Thousand Miles of Heaven Chapter 63

Ch 63 “Either the Crown Prince kills me, or there will be a next time.”

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Xie Chaoling galloped all the way back towards the direction of the capital. He only stopped when he was close to the city gate and pulled out the bloodstained short knife, feeling his own rapidly beating heart, and moved it a few inches up.

During his time in King Ke’s mansion, he had read several medical books in his spare time and knew roughly how to avoid vital organs. So he gritted his teeth, no longer hesitating, and stabbed half of the knife head in before pulling it out.

The blood that spurted out instantly stained his clothes red. Xie Chaoling endured the pain and bit his teeth, putting the knife back into his sleeve and urging his horse towards the city gate.

In the end, he collapsed with his horse in front of the city gate. Soon, some soldiers heard the sound and came to check. Xie Chaoling covered his bleeding wound, struggling to say, “I am the Crown Prince. I encountered an assassination attempt by officials on the mountain road. Call Xiao Yanji to come.”

After finishing his words, his eyelids drooped and he lost consciousness.

When he woke up half an hour later, Xie Chaoling opened his eyes in a daze. His body ached terribly when he moved. He saw a group of people surrounding him, and someone softly shouted, “The Crown Prince has woken up.” Immediately, a royal physician came forward.

“The Crown Prince’s wound is not deep, although there was a lot of bleeding. Fortunately, it did not harm any vital organs and was treated in time. He should take the internal medicine later and rest for some time, and he will be safe,” said the physician.

As the physician spoke, Xie Chaoling gradually became more conscious. Most of the people around him were strangers, and the leader was King Xiao, Xiao Yanji, who had been appointed by Emperor Qianming to lead the outer city defense.

He happened to be patrolling nearby with his troops and rushed over immediately after receiving the report from his subordinates.

Xiao Yanji and his men knelt down to apologize, and Xie Chaoling coughed and asked them, “Where am I?”

“Your Highness, this is a capital Army bureau near the East City Gate. You fainted by the city gate just now, and we dared not move you without permission, so we brought you here. We also sent for a doctor and sent someone to the palace to deliver the message. My subordinates also took people and went out of the city in the direction you came from to catch the assassin.”

Xie Chaoling closed his eyes and said, “The assassin who attacked me was from Dongshan Ying. There were several hundred of them, all wearing the uniform of the Dongshan Ying. The Imperial Army, under the command of General He, was escorting me to Jizhou. We were ambushed by them on the way, and it was not easy for me to escape.”

Xiao Yanji was shocked to hear this. He had thought the soldiers below were mistaken when they reported that the prince had been attacked by soldiers, but he did not expect it to be true. The soldiers of the Dongshan Ying were so bold as to openly attack the crown prince and the Imperial Army? “Please inform the Emperor in Jizhou of this matter as soon as possible, and do not let the news leak out before His Majesty’s decision,” Xie Chaoling said wearily.

“I will take care of it immediately! Your Highness, don’t worry. There are few people coming in and out of the East Gate, and I will keep my subordinates’ mouths shut so that they won’t spread the news!” 

This was a major matter, and Xiao Yanji knew that time was of the essence. He immediately went to work, not only to report the incident to the Emperor in Jizhou but also to declare martial law in the capital.

As it was inconvenient to return to the palace, Xie Chaoling rested in the bureau. 

An hour later, Liao Zhi, the eunuch in charge of the East Palace, hurriedly arrived with his men. He was a shrewd man and had disguised himself to avoid attracting attention. Xie Chaoling relaxed only when he saw that all of them were his people. However, his wound still hurt badly. He had overestimated his own abilities, and the stab was something he had never experienced before.

Thinking of Xie Chaoyuan, who had also been wounded by him, Xie Chaoling felt even worse. Everything that had happened today was all because of Xie Chaoyuan. The boy had done enough to deserve to die hundreds of times, yet he still missed him.

In the evening, Xiao Yanji came again to report to Xie Chaoling about the situation outside. He had already sent someone to urgently deliver the message to Jizhou, and their people had searched all the way out of the city and indeed found a scene of a fierce battle with corpses scattered all over the mountain road near Dongshan Ying. Commander He was not among them, and it was unclear whether he had been kidnapped or had fled to Jizhou for his life. As for whether the soldiers who assassinated them were from Dongshan Ying, they could not be sure as there were no survivors at the scene and no corpses were found.

Xie Chaoling didn’t want to dwell on this for the time being. “There must still be survivors who have escaped from the Imperial Army. Have someone watch those who have returned to the city these past few days. We will determine whether this was done by Dongshan Ying or not. Before the emperor returns, you should focus on your duties to prevent anyone from taking advantage of the situation to cause chaos.”

After sending away Xiao Yanji, Xie Chaoling only ate half a bowl of porridge before lying down again. He did not wake up again afterwards.

In the middle of the night, he became feverish and delirious. Liao Zhi stayed up to watch over him and saw that his brows were furrowed tightly and his face was abnormally red. He anxiously called out to him, “Your Highness, Your Highness?”

Xie Chaoling opened his eyes with a cold sweat on his forehead.

