Title: Infinite Power Over The World
Original title: 权倾天下[重生]
Author: 叶默凉(Ye Moliang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
Hearing his tone of uncertainty, Murong Heng hastily retracted his hand and awkwardly coughed a few times. Once the vibe had dissipated, he picked up a piece of pastry and said, “This Prince will taste it too.”
The pastry filled his mouth with a steady, sweet aroma. Murong Heng spontaneously nodded, praising it ardently: “This pastry is indeed delectable. I’ve long heard that First Rate Restaurant’s skill with pastry is superb. You won’t be able to find a more delicious pastry than this anywhere.”
“Nope, there’s still my mother’s.” Shen Ci automatically replied. As soon as the words were uttered, his body went rigid, and all of a sudden, the smile faded from his lips. He sat there motionlessly and lowered his head.
Feng Nan, who was standing next to him, sensed that the atmosphere was amiss, so he tactfully retreated to a spot a little further away. He stared fixedly at Murong Heng’s back and his young master’s distracted expression, his heart feeling terribly distressed.
“Oh, that’s right. The imperial family’s hunt will be held in a few more days.” Murong Heng’s change of subject was well-timed since he observed the shift in Shen Ci. He watched as the expression of the person in front of him changed from cheerfulness to misery, to a look of indescribable grief. He did not wish to dredge up his wound, so he chose to avoid it.
“Is that so?” The corners of Shen Ci’s mouth tugged. His lowered head showed no expression. He no longer wanted to appear unusual in Murong Heng’s presence, so he remained quiet for a while before slowly lifting his head. Then he discussed with him the subsequent plan.
The crown prince wasn’t an easy person to tackle, and Emperor Chongde’s faith in him had been deeply rooted from long ago. This would be hard to change, but it was in no way an indication that Emperor Chongde would trust him for the rest of his life.
As an emperor—especially one such as Emperor Chongde, who’d obtained the throne through unique methods, he’d always been particularly wary of those who would attempt usurping. If one wished to trigger Emperor Chongde’s nerves by pursuing this narrative, success was guaranteed.
In brief, right now the most crucial matter is to undermine Emperor Chongde’s trust in the crown prince. This ploy sounded simple, but wouldn’t be easy to execute.
“What did you say? To use poison?” After the two deliberated for a while, Murong Heng suddenly raised his voice and asked, “If we use poison, it won’t be long before the investigation associates the source with This Prince.”
“Fret not, Your Highness. This poisoning is unlike others.” Shen Ci smiled and disclosed the idea he’d formulated. As Murong Heng had said, if Emperor Chongde was directly poisoned, one would only need to investigate the source in order to determine who the poisoner was. To put it plainly, this was the stupidest way of harming people, and only fools would make use of it.
Of course, Shen Ci would not be so foolish. Although it was poison, it was not your usual type of poison. Instead, he would use the poisoning method to frame the prince.
The two analysed this method for about two hours before deciding on the eventual strategy. A satisfied Murong Heng stood up and bid farewell before departing to his residence.
After he left, Feng Nan, who was standing nearby, walked over with a complex expression. He was skilled in martial arts and had more or less heard the earlier dialogue between the two of them. He came up to Shen Ci and wavered for a while before asking, “Young Master, why do you have to do this?”
Prior to his late master’s passing, he’d explicitly instructed him that Shen Ci must never be allowed to get involved in any sort of imperial family-related matters. He’d abided by the late master’s words for so many years and seen their lives grow more and more tranquil. But their presently peaceful lives had been disrupted by Prince Heng.
Still, this Prince Heng was a most ambitious person, concealing his inner self behind a cowardly facade and seeking the assistance of his young master in order to seize the throne. In the first place, they shouldn’t be getting mixed up in this sort of throne-usurping business, but his young master had gotten himself involved in these unsavoury matters again. Now that it’s come to this, how were they to safeguard themselves when they were knee-deep in these unpleasant affairs?
“Why do I have to do what?” Shen Ci purposely feigned innocence upon hearing Feng Nan’s query.
