CHAPTER 13: NEW POLITICS

V

Wang Guo was sitting among the civil ministers, listening to a group of sharp-tongued civil officials vent their hatred for the country and families, using mocking words to oppress the Man envoy.


The Northern Man's envoy could not be said to have a flexible mouth, but he knew proper advance and retreat. Once the topic became too sharp for him to answer, he only laughed and did not speak. It seemed that he really bore the burden of humiliation and came for peace talks.


Imperial Uncle Wang's eyes also paused on the silent Third Prince bowing his head, but quickly shifted his attention — he had no interest in that idiot, he had arranged a better play.


Wang Guo was different from people like Fang Qin who often talked about the national economy and people's livelihood. He knew that nobody thought highly of him. Even for Fang Qin's bunch, they only reluctantly addressed him as Master this and Lord that when they had a use for him. They all called him 'eunuch uncle' behind his back, saying that he was very 'dutiful' towards his role as an Imperial Uncle, even taking on the duty of inner management.


Wang Guo used to be a minor character who ran errands for the former emperor. He was destined to play the role of a flattering subject and bearing the ill name for the ruler. Ever since the matter of the former emperor and the barbarian concubine came to light, he had been living in fear.


He had no opinions towards Gu Yun or even the Gu family, there were few contacts between civil and martial officers in Great Liang in terms of interests. As long as neither party harbored great ambition and covered the sky with one hand, even in the struggle for power, they would not struggle for a single pot.


Not to mention that the Gu family was the true nobility, it was just that they were few in members and their object of marriage was too special.


But Wang Guo himself and Gu Yun had no difference in viewpoints either. He had no opinions on the important affairs of the country. His only opinion was what were the proper ways to please the Emperor.


Every man in the court were grand characters, talented in martial and literary, each of them was full of ideals, there needed to be a few men such as this to allow the Emperor to relax after the battle in wisdom and courage.


If it was possible, even if he was overfed with rat poison, he would never dare to touch the Gu family.


But fate was difficult to detangle, and a ruler's order was hard to oppose. Now the old man himself had died, at least he could still find one broken excuse of 'the ruler wants the subject to die', yet he had left him behind as a scapegoat to bear the scolding of the people.


At present, Emperor Long An was willing to protect this worthless being out of respect for him as an uncle, letting him continue his dying breath and beg for food.


But what about the future?


It was not horrifying how much land tax, civil and commercial trading Yan Wang reformed. What was horrifying was that once Yan Wang took the throne, what would he do to Wang Guo?


Yan Wang had a close relationship with Gu Yun since his childhood. As the son of the Emperor and the barbarian concubine, it was impossible for him to investigate his parent's sins. In order to further attract Gu Yun and strive for military support in the future, the first thing he would do would be to drag him out to be the offering for the Gu family.


The thing Master Fang and others worried about was nothing more than how Yan Wang was reforming the court. In the end, it was for their own fame, fortune, and their family's future, while Imperial Uncle Wang's life hung by a string, he was constantly worried about the head on his shoulders — even if there were high positions and rich salaries, he still needed to stay alive to enjoy them.


When the Barbarians first arrived in the capital, they truly knew their place and did not bribe people all around. The nobles in the capital were not so poor, insane, and shallow-minded to the point of being willing to bear the charge of 'treason and allied with the enemy' for a little benefit.


Before the palace banquet, the envoys of the Eighteen Tribes reached out their tentacles for the first time and contacted a man — it was Imperial Uncle Wang, a seemingly insignificant flatterer.


The envoys of the Eighteen Tribes swore an oath to their god and gave Wang Guo two promises: first, let Yan Wang no longer be the sword hanging over his head.


Second: Whether it was a success or a failure, Wang Guo would not be implicated. If in the future, Wang Guo was backed into a dead end, the Eighteen Tribes were willing to save his life.


The mobs of the Eighteen Tribes were uncivilized, cruel, murderous, and were good at tampering with poisons, but there was one good point — they kept to their promises.


And what they wanted him to do was a simple task. Yan Wang most likely wanted to avoid appearing, this time, Wang Guo's job was to make sure that Yan Wang showed up at the palace banquet.


The barbarians didn't reveal what they were going to do. Wang Guo planned to wait and see what would happen. In case the Barbarians failed, he also prepared another scheme — thanks to Lord Fang, who secretly kept a man in his household in order to overthrow Yan Wang.


When the barbarian imperial concubine escaped, a large number of palace men, guards, and doctors were involved, and many of them died unjustly, but the ones who were truly guilty had already prepared their way out beforehand.


The old doctor in the Fang household was one of the people who escaped that time due to fear. His son accidentally killed someone, and carrying the debts of his child, he had no choice but to sell a secret: When the Man imperial concubine escaped while pregnant, Xiu Jun Zhu who was with her was also pregnant while unmarried.


Xiu Niang Hu Ge Er colluded with the barbarians at Yanhui town and brought them inside the border. She despised Great Liang to the bone. Would she really and honestly raise her enemy's son?


Was the person Gu Yun brought back the son of the former emperor, or a wild bastard child of Hu Ge Er whose father was unknown?


Fang Qin took in the doctor but did not act rashly. He had learned his lesson from failing to kill Yan Wang last time. This time, he planned to hit the target in one move, but while he was still slowly brewing the plan, Wang Guo did not want to cooperate with him anymore.


The righteous had the methods of the righteous, the villains had the way of villains. Their scheme did not have to be superb, it did not matter even if it was lowly and dirty, it only needed to be effective.


When the Eighteen Tribes envoy opened his mouth inquiring about Yan Wang, Li Feng didn't answer immediately, but when he heard that Yan Wang was ill, he had asked his servant to go and check in his stead. Li Feng's original words were, "Take a doctor to see him and tell A Min to rest well. If he's better in the next few days, don't stay put in the house all the time, come into the palace to pay New Year greetings, there's no need for him to interact with those people."


After saying this, Emperor Long An saw it as having fulfilled his duty to appear at the Palace Banquet and took his leave.


Imperial Uncle Wang did not gain the title 'eunuch uncle' for nothing. He had soon bribed some seemingly insignificant servants running errands. As long as Li Feng's words were skillfully bent a little, Yan Wang would certainly come.


