CHAPTER 14: DEAD END

IV

Chaos was on the battlefield of the Northern Frontier. Jia Lai Ying Huo, with no children or heirs left, was crazy. He would rather destroy everything altogether than leave a drop of Ziliujin to the enemy. When they did not have enough power to contest against the Black Iron Camp, they would use Ziliujin to break open a path.


With the help of the karmic flame, the two sides were able to fight neck to neck in difficulty, while Great Liang's side was feeling both irritated and helpless. Going back and forth in this way, in a flash, it was already the third day.


Cao Chun Hua no longer paid attention to appearance, taking off the ermine hat and fanning himself continuously. Even so, hot sweat continued to flow down his temples. He looked at Shen Yi, who was currently half-naked, enviously: "My God, when has February in the Northern Frontier ever been this warm? General Shen, are you cool?"


Shen Yi glared at him angrily and scolded internally, Cool my ass!


There was a large burn on his back, there was no time for it to be treated back at the frontline. At this time, having a moment to rest thanks to He Rong Hui replacing him, he had taken off his armor to apply the medicine. The scalded blister had broken the skin, his back was a mess of flesh and blood, appearing as if he had just been skinned.


Chen Qing Xu saw that his shoulders had been stiff all this time, she quickly asked, "General, was I being too rough?"


Shen Yi shook his head with a red face and red ears. At this time, even the hot scald was not comparable to the burn to his inner self-respect — it was too unorthodox and unsightly to bare his naked back and chest to a grown woman. He almost had no face left to talk to Miss Chen.


Chen Qing Xu only thought that his ears and neck reddened due to the heat. Her mood was a little complicated.


Although she had been in and out of all kinds of skirmishes in the pugilist world and stayed in the station of wounded soldiers for a while, she rarely had the chance to experience being directly on the battlefield.


This time, it was different from when Gu Yun tricked Wei Wang's rebellion army that year. When tens of thousands of soldiers who had experienced hundreds of battles clashing with each other, the voices of people, horses, and gunfire around them were in chaos. When someone in the midst was a little distracted, they would not be able to distinguish anything, being able to keep up with the commander's instructions was already the result of many years of harsh training, let alone making command themselves and thoroughly considering everything.


In this situation, no matter how high one's skill was or how sharp they were, the effect that one could create was also very limited. Even the stone pillars that could support the sky would be submerged by the ocean of people and walls of fire.


Batch after batch of wounded soldiers were sent to her, either missing an arm or lacking a leg, there was every kind of miserable imaginable. Now she finally knew how those wounded soldiers came to be.


It was like a demonic cave swallowing up flesh. Chen Qing Xu thought quietly, quickly removing Shen Yi's rotten flesh then cleaning it and applying the medicine. When the two armies directly came face to face, Shen Yi had to pay attention to all four directions, yet in such a chaotic situation, he still paid attention to her, grabbed her bridle and gave her a fixed look, then said with embarrassment, "Stay by my side."


There was no telling why, Chen Qing Xu's impression towards that gaze was much deeper than the fierce flame of war in the sky.


"The general can't wear Light Armor any more," said Chen Qing Xu. "Light Armor is too heavy. If it presses on your body, it will rub against your wound all the time. In case of infection and fever, it will not be easy to deal with."


Shen Yi was sweating all over, although his rational side knew that the other had no special meaning, hearing her advice in a low voice, his goosebumps still arose all over. His skin did not know whether to continue sweating or to shudder silently, and thus was also in confusion.


Fortunately, at this time, a messenger came to his rescue. The messenger ran in while breathless, "General Shen! General Cai was just swept by the long cannons of the barbarians and fell down from his horse. The Barbarians wanted to break through our northern defense line with that side!"


Shen Yi stood up abruptly, pulling at the burn wound on his back. It was so painful he wished he could scream and cry to the heavens. However, as the temporary commander, and being in front of the person of his interest, he could not afford to do so.


"Report — General! Urgent letter from Jiangnan!"


When Gu Yun went to Jiangnan to capture Chang Geng who ran from home, it took the Black Eagle two or three days to fly from the ancient Silk Road in the western regions. Now, the golden box improved by Ling Shu Institute had been greatly sped up. In an emergency, it took less than one day to fly from Jiangbei to the Northern Frontier.


In such a chaotic situation, Gu Yun was like a pillar of support for Shen Yi's heart. After hearing so, his spirit relaxed, his whole body shook and he nearly fell face first. His hand searched around in the air, subconsciously grabbing something. After returning to his senses, he found out that it was a hand lent to him by Miss Chen.


