To be able to drive the incredibly fast Western Dragon out with his own hands, even if he had just been suspended as an air-dried pork for half a day, Ge Chen felt it was all worth it. He was as excited as a lecher when seeing the most beautiful woman in the world, touching the operating platform of the dragon back and forth, the only thing missing was to drool all over.
Gu Yun's guard, who set the fire to jump into the river, blasted off a firework with a strange color. Ge Chen drove the Dragon straight towards it immediately. At the next moment, an iron chain as thick as a child's arm screeched as it swept by, slashing open the sea breeze.
But the man in the water was a Black Iron Camp elite. Instead of being frightened by this weapon, he climbed up the iron chain and swept half a circle with it, then borrowed the momentum to flip onto the Dragon.
Ge Chen shouted out, "Hold on tight! Ling Shu Institute has yearned for the Western Dragon for a long time. Today we finally got one. Marshal, after this, even if you tell us to follow after you to be the servants picking up your leftovers, it would not matter ha ha ha!"
Everyone was shaken by Ge Ling Shu's driving style resembling a person jumping in joy. Everyone could only try their best to hold on to the railings beside them, there was no room to pay attention to anything else. Gu Yun's ears were full of the roaring sound of river water beating against the body of the Dragon. As he ground his teeth, he thought, He was already being tied up just now, why didn't I think of beating him up?
The Dragon flew by under the Sea Monster. At this time, it was too late for the Westerners to respond.
The Westerner garrison on the south coast recovered from the chaos and was ready to pursue after them. Unexpectedly, before the order was given, a dark and oppressive stretch of Great Liang's Large Dragons appeared across the river after having left the port without warning.
Master Ja put down his Qian Li Yan in horror and hastily ordered, "Slow down! Don't chase them! It's a trick. Gather the fleets and be ready to fight! Damn it, how come the people of Central Plains who had huddled up for so long suddenly went out to battle today?"
The pope's expression was not very good either. He personally accompanied a man with a moustache out of the camp - it was the so-called 'guest from the Holy Land'. They exchanged a look of seeing face to face but not eye to eye. The pope turned his head and looked anxiously at the army stationed in Jiangbei, where the soldiers were getting into formation as if to put pressure on the border.
In a twinkling of an eye, the Dragon on the river disappeared into the Great Liang Large Dragon fleet. While the two sides were already in formation, ready to face the enemy, the Great Liang naval force suddenly swapped its formation in front of the puzzling eyes of the enemy, slowly retreating back without making any move, as if they had only come out for a display.
Not mentioning the Western Army watching in confusion on the other side of the river, when General Zhong received Chang Geng's letter delivered by the wooden bird, he was in shock, secretly scolding this madman for behaving this excessively.
However, both Yan Wang and the Marquis of Order came in person. Two civil and military officers in charge of Jiangbei affairs had to come out personally to welcome them.
Zhong Chan greeted with the proper courtesy: "Greeting to Your Royal Highness Yan Wang and Marshal Gu..."
Both of them had been his apprentice in the past. Neither would let the old general bow to them, both stepped forward to lift him up, one left, one right.
Gu Yun's eyes inadvertently passed over the back of General Zhong's hand which was covered with tiny brown spots. It seemed as if only one layer of skin was left, and a scent of aging poured onto his face.
Zhong Chan had passed an age rarely seen before, although his back was still straight, his hair was already white. He was unable to bear the weight of a Light Armor of tens of kilograms, so he was wearing only thin armor for symbolism.
Gu Yun looked at him, feeling a mixture of many emotions for a moment.
He used to admire General Zhong very much, wishing he could follow his example - discarding his official position and title together, keeping his name anonymous, and wandering the world. No one would be able to find him. How happy it would be.
However, as his wishes came in a full circle, before he could go, General Zhong had returned with his old body. Both of them - one from the South, one from the North - dedicated to doing their part. Gu Yun felt as if he had seen a circle of fate that could not be avoided.
Zhong Chan glanced at Chang Geng with an unfathomable look, then watched Gu Yun and said, "Marshal Gu's complexion does not seem to be very good."
Gu Yun laughed and said, "I received the imperial order to ensure that the two imperial envoys, Yan Wang and Master Xu, were safely sent back to the capital. As a result, we fell into the enemy's ranks right after we set off. I was frightened to death. How could my complexion look good?"
