Sha Po Lang

Chapter 45: Explosive

T/N: this chap is intense at first but gets uwu cuter later down.


Chang Geng was quick to react and caught it in time. He discovered that it was actually a bamboo flute made with very simple and coa.r.s.e craftsmanship. ____

Regarding Jing Xu, Gu Yun took one look at him and found that there were redeeming qualities, he quickly grouped this major bandit leader with the others and thrown them to the side. At this time, he was more concerned about when Chang Geng would go.

It happened that Chang Geng had expressed very timely that he was going to meet up with his companions who were investigating the mountain’s secret pa.s.sages. Gu Yun felt greatly relieved inside. On the surface, he had still given him a handful of Black Iron Camp soldiers, telling him to be careful of the bandits that slipped through the net.

Watching him leave, Gu Yun said to a Black Cavalry at the side: “Look for two people to keep watch, if His Highness returned too quickly, give him something to do, don’t let him come here.”

The soldier took his order and left, Gu Yun finally retracted his gaze.

He swept a glance through the squad of captured bandits from beginning to the end, his eyes contained a severity unlike usual days: “I have only one question, how many entrances and exits do you have in these underground rats’ nest? Please be aware of your current situation. Let’s do it this way, starting from the first person on the west side, behead on the spot if he does not talk. When the first person is finished, the latter can add more details. If one was not able to add anything more, then I am sorry. The ones at the front of the line can still have some advantage — let’s start, counting to three, not talking will result in being cut down, talking nonsense will also be cut down.”

The bandits were stunned in fear by the Marquis of Order who was more savage than the bandits themselves.

The Black Cavalry who was instructed to interrogate began to expressionlessly ask from the first person. The first person instinctively looked back and forth, unable to decide.

Gu Yun did not hesitate to make a downward gesture, the Wind Slasher in the hands of the Cavalry started to move.

The Cavalry usually only knew how to kill people, has not raised monkeys, and did not study the method of beheading either. The Wind Slasher’s blades turned around the neck of the bandit, but unfortunately, it got stuck in the bone of the neck joint. The head of the bandit was half-intact, half-splitted, his vocal pipe had not been cut through yet, and his bloodcurdling screams frightened the flock of birds near and far in the mountains.

The Cavalry squinted his eyes, added a force to his wrist, ending the life of the unfortunate man.

The blood from his veins spurted out like springs, splashing onto the person next to him. The second bandit trembled greatly like an overloaded golden box, his mind was a complete blank, shakily pointing towards at the back: “There, there is one there…”

Gu Yun sneered: “Nonsense, can I not see if for myself?”

The second head fell to the ground.

The third bandit was frightened by the horror of the half-cut head to the point of wetting himself, he slammed to the ground and held his head in both hands. In fear of the executioner dressed in black directly cutting him down, he had revealed in one breath ten exits and entrances of the secret pa.s.sages, the stares of people behind him were about to shoot through his back.

With this man serving as an opening, the rest was simple. On the road of life or death, it was useless to keep secrets. The people behind would inevitably reveal them, speaking up soon to preserve your life was the way to go.

Gu Yun was quiet, but in his heart, he was truly shocked by the large roots of the Southern Frontier bandits. Some of the entrances and exits of these mountains have already been discovered by the Lin Yuan Pavilion. Otherwise, even the Black Iron Camp could not manage to block these rats easily halfway through, but there were more that even the Lin Yuan Pavilion have not known of.

Behind him, the Black Iron Camp soldiers quietly left to verify whether these entrances and exits were true and to keep guard of every secret pa.s.sage opening. Less than the time it took to burn an incense, as if playing the game of ‘pa.s.s the flower’*, the bandits had confessed all the underground routes that extended in all directions, down to the littlest ones.

*game in which players sit in a circle pa.s.sing a flower around while a drum is beaten

In the blink of an eye, this deadly ‘flower’ had been pa.s.sed to the one that started it all: leader Jing Xu.

