Si Tian Guan Chapter 77

Chapter 77 Bing Di Lian*


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* a devoted married couple

A bloody smell.

There were two torture racks standing on one side of the wall, and a pile of torture instruments whose shapes that could not be clearly seen thrown under them, they were red and rusted. There were long and short iron chains hanging from the top and by the light of the candle, it could be seen that the hand shackles above were also covered in a dark red.

With this kind of environment, Qu Chenzhou could also be considered to be familiar with it.

After lighting the candlestick, Liu Zhongming stood beside him and asked, “What do you want to say?”

Qu Chenzhou stood with his hands down and looked up at the iron chain above. That sounded like a threat but had no killing intent. So responding to the changes without changing, he replied casually: “This place is not bad.”

“Just not bad?”

Although he only replied with these five words, Liu Zhongming noticed that the other party did not seem to continue to be angry with him. This tone was different from usual. There was no difference, as if nothing happened during the day.

It made him heave a sigh of relief.

“Why aren’t you angry?” he asked curiously with a playful smile.

Qu Chenzhou looked at this place calmly, there was something standing beside the other wall, covered by a cloth: “There are too many enemies, always thinking about it, it’s not worth being mad and harming oneself.”

“Your heart is very generous. “Liu Zhongming praised him.

“You’re flattering me,” he twitched his lips, and said something the person wouldn’t like to hear, “Looking at the past, I’m already in my thirties, so I won’t argue with children.”

Liu Zhongming walked around him to block his sight, and the difference between the two was nearly a head. Liu Zhongming’s shadow almost wrapped his entire body in.

“Little fox,” Liu Zhongming threatened graciously, “did no one teach you “a wise man submits to circumstances”? You’ve come here, and you’re still stubborn? Be tactful or it’s easy to break, don’t you know?”

Qu Chenzhou stared at the tip of his nose, the front of his clothes, then his eyes slowly moved up to his Adam’s apple – how long ago was the last time he licked and bit there?

Be tactful or it’s easy to break…

It was the first time he heard Liu Zhongming say this to himself.

In his memory, Zhongming often hated his cowardice and timidity, and reminded him from time to time: raise your head! You are the Si Tian Guan appointed by the emperor! Don’t let people underestimate you!

At that time, Zhongming always asked him to be strong when he was not around. Don’t let anyone bully you, and wait for me to come back.

He and Zhongming had broken their promises to each other a lot. “Wait for me to come back”, that was a promise they rarely fulfilled. 

“Thank you, Shizi, I understand.” He twitched his lips and smiled, then looked around again: “Is it possible that Shizi brought me here to interrogate me?”

Liu Zhongming didn’t answer and only asked: “Are you afraid?”

Be merciful,” Qu Chenzhou replied honestly, “I’m especially afraid of pain. I’m willing to concede without a fight.” 

“Are you willing to concede anything?”

“Shizi may ask, but it depends on my mood.”

“Well…” Liu Zhongming dragged out the word, then moved forward one step at a time. He pushed his chest against the person and stepped forward step by step until Qu Chenzhou’s back was against the wall.

The narrow space was a little stuffy, and Qu Chenzhou was squeezed by him unbearably. He pushed Liu Zhongming’s waist with his hand, and looked up to find air: “Shizi, there is no such torture method.”

“Is that so?” Liu Zhongming couldn’t find a place to start on his face, so he stroked his stray hair on his temple, pinched the tip of his ear, and said, “Then say the truth about your moves.”

“I used to have a good relationship with the Bai family.” Qu Chenzhou sighed, confessing.

“Practicing for more than a year?”

“En, it’s not good to let people know. So I hid and did it intermittently.”

Liu Zhongming felt his pulse, checked for a moment, and then let go: “It hasn’t developed much qi, but if one really wanted to check it, they could still find out. This heart method is very beneficial to your body. If you want to practice, continue to practice hard. From now on, you don’t have to hide it.”

He took a few steps back, no longer pushing Qu Chenzhou. He walked around the room, then finally stopped in front of the torture rack and touched it.

“Five years ago, my brother was killed in Dingling Hill, and none of the accompanying guards came back alive.”

