Si Tian Guan Chapter 222

Chapter 222 – Return Dream 

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Emperor Yu woke up from his fitful coughing, instinctively calling for Yu Dexi.

Rushing in on tiptoes was the newly appointed eunuch. Although he was familiar from day-to-day encounters and provided attentive service, he was still… not Yu Dexi.

The death of Yu Dexi wasn’t just the loss of his most reliable confidant, nor was it just a matter of falling headfirst into someone else’s trap.

However, reality was blatantly mocking him, laughing at how he had grown old. Whether in terms of mental acuity or physical strength, he couldn’t compare to the young upstarts anymore.

In the past, he had always taken pleasure in manipulating others. When had he become a puppet manipulated by someone else?

He leaned over the edge of the bed, retched a few times to expel foul, yellow phlegm, and took a few sips of water before waving his hand to dismiss everyone from the room. With trembling hands, he reached beneath the pillow and held the wood spirit tightly.

The surplus of embedded beads had long been discarded. He no longer had the mood to play with the prayer beads.

Only when he touched this small object could he find endless solace. The breath that had been choked suddenly felt clear again.

But this little object wouldn’t let him forget that person.

It was him who had saved Qu Chenzhou from the h*ll of being humiliated and abused. That person who had been so humble and loyal in front of him, yet harbored the foulest intentions behind his back.

Although Qu Chenzhou’s confession had been presented, he had begged for his life with a humble demeanor, even revealing the identities of the co-conspirators. However, the hatred and shame of betrayal and helplessness he experienced in Qinxin Residence couldn’t be forgotten.

In another hour, it would be tomorrow. Before the sun set, he needed to see Qu Chenzhou’s head.

But if that happened, his days from now on… would return to the way they were before. Advancing blindly, without the guidance of an immortal’s divination, without…

But was such a treacherous minister deserving of mercy?

Emperor Yu’s breathing grew heavy again, and his hands trembled like sieves. In a moment of distraction, the wood spirit slipped from his hand and tumbled down the steps in front of the bed, emitting a crisp sound as it hit the ground.


It was his only source of solace now.

Emperor Yu hoarsely cried out. Just as he fell from the bed, he was drenched in a cold sweat. He involuntarily collapsed on the ground. The wood spirit was only a few feet away, yet he couldn’t touch it.

The shadows around him shifted, and suddenly tilted, as the light behind him brightened.

The candlestick by the bed had toppled over, dragging along the lamp oil and flames. It seemed ready to join the wild revelry on the bedding.

He wasn’t sure if he had kicked something just as he slipped off the bed, but he felt that the direction the candlestick had fallen in was off. Now, however, was not the time to carefully consider such things.

As he tried to open his mouth to call for help, all that emerged was a raspy sound.

The fire was too close, and he could feel the scorching heat behind him. It made it even harder to breathe. Emperor Yu twisted his body, moving down a step. His hair was starting to singe.

Perhaps because the situation was so similar, he suddenly remembered the fire from his childhood.

After the fire was extinguished, his humble mother was found, her charred body curled up, her features unrecognizable.

It wasn’t surprising. Someone who had consumed too much tranquilizer wouldn’t have the strength to escape a sea of flames.

But where his mother was found wasn’t on her bed; it was just a few steps away from his room.

Even when she knew she couldn’t escape, that woman still went to find him, regardless of everything.

So foolish.

If she had known that he was behind it all, would she have regretted abandoning the hope of survival for him? Would she have crawled toward his room amidst the fire, calling out to him, “Ah Ze”?

Perhaps there was no other person in this world who would have saved him in that manner.

The lamp oil soaked into the soft bedding, and flames surged upward, suddenly causing Emperor Yu to wheeze and cough. Amidst the coughing, he burst into laughter.

“Your Majesty!”

Someone kicked open the door and called to him across the sea of flames.

Before he could clearly see the person’s face, that figure rolled and extinguished the flames along the way, then rushed over and lifted him onto their back. Using their clothes to cover their heads and faces, they dashed out without looking back, through two doors.

