Sha Po Lang

Chapter 70: Evil God


This person has the ability to bring peace to the world, but his childhood had been too rough. Although he was kind in his youth, he may not be able to remain the same way in his mid-life. There was also the hidden danger of ‘Bone of Impurity’, I hope that all the gentlemen will be cautious. ____

Gu Yun frowned and carefully recalled for a moment: “It sounds familiar. I’ve heard that…it seemed to be a kind of G.o.d from the North?”

“He is the head of the four major evil G.o.ds worshipped by the Eighteen Tribes.” Chen Qing Xu said: “Legend has it that he has four feet, four arms, two heads and two hearts, and he is in charge of disasters and famines. Wu Er Gu is greedy by nature. When he descended, the earth and heaven changed, all living beings will be swallowed up by him. He is the most frightening G.o.d from the Northern Man.”

Gu Yun replied with an ‘oh’, he somewhat could not understand.

“I infiltrated deep into the gra.s.slands for half a year, but up to now, the witchcraft of the Eighteen Tribes, I could only touch the surface. Its deep history and profundity is beyond the imagination of foreigners such as those of us from far away.

“There are many witchcraft and poisons related to their strange legends of evil G.o.ds, the most vicious one is the ‘Bone of Impurity’ — Wu Er Gu”. Chen Qing Xu paused slightly. “‘Four feet, four arms, two heads and two hearts’, in a literal sense, what does the Marquis think this looks like?”

Gu Yun reply with hesitance: “It sounds like two people merging together.”

Chen Qing Xu: “Yes, the evil G.o.d Wu Er Gu devoured his brother as soon as he was born and gained twice the amount of divine power ever since. There is an ancient witchcraft in the Eighteen Tribes which combines two brothers connected by blood into one soon after they were born, and produces a…monster that can acquire the power of the evil G.o.d, also known as ‘Bone of Impurity’.”

Gu Yun listened, he was silent for a moment, gently pressing under his ribs. Although there was the steel plate support, but somehow, he could still felt needle-like pain under it.

Chen Qing Xu hurriedly said, “Marquis, your wound…”

“It is all right,” Gu Yun waved his hand, licked his lips slightly, slowed down his tone and asked, “Miss Chen, I don’t quite understand what it means to ‘merge two people into one’?”

Chen Qing Xu hesitated a little.

“Don’t worry,” Gu Yun said. “You can say it.”

“I have only heard this from tales, I’m afraid it might not be accurate,” Chen Qing Xu murmured. “It is to put a pair of babies under the age of one in a sealed place, not giving them any light, water, nor food…. one of the two will die from suffocation first. The dead baby will then be taken out and be refined by a secret method.”

Gu Yun thought for an instant that his medicinal effect had worn off, that his ears were deceiving him. He asked again with difficulty: “…What?”

“Refining.” Chen Qing Xu emphasized on the word: “Then combined with the secret medicine of the barbarian witch as an activator, feeding to its surviving brother bit by bit…”

Gu Yun lost his voice: “Could that child still live at this point?”

“Marshal had underestimated the Eighteen Tribes’ thousand years of witchcraft,” Chen Qing Xu said. “In the lost witchcraft, there are even vivid and detailed records of turning dead people into an animated corpse, let alone using living beings for refinement.

“They think if a person… or perhaps a ‘Bone of Impurity’, was refined in this way, from childhood, he would have infinite strength or extraordinary wisdom far different from ordinary people, because ‘he’ is actually two people, with ‘four feet and two heads’, he can invite the power of evil G.o.ds.”

Gu Yun hesitated and said, “Forgive me for being ignorant of this…matter. Miss Chen, I think this all sounds like a ridiculous story pa.s.sed among those uncivilized fools.”

Chen Qing Xu said: “With our inherent knowledge and understanding, the Marquis can regard Bone of Impurity as a kind of poison that destroys one’s mental state. Some mad men are indeed more powerful than ordinary people and often think differently from ordinary people. When they have not yet lost all their sense completely, it is not strange for them to have unusual intelligence.”

Gu Yun: “…There are still things we can’t understand with our innate knowledge.”

Chen Qing Xu said, “Marshal, to tell you the truth, I sneaked into Eighteen Tribes to research their witchcraft, not only for your ears and eyes, but also for tracing back the origin of Bone of Impurity.

