T/N: look who have come back
Chang Geng thought that he could remain restrained, but he had once again overestimated himself – just as he did not expect Gu Yun to actually travel to Jiangnan to find him.
Shen Yi: “What?”
Gu Yun: “I am going to travel to Jiangnan.”
Shen Yi shouted: “Ouch!… Ah, my jaw just dropped to my feet, it hurts – are you crazy? The Northwest commander of the defensive force is leaving his duty to travel to Jiangnan in secret, do you want to find death or to rebel!?”
Gu Yun calmly replied: “Today we have eliminated those desert bandits, for at least within three or five months, this place should be able to stay peaceful. With the speed of the Black Eagle, it will only take one or two days to arrive at Jiangnan, I will not delay for too long, after finding him I will return immediately.”
Shen Yi already took in a deep breath, ready to give a lengthy and eloquent argument, but before any of it could come out, Gu Yun had hit his lower abdomen with his elbow.
Shen Yi cried out as he bent over: “I haven’t said anything yet!”
Gu Yun: “Just preventing the problem before it could happen.”
That night, thirteen Black Cavalry captured the bandit leader and his underlings who had been hiding away for a long time within the depths of the desert after many days of clashing against them. Gu Yun listened to the report and gave out a short order – “Imprison them”. But he did not rest at all afterward but prepared to leave right away on the same night.
Lou Lan Prince Ban E Duo has already prepared the feast and the wines, waiting to give the Black Iron Camp a grand reception. But as he arrived, he only saw Gu Yun changing into a Black Eagle armor suit in irritation.
The country of Lou Lan was located at the entrance of the Silk Road – they were children of the desert and had always harbored a great hatred for the rampaging bandits. Over time, they have become the best guide for the Black Iron Camp, a.s.sisting them in eliminating all the desert bandits. The relationship between the two sides was excellent.
Lou Lan people excelled in singing and dancing and especially loved good wine. Men and women were both ‘wine demons’, their prince was the biggest wine demon among them all.
Marshal Gu’s unpredictable strategies or unparalleled martial arts skills, the prince simply did not pay them much mind. Only Gu Yun’s ability to use strong alcohol to quench thirst in place of water could make Ban E Duo constantly give his praises, he had proclaimed himself as a ‘drinking buddy’ of Marshal Gu and treated him with great dedication and responsibility.
Ban E Duo’s tone of voice was similar to that of a desert singer, he asks Gu Yun: “Marshal Gu, how come you are moving as swiftly as the clouds at the end of the sky? Are you chasing after the lady of the sunset ?”
Shen Yi: “…”
What is a sunset lady? Both red and round?
Gu Yun: “I am going to slay someone.”
“Oh!” Ban E Duo carrying two jugs of wine, he was startled for a while then sullenly asked: “Slaying even more? Didn’t you just finish?”
“Do you not eat dinner if you already had breakfast?” Gu Yun shouted with raging murderous intent, “Move aside!”
A few Eagle units appeared like shadows, the tip of their toes slightly touched the ground and followed behind Gu Yun. In a blink of an eye, the black whirlwind swept by without a trace, only the remaining white smoke in the shape of an enchanting circle could be seen in the air.
Ban E Duo looked at his figure from behind with admiration and asked Shen Yi: “Marshal must slay people three times a day?”
Shen Yi waved his hand, gestured for him to come closer and whispered in his ear: “His son was tricked into running away from home by someone.”
Ban E Duo hold his chest: “Oh! It must be the lady of the full moon!”
Shen Yi: “…No, he only has the head of a full moon.”
After leaving the prince feeling the back of his head in distress, Shen Yi walked away with heavy concerns weighing him down. After two steps, his expression suddenly changed – Oh no, Gu Yun left in such a hurry, did he remember to bring medicine with him?
Jiangnan welcomed Gu Yun who was covered in dust and sand with a light damp rain. He did not stop to rest for long but immediately marched towards the Ying Tian manor of inspector Yao Zhen.
According to the ident.i.ty of Gu Yun, he should not have any relationship with the local officials of Jiangnan. This matter actually had a connection with some old affairs.
