The chopsticks in Li Ying’s hand were broken in two.
Yun Qingci’s face did not change color, as he said, “There are many manifestations of unfilial piety, and among them, the failure to fulfill the responsibility of the younger generation is the biggest. I am doing it for the good of Your Majesty
“Yun Qingci.” Li Ying breathed heavily, and said hoarsely: “Do you have to go this far?”
“I am Your Majesty’s Lord Empress.” Yun Qingci said naturally: “I should have shared Your Majesty’s worries. I used to be unreasonable, but now I want to be a good Lord Empress, and I hope Your Majesty can cooperate.”
“I did indeed once hoped that you could be a little more rational,” Li Ying said, “But I never said that I wanted you to be like the empresses of the past…”
“This subject is doing it not only for His Majesty, but also for himself.” Yun Qingci looked directly at him and said, “Your Majesty chooses a daughter of the Yun family to give birth to the dragon child. This will be a great thing for me and the Yun family. Your Majesty, don’t you want to compensate me?”
Li Ying curled his lips, and after a few breaths, he suddenly got up and walked away.
Yun Qingci’s voice made him stop at the door: “Your Majesty, think about it. This subject will make preparations in the next few days.”
Li Ying turned away from him, his back stooping silently, then he straightened and quickly left with big steps.
Yun Qingci finished breakfast slowly and ordered someone to send a message to the Prime Minister’s mansion. At the same time, the carriage in which Li Ying was riding also stopped in front of the Prime Minister’s mansion.
Prime Minister Yun had just received news from Yun Qingci that he wanted a good woman from the Yun clan to be selected to enter the palace. He was shocked and prepared to go to the palace to have a good talk with Yun Qingci.
To see what the h*ll was going on.
After all, it was Yun Qingci, who loved Li Ying deeply. How could he take the initiative to send a woman to him?
Although it was a good thing that Yun Qingci really wanted to open up, the only thing Prime Minister Yun feared was that he was having a tantrum with Li Ying and would do something he would regret.
After all, he was still the Lord Empress, and he hadn’t really separated from Li Ying.
As a result, Li Ying came over in his carriage, and Prime Minister Yun hurriedly went out to greet him. As soon as he walked out of the front hall, Li Ying already approached him like a wind, his voice hoarse: “Teacher.”
Prime Minister Yun raised his eyes and saw that Li Ying’s dark eyes were faintly moist. He suddenly remembered that when the young emperor first ascended the throne, whenever the court session was over, he would slowly walk down from the dragon seat and then sit with his head down on the steps in a daze.
On one memorable occasion, the teenager, with his broad sleeves resting on his knees and his head sunk deep between them, whispered: “Teacher, I don’t want to be an emperor anymore.”
He maintained the courtesy of a ruler and a subject, and stood with Liu Ziru by his side, sighing softly: “Your Majesty, don’t say discouraging words.”
“Friends are estranged, teachers and students are alienated, mother and son are calculating… What’s so good about being an emperor?”
Liu Ziru hurriedly reminded: “Your Majesty!”
Prime Minister Yun stood still for a long time and then calmly and gently warned him: “You cannot be an emperor if you’re indecisive. Your Majesty, get up quickly and go back to Jiangshan Palace.”
“Such words shall not be spoken again.”
He didn’t say much.
The young emperor’s wide sleeves were pulled close, and he hadn’t answered for a long time.
At that time, Prime Minister Yun thought, maybe he wanted to sit and talk with his teacher just like when he was still a prince. If Li Ying had any questions, he could instruct him then.
But the emperor was different.
They had to be aware of each other, lest one of them will have a change of mind. Prime Minister Yun could no longer treat him as a student, and Li Ying could no longer treat him as a teacher.
The emperor was the noblest person in the world. If the country was prosperous, he would be praised for thousands of generations; if the country was in decline, he would be vilified for thousands of years.
No matter how reluctant he was in his heart, Li Ying sat in this position and couldn’t show even the slightest timidness. He was the emperor; even if he was just a young dragon, he had to use his great dragon power. Otherwise, courtiers, common folk and his enemies would not take him seriously.
Prime Minister Yun could only teach him to put the country first, only teach him how to be a good emperor.
All these thoughts in his heart had to be digested by himself, because people close to him would be jealous. If Li Ying grew up to be a true emperor one day, those who knew his juvenile thoughts and the time of his shame might die.
The rites of an emperor and a minister was to keep just the right distance, not too far and not too close, to talk only about what should be talked about and to discuss only what should be discussed.
Prime Minister Yun left without looking back.
Distancing himself from the young Son of Heaven was the first step in teaching him to become a true emperor.
