Directly ran away from home! ____
Gu Yun slept until the sun was hanging high up in the sky.
Yesterday, he was quite frustrated. He had more or less intended to use liquor to disperse his sorrow, but in the end, he had become completely drunk, his flesh and bones had all stiffened, feeling even more exhausted after sleeping.
On the small table next to him, no one knew who had placed for him a bowl of hangover medicine. Gu Yun pinched his nose and downed it in one go, finally able to open his dry eyes. He sat on the bed for a while, quickly reflected on himself, in a state of half-asleep, half-awake, he suddenly became aware of his recent inexplicable anxiety.
“Is it that bad?” Gu Yun yawned and asked himself.
Thinking about it carefully, of course, it was not.
In recent years, the national treasury had been quite tight. Of course, military expense was also lacking, but it had not been so tight that people had to starve.
G.o.d had been quite at ease as well. A few floods, earthquakes, and a drought two or three years ago were not particularly serious. Central Plains was so big, whenever the Dragon King from who knew which cloud sneezed, the court must immediately work themselves to relieve the disasters. In the past few years since the beginning of the Long An regency, the wind and the waves could be considered as peaceful.
For the two cases in the southwest frontier and Jiangnan, although their effect was quite big, causing the Emperor to be fearful of the unknown, in fact, in the eyes of Gu Yun, they could only be regarded as small ordeals.
For the Eastern Sea, Wei w.a.n.g was obviously still not ready, yet the leakage of Ziliujin had already revealed his plan. The situation in the Southern Frontier was a clash between multiple parties, and from the start, Fu Zhi Cheng had harbored no intention for rebellion. In short, it was not even as dangerous as when they were hunting for bandits in the desert sand.
Compared with that year, when the nation had no substantial military force, when he single-handedly carried Great Liang on his shoulder, fighting six countries of the Western Region joining forces altogether to rebel, this was nothing.
At that time, every single day, he did not know whether he could still see the sun tomorrow, there were no distractions in his heart. Now it was the opposite. He was of high power, sitting in his own courtyard, watching iron puppets dancing, even borrowing wine to rid himself of worries.
Afterward, he seemed to have done something extra…
What was it?
“Ah yes,” Gu Yun pressed his own temple, thinking, “Seems like I have teased a maid, even scared her away.”
“Too outrageous.” Gu Yun muttered to himself while washing his face and changing clothes.
Halfway through, his action came to a halt — that’s not right, the manor did not even have one female horse, where would they find a maid!
Gu Yun finally woke up completely, his face pale, he pondered for a while, then turned over the blanket — a small object rolled down the corner of the bed — it was the leather pouch Chang Geng always carried with him.
Gu Yun: “…”
Shen Yi’s tolerance for alcohol was below average, he was even more drunk than Gu Yun. Early in the morning, before he could wake up, Gu Yun had already barged into the guest room, dragging him up.
“I have something to tell you.” Gu Yun’s expression was grim, as if he just caught sight of a ghost.
Shen Yi did not dare to neglect, a pile of entangling thoughts pa.s.sing by his head: Fu Zhi Cheng escaped from prison? Master Feng Han had been deemed guilty by the emperor? The Northern barbarians invaded them? Or was it a rebellion in the Central Plains garrison?
Shen Yi resisted the discomfort he was currently feeling and concentrated his mind, waiting to hear what Gu Yun had to say.
As a result, that Gu hesitated for a long while, his gaze moved from the house post to his own toe, even a fart was not released.
Shen Yi asked with fear: “What happened?”
Gu Yun: “… forget it, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Shen Yi was instantly furious, the hairs all over his body standing up three feet high. How did this type who didn’t speak fully have not gotten slain yet!
“Hold on,” Shen Yi rushed to grab Gu Yun, angrily asking, “What the h.e.l.l is going on?”
Gu Yun at this time had followed the ‘evidence’ on his bed, slowly tracing back to the memory before he had gotten drunk, what he said and what he did, was all vivid in front of him — too embarra.s.sing, too wretched, too despicable.
Gu Yun covered his face: What have I done?
He felt that his stomach acid was rising, painfully asking Shen Yid: “Did I drink too much and acted out of line?”
