Ch 38 “You, come here.”
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New Year’s Eve early in the morning, Xie Chaoyuan got up before dawn, without disturbing Xie Chaoling who was still sleeping, washed and changed into court clothes, and went out.
Xie Chaoling opened his eyes in the dark, waited quietly for a moment, then sat up.
Wang Jin came in with hot water, did not light the lamp, and whispered, “His Royal Highness’s carriage has left the manor.”
This morning, princes, dignitaries, civil and military officials wanted to enter the palace to pay homage to the emperor, and they were able to do it before Chen Shi. This manor was far away from the capital, so Xie Chaoyuan left early, it was not Yin Shi yet.
Xie Chaoling quickly washed up and changed into a servant outfit in the palace under Wang Jin’s service.
“The carriage was outside the back door of the manor. After a while, your highness can go there. The people who watch at night over there is lazy. The slaves were bought and left a small door for you to go out, be careful not to run into people… Your Highness, would you like me to go with you?”
“No,” Xie Chaoling said, “You did a good job.”
Before going out, Wang Jin boldly asked him: “Your Highness, you…will come back, will you?”
Xie Chaoling paused: “You shouldn’t ask too much.”
At Chen Shi, when all the officials came to celebrate the new year, an inconspicuous carriage stopped outside the side door of the East Palace.
Xie Chaoling got out of the carriage, looked at the green tiles and cornices in the morning light, and narrowed his eyes slightly.
Liao Zhi led people to welcome him, Xie Chaoling stepped in, and Liao Zhi and the others knelt down to salute him as soon as he entered the door.
“Get up,” Xie Chaoling said calmly, “I can’t stay here for too long, let’s go inside and talk.”
Li Huan came over after Chen Shi, and his eyes turned red when he saw Xie Chaoling.
“Sit down,” Xie Chaoling motioned to him, “Is the family all right?”
Li Huan wiped his face and replied, “Thanks to Your Highness, everything is fine at home. The family members are very worried when Your Highness disappeared. Fortunately, Your Highness is back safe and sound.”
Xie Chaoling nodded: “That’s good.”
Li Huan asked him excitedly: “Your Highness came back to the East Palace today, why didn’t you go to court? You are back now, so those who covet the location of the East Palace should be stopped.”
“Do you think they will stop when I come back?” Xie Chaoling disagreed.
“But you are the heir of the East Palace, so shouldn’t…”
“Should I or not, I know best.” Xie Chaoling interrupted him in a cold voice, “Okay, don’t talk about this anymore.”
Li Huan clenched his fists vigorously and let it hung down. There was a flash of darkness in his eyes, and he asked in a low voice: “Your Highness, who was the person who assassinated you in the forest that day?”
Xie Chaoling frowned: “I don’t know about this matter, let’s talk about it later. I called you here today because I want you to help me take care of Princess Shurou. I heard that Shen Shoufu passed away a few days ago. The Shen residence will definitely not have it easy for a while, and I’m afraid that someone will take the opportunity to make trouble.”
Li Huan raised his eyebrows then softly respond.
In the Taiqing Palace, a New Year’s Eve state banquet was being held.
Emperor Qianming sat in the upper seat, and the civil and military officials exchanged cups, singing and dancing to promote peace and joy. Xie Chaoyuan ate and drank on his own, and only said a few words when someone came to toast him occasionally. On such occasions, he didn’t need to perform too much.
Suddenly a jug of alcohol was handed to him. Xie Chaoyuan turned his eyes sideways, it was Xie Chaoqi, who put the jug on his table with a blank expression.
Xie Chaoyuan smiled: “What is the meaning of this, fourth brother?”
Xie Chaoqi poured a mouthful of alcohol into his mouth, and said calmly: “The person who sent the items from the Eastern Palace to Xun Wangfei was the person sent to Prince Xun’s mansion by Sixth younger brother. How much did you know beforehand?”
Xie Chaoyuan laughed and said: “Could it be that fourth brother also suspected that I did this, and then blamed second brother? Is fourth brother going to help second brother to complain?”
“I just wanted to get some handle on the Ministry of Finance, but now with this dilemma, there is no way to advance or to retreat. Was this your purpose? I underestimated you.” Xie Chaoqi’s voice was more gnashing of teeth.
Xie Chaoyuan shook his head: “Why does Fourth Brother think it’s me?”
“You know it in your heart.” Xie Chaoqi sneered.
