Title: Infinite Power Over The World
Original title: 权倾天下[重生]
Author: 叶默凉(Ye Moliang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
“You……” Murong Heng glanced down at Shen Ci, who was pressed up against his chest, and was also dumbfounded for a moment. Earlier, when he perceived that Shen Ci was about to fall over, he’d instinctively rushed over to steady him. Unexpectedly, he wasn’t careful enough, and the latter had crashed into his arms.
He was supporting Shen Ci’s arms with both his hands. Upon lowering his head, he noticed that Shen Ci was clearly blushing, so he hurriedly released him and took a step backwards. After coughing a few times, and he said, “You’re watering the flowers?”
Shen Ci nodded in embarrassment, not knowing what he should say then. His mind couldn’t help but recall the warm, wide chest from earlier, the solid arms steadily supporting him, and the comforting scent that caused him to momentarily forget that he should have pushed himself away.
After a moment’s silence, Shen Ci turned around and pointed in the direction behind him. “Let’s go and talk inside.” Surely, this visit of Murong Heng’s wasn’t entirely without purpose. There were likely to be more people in the courtyard, hence more gossiping mouths. Therefore, it’s still safer inside the house.
Murong Heng followed him into the room. After shutting the door, he walked a few steps to reach Shen Ci and, in a hushed voice, gave an account of what happened today. Once he’d finished, he closely observed the expression of the person in front of him.
When Murong Heng was done recounting, Shen Ci revealed a satisfied smile before falling silent again. Emperor Chongde. He himself couldn’t remember how many years it had been since he’d last heard this name. He did recall that he’d seen him before when he was still very young. At that time, Emperor Chongde had just assumed his post and had travelled incognito to arrive at his home.
Back then, both his parents were still alive. His father, Shen Mo Heng, was a well-known, upright official of the Upper Court. He’d relied on his exceptional ability to assist the current emperor and gained his benevolence.
Little Shen Ci hid behind his father. Upon Emperor Chongde’s arrival, he emulated his father and both kneeled on the ground. His childish instincts made him lift his head to peek at Emperor Chongde, but was immediately smacked on the head by his father.
He also remembered Emperor Chongde’s features. During those days, he was still very young, and he appeared very amiable—like a big brother who lived next door. There wasn’t any apprehension in Shen Ci’s heart.
His inward impression of Emperor Chongde was formed back then. It wasn’t until his parents were cruelly killed and the entire Shen residence was reduced to ashes, that he discerned Emperor Chongde wasn’t what he’d viewed him to be. He’d killed his own father, his ownmother, and all his brothers, gradually making his way to his current position. One needs to bear in mind that Emperor Chongde wasn’t the crown prince. He wasn’t even a legitimate prince; rather, he was the late emperor’s child born out of wedlock. The average person wouldn’t be able to fathom the amount of effort that had been expended for a child in such a lowly position to reach his present status.
At that time, Shen Ci had internally developed an incessant fear of Emperor Chongde, but it was too late. His entire family had died in the hands of Emperor Chongde. If his father hadn’t had him sent away from the Shen residence ahead of time, and found a servant boy with a similar build to die in his place, the current Shen Ci would be nothing more than an aggrieved soul buried in the dirt.
The memories broke off sharply, and Shen Ci realised that he was soaked in cold sweat. He slackened his clenched fists before clenching them again. He revealed a wry smile and said in a soft voice, “Excellent. Your Highness would surely have already comprehended what should be done next, right?”
Murong Heng nodded, but he was somewhat uncertain when he noticed that the expression of the person in front of him had grown a little tortured. Although he was being aided by Shen Ci and was also aware of his hatred for Emperor Chongde, he wasn’t aware of what kind of affiliation there was between the two and had absolutely no intention of finding out.
“This subordinate can’t thank Your Highness enough for your help with this.” Shen Ci feared that without Murong Heng’s assistance, he would never have had the chance to take revenge, but he couldn’t grasp why Murong Heng hated Emperor Chongde so much since he was his biological father.
