Thousand Miles of Heaven Chapter 66

Ch 66 “He’s also from Xirong.

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At the end of September, an urgent military report from the northwest was submitted to the capital, stating that Xirong had amassed 80,000 troops and launched a large-scale surprise attack on several fortress passing along the northwest border, causing a sensation throughout the court.

The Xirong army was well prepared and had a precise understanding of the military deployment of the Northwest Army in various places. Within two days, they successively captured two border cities and one pass. Upon reading the military report, Emperor Qianming, who was still recovering from illness, was so angry that he spat out blood.

“The military report stated that a few days before the incident, they had received two anonymous letters without signatures, one of which came from Xirong. The letter warned them that Xirong had obtained the deployment map of the Northwest Army’s stationed troops and would soon launch an attack on the major fortresses in the northwest. At that time, the generals in the army were skeptical and argued fiercely. Fortunately, it was King Xing who advised them to take precautions and change the deployment early at several of the most important passes to be prepared for any eventuality, which prevented even more serious consequences.”

Liao Zhi quietly reported the news that had just arrived, and with each sentence, the expression on Xie Chaoling’s face grew colder.

Xie Chaoyuan had previously said that he only had the old deployment map in his hands, but Xirong had obtained the latest map… What exactly happened in between?

Once again, Xie Chaoyuan was summoned to the Eastern Palace, this time entering through a side door.

When entering the room, Xie Chaoling was standing by the window, staring at the little yellow bird pecking at food in its cage below. Xie Chaoyuan approached and played with the bird using a bird toy for a while before laughing at Xie Chaoling, “The Crown Prince seems to be in a bad mood.”

“Do you think I should be in a good mood?” Xie Chaoling turned to him, his eyes filled with coldness.

Xie Chaoyuan thought for a moment and understood, “Did the Crown Prince hear about what happened outside? Since His Majesty has already instructed you not to interfere with court affairs, why bother with such trivial matters? It’s just a few insignificant cities and fortresses lost, what’s the big deal?”

“The Northwestern army’s defense map, you gave it to those Xirong people,” Xie Chaoling stared at him, his eyes fixed, “Did you give them the old map or the new one?”

Xie Chaoyuan raised an eyebrow, “Do you mean to say that you suspect I gave them the real Northwestern defense map?”

“Isn’t it?”

Xie Chaoyuan sneered, “If the Crown Prince has already decided, what else is there to say? If you have evidence, go to His Majesty and accuse me.”

Xie Chaoling frowned, “Yes or no, I just want you to tell me the truth.”

“What if it is? What if it’s not?” Xie Chaoyuan leaned closer to his ear, “I’m not going to tell you.”

Xie Chaoling forced himself to control his anger, “What’s the point of you doing this?”

“When did the Crown Prince become so easily angered? What’s the point of being so grumpy all the time?”

“Are you sick or something?” said Xie Chaoling bluntly.

Xie Chaoyuan nodded, “Maybe. It depends on whether Crown Prince Brother is willing to cure me.”

Xie Chaoling lost his interest in talking. He must be sick to not give up and call this person to ask.

As he turned around, Xie Chaoyuan grabbed his arm and pulled him back. Caught off guard, Xie Chaoling fell into Xie Chaoyuan’s arms. Then Xie Chaoyuan wrapped his arms around Xie Chaoling’s waist, and Xie Chaoling’s brow furrowed in annoyance, “What are you trying to do?”

Xie Chaoyuan chuckled softly, “Are you really angry?”

Xie Chaoling straightened his body and looked stern, “I’ll ask you one last time, did you do it or not?”

“I didn’t,” Xie Chaoyuan replied.

Xie Chaoyuan’s smile faded, “I really didn’t.”

Xie Chaoling looked at him, trying to discern the truth from his expression. But Xie Chaoyuan was just as good at pretending as Xie Chaoling, he was exhausted from playing along, “Do you know anything? Can you tell me?”

“I can’t,” Xie Chaoyuan reached out to stroke his temple, “As long as the Crown Prince knows that the real blueprint wasn’t given by me, that’s enough. I don’t want to harm the Crown Prince’s bright future.”

“But you did know early on that someone had given them the real blueprints, why didn’t you stop it?”

Xie Chaoyuan sneered, “I only found out after the blueprints were sent. How could I have stopped it? Someone had already warned the Northwestern Army, did they believe it? They argued for three or four days about whether the matter was true or false and whether they should change their defense earlier, delaying their timing. Who can they blame for that?”

