CHAPTER 3: RECONNAISANCE

I

It was impossible for the Marquis of Order to rest at home every day —— A day of Great Liang's officials started with attendance at 5 or 7 in the morning, for a minority of low-ranking idling officers, they could go home to their families after the court session ended at 3 or 5 in the afternoon. But of course, Gu Yun was no low-ranking idling officer.


Gu Yun rarely returned to the capital, hence even after the court session had ended, if he wasn't being summoned by the Emperor, then he was being looked for by other colleagues, and his socializing schedule was packed with no room left to breathe. In the very rare occasion where there was a free day, he had to travel to the Northern camp to do one round of inspections. Being able to return to the manor before sundown was extremely rare.


In short, he lived a life worse than chickens and dogs.


Therefore, if one wanted Marshal Gu’s personal guidance, one must find him in the very early morning before the court sessions started.


From then on, Chang Geng had been climbing up at the break of dawn and returning in the middle of the night. Every day when the chickens were still sound asleep, he would have already brought the sword training puppet over to wait in Gu Yun's courtyard.


The adolescent was growing fast, and his figure was tall and thin. He led the way with a sword in hand, the iron puppet noisily following behind. Its pair of iron arms stretched forward, on the left side hung a steam power lantern, and a food container hung on the right, which made it resemble a food delivery man.


When he arrived at Marshal Gu's, the old servant would take the container and start a small fire to keep the food warm with a stove. Gu Yun will then start his adopted son's early morning learning session.

The food delivery ‘man’ would then get completely beaten up, even worse than animals: truly tragic.

After the lesson was finished, their breakfast was also heated up. The two of them would have their meals together, then they would part ways to take care of their own things. Gu Yun had to leave, Chang Geng went back for the reading session with his teacher, and in the afternoon, he still had martial arts practice with the family guards in the manor.


Truth was, Gu Yun was not a good teacher. Much like Shen Yi, he also had the habit of going on about whatever subjects came to his mind. Very often as he finished fighting the iron puppet, he had already explained about how to dispatch and create Heavy Armors formations, what was the proper ratio between Heavy and Light Armor units to distribute to be the most efficient in saving Ziliujin, and even the differences between the horse breeds from the Western Regions and Central Plains, which type of ration was best for fighting against hunger, so on and so forth.


Only until these lectures took one trip around all of Great Liang that Gu Yun would finally become aware and ask Chang Geng: "Did I go off topic again? What did I intend to talk about at the start?"


Chang Geng: "..."


The two sat on the big metal feet of the puppet, combined with the "clacking" sound of the gears turning inside the body of the iron monster, they would try to recall their original topic that had escaped by a thousand miles.


At the beginning, upon hearing that Marshal Gu was personally passing on his knowledge, Ge Pang Xiao and Cao Niangzi were both extremely excited. After overcoming many difficulties and many suppressed yawns, they managed to run over to listen to his teaching. But unexpectedly, from the beginning until the end, they could only feel one thing - what is this!?


Ge Pang Xiao secretly commented: "I feel that it’d be better to listen to Teacher Shen's chanting."


"It’s General Shen, how come you keep forgetting?" Cao Niangzi corrected him with irritation. He pondered for a moment, fighting to choose between ‘beautiful man’ and ‘conscience’. In the end, his conscience won, and he added, "I feel the same."


Only Chang Geng had absolutely no opinion. If he could stay by Gu Yun’s side for just a while every day, then he would be content to even stand guard at the door all throughout the night. After all, his nights of sleep were nothing but repeated nightmares, nothing he’d be reluctant to let go of.

Much like how strongly he believed that he could restrain Bone of Impurity, he believed that he could become a sharp blade, scrape away all the unnecessary excesses every day, including his own strange thoughts about yifu.


What's more, Gu Yun’s lectures were simply disorganized - if one would listen carefully, they would find that the matters he talked about were all valid and reliable.