It would seem that Murong Heng has guessed what Shen Ci is pondering in his heart, so he sat down on the chair with a soft sigh and slowly narrated about the past. His mother had loved Emperor Chongde so much that she even devoted her entire life to remaining confined within the palace. However, Emperor Chongde didn’t treasure her in the least, and furthermore, he believed the empress’ words despite any affection they’d shared in the past, subsequently driving his mother to her death.
One day, he pushed open the palace door to see his mother’s body hanging in the air. By the time she’d been untethered, her body was already ice-cold and lifeless. He huddled on his mother’s bosom, tears streaming down his face.
In his previous life, he was ignorant and had ruined his own existence. In this life, his mind was as sharp as a knife, and he would no longer be fooled by anyone again. He would exact revenge on all his foes, one by one!
Shen Ci exhibited an understanding expression when Murong Heng had finished speaking. At last, he discerned the motive behind Murong Heng’s revenge and also sympathised with all that he’d suffered. So, he stretched out his hand to the air, and after a while, he felt Murong Heng’s hand grasp his. Both their hands were held tightly together, firmly clasped.
Life and death, death and life—hate cannot be abandoned!
In the meantime, Emperor Chongde was sitting on the soft divan when lively sounds permeated from outside the hall. Apparently, it was his empress and Imperial Concubine Jing who’d shown up. A few days ago, the empress and Imperial Concubine Jing were meditating in seclusion, and it wasn’t convenient for them to leave. Upon learning that Emperor Chongde had suffered an assault, how could they not be distressed?
Once they arrived in the palace, Empress Xu hurried to the bedside, and—seeing that Emperor Chongde was unharmed—she promptly burst into tears. She clung to the hand of the man on the bed and sobbed, “Your Majesty, fortunately you’re alright. Qie Shen* was scared to death.”
(*TN: self-address for a wife when speaking with her husband)
Imperial Concubine Jing, who’d been standing outside, also entered. She saw Emperor Chongde in his normal appearance and was able to cast off the heavy weight in her heart. She stayed beside the queen and dabbed at her tears.
Several days later, Murong Heng once again instructed people to spread rumours, disseminating what had happened in the imperial upper court. Everyone in the public was greatly alarmed when they heard that the crown prince had poisoned Emperor Chongde. Was it possible that the crown prince truly had the intention to seize the throne?
This rumour quickly made the rounds until nobody knew how distorted it had become. By the time the rumours had reached Emperor Chongde’s ears again, he had furrowed his brow and didn’t say anything.
Following that day, he made more inquiries into the poisoning incident. Despite not detecting anything that was detrimental to the crown prince, there was still no proof that it truly hadn’t been instigated by him either. He was still sceptical. In conjunction with the day’s rumours, suspicions re-emerged in Emperor Chongde’s heart.
Meanwhile, Murong Heng walked out of his official residence and heard that Qingzhou* was holding a Hundred Flowers Exhibition today. He remembered that Shen Ci loved flowers very much, and thus emerged the idea of going together with him to appreciate the flowers. At the same time, he would seize the chance to do something that would put an end to a matter once and for all.
(*TN: a county-level city in Weifang, Shandong.)
As predicted, after he left, the remaining guard who’d betrayed him in his past life was nursing treacherous intentions. If he was able to kill Murong Heng midway, he would therefore have carried out a major service. The crown prince would certainly recognise his worth, and henceforth, he would enjoy prosperity for the rest of his life.
After coming to a decision, the guard secretly made preparations and set his mind to dealing a fatal blow to Murong Heng. Regardless of how clever Murong Heng was, he would never expect that an imperial bodyguard from his own mansion would betray him. As such, he would surely succeed!
Yet there were too many unexpected things in the world, and by the time he realises it, he would already be at the end of his life.
Just then, Murong Heng arrived outside the mansion and happened to run into Shen Ci speaking with his attendant, Feng Nan. After listening intently for a moment, he ascertained that it was due to the Hundred Flowers Exhibition. Shen Ci wanted to go, but Feng Nan was afraid that he would get into an accident owing to the crowds and was therefore unwilling to bring him there.
Murong Heng raised his brows, gave a light laugh, and walked inside, calling out loudly, “If he’s not bringing you, why not let This Prince take his place?”
