CHAPTER 15: CONCLUSION

V

On the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, Gu Yun secretly sent envoys to ‘visit’ the Dongying and Nanyang islands. So far, the front line had been on a stalemate for more than three months. Some fronts had been expanded under the constant struggle of both sides, the flame of war had spread from Jiangbei to the thirteen counties in Jiangnan, even to Guangdong and Guangxi.


A large number of people who refused to abandon their ancestors' land and cross the river began to form their own militia. Although the common folk mechanics did not have Ziliujin, they tried every way to replace it with coal and explosive powder as fuel, and forged a number of less fancy military equipment in various ways.


This equipment did not have much variety, hence Ling Shu Institute announced the establishment of many branches all over the country to exchange and teach technologies outside of the highly confidential military type.


The far-reaching impact of the war also gradually emerged.


Fang Qin never thought that it wasn't the Yan Wang Party that would break the peace in the court, but the pure officials of the two courts——


Great Liang's Autumn Examination hosted once every three years happened this year. Because of the war, it was interrupted in the middle, then continued to be delayed for some time; only in January were the names of the people who passed released, gathered into a "Plum List", which was nicknamed "Moldy List" by scholars all over the country.


*”Plum(梅)” and “Mold(霉)” are homophones, both pronounced as méi


Less than three days after the announcement, a scholar in Shaanxi Province committed suicide. The officials dared not let troubles happen at this key moment, trying their best not to report it to the superiors. However, after suppressing it for a few days, when the grand meeting of the imperial court was dismissed, someone stopped at the gate of the imperial platform wanting to report it to the Emperor.


This was a long story.


Yan Wang went to Jiangnan twice, cut off countless heads, and issued the most severe administrative governance* to date, which made the serious and ever-growing problem of corruption in Great Liang from the Yuan He Dynasty decline for a while. In these few years of war, even the Imperial Palace was tightening the spending, the official salaries had to be reduced again and again, plus the Feng Huo tickets had made it worse, being closely linked with the assessment of the administrative governance; it was no different than closing the source but opening the outlet. The life of officials had never been so difficult in the past hundreds of years.


*in an administrative governance(吏治), the ministers and other members of the court are merely civil servants who can only implement policy, but not make them


There was a saying: it was easy to go from poverty to extravagance, but difficult the other way around. When it involved large possessions of gold and silver, no one would care about ‘everyone is responsible for the rise and fall of the country’.


But even if life was difficult, there was no other way. No one dared to receive gifts. Everyone knew that Yan Wang was behind the rich merchants, receiving something incorrectly would perhaps turn the gift into a life-claiming token. No one dared to dip their hands in the military expenses. The taxes after the reform were also impossible to touch, and there was no need to mention the relief funds for natural disasters, the heads of Yang Rong Gui and his party had yet to become bones.


Fortunately, this year's Autumn Examination was not at the point of attention. The whole country was busy fighting the war and earning money, no one cared about these useless scholars, thus someone immediately came up with a vile scheme.


As a result, pulling out the radish and dragging the mud with it, implicating a big fraud case involving nine provinces, shocking the whole country.


Fang Qin managed to press down many shit-stirring sticks around him with difficulty; he had yet to enjoy a few days of peace, but was already covered with papers from the two courts falling like snow.


Those pure officials were different from the Yan Wang Party: the Yan Wang party had always been pragmatic and had a purpose for all their activities, they fought for power in an orderly manner, many of their actions could be predictable; but these ‘clean’ people, who had eyes higher than the top of their heads, regarded fame and wealth as garbage, and were all ‘revealing crimes simply for the sake of revealing crimes’ — this was something they did. Their personal fame was closely related to the number of people they personally dragged down.


The young masters and nobles rarely ever entered these two courts, thus a majority of these monsters came from poor students, and what the fraud in this imperial examination touched was also the interest of poor students.


