Volume 4 Chapter 125
If it wasn’t for the commander’s grave injury, it would have been a perfect victory to be written in history books.
Before the wooden bird could fly into the commander’s tent, it was caught by a guard. He held the little thing in his hands, turning it over and over several times, but was not able to figure it out. Just as he had seen it as a threat and wanted to take it to the army’s Ling Shu, someone said in a low voice: “Give it to me.”
The guard looked up and saw Shen Yi coming in from the outside. He quickly handed over the wooden bird.
Shen Yi received it and touched the wooden bird’s smooth head. He felt as if he had just heard General Shen sighing.
The wooden bird was attracted by the magnet left by General Zhong Chan. Shen Yi held it lightly and walked into the tent. Inside, the light was dim. Several military doctors came in and out quietly. The smell of medicine was suffocating, combined with the scent of fresh blood that was unable to wash off.
Yao Zhen was standing on one side, turning his head to Shen Yi, his expression grim.
In the naval battle that day, in order to delay time, Gu Yun’s main ship was hit by the enemy. The ship disintegrated on the spot, the gold box exploded on the water surface. Fortunately, although Gu Yun was deaf and blind, his reaction was still quick. Feeling that something was not right, he ordered people to abandon the ship and jumped into the sea.
Because he jumped in time, when an Eagle fished him out of the water, for better or worse, he was not yet completely baked.
The supply line of the Western army was cut off, and the upper reaches of the Neijiang River was controlled by Gu Yun’s increased troops in the southwest. With two of their supply lines all cut off, they had to retreat from the Dongying Sea.
If it wasn’t for the commander’s grave injury, it would have been a perfect victory to be written in history books.
Gu Yun prepared the war report, home letters, and other props properly in advance, keeping his injuries hidden from outsiders and the insiders altogether. Even within the Liangjiang camp, the news was also blocked; except for several high ranking generals, private guards, military doctors, and several Eagles who brought him back, no one was aware of it.
One could imagine how much pressure Shen Yi and Yao Zhen bear this time.
Shen Yi: “How is it?”
“You came just in time. He’s awake,” Yao Zhen whispered. “Marshal Gu had made a great prediction bringing you here. Brother Ji Ping, if you weren’t here, I think the sky would collapse.”
Shen Yi said with a wry smile: “It’s nothing, we will get used to it… You go rest first, I’ll have a word with him.”
Yao Zhen nodded, taking leave with the doctors. Shen Yi walked over lightly, holding Gu Yun’s hands hanging limply over the bed.
As soon as the bed’s curtain was down, Gu Yun could not feel people going in and out of the tent at all. Until now, only when he could sense the callous caused by handling the Wind Slasher did he realize it was Shen Yi who came.
Gu Yun’s body did not have many places unscathed. He was covered with steel plates. The whole body was fixed in place, he could not even turn his head. Sometimes unconscious and sometimes awake from pain, as soon as he opened his eyes, cold sweat on his forehead began to flow down. Even if he opened them, they could not find focus. The military doctor said that people could easily hurt their ears and eyes in a huge explosion. Now, he could only feel a hint of light when opening his eyes, not to mention liuli glass, even the Qian Li Yan would not be of use.
“Don’t know if it could still get better.” Gu Yun thought in silence, “Will I truly be blind in the future?”
As soon as Shen Yi saw his blank eyes, his nose stung. On Gu Yun’s palm, he wrote, “There is a letter from Lin Yuan Pavilion.”
Gu Yun blinked.
Shen Yi took apart the wooden bird and prepared to write to him. However, when he glanced at the contents of the note, his face first tightened.
Gu Yun waited for a long time, but he didn’t say a word. His fingers questioningly tapped on the back of Shen Yi’s hand.
Shen Yi was a good-natured person. In addition to shouting half-truthfully and half-falsely when fighting with Gu Yun, he seldom got angry. At this time, he sat on the edge of the bed, holding the wooden bird’s hand and suddenly trembled. His chest fluctuated violently several times, then there was a crack —— the wooden bird’s head was broken off by him.
“What is this?” He thought to himself, “What is this! For whom do we die, and for whom do we devote ourselves? Does any of it mean any goddamn thing?”
