Nirvana In Fire Chapter 96

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In the days that followed, it seemed that Mei Changsu had calmed the ripples in his emotions, and he was able once again to tease Fei Liu on one side as he listened to Tong Lu’s detailed report on the happenings in the different parts of the Capital on the other. He did not think again of the girl who had disappeared into the whirlwind of her family’s fate, even though that girl had once, in her childhood, toddled around his legs clutching at the corner of his robes. But these memories were too distant, so distant that they did not feel as if they belonged to him, and his impression of the Xie Qi who had grown into adulthood was faint, as if she were merely the background to his plots.

So if he could avoid thinking about her, he would do his best to do so.

Prince Yu was not slow to act, and by the third day, Xie Yu was thrown into prison, rocking the court to its core. The Crown Prince’s side rapidly ama.s.sed all their power and influence, dividing their resources between trying to find out the details of what had happened, and taking turns begging for imperial mercy.

A first ranked military marquis had been toppled in a single night, and this was by all accounts one of the major cases of the year. But what surprised many of those who were unaware of the details of the event was that neither Prince Yu’s side, which had instigated the case, nor the Crown Prince’s side, scrambling to mount a defense, requested a joint trial, which should have been essential.

And so it was that Xie Yu’s case was left entirely to the judgement of the Liang emperor, without allowing a single external judge to interfere.

Because of all this, Xie Qi’s funeral was somewhat delayed. After a few quiet rituals, her coffin was brought to a beautiful temple near the western part of the capital, and the altar lamp was lit, as she waited for her husband to receive her into the ancestral tombs of the Zhuo family. Xiao Jingrui’s wounds had not yet fully healed, but he fought regardless to help bear his little sister’s coffin. Grand Princess Liyang was requesting imperial permission to renounce the family and her royal ties to become a nun, and in the meantime, she had taken refuge in the old temple, spending her days keeping watch over her daughter, and lighting incense for her spirit’s safe journey to the afterlife. The string of misfortunes that had plagued her family in the past few days was more than even the experienced Liyang could bear, and she gradually fell ill. And because he had not rested as he should, Xiao Jingrui’s wounds were not improving. And so it fell to Xie Bi to grit his teeth and lift his head, taking it upon himself to handle matters for the family, as well as take care of his ailing mother and wounded older brother.

Xie Xu, studying at Songshan Academy, had received with shock the news of the tremendous changes that had occurred in his family, but Grand Princess Liyang wrote personally to him ordering him not to return to the capital, and his teacher Mister Moshan also received word from Mei Changsu asking him to keep Xie Xu there, so he was not able to return.

The Emperor, who felt ill at ease by all these unpleasant developments, kept to his original plan of going to the Hisbiscus Pavilion for the Spring Hunt, lingering there two days before returning to the palace. As soon as he returned, he bestowed upon Prince Jing twenty horses, ten gold pieces, and one jade ornament. Meng Zhi also received several pieces of pearls and jewels. Jealousy twisted sour in the hearts of the empty-handed Crown Prince and Prince Yu, but one felt secure in his position as the heir, and the other thought of the imperial gifts he had been bestowed in the past, which far exceeded these, and both decided they had better appear friendly this time, and so they did not allow their emotions to show, and instead added their own gifts to the pile, congratulating Prince Jing for his strength and courage, which had gained respect for the imperial face. Some of the other court officials followed the trend and came flocking to Prince Jing’s door bearing gifts of their own. Prince Jing only received the gifts from the other princes, saying that he was honoured by the fraternal affection, and followed etiquette in sending back his own gifts in return. He refused all other presents from the other court officials, only appearing briefly to have a cup of tea with them before disappearing again, not lingering long to talk. When news of his conduct reached the imperial ear, the Emperor was very pleased.

The fifth day after the Spring Hunt, there was still no word of how Xie Yu’s case was to be handled. Mei Changsu, unconcerned, was in the gardens tr.i.m.m.i.n.g the flowers with a pair of long silver scissors. In the afternoon, Li Gang came to report that Prince Yu had come for a visit, and he did not have time to return to his rooms to change out of his soil-covered outer robes before Prince Yu came storming in. They went indoors together, and before all the servants could be dismissed, Prince Yu burst out, “His Majesty has lost his mind!”

“Your Highness, please take some tea.” Mei Changsu handed a small, exquisite teacup to Prince Yu before asking quietly, “What was Your Highness saying just now?”

“Eh….” Prince Yu knew he had misspoke, and hurriedly corrected himself. “I was saying, I don’t know what His Majesty is thinking. Xie Yu’s case is solid as iron, and no matter what kind of defense they try to mount or who else they try to implicate, in the end, it will be almost impossible to avoid a death sentence, so why is His Majesty hesitating?”

