CHAPTER 4: MISFORTUNE

VI

Two days later, at Master Yao's manor.


The peach blossoms in the courtyard had bloomed, the steam was mixed with a pleasant fragrance grazing one's face. Gu Yun sat by the window, eating melon seeds as he waited for Yao Zhen to write the report. In fear that there might be changes from the capital's side, the urgent report was already sent out first.


The capital blocked the news, but all parties had their own eyes and ears. Some words had already been leaked — they said the Emperor was furious and ordered the Imperial Guards to surround Wei Wang. Wei Wang had intended to escape from the Capital at night but was caught when he made his way to De Sheng Gate. There was no information on how he was dealt with afterward.


As of right now, the dust in Jiangnan had settled, it was necessary to write another report, explaining the cause and effect to the Emperor.


With his face appearing as if he lacked sleep, Yao Zhen put down his pen: "Marquis sir, what should we do about this?"


Gu Yun casually replied: "Just say that the Master Inspector was aware of the strange occurrences at sea, secretly sending people to carefully observe, and defeating the scheme of the rebels before it could be executed."


Yao Zhen: "No, no, I am a scholar, I was air-sick while on the Kite, sea-sick while on the Dragon, nauseated all the way. I do not possess the skills or talents. Naturally, only the marquis can enter the enemy line and turn the tide."


Gu Yun smiled and said: "Marquis? The Marquis of Order is in the Northwest, was he able to teleport? On the other hand, I heard that Master Yao was very sharp-witted, ordering the soldiers to don Black Armor, shocking the rebels and causing them to fight among themselves. Such means of carrying things out is really admirable."


Yao Zhen blurted out: "I can't do it, please don't hurt me."


Master Yao was thirty-six this year, which was the most prosperous age of a man. He grew a lively mustache and was naturally born with an intelligent and capable-appearing face. This man's career as an official for half his life had always been met with many ups and downs; from the beginning, he had glued himself to this land with plenty of fishes and rice and had never achieved any grand contribution. His specialty was to sleep for an entire day.


Thus why perhaps most people had forgotten his origin — in the 12th year of the Yuan He regency, Gu Yun's teacher, Lin Mo Sen, who was still alive at that time, was the chief examiner of the imperial examination session. When coming across Yao Zhen's essay, he couldn't help himself from slapping the desk in praise. He had presented it to Emperor Yuan He, and His Majesty had personally assigned him as a Zhuang Yuan*.


*A title for the one with the highest score in the imperial examination.


Gu Yun said with a deeper meaning: "Eased the Eastern sea rebellion, eliminated a big battle that may endanger the areas of utmost importance, you don't need even such a great credit? In the future, you will be ready to enter the world with authority in your hands."


Yao Zhen smiled bitterly: "What type of talents received that type of wage? I have no talent and no virtue. I only hope to find a good place for retirement down the road; how can I possess the skill to turn the tides, may Marquis please spare this lowly official."


Gu Yun: "I even want to report to His Majesty to send you to the Northwest to be a supervisor for the army."


Yao Zhen held his head and said: "I still have an elderly mother over eighty and young children waiting to be fed. I ask the hero to spare this dog's life. You can take whatever objects you please from my household instead."


Gu Yun: "..."


"Marquis sir, how about this, as this matter happened here. The Governor of Liang Jiang* - Master Zhou - definitely won't be able to avoid getting involved. I should go to discuss it with him."


*Liang Jiang is referring to both Jiangnan and Jiangxi


Yao Zhen smiled apologetically, seeing the expression on Gu Yun's face was not very good, he quickly added, "That's right, there is also the young Prince. His Highness traveled to Jiangnan and accidentally came across the rebel force capturing Mechanics. Witnessing such wrongdoings, he snuck into their base alone, assisting our forces from the inside, and personally caught their leader. You see, does this sound alright?"


Hearing these words, Gu Yun did not say anything anymore.


