“I… I was concerned about Father Emperor and lost my mind in panic.” Li Chengjun argued.
“You are still refusing to admit your crime?” Li Chengjing waved his hand and said loudly, “Bring up the immortality pills that Taoist Chongxu and Shou Wang presented to His Majesty.”
Li Chengjun’s face turned pale upon hearing this. Seeing his reaction, the cabinet ministers already knew the answer. The things presented to the Emperor, for the sake of auspiciousness, were generally in even numbers, which was why there were exactly two immortality pills. Li Chengjun watched as the remaining immortality pill, which should have been destroyed, was delivered to Li Chengjing. Li Chengjing scraped the pill a little and fed it to a crane brought from Yinghua Palace. Sure enough, the crane flapped its wings and convulsed for a while before dropping down and dying.
Li Chengjing watched as the crane stopped moving and said coldly, “This crane died in pain after taking a small amount of powder scraped off the pill. His Majesty swallowed a full pill, and you can imagine how painful his end was. His Majesty passed away tragically, poisoned by the two of you! Taoist Chongxu confused the Emperor, lying to the imperial family, making havoc on the court, and now he has also poisoned the Emperor. Shou Wang, as a son, helped the criminal Taoist to bring the deadly pill to His Majesty, making himself an accomplice. Both of you murdered His Majesty!”
“I, I…” Li Chengjun stuttered, unable to say anything to refute. Seeing that the situation was turning bad, Taoist Chongxu was about to sneak out quietly, but was caught by the guards waiting outside. Outside the palace, there was a loud cry begging for mercy, which completely destroyed the last of Li Chengjun’s psychological defense. He staggered behind, repeatedly muttering, “Not me… it’s not my fault…”
Regardless of Li Chengjun’s struggles and pleas, the Yulin Army quickly arrested him and took him away. The Senior Grand Secretary swept his eyes across the surrounding Yulin Army before stepping forward and bowing respectfully to Li Chengjing, “The previous Emperor passed away tragically, which was a tragedy to the world. However, the country cannot be without a ruler for a day. This old subject implores Your Highness the Crown Prince to comply with the will of the people and ascend the throne as soon as possible to preside over the overall situation!”
Everyone in the chamber immediately knelt down one after another. Cheng Yujin also took a step back and knelt respectfully, “We implore Your Highness to ascend the throne.”
The Emperor’s private chamber in the Qianqing Palace was very crowded at this moment. There were cabinet ministers with their ministerial attire embroidered in flying birds motif, military attachés in full armor, imperial eunuchs in red, palace maids in blue, and finally, Cheng Yujin, dressed in brilliant colors. All these people, with different identities, statuses, and honor, were kneeling at Li Chengjing’s feet without exception, saying in unison, “We implore Your Highness to ascend the throne.”
Everyone was kneeling, but Li Chengjing alone was standing, making his figure look even tall and imposing. Li Chengjing glanced at the many kneeling heads and finally bent down to personally help Cheng Yujin up.
Cheng Yujin stood up with the help of Li Chengjing. He then held her with one hand, making her stand shoulder to shoulder with him, before slowly raising his other hand, “You may stand up.”
Everyone bowed even more deeply in response, “Congratulations, Your Majesty. Long Live Your Majesty, Long Live Her Majesty.”
“Emperor Ming, the eldest son of Emperor Xiaozong, was stranded as a young child and grew up among common folks, only returned to the palace in the 23rd year of the Jianwu era. He was appointed crown prince at the age of five. In the same year, he was sent to Qingxuan Temple to recuperate due to illness, but met an assassination attempt by the hand of Senior Grand Secretary Yang and went missing as a result. Fortunately, he was rescued by a woman named Xue-shi. The Emperor was diligent and intelligent. Although he was fostered among the common people, he was dedicated to his learning. In the 19th year of Jianwu, by his own effort, he won the title of Jinshi.
Throughout his life, the Emperor was diligent and virtuous. He married only one woman and declared such during his enthronement ceremony — “The ancestor dictated that a man can only take a concubine when he was still without a son by the age of forty. Zhen had the eldest son at twenty-two, and thus will never take a concubine.” — True to his words, the Emperor had never taken a concubine and spent his whole life in harmony with his one and only Empress, never being separated from each other.”
——Excerpt from “The Chronicle of Emperor Ming”
In the official history of past emperors, every historian spared no effort to suppress one particular rumor, that is, the ever-wise Emperor Ming who had no single blemish in his life had actually married a niece from the identity he assumed when living among the common folks. There was even an unofficial claim that said that when the Emperor and Empress were alone in their chamber, they would joke by calling each other ‘Ninth Uncle’ and ‘Niece.’
In the end, rumors were only rumors.
Later, in the thirteenth year of Yuanxi, Eldest Princess Li Mingyue, who had reached the age of betrothment, asked her mother how to find a perfect husband. Upon her daughter’s question, Her Majesty the Empress, beautiful as ever, thought for a while and said with a smile, “You need to find an uncle first, then ask him to introduce you to the young talents around him.”
The handsome and suave Li Chengjing, the perfect emperor whose name all the historians fought hard to defend, glanced helplessly at his beloved empress.
They were so similar to each other. Their life trajectories should have been similar but not intersecting. One could only blame that snowy day in the early spring of the 22nd year of Jianwu. That day, amidst the fluttering snowflakes, Li Chengjing saw a beautiful girl slapping her former fiance without hesitation, which suddenly aroused his curiosity.
Who is she?
Immediately afterwards, Li Chengjing was startled. He was not a real Cheng’s blood. Who this girl was and what kind of grievance did she have with the young man had nothing to do with him.
Then, he watched as the girl turned back, and saw the calculation in her eyes before she bent down in a curtsy, “Greetings, Ninth Uncle.”
In the end, Li Chengjing knew she was Yichun Marquis Manor’s Eldest Young Miss, his nominal niece.
Also, his one and only wife in this life, Cheng Yujin.
—— [Greetings, Ninth Uncle] The end.
It’s finally finished! Thank you all for your support! There are still two extra stories, including one from Li Chengjing’s POV. Enjoy while the journey still last!
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