After the Emperor's departure, Yan Wang who was taking a sick leave would deliberately come to see the Man envoy, then the story of confusing royal blood and his unknown origin would come to light in front of the eyes of all people — how would he end up?




Since Li Feng left, the whole palace feast passed quietly for the most part. Nearing the end of the feast, Gu Yun finally felt a little relieved. He picked up a drink to take a sip. Before he could even taste it, the servant suddenly announced that Yan Wang had arrived.


Gu Yun had not yet had time to clear up his thoughts; his heart was thumping.


Fang Qin was a little surprised, but Wang Guo bowed his head. The envoy of the Eighteen Tribes turned towards the outside of the hall with a smile. The Third Barbarian Prince, who had been keeping his head down to eat and drink in the corner, stopped abruptly.


When Chang Geng entered the hall and noticed at first sight that nobody was on the throne, he knew that he had fallen into someone's trap.


However, it was too late to turn back now. Chang Geng's footsteps did not stop, his slightly ill face was calm and quiet, he retained his gentle smile, walking slowly and unhurriedly. He took off his cape and passed it to an attendant, using this opportunity to glance around. The servant who deceived him was nowhere to be seen.


Although one man from the noble families party did not know why Yan Wang appeared here, he still refused to give up the opportunity to throw stones down the well. He immediately laughed with profound meaning: "His Highness Yan Wang had already requested to be absent from today's banquet. But it seems that the guests of the Eighteen Tribes truly have lots of respect, and actually managed to invite Yan Wang here with only one sentence."


Another man continued his words, "These words need to be punished, not mentioning anyone else, but today's guests are not ordinary. The Eighteen Tribes are the maternal family of His Highness, they must be treated differently."


Chang Geng's loose court attire almost fell to the ground. He calmly returned, "I have troubled the Emperor for sending his people to inquire, I especially come to the palace to pay New Year's greetings to His Majesty, but unfortunately, did His Majesty already leave?"


"Yan Wang's arrival was untimely, but ours isn't. Today, we get to meet Great Liang's two talented individuals, it is a great privilege and blessing for us. Our prince also wants to offer one cup to Your Highness as respect!"


During the conversation, the envoy of the Eighteen Tribes helped the Third Prince to stand up.


Gu Yun quickly signaled Shen Yi with his eyes. Several guards hiding in the dark suddenly showed their murderous intent and circled the barbarian envoys and the prince.


The Third Prince stepped out from the table, seemingly very nervous, his hands trembling violently all the way while carrying the wine cup. Before he could approach Chang Geng, more than half of the wine had spilled.


As the teenager approached, Chang Geng's body gave birth to a dry heat that could not be suppressed. The fever that had already faded fiercely rushed forward once again. His ears roared and his blood boiled as if it were burning Ziliujin, bubbling intensely.


Chang Geng's hairs stood up, countless pairs of calculating eyes, or the joyous ones of those who delight in others misery did not exert as much pressure on him as this boy. He endured the severe discomfort, struggling to maintain the dignity of a prince and forcing himself to laugh. "Why, when your tribes' princes offer wine, are they all this quiet?"


The Man envoy suddenly smiled and slowly retreated one step behind the Third Prince.


The Third Prince, shivering all over, stopped silently without warning. His hands that halted in the air were blue and white, heavy with the aura of death.


He then raised his head and looked straight into Chang Geng's eyes.


The young man's pale face had a pair of red eyes, his double pupils like an icicle, pierced into Chang Geng without warning.


This boy turned out to be another Bone of Impurity!


No one knew what would happen when two 'evil gods' faced each other, there had never been any record of it. How much madness was in one Wu Er Gu, how much hatred could there be, how lucky could one be to achieve one?


To what extent should an era be chaotic in order to make two Bone of Impurity's meet face to face?


There seemed to be an indescribable feeling between the two for a time. The whole palace now turned into dust in front of Chang Geng's eyes. His chest was so painful that it seemed as if he was about to burst open.


All hallucinations and realities entangled together, the poison that had been suppressed in his bones and blood for many years was like scorching oil poured onto the fire, which erupted into roaring mountains and tsunamis. All the indigestible hatred and rage poured into Chang Geng's heart. All the nightmares in the abyss poured out, opening their large terrifying mouths to swallow him down.

The Barbarian envoy's smile was constantly twisting and morphing in Chang Geng's eyes, with an unspeakable demonic aura. It was the same expression as Hu Ge Er's when she was cursing him before dying. It deposited the bitterness of Eighteen Tribes who fought against heaven and earth, against people and for life.


Chang Geng stared closely at the silver cup in the hands of the Third Prince. His whole body seemed to be shackled by a thousand weights. However, in the eyes of outsiders, he was silent for only a moment.


Not long after, Chang Geng raised his hand in front of the eyes of the crowd. His thin lips were almost bloodless, he gracefully and calmly took a glass from a nearby servant.


Anyone with eyes could see that Yan Wang had just come out of illness. His hand and cheeks lacked blood. The finger holding the cup trembled slightly. He lowered his eyes and touched the prince's silver cup lightly, saying coldly, "Third Prince, help yourself. I have taken medicine recently and cannot drink alcohol. When the Eighteen Tribes bring this year's tribute, you and I will have the opportunity to drink together."


The Third Prince stared at him through the double pupils. Chang Geng touched his lips with the wine in his glass then put the silver cup aside, walking past the Barbarian envoy without looking sideways.


In other people's eyes, maybe His Highness Yan Wang was only indifferent towards the enemy envoy, but Gu Yun saw in his ghostly pale face the violent and repressive impatience.


There truly was something abnormal about that Third Prince after all. Gu Yun's heart sank and turned to Shen Yi to make a signal. The latter immediately understood and quietly went out of the hall. Gu Yun got up and pushed aside the people blocking the way. As he walked towards Chang Geng, he said in a loud voice, "Your Highness, please come and have a rest."


Before he could get close, his sharp nose that was different from ordinary people's, detected a very subtle odor of blood, and his heart was in a state of confusion when he recalled Miss Chen's vague line about blood.


