Thousand Miles of Heaven Chapter 67

Ch 67 “Before I die, I want to see him one last time.”

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Eastern Palace.

After listening in silence to the report from his subordinates about the situation outside, Xie Chaoling remained stunned for a while. It was only when Liao Zhi called out to him that he seemed to come back to his senses and said, “I understand.”

Ever since Li Huan was taken into custody by the Dali Temple two days ago, things had been sliding out of control. Xie Chaoling’s bad premonition had now become a reality.

“Your Highness, what should we do now? Those Xirong People slandering Your Highness could be ignored, but how could Lord Li do this? He’s trying to kill you!” Liao Zhi was both angry and anxious. In contrast, Xie Chaoling had barely changed his expression and seemed much calmer.

After a long while, he finally spoke up and asked, “Has there been any edict from Royal Father yet? This matter is so serious, we cannot be convicted based solely on the testimony of a few people, right?”

“The people who went to inquire at the Emperor’s Palace haven’t returned yet, Your Highness, even if His Majesty believes in you, once this matter is made public, those who already disliked you will not let you off the hook. Rumors can spread like wildfire, and your reputation will be completely ruined. What will you do in the future?” Liao Zhi said anxiously.

Xie Chaoling shook his head and said nothing more. The current situation was uncertain, let alone the future.

Two quarters of an hour later, an imperial edict arrived from the Emperor, commanding Xie Chaoling to go to the Imperial Palace immediately.

Xie Chaoling stood up and said he needed to change his clothes. The eunuch who came to deliver the edict was somewhat polite and reminded him to hurry up before waiting outside.

The person who was sent by the Eastern Palace to gather information returned and whispered, “King Ding is also at the Emperor’s side. He secretly sent someone to pass on a message to Your Highness, saying that no matter who did it, the blame can only be pushed onto King Ke. He has already told the Emperor about King Ke’s background, and the Emperor has ordered the Palace Eunuch to investigate privately. Before the truth is uncovered, the Emperor will order King Ke to be put under house arrest. King Ding also reminded Your Highness not to get involved in King Ke’s affairs and to protect yourself.”

Upon hearing this, Liao Zhi quickly reminded Xie Chaoling, “Your Highness, you should listen to King Ding. There’s nothing else we can do now. When you go before the Emperor, follow what King Ding said and blame everything on King Ke. Your life is the most important thing.”

Xie Chaoling closed his eyes and said in a low voice, “Let’s go.”

In the imperial study, Emperor Qianming’s expression was extremely gloomy. While he was angry at the state affairs and even the possibility of the Crown Prince betraying the country, it was not as intense as the news that his son, who he had raised for more than ten years, might be a b*stard. This strange shame and humiliation not only embarrassed him, but also made him have the urge to kill for the first time.

If it weren’t for Xie Fengzhen’s continuous persuasion, he would have already sent someone to the King Ke’s mansion to arrest him.

When Xie Chaoling came in, he first greeted the emperor respectfully. Emperor Qianming, who had barely suppressed his anger, still spoke unkindly, tossing the confessions at Xie Chaoling to read by himself.

After reading it, Xie Chaoling knelt down and calmly explained, “I didn’t do it. I don’t know or have ever met those Xirong People. Li Huan has had grievances with me for a long time since he went to work at the Ministry of War, and we haven’t been in contact. I wouldn’t have asked him to do something like this. Moreover, there’s no benefit for me to do something like this. As the Crown Prince of Da Liang, what reason do I have to betray my country?”

He remained calm and composed, without any panic or confusion. He looked at the expressions of the witnesses as if they were presenting something absurd, rather than pretending. Emperor Qianming suppressed his anger and asked him, “So, why did Li Huan do this? Why did he slander you? Did he have any grievances against you for any reason?”

Xie Chaoling lowered his voice and eyes, “At that time, Li Huan was not captured by bandits and had his ears, fingers, and toes cut off. It was intentionally fabricated by me to intervene in the incident at Dongshan Ying, giving Dongshan Ying an excuse to send troops to suppress the bandits and eradicate dissidents. I did it, and I dare not deceive my father any longer.”

“Li Huan…in fact, he was taken away by King Ke. Because of his personal grudge against Li Huan, King Ke did such a thing to vent his anger. I wanted to take advantage of this and pressed Li Huan not to seek justice, and he hated me for it.”