In this life, Jing Xu had violently cut through from a pile of corpses to become the king of the mountain. There was no such thing as great talents, but there was certainly no shortage of courage and ruthless methods. Seeing the tip of the blade had arrived in front of him and the blood on the ground had flowed into a river, he took a deep breath and straightened his back, converting all the strength he acc.u.mulated in this life to support his body, staring at Gu Yun casually walking towards him with both hands behind his back.

Jing Xu said: “I used to hear people say that Marshal Gu’s elegance is unparalleled. I did not expect that you were well-versed even in torture methods for interrogation, truly is the more talents, the better.”

“There is no need for flattery,” Gu Yun said with an amused smile. “The main activity in wars is to slay people. I did not lock you in a dark room, did not place you on a nail bed, neither did I ask you to sit on a tiger chair. The words ‘torture to interrogate’ — I do not dare to accept. If you have nothing to say, you can go accompany them as well.”

Jing Xu’s eyelids twitched violently: “There are a total of sixty-four entrances and exits here. They have confessed it all at once. The first worthless few had already started to blabber. Pardon my imprudence, I do not understand Marshal Gu’s intention?”

“Only for safety, no other intention,” Gu Yun said with a smile. “In case there was a someone who had not confessed yet, you want to persuade me to stop killing? There is a large number of you, rest a.s.sured, I can’t afford to slay you all.”

Jing Xu: “…”

Gu Yun: “Since they had looked up to you as their leader, presumably, there must be other things you know about, why don’t you talk about matters that I haven’t heard of?”

Jing Xu clenched his teeth, remembering Fu Zhi Cheng, the chief culprit of all this, wishing nothing more than to skin him. He spoke through clenched jaws: “If I say that Fu Zhi Cheng was smuggling Ziliujin to rebel, would Marshal be interested in hearing?”

The cold smile on Gu Yun’s face gradually disappeared: “If I did not know this, how could I have guessed that you will be as courageous as to run to the southwest storage to deliver food? I will give you another chance, talk of something I don’t know.”

The Black Iron’s Wind Slasher stood directly next to Jing Xu’s ear. Even with the slightest of movement, he could feel the cold metal’s inhumanity. He also knew that only the slightest bit of steam was needed, and the blade would cut his head like cutting vegetables. That Gu Yun was cold and ruthless, continuing to be stubborn would result in his head falling to the ground much like the other lackeys, covered in dust, not a single difference.

Jing Xu finally bowed: “What do you want to know?”

Gu Yun waved his hand, the Wind Slasher’s blade moved a few inches away from Jing Xu: “I want to know who had served as a connection for you after the Ziliujin was transported from the Southern Sea to inland Great Liang. Who had told you to privately stock Ziliujin and to h.o.a.rd weaponry? Who had come up with this scheme, let you use those kites to confuse me, to take this opportunity to occupy the southwestern storage?”

Jing Xu tightly clenched his teeth.

“If I were you, I would not give up my life to protect that person,” Gu Yun suddenly stepped forward and lowered his voice. “Look at the secret pa.s.sages with sixty-four exits behind you. You bandits with nothing to do could drill in there anytime you wish, even G.o.ds could not overturn this land to dig you out…

“Who had encouraged you to gather the major forces of the three mountains together, for us to eliminate you all at once, huh?”

Gu Yun was a master of reversing up and down, black and white. He had perfected three skills in this life: excelling in literary arts, outstanding in battles, and amazing at deception. Illogical things could become immensely real coming from his mouth. What’s more, when thinking about it carefully, there was nothing illogical about what he had just said, causing Jing Xu to break out in cold sweat.

Gu Yun’s side took more time in interrogating the bandits than it took Chang Geng to find his companions. It wasn’t long before Chang Geng came back, but before he could come up to the hill, he was already stopped by the soldiers of the Black Iron Camp. The young soldier earnestly repeated exactly what he had been instructed to say: “Your Royal Highness, Marshal had told you to rest here for a while first.”

Chang Geng did not seem to be surprised. He did not ask anything further either, obediently waiting in the same place.

