Sha Po Lang

Chapter 57: National Disaster


Two hours later, the surprise attack on the Black Iron Camp in the Western Regions shocked the government, frightening the people. ____

“Your Majesty, you can now rest a.s.sured,” Master Ja reached out and supported the white-haired man. It turned out that the man who had visited Great Liang many times before, claiming to be a messenger, was actually the Pope himself.

Master Ja: “Although there are countless deviations along the way, in the end, the final result had not wasted the time and energy you have put here.”

The Pope watched the ferocious sea monsters on the blue ocean surface. His face was quiet without happiness and sorrow. It seemed that not only was he not joyous, he even bore with him a kind of indescribable sadness and melancholy.

“It is still too early now to speak of the result.” The Pope said, “Fate is a very mysterious thing. The fate of a person is not predictable, let alone an entire country? This is something only G.o.d could know.”

Master Ja: “For example, when that moronic Jia Lai wasn’t able to hold back and disclosed that matter to Gu Yun in advance?”

Jia Lai Ying Huo had resented the last member of the Gu family too immensely. In addition to this hatred, there was nothing left in his entire existence. He had long left behind the dignity of a Wolf King and became a mad dog. He could no longer see the grander picture. In his view, as long as he could bring down Gu Yun, he did not care whether he destroyed someone else’s planning.

However, they must cooperate with this mad dog. The hatred entangling for generations between the Eighteen Tribes and the Central Plains was too deep, the forces currently in hiding left behind in the capital by the deceased G.o.ddess were also incredibly important.

“I truly admire that Gu Yun,” sighed Master Ja. “If I were him, who knows what I might have done already, but he quietly handled all these things. Otherwise, the truth that we turned over today will absolutely be even more insane than what it is now. The garrisons in different locations may have already been… what do they call it? ‘Qing jun bian’*?

*eliminated the traitors next to the ruler

The Pope: “This effect is not ideal, but there is no other chance. An opportunity is as fleeting as time, we have no choice.”

“Jacques, all of us are trapped beasts, we are all looking for a way to survive. If we do not devour the others, then we will be devoured. Countless pair of eyes are staring at this large and appetizing herbivore, we must take one step ahead first, otherwise, we will not necessarily have the power to go out for battle after three or five years in the future.”

Master Ja looked at the sea, everywhere was water, the sea and the sky shared the same shade. He partially could not comprehend: “Your Majesty, if this is only a herbivore, why should we pour in so much effort to plug away its fangs?”

“Carnivore or herbivore, the differences do not lie in its fangs nor its shape,” the Pope murmured. “You must a.s.sess whether it is greedy, whether it has the heart that is eager to bite and swallow… were you able to detect that scent?”

Master Ja was dumbfounded. Ziliujin with high purity when burnt created almost no scent, probably only Gu Yun and dogs would be able to detect it. He tried to ask: “Your Majesty refers to… the scent of sea water? ”

“It is the stench, my son,” the Pope whispered. “If the devil truly existed in this world, then it would definitely be this little mineral with blue and violet flame. From the day it pierced through the ground, it had ignited this d.a.m.n era. It turned the Children of G.o.d into the hearts of iron monsters.”

Wasn’t the machine that burns Ziliujin not man-made?

Master Ja shrugged, he did not rebut, but he also somewhat disagreed.

The Pope no longer explained, he only bowed his head and began to kiss the ring on his hand with the symbol of a scepter and repeated a simple prayer.

“Forgive me,” he whispered. “Please forgive me.”

At this time, a cl.u.s.ter of signaling fires in deep blue color suddenly appeared at the two leading ships, soaring into the high sky.

The shade of Master Ja’s eyes seemed to have blended with the color of the flame. He tried to contain himself, but for a while, it was still difficult to suppress his excitement: “Your Majesty, it begins!”

The seventh year of Long An, the eighth day of April.

It was the third day since the Marquis of Order Gu Yun moved from the hot springs to the prison cell of the capital.

The dungeon was very cold and sinister. Fortunately, as the capital entered spring, the chill had gradually dispersed. It was already warm, the pile of gra.s.s and straw in the cell was even softer than his marching bed in the military camp. It was not uncomfortable to live in for a few days, Gu Yun thought of it as going on a vacation.

All around him were silent. There wasn’t even an inmate to chat with. The jailer was a puppet that could not speak. This was the innermost cell in the imperial prison, if one wasn’t of the royal bloodline, they were not allowed to enter. Even Tan Hong Fei, the commander of the Northern Camp was not qualified to stay.

