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The moon was curved like a hook.
On the other side, far away, someone emaciated to the bones entered the underground palace, holding a crimson lamp.
Under the curved moon, in Jiangshan Palace, two people were talking by the candlelight.
Li Ying was indeed sincere enough this time.
Yun Qingci thought for a moment and said, “Tell me all your secrets, so that I can believe you.”
Li Ying panted slightly and leaned on the pillow, his hair already wet with cold sweat.
“…I did think you were troublesome. You were overbearing and unpredictable, and extremely paranoid. In some ways, I did have a problem with you.”
“But I never meant for you… well.” He turned to his side and closed his eyes: “I never meant for you to die.”
Yun Qingci believed it.
It was true that Li Ying did not want to kill him, but it was true that he thought him troublesome, it was true that he rejected him, it was true that he stayed away from him, and of course, it was true that he loved him.
Yun Qingci lay down beside him and recalled Li Ying’s words very seriously. In fact, all these incidents were related to each other. Back then, he made that mess, which allowed his father and Li Ying to overcome their ruler-subordinate routine, which led to the later sacrifice of his eldest brother and his father revealing his identity to Li Ying.
It was also because of this that it was established there were spies planted in Shangyang, and following this line of enquiry, the matter of the Zhang family was investigated. His father talked to Li Ying about his suspicions, and at the same time made Li Ying understand that Empress Dowager Zhang probably was not his biological mother. And Yun Qingci, of course, did not believe Li Ying’s half-hearted suspicions.
During the war on the frontier, Li Ying really was extremely busy for a long time, and it was only when Yun Qingci delivered the meal to him that he remembered that he had not eaten.
Therefore, the affairs of the Zhang family were put on hold, the affairs of the harem were put on hold, and the investigation of the truth about his origin was also put on hold. He claimed that he was trying to keep those palace concubines out of Yun Qingci’s way, but in fact, in his heart, he hoped that Yun Qingci would not bother him.
Just let them play by themselves in the harem.
Yun Qingci couldn’t help laughing, and his thin white fingers subconsciously covered his lips.
The thing was Yun Qingci was not a nice person to deal with. If he felt he was targeted and he knew he did something wrong, so be it. But if he didn’t think he did anything wrong, then he would definitely retaliate in every possible way.
Therefore, when Li Ying came to his palace in his free time, Yun Qingci would keep provoking him.
He glanced at Li Ying, then reached out and held his hand.
At the moment when Yun Qingci touched him, the pain suddenly receded.
Li Ying was startled for a moment, then turned to look at Yun Qingci.
“How do you explain the matter with the Qing Division?”
“One thing was that there was not enough manpower.” Li Ying looked miserable. “Another… Zhang Shixue knew very well that you had the Qing Division in your hands and expected me to get it back.”
Yun Qingci didn’t ask any more questions.
He was excluded from all plans, from beginning to end.
It couldn’t help but make Yun Qingci start reflecting: “In my previous life, was I really that bad a human being?”
He pulled back the hand holding Li Ying, and the next moment, Li Ying’s fingers contracted uncontrollably, cold sweat instantly spreading all over his body.
Not only his brain, but his entire body seemed to be bitten by countless poisonous insects.
“When this lamp turns red, it means that the level of your sincerity is enough and the other Your Majesty has already returned. At this time, according to the initial agreement, Your Majesty will take this lamp and make a sacrifice to ten thousand worms. Then, Your Majesty can be at ease.”
“But one thing is that that sacrifice is not the final price. The other Your Majesty will always retain your dying pain; this is the real price. In other words, Your Majesty on the other side will inherit the pain of ten thousand insects gnawing on him before his body fails. But it can also be easily resolved by giving up the obsession, or… if the backlash of the spell destroys your body and you’ll be free.”
His gaze followed Yun Qingci’s fingers as he whispered, “No, it’s just that sometimes, your emotions were out of control.”
Every breath was like a blade scraping, but Li Ying suddenly smiled.
When he first arrived, he thought all this was a dream. But now he could finally feel at ease. The other him, he completed the sacrifice according to the agreement.
He stared at Yun Qingci and said, “I made you like that. I know that you have never been bad.”
For some unknown reason, Yun Qingci suddenly discovered that his eyes had become extremely serious and looked straight ahead, reminding him of a cat staring intently somewhere.
“You don’t need to tell me that.”
Yun Qingci didn’t want to talk to him anymore, so he pulled up the quilt and lay down. His foot inadvertently kicked Li Ying’s body.
At that moment, all the pain receded, but as soon as the foot left, it returned.
He followed Yun Qingci to lie down, longing to be touched by him again, but for a long time, Yun Qingci did not touch him.
Yun Qingci turned his back to him but did not fall asleep.
He did not tell Li Ying that he killed those two people.
He had a feeling of being followed by a dark guard. He found traces of the two people from some clues. He guessed that they were Li Ying’s people, but he didn’t know that it was protection. He thought it was surveillance.
When he was thrown into the Cold Palace, he was full of resentment. It was not on a whim that he decided to use murderous tactics against those two. He thought for a long time, and he knew that he couldn’t kill them with his own abilities.
It happened that one night Gan Li came to see him and said that he was sent by Li Ying on a mission and probably would not come back for a long time. Yun Qingci asked him to help with one thing.
Kill the two dark guards.
Before leaving, Gan Li asked him if he wanted to have a few people to protect him in secret.
Yun Qingci refused.
He believed that after the death of the two dark guards, Li Ying would come to see him quickly. He didn’t know that the next day, Li Ying was going to the imperial mausoleum and didn’t have time to know that the dark guards were killed.
