11.1 – They were both in similar positions, and both had tragic ends
editors: alamerysl & BlueBug
Xue Ling’s footsteps paused. The person who had been dragging him along anxiously turned his head back and shouted, “Your Majesty! The rebels have already killed their way in! The Empress Dowager has long taken his people and fled! If Your Majesty doesn’t flee now, it’ll be too late!”
Xue Ling: “???”
The system calmly opened its mouth to speak. “Calm down, host. First knock this little brat unconscious, and then we can slowly look into the situation.”
Xue Ling made an ‘oh’ sound, then pressed his lips together and stared the person in front of him with wide eyes. It made the person who looked like a little eunuch in front of him flush, as he turned flustered and explained again in a panic, “Your Majesty! Your slave is not speaking nonsense, please listen! The sound of fighting from outside has already spread to the back palace!”
Xue Ling slowly approached him, and then, under his puzzled gaze, he raised his hand and chopped directly onto the back of the little eunuch’s neck.
The little eunuch’s face was still full of incredulity as he fell unconscious.
Xue Ling didn’t know why he was looking at himself like that, but he could basically tell that the current situation was very tense. Not only that, he had just stunned the person who could save him from the sea of misery. But he was not the unfortunate original owner of this body, and he always had ways to deal with the situation.
Therefore, he glance around leisurely and took in his current surroundings. He was surprised to find that he was in a place that looked like the imperial study.
Not far from him, there was a desk that the Emperor should have used to handle things. There were all kinds of things piled up in disarray, and because there was a mess outside, no one here had concerned themselves with tidying it at all.
Following the system’s instructions, Xue Ling opened a secret compartment and took out the missing imperial jade seal and tiger insignia that had been placed within. He stored them on his body, and then selected some calligraphy, paintings, and jade pottery that he then had the system take back into the system space. The most important thing were the few boxes of ointment that the system pointed out. They were placed in the cabinet not far from the desk, and after Xue Ling swept them all up, he opened the door to look outside.
The palace seemed to be on fire, and there were all kinds of loud shouts and noises. Many people seemed to have gathered there, and the rebel ministers and traitors had not yet entered the palace. Even so, the nominal Emperor, Xue Ling, had been completely abandoned. When he opened the door to the study, the soldiers who were supposed to have been stationed by the door were no longer there.
Xue Ling tsked. This meant there was nobody here who could help him steal. He was also unable to change out of his current dragon robes, and could only close the door and turn back.
The system displayed maps of the entire palace for him. He could see where people were gathered, where they were scarce, and he could even see where the fighting had progressed to; it was all laid out in front of him. He carelessly took a look – probably because the Emperors of previous dynasties were afraid of death, there was a secret passage from inside the imperial study that would lead to the outside of the palace. It was very well hidden, and had obviously been abandoned for many years. Other than Xue Ling, who knew nothing about the situation yet inexplicably had a grasp over everything, there was probably nobody else who could find and enter it.
Xue Ling placed his hands under the little eunuch’s armpits and pulled him into the secret passage like a sack.
The secret passage had not been opened for many years. There was a lot of dust and nothing could be seen clearly, but the air was still good. It had not gone stale because of how long it had been sealed, and the two of them could still breathe.
After throwing the little eunuch inside, Xue Ling re-opened the door to the imperial study. This place had already been turned upside down by him earlier. He kicked over a few chairs, making it look as though he had been swept away, and then turned around and entered the secret passage himself, closing the entrance behind him.
Shortly after he left, a group of soldiers rushed into the imperial study, and they turned the whole room upside down all over again. After finding nobody useful, they rushed back outside like the tide.
Their Master had sufficient incentive to command the army to move; whether or not they managed to catch the Emperor didn’t matter. The key thing they needed to do was to find the thing their Master wanted.
Xue Ling entered the secret passage and found a row of cabinets next to the entrance. With the system’s help, he successfully found the candles and matches inside the cabinets. After lighting the candles, the passage was no longer covered in darkness so thick that one couldn’t even see their own hand when it was placed in front of their face.
He gave the little eunuch a kick, and after confirming that he was still unconscious, Xue Ling let out a sigh in relief and had the system tell him what was going on.
After going through so many worlds, Xue Ling was already accustomed to emergencies occurring whenever he transmigrated. But it was obvious that this world was not a world filled with magic or abilities, and the body he now occupied was so weak that it was terrifying. His exertions from just now seemed to have used up all of his physical strength, and all he could do now was collapse on the ground of the secret passage and gasp for breath. He didn’t even have the energy left to pull out the system’s fur.
