After hearing the news that the arteries around Luo Wei’s heart were injured, Emperor Xing Wu immediately decided to put the four executioners to death.
“Your Majesty, this absolutely must not be done. The four of them carried out the execution on imperial orders, and do not have fault,” Luo Zhi Qiu, who was present at the scene, hurriedly dissuaded.
“They hurt Wei Er’s heart arteries, and I have to spare them?!” Emperor Xing Wu was so flustered and exasperated that he spoke irresponsibly, “Wei Er isn’t your biological son, so you talk like this!”
“Your Majesty!” Luo Zhi Qiu knelt down again for Emperor Xing Wu. “Your humble servant also itches to kill those four people at this moment, but Your Majesty, if you do this, what kind of position would that put Luo Wei in?”
“What do you mean?!” Emperor Xing Wu asked angrily.
“This humble servant knows that Luo Wei is His Majesty’s biological son, but the world does not know,” Luo Zhi Qiu continued. “What would the world think of Luo Wei if His Majesty killed those four people?”
“What do you want to say to me?” Emperor Xing Wu asked Luo Zhi Qiu. “Or are you saying you’ve heard something again?”
“Your Majesty shows such favor to an official’s son, yet Luo Wei does not yet possess famous achievements, and has not yet established meritorious deeds for the country or its monarch. It is hard for people to avoid presumptuous conjecturing. I hope that Your Majesty will think thrice.” (T/N: “think thrice” = “think carefully.”)
“Don’t you know what he did?”
“This humble servant knows, but the world doesn’t know. Your majesty wants Luo Wei to be a virtuous state official, so don’t let him carry the reputation of a flatterer. This humble servant earnestly requests for Your Majesty to think thrice.”
“You may rise.” Emperor Xing Wu brushed his hand against his forehead, disappointed. He understood Luo Zhi Qiu’s meaning. Luo Wei received favor without reason, and over time would surely be subjected to criticism. Public opinion could melt metal (T/N: idiom meaning widespread rumors can obscure the truth). Luo Wei wasn’t a flatterer but would become a flatterer in the mouths of others. When an emperor’s favor towards an official was too excessive, this would bring disaster to that official. Favor without reason would invite envy and hatred, and he could not protect Luo Wei for a lifetime.
The monarch and minister within the tent had nothing to say for a long time.
When the charcoal fire was about to burn out, Emperor Xing Wu told Luo Zhi Qiu: “I want to recognize Wei Er.”
This was what Luo Zhi Qiu was most afraid of hearing. Just as he was lost in thought considering how to make Emperor Xing Wu dispel such a notion, Zhao Fu entered and reported that Crown Prince Long Yu requested an audience.
“Summon him,” said Emperor Xing Wu.
“This humble servant will first ask to be excused.” Though Luo Zhi Qiu was Long Yu’s blood-related uncle, at this time he could only retreat and exit from the tent.
When Long Yu entered the tent, he saw Luo Zhi Qiu leaving the tent. Long Yu stopped and whispered to Luo Zhi Qiu, “Uncle.”
“Your Highness,” Luo Zhi Qiu paid the proper courtesy to Long Yu.
Long Yu knelt before the emperor and performed a great amount of the proper rites of respect. Emperor Xing Wu raised a hand and let Long Yu rise, asking, “What’s the matter?”
“Reporting to Emperor Father,” Long Yu replied, “your humble son has already made an inventory of the prey hunted today, a total of…”
“It’s fine as long as you take care of it,” Emperor Xing Wu was not in the mood to listen to this, “tomorrow is the last day of the hunt. You and Grand Prince Xin will arrange it.”
“Your humble son obeys your Imperial Majesty’s command,” Long Yu agreed.
“You still have something else?” Emperor Xing Wu saw that Long Yu stood and still did not leave.
“Emperor Father, your humble son was just outside the tent and saw Imperial Physician Wei’s disciple. Is there news about Luo Wei’s illness?” Long Yu asked.
“Not very good,” said Emperor Xing Wu.
Long Yu continued: “Your humble son also heard that Xiao Wei’s body cannot stand the cold. It is now the coldest season. If he’s like this, it would be better for him to go to the south and experience a warmer climate.” (T/N: author used the character for “marquis” within this sentence, but it didn’t make sense in context. The character for “marquis” is similar to one of the characters used in “climate.”)
“What did you say?” Emperor Xing Wu’s voice rose immediately. “You want him to leave the capital? He is sick now, and you want him to go the far south?!” Emperor Xing Wu struck the table in front of him, “What is your motive?!”
