Nightfall - Chapter 94

Published at 9th of April 2018 09:21:14 AM

Chapter 94

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The Emperor slowly walked towards the bookshelves and bent over as he slid his sleek finger over the neatly arranged books. He then paused at the deepest part of the books—the place where stone tabs and precious old books founded at the beginning of the Empire were placed. He remembered it very clearly that the last time he arranged the books, they were placed slightly slated from left to right. Yet now, the books were placed in the opposite direction. Perhaps, someone has touched the bookshelves?

He raised his eyebrows slightly and knocked the edge of the books with his finger gently. Suddenly, he hardened his finger joint and pushed the books in another direction, revealing a piece of paper that was hidden deep between the books.

The Emperor took out the piece of paper and took a look at the inked writings on it. He frowned furiously, as his eyes fixed on the words for a long time. Suddenly, he exclaimed angrily and asked, "Who else have entered the imperial study room?"

A moment later, three eunuchs were down on their knees within the imperial study room. They could not help but lifted their heads and looked at the bodyguard commander, who was slightly plump and was standing beside the study desk, with pitiful eyes. The bodyguards around the imperial study room area were all under the command of Xu Chongshan. Since the three eunuchs were not sure why his Majesty was angry, they could only put their hopes all on him.

Xu Chongshan carefully stepped forward and closer to the Emperor, as he gently asked, "Your Majesty, I am here to guarantee that no one has ever entered this imperial study room without any permission."

The Emperor Li Zhongyi was usually big-hearted and fair in administrating the country. The guards that followed him in and out every day knew his temper well, and had never felt fearful or threatened when they were serving him by his side. However, when the matter was about the imperial study room, even Xu Chongshan dared not be careless about it.

The Emperor slammed his hand on the study desk and stared at the writings on the paper coldly. He then asked sternly, "If no one had entered my imperial study room, where did this writings come from? Are you telling me that they are written by spirits from the underworld?"

He slightly frowned. The words on the paper seemed to be piercing into his heart and the more he stared at them, the more frustrated he was. He then paused and said, "Someone must have entered here this month, you better do your job and investigate it!"

Xu Chongshan bowed with great respect as he took a peep at the inked writings on the paper. Just as he was about to turn around and leave, he suddenly thought of the brave lad that came in the beginning of the month. He felt a piercing blast in his mind as his body froze on the spot —— everyone in this palace abided to the rules and no one would dare to enter the imperial study room without permission. He thought of all possibilities and the only person who had the chance to get close to the imperial study room, or even to enter the room, was only that young fellow!

"What happened? Did you recall something?" The Emperor questioned him as he stared coldly at the side of his face.

Xu Chongshan smiled gently and replied, "I was wondering, could it be one of scholars from the palace who had wrote the words in the Academy and it was accidentally brought into the imperial study room? Then again...the words are quite well-written."

The Emperor furiously glared at him and reprimanded, "Am I asking you to appreciate the words now? Do you not think I know that the words are well-written? What I want is you to investigate who is the person that bold enough to enter my imperial study room and used my brush and ink to write these words!"

Xu Chongshan gave an embarrassed smile and immediately left the imperial study room. After he had closed the doors of the room, he gradually straightened his body. As he walked out of the garden, he realized that his back was soaked with his cold sweat.

After a while, the imperial palace bodyguard Deputy Commander appeared at a deserted dark and freezing corner under the shelter. He glared coldly at the young eunuch, whose face was already as white as paper, and said angrily, "You are under my secret guard squad. I've told you to fetch the person to the duty room behind the imperial study room. Why did you leave him outside the imperial study room and left?"

The young eunuch lifted his head and answered with his shivering voice, "Sir, you have ordered me to keep clear of the areas surrounding the imperial study room. If I were to remain there, it would be obvious. Moreover, I've never thought that Ning young lad would be that bold to enter the imperial study room despite knowing the place."

"What's the use of saying all these now? That idiot had already got us into trouble!"

Xu Chongshan glared at him furiously and added, "His Majesty wants us to investigate this matter now. Looking at the Emperor's expression, I am sure that he would punish that lad with more than 10 beatings should he be captured. Hence, you got to remember this: That idiot did not enter the palace, neither did he enter the imperial study room. Got it?"

The young eunuch cried, "Sir, why don't we just say it's him? Even if the Emperor punishes him, we don't have to worry about him."

Upon hearing what he said, Xu Chongshan became agitated and said, "D*mbass! That idiot is now my subordinate! What will the Emperor think if he found out that the secret guard squad hired an idiot? Not only will I be a laughing stock, what if the Emperor is still angry and decided to punish me? Do you think it's fair for me?"

"That lad is related to Master Chao. Your Majesty would somewhat be more forgiving..." The young eunuch softly reminded him with fear.

Xu Chongshan swept his sleeves as he shouted, "Damn, just because of that Chao Xiaoshu, I need to be punished for that idiot?"

