Sha Po Lang

Chapter 96 - Danger

Chapter 96: Danger

When Chang Geng opened his eyes, his surroundings were dark, the only surface reflecting the light nearby was Master Liao Ran’s bald head.

As soon as he moved, Xu Ling, who was in a very bad state, rushed over and shouted, “Your Highness! Your Highness! You are awake! Do you still recognize me? Your Highness…”

Before he finished shouting, Master Xu had began to choke. He resembled Chang Geng’s filial son, looking at him and wiping his tears. Unexpectedly, the more he wiped, the more tears began to pour, in the end, he sat aside and began to weep loudly.

Chang Geng: “…”

This ear-piercing sound had a very similar effect to the flute of his General Gu, buzzing around Chang Geng’s ear. At this moment, he was very glad that Master Liao Ran was a mute man.

The mute not only won’t squeal, but also very considerately comforted Master Xu, who had a runny nose and tears all over.

He approached Chang Geng and said through sign language, “This place is close to Jiangbei Camp, it’s very safe. The wooden bird had been released. The little brother under Brother Sun has also tried to find a way to contact Jiangbei Camp using Your Highness’s token. If there is no accident, General Zhong will be able to find this place soon, Your Highness rest assured.”

Although the monk often pretended to be mysterious and did not like to bathe, he was worthy of being high-ranking disciple in Lin Yuan Pavilion. In more than 360 days of the year, there were always two days where he could be depended on.

Chang Geng nodded his head tiredly and deeply understood what was called ‘having one’s boat overturned in a pond’, he could not help laughing bitterly.

On that day, Chang Geng left the guards behind and took Xu Ling to Sha Hai group alone. Unfortunately, with not much luck, his arrival was very untimely.

They had just followed Boss Sun to the sub-branch of the group. On the way to the main headquarters, the mob of rebels had already come out of their nests, just in time to run into them.

In fact, at this time, although Chang Geng’s heart did startle, he was not so nervous.

According to his understanding of Jiangbei’s situation at this time, the rebellion did not come as a surprise to him. Dogs jump against the wall, rabbits bite people when scared. Everyone knew that rebellion was a major crime punishable by execution by nine generations, but even if nine generations were all dead, they themselves struggled to get by, how could this be the way to live? To die as a coward or to die as a beheaded rebel were still death either way. A person could not die twice, then it would be better to rise up, at least they could die for a meaningful purpose, leaving their names behind in history books.

The refugees who escaped from Jiangbei have had their hands forced into rebelling.

However, Chang Geng was not a god. He could deduce that there might be such a phenomenon among the refugees, but it was impossible to know when and what way they were going to rebel. But at that time, Chang Geng only felt that he had come at the wrong time — what storms had Yan Wang never experienced? He had never thought that the situation will get out of his control.

Chang Geng knew that this kind of mob rebellion was not difficult to resolve.

First of all, both the court and the rebels all knew that in the era of fighting by Ziliujin, one could not achieve victory by having two or three martial arts masters, machines and armors were of the utmost importance, even the best and most famous general like Gu Yun would not be able to do much when the ammunition was exhausted. The Sha Hai Group, even if this gang from the pugilist world was any bigger, was by no means an opponent of Jiangbei Camp as long as it did not have firearms, steel armor. and its own source of Ziliujin.

They had no choice but to rebel. Their reason was not outside of seeking for a way to survive from the court.

     Before Chang Geng came, he had prepared this road to survival for them. People who were brave and fearless of death would still hold onto a chance to survive. If they could, who would be willing to clash against Jiangbei Camp? Who would want to be an egg going against a rock?

     Although Boss Sun, the one who took Chang Geng to the Sha Hai Group, spoke harshly and had a bad attitude, he was a smart man and did not act recklessly. Looking at the conflict inside the group, he immediately concealed Chang Geng and Xu Ling’s identity. In this situation where everyone was on edge, with a Yan Wang that had fallen from the sky, not only was it unable to stabilize the people, but it would ignite the fire in the rebel army. If there truly was a short-sighted fool who would detain Yan Wang to threaten Jiangbei Camp, then the two sides will truly end badly.

