Si Tian Guan Chapter 219

Chapter 219: Startled Bow

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The heavy and hurried footsteps shattered the silence, the person’s steps were fast and the wind from their clothes billowing caused the oil lamp on the wall to flicker and darken.

When it brightened again, the figure was already gone.

“Qu Sitian!” Bo Yan leaned against a wooden railing, urgently calling out, the dim light didn’t reach the interior of the cell so he could only raise his voice, “Qu Sitian!”

The person running behind him was dressed coarsely, his hands trembling as he held the keys, he undid the chains on the door, and then bent over to catch his breath.

“Commander… Qu Chen… Qu Sitian… he’s inside…”

Bo Yan’s temples throbbed, just hearing the hesitant tone he already knew something was wrong.

In this place, everything was determined by the Shizi. Given the current situation, could it be that the Shizi had truly abandoned Qu Chenzhou?

However, it wasn’t the time for his random thoughts. Although the Emperor hadn’t openly stated it, his impatience and regret were written clearly on his face.

He needed to act quickly and bring Qu Chenzhou back, to put the Emperor’s mind at ease.

“Qu Sitian, His Majesty ordered me…”

As soon as he entered the cell, Bo Yan’s heart skipped a beat. As a man, the stronger the pungent smell of blood and flesh, the clearer its origin.

Just… just acting for the sake of appearances… he reassured himself in his mind — it was just for the Emperor’s sake, after all. Between the Shizi and Qu Chenzhou, such matters were probably commonplace.

A familiar figure curled up in the corner on a pile of straw, lying on his side with his back turned. By the light from outside, he could only see that his ankles were shackled and he was only half-dressed, with no noticeable bloodstains.

Bo Yan sighed in relief, reached out to place his hand on the person’s shoulder, and softly said, “Qu Sitian, there was a misunderstanding earlier. His Majesty sent me to take you out. You should hurry—”

He applied a gentle force with his hand, and the unconscious person was rolled off the straw.

“Qu Sitian!”

Bo Yan hurriedly moved to catch him just as Xu Ziwen came in carrying a lantern, but a glance at the scene caused him to sit down in shock.

“Oh… my… God…”

“What happened to Chenzhou? What happened to him?”

Footsteps continued to rush up the wooden stairs, and anxious voices from outside came in.

The court physician, who was sitting at the bedside, got up and knelt, “Greetings, Your Majesty…”

The figure finally appeared at the door, but without even looking at him, he pulled back the bed curtain in one motion. The heavy panting hadn’t even subsided yet.

“Don’t waste time talking. What happened to Chenzhou?! How is he?!”

The court physician quickly got up, gently lifted the person’s eyelids with one hand, revealing the bloodshot red eyes beneath.

“Reporting to Your Majesty, Qu Sitian’s eyes… I’m afraid he can’t see anymore…”

Emperor Yu’s face turned pale, and he stumbled, nearly falling.

Bo Yan quickly reached out to support him, and also lowered his head to speak softly, “Your Majesty, when I rescued Qu Sitian from the cell, his face was covered in blood… it was all flowing from his eyes…”

Emperor Yu was guided by Bo Yan to sit down on a chair, swaying. After a long silence, he sternly demanded, “What does Liu Zhongming say? What did he do to Chenzhou? Guards, bring him here!”

Before Bo Yan could respond, the court physician suddenly placed both hands on Qu Chenzhou’s face and anxiously turned around, “Your… Your Majesty… don’t call for people…”

Bo Yan also joined in helping, and after some effort, they managed to stabilize the person on the bed. Only after seeing Qu Chenzhou drift back into unconsciousness did they both let out a long sigh of relief.

The court physician approached, speaking in an extremely low voice, “Your Majesty, as I see it, Qu Sitian is overwhelmed with panic and resentment that cannot be appeased. His blood has stagnated due to excessive turmoil, leading to his loss of vision. This is why he can’t bear to… hear that name.”

Bo Yan also chimed in from the side, “Your Majesty, I’ve already inquired…”

He cast a glance at the person on the bed, skirting around that name.

“I’ve inquired already. They say… Qu Sitian struggled too intensely, suddenly bleeding from his seven orifices. After that, no matter how they touched him, he ended up like this…”

His words were tactful, but the court physician was becoming slightly embarrassed — if someone was already bleeding from all seven orifices, and yet they continued to touch him, that was something most people wouldn’t be able to do.

Emperor Yu’s face turned a shade of blue. He had never expected things to develop to this point.

If Qu Chenzhou went blind… what was he going to do from now on? How was he going to handle it?

“Is Liu Zhongming really… sincere? Absolutely sincere!” His hand spasmed uncontrollably, “Bring him to me… bring him to me…”

But his throat felt constricted — how to deal with Liu Zhongming?

Liu Zhongming had gone to apprehend the person with an imperial decree in hand. Moreover, could he still move against the Liu family now?

Bo Yan quickly intervened to defuse the situation, “Your Majesty, calm your anger. I’ve followed your orders and revoked his waist token, placing him under guard. What’s important now… is figuring out what to do with Qu Sitian.”

