CHAPTER 15: CONCLUSION

I

"I feel that this face is a little familiar." Gu Yun held a wooden stick and looked at the 'woman' on the ground for a while, then concluded.


The Wolf King's tent of Jia Lai Ying Huo was turned upside down by the people of Black Iron Camp. They found that there were neither rare pearls nor corals in it. It looked magnificent but actually was deep in poverty. It could be seen that before he wiped clean the aristocrats' property, he also did the same to himself. He was really a selfless lunatic.


To Gu Yun's great disappointment, they couldn't find the goddess's witchcraft in legend.


Thinking about it, only Great Liang people liked to write everything on paper and assemble it into a book. There were many primitive customs in the Eighteen Tribes, things that needed to be recorded were likely to be engraved on stone, tortoise shell and leather, or simply passed down by mouth. The witchcraft they were looking for might have been hidden only in Jia Lai's brain and was already burned to ashes.


Finally, only such a strange figure was brought back to the northern garrison under the insistence of Chen Qing Xu.


"What did Miss Chen say about this thing just now?" Gu Yun asked the soldier, "What kind of statue?"


"Soul statue," the soldier replied, seeing Gu Yun poking it back and forth with a wooden stick without any taboo, he couldn't help saying, "Marshal, I think this thing is very insidious. Perhaps there is something not clean about it. You should stay away from it."


The 'soul statue' was life-sized, but it weighed only around ten to fifteen kilograms. After cleaning, the face and skin were no different from a real person at first sight, as if it could talk after opening its eyes.


It was said that this was not a complete piece of human skin. It was made from the best skin of many young boys and girls. After being treated with some kind of voodoo, it formed a whole piece and was wrapped around the wood that was carved into a complete human shape in advance. When the human skin and the wood were closely pasted together, it could create a lifelike dummy.


The Eighteen Tribes believed that this kind of soul statue could summon the souls of the children that had died in foreign countries.


At first, the soul statue was covered with dust. After being washed, it completely resembled a nude living person. Shen Yi thought it was too unorthodox and asked people to find clothes for it to 'wear'.


Gu Yun stared at the closed eyes of the soul statue. He felt that it slightly resembled Chang Geng when he was a child. He reached out his fingers and stroked his chin, tried to search his memory and asked, "You say what it summoned was the soul of the Barbarian royal consort that year?"


The soldier believed in demons and did not dare to look much, he said in fright: "Marshal, we better move it away quickly, this thing is scarily demonic..."


"It's alright," Gu Yun said casually, glancing at the face of the soul statue. "I think that she still looks very pretty."


Soldier: "..."


Recently, Marshal Gu had to take care of both battlefields north and south, perhaps he had lost his mind from exhaustion.


At this time, Chen Qing Xu, who was not feeling reassured and went to see Shen Yi, barged in suddenly: "I remember now!"


Gu Yun: "Huh?"


Chen Qing Xu drew out a knife and knelt on the ground. Under the eyes of Gu Yun and his superstitious soldier, she cut the soul statue open from the chest.


Gu Yun: "..."


His soldier trembled with fear, turned his back and recited 'Amitabha'. Gu Yun looked at him, then at Miss Chen, who was like a butcher. He reached out and handed the stick to his silent soldier and said pitifully, "Take it to ward off evil spirits and defend yourself."


Chen Qing Xu ignored the surroundings and concentrated on the point of the knife. The human skin looked flat and even very soft outside. There was no flesh and blood inside after cutting it open. The two sides were separated cleanly. The texture was like tanned leather. Chen Qing Xu had a good grasp of her strength, only cutting the human skin and not affecting the wood below.


Gu Yun was sitting around doing nothing at first, then suddenly, he narrowed his eyes, pulled up his sleeve and squatted down to gently lift the skin up without any hesitation, touching the wood surface.


The soldier's face was green, and he hurriedly confessed his sins, took the stick given by the Marshal, then ran outside to watch the door.


Gu Yun felt around for a long time, wondering, "Why, there are still words on this wood?"


Chen Qing Xu had cut open the human skin from head to toe, like peeling an egg shell. Changing into a smaller knife, she carefully took the human skin off piece by piece until the whole section of the human shaped wood was exposed. She took time to respond to Gu Yun's words: "Yes, but it's carved small and shallow. Only people with an extremely sharp sense of touch will be able to feel it. If ordinary people want to see, I'm afraid it would only work with the help of tools, would Marshal help me read what is written on it?"