The mad dogs in the two courts who hadn't bitten anyone in a long time seemed to have their tails stepped on, barking loudly. They screamed and scolded in a variety of ways every day, forcing Li Feng to investigate strictly; it seemed like, if they were not satisfied with the investigation, they would line up and knock their heads on the column in the middle of the court to die altogether for the Emperor to see.


The brief and false peace was broken.


Nine provincial officials, there was no telling how many intricate relationships were involved in it, even including Fang Qin's good for nothing younger brother.


The youngest child and the eldest grandson were the raison d'être of an old man. Even Grand Scholar Fang, who had no longer cared about the world for a long time, was shocked. Fang Qin could turn faces with anyone, but not with his own father. His mind was in an entangled mess.


But without waiting for Fang Qin to think of a solution, this time, not knowing whether it was intentional or not, the Emperor directly jumped over Da Li temple and the inspector's office and sent this case to the Grand Council instead, letting Jiang Chong lead the investigation, and the others could only cooperate.


Paper could no longer contain fire.


Although Fang Qin was born into a rich family, before, he always harbored the hope of being able to shine bright for generations and therefore refused to throw away his dignity and commit dirty deeds with his party. For this reason, he first abandoned Lu Chang, who dared to intimidate him, then abandoned the old fool, Wang Guo. At present, he was finally at the point where he could no longer abandon any one — his mother was still bedridden in the next room.


After appeasing this person and explaining to the other, when Lord Fang left the door, there was still a group of people waiting for him to make a decision. He was in a state of anxiety. Just after one night, there were two bleeding blisters on the corner of his mouth. After accompanying his old crying mother, Fang Qin heard that another was coming. He rubbed between his brows and coldly said, "Just say I'm not at home, send them away."


The servant retreated quietly; just then, an adviser came up and whispered, "Is something troubling Master Fang?"


Fang Qin sent him an angry look. Fortunately, with his excellent self-control, he soon hid his gloomy expression and said slowly: "The scholar rebelled unsuccessfully for three years. This time, from when the accident occurred to reporting to the imperial state of the capital, it all happened too fast. It was almost as if someone was assisting… that Li Min's outward appearance was all clear and bright, only daring to stab people under the table. This kind of person with a kind face but a dark heart could only deceive the Emperor. "


The adviser asked again, "Does Master have a plan in mind?"


Fang Qin was currently very irritated — if he knew ahead of time, even if it was only one day ahead, there would still be a little room for maneuver. But the speed of the outbreak was too fast. The Emperor knew earlier than him, which directly put Fang Qin into a very difficult situation.


Fang Qin sighed: "It is very tricky, Yan Wang's type is of tigers and wolves. Once he catches the prey's neck, he won't let it go again."


"I heard that His Highness Yan Wang's reform has not been completely finished, and there are hundreds of disputes in the court. I think he is too hasty. This step is how his intelligence backfired at him."


Fang Qin stopped his steps, he could see that the man next to him was beating around the bush with the intention of baiting him. The Fang Manor raised a lot of advisers, but most of them could only accompany Old Scholar Fang in playing chess. There were few who had the intellect to open their mouths in front of Fang Qin. It was rare to be able to seize a chance, of course, the adviser would want to let himself be known.


Fang Qin reached out and stroked his beard: "Why did you say so?"


Seeing the opportunity came, the adviser quickly poured out his previously prepared words: "Now that it has come to this, I'm afraid there's no chance to rebuttal the case. Why don't we dig to the root and directly try to abolish the new official law of Yan Wang?"


Fang Qin originally assumed he had wise ideas. Hearing this, he cut off the flickering hope in his heart and coldly said, "Cheating in the imperial examination is a serious crime worthy of beheading and losing position no matter the dynasty. What does it have to do with old and new official laws?"