     Boss Sun himself and Chang Geng coincidentally had the same idea. They did not want to use the lives of these pitiful people to fill the muzzle of Jiangbei Camp which should be aimed at the foreigners — just to make the court hear a hoarse and exhaustive cry.

     Hence, Chang Geng and Xu Ling continued pretending to be volunteer merchants from the south, Boss Sun helped to hide them. At the same time, Liao Ran, who had been mixing with refugees in Jiangbei to pray for the people also happened to be in Sha Hai Group. Thanks to the relationships Liao Ran established beforehand, they were able to smoothly contact the top ranking leaders of the rebel army.

     As everyone knew, Yan Wang had a persistent three-inch tongue that could adapt to whoever he spoke with, except for always acting out of order when facing Gu Yun. This ability had excellent fighting power at other times. As long as he was willing to, he could fool anyone. In a short period of more than a month, Chang Geng had basically controlled the situation. Originally, the people in the group were overheated, later on, everyone was willing to sit down and weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

     Except for one stubborn thorn who did not want to breathe the same air as the imperial court, the ‘four kings’ of Sha Hai group, including Boss Sun, were all persuaded by Chang Geng, willing to send people to try to contact the court first.

     But at this time, Jiangbei Camp, which had been searching for Yan Wang’s whereabouts in silence, suddenly made movements. The atmosphere suddenly became tense once again.

     Chang Geng knew that the false Yan Wang had arrived in the capital, the deed had been revealed and his disappearance in Yangzhou had become a well-known matter. Involving a prince, Jiangbei Camp was forced to change its attitude from acting secretly to publicly.

     On one hand, Chang Geng reassured the rebels of Sha Hai Group. On the other hand, he personally wrote a paper, hoping that Jiangbei Camp would not act rashly for the time being, to avoid bringing all his efforts so far to ruin.

     Who knew that something would go wrong at this time.

     When struck with bad luck, one could choke even while drinking water. Yan Wang had never had things go his way since entering the bandit’s den. After the Sha Hai Group conspired to rebel, they implemented the strategy of ‘cunning rabbits have three caves’ for safety and changed the location of their headquarters once in ten days.

      At this time, the headquarters had  just been moved to a small hill in Jiangbei, leaning on a mine — Jiangbei did not lack mines like this. If Chang Geng had an expert Mechanic beside him right now, they would remind him of these small mines, for the wooden birds might not be able to fly out in places near the mountain.

 Some mines would invalidate compass and other objects. Even though Lin Yuan’s wooden bird was exquisitely made, its core mechanics relied on a special magnet in the abdomen, which could establish a connection with the magnet carried by individuals of Lin Yuan Pavilion. Wooden birds could only fly in the air through height to bypass the interference. When they were not, circling around the mines, the magnets in the abdomen of all wooden birds would be ruined immediately.

     The bird could not fly out. With no other way, Chang Geng had to use a clumsy method  — let Liao Ran himself run to send the message, it was the letter Gu Yun’s personal guard brought to the capital.

     As a result, something went wrong.

     The four rebel leaders generally did not have good education. Their level of hobby was very close to old peasants who listened to plays in the temple, referring to themselves as ‘King of Heaven’, ‘King of Earth’ and ‘King of Man’, evoking goosebumps.

     Boss Sun was the ‘King of Man’, the ‘King of Heaven’ was the especially stubborn thorn who was extremely vicious and harbored deep hatred towards the court.

     The stubborn man originally had great influence. Everyone once wanted to follow him in rebellion, but now suddenly turned from a big boss to a hard-head minority. After careful consideration, he felt that everything in this started from the ‘King of Man’, who was always unwilling to confront Jiangbei Camp. Holding a grudge against Boss Sun who was ‘greedy for life and afraid of death’, he bribed a trusted underling of Boss Sun, ready to catch him by his weak point and eliminate him.

