After telling Jiang Chong and the others to tend to his various affairs during his journey south, Chang Geng finally returned to the manor before sunset. Gu Yun was beginning to direct the servant to pack their luggage, while he himself was sitting idly on the railings of the courtyard, playing with the white jade flute that Chang Geng gave him, occasionally bringing it to his lips to play a soul-crushing tune.

... If Chang Geng had any regret at that time, it would be giving Gu Yun a flute with holes. If he knew about this sooner, he would have made it a solid stick for him to hold for fun.

Seeing Chang Geng coming back from afar, Gu Yun waved at him and said, "Chang Geng, come here, I'll play you a piece."

Chang Geng, fearing that he would really do it, strode forward, grabbed Gu Yun from the railing, and pulled him down. He said into his ear, "Save your mouth for something else."

Gu Yun: "..."

He found that those who kept company with a wolf would learn to howl — Chang Geng was becoming more and more like him.

They walked to the inner courtyard together; Chang Geng asked, "Why did you suddenly say you want to travel to Jiangbei's frontline on the court today? I was frightened."

Gu Yun set his hand behind his back, rubbed the white jade flute back and forth with his fingertips. He said with a small smile on his lips: "I have not wanted to stay in the capital for a long while now. Everyday soaking in this miasma, the frontline is much better."

Chang Geng laughed and said, "Are you going for entertainment?"

"Mm, for entertainment," Gu Yun said, "but also because I am worried about you."

Chang Geng was stunned, the smile on his lips gradually disappeared. For a moment, he knew Gu Yun's casual words of 'worried about you' meant he was worried about taking a bunch of scholars to charge into the area filled with refugees near the frontline, but a strange idea still uncontrollably arose from the bottom of his heart.

A voice in Chang Geng's heart said, Why is he worried about me? Is he afraid that I will do something? Or is he afraid that I will join hands with Old Zhong's garrison in Jiangbei to force the Emperor to abdicate

Gu Yun saw his footsteps stop suddenly, and looked back at him in confusion, "What's the matter?"

When Chang Geng met his calm eyes, he took a deep breath, stretched out his hand, and rubbed his eyebrows, thinking to himself, "Where are your thoughts running to? Are you crazy?

Gu Yun used to be his comfort... Thinking about it now, this consolation stopped at the moment of overflowing sentiment. Since the moment when Gu Yun looked back at him, it was no longer the case.

Ruthlessness could be a consolation, but sentiments of love could be a vile hindrance.

There would be love, desire, fragrance and taste, greed day after day, there would be jealousy and sorrow, there would be fear of losing…

Seven emotions and spirit turned mad; six senses buried in the mortal world.

Chang Geng chased after him with a sense of panic and held Gu Yun's hand, as if only by holding it in his own could his heart be put at ease. Gu Yun raised his long eyebrows but did not pay it much mind. He opened his palm for Chang Geng to place his hand inside.

In the hot summer, the general's hands were nowhere near warm. There was only a little warmth in his palm, and it was all given to Chang Geng.

Just then, Uncle Wang was coming over quickly and saw the two men in the courtyard pulling and pushing. He immediately bowed his head with an odd expression and reported, "Marquis sir, His Highness the Crown Prince has arrived."

"Ah?" Gu Yun was surprised. "Please invite him in."

  A moment later, the eight-year-old Crown Prince pedaled a pair of short legs and ran towards Gu Yun. The manor was too big, yet His little Highness refused to be held by others in order to maintain dignity. When he came in front of Gu Yun, the top of his nose already had a layer of sweat.

  As soon as he entered the courtyard, he caught a glimpse of Chang Geng. He stopped jogging immediately and walked with casual steps. At first, he intended to open his mouth to call 'granduncle’ but remembered that it seemed that Gu Yun was not fond of hearing this title, he then put his hands together and greeted like an adult: "Marshal Gu. Fourth Uncle."

Gu Yun squatted down and said to him, "Why did Your Highness come out of the palace at such a late hour?"

"I heard from my father that Marshal Gu would follow Fourth Uncle to the south, I came to see him and Marshal Gu off specially," the little prince spoke properly, but forgot his words halfway through. After pondering for a while, his ears flushed red, yet his face assumed a calm and self-assured appearance. He then continued, "I wish you a safe journey to Jiangbei and an early return!"

Gu Yun laughed as he listened. The little prince stole a look at him. He was not at all angry about being made fun of, clumsily pulling out two safety tokens and giving one of each to Gu Yun and Chang Geng.