The adviser smiled calmly and said: "My Lord, a greedy person is a greedy person, a cheater is a cheater; but now, it has involved nine provinces and countless important ministers, could this still be a coincidence? The Emperor will also think that there must be some reasons behind it. How could these officials be so vicious? Because these two years have really not been easy to live, the refugees must be settled, the taxes must be paid, the military expenditure must be spent, and the quota of the Feng Huo tickets must be completed."


Fang Qin's brow slightly moved: "The circulation of Feng Huo tickets can be equated with gold and silver, the regulations had been set after the Jiangnan accident. What are you planning to say?"


"It can be equated with gold and silver in circulation, but it doesn't mean it can be equated with gold and silver when handing over to the imperial court," said the adviser, shaking his head. "Moreover, there are many rich businessmen who migrated from the south to Jiangbei, the people's civilization there is relatively premature, but the Central Plains to the northwest are not the same. If they don't accept it, they won't accept it. If the government uses force, they will have a chance of running into the commoners who cry and threaten to hang themselves. If something goes wrong, the imperial court has to ask who is responsible? Who is prone to blame and who are the ones that walk on ice? Master, think about it. If you really dare to make this bet, there may be room for salvage. Even if the Third Master is punished and dismissed of his position, as long as the power of the Fang family is still there, who can say he won't be able to rise again in the future?"


Fang Qin listened and was silent.


The adviser said in a low voice, "My Lord, it's hard to know what will happen in the future. We're looking forward to the end of the war to turn over the old debt. Of course, Yan Wang's side would also predict this. Don't say 'not fighting is fighting'. If you don't take the initiative to move, you can only be forced to die by them — this follower has said too much today, Master, please pardon me, I will take my leave."




On the 16th of the 12th lunar month, when the governor of Shaanxi, one of the masterminds involved in the case, was tried, he was really crying out in court that his jurisdiction was poor and weak, thus it was difficult to promote the Feng Huo tickets, so the local government could only buy by it themselves. The court also sent down three decrees of quota in succession, unable to fulfill them, they could only borrow from everywhere, yet since there was no real income, they had to make such a lowly decision.


As soon as these words came out, it was a stone that stirred up a thousand waves. All the guilty ministers spoke of the same thing and pulled down Yan Wang's party that was originally watching from the sideline. Some even spilled nonsense: Cheating in the imperial examination was equal to selling and buying positions, then linking the official reform with the Feng Huo tickets, was that any different from selling positions?


This new year passed by in a scuffle, no one had the peace of mind to eat dumplings.




At the end of the day, the Grand Council had to write an apology letter, officially announcing the abolition of the laws that involved the Feng Huo tickets in the new official reform, and suspending the sale of the Feng Huo tickets for the time being.


However, with the war going on, to prevent the imperial court from once again falling in a situation of having no money available, the Grand Council took the opportunity to put forward the idea of stopping the official casting of silver, following the Westerners’ policy of ‘jiaozi*’ in the occupied land and the previous dynasty, let the Bank of Long An issue a special type of ‘temporary silver’ to use in place of gold and silver coins, and drew up a series of new regulations, sending it together with the apology letter.


As long as the new regulations were feasible, everyone had no opinion on whether it was ‘iron jiaozi’ or ‘paper tongbao**", it could never be controlled by the Grand Council.


*A type of paper money issued in Sichuan in the Song dynasty.

**tongbao: A way to call coin money.


So at this time, the steam rail that was about to be formed had unexpected problems.


The north and south sections had been basically connected, only the middle section was left. If they were connected, the work would be completed. However, the last section had been delayed for more than a month and they dared not start the construction. The problem laid on the land.


Most of the land along the line had been reserved, but it was impossible for such a long area of land to be all without an owner. If it was private property, it would be bought at market price by the Canal Office. At the same time, it would give some other subsidies, such as tax relief and so on. There were also people not willing to sell their ancestral property, thus the court would rent it instead and write down the lease and pay the rent every year.