Xie Chaoling was speechless, this was not entirely untrue. The Northwestern Army was much stronger when it was under the control of his grandfather, but after the disastrous battle ten years ago, it had become like loose sand, with everyone disputing with each other. Xie Chaohui had some ability, but as a young prince, he did not have much weight. Moreover, there were several commanders and deputy commanders above him, and his ability to act was limited. If it wasn’t for the domestic situation in Xirong not being stable and the internal conflicts, so they had little spare energy to invade the northwest border, the situation there would probably have been worse now.

“…So you still won’t tell me who the traitor is, the one who gave the real blueprints to the Xirong people?”

Xie Chaoyuan didn’t care, “The Crown Prince will know in the future.”

Unable to pry his mouth open, Xie Chaoling didn’t want to anger himself, so he had to give up. “What about the two anonymous letters received by the Northwestern Army? Was one of them written by you?”

Xie Chaoyuan didn’t deny it and instead asked, “If I knew about it and did nothing, watching the Xirong army defeat the Northwestern Army, even invading the hinterland of Daliang, would the Crown Prince still forgive me for the sake of our old relationship?”

He wouldn’t. Xie Chaoling’s bottom line was not even himself, it was Daliang. Xie Chaoyuan did not care who won or lost between the people of Daliang and the Xirong people. The life and death of others was never within his consideration, but it mattered to Xie Chaoling.

He may be able to calculate on Xie Chaoling, but he cannot calculate the country. Even if he really knew and did not report it, even if the actual plans were not handed over by him, Xie Chaoling would never tolerate him again.

Xie Chaoling slightly relaxed the tight frown on his face and spoke in a softer tone, “If it wasn’t you who did it, then forget about it.”

Xie Chaoyuan saw this and laughed, “It seems like the Crown Prince has let out a sigh of relief.”

Xie Chaoling shook his head and did not say anything more, sitting back on the couch. He still felt that something was not right about this matter, but he could not ask Xie Chaoyuan any more questions for the time being, and could only let it go.

It was raining outside and it was gradually getting heavier. Little Huang was still jumping around on the bird perch, and the only sound in the hall was its chirping mixed with the sound of rain hitting the bluestone outside.

Xie Chaoyuan leaned against the window and quietly watched Xie Chaoling sitting on the couch with closed eyes and a tired expression.

Being the Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace was not as carefree as being outside, he thought. Being the heir to the Eastern Palace was really not that interesting.

Fortunately, it was almost over.

Xie Chaoyuan’s breath approached, and Xie Chaoling’s eyelashes twitched.

His fingers slowly rubbed the corners of Xie Chaoling’s eyes, and Xie Chaoyuan whispered softly, “The Crown Prince always worries too much. Why not live more freely?”

Xie Chaoling opened his eyes and glanced over, with a hint of mocking laughter in his eyes, “Just like you, carefree and without a care in the world?”

“What’s wrong with that?”

It’s not good at all.

Xie Chaoling raised his hand and patted his face: “Between you and me, one of us has to work hard. I am the heir to the throne and your elder brother. I am willing to take on more responsibilities. You just need to stop being so willful and stop trying to cause trouble for me. Then I can naturally feel more relaxed.”

Their eyes met and Xie Chaoyuan didn’t say a word. He grabbed Xie Chaoling’s hand, lowered his head, and kissed each finger one by one before pulling him into his arms.

That afternoon, Xie Chaoling received a private letter from Xie Chaohui in the northwest.

Xie Chaohui wrote about many details that were not reported in the military reports, especially about the two anonymous letters. The blueprints were stolen from the DaLiang court, and it was not strange that someone in the court knew in advance and warned the northwest army. The other letter from Xirong was even more intriguing. The letter did not come from their spies sent to Xirong, but seemed to be written by someone within Xirong who had access to important military intelligence and was helping them.

Xie Chaohui said in the letter that he would send people to investigate this matter, and perhaps the other party would contact them again later.

Xie Chaoling pressed the letter and pondered over it.

King Ke’s Mansion.

On the desk was a drawing that Xie Chaoling had casually drawn in the past when he was in a good mood. Xie Chaoyuan was smiling in the drawing, but his expression at the moment, sitting in front of the desk, was cold.

After a while, Xie Chaoyuan rolled up the painting and said lightly, “Let’s put this away too, and bring it with us later.”

Wang Rang asked him in a low voice, “Your Highness… Are you really going to do this?”