For Chang Geng's origin, although His Majesty did not express his opinion outright, it was certain that he would bear some sort of ill-feeling. Now that this matter involved Wei Wang, His Majesty must have felt significant disappointment. If he then looked at the unwelcomed younger brother who was now clearly standing on his side, maybe he would be willing to let go of the grudges of the older generation.


Chang Geng was closely reaching the age of inheriting his royal status. If he could obtain His Majesty's favor, it would perhaps be better for his future.


Gu Yun weighed this option for a moment then glared at Yao Zhen in frustration. This person was indeed very talented. Otherwise, it would be difficult for him to maintain a long-term friendship with the Marquis of Order after having the chance to only meet with him once, but it was also true that he was not seeking to further himself. All he strived for in life was to be able to eat and sleep, pouring all his intelligence into sugarcoating others.


Yao Zhen smiled and asked again: "Marquis sir, what do you think?"


Gu Yun was too lazy to pay him any mind, rolled his eyes, and walked away.


He had intended to quietly leave Jiangnan. In this matter, both Lin Yuan Pavilion and the Black Iron Camp had put in efforts, but it was inconvenient for both sides to make their appearance known. How to dress this up nicely, they could only rely on Yao Zhen's pen.


When Gu Yun pushed open the door, he saw Chang Geng, who was currently making a bamboo flute in the courtyard. Ge Pang Xiao, Cao Niangzi, and Master Yao's two little daughters gathered around him. Chang Geng was handy, gentle, and patient, making a flute for each one of them. His craft looked quite decent. The two little girls who were not yet ten years old were cheering and jumping around him.


Gu Yun was in a good mood again as he saw Chang Geng. Although he never said it aloud, he always hoped that Chang Geng would grow into a young man who was intelligent and sharp but would not outwardly show it, righteous and benevolent yet not lacking resolute, not as weak-minded as his father, but not as extreme as his mother.


The person Chang Geng grew up to be was precisely what he had wished for.


Even his appearance had chosen the advantageous points of his parents to inherit.


He walked over and took the flute that was only beginning to take shape out of Chang Geng's hand and smiled: "Is there one for me?"


Chang Geng's relaxed smile on his face disappeared. He took the flute back and handed it to the little girl eagerly waiting on the side: "Just a little plaything for young children, the craftsmanship is rough and ugly. Yifu, please don't make fun of me."


Gu Yun: "..."


He stared silently at the flute in the little girl's hand, thinking: "I want it."


The child, who was not as tall as Gu Yun's legs, hid her hands behind her back and intently looked up at him.


Chang Geng put down the things in his hands and gestured to Ge Pang Xiao to take the two little girls somewhere else to play; he stood up and followed after Gu Yun: "Is yifu going back to the Western Regions?"


Gu Yun: "Mm, you go back to the capital to meet with His Majesty, Chong Ze will teach you all that you need to say, don't worry."


Chang Geng nodded silently.


"This time you have achieved merit, the Emperor may even have a reward for you," Gu Yun said. "He may allow you to come to the court to listen to political matters. If you mention it, he might even let you come to the Northwest to find me."


After meeting Chang Geng again this year, he had already grown into a mature young man who did not faze in the face of danger. His childishness from last year was gone. Gu Yun had become more lenient with the idea of taking him to the Northwest.


The current situation there could be considered to be peaceful as of that moment. Gu Yun thought he could take Chang Geng along for him to learn new things. After all, even without doing anything, Chang Geng would still be able to count this credit as his own after returning to the capital.


When Gu Yun left home, Chang Geng had wished nothing more than to go to the Northwest with him. Gu Yun thought that now as he would finally get what he wanted, at least he would be happy and excited.


Unexpectedly, Chang Geng stopped in his tracks. He was silent for a moment, then said: "Yifu, I don't want to go to the Western Regions anymore."


Gu Yun was startled; this was completely different from what he had expected: "Why?"