Zhong Chan said lightly, "In this case, let's discuss the matter of a feast for later. Chong Ze, you first arrange for the masters to change clothes and bathe, rest for a while before discussing anything else. In these crucial times, there are still some military affairs to take care of, I cannot accompany you all."
After that, he took a look at Yan Wang with not much enthusiasm or friendliness, put his hands together in an indifferent way, and turned away. Chang Geng knew that the old general was not very satisfied with his arrangement, thus he stood aside obediently and did not say a word.
Zhong Chan was already at this age, golden sand had already come up to his neck, there was no telling when he would go to see the former emperor, thus there was no need for him to flatter anyone.
Moreover, to him, the high-ranking gentlemen in the court could all be considered to be the younger generation, whether the people who came were Yan Wang or the Marquis of Order, the old man did not care to show respect. Xu Ling, who had just escaped from death, was stunned by his attitude.
Only Yao Zhen on the side holding his aching head tried to find a few words to ease the atmosphere, then busily arranged resting places for all of them.
Gu Yun cleaned up and changed his clothes that had been drenched by the rain. However, he was already exhausted before he could do anything else, instructing that he was not to be disturbed, then took a long nap in his tent.
When he woke up, it was already dark, the scene in front of Gu Yun's eyes was blurry, the sound around him was unclear. As soon as he moved, there was already a hand stretched out beside him, thoughtfully helping him drink two cups of tea to wake up, then a bowl of medicine with a familiar scent was handed to him.
Gu Yun already knew who it was without the need to ask.
Gu Yun appeared dreary, he felt even more exhausted after sleeping. He was in no mood to pay attention to Chang Geng. He downed the bowl of medicine and fell back on his pillow, closed his eyes, and waited for the effects to arrive.
Chang Geng sat quietly on one side, using his fingers in place of the silver needles, lingering lightly on the acupoints between his head and neck. Gu Yun was made drowsy due to his fingers, feeling that his meager bits of consciousness were much like a shaky lamp light in the wind, burning intermittently.
A moment later, the gradually clearing sound and the continuous aching sensation rose at the same time, Gu Yun was completely awake now and could not help but frown slightly.
Chang Geng's hands stopped, he bowed his head and kissed Gu Yun's frown gently. He distanced himself instantly as if to test the water. Perhaps upon seeing how Gu Yun did not react, his courage grew stronger and he littered light, small kisses down Gu Yun's nose, and finally fell on the lips with the still lingering bitter taste.
Gu Yun had just finished drinking the medicine and had yet to rinse his mouth. His throat was filled with bitterness; not wanting to kiss him, he slightly tilted his head to avoid it.
Unexpectedly, this careless movement of avoidance somehow stimulated Chang Geng, his still quiet breathing suddenly changed, becoming erratic, channeling all his force into his arms and tightening them around Gu Yun, bringing with him unspeakable despair, surging onto the man. It seemed almost as if he did not intend to kiss, but to tear and bite from utmost hatred.
Gu Yun reached out to pinch the back of his neck, but Chang Geng grabbed his hand halfway and forced it back onto the bed.
Give him an inch and he would take a mile.
Gu Yun frowned and took Chang Geng's elbow to the edge of the bed, knocking on his numbing vein. At the pain, he instinctively released his hand. However, he would come forward once again regardless.
Gu Yun stopped him: "Where do you think this is, are you mad?"
Chang Geng's breathing was too heavy, not willing to let go of him even in death. Even when he got caught, he still would stubbornly break his own arm to reach this person. His wrist was twisted to a certain extent, making a cracking noise, the stubbornness of his that made him rather hurt himself than retreat was greatly frightening.
Gu Yun could not break his wrist, of course. However, when he loosened his hand a little, Chang Geng rushed up, seemingly trapping the man into a square inch of the bed. He stared at Gu Yun with the eyes of a starving wolf.
Greedy yet fearful.
It was as if he was desperate, yet nervous about something at the same time.
Gu Yun's blurred vision gradually found its focus. He could see all four sides clearly and realized that he had unconsciously slept for a whole day. He went to rest at dawn, at this time, it was just past dusk, the sky gradually converged.
He looked into Chang Geng's eyes in the dim light but did not find the ominous blood and double pupils in his eyes. He knew that he was conscious at this time and was purely picking a fight.
Not long after the confrontation, the ferocious intent in Chang Geng's eyes finally faded away like the tide, while an unspeakable pleading expression slowly tore through the water surface and emerged: "Zi Xi, I..."
