Right when Li Zechen was feeling apprehensive, he heard Ye Ming say, “Your Majesty, please do not approve my father’s request to resign. Father works his hardest for the sake of the country and the common people. He has grand plans. If he is forced to leave because of my affairs and henceforth suffer people’s ridicule, I will truly be distressed.”
Li Zechen immediately nodded his head and said, “Do not worry, zhen will properly implore Imperial Tutor to stay.”
Ye Ming said sincerely, “Many thanks, Your Majesty.”
Li Zechen’s eyes were sad. “This is what zhen originally owes to you. What zhen is doing now cannot make up for even a tenth of a thousandth of zhen’s mistakes.”
Ye Ming shook his head, “That Your Majesty recognizes his mistakes and can improve is the most important. Chen is content.”
Li Zechen gave a bitter laugh. Ye Ming didn’t blame him, and in the end, he only regarded him as his emperor, and was only devoted to him as his ruler. Everything he had done for him was because he hoped he could be a good emperor…
If you loved me, or if you were a little bit more selfish, you probably wouldn’t forgive me this easily.
Li Zechen’s heart was endlessly pained, but he knew he should leave now. It was just that he was a bit reluctant to part with him still. For the rest of his life, he wouldn’t dare hope Ye Ming harbored any affection toward him, but what about in the next life…?
Originally, Li Zechen was already prepared to turn around and leave, but he suddenly asked, “Wen Qing, if I were not the emperor, if I had not been born into the royal family, would we…have a chance?”
Ye Ming started. He didn’t expect Li Zechen to ask this question.
He looked at the man before him. This powerful man seemed to be able to overcome any obstacle, but at this moment, he was looking back at him with such a fragile expression. The hopeful expression in his eyes seemed as if it’d shatter upon contact, and it made him appear so lonely and sad.
Ye Ming suddenly felt very distressed for him.
Why did he treat this person so well back then? It was probably just because he had, by chance, witnessed his loneliness and sadness…such a young child, yet he seemed to have been abandoned and forsaken by the entire world.
He gave him hope, allowing him to persevere through it all, but he still wanted to cast him aside. This time, there wouldn’t be anyone else to pull him out of that dirty quagmire and give him hope.
Although I am doomed to be unable to respond to your love, I still pray that you can continue living on with hope.
You remembered me that day; how could I not remember you?
It was just a pity that in the end, our paths diverged.
Ye Ming lightly stepped one foot forward, raised his head, and kissed Li Zechen’s lips.
Strictly speaking, it didn’t even count as a kiss, only a light passing brush. It happened so quickly it practically didn’t give him time to respond.
When Ye Ming performed such an action, he seemed to have tossed aside his lifelong persistence in abiding by propriety. His ears reddened and he didn’t overdo it, saying, “Your Majesty should leave now.”
Yet Li Zechen stood in place without moving, as if he had been struck by some body-petrifying technique.
Originally, he hadn’t held out any hopes, but this person had generously given him hope.
Li Zechen suddenly smiled. Now that I have this answer, even if I cannot get closer to you in all my life, it still does not matter.
Because I know that perhaps in the next life, or the next…there will finally come a life when I am not the emperor, and there will not be any worldly obstacles to separate us, and we will have a chance together.
As long as there is this tiny possibility, I will not have any regrets for the remainder of my life.
[Ding, Li Zechen’s blackening value -1, current blackening value 0]
Ye Ming watched Li Zechen as he left, and then he turned around and returned to his room.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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Ye Ming finally left his courtyard again.
Imperial Tutor Qi and Madam Qi just so happened to be together. In the short time that they hadn’t seen each other, the two of them seemed to have aged a lot. The look they directed at Ye Ming was both disappointed and sad. Finally, Madam Qi was the first to speak, “If you have something to say, then go ahead and say it.”
When Ye Ming saw that his parents, who had once loved him most dearly, appeared so distant and cold now, it made his heart hurt endlessly. He thought of his decision and felt even guiltier toward his parents’ kindness in raising him.
But this was the only option he could think of.
Ye Ming knelt and respectfully said, “Your son knows he has made a grave mistake and does not dare beg for Mother and Father’s forgiveness. He only hopes that Father will not resign and leave, otherwise it will be tantamount to giving people a chance to attack you and cause the entire Qi family to be implicated because of me. Your son is ashamed.”
Imperial Tutor Qi coldly said, “Who does not know of your affairs by now? Do you want to stay here in order for other people to laugh at you?”
