Gu Yun's face remained unchanged; he calmly brought out an envelope and handed it to Chang Geng.
There was no content inside the envelope. Its surface let out a sharp and chilled scent, seemingly a mixture of agarwood and something else.
The night before, the Eagle units had found three envelopes on the captured fragrant master - this was one of them. All three envelopes had a different scent. That fragrant master was quite stubborn; he did not talk no matter how hard they interrogated him. But of course, in such a short amount of time, even if he confessed, Gu Yun would not necessarily believe him.
Among the three envelopes, the only one that Gu Yun could explain the source of was this one.
According to legend, a rotten emperor from one of the previous dynasties believed in demonic arts; he had ordered men to create a kind of fragrance that could help him ascend to the higher realm. It was named 'Yuhuang' - cold and unclear, graceful and luxurious.
The former emperor once secretly saved a little for himself. He decided to use it one year on a whim; its scent truly was different from the incense commonly used in the palace.
The former emperor told him that although it smelled pleasant, this fragrance was also known as the 'death of a country'. Secretly using a small bit in private was alright, but if the ministers found out, they would make a huge ruckus; thus, this matter must be kept hidden at all cost.
After many years, Gu Yun's impression of this 'death of a country' scent still remained.
Chang Geng had just tensed up a bit, yet Gu Yun had immediately noticed it; without waiting for him to write on his palm, he began to speculate how likely it was to be able to deceive those people by throwing this envelope out.
Gu Yun calculated for a while and thought to himself: "To pick one in three, the percentage is still quite high. If it doesn't succeed, then the earth can hinder an incoming flood, soldiers can hinder incoming swords."
Fortunately, he was the only one who held this 'success percentage'; the others were forced to calm down as they could only see an unquestionable certainty on his face.
The middle-aged man's expression shifted. He took the envelope and sniffed it back and forth several times, his face unpredictable.
Chang Geng thought: "Do we still have to use force?"
Gu Yun patted his tensed up hand.
The middle-aged man looked up at Gu Yun. His attitude had become a lot more earnest compared to before. He said: "My name is Di Song, I am the chief of these merchant ships. Might I ask where the Master is from and where your destination is?"
This is slang, Chang Geng wrote it down clearly in Gu Yun's palm.
Gu Yun opened his mouth for the first time and said: "Came from the ground, going to Hao Li."
The middle-aged man named Di Song seemed to be taken aback; he hesitated for a moment, his voice weakened slightly: "Then... then I've troubled the master. Please, this way."
Gu Yun stood still without moving, deaf fully and wholeheartedly. It was only when Chang Geng gently tugged him that he followed his lead with a blank face, appearing flawlessly like a true 'fragrant master' who had lost all his senses.
Then using Gu Yun's wide sleeves as a cover, Chang Geng wrote in his hand: "How did yifu know of their slang?"
This was actually the dialogue between the two crew members who the Eagle units overheard when they were ordered to monitor the merchant ships. They had reported every single detail to him, regardless of big or small. Truth was, Gu Yun did not know what those words meant, but he was still able to make use of it to fool the other party.
Just like a wolf, he lied to Chang Geng: "I know everything."
Chang Geng: "..."
The group was able to board the Dong Ying merchant ship smoothly, and several Dong Ying people appeared, curiously looking at the fragrant master who had come from legends.
Dong Ying was influenced by Great Liang, Buddhist culture was also widespread. Many of them saw that a monk was following behind Gu Yun and came forward to greet them.
Chang Geng quietly observed these Dong Ying people - their numbers were even more than he had imagined. Using the name of escorting merchant ships, they were equipped with long blades, some even had iron wristbands with strangely shaped darts* on their wrists and ankles. Coming closer, one could sense the faint smell of blood on them.
*Japanese ninja's shuriken
Suddenly, a shout came from behind them. A masked Dong Ying man landed down behind Gu Yun - without a word, he swung a curved dagger at Gu Yun's back.
Chang Geng's reaction was swift - his sword was not yet unsheathed from its cover, but he had already stopped the opponent's dagger.
