Sha Po Lang

Chapter 53: Alleviate


Gu Yun truly understood it well: when it came to certain things, the more evasive one was, the more taboo it seemed, the more intoxicating it would be. He simply and generously let him see everything to his heart’s content — there was really nothing good to see anyway.


When Chang Geng arrived, his footsteps were steady, everything was in order, the whole world seemed to be in his hands. When leaving, he had turned into a paste in the shape of a human, not knowing which leg to step out from the door first.

In the dark night where warmth turned to coldness, the breath that pa.s.sed in and out of his chest resembled a raging flame.

Chang Geng fled back to his yard in a panic, took a breath and leaned his forehead against the sword training puppet in the courtyard.

After many years have pa.s.sed, this iron puppet was already out of commission and could no longer be used. It’s just that Chang Geng was not willing to throw it away, thus he had let it stay in the yard as a decoration for hanging lanterns.

Its cold iron surface soon cooled down Chang Geng’s burning flesh. He looked up at this big fellow, reminiscing old memories of his youth.

He remembered that he used to let it carry a basket packed with breakfast every day, then one boy and one puppet would eagerly run over to Gu Yun’s quarters, listening to his endless speeches from North to South.

And when they prepared for Gu Yun’s birthday, they had wrapped ridiculous ribbons and silks all over its body, then let it carry a bowl of noodle that didn’t look appetizing at all to wish that person a happy birthday…

Thinking about it, Chang Geng couldn’t help but smile a little, all of his joyful and warm memories were all related to Gu Yun.

Chang Geng hung the lamp in his hand on the arm of the puppet, then affectionately patted the gear exposed on its back. Recalling Gu Yun’s two sentences just now, he heaved a sigh, his eyes darkening.

He had a.s.sumed Gu Yun might be furious, or perhaps he would repeatedly persuade him. He did not expect for Gu Yun to show such att.i.tude.

Gu Yun had clearly presented his opinion in a peaceful manner — I am still your yifu, I still love you the most, no matter what you think inside, to me, everything will be just the same as before. I will forgive any of your offending, all of your words, I will not take it to heart. I can’t accommodate your wishes that goes against the normal order, but I also believe that one day you will return to the right path.

Chang Geng wrote ‘no desire’* on his own body, and Gu Yun gave him an ‘as solid as a stone, completely unmoving’ in response.

*taken from the full phrase: only with no desire can one lift their head high

“All of this mindfulness has been used on me.” Chang Geng said with a bitter smile, “You should have saved a bit of personal wish in front of that person in the palace.”

Chang Geng knew why Gu Yun suddenly did not continue his words, it was not at all because he was being a bother hence Gu Yun wanted him gone early — but because he had more or less guessed what his next words would be, euphemistically suggesting to him not to mention it.

At present, avoiding the edge was the lesser plan, the best step to take next was to rebel — using military power to control and replace the political power, and from then on, the military and political affairs would be able to unite as one.

If there was one branch of force that could send troops overseas at any time, the laws regarding the sea route and the Silk Road would then be free to be modified at their best interest. At that time, Great Liang would be able to advance and retreat at will, and the prestige would run far and wide, they could then be tolerated enough to let go of the Ziliujin ban.

But it was a pity that under Gu Yun’s improper skin, under the resolution to kill, hid the ever righteous and n.o.ble bones that could withstand any wind and storm — he would never be able to commit such acts of overthrowing the throne and stealing away the country.

Chang Geng slowly walked into his room. At this time, the familiar sound of bird wings came up in the air. Chang Geng reached out and caught the weathered wooden bird. He opened it to find a letter from Chen Qing Xu.

It was rare for her handwriting to be this disorderly and untidy, Chang Geng managed to make out what was written with much difficulty: “I had discovered the source of the poison in the body of the Marshal. If I could find the secret recipe, an antidote can be created.”

Chang Geng’s footsteps came to a halt.

However, his ecstasy had not even had the chance to rise when he saw Chen Qing Xu’s following sentence: “But his eyes and ears have been damaged for many years, he even attacks poison with poison, the effect had been acc.u.mulating for a long time. The poison can be cured, but depression is difficult to treat, Your Highness, please ready yourself.”

Another line following afterward, the handwriting was even messier: “I suspect this is the secret unknown to outsiders of the barbarian G.o.ddess. Since the last G.o.ddess had entered the palace as an act of peace, it has been difficult to find more clues from outside the country. If convenient, you can try to look for one or two in the forbidden palace.”

Chang Geng read from the beginning to the end, then rolled the letter up and thoroughly burned it, his heart sinking.