Gu Yun was brought to the battlefields by his parents back when he was still very young, his few years living a comfortable life in the palace did not last long. At the age of fifteen, he began to follow an old veteran general marching to the South to suppress bandits. Since then, he had continued to roll around in the military until this day.


The seven major military factions, except for the Iron Dragons used for traveling on seas that he was not too familiar with - he had clashed with all of them. He had victories, but also suffered many losses, thus for their strengths and weaknesses - he knew them like the palm of his hand.


Chang Geng listened to it all as if he was starving. Gu Yun was like a mountain to him - for him to look up to every day and find his direction forward, and with every step, trying to suppress the inappropriate thoughts he harbored in his heart.


However, Gu Yun did not consider this to be teaching.


He had especially invited a teacher and a martial arts instructor to teach Chang Geng. Every morning, whether it was giving Chang Geng pointers on fighting the iron puppet or talking about whatever subjects he had in his knowledge - in Gu Yun’s opinion, it was only him making some free time to play with Chang Geng.


After a long period of observation, Gu Yun did not think that Chang Geng was suitable to walk the same path he did, Chang Geng always bore a gentle and restrained demeanor in front of him. Even though he could be somewhat stubborn at times, overall, he was still a sensible person.


Gu Yun thought that when the boy grew up, he should be a righteous and noble character, not a killer general that both demons and gods would not dare to come close to.





Just like that, the end of the year had arrived.


In the first year of the new Emperor's enthronement, the Emperor changed his title to Long An, and announced that there would be amnesty for the entire country.


The country, of course, also included the barbarian prince, Jia Lai Yinghuo, who was currently imprisoned in the capital.


The Emperor had patiently suppressed this matter for more than two months and had finally used this roundabout method to express his opinion. The old Wolf King's condition of increasing their tribute by ten percent each year was simply too tempting, yet he did not want to disrespect Gu Yun directly at the same time, thus the matter was set aside after each and every discussion. The letters from both the Ministry of Revenue and the Marquis of Order were both delayed up until the festival to appease the Heaven - now they could finally see the result of this long and drawn out debate.


The capital guard forces lined up on both sides, Shen Yi ushered his horse and went straight to Gu Yun's side - who donned a Light Armor suit - then stopped.


Gu Yun looked at him then slowly turned his horse to walk back, Shen Yi quickly followed after him and whispered: "Grand Marshal, I see that this time His Majesty has firmly decided to ‘release the tiger back to its mountain’. What should we do?”


"The Son of Heaven* wishing to show his pledge to the Heavens are prestigious words from the supreme ruler, how could there be any room for me to cut in?" Gu Yun said with a blank expression, "And in order to appease me, His Majesty had promised to supply the Black Iron Camp with thirty chariots and four hundred Iron Armors, his decree had also been passed on to Ling Shu Institute. His Majesty has done his best like this, how can I be so shameless as to continue pestering him with such a trivial matter?”


*In ancient China, the son of heaven is another way to refer to the Emperor.


The new Emperor was just over the age of thirty, and when compared to his father, he was much more strong-willed.


Gu Yun did not concern himself with power, whether the new Emperor was tough or not, he did not care, but the problem was that his policy on the matter of the border was even more nearsighted than that of his father.


The two men walked side by side in silence for a while, Gu Yun then said: "But it is also a fact that the Treasury is empty. His Majesty just inherited the throne, it could not be helped that he was a bit rushed - you don't know, yesterday, the ‘big hat’ Western man sent a messenger over, they talked so much all afternoon that my ears are still ringing now.”


"..." It took a moment for Shen Yi to react. "You mean the Western Pope?"


In the hearts of most Great Liang people, the Westerners had quite unacceptable behaviors - the 'pope' never wanted to stay still in his temple, he and his big hat appeared everywhere, poking his nose into everything. At the same time, the words of their king held almost no value - wasn't that the same as rebellion?


Gu Yun nodded: "They expressed that they wish to begin trading with us. I listened in for a while yesterday. They want to extend the Silk Road along the Western Regions into a large commercial road, and both sides would be providing troops to guard and ensure that the trades go smoothly. Their flowery words fell all over the place, they even drew out a physical map for it already, and painted out a large unrealistic profit in order to tempt His Majesty.”