The Black Iron Camp and the Eighteen Tribes had been enemies for two generations. Many senior generals in the Black Iron Camp knew the common words of the Man language. Gu Yun fumbled for a moment on the neck of the humanoid wood and hesitated for a long time before responding: "It's all very strange words, cooking what... I don't know, there's a number... Ah, it seems that there's something else about sunlight... "


Gu Yun looked at Chen Qing Xu in confusion: "Why is there a mysterious cooking tutorial engraved on this soul statue? Eh... Miss Chen, what's the matter?"


Gu Yun had never seen such an excited look on Chen Qing Xu's face. Her cold eyes were almost full of tears.


As if never seeing wood before, she picked up the humanoid wood with her hands, took out some silk and carefully wiped off the dust on it, as if holding a rare treasure.


"For the soul statue to bring back the spirits of other countries, it needs to communicate life and death. The usual way is to hide a personal item of the person inside the wood. But if this method is used to call on the soul, the deceased are usually thousands of miles away, most of the burial places cannot be found. So their personal item can't be obtained every time. I just remembered, in this case, the caster will generally replace it with the last words left by the dead or inscriptions that can represent the dead. "


"In those days, the Barbarian sisters fled from the deep palace. On the way, the elder sister died in a foreign country. The younger sister fled with her sister's child to a bandit's den. Before the death of the imperial concubine, she left one very important thing to Hu Ge Er. Later, it passed through Hu Ge Er's hands and finally fell into the hands of Jia Lai the Wolf King..."


As Gu Yun heard this, his heart started beating like mad.


"It is the secret art of the goddess." Chen Qing Xu pointed out what he was thinking in his heart, "I... I only thought of this possibility, I did not expect for it to be true... "


Everyone's impression of the 'Barbarian goddess' was only the image of the madwoman Hu Ge Er, while the existence of the royal consort was very faint. She died too early, from the high grassland 'demigod' reduced to a consort trapped inside the palace of many layers, with nine gates locked tight. Whether she felt resentment and hatred, or acceptance of her fate, there was no way of knowing now.


But what was the consort's attitude towards her own child?


It must have been hatred according to common sense. Even when Jia Lai saw Chang Geng's face that closely resembled the goddess sisters when he was young, he couldn't help but feel murderous, let alone the party involved?


However, the witchcraft of the Eighteen Tribes was so deep and unpredictable that even the Chen family had been at a loss for many years. As its inheritor, the imperial concubine, if she wanted to kill a fetus that had not yet formed, she could do so without anyone knowing. Then for what reason did she keep the child?


Did she know that the child would eventually be made into the Bone of Impurity by the insane Hu Ge Er?


The traces of the older generation had vanished from the world. No one would ever know whether the Barbarian goddess decided to keep the child in her because of a mother's unwillingness, or if she just knew that Hu Ge Er was pregnant with another child, and fueled by the resentment in her, she planned to create an incomparable evil god.


However, in any case, it was also the soul statue of the goddess that left a ray of hope for Chang Geng's life.


This was almost as mysterious as the karmic circle.


Chen Qing Xu didn't want to discuss karma, this piece of wood was all that was in her mind right now. Without waiting for Gu Yun to react, she held it and ran away, not caring to even pick up the silk that had fallen on the ground.


Gu Yun was in a daze for a long time. He slowly exhaled a breath from his lungs, this unspeakable hope hit him in the center of his chest. When he stood up, his line of sight was almost dark, it took a long time to wear off, but his ears were still ringing.


He reached out his hand and rubbed his chin uncontrollably, trying to display a normal and serious face as much as possible. His brows unconsciously wrinkled together, but the corner of his mouth lifted up uncontrollably. The serious and uncontrollable joy interwoven into a standard expression of 'neither laughing nor crying'. Even Gu Yun felt that his image at this time might appear a little insane.


At this time, General Shen's personal soldier next door was outside the tent, poking his head in, looking around for a moment, and asking, "Is Doctor Chen finally gone?"


"Yes," Gu Yun heard his own soldier reply, "Why? Is there something up?"


The soldier who inquired about the whereabouts of the miracle doctor shook his head and ran back to report.


At the next moment, Gu Yun heard a painful cry from General Shen's tent that had been held in for who knew how long.


Shen Yi's back was both wounded and burnt. It was very miserable, but he still refused Miss Chen's treatment and visit. He had locked Miss Chen outside his tent several times when she came, determined not to let her see his tattered appearance. He also resolutely found a military doctor who was good at killing pigs to deal with the wound. During that time, he had sent someone to spy four or five times and endured until Chen Qing Xu left, finally letting go and crying out all he wanted.


