Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol03 Ch62
In Yun Chang, the pavilions were still like always.
The sun had already set.
Yaotian sat on the royal chair, quietly looking out over the Royal Residence. She stroke the curtain that trembled companionless in the wind. Only half of the rouge she’d put on remained as she stood in the front of the mirror, lonely.
He Xia pa.s.sed through the many guards on the main path of the Royal Residence and into the inner corridor. The paths became more and more narrow as he went, finally stopping at the quietest corner. A large, heavy lock tightly shut the wooden door to the small building in front of him.
Princess Yaotian and her personal maid, Luyi, were imprisioned there.
“Prince Consort.” Only the guards who He Xia trusted the most were a.s.signed to guard the wooden door. The captain of the guards approached, greeting He Xia. He carefully asked, “Would Prince Consort like us to open the door to go in?”
He Xia’s raven black eyes slowly eyed the locked door.
Yaotian was inside.
She was his wife, the mother of his unborn child, the gentle, kind, smiling and persuasive princess. The sole Master of Yun Chang who personally wrote an Order, commanding him to be put to death, accusing him of betrayal.
He stared at the lock on the door, as if it didn’t just lock up the door but his heart. He stood there, silent for a long time, before shaking his head. “I’m not going in. Don’t tell anyone I came. Hand this inside and tell the Princess that I saw her Order. Zhang Yin had been secretly taking care of. This is my return gift. That Miss Fengyin, the one Princess presented me, helped me make it.”
The guards answered, carefully taking the pretty box from He Xia’s hands. The guard walked to the front of the door, took out a key, opened the door and entered.
The instant the door was opened, He Xia raised his head to look inside. In that fleeting moment, he could see nothing.
Not long later, the door opened from inside. The captain of the guards got out, carefully locking the door again. He approached He Xia to report, “The gift has been delivered. Every word Prince Consort said was delivered, not one word more…”
“Ah!” A sudden panicked scream was heard inside the room.
The frightened scream was completely off tune. Those familiar with Yaotian’s voice knew it was the Princess’ scream.
Those who were picked to guard the Princess were no ordinary people, but listening to her scream, almost all of the guards – including the captain himself- couldn’t help but shudder.
After the scream, there seemed to be a thud as something heavy fell onto the purple and golden tiles.
Everyone expected Yaotian had opened the box and was shocked by the contents inside. But what on earth had the Prince Consort given cause such desperate fear?
While the guards’ expressions were frightened, He Xia’s calm expression was even more terrifying.
Only he knew what that box held.
The box contained a treasure. At least, once upon a time, the Princess and Gui Changqing had both treasured.
They thought she could play qin songs as beautiful as Pingting, qualified to touch everything He Xia had attentively prepared for Pingting. She took Pingting’s comb, slept on the linen Pingting once slept on, and touched the qin Pingting played.
In He Xia’s eyes, there was no way that was a treasure. It was a torture weapon against He Xia.
Every qin sound from the Prince Consort Residence came from those sharp fingernails. Those two hands each clawed through He Xia’s heart viciously.
Fengyin’s two qin playing hands, rather than growing on its master, might as well be cut off and presented, b.l.o.o.d.y, in a box as a gift.
The Marquess of Jing-An returned all of the past humiliation and torture back to its original owner.
“Princess! Princess! What’s wrong? Princess!” Luyi’s voice came in fragments, trembling through the wooden door.
It rang out.
The people outside strained their ears, paying attention to the movements inside. Luyi called a few times, suddenly stopped for some reason. The inside of the room instantly quietened like death. A moment pa.s.sed before Luyi started to scream again. “Someone! Someone come!”
“Someone come! The Princess has been frightened! Call the physician! Quickly call the physician!”
“Mister Guard, Mister Guards outside! I beg you, please go find the Prince Consort!”
“Princess…Princess…oh G.o.d, blood!” The wooden door suddenly began to sound, perhaps from being strongly hit by something. The guards jumped back in shock. There was someone’s nails clawing messily from inside. “Blood, blood! Someone! Someone! Someone come…” Luyi cried out.
The guards felt rather scared thanks to her frantic calls. They stole a look at He Xia.
He Xia listened to Luyi’s calls and instructed, “You may all leave. Without my permission, no one is to come.”
The guards listened to the calls that was enough to give nightmares. They were dying to leave. The area was immediately wiped clean of people.
“Physicians, I beg you all, please go call the physician. Who, just who can…” Luyi kept on crying inside. The sounds of several collisions were heard as if she had gone back to Yaotian’s side, knocking over several tables and chairs.
The pot that held water spilled onto the ground.
