Thousand Miles of Heaven Chapter 58

Ch 58 “Brother, are you pitying me?”

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The incident of poisoning and assassination ended without a resolution. The eunuch who testified for King Lu maintained his previous statement, and those implicated, including Xie Chaohui, refused to confess. There was no other concrete evidence, so even though Emperor Qianming was convinced that King Lu and the Empress Dowager were involved, he had to tolerate it temporarily to preserve the royal face. 

In the end, the matter was covered up by punishing Xie Chaohui’s guards. It did not implicate Xie Chaohui, but to let him avoid suspicion, the emperor issued a decree ordering him to return to the northwest with troops after the end of the month’s marriage ceremony.

After that, the emperor returned to the palace, while Empress Dowager Zhao remained in the other palace for recuperation. 

Xie Huizhen was also left behind. Emperor Qianming probably felt that as a young girl who was getting older and about to get married, it was inconvenient for her to keep living outside the city. Instead, he allowed her to stay in the Beihai Palace permanently. 

On the day when the imperial carriage returned to the palace, Xie Huizhen went to bid farewell to the emperor and the crown prince. After they left, he saw Xie Chaoyuan’s carriage and took the initiative to greet him. 

Xie Chaoyuan had someone open the carriage door and invited her to talk. 

Seeing Xie Chaoyuan lazily leaning back in the carriage with his eyes closed, Xie Huizhen calmly asked, “Sixth Uncle, how’s your health?” 

Xie Chaoyuan glanced at him and said, “Are you really concerned about me?” 

“If you’re in this state, then that is good. Did you get angry with me, Sixth Uncle? Is it because I helped the fifth prince escape from you before? So you hired someone to watch me? Oh, I said it wrong. The outside Palace is where you used to live, and many of those people used to serve you. It’s too easy for Sixth Uncle to find someone to watch me. It doesn’t take much effort at all.” 

Xie Chaoyuan ignored him, and Xie Huizhen continued, “Sixth Uncle, did you poison Xie Chaorong?” 

“You’re quite smart,” Xie Chaoyuan said lightly. “But you’re too soft-hearted. If I were you, I would have poisoned Xie Chaorong with a glass of strong poison, and then killed all the witnesses. That’s the only way to get revenge.” 

Xie Huizhen smirked and said, “Sixth Uncle, no wonder the fifth prince wanted to run away.”

Xie Chaoyuan’s voice was even fainter: “You shouldn’t meddle in things that are not your concern as a child. The emperor left you here, and in the future, there will only be you and the empress dowager. You can definitely ‘take care of’ that empress dowager more, and the emperor will be grateful.”

“Thank you for reminding me, Sixth Uncle. I will take good care of my great-grandmother.” 

Before getting off the carriage, Xie Huizhen finally said to Xie Chaoyuan: “Fifth Uncle is soft-hearted and doesn’t respond well to force. It won’t work if you do it this way.” 

Xie Chaoyuan didn’t respond, and after the carriage door closed, he closed his eyes again. 

Xie Chaoling did eat soft food and refused hard food, but his soft heart was always under his reasoning. He had too many people and things in his heart, and he would never be placed first. 

At the end of the month, Xie Chaohui and Xie Chaoqi got married on the same day. 

One was reprimanded and despised by the emperor, and the other was involved in the scandal of poisoning the crown prince and was covered in troubles. Although their wives were all high-ranking noble women and from prestigious families with scholarly backgrounds, personally selected by the emperor, the officials and aristocrats in the court avoided them like the plague. The two weddings were not very lively, and it was only when Xie Chaoling, as the heir, made a round of visits that the weddings had some semblance of festivity.

Xie Chaoyuan was also there, he only went to King Huai’s Mansion to drink. Xie Chaoling had just come over from Xie Chaohui’s side, and when Xie Chaoyuan sat down, he had already been drinking for half a day, and there was already a hint of drunkenness on his face.

Seeing Xie Chaoling, Xie Chaoyuan took the glass and slowly filled it with wine, with a smile on the corner of his mouth: “Crown Prince Brother is really busy with affairs, you even have to hurry for a wedding.” 

“It’s Sixth Brother, you are too ignorant,” Xie Chaoling said in a low voice, “King Xing is also the elder brother of Sixth Brother. Sixth Brother should not only come to King Huai’s residence.”

“It is too far from my palace, I’m not interested in going,” said Xie Chaoyuan, putting down his wine jug and drinking the wine in his cup in one gulp. 

Only Xie Chaoyuan could be so blunt and unrestrained. 

Since the day they parted ways, they had not spoken alone for a long time. Xie Chaoyuan’s madness was something Xie Chaoling dared not gamble with. He even had people secretly watching the Zhao family mansion to prevent Xie Chaoyuan from actually going to kill someone. 

As the saying goes, when two people don’t have common interests, they tend to talk less. Xie Chaoling felt this way at the moment. He didn’t sit for long and, seeing that it was almost time, he got up to leave for the palace. 

Xie Chaoyuan followed him out and watched as Xie Chaoling got into his carriage. 

