He thought that he could no longer stay in the manor, or beside Gu Yun.
Gu Yun deliberately tried to steady his breathing, but in the end, his body would continue to tremble involuntarily after each intake of breath. Just now as he stood tall like a mast, the others weren’t able to detect it. But as Chang Geng was holding him right now, he felt some kind of severe pain was about to tear its way from inside his body.
Gu Yun gently panted for a while, a hard to detect wrinkle forming between his brows. He casually smiled at Chang Geng while lying: “Now, now, just a Dong Ying person, let me pet you, no need to be scared – Don’t hold me so tight.”
Chang Geng: “…”
He felt pained and an urge to kill him at the same time.
Gu Yun supported himself using the scabbard of the Dong Ying blade, standing up once again. The blue blood vessels were visible from the back of his pale hand, appearing as if they could break out from under his skin.
In the bowl of wine Chen Qing Xu gave to him contained his usual medicine, Gu Yun could instantly tell with one sniff. He hesitated between ‘blind and deaf’ and ‘intense headache, but could see clearly’ — of course, the latter option was chosen.
In fact, it won’t be a problem even if he did not take the medicine. After all, Gu Yun did not know in advance that the ‘musician’ of Lin Yuan Pavilion was actually the granddaughter of Doctor Chen, but when the bowl of medicine was brought in front of him, he could not overcome the desire to regain control in his bones.
Gu Yun could admit that Shen Yi was right, he knew that one day, he must learn to live in peace with this broken body, but understanding it was one thing, Gu Yun still wasn’t able to put it in practice just yet.
Even if he knew that without relying on sight and hearing, he could still live without any obstacles. Even if he understood in his heart that with any kind of illness, once accustomed to it, it would no longer be considered as an illness.
However, for this reason, the old Marquis had deprived him of his most carefree years in his childhood. Although times had pa.s.sed and things had changed, this old grudge still remained difficult to fade away.
Such difficulty could slowly be resolved, and wait for time to answer it all — in fact, in the past few years, as he learned to live well together with Chang Geng, Gu Yun’s grudges against the previous generation have melted away by a lot, although he certainly would not treat Chang Geng as harshly as the old Marquis did, but he could gradually understand a father’s heart of the old Marquis that time.
All hatred and resentment in the world, for the major part, could be resolved by trying to forget, the other was to put yourself in their position to strive for a mutual understanding.
Chang Geng gritted his teeth: “No.”
Not only did he not let go, he even tightened his hold, sticking to him with all he had, almost appearing as if he was forcing himself closer to Gu Yun and moved inside the cabin.
Gu Yun said: “How did you invent a new way of acting spoiled?”
Chang Geng turned the other’s words around as a mockery: “I was scared to death by Dong Ying people.”
Gu Yun: “…”
Chang Geng thought to himself: “Stay calm, stay calm.”
He desperately willed himself to calm down, adjusting a relatively comfortable posture for Gu Yun.
Chang Geng frowned as he looked at Gu Yun’s face. He lowered his voice and whispered: “Yifu, where do you feel uncomfortable?”
Gu Yun knew he couldn’t hide it from him. He pondered for a while, then decisively chose to play a dirty trick. He beckoned Chang Geng closer with his finger.
Chang Geng earnestly came closer.
Gu Yun whispered: “Irregular periods, abdominal pain.”
Chang Geng was not able to react at first: “What?”
He would only realize it after he asked. The boy’s face instantly blushed red. There was no telling if it was from embarra.s.sment or anger.
Gu Yun was currently having a splitting headache and wished nothing more than to hit his head against the wall. Seeing the easily embarra.s.sed Chang Geng was too adorable, he laughed while trying to hold back his pain. Entertainment and enduring, he did not miss either.
Chang Geng’s eyes almost appeared as if they could spurt out fire, angrily staring at him.
Gu Yun was well versed in the routine of ‘must give a petting after playing a trick’. He coughed once then earnestly said: “I didn’t have time to eat dinner, after drinking the bowl of cold wine from Miss Chen, my stomach was hurting a bit, it’s nothing.”
This sounded a bit more reasonable. But for the people who have spent years round in the army, who didn’t have to experience irregular meals, one day full, one day starving?
And for ones with especially thick and st.u.r.dy skin like Grand Marshal Gu, how could he shamelessly act as if he was weak and delicate?