The Empress Dowager and the others waited until Li Ying went to the imperial mausoleum before they dared to attack.
All kinds of wrongdoings, all kinds of mistakes and coincidences piled up together, causing the tragedy of his last days in the Cold Palace.
It was hard for Yun Qingci to describe the feeling in his heart.
He thought that maybe his death was retribution. For the first time in his life, he murdered those who were innocent, and soon after that, he lost everything.
He was starving and freezing, people close to him died tragically, and in the end he was forced to choose a place for his suicide.
This must have been retribution.
So where was Li Ying’s retribution? Wasn’t he the culprit of all this? Could it be that his death was retribution for Li Ying?
This was really ridiculous.
“Who killed Jin Huan?” Yun Qingci said, “He was tortured to death and stuffed in a box. Have you found out?”
“It was Ning Rou, but behind her there were other concubines who instigated it.”
“What did you do to them?”
Yun Qingci was taken aback for a moment.
After Yun Qingci’s death, everyone felt that he was crazy. All the gossiping palace slaves were beaten and the palace concubines were hanged. Even Empress Dowager Zhang who had raised him for so many years was skinned alive.
The impression of generosity and benevolence that he left on everyone since he’d ascended the throne so many years ago was completely subverted.
He became a tyrant who said whatever he wanted and no one dared to speak out.
For many years while Yun Qingci was alive, Li Ying was compromising and always backed down; but his concessions squeezed Yun Qingci’s living space and eventually forced him to a dead end.
Then Yun Qingci died.
What country, what people, what ministers, what family… So what if the country was overthrown, so what if the throne was lost!? Gold, silver and jewelry, Yun Qingci would never see them again. Damask, silk and satin, Yun Qingci would never wear them again. His country’s prosperity… there was no Yun Qingci to accompany him anymore.
Yun Qingci always said that Li Ying was important to him.
But Li Ying rarely told him that he was important to him too.
When he ascended the throne, Yun Qingci accompanied him, comforted him and told him that he would be fine.
When he was hiding in the cave, Yun Qingci accompanied him until the rain stopped, and then the two of them returned to Jiangshan Palace together.
When he was reading memorials at night, Yun Qingci would fall asleep beside him, so that he could completely relax and fulfill his duties as the Son of Heaven.
Yun Qingci said that Li Ying was the only person who treated him well after his mother was gone.
But in fact, he was also the only one who treated Li Ying well after his father was gone.
It was just that there were too many things that changed them both.
Yun Qingci felt that he had become hypocritical, and he felt that Yun Qingci had become extreme.
“What about Zhang Shixue?” Yun Qingci said, “What did you do to her?”
“Skinned her and pulled out her tendons. I showed no mercy.”
“Did you figure out what happened to your mother? Why did no one suspect her cause of death for so many years?”
“…” Li Ying took a deep breath and said, “I figured it out.”
Yun Qingci: “?”
What exactly did Zhang Shixue do to be able to hide it from the world and secretly swap Li Ying away?
“This matter was done in utmost secrecy. Zhang Shixue miscarried during her pregnancy and kept a fake abdomen after that. She used a stillborn child to replace me… Back then, when father arrived, mother was already dead. The umbilical cord of the stillborn child was not cut. It was lying between her legs, and because of the umbilical cord, father believed that mother’s death was indeed dystocia.”
“The umbilical cord?” Yun Qingci said, “Then what?”
“In fact, the real umbilical cord was cut. Someone took out the remaining umbilical cord from her womb, re-tied it to the stillborn child and then hid the knot back. At that time, no one suspected anything. No one would think that a child connected by the umbilical cord could be fake.”
Yun Qingci turned around suddenly.
He stared at Li Ying with a look of disbelief.
Can it be like this?!
After all, even though Yun Qingci was domineering in the palace, he didn’t have much experience in fighting with other people. Ning Rou was too stupid; sometimes Yun Qingci felt ridiculous when he saw her.
He never thought that there would be such schemes in the palace.
“And after she exchanged you?” Yun Qingci said, “I remember you were afraid of her. Was she very bad to you?”
“She had a grudge against my birth mother because my mother was above her in everything, whether it was the favor of my father or the needlework embroidery. She was knowledgeable and reasonable…” Li Ying looked at him for a while and said, “Can we not talk about it?”
“No way,” Yun Qingci said mercilessly: “You told me all this, and isn’t this a good opportunity for you to make up as much as you can, make up something tragic. If you coax me to be happy, maybe I won’t leave.”
“Why are you looking at me like this? Haven’t I always been vicious, domineering and lacking empathy in your mind? Don’t you like me like this?”
Li Ying took his hand under the quilt and whispered, “Can we hold hands?”
Yun Qingci’s hand held his and then suddenly let go. He frowned and said, “Why are your hands so sweaty?”
He looked at Li Ying’s chest; the neckline of his white inner robe was also wet. He hesitated and asked, “Is your head still hurting? Do you want to call the imperial doctor?”
“It doesn’t hurt.” Li Ying said, “Maybe the earth dragon is too warm, so I’ll change clothes.”
He opened the quilt and covered it up again, getting out of bed as if nothing had happened.
Yun Qingci’s hand touched the place where he had been lying, and the sheets were also damp.
Strange, why did Li Ying sweat so much?
Was it so hot?
Yun Qingci rolled over in the bed and touched his own forehead. It could only be explained with the fact that Li Ying’s fire attribute was too high.
People who practice martial arts were always warmer than him.