There was a clear drunkenness and a particularly icy look in Xie Chaoyuan’s eyes, but Xie Chaoling didn’t notice it in the dark of night. Before the carriage door closed, Xie Chaoyuan suddenly spoke up and asked in a deep voice, “Is what the Crown Prince said before, asking me to go to the Eastern Palace, no longer valid?” 

Xie Chaoling sat in the carriage without moving, nor did he give the order to move. After a moment of silence, he said, “Come tomorrow.” 

Xie Chaoyuan didn’t say anything more and just watched him. 

They silently locked eyes for a moment, then Xie Chaoling gestured for the door to be closed and the imperial carriage quickly drove away. 

The next day, Xie Chaohui and Xie Chaoqi brought their wives to the palace to meet the emperor. Emperor Qianming had summoned all of his children to come and meet their two new sisters-in-law. 

After all, men and women were different, so Xie Chaoling and the others gave a meeting gift, exchanged a few polite greetings, and did not talk much.

It is especially the case that King Xing’s princess was actually the original crown princess-to-be, because the emperor thought that Xie Chaoling would not come back, he made people feign death and marry Xie Chaohui with a different identity. These twists and turns in the middle, naturally they can not show it again, but it is inevitable that the two will be awkward when they meet, but Xie Chaoling was used to pretending, and he graciously exchanged greetings with King Xing consort, without showing any abnormal behavior.

Both king consorts were rare beauties, each with their own unique qualities. King Xing Consort was gentle and shy, with a hint of sweetness as a newlywed. She seemed to get along well with Xie Chaohui. In contrast, King Huai consort had slightly swollen eyes, even though she had makeup on her face, she seemed downcast, and it was likely that her wedding night was not pleasant. 

At noon, a banquet was held in the palace, but the two grandsons who got married did not attend because the empress dowager was in another palace. Only the emperor, high-ranking concubines, and princes and princesses were present. They did not avoid suspicion and ate together. 

During the banquet, Xie Chaohui sat with his new consort. Although his expression was calm, he occasionally picked up food for her, showing thoughtfulness and consideration. The other palace ladies teased them for their affection and King Xing Consort’s good fortune. In contrast, Xie Chaoqi did not speak a word from beginning to end. He ignored the consort sitting next to him, drank by himself, and even the emperor frowned at him in secret. However, the emperor was already disappointed with his son and did not bother to intervene. 

The banquet ended at 3 p.m. 

Xie Chaoling returned to the Eastern Palace to rest. When he sat down, Liao Zhi quietly reported the news he just received from outside, “It is expected that the army will go out to suppress the bandits in the Dongshan Ying in the next few days.” 

Xie Chaoling “Mmmed” in agreement and thought that Xu Shan was really calm. 

Earlier, he made up a story about Li Huan being kidnapped and abused by bandits in front of Emperor Qianming. Emperor Qianming ordered Dongshan Ying to completely eradicate the banditry outside the southeast mountains within three months. Xu Shan, the new commander of Dongshan Ying, spent half a month just organizing the army and preparing for battle. He was indeed calm and composed. 

After thinking for a moment, Xie Chaoling asked Liao Zhi to prepare ink and paper, and he began to write a letter. 

When he was almost finished, someone came in and reported that the King Ke  was here to see him. 

Xie Chaoling paused for a moment with the pen in his hand, remembering that he had promised to let him come today when he returned to the palace yesterday. So he ordered, “Let him in.” 

When Xie Chaoyuan arrived, Liao Zhi took the palace servants out of the room. Xie Chaoyuan saw that Xie Chaoling was still writing and asked casually, “What is the crown prince writing?”

Xie Chaoling made the last stroke without explaining.

When the letter paper was dry, he folded it and stuffed it into the envelope. Before it was sealed with wax, he put it aside and pressed it with a paperweight.

“What did my Royal Father ask my sixth younger brother to do?” Xie Chaoling asked, changing the topic.

After the family banquet was over, Emperor Qianming called Xie Chaoyuan and Xie Chaoyi to talk alone. If not, Xie Chaoyuan might have followed him to the East Palace earlier.

Xie Chaoyuan leaned against his desk and said casually, “He said he would also apppoint a marriage for myself and Old Seven.”

Xie Chaoling pursed his lips lightly: “… Which one did he choose?” 

“His Majesty is granting the Empress Dowager’s wish and plans to marry Zhao Wanniang to that boy Xie Chaoyi. I saw that he looked very unhappy and couldn’t refuse. He must be really resentful,” Xie Chaoyuan said. 

Xie Chaoling was not surprised that Emperor Qianming would do such a thing. Xie Chaoyi was the only hope for the Zhao family, and the emperor naturally wouldn’t let them use marriage as a bargaining chip anymore. Instead, he would let the boy marry Zhao Wanniang, even though her reputation was not good. He simply didn’t care. 

“I’m just asking. Which family did Father choose for you?” Xie Chaoling looked at Xie Chaoyuan and asked. 

Xie Chaoyuan smiled ambiguously and said, “Does the Crown Prince care about this? I thought you didn’t care at all.” 

Before Xie Chaoling could respond, he continued, “I forgot. I didn’t listen carefully when Father was talking. It seems like it’s a daughter from some noble family.” 