Shen Yi smiled: “Trading is a very good thing, what are you talking about?"


"I don’t mean that trading is a bad thing - just that although I'm not very knowledgeable about doing business –" Gu Yun said, "– I still think that if the foreigners were to trade with our country, it might not be very beneficial for their side”


“If there is no benefit, why must they travel all the way here? It almost seems as if they harbor ulterior motives.”


This was the truth.


Western goods began to flow into Great Liang from the reign of Emperor Wu. There were carefully crafted little trinkets and playthings such as glazed lamps and glasses. Unfortunately, it was not at all long-lasting, they only stayed fresh and new for a few years. Because the inflowing Western artifacts, although were very refined, many of them required to run on Ziliujin. The moment they landed in Central Plains, they had indirectly fueled the rampaging Ziliujin black markets.


Emperor Wu felt that if it kept going on like this, the country would soon fall. In order to strictly control the private use of Ziliujin in the common folks, he prepared both soft and hard tactics. He had issued four decrees in one day, and thoroughly investigated the private use of Ziliujin - all of the offenders were slain upon arrest - their acts were treated the same as rebellion, so there would be no tolerance. They had to first put on a high-pressure approach to preserve the lifeline of this country.


Later, Ling Shu Institute took the lead and gathered a large number of Mechanics from the common folks, assigned them to quickly work overtime to imitate loads of Western goods with similar functions but powered instead by coal and winding mechanisms.


The hard knife had tightened the way out of Ziliujin, and the soft knife directly cut off the market of Western goods. Even if one owned Ziliujin, who was not willing to use a cheaper fuel as an alternative? In addition, the designs of these Western products were tacky, and in the eyes of the Central Plains people, they were not quite up to their taste.


The genuine Western goods were quickly replaced by imitations, and the merchants’ products were not able to sell in Central Plains.


Instead, delicately-made goods like silk were highly favored in Western countries.


Gu Yun said: "Perhaps I have thought too much."


Shen Yi was silent for a moment: "How did His Majesty react to this?"


Gu Yun’s lips curled up to reveal a bitter smile. He said: “His Majesty had absolutely no fear. He feels that as long as the Black Iron Camp is keeping guard of the Northwest, Great Liang will be invulnerable. Even I wasn't aware that I have such grand abilities, how could my head not hurt over this?"


Shen Yi asked: "His Majesty said that in front of you?"


Gu Yun smiled in pain: "Not only did he say so, he even gifted me a fox fur coat.”


Marshal Gu had the bad habit of only wearing a single layer of clothing all year round, this was well-known even among all the officers in the imperial court. It was only when met with blizzards while stationed out in the border that he would add a few more layers. The Emperor now gifted him with proper winter clothing, it would be hard not to see the intent hidden in his words.


Shen Yi fell silent.


Gu Yun: "I will probably go back to the Northwest after celebrating New Year. As long as the Black Iron Camp is still stationed here, His Majesty won’t be able to get a good night's sleep.”


Thousands of miles of mountains and rivers had formed into a single line in the words of the new Emperor, weighing heavily on the shoulders of the Marquis of Order.


They felt that as he held the Black Iron Camp's three factions in his hands, he would remain invincible, triumphant in every battle, there was nothing he could not do.


They relied on him, yet they were afraid of him.


Gu Yun joked: "Tell me, what if one day I just suddenly die, what are we supposed to do then?"


Shen Yi's expression changed, he scolded: “Cut that unfortunate talk!"


Gu Yun said with little care: “There is no need to avoid this subject, life and death, wealth and poverty, they are all up to fate. Us with the surname Gu, not a single one of us has managed to live for long.”


“And not only do we have a short lifespan, but the newer generation also downgraded from the one before. Back then whenever the old marquis saw me, he could never help but let out a deep sigh, and now as it comes to my generation, I...have no one to be my heir.”


