Love Rival Is Getting Prettier Everyday - Chap 71
Chapter 71: The East Palace Finale
“Sisters, today is a day that belongs to The East Palace and to Li Xu!”
“I saw some media people say that because of the popularity of The East Palace, the movie box office this weekend won’t be strong. Hahahaha, the whole world is guarding The East Palace!”
“Come, come. Let’s bet and guess the ending of Li Xu!”
“I’ll go first! I bet that He Lanbi spares Li Xu’s life, sends him out of the palace while he’s unconscious, and he’s reunited with the prince. After that, he goes incognito and will be living a double life for the rest of his life.”
“Woo, woo, I’ll nibble at upstairs. Although it’s a bit yellow, I like it!”
“Except for the heroine, this drama was way too hard. I’m begging for candy and asking the crew to be a human being!”
“I bet Li Xu can’t escape death. His line in the latest episode obviously shows he’s going to sacrifice his life for the country. A little love has risen to become a great love. Although it’s tragic, the characters have been sublimated! Zhou Ying’s scenes are all just forms of memories or dreams, like the last memories before Li Xu experience his death.”
“I don’t think the screenwriter will abandon the classic scene of madly sitting and talking about Zhou Ying. I’m betting he goes crazy, and then he gets picked up by the prince. This is neither a reunion nor a tragedy. It is the most compromising way! This Jintai Qiongying girl doesn’t dare ask for a big reunion. She just wants a little honey on the tip of the knife!”
“I bet on unimaginable abuse. Don’t ask me why. It just feels like Meng Xiaosheng is a more assertive screenwriter and is best at making knives. She doesn’t listen to netizens’ suggestions. Moreover, everyone has filters for Li Xu. He is a villain. Although it is a political struggle, he has killed many people. His notoriety isn’t just in name. Anyway, I watched the last few episodes as flags*, just to see how he would die. Moonlight powders said that Bai Qingquan also went to make up a scene last week. I’m not sure if it’s true or not!”
*Death flag, which refers to certain bridges (in film/TV) that lead to the death of a character under normal circumstances. Basically, they are the foreshadows of what’s to come.
“Everyone is paying attention to the plot, and I just want to squat on the ratings list and see how high it’ll be!”
In the most luxurious movie theater in Nancheng, a large screening hall with a capacity of nearly a thousand people was now full. This was an event for gold powders. Shen Jintai was with them to watch the live broadcast.
Originally meant for gold powder, Bai Qingquan, Zheng Siqi, and even celebrities like Yang Lizhi and Song Wei had to join the festivities.
Yang Lizhi came to please the audience, hoping to create the illusion that she and Shen Jintai had a good relationship and gain a little favor.
Bai Qingquan specifically asked for leave from the crew he was currently with and came to join Shen Jintai.
“I really called Jintai and asked him, since he had finished filming this drama, he must know the ending. However, he refused to tell me any spoilers and asked me to come to this live broadcast, so now I’m here.” Bai Qingquan was wearing a black suit and looked exceptionally neat and beautiful. He smiled and said to the reporters, “Don’t ask me anything. It’s not that I can’t say it, it’s really because I don’t know it. I’ll be watching it with everyone later.”
“I heard that you returned to The East Palace’s crew last week to make up a scene. Is it true? Can you tell us what it is in advance?”
Bai Qingquan smiled and said, “I did make up a segment, but I really don’t know the ending of Li Xu!”
The director, Guo Rui, and screenwriter Meng Xiaosheng came together. They did not accept media interviews and walked directly into the cinema.
Some people on the Internet have even begun to tease apart this point, thinking that Li Xu’s ending “may not be complete”.
“I feel that the director and screenwriter are afraid of being scolded, so they dare not speak out.”
“If they write Li Xu’s fate is death, I really can’t help cursing!”
“Wuwuwu. I’ve never chased a drama like this before. It’s hard to sit still like this!”
Shen Jintai was with Zheng Siqi, and as soon as the two appeared, the place erupted in ravenous screams. Today was a holiday for all Jintai Qiongying girls!
Shen Jintai wore a red suit with a white rose, while Zheng Siqi wore a white suit with a red rose tucked into his chest pocket
The red and white roses had reappeared as the two of them waved to the crowd of onlookers as they walked. Despite a lot of traffic police on the crossroad in front of the square, it was still heavily congested. The entire square was full of people and dozens of security guards were used. The two of them walked forward, surrounded by guards. Zheng Siqi said something, but Shen Jintai couldn’t hear what was being said as his voice was drowned out by all the screams.