“Your Highness, are you okay?”

Liao Zhi asked someone to call the imperial physician, but Xie Chaoling stopped him. The physician had already warned him earlier in the afternoon that he might have a fever at night, so there was no need to call him now.

Turning over, he looked up at the dark ceiling above him, speechless.

The dream that had just happened continued to linger in his mind. In the dream, Xie Chaoyuan kept looking at him with a disappointed and sad expression, asking him over and over again, “What am I to you?” The pain in his chest was already severe, but now it felt like a lump in his throat, making Xie Chaoling feel extremely uncomfortable.

“…Go ask Xiao Shizi to check whether King Ke returned to the city during the day,” he said.

Liao Zhi took the order and came back to report after two quarters of an hour, “We have checked the records of several city gates, and King Ke did not return today.”

Upon hearing this, Xie Chaoling frowned tightly. Where could Xie Chaoyuan have gone if he didn’t come back? His estate was very far from the eastern mountain area. He might not even make it back before dark, and he had a knife wound on his shoulder. If it was not treated promptly in this hot weather…

“…Your Highness, Your Highness?”

Seeing that Xie Chaoling’s expression was off, Liao Zhi quickly called out to him again. Xie Chaoling came back to his senses, shook his head reluctantly, and hoarsely instructed, “Arrange for someone to go to King Ke’s Mansion tomorrow morning. If you see him return, come and tell me immediately.”

When Xie Chaoyuan and his men returned to the estate, it was already past midnight.

They had kept a physician at King Ke’s Mansion specifically for this occasion, and he was called over to examine Xie Chaoyuan’s wound. After receiving a simple bandage, Xie Chaoyuan had ridden back on horseback for four or five hours in the hot weather. By the time he arrived, the wound had begun to fester and pus.

The physician was horrified at the sight. “Your Highness, this wound of yours, the pus-filled and rotten flesh must be removed first, otherwise, otherwise…”

Wang Rang’s face was extremely grim. It went without saying what would happen otherwise. If it was not handled in time, there was a risk to his life, but to remove the flesh…

“Is there any painkiller available?” 

“There is, but I don’t have any on me right now. I need to go up the mountain and collect some herbs to grind into a powder after daybreak. But Your Highness’s wound can’t wait. It must be dealt with now.”

“Let’s proceed with the treatment,” said Xie Chaoyuan with an emotionless face.

The doctor quickly prepared, soaking the flesh-cutting knife in alcohol and heating it with fire before carefully approaching Xie Chaoyuan’s wound.

The area was already a bloody mess, with necrotic tissue and pus flowing out of the wound. Wang Rang’s eyes turned red as he watched, “Your Highness, this is just too much…”

“Enough,” Xie Chaoyuan interrupted him coldly.

“Your Highness, please bear with it.”

After the doctor finished speaking, he decisively began to cut into the wound.

Xie Chaoyuan’s brow furrowed slightly, but he remained calm and didn’t even grunt.

Wang Rang held a cloth to wipe away the cold sweat that kept appearing on Xie Chaoyuan’s forehead. It took nearly two quarters of an hour, during which the doctor was sweating profusely, before finally removing all the necrotic tissue. After carefully applying medicine and dressing the wound, Wang Rang anxiously asked, “Is this okay? Are you sure there won’t be any problems?”

“The medicine needs to be changed every two hours, and someone must keep a close eye on the wound throughout the night. The patient cannot develop a high fever. I will go and prepare some internal medicine for the prince to drink. If we can get through the next two days, the wound should heal properly.”

After the person left, Xie Chaoyuan closed his eyes and instructed Wang Rang, “Tomorrow, you and a few people will accompany me back to the capital, while the others will stay at the estate until the situation calms down.”

Wang Rang worriedly asked, “Your Highness, if the Crown Prince and the Emperor accuse you of today’s incident, how will you handle it?”

Xie Chaoyuan sneered, “Does the Crown Prince have so few handles on me? If he wants to accuse me, let him do it, I don’t care.”

Wang Rang hesitated to speak his mind. His Highness was never one to listen to advice, and it was even less likely in this situation with the Crown Prince involved.

The next morning, as soon as the sun rose, Xie Chaoyuan returned to the city with a few trusted eunuchs. Upon entering the outer city, he noticed that the atmosphere was unusual. The streets were filled with patrolling soldiers, and it was not as lively as usual.

When they entered the city, they were stopped by a vice-commander of the Jingwei Army who was inspecting the soldiers near the city gate. After a few questions, Xie Chaoyuan explained that they had just returned from the villa outside the city. He casually asked, “Why are there not many people on the street today? Did something happen?”

The other party did not say much, only mentioning that it was a routine patrol and allowed them to pass.

After returning home, they soon inquired about the news. The outer city had been under martial law since yesterday afternoon, and people were not allowed to enter or leave easily. It seemed that something big had happened.

“The inner city is still the same, but it is affected by the outside. There are all kinds of speculations. What happened in Dongshan cannot be kept secret. Those who should know must have known. However, the ostentatious display of the outer city soldiers is somewhat unexpected. I heard that King Xiao also sent soldiers out of the city yesterday,” Wang Rang whispered to report the news from outside.