Gu Yun teased him, "What else does Your Highness wish to instruct after you have finished sending us off?"

At first, the little prince was too embarrassed to mention it, but after a moment of being unable to hold back, he cautiously pulled Gu Yun's clothes. "I also wanted to ask for Marshal Gu's handwriting. Royal Father said that back then he also had used Grand… Marshal Gu's note for practicing."

Gu Yun saw that the boy was incredibly adorable. Without saying anything else, he bent down to pick up the little prince, writing a note for him directly in his study. The little prince made the servants store it carefully in a box and then ran back to the palace with excitement.

After the prince was sent off with the proper courtesy, Chang Geng then said, "That year the former emperor used me as a chess piece to tie you down, is Li Feng now using the same technique to restore his relationship with you by using the prince?"

Gu Yun laughed and said, "What are you saying? Are you jealous of even children?"

Chang Geng looked at him with a smile, and suddenly said, "My yifu is unfair. He never held my hand to teach me how to write each stroke."

Gu Yun: "..."

Who was the one that imitated his handwriting so seamlessly that even He Rong Hui of the Black Iron Camp was completely deceived?

Gu Yun: "Are you eight years old, too?"

Chang Geng stabbed him calmly in the heart with his words: "When I was eight years old, nobody was there to teach me. Hu Ge Er would only use the stick that had just been taken out of the stove..."

"Alright, alright," Gu Yun hurriedly said, "I will make it up for you now, alright?"

  As Gu Yun spoke, he gave the pen from just now to Chang Geng, holding his hand from behind, putting his other hand on the table and lowering his eyes slightly. After thinking about it, he held Chang Geng's hand to write a character 'Min' in Kai style on the paper.

*"Min" here is the Min from Chang Geng's name, Li Min.

Chang Geng was covered in the faint fragrance of medicine from Gu Yun's body. He took a deep breath in silence: "Writing one word is not enough. I used to copy sutras when I was in Hu Guo Temple."

"..." Gu Yun shook his hand off. "Forget it, are you trying to exhaust me to death?"

Without saying a word, Chang Geng only stared at him motionlessly. After a moment, Gu Yun truly admitted defeat and placed his chin on Chang Geng's shoulder, wrapped his left arm around his waist and half leaned on him, stroke by stroke copying that damn lengthy sutra. He felt that this man had become more and more spoiled in recent days and could hardly be managed anymore.

Three days later, under the escort of Gu Yun and twenty guards, Yan Wang, the chief inspector, and Xu Ling, the deputy inspector, left the capital with Ge Chen of Ling Shu Institute.

Xu Ling was a Tan Hua* appointed by Li Feng in the first year of Long An. His appearance was as good as his name, with beautiful facial features, his face appearing as if it was covered by powder. If it was not for the murderous guards of the Marquis of Order that destroyed the atmosphere, the deputy inspector and Yan Wang standing together would resemble two young master brothers traveling with each other.

*探花, third place in the national civil examinations

After leaving the Nine Gates, Gu Yun took the group of people directly to the Northern Camp. Xu Ling was only a scholar, yet he was not that afraid when standing in front of the legendary black iron weapon, Gu Yun. He asked frankly, "Marquis sir, what are we coming to the Northern Camp for?"

Gu Yun laughed and said, "To change horses."

The journey had many dangers up ahead. Inspector Xu had made ready to witness the devastation of territories and facing the local corrupt officials. Even if he was accompanied by the Marquis of Order, it did not increase his sense of security. Especially when he found that the Marquis was in a very joyous mood, as if he was not going into a tiger's den but going for an outing.

As Xu Ling was still in a confusion, Ge Chen had already entered the Northern Camp with familiarity. After Ge Chen was accepted as a pupil of Master Feng Han, he gradually took over the military equipment preparation from his hands. He often came to the Northern Camp to run errands and gradually became a familiar face.

Ge Chen led the group into the armor and machine storage in the camp with ease: "Your Highness, Master Xu, this way, please."

Just then, Xu Ling was shocked.

There was only one Kite on the flat ground, about the same size as the Red Kite at that time, but its skin was much simpler than the Red Kite. There were no such complicated carved pillars or railings resembling a flower boat, there was only an iron shell in dark grey.

The Kite rested quietly in its original place; one could not find a flaming wing on either side. Instead, the four bases were equipped with rows of ventilation pipes, which were as thick as an iron muzzle. The lines were smooth to the point of almost graceful, appearing like an Eagle Armor enlarged innumerable times.

