Chapter 293 - A Sheep Waiting To Be Slaughtered
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He remembered. Of course, he would. How could he not?
“Then, what did we say?”
Jing Hua mumbled for a moment before sitting upright. “That day was Mother Empress’ birthday. Imperial Father bestowed the title of Crown Prince in front of all the civil and military officials. You said that for the sake of our Empire, its people’s peace, and the prosperity of the nation, a sovereign must act with propriety, practice virtue, and uphold his duties before his personal interests. He who rules men lives in confusion; empty your boat to cross the river of the world; neither shall oppose you nor harm you. [1. Qi Zhen once refers to a passage from Confucius and the philosopher Zhuangzi.
http://www.thedailyzen.org/2015/05/27/the-empty-boat-by-chuang-tzu/] Son must not act arbitrarily or wickedly, must learn from the numerous virtuous officials and scholars, and accept my responsibilities.”
That year during Empress Xuanshu’s birthday celebration, after toasting with his officials, Qi Zhen got up and conferred the title of Crown Prince to the ten-year-old Jing Hua in front of everyone.
Even after more than 10 years, Jing Hua still remembered his father’s speech verbatim.
Qi Zhen nodded after he heard his son. “Hm. You still remember,” he remarked with a certain gratification.
Meanwhile, Jing Hua felt stifled. He still wanted to put in motion his plan but hesitated. His fists tightly grasped his knees. Blue veins could be seen bulging on the back of his hands. The beautiful satin of his clothes was wrinkled through his grasp like crumpled paper.
Qi Zhen quietly coughed twice, then he asked, “Jing Hua, you have grown up by my side. We know your temper better than anyone. Your innate character is pure and simple. You are genuine and not fond of fighting. You, Jing Yi, and Jing Rong are all different. Although they are clever, and the officials considered both of them as rising dragons, our thoughts differ. They are lacking what makes a good sovereign - your genuine temperament. For many years, we had always felt like that.”
Great, time for that chicken broth! Jing Hua hypnotized himself to find the courage to accomplish his plans. He raised the bowl of broth and sent it toward the Emperor’s mouth. However, when the goal was almost in sight, Qi Zhen blocked it.
“Imperial Father, Son cannot turn back.” He lowered his head. His tone sounded a bit distressed.
Qi Zhen stayed silent while coldly looking at him.
Jing Hua pushed the bowl of medicine toward Qi Zhen again, but his eyes didn’t dare look at his father. “Imperial Father, please don’t make things difficult for your son. I give my word that I will be a good emperor.” He hardened his heart and finally resolved himself to do it.
At that moment, Zhan Quan stepped forward and said, “Crown Prince, the Emperor is still your father. It is still not too late to turn back.”
“It’s too late.” Jing Hua replied. Then, he stood up and took a few steps back.
“Crown Prince…” Zhang Quan’s face scrunched up. He bowed down but still wanted to persuade Jing Hua one last time.
Qi Zhen got up and used the table to support himself. He gasped. It took energy for him just to ask Jing Hua, “You still don’t understand your wrongdoing?”
“Wrongdoing?” Jing Hua laughed. His eyes suddenly became overcast. He replied, “Imperial Father, you taught Son everything, and I remembered it well. However, the current situation at court forced me to go through this step. You taught me how to rule an empire, and you also thought me the right way to turn a bad situation into a favorable one - eliminating all the threats. So, today, I am simply applying the principles you have taught me!”
He slammed his fists heavily on the table and spat a mouthful of blood. He raised his index finger to point at his son. “We were wrong. So wrong! We have raised an ungrateful bastard. Now we have reached this stage, and you still don’t have an ounce of repentance.”
Zhang Quan came to support the Emperor.
Jing Hua wasn't swayed by his father’s words. He snapped, “Son already gave Imperial Father a chance, but you didn’t cherish it. So, don’t blame me for being merciless.”
As soon as his words were said, the tightly closed doors abruptly opened. Jing Hua’s personal bodyguard rushed inside, leading all the imperial guards from East Palace. Each one of them had a sword in hand. They all aimed at Qi Zhen.
The marching of clanking metal echoed throughout the Fuyang Hall. Through the opened doors, light beamed in, illuminating the inside.
This light shone on Qi Zhen who was obscured by the dimness of his bedchamber. His complexion appeared paler than two days ago. Despite his sickly countenance, his fury and despair couldn’t be concealed.
If Zhan Quan wasn’t there to support him, he would have collapsed to the floor long ago.
The bowl of poisonous broth laid on the table. A blotch of blood stood glaring on the whiteness of the porcelain bowl. It was the blood Qi Zhen vomited in his anger.
When the imperial guards from East palace rushed in with weapons in hand, Jing Hua suddenly berated them. “Put away the swords.”
The guards complied and sheathed their swords.
Jing Hua went on, “Imperial Father, Son had this place surrounded. At any time, my men can rush in. It is really fortunate that Imperial Father had planned such a grand wedding for me today. If it wasn’t for that, the defense of the palace wouldn’t have been so loose. In addition, all the civil and military officials are gathered in the East Palace, so no one is aware of the situation here. Hence…”
He pointed at the bowl of deadly decoction.
“If Imperial Father cares for Son, please drink this soup. Then, I will announce to all that you have passed away from illness. After Son ascends to the throne, I will bury you in a tomb with great views and confer you a posthumous title.”
What a great son! Qi Zhen had absolutely no intention of abiding by his son’s wishes.
He swept away the bowl regardless of how weak his body was. His anger fueled this burst of energy.
Crash! The bowl was swept off the table. It fell to the floor and shattered.
Jing Hua knew that he had chosen to step onto the road of no return. He raised his hand and gestured to the guards. “Fine. Since Imperial Father refused to drink, don’t blame me for being ruthless.”
When his words ended, he lowered his hand.
The guards once again unsheathed their swords at his signal. Their targets were Qi Zhen and Zhang Quan
Qi Zhen’s body had reached its limit. He keeled over, dragging Zhan Quan to the floor in his fall.
The eunuch still continued to support him with both hands, as he begged for mercy. “Crown Prince, please don’t continue to err and further go down this wrong road.”
Jing Hua paid him no heed. His eyes were bloodshot. He coldly ordered, “Kill them!”
The guards lifted their swords. They thrust their weapons toward Qi Zhen while rushing to cover the distance between their target. Only a few steps separated them from Qi Zhen Emperor. A few guards near enough aimed at Qi Zhen’s head. The cold light of the swords fell. Blood splattered wordlessly inside the bedchamber.
Without a warning, the nearest guards died. Their lives reaped by the swords of their comrades. Suddenly, the East Palace’s force were decimated in half - half were killed by the traitors amongst their ranks.
After finishing off the loyal East Palace’s guards, the traitors turned their blades at Jing Hua.
Only a moment ago, everything was within Jing Hua’s control. Yet in an instant, the situation reversed, leaving him unable to cope. He stood there with widened eyes and soft legs. His shoulders shrank from fear.
He pointed at the dozen of traitors in front of him.
“The Crown Prince is rebelling. Capture him!”
A voice suddenly burst out from behind. It belonged to none other than Jing Yi.
When the order came out, the traitors immediately obeyed and grabbed Jing Hua. As they restrained him, they pushed his shoulders down, plastering him to the floor.
All along, he didn’t even resist, utterly frozen from shock. At that moment, he was no different from a sheep waiting to be slaughtered. He was caught in a dead-end with no escape route.
Grenn's Rants Corner
It is the end for Jing Hua?
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