While Xu Chongshan and that young eunuch were preparing to suppress this matter, the Emperor Li Zhongyi was in his imperial study room with his eyes fixed on the words on that paper. Suddenly, he walked and unlocked the cupboard beside the bookshelves, where he pulled out a piece of writing from a stack of his own writings that he seldom exhibited to anyone. He then placed the piece of writing beside that paper.

The first part of the sentence was written by the Emperor on the night of the Spring Breeze Pavilion incident and he was prepared to give it to Chao Xiaoshu as a reward for the hardships he had suffered these years. It was also to encourage him to stay and continue to serve the imperial court. Never did he expect that there was no chance for him to give that piece of writing to Chao Xiaoshu, for Chao Xiaoshu left Chang'an city elegantly after a chat with him.

"The fish leaping across the current ocean...what's wrong with this phrase?"

The Emperor frowned and stared at the two lines of words. He then shifted his attention to the next line as he murmured, "Bloom in the Opposite World? Does this mean that one can never bloom in the current world, but have to leave Chang'an city and my Tang Empire in order to bloom?"

The Emperor was indeed angry that someone had come into the imperial study room without his permission, and he kept trying not to think about the meaning from these words. Yet when he started to calm down, he could not help but frown at the line "Bloom in the Opposite World". He recalled the day when he argued with Chao Xiaoshu and gradually, he started to understand the hidden meaning of the line.

"The fish may have leaped the ocean, but ultimately, it is still my ocean. Bloom in the Opposite World is where the real freedom is. I have restrained him for more than ten years, and letting him go now is just a way of showing my gratitude. Isn't giving others freedom equivalent to giving freedom to myself?"

The Emperor finally calmed himself and the frown on his forehead disappeared. He recalled the morning when he was feeling upset as he stared at the plants watered by the rain. He missed his close friend who shared the similar personality and characteristic as him, though their ranking difference was wide apart. His friend, perhaps, was currently strolling along the mountain paths while enjoying the scenaries in his turquoise robe. Somewhat, this made him felt as though he had left the Chang'an city with his friend, where he could feel the freedom and happiness in his heart.

But afterall, he's the Emperor of Tang Empire. Even though he understood what the sentences meant, he still felt a little mad over the incident as he stared at the words and reprimanded, "Even if you are right, I will still not forgive you! I must know who is the f*ucker who had written these words. How dare he insult me, the Emperor! Who is the idiot who had written these words, and written them...erm...written them so beautifully!"

Since his temper had somewhat subsided, his views on things were apparently different from before. At this moment, the Emperor started to look at the lines of words seriously. When he first looked at them, he just felt that every stroke of the words was well-written and depicted the calmness in the words. However, when he started to look at them in details, he realized the strokes for the phrase 'Bloom in the Opposite World' were sleek and balanced. From the writings, one could feel the skill and strength hidden within the writer. It was not vivid, yet it brought out the power and gentleness in the words. What a wonderful piece of art!

" awesome! The strokes are well-written. The characters are bold with style. They exhibit both beauty and arrogance, where the words seem to be drifting in a witty and masculine manner...who have written these words? These are way better than mine!"

The Emperor shut his eyes and raised his brows as he placed his slightly shivering fingers floating above the phrase 'Bloom in the Opposite World'. He could not help but felt surprised. He knew his remarks were inadequate to describe how wonderful these words were, for they are so much better than the ones he wrote. These writings were even comparable to the famous calligraphers' writings that were hanged on the wall, or perhaps, the energy it produced had overtaken them.

Though the Emperor's calligraphy skill was not great, his taste was extremely high. Just as how Ning Que was filled with emotions on that day in the imperial study room, as the Emperor looked at the writings, he could somewhat understand the contradicting emotions Ning Que had when he was writing these words. He felt that these words seemed to depict a scene where an obscure and unreachable flower, which was blooming at the opposite shore of the wide blue sea, gently brushed his back from top to bottom, sweeping away all the unpleasant experience he had for the past few days.

"Marvelous! Great calligraphy indeed!"

The Emperor instantly felt a sense of relief and happiness from within as he found his inner peace. He smiled gently while looking at those words on the paper, and was generously giving his most honest remarks about it.

Suddenly, he straightened his face and slammed his hands on the study desk. He then raised his voice and called for his men.

Few moments later, the same three eunuchs kneeled down in the imperial study room again as they looked pitifully at the bodyguard Deputy Commander Xu Chongshan. Xu Chongshan, who was trying to suppress his anxiety, leaned closer to the Emperor and consulted, "Your Majesty, I am currently arranging bodyguards to investigate on this matter secretly. Just that currently...we have yet to obtain any result."

