Sha Po Lang

Chapter 68: Poisoned

T/N: I apologize for the delay in updating, this is quite a long chapter and was a bit more challenging.


Talk not of the glories of awards and n.o.bility, My heart is as bright as crystal ice in the jar of jade ____

Gu Yun sat properly on his horse’s back and asked: “Is he still there?”

Shen Yi raised the Qian Li Yan in response and looked back: “Yes.”

Gu Yun left the capital in a beautiful day, it was a rare occasion with sunlight spreading for ten miles. Emperor Long An led a hundred civil and military officers to see them off, sending them to the city gate, watching until the figures of men and horses vanished from sight before dispersing. Yan w.a.n.g was the only one who had not left.

He climbed up the only remaining watchtower on the collapsed gate and watched the figure of the Black Iron General without moving, seeming as if he would stand until the end of the earth and heaven.

Gu Yun did not look back, but said to Shen Yi, “How far have we gone already? Even the Qian Li Yan should not be able to see clearly anymore. You should stop talking nonsense.”

Shen Yi angrily said, “If you think my eyesight is bad, then look for yourself. Keeping on ordering me time and time again, other people would a.s.sume there is something shady between me and His Highness.”

Gu Yun had prepared a handful of excuses: “You try to turn around when being wrapped in iron, so much nonsense.”

Shen Yi sneered, not bothering to reveal him.

“Would I be already at that extent?” Gu Yun paused, then answered his own question: “Don’t use your meager old maid’s heart to measure this vast general’s heart of mine that could contain thousands of ships.”

There was a saying: it takes a hundred days for bones to knit and tendons to heal. Gu Yun was dug out of the heap of dead bodies. Counting both when he was dead and alive, it had not been more than half a month. Let alone an individual, even if the steel armor suffered severe damage, it would not be easy to be fixed this quickly. When Gu Yun requested to go to the northwest, Yan w.a.n.g had turned furious and almost quarreled with him in front of the ministers.

Even Li Feng the half wit emperor, who ‘did not feed the cattle, but only let them work’, felt somewhat concerned.

But at this time, there must be someone to reorganize the Black Iron Camp.

The Westerners were not able to encircle the capital. In a half-dead state, they occupied the south of Changjiang. They must have had no spare energy left to take care of their poor allies. The northwest side now had the allied troops of the Western Regions and Eighteen Tribes of Northern Man. They could not be regarded as monolithic. If they could reverse the war situation in the northwest and solve the most pressing problem of Ziliujin at the present, then fighting the Westerners back to their home was only matter of time.

Gu Yun had to go in person. A thousand troops were easy to get, one general was hard to obtain.

At last, Chen Qing Xu came out to solve this dilemma. She came up with a fascinating idea – to use a special steel plate produced at top speed by the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute. It could be tightly fastened on the body to secure Gu Yun’s bones that had not healed. In this way, it was as if she had made a set of artificial steel bones and frame for him.

Although putting it on did not feel quite good, it guaranteed that he still appeared as if he could still move about naturally.

Shen Yi sighed, “I’m telling you, Marshal, hurry and sink back your vast heart. What are you going to do?”

Gu Yun concentrated on floating the boat in his heart, acting deaf and blind.

Shen Yi saw that the man was using this trick again. He immediately took a deep breath and raised his voice. He shouted: “I’m telling you Marshal, Yan… Hey!”

Gu Yun flipped his hand and gave him a lash. Shen Yi dangerously placed the Wind Slasher in front of his chest. His eyes widened, continuously patting his chest. “How dangerous, almost ruining my face – hey, Marshal, you have already grown angry from embarra.s.sment after only a few serious words? Even though Master Liao Chi is a spy of Dong Ying, but his sandalwood fart is not totally unreasonable. I think your fate is truly st.u.r.dy*, the Red Phoenix star* could not fly even with wings. But now that it finally was able to take off for once, yet all you b.u.mped into are rotten peach blossoms.”

