In less than a month, the truth about the fourth prince’s murder was brought to light.
The fourth prince was ambushed on his way back to his country because his whereabouts was leaked to the Western Xia.
The case implicated numerous courtiers, nearly 1,000 of whom were imprisoned and dozens of official residences were raided.
The day of the fourth prince’s burial saw dozens of ministers suspected of communicating with the enemy, ordered to death with a thousand cuts at the city gates.
The rest of those implicated were either beheaded and exposed to the public, or banished faraway to an army post, or relegated to slavery.
Henceforth, the case settled.
From the beginning to the end, there was no evidence to implicate the fifth prince, Yu Hong.
“What a good tactic……” Yu Yan set the secret letter in his hand down and sighed.
Mu Yungui was serving tea beside him and he paused at his words. “Is Master talking about the fifth prince?”
“Yes.” Yu Yan folded the letter unhurriedly and drew out his words, “If it were me, I would not be able to do it without a flaw. All these years, I have really underestimated him.”
He suddenly thought of something else. “Did you get any results on the thing you were investigating earlier?”
Mu Yungui shook his head. “The year the fifth highness was born, no other imperial concubine in the palace was pregnant or died in a strange way.”
Yu Yan fell silent.
“Is Master doubting the birth of the fifth highness?” Mu Yungui asked.
Yu Yan narrowed his eyes and softly remarked, “I just have a feeling…..”
Yu Hong was not born in the palace.
He was born prematurely, when the empress was nine months pregnant, coinciding exactly with the Yan Kingdom’s annual ritual to the gods.
Together with the Yan Emperor, the empress went to the ancestral temple to pay their respects, and on that same night she had abdominal pains and gave birth to the fifth prince, Yu Hong, the following day.
Yu Yan had been there, but he was so young. Furthermore, over the years, the empress had always loved him so much that he never suspected Yu Hong’s origins.
But when he thought about it, there were indeed many coincidences and doubts about what happened back then.
Initially, even the imperial physician had diagnosed the empress as infertile. How had she conceived again?
The empress had been in perfect health during her pregnancy. Why did she give birth prematurely and during the time they were at the ancestral temple?
Also, not long after Yu Hong was born, all the inner servants in the empress’ palace hall were replaced, leaving no one behind.
“Look into it again.” Yu Yan ordered. “The former people in the empress’s palace, as well as the Qin family’s Duke Zhenbei. I remember that it was also a few years after Yu Hong’s birth that he brought his whole family to the fiefdom.”“
Mu Yungui: “Understood.”
Yu Yan rubbed his brow, got up and threw the secret letter into the brazier pot.
The letter quickly burned to ashes. Yu Yan added, “But this is not without benefit to us. There will be more and more people in the court urging for a crown prince these days. Imperial Father will most likely issue a decree soon.”
Mu Yungui refilled his tea. “The court is now divided into two sides. Those who support Master are in the majority.”
“That’s because quite a few ministers who support my eldest imperial brother’s faction were sent off.” Yu Yan smiled, “In that case, Yu Hong is really helping me.”
As Yu Yan bowed his head and sipped his tea, Mu Yungui added, “There is one more thing. News mentioned that the eldest prince went to the prime minister’s mansion yesterday.”
“As expectedly.” Yu Yan wasn’t surprised. “The prime minister is in charge of all the officials, but he has never taken sides on the matter of the crown prince. Naturally, Eldest imperial brother wants to win his support.”
“Then we too….”
“Don’t need to bother.” Yu Yan interrupted, “Didn’t we agree to take a break today, not talking about political matters?”
Mu Yungui: “……”
Yu Yan drifted off, “Oh, it seems that I brought it up first.”
As Mu Yungui didn’t say more, Yu Yan quietly looked up and surveyed him.
Since the beginning of spring, Yu Yan had been very busy, busy pulling together every party for power, busy dealing with the crown prince’s dispute, and also busy investigating Yu Hong. It had been a long time since he had had the leisure to have a chat with Mu Yungui.
But how should he talk?
Yu Yan had known Mu Yungui for many years, feeling he knew Mu Yungui well enough.