“You–!” Emperor Qianming was furious. “How could you act so recklessly? When did you become so daring? Do you still remember your identity when you did these things? Do you still see me as your emperor?”

“I was wrong, I really know my mistake,” Xie Chaoling did not dare to argue. “This matter was indeed caused by me. I was foolish and didn’t expect the serious consequences that would arise. But about colluding with the enemy, I am really wronged. Even if I have a thousand or ten thousand guts, I will never collude with the enemy and betray my country. Please believe me, Father!”

“You don’t dare?! When you did those things before, how could you be so daring?!”

Emperor Qianming almost fainted from anger. Because of a personal grudge, one by one his officials had gone crazy and caused such a huge incident. Where did these people put him, the emperor?

No matter how much the emperor scolded, Xie Chaoling kept kowtowing and apologizing. But he insisted that he had nothing to do with the act of treason. Emperor Qianming was so angry that he felt dizzy, “I don’t want to see you now. Go back to the Eastern Palace and reflect on yourself!”

Xie Chaoling wanted to say something, but Xie Fengzhen gestured to him with his eyes, indicating that he should go back first.

He could only get up and leave.

Emperor Qianming was still very angry. Xie Fengzhen reminded him in a timely manner, “Your Majesty, no matter what, the upcoming sacrifice is the most important thing. Let’s deal with other matters after that.”

The sacrifice was on the autumnal equinox, and the emperor had to personally perform the ritual to worship the moon. Even if something big happened in court, it had to wait until after the sacrifice.

Emperor Qianming pressed hard on the imperial desk with anger and ordered, “Tell the Inner Court to quickly investigate the identity of King Ke and report back. Send someone to tell King Ke to stay at home and not go out freely during this time. As for the Ministry of Justice, let them re-examine Li’s family and those Xirong People, and find out what they have done and who they have met during this time. If there is any suspicion, report it to me.”

On that day, the news of the Crown Prince’s act of treason spread throughout the court.

Xie Chaoling wrote furiously, disappointedly, and questioningly with his pen. Every word and sentence fell on the paper. When he finished, he suddenly stopped and stared blankly for a moment. Then he crumpled up the letter, threw it into the fire, and watched it burn.

“Your Highness, King Ding has arrived.”

Liao Zhi whispered, and he reluctantly pulled himself together and said, “Let him in.”

King Ding entered the room, and Xie Chaoling was still sitting at the desk in a daze. He straightened up slightly when he heard the footsteps, and spoke in a hoarse voice, “Why did Royal Uncle come here? Don’t bother with me at this point, so as not to be implicated.”

“Your father the Emperor allowed it, you don’t have to worry about that,” said King Ding, frowning.

“At this point, I won’t beat around the bush with you anymore. The matter has already spread outside, even if you are falsely accused, your reputation will be greatly damaged. You must make up your mind now and let King Ke take all the blame. Anyway, the Imperial Household Department will soon be able to uncover the truth of what happened in those years, and he is a dying man anyway.”

“After the Imperial Household Department uncovers the truth, what will happen to him?” Xie Chaoling asked in a low voice.

“Why ask knowingly?” King Ding lowered his voice. Everyone knew the severity of impersonating a royal prince. The Emperor would not make the matter widely known in order to save face, but Xie Chaoyuan was bound to die, and there was a good chance that the Emperor, in order to vent his anger, would not let him die too easily.

“After being accused of treason, the Emperor can openly dispose of him, he will definitely die, it just depends on how he will die,” said King Ding.

Xie Chaoling’s throat rolled. “Royal Uncle, one of the letters received by the Northwest Army was sent by him.”

“Is it really like that?” Xie Fengzhen was slightly surprised. “Then what about the defensive layout of the Northwestern Army’s garrison, who gave it to the Xirong People?”

Xie Chaoling shook his head. “He gave the Xirong People a useless map from several years ago to deceive them. After Li Huan stole the real map, he replaced it. He knew about it and wrote a letter to inform the Northwestern Army. As for who is behind Li Huan, he should know, but he refuses to say.”

Xie Fengzhen seemed to not have expected the situation to be like this. He frowned and reminded Xie Chaoling, “But those Xirong People identified you. Even if Li Huan deliberately pushed the blame onto you because he had a grudge against you, who can control those Xirong People? If King Ke knew about this early on and let the charge of treason and collusion with the enemy fall on you, isn’t he the one responsible? He was unjust from the beginning, so why should you be merciful?”