Chang Geng’s efforts to stay calm were completely ruined, his anger quickly blew up: “Gu Shiliu, you…”
The “you” was hanging in the air for a long time, he was unable to think of what to say next.
Gu Yun suddenly smiled, raised his hand and patted Chang Geng’s head: “What, all grown up and know how to love yifu already? Your love won’t be a waste.”
His hand was as vast as the heaven, the flame of anger in Chang Geng’s heart was distinguished in the blink of an eye, leaving behind only an insignificant trail of smoke, evaporated in both his helplessness and powerlessness.
Chang Geng thought: “Only G.o.d would love you, there is not a single truth from your mouth. Why must I be so distressed for nothing? He could not die anyway.”
However, Gu Yu’s pained face caused him to ache as it pierced his eyes, and Chang Geng could control what he would say and what he would think, but he could not control his worry and anxiety.
After sulking for a while, he let out a sigh, turned and circled around the large chair and began to help ma.s.saging Gu Yun’s temples, his movements seemed quite professional.
Chang Geng saw that Gu Yun’s shoulder started to relax. Generally, if there was no pain in the chest and abdomen areas, the limbs could be as active as usual. He thought that a little bit of light injuries on the arm and legs would not be enough to hurt him as much. After considering it, the only answer left was a headache – Chang Geng remembered that a similar thing had happened once before when they travelled from Yanhui Town to the capital.
While pressing, he couldn’t help but ridicule: “Yifu told me last time that you have migraines, did you already forget ?”
Gu Yun: “…”
He truly did forget, he had told countless lies in this life. If he remembered clearly every one of them, there was probably no s.p.a.ce left to put anything else in.
Chang Geng: “Well?”
Gu Yun: “The headache is there as well, was it not because I have dedicated myself to Great Liang to the point of falling ill?”
Even such words could be said without blushing – Chang Geng had admited defeated, his anger completely vanished.
After Gu Yun finished talking, he used the old trick of ‘falling asleep as soon as head hits the pillow’ and enjoyed Chang Geng’s service with his eyes closed. Unfortunately, the situation outside was not yet settled. He had to keep an ear out at all times and did not dare to fall into a deep sleep.
Chang Geng had his full focus on pressing the acupuncture points for him at first, after a while, his gaze could not help but fall on Gu Yun’s face.
For those whom one was used to seeing, beautiful or unsightly didn’t make much of a difference. Even with the monk’s bewitching looks, after hanging around him for a long time, he felt that he was no different from Uncle w.a.n.g of the Marquis manor — oh, Uncle w.a.n.g actually paid more attention to being clean than the monk.
Only Gu Yun was an exception.
Gu Yun’s hair tie was messed up by the Dong Ying man, he did not have time to redo it properly again, lying on his shoulders like flowing water. Chang Geng stared at him for a long time, strongly suppressing the imagery from his past dreams that involuntarily broke out of their chains and rose up in his mind. If he did not exercise restraint, those memories would further invade him, creating a long and dragged out illusion.
Every time it came to this, he would forcibly interrupt his thoughts much like when he clashed with Bone of Impurity, and take out the meaningless verses from Buddhist scripture that Liao Ran taught him and reciting them in the bottom of his heart over and over, like using a sharpening stone grinding repeatedly against his heart.
But this trick somehow suddenly didn’t work. It might be that all of Chang Geng’s self-control was used up to restrain his anger, his thoughts suddenly ran astray like a horse that broke out of its rein.
The Bone of Impurity inside his body weaved for him an absurd and indescribable fantasy.
He seemed to see himself bending down and kissing Gu Yun’s forehead, eyebrows, nose bridge… all the way to the lips. His lips must not be very soft, and not very sweet either, perhaps it was bitter, similar to the medicinal scent always lingering on his body, or perhaps it would taste like wine, Chang Geng even wanted to bite him.
With this idea emerging, a sweet and rusty taste of blood seemed to immediately come, lingering at his teeth and lips, Chang Geng jolted and shuddered greatly.
He came back to reality and found himself standing behind Gu Yun’s chair, the tip of his tongue was bitten by himself.
In the next second, Chang Geng realized that his fingers still remained at the side of Gu Yun’s head. He immediately retracted them as if it was burning hot.
He stood still in a daze for a moment, then whispered with unease: “Yifu?”
Gu Yun was sound asleep, he did not open his eyes, and he did not see the faint blood-red glint in Chang Geng’s eyes either.
Chang Geng looked at him deeply then picked up his own sword and ran out of the cabin.
