Ch 2 “If you dare to run, this king will break your legs.”
Being stared at by Xie Chaoyuan and still being held on his lap, Xie Chaoling remained calm, trying to sort out the chaotic thoughts in his mind.
“Who are you?” he asked quietly.
Xie Chaoyuan’s face was full of interest: “This king is His Majesty’s sixth son, King Ke, Xie Chaoyuan.”
Xie Chaoling recited the name silently in his heart, feeling even more strange.
“Who am I?”
“Guess.” Xie Chaoyuan said in his ear. The heat in his breath made Xie Chaoling frown again.
“I forgot,” he said.
Xie Chaoyuan smiled: “If you forgot it, then forget it. This king said that from now on, you will be this king’s Linlang.”
Xie Chaoling had a severe headache. Xie Chaoyuan motioned to someone: “Send Langjun* back to the house to rest.”
* can be a title for a young man; husband; title for official etc; this use is most likely first one
Then he gently told Xie Chaoling: “Go back and have a good night’s rest, we’ll talk about the other things tomorrow.”
Xie Chaoling was full of doubts and met Xie Chaoyuan’s eyes. Although this man was smiling, the smile made him feel cold for no reason, so he stopped talking.
After the person left, Wang Rang came in and whispered what happened just now: “The person has already been dealt with.”
Xie Chaoyuan casually instructed: “Let everyone take a look, then carry him out.”
Wang Rang responded.
“Send everything he wants, don’t let him walk out of the backyard of Ting Song Zhai, just have people wait on him.”
Xie Chaoyuan leaned back, leaning on the soft couch, and stared at the dim candlelight in front of him.
Wang Rang bowed his waist and didn’t make a sound to disturb him.
After a long while, Xie Chaoyuan raised the corner of his mouth and smiled silently.
Xie Chaoling was led towards the backyard, and the path under his feet was reflected by the palace lanterns.
The night tide was like water with a lingering coolness.
“Langjun, please come this way.” The inner servant who led the way reminded him in a low voice.
Xie Chaoling deliberately lightened his footsteps, raised his eyes to look at the eaves and tiles in the distant night, and an inexplicable sense of familiarity resurfaced. He asked, “Where is this?”
The servant bowed his head and replied obediently, “This is Dongshan Palace, the Royal Family’s Courtyard.”
Xie Chaoling still wanted to ask more, but the servant reminded him again: “Langjun, it’s late and it’s cold outside, you’d better go back to your room to rest early. If you suffer from the cold, His Highness will blame the servants.”
Xie Chaoling looked a little cold. He saw a guard carrying a person covered with a white cloth leaving through the corner door.
“Who are they carrying? Did they die?”
The servant said calmly: “They are dead. They sneaked out to go drinking and accidentally fell into the well and drowned.”
Xie Chaoling pursed the corners of his lips, the night seemed to become cooler.
The only way to Ting Song Zhai was to enter the courtyard either from the front or the back. Xie Chaoling was placed in the east wing of the backyard, and the corner door on this side had been sealed.
Xie Chaoling entered the door and glanced around. The furnishings in the room were simple and elegant, the environment quiet. On one side was a screen of landscape drawn by ink, which divided the room into inside and outside. At the corner, incense smoke was rising in spirals faintly causing the delicate fragrance to seep in his nose. It was Ambergris (type of incense).
Xie Chaoling didn’t like the smell very much, but it didn’t show on his face.
A maid came holding the clothes and accessories prepared for him, all of which were golden, jade, and luxurious, but Xie Chaoling was not interested.
The leading servant called himself Wang Jin, and his attitude was full of respect: “The servants were all sent by His Royal Highness to serve Langjun. Whatever Langjun needs, please do not hesitate to instruct the servants.”
Xie Chaoling looked over and saw that the four servants and four maids, except for the one standing at the end, had followed him. He had a good memory and asked Wang Jin, “Why did you change someone? You seem to be missing one and there’s one more I had not seen before.”
Wang Jin said: “Replying to Langjun, the slaves are all assigned by His Highness. If they are not suitable, they will be replaced.”