Xie Chaoyuan listened calmly and asked, “What about the Crown Prince? Has he returned?”

“He should have returned. I heard that he came back to the palace quietly this morning, and it’s a bit strange,” Wang Rang replied.

Xie Chaoyuan did not say much and leaned on the couch with closed eyes. Wang Rang asked in a low voice, “Your Highness, do you want to call the imperial physician again to check your injuries?”

“No need,” Xie Chaoyuan replied lightly. “You can go down.”

Indeed, Xie Chaoyuan had returned to the palace as soon as the sun rose. His wounds still hurt, but the Jingwei Army was not a suitable place for him to stay for a long time. It was better to return home early. On the other hand, Emperor Qianming should have sent a decree by tomorrow at the latest.

After noon, news came from outside that Xie Chaoyuan had returned to the mansion. Xie Chaoling’s furrowed brows finally relaxed a bit upon hearing that Xie Chaoyuan had not called for a physician to the mansion. But upon hearing this, Xie Chaoling couldn’t help but tense up again.

Liao Zhi spoke at the right time: “The various medicines in the Imperial Medical Institute have a fixed amount and need to be registered upon usage. The Duke of Ke is probably afraid of being suspected during this critical moment.”

However, medicines that can be bought in the market are never as good as those in the Imperial Medical Institute.

Xie Chaoling’s heart and mind were uneasy. He instructed, “Send someone to the Imperial Medical Institute to take half of the medicine prescribed for me and deliver it to the Duke of Ke’s mansion. Also, inquire about the Duke of Ke’s injuries, and pass by inconspicuously, avoiding being seen by anyone at the main gate of the mansion.”

No matter how angry and resentful he was towards Xie Chaoyuan’s actions, he couldn’t bring himself to be too cruel.

As the eunuch sent to deliver the medicine was about to leave, Xie Chaoling called him back again. After some hesitation, he said, “Pass on a message to the Duke of Ke for me. This is the last time. I won’t pursue what he did. Let him take good care of himself and not be willful anymore.”

Xie Chaoyuan had been in a deep sleep since returning to the mansion and only woke up in the evening. When the eunuchs from the Eastern Palace came with the medicine, he was still lying on the bed with his eyes closed, as if he didn’t care about what they brought.

Seeing that Xie Chaoyuan didn’t respond, the eunuch from the Eastern Palace had to say again, “The Crown Prince has something else to convey to you, Your Highness.”

Afternoon passed, and news came from outside that Xie Chaoyuan had returned to the mansion. Xie Chaoling’s frown, which had been knitted all along, finally eased a little when he heard that Xie Chaoyuan hadn’t called for a doctor to come to the mansion. But then his expression tightened again when he heard that the medicines available to the public were not as good as those in the imperial hospital.

Liao Zhi said at the right time, “All the medicines in the imperial hospital have fixed quantities, and their use has to be registered. King Ke is probably afraid of being suspected at this critical moment.”

But medicines available to the public were always inferior to those in the imperial hospital. Xie Chaoling was still uneasy and instructed, “Send someone to get half of the medicine prescribed for me from the imperial hospital and deliver it to King Ke’s mansion. Also, ask King Ke how his injuries are, and go quietly, don’t go through the front gate of the mansion and be seen by others.”

No matter how angry and resentful Xie Chaoyuan’s actions made him, Xie Chaoling still could not bear to be too harsh. Just as the servant who was sent to deliver the medicine was about to leave, Xie Chaoling called him back and, after hesitating for a while, said, “Tell King Ke on my behalf that this is the last time. I won’t pursue what he has done. Let him recuperate well, take care of himself, and not be willful anymore.”

Xie Chaoyuan had been in a coma since he returned to the mansion and only woke up in the evening. When the people from the Eastern Palace came to deliver something, he was still lying on the bed, resting his eyes.

“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince has ordered us to bring you some medicine, both for internal and external use. His Royal Highness also asked how your injuries are.”

The eunuch who came from the Eastern Palace whispered, then presented the medicine box with both hands. Xie Chaoyuan still kept his eyes closed, neither moving nor speaking, as if he didn’t care about what the Eastern Palace had sent.

Seeing Xie Chaoyuan’s lack of response, the eunuch from the Eastern Palace had to say again, “His Royal Highness the Crown Prince also has something to tell you.”

Xie Chaoyuan finally opened his eyes, and his expression became colder as the eunuch finished speaking. “Why did the Eastern Palace send someone to deliver the medicine secretly? Are they afraid of being seen? If His Royal Highness wants to send me medicine, let him come in person. If he wants to know the extent of my injuries, let him come and see for himself.”

The eunuch from the Eastern Palace’s face changed. “Your Highness, you…”

Before he could finish speaking, Xie Chaoyuan interrupted him. “Please show the guest out.”

Before sending the man away, Xie Chaoyuan also had a message conveyed to Xie Chaoling: “Either the Crown Prince kills me, or there will be a next time.”

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