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Chapter 13 … She was not that guy's most special person. For these past ten years, it was never her.
The second prince's death really brought about a stir not small in size. Reportedly, Shu guifei had cried all night and had still not recovered. It was said that the emperor was furious and had demanded a thorough investigation into the culprits. All of the second prince's subordinates who were guarding him, even those working the night shift at Vermillion Bird Gate that night, were beheaded. All the servants were interrogated one by one. Even the princes, princesses, and imperial concubines were questioned in turn.
For a while, the palace was panicked.
Learning about how the second prince had dragged numerous people to the grave with him, Gu Hong Jian momentarily became a bit despondent.
I didn't kill Boren, but Boren died because of me…1
She had not antic.i.p.ated that her a.s.sa.s.sination would be calamitous to so many innocent people.
Seeing her somewhat depressed, Lin Si Ze comforted her, saying, "This is an imperial degree my Imperial Father set down. It has no relation to you."
"Yes, your heavenly family's lives are quite valuable… We all have lowly lives, where if we die—we die. If a member of your family dies, you also drag in countless others to their deaths. The second prince himself refused to allow those Imperial bodyguards to shadow him, and when he died, it was, on the contrary, those bodyguards in the wrong."
Lin Si Ze scowled. "What's going on with you? That day, you have been acting odd from sun up to sun down. Talking about how lowly your life is…be at ease, if you suffer a sudden death in the future, I will certainly make all those you did not like to follow you to the grave."
"Then you'll be the first to die!" Gu Hong Jian coldly sneered.
Lin Si Ze, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, said, "What is the matter with you? Even if you are not feeling happy, why are you venting your anger at me?"
Gu Hong Jian thought for a moment. She hadn't been venting her anger at Lin Si Ze; rather, she was angry at Lin Si Ze.
She didn't know how this started, but she ultimately said, despite her thoughts and feelings being numerous and disorderly, "If…what would happen, if one day, Zuo Ning Yan died?"
Lin Si Ze's expression minutely changed. He stated, "She's perfectly all right; how could she die?"
"Then wasn't I, who am also perfectly all right, just cursed to die by you?!" Gu Hong Jian fell just short of flipping the table.
Lin Si Ze helplessly appeased, "You…okay, okay, you will also not die. I simply wanted to amuse you and make you happy earlier."
No, this absolutely was not like that.
Gu Hong Jian slightly tightened her fists.
Because in Lin Si Ze's mind, Gu Hong Jian was the same as him. The edge of a knife licking blood, groping, crawling, rolling about in the treacherous palace to seek survival…if inattentive for but a moment, one would inevitably die without even an intact corpse left behind. Meanwhile, Zuo Ning Yan was different. She stayed far away from this filthy imperial palace and was refreshingly pure and clean. Thus, she was 'perfectly all right' and not likely to die as a result.
Gu Hong Jiang could finally no longer bear it and haltingly said, "Lin Si Ze…do you…like Zuo Ning Yan?"
Lin Si Ze blanked. A trace of a smile touched his lips when he answered, "I am also uncertain about this. But I do admit there is some fondness."
He unexpectedly admitted this.
He unexpectedly, without any awkwardness or shyness, admitted this so calmly?!
On the contrary, Gu Hong Jian froze on the spot. A long while later, she asked with uncertainty, "Truly?"
Lin Si Ze nodded.
Gu Hong Jian murmured, "…Okay…what do you like about her; why do you like her? When did this begin?"
"I have liked her for a long time…ten years thereabouts," Lin Si Ze revealed.
Gu Hong Jian's heart sank. "Ten years?! Ten years ago, weren't you seven?!"
Gu Hong Jian suddenly didn't know what she should say.
She wanted to mock Lin Si Ze, but she realized she herself had no clue about what to say. She wanted to make Lin Si Ze declare definite reasons as to why he liked Zuo Ning Yan, but she felt like she didn't need to ask this——pretty Zuo Ning Yan with her beauty and tender smiles, with her soft yet pleasant voice, with her status as Zuo Yu Shi's daughter… Rather than asking him what he liked about Zuo Ning Yan, would it be better to ask why she, Gu Hong Jian, was unworthy of being liked?
