Translator: Amber.es | Editor: cresscentmoon
Emperor speaks ‘I‘ as 孤 Gu so I’ll underline this word. Formal ‘you’ (您）will be bolded.
Thirteen important court ministers were assassinated in their official residences overnight. A storm brewed in Jiang Du.
The past behavior of these thirteen ministers was well known. Though the opposite factions did not react too obviously on the surface, secretly, they were ecstatic. While those in the same factions were so frightened they could not eat or sleep well, for the fear of the sword hanging over their heads, not knowing when it would fall.
The Yan Emperor immediately gave an order for a thorough investigation of the incident.
Mu Yungui did things very cleanly, leaving behind no clues. Even if it wasn’t clean enough, it was fine with Yu Yan.
The Imperial Judicial Court and the Ministry of Justice were his people. It was easy for him to pull a few strings.
After the case was investigated for half a year, not only were they unable to unmask the killer, but the entire chain of corruption and bribery was also uprooted.
The prime minister’s influence was badly affected, leaving him almost isolated and helpless.
In the spring of the next year, the Yan Emperor officially sent troops to suppress the border, to fight against Chang Lu in the north.
Mu Yungui, who was among the top three at the martial arts competition was naturally sent to the front line.
Surprisingly, Mu Yungui slashed across the battlefield and in a single breath, occupied several cities in Chang Lu. Soon, he was even promoted from a soldier to a deputy general.
The rumor of Chang Lu’s might when they destroyed Western Xia in three months turned out to be mere talk. May it be the rich or the poor, everyone was rejoicing. Everyone, except Yu Yan.
He missed his shadow guard.
The battles in the beginning were not as frequent as now. And Mu Yungui would sneak back once every fifteen days. The Great Yan’s territory was not large. With Mu Yungui’s speed, between the borders to Jiang Du, he didn’t take more than two days to arrive, spending one night with his own family’s little master and then sneaking back the next day.
But lately, the two sides’ exchanges had become more and more frequent. Mu Yungui didn’t have any time to visit Yu Yan.
He hadn’t seen Mu Yungui for a month and a half.
Yu Yan couldn’t stand this empty feeling of being alone.
“Your Highness, the carriage is ready.” A servant came in to report.
Since they had confirmed their relationship, Yu Yan voluntarily left the palace. There were too many eyes on him all the time. It was inconvenient to have lovey dovey moments with his little shadow guard with so many people around them.
“Got it,” Yu Yan responded as he ate his breakfast.
The carriage was directed, obviously, towards the border. Since Mu Yungui had no time to come back to see him, he would go see him instead.
The servant glanced at the breakfast, which looked almost untouched, and said with concern, “Your Highness doesn’t seem to be in good spirits these few days. Should I ask for a physician to visit?”
“No need.” Yu Yan had no appetite and desire for food these days, simply wanting to go see Mu Yungui.
He pushed the porridge bowl away and said, “Let’s leave early. It will take us a few days to reach there.”
The servant: “Understood.”
But before Yu Yan went out, someone arrived in his palace hall.
The Yan Emperor had called him into his palace residence.
Over the past six months, Yan Emperor’s illness had not improved; he couldn’t even stand up. While the imperial court was celebrating their wartime victories, only the palace of the emperor was dead and lifeless.
Everyone was calculating the time the Emperor might be left with.
The moment Yu Yan was led into the bedroom, he saw the person leaning on the couch.
The Yan Emperor’s appearance was good when he was young. But being ill all these years, he could only be described as wan and sallow. One could no longer see in him the outstanding, talented, handsome Yan Emperor of the past.
He sent everyone away and called Yu Yan over.
Yu Yan knelt in front of the couch and held the Yan Emperor’s extended hand. “Emperor father.”
“Don’t be nervous. Seeking you, I just want to talk about our family’s daily life.” The Yan Emperor smiled. He sized Yu Yan up. “You look so much like your mother.”
Yu Yan lowered his eyes and did not answer.
The Yan Emperor pensively continued, “I’ve always ignored you. It wasn’t on purpose. It’s just that every time I look at you, I think of your mother, and it hurts my heart to think of her. Beautiful women suffer unhappy fates. It’s truly unfair.”