Qu Chenzhou’s eyes flickered, and he said softly, “I know, my condolences.”

“Dingling Hill has long been rampant with bandits. Because of this case, the emperor later sent heavy troops to encircle and suppress them, and arrested fifteen bandit leaders, four of whom admitted that they attacked my brother.”

“The emperor looking at the Liu Family’s face, agreed with my father and I to participate in the trial. We brought those four people all here.”

Liu Zhongming didn’t say anything about what happened next, but Qu Chenzhou also knew.

Even with the death of the four, there was no valuable clues, only that the bandits attacked Liu Shizi’s carriage. The clothes, number of people, time and place were all accurate, matching perfectly with the story.

But Liu Zhongming didn’t believe it, nor was he reconciled.

“Qu Chenzhou,” Liu Zhongming looked back at him: “If I get a seat at Jinxiu Ying, can you tell me who the murderer is?”

Qu Chenzhou looked at the hand stretched out in front of him, and touched it like a dragonfly touching water. This was their promise.

“Okay.”

Liu Zhongming stared at him for a moment, took a step back, knelt down on his knees, and gave him a solemn salute: “This kindness and virtue, Liu Zhongming will never forget it.”

“Shizi…” Qu Chenzhou froze in his chest. That name was about to be spat out, but he swallowed it reluctantly, and returned a deep salute: “Shizi’s words are too serious.”

Liu Zhongming got up, strode to the other side, and tore off the covering cloth. On the weapon rack as high as a person, there was a dazzling array of bright blades.

“If you want to walk with me in the future, it’s not good to have people be able to tell about your qi, especially for people like Liao Guangming. Another day I will ask my uncle for some ways to practice Qi and restrain Qi, and then teach you.”

“Just practicing qi, when the time comes, you won’t be able to protect yourself.”

He touched it and moved along it until he finally opened a box in the corner and took out a pair of short swords that were more than a foot long. The sword was slender, only two fingers wide.

“You are currently growing your body, if a blade is too heavy, it will change your body shape, and it will not match your identity, so use this.”

“I will find a way to help you hide it in the slave ring to take it with you wherever you go.”

Qu Chenzhou was stunned for a moment, stepped forward to take the dagger, stroking the bright shining sword, a little embarrassed: “Shizi, I…”

There were thousands of people’s life debts on him, but he never did it personally, and to be honest, he had at most killed chickens in the back kitchen of Qisheng Building.

“I can’t use this…”

“If you need it, you will, what else do you need me for?” Liu Zhongming thought about it and confessed to him: “I learned the long sword from my uncle, and I’m not good at it, so I will find my uncle first to learn. You set aside two hours every day to come here.”

Qu Chenzhou finally understood: “Shizi wants to teach me martial arts?”

“Don’t want to learn?” Liu Zhongming did not give him a chance to refuse, and immediately dismissed: “You can’t not learn it. Even if there are guards with you at ordinary times, you still have to rely on yourself at critical times to be safe.”

Qu Chenzhou felt wronged: “I didn’t say that I won’t learn…”

“Then it’s settled,” Liu Zhongming took the dagger again: “I will check every three days. You’d better not think about being lazy. I won’t be merciful when it comes to exchanging moves.”

“From now on, you have to learn not just this. In the next three months, those habits learned in the palace, I want to see you get rid of it.”

“The things they play at the banquet, I will find someone to teach you specifically, you can’t make waves like those who came from a court. Your temper now is fine, I don’t mind, and no one else can say anything.”

“The doctor said that depending on your condition, your voice is about to change. Don’t catch a cold or else when the time comes, you will become a broken gong. Don’t blame me for disliking you then.”

“Tell Steward Lin to make you more clothes, it’s not good to show too much, so cover up.”

“Shizi,” Qu Chenzhou had to interrupt him: “If my face can’t be cured, we should consider other ways…” 

In the last life, he suffered more than once or twice before he was cured.

“What is there to consider? Who I like to bring, can others manage it?” Liu Zhongming interrupted impatiently: “Even if it is absolutely necessary to have s*x with you, it doesn’t matter if it is cured or not.”