Since the year of the Yuan He dynasty, the government of Great Liang had paid attention to being a benevolent government, strict with civil and military officials, but very polite to common villagers. Because of this politeness, there was a fatal omission in this lease — it only stated the lease term, not what would happen if the original owner no longer wanted to rent.


They didn't expect that someone would destroy the imperial court's agreement.


And the last part of the road happened to be a large piece of rented land. The original owner was a major landlord, doing other businesses in his family. They had already come to an agreement; although the construction had not reached this place, the rent had already been paid.


Unexpectedly, the man suddenly repented and returned all the money without missing a coin. Although this person had no official position, the force behind him was powerful and large, closely related to the Zhao family. As soon as he retreated, no one dared to slap his face. He completely avoided the Canal Office's people coming to see him, hence it was too late for the steam rail to change its course. They had to make a big circle to go around it.


Due to the stagnation of the steam rail, Gu Yun wrote several letters asking for the completion date. At last, he sent it straight to Li Feng and said that the materials on the front line could not keep up, if this continued, he would be forced to shrink the front line.


Fang Qin's youngest brother hadn't cleaned himself up yet. At this time, Grand Scholar Fang finally expressed his clear dissatisfaction with his son's ‘excessive worry’ and ‘lack of skill’, and began to make his move.


The man who was once the examination teacher of half the court did two things at the same time.


First of all, he secretly met with the foreign affairs official of the imperial court who made contact with the Western envoys. He suggested that the national strength of Great Liang might not be enough to support the long-term war with the Westerners at this time. If they fought on like this, it would only be a waste of resources, hurting both sides. The great achievement did not fall on the butcher in battle, but the one who could eventually promote the peace treaty, the one who could return peace to the nation.


The foreign affairs officer, once a student of Grand Scholar Fang, asked cautiously, "Teacher, if the Emperor is determined to fight, how can we, as subjects, be able to push him?"


"It depends on how you talk to the Westerners." Grand Scholar Fang's appearance bore the aura of someone who practiced cultivation, speaking with deep meaning, "What they want is nothing more than benefits. Do you think they are willing to continue to fight with Gu Yun to the death, or are they willing to step back and cooperate with our court's pro-peace faction to achieve an early armistice and mutual friendship? The Emperor and the court want dignity. If the foreigners really are sincere and will save their faces, we won't be stingy, is that not right? Without the frontline battle as an excuse, I don't believe the Emperor will let Yan Wang continue to do as he pleases."


Sending away the foreign affairs officer who seemed to have just woken up from his dream, he then asked his wife to invite someone — it was Emperor Long An's nanny, who was once very well looked after by his wife after she left the palace to retire.


Li Feng loved his nanny very much. He was originally talking to Chang Geng about business; hearing that the nanny delivered the plaque asking to enter the palace to visit the sick queen, he hurriedly instructed Chang Geng and rushed to the back palace.


Chang Geng left the palace slowly. The whole palace was shrouded in the sunset. The gold glint on thousands of glazed tiles disappeared in the hue. There was a little ice slag on the edge, which was not easy to detect, appearing very cold and distant.


The weather was so cold, yet the capital was so hot.


In recent days, the front line had become more and more tense, Gu Yun's letters had also been reduced. The rambling chatter was almost gone. There were only a few private letters occasionally, containing only a few words.


Chang Geng slowly breathed out and stood under the red wall for a while, thinking, "The day after tomorrow is the 16th day of January."


However, the mist that engulfed the country still had not seen signs of being dispelled.


Although that result was getting closer and closer in his step-by-step planning, he was still in a state of panic every once in a while.


At this time, a team of guards passed by, saw him, and hurriedly came forward to greet: "Your Highness."


Chang Geng did not say a word, staring at the guards for a moment, then as if struck by a spell, he immediately walked away.


I want to see Gu Zi Xi, he thought, Right now.


In one's life, there was always a moment when they could not contain anything in mind except for an absurd idea for no reason. A strong desire seemed to devour the whole spirit, even if reason outside the brain risked its life to stretch its claws and scratch the door.