The most frightening thing was…she originally felt that no matter what had occurred, she and Lin Si Ze had met each other first. According to order of arrival, Zuo Ning Yan was still in line, no? But since Lin Si Ze liked the other for ten years, then that indicated Zuo Ning Yan unexpectedly had entered his life earlier than her.
Lin Si Ze said, "It had not occurred to me that you would actually see this."
Gu Hong Jian coolly replied, "I think not seeing it would be more difficult."
"How can that be possible; my behaviour is subtle," Lin Si Ze commented.
Yes, but I understand you too well.
Gu Hong Jian pondered for a moment and declined to comment, rolling her eyes instead.
Lin Si Ze said, "Actually, these feelings are really weak at the moment. Since I was a child, I had indeed liked her very, very much. But now I no longer adore her; I simply, when all is said and done, find her very special."
Gu Hong Jian queried, "Very special? How special…is she the most special in your heart?"
Lin Si Ze contemplated this and confessed, "Yes."
Gu Hong Jian smiled.
She was a complete loser. After nearly ten years of interaction from dawn to dusk and beyond, all of that had been thoroughly smashed to smithereens by Lin Si Ze's sole admission that 'Zuo Ning Yan's the most special.'
She was not that guy's most special person. For these past ten years, it was never her.
The second prince's death threw the palace into chaos. Luckily, the territory and Qirui War was still under control. Most likely, all the soldiers in the Qirui War fought bravely throughout winter, blood-soaked. As spring warmed the earth, the enemy, instead of taking it easy, thought of returning home. Thus, step by step, they retreated in defeat. The Tianmin Country had, as a matter of fact, not pursued the retreating enemy either. After all, their side did not have enough strength to do so.
After everyone in the palace was inspected, there weren't a lot of results. Without a doubt, the third prince was still the most suspicious, so he was taken into questioning every day. Reportedly, because the ma.s.sive fight he and the second prince had over a dancing girl was revealed, and since the second prince was now dead, the sky-vast sin was naturally not considered to be a mere sin, and the third prince must shoulder the burden and be doubly censured.
The fourth prince, who usually got along well with the second prince, was extremely grieved. It was said that when the fourth prince accidentally ran into the third prince, he immediately disregarded the servants and chased after the third prince, cursing in rage and spitting saliva, claiming that the third prince was a heartless lunatic who would even kill his brother.
The third prince was probably being extremely hard-pressed, so in order to prove himself innocent, he took the initiative to take on the responsibility of hunting down the a.s.sa.s.sin. Moreover, to increase the effectiveness of the search, he focused attention on the only breakthrough they had—the murder weapon.
The second prince seemed to have been killed by a comparatively long blade, and in the palace, this type of lethal weapon was very strictly regulated. Each Imperial bodyguard, when on duty, could go and get a blade and scabbard, and when not on duty, they were to return the weapons straightway. Therefore, the third prince had first inspected all the blades of the Imperial bodyguards that were in use that day. Nonetheless, there was a complete lack of clues.
After that, the third prince recalled an old court case from the previous dynasty. That case was about how an imperial concubine of the cold palace, because of her envy, used a dagger once bestowed upon her by the emperor long ago to a.s.sa.s.sinate the favored imperial concubine in the middle of the night. She had then tossed the dagger into a pond. That concubine had originally thought that she had thus crossed the sea by a trick. Who would have antic.i.p.ated that the just as the pond was drained and filled again, the dagger would shockingly appear. Thinking of his favored concubine's death, the emperor at that time knew who killed her.
Therefore, the third prince promptly reported this idea to the emperor. As it turned out, the water was to be exchanged for Lunar New Year. The emperor thus gave his a.s.sent with a dark face, having each pond's water be exchanged one by one. Ultimately, it was naturally within the Xia He pond that the dagger was found, but what astonished people was that the dagger was, to their shock, wrapped with the fourth prince's belt and medallion.
