Title: Infinite Power Over The World
Original title: 权倾天下[重生]
Author: 叶默凉(Ye Moliang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
After conversing for some time, Shen Ci left Murong Heng’s mansion. As he journeyed back to his house, his mind kept replaying the words Murong Heng had said to him, and his nerves were unable to quiet down.
As for Feng Nan, who was walking alongside him, he’d withdrawn when Shen Ci was discussing with Murong Heng just now. As such, he wasn’t able to hear the exchanges between the two of them. He could only gather, based on his young master’s demeanour, that Murong Heng must have said something terribly important. Only that would have brought about the austere expression from the person beside him until he was somewhat distracted; to the extent that he didn’t even notice Feng Nan speaking.
“Young Master!” Having called out several times without any response, Feng Nan had resorted to raising his voice.
“Ah? You said something?” Shen Ci returned to his senses and stopped in his tracks. His empty gaze veered towards Feng Nan next to him. Earlier, he’d been wholly preoccupied in his own world and hadn’t heard what Feng Nan said.
When he realised that he hadn’t heard a word, Feng Nan dismissed his inclination to repeat whatever he’d uttered. In the midst of their silence, both of them reached the entrance of the Shen residence. He attentively assisted his young master into the house before helping him remove his outer clothes and letting him lie down on the bed.
“You go out first.” Shen Ci tucked in the corners of the quilt himself. Snug and cosy in the warm quilt, he closed his eyes. Once Feng Nan left, he opened them. His mind was lucid, but he seemed a little bewildered.
Had he been too impetuous when he made this decision? Maybe he should compose himself and earnestly ponder before determining if he should or shouldn’t do it. Except there was another voice inside him that impelled him to do it, and he was incapable of refusing.
As he harboured these complex notions, Shen Ci slowly became immersed in a dream. In a flash, an enormous mansion appeared in his dream. He set foot inside and detected the sounds of laughter, but he’d yet to spot a single person there.
“Mother, I’ve returned.” Shen Ci called out loudly. With large strides, he made his way into the courtyard and saw his mother and father sitting there. They were smiling and seemed to be discussing something. As soon as they noticed his arrival, they gestured for him to join them.
“Ah Ci, Mother has made your favourite pastry. Come quickly and eat it.” Qin Yun beckoned for Shen Ci to come over, then guided him into the kitchen. She picked up a piece of pastry between two fingers and brought it to the lips of the person before her. A slight smile emerged on her face as she watched him eat it.
“Delicious!” Shen Ci praised it profusely. He’d always enjoyed the pastries that his mother personally made. They were sweet but not greasy, and were on par with those made by the imperial palace chefs.
“Eat more since it’s delicious.” A loud laugh sounded from behind him. Shen Ci turned around and saw Shen Mo Heng enter from the outside, pick up a piece of pastry, and put it in his mouth. His eyes were filled with mirth as he observed his parents, who were looking at each other. The joy within him couldn’t be expressed in words.
The scene abruptly changed, and an execution ground materialised before his eyes. He remembered that when he’d returned home the previous time, his father had grabbed a handful of ash and smeared it on his face. He spoke earnestly to him: “Ah Ci, live well. Don’t let hatred shroud your entire life.” He was still young then and didn’t know what was going on, so he merely nodded mindlessly and acknowledged his father’s behest. Soon afterwards, he was taken away by Feng Nan. Unexpectedly, he heard that his father had subsequently been sentenced by the current emperor for a heavy crime and that his entire family was to be executed.
He hastened to the execution ground. No one could identify him because his face had been smudged and filthy. Shen Ci was crammed into the crowd. He spied his parents being escorted up, and the placards behind them were removed. The grand preceptor* threw down the token, and the executioner raised the massive knife in his hand before slashing down onto his parents’ necks.
(*TN : prison official in charge of punishments)
“No!” Behind him, Feng Nan tightly muffled the painful cry that he emitted. His eyes widened, and he watched helplessly as the huge knife hacked off his parents’ necks. Blood splashed all over the ground. He’d never seen so much blood and never knew that so much blood would spew out of his parents’ bodies. It seemed like it would never cease flowing, flooding the rough ground like a small river.