For example, many years ago, when Gu Yun's head was delirious from fever in the wild northwest, he thought of resigning from his position and wandering around the world.


For example, many years later, Chang Geng came out of the imperial palace with the breeze and snow, only wanting to see Gu Yun who was thousands of miles away.


Chang Geng ran back to the Marquis' Manor without thinking. Two iron puppets at the door turned around and watched him silently. As soon as he met the purple light in the puppet's eyes, his steps suddenly stopped.


Chang Geng and the two iron monsters looked at each other for a long time; he finally slowly recovered from the state of almost succumbing into madness. With a sigh, he reached out and touched the ice cold arm of the iron puppet, slowly lowered his head and bowed down, breathing out a dense white mist.


In the past, they separated then reunited, there was a time when they didn't see each other for four years, yet it did not seem to be as difficult as this moment. Chang Geng himself didn't know whether he was becoming more fragile, or whether he was becoming more and more greedy for Gu Yun. There seemed to be a string in his heart; ever since Gu Yun suddenly wrote a letter saying that he missed him, it began to tense up.


When every thrilling battle in the south reached the capital, the string would become tighter. When the situation in the court became more dangerous and complicated, it would also become a bit tighter. Until it suddenly broke at this moment without warning.


At this time, the gate opened from the inside, it was the manor guard captain Huo Dan.


Huo Dan saw Chang Geng's strange expression and was surprised: "Uncle Wang is asking me to find you, Your Highness. What's the matter?"


Chang Geng's eyes were slightly red, but he adjusted to a smile in the fastest time, and he patted away the snowflakes on his body: "Nothing, I was dizzy from running too fast. What does Uncle Wang need me for?"


Huo Dan was a crude man. He didn't see anything unusual after hearing it, he helped him up and whispered in his ear: "There is a guest who is inconvenient to appear. He said he has an urgent matter to report. He was unable to come to the Grand Council to meet and can only come to the Marquis' Manor."


The visitor was a man of about thirty-four or thirty-five. Chang Geng didn't know him, but he must have met him somewhere, he seemed familiar. As he adjusted his disordered mental state, he tried to recall the identity of the guest.


Fortunately, the man himself came forward and said, "I am Liu Zhong, deputy governor of the Foreign Affairs Mission, greeting Your Highness."


The so-called "Foreign Affairs Mission" was built by a group of pro-peace factions from the Ministry of War, using a connection they had with Honglu Temple, it was built by their joint effort. For fear of touching Emperor Long An's temper, they did not even dare call themselves "peace envoy", they had to bear the half-ass name of "Foreign Affairs Mission", raised the banner of "one civil, one militant", finding some bullshit reason to go on the front line to "make the enemy retreat through other ways"; this was purely with the intention of making trouble for Gu Yun.


Chang Geng frowned. He had just met this person, but his impression of the man was already bad. He did not show it in his demeanor for fear of a lack of grace. He said with indifference, "Master Liu is about to depart on your mission, visiting in the middle of the night like this, is there something important?"


Liu Zhong suddenly stepped back and knelt down, raising one hand to the heavens and saying, "If this lowly official speaks any false statement today, I will be struck by lightning, and my parents will not be at peace in the afterlife."


Chang Geng turned aside in avoidance for half a step: "What is Master Liu doing? Hurry and stand up."


Liu Zhong refused: "Do you know that the supervisor of our regiment, my direct superior, used to be a student of Grand Scholar Fang that year?"


Of course, Chang Geng knew, not only did he know, but he was also disgusted for a long time. If it wasn't for the lack of skills, he wished nothing more than to capture all the traitors that supported the Foreign Affairs Mission and chop them to pieces.


"Your Highness, please allow me to report." Liu Zhong quickly explained to Chang Geng what Grand Scholar Fang had secretly told the foreign affairs officer, "Currently, only a few of the trusted confidants of the supervisor know about this matter, this lowly official is incompetent, I am also one of them."


