Si Tian Guan Chapter 214

Chapter 214: Siyuan

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“Take the clothes to be dried.”

Liu Zhongming walked into the room ahead, not requiring any assistance. He unfastened his belt, tossing the outer robe that had been dampened by tea onto a chair.

Three Blessings stood there, head bowed and fidgety. He was berated again, “You can’t even do this? There’s a golden brazier behind you, so hurry up.”

Three Blessings was too nervous to speak, he merely picked up the clothes and headed behind a folding screen, where he indeed found the golden brazier on the cabinet.

The weather wasn’t that cold now, and the charcoal brazier under the bed hadn’t been ignited yet. He had just pulled out the brazier and was about to light it using fire paper, when he heard the door outside make a sound, and someone else entered.

“Lord Shizi, the changed clothes are here.”

The voice was clear and gentle, sounding as if the awkwardness of youth was being gradually shed. It wasn’t particularly familiar, yet Three Blessings’s heart suddenly skipped a beat.

“Why is the ribbon untied?” Liu Zhongming asked, “Can you braid it?”

The youth hadn’t noticed before, and he panicked a bit, hastily answering, “Yes, yes, I’ll go fetch another set of clothes…”

“No need. Since there’s plenty of time now, you can braid it here. I like watching.”

The young agreed with a nod, and soon the sound of fabric rustling could be heard. It turned out he was braiding the ribbon directly from the outside.

Three Blessings’s heart raced increasingly, and he stared blankly at the ignited charcoal brazier. Suddenly, he heard Liu Zhongming call out, “Siyuan.”

He clasped his hand over his mouth, managing to stifle the cry of astonishment.

The youth also clearly paused for a moment. After acknowledging the call, he smiled lightly and asked, “Why did Lord Shizi suddenly want to call me by that name?”

“It’s nothing. Your name sounds quite pleasant,” Liu Zhongming also smiled, “It’s like something someone knowledgeable would come up with. Are all you brothers named with the character ‘Si’?”

“Yes, our father had some education and even consulted the local teacher to choose a name related to the proverb ‘yuán yuǎn liú cháng’ meaning ‘a good source will have a long flow’.”

Three Blessings sank down beside the charcoal brazier. Everything around him seemed to melt into the sweltering, swaying air. Even Liu Zhongming’s questions became blurred, and the youth’s response outside the screen turned into a soliloquy, strikingly clear.

“Has Lord Shizi been to Shimao County recently? Have you tasted Uncle Zhao’s cold cake? It’s right next to Zhang Ji Wine Shop and across from Liu Fatty’s blacksmith shop. It’s been a long time since I went back; I don’t know if it’s still there.”

“Don’t laugh at me for being inexperienced. Our hometown is small, and we don’t have many valuable things. But Uncle Zhao’s cold cake, even if it were brought to the capital, would definitely be among the best. It has a unique flavor.”

“My father would bring some back every time he went to town for us four brothers.”

“But my mother didn’t actually like my father going to town. I was young at the time and didn’t understand what she meant by ‘fooling around,’ but…”

The youth sighed, “I was ignorant then, just feeling excited that there would be good food when father returned. If I had known that later on, everyone would be gone, we should have spent more time together.”

“Later on, my mother started raising some chickens and ducks, and she would take us up the mountains to chop wood and gather herbs. There were a lot of good things in the mountains, something different every season. I was playing around too much back then, and now I regret not studying more.”

“And later, my father saw us enjoying ourselves and went to the town less frequently. With him around, my mother’s face also brightened…”

The youth’s voice was soft, sometimes filled with joy and sometimes with sadness. As he continued, his voice even carried a hint of choking.

“Sometimes, I feel like the one who should have escaped is my mother. She was the one with a kind heart who let that beggar in and even made him wear my clothes.”

“I’m a coward… I heard people being killed outside. I heard my mother and younger brother crying out, but I didn’t dare to go out.”

“At that time, I was clutching the well rope and soaking in the water, only daring to climb out when I was nearly soaked through.”

“There’s nothing left… not even their bodies. For so many years, I’ve been holding onto a glimmer of hope, thinking they just escaped and are still living well somewhere…”

“Thank you, Lord Shizi, for burying them for me…”

Three Blessings couldn’t quite make out what Liu Zhongming said next. His mind buzzed loudly, and despite holding onto the charcoal brazier, his body shivered in waves. He could only stuff his sleeves into his mouth to stifle the overwhelming urge to sob.