“Princess, Princess, you’re awake?” Luyi’s voice was a little more collected. “Princess, are you all right? You scared me to death…”
“Luyi, it hurts…” That was Yaotian’s voice.
A brief moment of silence.
“Blood, all this blood, why…” Yaotian’s weak yet frightened voice came again.
“Princess, Princess! Don’t move…someone come! Save her! The Princess has been frightened into early labour, someone!” Luyi started to cry out again, even more piercing to the heart than before. “Prince Consort, please come quickly Prince Consort! The Princess is having early labour! Princess…Princess will die…”
The sparks in He Xia’s eyes began to flare up and burn, unextinguishable.
“Princess, Princess! Save her, save the Princess! I beg you to open the door! We need a physician, even a few herbs is fine!” The wooden door thudded ever so loudly as Luyi maniacally thumped the door, shouting at the very top of her hoa.r.s.e voice.
“I beg you all, I beg you all! The Princess is having early labour! Physician, physician!”
“Prince Consort, Prince Consort, you are so cruel…”
Prince Consort, Prince Consort.
The Prince Consort of Yun Chang. There was none above him but one.
The one to coldly glance at everyone, but with a gentle lift of his lips, the maiden sitting on the throne was instantly captured out of the clouds.
The two had come together, despite their differences.
In the atrium well decorated with flowers, pa.s.sion hid.
Remembering the wedding, he removed the coronet from her head. Yaotian sighed, “It’s the night of the wedding chamber, and the man in front of me is talented both literarily and militarily, a true hero. It’s just like a really good dream, so I’m a little afraid that it’s just a dream.”
Her smile in the candlight seemed to be printed in his mind, like the reddish glow after a drink.
Princess, my wife. It wasn’t a dream, but a nightmare.
Only one could be true, and it was a nightmare that no one could escape from.
“Help! Someone come save the Princess…I beg you all…I beg you…” Luyi’s heartbreaking voice echoed in his ear.
He Xia’s handsome face twisted, a sudden burst of iciness in his palms. He abruptly lowered his head, only then realising he had grabbed a hold of the lock on the door at some point. He was surprised and immediately took a small step back, standing still once more.
“Someone come, save her! I beg you, save the Princess…”
“Prince Consort, you mustn’t be so cruel. I beg you, Prince Consort, the Princess is dying…”
Luyi’s rapidly diminishing voice continued to wail, “Even if you kill the Princess, does Prince Consort not want his own flesh and blood anymore? I beg you, Misters outside, please, please pa.s.s the message to the Prince Consort!”
Kill the Princess?
He Xia shook his head. No, he had never thought about killing her. He only thought of seizing all military power and take her throne, but never thought once about killing her.
Why did he have to kill her when she was his wife for this lifetime, his future queen. He once said to make the Princess become the n.o.blest woman in the world.
He didn’t want to harm her, he really didn’t. But his wife wrote an Order, gathering up Officials to punish him. The letter had been concise and straight to the point, clearly stating that in the future, he would be sentenced to death.
Almost, just a little bit more, perhaps the one being locked up would be himself. The one bleeding would be him and the one being hacked to pieces would be him!
A nightmare, this was a nightmare.
The sound of Yaotian’s screaming was sandwiched between Luyi’s crying.
“Ah…ahhh! Luyi, I’m not going to make it….ah!”
“Princess, the physician…will soon…will soon come here…”
“No no, I don’t want the physician. I want the Prince Consort…the Prince Consort…”
“Hurry, find someone to call the Prince Consort over. Make him come here…”
Luyi let out her voice to cry, “Princess, the Prince Consort he…”
“Luyi, I want to see him…I won’t make it. I want to see him. Hurry, he won’t be able see me…”
Yaotian’s weak voice was scattered, but it still had indescribable devotion.
The He Xia who had been standing outside the door like a clay statue suddenly jerked a few times. He stumbled towards the door, his five fingers tightly enclosing around the cold and heavy metal lock.
Cold and heavy.
This was the lock on his heart, the lock on his life.
As long as the Princess remained, the matter of the Order, would continue over and over again. Nothing could change this outcome.
He Xia held onto the lock, his sweat merging with the metal, making his palms both wet and cold.
Yaotian was still moaning, “Prince Consort, go find the Prince Consort for me…he wouldn’t refuse to see me…go find him…ah! It hurts so much…”
The hand He Xia had around the lock suddenly began to violently shake.
Princess, Princess, I can’t see you.
You are He Xia’s wife, He Xia’s one and only wife in this lifetime.