The Dong Ying man let out a strange scream, his petite body twisted into a weird arc - his whole figure resembled a snake without bones, the dagger in his hand became a demonic and wicked viper, sending seven slashes towards Chang Geng in succession. Something inside his left shoulder suddenly opened up, and a Dong Ying dart came flying straight towards Gu Yun.
No one knew whether Gu Yun had insisted that once he played this role, he must commit to it until the very end or what - he continued to stand still in one place, unconscious of everything that was happening!
In a moment of desperation, Chang Geng's blade and its scabbard were split into two; he tossed the scabbard out with force, driving the dart out of its flight path when it almost grazed past Gu Yun's chest.
This was not the first time Chang Geng had crossed swords with someone, nor was it the first time he was plunged into a dangerous confrontation - but it was the first time someone almost injured his yifu right in front of his eyes. A layer of red suddenly surfaced on his pupils, the Bone of Impurity inside his body abruptly raised up.
He shouted, his wrists suddenly pointed downward, using one of the same moves he'd used to deal with the sword training puppet. The dagger in the hands of the Dong Ying man trembled fiercely, appearing almost bent from the force. Not waiting for the other to retract his weapon, Chang Geng had already kicked him in the stomach.
Legend had it, to make it convenient for climbing the walls and gliding on roofs for assassination missions, the assassins' bodies must be smaller than that of the ordinary people. This snake-like man must be the best among the best. Although they were incredibly flexible, they were still not good at enduring direct force. Chang Geng's kick almost shattered the man's intestines; he couldn't even hold on to his weapon anymore and was forced to retreat.
Chang Geng did not want to let him go. He kicked the dagger on the ground up with the tip of his foot, grabbed hold of it, and nailed it in front of the man, the long sword in his hand spun in a circle, about to cut the Dong Ying man into two.
This was all happening too fast, enemies and friends surrounding them, no one was able to react. As Chang Geng was quickly delivering a decisive blow intended to take his opponent's life, three shouts of 'stop!' sounded out one after another.
A few Dong Ying long blades reached out from all four sides at the same time, blocking Chang Geng's unparalleled sword.
The stunned monk only had time to wipe his sweat - Chang Geng's words that threatened to kill him that night were actually genuine.
Chang Geng hissed: "Move aside!"
Di Song rushed over and hurriedly explained: "Just a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding! This is the first time Mister Uekawa here came to Great Liang. He was not aware of the customs. When he saw this brother here also carried a sword, he only wanted to play around a bit. Please be kind and pardon him."
Chang Geng's reddish gaze stared at the man who had withdrawn behind the others, forcing each word out: "Play around?"
Di Song tried to smile, turning towards Gu Yun standing still as if nothing was wrong.
Seeing his utterly blank face, he remembered that these top-class fragrant masters could neither see nor hear; he stepped forward in an attempt to reach out to pat Gu Yun's arm.
He has yet to touch the man, but a fierce gust of wind had instantly come from behind him. Fortunately, his reaction was fast, otherwise, it would not be guaranteed that he could keep his hand.
Chang Geng: "Do not touch him!"
Di Song: "..."
In this group of people, one couldn't hear, one couldn't speak, there was a pair of children, and the only person who could speak on their behalf, the scabbard of the weapon in his hand had not even been picked up yet.
The atmosphere was deadlocked for a moment.
At this time, Gu Yun finally opened his mouth: "Why are we still standing here? Don't miss the time of departure."
The frightening clash just now, it seemed he could not feel any of it.
Di Song quickly tried to ease the situation: "Exactly, we are all family here..."
Without waiting for him to finish, Gu Yun had already reached one hand out. Chang Geng paused for a bit then used the tip of the sword to pick up the scabbard on the ground, sliding the blade into the sheath. He then stepped over to take Gu Yun's hand and helped lead him inside.
Liao Ran had to take care of the rest. He smiled pleasantly towards the crowd of frightened Dong Ying people. No one knew where he had taken out an old wooden bead. The exterior of the beads was covered with a layer of dark red paint, mimicking the look of sandalwood. After using it for a long time, the paint had come off, making the beads bear the color of mottled lobular rosewood.
The monk, with his clothing in a similar worn-out state as his beads, silently recited the scriptures, praying for the crowd of people, while urging Ge Pang Xiao and Cao Niangzi to run along.