Emperor Yu’s fingers on the armrest curled into claws as he trembled, grasping Bo Yan’s hand. He then moved to sit by the bedside, avoiding looking too closely.

“Is there any hope for Chenzhou’s eyes to recover?”

The court physician, with a dignified surname, was just about to stammer a few words when he was interrupted by a furious shout, “Speak!”

“Your Majesty, I currently have no certainty. Fortunately, Qu Sitian’s pupils haven’t been harmed. We can only work together to adjust the treatment based on his condition and try our best.”

“What do you mean ‘try our best’?” Emperor Yu erupted in anger, rebuking sharply, “He’s all I have! He can’t afford to have any mishaps! There’s no ‘trying our best’! Regardless of the circumstances, we must definitely cure his eyes! Do you hear me?”

Seeing the court physician trembling into silence, Bo Yan softly suggested, “Your Majesty, should we consider bringing back the former imperial physician, Qin? Maybe there’s still a chance…”

Emperor Yu seemed as if he had been burned, not even waiting for him to finish before cutting him off.

“No need!”

Bo Yan stopped speaking, attentively accompanying Emperor Yu for quite a while. Seeing Emperor Yu’s complexion growing increasingly pallid, his coughing fits growing more incessant, he carefully escorted him back to his inner chambers.

When he exited the room again, he heaved a long sigh. Qu Chenzhou’s current injury had struck Emperor Yu right at his weak spot. Anyone even remotely connected to the Shizi was being avoided like the plague.

Moreover, even if Emperor Yu himself refused to admit it, those observing could still see that his emotional investment was almost entirely placed on Qu Sitian.

When one prospered, the other prospered. Unfortunately, why couldn’t Emperor Yu see through this earlier? He had to wait until Qu Sitian had been injured like this.

Bo Yan looked down at the steps below, where a group of guards was passing through the corner gate and heading south. He couldn’t help but recall the person he had once seen standing here, gazing at the same scene.

The blood at Huixin Courtyard had already been wiped clean, as if such a person had never existed in this world.

Yu Dexi didn’t know, even at the brink of death, which taboo he had violated. And on the other side, Huai Wang, upon receiving the news, probably couldn’t entirely unravel the tangled intricacies of it all.

Just thinking about it made Bo Yan shudder. In such a situation, even if it were him, there would be no way out.

Not only Qu Chenzhou, but even Liu Zhongming was far more terrifying than he had initially thought.

He wiped the sweat from his palm – this year had been full of twists and turns, with bloodshed and changing allegiances. To laugh last, standing on the right side, was crucial. But in the current situation, even if Emperor Yu cared about Qu Sitian, he had ended up like this. And as for the Shizi…

It had been three days since he brought the person back from the Jinxiu Ying. Except for him and the court physician, Emperor Yu didn’t allow anyone else to visit, even the honored concubine was barred from entering.

Both the pillars of the situation remained silent. This made Bo Yan unable to settle his thoughts no matter how much he tried.

But even with all his doubts, he had no way out now.

There was no one around the Star Gazing Pavillion. Bo Yan finally let out a sigh.

“Qu Sitian, what should I do…”

The tightly closed curtains seemed to flutter, like a light breeze brushing over the water’s surface. His thoughts tightened like a string, and he bent down to approach, testing through the curtain’s gap, “Qu Sitian?”

Finally, an extremely soft voice responded, “Bo Yan, is that you?”

“It’s me.”

Looking around, he approached and lifted a portion of the curtain. He saw that Qu Chenzhou’s eyes were still shut, and his response didn’t show any reaction.

After pondering for a moment, Bo Yan instantly understood. He went down to a half-crouch by the bed, speaking softly, “Qu Sitian, when you were still in the Jinxiu Ying, the Shizi sent me a message.”

“The Emperor was led to the upper floors of Huixin Courtyard, where he witnessed Huai Wang and Yu Gonggong going there in succession. Now that Yu Dexi has died, Emperor Yu ordered me to bring you out of the Jinxiu Ying.”

As he spoke, he aimed to inform Qu Chenzhou of the current situation, indicate there were no other people present, and convey that he was also a cricket tethered in this circle, just like them.

Qu Chenzhou slightly nodded in response, softly instructing, “Water.”

Bo Yan hurried to fetch water and returned. Seeing Qu Chenzhou trying to sit up, he couldn’t help but worry, “Qu Sitian, your eyes…”

“Don’t worry,” Qu Chenzhou took a sip of water, cleared his throat, and then asked, “How’s his situation?”

They both had been playing their cards close to their chests. Now that Emperor Yu was showing concern for Qu Chenzhou, he would undoubtedly exert pressure on Liu Zhongming’s side.

Sure enough, Bo Yan sighed.

“Emperor Yu got very angry, saying the Shizi is unworthy of his title. He accused him of misusing his authority in the Jinxiu Ying.”

“Originally, the Shizi was sent to the palace bound by me. The plan was to let you decide his fate after you woke up.”

“Later, many officials and ministers in the court pleaded for the Shizi, including the Honored Imperial Concubine and the Consort Xian. Emperor Yu summoned the Liu Marquis and instructed him to properly discipline Shizi.”

