Si Tian Guan Chapter 216

Chapter 216: Prison

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Qu Chenzhou quickly realized that he wasn’t just being paranoid.

Not many days passed after that night. While Steward Lin was setting up breakfast, he whispered, “Chenzhou, the matter you specifically instructed about has happened.”

And the matter he had specifically instructed Steward Lin about was only one thing – to keep an eye on the situation of the servants inside and outside the courtyard. If Mu Jingyan wanted to catch them or Zhongming in a compromising situation, this would inevitably be the point of entry.

“Which one did you find?”

“The young girl who carries water by the second gate. She sweeps the courtyard inside the compound every three days and hasn’t been allowed into the bedrooms. I had someone follow her. She’s been getting close to the boy outside recently, and I suspect she’s being used.”

Seeing him simply nod, Steward Lin hurriedly asked, “Should we bring her here?”

“No… she’s from the second gate. It’s uncertain whether she can be of any use. I’ve got some porridge. Have you informed the Shizi? I haven’t been able to meet with him conveniently these days.”

“The message has been sent to the other courtyard, but they said that the Shizi has been particularly busy these days, either at the Yamen or in the palace. It’s hard to find him. They’ll seize the opportunity to pass on the message.”

“So busy?”

Qu Chenzhou slightly furrowed his brows. After the New Year, he hadn’t heard of any major events occurring, so why would he suddenly become so busy? It was perfectly timed for this moment.

Moreover, his official duties had been normal these few days, and he had interacted with other people, be it the Court of Judicial Review, the Ministry of Justice, Dali Temple, or the Northern Yamen. There wasn’t more work than usual.

Why on earth is the Jinxiu Ying so busy?

Either at the Yamen or in the palace?

In the palace?

The palace was within his control, as the head of his department. Why hadn’t he received any urgent reports from his deputy officers?

“Something’s not quite right…” he murmured to himself.

Beside him, Steward Lin, took a wooden tray from a young servant outside the door. Neatly folded on it were the clothes and accessories he was going to wear outside today. On top of them was a letter of invitation.

During these past two years, the court had experienced many ups and downs. It was inevitable that some couldn’t withstand the turbulence and panic, so they left the capital early to return to their hometowns.

The person he was supposed to accompany today could be considered the former Emperor’s tutor and had once taught the Emperor the basics. Although the Emperor hadn’t been highly regarded back then, and this person didn’t hold a very high position, there was still a sense of nostalgia.

The Emperor couldn’t personally see him off. A few days earlier, he had instructed Qu Chenzhou to pick up the invitation and offer a toast on his behalf.

The carriage moved at a leisurely pace, giving him just the right amount of time to think.

It wasn’t his imagination that night; he was indeed too sensitive to his environment. A stranger had intruded into his familiar territory, despite not being as skilled as Bai Shiyan. Even so, he had sensed that something was off.

The initial personnel in the courtyard were trustworthy individuals that Liu Zhongming had brought back from out of town. However, with people coming and going for various tasks, and Liu Zhongming being unable to call upon the secret guards to watch his quarters meticulously, it wasn’t hard for someone to infiltrate.

From an outsider’s perspective, considering his past experiences, he certainly wouldn’t have such an airtight defense. Thus, it was mainly the guards from his department who patrolled the outer compound.

But the guards from his department weren’t skilled enough to stop Mu Jingyan’s probing thoughts and gaze; everything was happening earlier than he’d anticipated.

Having just experienced Consort Yu’s death, Huai Wang wasn’t thrown into disarray. On the contrary, he became even more composed than before. He didn’t even spare a glance at his dead mother, his gaze fixed solely on the point where they’d broken through.

The official from the Court of Judicial Review had slipped away, and the day when the Salt and Iron Superintendent would be replaced wasn’t far off either. Huai Wang intended to resolve things quickly.

He didn’t mind a swift resolution, but the problem now was… While Mu Jingyan’s attempt to win over his household’s members was just a minor maneuver, the current busyness of Liu Zhongming indicated that something had stirred within the palace.

But right now, he couldn’t contact Liu Zhongming, nor could he predict which path the latter would take next.

In case things didn’t go well…

The feast was set at the Bright Moon Pavilion. Upon entering, he briefly glanced into a side room, seeing three tables set up, each seating about eleven or twelve individuals.

Naturally, the host came forward first. Due to Qu Chenzhou’s esteemed position and favor, he was directly invited to the main seat.

“Old Grand Tutor, please be at ease,” he said, taking a half-step aside and reaching out to grasp the old tutor’s hand. He politely added, “The Emperor specifically instructed me to see you off properly. How could I sit here? I’d like to invite the Old Grand Tutor…”

His words suddenly got stuck in his throat.

