Situ Li had a tranquil expression, reminiscent of how he looked when Su Xi-er had first met him. He glanced at Feng Changqing before turning back to Su Xi-er and saying, “A loyal subordinate of Nanzhao’s previous Eldest Imperial Princess, supporting your master in everything.”
Su Xi-er watched the fire which continued burning at the peak, noticing at the same time that there was no one else around. This meant that Situ Li’s men were likely all dead, and he would be unable to turn the situation around at this point.
“Third Imperial Prince, you can still choose to surrender now. Why fight one another when the same royal blood flows in your veins?” Su Xi-er walked up to him as she spoke.
Situ Li laughed and retrieved a hairpin that was hidden within his sleeves. Under the bright moonlight, Su Xi-er was able to tell that it was something that belonged to the deposed Empress. She remembered touching the same object when she had stayed in the former’s repose palace.
Situ Li looked at the hairpin before turning his gaze back to Su Xi-er. “You should recognise this.”
“Of course. But you were very different at the time, Third Imperial Prince.”
“We’re still people on the same path; after all, didn’t you take revenge on those that harmed you after occupying someone’s body and obtaining a new life? Ning Anlian, Yun Ruofeng, and so many of the older officials in Nanzhao’s court.” Situ Li had dealt with Nanzhao for many years, and he had thus been familiar with Ning Rulan’s position in the court. It was just that he had never expected the same Ning Rulan to become his opponent one day.
“One should never be merciful to those who harbour ill intentions, but you’re the one who’s disturbing the peace this time. Rebelling against the Situ Imperial Family and stirring up trouble in the court.” Su Xi-er stared at him, her eyes gleaming under the moonlight.
Those eyes reminded Situ Li of his own mother, someone who had been able to persevere through all the hardship she was put through, and this was why he had decided to look out for her back then.
He had never seen Ning Rulan’s face on any of his secret visits to Nanzhao in the past. He had only ever seen her from behind, a figure which embodied elegance in that red dress of hers, and someone at the centre of any crowd.
“Trying to convince this Prince to surrender?” Situ Li mocked as he continued studying the hairpin in his hand.
“There’s no point in continuing the fight. All the sishi you have painstakingly raised over the years have tragically died. The law states that men who commit treason are not to be given proper burials. Their bodies will be abandoned in the wilderness.”
Situ Li remained calm. “I’ve given them food and shelter, so that’s good enough. They all would’ve died without me, so the only difference is that they were able to live a little longer. What’s wrong with that?”
Feng Changqing could no longer watch in silence. “Though they are sishi, they are still human. Imperial Princess, there’s no need to spare the Third Imperial Prince if that’s what he thinks.”
“Your Imperial Princess is really benevolent,” Situ Li scoffed. “A kind princess who would break the tendons of those who commit mistakes and abandon them in the wilderness. You talk about being merciful, and display your virtuosity with Nanzhao's new policies, but they're all just a cover.”
Feng Changqing frowned at this, but Su Xi-er stopped him before he could say anything in retort.Previous Chapter Next Chapter