Shen Yi: “Don't you still have His Fourth Highness?”


Gu Yun shook his head: “That child is not fated to live a life bathing in mist and eating sand. Tch, on such a good New Year's Eve, why are we talking about these gloomy subjects? Go and order a Red Kite for me. I will go home to pick up my son."


He charged forward on his horse after he finished, leaving Shen Yi behind.


Shen Yi snarled angrily: "Why didn't you say so sooner? There are only twenty Red Kites in the entire capital, how am I supposed to get one when you only tell me today?"


Gu Yun: "You try to handle it-"


The word 'it' floated away, wrapped in the northwest wind, then hit Shen Yi in his face. The Marquis of Order had long disappeared down the road.



Chang Geng had been reading his book in the house in a very focused and diligent manner when suddenly, the entrance was kicked open from the outside. Cold wind and snowflakes rushed in, swept through his stack of paper on the desk, causing the sheets to scatter all over the floor.


This kind of troublesome nuisance could be none other than Gu Yun, Chang Geng reluctantly turned back: "Yifu."


Ge Pang Xiao and Cao Niangzi were hopping alongside Gu Yun, one on his left and the other on his right, and they all waved their hands, beckoning him: "Big brother, big brother! Marquis said he will take us to board the Red Kite!"


Chang Geng: "..."


Chang Geng naturally did not like to go outside, preferring peace rather than liveliness, not comfortable having loads of people hanging around him. Back then, the reason for him having to go to General Slope every day for his sword practice was because his yard was not big enough. Since arriving at the Marquis' Manor, he had no intention of going outside for a stroll.


In his opinion, as the year came to an end, for celebrating the New Year, wouldn't it be much better for everyone to gather around by a small stove at home, heating up two pots of wine while having a chat?


Why must one go out to drink the cold wind while watching crowds of people?


But Gu Yun had already taken the initiative by taking down Chang Geng's outer coat: "Hurry up, don't drag your feet, Uncle Wang said that you have not set foot outside the door ever since you moved to the manor, are you planting mushrooms here?"


Just imagining the sea of countless people out there, Chang Geng already had goosebumps all over. He could not find the joy even if it meant going together with Gu Yun, thus he stood still, trying to make up an excuse: "Yifu, we must be mindful about New Year celebration, someone must stay behind to watch the house, I... -Ah!"


Gu Yun did not allow him any room to speak, he immediately wrapped the coat around Chang Geng, then regarded him like a house post that knew how to shout, and directly carried him out of the manor on his shoulder: "This kid, still young but being way too ‘mindful’ already."



Chang Geng blushed red from the top of his head down to the tips of his toes, cooked until crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, emitting smoke. He was angry to the point of not being able to make a single sound.

Yet at the same time, Cao Niangzi utterly adored being regarded as a house post like this, almost drooling as he watched Marshal Gu's figure from behind. He said to Ge Pang Xiao: "If in this life I can also be carried by the Marquis even just once, then... I can truly die without regret!"

Ge Pang Xiao, upon hearing this, immediately wiped his nose then got into a firm stance, sucking in his stomach - in the readied position to carry a large bag, and patted his shoulder: "Come up!"


Cao Niangzi stared at him for a moment, then pursed his lips to spit, and ran out of the gate in anger.




On New Year's Eve, all forbidding regulations were lifted.


Outside, Gu Yun still remembered to save his son some dignity and finally put him back down.

Chang Geng's expression darkened, walking forward with long strides. His back was straight enough to serve as a flagpole, his cloak flowing behind him. His figure already bore the resemblance of his future self - tall and strong.


Gu Yun rubbed his nose, quickly catching up to him, shamelessly asking: "Are you angry?"

Chang Geng slapped away the hand on his shoulder then replied coldly: "I do not dare to be!"


Gu Yun: "Hiding in the house all day like this, won't you feel tired? Little kids..."


Chang Geng solemnly glared at him, and for once Gu Yun understood the situation. He corrected himself: "People of young age - people of young age should be a little more energetic. You only have lived for a few years, yet you're already bored of the mortal world?"