*referring to someone who were born on unlucky day, whose fate counter their loved ones *

the luckiest star in legends, in charge of the joyous occasion related to wedding.

Gu Yun: “…”

Shen Yi pursed his lips, feeling that Gu Yun’s neck might truly be difficult to twist, otherwise he would have rushed over to beat him already.

Gu Yun took back his whip, remaining silent for a moment then shook his head. “The country is almost on the verge of perishing. What else can we do? Being alive for another day is good enough, perhaps this body would one day be wrapped in horse leather. What would be the point in thinking so much?”

Shen Yi frowned at his words. He understood Gu Yun very well. If Gu Yun truly had no feelings at all, he would have said it straight away. There would never be any ambiguity. At present, listening to him, perhaps not uncertainty, it was better to say that his heart had already leaned towards one side. It was only because of a few concerns that he temporarily had not expressed it outward yet.

Shen Yi: “Hold on, Zi Xi, you wouldn’t…”

Gu Yun: “We are not speaking of this matter anymore.”

Shen Yi: “That is your son!”

Gu Yun: “Would I still need to hear this nonsense from you!”

Shen Yi’s expression was frightened, Gu Yun impatiently looked away.

Not seeing this old maid, he had missed him greatly, but as soon as he was here, he felt that the man was too bothersome. Gu Yun simply ushered his horse and rushed away from Shen Yi’s side. He took out a white jade flute in his arms and started to play a choked up tune.

No musical instrument could produce a decent sound in the hands of Gu Yun. He was now fixed in between steel plates, there was not enough breath. His voice was a little shaky. The fingers on the flute’s holes were left running like a wild horse, the tune was all over the place, it should have sounded amusing.

But at this time, the sound of the flute was swept in the wind, wrapped in the sigh of the one departing from west of Yang Pa.s.s*, unexpectedly twisting into an unspeakable feeling of desolation. No one was able to laugh.

*referring to the poem ent.i.tled “Seeing of Yuan’er on a Mission to Anxi” by w.a.n.g Wei(701-761), translated by Bill Porter. The full line is “West of Yang Pa.s.s there’s no one you know”, and it is a farewell poem, hence the unspeakable desolation.

Gu Yun’s waist and back are fixed straight by Miss Chen’s steel plate – like a beam that will never collapse – with two damaged Wind Slashers on his back… none of them were his own.

Chen Qing Xu who was accompanying the army listened to the flute echo far and near from behind. She whispered her sentiment, “Talk not of the glories of awards and n.o.bility*…”

“Talk not of the glories of awards and n.o.bility,” Gu Yun flew past her, his next words completely going off tangent. “My heart is as bright as crystal ice in the jar of jade*, ha ha ha.”

Chen Qingxu: “…”

Being interrupted, she could not remember the second verse for a moment!

*from the poem 己亥歲二首 by Cao Song, The next verse was “A general’s victory is built upon ten thousand rotting bones.” * from the poem 芙蓉樓送辛漸 by w.a.n.g Chang Ling. This line has all along been considered a masterful line to express a pure and n.o.ble heart

Gu Yun marched like the wind. With the medical expert, Miss Chen, accompanying them, there was no concern about the steel plate coming off. Having just left the territory of Zhili, they had already been attacked by two waves of insurgent groups. Neither one were large scale, scattering instantly, running away as soon as there was contact like several wild probing dogs.

“Just after leaving the capital city, we were already being tailed.” Shen Yi said to Gu Yun, “I had dealt with them before, they are cunning and are familiar with the territory. They would flee the moment they realize they could not win, then would soon cling to their opponent again. It was very annoying. I heard about the news of the seige in the capital when I came here. In such a rush, I was furious about their clinginess.”

Gu Yun replied with an ‘ah’ and handed Shen Yi his Qian Li Yan. “I’m afraid their amateur strategist had studied for a few days.”

Shen Yi: “What?”

Gu Yun: “I’ve heard that when pretending to retreat, it’s necessary to be in disorder, severing your own flags to trick the opponent into chasing after. Unfortunately, those soldiers failed to grasp the spirit. The flagpole was cut by themselves. I saw it just now.”

