THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE READERS THAT SENT ME KO-FI! I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO UPDATE A LOT BUT I’LL TRY TO BE MORE CONSISTENT. I’LL ADD MORE CHAPTERS SOON!
Gu Yuanbai looked at these bloodstains. After a while, he got off the bed and walked to the window. The sunlight poured in, making the outside scenery blurry and unclear.
Under the brilliant sunlight, it was perfect weather to set out.
Gu Yuanbai suddenly raised his hand to cover his eyes, blocking the dazzling sun, and chuckled softly.
Well played, Xue Jiuyao.
The person beside him spoke cautiously, “Your Majesty?”
Gu Yuanbai laughed for a while, then turned around, “Come in.”
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Dwl Zwyd nyxl zkjl y twpv sq okde yde zlqv zkjl y twpv sq okde.
Gqvla y dktbv, ds sdl jdlo vbyv Dwl Kkwuys bye hkpkvle ulpvlaeyu. Qw Zwydcyk, pkvvkdt kd vbl ryhkzksd, oyaxkdt vly okvb svblap, oyp pvkzz vbkdjkdt ycswv obyv yckzkvklp bl pvkzz bye. Rv oyp sdzu obld psxlsdl nyzzle plhlayz vkxlp vbyv bl nyxl cynj vs bkp pldplp yde zssjle wr.
Isdt Zkzkd pxkzle, “Zswa Yyflpvu, eke psyjkdt kd vbl bsv prakdt ulpvlaeyu xyjl usw qllz oyaxla?”
“Rdelle,” Qw Zwydcyk pyke, “cwv y okze ckae nyxl xkeoyu yde easrrle y qlo qlyvblap kd xu rssz.”
Isdt Zkzkd pktble, “Rd vbkp plypsd, R eked’v lmrlnv vs pll ckaep kd vbl Vakdnl’p rssz.”
Mbl uswdt vyzldvp ynnsxrydkle cu vbl pkel yzz oydvle vs pbso sqq kd qasdv sq vbl Oxrlasa. Fkvvkdt iwklvzu oyp csakdt, ps okvb bkp nsdpldv, vblu vwadle kv kdvs y pxyzz zkvlayau tyvblakdt. Bpkdt qzsola caydnblp yp y xlekwx, vblu rskdvle yv psxlsdl, yde vbyv rlapsd oswze nsxrspl y rslx.
Mbkp oyp y nsxxsd yrrlvkgla qsa zkvlayau tyvblakdtp. Ubydt Zwuyd pxkzle pzktbvzu, bydep clbkde bkp cynj, hlau nsdqkeldv. Qw Zwydcyk kdvldele vs cwkze wr Ubydt Zwuyd’p alrwvyvksd. Gxsdt vblpl rlsrzl, xydu nsdpkelale bkx y qsaxkeyczl srrsdldv.
Tang Miannian was young and had not yet received his cap. He took the initiative to go out of the pavilion and plucked a bud of a hibiscus flower that was about to bloom. With a smile on his face, he was about to run back when, turning around, he met the face of Prince He.
Tang Miannian’s face turned pale instantly, stammering, “Prin… Prince…”
Prince He glanced at him coldly, a warning in his eyes, “You dare to appear in front of His Majesty.”
Tang Miannian panicked, Li Yanyan, who had hidden the Emperor’s paintings with him, was not present. He was the only one facing Prince He. In a moment of panic, he trembled, “Your Highness, please listen to this humble minister’s explanation!”
Prince He, however, turned directly, striding quickly towards the pavilion.
His robe fluttered, and Tang Miannian was scared out of his wits, hurriedly following, afraid that Prince He would tell the Emperor what he had done.
In the pavilion, the others who had been waiting for Tang Miannian were chatting. The Emperor was surrounded by these talented young officials, and the fact that Kong Yilin could befriend them indicated that they were not conventional and conservative.
With poetry and books in the belly, the spirit is splendid. In such a gathering of talented individuals, the first person Prince He noticed was Gu Yuanbai.
