently? Did the imperial physician come today?”

“He did. Everything is fine. They only said that I need to stay in bed for some more time,” Liu Qingru saw a palace maid bringing in a food box and gestured, “You should be warm now. Come and sit here.”

Liu Zhongming smiled and complied, moving to sit at the edge of the bed. He asked again, “When can we meet? I can’t wait to be an uncle for the first time.”

“It will be around June next year. Don’t be impatient,” Liu Qingru gently caressed her belly, “We still don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl.”

“It’s a boy.”

“How do you know?”

“Because…” Liu Zhongming blurted out the words but stopped midway, as if something was stuck in his throat. Because that person said it’s the “little prince.”

The table in front of them was filled with bowls and dishes. Liu Qingru handed him the chopsticks, saying, “Eat your lunch before going back. I’ve prepared an extra portion for you to take. Is the child tired of eating the same food?”

Liu Zhongming didn’t take the chopsticks, his gaze fixed on the soft tripe dish closest to him. His breathing became increasingly rapid, uncontrollable, and his eyes reddened. But in the end, he held back the tears that were swirling in his eyes.

Liu Qingru finally realized that something was amiss. She gestured with her eyes, dismissing the people around them, and gently touched her brother’s head. “Zhongming, what’s wrong with you?”

“I…” Liu Zhongming snapped back to his senses and quickly picked up the chopsticks. “I… I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” Liu Qingru saw him bow his head and forcefully shovel rice into his mouth, so she watched for a moment before softly asking, “When you left the hunting ground and hurriedly departed for the capital, you said you had urgent matters to attend to. Have you dealt with them?”

Liu Zhongming suddenly picked up the cup of tea on the table as if he wanted to take a sip, but instead, he tilted his head back and splashed the entire cup of tea on his face. He hurriedly wiped his eyes with force, taking a while to calm his breath before slowly removing the sleeve from his face.

“I’ve dealt with it. Don’t worry, sister,” Liu Zhongming replied.

Liu Qingru had never seen her brother in such a disheveled state. She quickly grabbed his sleeve and said, “Zhongming, what exactly happened? Tell me!”

“I’m fine…” Liu Zhongming continued to stare at the plate of soft tripe.

He was fine.

Even though he had been torn apart, even though his soul had been shattered, since that person was already walking on a knife’s edge, he had to stitch himself back together, force himself to stand up and follow suit.

In the eyes of others, Liu Zhongming could only be Shizi who had lost his beloved pet and was furious.

He couldn’t let anyone perceive his brokenness.

He couldn’t even show a hint of sadness, couldn’t even cry in front of his sister. He was afraid that someone would see his red eyes when he went outside.

Qu Chenzhou was indeed a strategist who left no room for error. He knew that for the sake of the Liu family, he would never mention the divination of the past two years.

But what the cunning fox didn’t know was that Liu Zhongming was even more afraid of the slightest slip-up, as it could turn into a weapon that would shred Qu Chenzhou to pieces.

He had thought that losing everything and rising from the ashes was the cruelest form of hatred. Now he knew that the cruelest weapon was love.

One body two lives, having tasted separation by death and now embarking on another parting.

“I’m fine,” he took a bite of the soft tripe, as if swallowing a handful of broken blades, and smiled at his sister, “I’m doing well.”


Mu Jingchen stepped into the carriage, treading lightly on the thin layer of snow. Seeing that someone was already sitting inside, he didn’t panic or show surprise.

After the carriage started moving, he sighed and asked, “You know, don’t you?”

“I don’t know. I was just worried about you, so I came to check,” Jiang Xingzhi replied honestly, furrowing his brows as he looked at him for a moment. He asked in confusion, “Jingchen, how did you get involved in their affairs? If I had known earlier, I definitely wouldn’t have let you wade into this muddy water. Neither of them is an easy opponent, and I’m afraid you’ll suffer.”

Mu Jingchen glanced at him, knowing how much thought he had put into him over the years, and how much he had saved him from many disputes.

Gradually, one became accustomed to meddling, and the other became accustomed to giving advance notice. This time, however, Mu Jingchen had indeed kept it hidden from Jiang Xingzhi.

“I didn’t suffer. I didn’t tell you this time because Shiyan came to me suddenly,” Mu Jingchen flicked the charcoal basin under the small table. “He said those two people had become enemies, and Qu Chenzhou was going to suffer a great loss. He told me to take the person away first and wait for Zhongming to calm down before discussing it further.”

Jiang Xingzhi noticed that Mu Jingchen never looked up to meet his gaze, knowing that he was just trying to brush him off.

If it were merely a falling out between those two people, Jingchen wouldn’t have brought someone into the palace today.

What he could think of was that Bai Shiyan probably initially asked Jingchen to rescue someone, but after the person was saved, Qu Chenzhou must have said something to him.

