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Engraved In Bone Volume 1 Chapter 10

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010

Imperial Concubine Liu and the Third Prince had never wanted to wish to die this bad, but Zhao Li Xin would not let them do as they wished, and ordered people to use all sorts of rare and expensive medicine to keep their lives hanging at every moment.

He said, “Mother, did you not want to be the mother of this nation? If you die, how could you stay the mother of the nation?”

If she could speak, Imperial Concubine Liu would beg Zhao Li Xin, on the account of her being pregnant for ten months, to let her go. She was wrong. She truly knew of her mistakes.

She should not have so tightly clung onto this lunatic and not let go.

But it was already late. Without Fu Hong Wen, no one would be able to control this lunatic.

The Fu family had long been sent away before Zhao Li Xin's ascension, that they were not even able to see the inheritance of the throne with their own eyes. They had moved to a place far far away, including Fu Hong Wen's only child.

If you were to say they had incurred the wrath of the Emperor were hence banished, it didn't seem to be so. The Emperor had bestowed them with a lot of things- even if they lived up in the mountains, it was enough to guarantee the Fu family's next three generations a lifestyle without worrying about food or clothing.

After the new Emperor had taken up the position, he had done many things beneficial for the citizens. The only thing complaint was that the back palaces remained empty, with not a single concubine, nor any heirs of his own. The successor was chosen from amongst the other Highness's.

There was previously a daring woman who had expressed her love toward the Emperor through tacit suggestion, but the Emperor was unmoving as ever- Where the people came from, he would send back.

The Emperor did not like others to come close to him. The only one was the late Princess's manservant- now his imperial guard, who was taken alongside the Emperor at each and every moment. Some people had also surmised that perhaps the Emperor had a preference for men[1], since the Emperor's appearance was exactly the same as the late Princess Chun An- their names had only a single character difference.

Princess Chun An's name was Zhao Li Xin, and the new emperor was called Zhao Li[2] .

As the guard who had previously witnessed the Princess turn into the Emperor, even if he had an inconceivable amount of courage, he would not dare climb into the Emperor's bed. He had once followed the Emperor out of the palace after the Mid Autumn festival. The Emperor always liked to return to the former Fu residence, set up a hot meal inside, and along with it, five sets of chopsticks and bowls. After the meal, he would sit inside the courtyard under that peach blossom and drink wine, and look up at the moon in the sky.

The drunk emperor was truly beautiful. The normally clear, cold eyes of his would be clouded in a layer of mist, stirring people's souls.

He did not raise his head to look, nor could he raise his head.

At this time, the Emperor always liked to call on him to go get a bundle of candied gourds. After tasting one piece, he would order him to get rid of it all.

One time, he ventured and drew in closely to listen- the Emperor had lowered his head and closed his eyes, laughing, “It's all tart…… clearly doesn't make one happy at all.”

The Emperor would laugh and laugh, then stand up and leave.

The days repeated on themselves, until the Emperor had become the ‘Emperor's Father'[3] . He still had not been married, with no one to follow him to his end.

Although the ‘Emperor's Father' was already old, he still looked as though in his prime- the only pity was that the originally jet black hair had now been dyed white. After retiring, the ‘Emperor's Father' directly moved into the former Fu residence. During the day, he always liked to bathe in the sunlight in the courtyard and read books.

A lot of things changed, but the only that didn't change was- the ‘Emperor's Father' could not change his habit of eating candied gourd. He always liked to buy a handful of candied gourds, only to eat one, then share it with the kids outside the residence.

Zhao Li Xin had changed a lot. After tormenting Imperial Concubine Liu and the Third Prince for five years, in the end, he had still granted them death. When he was in that high position, he had also thought about ruining the Fu family, as well as ruining this country. But in the very end, he could not find it in the heart in him to do so.

He would be atop that high place to look at everyone, with no one beside him he would call close, fortifying that idea of being all alone.

When he was still Emperor, he always liked to go to the Fu family to reminisce about the past that did not belong to him, then always not give up on letting the guard go buy candied gourds, trying to find that taste that once made him happy. But every time he bit down, it was all tart. No matter what he did, he was unable to think of that alarmingly delicate feeling he had at first.

It was not as though no one tried convincing him of taking on an Empress all these years. He had seen many people, and also had many people send people toward his bed- women, men, but not one was good in his eyes. This one's eyes aren't pretty enough, that one's smile looks too low cla.s.s…… Until there was one that looked very similar to Fu Hong Wen. When dressed in verdant under the moonlight, he was dumbfounded.

It wasn't that those people could not enter his heart, but it was just that after he had met Fu Hong Wen, he could not look at any others.