Gu Yun was tense; fearing that there would be new problems arising, he stopped worry about his blind eyes, trying to open his mouth and said: “What…cough… ”
There was a wound on his throat caused by a bullet shell, it overlapped with an old scar, almost injuring the artery. Although he did not become another Liao Ran, it was very difficult to speak, sounding like a broken pipe.
“The court is still insisting on a truce?” the broken pipe asked.
Shen Yi’s eyes were full of bloodshot. In Gu Yun’s hand, he wrote: “Lin Yuan Pavilion sent a special person to monitor the Foreign Affairs Mission, and found that some of them were secretly communicating with Western envoys. A group of people with unknown identities were mixing in with the Foreign Affairs Mission.”
Gu Yun breathed a sigh of relief and moved his fixed neck. “I thought it was something important…Isn’t the list of the Foreign Affairs Mission already delivered? There’s no reason to add more people suddenly. If it is true, stop them outside the camp. It doesn’t matter.”
Shen Yi: “Because of this battle, there was no reason for the Foreign Affairs Mission to come to the front line anymore. They were on standby in Pengcheng and awaited the imperial court for advice. Li Feng said that it was fine for them to go back without success, so he ordered them to have a rest in Pengcheng for a while. When the imperial court allocated the reward materials, they would be sent to the front line of Liangjiang together to—”
Gu Yun slightly raises one long eyebrow, Shen Yi pauses with difficulty, then wrote on his palm: “Reward the army.”
These two words were too sensitive for all the old subordinates of Black Iron Camp. Gu Yun obviously twitched, but his body was forcibly bound back to its original position by the steel plates, cold sweat flowed down his temples.
Shen Yi hurriedly held him down: “Zi Xi!”
With this action, blood started to soak through Gu Yun’s bandage on his chest, the smell of blood overpowered the medicinal scent, making his face even paler.
Shen Yi had the illusion that Gu Yun’s whole body was slowly evaporating.
Yet he refused to pass out.
He had to muster up the illusion that he still had plenty of strength to spare for both insiders and outsiders to see.
A man casting aside life and death — both when he was still alive and in the afterlife — wasting his efforts, to exchange for what in return?
Even if there was a long history of fame, there would only be a memorial tablet left in the future.
When the future nobles remember him, they would arrange one or two idle allusions, or deliberately criticize him to show that they were more knowledgeable and different than others.
When the common people remember him, they most likely would fabricate a romance story a hundred and eighty times over, arrange him with an unknown woman in the midst of his hurried life, and they would elope together, all blessings could only be enjoyed after death.
Shen Yi: “I’ll write to Miss Chen right away. I…I… I’ll accompany you to resign from our positions and go home. You can abduct His Highness together. You can heal your wounds, cure your diseases, whatever you want… Forget about the Li family or Zhang family bullshit! I… ”
Gu Yun sighed and held his hand gently.
Shen Yi’s breath was so disordered that he couldn’t speak. He made an expression of being ready to wail and cry in an angle that Gu Yun couldn’t see, but he didn’t dare to tremble and sob too much for fear that Gu Yun would be aware of it. He didn’t dare to cry out, breathing in silently through his mouth. His tears were caught by his own steel armor.
Gu Yun could still sense it, but he didn’t expose him. He clapped his hand and said softly: “It’s not a big deal, no need to explode. Do you have any news from Chang Geng?”
“Yes.” Shen Yi wrote, “His Highness said, let you not worry about anything else. If any villain intends to make a mess, just kill them. Even if the sky collapses in the capital, he can shoulder it.”
Gu Yun smiled weakly.
Blood loss would make people’s minds unclear. It took him several times more energy and an all-out effort to concentrate on what was going on: “What can I say… Before the war is over, someone already wants to get rid of me first. It’s true that the capital is changing. Some people are using their last resort. There’s bound to be another battle between us and the foreigners. At present, I can’t walk… and can not help him very much. You can let the Foreign Affairs Mission in, then immediately stop them, strictly guard them, and cut off their contact with the capital. If the Westerners are among them, cough… what kind of role would they play…we should turn their plan against them.”