As one of the officers who understood the Emperor the most, he knew that the Emperor was not a man who hold grudges. Not to mention a small incident like this, even if an extraordinary ridiculous incident was to happen within the palace, as long as it would not affect the whole empire, the Emperor would soon forget about it. Hence, Xu Chongshan was initially planning to drag this incident on for days and let it be gradually forgotten, but never did he expect the Emperor to act out of normal and was interested in pursuing on this incident.

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The Emperor ignored him as he was totally enchanted by the calligraphy on the study desk. He gently stroked his long beard and ordered, "Help me find out who is the author of this calligraphy, but remember to treat him politely. Hmm, once found, do invite him into the palace. I would like to consult him on some matters."

"Huh?" Xu Chongshan was taken aback and lifted his head.

A few moments later, the imperial palace bodyguard Deputy Commander, whose uniform was previously soaked in cold sweat, once again appeared under a deserted dark and cold corner of the palace under a shelter. He embarrassingly looked at the young eunuch and helplessly said, "Yes, this was the situation in the imperial study room. Now, it seems like it's a blessing in disguise for that idiot."

The young eunuch heaved a sigh of relief as he patted his chest. He then smiled sweetly and said, "Sir, this is a great opportunity. If our secret guard squad has a great calligrapher who is adored by His Majesty, I believe you will benefit from it as well."

"No opportunity, no benefits, at least that's the case now." Xu Chongshan said to his loyal subordinate with a sarcastic smile on his face. He then added, "Just remember this. That idiot, no, that Ning Que never entered the palace at all."

The young eunuch was shocked upon hearing the words and stared at him. He questioned, "Sir, why?"

The smile on Xu Chongshan's face appeared as though he was going to cry, as he explained with his clenching teeth, "Because...we didn't admit previously, and if we were to admit now, that's...lying to the Emperor."

All of a sudden, the young eunuch seemed to understand the logic behind. With a half-sobbing and half-laughing face, he clenched his small fist and said helplessly, "See what have we done? Such a great opportunity yet we've destroyed it."

What's the point of you crying now, Xu Chongshan silently thought to himself. Afterall, he was the one who had caused this great opportunity of winning the Emperor's heart into an accusation for lying to the Emperor, and for that, he should be the one crying!

With such a thought flashing through his mind, he could not help but regret for his actions. If only he had stood out and accepted the punishment for Ning Que, he would not be stuck in this dilemma right now. It was like he was in a f*cking situation where he knew the location of the treasure yet he dared not dug them out with a shovel!

The young eunuch rolled his eyes as he looked at Xu Chongshan and cautiously brought up an idea, "Sir, what if you return and explain to his Majesty that you did not recall about Ning Que until you decided to start investigating?"


Xu Chongshan was already in a very bad mood. He painfully scolded, "How can you forget when the Emperor wants to punish, and remember only when the Emperor decided to appraise? Indeed, the Emperor is very generous and kind to us, but that doesn't mean he's that stupid! Sure, we can hide some unimportant truths from him at times, but if he knows that his men are treating him as a stupid man, you will finally understand that infront of him, we are the real stupid ones!"

He forcefully suppressed the anger within him, as he continued with a deep voice, "We can never admit that we lied to the Emperor. If we choose not to admit in the first place, then we must not admit it for life."

The young eunuch raised his head, innocently looked at him and said, "But if Ning Que is found, we cannot deny."

Xu Chongshan kept silent for a moment before he replied, "Time. Only time can help us now. That is also the only logical word said by that idiot. Only time can lighten our offense."

The spring breeze blew across the field, through the flowers and trees, and into the alley. Through the windows of the study room and the cracks on the walls, the breeze entered the rooms and gently brushed across the faces of the students. That warm cozy breeze depicted the great season of spring. Other than faces of weariness, the students from Classroom Three appeared puzzled as well, for one of the desks were still empty.

By the time the school bell rang for the third time, the students were already leaving the study room to either return to Chang'an city, or to rush to the canteen for the freshly steamed corn, or to drag their feet on the rocky pathway towards the old library.

Upon reaching the old library, there was still no sight of that fellow. Some had even asked the instructor whether that fellow had secretly gone to the second floor. Everyone was suspicious of his whereabouts. Situ Yilan and Jin Wucai could not bear the suspense and started to discuss about it with other students around them. Zhong Dajun frowned his brows as he stood beside the bookshelves and thought deeply. They were all used to seeing that pale-looking fellow going to the old library building every day, but when they did not see him today, they could not help but felt shocked.

By the window, on the second floor of the old library, a female professor, dressed in a light-colored instructor uniform, gradually placed down her pen on her hand as she raised her head and took a glance at the staircase. She waited for a moment. Realizing that no one was going to climb up to the second floor, she could not help but slightly frowned her brows. Though she had never agreed that he should force himself and risk his life to read the books on the second floor, but after observing him for several days, she had somewhat admired him. Yet when that student failed to come by today, she guessed that he might have given up. Somehow, she felt that it was a pity for him to give up. She was hoping he could persevere on.

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