Mei Changsu's new garden

Following China’s scholarly garden tradition, Mei Changsu redesigned his residential garden.

After the completion of the project, he invited his friends and associates in the capital to his garden parlour for a drink.

A bridge in Mei Changsu's garden parlour

Being grateful for Mei Changsu’s help on the incident of firecracker mill explosion that resulted the emperor to severely punish the crown prince, Prince Yu arrived at garden-warming party without an invitation.

Also came with him was his consultant Lady Qin, the head of Red Sleeve Seduction, an escort plus spy agency.

Mei Changsu's garden parlour

The order of seats according to Chinese tradition:

The front left seat is for the host while the front right shall be reserved for the most honorable guest (Prince Yu in this party).

Of the seatings on two sides, the seats in the left row are considered more prestigious than those in the right; in each row, the closer to the host, the more senior in position.

Thus here we see Princess Nihuang sitting at the top left, the nearest position to the host, and she was followed by her younger brother Lord Mu, Marquis Xie’s son Jingrui and Marquis Wen’s son Yujin (Yujin was younger than Jngrui).

Sitting in the right side were the ones without royal blood: Royal Guard Commander Mengzhi and two senior royal investigators (the male investigator was older than Lady Xia).

As for Lady Qin, Prince Yu’s consultant, she had no royal or office title, so could only sit behind her boss.  

At the party, the birthday of Jingrui, the son of Marquis Xie, was mentioned, and royal investigator Lady Xia regarded it would be a good opportunity to meet the marquis’ in-law, the head of Celestial Spring Villa kung fu sect, so urged birthday boy to send her an invitation.

Between Prince Yu and Mei Changsu, an agreement over an action plan that would be implemented on the birthday party was also reached.

Gongyu playing music on birthday party

Jingrui’s birthday eventually arrived. The musician from Wonderful Tune Studio came to entertain the guests by holding a solo concerto on qin.

Lady Xia also invited Marquis Xie’s in-laws to perform martial arts with her to entertain the guests.

Both Marquis Xie and his in-law declined.

They feared it might expose the kung fu man’s attacking style which could lead the royal investigator to discover the real killer of the emperor’s messengers.

That was exactly Lady Xia’s motivation to attend the party. So she kept pestering the kung fu man, and the unsuspected guests also urged the master to take up the challenge. Finally, the two masters agreed to use a chopstick instead of a sword to engage in a martial contest.

A harmless chopstick was too tender to force the kung fu man to reveal his slaying stunt, Lady Xia was still unable to collect meaningful evidence to prove the man was the assassin of the emperor’s messengers.

A sword contest

Just when Lady Xia was at the end of her tether, an old man from Nanchu Kingdom gatecrashed the birthday party.

The guy was ranked sixth in Langya List for the most powerful kung fu masters under the heaven. Some months ago, he had successfully challenged the man on the fifth position and now he said he wanted to replace the Celestial Spring Villa master as the fourth greatest kung fu man.

Despite Marquis Xie’s strong objection, the Celestial master was too proud to decline the challenge. If he did, his position in the ranking would be questioned in the martial world.

This time the combat was real and fierce. Eventually, the Nanchu master pressed the Celestial master to defend himself by utilizing his lethal strike, yet the Celestial master did nothing and the sword was dropped from his hand onto the ground. His wrist was injured.

Marquis' Xie's courtyard

Just when Marquis Xie was about to breathe a sigh of relief, the musician from the Wonderful Tune Studio laughed aloud, which drew everybody’s attention.

“Are you alright?” Yujin inquired.

“I’m just enjoying the kung fu show so much. I also have a story about a kung fu man, if you like to hear.”

So she began to narrate a tale happened 25 years ago about a forbidden love between a princess and a foreign prince, about an illicit baby boy and the princess’ jealous husband, about another baby boy from a kung fu man, about how the kung fu man’s baby boy was killed by a professional assassin due to misidentification, and about how a professional assassin was killed for refusing to kill the surviving baby boy.

It happened that the princess in the story was Marquis Xie’s wife, the surviving baby boy was Jingrui, the murderously jealous husband was Marquis Xie, and the doomed assassin was the musician’s father.

In conclusion, Jingrui was an illicit boy of Marquis Xie’s wife, and the Celestial master’s son was killed by the musician’s father sent by Marquis Xie.

When she ended her story, the alliance between Marquis Xie and the Celestial Master was broken without repair. The marquis decided to slaughter all his guests attended the birthday party, including his in-laws, his son-in-law, Royal Commander Mengzhi, Royal Investigator Lady Xia, Mei Changsu, Jingrui and Yujin.