I don’t hate you for letting Gui Changqing secretly try to control me. I don’t hate you for making me lose Pingting. I don’t hate you.
I just hate the skies, hate this nightmare, hate that you had to write an Order to sentence me to death and hate everything that made me unable to protect you.
Hot tears began to drip down his face, twisted with pain.
He Xia touched the lock on the door and listened to Yaotian’s cries and calls for him. His knees helplessly caved in.
Early next morning, a grave and solemn funeral was held, startling the peasants who were planning to work through another long day.
Far away, the Yun Chang Royal Residence seemed white, particularly desolate.
The peasants heard of the sad news. The pregnant Master of Yun Chang had gone into early labour due to her weak body. She died in the arms of the heartbroken Prince Consort.
What they didn’t know was that very same night, several of the officials in the court had been secretly executed for various reasons.
It was a dark night in Dong Lin. Even the stars were silent.
Moran hid himself in the forest as he stared warily at the flickering sparks in the distance.
The sparks seemed to blot out the sky, forming an arc, tightly surrounding this patch of mountain forest they hid in.
Arrows were on strings, posed yet not firing.
This critical situation had been going on for several days. The final bit of strength of the Royal House of Dong Lin had been trapped, unable to move. Both ally and enemy sides understood that this calmness was simply a false impression before the bloodshed to follow.
The bushes beside him began to rustle.
“Who knows when He Xia is going to come?” Luoshang carefully came over until he was right beside Moran. He too stared out at the enemy that surrounded him for several days.
Moran whispered, “Even if He Xia came out from the capital of Yun Chang, he should’ve arrived by now. I reckon before tomorrow evening, they will definitely launch attack.”
The rock on his heart seemed to become even heavier.
They were outnumbered and daunted by the army of Yun Chang opposite them. With just Moran and the remaining people beside him, even thinking about escaping from the battle alive was a luxury, let alone protecting the Queen.
Was Dong Lin, the country that once overpowered the four countries with its military power, really going to be ruined like this?
The two people hid in the forest, watching the figures in the enemy camp under the cover of night. As if unable to stand the oppressive atmosphere, Luoshang spoke in a low voice. “The Queen’s illness has gotten worse again…” This man had always been optimistic, but now he took on the tone of deep sorrow.
“Hush!” Moran suddenly urged, “Look.”
Luoshang followed his gaze and looked across . The soldiers and generals started moving. The camp began to bustle with activity, appearing to be getting ready to attack.
“It seems He Xia has arrived,” Luoshang whispered.
Moran coldly nodded. His gaze was sharp as he studied the enemy’s movements from far away. The enemy army orderly lined up on the hillside. They had a large number of soldiers from the siege. He Xia brought even more. The enemy Yun Chang army seemed to be in endless supply as they appeared in the horizon. Every squad had a captain with a flaming torch. From afar, it all seemed like a line of sparks stretched across the mountain.
Moran and Luoshang had accompanied Chu Beijie to all sorts of places, fought in numerous wars, but never once tried a battle with such a large gap in strength. Their hearts couldn’t help freeze.
Moran looked at Luoshang, grinding his teeth. “The decisive battle is approaching. You go protect the Queen, and I’ll take the men to resist here for a while.”
Luoshang looked at the flashing blades on the opposite side, dense like a forest, before looking back at the pitiful amount of soldiers behind him. He understood none of them would be able to survive this battle. He had been with Chu Beijie for many years and was used to seeing the difference between life and death. He knew this critical moment could not be dragged on. He lowered his voice, “Good brother, kill as many enemies as you can. We can compare who killed the most on the way to the afterlife.”
He whacked Moran’s shoulder and fell back into the dense forest to report the bad news to the Queen of Dong Lin.
The long sound from the horn began to sound on the opposite hillside, travelling through to the skies.
After the horn sounded, the heavy drums began to boom. At first the rhythm stopped after every two or three strikes, as if the sky had finally spitted out a few drops of rain after several days of overcast.
Gradually, the rain began to fall. The drum gradually became more intensive, the rhythm faster and faster, the sound louder and louder. It seemed the earth had decided to follow the drum’s frightening momentum, causing all the listening Dong Lin soldiers’ hearts to thump faster and faster.
When the drumming came to the climax, the gracefully ordered army of Yun Chang finally began to move.
The sky was filled with the light of fire, reflecting blades, as they aggressively charged towards the patch of forest they had been surrounding.
“Stand up, the enemy is too big. Hiding is useless.” Moran stood in the forest he had been hiding in for so long. He turned to look at the other Dong Lin soldiers who had been hiding behind him. “The final battle has begun. Sons of Dong Lin, straighten your spines!”