Prime Minister Yun took him to the study.
After seven years, the boy had come of age. He had done well. Prime Minister Yun was very pleased but dared not underestimate him.
He was no longer the wicked man who forced the Son of Heaven to grow up. He was just a courtier now. No matter what Li Ying came to him for today, he could only listen to him.
Li Ying was not wearing a dragon robe but regular clothes. When he entered, he did not sit in the main seat, but sat quietly at the bottom.
Prime Minister Yun sat down with him, face to face, and said, “Why is Your Majesty here today?”
“That was the Lord Empress’s person just now?”
Prime Minister Yun didn’t hide it and explained quickly: “The Lord Empress wanted to inform the old minister about letting a few good women be sent to the palace for His Majesty to choose who will give birth to the dragon child.”
“Does teacher think this matter is appropriate?”
“This… is naturally inappropriate.” Prime Minister Yun considered his words and said, “There are many concubines in the palace. Your Majesty can choose whoever you like. It doesn’t have to be a woman of the Yun family. This move of the Lord Empress is considered imposing.”
He tried to describe Yun Qingci’s mistakes as objectively as possible, his heart thudding slightly.
Holding a teacup, Li Ying recalled Prime Minister Yun who had come to kneel and beg for Yun Qingci in his previous life.
He was awakened by Liu Ziru from his sleep and hurriedly walked out of the sleeping hall to see Prime Minister Yun kneeling in Jiangshan Palace with tears in his eyes.
That was the only time since he ascended the throne that Prime Minister Yun showed his true emotions in front of him.
He was wearing a single coat and took a few steps to help him; the cloak on his shoulders slipped to the ground. But Prime Minister Yun shook his head: “This old minister was wrong. Back then, this old minister taught His Majesty that His Majesty shouldn’t have a relationship with this minister’s child. But today, this old minister has to ask His Majesty for the sake of his unfilial son… for the sake of this minister’s old bones, let him go back to the palace.”
That day he was forced by Yun Qingci and could do nothing else.
He could only beg him.
Li Ying straightened up; Liu Ziru picked up the cloak that landed on the floor, shook it and put it on his shoulders again.
“You still know that your bones are old.” Li Ying glanced at him, smiled and said, “I know what teacher means. Get up first. If you fall ill, what can you do?”
“Your Majesty, please forgive this old minister for this recklessness.” Perhaps fearing that he would think too much, Prime Minister Yun hurriedly prostrated himself. His black hat was already taken off and put aside when he entered the hall. There was only a plain wooden hairpin in his gray hair, which looked even more old-fashioned: “This old minister, really, there is no way… That child, this old minister can’t control him, I can’t just watch him die.”
Without saying a word, Li Ying ordered someone to bring a few cushions, put one at Prime Minister Yun’s side and the other under his body, and sat down quietly in front of him.
“Does the teacher think that I have been the emperor for seven years and have a heart of stone and can’t even remember the most basic respect for teachers?” ”
Liu Ziru hurriedly helped Prime Minister Yun up to sit on the cushion. Prime Minister Yun hesitated, somewhat timid: “Your Majesty, this old minister…”
“Since teacher is here today as my father-in-law, then I am just another child of yours. Today it is right for father and son to talk, and father does not need to be polite.”
That night, they talked a lot, not about the state affairs, but only about personal matters.
He did not know exactly what was in Prime Minister Yun’s mind, but when he left, he seemed to be depressed, and after that, he always bowed his head slightly when seeing him, with a vague air of unease.
Li Ying knew that it was because he felt that he had broken the distance with the monarch and couldn’t get past this hurdle in his heart.
He also knew that Prime Minister Yun hadn’t told Yun Qingci about their friendly relationship that day. Perhaps it was because the other party was too domineering and he was trying to knock him down, hoping that Yun Qingci could be more respectful of the emperor and would not always throw tantrums in the palace.
They all knew, but no one bothered to tell Yun Qingci, because they all wanted him to be more restrained.
Perhaps, this event was also a part of what forced Yun Qingci to commit suicide.
Why make him more restrained? Yun Qingci was sincere, not domineering to the point of being unbearable. It was him who didn’t tell him everything, because he also hoped that Yun Qingci would be more obedient and treat him as an emperor a little bit, leaving him some face.
He was clearly his husband, and he was jealous, paranoid and extreme, all because he did not give him enough security.
In this life, no one forced Prime Minister Yun, so Li Ying coming here today was probably for nothing.
Prime Minister Yun had his own resolve as a courtier. Behind him there was his large family, and he had to be cautious about every word he said.