“But there are very few records about it from the Man people. There is only one tale about an ancient barbarian general, whose name is ‘Wu Er Gu’. This man is cruel and bloodthirsty, but he had won hundreds of battle, singlehandedly creating the foundation of the united Eighteen Tribes we see now. He lived until 32 years old, had never married in his life, the reason was because he was neither dead nor alive, neither man nor woman.”

Gu Yun felt gooseb.u.mps raise up.

Chen Qingxu: “I had checked the record of birth, death, and origin of this person and learned that his mother had given birth to twins of one boy and one girl, but afterwards, there was no record of the female baby, nor was there any record that she was dead… there are only two explanations: one is that after their family was defeated, the girl was lost, the other was…”

The pair of boy and girl twin were made into Bone of Impurity, the dead and the living were merged into one, male and female lived together in the same body. This was ‘neither dead nor alive, neither man nor woman’.

Gu Yun pressed his hand under his ribs tightly, Chen Qing Xu asked nervously, “Marquis, did the steel plate come loose?”

Gu Yun bent down and took a breath after a while. He whispered: “Why would anyone do such a thing?”

Chen Qing Xu supported him to one side and helped him sit down: “Usually when the country was broken and the nation could no longer be preserved that did this kind of cruel method would be used, offering blood as a sacrifice to the evil G.o.ds in exchange for vengeance. When all the people named ‘Wu Er Gu’ were born, they would all lead to blood-soaked turbulence.”

Gu Yun: “You have just said that it was like a kind of poison that harm the people’s mind. Could you elaborate more on this?”

Chen Qing Xu said: “Wu Er Gu will turn insane. At first, there will be entangling nightmares. Over time, they will become sensitive and suspicious. If they do not restrain, it will gradually produce hallucinations. Finally…”

“That is why…,” As Gu Yun said these words, his voice seemed to crack. He had to forcefully clear his throat to be able to continue this sentence. “That is why you prescribed him with tranquilizer…”

Chen Qing Xu: “…”

Of course, she knew who Gu Yun was speaking of. She could not say anything, only admitting to it in silence.

Gu Yun closed his eyes slightly — he recalled that Chang Geng had mentioned to him carelessly more than once, such words as ‘too much fire will cause restless sleep’ and so on, yet he had never thought about it carefully, only a.s.suming that as this child followed someone from the Chen family to study medicine for so long, it had turned him delirious, that he had made himself into an elderly man all day talking about health care. But as it turned out…he had so much pain inside.

Gu Yun: “What stage is Chang Geng at?”

Chen Qing Xu remained silent for a moment.

Gu Yun: “You can tell me, I can accept whatever, as long as I am still alive for one more day, whether he is insane or brainless, I will take care of him until the end.”

Chen Qing Xu said, “His Highness… His Highness has incredible will, his heart is peaceful. For many years, the Bone of Impurity on his body has never acted up. He himself was also aware of this, thus he has restrained himself much more than ordinary people. Only that a while ago, um… I have suppressed it using needles. The Marquis needn’t worry about it.”

Although she spoke in a vague manner, Gu Yun was able to understand — it had always been peaceful, never acting up, except for the period awhile ago.

“Because of me.” He thought in a blank state, standing up abruptly almost like a corpse coming to life  He stumbled for a moment, his expression appeared as if he had just been stabbed.

He avoided Chen Qing Xu’s helping hand, the rigid supporting steel plate making him appear like an iron puppet that had ran out of Ziliujin.

Chen Qing Xu stopped in place for a moment. Her plain white face was heavy with emotions. She could not help looking back in the direction of the capital city. The wooden bird released in the past few days should have arrived in the capital by now, just…was the decision she wrote in the letter truly the correct one?

The sky in the capital was gloomy. When the wooden bird flew past, its small figure was completely absorbed in the overwhelming dark clouds, becoming almost invisible.

Zhang Feng Han got out of a carriage and placed his hands together to thank the person inside: “I apologize for troubling Your Highness in taking your time to send this old man here.”

Chang Geng lifted the curtain and smile, “I’ve been living in the Military Office for days. I should go back to Marquis’s Manor to get new clothes and take a bath, it is also on the same road. Master Feng Han need not be overly courteous — but did Ling Shu Inst.i.tute not provide you with a carriage?”