The cool breeze of early summer rushed into their lungs. Emperor Yu was supported by someone, and only then did he recognize the voice. Tears welled up in his cloudy eyes.

“Zhongming…” he trembled, shaking his withered hand like a claw. “The wood spirit… the wood spirit is still inside, quickly…”

Zhongming snatched a water bucket from the side and poured it over himself without hesitation. He asked urgently, “Where is it?”

“Right on the ground by the bed…”

Before his words even finished, Zhongming had vanished into the surging waves of heat.

A eunuch on the side whispered, “Your Majesty, the fire won’t subside anytime soon. Please find another place to rest…”

“No!” He shuddered convulsively. “Wood spirit… wait for him to come out!”

A tall shadow blocked the side light as Bo Yan knelt down halfway. “My apologies, Your Majesty. The Shizi knocked on the palace gates late at night, saying there was an urgent matter he needed to discuss with you. I allowed him to enter the palace.”

Emperor Yu’s eyes stared unblinkingly at the door, as if in a dream, he asked, “What urgent matter?”

“The Shizi said that the fast messengers from Yujin Residence and Yuanping Residence have just arrived in the capital. They can’t reach the Heaven’s Ears in time due to the situation and fear of delay, they sought out the Shizi…”

“What matter?” Emperor Yu’s heart raced as he couldn’t contain his agitation. “If there’s something, say it quickly!”

“It’s…” Bo Yan bowed his head, hesitating for a moment before answering, “It’s about the collapse of the Thousand Child Pagoda to the east and north. The one to the east fell because bandits took refuge inside the pagoda and…”

Emperor Yu’s bony hand suddenly clamped onto his shoulder, his face turning an ashen white color, void of any blood.

If not for the weakness in the grip he felt on his shoulder, Bo Yan would have believed that he was facing a resurrected corpse.

“You said… what?”

His nails on Bo Yan’s shoulder grew sharp as they tightened. Bo Yan lowered his head and remained motionless before answering, “Your Majesty, the Thousand Child Pagoda to the east and north have both collapsed.”

Before Emperor Yu could even regain his breath to say something, he heard a palace maid exclaim from behind, “The Shizi is coming out!”

The bedroom was already cramped, and the bedding soaked with oil ignited the bed curtains as well. In just a short span of time, flames had surged out from the windows and doors.

Zhongming had already taken off his damp outer robe and had barely created a path. Leading the way, he leaped out of the threshold, rolling on the ground a few times. The palace maids hurriedly doused him with water. Gasping for breath, he finally stood up.

“Your Majesty, I…” he knelt down on both knees, lifting up what he held in his hands. “I arrived too late. I apologize for my incompetence…”

In the glaring light of the flames, anyone could see clearly. The wood spirit that should have been radiant had lost all its brilliance, as if it were merely a piece of brick or tile carved into shape.

Emperor Yu tremblingly took it, his breath seeming as though someone were forcibly manipulating a bellow.

Even if Qu Chenzhou hadn’t told him, he could have guessed that the wood spirit was not to be exposed to fire, especially since Qu Chenzhou had explicitly warned him about it.

“No… can’t anything be done?” For the first time in his life, he cried like a child, tears streaming down his face before so many people. “Zhongming, you’ve also handled this… is there any way?”

Zhongming lowered his head in shame. “I…”

Emperor Yu didn’t want to hear more unnecessary words. Suddenly, he kicked Zhongming with his foot. “Go! Go find Qu Chenzhou for me!”

Zhongming and Bo Yan exchanged a glance, and it was Bo Yan who spoke up, reminding, “Your Majesty, Qu Chenzhou was just transferred to the death cell early this morning. He’s scheduled for public execution tomorrow afternoon. At this time, he’s probably about to be put on the prisoner’s cart.”

“Who wants him dead? Who wants him dead?!” Emperor Yu was like a drowning person about to lose his only lifeline, his survival hinging on just one name.

“Qu Chenzhou! Go find Qu Chenzhou for me! I pardon him of his charges, go! Bring him to me! Give me…”

Perhaps he was too agitated, gripping too tightly. The once radiant wood spirit shattered into three pieces with a cracking sound. The bell at the end rolled down along his clothes, producing a hoarse clang at the end.