The Marquis of Order had been on the battlefield for many generations, their contributions incredibly grand, the Marquis’s manor is also a special gift from the monarch. When one looked up from the small courtyard where Chang Geng lived, one could make out the magnificent golden curling roof of the palace under the moonlight. Chang Geng intentionally yet unintentionally glanced towards the direction of the palace. There seemed to be a surge of wind and thunder in his eyes.

Only flashing by for a brief moment, it instantly retracted back inside him, undetectable.

Early the next morning, Gu Yun truly did follow Chang Geng’s advice, sending his written apology to the palace.

He first stated his own progress of reflecting on his action and sincerely acknowledged his mistake with the Emperor, then claimed that his old injury had recurred, afraid that it will be difficult to handle the responsibility, requested the Emperor to take back his Marshal Seal.

Sickness was a commonly seen excuse, but surprisingly, this request of the Marquis did not appear at all like an excuse — for he used his own Kai calligraphy style that had made quite a name for itself among the common folk to list all details for the transfer of military affairs — and finally, stating an absurd request of moving the location for his house arrest punishment to the suburbs of the capital.

The elegant words couldn’t conceal the meaning between his words: “I have already reflected on my actions, let me go out to play.”

This request carried the style of the Marquis of Order, dyed with a hint of arrogance and honesty, one could tell at a glance it was undoubtedly not the work of a counselor writing in his stead.

The Emperor of Long An held on to this request for one day, he did not open it to discussion, but did not approve of it either. On the next day, he sent the gift of many precious herbs to show his grace, lifting the house arrest order — this could be regarded as acquiescence to Gu Yun’s resignation. To express respect, He did not find someone to take over, only letting the Marshal Seal hang in the air. He then used warm words to appease, claiming that after the Marquis returned to the court after his recovery, the Marshal Seal will be returned to him.

On the afternoon of the same the day, Li Feng had somehow brought out a book he had read in his youth, a calligraphy note fell out from inside. Compared with the written request on his desk, the writing was slightly more juvenile, at certain places of letter transition, the lack of strength in the wrist seemed to be showing, but the potential soon to come in the future could already be seen.

Li Feng took the note to look at carefully, then suddenly asked Zhu Little Feet in a slightly amazed tone of voice: “Do you know who wrote this?”

Zhu Little Feet feigned confusion: “That is… this old servant don’t understand whether this writing is good or bad, but since it is preserved by His Majesty, it must be from the hand of a famous artist?”

“Your mouth is so sweet — but it truly can be regarded as the work of a famous person. This was written by Uncle Shiliu.” Li Feng gently put the note on the table, flattening it with a paperweight. He seemed to reminisce about the past, his eyes gazing far away:

“When I was young, I did not practice writing diligently and was scolded by Royal Father. When Uncle knew about this, he had stayed up all night, the next day, he brought to me a stack of sample calligraphy notes…”

At that time, Gu Yun’s eyes were already not good, they became even worse at night, unable to see a thing. He could only wear Liuli gla.s.s. After a night of hard work, his eyes had turned red, showing a pair of rabbit eyes the next day, even trying to display the look of complete seriousness in front of them.

Li Feng continued on, recalling the old days, his tone dyed with nostalgia, muttering to himself: “Say, Uncle was so introverted in his childhood, did not like to be close to people at all. It truly is a far cry from the present — ah yes, where is he now?”

Zhu Little Feet replied: “I heard that he had gone to the hot springs in the north to recuperate.”

Li Feng couldn’t help but laugh: “He really went out to play? Forget it… Jiangnan Spring Tea has just been sent here, go ask someone to give him some. When he returns, tell him to write me a sign for my palace at the north.”

Zhu Little Feet promptly responded, no need to mention it any further — he felt that this was already enough.

In the afternoon of the same day, the northwestern guardian station sent an 800-miles expedited letter, stating that there were unusual changes at the border, the Black Iron Camp refused to listen to the Drumming Order, and detained Governor Meng, so on and so forth.

Emperor Long An was recalling the old days. He picked up the matter then gently placed it down. He only sent people to scold He Rong Hui for ignoring the laws, cutting a bit of salary as punishment just for the sake of it, instructing the Black Iron Camp to continue strictly guard the border.

It’s not easy for Chang Geng to find the right time to go to the hot springs in the northern suburbs to fill Gu Yun in on what followed, only to see that Gu was wrapped in a bathrobe, two feet soaked in the hot spring, a cup in hand, and two beautiful waitresses on the side ma.s.saging his shoulders, as blissful as living in heaven.

Gu Yun used the excuse of leaving to recuperate, and staying true to his words, he was wholeheartedly ‘recuperating’.