Bridges on the garden pond

Thus the birthday party became a wargame. The host ordered his guards to massacre all the guests, and the guests led by Mei Changsu retreated to a chamber in the middle of a garden pond.


Fighting on a bridge

The guests sought refuge in the chamber, and a beautiful garden bridge, that was the only link to the shore, became the strategic position in the birthday warfare.

Mei Changsu talking with Marquis Xie in prison cell

With the help of Prince Yu, Mei Changsu’s ally, Marquis Yan, Yujin’s father, and a love-sick princess, Jingrui’s mother and Marquis Xie’s wife, the murderous birthday party host was neutralised and prosecuted.

However, he escaped capital punishment after striking a secret deal with Xia Jiang, the head of the Royal Discipline Committee, in exchange for him to remain silent.

So Mei Changsu advised Prince Yu to inquire Xia Jiang about the death of a private school teacher, the incident that was supposedly a top secret between the two men, then he went to inform the prisoner about the inquiry.

“I haven’t told anyone, I can promise to Heaven!” Marquis Xie was panic-stricken.

“I would like to believe you,” Mei Changsu replied. “But I wonder how Xia Jiang might think about this. Will he still think you’re trustworthy? Now with my ally Prince Yu at the court and my Left Shore Alliance in the wilderness, I’m the only one who can save your life if you tell me why that private school teacher was assassinated.”

Marquis Xie was broken down. He recounted how he and Xia Jiang hired that teacher, an expert at faking other people’s handwriting, to produce a letter of General Nie Feng, accusing Red Flame Army of treason and plotting a coup with the original crown prince.

The letter helped the two men secure the emperor’s decree to put all 70,000 army officers to death and to install a new crown prince.

Ancient Chinese prison building

Under Mei Changsu’s arrangement, Prince Jing and Lady Xia, General Nie Feng’s wife, were invited to eavesdrop on his conversation with Marquis Xie.

The revelation was a hard blow to Lady Xia — she couldn’t believe her boss was the real killer of her beloved husband.

Mei Changsu's meeting room

That night, Prince Jing went to see Mei Changsu and asked his consultant to help him reopen the investigation into the Red Flame Army case.

“What are you going to do with your investigation report?” Mei Changsu questioned.

“Submit to His Majesty and urge him to withdraw the wrong verdict against the Red Flame Army and Prince Qi.”

“Will he do that?”

Prince Jing couldn’t answer. He knew the emperor was part of the plot against the Red Flame Army and he would only punish Prince Jing for speaking out for the accused.

Mei Changsu advised the prince that at this moment Red Flame Case was not his top priority. “Even the verdict is overturned, it matters little to your battle for the throne.”

Prince Jing became emotional. “If the wrong verdict against Prince Qi, against the 70,000 innocent officers and against my best friend Li Shu are not appealed, what is the point for me to fight for the throne?”

Mei Changsu was dumbfounded. It took him a long while to be able to reply to Prince Jing, “I will help you.”

Mei Changsu's great grandma's funeral

In Chinese culture: red is the colour with the strongest yang trait, thus representing life; white is the colour mainly reflecting yin qi, thus representing death. Therefore, red is used at weddings while white dominates funerals.

While Prince Jing and Mei Changsu were discussing how to overturn the verdict, their powerful ally within the royal family, the great-grandmother, passed away.

Mei Changsu mourning his great grandma

A private and casual Chinese memorial setting: one table, two candles, three incenses, a pan to burn memorial items made of paper

Mei Changsu was completely shattered by the news.

He was the royal matriarch’s favourite great-grandson and his mother was her favourite granddaughter. On her deathbed, when holding the hand of the emperor, the old lady kept calling the name of Little Shu (Lin Shu’s nickname) and the name of his mother, Princess Jingyang.

However, when Prince Jing ran into the palace to see the lady for the last time and pay tribute at the funeral, Mei Changsu could only mourn his loved one on his own patio.

Nirvana in Fire (1): A Popular Genius

Nirvana in Fire (2): A Wanted Man

Nirvana in Fire (3): Chinese New Year Festival

Nirvana in Fire (4): A Birthday Party

Nirvana in Fire (5): A Plot

Nirvana in Fire (6): A Rescue Operation

Nirvana in Fire (7): A Hunting Excursion 

Nirvana in Fire (8): A Military Coup

Nirvana in Fire (9): A True Identity Exposed

Nirvana in Fire (10): A Delayed Justice

Nirvana in Fire (11): Theme Song 

You are welcome to share your thoughts here