In these years, although Chang Geng wasn’t able to see Gu Yun with his own eyes, he had studied every single battle Gu Yun had ever fought in with old General Zhong, studied the changes in his stand in politics starting from when he inherited the t.i.tle of a Marquis from the past dynasty to the present, and even his handwriting —  if Chang Geng were to go to Gu Yun’s study now and take out any old notes, he could generally tell at what age Gu Yun had written it.

This helped him understand Gu Yun far more than being near him, listening to him boosting himself up as a ‘Northwest flower’ all day.

Seeing the hesitance in Gu Yun eyes as it swept over, Chang Geng was able to tell that he intended to interrogate by force, and more than that, he did not want Chang Geng to witness it. Even until today, Gu Yun still instinctively wanted to preserve his ever so fragile image of a kind father in front of Chang Geng.

Chang Geng did not have any objection regarding this, he instead would greatly cherish this little bit of love that yifu did not speak aloud.

Chang Geng was followed by two people, they were Ge Ban Xiao and Cao Niangzi who had come with him from Yanhui town to the capital — now called Ge Chen and Cao Chun Hua.

Ge Chen was a lovable chubby boy in his childhood. Now that he had grown up, his plump body was replaced with a tall and strong appearance. If one were to look at him from the neck down, he could be cla.s.sified as a ‘muscular man’.

But unfortunately, from the neck up, the head seemed to have been placed there by mistake — on it was a face both tender and white, two soft baby fat on his cheeks, much like tofu, wrapped around his small nose, small mouth and small eyes. There was not a single detail that did not give off innocence and harmlessness.

Cao Chun Hua’s change was a lot more drastic. No matter what he thought in his heart, he couldn’t help his body from growing into the frame of an adult man. It was to hard retain the same kind neutrality in appearance in his youth. He had no choice but to admit that he was really a ‘rotten man’, and changed back to men’s clothing. Even so, he was still hesitant to let go and chose the name ‘Cao Chun Hua’ — except for himself, no one could tell how ‘Chun Hua’ is different than ‘Niangzi’.

*Chun Hua meant spring flowers and Niangzi meant lady.

“How come we cannot move past yet?” Cao Chun Hua asked, stretching his neck. “I haven’t seen my Marquis for several years, I’ve been unable to sleep these few days.”

Chang Geng gloomily glanced at him, silently giving Cao Chun Hua another tick. Wait until he gathered words such as ‘my family’s Marquis’ for the total of fifty times from this person’s mouth, then he’d give him a beating.

Cao Chun Hua still wasn’t aware of this, he asked again: “Big brother, this time returning to the capital, will you inherit your royal status? I heard that the former Emperor had prepared for you the Yanbei w.a.n.g manor, then will you move out in the future or will you still be living in the Marquis’ manor?”

Chang Geng was startled for a moment, then smiled bitterly: “That would depend on whether the Marquis would still want me here or not.”

Looking back now, Chang Geng could not imagine how he managed to gather the courage that year to leave the manor, to leave Gu Yun.

Not meeting him was alright, but this time as he had encountered Gu Yun in Sichuan, he felt as if he had to directly come face to face with his fated destiny. Even if beaten to death, it would still be difficult to acc.u.mulate the determination he mustered up that year.

Chen Qing Xu had told him to ‘stay calm, do not let your thoughts run astray’, of course, this has a role in restraining the Bone of Impurity from acting up. But human emotions, anger or joy, sorrow or happiness were all attached with one another. With the restraint of resentment and anger, joy would also then naturally fade away as time pa.s.sed.

One would become like a sunless gra.s.s — although it could stay alive, its colors had all faded.

Chang Geng thought that he was about to become a Buddha.

Up until he met with Gu Yun again.

Not mentioning the exhaustion of traveling together with Gu Yun, all day if they were not dealing with rebels, it was fighting the bandits. Yet Chang Geng’s heart was always filled with unreasonable happiness, eager and expectant – as if when he opened his eyes in the morning, he could already know something good will happen.

Although he knew that nothing good would happen, the Bone of Impurity still came to visit him every night.

If he inherited his t.i.tle, would Gu Yun still let him stay?

Rationally thinking, Gu Yun would definitely allow him to stay, the Manor would at least be willing to keep him until he officially got married. If he stayed single, perhaps he could continue to be here forever.

