At the end of autumn.
‘You bastard child!’ the empress cursed and sobbed.
‘Imperial mother, this time I’m leaving the imperial city forever,’ Pei Lam said. ‘Imperial mother, take good care of your health.’
‘No!’ the empress said. ‘You’ll come back. Wait until your imperial father calms down and sees Pei Lam’s false heart and you’ll be called back.’
The empress didn’t want to accept all her years of scheming would fail. She only had one son, how could she accept being separated from her son?
‘Imperial mother, status, power and money will turn to smoke,’ Pei Lam said. ‘Your heart doesn’t need to waste energy about smoke.’
Pei Lam knelt in front of his mother, hit his forehead on the floor and left his mother’s chamber.
Pei Lam’s words prompted the empress to remember a year ago the grandmaster she met told her the same fortune that everything will turn to smoke and it was better to let go of swords to free the heart.
Pei Lam’s father had refused to see him since that day he stabbed himself. He didn’t know if his father would be willing to see him before he left the palace.
Pei Lam stood in front of his father’s chamber and looked at the fallen flower petals. He knew his father was too angry to see him but he was amused at his childish father.
Wang Fu Mu was frightened how Pei Lam could smile in Pei Lam’s situation. ‘Crown prince.’
Pei Lam turned around and he saw Wang Fu Mu who served his father for more than twenty years. Wang Fu Mu was a little eunuch at the age of ten and later became his father’s advisor. He knew Wang Fu Mu was someone who was capable otherwise Wang Fu Mu wouldn’t be the closest person to his father.
Wang Fu Mu was even more frightened after Pei Lam bowed to him. ‘Crown prince, what are you doing? Your servant doesn’t dare to receive.’
‘You have a fast mouth,’ Pei Lam said.
Wang Fu Mu thought Pei Lam was possessed by a demon. ‘Crown prince, the emperor doesn’t want to see you. It’s better if crown prince visit another day that isn’t cold like today.’
‘I don’t know if I can see my imperial father when he isn’t angry anymore,’ Pei Lam said.
Earlier Wang Fu Mu informed the emperor that Pei Lam wanted to see the emperor and thought it was pitiful to see how disappointed the emperor was in Pei Lam. He thought perhaps after the emperor calms down and couldn’t tolerate Pei Zhang anymore then the emperor would summon Pei Lam to return to the palace.
Pei Lam knew Wang Fu Mu was a fox who would survive many more years in the palace. He bowed to Wang Fu Mu to force Wang Fu Mu to do him a favor and pass on his warning to his father.
Wang Fu Mu bowed his head lower than Pei Lam’s bowed head.
‘Wang Fu Mu, if my imperial father doesn’t want to see me then I’ll trouble you to pass my warning to my imperial father,’ Pei Lam said. ‘I trust you’ll pass on my warning to my imperial father.’
‘Your servant will listen to crown prince’s words carefully,’ Wang Fu Mu said.
‘Warn my imperial father to be careful of ninth brother,’ Pei Lam said.
‘Crown prince, what does that mean?’ Wang Fu Mu asked.
‘Ninth brother was involved in the harvest festival incident,’ Pei Lam said.
‘Your servant understands,’ Wang Fu Mu said.
Pei Lam knelt in front of his father’s chamber, hit his forehead on the ground and left the palace.
Wang Fu Mu entered the emperor’s chamber and he didn’t know what the emperor was thinking while staring out the window. He thought out of the princes, Pei Jin was the most similar to the emperor but he didn’t know why the emperor treated Pei Jin coldly.
‘Your majesty, the crown prince has left the palace,’ Wang Fu Mu said.
The emperor turned around and glared at Wang Fu Mu. ‘He is no longer the crown prince.’
Wang Fu Mu knew the emperor wasn’t angry at him but was angry to be reminded of why Pei Lam wasn’t the crown prince anymore.
‘What did he say?’ the emperor asked.
‘The crown prince wants your majesty to take care of your majesty’s health,’ Wang Fu Mu said. ‘The crown prince also warned you to be careful of seventh prince.’
Wang Fu Mu knew if there was a day Pei Lam returned to the palace then he would be executed for deceiving the emperor. But he was willing to risk his life for Pei Jin to succeed.
‘Be careful of seventh prince?’ the emperor asked. ‘Why did the crown prince say that to you?’
‘The crown prince didn’t say why,’ Wang Fu Mu said.
‘I understand,’ the emperor said.
Outside the palace gates many imperial guards escorted Pei Lam outside the imperial city because the empress was concerned about Pei Lam’s safety.
Pei Lam thought his mother’s concern for his safety was wasted.
The horse carriage travelled for a long time then it suddenly it stopped.
Pei Lam closed his eyes and he could feel there was bad news outside the horse carriage.
‘Crown prince, ninth prince is in front of the horse carriage,’ an imperial guard said.
Pei Lam opened the curtains and he saw Pei Jin sat on a horse with the sunlight glaring behind Pei Jin.
‘Tenth brother,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Ninth brother, why are you here?’ Pei Lam asked.
‘We’re close brothers like arms and legs,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Of course I’m here to escort you outside the imperial city.’
‘Ninth brother, you’re wasting your heart’s energy,’ Pei Lam said.
‘I heard you’re going to a remote town that’s extremely cold,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Did you bring enough warm clothes?’
‘I brought enough,’ Pei Lam said.
Pei Jin frowned. ‘Your ninth sister asked me to say farewell to you on her behalf.’
Pei Lam hated thinking of Yan Shi Ning as Pei Jin’s wife but he smiled politely. ‘Ninth brother, other people are envious you’re married to ninth sister.’
‘Tenth brother, for many years I still can’t see through your true heart,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Ninth brother, aren’t you also someone that’s hard for other people to see your true heart?’ Pei Lam asked.
Pei Jin’s back turned cold at the sight of Pei Lam’s disturbing smile. ‘Your ninth brother is a simpleton.’
‘The day is late,’ Pei Lam said. ‘Ninth brother should return home.’
‘Tenth brother, take care of your health,’ Pei Jin said. ‘We’ll see each other again.’
‘We won’t see each other again,’ Pei Lam said.
Pei Jin was startled at the calm conviction in Pei Lam’s tone. He didn’t know what Pei Lam’s intentions were.
Pei Jin watched Pei Lam’s horse carriage leave for a while then Bei Dou appeared next to him.
‘There are twenty-eight imperial guards,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Can you cope?’
Bei Dou nodded his head.
‘Alright then go smooth as the wind,’ Pei Jin said.
Inside the horse carriage Pei Lam closed his eyes and ignored the bumpy ground. What Yan Shi Ning said to Yan Shi Ting at the Yan Manor echoed in his ears, ‘Shi Ting, I’m truly sorry. I didn’t think I’ll cause you to become like this. But don’t worry, after she dies, I’ll take good care of you.’
Pei Lam realised Yan Shi Ning wasn’t as beautiful and good as he thought. She was involved in his disastrous wedding day and Pei Jin was the person behind everything. Luckily he found out before he left the palace. He left his father a final warning for his father to see Pei Jin’s true black heart and the palace would no longer be peaceful.
End of Chapter Fifty