Chang Geng responded with reason: "The Western Regions are already being kept guard by yifu's Black Iron Camp; my being there would only cause more trouble. Moreover, I'm also bothering you to forge false military merit for me, without any meaning."

Although this was also Gu Yun's intention, with Chang Geng uncovering it directly as such, he still felt as if he was being splashed with cold water. He could barely keep his expression unchanged and said: "Then... that is alright as well, going back to the capital to listen to politics is also good. My old teacher has some other students. You could go make them acquaintances in advance..."


Chang Geng: "Isn't that just the same?"

While talking, he looked up at the end of the narrow hallway; Jiangnan's bright golden sunlight shone down the garden full of many blooming spring flowers. However, listening to servants from Yao Manor - although the flowers appeared energetic now, in fact, the blooming period only lasted for about ten days to a half month, it would not be long before they wilted away.

Fortunately, they bloomed here in the garden; if they were to grow in a desolated mountain, they could only quietly show their beauty and then, without a sound, wither to the ground. Life and death separated only by the blink of an eye, surrounded by only a few mindless birds and animals: who would be there to understand?

Flowers were like this, and so were the many unnecessary love and hate emotions in one's heart.

Chang Geng: "Yifu, there are a lot of gifted individuals around Master Liao Ran. I wish to travel with them, I will not delay my reading process and training..."


What is this nonsense?


Before he could even finish, Gu Yun had already interrupted him, and his expression had darkened: "No."


Chang Geng turned and looked at him silently.

Hidden in the eyes of the juvenile standing with his back against the light were unexplainable things that Gu Yun had never noticed before. At the time, as he caught sight of it, he was slightly taken aback.

He immediately realized that his tone of voice just now was a bit harsh; he softened his expression and said, "If you want to go out to play, wait until after you have returned to the capital. Ask Uncle Wang to arrange a few guards from the manor to accompany you around. But there is one thing: you are not allowed to go to any place where there is no imperial station. Every time you arrive at a station, you must send me a letter to report your safety."


Chang Geng said faintly: "To eat and dress well throughout the whole way as such, would only be all the more embarrassing, would it not? If so, then I might as well offer incense at Hu Guo temple together with young misses and madams. It would save more money and effort that way."

Gu Yun: "..."

This kid actually learned how to talk back!

He also topped it up with flowery and well-hidden sarcasm!

Gu Yun's good mood from Jiangnan's beautiful springtime scenery had dissipated. He thought: "How can he still not listen? Was it because I pampered him too much?"

His tone began to sound impatient: "The land is vast, the people are wicked, what fun is there to have? That monk can't fend for himself, except for running away, he can only ask for food. If something were to happen to you on your travels with him, how am I supposed to explain it to the former emperor?"


"Ah," Chang Geng thought indifferently. "It really is because of having to explain to the former emperor. If he knew that I was only a little bastard child Xiu Niang got from who knows where and used to confuse the royal lineage, he would be furious to the point of coming back to life to kill me."


Every time he looked at Gu Yun, he felt that his heart was cut by a knife, his sin growing larger and heavier. He wished nothing more than to immediately flee. But the other man had firmly held him back and refused to let go.


Unknown to Gu Yun, for a short time, Chang Geng's heart even gave birth to an irrational and lingering hatred towards him, but fortunately, he had quickly come back to his senses.


Chang Geng retracted his eyes from Gu Yun and said calmly: "Yifu had told me a few days ago, whatever path I may choose, it would be alright as long as it is the path I want for myself. It's only been a few days, yet you have taken back your words?"


Gu Yun's heart burst into flames: "I said I want you to think it through carefully for yourself, you call this 'thinking carefully'?"


Chang Geng: "I truly think so."


"No, think again! Find me after you have actually thought about it carefully." Gu Yun did not want to scold him outside, only angrily turning to leave.


Chang Geng watched his retreating figure, brushing off the petals on his shoulder. There were sounds of footsteps coming from behind him. He could tell who it was even without turning: "For the Master to witness such a scene, how embarrassing."