Outside, the sea breeze was blowing fiercely, Black Eagles were flying close to the main ship to keep guard, and the official Jiangnan Navy was cleaning up the battleground under the command of Yao Zhen. Dong Ying people were scattered in all directions, having jumped directly into the sea, prepared to take the small boats or to swim off. The sea Dragons on four sides had already prepared a dark net in the water. In a short period of time, they had managed to catch these fishes that trapped themselves in the net.
Huang Qiao was personally brought in front of Yao Zhen. Yao Zhen appeared to be deep in thought, bending over to say something to the other.
This rushed chain of events entered Chang Geng’s eyes but did not enter his mind. The burning heat on his face slowly dissipated in the sea breeze.
The cold and desolate air of the sea was like an ulcer, eating its way into his marrow, drilling into his bones, the bitter cold could cut through his flesh. Chang Geng faced the sea and scolded himself: “You are a low life animal.”
He thought that he could no longer stay in the manor, or beside Gu Yun.
Two days later, at Master Yao’s manor.
The peach blossoms in the courtyard had bloomed, the steam was mixed with a pleasant fragrance grazing one’s face. Gu Yun sat by the window, eating melon seeds as he waited for Yao Zhen to write the report. In fear that there might be changes from the capital’s side, the urgent report was already sent out first.
The capital blocked the news, but all parties have their own eyes and ears. Some words had already been leaked — they said the Emperor was furious and ordered the Imperial Guards to surround Wei w.a.n.g. Wei w.a.n.g had intended to escape from the capital at night but was caught when he made his way to De Sheng Gate. There was no information on how he was dealt with afterward.
As of right now, the dust in Jiangnan has settled, it was necessary to write another report, explaining the cause and effect to the emperor.
Yao Zhen, with his face appearing as if he was lacking sleep, put down his pen: “Marquis sir, what should we do about this?”
Gu Yun casually replied: “Just say that Master Inspector was aware of the strange occurrences at sea, secretly sending people to carefully observe, and defeating the scheme of the rebels before it could be executed.”
Yao Zhen: “No, no, I am a scholar, I was air-sick while on the Kite, sesick while on the Dragon, nauseated throughout all the way. I do not possess the skills nor the talents. It is natural that only the Marquis can enter the enemy line and turn the tide.”
Gu Yun smiled and said: “Marquis? The Marquis of Order is in the northwest, was he able to teleport? On the other hand, I heard that Master Yao was very sharp-witted, ordering the soldiers to don Black Armor, shocking the rebels and causing them to fight among themselves. Such means of carrying things out is really admirable.”
Yao Zhen blurted out: “I can’t do it, please don’t hurt me.”
Master Yao was thirty-six this year. It was the most prosperous age of a man. He grew a lively mustache and was naturally born with an intelligent and capable-appearing face; This man’s career as an official for half his life had always been met with many ups and downs, from the beginning he had glued himself to this land of plenty fishes and rice and had never achieved any grand contribution. His specialty was to sleep for an entire a day.
Thus why perhaps most people have forgotten his origin — in the 12th year of the Yuan He regency, Gu Yun’s teacher, Lin Mo Sen, who was still alive at that time, was the chief examiner of the imperial examination session. When coming across the essay of Yao Zhen, he couldn’t help himself from slapping the desk in praises. He had presented it to Emperor Yuan He, and His Majesty had personally a.s.signed him as a Zhuang Yuan*.
*A t.i.tle for the one with the highest score in the imperial examination.
Gu Yun said with deeper meaning: “Eased the Eastern sea rebellion, eliminated a big battle that may endanger the areas of utmost importance, you don’t need even such a large credit? In the future, you will be ready to enter the world with authority in your hands.”
Yao Zhen smiled bitterly: “What type of talents received that type of wage? I have no talent and no virtue, I only hope to find a good place for retirement down the road, how can I possess the skill to turn the tides, may the Marquis please spare this lowly official.”
Gu Yun: “I even want to report to His Majesty to send you to the northwest to be a supervisor for the army.”
Yao Zhen held his head and said: “I still have an elderly mother over eighty and young children waiting to be fed. I ask the hero to spare this dog’s life. You can take whatever objects you please from my household instead.”
Gu Yun: “…”
“Marquis sir, how about this, as this matter happened here. The Governor of Liang Jiang* – Master Zhou – definitely won’t be able to avoid getting involved. I should go discuss it with him.”