Miss Chen's hand was much like the person herself — quite cold. Her fingers were very small and boney, but her thin bones were very sturdy, with the strength of a master.


Shen Yi: "..."


He was about to die of embarrassment...


Shen Yi hurriedly took back his hand and rushed to meet the messenger: "What did the Marshal say?"


The Black Eagle messenger said without a break: "The Western troops in Jiangnan raided the Northern Camp. The commander entrusted me to tell the generals that if the battlefield in the north cannot be defended, please be ready to go face the ancestors to ask for forgiveness!"


Shen Yi felt on the spot the heavy pressure resembling Mount Tai hitting him head-on. The word ‘ancestor’ almost caused him to vomit blood. He really wanted to cry without tears. He had never envied the prestige of commanding the three armies of Gu Yun before. Now, he wished he could scream and cry for Gu Yun to come back from Jiangnan to replace him.


Didn't they agree he would come back after taking a look?


Didn't they say he was just a temporary commander?


Shen Yi thought that the biggest problem in his life was that he made friends carelessly. He couldn't figure it out. Wasn't he a commonplace person with excessive love and no ambition? He never wanted to bow himself to be a senior official or a wealthy man, nor did he expect to leave his name in history forever. How could the heavy burden of the Northern Frontier fall on him?


He Rong Hui came in with the heatwave: "Ji Ping, Old Cai's side can't stand it anymore, I will go as reinforcement!"


Shen Yi quickly returned to his senses, pinched the bridge of his nose and took Gu Yun's order: "Now all these Barbarians are under the pressure of Black Eagles. You can't leave yet. Let me think about it again..."


"General Shen, this lowly general is willing to go!"


Shen Yi looked up and saw a young man standing in the corner. He must have been around twenty years old, the childish hint on his face had not yet dissipated. Cao Chun Hua whispered, "That young general is the youngest son of General Cai. He has constantly been the vanguard of the northern garrison. He is only nineteen years old, but the amount of times he's clashed with the barbarians is no less than a dozen."


"I will go," said the young man. Seeing that Shen Yi looked at him, he took a step forward, his words as firm as a nail. "I would rather die than to let the Barbarians invade even a step!"


For a moment, Shen Yi was shocked and felt that he saw Gu Yun from that year... At that time, the news of the rebellion in the Western Regions arrived in the capital city. The former emperor who was immersed in singing and dancing with the court officials looked dazedly at one another. The great court meeting the next day was a mess. Some people even proposed the idea of hanging the notice to look for the old general Zhong Chan who had already resigned and retired... the Gu family's orphan put a stop to the quarreling with not an ounce of confusion.


At the age of seventeen, Gu Yun still had the arrogance of a newborn calf that was not afraid of a tiger: "Your subject is willing to go, the border area of the Western Regions, they are nothing but a group of clowns jumping about. Do they really think that the Wind Slasher is so rusty it cannot cut down the heads of rats?"


Now, little General Cai sniffed and said without blinking, "These northern wild dogs only relied on a critical area to hold on. Although I am still young and ignorant, I can still wield the sword and spear from my father's hand, I will make sure that while they can come, they will not be able to return!"


The famous generals of the older generation either died on the battlefield, or were broken by old age. However, the rivers and mountains remained unchanged. There were still young people wearing black armor and pulling Baihong, ignorant of the world, stepping out from the crowd.


Ten years passed by, there would be the next ten to come; a hundred years passed by, there would be the next hundred to come.


Shen Yi's confused mind suddenly settled down, he handed the plaque to the young general Cai: "Good brother, go."


Young General Cai accepted the order and left. Shen Yi opened Gu Yun's urgent message.


Gu Yun's oral message to the Black Eagle was ferocious and left no room for survival, but what was written inside was very logical: "The Barbarians risked their lives in this battle, just like beasts in distress, not to mention the Eighteen Tribes' previous internal fight, it will be difficult to go on for a long time. The first three or five days are the most difficult to endure. Once the front line is defended, you only need to hold them back for a few days. The Barbarians will be prosperous at first, then will weaken, and be exhausted afterwards. At this time, the armistice will continue to sow discord. In the future, the Northern Frontier's situation may be settled once and for all, proceed with caution, but there is no need to fear. Although I am not able to come, I exist alongside with the Black Iron Camp's three armies."


Shen Yi's eyes momentarily felt his eyes become hot: "Command all units, defend at all cost and hold them back!"





And Gu Yun, who boasted that he was with the Black Iron Camp, did not write this letter easily. He managed to steady his hand until he finished sealing, at that point, battle reports had piled up.