Shen Jintai looked out to the crowd with a bright smile. His posture was straight and his face gorgeous as his whole body was covered with red starlight.
Ji Fengxing, who entered with his company’s executives, was even more emotional when he saw the scene. It confirmed that he made the correct decision when he signed Shen Jintai.
“He’s wearing xxx high-luxury men’s line that he endorses. It’s the first time I have seen a male star wearing a red suit that looks so good!”
“Touhua is so beautiful. I want to cry whenever I see him!”
“He and Zheng Siqi are the perfect match. Let me hear all the Jintai Qiongying girls scream!”
“Stop being so sultry, Touhua! You’re sucking me dry!”
“Let’s not go through the gate.” Mrs. Yan glanced at the people in the square through the car window and saw that there was a massive amount people in the night.
“Let’s go directly into the underground garage of the square and take the elevator to the cinema,” Fang Yun said to Yan Qiuchi.
Yan Qiuchi nodded and glanced into the crowd. Shen Jintai was really popular now. Seeing Shen Jintai like this, he couldn’t help but get a little excited.
“So many people.” Mrs. Yan sighed with emotion.
They took the elevator directly from the underground parking lot to the fourth floor. When they arrived on the fourth floor, they found that the shopping mall was also overcrowded. They entered the cinema under the escort of security guards and walked towards the reserved location under the guidance of the staff. The location was just a row behind Shen Jintai, Bai Qingquan, and others. Shen Jintai saw them and immediately stood up. Zheng Siqi and others saw Yan Qiuchi and also stood up as the row of celebrities started to stand up one by one to greet the mother-son duo.
Yan Qiuchi had his usual icy look as he nodded faintly at their greetings, while Mrs. Yan was overly enthusiastic as she smiled and waved her hands.
“Auntie.” Shen Jintai said with a smile.
Mrs. Yan grasped his hands and sat down behind him. Shen Jintai gave Yan Qiuchi a glance again. Yan Qiuchi returned his gaze with a nod as he barely suppressed his excitement.
Before the episode aired, the main creators of took to the stage to interact with the audience. At the end, there was an interview with Shen Jintai.
“I still remember during the announcement press conference, I interviewed Jintai about this drama and your views on Li Xu’s character. Now that filming is over, do you have any new thoughts to share?” The host asked with a beaming smile.
Shen Jintai took the microphone and, with a calm posture, answered, “For the past six months, I have been living in the world of The East Palace and in Li Xu’s world. Whether it is for the drama or for the role of Li Xu, I have lost my objective and fair evaluation. A character who can be loved by everyone has thousands of faces. Everyone has their own understanding and imagination of him. All I can do is speak less and protect the Li Xu in everyone’s mind. Although Li Xu’s story is over, I believe that with such a good character and good drama, even after many years, everyone will still remember. Thank you all for coming to join us today. How fortunate! Thank you very much!”
As Shen Jintai said, he bowed to the audience.
As the countdown approached, the opening song of began to be broadcast on the big screen. It was purely instrumental, with no singing. Usually, the two major TV stations rarely played it in its entirety in order to grab the broadcast. Today, for the first time in the world, the song wasn’t cut short by even a single second. The opening was no longer the kind of palace fight scenes that had a series of face-slapping. Instead, a new version premiered that was extraordinary and magnificent.
The opening characters came out one by one, and as soon as the picture of Prince Zhou Ying and Li Xu walking through the Lantern Festival came out, some people burst into tears.
At the end of the opening credits, the beginning turned out to be a desolate ancient road. Zhou Ying was dressed in rough clothes and was driving an ox cart.
There was an immediate cheer from the audience.
Shen Jintai smiled. The light from the big screen illuminated his eyes, which were moist and shiny.
He Lanbi turned around and said, “Elder Prince Brother… He is still alive.”
Li Xu leaned on the withered grass, but there was no surprise on his face.
He Lanbi looked at him in surprise, “You knew it a long time ago?”
“A’Jing told me before he died.”
The camera suddenly shifted to the scene of Zhou Jing on his deathbed. He murmured, “A’Xu… A’Xu… It’s so dark here. I’m so sacred.”
Li Xu: “Don’t be afraid, I’m here.”
Li Xu found that Zhou Jing’s hand had been groping the quilt tightly. His expression was fearful, as if he was looking for his most important item. Li Xu opened the corner of the quilt and found half a candle on his shoulder.
