Si Tian Guan Chapter 225

Chapter 225 – Extra 2

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A gourd of clear water was poured onto the orchids. The white petals and yellow pistils were already clean and dust-free. After being watered, they seemed to be adorned with pearls, radiating a gentle glow under the sunlight.

The pure white sea of flowers encircled a solitary tomb, and the person watering them moved neither too quickly nor too slowly. After a long while, he put down the water bucket and fetched a brush and ink, squatting down in front of the gravestone.

The characters on the gravestone were clear in color. After scrutinizing them for a while, as if still unsatisfied, he dipped the brush in ink and filled in the sunken gaps, outlining a few more characters.

Tomb of Pei Xiao.

“Pei Xiao,” he made a brushstroke, murmuring, “It’s been decades, and I’m only here now to see you. I’ve also grown old, not like the appearance I had back then. If you could see me now, I wonder what you would say.”

“If you could have lived until now, I wonder how you would have changed…”

The sunlight was just right, and the surroundings were quiet. He didn’t need to be cautious anymore; he didn’t need to worry about the gaze of others. Leaning against the gravestone, he sat down, squinted his eyes, and started talking to himself.

“You’ve never liked noisy children. Fang Wuyang must have caused you quite a bit of trouble. It’s all my fault, dragging you down.”

“Fang Wuyang said you left a message for me. He said you didn’t dislike him, that you were glad to have him. It gave you company in your remaining years. I don’t know if you said that to console me, but I believed it.”

“You rarely lied to me.”

“Except for the time you left. You said you were fine… and I believed it.”

Liu Weizheng smiled softly, wiping his face after a while.

“He comes back to accompany you every New Year. He’s a good kid. I told him about Second Brother and Consort Xian’s matter too. He’s a stubborn child. He might appear indifferent, but he often goes to Jingchen’s place.”

“I didn’t need him to bring me the wine every year. I already knew.”

“The taste of the wine has changed. It’s no longer you. I know you so well, there’s no need to hide it from me.”

“Ah Xiao, have you… ever hated me? If you could hate me… that would be fine…”

Liu Weizheng was as if dazzled by the sunlight, covering his eyes with the back of his hand. After a long while, he sighed gently.

“It’s just me being oversensitive again. You’re right. I can’t compare to you. I’ve never been a resolute person.”

“If I were more decisive, I would have left with you back then.”

“Do you know, my second son has achieved something I never did before—he not only helped Qingru’s son take that position but also gave up his official post and left the capital to enjoy life with someone else.”

“I envy him, but that’s what he deserves. Those two children had a difficult journey. I am ashamed compared to them.”

“Yes… he got married, something you didn’t get to see. His name is Qu Chenzhou, and he holds the position of Si Tian Guan. This child’s origins and journey are quite remarkable. It’s a long story, I’ll tell you in detail another day.”

“After all, we still have plenty of time in the future.”

“Zhongming is quite lucky. He missed a lifetime, yet he still gets a second chance to be together.”

“Ah Xiao, if we forget each other in the next life, will we still walk together like they do?”

Liu Weizheng smiled, lifting his pen again.

“We probably will.”

The final stroke fell—Pei Xiao.

“This is Pei Xiao, the eldest son of the Pei family who always wandered outside.”

He had already forgotten how they first met, and even who introduced him to Pei Xiao. He could only remember those obstinate and arrogant eyes.

“Young Shizi, your spear technique looks impressive, but the inner strength is lacking a bit.”

For the first time in his life, he was provoked. He still remembered the surge of hot blood to his head and how he pushed through everyone’s obstacles.

“Is it Pei Xiao? Do you dare to spar with this young Shizi and compare skills?!”

“Sure, what’s the wager?”

“This Shizi won’t lose!”

Pei Xiao’s smile at that time was particularly annoying. “If anyone loses, they’ll jump off the Mingyue Building. How about that?”

He haphazardly agreed, then cried messily. Amid the horrified exclamations of the onlookers, he climbed to the top of the Mingyue Building.

Back then, if he hadn’t jumped, would there be no one leaping from the second floor to catch him midway? Would he never have heard that person’s whisper?

“Such a good Shizi. If he gets hurt, someone will feel sorry.”

Would there be no more afterwards?

At that time, he had thought it was just a flippant remark from a playboy, never expecting Pei Xiao to take it seriously and invest so much for him.

“Am I being too verbose again?” Liu Weizheng patted the gravestone gently. “Rest a bit, I’ll come to see you again in the afternoon.”

He picked up the water bucket and slowly walked towards the nearby small house.

In reality, this world never really needed Marquis Liu and General Pei. Liu Weizheng and Pei Xiao were enough.

They had missed out on so much.

Finally, they could accompany each other for the rest of their lives.

“Ah Jiu.”