Qu Chenzhou smiled bitterly. He watched the lights on the wall go out one by one, and the surroundings become darker a little bit.

“Shizi… We are living in the same room now, someone of unknown origin like me…” He asked softly, “Teaching me martial arts, would you be able to sleep?”

Liu Zhongming sneered at his provocative question in the dark.

“Qu Chenzhou, I have received your sincerity, this is my sincerity.”

***

Before going in with the Gonggong, Liu Zhongming suddenly remembered something—a few days ago, Qu Chenzhou slipped out something.

“If you count the past, I’ve already reached the age of 30.”

If this “age of 30” was considered vague, then speculating the ten years in his thirties that can be counted, and the previous “death of more than ten years”, Qu Chenzhou’s real body was now only in his teens, at most in his early twenties.

In fact, this result was not much different from not speaking about it. After all, with his virtue of angering people with his speech, Qu Chenzhou did not look like a mature and stable middle-aged person.

He found it interesting that Qu Chenzhou would be so careless to let go of his vigilance to reveal this.

***

It was just September, and the charcoal was already lit in Zhaochun Palace. Pulling away the cotton curtain, heat would directly assault one’s face.

Emperor Yu was reclining on the warm floor, and by his side was Concubine Yu, the mother of Huai Wang.

Liu Zhongming heard that Concubine Yu had spent a lot of time with the emperor recently.

Except for the fact that Ning Wang made the mother and son suffer grievances before, this year’s salt and iron taxes filled the treasury before fall and it was abundant. Pleased, Emperor Yu was often at Chaoyang palace resting.

After his greetings, Yu Dexi came over with a chair. He looked at the other direction and nodded very lightly, he knew what he was going to say today when he was announced.

“Zhongming,” Emperor Yu took a sip of tea and said slowly, “I heard from Dexi that your fleet came back a few days ago?”

Liu Zhongming was about to get up from kneeling but seeing Emperor Yu’s gesture, he stayed in place.

“Your Majesty, I have prepared the account booklet, and handed it over to your Yu Gonggong. When boarding the ship, there was 200,000 taels of silver. When it was time to disembark, there was 126,000 taels of silver as well as a number of items. This minister does not dare to be entrusted with it. All the sales and transactions are recorded in the book for His Majesty to see.”

He could see clearly that the emperor had the account book that he gave to Yu Gonggong.

Emperor Yu sneered: “One hundred thousand taels.”

Yu Dexi knelt down on the ground and kowtowed: “Your Majesty, it is this slave’s lack of supervision and disciplining that was ineffective. I beg the Emperor to bestow punishment.”

Liu Zhongming also knelt down: “Your Majesty, I have not reported the information, please bestow punishment on me.”

“Okay…” Emperor Yu frowned and said in a low voice. He took a sip of yogurt from Concubine Yu’s hand, calmed his breath, and looked at them: “Get up.” 

The two stopped for a moment, looked at each other, and then slowly stood up.

“Yu Dexi.” Emperor Yu called out as if he couldn’t get his strength up all year round.

Yu Dexi hurriedly stepped forward: “Your Majesty.”

“The internal servants have been working step by step for many years, and there are many elderly people, so they are too slack.”

Yu Dexi understood: “Yes.”

Liu Zhongming guessed it in his heart. Probably because of Pan He’s case, he was sorting out the internal servants. This excavation was bound to unearth a lot of private treasures, but the old fritters in the palace all have their own backing, so it is unclear whether this thunderstorm would be big or small.

But it was not his turn to worry about these things.

“Zhongming.” Emperor Yu called him again: “Come and sit.”

He had to sit down under the soft stairs. With Concubine Yu separated from Emperor Yu. just as he was sitting down, in the corner of his eyes, he caught a glimpse of Concubine Yu turning her face to the side. 

This turn was not to look at him, but to avoid the emperor. When he glanced over, the confusion in Concubine Yui’s eyes had not completely disappeared.

Liu Zhongming quickly recalled what they said just now, it seemed that there was nothing related to Huai Wang. What was Concubine Yu worried about?