     The result was quite coincidental. The man who had been bribed spied for six to seven days, not being able to catch Boss Sun’s weak point, but managed to see Liao Ran leaving the headquarters late at night, making contact with people from the court.

     When the King of Heaven saw that the man who they had called brother for so long was a hound for the court, he turned furious at once, his little trust on the man collapsed in an instant.

     Chang Geng made a quick decision, taking the lead in inviting all the leading and respectable bandits to come, admitted his imperial envoy status before the King of Heaven could come to his door questioning. Although the timing was not very mature, it was better than being exposed by another.

     Chang Geng could certainly kill the King of Heaven, but the people of the pugilist world have their own way of life. These people who made a living by lowly means were not as practical as the court’s officials. Failure to deal with them might trigger a rebound.

     At first, the bandit’s nest was blown up by the King of Heaven’s intentional provocation, a dozen mouths noisily argued. Yan Wang then boldly took out a knife for chopping wood and nailed it on the table, saying coldly, “Then let us follow the rules, three knives and six holes*.”

* a rule among bandits, when someone does an irreparable mistake and is asking for forgiveness, you must be stabbed thoroughly three times

     This move was able to suppress most people, but could not fool the true bandit. The King of Heaven’s ferocious blood was aroused by him. Without saying another word, he stabbed Chang Geng with the knife. Chang Geng knew that this ordeal would not be able to end if he did not take this stab, thus he stood without hiding.

     The rebels were stunned. As soon as they saw blood, especially the big leaders, they knew that  Yan Wang could not die in Sha Hai group in this shady way. Otherwise, at that point, they would be forced to rebel without wanting to, there would be no other way but to die, all hope for turning back will all but vanish. Therefore, they hurriedly tried to make peace and stopped one another. The King of Heaven turned even angrier, announcing on the spot that he would take his men to separate from Sha Hai Group.

 With internal fighting in the group, the matter of rebellion had to be put aside. Boss Sun sent people to escort Chang Geng to leave during the night. On the way, they were intercepted by several waves of the King of Heaven’s men coming for their lives, almost all the underlings left to him by Boss Sun were lost.

     However, the type that would lock himself in a Heavy Armor like Master Liao Ran was half a burden, while Xu Ling was entirely a burden. For a martial arts master, even if he was alone in a Tiger Cave, it was still more comfortable than running for their lives with a few burdens.

     Chang Geng was injured. He had not struggled this much for many years. In order to protect Master Xu, his critical chest area took another knife wound that overturned his skin and flesh. Fortunately, he was still half Miss Chen’s apprentice, for better or worse, he could still somehow stop the blood.

     Liao Ran used a leaf to gather water and fed it to Chang Geng, then found the medicine he had with him to rewrap the wounds. Chang Geng drank the water, letting out a sigh and gathered some strength to speak, he tried to regain his spirit and patted the side, joking to Xu Ling, “Come, sit here, Ming Yu. To lose one’s horse might be a blessing, Before my breath runs out, you first stop your mourning.”

     Xu Ling wiped his tears with his sleeve, after repeating the words ‘how embarrassing’ several times, he choked up again, “It was this lowly official who had dragged Your Highness down.”

     Chang Geng laughed softly when he heard these words: “Last time when foreigners besieged the city, Brother Ming Yu himself determined to work hard and learn a foreign language. What do you intend to do after this? Do you want to go back and learn martial arts that could break big stones with your chest?”

     Xu Ling: “…”

     Chang Geng: “You see, Master Liao Ran doesn’t cry, he is very calm.”

     The monk shamelessly gestured, “The poor monk was not able to be of use and had to rely on the protection of Your Highness. I will surely light a longevity lamp for Your Highness and chant sutras every day for you after returning.”

     “Thank you, Master, but with your dignified image, if you were to open your mouth, I am afraid I would have to die young.”