Xie Chaoling inexplicably remembered the figure he had just seen being carried out by the guards, and his expression became a little colder.
“Bring some hot water, Gu…” (Gu = how royalty refer to themselves)
When he said the words, he noticed something was wrong, frowned, and changed his words: “I want to take a bath.”
Wang Jin said obediently: “The bathroom is next door, it is ready to be used.”
Xie Chaoling walked into the bath room. The place was a little more cramped than he imagined, but it had everything, it was okay. He didn’t leave anyone to wait on him, he just waved his hand to have them all retreat, walked to the bronze mirror, then looked at himself in the mirror.
Almond eyes, high nose, red lips, and a mole on the tip of his nose. Xie Chaoling stared at the person in the mirror and the person in the mirror seemed to be staring at him. He blinked subconsciously, but there was only confusion in his mind.
In his memory, he was locked up in a house that did not see the sun when he woke up, then he was pushed into a carriage and brought here.
Who is he? Where is he from?
“What is Linlang looking at?”
The voice that suddenly appeared behind made Xie Chaoling startled. He was so engrossed in his thoughts just now that he didn’t know when Xie Chaoyuan came in. There was another face behind him, half a head taller than him, with a smile at the corner of his mouth, staring at his eyes in the mirror.
They were too close. Xie Chaoling felt slightly uncomfortable. Xie Chaoyuan leaned close to his ear and asked again, “What are you looking at?”
Xie Chaoling frowned.
Xie Chaoyuan smiled and took a step back.
Xie Chaoling breathed a sigh of relief, turned around and looked at the person in front of him vigilantly.
With the appearance between a youngster and a young man, those eyes were extraordinarily sharp and evil.
A wolf cub not to be messed with.
Xie Chaoling commented in his heart.
Xie Chaoyuan raised his hand and hooked his finger lightly to Xie Chaoling’s headband, it fell off and his black hair fell down.
He didn’t move, his eyes even more defensive.
The dim candlelight contrasted Xie Chaoling’s jade-like face, and with his long hair loose, it shed off that edge and he became more androgynous.
Beautiful without knowing it.
Xie Chaoyuan’s eyes moved and some indescribable emotion slipped through his deep black pupils.
“Linlang.” Xie Chaoyuan rolled in his throat.
“Your Highness knows who I am?” Xie Chaoling asked reluctantly.
“Is that important? This king said that from now on, you will only be this king’s Linlang and you are mine.”
Xie Chaoling lowered his head and stopped wasting his words.
“Go out, Your Highness, I’m going to take a bath.”
Turning around and taking off his belt, he took off his clothes. His slender but not weak and frail figure was gradually revealed. Xie Chaoling walked barefoot into the tub.
Xie Chaoling didn’t hide and Xie Chaoyuan didn’t remind him.
His older brother, crown prince, was used to being served by others. It was common for him to undress in front of others, and his subconscious might not have noticed. They were both men, so they didn’t need to cover up. Xie Chaoling didn’t really realize what Xie Chaoyuan’s phrase “my person” meant.
The first time Xie Chaoyuan saw Xie Chaoling was when he was six years old.
He was raised outside the palace since he was a child and was taken back to the palace to study and learn by Emperor Qianming when he was six years old. At that time, Xie Chaoling was not yet the crown prince, nor was he King Ke. In the eyes of all the brothers who looked at him indifferently, Xie Chaoling was the only one who smiled. He stretched out his hand, and from then on, only Xie Chaoling was in his eyes.
Xie Chaoling leaned against the tub and closed his eyes, the warm water wrapped around his body, soothing the vague restlessness and anxiety in his heart. He could sense that His Royal Highness King Ke was still standing behind him, but he couldn’t get the strength to deal with it.
For now, he can only take one step at a time.
Xie Chaoyuan went out of the bathroom first. He stopped at the corridor, and Wang Rang gave him the news he had just received: “Just now in the evening, His Majesty summoned the ministers again. Some officials had bluntly said that the Crown Prince will not return and the country is unstable, begging His Majesty to take action as soon as possible. His Majesty is furious.”
