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MJT Chapter 2

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Huo Feng entered the palace, but his majesty did not summon him, claiming to feel unwell. Huo Feng left the palace feeling uneasy, constantly thinking about Yi Chongren’s words as he walked. That cruel person could be plotting against him. With this thought, Huo Feng whipped his horse to speed back to the prince mansion. Once he returned to his mansion, without having a proper reunion with his family, Huo Feng sent a subordinate out of the capital to tell Huang Han and Xu Baicai that the situation was changing, so they should find a way to quickly go to Yellow Sand Pass ten miles away to secretly meet him. He had to take his wives and sons out of the capital.

Huo Feng had an official wife and a concubine. His eldest son Huo Yunkai was born from the official wife and had recently turned ten years old; his second son was just born from his concubine. Huo Feng was stationed at the border for most of the year and his two wives were ordered to stay in the capital by his majesty. For various reasons, Huo Feng did not have many wives and concubines like his imperial brother, and naturally did not have many children. However, compared to his imperial brother, he could already be considered to have many.

In Zhang Zhong’s mansion, after Yi Chongren arrived, Zhang Zhong ordered his guards to retreat so he could have a private talk with Yi Chongren. Zhang Zhong whispered, “After leaving the palace, did you meet Prince Yue?”

Unsurprisingly, Zhang Zhong already knew of his meeting with Huo Feng. The corner of Yi Chongren’s lips raised indifferently. “Well met. Prince Yue is still so arrogant.”

Zhang Zhong laughed. “Prince Yue always calls us ‘castrated dogs’ or ‘demons.’ Chongren has no need to take it to heart. You are loyal to the emperor, so no harm is done from this aggravation.”

Yi Chongren unhappily pursed his lips in response.

Zhang Zhong became a bit more serious and said, “We found that Prince Yue has the intent to rebel, but there’s not enough evidence. I fear it is not enough to convince the masses, but his majesty has already issued the decree, so we must handle this thoroughly. Prince Yue has seven hundred thousand men under his command. We must be cautious.”

Yi Chongren put down the tea cup in his hand. “Isn’t the evidence revealed by the people? As long as the people by Prince Yue’s side say he wants to rebel, then he wants to rebel.”

Zhang Zhong laughed. As expected, Chongren still thinks most thoroughly.

Yi Chongren continued, “The two masters by Prince Yue’s side seem to not have entered the capital with him. To clear weeds, we must get rid of the roots. Only by completely cutting off these wings of Prince Yue can we make sure the seven hundred thousand men under his command don’t cause chaos. Otherwise, even if Prince Yue is captured, troubles will not stop cropping up. His majesty hates being troubled the most.”

Zhang Zhong nodded, and said shadily, “I am also thinking of how to thoroughly get rid of those loyal men by Prince Yue’s side. Chongren, do you have any ideas?”

Yi Chongren replied coldly, “Two-pronged attack.”

“How?”

Yi Chongren didn’t reply directly, only implying. “After capturing Prince Yue, those subordinates of his will definitely come to his rescue. His majesty has already issued the decree. If anyone dares to take a risk and resist the decree, doesn’t it become clear that Prince Yue holds rebellious intent?”

Zhang Zhong nodded repeatedly. “Hehe, as expected of Chongren. I still can only find you for these matters. Others only add to my troubles. Then I leave this to you. But those two sons of Prince Yue…” Zhang Zhong made a killing motion.

Yi Chongren approached and whispered in Zhang Zhong’s ear, “Prince Yue’s youngest son just turned a month old. Isn’t Lord Dugong lacking in some ‘medicine’ lately?”

Zhang Zhong’s heart was moved and his eyes showed some hesitancy. Yi Chongren took Zhang Zhong’s hand. “Leave everything to this subordinate.” Then he backed away.

Zhang Zhong was very satisfied. “Chongren ah Chongren, if I didn’t have you, it would be like not having my left and right arms. Prince Yue’s manor definitely doesn’t lack precious goods. Take whatever you like.”

“Thank you, Lord Dugong.”