Shen Ci and Feng Nan, who were in the midst of speaking, subconsciously turned to look towards the doorway. Murong Heng strode in, headed to Shen Ci’s side, and repeated himself. The expression on Feng Nan’s face changed a few times, and he said: “No need to trouble Your Highness! If my young master wishes to go, this servant will certainly bring him there,” he said.
As a matter of fact, these words already had a hint of insubordination, but Murong Heng was in good spirits today, so he didn’t find fault with him, but turned to address Shen Ci, “Gentleman Shen, what if This Prince accompanies you there?”
“This……” Although Feng Nan’s unwillingness to bring him there caused him much distress, accompanying Murong Heng wasn’t a good idea, therefore he had some misgivings.
Murong Heng discerned the internal dilemma in Feng Nan and realised what he was worried about. He was merely fearful that their ostentatious behaviour would affect the next part of their plan, so Murong Heng clapped his hands and had the imperial guards behind him bring something over.
It was a set of paraphernalia for disguising appearances. Murong Heng dragged Shen Ci into the room. After some effort, both of them had changed into ordinary looks, which were strikingly different from how they usually were.
Having dispelled the apprehensions he’d been harbouring, Shen Ci was extremely happy. He followed Murong Heng into the carriage, and they made their way to Qingzhou. Unbeknownst to him, Feng Nan was as stiff as a board and gritting his teeth in the mansion.
As he sat in the carriage, Shen Ci was in a good mood and leaned against the side wall. After contemplating for a while, he still owed his thanks to Murong Heng, so he said, “Thank you, Your Highness, for such care. I’m exceedingly grateful that you’d allow a normal civilian like me to enjoy the flowers with you.”
“Hey.” Murong Heng sat upright. When he heard him speak in such a formal manner, he wasn’t sure what caused a twinge in his heart, but he felt uncomfortable all over, so he said in a deep voice, “Gentleman Shen, you don’t have to stand on ceremony like so. Right now, This Prince and you are like grasshoppers tied together with a piece of string*, and I still have to thank you for your assistance.”
(*TN: An idiom describing people who are in it together, for better or for worse.)
“Your Highness is too kind”, came the modest reply. Shen Ci felt the warm sunlight outside the window, and couldn’t resist reaching out to touch the window sill. He pushed open the window and bright sunlight instantly streamed into the carriage, shining on him.
Shen Ci closed his eyes and inhaled the fresh air outside. He placed his hands on the window sill, hoping to enjoy the outdoor scenery, but found that his vision was blank and he couldn’t see anything. He immediately felt discouraged and gloomy.
Just as he was feeling unhappy, Murong Heng, who was next to him, spoke up, describing to him all the landscapes along the way, one after another: “It’s bright and sunny outside. We are now making our way through the outskirts. The flowers are in bloom right now. Far away, we can spot……” Shen Ci beamed with joy and listened carefully.
With Murong Heng’s narration, the gloominess in Shen Ci’s heart waned a great deal. He listened to him earnestly, conversing with him from time to time. The smile on his face gradually widened.
All of a sudden, the carriage stopped. Murong Heng knew that the bodyguard had begun to take action. He’d deliberately brought fewer guards with him this time in order to have him relax his vigilance and also to match his undercover status.
“What happened?” Shen Ci felt the carriage stop and asked automatically. He grasped the door with the intention of getting down, but was held back by Murong Heng. His warm breath puffed over his ears. “Don’t go.”
Following this, Murong Heng exited the carriage looking as if he were bewildered. He inspected the carriage all over and asked, “What’s going on?” As he was talking, he saw Shen Ci push open the door to get out and couldn’t stop himself from frowning. Whether it was intentional or not, he walked over to stand beside him; obstructing his figure.
“What’s happening?” Shen Ci didn’t know that Murong Heng had stopped in front of him, so he asked softly. Although his eyes couldn’t see, his other senses had always been very precise. Just then, he detected an uncommon scent. No sooner had he spoken, he heard the sound of someone drawing a sword, followed by the noise of sword blades clashing. He perceived the sharp swing of a sword swiftly through the air in his direction. Before he could react, he was hauled away by a pair of sturdy arms.