Xie Chaoyuan leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “Mm.”

Wang Rang wanted to dissuade him but didn’t dare to, so he changed the subject. “The Second Prince has secretly sent a letter out of the mansion and made contact with Chang Ke. Something is bound to happen.”

Xie Chaoyuan casually responded with a “Mmm.”

The bigger the trouble, the better. Only when there is chaos in the capital can he take the opportunity to take the person away.

A few days later, during a routine patrol by the guards in the outer city, several suspicious individuals were found in an inconspicuous civilian house. They were taken back for questioning, and it turned out that they were all spies from Xirong, disguised as local residents of Da Liang and had been lurking in the capital for an unknown amount of time.

The incident was immediately reported to the court, and those Xirong spies were handed over to the Ministry of Justice for interrogation. Two days later, officials from the Ministry of Justice were dragged into the palace, presenting the results of the interrogation to Emperor Qianming.

That day, Li Huan, who was still working in the Ministry of War, was brought to the Ministry of Justice for questioning.

In the dungeon of the Ministry of Justice, Li Huan curled up in a pile of damp and smelly straw, trembling all over. Although the interrogators had not yet tortured him, he knew that his life was as good as over.

The Xirong spies were subjected to all kinds of cruel torture, but they still stubbornly claimed that the person they were looking for was the current Crown Prince. Finally, they obtained the blueprint of the Northwest garrison defense from Li Huan, which he had stolen from the Ministry of War.

Li Huan was so furious that he gritted his teeth. He blamed Xie Chaoqi for his misfortune. He wanted to hide behind him to deal with others, however, Xie Chaoqi kicked him out and did not care about his loyalty and surrender. Now, no one would believe him whether he tried to flatter Xie Chaoqi or Xie Chaoyuan. Li Huan was thrown into Dali Temple prison. He knew that the Ministry of War had already found irrefutable evidence that he had stolen the design drawings. Even if there was no evidence, those people in the Ministry of War would surely fabricate it to frame him, to escape from punishment. He couldn’t just die like this!

Li Huan struggled to get up, but soon someone came to drag him out for further interrogation. This time, he saw the room filled with all kinds of torture instruments.

The whip soaked in salt water was whipped on his chest, and his skin cracked open. His eyelids drooped, and he squeezed out a hoarse voice, “I confess, I confess…”

“I didn’t know those were Western barbarians. The Crown Prince never told me. He just asked me to steal the design drawings and deliver them to a designated place. I didn’t know what he was planning to do. I dared not defy the Crown Prince’s orders and could only follow his instructions. It was all the Crown Prince’s orders…”

Even if he had to die, he had to drag someone down with him. He traded his wholehearted loyalty for that person’s heartlessness and betrayal. He was not willing to accept this! With the Crown Prince accompanying him, he would not be lonely on the journey to the underworld. Haha, haha!

Li Huan’s confession was presented to the Emperor on that day. Emperor Qianming leaned on the imperial case, watching the confession with a fluctuating heart and a sense of anger.

Xie Fengzhen immediately noticed the situation and ordered someone to support the Emperor, reminding him in a deep voice, “Your Majesty, there is suspicion in this matter. This brother does not believe that the Crown Prince would do such a thing, nor does he have any reason to do so. It is better to investigate the matter thoroughly. We cannot just accuse the Crown Prince of the crime based on a few random confessions… Treason and collaborating with the enemy, this charge is too serious.”

Emperor Qianming was furious: “I used to not believe that he would become involved in military power and form factions for personal gain, but he did! How is it impossible for him to commit treason today? If it were just the testimony of those Western Barbarians, I wouldn’t believe it, but what about Li Huan? Even someone from the Li family is willing to risk his life to accuse him, isn’t that enough evidence?!”

Xie Fengzhen struggled to kneel down from his wheelchair and pleaded with the Emperor: “Your Majesty, please allow me to say a word. There is indeed something suspicious about this matter. At least, give the Crown Prince a chance to defend himself in person.”

“There is one thing that I have been too afraid to tell you before, Your Majesty. King Ke’s background is questionable. I accidentally discovered before that his birth mother was already pregnant with him before entering the capital. He is not of dragon seed and not your son, Your Majesty. I was afraid of getting into trouble, so I didn’t dare to say it, but with the current situation, I can’t hide it any longer.”

“King Ke does not behave as innocently as he appears. He should have known his own background. His birth father is a Xirong person, and he himself is also a Xirong person. He is the one most likely to commit treason!”

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