Liu Zhongming stood up from his seat, then quickly and wisely remembered the last time he hit the top of the carriage and saw stars, and sat down and repeated it fiercely.
“Look, it’s as if you’re making it out as me lying to you.”
Bai Shiyan looked outside to see if his horse was still following, then turned back and looked at Liu Zhongming’s shocked face very proudly.
“If you don’t believe me, ask Shilei, our whole family was there, watching Little Brother Qu crying and eating a meal, I don’t know where the tears came from.”
“He cried so much my Mother’s heart became a puddle of water and she even scolded me. She said that he was a guest sent by Zhongming, yet I arranged a kennel for him, saying that I wronged Little Brother Qu.”
“My Father, that sidekick, wanted to make my Mother happy, so he moved Little Brother Qu to live not far from my Mother— with such parents, tell me how wronged I was.”
Liu Zhongming’s mind was a little confused. He had thought of his aunt being soft-hearted, the little fox pretending to be pitiful and that his aunt probably would be unable to withstand the attack of the little fox.
But he never thought that Qu Chenzhou, who was so reserved, would burst into tears.
Now listening to Bai Shiyan’s words, he remembered the day when Qu Chenzhou was pressed against the table by himself, with red eyes that were watery, his body twitching slightly with his choking, yet he stubbornly didn’t look at him.
After sobbing for a long time, he had to surrender since he didn’t know how he would talk to the person or if he would become a bad person in the future.
Just thinking about it like this made him feel a little restless. Living in the Marquis Mansion these few days was boring, so he could understand his aunt’s defeat.
“Uncle can actually bear it?” He knew that the most unbearable thing in his uncle’s life was someone else taking his aunt’s attention, even if it was his son.
“It’s not like you don’t know about my Father,” Bai Shiyan took out the alcohol jug from under the table, then thinking that he would have to inspect the palace in a bit, he could only put it down with regret: “As long as my Mother likes it, even if it is a pile of sh*t, my Father can praise it to the sky.”
Liu Zhongming glanced over silently.
Bai Shiyan hurriedly changed his words: “I didn’t mean that Little Brother Qu is a piece of sh*t!”
Liu Zhongming didn’t care about him: “Knowing that my aunt likes Chenzhou makes me relieved.
“Not only that, my Mother even wishes to deliver his three meals a day personally.”
Speaking of this, Bai Shiyan patted his legs and laughed.
“Let’s not forget how amazing Little Brother Qu is. My Mother asked him why he was crying that day, whether he was uncomfortable or the food was unpalatable. Guess what he said.”
There was still a long way to go before the palace gate and since Liu Zhongming was idle, he was happy to guess.
“He said uncle was too fierce?”
“No,” Bai Shiyan didn’t make him wait: “He said, my Mother is good-looking and nice to him, so he was so happy, he cried.”
Liu Zhongming took a sip of tea. It was hard to imagine such cheesy words could come out of Qu Chenzhou’s mouth.
“Little Brother Qu’s mouth is too sweet, and it made my Mother smile. He also chose some rouge for her, combed her hair, and matched her clothes these days. My Mother doesn’t even go out, and only looks at him every day.”
“Hurry up and bring the person back as soon as possible. If Little Brother Qu stays for a few more days, I think my Mother will drive the two of us out.”
Bai Shiyan helplessly smacked his lips then he recalled something. “He told me in private that he looked at my Mother’s divination.”
Seeing his expression, Liu Zhongming guessed, “It’s a good thing?”
“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. He said my Mother will give birth to a precious son soon.”
“Give birth soon? Isn’t she already quite old?” Liu Zhongming choked again and couldn’t help laughing: “Uncle is really good!”
“If they want it, they want it, but why a son?” Bai Shiyan muttered dissatisfied, “Why can’t it be a daughter, having a Bai Shilei is already bothersome enough. Will Brother Qu’s divination be inaccurate?”
“I advise you to hope that he will be right.” Liu Zhongming restrained his smile, speaking seriously to him, but not wanting to explain it clearly to make him upset.
If a girl is born from the Bai family now, even with the gap of more than 20 years old, she will inevitably enter the palace in the future.
When his sister entered the palace, he was still young, and he only knew that his sister was going to be a very powerful bride, and in the games they played when they were young, the brides were always full of joy and vigor.