Yet, unlike before, Ye Ming’s expression was resolute. “This was done by your son alone and has nothing to do with the Qi family. Even if the consequences must be borne, it should be me alone who bears it.”
Imperial Tutor Qi became even angrier after hearing this and almost wanted to strike him again, but he was held back by Madam Qi. He said furiously, “You will bear it? How will you be able to bear it?!”
Ye Ming heavily knocked his head against the floor three times. In his eyes was a look of bidding farewell. “I will bear it.”
Imperial Tutor Qi laughed and waved his hand, saying, “Get lost!”
Ye Ming slowly stood up. Sorry for making you disappointed and sad…your son is unfilial. He glanced at Imperial Tutor Qi and Madam Qi with a look of reluctance to part, then resolutely turned around and left.
Zi Zhu said, “Gongzi, do not be sad. The Master was only having a fit of anger. Actually, he still really cares about you, otherwise, he would not want to leave the capital for your sake. He is just saying harsh words, but his heart is soft.”
Ye Ming laughed at himself mockingly, “So it’s like this…”
Zi Zhu said, “Yes.”
Ye Ming shook his head and said, “I have not gone out in a long time. Today I want to go out and relieve my boredom. You do not need to come with me.”
Zi Zhu said worriedly, “How can that be? Nubi should accompany you anyway.”
Ye Ming smiled, “You are a little servant girl. How would it be convenient for me to take you with me? Do not worry, nothing bad will happen to me.”
Zi Zhu couldn’t stop Ye Ming and could only watch him leave.
Ye Ming left the Qi residence and headed directly toward the Yan River bridge.
[Ye Ming: Are there any of Li Zechen’s people following me?]
[888: There are two.]
[Ye Ming: Big brother, help me out. I want to lose them.]
Ye Ming listened to 888’s instructions. Not once did he turn around. He turned left and right through alleyways, and with great difficulty, finally lost those two people.
There were many people on the Yan River bridge. It was one of the capital’s famous sights. Below the bridge, the river water flowed rapidly. When Ye Ming arrived, he happened to encounter two of his former peers.
Their relationship used to be quite good; now, they looked at him with curiosity, as well as scorn. They asked meaningfully, “Wen Qing, we have not seen you in a long time. Why have you not come out recently?”
Ye Ming looked at them and raised his eyebrows, saying, “Such dignified men; if you have something to say, why do you not say it forthright? You insist on behaving like those gossipping ladies? Senseless, senseless! Ridiculous, ridiculous!”
His peers were a little angered. You were involved in such a scandal, but not only are you not ashamed, you would also mock us?
Ye Ming suddenly burst into loud laughter. “Who would want to be someone who curries favor and ingratiates!”
After he finished speaking, he immediately leapt from the bridge.
His peers still hadn’t been able to react when they saw his white robes leap past them. Ye Ming’s figure had already disappeared into the river rapids.
After a few more seconds, people finally reacted. They frantically shouted, “Someone fell into the water! Someone fell into the water! Save him!”
Li Zechen complied with Ye Ming’s request and rejected Imperial Tutor Qi’s resignation. Yet he didn’t know why, but today he felt a bit ill at ease. A droplet of ink fell onto his memorial, and a stain bloomed.
He put down his brush and took a deep breath. He thought of the gentle kiss Ye Ming gave him yesterday, and his eyes revealed a tender, infatuated affection.
Just then, a eunuch frantically burst inside and said, trembling, “Your—Your Majesty…something bad has happened…”
Li Zechen said, “What has made you so panicked? Tell me slowly.”
The eunuch knelt on the floor and said, “Qi gongzi has committed suicide by jumping into the river! H-his body has just—been found!” When he finished speaking, he pressed himself against the floor and trembled in fear that Li Zechen would kill him in a fit of anger!
Li Zechen’s movements halted and his pupils shrank. His mind even seemed to blank for a split second. He mumbled, “What did you say? Zhen did not hear clearly…”
The eunuch said with a trembling voice, “Qi gongzi has committed suicide by jumping into the river!”
Li Zechen’s body swayed. He used his hands to support himself against the table and finally managed to steady his body. Without thinking, he wanted to rush outside, but just when he took two steps, it was as if his acupuncture points had been pressed, and he halted.
After a long moment, Li Zechen slowly turned around. He went back to his files and began writing a response to the memorial.
The kneeling eunuch looked up at Li Zechen in confusion. He appeared dumbfounded.