Shen Yi: “…”

Gu Yun frowned and said: “What are those people rebelling for, do you know? Cannot afford to live any longer?”

“Not at all,” said Shen Yi with a sneer, “You think too well of these vagrants. Even if there is no job, most of the good people will open small businesses or learn a craft, it is not at the extent where they would not be able to survive. These vagrants from the Central Plains to Sichuan are just idle hoodlums, who are then grouped together by someone with intentions. Besides hara.s.sing General Cai, they are usually engaged in the business of robbery. They would run as soon as the army chases them, and will come back after things calmed down a little.

“I’ve heard that besides robbery they also had one rule. If an adult man of the family follows them in rebellion, the family will no longer be attacked by thieves. Their wives, daughters, and sisters can also be protected. There is no need to worry about being robbed from time to time.”

“…” Gu Yun said: “Slow down, this sounds familiar. Isn’t it the same as the slavery system of Great Liang? Military households do not have to pay taxes.”

Shen Yi could not bear it: “Marshal, which side are you on?”

“Alright alright, don’t be angry,” Gu Yun said. “In this way, aren’t there more and more bandits? Not only is it tax-free, but there’s a team of people following them, it is also possible to avoid conflict. Who is the leader?”

“They say that he is an old bandit who appears very terrifying. He has been working in this business for many years. His body was covered in scars, even his face was burnt in the past, he calls himself ‘Huo Long’.” Shen Yi sighed and said: “What do you think we should do? Should we quickly travel for two days to get around the mob and go directly to General Cai’s northwest reinforcement station?”

Gu Yun strolled for a moment with his hands behind his back. “There are both internal and external troubles, let’s resolve anything we can. There are wolves and tigers in front, there can not be any worry at the back. Think up a report and send it to the Military Office. Say that we would be here for three or five days.”

After the siege of the capital city was lifted, Li Feng immediately abolished the two ministers left and right sitting idly and eating wage. Then, in order to make it easier to manage, he imitated the official system of the former dynasty, setting up the ‘Military Office’, leading the six Ministries, and initiating a number of scholarly Ministers who could now show their true skills in time of troubles.

In the Military Office, the lights were always bright even deep into the night. When Jiang Chong pushed the door in, it was already the third period of the night watch*. The steam lamps were as bright as day, but Yan w.a.n.g had fallen asleep on the table with a brush still in his hand.

*from 11:00pm to 1:00am

Jiang Chong did not want to alarm him. He personally took over the stack of reports held by a servant, then dismissed all the underlings and gently stepped inside. But after all, he was a civil officer – he was not well-versed in concealing the noises of his movement.

Chang Geng was startled awake by him. The moment his eyes opened, red marks flashed across the eyes of the usually exquisite Yan w.a.n.g, like a ferocious light filled with murderous intent, suddenly surging at the person in front.

Jiang Chong was not able to react yet cold sweat had broken out immediately, like a rabbit locked in the killing intent of a beast. He involuntarily stepped back. The large sleeve dragged down Chang Geng’s brush holder and it fell over immediately.

Only then did Chang Geng sober up, and in an instant, his murderous aura was taken back as swift as a scattering cloud. He stood up and said: “No problem, I’ll clean it up myself.”

Jiang Chong looked at him in horror and wondered if he was confused just now, that his eyes deceived him due to exhaustion. He carefully asked, “Did Your Highness have sleep paralysis?”

“It is nothing.” Chang Geng casually said, “My chest was pressed… did my unsightly expression frighten you? I am usually a little hotheaded when woken up. I fell asleep for a while just now, I almost didn’t know where I was.”

As he said so, Jiang Chong could not ask any more questions. He felt that His Highness’ hotheadedness after being awakened was a bit too extreme.

Chang Geng tidied up the brush holder he had knocked down and asked, “Why, did Brother Han Shi had any business?”