“You don’t usually become that drunk either?” Shen Yi held his quilt on the bedside — they stayed at the frontier all year round, although they also drank, they never dare to get too drunk, otherwise, it would be dangerous if they messed up once something were to happen.
“What’s the matter,” Shen Yi looked at Gu Yun’s face, asking with great interest. “What humiliating deed did you do yesterday?”
Gu Yun reached out and pressed Shen Yi — one who liked to watch a bustling scene without concern that something big could develop — into the blanket, then swiftly walked away in a state of panic.
At the beginning, Gu Yun still hung on to a few bits of optimism, thinking to himself: “Xiao Chang Geng will not pay particular attention to a drunkard will he? If it was me, I would not put it to heart.”
… I would at least used this opportunity to make fun of him for a year and a half.
However, this luck soon disappeared — for Gu Yun remembered that Chang Geng, whom he pressed onto his bed yesterday, had been continuously trembling. It seemed that not only did Chang Geng take it to heart, he was also infuriated.
Gu Yun squinted at Chang Geng’s pouch with a dire expression, as if he was carrying a pack of gunpowder that could explode at any moment.
The faint scent of tranquilizer arose, soaking through his insides, Gu Yun sniffed it around while calculating: “Should I pretend to be confused? Or should I pretend to be oblivious? Or perhaps I should act as if nothing had happened?”
Before he could manage to come to a decision, the old butler was already coming over, Gu Yun asked him with the appearance of a truly righteous being: “Uncle w.a.n.g, where is His Royal Highness?”
The old butler replied: “I was about to tell the Marquis. His Highness had left early to go to Hu Guo Temple.”
Gu Yun: “…”
Directly ran away from home!
The old butler did not notice his expression and said: “That’s right, yesterday, Master Jiang of Da Li Temple had sent a painting for your birthday occasion, there was a letter inside, does the Marquis wish to take a look?”
Gu Yun: “Let me see.”
Although Shen Yi who had been following Gu Yun fighting here and there suddenly became a general, in truth, he was able to step into the rank of officials by pa.s.sing the imperial examination. Da Li Temple’s head officer Jiang Chong was once his senior from the same school. Through this relationship, Jiang Chong was able to get to know Gu Yun. Later, they have discovered that their personalities clicked with the other party and gradually became friends, but in order to avoid suspicion, the two did not frequently meet with each other.
Gu Yun swept through the letter quickly, suddenly no longer had the mind to be concerned about Chang Geng who was angry with him.
In addition to greetings, Jiang Chong had briefly revealed to him the news — the Emperor had made up his mind to completely destroy the root of Ziliujin black markets.
This sentence alone had many information contained in it.
In the evening, Qi Yuan tower was still filled with the lively sound of people. In a private room, Southwest commander Shen Yi serving as the head, invited his old friends in the capital and his old colleagues at Ling Shu Inst.i.tute together for a feast. Shen Yi was about to move to the southwest to take office, and although it was a remote location a long distance away, it was still a grand promotion, his old friends were already asking him to treat them.
After three rounds of drinking, the Marquis of Order personally arrived, but only stayed for a while, saying that something happened at home and excused himself early. Not long after he left, Jiang Chong, the current head officer of Da Li Temple also bid his farewell and left.
Jiang Chong did not take his carriage as he exited, sending all the servants away, saying that he wished to stroll for a while to sober up. He only took with him one young servant and chose a narrow path along the icy riverside under the tower.
As soon as he took a turn, there was already an old and rundown carriage waiting there for him. The curtains were lifted, revealing half of Gu Yun’s face: “It’s too cold, allow me to send brother Han Shi off.”
Jiang Chong replied: “I have troubled you”, understanding his intention, he then came inside the carriage.
Master Jiang was over forty years old, yet the remnants of time did not leave their mark on his face. Aside from his calm demeanor, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he was a young man.
On the carriage, he used Gu Yun’s small stove to warm up his hands. Jiang Chong did not beat around the bush either, going straight for the main topic: “Yesterday, after the Marquis’ departure from the palace, the Emperor had secretly summoned the three divisions. I could see that he may not only want to brought back the Rong Jin law, but also to carry out two things at once, using the aftermath of the rebellion in the Southern Frontier, starting from the southwest, they will be thoroughly examining the Ziliujin black market in this territory.”