This time, the Dong Ying people were watching their backs as if they were enemies. No one came up to greet them anymore.
Chang Geng led Gu Yun towards the quarters that had been specially prepared for the fragrant master. His nerves tensed up all the way. Upon arrival, he carefully swept his glance outside once, and then locked the door: "Yi..."
Gu Yun turned back, putting a finger on his lips.
With Gu Yun's current condition, unless someone screamed in his ears, he would not hear a single word.
But judging by the rush of air around him when Chang Geng quickly turned around after closing the door, he assumed that the child might want to talk to him; hence he had taken the initiative to stop him beforehand.
The special medicine Gu Yun had been using was prescribed to him when he was ten years old by a highly skilled doctor among the common folk, who was invited to treat him by an underling of the old marquis. Before that, he was forced to endure the inconvenience of his nonfunctional eyes and ears.
The old marquis was strong-willed throughout his entire life and was extremely strict in his own self-discipline. He was tough on himself, even tougher on his son.
He did not know what the word 'pamper' was. No matter if Gu Yun could see or not, or how he felt inside - his skills must continue to be honed, the iron puppets themselves wouldn't be lenient or hesitant because of Gu Yun's inconveniences either.
These puppets were not of the same kind that Chang Geng played with. Although the sword training puppet was terrifying, after being specially adjusted, it would stop at the right moment and would not hurt people when crossing moves.
When the actual iron puppets started to move, they became beasts made of metal - inhumane.
He had to rely on his weak sight and hearing, combined with the surrounding flow of air to deal with them. But no matter how hard the little Gu Yun worked, he would never be able to keep up with the requirements of the old marquis; each time as he started to adapt to a certain level of speed and strength, the expectations were immediately pumped up to a higher notch.
The original words of the old marquis were: Either you will learn to stand up, or else find a place to hang yourself, Gu family would rather have no heir than raise a worthless child.
This sentence was like a cold steel nail, hammered into the bones of Gu Yun at a very young age. It could never be pulled out for the rest of his life. When Gu Yun entered the palace after the old marquis passed away, he still did not dare to relax for even a brief moment.
This kind of sense that had been honed for many years could always help him cover-up on a few occasions. This was also why he did not wear thick clothing if it was not cold to the point that his mortal flesh could not bear it.
Because thick fox fur and cotton coats would affect the sense of touch on his skin.
Gu Yun searched around for a moment in the air then wrote in Chang Geng's palm: "The one who just fought with you was a Dong Ying ninja. Those people excel at sneaking around. Beware of eavesdropping near the walls."
Chang Geng lowered his head; he couldn't help but grab Gu Yun's callused hand. Letting out a deep sigh that had been hanging in his chest, he shook his head with self-deprecation – Gu Yun would forever be calm and stable, and he would forever be frightened to death.
Gu Yun frowned. He did not know why Chang Geng was heaving such long sighs; he turned his head to 'look' at the boy, lifting his eyebrows.
As Gu Yun was blindfolded, Chang Geng looked at him to his heart's content.
Gu Yun's hand followed along his arm, moved to his head, and patted it.
Chang Geng closed his eyes, forcing himself to hold back from almost rubbing his head against the other's hand.
He removed Gu Yun's hand and wrote: "Meeting this kind of situation the first time following yifu, I was a bit anxious and scared."
The most fearful thing was that brief second when the Dong Ying man's dart was about to hit Gu Yun.
Gu Yun seemed to have just remembered something and suddenly smiled.
Chang Geng: "Why are you laughing?"
"I pampered you too much." Gu Yun wrote in his palm. "Back then, if I dare say the word 'scared' in front of my father, I would have definitely got beaten with a stick."
Chang Geng silently thought: "Then why won't you ever beat me with a stick?"
Not only did Gu Yun not beat him, but he had rarely ever gotten seriously mad at him; his anger never lasted for longer than three sentences.
The first time he faced the sword training puppet, he was consumed with fright and unable to adapt to it, yet Gu Yun had never shown disappointment or impatience. As Chang Geng recalled it again after more than a year had passed, he felt that Gu Yun was not like a rigorous elder who was teaching the younger generation, but more like an adult watching a little child playing clumsily with a smile.