They were still separated by the rites of a monarch and a subject, and Prime Minister Yun was careful and had no intention of shortening this distance.
Li Ying sat for a moment and said, “Teacher also thinks that I should have an heir?”
“If Your Majesty has an heir, the country will have a successor. This is also what the hundred officials hope for.” Prime Minister Yun said, “Lord Empress has grown up now. He is no longer an ignorant child. He stopped losing his temper and started thinking of His Majesty. This is also a good thing.”
The country needed an heir, the hundred officials shared his hopes, and the Lord Empress began to be considerate of him.
But no one cared what he thought.
Yun Qingci, who used to be devoted to him, had completely disappeared.
Every step of he took now, he was either stabbing him with a knife or plotting for his family’s sake.
One child was fine, but it was a child.
Li Ying stood up and said in a deep voice: “I still hope that teacher will come to the palace and persuade the Lord Empress. I don’t think a child is necessary.”
He stepped out of the study without looking back.
Prime Minister Yun arrived at the palace on horseback. Yun Qingci had expected him to come, but he didn’t expect him to come so quickly.
He ordered someone to prepare tea and water, and when he walked from behind the screen, he met Prime Minister Yun’s angry glare.
Yun Qingci straightened and said, “Father…”
Yun Qingci walked over slowly and sat down far away from him.
Prime Minister Yun shook his beard and said, “Sit here.”
Yun Qingci moved over whining. He put his fingers on the desktop, then was hit hard by Prime Minister Yun.
Yun Qingci sighed, held up his hand and blew his red fingers, saying sullenly: “What is Dad doing?”
“What do you mean by dismissing the harem?”
“Of course it was not me.” Yun Qingci said, “He did it himself.”
“Then I’ll ask you again, do you know that choosing a woman from the Yun family to enter the palace is messing with authority!”
“I discussed this with him, and he will think about it. Let’s prepare the people first, and he will naturally…”
“He has already come to the Prime Minister’s mansion to warn your father.” Prime Minister Yun said angrily: “He doesn’t want a woman from the Yun family. Yun Qingci, although he is kind to you now, you must not be arrogant and conceited. It is a capital crime to take advantage of the opportunity to gain power!”
“It’s just a woman…” Yun Qingci muttered, “How can it be so serious.”
He puffed his beard and stared. Yun Qingci was full of displeasure and said, “If you don’t want to, don’t do it. If it’s such a big deal, he can just choose from a bunch of palace concubines. Then, when the child is born, the mother can leave.”
“Nonsense!” Prime Minister Yun slapped the table. Yun Qingci widened his eyes to look at him only to hear him say in a deep voice: “If you don’t want people to know, don’t do it. Paper can’t wrap fire! You must never do such a despicable thing!”
“As long as it’s done carefully and doesn’t leave any evidence…”
Under the increasingly solemn eyes of his father, Yun Qingci did not dare to say more.
Prime Minister Yun said slowly: “If you do evil, you will eventually receive retribution.”
The Yun family has never been a power grabber, and they disdained power grabbers. Yun Qingci looked at him for a while, then suddenly felt that even for the sake of the family in his previous life, his father would never really form a party for personal gain.
Later, when it was discovered that the Yun family formed a party, it was either they were framed, or it was just a conspiracy.
He did want to have a child. If Li Ying died one day, what would happen if he did not have a child?
If his father felt that it was too despicable to get rid of the mother and keep the son, he could only cooperate with someone. Ning Rou wouldn’t do. She was too ambitious and it was best to pick one that was easy to control.
Yun Qingci sent Prime Minister Yun away. He counted the days. Tomorrow was the fifth day of the New Year. Concubines were supposed to be expelled from the palace tomorrow. So, it was the last day.
Yun Qingci said, “Go and call Concubine Li.”
Concubine Li, as her name suggested, was born very beautiful. She was the daughter of Secretary Han, and Secretary Han had a good relationship with the Yun family. If they could cooperate, it would be even better.
But even so, she was still a little afraid of Yun Qingci and looked rather timid when she entered the door.
It was not what Yun Qingci wanted. He ordered someone to prepare a fruit cake and asked her in a gentle voice, “Do you want to stay in the palace?”
When he said it, it was as if he was about to drive her out. Concubine Li’s expression changed, and she immediately knelt down: “Lord Empress, Lord Empress, if the concubine has done something wrong, I hope Lord Empress will make it clear!”
“You haven’t done anything.” Yun Qingci motioned to the maidservant to help her up and said, “It’s just that His Majesty is going to dismiss the harem and let everyone go home to remarry.”
His Majesty actually did this for Yun Qingci?!
