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Yun Qingci’s cheeks were red, and when he was carried out of the restaurant, he faintly heard someone talking.
“I heard that His Majesty dismissed the harem and beat up all the concubines. Now those families are scared to death.”
“Could it be Lord Empress Yun again…”
“Lord Empress Yun is in the process of separating with His Majesty, how can he have time for that?”
“What’s the matter? Didn’t he stalk His Majesty before?”
“Don’t you know about the Old Marquis killing his own son, Our Majesty’s uncle, some time ago? Our Majesty seems like a different person now, so the Lord Empress might be scared ……”
The voices faded as Yun Qingci left the building. The sun shone warmly on his face. He yawned and said, “Sleepy.”
“What have you been doing the whole day that you think you’re okay with being sleepy?”
“I’m full, so I’m sleepy…” Yun Qingci hummed, provoking a few jeers.
When they got into the carriage, his second brother and father sat together, and Yun Qingci laid down across their laps, dazed by the bumps of the carriage.
After returning to the Prime Minister’s Mansion, he got up obediently and walked in swaying slightly.
As soon as he entered the door, Steward Ding immediately ran up and whispered something in Prime Minister Yun’s ear. Yun Qingci was helped into his small courtyard, overwhelmed by the strength of the wine, and fell asleep.
He slept until the night but he didn’t dream, and he had a headache when he woke up.
Yinxi stepped forward and wiped his face with a handkerchief, whispering, “The Master is outside.”
Yun Qingci didn’t want to move: “What is he doing outside, it’s warm in the room, let him in.”
Yinxi went out and invited Prime Minister Yun in. As soon as his old father entered the door, he said, “I saw you sleeping soundly just now, so I didn’t want to bother you.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Secretary Han came to me just now and asked me about the concubines being beaten and sent back. I heard that you prepared generous gifts to see them off?”
“…He beat his women, what does it have to do with me, why would I see them off?”
Prime Minister Yun sighed and said, “That seems to be His Majesty’s doing but he wanted to give you the credit.”
Yun Qingci rolled his eyes: “What’s wrong with him? He ignored me when I was clinging to him, but now that I’m ignoring him, he’s working for my reputation.”
“Now there are some rumors in the city that His Majesty’s personality changed and he scared you… That’s good. The people who said you were overbearing before now changed their words. They say someone created rumors to deliberately damage your reputation.”
Yun Qingci was a little depressed: “I wasn’t that bad before.”
“Of course father believes you.” Prime Minister Yun said, “I’m telling you this because I want to ask you what you think. His Majesty is desperate now and doesn’t even care about his reputation. How can he let you separate peacefully?”
Yun Qingci thought for a while and said, “If the people below are talking like this, can’t you arrest them and beat them up?”
“There is obviously someone behind them provoking these rumors. His Majesty could have taken care of it but he obviously doesn’t bother.”
“I blame the previous emperor. What freedom of speech did he introduce? It’s not even enough for them to talk about me, even the emperor is not spared.”
Prime Minister Yun smiled and said, “The previous emperor was broad-minded. It’s not like no one said anything about him, but with his evident political achievements, after a while everyone naturally stopped talking.”
“Li Ying also has political achievements, so he shouldn’t be afraid of someone saying these things, right?”
“He isn’t afraid. But father is worried about you. There are people who still remember that you often went out of the palace to give out porridge when you first got married. You haven’t done anything like this in the past two years, have you?”
“No, but I’ve done it before.”
“If he holds you too high, you won’t be able to get down.”
Yun Qingci lowered his head, melancholic for a moment, and said, “In fact, it’s pretty good to be Lord Empress. He is so obedient now. I’ll take the opportunity to seek a few high positions for my brothers… Oh.”
Prime Minister Yun tapped him on the head: “What nonsense, don’t even have such an idea. If you lack virtue, you will suffer retribution.”
“Why are you so old-fashioned? It’s not as if my brothers are incapable. Fourth brother guards city people every day. Do you think it’s meaningful to catch chickens and dogs for the common folk?”
“He thinks it’s very meaningful, and many girls like him. They all rush to give him tasty food. Although he is only a captain, he is much more popular than the Zhang family.”