Xie Chaoyuan sneered: “Which official was so careless?”
Then he shook his head again. There was still a rushing water current under the cliff, and the crown prince’s horse had fallen onto the water bank. If the crown prince accidentally fell into the water and was rushed elsewhere, there would probably be no bones left. Everyone knew this, but to dare say this, who knows if it is intentional or not.
Wang Rang continued: “There are also officials in the Ministry of Rite who asked what to do with the planned wedding of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince next month. Lord Yang’s face was very ugly, and His Majesty said that they should continue to do it.”
Xie Chaoyuan’s eyes narrowed slightly, there was a fleeting gloom in his eyes and the door behind him suddenly opened.
After taking a bath, Xie Chaoling stood behind the door wearing only his coat. His slightly wet long hair was still dripping down and the bright moonlight softened his eyebrows and face.
He asked Xie Chaoyuan, “Your Highness still hasn’t left yet?”
Xie Chaoyuan motioned to Wang Jin and the others who were waiting on the side: “Send Langjun back to the room, help him change his clothes and comb his hair.”
Xie Chaoling ignored him and went straight back to the next room.
Xie Chaoyuan didn’t follow. Wang Rang’s voice was even lower: “Your Highness, you won’t go over?”
Xie Chaoyuan said indifferently: “There are many days to come.”
Anyway, the crown prince’s wedding is doomed to fail.
The crown princess-to-be is the daughter of Yang Xuelin, Minister of the Ministry of Works. This marriage was decided by Emperor Qianming himself, but it had turned to nothing.
During the founding of the country, there were four great families of great merit: Zhao, Lin, Shen, and Yang. These four great families were closely related and intertwined and had been a serious problem for the Xie family’s confidants for a hundred years. The previous emperor that year had stood against the masses and selected a Qingliu cabinet minister’s daughter as the Empress, breaking the unspoken rule of having the empress coming from one of the four great families for the first time. However, the good times did not last long. The first crown prince was wronged and accused of rebelling. Empress Yuan and the two princesses committed suicide. In order to suppress the Zhao family, Emperor Qianming chose to divide the four families. First, he married Xie Chaoling’s twin sister into the Shen family, in exchange for the support of the Shen family. Afterwards he awarded Concubine Li as the next Empress and later roped in the Yang family by having the Yang family’s daughter as the crown princess, thus forming a confrontation between Zhao, Lin, Shen, and Yang. Only then was he able to maintain the delicate balance in court.
Now, with Xie Chaoling falling off the cliff and disappearing, this balance may be broken again.
Some were happy and some were sad.
At least, Xie Chaoyuan was happy.
Xie Chaoling saw Xie Chaoyuan who was still standing outside through the blurred window paper.
After hesitating, he stepped forward, opened the window, and Xie Chaoyuan turned around in the corridor.
“Why does Your Highness keep standing there?”
Xie Chaoling’s wet hair was half dry, and it was still draped over his shoulders.
Xie Chaoyuan took a step forward, his fingers tugged on a strand of his hair, and gently twirled it: “Linlang can’t fall asleep?”
Xie Chaoling saw the closed courtyard door ahead, guarded by guards, he asked, “Your Highness intends to keep me locked in this small courtyard?”
“How could I?” Xie Chaoyuan laughed in a low voice, “After a while, this king will take you back to the capital to King Ke’s mansion, you can do whatever you want there.”
“Lord Zhang who brought me here today said that I am someone from Jiangnan’s brothel. If this is the case, Your Highness is thinking too highly of me.”
Xie Chaoling was neither arrogant nor humble, he didn’t remember who he was, yet even if the identity of the person in front of him was huge, he was not afraid of this person.
“What if this king fell in love with you?” Xie Chaoyuan asked him with a smile.
“Is Your Highness worried that I will run away?”
Xie Chaoling thought of the corpse covered with a white cloth and asked quietly, “What if I really ran away?”
“You can’t run away,” Xie Chaoyuan leaned forward, still laughing. Xie Chaoling seemed to sense the coldness in the middle and the man’s breath was close to his ear, “If you dare to run, this king will break your legs.”