This half-deaf wasn’t able to hear anyone coming in, tilting his head to whisper something to the young miss next to him. There was no telling what he had said, the waitress did not speak up, only laughed, her face blushing bright red.

Chang Geng: “…”

Gu Yun saw that the waitress’ blushing face was very adorable, almost wanting to raise his hand to touch. The hand just lifted up halfway through. He then saw the two girls quickly paying courtesy to someone, and then automatically retreated.

Gu Yun wasn’t able to see who had arrived when he turned back, searching around for his Liuli gla.s.s and placing it on the bridge of the nose.

As he saw Chang Geng, this old but not proper character did not feel embarra.s.sed at all, even happily calling him over, climbing up lazily: “I haven’t been able to rest for a long time, all my bones went crisp from lying.”

Chang Geng: “…Perhaps it wasn’t crisp only from lying?”

As the words left his mouth, he instantly felt regret.

“Huh?” Gu Yun did not seem to hear it, asking with a perplexed face, “What?”

Somehow, Chang Geng remembered that this person always could not hear what he did not want to hear when he and Shen Yi were disguised as hermits living in the town of Yanhui.

He was already originally an expert in playing dumb*. Once pretending not to hear, he was even more powerful, like a tiger with wings.

* ‘pretending garlic’ (装蒜) is an idiom used for playing dumb/making a pretense

The Marquis of Order — Great Liang’s number one garlic asked him cheerfully: “Right, did you bring my medicine? In the evening, I will take you to Xue Mei Zhai at the back. There are a few new songstresses that had just arrived. It is said that they will all be competing for the number one spot at Qi Yuan tower at the end of the year, let us go check them out in advance.”

Chang Geng thought that as Gu Yun had said to take his medicine with him, there must be a matter of urgency. As it turned out, it was because deaf ears were no good for enjoying flower wine*, he instantly let out an unamused smile: “The medicine contains three parts poison, when there is nothing of urgency, yifu should drink less.”

*drinking wine with the company of a prost.i.tute.

Gu Yun gave him a completely irrelevant answer: “Mm, good, it’s good that you brought it, the water here is very nice, come have a soak to unwind.”

Chang Geng: “…”

He no longer wanted to reason with him. “The Emperor already received the Northwest Line’s report. Everything is secure, you can rest a.s.sured.”

Gu Yun nodded slowly: “Mm — you already came here, you’re not going to soak for a while with me?”

“…No,” Chang Geng said, expression ice cold. “Yifu, enjoy it yourself.”

Gu Yun clucked his tongue in disappointment, then without shying away from Chang Geng at all, feeling that there was nothing to shy away from, he calmly undressed and went directly into the water.

Chang Geng was caught off guard and quickly averted his sight. There was no place to placed his eyes upon, he grabbed a cup of wine, taking a sip as if to conceal something. Only after his lips touched it did he remember — this was Gu Yun’s cup!

He stood up awkwardly and almost knocked down the small table. He said dryly: “I only came to inform yifu, it’s good that you know, I… I have some things to take care of, I will take my leave first.”

“Xiao Chang Geng.” Gu Yun called him, putting aside the Liuli gla.s.s that had already been fogged by the hot steam, his line of sight was slightly out of focus, yet he still appeared like a dragon king commanding water, leaning on the edge, he carelessly said, “We are both men, I have what you have, what you don’t have I don’t have either, there’s nothing new.”

Chang Geng held his breath and finally lifted his gaze. Gu Yun’s figure was a little indistinct, but the scars were shockingly striking. One of them crossed his chest under his neck, making his upper body almost seemed like he had been split in two then sewed back together again.

Gu Yun truly understood it well: when it came to certain things, the more evasive one was, the more taboo it seemed, the more intoxicating it would be. He simply and generously let him see everything to his heart’s content — there was really nothing good to see anyway.

“Everyone bears deep feelings for their parents, not only you, but also me,” Gu Yun said.

“My father is a living animal. He only ever knew how to gather a group of iron puppets to chase me down. The first person who holds my hand, teaching me to write was the former Emperor. The first person who coaxed me to take medicine and give me candied fruit afterward was also the former Emperor.

“When I was young, I also felt he was the only one who had ever loved me. Sometimes when this kind of feeling became too deep, it may gave birth to some illusion. But after this period pa.s.sed by, it will be alright, the more you let it weigh in your heart, the more overwhelmed you will feel, the more it will entangle you.”

Chang Geng opened his mouth, but Gu Yun used the cover of being deaf to ignore anything he might say and continued on: “Yifu knows that you are a good boy, but too easy to burden yourself. Let go of it all, stay with me here for two days. Living like an old monk all day, what good will it do? There are so much beautiful scenery, countless of interesting things to be experienced, don’t be so stubborn.”

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