From the very beginning, Cheng Yujin felt that as a father and son, the way Old Master Cheng treated Cheng Yuanjing was very strange. Today, when the Old Master sent everyone out, his eyes were looking for someone. Among all Cheng family members present, Cheng Yuanjing was the only one absent to see the imperial physician off.
Needless to guess, the Old Master was looking for Cheng Yuanjing.
Old Master Cheng was seriously ill, and he could be gone anytime. The arrangements for the properties and title he would leave behind was the utmost importance. But at this critical time, he wasn’t in a hurry to arrange his posthumous affairs, but instead sent everyone off and talked to Cheng Yuanjing alone. The meaning behind this action was inexplicable.
Cheng Yujin felt the oddity of this matter, so she made a special arrangement, avoided everyone’s eyes, and ran back into the Old Master’s bedroom. She wanted to know what actually was in the Old Master’s mind, that he should talk with Cheng Yuanjing alone while disregarding other family members.
How could she know that she would hear such a shocking secret!
Cheng Yujin was caught off guard and almost screamed on the spot. She slammed her mouth tightly, so hard that small teeth marks were left on her fingers. For the first time, Cheng Yujin regretted her action. She wished she could cover her ears and stopped listening any further.
But betraying her expectations, the voice of conversation simply weakened a bit by the wood separating them, but still clearly flowed into the cabinet.
Old Master Cheng was dying, and was at his last strength. He wanted to sit up but only managed to raised his head. His eyes could no longer see clearly and only registered a blurry figure.
This was the crown prince. Even if he fell off from the cloud, even after receiving so many setbacks, he was still a noble and high figure, with the imperial aura radiated throughout his body.
Cheng Yuanjing sighed softly. He sat down by the bedside and said: “Marquis, I’m here. If you have any unfulfilled wish, please speak out.”
In the narrow cabinet surrounded by heavy wooden doors, Cheng Yujin’s fingers tightened even more. Cheng Yuanjing didn’t deny the Old Master’s call and acquiesced it.
He isn’t Cheng family’s son, but the crown prince who has been missing for 15 years?
With a bang, many past events suddenly exploded in Cheng Yujin’s mind. It’s no wonder that Old Master Cheng and Cheng Yuanjing’s interaction didn’t seem like a father and son. When the Old Master made a decision, he would look at Cheng Yuanjing, as if making a request. After seeing Cheng Yuanjing nodded, it was as if he was relieved; it’s no wonder that the Old Master asked Cheng Yuanjing to write calligraphy for the Emperor’s longevity feast; no wonder he was very protective towards Cheng Yuanjing, even to the point of being biased so blatantly; no wonder the Old Madam has always been suspicious about Cheng Yuanjing’s parentage. Little Xue-shi has been separated from Old Master Cheng for almost twenty years, but suddenly was back with a six-year-old son in tow. Old Madam Cheng always suspected that Cheng Yuanjing wasn’t a Cheng’s descendant, but little Xue-shi was deliberately lying.
So the truth turned out to be like this. The Old Madam suspicion was correct, but the child’s real parentage was too big for their imagination.
The torrent of thoughts barraged Cheng Yujin one after another, pushing her mind into total chaos. The more chaotic she felt, the lighter her breathing. She knew she had touched a big disaster today. The crown prince’s disappearance was a major event; the whole country has been searching for him for fifteen years. Who would have thought that the crown prince actually was being raised in the capital so uprightly? Cheng Yujin didn’t dare to guess whether the Emperor knew about it or not, but she was sure that neither the Empress nor Senior Grand Secretary Yang was aware.
Old Master Cheng has been concealing this fact for more than ten years, and even didn’t trust his own wife and biological sons. Now that Cheng Yujin has broken into the secret, will the Old Master let her left with her life? Even if the Old Master was willing, how about the crown prince?
Cheng Yujin covered her mouth even tighter, reducing her breathing into almost non-existent. The agarwood scent was filling the room, and the sunlight shone in from the pane: slowly and heavily.
Old Master Cheng’s voice was feeble and hoarse: “Your Highness, this old subject knows that my time is not much longer. In this life, this old subject never has to toil to earn a living and was frivolous in my youth. Now in old age, this subject is blessed with children and grandchildren. Although never made any substantial contribution towards the country, it was a smooth life without any regrets. Xuelan is waiting in the afterworld for so long, afraid that she is already tired of waiting. This old subject has no worries, only two things that I can’t let go of. One is the incompetence of my Cheng family’s descendants, and the other is you, Your Highness.”
“Your Highness has been living among the common people for fifteen years. This old subject was lucky enough to meet Your Highness, but I cannot see your return to the Eastern Palace and witnessing your prosperous rule. It is truly the greatest regret of my life.”
The Old Master was speaking intermittently and had to stop and rest several times before he could finish. All this time, Cheng Yuanjing was waiting patiently. While listening to the Old Master’s words, his eyes swept across a lion-shaped incense burner.
That heavy gilt bronze burner was placed next to a window. The green smoke above it was lightly swaying. There was no wind inside this closed room, why did the smoke sway?
Cheng Yuanjing’s gaze fell lightly on the cabinet, sweeping over it as if inadvertently. Old Master Cheng was ignorant of his actions and seemingly was falling into an old memory. He slowly repeated the disappearance of the crown prince in the eight years of Jianwu that shocked the whole country.
“His Royal Highness is a di son of the Middle Palace(1), but your life was so unfortunate and was harmed by a villain. Yang family has been unwilling to let His Majesty crown his Wangfei as the Empress. The matter was dragged for half a year, and only until His Majesty was about to resign from the throne and return to his fief that they finally allowed Zhong Wangfei to be crowned Empress. But no one expected Yang family to be so courageous. Even when the Empress was pregnant, they were unwilling to give up and almost caused her miscarriage. They also caused Your Highness to be born prematurely in weak health. The Empress Dowager said that Your Highness was born in May, that you will bring misfortune, and proposed to establish another crown prince several times. But His Majesty refused. After Empress Zhong passed away, His Majesty took you by his side and personally raised you for three years. Your Highness’s health gradually getting better and better, but suddenly fell ill at five years old. The imperial physicians were all helpless. His Majesty had no choice and reluctantly sent you to a Taoist temple in the mountain.”
(1) Middle Palace: Refers to the Empress. The palace she resides usually has a different name, though, similar to the Eastern Palace.
Sorry for the lack of sponsored chapters last week. The first part of my job interview finally ended, and now I’m waiting for the result. I still not re-opened the donation page yet, since I am still behind my sponsored chapters. For GNU, we have a total of 21 (!!!) chapters. Probably thanks to the previous mass release and the current tension & cliffhangers in the plot. Thank you for your supports! Even posting a nice comment is tremendous support for me
although I cannot reply to all of them.
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