A lifelong habit of his caused him to unconsciously read unknown divinations. Only now did he realize what had been strange when he entered.

The old grand tutor’s divination was off…

“Qu Sitian?”

He wasn’t sure who was calling him, but it seemed like his sudden pallor had frightened someone.

“Qu Sitian, are you feeling unwell?”

Qu Chenzhou was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice the concerned voices around him. Suddenly, he turned his head and carefully examined each person present.

Calamity in prison… calamity in prison… calamity in prison…

More than half of the people shared the same divination.

He couldn’t divine for himself, but he could at least guess what awaited him. Even without using divination, he could figure out the situation.

Ling He’s words had indeed come true, happening even earlier than anticipated.

Where? The Dali Temple, or… Jinxiu Ying?

“Qu Sitian?” Someone finally realized that his reaction was odd, and they grew nervous: “Do we… have any problems?”

Before Qu Chenzhou could answer, the screams of pedestrians from the street below the Bright Moon Pavilion reached their ears. The panicky shouts were coming closer, but there was an eerie silence among them.

Accompanying those screams was the sound of galloping hooves on the cobblestone streets, like raindrops in a hurry.

Upstairs, everyone couldn’t help but press against the windows to look outside.

Someone who hadn’t managed to get to the window asked curiously, “Who’s so bold to run their horse through the busy street?”

Soon, someone answered, “The Jinxiu Ying.”

Qu Chenzhou’s face turned as pale as snow. He stood there frozen—by now, it was impossible for him to leave.

Indeed, someone immediately exclaimed, “Why does it seem like they’re coming this way?”

Before the person’s words even finished, heavy footsteps could be heard on the stairs.

Just as the mounted soldiers outside were dismounting, the area was already being cordoned off. Clearly, they had set up downstairs.

People inside the room exchanged uncertain glances, growing more anxious.

“What are they doing? Capturing a criminal?” someone whispered.

No one answered, and the only response was the thunderous sound of the door being kicked open. Accompanied by soldiers, Liu Zhongming walked in with his sword drawn.

“By order of the Jinxiu Ying, nobody move!”

Upon catching sight of Qu Chenzhou, Liu Zhongming’s eyes showed only a brief moment of surprise before he waved his hand without hesitation: “Seize them all!”

“Stop!” Qu Chenzhou stepped forward, rebuking sharply, “Today, I am here to bid farewell to Grand Tutor Zhou on Imperial orders! Who dares to act recklessly!”

Jinxiu Ying soldiers were already filing in. Upon hearing his rebuke, their steps faltered, and they all turned to look at Liu Zhongming—who could have predicted that there would be an untouchable big fish in this net?

“By whose orders? Show me.”

“On the Emperor’s command, no official decree.”

Liu Zhongming chuckled, his voice suddenly turning cold, “Spreading false information, fabricating imperial edicts, adds another level of crime.”

In his hand, he raised a bright yellow imperial decree.

“By the Emperor’s imperial decree, arrest these traitors who conspired with the Tang family and intended to rebel! Seize them all!”

With the imperial decree spoken, there was no more hesitation among the Jinxiu Ying soldiers. They surged forward.

“Liu Zhongming! You’re twisting public matters for your private gain…” Qu Chenzhou had just retreated a few steps when someone seized his arms from behind without explanation, restraining him.

He involuntarily bent forward, and the coiled whip grazed his jaw as it lifted his face.

“Qu Sitian, what did I tell you before?” Liu Zhongming lightly caressed his cheek with the whip. “You better pray that one day you won’t end up in my hands.”

“L-Lin… Steward Lin!”

Steward Lin had just finished his errands and was taking a breather in the room when he heard a servant from the courtyard rushing in. He hurriedly got up and went out to see.

“Why the urgency? Has the young master returned? Or did someone forget something?”

“No!” The person pointed at the door. “Someone’s coming…”

Before he could finish, Steward Lin had already seen the figures. Not just one or two—judging from the footsteps outside the wall, it seemed like they had completely surrounded this place.

Among the first two people, one was familiar to him, often coming here to meet Qu Chenzhou.

“Commander Bo,” he hurriedly greeted, “The young master has gone out to attend a banquet. He’ll likely return this afternoon. Does Commander Bo have urgent matters?”

“Steward Lin.” Bo Yan also nodded at him, then issued a direct command, “Order everyone, inside and outside the estate, to stay put. Otherwise, accidents may happen. Don’t blame me for not giving advance warning.”

Watching as the courtyard filled with people, Steward Lin, feeling nervous, stammered, “But Qu Sitian hasn’t returned yet…” However, before he could finish, Bo Yan gave him a cold glance, and he didn’t dare say more. He quietly passed the order down.