At that moment, the Barbarian envoy was seemingly unable to read the situation and took a step forward to say, "I still remember that year when our goddess strayed to a foreign land, I didn't expect that one day I would get to see her bloodline, it must be a blessing by god."


Xu Ling coldly answered, "Yan Wang is the true royalty of our Great Liang. It would be inappropriate for you to say so."


The Barbarian envoy stared into Chang Geng's eyes intensely, as if wanting to see a little bit of a clue in his pupils. But the more he looked, the more shocked he felt.


The reason why it was so difficult to refine the Bone of Impurity was that besides being cruel, it also required every element to be aligned. The host had to have a strong temperament, so as to leave a long fermentation time for the blood of the evil god. He could not lose control too early. Otherwise, the mental development of the host would remain at the level of a moronic child for the rest of his life.


The Third Prince was one such example of a failure. This innocent child had a twin brother, both died together due to his father's hatred. Failing to survive the first attack of the Bone of Impurity, he had been destroyed and could only serve as a 'sacrifice' to evil gods. In contrast, Yan Wang in front of them was the perfect product. Even now, he still maintained his sanity, and even in front of the sacrifice, he had not revealed an opening, how strong could his will be?


The evil spirit of the Bone of Impurity originated from devouring. When it was near another weak and incomplete Bone of Impurity, it aroused its instinct and would lose its mind. Therefore, the latter was also called a 'sacrifice'. At this time, if someone nearby guided him properly, controlled his mind when the Bone of Impurity was distracted, then supplemented him with medicine, the evil god would be able to follow one's orders until he collapsed completely.


Perhaps, even Xiu Niang herself didn't realize that the evil god she abandoned halfway through could be this powerful. Unfortunately, these years, the evil god was taken away by the people in the Central Plains, not only did they fail to exert the true power of the evil god, but it also became a sharp weapon against the Eighteen Tribes.


"In Yanhui Town, my king had seen Your Highness once, but at that time, he thought that Your Highness was a dirty child birthed by Hu Ge Er, so he was rude to Your Highness. During these peace talks, he ordered me to bring his apologies." The Barbarian envoy's lips curved up slightly and silently hid the secret keywords that evoked the Bone of Impurity in his questioning, "I wonder if Hu Ge Er has ever spoken to His Highness about the Eighteen Tribes?"


"Hu Ge Er... spoken," These four words of a nonsensical question set off a storm in Chang Geng's ear that nobody knew of. Before his eyes, the tall and rough Barbarian envoy merged with the gorgeous and demonic Hu Ge Er. The curse that the woman exhausted on her deathbed exploded like thunder in his ears, with an unspeakable peculiar scent coming from the Third Prince and plunged into his lungs — a little fishy, a little bitter. It spared no effort to pull Chang Geng's nerves and arouse his bloodthirsty impulse.


The door to this memory which he had deliberately closed was suddenly knocked open, and the fragmented memories fiercely drowned him.


Hu Ge Er's nightmare-like beautiful face, the hill filled with bandit corpses, the first fire in his memory, the stench of blood on his face, the endless abuse and beating... the old scars under his gorgeous court attire came alive, the blood-sucking leeches drilled into his skin and flesh, but his mortal body seemed to be unable to withstand the enormous power of the evil god. Chang Geng's chest and limbs were cut like knives. The sharp pain was a symptom of the Bone of Impurity's attack.


What was worse was that the Barbarian envoy's words aroused thousands of waves, which were totally seemingly speaking unintentionally for an intended listener.


Wang Guo immediately added oil into the fire and said, "Is it inappropriate for you to mention Hu Ge Er here? Although Xiu Jun Zhu had a great achievement in raising His Royal Highness Yan Wang, it was also true that she provoked the relationship between the two sides at that time, which almost led to war nine years ago."


As soon as the words came out, the cowards following Imperial Uncle Wang did not know what the situation was, and the civil officers who simply hated the barbarians immediately jumped out to dance along.


Wang Guo smiled and said shamelessly, "Besides, I also heard there was nothing good about that Xiu Jun Zhu, she conspired to harm the Black Iron Camp. After it failed, she persuaded the Royal Consort who was pregnant to escape. Not knowing who she had gotten intimate with, if this old man remembers correctly, that year, there was even a rumor spread by a doctor that Xiu Jun Zhu was pregnant before marriage. Someone like this is not worthy of being our court's Jun Zhu and your tribes' goddess."


Even if someone were any dumber, they could also hear the hidden meaning in his words. Seeing that Wang Guo was courageous enough to point the sword at Yan Wang, the people who danced along just now all silenced, waiting for the follow-up.


Looking at Yan Wang, no one could tell whether he was ill or what. cold sweat rolled down from his forehead, it seemed that he had no strength to stand.


Fang Qin frowned and realized the problem on the spot: before he knew it, Wang Guo had colluded with the Barbarians!


At this time, Fang Qin had no time to rejoice in Yan Wang's misfortune, he was very uncomfortable — internal struggle was internal struggle. It was normal for people on the same side to fight for power and influence. Whether the winner takes all or they fight to their last breath, these were all internal affairs. But at this moment where the border had not been taken back and the country was at a loss, how could he drag outsiders into this?


If this was exposed — no, there was no need for it to come to light at all, even if Wang Guo was successful in proving how Yan Wang had mixed up royal blood, what would others think afterward? No one would think that the Fang family was innocent. He had been clearly in the same party as Wang Guo, but the old doctor was still waiting to be judged, the one who leaked the secret was kept in the Fang household, there was no way for him to rid himself of this relationship!


Fang Qin broke out in a cold sweat. Wang Guo was not only using him, but he also dragged him into being a national traitor who colluded with the enemy!


He thought he was no worse than anyone else in terms of intelligence, but looking at Yan Wang, even though he was still young, he already had Jiang Chong as a strong right hand man, Xu Ling, the defender of justice, half of Ling Shu Institute, and even the Northern Camp who had fought side by side with him. Even the important figures in the army, such as the Marquis of Order and the governor of the Southwest, they all shared very close personal relations with him. But what about Fang Qin himself?


All around him were the likes of Wang Guo and Lu Chang. If it was not poisonous snakes, then it was villains. Not enough success but failure was plenty.