That person who looked like Fu Hong Wen had been chased out of the palace after having his face destroyed. He knew, in this world, he would not find that person again.

The only one that followed him the longest was still that manservant he brought out from the Princess residence. Every time he saw him shouldering that handful with a silly smile on his face, he could not bear to send that person off to cleanse his body[4] to turn him into a eunuch to leave him by his side, and instead promoted that person with no foundation for martial arts into an imperial guard.

Fortunately, this boy was hardworking. Although he started later than most people, he was willing to put in the work and endure the pain.

Having followed him since, he had then followed him for life.

He had seen the eyes of Fu Hong Wen when looking at the person he held affection for, how could he not notice that person's eyes that had the same idea looking at himself? It was only that he was not willing to be resolute, unwilling to draw a clear line. In his lifetime, he gave all of his affection to Fu Hong Wen. Even if he had another person by his side, it was all for the sake of yearning for him(Fu Hong Wen) that he would keep them there.

Thinking about it now, how could he have the heart to do such a thing at that time? It would be good too if he had even just imprisoned that person by his side. But if he had given himself another chance, he would make the same decision. He would still rather use his own hands to finish it.

This person had once said he would whole-heartedly treat him well. How was it that he could change so much afterwards? He wanted to see what his heart was made of- how could it be made of steel[5]?

He lived for a lifetime, arduously going through the first half, meeting Fu Hong Wen with difficulty, thinking he had obtained redemption. But the true heart he had once expected had completely been given to the wrong person; in the last half of his life, he spared little effect and obtained the high position that others would dream of, but at the price of truly experiencing the meaning of how ‘high places do not win against the cold'[6] .

He had nothing left.

The sunlight of March was a little warm. The peach blossom's petals were especially mischievous, falling down from the branch from time to time. That person was holding onto a stick of candied gourd with a missing piece, peacefully laying down on the rocking chair, and slowly, losing out any sound or breath.

The Emperor Father's departure had filled the capital with a sunken atmosphere. In certain courtyard, when the beauty who once had a single encounter with Zhao Li Xin had heard of the news of the Emperor Father's death, the hands that were in the middle of carving a statue came to a stop.

“Master, why did you not tell Zhao Li Xin you didn't engrave Fu Hong Wen's bones at that time?”

The bone engraver had remembered. That year, the fainted man had suddenly woke up, and implored that if he were to forget about everything from before, he would prefer not to have his bone engraved.

That person was not afraid of the pain of engraving, and it wasn't that he didn't want that person's name engraved in his bones, but he was afraid of forgetting- forgetting that person he had longed for.

He looked into the affection in that person's eyes, and knew- even if he did not go through with it, Fu Hong Wen's bones had long since already been engraved with Zhao Li Xin's name.

To engrave the bones was originally something that defied the heavens- no matter what, Zhao Li Xin would have to pay the price; but even though he didn't engrave the bone in the very end, Zhao Li Xin was still destined to suffer a fate of being alone.

The face of the bone engraver that still had not been dyed in hards.h.i.+p smiled, and stroked the head of his little disciple, “Wait until you grow a bit older, become an excellent bone engraver, then you will understand.”

The hards.h.i.+p of living as a human[7]– that was the destiny that Zhao Li Xin could not escape in his entire lifetime.

[1] The literal term is ‘an addiction for yang'. Why yang? It is said that whereas women had yin energy, men would have yang energy. Where you might ask? Just look to the lower half. So you can technically say he had a preference for men, or preference for dx.x.x. Both would be correct.

[2] The characters of the Li in Zhao Li Xin is 黎, whereas Zhao Li's new name uses the Li of 离, meaning (to be) depart(ed).

[3] Just as the former queen would turn to the queen mother when her son ascends the throne, as the previous emperor, when the throne is abdicated, he would be the 'emperor's father'. The original term used here simply refers to him being the former emperor-in-power but not exactly retired from power. The text does not refer to him as the current emperor's actual father, but I don't have a better term for this.

[4] To “cleanse” the body means to be rid of the man's ‘third leg'- becoming an eunuch.

[5] To be coldhearted.

[6] Those that stand in high places (have high authority) are unable to stand the cold winds in that area. The more higher you go, the less people you can make friends with, and the more you feel lonely and cold.

[7] 生而为人- It may be better for the whole phrase to be interpreted as ‘to experience hards.h.i.+p just for being born/being human' for better understanding. Another way to interpret it would be ‘to live for other people' which considering how, in the end, Zhao Li Xin abandoned his personal happiness (Fu Hong Wen), and instead chose to be an Emperor who fulfilled his duty by bringing his citizens a good future is fitting of the phrase. But to be honest if this was what was meant the author would write 为人而生 instead and not the other way around.

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