The so-called ‘Rong Jin* Law’ dated back to the era of Gu Yun’s grandfather, Emperor Liang Wu. At that time, the sea route first opened, the private usage of Ziliujin was once difficult to contain. In order to strengthen the control, Emperor Wu issued four strict orders. It was what the later generations call the ‘Rong Jin Law’.
However, with the increasing number of civilian machines and armors, the meltdown was slowly no longer applicable, and was abolished during the Yuan and Xiandi years.
Jiang Chong: “The Marquis will probably go back to the northwest at the beginning of spring. It is reasonable to say that even if the sky in the capital were to fall down it will not affect the Marquis, but if the Emperor wants to strictly check the Ziliujin black market I am afraid that the Marquis will stay in the frontier for a long time, it would still be hard to avoid having harmless actions being misconstrued, please be more careful…”
Jiang Chong could not directly point to Gu Yu’s nose and said, “I know that your hand is not clean either. Recently, the black markets will be strictly investigated, you should cut off all ties with them and be quiet for a few days” – his point had come across quite clear.
Gu Yun understood, saying with appreciation, “Thank you for your advice.”
When Jiang Chong’s words have been realized, he stopped dwelling on it further and changed the subject: “When it comes to Ziliujin, you must face a group of wicked and cruel people. It’s one thing to face those wicked bunch in the pugilist world. I’m afraid they all secretly have connections with the imperial court officials. Who to investigate? Who not to investigate? How to investigate? To tell the Marquis the truth, I am also currently at a loss for what to do.”
“There would be no fish in too clear water, and I don’t know if the Emperor of Long An wants bring peace to the country, or to stir it up.”
Gu Yun understood his dilemma, trying to comfort him: “Brother Han Shi can rest a.s.sured , when this news comes out, as long as one was not too nearsighted, everyone would know how to hide themselves, there aren’t any of us who are not as nervous as you.
“If there were any difficulties in the future, you can send me a letter. Even though I no longer possess the Black Tiger Emblem, and the local troops no longer answer to me, but they would still provide a.s.sistance out of however little respect.”
Jiang Chong smiled bitterly again: “Thank you. First, it was the Zhang Ling Law, now it was the Rong Jin Law… I rarely go out of the capital, there are many things I do not know. I just heard people say that in the early years, ‘white mist dyed the street, no trace of people in sight’. Everyone said that the grand scene of travelling long distances on ‘Pegasus’ in the future is long gone.”
Gu Yun fiddled with the old wooden beads on his hand, he did not continue on but changed the subject: “How is Master Feng Han?”
“He is still imprisoned” Jiang Chong said. “Rest a.s.sured, I am already keeping watch – does the Marquis intend to request for him to be pardoned?”
Gu Yun smiled sadly and said: “Me? My request would only urge him to die faster. In fact, there is no need for that either, many of the objects in the palace came from the hands of Ling Shu Inst.i.tute. As the Emperor sees them, he will remember his good point — Master Feng Han is pa.s.sionate about machines and does not understand the world, the Emperor understands even this G.o.dforsaken trait of his, his anger will cool down after a few days’ time.”
This was easy to say, but how to avoid igniting the Emperor’s flame while carefully mentioning how Master Feng Han only raised dogs in place of children, making the Emperor both amused and frustrated where he could no longer be angry, required many planning.
Jiang Chong glanced at Gu Yun and knew that he had probably made private preparations. He was raised in the palace, it was not unusual for him to have people to put to use, just that…
Jiang Chong whispered: “The Marquis returned from the northwest this time, your way of socializing had become wiser*.”
*the words used here was actually a term in Buddhism, although it is similar to the word wise, the “wise” in this term is referring to the kind that came from complete selflessness, doing things while thinking only for others.
Gu Yun said in a meaningful way: “With tigers and wolves outside, I dare not not to give my all. The mountains and rivers are not yet at peace, I dare not underestimate this body. It is useless to fight for such meaningless anger.”
