Apocalypse1 year five, twelfth days of twelfth lunar month, House of Marquis Ding Bei led the army back to the Capital and pacified the rebellion in one fell swoop.
All the rebels and rioting officials have been executed, Concubine Chen ended herself inside her own Palace with a long piece of white silk. The Emperor returned to the Court and announced the closing of Court for seven days. This kind of action, within the five years since this diligent and conscientious Emperor ascended the throne, was unprecedented. Even during the time when the Empress Dowager passed away, the Emperor only tiredly rubbed his eyebrows and announced the closing of Court for three days.
The Emperor was wrapped in his cloak, standing silently by the wall. Watching the guards recovering a bloated and deformed body from the river. The middle at the back of the body was pierced by several arrows. The blood has completely dried up from the body, the wound had turned white from soaking in the water. The body was still wearing the bright golden dragon robe that was hurriedly taken off that day. Freezing cold twelfth lunar month, floating on icy water must be very cold, right?
The Emperor crouched down in silence, carefully cut down the arrows. He prohibited anyone from intervening, carefully removed the arrowhead from the wound. After that, he removed the cloak from his own body and covered up the human form on the ground tightly with care. The bloated, deformed face was wet. The eyebrows and eye areas were sparse, and the lips were black and purple. So he took out a handkerchief from his bosom. During the time while doing all these actions, his hands were calm and steady. And didn’t trembled from the cold wind. One by one, the guards lowered down their gaze. So no one saw, that something silently fell down, wetting the face the Emperor had just carefully wiped clean.
Duan Ming Zhang remembered something from the past, this man entered the Palace half a year ago. Huai Zhen was in the side hall, waiting for him to summon him, ate the yogurt that was on the table. That was something Concubine Chen had specially requested to eat. Getting proud from being favored, she mistook the daring, slender young man as the Emperor’s new favorite. She flew into rage out of humiliation, ordered him to be dragged out and severely punished. By the time LePing managed to arrive, Rong Huai Zhen has already endured the punishment several times. The Emperor put an order of confinement on Concubine Chen. Afterwards, he personally went to visit the wounded Rong Huai Zhen. On his sickbed, Rong Huai Zhen was having a fever, stared groggily at him. Seemed to be delirious, he spouted out a sentence, “You are really good-looking.”
He can’t help but indulged in Rong Huai Zhen. Because no one has ever said such rude, offensive words to him, no one has ever took some spare time to secretly stare at him. In many many years, no one has ever dared to call him by his name in front of him. On that iron-blood colored night sky, Rong Huai Zhen who has been silently following his footstep abruptly crashed into his arms. He was sweating profusely, his eyes shining brightly, shouted his name, “Duan Ming Zhang!”
There are warmth spreading on the lips, at the same time a sharp pain on his neck and everything went black before his eyes. When he woke up once more, that person was no more. He stared helplessly….
The two men who shed blood but not tears on bloody battlefield, hugging their little brother’s dead body and crying painfully. They deeply blamed themselves –
If they were not down with cold,
If they haven’t missed the edict due to sickness,
If they didn’t delay their journey on the road,
If they came back one day earlier,
But in this world, how can there be so many ‘If’ ?
He don’t have any words to comfort them. Rong Huai Zhen died on his behalf, he was main culprit. The rebellion subsided. The Emperor is still the Emperor. Like so many emperors, he have a tangled and complicated harem surging with undercurrent of power behind his back. No one will tell him truthful words anymore, and he don’t have any truthful words to tell anyone anymore. Only the loyal eunuch LePing who have been with him for years knew, every year on the tenth of the twelfth lunar month, the Emperor will sit silently in front of a grave overnight. Then he will quietly leave upon daybreak. He didn’t looked any different from himself from the past. But ever since that year, the Emperor didn’t celebrate his birthday anymore. Because the day after his birthday is the man’s death anniversary.