Chang Geng had no other response for this type of lively yifu, his face remained expressionless, once again intending to slap away Gu Yun's hand, which was currently pulling him. But unexpectedly, as he just happened to touch Gu Yu's fingertips, he was immediately taken aback and shivered at how cold they were.

Chang Geng frowned, he grasped Gu Yun's hand and found that it was completely frozen, cold enough to have turned blue as if it belonged to a dead body that had just been dug out of the ground. There was no Ziliujin burning inside people. Running around with merely one layer of clothing in this harsh winter, how could one not feel cold?


Chang Geng was hurt inside, hurt enough to further fuel the anger in his heart. He sulked while untying his own cloak, then wrapped it around Gu Yun without any explanation. Gu Yun was forced to bend down as Chang Geng did so, but he did not avoid it, he simply stood still and let Chang Geng tie the string for him. Gu Yun smiled, enjoying the filial piety that was soaked in anger, and he thought to himself:

"It truly is very nice to have a child, after Xiao Chang Geng grows up, I should go find someone to give birth to my own - it would be even better to have a girl."

For New Year's Eve, after each hour passed by, there would be a long trombone sounding out in the capital, reminding people of the approaching new year.

The city was engulfed in the loud sound of drums and firecrackers, countless red papers flew in the air like butterflies. The riverside, high buildings, the middle of the streets, they were all packed with people. Chang Geng felt numb at just one glance – it truly seemed as if people from all over the world were crowded into the small city of Sijiu*. Compared with this kind of excitement, the crowds of people pushing and pulling at the market gathering in Yanhui Town simply felt desolated and lonely.


*四九城, refers to the Imperial City’s four gates and Inner City’s nine gates. This is the area of the imperial capital that contains the imperial palace and the residences of the some nobles and court officials


Whether it was the fact that they had forced him to go out or the eager Ge Pang Xiao and Cao Niangzi, at this moment, in Chang Geng's eyes, everything felt so unreasonable. He was holding onto Gu Yun’s cold hand, trying to warm it up as much as he could, while still paying attention to the two countryside children enthusiastically looking around so they wouldn't get lost. Even though there were already a few incredible Black Iron Camp guards with them, he was still immensely busy with worrying.


Some people might have been born to constantly be concerned.


At that moment, a long sound resembling both an eagle and a crane was heard in the air, and the crowd loudly cheered.


"Red Kite!"


"Look, the first Red Kite of the year took off!"


The capital was the primary territory right under the Emperor, and normally air travel was banned. All nine gates were loaded with countless Baihong arrows. Even for Black Eagles, if they dared to approach the capital by air, they would still be shot down immediately.


New Year's Eve was the only exception.


On the wide road leading directly to the outskirts of the capital stood the symbol of the entire Central Plains - 'Qi Yuan Tower'.


It was said that when the Westerners crossed the sea on their large ships arriving in Central Plains, there were only two things they knew of: one was the Imperial Palace, and the other was Qi Yuan Tower*.


*the [yuān] - meaning Kite in Qi Yuan tower (起鸢楼) is the same as the Yuan in Giant Kite and Red Kite. Qi ( meaning 'raise up') Yuan tower is a building/platform for the kites to take off to the sky.


The Qi Yuan Tower was not a building. It was built by the former emperor in the twenty-first year of the Yuan He regency from cutting down military expenses. It welcomed visitors from all over the world and was divided into two regions: North and South. The Northern Area had numerous platforms with high-ceiling domes, named 'Yunmeng Grand View'. The Southern Area had a tall tower, some people mockingly called it 'Zhai Xing* platform:, but of course, no one would dare use that name directly, and it was normally referred to as the 'Ting Yuan** Platform'.


*Zhai Xing(摘星) translates to 'star-plucking' or 'star-picking'. The tower was very high hence its name.

**again, the yuan here is the same as the yuan in Kite as mentioned above. Ting - meaning to stop, Ting Yuan platform means the place where the Kites can land.