The last person who qualified to be here was Wei w.a.n.g, the biological brother of the Emperor. Gu Yun enjoyed the single room treatment, there was no other choice but to stay alone.

But even if someone chatted with him, he would not be able to hear it either. The medicine he rushed to drink before leaving has already worn out. The color of the two beauty marks on the earlobe and the corner of his eyes had faded to the point of almost being invisible. He did not bring the liuli gla.s.s either. When opening his eyes, he could barely count his fingers. The footsteps of the puppet coming in and out were also hazy.

To kill time, he caught a mouse to raise, leaving a few bites every meal to feed it. With nothing to do, he would play around with it.

That incident was deliberately dug up by someone, Gu Yun could tell. When he secretly investigated five years ago, he had wiped out a few deadly evidences, but did not touch Wu He. First, he was only an old dog clinging to life. Second… he feared that in the end, he was not without selfishness. He was not willing to let this unforgettable truth disappear forever.

Gu Yun admitted that this was his error. If he could possess half the amount of calmness he had today, he would understand whether he should have collected these things and waited for the right time, pushing them out and rebelled already, or he should have destroyed all that had gone by, buried them in the past and never let them see the light again.

Thousands of mistakes, he should not have hesitated where he should be decisive.

Much like Emperor Yuan He, if the old man did not hesitate, there would never exist a Gu Yun, perhaps the world could have had another kind of peace.

Gu Yun did not know what would happen in the future, nor did he know whether Chang Geng who had just entered the world could truly be able to stabilize the hearts of the military forces on all sides. However, he was currently in prison, it was useless to worry, he must first relax and regain his strength.

Later, the mouse found that this man’s itchy hands were too annoying. He was troublesome, but it was also unable to escape, thus it directly played dead and no longer paid attention to him.

The little Marquis that was hated by dogs and cats had to idly lean against the wall. He felt that the att.i.tude of this mouse was similar to that of Chang Geng when he was young.

Gu Yun started to think of Chang Geng, then he could not help but sigh, complaining to the mouse: “I’d rather that he would dislike me for bothering him every day like in his childhood.”

The mouse gave him a very round b.u.t.t in response.

Gu Yun took a deep breath and forcefully kicked out this last bit of thought. Not picking and choosing, he pulled the moldy rug on the haystack, laid it on his body and closed his eyes to rest.

Only with good spirits could one face a difficult future.

No one could bother this half-deaf in the prison. Gu Yun soon fell asleep, he saw a dream in the cold musty smell.

Gu Yun dreamed he was lying on his back under a giant butcher knife, the heavy blade pressed on his chest, bit by bit cutting through the skin and flesh into his bones, breaking him alive in two halves, disconnecting his body with all his limbs. Only the wound across his chest ached incredibly. In his ears, there lingered the noises of crying, gunfire and howling, combined with the intermittent sound of Hu Jia*, off-toned and vague, like a spider web…

*a type of musical instrument like a flute

He was split by the knife, but there was no blood on the wound. Instead, a signal arrow fell out and surged to the sky with an ear piercing noise, exploding and shaking the nation.

Gu Yun woke up with a m.u.f.fled groan. The old wound on his chest ached inexplicably. The piercing sound of the signal arrow in his dream continued to echo in his ears, forming into a strange type of tinnitus.

There seemed to be a bizarre link between him and his Black Iron Camp. That night, the first ominous signal arrow exploded in the night sky at the garrison in the Western Regions.

The Emergency Battle Report arrived in the capital only one day later. The Black Eagle soldier who came to deliver the message had only one leg left. With one last dying breath, he arrived at the Northern Camp currently in a state of panic and died before he could say a word.

Two hours later, the surprise attack on the Black Iron Camp in the Western Regions shocked the government, frightening the people.

When news of the incident in the capital spread, He Rong Hui led people to besiege the Northwest Governor manor. As soon as he left, Ku Cha Kingdom sent 160 Sand Tigers as the lead, forcibly piercing through the Black Cavalry Patrol camp located at the entrance of the Western Regions.

The chariot Sand Tiger was the biggest enemy of the Light Cavalry. For a moment, smoke and dust covered the air, flames rose like a curtain, battle horses cried out and died, iron cavalry fell down one after another.

But the Black Iron Camp was still the Black Iron Camp in the end. After a moment of confusion, they immediately reacted. Black Armors did not hesitate to press on. He Rong Hui immediately returned with Black Eagles after receiving the news, decisively cutting off the supply line of Sand Tigers from the air directly. Giant combat vehicles consumed fuel excessively. Once their supply was interrupted, they would instantly become a pile of sc.r.a.p copper and iron.