Gu Yun listened for a while, only to find that not even the pain of giving birth would not sound so miserable. Not having the heart to hear this, he picked up the silk that had fallen on the ground, shook the dust off it, went out and stuffed it into his little soldier's hands, then said, "Give it to General Shen quickly, for pain relief."


It didn't matter where the silk was rubbed on previously, its efficiency was immediate. As soon as the thing was delivered, Shen Yi's howl became much lower.


Gu Yun, bored of using his brother as entertainment, turned back to the Marshal tent, planning to reply to a dozen war reports and a pile of letters from the major garrison. Only when he started writing did he find that he completely could not calm down.


Every word in the war report was understood, but they could not string into one sentence in succession to jump into his eyes. For a while, he thought aimlessly, "Could it be that there was only a record of the practice but not the antidote?"


Later he thought, "That doesn't matter. As long as there's a clue of the Bone of Impurity, the Chen family can always come up with a way."


Then after a while, he said to himself, "Do I really have to go burn incense for those donkeys in Hu Guo Temple? Damn it…"


...All kinds of thoughts twisting and turning, with no way out.


But among all these thoughts, an indescribable yearning broke out a bloody path, jumping into his heart.


A drop of ink on the tip of his pen fell down. At last, he came back to his senses. He simply pushed away all his official duties, took out letter papers like a fool, and began to occupy the official business time with his personal love affair.





In April, flowers in the land of Liangjiang were about to wilt, long rain evaporated from the river.


For more than a month, Chang Geng had been staying put in Jiangbei. He first organized the funeral of General Zhong, then Fang Qin wrote to Emperor Long An and requested to keep Yan Wang in his place to assist the court emissary in promoting contact with the Westerners.


Although Yan Wang had stepped down from politics, Fang Qin still felt that him staying in the capital was like a bone stuck in his throat.


Logically, a snake must be beaten in the head, political opponents must be quickly eliminated. But the reason why Yan Wang resigned was not planned by Fang Qin himself, the whole thing was not under his control, and with Yan Wang's identity, it was very difficult to deal with. Apart from rebellion, there was really nothing that could kill him anymore.


Fang Qin had to find ways to let him stay far away.


The word 'assist' was very amazing, meaning that this matter was not led by Yan Wang, he only had the obligations but no power. If it succeeded, the credit belonged to the envoys. But if something went wrong, there was a lot of room to pour mud on Yan Wang.


It was a pity that god didn't meet people's wishes. The troubles Fang Qin hoped to see didn't appear - Yan Wang in Jiangbei was like a fish in water, he was already very well liked, plus the bond from fighting side by side with all the soldiers and the guarantee he had from General Zhong and Gu Yun.


The envoys sent by the imperial court had sharp eyes. When they arrived in Jiangbei, they all followed the lead of Yan Wang without fail. In addition, Gu Yun also sent many letters in his daily life, even came to have a look every ten days. The bullying of the Westerners along the banks of Liangjiang was going very smoothly. During that time, they fought three or four small naval battles, gaining benefits and training the soldiers. Li Feng could not say anything, on the contrary, he even felt a little bit sorry for Yan Wang.


At the same time, another unexpected thing happened, making Fang Qin unable to free up his energy to take the opportunity to insert his forces into Liangjiang——


The first batch of Feng Huo tickets were due, they had to pay them back.


The status of the first batch of Feng Huo tickets was very special. It could be said that it was the resurrection medicine for the Great Liang Dynasty. At that time, if it wasn't for this batch of materials that supported Gu Yun's victory in the Western Region, it was only a matter of time before the Westerners besieged the capital again under the heavy pressure of the northern battlefield and the Ziliujin stock of the country being exhausted.


The country owed the first batch of people who bought the tickets greatly, on a logical and emotional aspect, they had to repay this debt. If the court could not pay, it would not only be dishonesty, but it would be certain that the Feng Huo tickets would no longer be able to sell in the future. The government's order 'Feng Huo tickets will be equally priced with gold and silver, and merchants are not allowed to reject them' that Yan Wang implemented with difficulty would also be in vain.


In this way, even if others agreed, those officials who had bought a large number of Feng Huo tickets in the early days of the official reform for the sake of their black hats would not be able to sit still either.


