After New Year’s dinner, Yun Qingci walked back to his yard lightly. Plum branches leaned into the corridor, and Yun Qingci stopped briefly to admire them.
He rarely had this feeling of emptiness in his body and mind, without thinking about anything, without doing anything and without a strong sense of purpose.
It felt like being thrown on the clouds, lazy and soft from the inside out.
In fact, it was quite a pleasure to be a worryfree dandy.
He saw a hem of someone’s clothes brushing past him and noticed Prime Minister Yun who was not resting in his room but was walking somewhere with an unknown purpose.
Yun Qingci’s eyes twinkled, and he followed sneakily.
Prime Minister Yun didn’t take anyone with him and went straight into a small ancestral hall of the mansion. Yun Qingci stopped outside, already knowing what was going to happen.
There must have been a stick of incense lit as its smell reached Yun Qingci’s nose. After a while, he heard his father’s voice.
“Xiao Ci, this kid, is finally willing to get close to me.”
“We had a New Year’s meal together today. This kid’s hands are really clever. His dumplings were better than yours.”
“I have always been very worried about him… with that woman Zhang Shixue around, he was getting more and more unlike himself over the past few years. Not to mention His Majesty, I was frightened to hear it.”
“You don’t know how many people in the court see that us father and son don’t get along and want to use him and pull him down.”
“Zhang Shixue, what a great ploy.”
“Hearing from Mr. Liu, it’s not easy for His Majesty. That child… wanted to stick to me when he first ascended the throne. In the past few years, he had looked for me several times. He wanted to say something but I avoided him. An official and emperor are different. It’s not that I don’t know his suffering, but standing in this position, I am also walking on thin ice. How dare I make friends with him as before?”
“Zhang Shixue is too ambitious and wants this and that. The Zhang family’s power has become bigger and bigger in recent years. I have mentioned it subtly, but His Majesty does have the intention to check and balance the court and support his mother’s family. Maybe this power is handy for him… But for some reason, he has started to target the Zhang family everywhere recently…” Prime Minister Yun suddenly remembered something and said with a smile: “I’ve said something you don’t like to hear again, haven’t I?”
After a short silence, Prime Minister Yun’s voice became hoarse: “You are right, I can’t even protect my little son, how can I protect the country… I’m sorry, Feiruo, I never thought that the assassin would attack a child… Fortunately, fortunately, everyone is fine now. Except for that boy Qingxiao who still refuses to marry a wife, and his younger ones also learning from him. He, he is a very good prison officer. He handled several cases last year and went to many places. People respect him very much.”
“Qingjue, now that he is in charge of the military camp, although he always tells me that he is worried he will not be able to do well, I know that he is doing well. It looks like His Majesty wants to reappoint him.” He suppressed his worries and said, “Qingsu, this kid is not very motivated… In fact, I know that it’s not that he doesn’t want to, but he is afraid that since several of his brothers are already in important positions, if he behaves too prominently, it will cause His Majesty to be afraid of the Yun family… Well, the city guards are rather idle, helping people find chickens and dogs every day, he is quite popular, too.”
Yun Qingci’s eyelashes trembled slightly. This time, he heard his father keep silent for a long time before he said, “I’m not going to say, I hope they are all well, all well.”
Yun Qingji… was still alive?
A huge question flashed in Yun Qingci’s mind. He knew very little about his eldest brother, and he never thought about him because he had never seen him. Both his mother and the people around him told him that his eldest brother had passed away, so second brother was the family’s eldest son.
His heart thudded.
Didn’t Ruan Lian ask him about his eldest brother? He also asked him how old his eldest brother would be if he was still alive.
Was there a connection? Did he mention this intentionally or by accident?
In the ancestral hall, Prime Minister Yun spoke again: “Do you think, in a couple of days, if I ask Xiao Ci to visit you, will he agree?”
Yun Qingci walked away from the ancestral hall.
He remembered that when he was preparing to bury his mother that year, his older brothers took turns to persuade him to let his father go with him.
Yun Qingci hated his father to the bone, and was extremely stubborn: “My mother didn’t let him come, my mother didn’t want to see him. If you come to beg for him again, you can’t go either!”
On the day of the funeral, the sky was gloomy, and the paper money fell after flying like dying yellow butterflies.
His brothers whispered, “Is that father?”
The eight-year-old Yun Qingci was thin and small, dragging his body that had not yet healed. After taking a few steps, he gasped. Every time he took a breath, the pain from his wound spread through his lungs with bitter resentment.
He looked back and could see the man dressed in black, following far behind, his eyes never leaving the giant coffin in front of him. The road in the suburbs was full of potholes and he stared at the coffin so intently that he forgot to look at the road. After taking a few steps, he staggered.