When Gu Yun was fifteen years old and followed along the army to eliminate bandits for the first time in his life, he rescued several unlucky hostages who were captured by the bandits – Yao Zhen, who was harmed by others and ended up dismissed home from his position that year, was one of those hostages. Later, Yao Zhen had the opportunity to recover from it and took the position of an inspector, his relationship with Marquis Gu could only be considered as an acquaintance, casual and not involved with personal gains, but somehow, this connection was still maintained until this day.
Master Yao just happened to have a day off today, sleeping until the sun was high up in the sky and still refusing to get up. As he listened to the servant reporting, he was completely startled.
Yao Zhen: “Who did he say he was?”
The servant said: “He said his surname is Gu, Gu Zi Xi.”
“Gu Zi Xi,” Yao Zhen wiped his eyes and said, “The Marquis of Order, Gu Zi Xi? Then I am the first a.s.sistant of the imperial court! – you believe this type of scammer? Send him away!”
The servant responded then was about to turn to take his leave.
“Wait!” Yao Zhen sat up, holding his blanket and pondered for a moment. “… Hold on, I will go check it out myself.”
He was suddenly blessed with a momentary stroke of genius. Somehow, he felt that leaving his duty might be something that Gu Yun would do.
At this time, the monk who just happened to stay at the inspector manor had no idea that a great catastrophe was about to fall on his head.
He was an incredibly thrifty man.
A single coin had to be divided into two halves to be spent. If there was a rundown and damaged temple that could serve as a lodge, he would not step foot in an inn. An everyday meal consisted of pickled vegetables, a good meal must depend on donation – commonly known as begging.
He himself did not spend money, he would not allow Chang Geng and the others to spend them either. Fortunately, the three young boys were able to endure hardship, following him to live the life of a homeless drifter day by day.
Liao Ran’s route was quite random. Sometimes he led Chang Geng to venture in every narrow pathway and street in the city. Sometimes they would stroll along the fields without any purpose, receiving donated rations regardless of bad or good. They have settled at the house of a generous government official, and have also settled at the house of an ordinary tenant family. In short, they would accept whatever they were able to receive.
One occasion, they happened to stay at the home of a widowed elderly man with no children. When he saw that the man was already left with nothing to eat, not only did he not ask for ration, but he also even gave the man some money in return.
“Even in peace and prosperity, there can exist ones who starve and freeze to death, and even in the turbulent world, there can still exist glory and splendor.” Through the market in the town, he signed to Chang Geng.
“The morality in this world should be divided into two. ‘Morality’ is where one’s heart should be directed towards. ‘World’ is a single grain of rice in a thousand families, a block of brick in a thousand cities.”
Chang Geng: “The master should be someone who is already beyond this realm, yet when talking about the common world, you still have a clear and logical view.”
Chang Geng’s head was almost higher than that of the monk’s, the youthfulness distinct in a teenager’s voice had completely faded away. His tone was deeper now, his speech pattern was neither slow or fast, he sounded very stable.
He used to favor quietness, growing uneasy whenever there was a crowd. He always felt that he could never be comfortable when dealing with strangers as he did not know what to say. But unknowingly, he had started to acquire the ability to treat everywhere he went as a casual stroll in an empty courtyard.
Perhaps for he had cut off his own means of retreat, some unwillingness and reluctance in his heart naturally turned into trivial matters.
Liao Ran smiled and calmly said: “If the monk does not understand the world, how can he dare say that he is out of this realm?”
The monk was naturally born with a very sultry face: when washed thoroughly, he appeared like a master who was beyond this world, if he did not for a few days, he appeared like a sacred saint. His head reflected the vast light of Buddha, his eyes always contained a vast pool of cleansing water for all living beings – if he was more generous when it come to a few coins, which were only materialistic, then Chang Geng and the others would really have to admit that he was truly a highly educated master.
Suddenly, Cao Niangzi interrupted him in a low voice: “We should stop talking about this subject, big brother Chang Geng, did you notice that many people are watching us?”
Their group of people – there is a monk, a gentle young master, a plump son from a wealthy household, and even a little girl, although delicate and beautiful, there was something that seemed rather odd about her – they could be very eye-catching when walking together, they have long been used to being pointed at by others, Chang Geng was no longer so sensitive to the eyes of pa.s.sers-by.
But this time, the onlookers surrounding them seemed rather too much.