Not knowing whether Chang Geng wanted him to feel reassured or what, he specially assigned a team of Light Cavalry to go back and forth between the battlefield and the camp, presenting the battle report immediately. Gu Yun seldom had a battle in which he did not need to be present his whole life, it was quite a fresh feeling. There was no redundant information in the Marshal's tent to disturb his thinking, nor was there a need to evade sharp arrows, or to be affected by the fierce emotions in the battlefield. He looked at the war situation from the perspective of a bystander.


At the beginning of the war, the test was whether the basic patrol of Jiangbei Camp was strict and whether the Navy was alert enough. General Zhong and Gu Yun laid a solid foundation, they could easily bear the heavy bombardment of the Western Army.


However, when all the above had been destroyed and the strength of the two armies were similar, the rest depended on the commander's experience and talent.


Gu Yun really broke out in a sweat — as the Black Eagle read the war report to him, he knew that the commander of the other side was a strategic expert and a true master of naval battle. Even if he went to the battle himself, he would still have to act carefully.


The Black Eagle rushed in and reported the latest development: "There is a single enemy fleet in the southwest. His Highness Yan Wang adjusted the forward path and intends to stab them there."


Gu Yun's heart thumped, he stood up abruptly - when the two armies were facing each other, the commander must keep his blood hot and his heart cold, it was different from the pioneer who took courage as the first priority.


If inexperienced people were taken over by a crazed bloodlust, they would easily become hot-headed.


Gu Yun was quick in deciding to break his promise: "Get my armor and prepare my horse!"





Chang Geng was extremely exhausted during this battle. It was different from the defense of the city wall. At that time, he only had to worry about the one piece of land above and below the city wall, and he was also determined to die. This time, behind him was the boundless north half of the nation and the tens of thousands of Jiangbei sailors.


The Jiangnan Navy didn't have an Eagle Army before. The time of the establishment of the Eagle Camp was shorter than that of the Navy. There was no need to mention the Black Eagle. Even the Eagles in the Northern Camp were easier to command than them. The enemy, centered around the sea monsters that were almost invulnerable, gradually controlled the pace of the battlefield after the first wave of high-altitude attacks. Chang Geng was eager to find a breakthrough, otherwise they would remain passive. The vanguard forces just tore open the enemy's left wing, he instinctively pushed the main fleet up——


But after all, Chang Geng's nature was calm and careful. Halfway through the pursuit, he felt that it was not good, but unfortunately, it was too late.


The small ships of the Western army had closed in at full speed and cut off his retreat.


"What should we do, Your Highness? Will we turn back?"


Chang Geng's hands were cold and sweaty. Gu Yun's words sounded in his ears — on the battlefield, whoever doesn't want to die, dies first.


"Where can we turn back to? Full speed ahead!" Chang Geng said coldly, "It's just a group of flies that are following. Don't mind them. Keep with the original plan and pierce the enemy's left wing!"


He wanted to turn the whole fleet into a brave and fearless pioneer. Wasn't the enemy intending to catch turtles in a jar?


Then he would break open their jar.


The messenger heard the fierce and hoarse killing intention in his words, and his hair stood up on end: "Roger!"


The sea Dragons resembled a rotating Wind Slasher, moving into the enemy's hinterland and engaging in combat.


Chang Geng knew that if he could not defeat the enemy in a flash, the pursuers would soon arrive behind him. At that time, it would be difficult for him to endure the attack on both fronts.


All the long guns and shotguns in the range were loaded, the small light in the night was shining from the Sea Dragons. It was the golden box of the gun. Chang Geng wiped the sweat in his hand on the bag filled with tranquilizer and was about to make his command.


At this time, a very strange thing happened.


The enemy, who was standing in front of him, unexpectedly retreated!


Chang Geng: "..."


What are they scheming?


However, the fleet at full speed couldn't be stopped. The naval forces of Great Liang directly shuttled out of the enemy without any resistance. Through the eyes of the Qian Li Yan at night, they could see a flag officer on the enemy's main ship was signalling to this side, ordering them not to retreat.


However, the retreating Western small fleet did not listen to the master ship at all. It was extremely quick to resist, unwilling to be the vanguard to attract the artillery of the Great Liang's naval forces.


Chang Geng couldn't figure out what was wrong with the opponent for a while, but he could not miss the opportunity that only came once. He immediately ordered to turn around the muzzle of the guns. The whole river was blown open. The Western tiger sharks behind them couldn't dodge while moving at high speed and were bombed. The bombed small ship detonated the gold box as a chain reaction, one ship led to another, the fire spread out, the river surface boiled up, the Great Liang navy was able to make a stab without danger and recovered safely.