Xu Ling cannot use any word to describe it aside from 'perfection', he said in awe, "What is this?"

Ge Chen proudly introduced: "It’s not yet named, there is only this one in the entirety of Great Liang, we tried to equip the power mechanism of the Eagle Armor on the Kite, failing many times before succeeding. This thing can transport people, but also moves faster than the Giant Kite which only goes step by step.

“But it is not yet perfected. The entire court only has this one. It consumes a lot of fuel and cannot hold many things. This is the first time we are using it outside of test flights. When we can solve the problem of fuel consumption, this air combat vehicle will be able to bomb those foreigners back to their home in a moment. My Teacher said that if it could be implemented in the army, you might as well call it a 'Large Eagle’.”

Xu Ling gave an unbelievable look towards Chang Geng, who was not at all surprised. His Royal Highness Yan Wang had soon planned to clean up the worms in Jiangbei? Even something used in place of traveling on foot that could travel a thousand miles a day was ready!

"We will go directly to Jiangbei's frontline," Chang Geng said. "The Marquis has already informed Old Zhong, we will leave this thing in the frontline garrison, then try to disguise ourselves to go from the South to the North. The posts from the South to the North must have been waiting for us, why must we walk straight into them? How about it? Would Master Xu dare to ride in this aerial combat vehicle no one has ever touched before?"

Xu Ling's family was poor, and he disdained kneeling and worshipping the nobles, he did not associate with businessmen either. Although he was a child prodigy with outstanding talent, how many times did he have to make way for those who traded money for power? The great talent of that year now had to spend years wasted in the court — how could he not harbor disdain?

  Previously, there were rumors in the court that the last time Yan Wang adjusted the canal coast, it seemed to be harsh, but in fact, it only gave the big families a chance to place their own people inside. This time, Xu Ling went along with Yan Wang, he knew that the local officials in Jiangbei had a deep foundation and their forces were intertwined. It was not that he did not feel anxious, but he was afraid that investigating until the end, he would not know who he was making a wedding robe for.

*This phrase is a reference to the last line of the classical poem Poor Girl by Qin Taoyu [NOTE]

Only now could he somewhat feel that Yan Wang truly wanted to act against them. With his heart surging, he responded with a loud voice: "Eating royal salary, how could I dare to retreat in the face of danger? Your Highness, please!"

That year, when Gu Yun flew from the Northwest to Jiangnan with an Eagle Armor, it only took about two or three days. This air combat vehicle was larger, it would still be slower than the Black Eagle. However, it was not slower by much either. It took two and a half days from the capital to the front line of Jiangbei. At this time, the news of Yan Wang's departure had not yet even reached those with ill intentions.

Right after they left, some people in the capital also began to make their move.

  Emperor Long An favored hard work and thriftiness. Since the war came to a critical stage, the air in the whole capital was very tense. Compared to a national funeral, it was even quieter. All singing and dancing entertainment was stopped. Nobody wanted to touch the moulds of Emperor Long An at this time. More than a dozen public pavilions were closed; even a place for fooling around was hard to find.

With Gu Yun gone, Shen Yi had one less place to drink and chat every day. Having nowhere to go, he wished he could just stay for longer in the barracks.

At first, it truly was peaceful. Who knew that after two days of hiding, the Shen family had sent people to take him back.

Shen Yi had no choice but to go with the servants and return home like going to the execution ground. Before he could enter, the parrot that Old Shen hung at the door opened its mouth and said to him, "The two-legged animal is back, the two-legged animal is back!"

Shen Yi picked up a grain husk and bounced it on the bird's head: "Shut up, flat-peak hairy animal."

  The bird was very angry at being beaten, it screamed and scolded: "Little hairless animal! You are the Sang Men star* hairless animal!"

 *丧门星,refers to people who brought disasters and misfortune

Shen Yi was stunned, handing the reins of his horse to his family servant. He had not heard the words 'Sang Men star' for a long time. He could not help turning his head and asking, "Who is visiting our family?"

The servant answered, "General, Third Madam came with Young Master Hui, they are talking to Old Master inside."

Shen Yi's heart suddenly had an ominous foreboding. Third Madam was his Third Uncle's wife. Because of him, his uncle had died young, leaving only an orphan child and a widow mother at home. His cousin Shen Hui grew up weak and sick, along with his loose lifestyle as an adult, not doing anything from day to night, always mixing up with women. His face bore the appearance of kidney deficiency from excessive indulgence.