Gu Yun wrote: "These Dong Ying people are very troublesome to deal with. They have many tricks up their sleeves, but not many can be considered true first-class fighters. The man's dart might have appeared terrifying, but in actuality, its flying track was curved. He simply wanted to test if I really am blind.
"The Dong Ying people on this ship are not of concern. What I'm worried about is their destination."
Merchant ships left inland from the passage between the sea and the canal, aiming towards the East, sending the products back to Dong Ying.
On their way, to be able to pass by several inspection stations, there must be a fragrant expert boarded on their ships currently carrying the scented balms. The tested samples must be handed out at each of the inspection stations. Hence, no matter what the real purpose of these merchant ships was, there must always be a fragrant expert to pull the wool over other people's eyes.
After ten days of travel, Ge Pang Xiao snuck into Gu Yun's room: "Mar... Master Zhang, big brother Chang Geng."
After that, as he saw the blindfold on Gu Yun's face, he muttered: "Forgot that he was supposed to be deaf right now."
After greeting them, he started to bring out several objects, first was two compasses, next was a box that continuously let out white steam. This plump little boy was quite amazing; his belly seemed to be retractable, able to store many things when sucked in, and even after taking things out... it did not seem to get any thinner.
Chang Geng: "What is this? Is there something burning inside?"
Ge Pang Xiao smiled and said: "Hehe, it is Ziliujin."
Chang Geng said: "Do you not feel hot?"
Ge Pang Xiao pulled open his clothes and revealed that he had a dark board on his chest. This was used for heat protection inside a heavy armor in the area that was equipped with explosives. The boy had cut it into the shape of an undergarment*: "Iron undergarment!"
*a piece of undergarment women wear under their clothes, covering their chests.
Gu Yun took off his blindfold, put on the liuli glass, and carefully looked at Ge Pang Xiao's masterpiece, unable to help admiring it. He felt that although these children didn't know anything aside from playing around, since they insisted on going with Chang Geng to the capital at such a young age, even if they weren't ones with grand ambitions, they certainly still had their own talents.
Ge Pang Xiao used the monk's sign language: "Who said that only women can wear undergarments?"
Gu Yun gave him a thumbs up – You're completely right.
Chang Geng: "..."
On the table, the two compasses were spinning in a frenzy. Ge Pang Xiao gestured for the pair of them to look, then gently tapped the table and put up three fingers - The compasses had been messed up for at least three days.
Gu Yun often went out - he could understand it immediately at a glance.
People usually brought two compasses when traveling. If one of them would fail, the other could be used to determine whether the first compass was broken or if there was a problem with the local area. There were certain places in the desert or at sea where the compass could become ineffective, the general merchant and fishing ships would avoid them.
But this group of Dong Ying people, not only did they not evade, but they also deliberately headed towards it. The route had no doubt deviated from the initially established destination.
'Came from the ground, going to Hao Li,' what exactly did this 'Hao Li' mean?
Ge Pang Xiao: "Fortunately, I also brought this."
He spoke while opening the small box that had been spurting out white steam. It was a very delicate little thing, there was a fast-moving small wheel in the middle, connected with a shaft, the outer had several shining golden rings. The word 'Ling' was inscribed in the corner, revealing that it was a product of Ling Shu Institute.
"This is the prototype given by Ling Shu institute. When turning, this axis will always point in one direction," Ge Pang Xiao pointed, "It is this one - it is more accurate than the compass, but it runs on Ziliujin. I heard that it was rejected by people above even before the final product could come out. Master Liao Ran and I secretly made one. Before we left, I had taken one small bowl of Ziliujun from big brother's sword training puppet."
Gu Yun carefully reached out to pick up the little object, feeling that it was very well crafted, and he feared that he could break it if he used too much force: "If Shen Yi could see this thing, it would be enough for him to use his body to repay you."
Ge Pang Xiao pulled out a wrinkled up leather map - no one knew where he was able to obtain one, his plump and round finger danced around for a while then stopped at a certain point.
"With our current course, Master Liao Ran and I predicted that we will soon arrive at this place."
It was a map of various small islands in the Eastern Sea. But the image was very unclear, appearing like droplets of ink that were scattered on the page.