Before he could think about it, Emperor Yu coughed twice, and asked, “Are you still playing with Jing Zhao recently?”

He hurriedly replied, “Reporting to the emperor, Ning Wang has been taught by the emperor, and he has been studying hard recently. I have not seen him for a while and it’s just this minister doing nothing all day long.”

“Doing nothing? Why don’t you ask your father for advice while he is in front of you?” Emperor Yu straightened his face and rebuked him: “In the next year, you will be going to Dali Temple. If you are going to muddle things for Zhen, don’t blame Zhen for not looking at your father’s face.”

“This minister dares not. This minister will do his best to live up to the grace of the Emperor,” Liu Zhongming heard the tone of teaching the younger generation in the past, and borrowed it to act coquettishly: “Your Majesty, this minister took this opportunity to go to Dali Temple to get acquainted first, but I was taught a lesson by my father.”

“My father said that Dali Temple is very strict, and since I don’t have a token, how can I just take a look casually.”

“Still Old Cui is sympathetic to me. He said that he would let me meet my colleagues in a few days, and it can be considered getting familiar.”

Emperor Yu closed his eyes to listen, and nodded slowly. “Cui Xuan is good, but unfortunately he’s old.”

“It’s not just Cui Xuan, I see that my generation is getting old.” He looked at Liu Zhongming and said with a smile: “Zhongming, I have high hopes for you. Why don’t you support the Dali Temple for me.”

Liu Zhongming got up in fear: “The emperor is young and prosperous, why do you say that you are old. This minister is young and ignorant, and dare not take on such a big responsibility.”

Emperor Yu chuckled and waved to him: “What youth, you are just trying to make me happy. Zhen can see that you are really idle, why don’t I give you Pan He? Dare to accept?”

Liu Zhongming’s heart skipped a beat, but how could he dare say no. He hurriedly knelt down to thank him, but when he kowtowed and before he could ask anything, he saw Emperor Yu wave his hand.

“When the Empress Dowager met Qingru a few days ago, she also mentioned you specially, saying that she hadn’t seen you for a long time. You clever ghost, go to meet and talk with the Empress Dowager.”

His stomach of words were blocked back, and Emperor Yu had already turned to whisper and laugh with Concubine Yu, he could only withdraw with Yu Dexi.

In front of the gate of Zhaochun Palace, Yu Dexi asked the palace servants to lead the way to Cining Palace. Before leaving, he smiled towards Zhongming and said, “Thank you for today’s matter, Shizi. If it wasn’t for Shizi, if the emperor blame came down, I would have suffered, unable to handle it.”

With this credit for the money, the emperor not only didn’t blame him, but reminded him to take good care of the inner chamber and stop causing trouble. 

Liu Zhongming returned the salute: “Yu Gonggong is being polite, it’s just what is expected of me. It’s also my negligence. When the money was handed over to me, I should have reported it as it is, so I am also ashamed.”

“With Shizi’s family background, how could you even pay attention to that amount; It’s normal to not care if you don’t serve in the court.” Yu Dexi bowed and smiled, but excused him: “The emperor is not blaming anyone, and Shizi does not need to blame himself.”

“Yu Gonggong!” Seeing that Yu Dexi was about to turn around and go back, Liu Zhongming cried out, his brows filled with worry: “What the emperor just said, forgive me for being blunt, but I want to ask Yu Gonggong for guidance.” 

The emperor only said that he would hand Pan He over to him, but did not say that he would be tried. He didn’t say how he will be transferred and there was no manual or explicit order, so could he pick up the person from Jinxiu Ying without any reason? How could Liao Guangming agree?

Is it possible that he needs to blatantly grab him?

“Master Shizi, I only serve the emperor, I don’t understand the affairs of the court.” Yu Dexi bowed apologetically, and when he was about to leave, he added: “Does Shizi know what Bing Di Lian is?”

“Bing Di Lian……”

Liu Zhongming looked at Yu Dexi leave with a smile.

At this moment, while muttering to himself, he didn’t know that he had not yet stepped into the officialdom, but one foot was already hanging above the endless dark abyss.


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