For a moment, Fang Qin felt a cold exhaustion in his heart. He truly learned what was called fate.


Was it impossible for a human's ability to resist the tide of fate?


The Barbarian envoy heard Wang Guo fishing in troubled water and laughed with contempt. He saw the color of Yan Wang's pupils deepening. He knew that they would completely turn into double pupils before long. Then Yan Wang would fall into an illusion. He would not hear a single voice from the outside world. Only special secret words and key sentences could enter his ears — that was the moment he would achieve the true evil god.


The Barbarian envoy stretched out his hands as if to help Chang Geng: "Why, Your Highness does not feel comfor—"


Before the word 'comfortable' could be said, someone shouted, "You dare!"


The envoy's pupils shrank and a strong wind blew past his ears. The cold air almost penetrated his pores. In a moment, the envoy's hairs all stood up, but he could not respond at all. His neck felt cold; a sword was placed at his throat.


Gu Yun was gripping a sword drawn from the waist of a guard, holding Yan Wang with his other hand in full view of the public. Chang Geng grunted and leaned on him as if he collapsed. However, the double pupils the envoy anticipated did not appear. Chang Geng's mind was obviously clear. He whispered along with Gu Yun's voice: "Barbarians... Voodoo..."


Xu Ling exclaimed, "Yan Wang, what's the matter?"


A line of blood ran down the sleeve of Chang Geng's court attire, it only took a moment for his sleeve to be soaked.


All the court guards drew their swords in unison.


Wang Guo did not anticipate this situation, but after a short surprise, he still refused to give up all his efforts: "Marshal... we...we can talk about it. What are you drawing your weapon for... what happened to His Royal Highness Yan Wang? Call for a doctor, where's the doctor?"


Gu Yun turned his head around without saying a word, like a Black Iron Camp's Wind Slasher, his sharp killing intent caused Imperial Uncle Wang to be stunned on the spot, letting out an 'Ah' then falling flat onto the ground.


As soon as the word 'doctor' was said, Fang Qin's eyes twitched violently, he could not sit still any longer. He knew that he must clean himself of his relationship with Wang Guo instantly, finding every possible method to push all the blame onto this goddamn old man's head, otherwise he would have to bear this humiliation for thousands of generations.


On one hand, Fang Qin ordered his underlings to kill the old doctor who was bought by Wang Guo at the fastest speed. On the other, he stood up calmly and shouted, "The Barbarians' guts are so large that they dare to act wildly in this court. It is clear that they hide their evil intentions, capture them!"


Unfortunately... apart from the internal guards, most of the soldiers were members of the Imperial Army and the Northern Camp. The newly formed Imperial Army and the Northern Camp could not afford to follow the command of a civil officer such as him. They all stood still in place waiting for Gu Yun's order.


Fang Qin was choked for a moment, but there was not much time for him to take back his dignity right now. He quickly returned to his senses and said, "Marshal Gu, I think what happened here today was very strange. You see, the servants should know that the Emperor had already left, why would they invite Yan Wang into the palace at this time? Even if he was invited, they must directly take His Highness to see the Emperor, why did they take him to the palace banquet? Let's first take these mobs away for trial, report it to the Emperor, then send someone to investigate carefully. We still don't know if there might be a barbarian spy mixed into all of this...What do you think? How about you bring Yan Wang to rest first, call a doctor..."


Gu Yun coldly interrupted his self-conscious chattering "No need to trouble yourself."


Fang Qin had never touched such a hard nail since he was born from his mother's womb. He momentarily forgot his words.


At that time, a guard dressed in the Northern Camp uniform came in hurriedly: "Marshal, we have surrounded the post station and kept the barbarian envoys under control."


Fang Qin was very frightened. Was Gu Yun going to declare war?


"Quickly report to the Emperor," Gu Yun ordered. "Besides, the palace doctors would not understand the barbarian's trickery. Invite Doctor Chen."





With Gu Yun keeping watch, even if the sky fell, they would only become busy but not disorderly. Chen Qing Xu and Emperor Long An were notified and came running at the fastest speed. Li Feng quickly looked over Chang Geng's situation. Without waiting for Gu Yun's orders, Fang Qin immediately went forward and explained everything from start to end along with his own speculations.


Emperor Long An was furious, all the palace attendants were detained in an instant, only Chen Qing Xu was allowed to enter to see Yan Wang, and her medicine disciple was kept behind to identify the servant.


With the interrogation going on this side, Gu Yun was too lazy to see them bite each other for longer, staying by Chang Geng's side the whole time. Just now, his hand was stained full of blood. Even the bead bracelet given by the Emperor was dyed in red, and his face was even worse than that of the injured one.


"It's alright. This time it was me who made myself bleed," Chang Geng looked at him and said, "I know my limits..."


"Limit my ass!" Gu Yun shouted at him in a low voice. "You really had to come and see what a barbarian looks like, didn't you? I really..."


Chen Qing Xu made salt water for Chang Geng without anyone's help and said, "Marshal Gu can rest assured, Wu Er Gu's body is different from ordinary people. This little injury would not be able to affect him. What on earth did Your Highness encounter that you must bleed like this?"


Chang Geng slightly closed his eyes for a moment. His gaze seemed clearer than usual. If the blood in Gu Yun's hand hadn't been wiped off, he would have thought that he was only pretending.


"I was tricked into entering the palace." In order to prevent eavesdropping, Chang Geng used sign language, "Even though the Eighteen Tribes may not be well-intentioned, I think that whether they really want to talk peace or falsely suspend their troops, the present time when our army is on standby and fully ready is not a good opportunity for them to play tricks. I did not expect that the Barbarian envoys dared to make a move on me boldly and publicly... moreover, with Fang Qin's cautious personality, he generally would not want to easily bear a crime of colluding with the enemy."


Gu Yun angrily said: "Generally?"


Chen Qing Xu quickly avoided Gu Yun's anger and asked, "Your Highness, can you elaborate?"


Chang Geng cautiously looked at Gu Yun and described the abnormalities of the Third Prince and the special scent he was able to catch. Chen Qing Xu stopped the bleeding for him quickly while paying attention to his gestures, her eyebrows wrinkled slowly.


