The Rise of Phoenixes - Chapter 257

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Chapter 257: Chapter 257

Liu Mudan stared blankly at Feng Zhiwei for a long moment that seemed to stretch for eternity. Then suddenly it ended and her body sagged; the band fell aside from weak fingers and she carefully set her boy down before almost collapsing as she sat on her bed. The older woman buried her face into her hands, pearly tears dripping down her fingers.

“I cannot allow Tsamuttu… none of my sons…” She gasped, choking on her words. “Dama Living Buddha said that Jadran’s fate will cause the deaths of his brothers, and if one day his fate fails, his brother must cause his death…”

A creeping cold filled Feng Zhiwei’s chest and she had to know. Her voice quiet, she asked: “Your other sons…”

Liu Mudan could only sob.

Feng Zhiwei stepped back, staring at this always laughing, playful woman. For her eldest son, she had killed her other seven sons?

“The strange words of superstition cannot be accepted blindly.” Feng Zhiwei finally managed when she found her voice.

Liu Mudan shook her head despairingly. “No… it’s not… When Jadran’s third brother was born, he was so adorable… I could not bear… and later that year Jadran fell off a cliff and almost died…”

After another long moment, Feng Zhiwei spoke again: “I don’t understand. Why Helian Zheng? The others are your sons as well.”

“In Hu Zhuo the Queen’s firstborn son has the strongest claim on the throne.” Liu Mudan quietly replied. “The United Twelve Tribes are complicated. Each generation sheds blood to become heir and disasters can last for generations. The firstborn son is the natural choice and the other tribes had already found him acceptable. Few want unnecessary war, so as long as the firstborn son is not a blatant fool, the throne will be his. Jadran was born under double rainbows, and Dama Living Buddha foretold an auspicious life and a natural born hero. Jadran cannot die.”

The Queen Dowager spoke haltingly, her miserable voice creaking and cutting Feng Zhiwei to the heart. The younger woman stood apart, but finally sighed and stepped forward, pulling Liu Mudan into her embrace.

Liu Mudan fell into her arms, sobbing silently, her thin shoulders trembling like a winter butterfly’s dying wings. It was hard to believe that such thin shoulders had quietly carried the heavy weight of Hu Zhuo peace and prosperity, the willing sacrifice and murder of her own flesh.

A morbid image ran through Feng Zhiwei’s mind, a weeping Mudan Hua reaching out shaking hands to strangle her smiling babies.

“Tsamuttu… he cannot… Kuku’s steppes cannot fall.” Liu Mudan wept into Feng Zhiwei’s clothes, her voice growing certain. “This child’s fate… when I carried him, his father died. I left him in a palace filled with enemies, but he rolled under the bed and survived. Later, the servant could not find him and were just about to leave, but then he cried out and they found him… this… tenacity… Jadran… he will not be able…”

Silence once again crept over the room as Liu Mudan quietly wept. Feng Zhiwei hugged the woman tight, staring over her head at the red dome ceiling, her young eyes helpless and despairing. Gu Nanyi stood by the door, lost in his own thoughts. He could not understand why there were both mothers like Gu Zhuxiao’s who had protected her baby with her own dying body and also mothers like Liu Mudan who could love their sons and consign them to death.


A loud cry rushed into the world like a whirlwind and strong arms lifted Tsamuttu from Liu Mudan’s reach and placed him into Feng Zhiwei’s arms.[1]

Helian Zheng had arrived.

“Mother!” The young king cried out, falling to his knees and kowtowing violently against the bed’s frame, his voice twisted with pain and lament. “Spare Tsamuttu, my life does not need the death of my brothers!”

“Jadran.” Liu Mudan managed, her voice calming slightly as she wiped away her tears and snot. “You must not stop me! I have gone so far, it is foolish to stop now!”

“No fate can kill me!” Helian Zheng cried out loudly. “Never believe that!”

“I know. Ah, my child, this is the last one, the final one.” Liu Mudan replied soothingly, gently cupping Helian Zheng’s face.


If her heart was not filled with sadness, Feng Zhiwei might have laughed. Liu Mudan spoke as if cajoling her son to eat dinner.

The steppe’s royal family, such bone shattering tragedy and despair…

“This mother will not waste words on you!” Liu Mudan suddenly exclaimed, kicking Helian Zheng aside. “I promised your father that I would guard his steppes and protect you! There is nothing I would not sacrifice! Brat, if you dare oppose me, I will divorce your father and abandon you!”

“If you dare, divorce a dead man!” Helian Zheng cried out angrily, unsheathing his sabre and placing its edge at his own neck. “This elder is tired of sacrificing others. You can take my life if you must!”

“You!” Liu Mudan cried out furiously.

“I!” Helian Zheng roared.

A firm hand reached out and snatched the blade out of Helian Zheng’s hand.

“What is this fight.” Feng Zhiwei cut in, waving Young Master Gu back as she turned to Liu Mudan, blinking slowly. “Queen, look at what a mess this is. Who would agree with you if you’re screaming like this? We will discuss this matter later.”

Feng Zhiwei then turned to Helian Zheng and eyed him meaningfully: “If you lived a safe life, would your mother be afraid of your death? What are you doing here yelling like that.”

Liu Mudan suddenly understood — her daughter-in-law was saying that though they could not kill Tsamuttu now, she would help her in the future.

Helian Zheng suddenly understood — his wife was saying that as long as he had Tsamuttu around him, Liu Mudan could not kill his brother.

Both of them relaxed and they both calmly stood, regarding each other. Feng Zhiwei lifted the child and slotted him into Young Master Gu’s arms, patting him on the shoulder as they turned and left: “Raise him with Gu Zhixiao.”

Before the other two could speak, a sudden clamor filled the air.

An old voice could be heard gasping: “Quick quick quick, that Central Plain’s Han Girl. Bring me too her…”

And then Chunyu Meng’s deep voice calling out over everything else.

“Prince Chu’s Most Urgent Dispatch, presenting his gift to the Shunyi Queen…”

The warrior’s voice reverberated through the air and echoed through the night sky, filling every corner of the King’s Court.

Helian Zheng and Gu Nanyi both turned to Feng Zhiwei. Feng Zhiwei turned away, hiding her face as she stared out at the flowers outside the window.

[1] It’s not exactly clear what the author is imagining here since she does not actually have Liu Mudan drop the child as she collapses on the bed, and Feng Zhiwei is currently hugging the QD, but… this is what is written.

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