Only then did Bo Yan bow to the person beside him. “Please, Yu Gonggong, make the final decision.”

Yu Dexi absentmindedly mumbled in agreement and carefully surveyed the courtyard before chuckling, “Qu Sitian has quite good taste. Where did this skilled craftsman come from?”

Bo Yan knew that his words were related to today’s business. He stood by quietly, holding his breath.

After a moment, Yu Dexi beckoned back, and two palace maids brought forward a timid-looking young girl. It was the servant girl who usually fetched water by the Second Gate.

He waved his hand, signaling everyone to move away, and then cast a sidelong glance, asking in a hushed voice, “Little girl, where is this secret passage you mentioned? Don’t you dare lie.”

“Replying to Yu Gonggong… this servant doesn’t dare lie…” The young girl kept her head low, her voice barely audible to those few people.

“The secret passage is right in Lord Qu’s bedroom and goes all the way to the Lord Shizi’s residence. Lord Qu often goes in there to meet with the Lord Shizi.” 

“You’re talking nonsense…” Steward Lin was about to express his anger, but when he saw the cold gaze of Commander Bo, he could only hold back his anger and remain silent. 

Yu Dexi snorted, “Since it’s in your master’s bedroom, you must have quite the audacity. How did you find out?” 

The young girl quickly glanced at Steward Lin, her face turning red, and her voice even softer. 

“When I was cleaning the bedroom, I discovered it accidentally… I even heard the voice of the Lord Shizi…” 

Yu Dexi nodded in satisfaction and gestured to Bo Yan, “Commander Bo, did you hear it clearly?” 


Bo Yan saluted him with a fist, then took the girl and entered the bedroom. In just a moment, he called out, “Found it.” 

Yu Dexi entered the room at a leisurely pace and saw that a painting had been moved aside, revealing an entrance to a secret passage. It was a narrow passage that could only accommodate one person at a time, with visible steps inside. 

From the outside, you could see the steps leading into the passage. 

“Commander Bo, go inside and take a look.”

Seeing the palpable nervousness that Steward Lin couldn’t conceal, Bo Yan hesitated for a moment. He was then urged by Yu Dexi and had to point to a few people before bending down and entering the room.

Someone had already brought a stool for Yu Dexi to sit on, but just as his bottom touched it, the seat was barely warm when he saw Bo Yan’s head appear at the door.

“Yu Gonggong, excuse me for the trouble. Could you come and take a look inside…?”

Watching Bo Yan’s expression, Yu Dexi’s heart thudded. Huai Wang was only ten percent confident when he passed the information to him. Using this girl was just an excuse for a search.

With this move, Qu Chenzhou had no way out. 

Even Liu Zhongming couldn’t escape.

However, both the person and the information were provided by Huai Wang. Despite understanding the Wangye’s methods, Yu Dexi had always been a middleman in the open.

This time, the emperor listened to him and acted because of lingering doubts.

This meant that the sword was either aimed at Qu Chenzhou or would come back at him.

“What’s going on?”

Yu Dexi shook his robes slightly, suppressing his unease. He was helped down the steps by Bo Yn and, surrounded by the candles lit on all sides, looked around. He only understood why Bo Yan had called him down when he saw the concerned look on his face.

It was just an ordinary secret chamber, with solid walls on all sides, painted and smooth. Besides the entrance they had just used, there wasn’t even a ventilation hole. No matter how secret a passage was, not even a mosquito could fly out from here.

And what this place was used for was clear as day.

Coral jade pieces were displayed on an antique shelf, ancient calligraphies and paintings hung on the walls, and gem-encrusted boxes were placed against the sides, containing precious stones the size of pigeon eggs.

In the brightest corner illuminated by the candles, there was a table and a chair with a deerskin cloth draped over it, and a top-grade chicken-blood red jade was placed there.

Clearly, the owner of this place often came here to appreciate these treasures.

And in the royal court, who didn’t know that Qu Chenzhou had a humble background and a greedy nature? Who could say they hadn’t added one of these shining treasures to their collection? Who dared say their homes lacked a hidden secret room like this?

Just that, nothing more.

This was nothing more than an ordinary secret chamber.

“Impossible!” Yu Dexi’s fingertip touched the piece of chicken-blood red jade, and he pulled back as if it had burned him, his face pale as he screamed, “It’s impossible!”

Author’s note: early tomorrow!! Hysterics!! Come early, come early!

I’d like to point out, did anyone notice how the two kids used to meet in the secret chamber before? Qu Chenzhou can’t open the secret passage from his side, it needs to be manually operated from the other side. (Detailed explanation in the next chapter, for those willing to read twice.)

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Leave a comment