Sha Po Lang

Chapter 92 - Drifting

Chapter 92: Drifting

Go back to General Zhong, tell him to lend me some Eagle Armors, I will return them when I’m done. Hurry.


      Whether it was Gu Yun, Zhong Chan, or even the entire Great Liang Army, no one had absolute confidence about naval battle, thus they must bring out their best to respond. First, they followed the young genius Ge Chen of Ling Shu to dismantle the Western Dragon. From the aspects of speed, defense, artillery, and Ziliujin carrying capacity, they analyzed the operational habits of the Western Navy from beginning to end and the possibility of changes they might have on the battlefield.

      When the two armies came into an unavoidable confrontation, there were thousands of large and small dragons. It was quite different from when they fled on the river with twenty people. Anything was possible.

      How to fight in certain situations, many things seemed to require only flexible reaction during battle, but in reality, these were all dependent on the innumerable experiences and efforts of the commander from behind. Moreover, they must also discuss the direction of development of the Great Liang Navy in the future, how to prepare, what kind of warship should they request from Ling Shu Institute, how to train the soldiers, how to distribute Ziliujin, so on and so forth.

      Gu Yun’s situation here was a little more complicated. He was ordered to command the four borders. Besides the battlefield in Jiangnan, he had to consider many other aspects.

      Every day, he followed the patrol station around Liangjiang to feel the situation of the battlefield. At night, he returned to alternatively discuss with either old General Zhong or Mayor Yao. Since Chang Geng left, he had always been on the move, busy to the point of not having a moment to drink water.

      Today as Gu Yun stood up to say goodbye to Yao Zhen, his legs suddenly became numb, his body swaying and his heart beating like a drum. Yao Zhen quickly supported him: “Marshal, what’s wrong?”

      “It’s all right, just hungry,” Gu Yun said with a slight self-mockery, laughing at him. “To tell you the truth, right now if you were to bring me a pancake as big as a cart pulled by a donkey, I could still swallow it whole.”

      Yao Zhen frowned. Gu Yun must not be able to see his own face now. They all described young people as ‘overflowing with vigor’. A person’s spirit was all on their face. Whether they were healthy or not, one could tell by looking at their cheeks and lips.

      Yao Zhen said, “Marshal should come to my place today. My wife has no other hobbies, she only loves cooking. Let me ask her to prepare some porridge and vegetable dishes for you. There is no luxurious delicacy, but home-cooked meals that are hot and delicious, we don’t lack any.”

      If Gu Yun heard this before, he would have instantly followed along for a free meal, but he did not know what problems he had recently — the more tired he was, the more he could not eat, only wanting to find a place to fall asleep. He replied, “Thank you. How about another day, it’s already very late now, It’s not appropriate to trouble Madam.”

      It was not convenient for Yao Zhen to persuade more, he accompanied Gu Yun all the way back to the tent, not feeling reassured. In the end, he said: “Preserving the green hill, there will be no fear of lacking firewood. Marshal should take care of yourself more.”

      “Enough to pass the winter, don’t worry.” Gu Yun waved his hand, raised his head and moved his stiff neck. Suddenly, he caught sight of the river of stars in the sky flowing like satin. He said with emotion, “I remember that year, although Brother Chong Ze was brilliant, you were not ambitious, not wanting to take credit for even such great merit as settling the uprising of Wei Wang. You preferred to live a stable life in this one acre of your own house — but now you have also been pushed to this point, fate truly toyed with people.”

Yao Zhen said with a bitter laugh: “There are too many factions fighting among each other in the court. I am only a scholar with no power and influence. Why should I follow along with them to add more fuel to the chaos? How much benefit can there be from plotting and calculating? It’s better to stay in this place far away from the Emperor, where the entire family of young and old and all around, not having to worry about food and drink, even my words are worth something in the local area, Is it not good luck?”

Yao Chong Ze was too smart, he was even more excellent in pursuing profits and avoid disadvantages. As early as when Wei Wang rebelled, he had soon recognized the declining path hiding behind the false pretense of prosperity of the Great Liang Dynasty, he was not willing to sell his life for the ruined court, only carrying with him an official position that was neither big or small, waiting to die with a belly full.

Unfortunately, at present, there were no whole eggs under an overturned nest, he could no longer hide his talents.

Gu Yun refused to let it go and asked, “What about after the war ended?”

Yao Zhen answered with vigor, “If the country is peaceful then, there will no longer be any place where I can be of use. If the court is still engulfed in thick miasma like this, why should I add more to it? Marshal Gu holds the Black Tiger emblem in your hand, is it truly happier than that year when you were young, returning victorious from the South, enjoying flower wine* with us idlers?”

*drinking in the company of prostitutes.