Gu Yun asked coldly, "You what?"
Chang Geng shrank involuntarily in front of his gaze and slowly let go of him. His whole body was as stiff as a puppet, he closed his eyes slightly and sat dejected on one side.
He was too sensitive when it came to Gu Yun, to the point that he did not even have to say anything. One look from him could break his heart and soul into pieces.
Silence spread in the small camp tent. For a long time, Chang Geng whispered in the dead stillness, in which even the drop of a needle could be heard: "This time going South, I want to force Li Feng to stand on my side and try to find out how big a storm those noble families can set off. Those people are old-fashioned, their internal relations are not as tight as iron either. Movements too big in the capital will easily be rebounded, it would be better to use Jiangnan as a breakthrough, baiting them into scattering by themselves and falling into the trap.
"I also want to take the opportunity to push the new officers to the stage, waiting for the next step to completely eliminate those who opposed, and clean up the court."
There seemed to be a dark tide sweeping through his few sentences. He absolutely did not mention the word 'settle the refugees'. As if he was throwing a tantrum, refusing to say anything good about himself. The more insidious and cunning, or ugly and shameless, the more he wanted to speak of it.
There was no one who did not know that Yan Wang could adapt to whoever he spoke with. As long as he wished to, even an old thorn like Zhang Feng Han could be coaxed into submission. But at this time, facing Gu Yun, he felt that he had become a young version of Zhang Feng Han, specialized in speaking of things that Gu Yun did not like to hear.
But as he opened his mouth, it was already irremediable. He gasped for a moment, and continued to say, "These new officers were brought up by myself using the Feng Huo tickets, gathering to form a party in the midst of national disasters, they do not need to be painstakingly nurtured in the future, as long as they are carefully looked after, they would surely be able to lead to a new trend, quickly turning the old dynasty and system upside down. I want Emperor Wu's arbitrary rule to disappear starting from this generation. As for Li Feng, it doesn't matter what he wants, I will be happy as long as all the Li people are dead."
At this time, Gu Yun was able to understand it - this bastard felt ashamed towards himself, but instead deliberately showed his might, insisting on picking a fight to feel reassured.
Gu Yun thought with flame arising in his heart, As you wish then.
Thus, he asked in the tone of quarreling, "Then are you not a Li? Is your last name Gou*? Or Zhu**?"
"Me?" Chang Geng gave a short laugh. "I'm born not even as good as a pig or a dog, only but a puppet of human flesh in the hands of the barbarian woman..."
Before he could finish, Gu Yun raised his hand to give him a slap. Chang Geng instinctively closed his eyes, but he refused to dodge. The palm brought with it a strong surge of wind, but it stopped at his neck before falling on his face.
"Merits or mistakes, there are people in the world to be the judge, for what reason must you cling to me wishing to get scolded?" Gu Yun wanted to soften his tone, who knew that as he spoke of the latter part, he truly did become angry. "Crying, screaming, and hanging yourself, forcing me to accept that you can do whatever you wish to, that everything you do is correct, even if it is any more immoral, I must agree with both hands. Would that please you then? Will you be able to sleep soundly? Your conscience will be at peace?"
His voice seemed to carry with it a blade, each and every sentence stabbing a hole into him, Chang Geng shuddered as if he was in great pain, and he said with a tremble, "What does the world have to do with me? Everyone in the world has forsaken me. I never owed anything to them, I do not care who judges me.
"But living people must have wishes, Zi Xi, for my entire life, these meager wishes of mine that cannot be divided are all placed in you. Now you want to cut them off, it is equal to giving me one path to death, I will go now."
"Oh, why, Your Highness Yan Wang is going to die for me to see?" Gu Yun almost laughed at him from anger, "In this life, I despise being threatened the most!"
Chang Geng felt as if he had fallen into an ice cellar. He couldn't restrain himself from trembling. He had not talked to Gu Yun for the entire day, he was extremely anxious and uneasy. Wanting to do the same as when tricking Xu Ling, knowing the proper limit and calculation, coming to explain to him, it was not a difficult deed either.
But thousands of rational thoughts, he knew clearly of them inside, yet he could not do it, could not help it.
Even knowing that the matter of the heart could cloud judgment, resembling a double-edged sword without a handle, hurting oneself and the other with just the slightest bit of movement.