He calmed down and approached, bowing respectfully, “I pay my respects to Your Majesty.”
“Prince He is here,” Gu Yuanbai said with a smile, patting his side, “Take a seat.”
The officials saluted Prince He, making way for him. Prince He walked forward and sat down. Gu Yuanbai turned to look at him, “Yesterday, I felt a bit tired and went to bed early. This morning, I heard from Tian Fusheng that Prince He specifically came to see me last night. It seems there’s something you want to tell me?”
Tang Miannian followed closely, and upon hearing this, he felt his eyes twinkle and his head spin.
Prince He, however, didn’t mention him. Instead, he lowered his head and looked at the python pattern on his clothes, calm as a still pond, “Your Majesty, I just wanted to share some good news with you. A few days ago, when the doctor came for a check-up, the Princess is expecting.”
Gu Yuanbai looked at him abruptly.
Prince He still stared at his hands on his knees, his profile indifferent, fingers spasming unnaturally. He looked more like a cold executioner than a husband who just learned about his wife’s pregnancy. “The lady is not suitable to appear before His Majesty now. She had a fright a few days ago, and the physician advised constant care in the mansion for a healthy pregnancy.”
Finally, the bloodline of the late emperor has a successor.
Tian Fusheng mumbled, “It’s a joyous occasion, a great joy.”
During the late emperor’s reign, Prince He dedicated himself to military service, often away from the mansion. Upon returning to the capital, there was no news of offspring for such a long time. Coupled with the late emperor’s scanty heirs, many speculated about the difficulty in preserving the royal bloodline.
Congratulations were extended, and joy was evident on everyone’s faces. Prince He exchanged pleasantries, and Gu Yuanbai asked, “How many months along is the pregnancy?”
“Almost two months,” replied Prince He, pursing his lips. “It seems to have happened after His Majesty’s Longevity Festival. Truly a blessed event.”
Gu Yuanbai chuckled and exclaimed, “Tian Fusheng, reward!”
Tian Fusheng echoed, “Yes!”
Prince He said, “I express gratitude to His Majesty on behalf of the Princess Consort.”
Gu Yuanbai shook his head with a smile, took Prince He’s arm, and stood up, intending to have a private conversation between brothers.
Behind him, Prince He looked down at his hand. The hand appeared slender and frail, almost transparent against his dark ceremonial attire.
Prince He’s hand was also fair, lacking the veins and masculine features. Even in her pampered state, it was undeniably a man’s hand, the only one of its kind.
During those late nights, Prince He lay on the Princess Consort, grabbing her arm against his head. Sometimes drenched in sweat, in moments of distraction, he would grasp the Princess Consort’s chin and call out, “Gu Lian.”
The Princess Consort understood his thoughts.
But Prince He was at ease; it seemed he had finally found someone to confide in. He shared words that could anger ancestors and invite divine retribution with the Princess Consort.
The Princess Consort was frightened but had no reason to be. Prince He wouldn’t harm her; on the contrary, he would give her a child, a child who could bear the future wealth and glory.
As the Emperor and Prince He walked away, their tall figures gradually disappearing, a hint of disappointment appeared on the faces of the onlookers. Kong Yilin took the initiative, “Shall we continue?”
Chu Wei withdrew his gaze, and with a faint tone, said, “Everything has been agreed upon, let’s continue.”
Tang Mian presented a hibiscus flower, and Kong Yilin, observing his expression, remarked, “Lord Tang, why does your complexion look so pale?”
Tang Mian forced a smile, “Perhaps I caught a chill.”
Amidst green leaves and red flowers, on a gravel path.
The Emperor walked slowly, footsteps accompanied by the gentle flow of water. Gu Yuanbai, hands in sleeves, robe hanging gracefully, spoke earnestly, “Elder brother, Prince He’s wife is going through hardships. You must take good care of her. I find this estate quite agreeable. In your free time, you should bring the Princess Consort out and stroll around, don’t stay in the mansion all the time.”