This idea was too good, Chang Geng had to gather the strength of nine cattle and two tigers to restrain a dumb smile from forming on his face.

They waited for about half an hour until Gu Yun came out.

The mountain’s secret pa.s.sages resembled a huge spider web, extending in all directions, all sides were connected. Gu Yun had cut down more than forty heads in total, excluding some nonsense from the few who were scared to tears, and finally found the entrance for the sixty-four secret pa.s.sages.

Ge Chen was shocked after hearing this: “What? Us two brothers had stayed in this mountain pretending to be mountain dwellers for more than half a year, only to find more than thirty entrances, how could the Marquis manage to discover more than sixty as soon as he arrived!”

“If you didn’t get to the bottom of if, I would not be able to intercept them, let alone interrogate.” Gu Yun looked at Ge Chen, trying to hold back for a moment, then in the end, he wasn’t able to control himself, waving his hand: “Come here.”

Ge Chen thought that Marshal had something of importance to instruct, eagerly coming closer. Unexpectedly, Gu Yun reached out to pinch his cheek.

Gu Yu had wanted to do this for a long time, his bad habit of having itchy hands had soon become a terminal illness. Whenever there was something to be felt with his hand, he could not help but want to pinch it.

“It’s so fun.” Gu Yun pinched for a while, thinking while still feeling unsatisfied: “How could this be possible?”

Ge Chen: “…”

Cao Chun Hua’s tiger eyes were full of affections and envy. He whispered, “The Marquis’s treatment is unfair, why don’t you pinch my face?”

He did not dare to say this in front of Gu Yun, thus only Chang Geng was able to hear him. Chang Geng thought, “Okay, forty-eight times.”

Cao Chun Hua inexplicably felt a chill. He looked around for a moment, suddenly feeling an ominous foreboding in his heart.

Gu Yun followed Jing Xu’s confession to create a drawing of this area. Then he ordered people to smoke along the secret entrance and exit, smoking for three days, making the large mountain into a chimney. Bats, mouses, poisonous insects no matter big or small, fled out of with their families altogether, yet in the end, the person whom Gu Yun wanted to capture was still nowhere to be seen.

Several soldiers volunteered to string up the rope and drill into the secret pa.s.sage to explore. They had searched from sunrise to midnight inside sixty-four entrances and exits, but was not able to find even a single hair, only the set of table that Jing Xu mentioned.

On the fourth day, an underling came to report, after checking on Kuai Lan Tu’s side, they did indeed discover a suspicious person — it was a guest whom Kuai Lan Tu kept in his house, named w.a.n.g Bu Fan, a name that instantly sounded like an alias.

*Bu Fan means ‘out of ordinary’

This guest normally did not go outside to see other people, but a few confidants of Kuai Lan Tu all knew he was very trusting of and highly respected this man, he had dedicated to him a private courtyard in his manor, ordering trusted servants and beautiful maids to accompany him.

Gu Yun: “Where is this ‘Bu Fan’ now?”

The underling replied: “Already ran away, the servants were poisoned to death without anyone knowing. When the people in the manor discovered this, the bones had already turned cold.”

“Marshal,” at this time, another Cavalry came over and said, “We went to check out the few locations for hiding the transported Ziliujin according to Jing Xu’s confession, but it was completely empty, not leaving behind even a piece of paper.”

Gu Yun silently turned the old Buddhist beads in his hand. The mysterious guest next to Kuai Lan Tu, the ‘Master Ja’ in Jing Xu’s story… everything seemed to be accidental at a glance, but Gu Yun could feel with an unexplainable instinct, that this matter involved an extremely large conspiracy.

These people had been secretly stirring up the Southern Frontier. They arrived unknowingly, then disappeared without any traces. Their ident.i.ty became a mystery, their purpose was also a mystery.

They seemingly appeared to be enemies, yet at the same time, seemingly a.s.sisted him in exterminating these bandits.

Gu Yun could not figure out, in the end, was it him who messed up their scheme or did he walk head first into it?

The person whom Gu Yun had overturned the land in search of was currently boarding an ordinary small cargo ship on the surface of the Southern Sea.