Gu Yun held the layout of the entire Great Liang in his heart, but he didn't remember such a place existed. There was no decent steam lamp on the merchant ship, the indoor oil lamp was dim, even if he put on the liuli glass, it was still challenging to see. He wrinkled his brows and tried to brighten the oil lamp.
Ge Pang Xiao: "This is a map that Master Liao Ran gave me. I saw that there is no such place on the map of the Ministry of War. They are generally small islands that are unlivable. The surroundings are nothing but ridges of jagged rocks and turbulent streams. There are also many ghostly and haunted legends coming from it, even the locals did not know that there is an island here."
This place was far from land. It could only be reached by air travel, if not by ships.
But 'Kites' were slow and relied heavily on the compass. If there was too much turbulence near the island, they simply could not approach - let alone the fact that the place to the east was basically the territory of the Dong Ying people, if 'Kite's' and 'Dragon's' from Great Liang continued to circle this area for no reason, it would seem quite provocative.
The maintenance of an 'Eagle' was also very demanding for the mechanics' division; it was not easy to uphold for long. The Eastern Sea was generally used to peace and was not equipped with this type of military force.
Chang Geng couldn't help but ask: "If even the map from the Ministry of War doesn't have this area, then where was Master Liao Ran able to find this?"
Ge Pang Xiao seriously replied: "He said that a rotten emperor from the previous dynasties loved pearls of the Eastern Sea, as the fishermen became powerless with the demanding yearly tribute, they set up a team of life-risking divers to go find them. On their travels, they accidentally hit this place, and made a map for it ."
Chang Geng: "..."
The monk's made-up story could only fool silly children.
Ge Pang Xiao turned to Gu Yun and said: "Marquis sir, what should we do now?"
Gu Yun did not have time to answer when the entire hull suddenly trembled violently; Gu Yun quickly grabbed the oil lamp that was about to fall over. He gave a look in Ge Pang Xiao's direction, signaling him to put away all the objects on the table.
Ge Pang Xiao immediately took a deep breath and sucked in his stomach, quickly hiding everything inside.
Chang Geng grabbed the sword on the table: "I will go take a look."
Ge Pang Xiao: "Wait, I want to go too!"
After the two went out, Gu Yun took off his glass and set it aside, rubbing his tired eyes.
The location of the small island was very subtle. It was just crossing Dong Ying's islands but wasn't connected to Great Liang either.
It was just that even if Great Liang's naval force was weaker, it was still not something that Dong Ying people could waver. To this day, the Eastern Sea was still unable to discover a Ziliujin mine.
Great Liang was extremely strict with the Ziliujin export policy. In this respect, they resembled an iron rooster, not allowing even a single feather to be plucked. If Dong Ying people wished to obtain Ziliujin in large quantities, they must either buy it from Westerners at a high price or try to get it from Great Liang's black market.
If they chose to do business with the Westerners, they certainly would not cross by Great Liang's territory.
And about the black market...
If the culprits did not cooperate with the officials, it would not last long.
Three generations of Great Liang emperors despised the Ziliujin black market that resembled a centipede with hundreds of legs, dying but not gone. As soon as the situation would slightly calm down, it would be revived once again immediately.
Even if one used their toe to think, they would know that the black markets were definitely not made up of life-risking merchants from the common folk only, hidden behind it was the shadow of forces from all four sides.
Not mentioning others, Gu Yun's hands were absolutely not clean, otherwise, depending solely on the Ziliujin that the court distributed to him every year - not to mention the Black Eagles, Black Armors, or Black Calvary - even the dogs and the birds could not survive.
Such large-scale smuggling of Ziliujin, the people standing behind it must not be ordinary.
At this time, the wooden door of the cabin was suddenly pushed open. Liao Ran swiftly walked in, put his hands together to greet Gu Yun as if they had already known each other for a long time, then turned to close the door.
He had to pick up the liuli glass that was just removed to welcome his guest.
Gu Yun could not figure it out, for what reason could Liao Ran remain confident that he would not get beaten into a pulp? Did he think it was because his face was pleasant-looking?
After bathing in the cold gaze of Gu Yun, Liao Ran still remained unaffected. He looked for a chair to sit down: "This ship will soon arrive at Hao Li later tonight. When that moment comes, this monk will follow Marshal's every order."