The two exchanged messages in a couple of sentence, Jiang Chong then excused himself. Before taking his leave, he suddenly stood still, saying to Gu Yun: “Allow me to say one disrespectful line. In the past two years, the local annual reports are all about how successful the farming puppets are each harvest. In some place, there exists even a type of steam-powered machine that could weave and fabricate clothing, yet the national treasury is not full. There are even all kinds of laws that resemble iron chains. This lowly official truly have an illusion, it seems that after so many years, Great Liang has once returned to the era under Emperor Wu.”
Gu Yun smiled and said: “To tell brother Han Shi the truth, for the past two years or so, I have also felt an unexplainable anxiety, but it does not make sense. Perhaps it is like this — people always wanted for things to be better everyday. Once there was a delay, even if it is temporarily, even those in high position, one could not help but feel lost and anxious?”
Jiang Chong’s expression changed slightly, he seemed to want to say something, then decided against it.
Gu Yun asked: “What is it?”
Da Li’s head officer whispered: “Us people who work in investigation, sometimes we would have an intuition — there is no reason and no basis, but in the end it is very likely to turn into reality. The more experienced one is, the more accurate their intuition will be. The Marquis ventured out to the battlefield, facing life and death situations, perhaps your instincts have predicted something… please be very careful.”
Gu Yun was startled for a moment, he did not say more, the two people with their hearts filled with heavy concerns both took their leave.
When Gu Yun returned to the manor, it was already dark. When he asked the guards, they replied that Chang Geng had not returned yet. He only left a message saying that Master Liao Ran had returned to Hu Guo Temple, thus he planned to stay there for a few more days.
Gu Yun had no choice but to think: “That is fine then, stay there until all the anger had cooled down then come back.”
Unexpectedly, no one knew if whether Chang Geng’s flame was ‘extraordinary large’ or what, he had stayed there for four to five days in a row, seemingly intending to settle down in Hu Guo temple. Gu Yun did not have many days where he could stay in the capital, and with his departure this time, who knew how many years until they could meet again. He finally could not bear it longer and held his nose and went to Hu Guo Temple.
Liao Ran was still the same, all year round, only when returning to Hu Guo temple to meet with prestigious guests did he wash himself into a hibiscus of clear water. It was not easy for him to have some downtime that afternoon, playing a game of chess with Chang Geng in the Zen room, the two talked only through sign language, quiet and silent, but many words were exchanged.
Chang Geng: “I want to ask the master about one thing — what happened to my yifu’s eyes and hearing?”
Liao Ran quickly signed: “It would not end well to talk behind others’ back.”
“I must know about this.” Chang Geng spoke with a grave expression. “And I would definitely get to the bottom of it, if the master does not talk, I will go find someone else.”
The monk fixed his eyes on him for a moment.
After a long time, Liao Ran very hesitantly used sign language to respond: “The monk was only able to catch a few rumors. When the Marquis was a child, he was taken to the Northern Frontier by the old Marquis and the first Princess. At that time, the war between Great Liang and the Barbarians had already subsided, logically, there should have been no danger.
“But unexpectedly, there was a group of barbarians who stubbornly resisted and forced their way into the garrison. The Marquis was injured by a stray arrow, which happened to be a poisonous arrow of the barbarians.”
This statement coincidentally matched with Gu Yun’s words.
Chang Geng asked: “What kind of poison?”
Liao Ran shook his head: “Your Highness was learning from Miss Chen, you are already aware that the poison of the barbarians rendered helpless even the Chen family. That poison is highly detrimental. The affected individual will be paralyzed and will die in a few days, but for children, the effect was much slower.
‘That year, old master Chen had rushed from Shanxi to the Northern Frontier garrison, not resting for two days and one night, using Chen family’s specialized acupuncture technique to save the life of the little Marquis, but afterwards, his eyesight and hearing were also severely damaged.”
Chang Geng slightly frowned: “Northern Frontier…”
If this matter was done by the Northern Barbarians, what was the explanation for Shen Yi’s phrase ‘they destroyed you like this’?
Was it only the nonsense of having too much to drink?
At this moment, a small abbot suddenly came in and reported: “Your Highness, Uncle Liao Ran, the Marquis of Order had arrived.”