"It was not necessarily Fang Qin who brought me here," Chang Geng said. "He's not as foolish as to let himself be exploited by the Barbarians. It's very likely that the purpose of his eagerness just now was to prove he had nothing to do with this... but the motives of the envoy of the Eighteen Tribes deserve further study."


Gu Yun felt uncomfortable whenever he looked at him. He simply turned his head towards the window — out of sight, out of mind — one hand inadvertently wandered onto the scabbard hanging at his waist, the fierce expression on his face had yet to fade.


He had already thought of this even without Chang Geng saying more. The one who had bribed the servants was most likely Wang Guo who jumped up and down just now. He always regarded Wang Guo as the dog of the former emperor and did not bother himself with a dog. Now, it seemed that some people really thought he had a good temper!


Chang Geng reached out a cold hand and held the back of Gu Yun's, saying pitifully, "Zi Xi, I feel terrible. Look at me."


...This time, Chen Qing Xu was the one who did not look to give herself peace of mind.


Gu Yun's heart tightened from aching, unable to vent it, he wished he could immediately don his armor and set out to behead Jia Lai Ying Huo. After a long silence, he reluctantly suppressed his anger and said, "Maybe they wanted to assassinate the Emperor at first. When they arrived in the capital, they found that the capital was more strict than they had imagined, so they wanted to make their move on you. Otherwise, they came especially for the purpose of the Bone of Impurity. Barbarians must have the means to control the Bone of Impurity. When the Bone of Impurity is unleashed, the manpower is infinite and can exceed one's limit. The palace guards would hesitate to attack you. If they use you as a shield, the guards may not be able to stop it. There is only one reason I can think of for them to waste so much effort, that is, the envoy is provoking a war."


"If Jia Lai wanted to fight, he could simply mobilize his army. It is not necessary to trouble themselves for provocation," Chang Geng said. "General Cai's news may not be entirely baseless. There must be something wrong with the internal affairs of the Eighteen Tribes after all."


"What happened to the Eighteen Tribes is not of concern at the moment," Gu Yun interrupted him. "You also heard the words said by Wang Guo. He is on his last resort, there's no telling what he would do next. You might as well think about how to deal with it first."

Chang Geng was silent for a while, his expression quite gloomy. He rubbed Gu Yun's finger joints back and forth absentmindedly, then sighed, "In this matter, there is nothing I can do. A person cannot prove their own origin."


He had never acknowledged his identity since he was young, let alone after he already became Yan Wang who had the power to overwhelm the world.


Chang Geng thought he could support the world, but he could not tell who his father and mother were — and now, as he already had Gu Yun, he no longer wished to find out his origins and background.


Unfortunately, even if he did not want to pursue it, it did not mean that the others would let him go.


Chen Qing Xu stopped his bleeding, wrapped Chang Geng's wound carefully and prescribed a tranquilizing medicine for him. She did not interrupt, nor express any emotion. Suddenly, an unspeakable grief and indignation sprang up in her heart.


Because of the Bone of Impurity, Chen Qing Xu was against handing the Lin Yuan wooden emblem to Yan Wang. Unfortunately, it was useless for her to oppose it alone. So for a long time, she had done her best to look after Chang Geng, and at the same time, take all his actions into account.


From the restoration of the capital to now, Yan Wang had slowly gathered the court with a thousand holes step by step. He travelled to all four sides, even fell into the rebellion mobs, almost losing his life there. He did not hesitate to touch the interests that no one else dared to touch. For this reason, he alone endured the whole court's open measures and covert tricks.


All these merits that could last for a thousand years, could they all be erased with just a few sentences about his unknown origins?


Even if he truly was not the son of the former emperor, then the Feng Huo ticket, the Canal Office, and even the one hundred thousand refugees living and working in peace and contentment in Jiangbei — were they all non-existent?


Chen Qing Xu had spent years running around the pugilist world, she was not naive. She knew the truth well, but occasionally there would still be such a moment in which she would shiver by how cold human hearts could be.


"By the way, Miss Chen." Chang Geng's voice drew her attention back.


Chen Qing Xu blinked: "What is it?"


Chang Geng: "If the Emperor asks, I'm afraid I'll have to bother you to cover it up for me."


Chen Qing Xu busily restrained her mind and nodded.


Gu Yun pinched his nose and stood up: "Alright, you two discuss it - just now you angered me to the point of being delirious. I really can't stay here for a long time, I should go and have a look at that side."


Chang Geng let go of his hand reluctantly and looked back at Gu Yun. As soon as he caught Gu Yun's eyes, he seized the opportunity to give him a brilliant and pleasant smile without hesitation.


Gu Yun did not buy it at first. He said expressionlessly, "What are you smiling about?"


Chang Geng did not retract his smile, but continued to cast it on him. If he had a tail, it would probably have become bald from his wagging. After a while, Gu Yun finally could not keep a straight face and helplessly reached out and patted his forehead, laughing and scolding, "Shameless."


Only then did he depart, leaving behind Yan Wang with his face full of spring aura and Miss Chen with her face pale green.




The Barbarians captured by the Northern Camp were temporarily distributed to the capital, separated and detained in prisons and awaiting trial separately. In the midst of everything, a servant wanted to sneak out of the palace during the chaos and was captured by the patrolling Imperial Army. Chen Qing Xu's medicine disciple easily identified him as the man who deceived Yan Wang into the palace feast by falsely delivering the Imperial Decree.


The servant was only a minor character running errands. Not waiting to be questioned, he was already frightened by the scene in front of him and collapsed. He shouted, "Your...Your Majesty be my witness, the Masters be my witness, this servant did not falsely deliver the Imperial Decree, I did pass on Your Majesty's oral decree exactly word for word, it is Yan Wang who wished to enter the palace to see you..."


Before the words were finished, Jiang Chong waved his hand to let Doctor Chen's medicine disciple in. Although he was young, the little medicine disciple already bore the characteristics of the Chen family. Even when seeing all these grand characters, he was not in a panic at all. He also had the ability of remembering what he had heard, he repeated the conversation between the servant and Yan Wang without fail.