Yi Chongren stood to retreat. Zhang Zhong smiled and let him retire. Thinking of how the biggest obstacle in his path to power was about to be eliminated, he couldn’t help but feel joy from the bottom of his heart and laughed loudly.

After leaving Zhang Zhong’s residence, Yi Chongren immediately summoned his men. Zhang Zhong had sent Liu Yu, a trusted eunuch under his command, to assist Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren went to the main hall of the Hu An guards to discuss the specific arrangements and time of operation with four officers from the Hu An guards and imperial guards. During this period, Yi Chongren received news that the two hundred men stationed outside the capital were preparing to leave. Zhang Zhong had already instructed Sun Jiyu to send imperial guards to intercept the two hundred men.a He told Yi Chongren that Prince Yue intended to escape, so he must capture him quickly.

Yi Chongren planned that, in an hour, the Hu An guards and imperial guards would directly storm into Prince Yue’s residence to capture Prince Yue, his two wives, and his two children alive.

Over at the Prince Yue residence, the men who were sent out did not bring any news back, making Huo Feng feel the urgency of the matter. He immediately found his two wives, asking them to disguise themselves and bring the children out through the back door to leave the capital immediately. At this moment, Huo Feng received terrible news. Huo Yunkai, his eldest son who was playing in the back garden, had suddenly disappeared along with the two guards and two maids that served him. Huo Feng’s heart sank and his official wife almost fainted.

Huo Feng immediately ordered Jia Ding to search outside the residence. Time was not waiting for anyone, so he set about arranging for his two wives and youngest son to leave the mansion. But fate didn’t plan on letting go of Huo Feng. Before he had time to send out his wives and youngest son, an army of men and horses appeared outside the manor, surrounding his residence. Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu had sent a group of eunuchs to monitor Huo Feng since he returned to the capital. Naturally, he had eyes in the prince’s manor, so how could he not know what Huo Feng was planning to do?

“His majesty has issued a decree and orders Prince Yue to wait in the manor before being summoned for an audience. No one may leave Prince Yue’s manor at will. Those who violate the order will be killed on sight.”

In the main lobby, Huo Feng clenched his hands into fists. He knew Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu always saw him as a thorn in their side because of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers under his command. But he always held a glimmer of hope. No matter how stupid or confused his imperial brother was, he wouln’t let those two bastards mess with him. But with this imperial decree, whether his imperial brother personally ordered it or not, the last bit of hope in Huo Feng’s heart became completely extinguished, leaving only hatred and regret. Regret over all the unrealistic hope and brotherly affection he had maintained over the years.

“Your highness……” His two wives cried. The infant in the arms of his concubine must have felt the murderous atmosphere around them and began to cry, too.

Huo Feng raised his head, eyes red, and almost crushed his two fists.

“It’s me who hurt you. I should have come to take you away sooner.”

“Your highness!”

The two women knelt before Huo Feng. The door to the mansion was forced open by a battering ram outside, not giving Huo Feng a chance to flee. A few hundred Hu An guards and imperial guards stormed into the mansion, killing or arresting everyone in their path.

Huo Feng looked outside the door, slowly unclenched his fists, put his arms around his wives and the swaddled child, and whispered: “If they torture you, kill yourself. I will be waiting for you in death.”

“I[1] would never drag down your highness!”

The demons stormed over, and the official wife pulled out the hairpin on her head to stab it into her own chest. Everyone knew, being caught by the Hu An guards or imperial guards would be more painful than death.

“Your highness, forgive me.”

The concubine cried, raised the hairpin in her hand, and went to stab the child in her arms. Suddenly, a whip flew by, wrapping around the child in the concubine’s arms. The child’s cries suddenly rose in volume.

“My child!”

“Yi Chongren!”

Huo Feng put down the body of his wife, picked up a broadsword on the table, and rushed towards the man that had just entered. Yi Chongren’s army stormed in, and the concubine once again raised the hairpin in her hand, piercing her own heart before being caught.

“Yu’er!”

