As her clear and powerful voice echoed throughout Lang Kun Hall, everyone silently watched this scene with bated breath.
Countless eyes were gathered on Mu Qinghe.
Never mind that other people colluded with Jiang Yucheng and Shangguan Wan to set Shangguan Yue up since they had their own needs, but Mu Qinghe was different—he owed everything he had today to Shangguan Yue.
Without her, he wouldnt have become the Black Guards lieutenant.
Moreover, he used to be one of her most trusted aides.
Not only was he likely to be sentenced to death if he had indeed betrayed her, but he would also be scorned by many after his death.
But if he didnt betray Shangguan Yue, then the cause of her death remained a mystery.
Mu Qinghe lifted his head and stared blankly at the woman standing atop the stairs. So… its really her! No wonder I found Chu Liuyue so familiar when I first saw her in Country Yao Chen and kept thinking about her.
I didnt think much when I sensed her seemingly excessively distant and polite attitude toward me.
I thought she merely bore a striking resemblance to Shangguan Yue, but now that I think about it, her demeanor and aura are really similar as well.
He looked sideways at Hong Yao—who was sitting on his shoulder.
“You knew about it long ago, didnt you”
Hong Yaos eyes flickered slightly, and it buried its head under its wing. I didnt mean to hide it from you, but…
Mu Qinghe had no intention of scolding it though.
He merely exhaled slowly and moved to stand in the middle of the square before looking up again to face Chu Liuyue.
Something seemed to be squeezing Chu Liuyues heart, and her body tensed up as well.
In regards to other peoples betrayal, she could just put the past behind her after taking her revenge on them, but she would always have this slight feeling of resentment toward Mu Qinghe when it came to his betrayal.
He used to be a reserved, obstinate, and loyal person, so she didnt understand what caused his change.
Hence, she wanted to hear the answer from his mouth.
After a brief stalemate, Mu Qinghe tossed the sword in his hand aside, which produced a clanking sound when it hit the ground.
Chu Liuyue frowned, only to see him removing his armor the next second.
As today was supposedly Shangguan Wans wedding-cum-coronation day, everyone was grandly dressed.
Even Mu Qinghe had put on the most formal armor he had.
With the heavy black armor now removed, he felt much lighter as if a burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
He then dropped to his knees, and a dull colliding sound was produced when his kneecaps hit the ground.
“Your Highness.” He suddenly leaned forward and put his forehead on the marble floor, the coldness of which spread throughout his body.
“Ive betrayed you and failed you as a subject.
Please sentence me to death!”
Mu Qinghes reply said it all.
Everybody present didnt expect this reaction from him.
He didnt try to defend himself, appeal, or even protest.
Instead, he frankly admitted his betrayal with just one sentence.
In this sort of situation, he was basically asking for death because he might have a chance of survival if he had said that he didnt betray Shangguan Yue or that he was forced to do so.
However, he didnt.
Two years ago, nobody wouldve expected that this day would come for Mu Qinghe—Shangguan Yues most trusted aide.
If he had remained loyal to her, he would now become her subject with the most credit after she ascended the throne and became the ruler.
Thus, it was really a pity.
Jiang Yuchengs eyes gleamed darkly when he glanced at Mu Qinghe, but they soon returned to normal as he quickly lowered his eyelids and hid the look in his eyes.
Everyones gaze was on Chu Liuyue while she regarded Mu Qinghe with calm and aloof eyes.
They were certain that only death awaited him now.
In the silence, she opened her mouth once more to ask, “Are you speaking the truth”
“Youre not lying, nor are you in a predicament”
“Youre willing to die”
Mu Qinghe—who had been kneeling on the ground with his head hung low—finally looked up and rose to his feet when he heard that question.
There was a look of serenity on his face as he said, “Yes, Id like to ask Your Highness to grant my wish.”
Each of his answers expressed his will to die.
Chu Liuyue suddenly burst out laughing.
“The last time you asked me to grant your wish was because you wanted to go to Dahuang Swamp.”
Although Shangguan Yue had a highly respected status back then, her power in court wasnt firm.
Thus, Mu Qinghe volunteered himself to lead the army to Dahuang Swamp to win the military power for her.
She didnt agree to it at first since Dahuang Swamp was a dangerous place.
Not only would one have to suffer many hardships there, but they would also risk losing their life.
That was the only time he had defied her order.
He kneeled outside her palace for a long time and said those very same words to her back then: Id like to ask Your Highness to grant my wish.
It didnt occur to her that when she heard those words again years later, it would be because he was pleading for his death.
When Mu Qinghe heard that, he felt as if something was stabbing at his heart.
It hurt so badly that he trembled slightly.
His countenance dimmed for a moment, and he quickly lowered his head once more.
“Id like to ask Your Highness—”
He couldnt bring himself to say the last few words though.
Chu Liuyue let out a soft sigh as she looked at him.
“If thats the case—”
Before she could finish saying her piece, she saw Hong Yao anxiously flapping its wings on Mu Qinghes shoulders.
It flew around him and went close to him from time to time while crying anxiously as if it was saying something or trying to persuade him.
When Mu Qinghe ignored it, it turned around and flew straight toward Chu Liuyue.
A ball of green flame was seen streaking across the air, and Hong Yao was right in front of Chu Liuyue the next second.
With tears in its eyes, it anxiously flapped its wings at her as if it wanted to tell her something.
Just as Chu Liuyue stretched her hand out toward Hong Yao, Mu Qinghe realized what was going on.
He immediately shot to his feet and shouted in warning while frowning, “Hong Yao!”
Hong Yao flinched slightly but still landed on Chu Liuyues hand.
Large, warm droplets of tears rolled down its face and wet its fluffy feathers before dropping onto her palm. No, no!
Chu Liuyue could see the aggrieved look in its eyes.
Tuan Zi—who appeared out of nowhere—watched this scene while squatting on Chu Liuyues shoulder.
For once, it didnt pick a fight with Hong Yao.
After hesitating briefly, it flew over and circled around Hong Yao in helplessness, carefully nudging its head against Hong Yaos. Dont cry.