“Why do you compare fourth brother to those scum?”
“I mean, if you look at the power of the Zhang family, if His Majesty decided to kill them, they would be killed. In fact, in the court, it doesn’t matter what position you occupy. The important thing is whether you are really doing useful things and retaining your humanity. The most important thing is to have a clear conscience.”
So, the preaching started. Yun Qingci listened to it with relish and said along the way: “Then if he refuses to separate, Dad, what do I think I should do?”
“Of course father hopes that you can persist. If his feelings for you are sincere, he will let go of you.”
Yun Qingci nodded thoughtfully, indicating that he listened.
But thinking of the strength Li Ying used to cut himself at that time, he felt a bit troubled.
For the next few days, he hadn’t seen Li Ying, but sometimes he woke up in the middle of the night and smelled a familiar smell inside.
When he dreamed, he returned to the underground palace. He realized that he might have returned to the past life in his dream, because he often heard Li Ying talking to him as he lay in the double coffin.
Some things were already told to him by Li Ying after he was reborn, such as his eldest brother’s affairs, the conspiracy he acted out with the Prime Minister’s Mansion and the killing of all the concubines.
There were also things that Li Ying didn’t tell him about. For example, after Yun Qingci’s death, he adopted Li Heng as his son. Another example, some ministers forced him to accept concubines, but he refused.
He laid quietly in the coffin and asked Yun Qingci: “If from the beginning, I insisted on not accepting concubines, would we not come to this point?”
At this time, he would cover his eyes with his wrist, tears rolling down from the corners of his eyes and sliding into his long gray hair: “I’m sorry, Ah Ci, I didn’t protect you well.”
Yun Qingci felt that he was very annoying. He didn’t want to dream of Li Ying anymore at all. One time, he hid when Li Ying came over, but he didn’t hide for long before he couldn’t hold back from listening to what Li Ying was muttering to himself.
Then another time, he saw Li Ying pause when holding a lantern as he passed a pile of fine sand swarming with snakes.
A finger-thick, transparent snake showed it’s red tongue and leaned towards him.
Yun Qingci ran over almost instinctively, reminding him: “Li Ying, there are snakes!”
Li Ying didn’t hear what he said, but he obviously also saw the big snake that was completely different in size from the other small snakes.
He put the glazed lamp in front of the sarcophagus as usual and then pulled up his cuffs.
This was the first time Yun Qingci saw his arm.
The skin was covered in scars, with a line of slashes and very obvious larger scars. His forearm was much thinner than before, like a carrot with its skin peeled off, many pieces visibly missing.
Li Ying squatted down in front of the snake, then took a knife and cut off a piece of flesh.
His expression was very calm, so quiet that Yun Qingci was creeped out.
He was stiff all over as he saw Li Ying skillfully feed the transparent snake, then take the gauze and wrap his arm and silently climb into the coffin.
Yun Qingci looked at the snake, his eyes becoming very dark and terrifying.
What was this thing, what the hell was Li Ying doing?
He walked towards the snake. After the snake finally ate and drank enough, it slowly got under the platform and disappeared.
Yun Qingci approached the coffin again, staring at the man who laid inside with his eyes closed.
“Li Ying, what are you doing?”
“Don’t pretend anymore, I’m dead, and a dead person won’t give you any response.”
“Go back quickly, be the emperor and don’t engage in these evil ways.”
He glanced down at the lamp that Li Ying often carried and waved his sleeve to sweep it off, but his arm went through it without incident.
“I am going to lead troops to conquer Beichen.” Li Ying, who was lying in the coffin, said: “I don’t know when this light will turn red, but Ah Heng is young and inexperienced, and Beichen is eyeing him. If that day comes, I’m afraid he won’t be able to cope.”
“So what if he’s young,” Yun Qingci said without hesitation: “You coped with it when you were thirteen years old. Now he is seventeen or eighteen, right?”
“Before I leave, I will close the lid of the coffin. You can rest well and I will be back soon.”
“Don’t you dare, you are not allowed to close it. I want to see the night pearl. If you close it, I won’t be able to see it.”