Seeing him respond like that, Feng Nan stopped avoiding the subject: “Why are you helping Prince Heng seize the throne?” He spoke frankly: “Young Master is fully aware that Master told you never to participate in any imperial family matters. On top of that, Prince Heng wants to seize the throne. Once you have a hand in this, there’s no way you can extricate yourself!”
He couldn’t just stand idly by and allow his young master to continue this way. He’d promised the late master that he would protect him and enable him to live a carefree life without suffering any impediments.
After a moment’s silence, Shen Ci said in a soft voice, “Feng Nan, I realise what you want to say. For so many years, I’ve always wanted to heed my father’s words, to erase the enmity inside me. Saying it is easy enough. But how can it be so simple? If it were you, would you be able to maintain your composure for the rest of your life while harbouring a profound hatred in your heart?”
Having been overwhelmed by what was said, Feng Nan didn’t respond, but deep down he knew the answer very well. True enough, if it were him, there was no way he could live in the gloom of his parents’ tragic deaths for the rest of his life. If he couldn’t exact revenge, he wouldn’t be at peace even if he died.
“You’re thinking likewise, aren’t you?” Managing to sort out his thoughts, Shen Ci smiled lightly and continued “I’ve finally come by this opportunity after waiting for so many years. Prince Heng intends to seize the throne. I shall lend him a hand, and he will help me eliminate a profound animosity in my heart. Why not do it?”
Feng Nan was paralysed by his words and didn’t know how he should reply. He blinked and stared at the man in front of him, who was completely overflowing with tenacity. All at once, he clenched his fists and wanted to take a step forward to embrace him. But after hesitating and agonising, he didn’t dare move.
His late master had saved his life; therefore, without Shen Mo Heng, there wouldn’t be Feng Nan today. He was considerably indebted to the Shen family for their immense kindness. As such, what right does he have to yearn for his young master?
Feng Nan smiled bitterly, gradually loosening his clenched fists.
Half a month later, the imperial family hunt began.
Murong Heng arrived at the palace early, bringing along the things he’d prepared. He followed silently, not too far behind Emperor Chongde, and entered the fringes of the imperial hunting grounds. He looked around and stealthily revealed a determined smile.
The hunt was about to commence soon. Emperor Chongde sat on the throne and called upon the attendees to participate. The crown prince and the fifth prince assertively came forward, of course. The fourth, prince Murong Yu, shied away and refused to come into view, and Murong Heng did the same.
“Third Younger Imperial Brother, you’re not participating?” Previously in the imperial gardens, the crown prince had lost face; therefore, he was especially resentful towards Murong Heng. Perceiving that he’d turned up for today’s hunt, he wouldn’t let him go so easily.
Upon hearing this, Murong Heng pretended to be frightened, and his whole body shook, but he sneered inwardly. In fact, he’d been waiting for the crown prince to speak up. If he himself had informed them that he would participate, then it wouldn’t be long before he would fall under suspicion. But if the crown prince requested for him to join, then he would be able to allay all suspicions without even getting a smidgen of doubt upon himself.
In response to the crown prince’s request, Murong Heng approached a horse that didn’t appear particularly remarkable. He flipped himself onto the horse and deliberately swayed unsteadily on it before immediately stabilising himself.
As expected, he observed enmity and disdain in everyone’s gazes. He smiled, paying no heed to those looks. Instead, he urged his horse to fall in behind the crown prince’s, positioned the quiver of arrows on his back, and made his preparations.
Following Emperor Chongde’s verbal order, the horses of the crown prince and fifth prince were the first to head out, trailed by several generals. Murong Heng came behind at a leisurely pace, not caring if he was the last.
Even after entering the forest, Murong Heng continued to take his time as before. In the eyes of Emperor Chongde and others, he was a weak person, so how would he be capable of vying for the crown prince’s prominence? Leave Murong Cheng and Murong Chong to tussle for it amongst themselves.
Meanwhile, Murong Cheng was leading, followed by Fifth Prince, Murong Chong. He caught sight of a water deer out of the corner of his eye, swiftly reached behind for an arrow, and shot it out. No one expected that an arrow fired from behind would be faster than his and shoot directly into the midsection of the water deer.