Rong Jiuan entered the inner courtyard, and if it wasn’t for this greeting, he wouldn’t have noticed who was waiting for him with a horse lamp in the yard.

“Why haven’t you rested yet?”

“Waiting for you,” Ling He approached him, walking side by side. He asked, “You’re back so late. Are you so busy?”

Rong Jiuan nodded slightly, “Marquis Liu submitted his resignation. There’s more to the handover than I expected, and there are people causing trouble midway.”

“How are they causing trouble?” Ling He was puzzled, “The Emperor can’t bear to let them go. Their official positions are still intact. They say they’re leaving the capital, but they’re still holding the title of Tianxuan Patrol. They keep coming back every few days. Aren’t they afraid of the Emperor’s blame?”

“It’s not about causing trouble,” Rong Jiuan felt a bit tired. Seeing no one around, he rested his head on Ling He’s chest, using him for support. “When Marquis Liu was in court, they were afraid of the Liu family seizing power. Now that Marquis Liu wants to leave, they’re wailing and making a fuss, saying the court can’t do without Marquis Liu.”

Ling He’s hand rested on Rong Jiuan’s waist, comforting him, “Don’t worry, Marquis Liu isn’t someone who comes out at a loss. He kept track of all those accounts from before, and he can settle them one by one before leaving.”

“Moreover, the more formidable one is returning.”

“These newcomers in the court, they haven’t seen the world. They might have heard of Qu Sitian’s reputation before, but they probably haven’t taken him seriously yet. Once they experience some setbacks, they’ll learn to behave.”

“It might be better for you to let go, let them all cause chaos outside, and I guarantee they’ll be brought under control.”

Hearing the laughter in Ling He’s voice, Rong Jiuan glanced at him, asking, “Why are you laughing?”

“Nothing,” Ling He always found it hard to suppress his laughter in front of him. “I just think it’s amusing that we’re now referring to them as Marquis Liu and Qu Sitian so formally considering our friendship.”

“Private matters are one thing, official business is another. When discussing official matters, we can’t just casually call them by their names.”

Because of that extra glance, Rong Jiuan noticed that Ling He was still wearing his official attire. This surprised him.

“Are you heading out? It’s so late. Does the Dali Temple still have matters to attend to? Or did you just return?”

“It’s… not that,” Ling He’s voice paused for a moment. He took Rong Jiuan by the arm and headed inside. “Let’s talk inside.”

“Is it something important?” Being led a few steps, Rong Jiuan frowned and asked, “Has something major happened? Tell me.”

Ling He hesitated for a moment and asked softly, “Did Ah Jiu have dinner?”

“I already ate at the yamen. What’s going on?” Rong Jiuan was puzzled.

Ling He cleared his throat softly, “I… I haven’t eaten yet.”

Rong Jiuan’s foot that had crossed the threshold stopped in its tracks. “You haven’t eaten this late? I’ll eat with you first…”

He was saying this when he suddenly realized from Ling He’s increasingly reddened face what he meant. He became exasperated, “What… what are you thinking? Does the Dali Temple have matters? Hurry and go!”

“We’ve been busy for several days and haven’t seen each other. It’s been so long since I ate, too,” Ling He gently rested his hand on Rong Jiuan’s shoulder and tried to guide him inside. “I missed you, Rong Xiang.”

Rong Jiuan was both embarrassed and irritated. Before he could respond, he trembled when he heard that address. “What… what did you call me?”

“Rong Xiang,” Ling He hung the horse lamp to the side and cradled Rong Jiuan sideways, whispering, “I met Liu Zhongming today. He taught me that I can call you Rong Xiang at this time. He said that when there’s something up with Chenzhou, he calls him Marquis Liu. It’s a way to have some private fun.”

“He said that when others call you like this outside, you’ll also remember the situation inside.” 

“He also said that the room is a good place for official business, so we don’t have to meet at the yamen.” 

Unable to break free, Rong Jiuan could only cover his face and say bitterly, “Liu Zhongming is a scoundrel, and you’re learning from him!”

“It’s not exactly learning from him. I thought about it myself. Wearing official attire might make it more interesting.”

“I’ve been waiting for you here for so long.”

Ling He agreed that Liu Zhongming was a rascal, but he found this idea good. Every time he said it, he felt even greater happiness than usual.

“Rong Xiang, this subordinate missed you. Tonight, I want you.”

“Ling He, you…” Rong Jiuan’s voice quivered slightly. Even his reprimands sounded tender, “Shut up.”

Ling He’s gaze swept over a certain area and he smiled gently, “So Rong Xiang likes it too. Then I’ll be impolite then.”

The door behind them closed slowly.

“Rong Xiang, there are many matters I need to discuss with you…”


Fang Wuyang reined in his horse, surveyed his surroundings carefully, confirmed his location, and then waved to someone in the distance.