Although Master Shen had always felt ashamed towards his sister-in-law, his aunt placed the early death of his Third Uncle on Shen Yi's head. The two families had not interacted for a long time. Shen Yi still remembered the woman in mourning attire pointing at him and scolding that he was a 'Sang Men star'. He asked with curiosity: "Why is Aunt coming here?"

Servant: "This... this servant does not know either, but I saw that Third Madam brought forward a lot of gifts, even acted with much politeness after entering the doors. Perhaps she only wants to visit relatives, there is nothing bad."

Shen Yi responded with an 'Ah' and went in with a heavy heart, he could see his Third Aunt and cousin were both here. The beautiful widow from that year had grown old. Third Madam had prominent cheekbones, jaw sharp as a knife. Shen Hui was in worse condition, with black circles and eye bags that could droop to his feet. His whole body was an empty shell of pointed-mouths and a monkey's cheek. He gave a flattering smile as soon as he saw Shen Yi, making one feel uncomfortable.

Before Shen Yi could finish greeting, Third Madam had already stood up, the handkerchief in her hands rolled up into a ball. She laughed and said, "I haven't seen Ji Ping for many years, you have made such a great success. The governor of the Southwest, a big official in the frontier, your future and career is sure to be limitless.

"As a mother myself, I'm not as hard-hearted as your father. If I had known better, I would have kicked this good-for-nothing brother of yours out of the house and let him wander wherever, so it wouldn't have to come to this."

Shen Yi did not know what she meant, he stayed politely silent.

Third Aunt seemed to be afraid of him. After reluctantly greeting him with enthusiasm, she only sat aside and did not dare to look at him. In a few words, Shen Yi understood what Third Aunt meant.

Turned out his cousin Shen Hui had caused trouble. Shen Hui was incompetent in both martial arts and literary, even after buying himself a meager official position, he still ended up skipping work. Later, Emperor Long An explicitly forbade officials from entering and leaving places for ‘entertainment’, yet there were those who had not taken it to heart. Not daring to enter a public brothel, he gathered his friends to seek out prostitutes.

It would have not been much if he were only eating meat, yet after a few bowls of wine, he ended up in a fight with someone because of jealousy, causing a large enough ruckus that even the chief magistrate of the capital heard about the news.

The whole country was under a gloomy cloud, yet these people were still in the mood to commit such a thing. The chief magistrate immediately threw all the scoundrels that ruined their families who participated in the fight in jail. They were the children of powerful families; with only a bit of bribes and connections, they could get out with no problems. Who would have expected that they were just in time for when Emperor Long An was currently rectifying society. It was the same as placing their heads into the muzzle.

After listening, Shen Yi drew his lips straight and thought to himself, "If Shen Hui were my son, I would have beaten him to death a long time ago, would I allow him to run outside and humiliate the family like this?"

The Third Madam wiped her tears and said, "For the sake of this animal, I had begged and pleaded with everyone, seeking help from all the relations that I have. Later, a best friend of mine who was married to Lord Lu of the Ministry of Criminal Justice whom I knew in my early years, she had come out to say a few good words for this animal, that was how I was able to save him."

Shen Hui was sitting on the side eating melon seeds with indifference, as if it was not him who had caused this disaster.

Shen Yi did not speak up for a while. Although he came from the background of a noble family, he seldom interacted with these people. He was not able to remember who was whose wife and who was whose in-laws for a moment.

Master Shen continued her words for him, "If that's the case, we should go to their door and express our thanks properly."

"That's right," said Third Madam in high spirits, "The next day I personally prepared a generous gift to thank Master Lu, who knew that their family not only refused the gift, but also politely said that it was a trivial matter, thinking of it as creating a good affinity with our Shen family, we may even become relatives — only now did I realize that to be able to receive such high regard, it was thanks to our general's glory."

Shen Yi took one look at her and another at his old father, he was somewhat unable to smile, his voice stiff, "Why is Aunt saying this?"

Shen Yi ventured the battlefields, even if his scholarly aura was heavy, he could not help but be stained with a destructive air. As he lifted his cold face, Third Madam could not help but fidget, struggling to avert her gaze as if she could not look straight at him, she beat around the bush.

"Didn't Second Brother say you were arranging a marriage for the General recently? The General did not know, the younger sister of my best friend was the concubine of Lord Lu from the Ministry of Housing.