Emperor Yu stared at the fragments, futilely opening his mouth. Suddenly, he spat out blood, and everything went dark as he collapsed to the side.

In his dream, he was surrounded by flames, watching the woman scream in despair, calling out “Ah Ze.”

If he had approached her, if he had responded… he wondered, would the trajectory of his life have turned out completely different?

Yet he had still not moved in the end. He watched the orange flames engulf everything, the sound of struggling within the fire disappearing. Suddenly, the person had turned into Qu Chenzhou, his eerie demonic eyes fixed on him through the flames.

With a scornful smile.

Emperor Yu screamed hoarsely until he awoke in a startle, realizing his mouth was full of the bitter taste of medicine.

The person feeding him the medicine was patient, waiting for him to swallow that mouthful slowly.

“Your Majesty.”

The voice was as soft and gentle as a cloud, finally bringing him back from his dream to reality. He was still the emperor, still in control of everything, still alive.

Seeing Emperor Yu open his eyes, Liu Qingru leaned in, trying to support his head by placing her hand behind his neck. Seeing him nod, she placed a soft support behind him and helped him sit up.

In the room, apart from Liu Qingru, there were Consort Xian and Rong Jiuan.

At the sight of the latter, Emperor Yu sneered inwardly. Why would Rong Jiuan be summoned at this time to accompany him? Could it be that they were trying to force him into proclaiming a crown prince?

Seeming to understand his concerns, Liu Qingru gently blew on the medicinal soup, sipping a spoonful herself before offering it to him. She soothed him in a gentle tone.

“Your Majesty, the various officials outside are waiting for you to recover. They’re waiting to discuss state matters with you. I’ve had them wait for now. We’ll discuss it after you wake up.”

Hearing that everyone was present, Emperor Yu finally relaxed his tense strings. Slowly drinking the medicine, he then asked, “Who is there?”

“Marquis Liu, Lin Xiao, Cui Lao, Zhao Shizhong, Ling Shaoqing, Commander Bo, and Zhongming, they’re all here.”

Liu Qingru wiped the medicine stains from his mouth with a handkerchief and softly said, “Your Majesty, before you fell unconscious, you called for Minister Rong to come. Is there something urgent?”

Emperor Yu froze for a moment, then glanced at Rong Jiuan, contemplating for a moment. He gestured to have Rong Jiuan wait for now, then asked, “What about Qu Chenzhou?”

The Thousand Child Pagoda had collapsed, the wood spirit had shattered. Others might not mention it, but he had no time left for hesitation.

“Before collapsing, the emperor mentioned wanting to find him. Zhongming and Commander Bo didn’t dare to delay. They took him out of the death cell and temporarily placed him in the Star Gazing Pavillion to decide after you wake up.”

“He… isn’t dead… is that so?”

“Yes,” Liu Qingru responded. “If Your Majesty wishes him to be executed, I will instruct Zhongming to do so.”

“No! Don’t!” Emperor Yu struggled to grab her. When his forehead’s cold sweat had dried up, he weakly leaned back and waved his hand. “Everyone, leave. Let Jiuan stay.”

Liu Qingru and Consort Xian’s figures disappeared outside the door. Only Rong Jiuan remained. He spread out a piece of silk and softly called, “Your Majesty.”

Emperor Yu closed his eyes, seemingly not hearing him. The only sign of turmoil was the restless movement beneath his eyelids.

Rong Jiuan patiently waited, and after a long while, he heard a question.

“Jiuan, I know you’re loyal and impartial. From your perspective… should we keep Qu Chenzhou?”

Rong Jiuan answered candidly, “All people in the world are Your Majesty’s subjects. Whether he stays or goes is up to Your Majesty’s discretion.”

“But… but he has betrayed me before… how can I use him again?”

Emperor Yu felt unwilling, but apart from Qu Chenzhou, no one else could help him across this current predicament.