But recently, he had realised that he seemed to be somewhat unable to understand this man.
In bed, Mu Yungui treated him with tenderness and care, like a good lover. But when he got out of bed, this man continued to play the role of an imperial bodyguard, with a restrained and courteous demeanor, plainly informing him that they were only a master and servant, nothing more.
……This made it very hard to bear.
The more Yu Yan thought about it, the angrier he became, slamming his tea cup down, breaking the silence in the room.
Mu Yungui: “Master?”
Yu Yan puffed up in anger and headed inside, commanding, “Change your clothes. Accompany me out of the palace.”
The carriage stopped at the busiest market. Mu Yungui got off first, turning back to help Yu Yan.
Yu Yan did not let him help him, and jumped off the carriage by himself.
Without waiting for him, Yu Yan immediately walked forward at a fast pace.
Mu Yungui: “?”
……Did he upset his little master again?
Mu Yungui shook his head helplessly and instructed the carriage driver to go back to the palace first, before he chased after Yu Yan..
Today was the day of the city’s assembly. The city of Jiang Du was extraordinarily noisy. Now that it was dark, the whole city was lit up with bright red lanterns in the distance. On the long street, pedestrians were in groups, stalls were set up on both sides of the road, and the sounds of laughter and hawking were all that could be heard.
It was a pity Yu Yan had something on his mind and wasn’t in the mood for shopping.
How would it help if it was only he who had favourable feelings?
Yu Yan thought he was perhaps a little slow in feelings. He couldn’t even tell when this sort of feelings had started. But even if he was slow, after what happened last time, he could still come back to his senses.
But what’s the use of only him having good feelings?
……Mu Yungui, that blockhead.
The street was full of people making a racket. Yu Yan pressed his brow, getting a bit of a headache from the noise.
He actually shouldn’t be thinking about this right now.
The Emperor of Yan was about to appoint a crown prince. The two factions in the court were evenly matched. Yu Hong was still undecided to be an enemy or a friend….. He still has so many things to plan, and yet here he was, thinking about love affairs!
Hmph. Once this prince sits on the imperial throne, however many beauties he wants in the harem, he will have. They’ll be others even more good-looking than him, totally no need for a blockhead.
When Yu Yan thought of this, his mood became a little more relaxed. He turned back, preparing to ask Mu Yungui to find a more peaceful place to stroll.
When he turned, Mu Yungui handed him a bunch of tang hulu1Here’s how it looks! candy.
The tang hulu were plump and voluptuous, the sugar coating was crystal clear, making it look sweet and delicious.
Mu Yungui gazed down at him, warmly apologising, “This subordinate shouldn’t have displeased Master. It’s this subordinate’s fault. Master, don’t be angry.”
His eyes were gentle, and the corners of his mouth had a shadow of a smile, too good-looking that it was somewhat a sin.
Yu Yan was left dazed as he looked at that face of Mu Yungui. His head spinned.
What did he…… want to say just now?
A few moments later, Yu Yan sat in the private room of the restaurant, his ears slightly flushed.
So a blockhead could also seduce. So annoying.
Yu Yan indignantly bit into his tang hulu.
They often came to this restaurant, hence Mu Yungui skillfully ordered a few of Yu Yan’s favourite dishes and asked Yu Yan after.
Yu Yan swallowed the last of the tang hulu, expressionlessly replied, “A pot of wine, the strongest kind.”
Mu Yungui frowned. “Ma… Young master2Usual words is Master (主人). Now he uses Young Master (公子), it is best not to drink wine outside.”
Yu Yan unhurriedly lifted his eyelids and met his gaze.
Mu Yungui: “……”
Mu Yungui inclined his head to the shopkeeper. “A pot of strong wine.”
This wine of Yu Yan was of course not for himself.
Spilling the truth under the influence of alcohol. Towards this blockhead, one should directly make that person drunk, then any kind of information could be dug out..
That was what the books all wrote.
The meal was quickly served. Yu Yan estimated his own capacity for alcohol, drinking as he dined. During the meal, he found an opportunity to naturally pour a full glass of wine for Mu Yungui as well.