“The Emperor also likes this estate?” Prince He nodded vaguely. “I will take good care of the Princess Consort; Your Majesty need not worry. By the way, this estate still lacks a name. The four characters for Prince He Mansion were given by Your Majesty. How about Your Majesty naming this estate as well?”
Gu Yuanbai knew his naming skills, “No need. If you want my calligraphy, let me know after I name it. I’ll have someone deliver it to your mansion.”
Prince He agreed, “Alright.”
The Emperor sighed, “Until now, the two of us have no heirs. It’s unsettling when people talk about it. My health is not good, and I often worry about this. Now that I’ve heard this news, it feels like the clouds have parted to reveal the moon.”
Two wolves with fierce glints in their eyes stared closely at Prince He, emitting a terrifying growl. Each required two or three guards to restrain them, preventing any harm to the Prince.
Prince He glanced at the two wolves, uninterested. “I feel the same way.”
After chatting for a while, as they neared the end of the path, Prince He suddenly stopped and frowned. “Your Majesty, last night, when I came to see you, it wasn’t just to report the good news about the Princess Consort’s pregnancy. A month ago, the Western Xia envoy sent gifts to my mansion, claiming it was compensation. However, they couldn’t explain what the compensation was for, and I refused to accept it. These days, they’ve sent another substantial gift. It’s obvious they have an ulterior motive.”
Gu Yuanbai couldn’t help but smile, “Did you accept it?”
Prince He sneered, “A small Western Xia managed to bribe its way to my presence. Truly audacious. Why would I accept it?”
Gu Yuanbai felt a sense of regret, about to express it, but upon seeing Prince He’s disdainful face, he instantly admired this prince who couldn’t be swayed by money.
Indeed, he was Prince He. Unlike Gu Yuanbai, who was always eager to stir up trouble and deceive the Western Xia envoys, Prince He was a man of integrity not captivated by wealth.
After admiring Prince He, Gu Yuanbai curiously asked, “What gifts did they give you?”
Prince He mentioned a few items he could recall, and Gu Yuanbai squinted his eyes for a moment. Then, he smiled, his eyes gleaming with desire, “Coincidentally, these things appeal to me. It’s time to talk to Western Xia about the market.”
Xue Yuan dashed out of the capital in the dim light. When he reached the first relay station, he was stopped by people waiting at the station’s entrance.
They took away his horse, prepared hot water and hot meals. A well-furnished room, soft bedding, excellent herbs, and a doctor and attentive servants ready to heal Xue Yuan.
After a good night’s rest, the next morning, his horse was brought out. The horse’s coat was shiny, adorned with beautiful and delicate harnesses. The horse snorted loudly, and its back was equipped with an ample supply of clean water and dried meat, mirroring its owner’s energetic spirit.
Confused, Xue Yuan mounted his horse and headed north again. However, at each relay station, he received such considerate treatment. Sometimes, even if he didn’t reach the station, people from the station would bring stoves and seasonings to the wild mountains to cook a delicious meal for him.
After several times, Xue Yuan understood. This was the emperor’s reward.
Xue Yuan chuckled, his chest trembling.
His Majesty, the emperor, was telling him that even though Gu Yuanbai was weak, with cold hands and feet, prone to illness, the emperor still firmly held the position of superior. With overwhelming power, he could provide Xue Yuan with a comfortable journey.
This kind of reward turned Xue Yuan into something like a concubine in the emperor’s harem, needing care and experiencing the emperor’s strong affection.
Truly, it was the subject entering the embrace of the emperor, not the emperor into the subject’s embrace.
Xue Yuan accepted it calmly.
When the emperor’s favor sincerely descended, the treatment was unimaginable for ordinary people. Horses changed daily, rations not inferior to those in the capital, fresh and fragrant fruits, and daily clothes filled with a lingering fragrance.
If Xue Yuan wasn’t pressed for time, he might even believe these people would carry him to the northern border like carrying a sacred statue.
Although these actions undoubtedly prolonged Xue Yuan’s journey, he still accepted the emperor’s arrangements one by one.
Even the most exhausted heart melted away like water.
He couldn’t bear to refuse these thoughtful gestures.