Gu Yun: “…”

Yao Zhen seemed to have recalled something and laughed: “I still remember clearly even now, when Marshal Gu was drunk, you have stepped on a thin railing with one foot, swaying, holding an embroidered sword used for dancing to carve embroidery letters on the fallen petals in the air, making the beauties blush, even now it remained a grand story…”

Gu Yun was so embarrassed that he almost knotted his tongue: “Back then I was a child, not understanding anything. This nonsensical matter, please don’t… don’t bring it up again in the future.”

Yao Zhen smiled unconsciously, then looked towards the South and said, “One day when Jiangnan is recovered, I will be the host, inviting the general to get drunk in the spring breeze. You must come.”

Gu Yun thought, “I dare not. Having one person like that in the family is already enough.”

However, it was inconvenient to confess such embarrassing words in the face of an old friend, Gu Yun can only show an unfathomable smile.

In the middle of the night, when the two of them were not embarrassed to talk about entertainment, Ge Chen suddenly ran over with a pale face, holding a piece of sea grain paper in his hand: “Marquis, it’s not good, Yang Rong Gui is going to rebel!”

This letter came from the false Yan Wang. Fearing that the wooden bird would be caught by the bad guys, he did not dare to mention the matter of real and false Yan Wang, nor to reveal that this letter of only a few words was to be sent to Jiangbei Camp, he was only seeking for help. Saying that they have temporarily stabilized the traitors, but did not know what Yang Rong Gui would do to them next.

Gu Yun and Yao Zhen were both stunned at the same time. Gu Yun did indeed assume that when Yang Rong Gui could not bribe the imperial envoys, he would resort to this method. But he had been in charge of the Black Iron camp for a long time, he somewhat did not take these local forces into account. He thought that twenty personal guards were enough to sweep the Yangzhou Capital. Chang Geng was not the type to overdo things.

   Gu Yun raised his hand and took Ge Chen’s paper, only seeing that the handwriting on it was not Chang Geng’s, appearing to have been written in a hurry, but above it all, the content caused one to be more frightened the more they read, especially at the end: the Emperor was assassinated, it was unsure whether he is dead or alive.

      Gu Yun’s thoughts turned quickly, instantly breaking in a cold sweat. Holding Yan Wang in the South and assassinating the Emperor in the capital. This was not impossible to achieve if there was enough thorough calculation, as long as one had the guts to do it.

      If Lin Yuan Pavilion had not been secretly involved, there were still Lin Yuan wooden birds that could still fly out. At present, Yangzhou City was isolated, all news was basically blocked. Yang Rong Gui could make his underling forcibly escort Yan Wang to the north, it would not even disturb Jiangbei Camp.

      What’s more, once Li Feng had died and the throne was vacant, it would be worth considering.

      Yao Zhen: “Marshal?”

      “Go back to General Zhong, tell him to lend me some Eagle Armors, I will return them when I’m done. Hurry.” Gu Yun already forgot his exhaustion from just now. He quickly said, “Xiao Ge stays here and tries to contact the capital to see what is going on. I’ll take people to Yangzhou.”

      The false ‘Yan Wang‘ and ‘Xu Ling’ were packed up by Yang Rong Gui at this time, ‘invited’ to get on their boat and left Yangzhou Prefecture with their army, moving to the north to force the Emperor to abdicate.

      Their travel was very secretive. From the great epidemic in Jiangnan that did not cause any rumors, it was clear how much control Yang Rong Gui and his traitorous party had over the posts along the canal.

      In the evening, at a post stop, ‘Yan Wang‘ and ‘Xu Ling’ must stay in the same room. The bodyguards beside them had already been taken care of. The outside was filled with Yang Rong Gui’s eyes and ears, they could not escape even if they grow wings.

      It was not until the middle of the night that ‘Yan Wang‘ looked out of the window. When he saw the guards had loosened a little, he touched his face and lowered his voice to Xu Ling and said, “If I knew it was such a difficult job. I might as well stay at the barbarians. This time, Yan Wangowes me a lot of favor — we don’t even know if the wooden bird could arrive at Ge Ban Xiao’s hands, we also involved the young master like this. If your father knows, he must be very worried.”

      ‘Xu Ling’ was about to reply when suddenly, his face turned solemn. Somehow, a few guards at the back door all fell down. With absolutely no sound, a dark shadow flies in.

      All the weapons for self-defense on ‘Xu Ling’s’ body had soon been confiscated, he grabbed a porcelain cup on the table and threw it out with a strong force. The visitor gently tilted his face, avoiding this weapon by a hair, then reached out and rolled the porcelain cup into his sleeve then crept in silently from the back window. His body was incredibly agile, even after this string of actions, the windchime had not made a single sound.