No matter how stupid Xie Chaorong was, he would never trap himself. The person Zhong Liang of the Guangchu Division was relying on was Xie Chaohui. It would be uneconomical for Xie Chaohui to kill such a capable helper, so it was no wonder that Xie Chaoqi suspected that Xie Chaoyuan did it. The first time Xie Chaoyuan reminded him not to stand out in front of their father, he always felt that this kid was not as unambitious as he appeared on the surface.
Xie Chaoyuan picked up the jug handed over by Xie Chaoqi, filled himself with alcohol, put it to his mouth, and said slowly: “If I say it’s not me, fourth brother won’t believe it, so I’ll let fourth brother think whatever you want.”
Xie Chaorong, who had been grounded for a long time, was very unhappy. He sat down next to Zhao Changming, father and son, with a jug, and while drinking, he complained incessantly. Zhao Changming reminded him: “Your Highness, His Majesty is still here, so be careful.”
Xie Chaorong looked at the emperor on the throne drunkenly, saw that he was exchanging glasses with the officials who were going to toast, muttered something, picked up the jug and went elsewhere.
Looking at Xie Chaorong’s swaying back, Zhao Wenqing couldn’t help frowning, and asked Zhao Changming: “Father, is His Royal Highness Xun’s behavior too…”
He didn’t finish speaking, but both father and son understood what Xie Chaorong was like. He was useless and it was really disappointing.
Zhao Changming didn’t take it seriously, and continued to drink: “What’s the hurry, even if there is no Second Highness, there is still Seventh Highness.”
Seventh Highness, Xie Chaoyi, was also Concubine Zhao’s son. Although he was young, he also went to court and appeared to be much smarter than that idiot Xie Chaorong.
Xie Chaoling didn’t stay in the East Palace for too long, he explained what he needed to explain, and went to the great temple before Shen Shi.
The Ancestral Temple was to the east of the Imperial Palace, not far from the Eastern Palace. The emperor had just come to offer sacrifices, and had already gone back to attend the evening family banquet. Xie Chaoling specially chose this time to come here, and entered through the side door of the Ancestral Temple, in order to burn incense for his mother.
He was still dressed as a servant, a simple disguise. This skill was learned from others these days, and he barely passed.
The Ancestral Temple was completely quiet at this moment. The emperor left after taking the princes and officials to offer sacrifices. Except for a few people who were on duty, most of the people were lazy and went back to celebrate the New Year.
After burning incense and burning the scriptures that he had copied by himself, Xie Chaoling knelt quietly in front of his mother’s tablet for a long time again.
Madam Li died of illness more than three years ago. She had been in the central palace for only two years, and after a few days of good life, she couldn’t hold on anymore. After that, in order to let Xie Chaoling sit firmly in the throne of the East Palace, Emperor Qianming, never had a new empress.
Xie Chaoling knew that his mother’s illness was caused by worry. She was too worried about himself, afraid that he would follow in the footsteps of the crown prince, so she was frightened.
“When mother died, son promised mother that he would keep a low profile and protect himself wisely, and would not put himself in any possible dangerous situation, let alone act willfully and do whatever he wanted. I will not give others the opportunity to pick on this son’s mistakes and faults, but now, I seem to have reneged on my promise.”
“Sixth brother, he is a very dangerous person, with unknown identity, unclear background, ambitious, and an even more extreme temperament. I should stop him before he causes more and bigger troubles for me, but I seem to be a bit… reluctant.”
“Mother, I will be willful this time, as long as he doesn’t do anything that endangers the country, I want to pamper him this time.”
Xie Chaoling’s voice was very low, these words, he would only say it in front of his mother’s tablet.
After getting out of here, even if facing Xie Chaoyuan himself, he would never say it a second time.
It was already dark when he came out of the Ancestral Temple, and the people from the Eastern Palace asked Xie Chaoling in a low voice: “Your Highness, do you want to go back to the Eastern Palace, or leave the palace right now?”
Xie Chaoling glanced at the sunset in the sky and said, “Go back to the Eastern Palace first. “
Before he left, he had to fill his stomach first. Anyway, the family dinner at night didn’t end so early, so he could arrive before Xie Chaoyuan went back.
It only took a quarter of an hour to take a short cut from the Ancestral Temple to the East Palace. In order to avoid people’s eyes and ears, Xie Chaoling used his own feet to go back and forth, and only brought a clever and unremarkable little eunuch from the East Palace with him.
It was New Year’s Eve at this time, and there were few people to be seen on the palace road except for the palace lanterns that were lit up one after another. Xie Chaoling held the stove in his hand and walked back slowly in the snow, his chaotic mood finally gradually settling down.
