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Chapter 629 – Mother and Son (III)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Zhou Tong is just a dog, a lackey."
The Tianhai Divine Empress gazed at Chen Changsheng with an indifferent expression. "While you are my son. Even if you're about to die, even if your death will be by my own hands, even if you can only live for one more day, as long as you are still alive, you will be more important than him by one thousand times, ten thousand times. If you do not even understand this, what right do you have to be my son?"
Chen Changsheng recalled that Prince Chen Liu had said almost identical words in the carriage. He was not deeply moved by these words, only feeling them somewhat strange, out of line with his understanding of the world. Since you plan to heartlessly kill me in cold blood, why do you still care about whether or not I have the right to be your son?
He didn't know what to say, so he once more fell silent.
The Tianhai Divine Empress extended a hand to caress his face.
This sort of scene had often occurred in the last two years, and he had found it very unpleasant and difficult to grow accustomed to. Now, he found it somewhat repulsive. Just who is that gaze of tender affection and pampering for? Just where did this intimate caress come from? Is it all a sham, or are you comforting yourself? Or is it that you want to use this to soothe your Dao heart so that after you kill your own son, your mind will not be affected?
Chen Changsheng felt like a venomous snake was slowly slithering across his face. This extremely loathsome sensation caused his entire body to incessantly tremble.
He found it impossible to continue enduring this and wanted to avoid it, yet he could not move his body. He wanted to take out from his bosom the letter Su Li had left him, yet he couldn't even budge a finger.
"You want to kill me?" the Tianhai Divine Empress looked into his eyes and asked.
For some reason, even though she had perceived Chen Changsheng's intentions, she was not angry. Instead, the hint of a smile seemed to appear in her star-like eyes.
This was a smile of praise. It seemed that she greatly approved of the fact that Chen Changsheng had thought of committing such a monstrous crime against his own mother.
Chen Changsheng only wanted to leave, and thought of nothing else. Looking into her eyes, he knew that she had misunderstood something, but he didn't understand why she would have this sort of reaction after misunderstanding.
"The cycle of the Heavenly Dao, heavenly principles, and proper human relationships—all of it is fake. Mother against son, father against son—these things have taken place in this world countless times. I also want to kill you, so if you want to kill me, I won't feel there to be anything wrong about that. On the contrary, if you can disregard those false and dull morals and virtues, laws and principles, and produce the desire to kill me, only then can you truly have the right to be my son."
The Tianhai Divine Empress said to him.
Chen Changsheng gazed at her and seriously asked, "My lady…truly plans to kill me?"
The Tianhai Divine Empress replied, "I said before, all of those things are fake. This being the case, why shouldn't I kill you?"
After a pause, Chen Changsheng asked, "Then just what is truly real?"
The Tianhai Divine Empress gazed at the Imperial Palace, not speaking for a very long time.
At this time, she was in the Hundred Herb Garden.
She had lived countless years within the Imperial Palace and the Hundred Herb Garden.
Many years ago, she saw in the Imperial Palace an unruly dragonhorse. Emperor Taizong asked everyone, how would they make this dragonhorse obey?
She had voluntarily stepped forward, and then…she was exiled to the Hundred Herb Garden.
For the rest of her life, she would not forget the look of utter contempt and loathing in Emperor Taizong's eyes.
In the Hundred Herb Garden, she suffered through unimaginably difficult times, and the people of her clan suffered even worse. Just when she believed that she would just sink into oblivion, Emperor Xian, who had not forgotten her, secretly came to her. Then, she understood something. Emperor Taizong viewed her with such contempt and loathing…this meant that there was something on her person that assuredly made him feel uneasy. Just what was it? Was it strength, a potential for formidable power, the rarely seen blood of the true Phoenix, or an indistinct omen sent by the Heavenly Dao?
If speaking of understanding of the Heavenly Dao, there was no person in the world with a deeper understanding than her. But even she would sometimes feel tired. Yes, not frustrated, not bewildered, but tired, because reaching the other shore and entering the world of true freedom required far too many long and endless years.