It was a pity that Li Ying couldn’t hear him. Yun Qingci could only watch him push a certain lever, and the heavy coffin lid slowly moved, completely blocking his face.
Perhaps because it was going to take a long time, before Li Ying left, he cut the flesh from his other arm. Yun Qingci immediately turned his back when he saw him lift his sleeve. He quickly ran behind the pillar without looking.
He didn’t know what Li Ying was doing, and he didn’t know why Li Ying was doing it. What would happen if the light turned red?
What kind of deal did he make with that transparent snake?
Li Ying took the lamp away, and Yun Qingci squatted down behind the pillar, quietly hugging his knees.
“You’re sick,” he said. “No matter how much more you do, I won’t like you anymore.”
He looked at the feasting snake; his gaze fell on the bright red thing in front of it, and he suddenly felt queasy.
Yun Qingci opened his eyes, and the next moment he rolled from the bed, threw himself towards the spittoon and vomited.
After vomiting in the middle of the night, Yun Qingci’s eyes were filled with tears. He heard a faint movement and a glass of water was handed to him. He took it and rinsed his mouth. He finally calmed down and suddenly realized something and turned his head.——
The light was dim. Li Ying was dressed in black and stood quietly in front of him, his voice slightly hoarse: “What’s wrong?”
Yun Qingci’s eyes were red, and he didn’t know if it was because of the nightmare or because of physical discomfort. His face gradually became vicious, “What are you doing here?”
“At night, I can’t sleep.”
“Do you have a brain disease?” Yun Qingci said, “It must be you who came here a few days ago, didn’t you secretly touch my hand?”
“No…” Li Ying said, “You put your hand outside, I just tucked it in for you.”
“Can’t I get hot? Why did you tuck it in for me?” Yun Qingci threw down the cup and walked to the stove to pour water from the teapot. After this movement, Jin Huan in the next room quickly lit the light: “Lord Empress, Your Majesty…”
He saw the emperor and as soon as he was about to salute, Li Ying raised his hand to dismiss it.
He put on his clothes and went forward to pour water for Yun Qingci, saying, “It’s warm, did Lord Empress not sleep well? The tranquilizing incense seems to have burned out. I will go and change it.”
“No need, go and rest.” Yun Qingci drank three glasses of water in one breath, pressed his palm against his stomach and lowered his eyelashes.
He could only tell himself that his dreams were all false, even if he thought they were real.
He didn’t want to verify with Li Ying, let alone know how infatuated Li Ying was after his death. He died, and dead was dead. Li Ying had lost the opportunity to be forgiven.
Li Ying stood beside him, then walked over slowly and sat down opposite him. “Did you have a nightmare?” he said in a soft voice.
“I dreamed of you.” Yun Qingci looked at him and said, “I woke up sick.”
Li Ying’s hand on the table shrank back. After a while, he got up and walked out in silence.
Yun Qingci stood up and said, “You are not allowed to come here in the future. I want to separate from you, and you are not allowed to come to me again.”
“I don’t agree.”
Yun Qingci breathed heavily, picked up the teapot on the table, took a few steps towards Li Ying and glared at him. “Say it again.”
“I don’t agree.”
Yun Qingci removed the lid of the pot and poured the water on his face fiercely.
The teapot slammed on the ground and shattered into pieces.
It was warm water, pleasant to drink, not scalding.
With a teapot of water poured on him, Li Ying did not close his eyes. His hair, eyebrows, cheeks, nose, lips and neck, all became wet.
Yun Qingci’s expression was vicious: “Don’t come looking for me again.”
“I said.” Li Ying stared at him and said, word after word, “I don’t agree.”
Yun Qingci kicked him.
Li Ying looked at him.
Yun Qingci kicked him again.
Li Ying still looked at him.
After a few gasps, Yun Qingci bent over to pick up the fragments of the teapot on the ground, and his wrist was grabbed by the other party.
A wave of relief washed over Yun Qingci as he said maliciously: “What? Are you afraid that I will kill you?”
“I’m afraid you will hurt your hand.” Li Ying sighed, slipping a dagger out of his sleeve and said softly: “Use this.”