Shen Yi didn’t speak.
Gu Yun: “Ji Ping? ”
Shen Yi suddenly asked, “Do you think it’s worth it?”
Gu Yun was stunned.
Shen Yi’s eyes flitted across the bloodstain on his chest, coming next to Gu Yun’s ears, he forced his words to the deaf man’s ears one by one: “What you think in your heart is that there is bound to be another battle between us and the foreigners. What others think is how to pull you, the general, off the horse. Do you think it’s worth it?”
Of course, Gu Yun’s mind could not be completely free of dilemmas. Unfortunately, having Shen Yi beside him, someone who had the tendency to explode, no matter what they think, one of them should be in charge of exploding, while the other should be in charge of calming. Shen Yi had taken the lead in the role of the former. Gu Yun had no choice but to play the latter peacefully.
Gu Yun: “You spent five liang of silver to buy that hideous hairpin for Miss Chen. Is it worth it, or is it a waste of money?”
Shen Yi: “I did humiliating things for the woman I love, it is my responsibility. Who are you humiliating yourself for?”
Gu Yun slowly replied, “As expected, there is no filial son in front of the bed. You unfilial child, you even learned to scold me already.”
Shen Yi: “…”
Through half of his lifetime engaged in warfare, for how many times Gu Yun had the thought of running off, that was how many times Shen Yi had the thought of ‘I no longer care about this bastard’. He shook off Gu Yun’s hand, turning around and left, thinking to himself, “If you love to die that much.”
Gu Yun: “Ji Ping!”
His hand in the air aimlessly grabbed into emptiness, his fingers wrapped with the bandaged medicine were nearly deformed, five fingers could not close, his pale skin full of scars was exposed under the bandages, causing Shen Yi to feel uncomfortable in an instant and could no longer have any attitude.
Shen Yi: “Don’t move!”
Gu Yun said softly, “These two days, there must be an emissary from Dong Ying to contact us secretly. Chong Ze, after all, is still a civil officer. It depends on you… ”
Shen Yi was very pained, “Alright, stop talking, I know.”
Gu Yun was interrupted by him, but was not angry either. No one knew what he thought of, he suddenly laughed and gasped for a while. “Try to defend the country and become a famous general. In a hundred years, people will build a temple for you. Isn’t it very good to eat incense for a living.”
Shen Yi sneered, “Which god would you be? A Gate God already exists, are you going to be a Window God? A Bed God? ”
“It’s all the same,” Gu Yun said with a low laugh. “Either way, no matter which temple people worship at… The things they ask for are all the same… For fortune, promotion, marriage…and children as well.”
Shen Yi listened and thought, Isn’t this a scammer, a matchmaker and a Guanyin Bestower of Children* all at once?
*送子观音, Songzi Guanyin, Bodshittava from which people prayed to for children
His heart suddenly became even more frustrated, he didn’t want to be friends with such a person at all.
Gu Yun whispered, “God Shen, bring me the flute in the box at the head of the bed.”
Shen Yi sighed and took out a small box that he had treasured beside the pillow. There was a brilliant white jade flute, a stack of thick, unknown seagrain paper, and several Wind Slasher hilts with different names engraved on them.
This small box seemed to contain all of Gu Yun’s feelings.
“I will not die.” Gu Yun held the cold jade flute at his fingertips and thought firmly, “If they don’t blow me up on the spot, I will not die. Chang Geng’s Bone of Impurity hasn’t been cured yet. There are so many people in the capital who want to trouble him. How can I…”
What could he do? Before he could think of it, he was once again in a coma of exhaustion.
Thousands of miles away, at midnight in the Fang Manor.
Fang Qin sat in the room with his expression heavy, after being silent for a long time, he raised his head slowly, and asked, “Is it true? You heard it with your own ears? ”
Kneeling in front of him, the servant shivered uncontrollably and nodded quickly.
The heir of this generation of the Fang family suddenly laughed. A moment later, he covered his face with one hand as his shoulders shook. He did not know whether he was crying or laughing. Fang Qin once advised Lu Chang to go on this road. He once thought that Yan Wang was ambitious, perhaps one day he would go on this road as well. What he never expected was that his own father would be the first one to go on this road.