*Liang Jiang is referring to both Jiangnan and Jiangxi
Yao Zhen smiled apologetically, seeing the expression on Gu Yun’s face was not very good, he quickly added a sentence, “That’s right, there is also the young Prince. His Highness traveled to Jiangnan and accidentally came across the rebel force capturing Mechanics. Witnessing such wrongdoings, he had sneaked into their base alone, a.s.sisting our forces from the inside, and personally caught their leader. You see, does this sound alright?”
Hearing these words, Gu Yun did not say anything anymore.
For Chang Geng’s origin, although His Majesty did not express his opinion outright, it was certain that he would bear some sort of ill-feeling. Now that this matter involved Wei w.a.n.g, His Majesty must have felt greatly disappointed. If he then looked at the unwelcomed younger brother who was now clearly standing on his side, maybe he would be willing to let go of the grudges of the older generation.
Chang Geng was closely reaching the age of inheriting his royal status. If he could obtain His Majesty’s favor, it would perhaps be better for his future.
Gu Yun weighed this option a moment then glared at Yao Zhen in frustration. This person was indeed very talented. Otherwise, it would be difficult for him to maintain a long-term friendship with the Marquis of Order after having the chance to only meet with him once, but it was also true that he was not seeking to further himself. All he strived for in life was to be able to eat and sleep, pouring all his intelligence into sugarcoating others.
Yao Zhen smiled and asked again: “Marquis sir, what do you think?”
Gu Yun was too lazy to pay him any mind, rolled his eyes, and walked away.
He had intended to quietly leave Jiangnan. In this matter, both Lin Yuan Pavilion and the Black Iron Camp had put in efforts, but it was inconvenient for both sides to make their appearance known. How to dress this up nicely, they could only rely on Yao Zhen’s pen.
When Gu Yun pushed open the door, he saw Chang Geng was currently making a bamboo flute in the courtyard. Ge Ban Xiao, Cao Niangzi, and Master Yao’s two little daughters gathered around him. Chang Geng was handy, gentle and patient, making a flute for each one of them. His craft looked quite decent, the two little girls who were not yet ten years old were cheering and jumping around him.
Gu Yun was in a good mood again as he saw Chang Geng. Although he never said it out loud, he always hoped that Chang Geng would grow into an intelligent and sharp young man, but would not outwardly show it, righteous and benevolent yet not lacking resolute, not as weak minded as his father, but not as extreme as his mother.
The person Chang Geng grew up to be is exactly what he had wished for.
Even his appearance had chosen the advantageous points of his parents to inherit.
He walked over and took the flute that was only just beginning to take shape out of Chang Geng’s hand and smiled: “Is there one for me?”
Chang Geng’s relaxed smile on his face disappeared. He took the flute back and handed it to the little girl who was eagerly waiting on the side: “Just a little plaything for young children, the craftsmanship is rough and ugly. Yifu, please don’t make fun of me.”
Gu Yun: “…”
He stared silently at the flute on the hand of the little girl, thinking: “I want it.”
The child who was not even as tall as Gu Yun’s legs hid her hands behind her back and looked up at him intently.
Chang Geng put down the things in his hands and gestured to Ge Ban Xiao to take the two little girls somewhere else to play, he himself stood up and followed after Gu Yun: “Is yifu going back to the Western Regions?”
Gu Yun: “Mm, you go back to the capital to meet with His Majesty, Chong Ze will teach you all that you need to say, don’t worry.”
Chang Geng nodded silently.
“This time you have achieved a merit, the emperor may even have a reward for you,” Gu Yun said. “He may allow you to come to the court to listen to political matters. If you mention it, he might even let you come to the northwest to find me.”
After meeting with Chang Geng again this year, he had already grown into a mature young man who did not faze while in the face of danger. His childishness from last year was gone. Gu Yun had grown more lenient to the idea of taking him to the northwest.
The current situation there could be considered to be peaceful as of this moment. Gu Yun thought he could take Chang Geng along for him to learn new things. After all, even without doing anything, after returning to the capital, Chang Geng would still be able to count this credit as his own.
When Gu Yun left home, Chang Geng had wished nothing more than to go to the northwest with him. Gu Yun thought that now as he would finally get what he wanted, at least he would be happy and excited.
Unexpectedly, Chang Geng stopped his footsteps, he was silent for a moment then said: “Yifu, I don’t want to go to the Western Regions anymore.”