“His Majesty is hesitating?” Mei Changsu’s tone was still nonchalant. “Weren’t things going well just a few days ago?”

“You don’t know, Xia Jiang is back. That old rascal, I never realized how close he and Xie Yu are. Xuanjing Officers should remain detached from matters of the court, but he’s breaking this rule for Xie Yu, and seeking audience with His Majesty on his behalf. Who knows what kind of nonsense he sprouted into the imperial ear, but suddenly, His Majesty seemed to chamge his mind yesterday, and sent me to investigate thoroughly exactly what had occurred that day, as if he suspected that Xie Yu had been framed.”

“There is a mountain of ironclad evidence. There are letters in Xie Yu’s own handwriting at Tianquan Manor, and Zhuo Qingyao still has the blueprint maps of Minister of Revenue Shen Zhui’s residence. Xie Yu plotted the murder of one of the highest officials of the court – surely this isn’t a crime that can be so easily negated by a few clever tongues?”

“One would think so, but there is still some uneasiness in my heart. Xia Jiang is a subtle man, and His Majesty trusts him. I heard that, after he returned, Xia Dong received a terrible scolding at his hands for helping us that night, and she has now been confined to her quarters, not allowed to leave. From his actions, it seems that he is ignoring the consequences, determined to protect Xie Yu af any cost. They have never had close interactions in the past, how did they form such a solid relations.h.i.+p?”

Something flashed in Mei Changsu’s gaze, but his voice was indifferent when he asked, “Has he been to the prisons to see Xie Yu?”

“He has gone once. He threw all of my men out, so we have no report on what they discussed.”

“What about Xie Yu’s statement?”

“He has confessed to some of the charges, and denied others.”

“That is to say, he confesses to acting lawlessly for the Crown Prince, but denies killing palace guards or any other crimes that similarly defy yhe imperial face and power?”

“Yes, he confesses that he has indeed made use of Zhuo Dingfeng’s strength in the past, and has even admitted to making an attempt on Shen Zhui’s life. But he vehemently denies the other charges, and is crying that he is being wronged by Zhuo Dingfeng, who has fabricated these accusations in pursuit of personal revenge.”

“Ng,” Mei Changsu nodded. “It looks like Xie Yu is only trying to preserve his life. It’s true, so long as he still lives, he can withstand any calamity. Once the Crown Prince takes the throne, will he not be reborn from the ashes?”

“That is a wishful delusion.” These words struck Prince Yu’s sore spot, and he scoffed coldly. “If I cannot take him down to the death this time, then I will truly have wasted all the efforts you have expended on my behalf.”

“By the way,” Mei Changsu did not answer, changing the subject instead, “I asked Your Highness two days ago to have Zhuo Dingfeng make a list of all the affairs of the previous year, I wonder if the list has been completed yet?”

“I brought it with me today.” Prince Yu drew out a sheet of paper from his pockets and held it out to Mei Changsu. “This Xie Yu really has some guts. It is fortunate indeed that I have not been murdered by him yet.”

Mei Changsu took the list and glanced over it casually as he asked, almost absently, “There must be some people Zhuo Dingfeng never knew why Xie Yu wanted dead, correct?”

“That’s right. There are some deaths whose purpose even I do not understand, like that……that teacher……truly a strange death.”

Mei Changsu looked as if he did not remember, and picked up the sheet again, scanning it briefly. “Oh, Your Highness means this Li Chongxin? He died twenty three years after the war, around twelve or thirteen years ago now, truly an old case. Perhaps it was some personal grudge.”

“A teacher, having some grievance with the Marquis of Ning? Mister must be joking.”

“It was indeed a joke.” Mei Changsu coolly s.h.i.+fted topics. “Your Highness does not need to worry, even though Xia Jiang has His Majesty’s trust, would Your Highness’ own heavy imperial favour prove inferior by comparison? If Xie Yu escapes with his life this time, to say nothing of whether he would be able to someday revive his power, I fear Your Highness power and influence would be greatly diminished in the eyes of the palace, so this is indeed a case on which we cannot afford to back down.”

Prince Yu’s face was grim, revealing that these words had struck a chord in him. Actually, Xie Yu had already lost all his power and influence, and whether he was dead or not, it did not make much difference. But since he had so grandly and loudly begun this whole affair, he could not let it die down with a whimper, for fear that his own supporters would lose faith, and believe his own imperial favour was waning.

But……was it really something that was only a “belief”?

In his last few imperial audiences, the Emperor had treated him as warmly as always, but in their conversation, he seemed to have grown considerably colder and more distant, and Prince Yu, with his sensitivity, naturally picked up on this difference, though he did not know what to make of it.