  "Lord Lu's daughter is an educated girl, with both beauty and talents, she soon gained a good reputation in the capital. When our general relieved the siege of the capital, that girl had fallen for the general — who does not love a grand hero? It's just that our general has countless things to attend to and has little contact with civil officers. The young girl was also thin-skinned and did not dare to come inquire about it, thus they have asked me to put in words.”

Half an hour later, Shen Yi used the excuse that he had something to do in the evening at the Northern Camp and would not eat at home, leaving only Old Master Shen behind. For the whole day, besides chanting sutras and taking walks with his bird, he did not know anything regarding the court or the inner palace, it was not convenient for him to keep his brother's widow here for dinner, thus the pair of mother and child bid their farewell and left.

As soon as the two came to the door, they heard the guardian of Shen Manor speak again. The big hairy god looked at the small carriage of Third Madam and fluttered its wings, "Prostitute walking the lame dog, shameless!"

Shen Hui's face turned black on the spot, and Shen Yi, who was enduring to see off the guests, rubbed his nose and hid the little smile at the corner of his mouth.

He always thought the bird's mouth was filthy and annoying. He should have pulled it down, plucked its feathers and stewed it someday. Unexpectedly, who would have thought it could be so brave in front of foreign enemies. He was so comforted that he decided he would make some rice and wine for it another day.

But on the surface, Shen Yi had to explain, "This animal hangs at the door all day long, it teases anyone that passes by. It even learns crude words from the streets, cousin, don't take this animal to heart."

Shen Hui, the black sheep of the family who was hollowed out by wine and indulgence, dared not become angry with the governor of the Southwest. He laughed dryly as if in pain and ran away.

Shen Yi watched the mother and son go far, then his face sank. He stood at the door for a moment and reached out to touch the tail of the parrot. He muttered, "I have heard of poor people who can't afford to eat and sell their children for food, but have you ever seen someone running to the general's manor to buy the general?"

The parrot did not distinguish between ally and enemy, it turned its head and gave him a mouthful. "Bah, stupid animal! Cannot even mend your own pants!"

Shen Yi: "..."

Let's stew it.

He laughed at himself and turned back inside. Master Shen waved at him from far away with his cane. "Ji Ping, come here. I have a few words to say to you."

Due to having outsiders here, Shen Yi was not able to get angry. At this time, he came closer with his features twisted, saying to Master Shen, "The Lu family are those that gave birth to the Royal Consort, I can't afford to marry one of them. You can go marry them yourself, don't mention Third Uncle's kindness or anything of that sort, even if you want to repay a favor, you cannot ask someone else to use their own life to pay."

Master Shen was silent for a moment and said slowly, "You have been despised by both cats and dogs since you were a child, your father had not expected you to be able to rise to such a high price, I also feel proud."

"..." Shen Yi choked for a moment and said angrily, "You know nothing. Just quietly take walks with your bird and stop interfering with my business!"

"Although I'm already getting old, I still know a little about the outside world," said Master Shen gently. "Starting with Emperor Wu's dynasty, he had been especially afraid of civil and military officials becoming in-laws. I heard about grand generals with troops in their hands marrying princesses but marrying daughters of noble families — that is rare. Not mentioning you, but even Marshal Gu, they had only just gotten engaged, didn't the bride already die before marriage?"

His old man talked like a singing opera, with a long, drawn-out tone. Shen Yi's eyelids twitched. He always felt that his tune contained an abundant amount of implications.

Master Shen ignored him. He shook his head and sighed, "Since the siege of the capital city, the Emperor was forced to return the Black Tiger Emblem to Marshal Gu. Nowadays, there are so many people in this world who don't put the Son of Heaven in their eyes anymore."

How did Gu Yun get involved in this?

Shen Yi thought about it for a moment, he was able to see some meaning in it. Since the Westerners besieged the city, Li Feng was forced to return the general power to Gu Yun first, then the Ziliujin hidden by the royal family for several generations in the Jinghua Pavilion was burnt down by the Westerners.

Even now the dilemmas on all four sides remained unsolved. Emperor Long An's powerlessness was seeping out bit by bit, Li Feng himself must have been aware of it as well. Otherwise, with his damn personality, how could he take the initiative to repair his awkward relationship with Gu Yun?

  "Yesterday, when I watched the stars, I saw Tan Lang's light overwhelm Zi Wei*, the sea of stars was dim, the panic in people’s hearts was like wild grass, the deer had gone down to the Central Plains*. I fear that chaotic times are about to begin..."