On the main ship of the Western army, Master Ja was furious: "Bastard! How dare he oppose an order on the battlefield!"


The Pope's cheeks were as taut as a knife.


The fleet that had just fled unexpectedly was the left wing that was under the charge of the messenger.


At this time, the messenger was also gnashing his teeth - he was originally only the escort support, but that Pope old man actually made him into a disguised vanguard after several changes of formation!


He was not able to react until the Navy of

Great Liang came in front of him. He almost became a decoy and cannon fodder. If he died in the hands of the people of Great Liang on the battlefield, even His Majesty the King couldn't find any fault.


The messenger refused to take this loss. He did not think twice to retreat immediately, destroying the whole formation of the Western Navy without hesitation.


Chang Geng was like a poisonous snake. Once he seized the opportunity to turn the tables, he immediately bombarded the enemy to avenge for making him break out in a cold sweat. The Westerners suddenly fell passive.





At the same time, the situation suddenly changed. The Light Cavalry, who was in charge of the war report on the shore, immediately rushed into the Marshal's tent and reported to Gu Yun.


Gu Yun, who had been dressed in armor, had a strange look for a long time. At last, he was helpless. He suddenly felt that the saying 'the fortune of Great Liang stood behind Yan Wang' was not arrogance, but perhaps the truth.


He turned his horse and quietly went back to the Marshal's tent. He unloaded his armor and hid it. He strictly ordered everyone around him not to disclose that he had been out of the tent.


When Chang Geng seized the opportunity, the Western army lost one wing, which was equivalent to losing a leg. Under the condition of disadvantage, the Pope, who was rampaging on the sea, struggled with Yan Wang, the new recruit. Neither of them could do anything to the other, fighting until dawn.


Gu Yun turned off the steam lamp, took up his pen and wrote three letters in succession: one was requesting Ziliujin distribution, the other was pushed to the nearest Ling Shu Institute branch, asking for the supply of fire engine steel armor, and the last one drew up a briefing to be delivered to the capital.


Later, he rubbed his stiff neck and told the Black Eagle, "Tell Yan Wang that if the foreigners withdraw, there is no need to go after them."


The Black Eagle was stunned.


However, before he asked Gu Yun how he knew that the Westerners were going to withdraw, another messenger rushed in: "Marshal, the main ship of the foreigners began to withdraw to the south!"


Gu Yun was not surprised. He waved his hand naturally. The Black Eagle didn't dare to delay. He rushed out of the Marshal's tent to deliver the words.


He didn't have to be distracted to deal with all kinds of emergencies on the spot and was able to think about the whole war situation wholeheartedly. At a glance, he had already estimated the Ziliujin amount of the enemy's troops this time and knew that the battle tonight had touched their last reserve.


The enemy wasted their Ziliujin and returned in vain, but also suffered heavy casualties. After returning, there must have been an internal fight among themselves. In this case, instead of advancing, it would be more effective for the Great Liang Navy to create pressure from afar.


After another half hour, the Western Navy did indeed retreat, their sneak attack at night ended up a failure, they hadn't even managed to land on the north bank.


In order to show his 'strict commitment' of not leaving the tent, Gu Yun only stood at the door to meet Chang Geng, and not caring about how his body was covered in blood, he opened his arms, and hugged him.


At this point, Chang Geng finally felt exhaustion soak through his body. He wrapped his arms around Gu Yun's waist dizzily and murmured in his ear, "I never want to let you go on the battlefield again."


Chang Geng's voice was low and ambiguous. Even if it was close to his ear, Gu Yun didn't hear it clearly. He turned to Chang Geng in confusion and asked, "What did you say?"


Chang Geng's eyes skimmed over one of his eyes that was covered by the liuli glass. His body was exhausted, but his blood was still boiling so much that his mouth was hot and dry. For a split second, he wanted to hug him in public and get intimate with him in front of everyone. But when he saw Master Liao Ran’s ‘indifferent to all worldly temptations’ face from afar, he suddenly realized he had overstepped the boundary. With a smile, he silently reflected on himself for a moment and let go of Gu Yun's waist. He took up his hand and calmed himself little by little with the feeble but stable pulse: "Nothing — I saw the messenger going north just now, is it a report to the capital?"


"Yes," Gu Yun nodded. "This time, I want the imperial court to come forward and send people to contact with the foreigners. We have always been passive before. This time, we should be confident."