“Your Highness,” Mei Changsu’s voice interrupted Prince Yu’s contemplation. “You still have some power in the prisons, do you not? Would it be possible to allow me to see Xie Yu?”

“You want to see Xie Yu? That man has the heart of wolves and jackals, and now that he is solely focused on staying alive, do you think he can be so easily swayed by words?”

“It depends on how those words are spoken.” Mei Changsu slowly held up the list in his hand. “Your Highness, you have said yourself that the relations.h.i.+p between Xie Yu and Xia Jiang is not deep, and so, it is my belief that he is protecting Xie Yu so fiercely not for friends.h.i.+p, but for mutual benefit.”

“What possible benefit could Xia Jiang reap here? Unless he, too, for the Crown Prince…”

“No,” Mei Changsu shook his head flatly. “Xia Jiang’s loyalty to His Majesty is beyond reproach. To him, everything he does is for His Majesty’s sake, I think even Your Highness would not question this?”

“That’s true, Xia Jiang’s loyalty to Father Emperor runs bone-deep. That’s why I don’t understand why he would choose a time like this to make a stand.”

“About that – just a few days ago, I experienced myself the reality that someone who is loyal to you may still hide things from you, and sometimes, they do so believing that it is for your good.”

“Mister’s meaning is, Xia Jiang is hiding things from Father Emperor?”

“It is only a guess.” Mei Changsu waved the long list in his hand. “Guesses must naturally include every possibility, for example, I was thinking……could this list contain people……that Xie Yu killed for Xia Jiang?”

As soon as he spoke, Prince Yu leapt to his feet, smacking his right fist into his left hand, his tone fierce as he said, “That’s right! Mister’s mind is certainly nimble. What possible relations.h.i.+p could exist between Xia Jiang and Xie Yu? Xia Jiang must be holding the advantage over Xie Yu – if he saves his life, then he will keep his mouth shut, that must be the agreement! That must be the agreement they reached the day they talked in the prisons!”

Mei Changsu slowly stretched out a hand and made a gesture for Prince Yu to calm down, a small smile at the corner of his lips. “Your Highness, please remain calm. Everyhing I have said just now is only a guess, and if we take guesswork as fact, and form our plans based on these, then I fear it will be difficult to avoid error. Your Highness, please first arrange for me to see Xie Yu, even if I obtain no answers, I can at least a.s.sess his state of mind.”

“You are right, I am being rash.” Prince Yu also felt he had lost his composure a little, and hurriedly calmed his expression. “Going to the prisons is easy to arrange, Mister does not need to be worry. I will have them chain Xie Yu well, in case he tries to hurt Mister.”

“That’s no problem, Fei Liu will be with me….” Mei Changsu paused, then asked, “Can he come with me?”

“Yes, yes,” Prince Yu answered hurriedly. “I forgot, with Fei Liu guarding you, who needs to worry about Xie Yu?”

Mei Changsu bowed, then spoke again. “Your Highness must continue to carefully monitor the conditions of others in the court. Have there been any new developments of late?”

Prince Yu’s eyebrow twitched involuntarily. He did not know what was happening to Qin Banruo, but somehow, many of the spies she had placed closely in the households of different court officials had run into trouble recently. Some had been caught in the act, some had committed other faults and were being punished, some had abruptly lost favour and were being transferred, and a few had even eloped, and run away from the capital. All in all, she had suddenly lost seven or eight vital lines of contact, and the immensely talented lady was in despair, so preoccupoed by the chaos of her spy network that she had not provided him with useful information in a long time.

Mei Changsu glanced at him and shrewdly refrained from questioning further, only saying indifferently, “It is not anything urgent, after all, who among the court is not following Your Highness’ lead? It is only that we have finally managed to diminish the Crown Prince’s power, and Your Highness must not allow this momentum to pa.s.s unexploited.”

A murderous expression pa.s.sed fleetingly over Prince Yu’s face, and his hands clenched into fists inside his sleeves. When he spoke, there seemed to be a seething energy under his words.

“Mister does not need to be concerned, I……understand….”

Mei Changsu lowered his eyes slowly and picked up the white jade teacup beside him, lifted it to his lips, and peacefully took a sip.

Translator’s Notes:

This is coming to you by mobile since I’m on a short holiday, so please forgive any formatting glitches.

Also, I wonder if it makes MCS nauseous to talk about Xia Jiang’s loyalty to the Emperor…because it is certainly making me nauseous to type it.

Also also, you see it in the drama, but it’s even more obvious in the novel how much of a long game MCS is playing. His patience and determination are out of this world.

Last line: tesipping meme, anyone?

Nirvana In Fire Chapter 96

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Nirvana In Fire Chapter 96 summary

You're reading Nirvana In Fire Chapter 96. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Hai Yan already has 287 views.

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