The tower and the Imperial Palace facing each other from opposite directions, took the meaning of north and south, heaven and earth.


Every year on New Year's Eve, Ting Yuan Platform would become the center of the entire capital. Many famous actors and courtesans from across the country all wished to come up to contribute at least one song, countless people formed into a vast crowd under the platform to watch, and the sight-seeing platform of Yunmeng Grand View was also packed with various high-class officials and nobilities.


At about seven o'clock in the evening, twenty 'Red Kites' would be taking off.


The working mechanism of the Red Kite was similar to that of the Giant Kite, the only difference between them was that the sheer name of the Giant Kite was enough to make the barbarians tremble in fear, while the Red Kite was solely used for entertainment.


It was a type of ship, with two fiery red koi fishes engraved on both ends, which could take off to the sky using eighty-one flaming wings. The body of the ship was secured on the platform using a special type of rope that was translucent, resembling a spider web.


When the flaming wings were ignited, more than twenty Red Kites as radiant as red kois would be steadily hoisted into the air, looking extremely beautiful as they swayed slightly.


The view from the Kite was excellent. There were sets of elegant rooms and a circle of terraces. Drinks and food were carried along the cobweb-like ropes, and the people on board could see the red palace walls and countless lanterns lit up from the capital below.


Gu Yun led the three children up from the small path next to the platform. The guard was shocked as he recognized him right away, and he was about to bow down to pay respect when Gu Yun stopped him: "There is no need for such formality, I'm only taking the children here to play – have you seen General Shen?"


A waiter ran up to him from far away: "Marquis sir, please, this way, General Shen is waiting for you on the Red Kite."


Gu Yun nodded calmly, but he couldn't help but feel quite impressed on the inside - he actually only brought Chang Geng here to join in on the fun, he completely did not expect Shen Yi to be so incredible that he actually managed to successfully order a Kite.


Ge Pang Xiao stared at the Red Kite in front of them, then followed after Gu Yun and asked: "Marquis sir, are we going to Heaven?"


Gu Yun: "No need to rush, we will after a few decades. Today we will only step on it for a while."


Chang Geng listened to the fortune-filled dialogue of these two people on the night of New Year's celebration, truly wishing to simply seal their mouths shut.


In the chamber on the Red Kite, the temperature was as warm as springtime. As Gu Yun entered, he untied the cloak and put it on the back of the chair.


Shen Yi had already hailed a table packed with wines and many dishes. There were also some beautiful young male and female servants in the room - the particularly bold ones dared to continuously sneak glances at Marquis Gu.


Gu Yun's eyes widened - Shen Yi was a scholarly bookworm who had already gone senile before his age. He even feared that looking at Western paintings would defile his eyes; how could he possibly keep a group of young meat around like this?


When Gu Yun cast him a questioning eye, Shen Yi whispered in his ear: "This is the ship that Wei Wang insisted on giving to you upon hearing you required one."


Gu Yun momentarily did not know what to say, his expression unfathomable.


The waiter truly knew how to read the situation, he immediately came forward to ask: "Marquis sir, will we be igniting the engine?"


Gu Yun paused then nodded: "Yes go ahead – and also call the brothers guarding on the terrace to come inside for dinner, there are no outsiders today, no need to be over-courteous."


The waiter, upon receiving the instruction, immediately withdrew from the Red Kite, jumped onto the terrace deck, and made a long signal.


A few of the soldiers of the Black Iron Camp came in, all lined up in a well-trained manner: "Grand Marshal!"


The coldness of their Black Armors pierced through the soft gentle aura inside the room in an instant, the unspeakable atmosphere that hung in the air was suddenly dispelled.


Gu Yun glanced at the servants retreating. One particularly pleasant-looking young girl sneaked a peek at him, flirtatious hints filled her gaze. Gu Yun smiled at her in response, at the same time feeling somewhat disappointed, as he brought three little kids along. This type of nighttime entertainment must also end at this 'eyeing back and forth' stage.


