Ch 1 “This King will give you a name, you will be called Linlang, how about it?”
“Thousand miles of heaven, what harm is there to go back together hand in hand.”
The time was white dew (between September 8-22), the autumn wind was rustling in the forest, and the sound of horse hooves were urgent.
The young man was handsome and graceful, chasing a snow-white deer, galloping along. The rope in his hand was thrown out, trying to catch the deer’s hoof to capture it alive, but a cold arrow came swiftly.
Xie Chaoling reacted very quickly and leaned back to avoid it. The arrow passed by, but the horse under him suddenly went crazy. After neighing sharply, it threw its hooves up and ran forward uncontrollably.
Xie Chaoling squeezed the horse’s belly and tightened the reins, trying to stop it, but the crazy horse had already rushed out of the forest, towards a cliff at the end.
Panic appeared in his pupils that had always been unfazed. There were shouts of guards chasing after him. In the end, they were a step slower; Xie Chaoling and his horse fell down the cliff.
Emperor Qianming was furious: “What do you mean by missing?! I told you to search under the cliff. If he is alive, I want to see the person. If he is dead, I want to see the corpse! It’s been a day and a night, and now you tell me that the prince is gone?! You bunch of useless trash, is it not enough to kill one prince, now you want to kill the second one? If the prince has any shortcomings, I will have you all buried with him!”
“Your Majesty, please calm down.” The ministers knelt down and pleaded.
The emperor fell back onto the throne. His eyes were red and he continued to gasp for air.
Resting inside Ting Song Zhai, Xie Chaoyuan stood under the corridor, casually teasing the birds in the birdcage under the eaves, listening to people whispering words about Emperor Qianming in the front hall.
“His Majesty is really ruthless in bringing up what happened back then.” Xie Chaoyuan said indifferently.
No one dared to answer.
Five years ago, the first crown prince was blamed for treason and was besieged by the Jingwei Army and Dongshan Camp. He desperately fled to Dongshan Palace, trying to see Emperor Qianming, who was recovering there at the time, to state his grievances. In the end, he didn’t get to see the person and was surrounded at the cliff behind Dongshan, jumped off, and was smashed to pieces.
Today was the same. The prince was shot with a cold arrow, his mount went mad, and he and his horse fell off the cliff and disappeared.
With this matter, no one could have good thoughts about his ending.
Xie Chaoyuan put down the birdie stick, and immediately a maid handed him a clean handkerchief. He slowly wiped his hands and said, “I heard that Zhang Shaoyang sent someone to this King again today.”
“Yes,” the servant Wang Rang lowered his eyebrows and his eyes, “Master Zhang asked someone to deliver the message in the morning. In these past few days, he had gone to see the batches of beauties from the south, and selected a few of the best ones, then sent them to your Highness first to taste. It will be delivered in a while.”
Xie Chaoyuan frowned: “This is inside the palace, have that kid pay more attention for this King. Don’t attract people’s attention, especially at this moment, or else those inflexible and sour scholars will focus on this King.”
Wang Rang responded.
The rain outside the porch was drizzling, and the green pines in the courtyard were caged.
Xie Chaoyuan raised his eyes. His profile was handsome and unpretentious, and there was a dim light in his deep black pupils.
A quarter of an hour later, Emperor Qianming sent someone over to tell Xie Chaoyuan to come for a visit.
Xie Chaoyuan was drinking tea and asked casually, “How is Royal Father?”
The inner servant said politely, “His Majesty’s head problem has occurred again. He has called all the Highnesses to come over together. Your Highness, you will find out when you go and have a look.”
After Xie Chaoyuan drank the remaining half of his tea, he put down the tea cup, and got up to motion for someone to serve him and change his clothes.
Emperor Qianming had already returned to his resting palace hall wearing a large cloak, a headband tied around his forehead, leaning on the couch with a sickly expression on his face. Everyone else arrived and Xie Chaoyuan was the last. His Ting Song Zhai was the furthest from the front hall, and no one cared about him.
After the greeting, Xie Chaoyuan consciously stood at the last position and did not step forward.
Emperor Qianming was forty eight and had seven sons. The missing crown prince, Xie Chaoling Xingwu, was the Dizi* of the Li family. The first prince who jumped off a cliff five years ago was the eldest son of Empress Yuan. When the first prince rebelled and died, Empress Yuan and the two princesses left a blood letter and committed suicide. Emperor Qianming’s head turned white overnight. Henceforth, he was plagued by a head illness. Pressured by his officials, in addition to having no evidence, it was impossible to reverse the claims on his beloved son and empress, so much that Empress Yuan could only be buried with the ceremony of a concubine.
* son of first wife
Xie Chaoyuan ranked sixth, the lowest among the princes. His biological mother was a dancer that was paid tribute from Bailing, a small country in the southwest border. His adoptive mother, Imperial Concubine Li of the Zhang family, only had a low-ranking title. At the same time, he was also famous among the princes for not seeking to make progress and being ambitious.