“Qu Chenzhou’s ambitions are limitless. The more Your Majesty gives him, the more he’ll want. There will always be a day when he can’t be satisfied.”

Rong Jiuan’s voice remained as calm as ever, as steady as a stone thrown into boiling water, slowly calming Emperor Yu’s restlessness.

“Then tell me, how should I use him?”

“Hand him over to someone who can control him. Your Majesty only needs to control that person, without needing to worry about Qu Chenzhou.”

The response to this was a long silence. Rong Jiuan lowered his gaze to the silk fabric, striving to keep his racing heartbeat from escaping through his mouth, his nostrils, his palms, his back. Gradually, layers of fine sweat formed as he regulated his breath.

After a long while, a voice finally instructed, “Jiuan, prepare the edict…”

Rong Jiuan held his wrist, exerting all his strength to suppress the trembling.

“Bestow upon Si Tian Guan, Qu Chenzhou to the Shizi of Anding, Zhongming, the title of…”

He paused with the brush, waiting for a moment, then heard the last words.


The brush glided like a wandering dragon on the silk fabric. As soon as he had stopped writing, he heard Emperor Yu’s command, “Also, establish Jing Wang, Mu Jingchen, as the crown prince.”


Rong Jiuan carefully lifted the first dried and inked silk document and knelt by the bed.

Emperor Yu struggled to prop himself up to look, but a wave of dizziness and blurriness washed over him. The names Qu Chenzhou and Zhongming on the silk document appeared like wiggling tadpoles, hard to discern. His attempt to speak made him cough up another mouthful of blood, a further depletion of his strength.

After all, he was getting old, and even the… wood spirit was gone. If not for these circumstances, how could he have resorted to relying on a treacherous minister like Qu Chenzhou?

He forced himself to take a deep breath, but it felt like his head was spinning, and his vision swam. The names on the edict paper swayed and distorted like they were in water. With his blood loss, he was on the brink of fainting.

He reached out to steady himself, the motion causing him a stabbing headache. He tried to quickly glance over the first decree, but even this simple act became challenging. When Rong Jiuan handed him the second one, he could only take it and lean back against the headboard, exhausted. “Read it.”

Listening to Rong Jiuan’s meticulous reading, Emperor Yu confirmed its correctness. After stamping his seal, the edict was sent to the waiting ministers outside, and only then did he finally let out a sigh of relief.

Jiuan was right.

Handing the troublesome Qu Chenzhou to Zhongming, he only needed to control Zhongming. With Mu Jingchen appointed as the crown prince, Zhongming would have a new competitor and would be more obedient in order to win Lan Er’s favor.

Not to mention that Zhongming still had to contend with rivals within the family.

Next, he would continue supporting the Liang family…

With this arrangement, he could enjoy peaceful and carefree days once again, able to restore his spirits.

“Your Majesty,” the chief eunuch in attendance whispered from outside, “Noble Imperial Consort, Consort Xian, and the Shizi are requesting an audience. They wish to express their gratitude to Your Majesty.”

“Let them in…”

Perhaps due to the exhaustive mental effort and the temporary exhilaration, Emperor Yu’s spirit felt even more sluggish, and even the three figures that entered seemed blurry.

However, there were still matters that needed to be addressed and assigned.


Emperor Yu propped up his forehead and beckoned weakly. Even his ability to speak was diminishing.

“I know you’re not pleased about this, but Qu Chenzhou is headstrong and hard to tame. However, I still need him. After considering it thoroughly, you’re the most suitable person. I believe you can tame him and make use of him as I require.”

“Thank you for Your Majesty’s trust,” Zhongming stood by the bedside, his expression indifferent, making it hard to discern whether he was happy or angry. “I will not fail Your Majesty’s trust. Qu Chenzhou and I will cooperate and harmonize like a musical ensemble, working together harmoniously and never disappointing Your Majesty.”

His reaction was different from what Emperor Yu had expected—too compliant. This left Emperor Yu at a loss for words, unable to utter the pre-arranged speech he had in mind. He could only cut straight to the point.