But when he was leaning on his sister’s window, he saw her sitting alone in front of the dressing mirror. A room full of beautiful red things, only his sister was wearing plain clothes, drawing her eyebrows over and over again.
He climbed in through the window, and his sister beckoned him to go over, hugged him and sat him on her lap, letting him watch her draw her brows.
At that time, his sister read a poem he had learned a long time ago – asking her husband in a low voice about the depth of the eyebrows.
It was only after a long time that he realized that his sister didn’t want to enter the palace at all. What she was thinking of was nothing more than a beloved person who would paint her eyebrows every day, rather than her competing with others for a little gift.
His sister had no choice at all.
But in these worldly families, how many people can be masters for themselves? Can he?
The carriage curtain tossed open a crack, and Liu Zhongming shivered in the cold wind – will he be involuntarily arranged a girl in the future? Will he also lie in the same bed with someone he doesn’t know?
“By the way,” Bai Shiyan just thought he was cold, pulled off his cloak and threw it over: “My Mother said, you can go or not, but for the festivals in the future, send Little Brother Qu to our house for a few days.”
“Okay, okay, I know, we’re almost at the palace gate,” Liu Zhongming signaled to the outside, “You still have something to do, so I’ll drink your alcohol for you.”
During the Mid-Autumn Festival banquet in the palace, there will naturally be strict inspections outside the palace. Bai Shiyan jumped out of the carriage, and turned to the window to shout, “Forget it, with your alcohol capacity, if you really can drink it down, you would be disrespectful in front of the emperor and we can’t afford it.”
He turned around and was about to leave, when Liu Zhongming pulled his sleeve and said, “Shiyan, I have a guess.”
“What?” Seeing his serious expression, Bai Shiyan listened attentively.
“I’m just guessing,” Liu Zhongming said softly, “perhaps Chenzhou’s true identity is your unborn brother.”
After he finished speaking, he immediately put down the curtain of the car, and heard Bai Shiyan cursing outside. He couldn’t help but smirk happily.
He didn’t know if Shiyan himself noticed that they had lost their earlier hostility towards Qu Chenzhou.
Going forward, not far from the palace gate, the carriage stopped where palace people waited outside to greet him to get off. When he looked back, he could not see Bai Shiyan, but he could hear the sound of the Beiya cavalry stepping across the street.
After stepping over the moat, it was the garrison of Nanya. One moat divided the inside and outside of the palace city into two families.
These days, Liu Zhongming had been thinking, if there is Nanya, there will be Beiya, if there is a Father, there will be Tang Shuxin and Lin Boqian, if there is Ning Wang, there will be Huai Wang and Qi Wang, and if there is Liao Guangming, there will be Bo Yan.
It seems that all the people are involuntarily fighting at a close melee with their match.
But what about him?
He will someday be in the center of the vortex, so where will the opponent who checks and balances him be?
Before sending Qu Chenzhou away, he once discussed this issue with him.
But Qu Chenzhou only frowned and said to him, “This time the Qihui ointment is too salty, so next time put less salt.”
He was led all the way into Taiji Hall, where the Mid-Autumn Festival banquets were held every year. He was already familiar with the way.
The Emperor took the Empress and his sister to the high platform. On the left were the chiefs of the three provinces, and on the right were the three Wangye’s on equal footing, acting amiable.
Ning Wang was simple-minded. When he entered, Ning Wang beckoned at him vigorously. He saluted and shook his head lightly—this is not a banquet outside, it is not a place where he can go wherever he wants.
After greeting each other in turn, they were led to the table.
He was young, had no official position, and was only present because of his elder sister and Father. Although the people around him were different every year, he was a little surprised to see the people present after he sat down this time.
Ling He sat upright on his left hand side. Only when he was seated did he nod slightly, then look away, his expression indifferent and calm.
Before, because of Dan Lang’s case, the two exchanged letters several times, and this was the first time they were so close.
Liu Zhongming had long heard of Ling He’s fame. It is said that when he was first appointed as Si Zhi (official position name), he was a tough nut to crack. If Lin Boqian hadn’t protected him in time, he would have been bitten back and his head and body would have been separated.
Looking at him now, the other party was not much older than Bai Shiyan.