Xie Chaoyuan seemed to not care at all about his own wedding, and Xie Chaoling didn’t bring it up either. He didn’t seem to have any position to ask about it. 

Xie Chaoyuan still leaned against his desk, absentmindedly playing with the paperweight in his hand. “The Crown Prince saw how King Huai Consort was today. Clearly she was wronged. I heard that King Huai didn’t even enter the bridal chamber last night, leaving King Huai Consort sitting alone until dawn. In my opinion, it’s really unkind of the Fourth Prince to do that. If he didn’t want to marry her, he should have just killed her. What do you think, Crown Prince?”

“No,” Xie Chaoling said , “The affairs of King Huai have nothing to do with myself, nor with you, you just take care of yourself.”

Xie Chaoyuan looked slightly cold, watching Xie Chaoling not move.

Xie Chaoling turned his eyes away and stood up: “Let’s go, play chess with myself inside.”

After that, Xie Chaoyuan stayed in the East Palace, playing chess and drinking tea with Xie Chaoling, killing half the afternoon.

In the evening, Xie Chaoling ordered the servants to prepare dinner, and wine was also served. Xie Chaoyuan didn’t say anything and sat down to drink and eat with Xie Chaoling. 

They dismissed everyone from the palace and were left alone to drink cup after cup of strong wine. Xie Chaoling got drunk again. After the third pot of wine was empty, he leaned on his hand, his face flushed, and looked at Xie Chaoyuan with blurred eyes. 

Xie Chaoyuan leaned in and lightly stroked his cheek, lowering his voice. “Brother, you’re drunk.” 

Xie Chaoling shook his head slightly, pointing his finger at Xie Chaoyuan’s chest, and slurred, “You’re a b*stard.” 

Xie Chaoyuan asked him, “Why are you cursing me, Crown Prince?” 

“Shouldn’t I curse you?”

Xie Chaoling’s voice became increasingly sticky and unclear, like murmurs: “Do you think I can be like you and not care about anything? I am the crown prince, the heir. I also want to be as carefree as you, but I can’t. Do you think I can just give up the position of the crown prince if I want to? If I do, do you know how many people will suffer and die because of me? …You b*stard, you say you love me, but you don’t understand me at all.”

Xie Chaoyuan grabbed his hand, and said again: “Brother is drunk.”

Xie Chaoling planted his head on Xie Chaoyuan’s shoulder, closed his eyes reluctantly, and did not move anymore.

Xie Chaoyuan wrapped his arms around his waist, and said in his ear: “Before we left the palace, I had someone drive an empty carriage out of the palace.” 

Xie Chaoling understood his meaning. The guards at the palace gates wouldn’t thoroughly check someone with Xie Chaoyuan’s status entering or leaving the palace. When they saw his carriage leaving, they would assume he had already left the palace and returned home. 

Xie Chaoling sneered, “Is that why I asked you to come to the Eastern Palace?” 

“Isn’t it?” Xie Chaoyuan bent down and lifted him up. 

Falling into the bedding, Xie Chaoling’s black hair scattered down, half-covered in a rosy haze. His eyes were clear and drunk, staring blankly at the person in front of him. 

He grabbed Xie Chaoyuan’s shirt and pulled him closer, kissing him on the lips. Xie Chaoyuan asked him, “Are you pitying me?” 

Xie Chaoling closed and then opened his eyes, “No.” 

A passionate kiss was planted. 

Red marks were quickly bitten and pinched on his fair skin. Xie Chaoyuan was never gentle at times like this, but Xie Chaoling liked it. Although he was initially deceived and forced by this little beast, he knew better than anyone that no one could force him anymore. Xie Chaoyuan was right. He had grown to enjoy it, not only his body but also his bewitched heart. 

His already fragmented thoughts were quickly scattered. Xie Chaoling closed his eyes and couldn’t make any more coherent sounds. He was imprisoned in Xie Chaoyuan’s arms, surrounded by his breath. 

He felt that this was the real him. 

After fourth watch, Xie Chaoling fell into a deep sleep after another indulgence from alcohol. Xie Chaoyuan opened his eyes in the darkness, let go of him, got up, and walked outside. 

He picked up a letter that Xie Chaoling had left on the table during the day and quickly read it. It was a personal letter from Xie Chaoling to the commander of Dongshan Ying, Xu Shan, instructing him on some matters.

After a moment of contemplation with lowered eyes, Xie Chaoyuan picked up his pen and imitated Xie Chaoling’s handwriting, writing another identical letter in just half a moment. He folded it and placed it in an envelope. He then took the imperial seal of the Crown Prince from the table and stamped it on the letter written by Xie Chaoling. He folded the paper neatly and put it in his inner pocket.

When he first started studying, he could not always write well. Xie Chaoling taught him how to write. Later, he collected many copybooks that Xie Chaoling practiced casually, and copied them again and again. He could write with Xie Chaoling’s handwriting with his eyes closed. 

Going back inside, Xie Chaoling was still sleeping soundly. Xie Chaoyuan laid down on the bed, hugged him from behind, and gently closed his eyes.

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