*Taken from the phrase 'deer came to Central Plains'. The word "deer" was often used to refer to the throne, the country.

*Zi Wei star symbolizes the Emperor, Tan Lang star could also symbolize greed among other things, what Papa Shen saw could be interpreted that someone greedy wishes to overthrow the Emperor soon

Shen Yi: "Dad, wasn't it cloudy last night?"

"Ignorant child," Master Shen did not look at him. "I ask you, what is the name of the current commander of the Imperial Guard?"

Shen Yi was stunned for a moment — the Imperial Guard was filled with young masters, but according to the usual practice, although they also assessed qualifications, family history, the highest commander was generally someone with military merits transferred from the Black Iron camp.

However, when the capital was besieged, more than half of the elites of the Imperial Guard and Han Qi, the former commander, had died in the western part of the capital. The ‘birth family’ Northern Camp was almost destroyed, the guards of the capital were badly injured, there was a shortage of talents.

  Most of the remaining members of the Imperial Guard were young master types who were disdained by Han Qi that year, only staying at the base of the imperial city to complete the number. After this battle, these young masters all had military merits, their positions were raised with the rising tide. For the first time, there was the highest commander who had not been trained by the Black Iron Camp. He was a subordinate general under Han Qi, named Liu Chong Shan, and was the brother of Lu Chang's first wife.

Shen Yi pondered for a long time before he could figure out the intricate relationship. His heart went cold. He took two steps forward, pressed down his voice and said to Master Shen, "Dad, one truly becomes wiser with age. Luckily you were here to give some advice. Just after Marshal Gu and Yan Wang left, the Lu family would do something like this, what are they thinking?"

Master Shen knocked his cane on the ground and hummed, "I only know how to walk my bird, I don't understand anything. Aren't you already grown up? What do you need advice for!"

Shen Yi was oppressed by Gu Yun every day. He had already developed a resilient temperament. He couldn't hear the cool words poured into his ears. He frowned for a moment and asked in a low voice, "He's only a small officer, how could he dare…"

"Small officer?" Master Shen looked up at him and said with a sneer, "General, the Fang family is the teacher of half the court, and the Lu family with their broad in-laws and relatives, it is very easy for them to crush one soldier in the countryside in a remote area. Do you believe it? Do you think your position as a ‘Southwest governor’ is anything grand?"

  Shen Yi: "I don't believe it, there have been so many A Dou* Emperors since ancient times, yet nobody spent all day long trying to rebel, going against the Principle** like this..."

*A Dou is the son of Liu Bei, and an incompetent Emperor.

**纲常, [gāng cháng] the three cardinal guides (ruler-subject, father-child, wife-husband) and the five constant virtues as specified in the feudal ethical code.

"Yan Wang has already left for the South, the Lu family will definitely make a move, would they be holding onto the Principle and waiting for their entire family to be executed? Is the current Emperor an A Dou? Will he let anyone force him to abdicate?" As Master Shen said this, he hit Shen Yi's left leg with his cane. "Go this way, it's a dead end!"

Shen Yi instinctively shunned to the right side, Master Shen lifted his crane again, and firmly hit his right leg from the other side: "Go this way. As long as you dare to think and dare to do it, after a path to survival has been made, you can have immense authority — which step would you take?"

Shen Yi frowned: "They want to make use of Yan Wang..."

This thought was somewhat frightening. The Imperial Guard had always been the Emperor's heart and soul. If the heart and soul of the Emperor turned against him, without any precautions, it would be too late to summon the Northern Camp to the rescue.

And once Yan Wang compromised, being pushed onto the throne by them, what would Gu Yun do?

Would he be lenient with these traitors who robbed the national power because of his own personal feelings? According to Shen Yi's understanding of him, Gu Yun definitely would not.

However, foreign enemies resembled preying tigers, half of the country had not been taken back. If Li Feng died, would Gu Yun fight against Yang Wang to return the power to the eight-year-old prince?

Shen Yi found that he dared not guarantee this.

... But no matter how Gu Yun chose, in this way, regardless of the kindness of father and son, the righteousness of friendships, or the selfish feelings of romance difficult to express to outsiders, it would all probably come to an end.

Shen Yi's mind was turning fast... No, he could think of this, how could Yan Wang not? As long as he really respected Gu Yun, Yan Wang would never...