Gu Yun: "Pardon me for being frank - what exactly can you do? I don't lack anything used for illumination."
Liao Ran: "..."
Gu Yun slightly sat up straight, even as his eyes could no longer see clearly, the sharp threatening blades in them still remained:
"I truly did not expect it before, the hands of 'Lin Yuan' have even reached all the way to Hu Guo Temple already. Master, the two of us should openly make it clear - you people dipped your hands in this matter, in the end, what is your motive?"
The special smile on his face gradually faded, replaced with a monk's sorrowful grievances towards common civilians: "Lin Yuan Pavilion does not harbor malicious intent."
Gu Yun smiled: "Otherwise, how do you think you are still able to stay alive?"
According to legend, in one of the previous dynasties, taxes were heavy, the monarch was incompetent, the government weakened. Talented individuals from everywhere started to rise up.
The reason why Emperor Tai Zu stood out among all of them was mostly due to him being chosen by the mysterious Lin Yuan Pavilion that year.
Lin Yuan Pavilion gathered all gifted people, from officials and nobles, down to small merchants and servants, countless exceptional individuals throughout the country.
At the beginning of the founding of Great Liang, Emperor Tai Zu, remembering their great support, had wanted to make a decree to grant Lin Yuan Pavilion their status. But their chieftain at the current time had thoroughly declined, so they had hidden away. From that point on, this enormous organization was once again silenced to this day.
Gu Yun: "Lin Yuan Pavilion vanished in peace and prosperity, raised up in chaos and turbulence - people said that the Black Iron Camp is a black crow, I see that you are the true crow here."
Suddenly, Liao Ran lowered his eyes, looking like a beautiful and compassionate Buddha: "Marquis knows of my origins, yet you did not prevent me from approaching His Royal Highness."
Gu Yun silently looked at him.
Liao Ran: "This monk dares to guess, all the worries in Marshal's heart, are coincidentally similar to ours."
The ship was sailing smoothly, the oil lamp on the table was glowing. Gu Yun retracted his hostility, sitting at the table with his long hair scattered down. There was a faint wrinkle between his brows; it seemed as if he had taken all the seriousness he usually stepped on with the sole of his feet, and placed it all on his face for once.
The two made no sound, they communicated with each other only using quick gestures, but even so, they seemed not to be hindered by it.
Liao Ran: "Ziliujin is burning too strong, this flame is invincible, no one can stop it. Has Marshal ever thought about a way to retreat?"
Then, he did not wait for the answer, and continued to speak: "People all said that the Marquis of Order is a martial man - who only ever knew how to fight, only a weapon in the hands of the Emperor. But I don't see it that way. Otherwise, why is Marshal still not married? Was it only because of my brother's curse?"
Gu Yun seemed to smile, then put away his glass, and covered his eyes with the blindfold, indicating that he did not want to communicate with Liao Ran anymore.
After all of it was done, he signed: "Gu family has nowhere to turn back to. If such a day truly arrives, this Gu will have to use himself to become the fuel to sacrifice for the homeland of his ancestors."
"Ah — right, next time you meet the doctor who healed my eyes, say hello to him on my behalf."
From the beginning, when the first bowl of Ziliujin was dug out of the ground, it was destined that this world could never be peaceful again.
One day, the diligent farmers would eventually lose to the puppets that ran tirelessly on the fields. Even top-class fighters wouldn't be able to resist the Heavy Armor that could annihilate an army with one sweep. Everyone would face unprecedented turmoil. To regain their position, they would turn out to be extremely wealthy or extremely poor.
And the defeated in this fighting ring would have no way of turning things around again. From grand nations to every kind of civilian, everything and everyone were the same when it came to this matter.
When everyone began to realize this, the inevitable chaos would come, the only question left was if it would be sooner or later. This was the flow of the times - invincible heroes or prestigious rulers, no one could stop it.
After Gu Yun finished the last sentence, he reverted back to his usual calm demeanor. He no longer paid attention to the monk. He walked out of the cabin with his hands behind his back, intending to take a look at what was really happening outside that could cause the monk to run to his room to pledge his loyalty.