Zhang Feng Han did not pay it any mind: “They are all used for the underlings to run errands, I am not going out of the capital, these old bones are all soft, I should move about a bit more. Now there are wars everywhere, the court have many places to distribute money to. Let’s save as much as we can. Even if we could not prevent the storm, but can’t we do a little bit of our best ability?”

Chang Geng laughed and said, “That is the truth. This later generation had learnt something.”

Zhang Feng Han hurriedly said, “I dare not.” then took his leave, but Chang Geng stopped him: “Master Feng Han, please wait.”

He then took out the proud and unashamed request for the Emperor to lift the ban on the common folks’ Ziliujin trade, handing it to him with both hands and said: “Master Feng Han please forgive me, I had stopped this request without authorization and did not send it forward — there is no outsider here, I would like to say a word of criticism, please don’t be angry. The commoners’ Ziliujin trade has always been a sensitive point of the Emperor. Since the beginning of Emperor Wu’s reign, there has never been any lenience. For the Emperor, Ziliujin is the same as the jade seals commanding the kingdom. Placing yourself in his position, if you were the Emperor, could you allow the people to carve the jade seal out of radish and sell them for fun?”

Zhang Feng Han knew that it would be useless to send out this request. He would either had it returned to him by the Military Office, or he would end up provoking Emperor Long An to lose his temper. However, he carried himself with the character of a scholar. He always felt ‘whether you like to hear it or not, I will still say what should be said’. Who would have thought that His Highness Yan w.a.n.g would come explaining to him personally, even with so much sincerity?

Zhang Feng Han blushed and sighed, “Your Highness…oh, your Highness is right, I have momentarily gone confused from old age, I had caused more trouble for your Highness.”

“I know your heart that goes out to the country and the people. As the backbone of the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute, these recent years, Great Liang is unstable, all armors and equipments are depending on your hands for preparing,” Chang Geng waved. “We could not even protect you enough, what trouble?”

Zhang Feng Han was at a loss, his demeanor was genuine, his tone did not cause people to feel irritate. He did not know how to respond and could only repeat: “How embarra.s.sing”.

“Since my childhood brother Ge Chen entered Ling Shu Inst.i.tute, he has been murmuring in my ear all day about what Master Feng Han is like,” Chang Geng teased. “He wished nothing more than to copy even your habit of drinking houkui tea and eating pickled radish, I think the only thing missing was for him to buy a white hair wig to wear.”

Zhang Feng Han’s old face was so red this time that he wished he could call his new apprentice Ge Chen over to give him a slap for pouring every trivial matters into Yan w.a.n.g’s ears.

“Ge Chen and I grew up together in Yanhui town. When we were young, we were caught in the barbarian invasion, he had no one left in his family and had been following me for so many years…”

Chang Geng paused, looking at Zhang Feng Han with some embarra.s.sment. “I will not beat around the bush anymore. Let’s be frank. There is an presumptuous request that Ge Chen wants me to bring to you. He had always adored your character greatly, he wished to recognize you… well, as an elder. He does not ask for anything more, just wanted to be able to serve you in the future, it would fulfill his wish, what do you think?”

Zhang Feng Han was short of breath for a moment.

After returning with Shen Yi, Ge Chen had stayed in the capital and entered Ling Shu Inst.i.tute. He was diligent, smart, and talented. Having special affinity with Zhang Feng Han, he was accepted as a close disciple by the old man in just a few days.

But a disciple was different from an adopted son. In his lifetime, he had no power and no influence, he could only caused people to be irritated, what benefits could he bring to the other? How could he be able to protect anyone? Even though he was old and desolate, with no children or grandchildren, except some old dogs in his family, who would ever care for him?

Chang Geng stole a glance at his face and said: “Tch, I have quickly told him that Master Feng Han favored peace and quiet and would not like the noisy type such as himself. You need not feel perplexed, I will scold him in your stead later. You can rest a.s.sured, he had been carefree since childhood, he would not take this to heart.”

Zhang Feng Han hurriedly said: “Your Highness, slow down! Your Highness! I… This… I…”

The elderly man panicked, his tongue was in a knot, his forehead was full of sweat. Chang Geng was silent, only giving him a leisurely smile. His smile did not have a single hint of ill intent, it was clear and bright like a young man, dyed with the right amount of mischievousness.