Long Yu saw that Emperor Xing Wu lost his temper after exchanging a few words, and knelt down in a rush.
“Wei Er is also your cousin!” Emperor Xing Wu was angry because he was restless at heart. Long Yu was his successor, the future master of this world. If he didn’t like Luo Wei, what would Luo Wei do after Emperor Xing Wu passed? “Even if you don’t like this cousin, you don’t have to force him right?!”
“Emperor Father,” Long Yu kowtowed and said, “your humble son has always regarded Xiao Wei as a close brother, how could he force him.”
“Then what is your intention?!”
Long Yu replied, “This humble son is indeed thinking about Xiao Wei’s health.”
“I won’t believe this kind of nonsense,” Emperor Xing Wu said loudly, “You tell me the truth! Speak!”
In the midst of Emperor Xing Wu’s forceful questioning, Long Yu’s heart fell into chaos, and he said, “This humble son also has other considerations.”
“The entire Liu clan has been extinguished, and there is hatred and desire for revenge between the second brother, the fifth brother and Xiao Wei,” Long Yu said, “Now there is another incident concerning the Xu clan. Your humble son only fears that the hatred between them will solidify and deepen, so he thought to temporarily keep them apart. Xuan and Xiang are your humble son’s blood brothers, Xiao Wei is also this humble son’s blood-related cousin. Your humble son really does not want to see conflict arise between them again.”
Hearing Long Xuan’s words, the fire in Emperor Xing Wu’s heart lessened a bit. “Long Xuan’s child is gone. After this hunt, I will send him away from the capital to wash away his misfortune. He and Wei Er wouldn’t see each other.”
“Emperor Father,” Long Yu said, “after Xuan leaves the capital, if Xiao Wei is still in the capital, if something happened to Xuan, he would inevitably be suspicious of Xiao Wei. Your humble son is only afraid that the emotional entanglement between those two would deepen, and in the future be irreparable.”
“It seems that Long Xuan found you and lodged a nice long complaint, right?” Emperor Xing Wu asked.
“This is what your humble son intends, and is not related to Xuan.”
“Fine then, I will tell you today that Wei Er has never said a word of blame about Long Xuan in front of me. In my opinion, it is Long Xuan and Long Xiang who have set their eyes on Wei Er and will not let go!”
“Emperor Father,” Long Yu quickly replied, “Xuan hasn’t blamed Xiao Wei in front of your humble son before either.”
“Enough,” Emperor Xing Wu suppressed the fire in his heart, “The climate in the south is suitable for Wei Er to recuperate, but at the moment Wei Er’s body cannot withstand a long and difficult trek. Wei Er is also not a vile character who would instigate matters behind people’s backs. Go put Long Xuan at ease. As long as he knows his place, I will not treat him like that.”
Long Yu saw that Emperor Xing Wu had such an attitude, and he feared that if he continued to speak, Emperor Xing Wu would summon Long Xuan for a scolding. He had no choice but to ask to be excused.
Emperor Xing Wu watched Long Yu withdraw from the tent, not knowing whether he should be glad that his Crown Prince held such fraternal love for his brothers, or whether he should be angry that this Crown Prince had lived up until now but still did not understand people.
“Does your majesty need to eat?” Zhao Fu walked slowly into the tent and asked.
“Scram!” Emperor Xing Wu commanded angrily.
Zhao Fu scrambled out. Without Emperor Xing Wu’s summons, he didn’t dare to enter again.
Luo Zhi Qiu had been standing at the entrance of the tent all this time. After Long Yu came out, Luo Zhi Qiu began to follow him from behind.
Long Yu took Luo Zhi Qiu back to his resting tent, dismissed the serving people waiting within it, and said to Luo Zhi Qiu, “My Emperor Father was so loud, uncle heard everything right?”
“I heard a bit, Your Highness wants Xiao Wei to go south?” Luo Zhi Qiu replied.
“Uncle is also not happy?” Long Yu asked.
“Your Highness,” Luo Zhi Qiu said, “Xiao Wei’s body is now incapable of traveling long distances. This time he blocked a few rods for Yu Xuan (T/N: assuming this is Luo Ze’s courtesy name), and Imperial Physician Wei reported that his heart arteries are injured.”
Long Yu was startled, “So serious?”
“Xiao Wei does have conflicting views with the Second Prince,” Luo Zhi Qiu continued, “but His Highness should also listen to what Xiao Wei has to say.”