As soon as he stood on the deck, he could detect a strange scent coming along with the sea breeze. It seemed that something was burning. Gu Yun stood at the door and carefully distinguished the scent from the wind. He came to realize that it was the strange scent when Ziliujin mixed with impurities was burnt.
The 'merchant ship' slowly passed through the shallow water next to the small island. On both sides, there were two rows of 'Giant Dragons', these warships as bright as snow were lined up in a row, fully equipped with ammo. The merchant ships carrying the smuggled Ziliujin moved forward in a line, one after another, resembling a supply cart that ran among an army of thousands, not at all eye-catching.
Although Gu Yun couldn't see, he had already guessed what was going on from the sudden tension in the air.
With a crew of this scale, even if the Jiangnan Navy was present, they would not necessarily be able to confront them, let alone the few meager Eagle units he had brought with him.
At this time, a familiar person leaned over and silently reached out to touch him.
Except for Chang Geng, no other people did this. They either assisted him or didn't. No one had ever gone through these many steps.
Gu Yun felt that Chang Geng always appeared to be strangely tense whenever he was in front of him. He must always make his presence known to Gu Yun first in the slightest way possible. Gu Yun would then reach out his hand for Chang Geng to assist him; if not, Chang Geng absolutely would not make any other contact.
"Silly," Gu Yun held onto Chang Geng's arm, unhappily thinking to himself, "What is so nerve-wracking about being with me? Does a kinder father exist in this world than myself?"
Chang Geng quickly wrote in his hand: "There are at least hundreds of warships here, I am not sure if they are Giant Dragons..."
"They are," Gu Yun replied, "I could smell the Ziliujin."
Chang Geng: "..."
Didn't Liao Ran say that humans could not sense Ziliujin, that only inspection dogs could do it?
This ability of yifu... in fact, was not necessary.
Gu Yun secretly let out a sigh while complaining inside: "This is all thanks to your house-wrecking, small-hearted big brother. Had to kick me out to the distant Northwest to be able to feel safe. Now look at this, the old turtle in the garden lotus pond is transforming into a demon and is about to cook up a storm! Serves him right!"
In the evening, the monk changed to his 'night clothes' and went to look for Gu Yun. Gu Yun had to wear the liuli glass, his ears could only hear loud movements within two feet, one eye could only barely see who was currently in the room with him. The 'soldiers' around him included a mute monk, a plump boy, a girl, and a son who had an exceptional talent in acting spoiled.
Outside was a large crew of warships with cannons and more than a sufficient amount of ammo waiting readily. Plus an army of countless Eastern warriors and private soldiers.
But no one was nervous, because Gu Yun was here - he himself could represent a thousand troops.
"Don't play coy," Gu Yun said, "This 'Hao Li' place must have your people, or else why must you go through so much trouble for this? Spill it, we are now grasshoppers on the same rope."
Liao Ran silently recited a line from Buddhist scripture, then handed the 'sandalwood' beads that had lost their exterior paint over. When Gu Yun reached out to receive it, he suddenly couldn't help but wrinkle his nose. His unusually sensitive nose caught the smell of something spoiling.
Gu Yun fell back; he had never been one to be mindful about his manners when it came to monks, he bluntly said: "My God, Master, how long have you not bathed? This is getting fermented."
The three young boys immediately retreated three steps at the same time.
Chang Geng was simply unable to recall the image of the monk the first time they met in the palace. Back then, knowing that he was about to enter the palace to meet their ruler, the monk had wholeheartedly washed himself into a little white lotus.
Gu Yun's face was as cold as ice. He was blind and deaf, the monk was a mute man - He had a strong sense of smell, the monk did not like to bathe. Of course, in this entire world, there was not a single bald donkey that didn't counteract with him.
One hundred and eight beads, unscrewing the middle of every two beads, there would be a stamp inside, a total of thirty-six stamps, each representing a member of Lin Yuan Pavilion.
Gu Yun was silent for a while: "Is Lin Yuan Pavilion going to come out of its nest?"
Liao Ran smiled and said nothing.
Chang Geng frowned and asked: "What is Lin Yuan Pavilion?"