Huo Feng tasted the grief of heartbreak and death. Seeing his two wives lying in a pool of blood, seeing his crying son in the arms of Yi Chongren’s men, thinking of the unknown whereabouts of his eldest son—the broadsword in Huo Feng’s hands hacked the demons trying to capture him.

Yi Chongren raised his hand at the soldiers who were about to rush over, and the soldiers stopped. He drew a flexible sword from his waist and appeared before Huo Feng, whose eyes were red with killing intent.

This was the first time Yi Chongren and Huo Feng truly exchanged blows. Yi Chongren’s martial arts was respected by even the great masters, and Huo Feng was the great general stationed at the border who had the fierceness of a general who killed countless enemies. In an instant, he had lost both his wives and sons. Huo Feng didn’t intend to leave alive and knew he was fated to die, but he vowed that before his death, he would pull a few men down with them, one of them being Yi Chongren.

Blades flashing, dazzling the eyes, the soldiers surrounding the hall gradually retreated outside to avoid being accidentally injured. The sound of the child’s cries accompanied the thick, bloody atmosphere as blood rained all around them.

Five years ago, Prime Minister Zhang’s family died tragically, and Huo Feng’s subordinates had advised him to raise troops. There was already no hope for Southern Chu. Now the emperor was muddleheaded, only concerned with earthly pleasures, and the Hu An guards and imperial guards controlled the court. Sooner or later their blackened hands would reach him. But Huo Feng kept hesitating. Raising troops was easy, but once defeated, not only would he lose his life, but it would also leave him with the stigma of rebellion. He always thought that his imperial brother would remember their brotherly affection and shared mother. In the end, he turned out to be the most foolish person! How could he still have hope for this rotten to the bones imperial brother?! Look at this world! Look at these demons! Look at his tragic wives! Look at his child who was snatched away! He couldn’t even snatch his own child back!

All of Huo Feng’s hatred and humiliation was directed at that one man standing before him, directed at that wicked Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren’s face was still covered in that ghostly makeup, still holding a cold sneer. Seeming to laugh at his incompetence, mocking his foolishness.

Dang!

The broadsword left his hand, splashing blood in the air before plunging into the brick wall with the reverberating sound. Several Hu An guards who failed to dodge had their necks severed. Huo Feng’s chest was directly kicked by Yi Chongren and his body heavily fell to the ground ten feet away. The figure flickered. In an instant, Yi Chongren’s sword was pointed directly at Huo Feng’s neck, his foot stepping on his chest. Huo Feng spat out a mouthful of blood, eyes staring up at his opponent with hatred and ferocity.

“Your highness, this servant is only tasked with bringing your highness into the palace. Your highness’s reaction is a bit too extreme.” Yi Chongren looked down at the two women in a puddle of blood.

“If you wanted this prince to enter the palace, one order would be enough. You castrated dog, what did you come to this prince’s mansion for!” Unable to sit up, Huo Feng cursed Yi Chongren ruthlessly. Yi Chongren’s eyes flashed with a cold light, and with a flick of his sword, a wound appeared on Huo Feng’s neck.

Stooping down to press on the acupuncture point on the back of Huo Feng’s neck, Yi Chongren stepped back. In an even icier voice than before, he said, “Declare the decree.”

A eunuch appeared at the door holding an imperial decree. He opened the decree and in a cruel, shrill voice proclaimed: “Following the will of the heavens, the emperor’s decree states: Prince Yue used the army for selfish reasons, plotting to thrust the court into chaos……”

After hearing just this sentence, Huo Feng laughed in a low voice. As for what was written on the rest of the edict, he didn’t bother listening. Using the army for selfish purposes……plotting to throw the court into chaos…….imperial brother, ah, imperial brother, you really are my good imperial brother!

“Hahaha, hahaha……Zhang Zhong! Liu Jiyu! This prince curses your whole family!”

Huo Feng’s curse came to a sudden stop. Yi Chongren stepped on the acupuncture point on the back of his neck. Retreating a step and returning his flexible sword to his waist, Yi Chongren took out a silk handkerchief to wipe his white hands, before throwing the silk handkerchief on Huo Feng’s face.