Xie Chaoling raised his slightly red eyes. “Uncle, I regret it. I really regret it. I shouldn’t have provoked him.”

“He was the one who provoked you, not the other way around. You don’t have to blame yourself,” Xie Fengzhen said.

“…It was I who gave him hope, that’s why he became more and more unscrupulous.”

Xie Chaoyuan was already a lunatic, but he refused to believe that and wanted to set things right. He indulged him repeatedly, and ultimately reaped what he sowed.

If he had been resolute from the beginning and drawn a clear line with him, perhaps Xie Chaoyuan would not have gone crazy to such an extent. It was his step-by-step concession that allowed the other person to become more and more unscrupulous, harming others and himself.

At this moment, Xie Chaoling truly tasted the feeling of being disillusioned. He was no longer willing to think about what Xie Chaoyuan wanted or pull him back. It was meaningless. It was better to stop here.

“Crown Prince, you can’t be soft-hearted anymore,” urged Xie Fengzhen, “Between you and him, one of you will have to die. You are the most innocent.”

Xie Chaoling self-deprecatingly smiled, “Do I still have the right to be soft-hearted?”

“As long as you know in your heart that things need to come to an end. The attacks against you will be more frequent than before, but as long as His Majesty believes you, everything else will be fine. As for King Ke’s side, don’t think about it anymore,” advised Xie Fengzhen.

“It’s just a pity for the Li family. Li Huan is also not a good person but the Li family’s generations of hard work were all for nothing,” Xie Fengzhen sighed, his expression particularly bleak.

Xie Chaoling said with difficulty, “The Li family’s contributions to the prosperity of Da Liang should not be erased because of one person. If you can see him, Uncle, please advise him to confess all he knows about the truth.”

After Xie Fengzhen left, Xie Chaoling sat alone until nightfall, lit a lamp, and summoned Liao Zhi to quietly explain the situation.

After hearing it, Liao Zhi hesitated and asked, “Your Highness, do you still want to deal with King Ke’s matter?”

The candlelight flickered as Xie Chaoling stared at the dimly lit corner of the table. His voice grew softer, “Do as I have instructed. From now on, there shall be no more Xie Chaoyuan in this world. Send him to Xirong, or the Bailing region, anywhere as long as he never returns to Da Liang.”

Liao Zhi could only agree.

At the residence of King Ke, after the eunuch who delivered the imperial edict left, Xie Chaoyuan remained calm and even laughed when he heard that the emperor had seen the Crown Prince first before seeing him.

Wang Rang did not know what he was laughing about and asked with concern, “Your Highness, the emperor must have known about your background and has sent people to investigate. Aren’t you worried at all?”

“What does it matter? This day was bound to come sooner or later. Besides, I will be leaving soon.”

Xie Chaoyuan was indifferent and bent over in a fit of coughing. Wang Rang quickly handed him a handkerchief, which was soon stained with small spots of blood.

Wang Rang was alarmed and continuously patted Xie Chaoyuan’s back to ease his breathing. When he finally stopped coughing, the handkerchief was completely stained with blood.

“Your Highness, your health…”

Xie Chaoyuan waved his hand and took the handkerchief to look at it for a while. His gaze darkened as he gave orders, “Find a way to get a message to the Eastern Palace. Tell them that before I die, I want to see him one last time. Ask the Crown Prince to fulfill my last wish, as a favor for our past relationship and the fact that I never truly betrayed Da Liang.”

“When they come, follow the plan.”

King Huai’s residence.

Song Shi knelt on the ground trembling, his body whipped fiercely by Xie Chaoqi. He gritted his teeth and didn’t dare to beg for mercy.

“Why did those people from Xirong suddenly turn on the Crown Prince? And who informed the Northwestern Army? Did you betray me again?!” Xie Chaoqi was extremely angry. Although it was more profitable to bring down Xie Chaoling, the Crown Prince, he was still unsatisfied with Xie Chaohui’s avoidance of death on the battlefield due to the leaked information beforehand. And this dog, Song Shi, who repeatedly betrayed his lord, shouldn’t be left alive!

Song Shi’s skin was torn and bleeding from the whipping, but he still had to deliver a message for Xie Chaoyuan: “Your Highness, please calm down. King Ke said he wants to make a deal with you, one that will satisfy you!”

Xie Chaoqi’s hand, still holding the whip, paused in midair, and he sternly asked, “Speak!”

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