Fearing that they would both be discovered, Feng Nan immediately brought him away. Once they reached deep into the forest at the outskirts, Shen Ci sat dejectedly on the ground. He was terror-struck, staring in shock at Feng Nan in front of him. He wanted to bawl, but no sound came out. Tears fell in large drops from the rims of his eyes onto the ground.
Through Feng Nan’s explanation, Shen Ci understood the circumstances of what had happened. His father, Shen Mo Heng, was this dynasty’s well-known prime minister and a most loyal and devoted official. However, it was precisely his blunt way of giving counsel that triggered Emperor Chongde’s indignation and resentment, thus arousing his murderous intentions.
Consequently, Emperor Chongde falsely accused Shen Mo Heng of plotting and attempting rebellion and had him and his entire family executed. At that time, his father must have found out about this matter, so he’d said those words to him and had anxiously made Feng Nan take him away.
A lifetime of shadows remained in little Shen Ci’s heart. In those few days and nights, he would dream of the tragic deaths of his parents right at the moment he closed his eyes. It filled him with grief and anguish.
Some days later, he managed to obtain his parents’ ashes with the aid of his father’s friend when he was alive. Shen Ci placed them in the hall of the Shen residence. Unexpectedly, upon his return from an outing that day, he saw the Shen residence ablaze with an intense fire. His eyes widened and, casting all caution to the wind, he charged inside.
“Young Master!” Feng Nan desperately chased after him.
Shen Ci barged in without thinking. He’d already witnessed the horrific deaths of his parents. He couldn’t allow their souls to have no resting place, so he dashed into the fire, not caring even when he got burned.
Just as he was about to get hold of the two urns of ashes, the timbers atop the roof directly above his head that had been burning for a long time, cracked and began to collapse. Shen Ci froze in place, forgetting to move.
In that instant, Feng Nan, who was behind him, bolted over without thinking and hauled him away by the waist from the fire. Just then, the cracked timber crashed down directly onto the urns, engulfing them in a split second until there was practically nothing left.
“No!” Shen Ci tried with all his might to struggle free from Feng Nan’s hold, but he couldn’t and was dragged out of the fire zone. The entire house collapsed the moment they both left and was reduced to a sea of flames.
Shen Ci couldn’t take his eyes off the blaze. This place had originally been filled with cheery voices and laughter. He could still recall the taste of the pastries made by his mother and his father’s earnest words. His vision was overwhelmed by flames and the scorching temperature overheated his eyes for too long. It made his eyes dry and painful—almost to the point of bleeding.
His body tensed as he witnessed the entire house become a flaming spectacle. His parents’ ashes could no longer be recovered. His lips twitched a little. All of a sudden, tears began to flow from his eyes, but they were red. He sobbed and sobbed until everything before him turned black. Then, he passed out.
By the time he woke up again, everything appeared as an empty void, and he couldn’t see anything. After the doctor had examined him, he deduced that Shen Ci had suffered a major trauma, as well as having been exposed to the heat for too long and had therefore lost his sight.
However, Shen Ci didn’t feel upset. He sat on the bed like he was in a trance and couldn’t hear anything. Only his father’s voice remained echoing in his mind——
“Ah Ci, live well. Don’t let hatred shroud your entire life.”
He gazed at the fading phantom-like form, reaching out in an effort to grab hold, but he was unable to catch up to him. Shen Ci frantically stretched out his hand as he cried out: “Father!”
Instantly jolting awake from the dream, Shen Ci discovered that his face was wet with tears and his body was drenched in cold sweat. He propped his frail body to sit in an upright position. The memory seemed so real; as if it had just happened yesterday.
Shen Ci leaned against the side of the bed and wiped the tears from his face. He was no longer sleepy. For the sake of enduring until now, he’d kept a low profile and made more use of a pseudonym compared to his actual name. Even though he was reputable, he wasn’t one who would easily allow others to see his true face. Fortunately, he was mostly away when he was younger, seldom returning to the mansion. Therefore, there weren’t many who knew him as Shen Residence’s young master, and that helped avoid many a disaster. After a short while, the damp clothes he had on had pretty much dried, and Shen Ci had regained his senses. His eyes were slightly dewy as he expelled the messy thoughts in his mind.
Father, mother, I’m faring well. As for the both of you, whereabouts are you now?
Coincidentally, Murong Heng also wasn’t resting at this time. He had people circulate a rumour that the crown prince intended to usurp the throne. Citizens in the capital enjoyed post-meal gossiping the most; therefore, this bit of news quickly spread throughout the city and even into the imperial palace.