      When the visitor landed, he pulled off his face mask and gestured, “It’s me.”

      It was Gu Yun.

      ‘Xu Ling’ had never met Gu Yun before, he was stunned, only ‘Yan Wang’ took in a breath of cool air, joy showing on his face.

      Gu Yun actually thought something was amiss. The cup Xu Ling had thrown carried too much power, but right now there was no time to think about it. He carefully looked outside, frowned, and quickly signed, “How did it come to this? Where are the personal guards?”

      Before the sign language was finished, ‘Yan Wang’ had rushed towards him like a swallow returning to the woods, with beautiful steps that inspired praises in others.

      Gu Yun had a sharp nose unknowing to outsiders. Within three feet of a person’s body, he could detect if there was something wrong by scent. Instead of the perennial soothing fragrance, the ‘Yan Wang‘ in front of him did not have the years-long scent of tranquilizer but an imperceptible smell of makeup powder. Gu Yun suddenly stepped backward and grasped the throat of ‘Yan Wang’: “Who are you?”

      ‘Yan Wang’ did not expect to already reveal himself as soon as they came face to face. Frustrated with his immense failure, he fluttered his hands and feet and signaled with his lips: “Uncle Shiliu, it’s me.”

      The only people who called Gu Yun ‘Uncle Shiliu’ were the two children Ge Chen and Cao Chunhua brought back with Chang Geng from Yanhui town, although after growing up, they no longer referred to him as such.

      Gu Yun loosened his hand and said in astonishment, “Xiao Cao?”

      On this side, they secretly joined hands with each other, there was no information regarding the whereabouts of the true Yan Wang. At the same time, on the third day of July, a secret letter from Yangzhou City passed through the Ninth Gate of the Imperial City and arrived at Lu Chang’s hand.

      After reading, Lu Chang could not hold back his joyous laughter, gathering with trusted people to discuss secret matters while sending an invite for Lord Fang Qin.

      The Fang and Lu Manors were not far apart. The family servant soon returned, “My lord, Fang family said that Master Fang had contracted a severe illness recently. He had a rash all over his body and a high fever. He is about to move to a house in the outskirts of the capital, it is inconvenient for him to receive any guests. Your servant saw that their courtyard had prepared carriages, their bedsheets and clothing were being burned in the backyard.”

      Lu Chang asked, “Does Master Fang have any words for me?”

      “Yes,” the family servant responded respectfully, “Master Fang asked me to give you the best of wishes, achieving your desired success.”

      Lu Chang sneered, waved for him to retreat and turned into the study. “Fang Qin this old fox, he has many vile ideas in his mind, all mighty when instructing the people around him, like drawing the rivers and mountains. As soon as something happened, he reverts to his usual habit and shrinks back his neck like a turtle. In this life, he only has the ability of a Dog Head Army Master. Never mind him, now our grand plan was already accomplished more than half. Everything is ready, the only thing left is the East Wind.”

      The rash-covered ‘Dog Head Army Master’ that Lu Chang mentioned just burned his clothes and quilts, going to the northern suburbs on a small and very ordinary palanquin. Shen Yi who also snuck out in secret much like him happened to be in the Northern Camp. When hearing Master Fang, the one who no one knew which side he had placed his precious buttocks on, was coming to visit, he was in shock.

      The new commander of the Northern Camp was one of Tan Hong Fei’s deputy generals. Knowing that this was not a trivial matter, he immediately whispered advice, “General Shen, please avoid it for the time being. Let me meet this man.”

      That day, Fang Qin stayed at the Northern Camp for more than an hour. No one knew what he had said. Only until it was dark that he silently left on his small palanquin.

  At the end of July, Long An Emperor’s birthday was just around the corner.

      Since Li Feng ascended the throne, he had never thrown a large banquet for his birthday, the Empress Dowager died early in the palace, and after the death of the former emperor, he no longer has any elders left to take care of this.

      However, this year’s birthday, Li Feng finally had some movement.

      The Qi Yuan Tower that collapsed during the war was rebuilt in its original location. Li Feng believed that the appearance of the ‘Picking Star Platform’ was too ominous and the wasteful luxury of ‘Yunmeng Grand View’ affected heaven’s goodwill. Thus he ordered a restructuring to transform ‘Qi Yuan Tower’ into ‘Qi Ming Altar’, abolishing the original function of eating, drinking, and entertainment and turning it into a righteous altar for praying to the heaven. The Supervisor had also been moved in.

      No one knew whether Emperor Long An had nothing else to do or was persuaded by the bad guys, he decided to go to the newly built Qi Ming Altar to worship the heavens and ancestors, confessing all his sins to celebrate his birthday.