      Chang Geng adjusted his posture with difficulty. A cold sweat immediately trickled down from behind his ear. He gasped for breath and said to Xu Ling, “These days, that boiling…matter, the bandits of Sha Hai Group had also begun to talk about it. Yang Rong Gui used my name to rebel. Even if we were innocent, they certainly can not catch our weak point, but…logic could say otherwise… Ah… Master, you can’t talk, but are you also blind?”

     Liao Ran, who had little eyesight, together with Xu Ling, came closer to support Chang Geng left and right, carefully avoided his wounds and turned him over.

     “Mm, logic says otherwise… we would not be able to clear ourselves.” Chang Geng then withstood the pain to fill in the latter part of the sentence, “The situation of the refugees in Jiangbei have arrived at this stage, we cannot give up halfway… Instead of rushing back to find the Emperor to defend ourselves, I’d better stay here to settle the matter thoroughly, then I can take advantage of this minor skin and flesh injury to take a leave and avoid suspicion.”

     Xu Ling saw his newly wrapped gauze starting to bleed again, hearing the careless phrase ‘minor skin and flesh injuries’, his admiration for Yan Wang was beyond reproach. It was not much less compared to Master Feng Han from the capital.

     He was about to express his feelings sincerely, when suddenly the monk’s face changed. He waved his hand to stop Master Xu and tilted his head to place his ear to the ground. A moment later, he gestured to Chang Geng, “There are no less than dozens of people coming, strong steeds, which side could they belong to?”

     No one could tell whether the people coming was General Zhong’s or the mad dogs of the King of Heaven.

     Chang Geng pressed Xu Ling’s shoulder with one hand and barely propped himself up. Xu Ling was surprised. He was about to open his mouth to stop him when Chang Geng reached out and interrupted: “Shh-“

     The relaxed look he deliberately displayed on his face just now vanished, his eyes shone brightly, his focus concentrated, like a wounded king of beasts. Even if he was bleeding all over, he could still bare his fangs and deliver a deadly blow.

     Chang Geng held a knife he had stolen from an unknown bandit. The pale back of his hand was covered with blue veins, yet he did not appear weak from grave injuries. On the contrary, it only made people feel horrified.

     Xu Ling could not help holding his breath.

     Suddenly, Chang Geng slightly tilted his head, his cracked and dry lips then showed a slight smile. He stretched out his hand to straighten his messy clothes, threw down his knife and said to Xu Ling firmly, “Go see which general is coming, go welcome them, say that I invited them in.”

     Xu Ling was dumbfounded: “Your Highness, how do you know…”

     “How can those people in the Sha Hai Group have such orderly horse hooves and footsteps? It must be one of the generals of Jiangbei Camp.” Chang Geng took time to cover up the horrifying wounds on his chest and abdomen with his torn up otter robe. He said gracefully, “Pardon this Prince for being slightly under the weather, how rude of me.”

     Liao Ran: “…”

     Yan Wang‘s skill of pretending could be said to have been passed down by Marshal Gu.

     Xu Ling threw himself into the ground with respect for him. At this time, even if Yan Wang farted, he would unconditionally believe in it. He immediately went out to welcome them.

     Chang Geng reached for his pouch and felt around. There were some emergency medicines in it besides the tranquilizer. He took out a piece of numbing leaf with trembling fingers and clasped it in his hand secretly. He planned to chew a piece for emergency later on if the pain was too much to bear. He then refused the aid of Liao Ran and supported himself with the knife to stand up.

     Just then, he heard Xu Ling shout, “Your Highness, it is…”

     Without saying anything, the visitor had already strode in in the midst of sharp horse neighing.

     Chang Geng: “…”

     Gu Yun, who was supposed to have returned to the capital, came in against the light.

     Chang Geng was no longer able to stand on his feet. The knife made a loud noise as it was dropped to the ground. He threw himself forward and was caught by Gu Yun.

     The Yan Wang who was still ‘walking leisurely in a bloody rain’ suddenly ‘collapsed from pain’, the calm and complacent ‘King of Beasts’ became a frail sick cat, a hand weakly dropped down from Gu Yun’s shoulder. He breathed a silky whisper: “Zi Xi, it hurts…”

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