In the beginning, the monk did not dare to appear. After poking his head in and out for a long time, seeing that Gu Yun had left, he finally showed his face with relief, he signed: "The Marquis bears good intentions."


Chang Geng looked down at his hands, they were already covered in a thin layer of callus, but they had not yet been honed by scars.


He said indifferently: "I don't want to become an incompetent being who could only rely on his kindness."


"This monk felt that Your Highness was a bit extreme," he said. "Even if one was god himself, at a young age, most people must grow up under the guidance and protection of their parents. With Your Highness' standard, wouldn't it mean everyone in this world is incompetent? Grand talents bloom late, and need to avoid turning arrogant."


Chang Geng did not answer; of course, he did not put it in mind.


The monk said: "I saw the look on Your Highness's face, the poison must have already eaten its way to your bones."


Chang Geng was shocked; he first assumed the man had found out about the Bone of Impurity in him.


However, the monk continued to say: "There are poisons in the hearts of all people, some heavy, some light, and the age of His Highness, it should not have acted up as such, you have been thinking too much."


Chang Geng smiled sadly: "What do you know?"


He always felt that everything around him — royal status, false identity... all were stolen for him by Xiu Niang. One day, someone would realize he was not deserving of them, so they would reveal the truth, and he would lose everything.


Unease and anxiety had become a habit. Thus, Chang Geng always felt that in the capital, he was only an outsider.


Gu Yun stood in the Fourth Prince's position to plan his future for him, yet Chang Geng found that he wasn't able to put his heart into it.


Every day, looking in the mirror, he knew that he was an 'earthy dragon*' rolling in the mud. But others must place horns and scales onto him, trying their best to dress him up as a true dragon. But even with more decorations, in the end, he remained to be a worm who could never reach the rank of nobility.

*another way to call the worms.


In this case, it was better to distance himself now, to prevent any future embarrassment.


Only Gu Yun, all the joys and sorrows the man had brought to him were immensely unforgettable, engraving into his bones, not a single hint of insincerity. He could not deceive himself and say that he would be able to easily let go of him, just that he often felt he was not worthy.


Chang Geng did not reprimand himself for too long; he soon gathered himself together again and asked: "Ah yes, Master, I have always wanted to ask you, in the end, the illness that my yifu has, what exactly is it? His behavior on the trip to the Eastern Sea was bizarre, but he refused to tell me."


The monk hurriedly shook his head: "Amitabha, this monk does not dare discuss it."


Chang Geng frowned. "Him displaying his might was one thing, even you would help him?"


"The Marquis is not the kind to display his might for no reason." He smiled. "If he does not want to mention this matter, it is not because he is afraid that others will know of his weaknesses, but perhaps because this is the ingrown scale on his body and the poison in his heart — who would dare to touch the Marquis of Order's sensitive matter? Your Highness, please spare this monk's life."


Chang Geng frowned in thought.


It was not easy for Gu Yun to escape from the golden sand of the desert, for these few days, he had intended to go take a good look at the scenery of Jiangnan, go for a horse ride, go for a boat ride on the lake, admire a few beautiful ladies. In short, he had intended to play to his heart's content before leaving.


But in the end, two sentences from Chang Geng had killed off his mood. He ended up staying put in his room, not willing to take even one step outside. Because looking at Chang Geng was enough to make him angry, same for Yao Zhen, and he was even more furious looking at Liao Ran.


The two rascals of Yao's family still refused to stop, loudly blowing on their flutes one after another, like a pair of noisy parrots.


As Gu Yun listened to these off-tone notes, he remembered how Chang Geng took the flute right out of his hand, and became even angrier. Didn't he used to save everything for yifu before? How did he change this quickly?


How pitiful were the fates of parents and their children — seemed to be connected by blood, but it did not last long in the end.


Even true families were as such, let alone strangers like them, where there was not even a blood-connection.