She turned to Chen Changsheng and prepared to say something when she realized that Chen Changsheng's face had grown pale. Simultaneously, an unusual smear of blood-red appeared at the corner of his eyes—at this time, his injuries had finally broken out. His blood containing his soul, or Sacred Light, or the energy of life, burst through his ruptured and shattered meridians, permeating and flowing through his internal organs. The Sacred Light on his body's surface was already incapable of concealing that smell. The dark forest of early autumn suddenly resounded with the chirps of countless insects.
The Tianhai Divine Empress calmly gazed at him, seeming especially unfeeling.
"Such a rich Qi of life. The smell is truly not bad, I truly was not mistaken."
This was speaking of the conclusion she had made after picking out a strand of Qi from Chen Changsheng's body.
"It seems that those descendants of the deceased truly did go to the Sacred Light Continent. No wonder that even Emperor Taizong, with all his capability, still could not find them after two hundred years."
At this time, Chen Changsheng was in great pain, like tens of thousands of small knives were scraping away at his bones. However, this comment still managed to attract some of his attention.
He knew who the targets of her words were.
The so-called 'descendants of the deceased' referred to the part of the Chen Imperial clan that had escaped the capital after the coup in the Hundred Herb Garden. This part of the Chen Imperial clan might have consisted of the Crown Prince's family, or the members of the Imperial clan close to the Crown Prince. Naturally, they also included the family of Chen Xuanba. According to the records in the Daoist Canon, this part of the Chen Imperial clan consisted of no less than a thousand people, all extremely competent and talented.
The Elder of Heavenly Secrets had said that his body contained an innumerable quantity of Sacred Light, which was assuredly related to the Sacred Light Continent. His senior brother had said that he had been picked out of a stream. That stream flowed from out of the Cloud Grave. Xu Yourong had once said that within the Cloud Grave was a solitary mountain that might be a path to the Sacred Light Continent…
When these pieces of information were combined, the original appearance of this matter gradually took shape.
He truly was the hope of the Chen Imperial clan to regain the imperial throne, or perhaps its method of doing so.
The Tianhai Divine Empress took in the thickening scent pervading the autumn forest, her forehead creasing deeper and deeper, the bright stars in the depths of her eyes seeming to slightly waver, their light also seeming to dim. At the same time, her face revealed a callousness and loathing, two feelings that were not complete opposites but also ones that should not have appeared at the same time.
Then, she closed her eyes.
When she opened her eyes again, those emotions had all utterly vanished, leaving only calmness and indifference.
She lightly flicked her sleeve, and an indescribable pressure instantly enveloped the forest. Several strands of clear light spilled out of her sleeve and fell on Chen Changsheng's body.
This Qi which was sufficient to cause all the world's living beings to grow obsessed, even crazy, with desire was temporarily cut off by these lights.
Those insects loudly chirping in the Hundred Herb Garden, at a loss, gradually ceased their cries. The autumn forest returned to tranquility.
The Tianhai Divine Empress gazed at Chen Changsheng, mocking, "Now you know that you've been used by someone, no?"
Chen Changsheng was quiet for a very long time. With great difficulty, he raised up his right hand that was shuddering from pain and gripped the already empty teacup, replying, "I've never met those people."
The people he spoke of were naturally those descendants of the deceased hidden in the darkness, those descendants of the Chen Imperial clan that had already left this continent for many years.
"There are some people that you don't need to see to know how despicable, dirty and shameless they are, because their blood itself stinks."
The Tianhai Divine Empress held her hands behind her and gazed to the night sky towards the distant east, emotionlessly saying, "A father killing his own son, a younger brother killing his older brother—these sorts of things have occurred in this clan far too many times. I still remember when Taizong still reigned, when Crown Prince Chengqian was put to death, the Prince of Wei, Tai, entered the palace to see Emperor Taizong. The moment he saw him, he threw himself into Emperor Taizong's bosom, wailing as he spoke, 'Only from today can I be counted as Your Majesty's true son. I have a son. When I'm about to die, I will absolutely kill him for Your Majesty's sake, then pass it on to Your Majesty's beloved Prince of Jin.'"