Having dealt with Qu Chenzhou before, he couldn’t deny that Qu Chenzhou was very skilled at understanding people’s hearts and convincing them.

Someone like Jingchen, ten out of ten times, would be unable to resist and would be swayed by his words.

Now that the die had been cast, no matter how much he said, it would be of no avail. But after enduring for a while, Jiang Xingzhi still asked, “Jingchen, do you know that once he is favored by the Emperor, you will never…”

“I know,” Mu Jingchen interrupted him. “Chenzhou told me. With his abilities, the Emperor cannot ignore him, and he was brought into the palace by me. Because of this credit, I will be granted the title of prince.”

Jiang Xingzhi could no longer sit still.

“Did he also mention that he is different from those previous Si Tian Guan? The Emperor can turn a blind eye to those fraudsters, but not to him. He will not only eventually occupy the position of Si Tian Guan, but the Emperor will also become increasingly dependent on him. By then, even if you are granted the title of prince, you will be the most suspected, and you will no longer have any further opportunities.”

“Xingzhi, I’ve said it before. I don’t want to be deeply entangled in that vortex. Haven’t you given up yet?” Mu Jingchen’s expression remained calm. “I have my own plans. Qu Chenzhou said that only he and Zhongming can help me achieve my wishes.”

“Only by being granted the title of prince do I have a chance to one day leave the capital and go to the fiefdom.”

“On that day, I want to take Mother with me and head south together.”

“Mother has long been weary in the palace. Being able to take her away, free from that prison, is also her long-cherished desire.”

Jiang Xingzhi was shocked, but quickly realized that if this was Jingchen’s wish, indeed, only if Liu Zhongming succeeded in seizing the throne could it be possible to achieve it.

When Liu Qingru became the Empress Dowager, it wouldn’t be a major issue for the palace to have one less concubine.

“At that time, I want to persuade my brother to come with us. Our family has been separated for too long, and I always want us to be together more,” Mu Jingchen said, dropping the tongs and slowly raising his head. He called out, “Xingzhi.”

Jiang Xingzhi was furrowing his brow, and he absentmindedly responded, “Hmm.”

“Xingzhi, on that day, would you be willing to go with me to the fiefdom?” Mu Jingchen asked.

Jiang Xingzhi’s breath hitched, and it took him a while to respond before he was certain he hadn’t misheard.

Mu Jingchen shifted his gaze away, as if it was just a casual greeting, but his fingers were lightly twirling inside his sleeve.

He had expected the other person to nod quickly, but after waiting for a long time and still encountering silence, he felt a bit awkward. He was about to speak and divert the topic when he heard Jiang Xingzhi’s voice.

“Sorry…” Jiang Xingzhi’s nose started to sweat, and he seemed to be in pain, as if he was struggling desperately in his heart. His voice was hoarse, “I’m sorry… I still have some things to attend to.”

“It’s fine,” Mu Jingchen quickly replied, “I was just asking casually. You go ahead with your tasks.”

“Jingchen, I might need to go on a trip in a while,” Jiang Xingzhi lowered his gaze. “After I come back, I’ll go with you, alright?”

Mu Jingchen responded with a “Mmm.” Due to the inappropriateness of their conversation, the air inside the carriage seemed to become stifling. They could only look out the window and talk about other things.

“Xingzhi, I went to see the Emperor earlier with some people. Unexpectedly, Zhongming was also there and we almost got into an argument. He didn’t restrain his temper in front of the Emperor and kicked and cursed at Chenzhou. Fortunately, he still had some sense and denied the divination incident.”

“How did they end up like this? What deep-seated grudges could lead them to this point of turning against each other?”

“I thought they were just putting on a show before. But on the day we saved Qu Chenzhou, if I hadn’t arrived in time, Zhongming might have beaten him to death.”

“And I didn’t expect Zhongming to have poisoned him. If it weren’t for Shiyan, I wouldn’t have known what to do.”

Mu Jingchen furrowed his brow in confusion.

“However, Zhongming saw Qu Chenzhou on the verge of death. Why did he act like a madman and willingly use his blood to warm the medicine? If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have sacrificed his life,” Mu Jingchen said in confusion.

“I really can’t understand. He was the one who wanted to kill, but he was also the one who risked everything to save him. What exactly happened between them?”

Jiang Xingzhi remained silent throughout, and he sighed after Mu Jingchen finished speaking.

“Jingchen, both of them are scheming individuals. You don’t know anything yet and just casually got involved. Don’t do something like this again,” Jiang Xingzhi said.

“I…,” Mu Jingchen was at a loss for words, realizing afterward that it was indeed inappropriate.

Initially, he had truly acted upon Shiyan’s request to save someone. But Qu Chenzhou seemed to have understood his innermost desires and promised to give him what he wanted most.