Hearing the chattering of the palace servants, he knew that the emperor was seriously ill. He was so often trapped by nightmares that he developed a quirk of holding a candle in his hand in order to sleep soundly.
He quickly stuffed the half candle into Zhou Jing’s hand. Zhou Jing tightly held it as he began to calm down. Suddenly, his lips moved.
Li Xu bent his head closer to his mouth and listened to Zhou Jing’s intermittent dying words. “Brother Prince… He’s not dead… He… is still alive… I… saved him… but did not… tell you.”
Li Xu remained expressionless, but his breathing started to become heavier. All the instantaneous emotional changes were in his eyes.
Zhou Jing’s mouth remained agape, but no words came out. His eyes were scattered. Looking at him, Li Xu understood what he wanted to say. Li Xu held his hand tightly and said in a trembling voice, “If you save him, you don’t owe me anything.”
Li Xu let out a sudden laugh. He was smiling as tears fell down his face, which made him look even uglier than regular crying. The blue veins on his neck were faintly exposed. All he could do was hold Zhou Jing’s hand tightly.
Zhou Jing’s hand went limp as the candle broke into two pieces. One piece fell to the ground and the other was firmly held in the palm of his hand.
He Lanbi: “The late emperor was benevolent. He shouldn’t have done this. His momentary kindness had created countless disasters. It would have been better to not help each other and let Elder Prince Brother die cleanly.”
Li Xu: “Everyone asks about the afterlife, but the afterlife is false. If you don’t remember your previous life, then it’s truly not an afterlife. The most important thing in this life is if you can live, of course, you must live.”
“Then why do you want to die with all your heart? Since you know that Elder Prince Brother is not dead, why… Why do you still do this?” He Lanbi asked. “Don’t you want to see him?”
Li Xu smiled, lowered his head, and said, “Of course I do.”
Li Xu suddenly looked so fragile. He Lanbi didn’t know how to face him. “It turns out that your statement just now made me feel compassion.”
Li Xu said, “Knowing that he is alive, I am satisfied. He is an unknowable living dead person. If I also become a living dead person, if I am with him, if it hurts his life… How can I possibly do that? If it shakes the country as a result, it will be more sinful for me. Everything I painstakingly planned for the rest of my life would be in vain. It’s just that… It’s just that I thought I was the only one who survived and the only one in this future. I, a heinous sinner, have brought shame to the late emperor for protecting me. Now that his decree has been torn up by me and the red book iron voucher is lost, there is only one path left. You must kill me, for the sake of the country, the state, and Xiao Cong. Just before I die, there is one thing you have to promise me.”
He Lanbi turned to him as he continued, “Now that the Helan family is gaining power, you, the Empress Dowager, also have the intention of supporting your brothers in the clan. In the future, the Helan clan will gain tremendous power, and Xiao Cong may still be too young. If one day, they want to abolish the monarchy and establish the three emperors*, what will you do?”
*Also known as the three sovereigns and five emperors. Originally, the three emperors referred to the ancient three gods (Emperor of Heaven, Emperor of Earth, Emperor of Humanity) and later the Fuxi clan. The five emperors in its original sense refers to the gods of the five parties. Later, it included the five ancient tribal leaders. || In the context here, they are referring to the person who will eventually become part of the three emperors in history. Think of the three emperors as a title, not as the literal translation.
He Lanbi: “Although Xiao Cong is not connected to me by blood, I treat him no differently than if he was my own son. With me, no one can take away his throne.”
Li Xu: “His birth mother, the late Empress Tian, blamed herself before she died. When it all comes down to it, she is still his birth mother. Xiao Cong is intelligent and has the talent of an emperor. However, because he lost his mother when he was young, he has a hostile temperament. After my execution, you must shift the blame of his mother’s death onto me so that this case may be forever closed.”
“Although A’Ying is alive, I don’t know where he is, but he must be in a very remote and isolated place, guarded by others. He will probably never hear the news of my death. If he finds out, you will give this to him.” Li Xu took out the double mandarin duck jade pendant from his arm and a letter. “He will understand when he sees this.”
He Lanbi remained silent as she continued to stare at him seriously. After a long while, her eyes moistened, her fingers turned pale, and tears slid down from the corner of her eyes. “I know you truly don’t want to die in your heart.”