Chang Geng: "You intend to negotiate peace?"


"No," Gu Yun said faintly, "How can we let the others sleep peacefully by our bedside? Besides, this blood debt is not yet repaid. The fertile land in Jiangnan is occupied by these animals, it is sickening even in a dream."


Chang Geng immediately responded, "You are going to stall them, nibbling away at them slowly?"


On one hand, they would send out the signals of peace negotiations to let the enemies who have no strength left harbor hope and leave room for them to fight within themselves.


On the other hand, they would sometimes put forward excessive demands, sometimes create regional disputes within a small range, and slowly push back the enemy's front. In this way, they could train their soldiers through the war. When the time was right, the north side fully prepared, and the young Jiangbei Navy matured, they would move south again for battle.


Gu Yun made an "Mm" sound, letting him take him by his hand into the Marshal's tent. He wiped Chang Geng's face with a smile: "Your Highness, Your face is dirty."


Chang Geng felt half of his bones soften by the sudden gentle care of the other, but he was instantly alerted, feeling that such a soft attitude from him would not spell anything good.


Sure enough, Gu Yun sat on one side, holding Chang Geng's hand and caressing it in his palm for a while. He then said, "There's another thing."


Chang Geng raised his eyebrow and looked at him expressionlessly.


Gu Yun held Chang Geng's palm in one hand, and covered it with the other. He lowered his head and kissed the tip of the finger with a cut on it: "I was planning to stall them to clean up the North first."


Chang Geng: "You want to go back to the Northern Frontier?"


Gu Yun nodded.


Chang Geng: "When?"


Gu Yun: "...Very soon. "


Gu Yun's 'soon' basically meant to leave at any time according to the development of the Western enemy and the damage of the Jiangbei naval army. If he felt that the situation of the Jiangbei garrison was alright today, he would leave during the night. If there was anything that still required adjustment and deployment, he would make orders through the night and leave the next morning.


Chang Geng: "What will you do then? Will you run back and forth between both ends?"


Gu Yun was silent, it seemed that he had acknowledged it.


He suddenly felt he was at fault with Chang Geng. On the way to the western regions that year, Gu Yun once vowed to Chen Qing Xu that even if Chang Geng would go mad in the future, he would still take care of him until the end. But recently, he was always secretly worried how one day, he would no longer have enough strength.


Gu Yun was not afraid of sickness, old age, and death. General Zhong's praying hall was on the side. Thinking about it now, no matter how kind or malicious the elders around him were, those who once taught him, harmed him, were all gone. He knew that even the heroes of the world could not escape such things. People didn't have to be so aggressive with themselves, he was only afraid that he couldn't protect this little madman all the time, on the contrary, even making the other feel more tired, more burdened.


Gu Yun's deep and sincere apology left Chang Geng feeling at a loss for a moment. At first, he was unable to respond to it. For a long time, he realized that someone had carved out a gap in his heart, blood inside was pouring all over, unable to stop.


His heartache was difficult to repress, he could only pretend to smile happily.


"Alright," Chang Geng said in a light and not excessive tone. "Don't worry. Have you seen the drawing I put in your clothes? Soon — after you finish cleaning up the Barbarians, maybe all the steam rail trains on my side will be finished building, do you believe it?"


Soon, he would be able to build up a Great Liang with four sides at peace. Perhaps at that time, the three factions of Black Iron Camp only needed to guard the entrance of the ancient Silk Road to maintain trade order, or simply open up wasteland in the border collectively. Whether his general wanted to drink grape wine at the border or to return to the capital city to fight with birds, he could take all the time he needed, he would no longer have to rush to be on the road, or be exhausted with so many things.


Gu Yun said helplessly: "How come you're already cocky after just a small battle? You should think of a way to return to the Grand Council."


Chang Geng bent down: "If I succeed, how would you reward me?"


Gu Yun said generously, "What do you want?"


Chang Geng thought about it and said something in a low voice near Gu Yun's ear.


No one knew how shameless His Royal Highness Yan Wang was being indiscreet that even Gu Yun, as a half-deaf man, could not listen to him anymore. He laughed and scolded: "Go away!"


This sentence hit Master Yao who came to report the postwar situation head-on. Yao Zhen said in confusion, "Where does the Marshal want me to go?"


Chang Geng, with his hands behind his back, straightened his waist with an unfathomable expression, and stood up as a noble and reserved flower.


However, when Gu Yun concentrated on talking with Yao Zhen, he retracted the complacent smile he deliberately feigned, his face became heavier and heavier.


I'm running out of time, Chang Geng thought silently.