“Over here!”

Mu Jingchen halted his search on the other side, dismounted next to Fang Wuyang, and knelt on the ground. He took the yellow paper and charcoal basin from an attendant.

Fang Wuyang also dismounted and squatted to the side, watching as Mu Jingchen lit the fire with his own hands. He asked, “Jingchen, didn’t you arrange the memorial tablet and grave for him? Why did you come over here?”

This was where Qi Wang had been burned to death. Back then, Consort Ming had personally come here and fainted from crying multiple times. It was a mournful place. After properly burying the remains, they had filled this place up.

Accompanied by Jingchen, who had no say in the matter, they didn’t retrieve the body that should have belonged to them. Instead, they erected a tomb for Jiang Xingzhi. 

Every year at this time, they would come here to pay their respects. The vegetation around was lush, and even if they had cleaned it up in the previous year, it would grow even more the next.

It would take some effort to find the spot again.

Jingchen didn’t want to mark the area with anything conspicuous. He simply said that if they couldn’t find it someday, so be it.

“Just come and take a look, it makes me feel more at ease.”

In reality, since the person was no longer there, Mu Jingchen didn’t really know why he would feel at ease here. However, sitting in this spot felt as if it separated him from the world of mortals, as if that person would come out from somewhere again someday, calling him “Your Highness.”

Fang Wuyang also held a stack of yellow paper in his hands. Seeing his younger brother like this, he felt a pang of sorrow.

“Jingchen, if I had… been able to stop him at that time, prevent him from going down… If I had been able to get there before the fire started…”

At that time, Fang Wuyang had kept his men guarding from a distance. In the dark, he couldn’t see clearly. It wasn’t until he saw that Jiang Xingzhi’s figure wasn’t among the fleeing people that he realized something was wrong.

“Brother, it’s not your fault,” Mu Jingchen stared blankly at the distorted ground lit by the flames. After a moment of silence, he suddenly asked, “Brother, do you think… if the situation had allowed, would he… not have gone down with the others?”

Afraid that his younger brother would feel saddened, Fang Wuyang quickly reassured, “Of course not! When he contacted me, the time was tight. He mentioned you and asked me to take care of you properly. I told him to come back and take care of you himself, and he agreed!”

Mu Jingchen smiled.

“I also think he wouldn’t have. So, in his heart… he still wanted to come back. But there was something more important to him…”

“Someone like Xingzhi shouldn’t have been held back by others.”

“Look at Liu Zhongming… even if he’s reluctant, he agreed that Chenzhou should leave and not look back for a few years.”

“So I also…”

His voice gradually trailed off, suddenly turning his head to the side and quickly wiping his face.

“In fact, Xingzhi had a resolute personality. I knew he wouldn’t give up until he reached his goal, and he’s clever enough to protect himself.”

“So, the choice he made was also… out of necessity. Seeking kindness brings kindness, that’s all.”

The deceased should be honored, and Fang Wuyang didn’t want to say anything to the contrary. However, he didn’t fully agree with this course of action.

“My master once said, too much rigidity makes one easy to break. Zhongming also complained to me like you did. Is it considered resolute to not value your own life? Look at Chenzhou.”

Mu Jingchen grinned, revealing his teeth. “Actually, not really.”

There were many things he hadn’t told his brother, and even their mother didn’t know. He had also once disregarded his own life, but he wasn’t a resolute person by nature.

Perhaps it was because he was a hot-headed youth at that time, and it was just a coincidence that he had discovered his true identity. He felt like the world was collapsing, and everything around him became unreal. Even his mother, who had always been kind and gentle, looked hideous.

He had trembled as he stumbled out the door, ran madly in the cold, vomiting incessantly. He didn’t even know how far he had run until he came upon a river that hadn’t completely frozen over.

It was as if only there could end his suffering.

If he hadn’t been in such a daze, he wouldn’t have bumped into someone as he rushed toward the riverbank. If they hadn’t fallen into the water together, perhaps he would have entered the cycle of reincarnation by now.

In his hazy consciousness, he only remembered that someone warmed him with their body in the cold water. He remembered that someone stayed by his side in the cave where a fire burned.

He had been so fragile to the extreme. At that time, he had already gone completely mad. Otherwise, how could he have thrown himself at the person without any consideration upon waking up, giving himself to them recklessly?

Those were days and nights of wild, chaotic abandon, two tormented souls intertwining without regard for identity or reason.

Only they existed upside-down in the world, only the physical pleasure they shared gave them warmth, letting them know they were alive.

Although Xingzhi said that he had given him the hope to live, wasn’t that what he had also done?

He had thought that after the madness, they would each go their separate ways, becoming passing strangers on life’s journey. They would pretend that nothing had ever happened. However, when they unexpectedly encountered each other in the capital, he still chose to comply with his own feelings.