Zhang Feng Han seldom saw him not displaying his experienced and adept image. He came back to his senses, laughing helplessly and said: “Your Highness is really…”

“Then I will tell him, my home is around the next right turn. Master Feng Han, please help yourself,” Chang Geng said gently. “I will tell Xiao Ge to find a good day to bow to you. That’s right, it looks like it is going to rain. You can take an umbrella from me just in case.”

Zhang Feng Han, an old stubborn thorn that busted Li Feng’s head, said goodbye to him with a smile, watching kindly at the carriage of Yan w.a.n.g as it went away.

As soon as Chang Geng left, it had turned out to be as he said, a light rain began to trickle down.

Master Feng Han raised the umbrella that Chang Geng had left him. For the past six months, even with the army shortage and continued chaos, though it was not peaceful, as long as he looked at these young people, he felt that the pillar of Great Liang had not collapsed, there were still people supporting it.

There were many intelligent and talented people in the world. However, if a person was too smart, they would often lose a few parts of enthusiasm, they would be more inclined to keep to themselves. Only when a truly wise and brave person took the lead in standing up and shouldering this pillar could they bring them together as a group.

The person at the front were doomed to work hard but would not necessarily have a good end. They might have to endure for naught. But in this vast sand, if there did not exist these few large stones, wouldn’t everything already be washed down through thousands of generations?

When Master Feng Han turned around and saw a snow-white monk’s robe flashing across the corner of the lane, he took back the smile from his face and walked quickly towards it.

The restaurant in the small alley was not as elegant and dignified as the old Qi Yuan Tower, but more like a casual small tea shop. It was not at all unnatural for someone like Master Feng Han to come in. He folded his umbrella, shaking the rain droplets off the top. Hearing a few taps on the wooden staircase, he looked up to see Master Liao Ran taking off his wet hat, standing on the second floor and gave him a slight nod in greetings. He understood and moved up.

One after the other, they went to the innermost compartment where there was already a middle-aged man in waiting. The man was about forty or fifty years old, his appearance was average, his clothings were not quite eye-catching. But at first glance, he was very friendly, the corners of his eyes were shaped in a soft round curve. However, if there was any one from the Ministry of Housing here, they would be startled — this man was Du Wan Quan, the richest man in Jiangnan.

Du Wan Quan prospered in Jiangnan. He once created a merchant team to travel across the Western Ocean by himself. It was the only giant ship to ever go to the Western countries after Emperor Wu opened the sea route. Going through many dangers, making a lot of profits, he was nicknamed the ‘G.o.d of Wealth’ after his return.

Later, he moved his home to the northwest and was elected as the president of the Central Plains’ trading group at the Silk Road area.

As early as during the days when the Marquis of Order was put under house arrest for an unknown reason, this keen and sensitive businessman had taken the lead in calling the members of the trading group to evacuate in batches. As a result, the turbulence in the Western Regions did not affect too many innocent people. It could be said that the windmill of this G.o.d of Wealth changed its direction very timely.

No one knew how much money Du Wan Quan had, people all said that he was rich enough to be on an equal to a country. Of course, in the light of the dire situation of Great Liang, it was no great thing to be an equal to a country.

Such a G.o.d of wealth like himself, now with a monk from Hu Guo Temple and an old stubborn man of the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute — all gathered in a rather shabby small tavern.

Seeing Zhang Feng Han, Du Wan Quan stood up politely and offered the first seat to him. He put his hands together and said: “Please sit down. I have not seen my old brother for more than ten years, it seems that you haven’t changed at all, even more elegant than you were then.”

Zhang Feng Han refused while replying: “What are you saying? I have only gotten older.”

Du Wan Quan honestly said: “Before this Du came to the capital, I was dissuaded by my wife and children. They were afraid that the situation in the capital would be unstable, these old bones of mine will end up perishing here. But isn’t master Feng Han even older than myself? In the face of the enemy, your expression did not change even without a single weapon. I am only a small businessman, I could not be compared to you, the unparalleled warrior. But if I dare not even travel here to see you, then what type of man would I be?”