In the evening, a Black Eagle soldier landed in the courtyard: "Grand Marshal, General Shen sent a letter."


Gu Yun suppressed his rage, received the letter, and looked, only to find that it was entirely different from Shen Yi's usual long talks; the letter only had three words written in it — urgent, hurry back.


Shen Yi, from the Ling Shu Institute, to facing life and death situations with him on the battlefields, there was nothing that he hadn't seen before. If there were no urgent matters, he would not write an expedited letter to urge him.


Soldier: "Marshal, you see..."


Gu Yun: "I know, no need to reply, we will depart tomorrow."


He still hadn't resolved things with Chang Geng yet, Gu Yun first intended to ignore him for two days and then talk about it again, but now with Shen Yi urging him back like this, there was no other option. He walked around his room back and forth twice, then moved to find the boy.


Chang Geng was practicing his sword in the courtyard. Gu Yun stood watching him for a moment, then suddenly turned to draw out the Black Eagle soldier's sword. The soldier still had his equipment on, the width of the heavy sword's blade was the size of a grown adult's hand. Gu Yun picked it up as if it was only a feather broom: "Look out."


His voice had not finished yet, but his sword had cut through the air, sweeping by. Chang Geng firmly confronted it, not retreating even one step.


"He has improved," Gu Yun thought. "His hand has more strength in it now."


He borrowed the weapon's strength in his hand to jump up, his sword created a circle resembling a full moon.


Chang Geng did not dare to confront him directly, immediately taking a few steps back. He wasn't able to disperse the force in this move. The heavy sword in Gu Yun's resembled a ghost-like snake, sending out three slashes in the blink of an eye. Chang Geng crossed his sword in front of his chest to block the attack. His footsteps were forced back into the corner. He turned to jump onto the pillar, flipping in the air, and stepping on Gu Yun's sword with one leg.


Gu Yun said a word of praise, then suddenly loosened his hold on the hilt. Chang Geng's foot immediately lost its support, becoming unsteady. Gu Yun then stretched out, grabbing the hilt again and gently pressing onto the shoulder of the boy who had yet to find his footing, the blade's dark hue caused his goosebumps to raise up all at once.


Gu Yun smiled, patted Chang Geng's shoulder with the sword, then threw it back to the soldier behind him: "Not bad, you have not been slacking off in your training."


Chang Geng rubbed his slightly numb wrist: "My skills are far worse compared to yifu."


Gu Yun said: "Mm, truly far worse."


Chang Geng: "..."


Under normal circumstances, shouldn't someone first say a few words of praises and then give a few pointers? He even used it to show off instead! Could there be such a modest yifu?


Gu Yun: "If you come to the Northwest Camp, I can teach you personally."


Sure enough, it was about this subject again, Chang Geng could not help but laugh.


It was strange that sometimes, when a person truly wanted something, they would try all methods, risking their everything in order to get it. But once they suddenly felt that they no longer wanted it, it would come to find them directly at their door instead.


Chang Geng gently refused: "Back then at the Marquis' Manor, I had asked my instructor: when you were young, you had practiced swordsmanship and martial arts here in this manor as well. How were you able to become so powerful?


"The instructor told me, solid skills mainly depend on how much effort one is willing to put in training. But to become powerful, it was mainly because one had gone through many life and death encounters on the battlefield. Who taught them was not of importance."


Gu Yun's smile disappeared.


Chang Geng: "Yifu, I have thought about it carefully, I still wish to go out and see the world."


Gu Yun frowned: "Is the heaven and earth of the capital and the heaven and earth of the frontiers not the same? What more do you want to see, Great Liang isn't enough for you anymore? Do you want to swim to the Western countries as well?"


This pair of father and son were about to fight again - the Black Eagle soldier stood quietly at the back, not daring to make any sound - the towering killer of the sky held onto his long sword, pretending to be a pile of charcoal that someone forgot to clean up.