He vividly remembered every detail described—the scenery at every step in town, the sweetness of Uncle Zhao’s cold cake, the rich and sweet wine from Zhang Ji Wine Shop.

He remembered that he had a wife, children, and friends, and he could go out for a drink without worry. He could come home to a warm meal and take his children to run around in the mountains.

He remembered that he used to be called Zhou Huaishan, he used to be called Qin Hua, not Three Blessings, like a rat in a gutter, a castrated man who had never seen daylight.

His limbs weakened, and he couldn’t stand up. He could only crawl slowly to the screen, sneaking a peek outside.

But with just that one glance, he collapsed on the ground in despair.


His son, who had only appeared in his dreams, was now alive and real, so close, yet he, a filthy and vile father, had already lost the qualification for recognition.

The voices of those outside finally faded away like a slow torture, and the fleeting moments of happiness and pain disappeared along with them.

Three Blessings suddenly fell to the ground, biting his sleeves as he cried silently in pain.

When would this absurd dream end, and when would he wake up?


Consort Yu welcomed her son back into the inner chamber and had him sit down. Seeing his son’s somewhat clouded expression, she hurriedly spoke first to comfort him, “Three Blessings is fine, it’s not a serious injury. I had some ointment sent to him; he’ll recover in a few days.”

Mu Jingyan didn’t even have the thought to make tea this time. Furrowing his brows, he sat for a moment before asking, “After he came back, how did he tell you? What did Liu Zhongming want from him when he called him over? What happened?”

“He said Liu Zhongming accidentally spilled tea and, coincidentally, Three Blessings was coming out, so he gestured for him to help.”

“Coincidentally?” Mu Jingyan sneered, “Are you naïve, or are you trying to take me for a fool? When has Liu Zhongming ever done something ‘coincidentally’?”

Consort Yu looked timid, “But, truly, nothing happened. Liu Zhongming asked him to go in and use the gold brazier to dry clothes, and then scolded him for being slow and kicked over the gold brazier, burning his leg.”

“Just that?”

Although Mu Jingyan was suspicious, he couldn’t come up with anything else, and when he had personally asked Three Blessings, he had said the same.

Moreover, the person he had sent to follow Three Blessings that day didn’t dare to stop Liu Zhongming, but they did confirm that Three Blessings was indeed in the room using the gold brazier to dry clothes.

And later on, the male servant who served Liu Zhongming brought over replacement clothes. It didn’t take long for him to change, maybe the time of a stick of incense, and the two came out of the room.

When Three Blessings came out, there was already a burn on his leg. Perhaps he had cried due to the pain, or perhaps the charcoal fire from the gold brazier had irritated his eyes, making them bloodshot.

Mu Jingyan went over this timeline again and again, but he couldn’t find anything amiss. Yet precisely because of this, it made him more uneasy.

—Did Liu Zhongming really just let Three Blessings go so easily when they met?

—Did Liu Zhongming really not know about Three Blessings’s situation? Was he too anxious?

How was that possible? If Liu Zhongming was really that easy to deal with, he wouldn’t have been trapped to this extent.

Seeing his expression, Consort Yu cautiously tried to console him.

“You don’t need to worry. I’ve also had the Imperial Physician examine him. Besides the burn, there’s nothing else wrong, no poison either. Now that he’s back with me, I’ll take good care of him. Liu Zhongming wouldn’t dare to reach into my palace.”

That statement was not untrue. They had managed to hide things so well for this long, and now that Three Blessings was back, there wasn’t much to worry about.

Seeing her son’s expression ease slightly, Consort Yu also let out a sigh of relief and softly inquired, “Jingyan, your complexion doesn’t look very good. Have you been working too hard recently?”

“The situation outside isn’t very good.”

Mu Jingyan glanced at her but didn’t elaborate.

Since Dong Chengyu’s boat capsized on the river and he couldn’t be saved, he currently didn’t have someone as capable as Dong Chengyu at his disposal. He had to temporarily fill the gap by recruiting someone close to his uncle.

However, this wasn’t a long-term solution. His uncle had long been estranged from him. It was only because he feared that Jingyan might go mad and take others down with him that he still responded to his commands.