As he suddenly spoke, Gu Yun momentarily wasn't able to tell what he said. That was, until he saw Liao Ran signing to Chang Geng - he could then guess the dialogue between them and immediately interrupted: "They are a bunch of crow mouths - Alright, no need to explain anymore, how do we contact these people?
Liao Ran: "I'm not quite sure about the others, but I know that one of them is a musician for their leader. We can try to contact her first."
Gu Yun thought: "Us Northwest troops of the Imperial Army don't have a single cicada that could sing, yet this private army even has a musician? What is justice?"
Chang Geng: "Be careful, Dong Ying people already have their suspicions towards us. I have felt the presence of their men nearby a handful of times."
With Chang Geng taking the lead, Ge Pang Xiao also began to talk: "Marquis sir, when will our people arrive?"
Gu Yun sat quietly in one place, bearing the face of an unfathomable subject of Great Liang - in actuality, he wasn't able to hear it at all. He tried to guess based on lip-reading, but with no sign language, lip-reading alone was a bit challenging.
Liao Ran quickly covered for him, he signed "Be patient, if the Jiangnan Navy moved too hastily, it could affect the grander scheme of things..."
Through him, Gu Yun immediately knew Ge Pang Xiao was asking about reinforcement: "The Eagle units I brought can only be counted with one hand. There's no telling whether that good for nothing Yao Zhen can be of use or not, perhaps he can only come to sweep the aftermath of the battle."
While thinking about this, he again interrupted the master's words and said: "A naval force of this scale is impossible to build up in just a day or two. I suspect that someone in the Imperial Court is conspiring to rebel. In short, these piles of metal are not our target, it is best to capture that person."
The good-hearted monk who came to his rescue was interrupted twice.
Cao Niangzi suddenly coughed; he did not say a word all this time. Ever since he saw Gu Yun's in this image with messy hair, he was choked up every time he stood in front of the other, coincidentally becoming a convenience for the deaf man.
Cao Niangzi carefully said: "I can also help with some errands."
Gu Yun knew that this child only cared about good-looking men day and night and was very lacking in his training, he immediately refused: "No, continue to play the role of a little girl."
Cao Niangzi cautiously said: "I can dress up like a Dong Ying man."
Gu Yun raised an eyebrow.
Cao Niangzi quickly explained: "I can do it! I have even disguised myself as a man before!"
Gu Yun: "..."
He leaned his body forward slightly and sincerely asked: "Young man, do you know that you are a man?"
The face of Cao Niangzi instantly blushed red. His soul already swayed back and forth on the ship's towing rope, he wasn't able to even hear what Gu Yun was saying.
Gu Yun's shoulder was suddenly pulled back by force. Chang Geng wasn't afraid to touch him this time. He stood behind Gu Yun with a serious expression, as still as water, resembling that old scholar Shen Yi.
Gu Yun coughed and followed his hand to lean back, solemnly saying: "That won't work. You can't speak Dong Ying language."
As Cao Niangzi spoke up, aside from Gu Yun who could not hear right now, the others were very surprised - he had just said a very complicated sentence, mixed with a few Dong Ying words that no one knew the meaning of, the rest were stiff and accented Mandarin. Dong Ying people working on merchant ships travel on Great Liang territory year round. They could all speak Mandarin, just that their pronunciation was a bit eccentric, often mixed in words of their own native language. Yet Cao Niangzi actually was able to replicate it flawlessly.
When Cao Niangzi finished, seeing that everyone was staring at him, he looked down and covered his face with both hands nervously.
Chang Geng asked: "Where did you learn it?"
Cao Niangzi replied in a small voice: "Listened to the two Dong Ying people who bring us food every day."
With Chang Geng's understanding of him, there was no need to ask further: one of the delivery men must have been good looking.
Thus, later that night, a slender 'Dong Ying boy' arrived on the small island without anyone knowing.
There were too many Dong Ying people here, though as it was already late at night, no one noticed him. He shivered as he looked at the rows and rows of battleships, then quickly ran.
At the same time, an uninvited guest came to find Gu Yun.
Chang Geng slightly opened the door. Di Song was standing outside, saying with a smile: "Our general heard that a fragrant master had graced our merchant ship with his presence, he has especially asked me to invite you to dinner."