Chang Geng didn't say anything. He just looked deeply into Gu Yun's eyes. For a moment, he wished to vomit out everything he had suppressed in his heart all along, but decided against it - he tried to imagine all the possible ways Gu Yun could react, feeling that he would not be able to handle it.


Gu Yun: "You don't have to say anything. I don't want to know where these thoughts of yours came from. Tomorrow, tell that monk to get off, you will be going back to the capital. If you don't want to go to the Northwest, stay home, no need to go anywhere anymore!"


Chang Geng wanted to scream out loud: "The manor is not my home."

But as these words reached his lips, he had already bitten them in half and swallowed them down. He was instinctively afraid his words would hurt Gu Yun's heart — although he did not know if Gu Yun even had a heart to feel hurt.


"Yifu," Chang Geng said quietly. "This time, I have troubled you to travel here from far away in the Northwest, I truly feel very saddened, but if you don't want to talk reasonably, I can only act at will. I have run away once; I can run away for the second time. You can't keep watch over me forever, the manor's guards won't be able to hold me back."


Gu Yun was furious. His heart had always gone out to the manor. No matter how much he despised the idea of returning to the capital, as he thought about how he was finally able to go home, he had always looked forward to it greatly.


He now knew that in Chang Geng's eyes, that place was no different than a prison.


Gu Yun: "Let me see you try."


The two of them broke up unhappily once again.


The Black Eagle soldier quickly caught up to him. Gu Yun had not gone far, he was not concerned whether Chang Geng could hear him or not, he coldly said: "You don't have to follow me tomorrow, follow His Highness to the capital, do not allow him to take even one step outside!"


Soldier: "...Roger."


The city gate catching on fire and affecting the pond fishes was one thing, even the Black Eagle flying outside the gate ended up getting burned into a bald chicken, truly involving the innocents.



Early the next morning, Gu Yun left in anger.


He did not talk to Chang Geng again. As he was about to leave, the immoral Marquis of Order even snuck into the courtyard of Master Yao's five-year-old child without anyone knowing and stole the bamboo flute that was left on the swing. After the child woke up and found that her flute had disappeared out of thin air, she had sobbed all day from distress.


Gu Yun's returning speed was even faster than when he left, and the first sentence he said after landing was: "Prepare my medicine."


Shen Yi appeared very serious: "Can you still hear now?"


"Yes," Gu Yun said. "But it won't be for long, if there's any matter of importance, say it quickly."


Shen Yi took out a few sheets of paper: "These are the confessions of Sha Xie Zi. No one else has seen them - I personally interrogated him and waited for the Marshal to come back to decide."


Gu Yun swiftly read through them as he walked, but suddenly, his footsteps stopped in their tracks. He folded the papers in his hand.


For a moment, his expression seemed scary.


The Sha Xie Zi invading the Silk Road, in fact, was only due to route conveniences. Their actual target was the country of Lou Lan. It seemed they possessed in their hand a treasure map of Lou Lan — this thing called 'treasure', turned out to be a Ziliujin mine that ran for a thousand miles.


Shen Yi lowered his voice to ask: "Marshal, this matter is very grave, should we report it to the Imperial Court?"


Gu Yun quickly blurted out: "No."


He then gave a quick thought and asked Shen Yi: "Where is the map?"


Shen Yi whispered loud enough only for the two of them to hear: "The Sha Xie Zi tattooed it onto his stomach."


Gu Yun: "Did he not say where he obtained it from?"


"It was stolen," said Shen Yi: "These desert bandits rampage all four sides, never fearing anyone. Great Liang people, smaller countries of the Western Regions, Western foreigners, they robbed whoever they could run into, even the bandits themselves did not know which side the map that was mixed in with their spoils came from."


Gu Yun answered with an 'Mm', narrowing his eyes that were starting to blur again, casting his sight towards the flourishing Lou Lan with thousands of lights in the distance. A young Lou Lan boy was playing a one-stringed instrument on the city wall like a madman, laughing and smiling as he looked in Gu Yun's direction.