She was silent for a while before saying, “You can give it to him yourself. This is not for you, but for Elder Prince Brother. I owe him.” She was now a master, vindicating the Helan and Xiao families, but she could not vindicate Zhou Ying. He was already “dead” and could only remain “dead” forever, completely nameless, living in the most remote and unknown place where he would spend the rest of his life in imprisonment.
Power struggles were always cruel. If one’s heart wasn’t cruel enough, you could never rise to the top. But if a person lived only for power, wouldn’t they only become a slave to such a source?
“You are dead. I only feel heartache for Elder Prince Brother. He had suffered too much in his life… Live well. As you said, if you can live, you must live. Follow him in incognito and go far away.” He Lanbi walked to the door of the cell and said without looking back, “Leave tonight while I still have no regrets. He is waiting for you at the Lao Lao Pavilion, nine miles from the city. I will grant him his freedom, and yours as well.”
Li Xu was startled.
Nine miles. Nine miles. Zhou Ying was waiting for him. He only needed to walk nine miles to see him.
The eunuch who was following He Lanbi suddenly ran back after she left. He knelt down and kowtowed and said anxiously, “My lord, you once saved the life of this slave. This slave is risking his life to say something. Just listen to the Empress Dowager. Go. If you don’t leave, you really won’t be able to live. The emperor has decided to kill you!”
Zhou Cong had disputed with the Empress Dowager over whether to execute Li Xu. Rumors of Li Xu bewitching the late emperor were rampant and, coupled with his notoriety, had caused Zhou Cong to hate him. The eunuch had felt that it was ridiculous. While the emperor had become murderous, Li Xu still wanted to dedicate himself to the stability of his country. He glanced around anxiously and saw a guard coming. He got up and quickly ran away.
Li Xu was left in utter disbelief. A fleeting smile appeared on his face that quickly vanished, leaving behind only an expressionless face.
A carriage slowly drove out of the palace in the middle of the night. He Lanbi stood at the tower, watching the carriage leave the palace gate.
Chang’an, who was driving the carriage, said nervously and excitedly, “My lord, we are out of the palace!”
Li Xu raised the curtain and glanced back. In the night, the high walls of the palace were particularly solemn and majestic.
Chang’an said with joy, “I was very frightened. I didn’t expect the Empress Dowager and the Emperor to let us go. Did you see the food box? Those are your favorite chestnut cakes that the emperor specially asked me to bring to you. I also prepared a lot of food for you. The food in this prison must be very bad. You haven’t eaten well these days, have you? If you feel hungry, do eat some.”
Li Xu looked at the plate of wine and food, as well as his favorite chestnut cake.
Chang’an was also very moved and said, “The emperor remembers your painstaking efforts. Don’t look at his young age. He understands everything. He also grew up under your wings.”
When the sky was slightly bright, the carriage arrived at the outskirts. Chang’an lifted the curtain and looked around. “Such a sad place in the world! We’re in front of the famous Lao Lao Pavilion*!”
*See my Kinky Thoughts.
“Stop,” Li Xu said suddenly.
Chang’an was taken aback for a moment, then stopped the carriage. Li Xu sat quietly inside. There was nearly half a minute of silence as he sat there expressionlessly. He then opened the curtain and looked in the direction of the Lao Lao Pavilion.
The pavilion was built on the bank of the river that goes west from the capital. The way was traveled by most and had become a place a farewell. Across the rivers in the woods, a tall figure was faintly seen.
The figure was Zhou Ying.
It was Zhou Ying.
Zhou Ying who he hadn’t seen for more than ten years.
This time, it wasn’t a lie. Zhou Ying was indeed alive.
It’s good to live, but if you can’t die, you have to live well.
The carriage turned back in the direction it was coming, and on a forest path, it was stopped by a group of men on tall horses.
“Don’t be afraid,” Li Xu comforted Chang’an softly, and then got out of the carriage.
At the gate of the city, when the first ray of sunlight came, a tall horse suddenly rushed into the street like crazy. Passersby who had left the city exclaimed and avoided it. They saw that the horse had a rope around it, and there was a person dragging behind the rope.
The man had white hair and blood stains all over his body, as he left a trail of blood on the bluestone road, like a dead man. Before the crowd recovered from the fright, they saw an extremely thin boy in his teens wailing and chasing after him.
In the deep palace, He Lanbi ran barefoot, with her hair scattered on the corridor in the palace. Her feet clattered on the wooden floor. She ran all the way to the emperor’s bedroom. Zhou Cong got up abruptly, and He Lanbi slapped him on the face with a “pah”.