The people on the side of the road stopped to look at them, and not only did they do so, they even pointed and secretly exchanged somethings with each other.
Ge Ban Xiao said: “I feel that something is going to happen.”
Chang Geng: “You are right.”
As the tallest one out of the four people, Chang Geng looked across the crowd and saw a notice posted on the city tower not far away. The photo showed a realistic portrait of a beautiful bald-headed monk, with a written note below:
This man is disguising as a master from Hu Guo Temple, swindling and abducting, not a single wretched deed that he hadn’t done, hereby wanted, the reward will be ten silver coins for any individual who reported him in.
“Master Liao Ran,” Chang Geng said, “You’re worth ten silver coins.”
Master Liao Ran was stunned, standing still in the same place as a beautiful stone statue.
“It must have been that my yifu received the letter from Uncle w.a.n.g and sent his people to trouble you.” Chang Geng’s eyes glanced at the crowd that began to charge forward the ‘ten silver coins’. He said, “My apologies, we better be on our way.”
Liao Ran quickly said: “Amitabha, Your Highness please don’t forget your promise in the tea shop.”
Then the monk ran as if his feet were lathered in oil, as quiet as a statue when still, and as swift as the wind when moving.
In the market, the people who waited to capture the ‘ten silver coins’ saw that they have indirectly affected the grand scheme of things. They decided to abandon all caution and shouted ‘rotten monk!’ and ‘scammer!’ then attacked from all sides.
Ge Ban Xiao: “My father used to do the same when hunting rabbits in the mountain.”
Chang Geng and Cao Niangzi looked at him.
Ge Ban Xiao said: “Holding a stick and screaming, scaring the rabbit, it will lose its direction and charge into the net itself – Ah, it’s true.”
Master Liao Ran, of course, had more wit than a rabbit. He had soon understood the structure of the town market, quickly turning left and right, his figure became an after image. No one knew how he calculated it, but somehow the people who chased after him from all directions became a single line.
At this time, not far from them, there was a shout of ‘Move aside!’. At a closer look, it was a team of officers and men rushing forward, perhaps they have received the order to arrest people.
Chang Geng thought: “As expected, Gu Yun had found someone to do all this.”
He felt comforted, but at the same time, he also felt that his good mood was waning out a bit.
His only consolation was that Gu Yun, even far in the northwest, refused to leave him to fend for himself. Although this means of carrying things out was a bit evil, his heart still went out to him.
At the same time, he felt that he had involved Master Liao Ran into this. In addition, that person did not return to the manor even for the New Year. For what reason must he extend his reach out this far?
Cao Niangzi grabbed his sleeve: “Big Brother, what should we do?”
Chang Geng returned from his train of complicated thoughts, and after calculating for a bit, he reached into his own bag, grabbed a handful of silver coins, and scattered them in the direction of the crowd: “Catch the money!”
It was fortunate that Master Liao Ran had run away, otherwise, he must be distressed to the point of growing his hair back.
The people who were chasing the monk was suddenly hit by a handful of silver and was stunned on the spot, their first instinct was to pick them up. Some others heard that there was real cash and immediately gave up the objective of the same price that was now running away in favor of picking up the real deal, conveniently blocking the ways of the officers and men that were behind. In the blink of an eye, Liao Ran had disappeared.
Chang Geng smiled: “We are also leaving.”
After that, he took the lead and pierced through the crowd of people, preparing to disappear from this place without a trace. But a train of horse hooves suddenly sounded from the other side of the narrow street, it seemed to be just in time to corner them in.
If their purpose was not to pick a fight, then it was to arrest people.
Ge Ban Xiao suggested: “Big brother, we should use the small path.”
“No,” said Cao Niangzi. “We should just stay still and wait.”
The approaching hooves stopped at the entrance of the market, a few men appeared to be coming from the military lined up into a row. One person moved forward in the middle…the person whom Chang Geng would recognize even if he turned to ash –
Chang Geng was dumbfounded, he did not expect that Marshal Gu would come all the way from the northwest to arrest him.
Gu Yun had already thoroughly thought this out on the way over. He would skin that Liao Ran first, then take Chang Geng back for a spanking.
A little tree would be bent if not straightened properly. He feels that he was too pampered with this child. The former Emperor’s way of parenting simply did not work, he should have followed the method of the iron-faced Old Marquis.