The princes stood with their heads bowed, headed by the second prince, King Xun*, Xie Chaorong, who enquired about Emperor Qianming’s wellbeing. It was unclear whether Emperor Qianming was listening or not, but his turbid but sharp eyes swept across the princes, full of suspicion.
* princes can be given titles when older and bestowed a location etc -> King <new name>
“The crown prince fell off the cliff and his horse became a puddle of flesh, but the prince has disappeared, have you heard about it?”
Xie Chaorong spoke first: “Royal Father, don’t worry, no news is good news, the crown prince will be safe and sound. I have told my uncles and the others to increase the search scope, the crown prince will be brought back safely.”
Emperor Qianming ignored him, and the rest of the people didn’t say a word.
Everyone knew that the person who most wanted something bad to happen to the crown prince was King Xun. Imperial Consort Zhao, the mother of King Xun, was the direct cousin of Emperor Qianming and the mansion of Zhao Guogong had deep roots and power. There was also Empress Dowager Zhao, the mother of Emperor Qianming. These people couldn’t get rid of the possibility of being tied to what happened to the previous crown prince. If it wasn’t for Emperor Qianming who was still somewhat capable, trying every means to establish the Li family as his successor, this crown prince position would have been in Xie Chaorong’s pocket five years ago.
“In the forest, someone appeared to try to assassinate the crown prince. I have arranged for the Imperial Guard to investigate this matter. If you hear any rumors or have any clues, please let me know.”
This is to encourage his sons to report on each other. Moreover, the Dongshan Palace and the hunting grounds were guarded by the Dongshan Camp. Now that the crown prince had an accident, Emperor Qianming had sent the imperial guards to investigate and he had also sent additional personnel to search for the crown prince, showing that he did not trust Dongshan Camp. Dongshan Camp had always been in the hands of several big families and these big families were implicitly headed by the Zhao family, Xie Chaorong’s uncles and cousins were all serving in them.
Xie Chaorong’s complexion changed slightly, but soon returned to normal, and he responded with the others.
After that, the emperor said something else, then sent them out.
Walking out of the emperor’s palace, Xie Chaoyuan didn’t chat with the others. He was walking away, when he was stopped by Xie Chaorong.
Xie Chaorong looked at him with a smile that was not a smile: “Sixth Brother, when I first came here, I saw a carriage coming in from outside heading to your Ting Song Zhai and I also saw that kid from the Zhang family who is always by your side. What, did he send someone to you again?”
Xie Chaoyuan also smiled: “Perhaps, is it possible that Second Brother also wants it? I’ll take a look at it first. If there is nothing particularly pleasing to my heart, I will give it to second brother. I will ask someone to deliver it to second brother later.”
Xie Chaorong choked for a moment. He wanted to take the opportunity to put on the airs of an older brother and scold Xie Chaoyuan that he should not indulge in beauties and playthings, but he never thought that this kid would say that.
Xie Chaoyuan was from a humble background but was good-looking. His appearance inherited 80% of his birth mother’s beauty, so he was quite liked by Emperor Qianming. He looked like he had no ambition and was just playful. Emperor Qianming was not as defensive and thoughtful to him as he was with his other sons. In front of Emperor Qianming, he was able to say a few words. Because of this, Xie Chaorong always wanted to win him over, but Xie Chaoyuan seemed like he was easy to talk to, but in fact he was not.
Xie Chaorong smiled dryly: “No need, this is the palace, I advise you to be more restrained, especially now that something has happened to the crown prince. Do not annoy Royal Father and make him even more unhappy.”
Xie Chaoyuan just laughed and didn’t answer. This cynicism made Xie Chaorong unhappy, but he couldn’t do anything to him.
The fourth eldest, Xie Chaoqi, who came out together, sneered: “Old Second (referring to second prince), I think you should take care of yourself. If the uncles and cousins of the Zhao family can’t find the crown prince, how are you going to explain it to Royal Father?”
Xie Chaoqi had always been at odds with Xie Chaorong, and what he said was not polite at all. The only thing he didn’t do was state it bluntly that the matter of the crown prince was caused by the Zhao family.
This Fourth Highness was also the direct son of Empress Yuan. Five years ago, he was still young and was not implicated in the incident of the previous crown prince. However, because Empress Yuan was removed from being empress before her burial, his identity as a direct son became unjustifiable. After Lady Li entered the Central Palace, Xie Chaoling surpassed him and was canonized as the crown prince. If anyone thought Xie Chaoling was not pleasing to the eye, he must be one of them.
However, compared to Xie Chaoling, Xie Chaoqi hated Xie Chaorong and the Zhao family who participated in the encirclement and suppression of the former crown prince even more.
Xie Chaorong’s face instantly turned gloomy. He wanted to teach the other a lesson, but was stopped by his brother, the seventh prince, Xie Chaoyi: “Second brother, let’s go back, we agreed to go and greet Royal Mother.”