Zhou Cong was stunned for a second before he laughed and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth. His teenage child’s eyes show murderous intent. “I did not disobey father’s order. It was not me who killed him. I just leaked his whereabouts to others. He only has himself to blame for doing so much evil that there are too many people who want him dead!”
The rope was broken, and the wild horse was nowhere to be seen. Only a young man covered in blood was lying motionless on the road as several passersby watched. His clothes were ruined and rotten, and his face was stained with blood. Even in this current state, it could be seen that he was a good-looking man. His mouth was slightly open, which frightened the onlookers, who immediately retreated.
A young man with a hoarse voice suddenly rushed out, crying, and took off his robe to cover Li Xu. He picked Li Xu up, crying, and stretched out his hand to wipe Li Xu’s blood-stained face, but it only made it dirtier so he could hardly tell who he was.
“Who will help me…” Chang’an’s voice was weak. After trying several times, he couldn’t lift Li Xu up. He felt that Li Xu was about to die.
He looked at the onlookers, crying. “Which one of you will help me, please.”
Suddenly, a young man walked out of the crowd. The man had cyan stubble, with eyes that were handsome and clear. Chang’an grabbed him and begged, “Please help me. My lord is dying. You can save him.”
The man was benevolent, and he couldn’t help but pick up Li Xu. While Li Xu was dying, his eyes opened slightly, the sun shone on his face, and his eyelashes were stained with blood. The face of the man carrying him faintly appeared in his view.
His lips moved, like a smile, and in the silence, he took a long breath. No sound came out, only a single tear fell.
The young man put Li Xu into his ox cart, probed his nose, glanced at Chang’an and shook his head. He looked down with a heavy look, a little dazed. Li Xu’s face was already so indistinguishable that it looked a little scary. Chang’an quickly covered his face with his clothes and started to cry.
“Who is your lord? Don’t you need to report this to the official.”
Chang’an shook his head, not daring to say anything. It was better to not involve his benefactor. He had followed Li Xu since he was a child, and he knew Li Xu’s wishes best. There were many people who wanted to harm Li Xu. He was afraid of them finding out, so they couldn’t keep the corpse. Li Xu had too many enemies, like those who had ambushed him and stabbed him so many times.
Chang’an didn’t want people to find Li Xu’s corpse, so he wanted to bury him in a secretive place. Fortunately, the kind-hearted man helped him dig a pit and accompanied him to bury Li Xu.
The famous Wufu Chitose died without even a straw hat. Chang’an knelt on the ground, knocked his head a few times, then dug a wild rose and planted it on Li Xu’s grave.
“Thank you, my Lord.” Chang’an said.
“I can’t send you into the city anymore. I’m waiting for someone here,” the man said. The voice was easy to listen to, and although the clothes are coarse cloth material, there was an indescribable extravagance.
Chang’an gave the man a kowtow. He had to return to the capital. As a little eunuch, there was no other place to go except the palace. If he was lucky enough, he would climb up step by step, and maybe he would become a very powerful person in the future. He would then erect a monument and incense for Li Xu.
Chang’an walked away, looked back, and saw that his benefactor had taken out a set of clothes from his baggage and changed from his blood-stained clothes. He must be waiting for someone very important.
Chang’an took out a letter and a piece of jade from his arms. He was able to read a few characters. There was no name on the envelope, and he didn’t know who he was going to give it to. He opened the letter and saw that there were only a few words written: [In the afterlife and in this life, I will always find you.]
He had been with Li Xu for so many years. While all the attendants around him had been promoted, only he remained stationary. Even so, he knew that Li Xu loved him very much. He felt so sad that his lord, in the end, couldn’t meet the person he wanted to see.
The music sounded, and Li Xu’s life flashed on the screen one by one. The purity and naiveness in the beginning, the heartbreaking farewell, and his ruthlessness during his reign as Wufu Chitose. After a life of heavy ink and color, only a single rose bloomed.
The author has something to say:
He met and died for the person he loved the most.
Don’t hit me, this is already a more moderate version! What everyone asks for is also his inevitable ending. Wuwuwu. A’Xu!
Li Xu chose to go back since the emperor wanted him dead, he had no way to live, and he didn’t want to hurt Zhou Ying. After he looked at him from a distance, he calmly went to his death.
Zhou Ying had always lived a life of pleasure; he didn’t know that Li Xu was full of white hair.
It was John Doe who killed Li Xu, one of his many enemies.
The East Palace is over, and there will be some finishing introductions later.
Next, the award ceremony.