If it were someone else, perhaps they would have dismissed it as nonsense. However, Qu Chenzhou’s words were logical and interconnected, leaving him unable to resist, only able to choose to believe.

“Forget it, this time both you and him got what you wanted. Just be more cautious in the future,” Jiang Xingzhi leaned against the carriage wall, crossed his arms, and closed his eyes, contemplating for a moment.

“Based on what you just said, Zhongming’s behavior was indeed abnormal. I speculate that there must have been some conflict between the two of them, to the extent that Zhongming couldn’t tolerate it anymore.”

“You guessed one thing wrong. Zhongming never intended for him to die. If you think about it that way, it explains why he used the warm medicine to save him.”

“As for the reason for the poisoning, the only explanation I can think of is that Qu Chenzhou is someone difficult to control. If I were Zhongming, I would also consider using this method to restrain him.”

“Zhongming relied on having the antidote in his hands and never expected you to appear halfway, which caused him to panic.”

“As for what exactly happened between them, I can’t guess, but this person, Qu Chenzhou…”

Jiang Xingzhi pondered for a moment before carefully saying, “I can’t understand this person. Many of his actions go beyond common sense. I only know that he’s not someone who likes to be at a disadvantage. Whatever he sacrifices, he must gain even more in return.”

Mu Jingchen’s heart skipped a beat. “Are you saying… he foresaw the current situation from the very beginning, even predicted that Shiyan would beg me to save him, and anticipated that Zhongming would use the warm medicine to save his life?”

“I’m not sure if he knew so much, but look, the result now is that he has successfully been presented before the Emperor,” Jiang Xingzhi replied. “He may appear gentle, but you have witnessed his silver tongue. Within a month, the position of the Si Tian Guan will change hands. This time, there probably won’t be another person who can replace him.”

Jiang Xingzhi furrowed his brows, but he couldn’t blame Mu Jingchen for anything.

Not to mention Mu Jingchen, even in the secret deal he made with Qu Chenzhou, he himself became a pawn in someone else’s hands.

He had once held himself in high regard, but in the confrontations with Qu Chenzhou, it seemed that there was only one path to take—follow the arrangements of the other party.

“So, you mean from the beginning, Zhongming was collaborating with him in this act?” Mu Jingchen asked.

Jiang Xingzhi shook his head. “Not necessarily. I believe that from the very beginning, the only one who was clear-minded was Qu Chenzhou.”

“Perhaps Bai Shiyan knows more than Zhongming does, considering he could time it perfectly to approach you.”

“But whether it’s Bai Shiyan, Zhongming, or you, all of you are merely steps for him to climb higher.”

“This person can be ruthless to himself as well. Who knows how much turmoil and bloodshed he will stir up in the future.”

Mu Jingchen’s mind was buzzing. He rarely got involved in such struggles, let alone think so deeply about them.

“No wonder Zhongming was furious today…”

“Furious?” Jiang Xingzhi listened carefully as Mu Jingchen recounted the events. Suddenly, he trembled and asked, “Jingchen, you just said that Qu Chenzhou promised to help you become prince and send you and the Imperial Concubine to the fiefdom after Zhongming steals the throne, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Mu Jingchen replied, puzzled. “That’s why I asked earlier if Zhongming was collaborating with him.”

Jiang Xingzhi was stunned for a moment, then confirmed that he had overlooked this crucial detail in his analysis. He couldn’t believe it and murmured to himself, “Could it be… Qu Chenzhou orchestrated this whole pretense of sacrificing himself to… assist Zhongming by staying by the Emperor’s side?”


He suddenly remembered Qu Chenzhou’s words: “I have someone I want to protect, so… I can give up love and hate.”

“Why?” He couldn’t understand. “How could Qu Chenzhou go to such lengths to protect Shizi! If he makes one wrong move, he could end up dead and buried! Why!”

Mu Jingchen didn’t understand his agitation and simply sighed, “If that’s really the case, it’s a pity that Zhongming is still kept in the dark.”

“No!” Jiang Xingzhi seemed to have lost his usual composure, his voice suddenly rising. “Zhongming must know something. If he didn’t cause a scene in front of the Emperor today, given the Emperor’s suspicions, Qu Chenzhou would have to endure a lot of hardships to secure the position of Si Tian Guan.”

Mu Jingchen was taken aback. “Then Zhongming…”

Jiang Xingzhi, as if scorched by fire, didn’t want to stay for another moment. He finally realized that he was truly inferior to others and couldn’t give up love and hate like Qu Chenzhou did.

He lifted the curtain of the carriage and suddenly turned around, gently kissing Mu Jingchen’s forehead, leaving behind a few words before fleeing in disarray.

“I’m sorry.”

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