Perhaps it was because this passage was too dirty; the system was unwilling to allow its white fur to be stained with dust, so it had constantly chosen to communicate with its host via soul communication. Very quickly, it had sent this world’s story to Xue Ling.
First, Xue Ling checked up on his current body’s identity, and then burst into laughter.
He now understood why the system hadn’t dared to appear in front of him – it was definitely afraid that he would kill it.
This was a world with settings similar to that of an ABO world. He didn’t know who had come up with it, but Xue Ling sometimes found himself admiring the brain pits of people who created these kinds of stories.
There were no women in this world. To be precise, the women-type characters were men who were labelled as ‘ger’. They were petite, and their strength was much weaker than ordinary men. In short, they were all pretty boys – pretty boys who could have children. In this world, gers were born to be married off as wives. They would always have a red cinnabar mole somewhere on their body, and the vibrancy of their red mole represented their fertility level.
Basically, whether or not they could have children was based on this red cinnabar mole.
Xue Ling’s current body was a ger. But there were very few people who knew about the matter of him being a ger. The ointment that the system had told him to bring along was precisely what he smeared on his face to cover up his red mole. Because this current body’s red cinnabar mole was right at the corner of his eyes, it was extremely conspicuous. Although the red coloring was faint, it was still proof of his identity as a ger no matter what.
But he was also the Emperor that stood above tens of thousands of people, and the last of the previous Emperor’s line. Despite his weak body and submissive personality, he was still commanded to become the Son of Heaven. However, this was a conspiracy that the Empress Dowager had planned over the course of many years. He was only a chess piece for the Empress Dowager and his mother’s family. This explained why he was abandoned within minutes as soon as someone invaded the palace.
Xue Ling had transmigrated into the later stages of the story. The influence he would be able to exert on the two male protagonists was very weak, and it would take a lot of effort for him to achieve his task. Therefore, after he learned about the body he currently inhabited, he switched to see what the original story, which was written from the perspective of another little ger in this world, was about.
This was a story about the rebirth and changing of fate of a legitimate son in a prominent family. The protagonist shou was the legitimate second young master of the Central Judicial Office Shaoqing Li family. His name was Li Yuan.
The back courts of most families were never peaceful, regardless of whether it was filled with women or gers. To top it off, this was set during the period where a dynasty was on the brink of collapse, and the imperial court had fallen into the control of the Empress Dowager and her relatives. Although Li Yuan was a legitimate ger, and had an elder brother who cared for him, he did not live a happy life.
In his early years, when the court had not yet been in turmoil, his life was wonderful and interesting. After all, he was a ger from a large family, and he could spend his days doing whatever he liked. But by the time he was about to become an adult and marry into someone else’s family, matters seemed to have inexorably turned upside down.
His fiancé was caught having an affair with his half-brother, who was born to a concubine. He saw the scene with his own eyes, and was nauseated to the point of throwing up. After turning ill and finally waking up, he discovered that his marriage had gone through – but in order to suppress the scandal, his father listened to his second wife’s whispered suggestion and actually had his half-brother marry his fiancé under his name. Suddenly, his name was being used by another person, and he went from being a ger born to the first wife of the family to the son of a concubine.
He spent his days in a daze, and had not yet responded to his change in identity when he was pushed down in the back court and his face disfigured.
His mother died early on, and his elder brother was in the army far away. There was basically nobody in the Manor to protect him; his face had been disfigured, and as a ger who could no longer be married, he spent his days being mocked in the back court. He had a carefree life during his first eighteen years, but the years following that were full of suffering as he endured everyone’s malicious intentions.
He slowly began to feel inferior, and turned cowardly. Later, he only knew that there was great chaos outside as his father had chosen to stand with the wrong faction. Li Manor was confiscated, and his family was banished. As a little ger who had nobody to depend on, his family basically forgot his existence as they fled. His elder brother finally came back and found him, but by then he was already dying and just hanging on with his last breath. He was unwilling to die like this, without understanding what had happened.
After his death, his soul did not disperse, but instead drifted around the world following his brother. He saw all kinds of things and learned what the world outside of Li Manor was like. He had lived a life of extravagance, but in some places, people killed each other for food. The imperial court was incompetent and there was chaos everywhere. His elder brother had been dragged down by his father and became a criminal. He could only change his name and throw himself into the Southern Army, following the Southern Prince into battle, until he finally died on the battlefield.