Everyone standing there were elites, how could they not understand?


Before Li Feng had time to get angry, Fang Qin had taken the lead in questioning the servant with an irrepressible rage. "Who directed you to say it?"


The servant, who was a little quick-witted, immediately evaded the crucial point and replied: "It's Imperial Uncle Wang! Imperial Uncle Wang often instructs us servants on how to serve the ruler, Imperial Uncle said...said that at times like this, His Majesty had inquired about Yan Wang, he should be intending to summon him into the palace, that I should be smart and change the words..."


Li Feng turned the ring on his finger and sneered, "I really don't know what I mean anymore."


Wang Guo knelt down with a thump. The moment he couldn't find the old doctor, he knew that he was probably already tossed out by Fang Qin. Fang Qin's face was merciful but his heart was cruel. Feelings and morality generally did not mean anything to him. He should have known better — at first, that Fang and Lu Chang were also incredibly close, didn't he directly sell him out, stabbing him in the back?


The servant shouted out his grievances and was dragged aside, his mouth blocked after a few shouts. Fang Qin said, "Your Majesty, Lord Wang is the Imperial Uncle of our court. Your subject doesn't believe that he could do such a thing as communicating with foreign countries. I also ask Your Majesty to make a clear observation and return the uncle's innocence."


Wang Guo: "..."


Uncle Wang's words of grievance were blocked by Fang Qin's words. He originally intended to shout for discrimination of injustice. He wanted to gamble that the Emperor still had affection for his uncle, or did not want to kill an old minister from the last dynasty and open his net to let him go.


If they were to make a big deal out of this, it was the big crime of falsely preaching the imperial edict and disrespecting the Emperor. But if the Emperor himself did not want to investigate it, it could be passed off as Uncle Wang being senile and confused, mishearing the decree plus meddling in and creating a misunderstanding.


But Fang Qin was too cruel. When he opened his mouth like this, Li Feng would not be able to protect Wang Guo even if he wanted to do so. That was to admit that his uncle really had a problem. If Wang Guo was truly clean, he would welcome a thorough investigation. The problem was, he was completely dirty.


Would the Barbarians cover for him? Would the gifts sent to him cover for him? Would the traitorous eunuchs cover for him?


Wang Guo's heart was crossed at the moment. As it had already come to this, except stirring it up even further, he could not think of any other solution.


"This old subject's crime is worth a thousand deaths," Wang Guo said. "At that time, I truly was eager to see Yan Wang, thus I had distorted Your Majesty's meaning."


Li Feng narrowed his eyes slightly. "I don't know when Yan Wang had become a rare treasure that was difficult to seek. Normally, you all see each other in court everyday, you have never been close to him. He only took a two-day vacation but Imperial Uncle already missed him so much?"


Wang Guo had nothing left to lose, his guts also grew bigger, touching the ground with his head, his cheeks were tense: "Your Majesty, please listen to me. This is a long story. There is something else inside. When I visited Master Fang's house a few days ago, I was drunk and lost my way in the garden, I accidentally saw a man who appeared quite familiar at that time. Then I remembered that I had seen him before in his early years. Even Your Majesty was still young at that time. He was the most popular doctor in the Imperial Physicians Department. He had a very good relationship with the former emperor and the concubine of the Northern Man. Later, he was implicated in the disappearance of the concubine and fled in fear."


Fang Qin gave a sneer in his heart, but on the outside he said with fear, "What does Uncle Wang mean? Is it to say that I harbored a criminal in my household? Your Majesty, that is absurd!"


Li Feng looked at them coldly.


Wang Guo turned a deaf ear and continued, "I was only surprised at that time. Only after a few conversations did I know that the old doctor had deliberately turned to Lord Fang due to his son's lawsuit."


Fang Qin: "Nonsense, how can I bend the law for personal gain!"


Wang Guo sneered and said, "Of course, Master Fang is naturally immovable, but if the old doctor exchanged the secret of Xiu Jun Zhu fleeing the palace while pregnant at that time, then I won't be so sure! This old subject knows the agility of Master Fang. At this time, the old doctor and his family must have already been dealt with, and there is no proof left — but Your Majesty, you all know that Xiu Jun Zhu colluded with Jia Lai Ying Huo in Yanhui Town and intruded into our borders, some generals even experienced it personally. I may not be able to know the truth, but the Barbarians do. You can question them, then you will know whether what I said is true or false!"


It was almost bluntly stated that there was a problem with Yan Wang's lineage. Li Feng took a slow breath.


Fang Qin said, "Is this old man Wang Guo mad? He would rather drag people down onto the water with him even at the cost of his own life!"


He cried out, "The Barbarians are full of tricks. They only wish Great Liang will never be peaceful. Can Your Majesty believe their absurd words? On the other hand, Imperial Uncle you really have an affair with barbarians in private!"


Wang Guo also brought out everything he had. He knocked his head down on the ground with sounds as if there were firecrackers flying to the sky, accompanied by the exploding sounds in the streets and alleys of the capital. He must have been able to scare away a Nian* by this sound alone.


*A type of beast in legend that attacks people at the end of the year, its weakness is the color red, loud noises and fire, hence the traditions of lighting firecrackers on New Year.


"My loyalty has heaven and earth as my witnesses, but the royal blood can not be mixed up," Wang Guo shouted. "I had my doubts and wasn't able to bear it for even a moment, thus I had to resort to this lowly trick to let His Royal Highness Yan Wang go to the palace..."


"In order to get the evidence from the Barbarians that His Royal Highness Yan Wang was not the former emperor's own?" Fang Qin interrupted him, "It seems that Lord Wang is still very concerned about the country then! Your majesty, if His Royal Highness is a traitor who was planted in the palace by Barbarians to confuse the blood of the royal family, then the one that the Marquis of Order brought back from Yanhui Town by the order of the former emperor was also a false prince. You might as well call on General Gu and General Shen to ask for the truth, to see what these two famous generals of our court are scheming!"


Fang Qin seemed to have calculated it. As soon as he finished, outside, an attendant came to report that the Marquis had arrived.


Li Feng's face was as silent as water: "Invite him."