Concubine Li was stunned but couldn’t help feeling envious and said with some caution: “Lord Empress means…”
“Although I used to be overbearing, I can still distinguish right from wrong. If this happens, it will inevitably cause public anger. Then His Majesty will have to deal with the group of ministers and I am afraid it will be very annoying.”
Concubine Li immediately understood: “You want to keep this concubine alone in the palace?”
“If you want, you and I will serve the emperor together in the future.” Yun Qingci said, “I’m revealing myself to you in advance because your Han family and my Yun family are good friends. You can go back and think about it slowly, but there is only one chance. His Majesty will announce the decree tomorrow, just so that everyone can have a good year. After tomorrow, the dismissal orders will be distributed. Only with Your Majesty’s blessing can you stay in the palace.”
When Concubine Li slowly walked out of Chaoyang Palace, the sky was already dim, and the maid beside her whispered softly: “How could a jealous person like the Lord Empress bring up such a matter? Could it be a scam?”
“He should be serious,” Concubine Li said slowly: “If he is as he had always been, His Majesty’s dismissal of the harem would be to his liking, and he needn’t have bothered with me at all.”
“He really wants to cooperate with me and keep me in the palace.”
“Maybe it’s for His Majesty.” Concubine Li sighed and said, “If he can tolerate this with his hot temper, he must really love His Majesty to the bone.”
“So, what about you, young lady?”
Concubine Li was taken aback for a moment, smiled faintly, and said, “I, if I can do something for my father in this life, it will be worth it.”
“What about His Majesty? You haven’t seen him even a few times, and you have no feelings for him…”
“It’s just that he has no feelings for me.” Concubine Li sighed, but suddenly stopped and looked ahead with bated breath.
The man walked slowly, shrouded in silence, glancing at her then gradually approaching.
Concubine Li and her maidservants immediately knelt down: “This concubine greets His Majesty.”
Li Ying stared at her solemnly: “What was the Lord Empress looking for you for?”
“Lord Empress…” Concubine Li said haltingly, “He said that Your Majesty wants to dismiss the harem and asked this concubine if she wanted to stay in the palace.”
She heard the sound of fingers being squeezed in a death grip and subconsciously dropped her head even lower.
The man strode away, and the wind from his swaying robe brushed her face, making her shiver.
She knelt until the sedan chair drove away, and then her maid helped her stand up. She said with a blank face: “He, is he angry with the Lord Empress?”
The maidservant said, “This slave doesn’t understand. The Lord Empress is devoted to him. Why is he angry?”
Concubine Li thought for a while and said, “Looks like I’m out of luck, eh.”
Li Ying came to Chaoyang Palace.
Yun Qingci was watering flowers in the greenhouse, and the small silver watering can held in his thin white hand seemed even more exquisite.
It was hot in the greenhouse. Li Ying stood at the door and looked at him expressionlessly.
Yun Qingci didn’t stop moving, only glancing at him as if an afterthought.
Neither of them spoke.
Li Ying walked in and stood motionless, still staring straight at him.
Yun Qingci continued to water the flowers as if nothing had happened. He turned away, and Li Ying followed him a little, as if trying to make him feel guilty with his eyes.
Yun Qingci began to get annoyed.
He stepped on Li Ying’s foot.
The man’s expression remained unchanged, and he still looked at him without moving.
“Why did you summon Concubine Li?”
“For cooperation,” Yun Qingci said, “This subject promised her that in the future, the two of us will serve Your Majesty together, and if we have a little prince or a little princess, we will take care of it together.” ”
“How could there be a prince and princess?”
“Isn’t that up to Your Majesty?”
Li Ying grabbed his wrist. Yun Qingci gasped in pain. He let go of the watering can and it landed on the ground. He frowned.
Li Ying immediately relaxed his strength, still holding him, and said, “Let me tell you, I don’t need children. You don’t need to worry about whether the country will have a successor.”
“What if you die?”
Li Ying’s pupils contracted, and his tone was angry: “You just want me to die like this?!”
“I didn’t say that,” Yun Qingci said. “But what if something happens to you? I can’t give birth…”
“Then this country will be given to you!”
Yun Qingci was shocked for a moment.
Li Ying’s eyes flashed, and he said, “If you don’t want to adopt the child of my elder brother, then you will take over. With such a big influence in the Yun family, won’t it be easy for you to seize power?”
Yun Qingci could understand him less and less: “Before, I didn’t let you approach the concubines, and you went to drink in their palaces. Now I personally pick someone for you, but you refuse? Li Ying, what are you trying to do? Can’t you get along with me?”