Chang Geng's fingers tapped the table beside him: "Visiting the manor in the middle of the night is not the action of a trusted confidant, is it now?"


Liu Zhong gave a grand courtesy: "This servant's ancestral home is Hangzhou. My parents died early. I grew up with the elders of my family when I was a child. Later, I went to study in all directions and also worked as an adviser for the rank of nobility many times. I met with the elders of the Fang family by fate, having affinity with them, they recommended me to be an official. Of course, it is hard to repay his kindness."


Chang Geng raised his eyebrows lightly.


"When I was a child, I had a childhood sweetheart. The two of us were young and innocent. We were already engaged and waiting to be wed." Liu Zhong buried his head very low and shrunk his shoulders. "I wanted to wait until I succeed in my career and to go back to my hometown to ask for her hand in marriage. But before that day could come, the ferocious enemy had suddenly attacked..."


Liu Zhong bowed his head and wiped his face then kowtowed heavily to him: "Although the dead are already dead, the living are always unable to let go of anger. Thank you for your mercy."


Chang Geng sighed softly: "Master Liu, get up first, then talk."


The two discussed in secret for a long time. When they saw Liu Zhong off, there was already the sound of night patrol on the street. Chang Geng stood at the door for a moment, pinched the center of his brows and said to Huo Dan, "May I ask the commander to go see if Miss Chen has slept yet; if she hasn't, please invite her here."





Chen Qing Xu had been staying as a guest in the Marquis' Manor these days, ready to try and start on the treatment for Chang Geng's Bone of Impurity. But it would be a long process, and Yan Wang never had any free time. He did not return even after half a month.


When Chen Qing Xu saw Chang Geng, feeling that his complexion was already very bad, she said, "Your Highness, the more serious you are thinking, the more difficult it will be to control yourself. Have you been too exhausted recently?"


Chang Geng smiled bitterly. He ignited the contradiction too soon, in fact, there were many things that he had not yet finished preparing. Every step was dangerous. He didn't know when he would slip on this vertical cliff.


But he ran out of time.


He was afraid that his enemies would not give him time, that Gu Yun would only report the good news but not the bad, that he would steel himself to suffer from what he did not know in a place where he could not see.


Chang Geng: "If it's convenient for Miss Chen, you can start applying needles from today."


Chen Qing Xu was stunned: "The process may be very painful. Your Highness is busy with the court during the day. Will you be able to bear it?"


Chang Geng shook his head: "I don't know, but I always have a bad feeling. In recent days, it's more and more difficult to suppress. Let's just say we won't be able to rebuild if we don't break it down first."


One hour later, Chang Geng realized that he had underestimated the word ‘pain’ that Chen Qing Xu mentioned.


Chen Qing Xu brought a bowl of medicine soup to him and prepared the silver needles.


Chang Geng reached for it and asked, "What is this?"


"I will make a copy of the prescription for your highness when you are no longer trapped by Bone of Impurity," said Chen Qing Xu, "But it is better for you not to ask before drinking."


Chang Geng: "..."


He didn’t know why, but in his impression, all the things related to the barbarian's voodoo were full of the gloomy smell of corpse oil. After hearing this, Chang Geng suddenly had countless terrible thoughts. He immediately stopped asking questions, curled up his tongue as much as possible, and drank with his nose pinched.


Chen Qing Xu bent over to light a tranquilizer, the quiet cold fragrance spread in the room. She sat cross-legged three steps away from him, and said in a serious manner, "Your Highness, after I start to apply needles, you must keep your mental state clear all the time, otherwise no one will be able to wake you up. Do you understand?"


Chang Geng nodded.


Chen Qing Xu: "I will start when this tranquilizing incense is burnt out. Please use this incense to clear your mind and eliminate all distractions."