“The incident has since passed. Emperor father, please don’t grieve.”
“Yes… it has been many years, it’s in the past now,” the Yan Emperor agreed. “Then let’s talk about the present.”
The Yan Emperor continued, “A few days ago, the Imperial Judicial Court gave evidence that the prime minister accepted bribes and colluded with different parties. Did you know that?”
Yu Yan pretended to be surprised. “He did something like that?”
“The Imperial Judicial Court asked for a thorough investigation. But with me being like this…” He laughed at himself. “I want to pass this case to you.”
Yu Yan stared at him for a moment, then leaned over and bowed. “This son abides by the Emperor’s decree.”
The Yan Emperor lowered his voice, “I have been sick for many years and the prime minister has had all the powers. Once something befalls me, the power and influence will immediately fall to his side. This is one reason why I have been unwilling to establish the crown prince all these years. Do you understand?”
If the position of the crown prince was uncertain, the situation would always be chaotic. The fight between several factions would eventually be checked and balanced. This was the plan of the monarch.
“This son understands,” Yu Yan commented.
The Yan Emperor had a hint of relief in his eyes. “You are very smart. I have always known that you are the best candidate to be the crown prince. Indeed, I have not made the wrong decision.”
Yu Yan’s eyes wavered.
The Yan Emperor hadn’t said so much for a long time. He looked at this son of his with a gentle expression in his eyes. “Stay in Jiang Du, and take care of this case. The day the prime minister goes to jail, will be the day you will become the crown prince.”
His tone was gentle, but Yu Yan slowly realized the petrifying meaning behind his words. A chill ran down his spine.
He raised his head to look at the Yan Emperor as if looking at a stranger: “Emperor father asked me… to stay in Jiang Du?”
The Yan Emperor looked back at him calmly.
He suddenly understood everything.
Yu Yan’s voice was hoarse, “Emperor father knew that I am heading towards the border today. Did you call me over to stall for time?”
The Yan Emperor still did not answer.
Yu Yan shot up. “What did you do to Yungui?”
The Yan Emperor abruptly coughed. He coughed for a long time, but Yu Yan just stood quietly by the bed, ignoring it.
“Mu Yungui… is the person next to you.” The Yan Emperor continued, “My child, you are naive. With your hands, you washed away his slave status and sent him to the martial arts competition. Step by step, you let him establish successful military victories, gaining a military rank.”
“You should get rid of things once they serve their purpose.1Raws: “兔死狗烹，鸟尽弓藏A rabbit is dead and a dog is cooked, and the bird is hidden in the bow. This is the age-old truth. Since you don’t understand, I can only be the one helping you.”
Yu Yan stared at him coldly.
“I don’t care about the troubles you’ve been causing in Jiang Du over the years. I was once a prince too. I understand what you are thinking. No matter how troublesome you are, the throne is yours, but you shouldn’t try to stretch your arms towards military power. ”
“The frontline has won, again and again, deterring Chang Lu. That’s enough. One less Mu Yungui will not affect the border situation.”
“But if you continue to let him grow, it will be to your disadvantage.”
“…Child, do you understand?”
Yu Yan smiled lightly.
“Emperor father is the one who doesn’t understand.” Yu Yan said, “If I decide to give the military power to Yungui, I definitely won’t regret it. As for the border situation, with one less Mu Yungui, you’ll be the one who would regret.”
“Emperor father, please rest. This son will excuse himself first.”
He turned to leave. The Yan Emperor shouted angrily, “Stop! If you dare to leave Jiang Du today, the imperial decree will no longer be in your name.”
Yu Yan paused.
The Yan Emperor stated: “Why give up the throne for a lowly slave? Yan’er, your father is doing this for your good.”
Yu Yan smiled at him mockingly and waved his hands without looking back. “Emperor father, please excuse me.”
Once out of the bedchamber, the smile on Yu Yan’s face faded, and his face became pale in an instant.
He quickly walked out of the palace, using the palace’s wall for support as vomit gushed out of his mouth.