(TN: This incident refers to an actual historical incident involving the sons of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. At the time, Taizong's crown prince was Li Chengqian, who was often in dispute with his brother, Li Tai, the Prince of Wei. Li Chengqian eventually began to lose favor with Taizong and began plotting a rebellion to overthrow him. This plot was revealed, resulting in Li Chengqian being deposed to the rank of commoner. Taizong was split between the choice to make either Li Tai or Li Zhi, the Prince of Jin, crown prince. In order to ingratiate himself to Taizong, Li Tai promised that if he were made crown prince, then when he was about to die, he would kill his own son and pass the throne to Li Zhi. This statement backfired and Li Zhi was eventually chosen to become crown prince, and ultimately, Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty.)
Speaking up to here, she stopped and turned to Chen Changsheng, asking, "Hearing this, what do you feel?"
Chen Changsheng's body was still trembling out of pain, but also out of emotion. "I feel…it's very disgusting, very cold."
The Tianhai Divine Empress smirked. "At the time, everyone who heard this felt the same as you, yet…our Emperor Taizong didn't seem to think this way at all. He was very pleased, even saying, 'Who does not love their son? When We see the Prince of Wei in this state, We deeply pity him.'"
Chen Changsheng thought, Emperor Taizong is regarded as the wisest sovereign throughout the ages. How could he be deceived by such childish and absurd words?
"Emperor Taizong was naturally not deceived, but he really did admire the Prince of Wei's shamelessness—he had just killed his elder brother, yet he wanted nothing more than to squeeze into his father's bosom and suck on his breast milk. Not everyone could do something like this… It's said that the son resembles the father. Emperor Taizong did the same to his own father, so could he still have the face to criticize the Prince of Wei over anything?"
When the Tianhai Divine Empress mentioned Emperor Taizong, her tone became somewhat harsh, even vulgar.
Chen Changsheng raised his head to her and asked, "Why is my lady telling me these things? Previously when my lady thought that I wanted to kill you and found it very admirable, was it for the same reason?"
The Tianhai Divine Empress replied, "I just wanted to tell you that the Chen Imperial clan, whether it's Emperor Taizong's line or those descendants of the deceased imperials, are all hypocritical and disgusting things."
After a moment of silence, Chen Changsheng said, "The blood of the Chen clan also flows within my body, so I must also be hypocritical and disgusting?"
The Tianhai Divine Empress answered, "You can interpret my meaning in this way."
Chen Changsheng looked into her eyes and said, "In the end, my lady just wants to kill me, so is finding some reasons or excuses."
The Tianhai Divine Empress lightly mocked, "If I want to kill someone, when did I ever need a reason or excuse?"
Chen Changsheng replied, "But in the end, I'm different."
The Tianhai Divine Empress arched her brows. "Where is your difference?"
Chen Changsheng answered, "After all, I am your son. If you are like Emperor Taizong, then the history books of the future will write about it, so you must give an explanation."
The Tianhai Divine Empress replied, "I, a woman sitting on the imperial throne, have never harbored any extravagant delusions about receiving any good evaluations from later generations. Do I look like someone that cares about commentary to you?"
Chen Changsheng thought of the cruel methods she had used to control the government after ascending to the throne and concluded that this was the case. However, there were still some other questions that needed resolving.
He replied, "Every person has to give an explanation for their own choices. Even if they don't care what anyone else in the world thinks, one still has to convince themselves."
The Tianhai Divine Empress calmly gazed at him, noting, "Maybe so."
Chen Changsheng continued, "Since we've finished talking, what is my lady waiting for? Kill me or eat me, complete your changing of fate, complete all causes and effects, to assist my lady in living for all ages."
The Tianhai Divine Empress replied, "That's reasonable, you were originally a piece of flesh that fell from my stomach. For me to eat you again into my stomach is truly a matter in accord with the laws of the heavens and earth."