“As the current situation is unfavorable, with calamities befalling us, the Tower of Thousand Sons has collapsed, and the wood spirit has been destroyed. I need him to cast the divination once more, to find precious items that can extend my life. You’ll accompany him, be cautious…”

“I won’t go,” Zhongming rejected immediately without hesitation.

“This time, both of you…” Emperor Yu was halfway through his sentence when he suddenly realized the words he had just heard: “What did you say?”

“I said I won’t go,” Liu Zhongming repeated without hesitation, ensuring Emperor Yu heard him clearly. “Lan Er is going to be crowned as the crown prince soon. How can I leave? Qu Chenzhou’s health isn’t good lately, and he shouldn’t be subjected to the fatigue of travel. He should rest more.”

“You… What nonsense are you spouting!” Emperor Yu struggled to sit up, but in the end, he toppled onto the soft cushions, breathing rapidly. “Liu Zhongming! Have you gone mad! Who said Lan Er is going to be crowned as the crown prince!”

His voice dissipated in the air as if it had never existed.

Liu Qingru stepped forward and bowed respectfully, saying, “I, on behalf of Lan Er, express my gratitude for Your Majesty’s grace. I will wholeheartedly teach and guide Lan Er, living up to Your Majesty’s expectations.”

Emperor Yu’s lips trembled. “You’re all insane! Consort Xian! Consort Xian! I clearly decreed that Jingchen would be the crown prince! Speak up!”

However, there was no response from Consort Xian or anyone else in the room.

Consort Xian smiled lightly. “Is Your Majesty confused? The edict has just been read and announced. All the lords have heard it clearly and are already preparing for it. Could it be that Your Majesty has forgotten?”

“Consort Xian! If Jingchen ascends to the throne, you will be the Empress Dowager! Quickly, retrieve the edict! Go quickly!”

“Your Majesty, I thank you for freeing Jingchen,” Consort Xian said with her eyes closed, and when she opened them again, her usual gentleness had disappeared almost entirely. “Is Your Majesty truly determined to make Jingchen the heir? The blood that flows in his veins is that of the Liu family.”

Emperor Yu’s entire body stiffened, and his trembling finger pointed accusingly. “So what they said was true… You… You dare…”

He coughed up a mouthful of yellowish phlegm mixed with blood onto the ground, his breaths coming in rapid succession. However, the three people before him stared back at him with a cold calmness. Even outside the room, there was no one coming in to offer him a drink of water.

He finally realized where the problem laid and looked towards the door, seeing a tall, sturdy silhouette cast on it. He urgently called out, “Bo Yan! Bo Yan!”

As if to discourage his hopes, Bo Yan’s shadow barely turned halfway and then returned to its original position, silent as if it were a mere decoration outside the door.

“You guys…,” Emperor Yu’s face turned ashen, “Are you trying to rebel? Treacherous ministers…”

Zhongming inclined his body slightly backward, first escorting Liu Qingru and Consort Xian out of the room. Then, he countered, “The imperial decree was dictated by Your Majesty and personally reviewed and sealed by Your Majesty. How did it become our responsibility?”

This time, Emperor Yu clearly saw that the person guarding outside the door was indeed Bo Yan. This glance took away the last vestiges of his struggling strength.

He suddenly realized that he had no one left whom he could call upon.

“Zhongming… When did you… Even Bo Yan…”

This speculation left him with more questions than answers.

“And who else! I trusted you to serve me! What have you all done?!”

Liu Zhongming remained composed. “Your Majesty, if you truly understood the principle of trusting those you employ and not employing those you don’t trust, would things have come to this point?”

“Jiuan just entrusted me with a message,” he said, “He said if you had just ordered him to write Lan Er’s name earlier, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you like this now.”

“It’s all nonsense!” Emperor Yu erupted in anger. “What I want to do, how could I allow you to dictate!?”

Liu Zhongming swallowed down a torrent of words.

If this person before him truly comprehended that the underhanded methods he employed didn’t bring about the genuine balance that the court should have, how could these decades have unfolded in this manner?

But now, when the Emperor remained so obstinate, what use would more words serve?