“Sincerest apologies, Eldest Imperial Brother, but this deer is mine.” Murong Chong revealed a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He retrieved his arrow and urged his horse to carry on ahead.
Sitting atop his horse, Murong Cheng’s gaze was filled with animosity as he raised the arrow in a flash and fired it out. The arrow scraped Murong Chong’s ear and was nailed to the tree in front of him, startling Murong Chong’s horse into stopping in its tracks.
Murong Cheng noticed Murong Chong looking over, but he said nothing and casually spurred on his horse to continue with his search for the next target. Hoping to compete against him? Wishful thinking!
Right now, Murong Heng was trailing behind the two of them some distance away, and had witnessed the entire incident taking place. He licked his lips and smiled. Just let them clash with each other. He only needed to gently tug the net at the end once the fish had taken the bait and leave the underwater battle to the two of them.
He calmly followed behind them from afar. It didn’t take long for the both of them to accumulate a good deal of quarry. Noticing that Murong Cheng was about to shoot a rabbit and cognisant that the hunt was about to end soon, Murong Heng rapidly rode his horse over. During the time when neither Murong Cheng nor Murong Chong were paying attention, he shot the poisonous needle he’d been carrying into the rabbit’s body.
This type of poison needle had one advantage. Once it entered the body, it would dissolve, and no one would be able to detect it. On top of that, it wasn’t actually considered a type of poison, but would merely trigger the appearance of being poisoned.
The poison needle by itself was still not enough. In keeping with Shen Ci and Murong Heng’s strategy, there was still another subsequent move. That subsequent move was the most crucial, and there mustn’t be a shred of negligence whatsoever.
Soon after, the hunt ended. Murong Heng arrived at the edge of the hunting grounds with a small quantity of prey. Observing the piles of prey acquired by the crown prince and the fifth prince, he withdrew to one side and no longer spoke.
The imperial palace attendant in charge of tallying approached Emperor Chongde with a smile and said, “Reporting to Your Majesty, the crown prince has hunted a total of thirty-nine prey—effectively a new high record!”
“Good! Reward!” Emperor Chongde was exultant and promptly awarded the crown prince with many treasures. Despite the fifth prince being not too far away, he paid no heed to his dejected expression.
Murong Chong stood below with his head lowered and his face appearing unpleasant. He never expected that his father would directly ignore him and only notice Murong Cheng’s accomplishments. Having stood for some time, he lifted his head, his glare was viciously perverse.
No matter if Emperor Chongde overlooks him now. There will definitely be a day when he makes him regret it!
Once the hunt was over, Emperor Chongde ordered for the prey killed by the crown prince to be cooked. Murong Heng watched the imperial palace kitchen staff—whom he’d bribed with a huge sum—with a sneer on his lips. He observed as he went along with the others into the imperial kitchen.
Prior to entering the palace, he’d spent a lot of money to buy off the palace staff. Of course, after the matter has been settled, he will not allow him to continue in the palace. Since he’s resolved to seize the throne, he cannot be softhearted. Therefore, this palace staff cannot remain. He must do away with any witnesses!
As he’d predicted, the palace kitchen staff cooked the rabbit he’d poisoned into a rabbit meat stew and delivered it to Emperor Chongde. He discreetly winked at the palace staff and nodded in satisfaction.
The feast quickly commenced. Emperor Chongde exuberantly delivered a speech, then picked from a few dishes in front of him before putting them into his mouth. Soon, he sampled the rabbit meat stew and had nothing but high praise for it.
All of a sudden, the expression on his face changed. It felt like his chest was on the verge of exploding. He grabbed his chest and breathed heavily. Cold sweat broke out, soaking the dragon robe*. The pain in his chest was excruciating, and his entire body involuntarily crumpled to the ground. His vision went dark, and he lost consciousness almost instantly.
(* TN : This references the emperor’s clothing, as it is are adorned with dragon embellishments and patterns. The dragon is a sacred symbol of imperial power, and since the emperor is known as “the dragon”, only he is allowed to use its image.)
“Your Majesty! Get people over now! Summon the imperial physician!” The palace attendants at the side were all panicking and shouting out. The upper hall descended into chaos.