Jiang Chong returned to his senses and sat down opposite him. “Due to what Your Highness said at the court meeting yesterday about issuing ‘Feng Huo tickets’ to the people, there was a commotion in the court. The court borrowing money from the civilians, this is something that had never been seen before. Would it not be equal to declaring to the world that our treasury is empty? Where would the court’s dignity be?”

Chang Geng seemed to have not completely woken up, sitting in a chair and pinching his forehead incessantly. As he heard this, he laughed and said: “Losing half of the the nation, would this be dignity?”

Jiang Chong: “Others have asked what if the court was not able to pay the people back when the time comes, Your Highness is aware of the state of the treasury as well.”

“Separate the repayment periods, then issue the second and third batches. We can borrow from them for now, we will be able to find a turnaround in the end,” Chang Geng said. “The first group of people who buys the Feng Huo tickets can have some appropriate benefits, such as false t.i.tles and vacancies in the court, special permits… all are possible. Ideally, if this is carried out, the people can use the Feng Huo tickets as currency.”

“If that will be the case,” Jiang Chong hesitated, “Won’t those tickets fly all over the sky? They are bound to be worthless.”

Chang Geng: “After the court regains its strength, we can buy them back. Whether it be paying back the money or retaining the tickets, whether it be setting up special systems or law promulgation, these are all matters of the future.”

Jiang Chong nodded, then said again: “Others are asking, what if in the future, someone will create counterfeit tickets and come to the court with false tickets to ask for money?”

Chang Geng was angered by this remark to the point of letting out a laugh: “Tell them to bring this matter to the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute. Should such details be brought to the Military Office? Shall we discuss about the proper regulation for using the toilet tomorrow?”

Jiang Chong laughed bitterly: “That is the truth, but Your Highness also knows how those imperial censors are… there is nothing that they do except quarrelling. I heard that they are now writing their reports all night to reveal your wrongdoings.”

Chang Geng sighed, “Speaking of thousands of ideas, this is only a solution to resolve this urgency in wartime. Otherwise, what else can we do? Should we start imposing heavy taxes on the city’s refugees, or should the Emperor’s palace be torn down into parts and be sold for money? If there are any questions, feel free to bring them up in the court session. If I could, I will answer right then. If it is something still unclear, I will go back to think carefully then provide a reply later, these people…”

This was the current state of the court, where only a small group of people were responsible for handling affairs, while most of the others were responsible for causing troubles and hindering. If something succeeded, they would praise themselves for their own thorough calculation. If anything were to fail, they would say: “Why didn’t you all listen to me at that time?”

Not to mention, there were also people who were harboring their own ideals and who had powerful relations causing troubles, becoming a stumbling block, and wanting to do something became more difficult than flying to the heaven… no wonder that even everyone knew the principle of ‘listening to all sides in order to form a thorough idea’ yet the most common practice in history was it would always be the dictatorial Emperor and the powerful ministers who were running the imperial courts.

“This was not aiming at you, Brother Han Shi, don’t take it to heart,” Chang Geng waved. “I have been arguing too much lately, I can be a little impetuous.”

“Speaking of Ling Shu Inst.i.tute, Master Feng Han sent two more requests yesterday. This humble official had taken the initiative to withhold them first. Your Highness, please look over them to see if they can be sent out.”

Chang Geng poured himself a cup of herbal tea that had already cooled overnight: “Ah, what did he say?”

“One is for the Emperor to revoke the decree and lift the ban for the Mechanics of the common folks. The other is for the Emperor to lift the ban on the people’s Ziliujin trade. He had said that the wealthy businessmen must have their own way. The national crisis is at hand. It is better to make full use of these people, so that the Ziliujin stock of Great Liang can have many sources.”

Chang Geng paused, then shook his head: “Master Feng Han…tch, this Master Feng Han.”

The old man stepped up to the battle when the capital was besieged, his brave spirit had left a strong impression on Li Feng. Although his temperament was annoying, being hard-headed and stubborn at the same time, but his loyalty was unquestionable. Thus recently, whatever nonsense he might speak of, Li Feng would tolerate them all.