“Currently, the situation is like this: the Shizi is confined to the Jinxi Academy. He’s supposed to receive further education, and his waist token has been confiscated.”

“But for now, those in charge of the Jinxiu Ying are still loyal to the Shizi. The Shizi wanted me to inform you privately, so you wouldn’t worry.”

Qu Chenzhou sneered, “Many officials and ministers pleaded for the Shizi. What a show of favor. When Emperor Yu initially appointed the Shizi to manage the Jinxiu Ying, many people criticized the decision. Now, they are all united.”

Bo Yan understood the implication of his words, especially after witnessing Emperor Yu’s displeasure.

“The Shizi has something to tell you.”

This time, he lowered his body even more, whispering into Qu Chenzhou’s ear, “In nine days, it will be the day when Huai Wang sets out for Fangze Altar.”

“Auspicious time?”

Since it was a ritual to honor ancestors, setting out at an auspicious time was necessary. That was the responsibility of the Bureau of Astronomy. Even if he wasn’t there, it would undoubtedly be arranged properly.

“Setting out at the quarter past Mao hour.” Bo Yan whispered, “Probably around three quarters past Si hour to reach the Ten Li Pavilion. The Shizi said that the segment from the capital to the Ten Li Pavilion is unsuitable for action. Not only would it be unwise, but General Bai might also be implicated. So, they will wait until after passing the Ten Li Pavilion…”

Qu Chenzhou closed his eyes, understanding that Liu Zhongming’s arrangement was also well-considered. There were Northern Bureau troops stationed along this route. Even if Huai Wang got slightly injured, Bai Shiyan wouldn’t be able to evade responsibility.

However, he couldn’t be at ease during this long stretch of road.

“Where will the Shizi be after nine days?”

“The ban will be lifted at the Jinxi Academy, and he will return to the separate courtyard. However, Emperor Yu still won’t allow him to leave the premises.”

“That’s good.”

After that statement, Qu Chenzhou grew quiet. Even though his eyes were shut, he could sense the struggle and conflict on his face. Bo Yan remained on standby, not knowing what he was thinking.

It was only after a long time that Qu Chenzhou finally sighed deeply and asked softly, “The Shizi often has someone by his side named Zhiwei. Do you know him?”

Of course, Bo Yan knew Zhiwei.

“It’s good that you know. I have a message for you to deliver to him and a few tasks for you to accomplish.”

Qu Chenzhou nodded in acknowledgment, gesturing for Bo Yan to lean closer so he could whisper a few words.

The more Bo Yan listened, the more alarmed he became. He stuttered in a trembling voice after a while, “Qu Sitian, is this… this…”

“What about it?”

Even though he couldn’t see, Qu Chenzhou could imagine his shocked expression, but he only smiled faintly.

“Is it too risky? Commander Bo, rest assured. The military force in Huai Wang’s hands isn’t sufficient to upend a mighty tree. Regardless of the outcome on my side, you will remain firmly in control of the Southern Bureau.”

“Not… not about that,” Bo Yan hurriedly explained, “It’s not about me. This is too dangerous. Can Emperor Yu and Huai Wang follow the path you’ve predicted? Your eyes right now… in this condition, should we wait until you’ve recovered before proceeding?”

Qu Chenzhou contemplated for a while, then shook his head, “No…”

With both his eyes blind, and Zhongming being forbidden from the Jinxiu Ying, that was the premise that allowed Mu Jingyan to leave the capital with peace of mind.

If either of these conditions were missing, Mu Jingyan might stir up trouble again before his departure.

Within such a short period of time, they couldn’t guarantee that they could withstand that. It was better to maintain the current situation.

Zhongming had informed him that the dosage from Doctor Qin was carefully controlled. Plus, he would start taking the antidote in a few days. By the time Huai Wang set out, he would be better.

But he worried that it might be too late to arrange everything by then.

“Huai Wang that turtle rarely leaves the capital. This is the only opportunity. We can’t allow him another chance to come out.”

Qi Wang’s tragic death stopped Ning Wang’s desire to be sent away. It bred a frightened bird, Ning Wang, who didn’t even dare to go to his fiefdom, let alone voice opposition.

Ning Wang’s uprising had also become another person’s source of anxiety. This frightened bird now was Emperor Yu, even though he himself had orchestrated the situation.

“But your situation here…” Bo Yan knew he couldn’t comprehend Qu Chenzhou’s plan, and he knew he shouldn’t meddle, but he was afraid that Qu Chenzhou might overlook something: “What should you do next? Shouldn’t you discuss it with the Shizi?”

Qu Chenzhou paused and shook his head, “I can’t let him know in advance.”

He raised a hand to stop Bo Yan from speaking, “I’ve made up my mind. As long as it succeeds, I can bear any consequences. The Shizi’s side doesn’t need to say much.”

Bo Yan had no choice but to comply, “Rest assured, I will carry out your orders as instructed. As long as Huai Wang returns…”

“Not just as long as. He will definitely come back,” a cold smile tugged at Qu Chenzhou’s lips, “Since he has already turned me into a useless waste, I’ll gamble big with him.”

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