At first, there was no sensation. Chen Qing Xu's needles were steady and accurate. Her hands were very fast. Chang Geng only closed his eyes. Suddenly, a chill of fear rose from behind him - the type of fear when seeing someone raise a weapon, yet he could not avoid it, and could only await his death. The muscles in his back contracted involuntarily. Although he could not move, he made a subconscious action of avoidance.


Chen Qing Xu's needles could not be applied; she appeared much more serious: "Your Highness."


Chang Geng felt an invisible whip lashing on his back, there was a murmur in his ears, the shouting and cursing of the woman who was gone for more than ten years exploded in his ears.


Amidst the long years of nightmares, Chen Qing Xu's voice mingled with tranquilizer stabbed into his ear: "Your Highness, this is the Marquis' Manor. Can you hear me?"


Chang Geng, with all his strength, gave a little nod.


Chen Qing Xu sent the next silver needle in; the second tranquilizing incense was burnt out. She looked at the Western clock on the table, "This is just the beginning, Your Highness, do you need time to adapt to it?"


Chang Geng bit the tip of his tongue: "No, go on."


Chen Qing Xu no longer talked nonsense, her movements swift. The illusion that had just faded was coming back again. All kinds of injuries imposed on him by Xiu Niang in his childhood reappeared one by one.


Chen Qing Xu's face was filled with tension. She saw an old scar on Chang Geng' s clavicle suddenly redden and swell without any reason. A thin row of blood oozed out. The blood vessels resembling cobwebs underneath his skin split on both sides, appearing very ferocious.


"Your Highness, Your Highness Yan Wang!" Chen Qing Xu called him.


Chang Geng did not react.


Chen Qing Xu did not dare to continue. Suddenly, she saw an iron shoulder armor hanging on the foot of the bed. It looked like it was from a long time ago. Now, the steel armor in the army had changed its style. Chen Qing Xu suddenly remembered when talking with Chang Geng about the symptom of Bone of Impurity in his early years, he seemed to mention by chance that when he broke away from his nightmare for the first time, it was thanks to the piece of armor Gu Yun hung at the head of the bed.


Chen Qing Xu swept her long sleeves, the iron shoulder made a sound with a clear impact, the sound of metal swept through the quiet room. Chang Geng's increasingly rapid breathing suddenly came to a halt.


There were many obstacles in front of him. First, he was trapped in his own younger body — sharp hairpins, burning red sticks, a dirty horsewhip, the woman's hands as sharp as pliers. At the end of everything, there was Gu Yun, half-clad in steel armor, watching him silently, piercing through many years.


Chang Geng stared at him like a life-saving straw, struggling to maintain his own line of clarity. He did not know how long it took for the demonic illusions to gradually get away from him. Chang Geng came back to his senses exhausted, and saw that the tranquilizer fragrance on the table had burned out. Chen Qing Xu was gathering the silver needles.


Only then did he realize that he could move again.


Chen Qing Xu: "How do you feel?"


Chang Geng moved his hand for a while, and saw that there were many small bruises on his arms, and he did not know where they came from. They had already scabbed and itched a little. He tried to clench his fist. "It's like climbing out once more."




After Chen Qing Xu left, Chang Geng immediately fell asleep. Over the years, his sleep seemed to be a lake surface which could be broken even by a stone. Aside from the loss of blood and being in a coma, he rarely had this feeling of deep sleep, having no nightmares for the first time.


He dreamt of a lofty watchtower. There was a fire in the distance. The camp was heavily guarded, with a sense of ready for battle. A group of soldiers who came back from the camp patrol was tightening their reins. Suddenly, the leader looked back at him: it turned out to be Gu Yun. He wore a liuli glass that was flashier than a mask, the silver lining and the dark armor complemented each other, he looked at him and smiled teasingly.


In the dream, Chang Geng said with a laugh, "What on earth are you wearing?"


Gu Yun stretched out a hand on horseback, the metal arm burning Ziliujn with the firepower easily pulled him up on the horse. Gu Yun hugged him from behind, laughing, and said to his ear, "The military camp is too lonesome, trying to coerce a few little beauties."