Li Yuan drifted through many places. Mountains and rivers fell apart, and he watched as everything withered and died. The things he experienced throughout his life, from another perspective, seemed to finally make a lot of sense, and he felt like he understood a lot, but there still was a lot he did not know.
Then, he woke up again and found that he had returned to the time when he was seventeen years old. There was still a lot of time to go before these disasters happened. Besides himself, Li Yuan was more concerned about the state of the world. He did not want the mountains and rivers to fall apart, nor did he want everything to be washed in blood.
So the reborn Li Yuan set his sights on Prince Xian and helped him with his schemes. Although he was a ger, after so many years of drifting, his insights could not be compared with those of the gers who had been confined to their homes. The Prince Xian was attracted to him, and also greatly admired his plans, so the two of them fit well together. After going through thick and thin together, they finally sent troops over to suppress the palace.
Xue Ling’s body now was that of the poor Emperor who had been forced onto the throne. In his original fate, the little eunuch brought him to flee, but they were unable to escape the eyes of the soldiers filling up the palace. He was directly thrown into prison; the new Emperor was his imperial uncle, but it was someone he had never interacted with before. His uncle felt no sympathy for him and ordered him beheaded before no longer concerning himself with him. Instead, he prepared a grand wedding and married Li Yuan.
The little Emperor was no longer able to maintain his comfortable life. Without the ointment to cover it up, the red cinnabar mole in the corner of his eye was discovered by the jailer who was in charge of the prison. His identity as a ger was exposed, but the jailers had no intention of reporting this affair. Prince Xian’s soldiers were all peasant children who had previously never had enough to eat nor warm clothes to wear, and many of them spent most of their lives on the streets. The jailers had never seen such a beautiful little ger before, not to mention one who once was an Emperor who stood above ten thousand people. They had never even had a chance to gaze upon him.
This group of bandits had already gone this far, there was no way they wouldn’t go further. They suddenly turned vicious and daring, and gang raped the little Emperor.
He had still been underage. How could he stand such humiliation? After that incident, he smashed his own head and died inside the prison. He never even saw Li Yuan’s face while he lived.
The story formally ended here. The new Emperor and his Empress linked hands and watched over these ten thousand miles of mountains and rivers, and lived happily together like princes and princesses in fairytales. Xue Ling thought to himself that he did not know whether he or the protagonist shou had been more miserable. Looking at what happened after the ending, he discovered that they were both in similar positions, and it was probably the best to not haggle over it so much.
Prince Xian respected his Empress Li Yuan, but he was an Emperor and maintained an imperial harem. As long as they were gers, they would be admitted into the back palace. Li Yuan did not fight or cause strife in the back palace since what he cared about were the common people in the world. But Prince Xian was not a man who was willing to share joys and sorrows, riches and honor. He felt that his Empress was interfering time and again in the running of the government. Before he had power, he admired Li Yuan’s incomparable wisdom and was happy that the person he shared a pillow with had these kinds of tactics, but after he stepped into the highest position and wielded the greatest power, Li Yuan’s interference in his matters made him resentful.
These little things began to add up; Li Yuan thought that they were on the same boat together, and genuine feelings would triumph over everything. But he did not realize that the Emperor had become more and more guarded against him, and the two were drifting further and further apart. Li Yuan had been reborn, but he ultimately still failed to obtain a good ending.
His cherished elder brother was destroyed by the Emperor’s schemes because of his military achievements. He himself ended up trapped deep in the back palace, and spent the second half of his life in the cold palace, until he finally died from depression.
Reality had always been cruel. Compared to the beautiful perfection of the story, his final ending was much more provocative.
Xue Ling flipped through all the information the system had given him and stretched lazily. He roughly understood what the current situation was. His brain turned as he began to think about how he should get out of his current deadlock.
Li Yuan and Prince Xian’s army already occupied the palace. Although they were unable to find the imperial jade seal and tiger insignia, and their ascension to the throne was still more or less incomplete, changes in the palace did not usually bring about anything good. If they did not have the imperial jade seal and tiger insignia, they would most likely turn their gazes towards the Empress Dowager, who was this body’s mother. He originally had not been anything to be worried over, and nobody would think that he would be able to create any waves.
The situation in the Capital needed to be changed. He could use his power to thoroughly kill off everyone who needed to be killed, but that would cause him to go OOC, and it was too uncontrolled. In that case, what he now needed to do was to leave the capital and find an army to help him recapture his position as Emperor.
new arc! ancient settings really kill me (from a translations perspective) so feel free to point out any mistakes… my feelings won’t be hurt~
also! Amalea from the discord server found the PERFECT image for the (-i_-｀) expression~