Yun Qingci sat down on the couch and lowered his eyes, watching Yinxi bring hot water to wash his feet.
At that time, he wanted to rush over and punch and kick his father, driving him away.
But maybe out of respect for his mother, or maybe because the other party looked a little pitiful, he restrained this impulse.
It turned out that his father really hadn’t visited his mother even once.
Did he really believe what Yun Qingci said and felt that his mother didn’t want to see him? So, fearing making her unhappy, he simply didn’t go?
Hadn’t been there even once in so many years?
Yun Qingci laid on the bed and closed his eyes.
Was this also love on his part? If he was not allowed to go, he would not go. If he was not allowed to see her, he would not see her. If he was not allowed to worship, he really would not go to worship.
In his previous life, Yun Qingci had always been sure that Prime Minister Yun didn’t value his mother much, otherwise how could he be so obedient? Yun Qingci always felt that he couldn’t control liking someone, just like it was with Li Ying.
He would always feel selfish towards Li Ying, would want to possess him and would want to stay with him all the time.
But if his father’s love for his mother was love, then what about him pestering Li Ying in his previous life, having to stick to him regardless of his opposition, not leaving him half a minute of breathing time? Did he love Li Ying, or did he just want him to satisfy his own need?
And then there was Li Ying’s attitude to him. When Yun Qingci felt that Li Ying’s feelings for him were insufficient, was it because Li Ying didn’t love him enough, or was it because the love he wanted was too extreme and Li Ying couldn’t give it to him?
Was it because Li Ying didn’t give him enough, or was it because he asked for too much incessantly?
Whose problem was it?
He couldn’t figure it out.
Yun Qingci fell asleep quickly.
He dreamed of the underground palace again, and he was where he stopped when he woke up last time. There were still glazed lamps by the huge box, many of them burning brightly.
Yun Qingci took a closer look and found that the glazed lamps were embedded in the grooves of the stone slabs around the box, and all the grooves were connected in a strange pattern that he had never seen before.
There was a sudden movement beneath his feet, and he was startled. When he looked down, he saw countless long, transparent worms swarming in the fine sand under him.
Yun Qingci realized that there was a circular sand formation in the center of the underground palace. The box was on the high platform in the center of the sand formation, and the strange long worms in the sand seemed to prevent anyone from approaching the box.
But he was standing by the high platform at the moment and the worms did not bite him.
Yun Qingci in the dream was deeply confused.
He climbed onto the high platform, deciding to find out what treasure was kept in the box, and then woke up again.
Yun Qingci opened his eyes, stared at the top of the bed for a while, then closed his eyes and wanted to dream again. Unfortunately, he just fell asleep and nothing happened.
Just after dawn on the second day, Prime Minister Yun suddenly heard Liu Ziru’s voice coming from behind: “Master Yun, Master Yun, please wait.”
He was the supervisor of the Son of Heaven appointed by the late emperor, in charge of the internal affairs office. His power in the Forbidden City was great and he was the most trusted person by the emperor.
Although he was a eunuch, he was honored by the Son of Heaven with the title of ‘sir’ and was not considered a servant.
He was the confidant of the emperor as well as his interpreter, and none of the ministers disrespected him.
Prime Minister Yun stopped immediately, turned around to meet Liu Ziru and said, “Mr. Liu.”
“Prime Minister Yun.” Liu Ziru bowed, his expression slightly worried: “Lord Empress went back home yesterday without saying a word, I wonder when he plans to return?”
Prime Minister Yun’s expression changed: “He didn’t tell His Majesty?”
Liu Ziru shook his head and sighed, “His Majesty still thinks that the Lord Empress is resting in Chaoyang Palace, and he doesn’t know anything about him leaving the palace without permission.”
Prime Minister Yun’s breath hitched, as he said, “Sir, you don’t need to beat around the bush, just say what you mean.”
Liu Ziru apologized with another salute and said, “Master Yun should have noticed that His Majesty’s body today is unwell. It was caused by the infection with wind chills yesterday, but there is another thing… After being provoked by the Lord Empress, he vomited blood.”
“Yesterday, the Lord Empress sent a letter of separation.” Liu Ziru took out the letter from his sleeve and said, “His Majesty was in a coma at that time. The chief doctor instructed him to avoid stimulations, so I didn’t show it to him. He still doesn’t know that he had been separated.”
“This…” Prime Minister Yun felt that Yun Qingci was really bold, while thinking that the development of events was really confusing: “What does Mr. Liu mean?”
“His Majesty took the Lord Empress to Taici Palace yesterday and maimed Empress Dowager Zhang.”