People could not cover up their subtle thoughts in their dreams. Knowing what he said was only a joke, Chang Geng's heart was still full of unspeakable grievances: "I've been troubled all night in the capital, for fear of going wrong step by step. I only hoped to hear a few words from you every day, but nothing came."


Gu Yun said helplessly: "Your Highness, you come all the way here to this remote place to act spoiled?"


Chang Geng thought that he was very right. He truly wanted to sulk and pick a fight with Gu Yun, just like what was written in a folk storybook. However, only when one wanted to make use of knowledge did they find they did not have enough, his skill was very lackluster. At this time, he was a little stuck and didn't know where to start.


Gu Yun raised his hand and took off the liuli glass on his face, tilted his head and kissed him on the face: "If you don't like it, I won't wear it anymore."





In the early morning, Chang Geng woke up with Gu Yun's horrifying flute sound. He climbed up and rubbed his eyes. He felt that the demonic sound seemed to still linger around his ears. He rubbed his sore ears painfully, but the corners of his mouth could not help but curl up.


This was really the best dream of his life.


With Gu Yun's music making ghosts and gods cry at his side, even if there were all kinds of demons in front of him, he could be fearless.





What Chang Geng didn't know was that the night before, on the front line, when Gu Yun came back from his patrol, he suddenly felt that there was someone behind watching at him. He could not help but turn back his head, the liuli glass dropping from his face. This time, the lens didn't break, but it was the delicate pattern that knocked on his shoulder plate and chipped a corner; he had to admit that this thing was pretty but useless, and replaced it with a regular one.


The next day, Shen Yi had a good laugh at him when he heard it: "Perhaps it was some god that had their eyes sored by your flirtatious attitude."


"Then that god must be a busybody," Gu Yun said without shame, "Maybe she saw that I am handsome and wanted to become my wife in a hurry."


Shen Yi: "..."


Before General Shen could vomit out all his dinner from the night before, a general came to report: "Marshal, your emissary sent to Dong Ying has replied."


Gu Yun: "Bring it in."


Some of the supplies of the Western army were sent from the open sea with the cooperation of Dong Ying. In this war, they seemed to have been involved in every aspect, but they were cunningly unwilling to show themselves on the table. Even when Liao Chi was attempting to kidnap Emperor Long An with ten Dong Ying warriors disguised as monks, it was also for his personal resentment. Dong Ying did not step out and demand justice for him either.


Shen Yi: "What does it say?"


Gu Yun shook his head: "It's said that they are polite and tentative, but their attitude was ambiguous. As soon as the messengers wanted to talk about business, the person in charge would avoid meeting, finding a group of white-faced dancers to accompany them. Dong Ying people have their own calculation in mind. If the foreigners can take root in our country, they will be able to eat a piece of rotten meat. But if the Western warships are defeated, they will still be our neighbor in the future. Therefore, they are not willing to offend us completely."


Shen Yi frowned and said, "Trying to please both sides. What kind of character is this."


"The good kind." Gu Yun said with a smile, "As long as they are indecisive, I can rest assured. It's of great use, just wait and see."


Shen Yi shook his head. "We can't wait anymore. The front line of the south is too long. Ziliujin is too tight. Even if you deploy it, there will come a time when the supply will no longer be able to keep up. I'm afraid that if we fight like this, there will be talks in the court."


Gu Yun's face faded.


Shen Yi also reminded: "I heard the court thought that fighting head-on is moronic, we should 'hit once with a stick then reward with an apple'. Recently, a new group of foreign affairs envoys is being set up. If these people are really coming with a stick to reward the apple then it's fine, I only fear they come to cause trouble."


Gu Yun pondered for a moment: "When will they arrive?"


"They must be ready to depart soon," Shen Yi replied. "No more than ten days — Zi Xi, what do you want to do?"