When approaching the East Palace, there was a high-spirited voice behind him. Xie Chaoling turned his head and saw at a glance that it was someone from King Xun’s Mansion, who was carrying a warm sedan chair on their way, as if they were going to the Qinghe Hall.
Xie Chaoling frowned, took a step back with the little eunuch beside him, bent slightly and lowered his head.
The warm sedan jolted as it passed by them, the road was slippery in the snow, and they rushed too fast. Several sedan chair bearers fell into a ball, the sedan chair toppled over, then amidst a burst of yelling, Xie Chaorong fell out of the sedan chair. Crouching down in the snow, it took a long time for the servants to help him up in a hurry.
Xie Chaorong turned red with anger and scolded people loudly. He got drunk at noon and went to rest in the former rest room of the palace. He woke up now and hurried to attend the family banquet, fearing that he would offend the emperor if he was delayed. Who knew he would unexpectedly because of some dog slaves who don’t have eyes fall and eat sh*t.
All the servants of King Xun’s Mansion knelt down tremblingly to plead guilt. Xie Chaorong cursed for a while then suddenly felt that something was wrong, his eyes swept over, and he noticed Xie Chaoling, the two, who had been standing by to watch the fun.
“Which palace do you belong to? Why didn’t you kneel when you saw this king?!”
Xie Chaorong said. Seeing that this place was near the East Palace, he immediately asked, “Are you from the East Palace?”
The little eunuch brought out by Xie Chaoling replied in a low voice: “Responding to His Highness King Xun’s words, these servants are from the East Palace and were about to go back.”
Xie Chaorong sneered when he heard the words: “The people of the East Palace are not staying in the East Palace at this hour and being sneaky, what are you doing here? Come, take them away for this King!”
The little eunuch said urgently: “Your Highness King Xun, you can’t do this, us servants are from the East Palace, you can’t take us away.”
Xie Chaorong snorted: “This king will take you away today. His Majesty clearly said that the East Palace was closed and no one was allowed to enter or leave. This king sees that you are being sneaky. Since this king bumped into you by chance, if you don’t explain the matter clearly, this matter will not slide.”
The little eunuch wanted to say more, but Xie Chaoling suddenly squeezed his arm calmly.
From beginning to end, he didn’t say a word.
Xie Chaorong’s people had already lifted up the sedan chair, and carefully reminded him: “Your Highness, let’s get on the sedan chair first, we can no longer have any delay.”
Xie Chaorong’s eyes turned around and landed on Xie Chaoling, and he frowned. Noticing something, it inexplicably gave him a very uncomfortable feeling, so he became more determined to take the two away.
“Take him with you. After the family banquet, I will interrogate him in person.”
After leaving this sentence, Xie Chaorong swaggered back into the sedan chair.
This was obviously against the rules. The people in the East Palace, when could it be Xie Chaorong’s turn to interrogate them, but now the East Palace was just a decoration, everyone can be bullied, so Xie Chaorong was not afraid at all.
It would be great if they could catch some shady secrets and weakness of the Eastern Palace!
The family banquet was held in the Qinghe Palace, which was originally a place where family banquets were held according to regulations. In the past, Emperor Qianming paid respect to Empress Dowager Zhao, so as to save her from running around and had it at Shouan palace but suddenly he talked about the rules.
Xie Chaorong was still late when he arrived at Qinghe Hall, but there was someone who was later than him, Xie Chaoyuan had just arrived and bumped into Xie Chaorong outside the hall.
Xie Chaorong didn’t bother to talk to him, and walked in first.
Except for a few personal attendants who followed, the rest of the people stayed outside the hall and Xie Chaoling was among them.
Xie Chaoyuan went in one step behind, took off his snow-stained cloak by the door, and suddenly looked sideways at Xie Chaoling who was standing outside the hall.
Xie Chaoling noticed that he was looking at him. His face remained calm, he had scolded that guy Xie Chaorong a hundred and eighty times in his heart.
If Xie Chaoyuan saw him, he might fall ill again in the future.
If he didn’t see it, he would have to find another way to get out today.
No matter how he thought about it, it was a hassle.
Xie Chaoyuan finally opened his mouth and said to him: “You, come here.”
Immediately, a servant of King Xun’s Mansion stopped him: “Your Royal Highness Ke, he is from King Xun’s Mansion.”
Xie Chaoyuan ignored him, and only asked Xie Chaoling: “Are you?”
Xie Chaoling shook his head.
“Then that’s it,” Xie Chaoyuan said with a half-smile, “I don’t have anyone to serve me, so you come in and serve me alcohol and dishes.”
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