Gu Yun no longer had the heart to frolic with these Lou Lan people who only ever knew how to eat and drink. He returned the pieces of papers to Shen Yi: "Silence him."


Shen Yi's pupil contracted.


"Eliminate him and get rid of all traces," Gu Yun's lips appeared almost stilled, all his words seemed to be contained inside: "Those bandits as well, just say they wanted to escape, our force had no other choice but to slay them down — this matter between the two of us, if it were to leak out, it could only be from you. Immediately investigate the origin of that treasure map."


Shen Yi: "Roger."


He asked again moments later: "Marshal, I have heard a rumor from the capital that Wei Wang has been imprisoned?"


Gu Yun glanced at him: "You even said yourself that it was only a rumor, the imperial decree has not been sent down yet, don't make any speculations, get to work."


Shen Yi responded with a 'yes'. The exhaustion on Gu Yun's face had not yet faded away. He stood still in one spot, pressing the corner of his eyes, he could only hope that he had overreacted about this treasure map of unknown origin.


The Dragons disaster at the Eastern Sea was not yet stabilized, but the Northwest already had this strange occurrence. He kept having the feeling that these events were no coincidence.


Half a month later, two reports of the Jiangnan situation were laid out in front of Long An Emperor Li Feng.


Li Feng tapped his desk, a man over forty with a long beard quickly came forth, brightening up the steam lamp for him. This man was the blood-related imperial uncle of His Majesty - named Wang Guo - currently the most favored subject of the imperial court.


Li Feng opened the first one - it was written according to what Gu Yun and Yao Zhen had discussed that day, sugarcoating all of Jiangnan's officials from big to small, then applauded them for their merits and goodwill at the end. The Emperor did not say anything after he finished reading. He proceeded to pick up the second one.


This one was a confidential report, the way it was written was entirely different from the previous one, it said:


"On that day, the Marquis of Order, Black Eagles, Black Armors, together with dozens of people, appeared at the Eastern Sea and captured the rebel leader. According to the leader's confession, there was a woman on the ship of the rebellion force, her whereabouts and actions were mysterious. She was suspected to be a member of Lin Yuan Pavilion and an old acquaintance of Gu Yun."


After Li Feng finished reading, he said nothing and handed the two reports to Wang Guo.


Wang Guo quickly went through them, he carefully assessed Li Feng's unfathomable expression, trying to guess what his thoughts might be, then proceeded to speak: "This... Your Majesty, the Marquis of Order's involvement in this matter, although he had achieved merit, but abandoning his duty at will was still quite..."


Li Feng: "He had a Black Eagle that enabled him to travel for thousands of miles, flying through all of Central Plains was only a matter of a few days. Although he left his duty, he did not particularly act out of line. It's just that I am quite unsure, how could there be a coincidence such as this? What role does the Marquis of Order play in all this?"


Wang Guo narrowed his eyes; he seemed to have realized something.


Li Feng's slender fingers tapped on the desk: "There was also Lin Yuan Pavilion – Lin Yuan Pavilion has hidden from the pugilist world for many years. Why did they suddenly appear? When did Gu Yun contact these people?"


Lin Yuan Pavilion - hidden at peace and prosperity - arising in the face of chaos.


Wang Guo took a deep breath: "Your Majesty means to say...that Gu Yun harbored ulterior motives —"


Li Feng glanced at him, his lips curved up in a smile: "What is Imperial Uncle saying? Uncle Shiliu grew up with me since childhood, easing the rebellion is a grand contribution. If you think such thoughts, would it not make a loyal subject feel discouraged?"


Wang Guo did not understand what he meant; for a moment, he could only play along and did not dare to answer.


Li Feng: "It's just that our homeland Great Liang stretches out for thousands of miles, from the North to the South, everything has to depend on him. Wouldn't it exhaust my Imperial Uncle? I wonder if it's time to find some others to share these loads with him."