      …Speaking of it, Li Feng’s underlings consisted of only corrupt officials and ministers devoting themselves to gnawing at his society and eating away at his nation. He himself was fated for a life of hardship with no one loving him, there was no one to even make him a bowl of noodles on his birthday, even having to put all his mistakes in governing on display for everyone in the world to see.

      This sorrowful and depressing, but aside from the group of white beard rotten worms in the court, there was no one behind that would praise him — it truly was a human tragedy.

      When the Emperor left the palace, all officials would naturally accompany him. The imperial army opened its way and marched to the Qi Ming Altar. The imperial sensory was awaiting, dressed in proper costumes, the sounds of the bells ringing all over the city.

      There were 1000 stone steps leading to the top of the Qi Ming altar, and a narrow path in the middle was the ‘Imperial Road’, only for the Son of Heaven to walk on. On both sides was the ‘Royal Road’ accompanied by the officials, which only led to 500 steps and stopped halfway to the altar.

      Emperor Long An picked up his feet from the Royal Road, the lower ranks of the hundred civil and military officials saw him off from below. Accompanying him to the top were two ministers, one martial and one civil. But both Gu Yun and Yan Wang were not in the capital at this time, the accompanying passengers had to be replaced by Jiang Chong of the Grand Council and Shen Yi, the Southwest Governor, who happened to be in the capital.

      Li Feng was always busy, neglected horse riding and shooting, wearing the overwhelmingly heavy Emperor’s attire, it was quite difficult to climb those 1000 steps. As he walked along, his mind was suddenly in a daze, remembering something from his childhood.

      It was Gu Yun’s first time going along with the Old Marquis’s faction to the South to eliminate bandits and returned victorious. Li Feng followed the former emperor as a Crown Prince and welcomed the army back to the court.

      Li Feng remembered the young general’s vigor when he left, his face bearing a somewhat arrogant childishness. When he returned from the battlefield, his whole appearance seemed to have aged up to ten years. The facial features had not been sharpened by the years, but the eyes that seemed to be in a daze due to being unable to see well had begun to sink down, resembling a true Wind Slasher, looming faintly with an awe-inspiring aura.

      He dismounted from his horse, shouting ‘Long live the Emperor!’ together with all the officers and generals. The armor on his body was shining like fish scales in the sunshine. Li Feng seldom got to accompany the former emperor outside the palace. He looked at Gu Yun in armor with admiration. Taking advantage of when the commander of the army at that time was conversing with the Emperor, Gu Yun suddenly raised his head, winking towards the Crown Prince who had not yet reached the age of twenty, smiling at each other as they exchanged a look.

      Now, Li Feng was on the Qi Ming Altar, remembering this old event from the past, his lips could not help but lift in a smile. He came back to his senses, looked back and saw countless people kneeling down below the stone steps. There were only heads wherever he looked, the two accompanying him were also well-behaved, nobody dared to raise their heads to offend him…

      Perhaps there no longer existed in this world the young man who would wink at him. Li Feng’s heart suddenly gave birth to the loneliness of a ruler at the top.

      The Imperial Astronomical Bureau was ready for the ritual of worshipping the heavens. He was clearing his throat to open his mouth. Suddenly, there was a disturbance under the altar.

      Li Feng wanted to display his own sins, but also wanted to make a name for himself as diligent and caring for the people. On this day, the capital did not completely enforce martial law, only used the imperial army to separate the people on both sides of the road. There were countless people who came to join in on the fun. As soon as a commotion broke out, something happened.

      A group of masked men suddenly rushed out of the crowds of spectating people, their movement like the wind, tearing a hole in the defense line of the imperial army in the blink of an eye and rushed straight to the prayer altar.

      “Be careful!”

      “It’s the Dong Ying people!”

      Hundreds of officials were in disorder. Liu Chong Shan, the commander of the imperial army, shouted ‘Protect the Emperor!’ and rushed directly to the Imperial Road of the altar in a hurry. He knelt down beside Li Feng and said quickly, “Your Majesty, this place is dangerous. I will escort you away at once.”

      Li Feng could not breathe from anger, kicking Liu Chong Shan’s shoulder: “Incompetent!”

      Liu Chong Shan suddenly raised his head and his eyes glinted with murderous intent. Several of the imperial guards following Liu Chong Shan all drew their swords at the same time. Li Feng was shocked, suddenly coming to a realization — there were no assassins in the first place. It was basically a rebellion. This tactic was similar to that of the former Emperor at that time, letting the barbarian consort harm the Black Iron Camp!

      Li Feng was both startled and enraged, pointed at Liu Chong Shan and said, “How courageous! You would dare!”

      Liu Chong Shan, with a low laugh, stood up and swept the dust off his shoulders and approached Li Feng. “Your Majesty, for your sake, you’ll have to be escorted out of this chaotic place.”

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