Until now, Fang Qin had to admit that although Yan Wang used a fierce means to kill the political enemies with a knife, carried a reform knife to try to gouge out the meat of others, even offended a large number of people, he had soon planted a seed - tying the entire court onto his felonious boat whether it be friend or foe.


According to the original plan of the Grand Council, the first batch of Feng Huo tickets would have a follow-up plan at the beginning of the sale: the third batch of Feng Huo tickets would come out just one month before the expiration date. According to past experience, they could sell nearly 70 to 80 percent in a month. Some of the money raised would be reserved for the repayment of the first batch of debts, there was plenty of both time and money.


But no one expected that when Yan Wang left, the merchants of all sizes would not cooperate!


Fang Qin knew that the thirteen tycoons were standing by Yan Wang's side in private, but Great Liang was vast, except those who were ambitious to participate in politics, did no one else want to do business? And then there were those officials who risked their lives to climb up. Each province could have a set amount, it would be very easy to raise this money.


But he had underestimated the merchant alliance.


This was pushed forward by the God of Wealth in the post-war period under the instruction of Yan Wang. There were merchant groups in various industries, and all merchant groups formed a large alliance. Although members were bound by the alliance, they also enjoyed the benefits, not to mention the special benefits of buying and selling with other members. It was mainly that in the chaotic time with rampaging bandits, if there was a copy of the alliance, they could ask for the protection of the local government garrison. This was the special benefit the court had given to the first batch of thirteen tycoons who bought the Feng Huo tickets, Du Wan Quan generously shared this.


Many merchants gradually found it was not a bad thing to accept restrictions. With the logo of the merchant alliance, the trust of buyers also increased by a lot, plus they no longer had to fall into the price war with those inferior merchants who sold false goods.


This merchant alliance network soon spread to the whole country, and maybe there would be various problems in the next decades, but at this time, at the beginning of its establishment, the loyalty of its members was very high, becoming an iron plate in front of Fang Qin.


The birth of the third batch of Feng Huo tickets was already hindered at the very beginning. Except for some officials who were eager for quick success and instant profits, they could hardly sell any. The merchant alliance's inexplicable lack of cooperation caused many doubts in people's mind. The old foxes in the court who kept their eyes on the wind were pushing the responsibilities back and forth.


But neither inducement nor coercion could be done. The group of new upstarts promoted by the thirteen tycoons had already stabilized, it was not easy to move them anymore.


The Feng Huo ticket was carried out by the Grand Council, but the Grand Council was only responsible for distribution. All the money that came in and out was from the Ministry of Household. Fang Qin wished he could force the bunch in his party to overturn their pockets, but it was only a grain of salt in the sea. Not to mention that whether the noble families were willing to pay for it, even if they were and would pay such a large sum of money without blinking, the poor people of the two houses who could even scold Yan Wang would certainly come together again and would not stop until they upturned the root.


As the days for payment approached, even Li Feng could not sit still, asking several times in person. In just three or four days, the number of times he called Fang Qin and the Grand Council into the palace for a scolding would be seven or eight if not ten times. Finally, the pressure was too great to withstand, the six ministries had to join hands with the Grand Council to ask Yan Wang to return to the court.





When the government order arrived in Jiangbei, Chang Geng received the order very calmly, then arranged the military affairs handover in an orderly manner, and kept to the attitude of 'not caring about winning or losing'. As if he was in no hurry to go back at all, when the second urgent order arrived, he leisurely packed his bags and prepared to go north.


Just as he was about to leave, the news of the great victory in the Northern Frontier arrived.


For a while, the whole of Jiangbei was boiling. Chang Geng listened to the cheers and shouts and took the letters from the messenger.


Some of Gu Yun's letters to Chang Geng were pure private letters, some were advising Yan Wang about business. Chang Geng was very experienced. He knew whether it was public or private when he touched the envelope with his hand before opening. Gu Yun's business letter was usually a thin piece of paper, with only a few words. He was a little disappointed when he received the letter from the Black Eagle messenger, because it was very thin to the touch, perhaps there would be no private words.


Chang Geng ordered the Black Eagle: "Perhaps Marshal Gu's side is still unaware. I'm leaving for the capital today. I've finished handing over the duties in Jiangbei. Please let him know after you return."


Then he opened the letter in front of the crowd.


There was really only one piece of paper inside, and a hand was drawn on it. Gu Yun wrote a line: "Take one palm and send it to Jiangbei, to measure the width of the other's waist for me."


Everyone in confusion looked at Yan Wang, not knowing what he was reading that took so long. Then, his face reddened.