Gu Yun just heard Fang Qin's words outside the hall and came in with no politeness. He knelt down and went straight to the topic: "Your Majesty, Your subject and other officials were ordered by the former emperor to search for the Fourth Prince. All his features, appearance, age, relics and so on were endorsed by the former emperor. Only when they were accepted by him did we bring His Highness back, the man was also recognized by the former emperor himself."


"And I also remembered Your Majesty had told me that when he was young, His Highness Yan Wang had lived a difficult life and suffered abuse from his adoptive mother. That Barbarian woman must have not treated him with any sincerity, but only due to the reluctance to give up her sister's bloodline did she raise him. Even fierce tigers do not eat their young. If His Highness Yan Wang did come from her womb, could you tell me what kind of mother in the world would treat her own flesh and blood like this?"


Gu Yun could slap a face when he opened his mouth, Fang Qin smiled as if his facial muscles were pulled.


After Gu Yun finished his words in one breath, he turned to Wang Guo and said, "There's another thing I want to ask Master Wang, what advantage would there be for me to mix up the royal blood? Allow me to say a few words that are difficult to hear - the Black Iron Camp has stayed in the Northwest for so many years, if I truly had any relation with the Barbarians, the northwest gate would have been broken a hundred and eighty thousand times. On the other hand, Imperial Uncle, you are always concerned about other people, but have you cleansed yourself of the suspicion of colluding with the Barbarian woman to murder a loyal subject twenty years ago yet?"


Wang Guo really was afraid of Gu Yun, his fear was also mixed with guilt. He was originally a coward. It was due to being on his last leg fighting for his life that he could hold on for a while. At this moment, when he saw Gu Yun, let alone being stubborn, he could not even speak coherently, and cold sweat came down like rain.


Gu Yun lowered himself to say one sentence to Wang Guo, as if he had exhausted his meager amount of patience, he no longer looked at him and went straight to the front to say: "Your Majesty, the Northern Barbarians are too arrogant, Your subject has been in the capital for half a year, the rust on my Wind Slasher is two fingers deep, there is no need to hide any longer, I wish to go to the Northern Frontier!"


Gu Yun repeatedly considered this matter on the way. At this time, the Northern Barbarian envoy played tricks, combined with the rumors that General Cai had heard from the report, it was very likely that Jia Lai's side were fighting internally. He had to immediately go to confirm this matter in the Northern Frontier; if the Northern Barbarians' political situation changed, it would be a great opportunity for them to charge in. There was nothing much in the North, but Ziliujin mines were abundant. If one war could be maintained by the use of another, maybe it would not cause consumption, but instead be a support.


Li Feng frowned. In his opinion, Gu Yun's request was too hasty. He was in a dilemma.


On one hand, it was also the fall of half of the country. But for the nobles, the feeling between 'fleeing and transferring the capital' and 'an area a distance away being occupied by foreigners' were different. The latter seemed less urgent. After all, the bones of the desolate villages in which 'all the tears were in the dust' did not grow on their bodies of silk and satin.


Now, the treasury had slowly gathered some real gold and silver, a large number of refugees had settled down, livelihoods had stabilized. Li Feng did not really want to go to war at this time.


On the other hand, although Li Feng's ambition had been worn down recently, his character still remained. If he would find out that the Barbarians truly came to his door to slap his face, he would not be able to swallow this anger.


He did not immediately answer Gu Yun, but waved his hand: "Uncle should get up first, the matter of mobilizing troops should not be recklessly decided, let's discuss it after the trial - Men, take away Wang Guo's official attire, detain him for trial, Dali Temple will deal with it, and that rampant servant, take him away as well."


After that, Li Feng did not give Gu Yun a chance to speak. He stood up and said, "I will go visit A Min."




Yan Wang appeared to be very normal when dealing with Gu Yun, Chen Qing Xu felt that there was nothing serious with his current condition. Just as she was leaving, she saw Li Feng coming in and bowed her head in a rush.


When he broke his leg, Li Feng had already met her. He politely said, "May I trouble Doctor Chen, how is Yan Wang?"


Chen Qingxu quickly lied, "The Barbarians used a special witchcraft poison to control the mind. Perhaps they wanted to take His Highness as their hostage for their escape. Fortunately, His Highness responded in time, cutting himself and releasing the poison, he's alright."


Li Feng didn't understand much about other things, but frowned slightly. He seemed to unintentionally say to Chang Geng, "What did you use to cut? You're too hard on yourself."


These words sounded like a concern about Chang Geng's injury, but in fact, he was questioning him as to why he carried a blade.


Chang Geng pretended to be 'sick and weak' and slowly knelt down holding the head of the bed. "When I received Royal Brother's oral decree, I was at Miss Chen's place. I like playing around with herbs in private. At that time, I was helping her to arrange the medicines at hand. When the palace people urged me, I had brought along her silver knife in a hurry... It was only an expedient measure."


As he spoke, he took a knife with the length of a finger from the tray next to him, it was basically a knife for cutting medicinal materials, not even as sharp as a dining knife. It could not be considered as a weapon at all.


It could be seen that Yan Wang was very cruel to himself at that time. With just one cut, the knife was already deformed.


The hidden calculations in this exchange revoked many emotions in Chen Qing Xu, she requested to be excused, leaving only Li Feng and Chang Geng in the room.


Li Feng couldn't help looking carefully at Chang Geng, his appearance was good, but not the type with plenty of riches and blessings.


He had deep, affectionate eyes and a thin, heartless pair of lips. As he just shed blood, his cheeks were pale and slightly sick. Looking at it closely, Yan Wang's facial features seemed to bear a slight resemblance to the Barbarian concubine in those days. His straight nose resembled the former emperor's, but when mixed together, he seemed to resemble neither of them, it was the appearance of someone with a short and lonesome lifespan.


Li Feng quietly averted his eyes and said to Chang Geng, "There are some rumors outside. Don't take it to heart and focus on your recovery. Wang Guo, that old thing has become more and more cocky and arrogant these years from receiving favors. I will make sure he gives you a proper explanation."


When he said 'Don't take it to heart', Chang Geng knew Li Feng had taken it to heart. He took the initiative and said, "They suspect that I am not from the bloodline of the former emperor?"