“Is Bo Yan also under your control?” Emperor Yu’s bloodshot eyes stared fixedly at Zhongming. “Are you trying to rebel? Do you dare to lay your hands on me!”

Liu Zhongming let out a sigh, feeling somewhat weary. He dragged a chair from the side and sat down.

“Your Majesty, I have always sought peace in the realm and the well-being of the people. I will not rebel. In the future, I will devote my heart and effort to assisting Lan Er, ensuring he governs justly, loves his people, and works diligently.”

Emperor Yu’s ears were hardly registering his words.

“Liu Zhongming! You have betrayed my trust! What have you done? Jingde! Jingzhao! Were they killed by you?”

“Do you remember, Your Majesty?” Liu Zhongming reminded him. “You were enraged and sent Qi Wang away. You were well aware of the fierce rivalry among the three Wangyes, yet you still took away Qi Wang’s military power and had him sent away. Did you really want him to survive?”

“And the matter concerning Ning Wang, Your Majesty is even clearer.”

“In the beginning, I dared to meet with Ning Wang only after receiving a private audience with Your Majesty.”

“Your Majesty, you have long been wary of the Tang family. Allow me to ask this: from the moment Ning Wang was born, did you ever consider sparing his life?”

Emperor Yu moaned as if awakening from a dream. “Jingyan! Where is Jingyan? Bring Jingyan to me! Is he still in the dungeon? Hurry!”

“Your Majesty, you administered poison to Mu Jingyan, and now even the seventh day has passed,” Zhongming said the name with clenched teeth, suddenly breaking into a smile. “Does Your Majesty truly miss him? But what if he wasn’t really a Mu but instead had the surname Zhou?”

Emperor Yu paused for a moment, and from Consort Xian’s earlier words, he realized the implication. “You… You’re making things up!”

“At this point, there’s no need for me to make things up,” Liu Zhongming said. He put his hand into his robe and slowly stroked it. “Your Majesty, do you remember? Consort Yu was beaten to death by the night eunuch using a candlestick. That old eunuch was Huai Wang’s biological father.”

This time, there was no hysterical roar to refute him. Instead, Emperor Yu’s breaths became increasingly strained, as if a huge boulder had suddenly been placed in his airway.

Emperor Yu’s gaze was fixated on Liu Zhongming’s hand, and he struggled to breathe. “You… Are you trying to… kill me?”

“I dare not,” Liu Zhongming withdrew his hand from his robe and placed it in his palm. “I just wanted to show Your Majesty something.”

It was a small jade pendant, with a tiny jade bell hanging from one end. They complemented each other, shining brilliantly. It was as if there was something ethereal flowing within.

“It’s not broken! It’s still intact! Why is it still here?” Emperor Yu extended his hand recklessly. “Give… Give it to me quickly…”

Liu Zhongming pulled back his hand.

“I did deceive you. On the night of the fire, I swapped the real wooden spirit with a fake one.”

“Your Majesty, perhaps you don’t know. This is a keepsake I carefully crafted for my wife. I once promised them that I would retrieve it for them.”

“Lent to Your Majesty for so long, it’s time to return it to its rightful owner.”

“Don’t…” Emperor Yu struggled one last time. “I’ll exchange it for a priceless treasure and make your wife a first-rank lady!”

“My wife?” Zhongming gently caressed the wood spirit in his fingertips and carefully put it into his pocket. “Your Majesty has forgotten again. My wife is a second-rank Si Tian Guan. I thank you for sparing his life.”

“Chenzhou and I share a love that is unwavering until death; we don’t care for your arranged marriage,” he added, casting one final glance at the elderly figure on the bed. 

“You should rest, Your Majesty. I took the liberty of adding some calming ingredients to the medicine sister fed you earlier, so dizziness and blurred vision may be unavoidable. Get a good night’s sleep.”

“You’ve been plagued with worries and overthinking. If you find this position uncomfortable, perhaps you should set down the burden.”

“I take my leave now.”

The door closed behind him, and the decades of twists and turns were finally coming to an end.

Qu Chenzhou woke up in complete darkness.