On this day, when everyone was attending court, Crown Prince Murong Cheng was faced with Emperor Chongde’s queries. He stepped out and answered confidently, his jubilant behaviour prompting Emperor Chongde to shower him endlessly with praise. It was then that an eunuch appeared from behind and made his way to Emperor Chongde’s side. He then whispered something to the emperor.
Once he’d finished speaking, Emperor Chongde’s expression changed three times, and the gaze he directed at the crown prince bore some scrutiny. He waved his hand, signalling for the eunuch to withdraw, and continued to listen to the crown prince’s oration. But his expression was not as approving as before.
This change in the emperor was, of course, detected by Murong Heng from where he was standing. It appeared that his ploy had begun to work. At least it triggered a ripple in Emperor Chongde’s heart. The matter of vengeance must not be rushed, and what he possessed was patience.
Standing not far from him, Fifth Prince Murong Chong lowered his head until his expression couldn’t be discerned. Just now, he’d also noticed the change in Emperor Chongde, so he was very curious. What exactly had that eunuch said?
After court had adjourned, he hastened back to his abode and ordered people to look into it. At last, he gleaned that there were rumours among the common folk saying that the crown prince had the secret intention of usurping the throne. His fists slowly clenched, and a sneer emerged from his lips.
The throne was his, no one can seize it!
In the meantime, Murong Heng returned to his palace after leaving court, and seeing as he had nothing else to do, he headed over to the Shen residence to have a look. As soon as he set foot in the courtyard, he caught sight of Shen Ci by himself, lying on the recliner. His expression was peaceful, and he’d already fallen asleep.
Murong Heng interrupted the guards who wanted to speak. He dismissed everyone of them and ordered them to stand guard on all sides before advancing quietly to Shen Ci’s side. Upon noticing that the blanket on his body had slipped a little, he reached out and tugged it up to cover him properly.
No sooner had movement been exerted, Shen Ci awoke. He’d always been a light sleeper, so the instant he sensed someone nearby, he rubbed his bleary eyes and sat upright. For some reason, he was already familiar with Murong Heng’s scent. Even though he hadn’t made a sound, Shen Ci still knew it was him who’d arrived, so he stood up and made his greetings. “Your Highness is it? Hurry, do sit down,” he said gently.
Murong Heng replied in a low voice, sat down at the side, and remained taciturn for a while. He recapped the entire incident that had occurred earlier during morning court while steadily observing the reaction of the person in front of him.
Once he was done speaking, Shen Ci nodded and mumbled to himself for a moment before saying in a low voice, “Your Highness’ tactic is very good. It’s not that easy to perturb an emperor’s state of mind; therefore, the rumours cannot cease. However, rumours alone aren’t sufficient. An accompanying move is needed.” The move that followed was significant, so neither of them dared to be complacent.
Both of them conversed for some time. Murong Heng often voiced his opinions while reiterating Shen Ci’s views. The two cheerfully chatted on, to the extent that Murong Heng felt it was a pity that they hadn’t met earlier. If he’d come across this person in his previous life, perhaps he wouldn’t have met with such a miserable end?
Just as they were chatting, Feng Nan’s elated voice could be heard from outside the door. He bustled in carrying an exquisite box in his hands, saying, “Young Master, see what I’ve brought you.”
Shen Ci’s nose was very keen. With a whiff, he was pleasantly surprised. “Pineapple pastry?” Apart from his mother’s, this was his favourite pastry. The ones baked by First Rate Restaurant were delicious, but because they were too pricey, they didn’t buy them very often.
“That’s right. Quickly eat, Young Master.” Feng Nan made his greetings to Murong Heng, then placed the box on the stone table, his face full of smiles. He took out a piece, brought it to his young master’s lips, and happily watched him eat.
Shen Ci took the pastry and put it in his mouth. He closed his eyes as he savoured the sweet, aromatic flavour with a smile on his face. Murong Heng, who was beside him, was subtly dazzled by this smile. When he noticed there were some crumbs at the side of Shen Ci’s mouth, something must have possessed him; for he reached out to dust off the specks.
Sensing warm fingertips brushing over his lips, Shen Ci froze and stopped eating the pastry. “Your Highness?”