He was drawn to that side, and he was also firmly pulling the other in. Perhaps from the moment they fit together, they belonged to each other wholeheartedly.

It was also from that time onward that his heart had softened, to the point where he could even understand Royal Mother. She simply liked someone.

Liking someone had nothing to do with identity or gender. Simply liking them was enough.

The yellow paper had turned into black ashes, and the flames in the charcoal basin dimmed.

Fang Wuyang stood up, patted his clothes, and said, “Jingchen, let’s go.”


Mu Jingchen responded softly, mounted his horse, and then pulled the reins not far away, turning to look back.

“Xingzhi, eight years have passed. I’m afraid I’m starting to forget you.”

“You… should forget me too.”

The rain-washed bluestone road shone brightly, reflecting anyone who passed by.

A bamboo pole tapped against the ground, producing a crisp sound as it was lifted and then dropped again. It tapped into a shallow puddle, creating another resonating note. The rhythmic sound of footsteps in cloth shoes followed this pattern, leisurely moving along the misty streets of the southern region after the rain.

“Snotty Blossom!”

In the distance, the cheerful voice of a child rang out, causing a series of splashes as the puddle was trampled.

The boy in the center of the group held something aloft in his hand as he ran towards the crowd of children. He was so engrossed in looking back that he accidentally collided with someone.

“Hey,” the person caught the child, smiling amiably, and advised, “You’re running so fast, be careful not to slip.”

“Thank you, sir! Sir, be careful too.”

Apart from splashing mud onto the hem of his trousers, the boy’s attire was neat and orderly. He had a clear and polite voice, and it was evident that he was a child who had received an education.

The man nodded and smiled, noticing that the boy was holding a fairly well-preserved pearl flower. Patiently, he asked, “Where did you get that?”

The boy grinned mischievously, revealing a set of fine, white teeth.

While they were occupied, the sound of pattering footsteps approached. A young girl in a pink dress held her skirt up as she ran, her voice strained as she cried.

“Give my things back!”

“Snotty Blossom!” The boy held the pearl flower aloft as if showing off. “Crying all the time, tears flowing whenever you cry.”

The girl had reached them, but due to the crowd around, she could only stomp her feet in frustration. “Stealing my things, shameless!”

“I…” The boy seemed to want to say something, but glancing at the attention of the other children around, he blushed and swallowed his words.

“Since it belongs to her, give it back,” the man took the pearl flower from the boy’s hand. “You look like someone who’s been educated. Didn’t your teacher tell you that?”

This remark made the boy a little shy. He scratched his head in confusion. “Tea-teacher told… told me, but…”

The man waved to the young girl, waiting for her to come closer. He placed the pearl flower into her small hand and used a handkerchief to wipe away her tears and mucus.

“Don’t cry anymore. This pearl flower is very pretty, it suits you well.”

The girl’s face broke into a smile, though she couldn’t stop sniffling. She raised her small hand, securing the pearl flower in her hair for him to see.

“Sir, is it really pretty?”

“P-pretty!” the boy answered loudly, blushing and then scratching his head, his gaze wandering away.

“Stinky Ah Yan! I’m not talking to you! I’m ignoring you!”

The girl wiped her nose with her sleeve, tossed her head in arrogance, and then scurried away, the group of boys following her playfully as they ran off together.

“Ah Yan?” Seeing the boy hesitating to follow, the man smiled and asked, “Do you like her?”

Ah Yan’s face flushed instantly, and he stammered, “I do-n’t… like Snotty Blossom!”

The man smiled and ruffled his hair, “If you like a girl, you should treat her well, not bully her. Also, you should let her know, so she won’t misunderstand. Understand?”

Ah Yan lowered his head and stepped on the water beneath his feet, responding with a muffled, “I understand…”

“They’re all just kids.”

The street fell quiet once more. The man continued walking with his bamboo pole, and from somewhere, the sound of children rhythmically reading aloud could be heard.

“A lad rides a bamboo horse, circles the bed, plays with green plums…”

He slipped his hand into his robe, gently rubbing, searching for something he knew was there, yet felt unsure about. But before he could step forward, a door on the other side of the street swung open by itself with a creak. A delicate hand held onto the doorframe, revealing a gentle face.

The man’s breath caught, his palms sweating, but he gradually walked over.

“Bai Qing…” He seemed to revert to the young lad who was just discovering the first stirrings of affection, his hands trembling as he opened his palm, “I’ve looked for a long time… and only found a pair that looked decent. I remember… you used to like these the most…”

In his palm laid a pair of red agate earrings, glistening as if they were about to drop dew.

Concealing a chuckle, Consort Xian’s eyes glistened with tears. “Brother Xian…”

Their hands clasped together, the touch no longer as delicate as when they were young, but still as warm as ever.

“Come inside, the children are waiting for you.”

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