This place was too familiar. Just by the faint light coming in from outside, he knew it was the Star Gazing Pavillion.

He got up unsteadily, first feeling the still warm censer, then the familiar desk, and finally he leaned against the wall by the window.

The scene outside seemed somewhat familiar—quiet and eerie, with only occasional points of lamplight. However, in the distance, many lights were in motion, and shadows moved restlessly beneath them.

It had all been a dream.

Qu Chenzhou covered his trembling hands over his eyes. It had all been a dream—a long dream.

In the dream, he had died and come back to life, somehow ending up living in Zhongming’s private residence.

Finally, they could watch the sycamore flowers fall under the same roof, and sleep peacefully in the same room.

They quarreled and bickered like two hedgehogs with spines facing each other, yet they couldn’t help but be drawn to one another.

They attacked and defended, tangled in a ceaseless dance, stumbling along the way, ultimately falling deeply in love.

So many things happened in the dream, as vivid as reality. He found love, he had family, he was no longer alone.

They killed Qi Wang and Ning Wang, and on the path to claiming the throne, they were unstoppable. In the end, he and Mu Jingyan fell together into an abyss.

His memories halted abruptly after they boarded the prisoner’s carriage. Had he died and returned to this world, or had it all just been a dream?

Qu Chenzhou knew what would happen when the sun rose. He also knew he should write a letter to Zhongming now, to release all those years of pent-up heartache.

But he had no strength left to stand.

Why did such a beautiful dream have to wake him up? Why did it have to wake him up?

His heart should have been as unyielding as iron and stone, but this beautiful dream turned all his determination to face death into cowardice.

He desperately wanted to see Zhongming again, to speak to him once more.

Qu Chenzhou sank to his knees, hands buried in his hair, silently weeping.

As the sun rose, a cacophony of footsteps approached from the stairs, just as he remembered.

“General…” He couldn’t get up, lifting his arm weakly, he knocked his head against the ground. “Qu Chenzhou offers to die a thousand times over, please, General, let me see Zhongming one last time.”

A tear fell from the tip of his nose to the ground.

Taking a step forward on his knees, he knocked his forehead to the floor once again. “General, please let me see Zhongming one last time. Qu Chenzhou is willing to endure endless torture!”


He took another step forward on his knees, but before he could bow, he was suddenly enveloped in a strong embrace.

“Chenzhou!” The voice was choked with emotion and tenderness. “Chenzhou, the Emperor passed away last night. Everything has been arranged. I’ve come to get you.”

Through teary eyes, Qu Chenzhou looked up. The morning light outlined the figure he had yearned for.

“Zhongming,” he trembled, extending his hand. “I dreamt that we were together…”

“It’s not a dream. We are together,” Liu Zhongming knelt in front of him, wiping away his tears again and again, hanging the jade pendant around his neck with solemnity, lifting him horizontally. “I’m here.”

Qu Chenzhou stared at the wood spirit, something that hadn’t existed before—something absent in his previous life.

The morning sun outside the Star Gazing Pavillion was gentle, casting a deep red hue on his hands. There were no more torture devices, no more public humiliation, and no more hatred from others.

It wasn’t a dream after all.

“Zhongming…” he sobbed softly.

“Chenzhou,” the warm and solid embrace refused to let him go even slightly. “I’ve come to get you.”


“I’ve come to marry you.”

Suddenly, Qu Chenzhou hooked his hands around Liu Zhongming’s neck, under the morning sky that was uniquely theirs, and kissed him passionately.

Crossing two lifetimes, waiting for years.

Finally, the longing was fulfilled.

Author’s Note: Alright, the ending matches the first chapter now.

PS: Considering the timeline of a few days and the processes of dealing with the Emperor, Lan Er’s ascension, and pardons, there’s no time for further explanations. Even if it doesn’t work out, Zhongming wouldn’t let anyone die.

Another PS: If the Emperor dies before issuing the edict, there are still two princes left. Some might lean towards making the elder prince the successor, even if Jingchen is unwilling. 

Next chapter, the main story concludes.

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