And the money he used for various transactions largely relied on his uncle. Without someone trustworthy to stabilize that side, he would encounter significant trouble if he ran out of resources.

Fortunately, no matter what, his mother was still within the palace, and his uncle couldn’t easily squander money for the time being.

“Did Qu Chenzhou come to Chaoyang Palace recently?” he asked.

“He did visit, but he cast a divination and only advised about keeping warm and avoiding colds recently. Then he left,” Consort Yu quickly replied. “The recent weather is still fluctuating between cold and warm. Many people in the palace have caught colds due to the unpredictable changes. You should also take care.”

Mu Jingyan pondered this for a moment. “Is that all?”

“That’s all. I didn’t let him see anyone else besides me,” Consort Yu said, noticing his serious expression. She asked, “Jingyan, regarding Yu Gonggong… is he still not willing to exert his influence?”

At the earliest opportunity after receiving the news, Jingyan had told her: Qu Chenzhou was Liu Zhongming’s man. The two of them collaborated secretly, putting on a show, propping each other up.

The Emperor was none the wiser and thought he had both of them firmly in his grip, not realizing that they were actually stepping on each other’s shoulders to climb higher.

Now, the military authority at Ten Li Pavillion had been completely undermined. With Qu Chenzhou leading the Emperor around like a puppet, all that awaited him up ahead was the executioner’s blade.

But the Emperor remained stubborn. Even if Jingyan dared to step forward to remind him, or even if courtiers accused and admonished him, the Emperor dismissed it as jealousy and attempts to pull him down, and he might even punish a few of them.

Only Yu Dexi…

Although Yu Dexi wasn’t willing to openly side with him, Jingyan could see clearly that Qu Chenzhou’s actions had been enough to alert Yu Dexi to the crisis. They were, in a sense, united against a common enemy.

Just waiting for a foolproof opportunity to make Qu Chenzhou unable to turn things around again.

“No rush,” he reassured himself with a calming pill. “There must be some way they communicate their secrets to each other. I’m keeping a close watch here. I don’t believe he doesn’t have any weaknesses.”

“That’s good, that’s good,” Consort Yu’s core focus had always been her son, and she also breathed a sigh of relief.

“Don’t worry, take your time. The Emperor’s health is currently well-maintained, and there’s time. Since you’ve managed to defeat both the Qi Wang and Ning Wang, Liu Zhongming won’t…”

Her words were abruptly cut off by her son’s chilling gaze.

“Have you forgotten, Mother, how Mu Jingde and Mu Jingzhao died?!”

Consort Yu’s words made Mu Jingyan unable to sit still any longer. He pulled his cloak over and was about to leave when he heard subdued sobbing from behind him.

“Why are you crying!” He felt vexed and restless, and he was about to push aside the beaded curtain when he suddenly turned back and asked, “I was just about to say, why is your nasal tone so heavy? Did you catch a cold?”

Consort Yu hurriedly wiped away her tears. “No… not really. I just forgot to close the windows last night and caught a bit of a stuffy nose.”

Mu Jingyan’s hand lingered on the bead curtain. After a long while, he said, “Since Qu Chenzhou has asked you to be cautious, pay attention. He mentioned earlier that Dong Chengyu should take the overland route, and it turned out he was right.”

It was his own judgment error. Otherwise, Dong Chengyu wouldn’t have died, and his uncle wouldn’t be left hanging.

“But… didn’t you say he was working with Liu Zhongming?” Consort Yu asked, then belatedly realized, “Right, fortunately, he can’t lie. Otherwise, there could have been a major upheaval.”

Perhaps because of an inherent resistance and disdain for his mother, Jingyan had originally wanted to say something along those lines. However, when these words came out of Consort Yu’s mouth, it filled him with an indescribable unease.

“When you see Qu Chenzhou, ask him more. Because of the previous revelation of the family relationship, the Emperor currently holds some resentment towards him. Don’t take advantage of the moment, but wait until he helps the Emperor overcome a hurdle. Then, the Emperor will be even more dependent on him.”

“Be cautious not to catch a severe cold. At the very least, visit the Emperor more often, get some fresh air, and if you need medicine, take it. Don’t just endure it.”

Mu Jingyan lifted the curtain without looking back, heading outside. Little did he know that this would be the last thing he said to Consort Yu.

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