Every scholar, at a young age, has all learned Teacher Heng Qu’s four sentences: “To build a heart for heaven and earth, to build a life for the people, to continue learning for the monarch, and to open peace for all ages.” Everyone had had the passion that they would one day become a man of unparalleled power and be able to carry the nation for thousands of years.
However, this point of painstaking effort will gradually be ground away by fame and wealth, by time, by the helpless flow of life, grinding and grinding, one’s life would end up returning to the same old road.
From ancient times to the present, how many talented people were there, but how many true nation’s scholar exist?
*国士, a nation’s scholar, is someone with the talent of a scholar and the virtue of building a country
That night, Fang Qin spent the whole time sitting in a daze in his study. The next morning, he ordered his wife and children to be sent away secretly.
When the first cock crowed in the morning, Fang Qin thought he would rush out and drag Yan Wang up to inform him of the impending premeditated rebellion.
It’s a pity, although this process had been imagined hundreds of times over in his mind, it did not turn into action.
Loyalty and filial piety, it was difficult to fulfill both. He knew that he was doomed to be unable to become a nation’s scholar, he could only charge forward the path ahead.
Five days later, an ambiguous message flew into the capital and was heard by ambitious people of all kinds —— a few days later, the Foreign Affairs Ministry went to reward the army arrived at Jiangbei camp, but all of a sudden, the camp was in a completely closed off state for unknown reasons.
Fang’s family received more detailed information. Grand Scholar Fang received a note from his students, on which was simply written the word ‘Success’.
At this point, Grand Scholar Fang let out a long sigh of relief. Of course, he himself did not expect that it would go so smoothly. The Westerners who were covetous had helped him in the end. His heart was full of unexplained excitement: because ‘half of the nation’ had already been under control, and his ambition was within reach.
At the same time, Li Feng’s birthday affairs were indeed put forward by the Ministry of Rites. Fang Qin took the lead and joined in. Even the Yan Wang Party did not come out to object. They unanimously agreed to this rarely seen extravagant activity.
Back then, Former Emperor Yuan He hosted one once a year. In the years of Long An, they gradually became more frugal. Therefore, the procedures were all ready-made. In order to ensure that the boot-licking didn’t reach the legs, the Ministry of Rites had already started to make preparations secretly. Once the emperor approved of it, they immediately started to operate in an orderly manner. On that day, northwest envoys began to offer gifts one after another, the nine gates were full of fireworks, all regulations were lifted, the bells and drums roared in unison.
The emperor must depart from the palace to worship the heavens, to tell his ancestors what he had achieved during this year. This time, he had learned his lesson. He was closely followed by thirteen imperial guards, not taking with him a single one of the unreliable civil and military officials, only the crown prince. Under the altar, Yan Wang led the Grand Council and a number of officials.
Sacrificing for heaven and earth, worshiping ancestors, a string of activities were carried out in order. With nothing happening this time, Li Feng finally breathed a sigh of relief, casting aside the haunting fear left from last time and ordered to return to the palace.
When the emperor took up his chariot and was about to return, and the imperial army outside the city was handing over the duty to the imperial guards, something happened.
There was no telling who suddenly shouted, “Assassins!”
Before the words were heard, several Dong Ying boomerangs broke through the air and pierce straight through the crowd officials, gazing the sleeves of a Han Lin; the old Han Lin did not manage to let out a sound, directly fainting. The internal and external guard troops responded at the same time. Some called ‘protect the emperor’ and some called ‘catch the assassins’.
Unexpectedly, an imperial army member suddenly turned mad and slashed his sword at the crown prince. Chang Geng was nearest to him; he stepped forward and grabbed the crown prince’s belt to drag him back in the blink of an eye.
In the confusion, someone shouted, “The imperial army is rebelling!”
The commander of the imperial army, who was carrying out the task of being the main guard, was still in confusion, he blurted out, “My ass!”
At this time, someone dressed in the clothes of an imperial guard took out a small crossbow in his arms and aimed at Li Feng’s chariot. Li Feng almost rolled down from it. The commander of the imperial army thought: “The imperial guards rebelled, yet they’re still trying to pour the mud on us! What is this!”