“Let me ask you, how many times have I been drinking in other people’s palaces?”
“…I can’t remember.”
“Okay, then I’ll tell you,” Li Ying said, “Once it was Concubine Rong. She had an unsolved chess game. When I passed by, she asked for a game of chess. As soon as I left her palace I met you. I didn’t even stay there for half an hour.”
“And Concubine Qi, she got a sword I don’t know where from. I went, and as soon as I stepped in, you arrived.”
“Concubine Ning, she asked me for a drink in her palace that day. I admit that at that time, I deliberately wanted to drink to relieve boredom… I admit all these mistakes.”
“In the past two years, I have only visited these concubines less than five times. I have explained to you every time. You said why couldn’t I send someone over and why I had to go in person, but since they entered the palace, I needed to put on a show like this. If I stayed with you all the time, the officials would insult you every day…”
“So what are you complaining about?” Yun Qingci interrupted him. He raised his face and looked sincerely confused: “If you want me, they scold me. If you don’t want me, they still scold me… I am the one who is scolded.”
“You are feeling aggrieved? You’re recruiting concubines one after another into your palace, three palaces and six courts full of blessings. I run after you every day and watch you accept the concubines who come to trouble me every day. What are you feeling aggrieved about…” Yun Qingci said inexplicably: “If you were doing it for me before, now I will do it for you.”
“Can you dare say that you didn’t deliberately ignore me? Can you dare say that you didn’t deliberately cross me? Can you dare say that when you held up Concubine Ning, you didn’t do it to keep me in check?!”
“I was trying to make you more restrained…!”
“Then I will be more restrained now,” Yun Qingci said, “So what do you feel aggrieved about? Your Majesty has taken up all the grievances in the world while I deserve to lose my life and get nothing?”
He said maliciously: “Do you want me to follow you like before and, best of all, to die for you again?”
Li Ying took a step back; his forehead throbbed with pain again, tingling and buzzing sharply.
Yun Qingci didn’t let him up at all: “Don’t pretend to be infatuated with me. If I hadn’t been holding on to you tightly, your children would be running all over the palace now! Okay, now that you are coming back to me, I should fulfill your so-called affection and upkeep your ego… It seems this is what your love for me is, from start to finish.”
“Do I deserve to be at your beck and call?!”
“Li Ying,” Yun Qingci said truthfully, word by word: “You are really disgusting.”
Li Ying’s face turned white as snow.
He was different from Yun Qingci, he was not a person who could speak freely about everything.
But Yun Qingci could.
He was sharp and pointy, like a hedgehog, piercing his enemies mercilessly.
He looked at Yun Qingci with red eyes.
Yun Qingci took a step closer again. He stared at Li Ying and said, “I have been wronged for you all my life. Have I said anything?”
“It’s just a matter of having a child. You don’t even need to give birth to it yourself. You must have thought about this many times before, but just because you want to change your ways, you are venting out your anger at me, as if I’m the one who’s evil… like I’m forcing you to be unfaithful.”
“Don’t you think you are selfish?” Yun Qingci said, “I can leave everything behind for you, and now that I’ve asked you to give a little for me and give birth to your Li family’s child, you’re pretending to be faithful, to be a martyred man… What qualifications do you have?”
Li Ying held his head, turned his back and retreated. His breathing was short and cold sweat rolled down his forehead.
Yun Qingci stood straight and gave him a grudging look.
“Your Majesty is not feeling well, so please go back first. There is no rush to come back tomorrow.”
He turned around, picked up the silver can again and poured water on the plants.
Behind him, Li Ying’s low voice came: “I didn’t, I didn’t think about it… never.”
“Okay,” Yun Qingci said without turning: “Then give me proof. How can you prove that you have never thought of having children, and you have never thought of being copulating with another concubine.”
Li Ying’s face and neck were covered in blue veins. He tried to hold his head and said in a low voice, “I can’t do it.”
“I can’t do it with women…”
Yun Qingci stopped moving, and it took a long time before he turned around. Li Ying fell to the ground and gasped heavily, holding his head in pain, his long hair scattered.
Yun Qingci looked at him for a while before saying, “I don’t believe it.”
“If Your Majesty is willing, let this subject find a maidservant to give it a try.”
There was a very light crisp sound, accompanied by a muffled grunt.
Li Ying dislocated one of his wrist bones, his movements very precise, as if he had done it countless times before.
Maybe it was this pain that relieved his headache.
He finally raised his face.
Cold sweat rolled down his neck lined with blue veins.
“Ah Ci…” He stared at his lover in front of him, his voice hoarse and hard to hear: “Don’t be so cruel.”