But the Sand Tigers that came knocking on their door was no bluff. Behind it, just like how everyone had feared, were tens of thousands of troops bearing flags.

The foreigners at the stations of countless countries, even the Tianzhu people who had taken this opportunity for their advantage… the number surpa.s.sed what they had imagined. Even though they were only a mob of lousy bunch, they were still a ‘mob’. With Sand Tigers on the side, the Black Iron Camp could only use Heavy Armors to resist, and soon the two sides began to fall into a battle of Ziliujin.

He Rong Hui urgently opened up the Ziliujin storage of the Western Regions Camp and was shocked at the realization that there were not much left. When Emperor Long An thoroughly investigated the smuggling of Ziliujin, Gu Yun had no choice but to suspend the hidden supply line in his hands. The amount given to them by the court was only enough to maintain everyday patrol, it could not sustain in a sudden outbreak of such large-scale battles.

He Rong Hui sent people to deploy, but the path to deploy Ziliujin was blocked again. The news of the imprisonment of the Marquis of Order had spread. No one could tell the specific situation. At this time, people were panicked, there were all kinds of rumors. At this life and death situation, who would dare to deploy Ziliujin to the Black Iron Camp without the Drumming Order?

What if they wanted to press in the capital for a rebellion?

He Rong Hui sent a Black Eagle to the capital on the one hand, and on the other hand, approached the city defense forces of Northern Frontier for help. However, the messenger hadn’t left yet, but the Northern Barbarian suddenly rose up. News of the Wolf King Jia Lai Ying Huo personally leading this expedition smashed down on them.

Five years of stability, the iron wall had turned upside down.

Jia Lai Ying Huo with tens of thousands of elite soldiers and thousands of Heavy Armors, he even had a type of invincible ‘Hawk’ which sizes were bigger and even more lethal than the Black Iron Camp’s Eagle, bit into the Northern Frontier’s defense which stretched for thousands of miles.

The northwest suffered a defeat that could no longer be saved. Without the Marshal’s order, even if the last soldier died, the Black Iron Camp did not dare to retreat one step back. He Rong Hui struggled to hold them off for three days and two nights, the troops have been beaten to the bottom, the G.o.d-like army created by the acc.u.mulation of three generations was about to lose more than half.

At that moment, Chang Geng’s messenger finally arrived.

With Gu Yun’s private seal, the Royal Highness who had never made himself known or display his talents from far away at the capital had imitated Gu Yun’s handwriting seamlessly.

He handed two letters in total to the messenger — if the border was still stable, he would give him the first letter, telling He Rong Hui to not be concerned about the court, whether if it was from the black market or other means, immediately secretly fill up the Ziliujin storage in the Western Regions, maintain the armors and be ready for a battle at any time.

In case the frontier’s situation had changed, the second letter would be given to He Rong Hui, telling him he must not sacrifice himself to defense, he must not be eager to fight and quickly shrink their forces to the east of Jiayu Gate and wait for reinforcement.

The enemy hiding in the dark had already started to move, it was undoubtedly too late now for them to act. There was no Black Eagle in Chang Geng’s hands. There were too few people he could get in contact with by the wooden birds in Lin Yuan Pavilion. No matter whether the sky fell or if the earth shattered, the messenger could hardly arrive on time. Therefore, he had envisioned the worst case scenario and tried his best to mend the cage after the animals had been lost.

If the Western Regions had changed, it would be difficult for the Northern Frontier to take care of themselves. Therefore, General Cai Feng, commander-in-chief of the Central Plains garrison, would receive another letter from Chang Geng at the same time the Black Iron Camp retreated, asking him to increase his troops to the north and to send his portion of Ziliujin and heavy troops to Jiayu Gate as soon as possible to relieve this burning urgency.

However, Chang Geng’s heart was clear. If something really happened, this deployment was not enough.

The hundreds and thousands of mountains in the southwest was completely out of his control. Although Shen Yi was on that side, he was a commander in name only and had no foundation. It was impossible to arbitrarily dispatch troops without the Drumming Order.

The Eastern Sea Navy was even more concerning. General Zhao You Fang was Li Feng’s man, it was impossible to mobilize that side with only a private seal from Gu Yun.

Coincidentally, Chang Geng had a hunch, that even if he could manage to put out the fire other places, hidden in the vast ocean of the Eastern Sea must be another fatal blow.

The news brought back by the Black Eagle truly did confirm the very worst scenario he had imagined. Chang Geng took a deep breath and released the last wooden bird. He turned back and spoke to Huo Tong whose blood was already bubbling in his mouth: “Ready the horse, I want to go to the palace.”