Mu Yungui was stunned. “Master, this subordinate ……”
Mu Yungui was Yu Yan’s personal guard. He needed to stay awake at all times. He never drank wine throughout the past years.
Because of this, Yu Yan was certain that this man’s drinking capacity was bound to be no good.
Yu Yan said, “Just one drink. Treat it as accompanying me, okay?”
Yu Yan’s eyebrows lowered. “You’re not willing to accompany me?”
“Of course not.” Seeing how insistent Yu Yan was, Mu Yungui dared not refuse again. He obediently took the wine cup and tilted his head to gulp.
Yu Yan followed suit, pursing his lips to take a sip. Still, his eyes were always fixed on Mu Yungui.
The latter put down the wine glass, his expression still calm.
The wine was extremely strong, and even though Yu Yan intended to control it, he was still a little dizzy from drinking it. But to his surprise, Mu Yungui had not even frowned when he drunk such a large glass full of wine.
In his heart, Yu Yan thought he made a miscalculation. He was about to take the wine jug and pour another cup when he saw Mu Yungui’s body shake slightly, and then he collapsed rigidly onto the table.
Yu Yan: “……”
Emotions were like a cup of wine.
“…… Yungui?” Yu Yan tried calling out, but there was no response.
How could he ask questions now that Mu Yungui was sleeping so soundly?
There was no such situation in the books. Yu Yan came to Mu Yungui’s side and poked his face. “Mu Yungui?”
Still no response.
“Forget it…..” Yu Yan sighed and helped the man up.
This restaurant could accommodate guests. The private rooms were equipped with soft sofas and chairs for guests to rest.
Mu Yungui was much taller than Yu Yan, and since he was not fully awake, Yu Yan had some difficulty in supporting him.
He struggled before the person managed to lie on the edge of the bed. Who knew he would be tugged and fall onto the bed with that person.
Yu Yan fell into Mu Yungui’s embrace.
Mu Yungui had already fallen asleep. He laid quietly, one arm wrapped around Yu Yan’s lower back. Yu Yan propped up his arms and tried to break free, but he couldn’t.
This man, even when drunk, did not even forget to protect Yu Yan.
Even when Mu Yun was drunk, his strength was still very terrifying. Yu Yan struggled for a bit, panting as he rested on Mu Yungui’s chest, no longer moving.
This was totally not like what was said in the books.
Yu Yan thought resentfully.
If he knew earlier, he wouldn’t get him drunk. Who knew this man was a one-cup man3ie would collapse at one cup.
Mu Yungui’s heartbeat was strong and steady, transmitting to Yu Yan through his thin garment. Yu Yan lifted his head and from this angle he could see Mu Yungui’s well-defined jaw.
Yu Yan stared at it steadily and suddenly felt that his earlier thoughts were not quite right.
“No one is better looking than you.”
He had already drunk more than Mu Yungui. And at this moment, the alcoholic strength slowly hit him. Yu Yan looked at Mu Yungui in a daze, using the other party’s arm to prop his body up.
“Can never find anyone better looking than you.”
Yu Yan reached out and brushed the side of Mu Yungui’s face – the edge of his eyes, down the bridge of his nose, his fingertips tracing over those thin, sharply shaped lips.
He had never touched the other man like this before. They had slept together countless times yes, usually with Mu Yungui taking the lead. All the actions meant to relieve desire, as if they were just completing the task he had given them.
They had never had any real intimate touching, let alone any kissing.
Yu Yan withdrew his fingers, tilted his head and softly, like a ghost’s touch, gave a kiss.
Mu Yungui’s lips were unexpectedly soft. The mere press of their lips made Yu Yan feel something he had never felt before.
The touch was like an electric shock, causing even the end of his fingertips to tremble gently.
Yet, it was addictive.
Suddenly, Yu Yan felt the sky spinning and was pressed hard onto the soft bed.
He lifted his head and saw that Mu Yungui had opened his eyes at some point, his gaze deep.
- 1Here’s how it looks!
- 2Usual words is Master (主人). Now he uses Young Master (公子)
- 3ie would collapse at one cup