“Everyone can look over the request for the withdrawal of the ban on mechanics. If there are no major problem, send it out.” Chang Geng said, “Forget about the Ziliujin matter. Is it so comfortable uprooting the Emperor’s dragon scales? Be flexible, help Master Feng Han summarize the main focus then forward the request. Return the original version to him.”

Jiang Chong responded reluctantly and was about to stand up to leave, then he seemed to have remembered something – he turned around and said, “That’s right, there is also the Marquis of Order…”

Chang Geng suddenly looked up.

Li Feng had returned Black Iron Tiger Emblem to Gu Yun and gave him the power to deploy the forces and war supply of all four sides. It was reasonable that he did not have to report all the major and minor events along the way in detail. However, Gu Yun did not accept this special treatment and instead regularly made reports. Where he went, what was the situation, what he planned to do, and for what reasons were listed in details.

Jiang Chong: “The Marquis of Order had just arrived in the Central Plains area, there is nothing too serious. He only said that he met a group of bandits and insurgents, and that he planned to take care of it properly before leaving. It will take no more than three or five days.”

Chang Geng made an ‘Mm’ sound in response: “Leave it here for me to have a look.”

Jiang Chong could not help but praise him: “Everything from major to trivial matters are all laid out in front of Your Highness. When it is about other people, you only listen to the briefing. Only Marshal’s reports are carefully looked at from beginning to end. The feelings between Your Highness and the Marshal are truly deep.”

After finishing his words, he was about to bid his goodbye and leave, but as soon as he reached the door, Chang Geng suddenly called him: “Brother Han Shi.”

Jiang Chong turned around: “Does Your Highness have any other instructions?”

Chang Geng put his hand on Gu Yun’s report, unconsciously rubbing it gently. He was silent for a moment, then said without hesitation: “I am sorry to trouble you, but do help me collect the objections about the Feng Huo tickets from the officials on the court, who said them, when did they say them, and what they said. I will revise the plan as appropriate.”

Jiang Chong was shocked – would it be necessary to hear about ‘who’ and ‘when’ for revising the plan? He could not help looking at Yan w.a.n.g through the steam lamp shining all night. His face clearly belonged to a young man, but his eyes did not have the slightest hint of being a novice. At first glance, he would think that he was an elegant man of n.o.bility. At second glance, he discovered that his eyes were not all that peaceful, but instead leaked a hint of coldness.

He heard that the Fourth Prince was entrusted to Gu Yun by the former Emperor before his pa.s.sing. He had grown up in the Marquis manor. Jiang Chong suddenly realized now that His Highness and the Marquis were not at all alike.

Jiang Chong: “… Yes. ”

Chang Geng nodded slightly. They were both smart men, there was no need for further explanation.

When Jiang Chong left with his heart full of doubt and concern, Chang Geng finally softly let out a breath. His sleep was already usually not well. He was finally able to get a bit of an uncomfortable shut-eye, but after being disturbed like this, perhaps he would not be able to sleep anymore this night. He stood up to change the indoor incense of the palace to Miss Chen’s tranquilizer.

Chang Geng stood silently for a moment in front of the tranquilizer emitting onto his face. The nightmare which content he could not remember caused his chest to ache as if he was being p.r.i.c.ked by needles. In front of an outsider, he had forcefully endured and not let it show. This feeling was very similar to several rare attacks of Bone of Impurity.

Due to Gu Yun’s wounds, Miss Chen had accompanied the army. Before she left, she had called him aside, told him to increase the amount of tranquilizer and to have as much peaceful rest as he could, whenever he could.

Immense joy and great tragedy recently had completely wiped off his years of acc.u.mulated peaceful foundation, it would be tremendously more difficult to suppress it in the future. Bone of Impurity forbid heavy thinking – the more one would think, the more one would be drained of spirit.

But what else could he do? Would he throw it all away and watch Gu Yun be trapped in this ruined nation?

If you find any errors ( Ads popup, ads redirect, broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know < report chapter > so we can fix it as soon as possible.

Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.