Du ‘G.o.d of Wealth’ had been doing business for a long time, peace and wealth had soaked into his bones. Although his speech differed from His Highness Yan w.a.n.g, both of them belonged to the kind who could make people blush and feel good about themselves at the same time. Zhang Feng Han realized that they would not necessarily be able to talk business if he continued to be overly courteous with him, thus he had to take the seat in the first position.

Master Liao Ran put his hands together and gestured in sign language: “Mister Du’s family has a large business, there are numerous of myriad affairs to attend to, and Master Feng Han will have to rush back to Ling Shu Inst.i.tute in a few minutes. Let’s get directly into the topic. This later generation shall take the lead.”

With that, he took out the beads in his arms and gently pulled them. One of the bead fell off. He then broke the biggest beads apart and took out an old hollow wood with a simple sh.e.l.l having numerous delicate gears inside, quietly displaying it.

Master Feng Han and Du Wan Quan looked at each other, no longer being courteous. They both took out a piece of hollow wood from their arms. Three hollow wood blocks were placed near one another, they were instantly attracted to each other and slid on the table. The gears inside were interlocked, becoming seamless in an instant, forming the top half of a wooden emblem with the word ‘Lin’ on it.

“The last time this emblem was put together, it was more than two hundred years ago,” Du Wan Quan sighed: “The last time our ancestors entrusted this thing to the Tai Zu Emperor, they did not choose the wrong person, exchanging for two hundred years of peace and prosperity. It is now handed down to our generation, I hope this time we can still choose the right one… today, as Master Liao Ran had summoned Lin Yuan, there must be someone to choose.”

Liao Ran then gestured: “Old Zhong and Chen family’s representative are both at the front line and could not come. Old Zhong had sent over his opinions and the wooden piece he kept with him a few days ago. There is chaos at Miss Chen’s place, it was also farther away, I still have yet to see hers, but my guess is that it will arrive in more or less another day.”

Du Wan Quan looked at the Lin Yuan wooden emblem on the table and sat upright, solemnly saying: “Master, please speak.”

“Amitabha,” with his hands folded and his head hung down, he continue: “At the beginning of the war, a man had use wooden birds in Lin Yuan Pavilion to send messages, preserving a way out for the capital under siege. Taking on the mission in the midst of danger to kill the spy, personally defending the city, and resisting the decree of pa.s.sing to him the imperial throne —”

When Zhang Feng Han heard this, he immediately echoed the sentiment: “I agree with the man that Master spoke of, I had interacted with His Highness Yan w.a.n.g the most in the court. Although he is young, he has both abilities and virtue. I would like to entrust my wooden emblem to him.

“I am ashamed to say that I have leisurely sat and ate salary for many years. I could not be of any use in face of a critical situation. When I heard the frontline battle reports, I was in dismay and could not think that it was possible for the Westerner to besiege the capital city, nor did I think of using wooden birds to send messages…what do you say, Mister Du?”

The two men on the table looked at Du Wan Quan at the same time. Du Wan Quan thought about it for a moment, he then responded: “His Royal Highness is a person of n.o.bility, I never had contact with him. But I heard that His Royal Highness was once a student of Old Zhong and even had friendship with the Chen family. They must know more about him. Why don’t we wait for them?”

Liao Ran suddenly brought out a wooden bird. There was very thin seal on its abdomen that was still intact.

“This is Old Zhong’s,” signed Liao Ran. “This monk hasn’t opened it yet, please.”

Du Wan Quan rubbed his hands and said with a hint of embarra.s.sment: “This Du will go ahead.”

When he finished, he carefully peeled the seal, opening up the belly of the bird and took out the fourth wooden emblem from it.

With this piece, the word ‘Yuan’ was mostly spelled out,  only one corner was left. Under the wooden plate, there was a seagrain paper sent from Zhong Xian.

Zhang Feng Han said: “Old Zhong had taught His Royal Highness Yan w.a.n.g how to deploy troops, how to ride, and how to shoot. With such great sentiment, how could he…”

His voice suddenly stopped, Du Wan Quan laid the seagrain paper of General Zhong Xian on the table. It read: This person has the ability to bring peace to the world, but his childhood had been too rough. Although he was kind in his youth, he may not be able to remain the same way in his mid-life. There was also the hidden danger of ‘Bone of Impurity’, I hope that all the gentlemen will be cautious.

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