Xie Chaoyi pulled the cursing Xie Chaorong away, and Xie Chaoqi frowned behind his back: “Idiot.”
The third prince, Xie Chaohui, had already left, and Xie Chaoyuan was not interested in their quarrel, so he turned around and left.
Zhang Shaoyang had been waiting for a long time in Ting Song Zhai.
When Xie Chaoyuan entered the door, Zhang Shaoyang smiled flatteringly: “Your Highness, do these few suit your tastes? If you don’t like them, I’ll give you some new ones.”
This person was the nephew of Xie Chaoyuan’s adoptive mother, Concubine Li. He couldn’t do academics or martial arts and only studied in great depth, having a bit of skill in the lowest of professions. The best beauties in his life, whether male or female, he would search through brothels and entertainment districts everywhere to honor Xie Chaoyuan or keep them for himself.
Xie Chaoyuan’s flirtatious style had been criticized frequently, but his background was destined for him to not achieve the throne, so even the emperor turned a blind eye to this. Except for a few sour officials, no one would glance at him.
Xie Chaoyuan looked at them. Zhang Shaoyang sent him three people today, two men and one woman, all of them standing in the hall with their heads bowed down at the moment. Looking at their figure, they were indeed not bad. This kid was quite daring, holding his token, he dared to send people directly into the palace.
“Everyone raised your heads.” Xie Chaoyuan sat down and said casually.
The three of them raised their heads, one after another. While two of them were weak and timid, always lowering their eyes and not daring to look directly at Xie Chaoyuan; only the one on the far left, although not the most outstanding in appearance, his expression was completely different from the others. When Xie Chaoyuan looked at him with great interest, he also looked at Xie Chaoyuan without fear.
“Yuan Lang” frowned and looked at Xie Chaoyuan, who was dressed in luxurious clothes and looked lazy and playful, he was both unfamiliar and inexplicably familiar.
The person who brought him in called this person, Your Highness. Where is this place? Who was he?
Is he Yuan Lang? No, he’s not, so who is he?
“Yuan Lang” had a splitting headache and frowned even more.
Seeing that Xie Chaoyuan was interested in him, Zhang Shaoyang said quickly, “Your Highness, this person is called Yuan Lang, he is a gentleman from a brothel of Jiangnan. He plays the qin well, do you like him?”
Xie Chaoyuan smiled: “This King will accept these three people, you can withdraw and receive your reward.”
Zhang Shaoyang stepped back happily, and the other two were quickly taken away. “Yuan Lang” stood there and didn’t move, he looked at Xie Chaoyuan coldly who hooked his fingers at him: “Come here.”
After a brief stalemate, he stepped forward.
Xie Chaoyuan stretched out his hand and pulled him over. “Yuan Lang” was caught off guard and fell forward onto his lap. He instinctively wanted to struggle, but Xie Chaoyuan grabbed his hand and pressed it down: “Shh, don’t move.”
His warm breath was on the side of his neck, and “Yuan Lang” was extremely uncomfortable, he didn’t dare to move rashly with his body.
The maid had already brought warm water and a handkerchief. Xie Chaoyuan gently wiped the wet handkerchief on his face. “Yuan Lang” tightened his body. He heard a laughter that was close at hand, then something came to his face, wiping it.
That jade complexion and bright face gradually revealed its original appearance.
If Zhang Shaoyang was here at this moment, he would be stunned on the spot. The person he had been staring at had been changed, and his face was clearly, clearly…
All the maids in the room lowered their eyes and dared not look at them.
“Yuan Lang” saw his appearance clearly from the reflection in the basin, and felt more and more wrong. He stared at the person in front of him vigilantly.
Xie Chaoyuan caressed his cheek and whispered: “Yuanlang’s name is not good, let’s change it, this King will give you a name. I’ll just call you Linlang, how about it?”
As the night darkened, an inner servant silently walked out of the yard. Just two steps away, they were stopped by a long sword.
The palace lantern illuminated Wang Rang’s expressionless face: “It’s so late already, yet you’re not serving in the yard, where do you want to go?”
The inner servant trembled and knelt down: “This servant, this servant…”
He saw it, that person was clearly, clearly… His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince!
Wang Rang looked at the person in front of him indifferently: “His Royal Highness hates unfaithful people the most. You have been serving His Highness for a while, yet you still don’t understand such a little thing. Drag him away.”
The shouts from the inner servant’s mouth didn’t have time to come out, and they were blocked by cloth strips and he could only whimper, then was dragged away.
Ting Song Zhai returned to its original silence.
Thousand miles of heaven, what harm is there to go back together hand in hand. Came from Liu Yong – Bewildering Immortals attract talent and ladies (poem about a geisha’s tiredness of the sensual life; the second part tells the desire of her to get rid of the misery and pursue a better life)
Gong is not frivolous and is a single-minded madman
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