Shen Yi cleared his throat, and Gu Yun retracted his sight as if nothing happened. He complained: "Wei Wang is already a grown man yet he could still be so improper."


Shen Yi let out an absolutely unamused laugh: "Ha ha."


Fortunately, the three young children were attracted by the group of flaming wings surrounding the Red Kite that had been lit up. They all looked around outside the window and did not notice what improper business the adults were secretly doing inside.


The sizzling sound of the flaming wings could be heard, and warm hot air swept by the window, Chang Geng almost lost his footing, he could not help but grasp onto the wooden window to steady himself. Next to him, Cao Niangzi was screaming, the whole body of the Red Kite vibrated gently and took off into the sky.


At 7 in the evening, a group of fireworks was shot up from Ting Yuan Platform, shining brightly in the middle of twenty Red Kites, and the cobweb-strings connected to each other were dyed in orange.


The platform was slowly raised, the iron gears underneath interlocking with each other. A female dancer donned in a red dress appeared, singing with a pipa in her hands.


The most prosperous imagery in all heaven and earth could only be this.


Shen Yi opened a bottle of wine, raised his hand to pour a cup for Gu Yun: "This is the first year of tribute from the Western Regions after the rebellion was settled. The best kind of grape wine and a luminous cup, delicious wines must go in pair with heroes, have a sip."


Gu Yun stared at the luminous cup for a moment, his expression slowly became solemn. He took one sip then immediately put it down - not that the wine was not sufficient, but he could not help the sorrow hanging in his heart.


Gu Yun: "Forget it, I'm not quite used to this type of wine, change to Shaoxing yellow wine. It seems that I am no hero, but a coward - here, all you gentlemen take your seat, don't worry about the children, they have eaten at home, let them play."


While chatting, he began to feel that his line of sight had become a bit blurry. He bowed down and pinched the bridge of his nose, knowing that the medicine he took a few days ago would soon wear out.


The time for the medicine's effectiveness to fade away was about half an hour, and generally, before this occurred, he would slowly lose his sight and hearing.


When Shen Yi noticed this small gesture, he immediately knew what was going on: "Marshal?"


"It's nothing," Gu Yun shook his head, changed the wine, and raised his cup towards everyone sitting at the table.


"All of you are one in a million, mighty warriors of Great Liang, you have all ventured out on the battlefields by my side, although there is neither wealth or riches, power or influence, only the harsh living condition of the borders, and the measly salary. You all have had to endure so much. I first dedicate this cup to all my brothers."


When Gu Yun finished his speech, he tilted his head to down the cup, then poured himself another one:


"The second cup, I dedicate to the brothers who had laid down in the Western Regions, that year with my inexperience and incompetence, I led them forward, yet I was not able to bring them back..."


Shen Yi advised: "Marshal, New Year is coming, please don't say any more."


Gu Yun smiled a bit, he really did stop going further, he downed the cup and then filled it up again.


"The third cup," Gu Yun whispered, "is dedicated to Heaven and the Earth, I wish for the Gods above to treat the souls of my comrades with kindness."


Chang Geng stood by the window. No one knew when the beautiful scenery outside could no longer attract him. He turned and stared at Gu Yun without blinking.


He had seen Gu Yun being enthusiastic and energetic, he had also seen Gu Yun being shamelessly lazy.


But he had never seen Gu Yun making a toast and drinking in such loneliness before. To him, this image of his yifu was almost unfamiliar.


Thinking about it, Gu Yun had never gotten angry in front of him, and he rarely ever showed exhaustion or annoyance. It seemed that he was always teasing Chang Geng, he was both endearing and irritating ― except for his usual appearance, the other countless emotions inside him were completely sealed away from Chang Geng.


Because he was just a child who couldn't do anything.


Chang Geng suddenly had a pressing desire to grow strong immediately.


At this time, Ge Pang Xiao turned around and shouted: "Marquis sir! General Shen! The Westerners brought a lot of wild beasts out to dance! Come and see!"