“Take him away.”

The soldiers swarmed around him and carried away the immobilized Huo Feng.

“Wah-”

Hearing his son’s cries, unable to move or speak, Huo Feng tightly closed his eyes. Child, this father is sorry. This father promises you that he will be your father in the next life and will never let you be wronged or bullied. Child, in the next life, this father will give you a nice name, for sure!

Huo Feng was taken away by the Hu An guards, and the prince’s manor was turned upside down as all its valuables were recorded and moved into Yi Chongren’s residence. As for the Jiazheng emperor, as long as Zhang Zhong said a word, all would be well. Obsessed with his beauties, the Jiazheng emperor had no energy to care about his brother’s life and death.

Liu Yu walked to Yi Chongren’s side and whispered, “Lord Qianhu, that child……”

Yi Chongren coldly looked over. Liu Yu shrank back and immediately lowered his head. Yi Chongren said in a voice that only the two of them could hear, “The lord naturally has plans for this child, so don’t be nosy.”

“Yes.”

No longer looking at Liu Yu, Yi Chongren walked away, followed by the man holding the child. Once Yi Chongren left, Liu Yu pursed his lips with resentment in his eyes. If he had been the one to save the crown prince back then, Yi Chongren would have never been able to climb to his position! Yi Chongren, just you wait, sooner or later I will have you kneel before me and lick my toes! Liu Yu ordered people to move the two bodies of the women into the Hu An guard yamen, and then hurriedly left the prince’s manor to report back to Zhang Zhong.

Zhang Zhong kept waiting for news in his manor. He finally received it after Yi Chongren took Huo Feng away. It was a bit regretful that the two women died, losing two pawns, but they had committed suicide, so Zhang Zhong had no one to blame. Not only did he not blame, he was also very satisfied with Yi Chongren for snatching the child in time.

“Lord Dugong.”

Someone outside requested an audience. Zhang Zhong casually agreed and Liu Yu entered with a bow.

“Lord Dugong, Prince Yue has been taken away. Only his eldest son was not in the mansion, his whereabouts unknown. This servant has set troops to find him, we won’t let him get away.”

“En. I already know. Chongren went out, so Prince Yue naturally wouldn’t have been able to escape. After his son is caught, he can be executed immediately.”

“Yes.” Liu Yu endured the dissatisfaction in his heart, walked two steps and spoke in a low voice, “Lord Qianhu took away Prince Yue’s young son. This servant asked him how he should be dealt with, but Lord Qianhu reprimanded me. This servant panicked, thinking weeds should be cut at the roots, just in case……”

“Shut up!”

Zhang Zhong had shouted angrily, scaring Liu Yu. Signaling the people in the room to withdraw and close the door, Zhang Zhong reprimanded: “Liu Yu, ah, Liu Yu, I have been trying to cultivate you by my side with all my heart, but you simply have a pig’s brain!”

Liu Yu panicked and hurriedly knelt down. “Lord Dugong, please explain!”

“Explain your ass!” Zhang Zhong directly kicked Liu Yu aside, and Liu Yu kowtowed. Zhang Zhong knocked Liu Yu’s forehead and cursed: “Everyday you complain about Chongren being more favored than you, but you don’t think about why. You pig brain, you can’t even compare to half of Chongren! You really let my efforts to cultivate you come to waste! Don’t you dare bring up the child’s matter again, or else I’ll scrape off your meat and feed it to the dogs! Scram!”

“Calm down lord, calm down, this servant is foolish, calm down lord!”

“Scram!”

Liu Yu left quickly on his stomach. Kneeling outside the door, he broke into cold sweat, racking his brains to think of the reason why he was scolded. After thinking for half a day, thinking until his knees were numb, Liu Yu exclaimed “ah” and hurriedly covered his mouth. After slapping himself twice, he quickly stood up to leave in a panic. How could he have forgotten about Lord Dugong’s medical situation!

[1] The wife refers to herself as 妾身 (qie shen). Ancient people of different positions refer to themselves with different words, but I’ll just use “I” since I’m lazy.

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