Although it was said that Ling He’s character was stubborn and unpleasant, when he saw that the Emperor really wanted to use someone for the matter of Qi Wang this time and he chose Ling He, he didn’t know whether he was happy or worried.
The so-called “when there’s things to do, there is no beauty; when there is nothing to do we welcome spring*”. If the Emperor did not want to investigate the case, he was afraid that it would not fall into the hands of Ling He.
* when men have nothing to do and spending leisurely time = want to be with beautiful women, but when there is urgent matters to do, they think of the not beautiful but capable women
Maybe, he can consider starting in this direction.
Liu Zhongming didn’t want to get drunk, so he just took a few sips slowly, and then plucked at the dishes in front of him, remembering that the bamboo shoots and chicken and the spring river crucian carp are favored by Qu Chenzhou. When the spring of next year arrives, he should have the southside send more over.
Although the chef in the shop was not as famous as the royal chef, there are quite a few who can handle this dish and are quite talented. He just hoped that Qu Chenzhou would not be too picky.
As he picked up the vegetables to suppress the alcohol, he looked up.
Due to a previous illness, the Empress has not yet fully recovered her spirits. So with her deliberately painting a light and sullen makeup, which is less stern than usual, she looked a little delicate and bright.
The Emperor thought that it was too long since he saw her with such a well-behaved appearance, and repeatedly turned his head to tease her. He also picked up the grapes on the side and gave it to her, waiting for the Empress to peel it and put it in his mouth, and then laughed a few more words.
Concubine Liu sat on the other side, always with an appropriate smile, then as if she had telepathy, she turned her head to look at him.
They looked at each other and smiled, and then they turned their eyes away. There was no need to worry or be sad for others.
Not long after, he saw his Yu Gonggong coming down to invite Marquis Liu to go up. He was too far away to hear what he said, but Liu Zhongming saw that the people over there were all looking back at him, and his heart sank.
For some reason, he remembered what Qu Chenzhou said to himself – one’s wishes will be difficult to achieve.
He suddenly seemed to understand why he had arranged Ling He’s seat next to him today.
He told the Emperor before that because of his brother, he wanted to go to the criminal department of Dali Temple, but his qualifications were not enough to directly serve as Shaoqing of Dali Temple, at most he could be the Tuicheng.
But now it is Ling He who is in charge of the Criminal Division, and whether it’s based on feelings or reason, the Emperor will not let him be subordinate to Ling He. Now he wouldn’t even be able to become a Tuicheng nor would he replace Ling He thus he will probably be sent to the civil affairs department.
Sure enough, one’s wishes are difficult to achieve..
They looked at Liu Zhongming, and Liu Zhongming also smiled at them—since even Chenzhou said that he couldn’t change it, then fine, let it happen. It’s the same wherever he goes, he’s just a “loyal dog” that can bark.
The Emperor said something he couldn’t hear. He was distracted for a while and didn’t listen and only saw everyone getting up and raising their glasses, so he must have said some auspicious words.
He also stood up, and was about to raise his glass to drink, when a glass of alcohol was stretched towards him from the side, not far or near, as if waiting for his response.
In the midst of the excitement, Ling He looked at him calmly, and when he saw him turn his face, he raised the alcohol glass again, doing it first as a respect.
Liu Zhongming heard the words after the alcohol glass.
“Dan Lang’s case is closed.”
He was not at all surprised by this result. What was involved in Dan Lang’s case was not human life, but face. Everyone on all sides had someone to protect, and in the end they will only pick it up high and put it down gently.
Just like the turmoil in Luo City last year, just like the flood this year, who can really be held accountable?
Maybe Ling He was the only one who would be so ignorant of current affairs to inquire questions one by one, and maybe only he is able to interrogate some of them.
The act has been done, the person who should be protected has been protected, and the scolding that should be given was given, so this case should also end.
The leader of this drama told the people to withdraw from the stage and he will not care about the characters on the stage who have already entered the play.
It’s just face.
He also raised his glass: “Congratulations.”
Ling He replied indifferently: “Congratulations.”
It was that look in his eyes again.
Liu Zhongming watched Ling He sit back silently, thinking that Qu Chenzhou was not the only one who was about to go crazy.
The author has something to say: He will be in the center of the vortex one day. Where will the opponent who checks and balances against him will be – come, guess who it is