The emperor loved Qi gongzi the most—before, he’d done all those preposterous things for him; how come now he was so indifferent about his death? Could it be the fickleness of a ruler’s love? But the eunuch quickly realized that Li Zechen wasn’t completely unfazed. His hand seemed to be shaking; he couldn’t even hold his brush steadily.
Li Zechen tried hard to read the words written on the memorial before him, but it seemed that no matter what, he couldn’t see clearly, his vision completely blurry.
He used all of the strength he had, but he was still unable to steady his gaze. The black text in front of his eyes seemed to come to life. They twisted into the grasses that grew at the bottom of the river and coiled around him. He wanted to break away from them, but he couldn’t struggle free. He felt like he was suffocating.
When you died, did you feel a lot of sadness? A lot of hopelessness?
A thousand, ten thousand times more sadness than I feel now.
It’s precisely because of how much you suffered that I can’t let you die for nothing. If you would rather do this to rid yourself of disgrace, how could I have the heart to go against you?
So not only can I not go see you, I also can’t even reveal any concern toward you…
Even if you’ve died, I still have to pretend we’re two people who have nothing to do with each other.
I can’t even see you one last time.
Li Zechen closed his eyes. A single tear fell onto the memorial where the drop of ink had just smudged it. It melted into the black and couldn’t be seen at all.
If I love you, then I can’t let anyone know how much I care about you.
A few days later, Li Zechen once again rejected Imperial Tutor Qi’s resignation in front of the royal court. In addition, he expressed regret over Qi Mingyan’s death. He denounced those who had spread rumors about him; they even pushed a good person to his death! As emperor, if it weren’t for Qi Mingyan’s death, he wouldn’t have known there were such ridiculous rumors. He felt deeply embarrassed, and angrily berated those who had helped spread this evil. They were great ministers of the imperial court, yet they would spread such slanderous rumors that could destroy someone’s reputation—he was seriously disappointed in them!
The ministers saw that Li Zechen really didn’t seem to know anything about the earlier rumors and thought of Qi Mingyan’s clear and clean nature, and one after another, they began to suspect the validity of the rumors. They originally came from the rear court and didn’t have any proof; how could they fully believe such baseless statements?
Seeing the emperor’s behavior, he probably truly didn’t have any relationship with Qi Mingyan.
With the emperor so angered, they were on pins and needles for a moment, and they didn’t dare to talk drivel anymore.
Slowly, different voices started emerging. Some people began sympathizing with Qi Mingyan; such an honorable and modest noble character was forced to his death by such a ridiculous rumor. They started to recall how upstanding and honest Qi Mingyan was and how he always abided by propriety.
Some people also brought up his poetry and said that he was proud and unyielding. How could someone who could compose such works use charm to seek favor?
Considering his last words, he must’ve been unable to bear such humiliation and finally chose to prove his sincerity through death!
Li Zechen only expressed his anger that one time in front of the royal court. After that, he never once deliberately expressed concern for Qi Mingyan again. It seemed like he really was just a person who had nothing to do with him.
Imperial Tutor Qi stayed in the end. Everything ended thus with Qi Mingyan’s death. At least, on the surface.
In a flash, three years went by. A hooded man arrived before Qi Mingyan’s grave. The man stood there by himself, his figure lonely. He didn’t take off his hood, and his face was hidden underneath it.
Li Zechen gazed at the gravestone. In the depths of his eyes, there was a look of reminiscence and yearning. He appeared to be somewhat rueful. Softly, he said, “I only dare to secretly come visit you at this hour.”
“Do not worry, I was very careful. I will not let anyone discover me.”
His voice was very soft and carried an unspeakable sadness.
We couldn’t be together in life, nor can we be together in death. The only thing I can do for you is to clear your name.
For you, I have been a model emperor for three years, so good that not a single subject could find a problem with me. I’ve been cautious and conscientious, skipping food and sleep. Nowadays, we’re in an era of stability and prosperity. Did you see?
I just feel it’s extremely pointless.
What emperor, what land under heaven? There’s really no meaning at all.
I just want to be with you, but it’s even harder than being emperor.
Li Zechen stood for a while longer, before finally leaving reluctantly.
A year later, Li Zechen fell gravely ill and died despite treatment. Because he had no heir, the throne was passed on to the seventh prince.
That’s it for this arc~ Maybe Wen Qing and Li Zechen are living out their good ending in a different life right now :”)