Master Shen cut in and said, "How about this, write a letter, think of a reasonable excuse, then go to the Lu family personally to delay this marriage."

Shen Yi was shocked, "Rejecting is one thing, why delay? And if it is not to reject, why must I go there personally?"

Master Shen took a deep look at him, hummed, then ignored him all together.

A moment later, Shen Yi's astonished look faded slightly, and his face appeared shocked. His father's intention was for him to please both sides and not offend the Lu family at this key moment!

Shen Yi couldn't help raising his voice: "Dad, I have never done such a two-faced thing to anyone except the enemy in the border battlefield. If I want to marry someone, I will go out and find someone to arrange a dowry. If I don't want to, I will reject them. I cannot put up a false pretense like this. What kind of person would I be then? Do you really think a lowly bunch can take down Yan Wang?"

Master Shen stopped and turned his back to Shen Yi. "Since Yan Wang entered the Grand Council, he first solved the shortage of the National Treasury, then escorted the military supplies, pushed Black Iron Camp into the old nest of the Western Regions with one hand, stabilizing four sides. He has had many achievements, but do you know what is in his mind?"

Shen Yi angrily said, "Yan Wang has never formed a party to plot private affairs and harbored personal ambitions. He only wants to return peace to the world then be together…then retire from the court. He is still in his youth, is it easy to be this dedicated? Yet behind him still exists groups of presumptive old fools like you. You are simply...absolutely unreasonable!"

"Did I step on your tail?" Master Shen sneered, "With what Yan Wang has achieved until this day, does he still need to form a party? Loads of people are willing to follow him! Do you know what is called 'three men make a tiger'?

"The first type is the new people who took office with the help of a Feng Huo ticket and the reform of administration. The second are the ones who truly want to bring peace to the country, doing something for the people - and the third type, the third type, are those who he had offended.

"These people are all the same at the root of it all. The first two wished nothing more than to push him onto the throne, while the latter wished to push him onto the fire, they are willing to pour oil in the mix, watching him have his scheme revealed and be punished for rebelling! Use your head, except for the crime of rebellion, who would be able to touch a prince?”

Shen Yi's lips moved yet he could not speak.

  Master Shen: "Do you know what is called 'a dam broken by pressure'? Do you know what is called 'tree grown too high, the wind will destroy it'? People's hearts are not like a calm water surface. Three men make a tiger*. You said 'future' - will the Emperor allow him to retire successfully in the future? Who on earth is the fool here!"

*refers to an individual's tendency to accept absurd information(tiger) as long as it is repeated by enough people(three men).

Shen Yi appeared as if he had fallen into ice and snow for a moment. He finally turned around, his face pale, and walked away without saying a word.

"What are you going to do?" Master Shen shouted.

Shen Yi answered without turning back: "Do what should be done! You can just go walk with your bird!"

  The capital was filled with restless people.

At this time, Gu Yun and the others arrived at the Jiangbei frontline in secret, traveling at lightning speed, it was very satisfying. Unexpectedly, approaching the time of landing, there arose a problem — they came just in time to catch up with a tremendous thunderstorm. This air combat vehicle, to take into account the speed and fuel consumption, could not be too heavy — on cloudless days, it could travel a thousand miles, but when meeting with rain and wind, it was done for. The Large Eagle would then become a bald quail.

The whole Large Eagle was swept up and down by the wind at high altitude. Others could bear it, but Ge Chen, an important Ling Shu Institute member, fell down first. He was too airsick to climb up, Yan Wang wanted to relieve his symptoms by acupuncture. Unexpectedly, when a needle had just plunged in, the Large Eagle suddenly tilted. He almost hit the foot of the bed, if Gu Yun did not quickly pull Ge Chen's collar, the needle that had just entered the acupoint would have pierced in directly.

Under the guidance of Ge Ling Shu on his last breath, a group of soldiers had to revise the established direction, bypass the stormy area, spinning around in one place.

Gu Yun's Qian Li Yan in his hand was covered by the heavy rain, unable to see anything, he had to command by mere sensation, "Down a little, down a little!"

Another thunderbolt split down and almost struck past the Large Eagle. In the wind, the Large Eagle shuddered as if on its last leg. The whole thing tilted to one side. Gu Yun staggered and fell into Chang Geng's bosom. Chang Geng held him in one arm while grabbing the railing tightly with his other hand. His face was wet with the rain of Jiangnan.

Xu Ling grabbed a mast tightly beside him. He never wanted to go by air again in his life. He shivered and asked, "Marquis, will we still be alive to check those corrupt officials?"