The enemy general at the front was rapidly approaching them.
The metallic footsteps before them had broken silence, particularly the forest’s tranquillity.
The representative of the Dong Lin Royal House – the Queen – and the final remnants of Dong Lin’s military power were once hidden in this silence.
Moran threw away concerns about life or death. He looked at the ma.s.sive Yun Chang army and likened them to a cloud of birds that gradually swarmed towards them. He displayed the courage Chu Beijie honed and was not afraid in the slightest as he took out the sword from his waist, quietly waiting for the two sides to meet.
The raging fire slowly approached, dying the forest trees red.
Moran led his comrades who shared a common destiny. They stood straight in the cold evening wind.
Everyone held their breath.
Dong Lin, the place that I was born and grew up, I will shed my blood and bury my body for you.
No one was afraid. They once followed the one and only Duke of Zhen-Bei. They have seen the small gap between life and death, as well as ultimate glory.
The despair over certain death, forced ruthlessness into their eyes.
The army of Yun Chang pressed closer and closer, the hooves becoming more rapid.
“Kill! Kill! Kill!” The Yun Chang soldiers growled, causing a terribly giant sound that echoed in the mountains.
The general at the very front of the Yun Chang army had his sword ready. His horse ran freely. The army was like a ma.s.sive beast whose shackles were finally unlocked. They charged at Moran and the rest at an incredibly fast speed.
Moran’s hand tightened around his sword.
He knew he was bound to be swallowed up by this flood, just like how Dong Lin was bound to become history in this firelight.
The incoming flames clearly lit up their faces.
Calvary, spears, and swords covered their line of sight. The mighty force of thousands of soldiers brought the roar of the wind as they surged forward. The dignified air no longer had the strength to act as barrier against the two parties. Moran’s gaze glued onto the general at the very front of the Yun Chang army, who was undoubtedly the main commander of this decisive battle.
The fast horses rushed in front of him. The enemy general swung down at Moran’s head from his horse.
The instant Moran raised his sword, he heard the sound of wind.
Drums rumbled and battle cries split the skies yet he heard the sound of wind, as if all the drums, battle cries, were all less important than that slight sound of wind.
“Ah!” There was a piercing scream which appeared to be from the mouth of the enemy general on the horse. His hand was posed above Moran’s head before his body began to violently shake and fall stiffly off his horse.
A glistening golden arrow had pierced into his head, straight through the forehead.
It was a good shot. The arrow was fast and extremely accurate.
The two sides who had been prepared to fight to death were shocked to a standstill by this horrible scene.
The weapons were almost about to hit when the main commander of Yun Chang suddenly died in a most bizarre way. It shocked the Yun Chang soldiers more than anything.
For a moment, for a single fleeting moment.
The main commander actually fell just before the battle had actually begun.
General Chengjing had died.
General Chengjing of the Weimo Regiment, one of Yun Chang’s seven regiments, had been killed by an arrow.
Who had such ability?
As the arrow pierced from the back of his head, the archer had to be behind. The Yun Chang soldiers were rather scared as they turned to look behind their own army.
On the hillside rear, a figure on a horse appeared.
Moran studied the figure. His body began to quake. He was so excited he could barely hold onto the sword in his hands.
Was this real?
The rider had one hand on the reins, the other hand on a bow. He had stopped at the top of the hillside. Even though the moon was bright, the crowd couldn’t see the man’s face. In the haziness, they could only see the light that filtered out from his sides. He was facing Yun Chang’s army of several thousand, yet was all alone, like a G.o.d who had come into the mortal world.
So far away…
Was he the owner of the golden arrow?
The cavalry units tried to answer the questions amongst themselves until the figure pulled out an arrow and drew the bow. The motion was as fluid as water, the sound of breaking wind appeared again. Its momentum was terrifying. In just a blink of the eye, the golden light flashed by.
“Ah!” came another scream. It broke the quiet world caused by the shocking death of Chengjing.
Under the watchful eyes of the crowd, another lieutenant of Yun Chang fell off his horse, landing beside the body of Chengjing.
The Yun Chang army began to rustle with fear. Who was he? Who had such terrifying abilities?
Like a struck of lightning, the rattled soldiers of Yun Chang were shocked again by this second arrow. They finally remembered they were on the merciless battle.
But some people reacted quicker than them.
The opposition’s swords quickly flung them off.
“The Duke! The Duke has returned!” Moran chopped down a few of the Yun Chang soldiers who lost their fighting spirit. His face was full of surprise at this miraculous encounter. He howled, “Brothers, yell with me! The Duke of Zhen-Bei has returned!”