“Slow down! There are traitors in the imperial guards trying to assassinate the emperor, capture them! ”
After the imperial army was changed into two departments working in parallel, in order to restrain each other, the two sides had no communication and were in a competitive relationship. One side carried out the main guarding duty, the other side cooperated in assisting and supervision. Of course, the cooperating side suffered losses. Their job was the same, but they could not show their faces in front of the emperor. How could they not feel dissatisfied?
The main guard thought that there were assassins in the imperial guards, and the coordinated guard thinks that the main guard had ill intentions. The imperial guards thought that the imperial army definitely rebelled. Under the deliberate instigation of the plotting people, the three parties were in chaos.
And almost all the generals that could be of use to the imperial court were already transferred by Gu Yun to garrisons all over the country. At present, those who were staying behind in the capital were either cowards, or malicious conspirators. All of a sudden, this place was plunged into commotion.
Fang Qin and the others saw the opportunity, deliberately rushed to Li Feng in a panic, saying altogether, “This place is dangerous, Your Majesty please leave as soon as possible.”
A group of strange-looking escorts came along. Fang Qin said, “Your Majesty, please come down! We will defend Your Majesty to death!”
Li Feng didn’t pay attention to many details in the panic. He grabbed Fang Qin’s arm and said, “Where is the crown prince?”
Fang Qin made a signal to the imperial bodyguard and said to Li Feng, “The crown prince is under protection. Just now I saw that Yan Wang is also over at that side, I’m afraid we were separated. Go first, and I’ll send someone to look for him.”
Li Feng shouted angrily, “Summon the Northern Camp! These lawless… ”
Fang Qin immediately ordered his own men to pretend to run off and ‘send the summoning order’. This was what they had thought of in advance: they must not leave room for the imperial guards to react, isolate the emperor early on and cut off his contact with the imperial guards and the Northern Camp.
Fang Qin half coaxed and half lied for Li Feng to leave. At this time, all the men surrounding him had changed into the imperial guards uniform, rushing towards him in unison, Li Feng was unable to pay attention, waiting until he could, it was already too late.
At this time, a strange occurrence also happened on the front line.
The pope received the news from his spies that had mixed in the Foreign Affairs Mission. A coup had happened in Great Liang, the envoys sent from the capital to reward the army was in fact, going to carry out an assassination. They planned to recreate the scene of the Black Iron Camp in the northwest twenty years ago. Gu Yun was seriously injured and perhaps already dead. The garrison was forcibly blocking the news, but the internal situation was already chaotic; it was a good opportunity to fight back.
As usual, the pope did not believe such news; at the very least, he would send people to verify it repeatedly from other angles, but he no longer had the luxury to do so.
The Great Liang Navy cut off two most important lines of contact between them and their country, on one hand, the struggle between the Holy Land parties had been close to its climax, and on the other, their obedient colonies started a rebellion upsurge from Nanyang Islands. They truly had no other options but to go far east through Dong Ying.
The pope had never trusted the Dong Ying people. He always felt that these jackals could bite back at them any time, thus he was eager to break this deadlock.
No one knew better than him that the prestige of the Western Navy on the water was supported by abundant energy, without a large number of Ziliujin as the backing, it was nothing but a pile of scrap metal.
Master Ja made a rigorous strategic deployment and sent people to the Dong Ying shogunate for cooperation.
The Dong Ying people nodded and welcomed them pleasantly, after politely sent them away, they turned back to their resident and closed the door.
A weatherbeaten Dong Ying warrior came in from the back door and took off his bamboo hat. In a low voice, he said, “I have seen General Gu.”
“Then Gu Yun was not seriously injured or dead, was he?”
“I cannot say for certain. I just saw Gu Yun passing by in a hurry. My rank was not enough to start a conversation with him. But the garrison was in good order, full of artillery, without any confusion, as if ready to attack at any time. I haven’t seen the so-called ‘assassin group’ either; if there is any, it may have been secretly taken care of. ”
“I see. You have worked hard.”