However, the flame of anger boiling inside him, upon seeing Chang Geng, was extinguished suddenly.
Gu Yun, seated on his horse, almost could not recognize Chang Geng.
Teenage boys change every day. Back in Yanhui Town, as Chang Geng was always under his nose, his everyday growth was not at all obvious. He could only tell that he was growing taller by the length of his pants getting shorter. But as they were separated over this one year, Chang Geng’s acc.u.mulated changes have suddenly turned the teenager unrecognizable.
His head has already caught up with Gu Yun’s tall figure, his once thin flesh had started to bear the resemblance of an adult. The unbelieving look on his face only flashed by for a moment, it was immediately covered by his newly learned calmness.
Gu Yun let his horse walk in the same place for a moment, thinking to himself with a blank expression: “Can’t hit him now.”
It’s not that he couldn’t, but since Chang Geng was already a man, if used the punishment meant for little children, it would not be a lesson but humiliation.
Year after year, there was no difference for Gu Yun: time rushed by, joyless and meaningless.
But at this moment, he suddenly felt the ruthlessness of the time. He just only blinked once, but his small little Chang Geng had hurriedly grown up. All the days that he had missed, he would never be able to make up for them.
Gu Yun finally realized that Chang Geng was fifteen heading for sixteen. In another three or four years, he would move to the Yan Bei w.a.n.g manor and leave his wings of protection. What was the concept of three or four years? Perhaps it was only enough for him to return to the capital at least once, then all that is left in their fate was only one more reunion?
After a year, Marshal Gu with the heart the size of a bowl finally reacted.
He dismounted from his horse, walked straight to Chang Geng, and calmly said with a darkened expression: “Follow me.”
Chang Geng’s gaze had not left his face, he could not bear to look away for even an inch. Gu Yun still had a shallow wound on his neck, coming straight from the northwest desert, it still hasn’t had time to heal. Chang Geng struggled to find his own voice: “Yifu, why have you come?”
Gu Yun snorted coldly and sullenly walked out of the market.
Even his way of talking had completely changed, he thought sadly as if he had just lost something.
The officers and men who followed Gu Yun ran up to him: “Grand Marshal, that monk has run away, will we continue to pursue him?”
“Pursue,” Gu Yun agreed, “Post the wanted notice throughout the entire city, fish him back out even if he jumped into the sea!”
Officers and soldiers: “Roger!”
Cao Niangzi secretly pulled on the sleeve of Ge Ban Xiao. He felt that in this situation, it was difficult for the two of them to even protect themselves. He had no choice but to shake his head in helplessness, hoping Master Liao Ran would pray himself for more blessing.
Chang Geng and the others followed Gu Yun to the inspector Master Yao’s manor. Master Yao had his flattering words prepared to greet the highly esteemed guests, he brought his servants with him to welcome them at the door: “His Fourth Highness had come to this humble house of mine, it truly is my greatest honor! Please come inside, your subject has prepared a feast of wines and dishes for Your Highness.”
He barely finished his sentence but Gu Yun had already displayed the face similar to the h.e.l.l King. A sentence was written clearly on it – feast, what feast? Just let him starve to death.
For the whole night, Gu Yun could not figure out the proper way to talk to Chang Geng. He stayed alone in his room, chugging down cup after cup of Lou Lan wine that he had brought with him. After a while, someone knocked on his door.
Gu Yun: “Come in.”
Chang Geng gently pushed the door open and walked in: “Yifu.”
Gu Yun did not say anything, his expression unfathomable.
Chang Geng turned to close the door and lowered his head slightly as if staring at Gu Yun for a long time would cause his strength to dissipate.
Chang Geng: “Yifu, I missed you very much.”
Gu Yun was silent for a moment then finally sighed: “Come here, let me look at you.”
Chang Geng came forward obediently, A strange scent of alcohol was surrounding Gu Yun, it was a bit sweet, seemed to be a type of wine from the Western Regions. Hanging on his shoulders was the cold and hard iron armor that hasn’t been changed for years, Chang Geng thought that he could remain restrained, but he had once again overestimated himself – just as he did not expect Gu Yun to actually travel to Jiangnan to find him.
He heaved a sigh of relief and rushed forward to hug Gu Yun.