Li Feng used Gu Yun's words and laughed casually: "You thought too much. You were accepted by the Emperor himself. Who would dare to oppose?"


Chang Geng thought for a moment and said, "No one can explain such a thing. In this case, in order to avoid suspicion, please allow me to temporarily retire as the leader of the Grand Council?"


Li Feng squinted, but did not answer immediately.


Chang Geng smiled bitterly and said, "When the new policies come into being, I may not be able to make much progress in my stay but instead only garner further hatred. Royal Brother, please show sympathy."


This remark touched Li Feng's heart subtly.


The weight in the Emperor's hands was nothing more than the word 'balance'. The rebellion of Lu and Yang's two parties and the rebellion of the Imperial Army forced him to suppress Great Liang's old noble families by himself. At the same time, the new officials rushed to the front in no time using the power of large businessmen, becoming more and more powerful.


Li Feng could tolerate the growth of seedlings and was happy to see them stand up against the family forces whose eyes were above the top, but he never wanted the seedlings to grow into tall trees and topple the roof. This force had been growing too fast—


Even Imperial Uncle could not stay out of this affair. This time, it was Wang Guo, then who would it be next time? Was it to ask the Emperor to dispose of all the nobles in the court? At that time, what name would this nation bear?


The new policies were going to cause a stream of blood, and there would inevitably always be sacrifices in the face of upheavals.


Li Feng looked at Chang Geng and said, "Very well, you've been in a lot of trouble recently. Taking a rest at the right time is something one should do."




Overnight, the wind and clouds suddenly changed.


Imperial Uncle Wang who was favored by two generations was imprisoned, many of the palace's servants who had connections with him were dragged out one by one for investigation, within the nine layers of the palace, the people's hearts were anxious, the investigation brought out loads of other matters like dragging a radish out of the dirt. The old case of the Black Iron Camp was inevitably overturned. When the tree falls, the monkeys will scatter. The entire court busily cleaned themselves of their relations with the Wang family, for fear of being implicated.


The Barbarian envoy who maliciously created disturbances were secretly detained, being patrolled by the Northern Camp in shifts.


But even Fang Qin did not anticipate the final result of the incident——


Yan Wang, the nail in his eyes, had resigned from his official position and Emperor Long An even gave his permission.


Fang Qin lived to this age, for the first time, he knew what was called an 'unpredictable fate'. When he used hundreds of schemes wanting to deal with Yan Wang, the man was perfectly alright, while he himself almost fell into the mud. This time, he had no intention of interfering, anxious to get rid of his relationship with Wang Guo and not hesitating to stand on the side of his political opponents... Turns out, as God would have it, it did not go as he hoped!


No wonder the ancients said, "An Emperor's mind, gods and demons could not predict".




There was a heavy snowfall that night. The plum blossoms in the Marquis' Manor were covered with a layer of transparent frost. The colours were condensed in it, appearing very beautiful.


The return carriage stopped at the door, on the open gate, the steam lamp continued to cast a small bright light faithfully even after being covered by the snow. After a long sigh, the iron puppet guarding the door turned around, the steam quietly drifted away, and the door of the manor opened wide.


Gu Yun jumped out of the car and waved at Huo Dan. He lifted the curtain and said, "Give me your hand."


Chang Geng's wound caused by the silver dagger, although it appeared horrifying, in fact, did not affect the muscles and bones. Even if Chen Qing Xu left him be, with Wu Er Gu's body, it would scab quickly. He had soon stopped feeling like shit.


But in the face of Gu Yun, he would look for an excuse even if there was nothing.


Chang Geng pretended to hold onto Gu Yun's arm and got out of the carriage. He rushed up as if he had no bones, grabbed Gu Yun's shoulder and arm with great strength that could not be shaken off. He did not know what kind of injury could make one so powerful so quickly.


Gu Yun knew that he was pretending, he also knew that he truly was wronged and did not have the heart to criticize. He only put his hand on Chang Geng's back and gave it a gentle pat. He drew over the cloak and wrapped it around him, walking through the gate.


Their entry brought along the cold wind inside and woke up the bird hanging by the window in a cage.


The bird was deep in a dream, being blown awake by the cold wind, it cursed, "Damn it, cold as hell... Ga... Quack... good luck and happiness to you! Blooming flowers and a full moon! Profits pouring in from all sides! May all your wishes come true!"


Gu Yun: "..."


He and the God Bird looked at each other for a long time. Finally, the bird raised one wing shamefully and covered its face. It seemed to know that the image of its current flattering figure was disgraceful and had no face to see anyone anymore.


Chang Geng grinned, it seemed that General Gu was already astonished by his ability.


"Your face is red with the cold," Gu Yun touched Chang Geng's chin. "Taking a knife plus losing your official position yet you can still be this happy? Change your clothes quickly."


"Feeling lighter without the position." Chang Geng gave a meaningful laugh, turned around and changed to dry clothes. He sat by the window, grabbed the bird and stroked its hair in his hand. The bird was trembling in fear at his touch, "Hey, Zi Xi, if I truly was born by Hu Ge Er, then who was the father?"


Gu Yun: "Don't think nonsense."


Chang Geng laughed as if nothing had happened. "That man must not be a barbarian. Otherwise, he would have gone with her at that time, but he must have had a very close relationship with the Barbarian women. He probably participated in plotting the concubine's escape as well, then took over the forces of the Barbarians in the capital and the Imperial Palace... It was not until the capital was besieged that he was revealed."


The man he referred to was Master Liao Chi, just like Shen Yi's first speculation.


The man he shot with his own hands.


Gu Yun did not pay much attention and commented, "You’re referring to Dongying people? Dongying people can't be as tall as you are, but if you really grow into the ugly appearance of the crow-mouthed old monk in the future, I will not want you anymore."


Chang Geng smiled in silence.


Gu Yun: "I'm going to ask someone to boil some ginger soup. Don't catch a cold."


Chang Geng leaped to his feet, stuffed the bird back into the cage, pulled back a large black cloth and covered it, then said with bad intentions, "Dispersing the cold doesn't necessarily mean drinking that stuff. Let me!"