"It's all right," Gu Yun laughed carelessly. "Master Xu can rest assured, everyone would have fallen off the Black Eagle at least several times. Don't panic. I'm here to make sure that no one will die."

Xu Ling: "..."

In the miserable wind and bitter rain, the soldier roared, "Fly ahead! Marshal, we can see the land! "

Xu Ling took a deep breath, and before he could recite Amitabha Buddha, he heard another guard shout, "Marshal, Ge Ling Shu said that there might be a problem on the right wing. We are leaning too much!"

Gu Yun: "Wh..."

Before the word 'what' could be let out, he felt a warm sensation on his neck. It was Chang Geng who took the advantage while everyone was shouting and struggling with the Large Eagle to lick his neck.

  Amidst the noise, Chang Geng whispered in his ear, "To die together* like this would not be so bad, wouldn't it?"

*What he said here meant to die together as lovers.

Gu Yun: "..."

Yan Wang, who remained composed even when Mt. Tai collapsed, even in this situation, he was still in the mood to do such a thing. Gu Yun already admitted defeat. Suddenly, he felt that Master Feng Han was right: His Highness did not know what it was to be anxious.

The guard roared, "It's landing. Hold on tightly... Be careful!"

Gu Yun only felt the darkness in front of his eyes. The Large Eagle fell to one side, tilted, and plunged into the ground. The people on board almost got thrown out. Chang Geng rolled three times with Gu Yun in his arms and collided with a mast before stopping. Gu Yun could hear a breaking noise - he grabbed Chang Geng's collar and threw him aside, then the mast fell down and brushed past them dangerously.

The soldiers scattered around shouted in shock. Only then did Gu Yun find that he was entangled together with Chang Geng's hands and feet, appearing very shady. In front of outsiders, he hurriedly covered up the trace with a cough, then got up and looked around.

It was late at night; the Large Eagle was situated in a deserted rice field. The shore could not be seen at a glance. It was strangely quiet — there were no houses or villages, no barking dogs or chickens, only a few quiet cries of summer insects could be heard ——

Gu Yun suddenly had an ominous feeling in his heart: "Where is this?"

A personal guard staggered up, still breathless: "Marshal, we were not careful, it seems we have crossed the river."

Master Xu, who had not yet climbed up, stumbled and fell down again after hearing this.

They had landed on the enemy's territory!

Chang Geng turned his head and laughed at Gu Yun, "Marshal, we flew too far."

Gu Yun rubbed his nose in embarrassment. "Causing such a loud ruckus, hopefully it will not lead the Western soldiers here. Ask Xiao Ge, what should we do with his unreliable broken Eagle?"

The two guards began to dig out Ge Chen, who almost went to see the former emperor. Ge Chen threw his arms and legs at the others beside him and said, "Dizzy..."

"Don't vomit," Gu Yun took Ge Chen's collar and refused to let him bow, forcing it on, "Tell me first, can this toy be dismantled?"

Ge Chen: "..."

He had heard that in a year, there were more than three hundred days where General Shen wanted to strangle the Marquis of Order. At this moment, Ge Chen understood him.

In less than half of an incense time, the guards around the Marquis followed Ge Ling Shu's instructions and broke down the power system of the Eagle into four pieces, carried by four people separately, leaving a pile of useless scrap copper and iron. Gu Yun poured a little Ziliujin into the barrel of the Eagle and took out the match: "I will count from one to three, run fast."

Xu Ling was in confusion when he saw Yan Wang make a gesture. Two guards, one on the left and one on the right, picked him up off the ground. The group ran at their fastest speed against the wind.

Then there was a loud bang! — thick flame and smoke almost exploded the rainy sky, blending in with the sound of thunder in the air, the earth was shaking.

Gu Yun had blown up the wreckage to dust!

Xu Ling's expression suddenly changed, he said, "Marquis, would that not invite the enemy troops here?"

"Nonsense, if we can't attract enemy troops, how are we supposed to go back?" Gu Yun spoke shamelessly, "Can you swim across the river? Master Xu, it will be alright, just follow me."

Master Xu could no longer believe him.


The poem tells of a very talented but poor girl who wants to wear a proper dress but can only make wedding robes for other rich families. The same as Xu Ling, who feels bitter to have no opportunity to show his talent due to his social status. The phrase basically says Xu Ling was still unsure before which powerful party he was siding with by investigating.