Master Ja has already changed back to the complicated Western clothing, bowing down to look at a map. The vast expanse of Great Liang was on this small leather drawing. He was holding a pen, painting a small red circle on the Southern Frontier.

Together with that circle, there were already three other red circles on the old map, the other two are of the Northern Frontier and the Eastern Sea.

‘Master Ja”s pen tip hesitated for a while on the map, then finally landed at the entrance to the Silk Road in the west.

“As of today, our trap had been perfectly laid out.” Master Ja smiled. “Only a lead is needed, as soon as it is ignited, it would then explode with a bang—”

w.a.n.g Bu Fan, whose appearance resembled the Central Plains people, continued his words: “Engulfing Central Plains in a sea of flame.”

The two looked at each other and smiled. They each raised their cups, clinking them together.

With such a large scale situation happening in the Southern Frontier, the Emperor in the palace was of course greatly angered, urging Gu Yun to quickly escort the bandit leaders and the traitorous general back to the capital.

Gu Yun had to temporarily put down his doubts and set out to the north.

But remembering that this time, his treasured son was willing to go back with him, the manor would be lively once again, he could somewhat feel eager about this returning trip to the capital.

“He had become a lot more adorable after growing up,” ‘Old man’ Gu Yun felt greatly comforted, secretly praising to Shen Yi. “It’s just that he suddenly became so sensible, I am still not quite used to it.”

“Despicable.” Shen Yi commented in a simple and concise manner, then as a result, eating one whip lash as he wished.

Shen Yi asked: “Right, after capturing Fu Zhi Cheng, what are you planning to do?”

Gu Yun stopped joking around, he was silent for a moment, then spoke with all seriousness: “Ji Ping, the truth is, I have always thought about all these years, you follow me like this, is it a waste of talent?”

Shen Yi gave him a silent look.

Gu Yun: “You are vastly knowledgeable. Your literary skills can enter Han Lin, your martial arts can bring peace to a territory, hiding away in Ling Shu Inst.i.tute and the Black Iron Camp for so many years, it is time for you to show yourself…”

Although he had already heard Chang Geng a.n.a.lyze it, but listening to Gu Yun saying so, Shen Yi could not avoid feeling touched inside.

The two men were both comrades and friends. Although they shared a tight knit relationship, through both life and death, trusting enough to even leave their wife and child in the hands of the other if something were to happen, but Gu Yun’s dog mouth could not spit out ivory, he had never expressed his appreciation directly towards him before.

Shen Yi could feel his eyes sting: “Zi Xi, you truly don’t have to…”

“Furthermore, I am also very sorry,” Gu Yun added with earnest. “You see, such a beautiful man born from the heaven, raised by parents like myself, always staying near and blocking your peach blossoms, causing you to stay single for all these years. It’s really…tch, it’s all my fault.”

Shen Yi: “…”

This ‘beautiful man born from the heaven,  raised by parents’ marked the end for the maximum of two sensible sentences a day, about to head straight for nonsensical content. Shen Yi was forced to withdraw a mouthful of all the things he wanted to say stuck in his throat, snorting, then ushered his horse and ran away.

Chang Geng saw this from not far away, quickly taking the opportunity to run over, occupying the position of Shen Yi, walking along side with Gu Yun: “How did General Shen run away again?”

Gu Yun smiled, rubbing his nose.

Chang Geng saw that there was a leaf on his Light Armor, he reached out to brush it off for him, then carefully said: “Yifu, even lighter armors weigh at least forty pounds, let’s remove it to relieve your body?”

Gu Yun did not oppose, letting Chang Geng reach out to help dismantle the Light Armor one by one. They were too close, the two horses had somehow taken a liking to one another and started to get intimate.

Gu Yun used one hand to push his horse’s head away and scolded: “Don’t be improper.”

The armor on his arm was unloaded by a half. With this one movement, it almost flew out from his wrist, even dragging with it something else inside his sleeve.

Chang Geng was quick to react and caught it in time. He discovered that it was actually a bamboo flute made with very simple and coa.r.s.e craftsmanship.

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