The third prince was naturally wild with joy and handed over the belt and medallion. The emperor and Shu guifei were both extremely bewildered, while the fourth prince was startled yet incomparably furious. He angrily rebuked that the third prince was being deceitful and announced that his medallion had been stolen during the Spring Welcoming Feast earlier that year.
The emperor specifically called for someone to invite the coroner over. The conclusion was this dagger truly was the most plausible dagger to have killed second prince. This dagger firmly entwined with the medallion had been dredged up under thousands of staring eyes; the third prince had not found the dagger and then attached the medallion afterward.
Thus, in any event, the fourth prince was under suspicion.
The one to murder the second son could thus be either the third or fourth prince, and both of them, to save themselves, was focused on splashing dirty water at the other. The emperor originally had poor health and fell extremely ill from anger, becoming unable to attend morning court. There must be someone, however, to run the government on his behalf, and with both the third and fourth prince possibly being murderers, those two were naturally unqualified for the task. In the end, the emperor was left with the first prince, whom he never liked, to take office.
The first prince had never before received the emperor's favor and, like Lin Si Ze, did not know his place. Just like how this dissonance existed because of Lin Si Ze's birth station, the first prince was more or less the same. His birth mother had killed the emperor's true love at that time. Even though she had given birth to the first prince, she was still executed by the emperor. In addition, the emperor also loathed this first prince, who resembled his mother too much in appearance.
Nevertheless, the first prince was the eldest son, so his treatment was still significantly better than what Lin Si Ze received.
Probably because the emperor was not really at ease with the first prince, he actually called for Lin Si Ze to lend a hand.
In such a way that exceeded everyone's expectations, the fifth prince, Lin Si Ze, overtly entered everyone's line of sight. This neglected prince became someone able to interfere with the court politics——of course, the one still dominating the court politics was, in truth, still the emperor himself.
And although the emperor called out for Lin Si Ze and given him face, he honestly did not like this son of his that much either. He simply wanted to use him to strike down the other two sons who did not know the immensity of heaven and earth and to conveniently restrict the first prince.
The third and fourth prince took note of this one, the one that they had bullied when they were children, the one who grew up to be their neglected 'younger brother.'
To their surprise, they had such a hidden rival stowed away?
The third and fourth prince, for a split second, sensed a trace of danger. After a period of observation, fortunately, they felt slightly a.s.sured because Lin Si Ze seemed just like he had as a child——weak and powerless. Even if he were close to power, he still had a very cautious air to him. Regardless of the magnitude of this matter, he would report to their Imperial Father about any matter, regardless of its importance. Almost everything enacted was not by his design.
Whatever the first prince wanted him to do, this fifth prince would do so in fear and trepidation. As the third prince would precisely describe it, 'proving oneself to be born from a slave servant by having the appearance of a slave.'
This kind of person…how would he do great things, how would he sit upon the throne and govern the realm?
Thanks -3-A well known phrase from 《 晉書‧周顗傳 History of the Jin Dynasty: Historical Biography 39》. A man called 'Zhou Yi' (周顗), also known as 'Zhou Bo Ren' (周伯仁), was killed in the historic period between the Han and Sui Dynasties. An official to the Yuan Emperor, he had a deep friendship with w.a.n.g Dao. w.a.n.g Dao's older male cousin from his paternal family, w.a.n.g Dun, established a military force to conspire against the state. Forcing entry into the capital, he killed Zhou Yi because of an old grievance. w.a.n.g Dun had told w.a.n.g Dao about his intentions to kill Zhou Yi in advance, but w.a.n.g Dao had yet to declare his position. Later, upon learning about how Zhou Yi, during his life, had previously spoken several times in defense for him in regards to w.a.n.g Dun's rebellion, w.a.n.g Dao weeped bitter tears and said, "Although I did not kill Boren, Boren died because of me. In the netherworld, I will carry this good friend!" Wikipedia Article on w.a.n.g Dao ↩