“The Duke of Zhen-Bei has returned! The Duke of Zhen-Bei has returned!”
The sound of extremely delighted howls filled the remote hillside.
The t.i.tle, the Duke of Zhen-Bei, was more effective than any other weapon in slashing away the Yun Chang army’s morale.
The Duke of Zhen-Bei once lead the army of Dong Lin and unnerved the whole world.
Even Yun Chang’s G.o.d of war, the Prince Consort, didn’t dare underestimate the Duke of Zhen-Bei.
The man, amongst tens of thousands of soldiers, took away General Chengjing’s life with a single arrow.
Chu Beijie had his horse stopped on the hillside in the moonlight. The Yun Chang army saw an even more terrifying seen. Figures of men continued to appear from Chu Beijie’s side, appearing behind the rear of the Yun Chang army.
On the other side of the hill, Dong Lin actually had soldiers led by the Duke of Zhen-Bei hidden in ambush.
They’d been tricked!
They had really been ambushed by the Duke of Zhen-Bei from behind. This completely shattered the remaining morale of the Yun Chang army. No one knew who was the first, but someone screamed before throwing down the spear in his hands, running elsewhere to escape.
“Duke of Zhen-Bei! It’s the Duke of Zhen-Bei!”
The defeated soldiers were like a fallen mountain. Without their lead and vice commanders, the Yun Chang army became a pile of scattered dust.
Moran led his men, surging from behind to kill. After seeing the legendary missing Chu Beijie suddenly appear, he knew the Yun Chang soldiers who dropped their weapons would never summon the courage to resist again.
The screams continued. The escaping Yun Chang army was like an uncontrollable flood, oozing in every direction.
The Duke of Zhen-Bei, the once missing foothold of Dong Lin, had returned.
The forest, hillside, and land underneath the moon were filled with the smell of blood.
Moran was too busy to bother chasing the collapsing Yun Chang army. He stepped over the floor covered in Yun Chang soldiers as he sprinted towards the figure on the hillside.
He never sprinted so fast in his life before until he could see that familiar face, the calm expression he thought he’d never be able to see.
“Duke!” With all his b.l.o.o.d.y wounds, Moran pounced at Chu Beijie’s feet. “You…You’re finally back…”
He had always been calm and reserved, but at this moment, he was delighted beyond control. The thousands of words in his heart wasn’t able to be formed at all, so he just burst into tears.
The Dong Lin soldiers that rushed behind him were equally delighted. All of them kneeled with a thump, some of them not able to stop their tears either.
Chu Beijie pulled Moran up, shouting, “Men on the battlefield should bleed not cry. What are you crying for?” He carefully studied Moran’s bleeding face for a while before his voice became serious. “Moran, you’ve done good.” When he heard of Dong Lin’s people being trapped, he rushed nonstop, finally saving Moran and the others. He himself was quite delighted but wasn’t used to revealing it in front of such a crowd. He asked, “Is Sister-in-Law all right?”
“The Queen is in the forest. Fortunately Duke has arrived at the right time.” Talking about these serious matters, Moran retrieved the excited expression on his face. His face darkened slightly as he whispered, “Duke, the Queen’s illness has gotten worse.”
Chu Beijie was silent at this. “I’ll go see her.” He then turned, his voice becoming a lot more gentle. “Pingting, will you come with me?”
Only then did Moran realise there was a graceful figure behind Chu Beijie. He couldn’t help being shocked, “Miss Bai?”
Pingting took off her veil. “Moran, long time no see.” She smiled faintly and then turned to Chu Beijie. “I’ll go with you.”
She let Chu Beijie help her onto the horse and gently put her hand in Chu Beijie’s large palm. The two rode together, down the hillside and into the forest.
The rest of the people went down the hill, returning to the tiny camp inside the forest together.
When they got closer towards the camp, they happened to see Luoshang maniacally bolt out. He almost collided with Chu Beijie who had just dismounted.
Luoshang raised his head and saw Chu Beijie’s face, screaming, “It’s really the Duke? It wasn’t a joke?”
The impossible miracle suddenly happened. He was so excited that he forgot about the hierarchy and grabbed onto Chu Beijie’s hand.
Chu Beijie patted his shoulder, glancing him with appreciation. “Attaboy, you’ve grown up. I’m going to see Sister-in-Law first and we’ll talk later.” He then led Pingting into the tent, leaving Luoshang rooted to his spot in disbelief.
He suddenly grabbed onto Moran who had been following them. His face was really quite serious as he asked, “We didn’t meet the Duke because we’re already on the way to the afterlife, right?”