In the morning, Yu Yan had drunk a few sips of porridge. In one breath, everything was poured out, leaving his stomach cramped.
“Your Highness, are you okay!” The servant who followed him hurriedly came to help him.
Yu Yan took a sip of the clear water he had brought. He pressed his queasy stomach, “It’s fine, nothing’s wrong.”
He turned his head and ordered, “Prepare paper and pen. I’ll write an enclosed letter. Have someone send it to the border.”
Yu Yan’s message was sent away in a hurry via horseback as he left Jiang Du in a carriage.
With the current developments, no one in Jiang Du could stop Yu Yan from going wherever he wanted to.
But he dared not relax.
The Yan Emperor came prepared. He was not sure whether his secret letter could be delivered safely to Mu Yungui. Yu Yan didn’t dare to stop for rest. He travelled day and night, stubbornly cutting the journey of five or six days by half.
Yu Yan entered the barracks at nightfall.
The border garrison was well-guarded. Yu Yan revealed his identity and was led into the commander’s camp.
Coincidentally, it was mealtime. Officers and generals of all levels were sitting in the camp. Seeing him coming in, they all bowed. Yu Yan couldn’t care less about the conventional greetings. He glanced over every person, one by one.
No Mu Yungui.
Yu Yan’s heart sank.
Was he late? It couldn’t be that Mu Yungui was already….
The commander-in-chief of the upper, middle and lower armies said something beside him, probably asking him why he suddenly came to the front line, was there any instructions from his majesty?
Yu Yan’s eyes darkened. He couldn’t hear what the commander-in-chief was saying. He forced himself to calm down, pulled the commander-in-chief away and said, “Let’s talk somewhere else.”
He was about to bring the commander-in-chief out of the camp tent when he turned his head and ran into someone.
Mu Yungui was still wearing his light body armour. And in his hand was …. a plate of roasted lamb leg.
Yu Yan almost couldn’t catch his breath.
“Where did you go?!” Yu Yan was upset.
Mu Yungui was scolded before he could come to his senses. Although bewildered, he answered seriously, “Answering to Ma… Your Highness, this subordinate was outside…roasting lamb legs.”
Yu Yan: “…”
Everyone rushed to explain, and Yu Yan barely understood from their words.
Military food was not good and the culinary talent of Deputy General Mu was very popular in the army. While not at war, he would become a cook, helping his comrades improve their meals.
Hence, when Yu Yan entered the army camp, he had received the news a step too late.
While Yu Yan was tense and distraught throughout his trip, not being able to eat or sleep, this person was spending a comfortable life in the barracks?
He was angry and frustrated. Not caring whether it was proper or not, he pulled Mu Yungui out of the camp.
Mu Yungui brought him to his tent. Before he could speak, he was hugged by Yu Yan.
Mu Yungui hadn’t seen him for more than a month. The young man was thinner than before, his complexion was also rather terrible. He gently stroked Yu Yan’s back, and asked in a low voice, “Master, what’s the matter?”
“Shhh… don’t talk” Yu Yan muttered. “Let me hold you a while longer.”
The worry he held throughout the ride slowly disappeared and Yu Yan became exhausted. His whole body felt a little weak.
Mu Yungui carried him onto the camp bed, poured a glass of water and handed it to him.
Yu Yan finished drinking and hugged Mu Yungui without a word.
Mu Yungui noticed his own family’s little master was in an unusual state. Since the other did not want to speak, he did not push him either, only whispering, “Master has not had dinner yet, has he? This subordinate will order someone to bring some food for Master?”
“En.” Yu Yan nodded. “But no roasted lamb legs. Too oily.”
Mu Yungui: “Understood.”
Yu Yan thought for a while, then added, “No spices, no fishy smell, and don’t put green onion and ginger.”
Mu Yungui: “…”
“Nothing,” Mu Yungui explained, “I just think Master’s taste seems to have changed a lot.”
Yu Yan blinked and gazed away. His palm subconsciously fell on his abdomen.
…Things are different now.
- 1Raws: “兔死狗烹，鸟尽弓藏A rabbit is dead and a dog is cooked, and the bird is hidden in the bow.