At the gate of the palace, Chang Geng was stopped by Liao Ran, the monk was weather-beaten, but his expression remained tranquil and unwavering, as if regardless of how urgent something could be, they would all be dispersed by the marks of incense on his head, blown away into ash by the words ‘Amitabha’.

Liao Ran: “Amitabha, Your Royal Highness…”

Chang Geng interrupted him indifferently: “Master needn’t say more. I’m going to the palace to await orders, not to force the Emperor to abdicate.”

Liao Ran’s expression changed slightly, gesturing: “The monk believes that Your Royal Highness has this proper measure.”

“I don’t have any sense of propriety,” The Fourth Prince who was well-versed in conversations had torn away from his gentle demeanor and said bluntly, “Using Qinling Mountains to divide into north and south, the southeast and southwest are out of control. Even if I can kill Li Feng on the spot, it could not clean up the current messy state of affairs, not to mention that no one can succeed the throne at the moment. The emperor’s eldest son is nine years old, the empress is simply a useless, diseased-ridden woman with only her appearance, Zi Xi is unjustified for the position, and I…”

He sneered: “I am the son of the demonic woman of the Man tribes.”

Liao Ran watched him with concern.

“Master, rest a.s.sured, I am a poison myself. If I had acted at will, I would have already begun to do harm to the country and the people. But I haven’t done anything yet, have I?” Chang Geng’s expression faded once again. “Now is not the time to speak of this matter, the foreign enemies had invaded. Perhaps they had planned this for a long time. This matter is not over yet, but they reacted too quickly. I suspect that inside the palace… even beside Li Feng, there are spies of the enemy. Does Lin Yuan Pavilion have anyone that could be of use in the palace?”

Liao Ran looked at him with all seriousness, he signed: “Your Highness means…”

Chang Geng: “This incident involved the old case of twenty years ago, the Northern Barbarian would definitely be related to this matter. Investigate all the people those two barbarian women came in contact with in the palace at that time — anyone. The northern sorcerer excelled at using poison, they had many vile tricks up their sleeves, do not overlook any bit of clues, not even the smallest ones.”

When he spoke of ‘the two barbarian women’, his voice was unchanging, as if he was referring to someone who had no relation with him.

“I should have felt strange,” Chang Geng whispered. “That year, Li Feng easily released Jia Lai Ying Huo like releasing the tiger back to its mountains. As expected, what happened behind everything was not at all simple, but unfortunately…”

It was a pity that he was too young at that time, his heart was only the size of a fist, it could only contain the little troubles of a young man who had left his hometown.

“If I had been born ten years earlier…,” Chang Geng suddenly said.

Liao Ran’s eyelids jumped.

Chang Geng forced out each word: “The world would absolutely not have turned out this way.”

He would never let go of Gu Yun either.

“Zi Xi had said before, our court’s sea Dragons are ten years behind compared to other military factions. I am worried that the Eastern Sea will not be peaceful. General Zhao had the talent to defend, but he would not necessarily be able to handle a war.” Chang Geng said, “I have written a letter to Teacher, Lin Yuan had a strong foundation in Jiangnan, I will trouble the Master to go provide them with support, my apologies for I cannot accompany you.”

Liao Ran rarely frowned, but there was no telling why. Chang Geng’s ‘Zi Xi’ had frightened the soul out of him.

However, in this urgent situation, it was not the time to ponder about a p.r.o.noun. The monk dressed in an attire made of coa.r.s.e cloth, his figure instantly disappeared into the morning light, departing right away.

Chang Geng just set foot into the palace, bad news had already fallen onto their head. The intense news of the frontline military situation arriving one after another made Emperor Long An and all the court’s magistrate at a loss for how to react  —

The Black Iron camp had retreated to Jiayu Gate.

Northern Frontier lost seven cities in a single night…not even able to wait for Cai Feng’s reinforcements to arrive.

The Southern Frontier rebel mobs seemed to have already discussed it beforehand, allying with the Southern sea bandits and mysteriously exploded the southwest supply storage ……

“Report —”

Everyone present at the main hall turned pale, looking over at the entrance. Li Feng didn’t even had time to let Chang Geng greet him.

“Your Majesty, eight hundred miles expedited report, there are 100,000 Western Marines using the path of the Dong Ying Island to invade —”

Li Feng eyes seemingly wanted to crack: “What about Zhao You Fang?”

The messenger bowed to the ground and choked out in tears: “…General Zhao has already sacrificed for the country.”

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