Prime Minister Yun swayed and Liu Ziru hurriedly helped him. “I know that Master Yun didn’t approve of this marriage, but the Lord Empress is willful and arrogant. As long as His Majesty favors him, it is good. But if His Majesty stops favoring him one day… for the Yun family, it will be bad.”
He was telling the truth. No matter which way you look at it, separation was not that easy, especially when the Son of Heaven was separated upon the initiative of the Lord Empress, as ridiculous as it sounds.
Liu Ziru put the letter in his hand and said, “I suggest that Master Yun go back to the mansion and have a good talk with the Lord Empress. If he wants to separate, he must do it openly and honestly. Lord Empress’s name is written in the Li family’s book… I mean, it’s best to wait for His Majesty to get better.”
Prime Minister Yun nodded. He hadn’t worrird because he relied on Yun Qingci’s words. If Yun Qingci indeed had reached a consensus with Li Ying, there would naturally be no need for others to worry about this matter of separation. But Li Ying knew nothing about it; Yun Qingci just made the first move.
His Majesty’s anger was another thing. If he got angry, the Yun family would not be able to bear it.
He hurried back to the Prime Minister’s Mansion and rushed straight to Yun Qingci’s courtyard.
The latter was basking in the warm winter sun, enjoying the beauty of life and swinging on the swing, his legs floating back and forth in the air.
As he watched his youngest son’s quiet expression for a while, Prime Minister Yun felt his anger suddenly disappear.
He frowned and coughed twice heavily. Yun Qingci raised his head to look at him. Too lazy to move, he greeted absentmindedly and said, “Why is Dad here?”
Prime Minister Yun walked slowly, sat down at the stone table, looked at his idle appearance and asked, “Do you know that His Majesty is sick?”
“Headaches?” Yun Qingci said, “I know, it’s an old problem.”
It was a bit like that in the previous life, but after Li Ying had been reborn, it seemed to become more serious.
However, what did it have to do with him?
“He suffered from wind chills and vomited blood yesterday. Once the year starts, it will be a busy time again.”
Yun Qingci let out a sigh of relief and said, “I am no longer the Lord Empress, why are you telling me this?”
“His Majesty cut off the Empress Dowager’s hands and feet, was it your idea?”
Yun Qingci wrinkled his eyebrows, this Li Ying, how come he told his father everything?
Prime Minister Yun stood up and couldn’t help but scold him: “That’s his birth mother, after all. If you do that, you’ll be considered a demon empress!”
“He didn’t do it for me.”
“If it weren’t for you, how could he do this to his biological mother?” Prime Minister Yun said with an ugly expression on his face: “Don’t think it has nothing to do with you. If you turn him into a tyrant and he dares to treat his Royal Mother like this, imagine how he might treat you in the future!”
“How do you know that it is his birth mother?” Yun Qingci said, “I have never seen a birth mother like that.”
Prime Minister Yun’s eyes flashed as he said, “What do you know?”
“I don’t know anything,” Yun Qingci muttered, “I just doubt that Li Ying is such a cruel person to do that much even in order to please me. And Empress Dowager Zhang, the thing she did to Li Ying… she deserved it.”
“You, you kid…” It was really crooked. Prime Minister Yun was angry, but the relationship between him and his son had just eased and he didn’t want to renew their disagreement. He could only pull out a stool and sit beside Yun Qingci, saying, “Let me ask you, the letter of separation, did you send it to His Majesty unilaterally?”
Yun Qingci turned his head and ignored him.
His heart was full of hatred. Dog emperor was really good at scheming; he actually used his father to pressure him. He probably couldn’t see him getting along with his father.
Prime Minister Yun took the letter and slapped him on the head.
Yun Qingci covered his head and stared fiercely.
Prime Minister Yun froze and thought secretly, the letter paper was thin, so it couldn’t hurt very much, could it……
He said carefully: “Father means that you and His Majesty need to talk openly and honestly about your affairs. If you send a letter like this, the matter looks shady. After all, the peaceful separation between the Emperor and the Lord Empress is not a trivial matter… You, where are you going?”
Yun Qingci jumped off the swing and shouted, “Go prepare the carriage, I want to go to the palace!”
“You, don’t be impulsive.” Prime Minister Yun hurriedly followed him, “I will go with you!”
“No need for you to go!“ Yun Qingci walked out of the courtyard without turning his head. “I’ll give him face, fine! If he makes such a big deal out of it, I’ll go and discuss it openly and honestly with him. If he wants to talk to me in person, I will talk to him in person!”
He got straight into the carriage and shouted, “Go!”
“He is still sick!” Prime Minister Yun also hastily ordered a carriage “Hurry up, follow him.”