Gu Yun pushed him aside. Chang Geng was shocked, hurriedly stretching out his hand to grab him. "Zi Xi, don't go!"
Gu Yun took his wrist and forced him to open his palm. Not knowing where he had pulled out a piece of something, he lifted his hand and slashed it down onto Chang Geng's palm. With a loud clap, Chang Geng trembled violently. His Highness Yan Wang, who had never even been hit by a teacher before, was shocked and forgot about his struggle for a while.
What Gu Yun hit him with was the white jade flute: "You see yourself as a pig and a dog, who will see you as a human person? You don't know how to cherish yourself, who are you crying to, seeking to be loved? Are you low or not? Are you low or not? Are you low or not?"
With each of his scolds, he delivered a slash, three slashes in a row onto Chang Geng's palm, all hits were in the same place, the red mark did not spread.
After finishing, Gu Yun used the white jade flute to tilt his chin up: "How other people treat you, what relation does it have with you? Others fear you, respect you, you would become invincible, others abandon you like an old shoe, you would truly become a goddamn mass of mud? Just a barbarian woman who already died eight generations ago, with a meager bit of heretical magic disturbing the mind. Look at me when I'm talking to you!"
Chang Geng: "..."
"Your Royal Highness Yan Wang was praised for knowing more than what could be contained in five carts of books*, but do you not know what is called 'self-respect'? What is in your five carts? Toilet paper?" Gu Yun threw the jade flute aside as he spoke and sighed, "You waited all day just to be beaten. Now you've got what you want. Get out of here."
*学富五车, an idiom that means wealthy in knowledge
Chang Geng sat on the bed, grasped his red and swollen palm, slightly relished in the white-hot pain, and looked up at Gu Yun incredibly.
Gu Yun poured himself a cup of herbal tea with his back towards Chang Geng and drank it slowly, as his anger waned out, he asked, "When will the Liangjiang refugees be able to settle down?"
Chang Geng said in a hoarse voice: "... If it's fast - before the end of the year."
Gu Yun asked the same question as Xu Ling: "When can we go to battle at the Northern Frontier and Jiangnan?"
Chang Geng closed his eyes and answered softly, "The internal affairs of the Western countries are not united. From this point of view, we can see that even the pope's position is on the verge of collapse, he will send envoys to negotiate with us within the year. If the plan is taken into account, one or two years of rest and recuperation will enable us to go into battle."
Gu Yun was silent for a moment. "After the war, how long will the peace last?"
Chang Geng: "When the country is strong and powerful, the four sides will fall into place."
"Mm," Gu Yun nodded and said, "You can go ahead."
Chang Geng wasn't able to react for a moment: "Go... Go where?"
Gu Yun: "Aren't you going to investigate Yang Rong Gui with Xu Ling about withholding information? Why, did I guess it wrong? Not going right in the night, are you still waiting for Old Zhong to treat you to a meal first?"
Chang Geng looked at him in a daze.
"I have to stay in Jiangbei for a few more days," Gu Yun said. "You can bring those twenty guards with you. Unless the foreigners and navy cross the river, it will be enough to deal with them using the underlings of the local officials. It's going to be dark. Don't delay any longer."
Chang Geng stood up silently and tidied up his messy appearance.
"What's more," Gu Yun said, "Your hand, find some medicine to treat it later."
Chang Geng struggled to turn away. He seemed to be enduring it for a while, then whispered, "Yifu, I want you."
Gu Yun thought for a moment that something was wrong with his ears. "What did you say?"
Chang Geng no longer repeated it, his ears blushed red, glancing at Gu Yun with both eagerness and avoidance, his eyes kept drilling into the snow-white hem of his clothes.
Gu Yun: "..."
Gu Yun, no matter how frivolous, was only the average type of frivolous. In 'that' matter, he also retained the bad habits of the sons of noble families, paying attention to the mood, 'when the timing and place were ideal, before the flowers and under the moon*, everything will fall into place'. He really could not explain the type of 'energetic' that must call him 'yifu' in bed, getting turned on after being beaten like this. His scalp was tingling for a moment, thinking to himself: Seems to be quite crazy.
*an ideal place for lovers
Thus, he pointed to the door of the military tent and simply said, "Get out."
Chang Geng did not dare to delay his official business, all his overflowing desires had to be suppressed. He gave Gu Yun a secret glance with embarrassment, reluctantly calmed his feelings down, and ran away.