Although Master Feng Han had been friends with the fire machine and dogs all his life, being under two generations of unreliable emperors, his determination was repeatedly moulded and squeezed all his life, yet it did not spill a drop. When the country was nearly occupied, he had used his smelly and hard old bones to support the spirit of the Ling Shu Institute.
"It's a pity, bah," Gu Yun said, putting away his Black Eagle Armor, spitting out a mouthful of sand, and without any expression on his face, "There is no successor. This Ge Ban Xiao is not reliable enough, there's also that Cao Niangzi...Child, can you still walk? Or should I give you a piggyback ride?"
The young Ling Shu on the side was about to cry from fright, never daring to trouble the Marquis of Order, limping and shaking his head into a rotating fire wing.
In front of them was the vast grassland outside the pass, and behind them was a pile of burning broken iron one could not tell its shape anymore. The Marquis of Order took a look in the direction of the sun and waved his hand helplessly: "I am familiar with this place. Come with me. Didn’t return to the capital for a good drink, I just have to join in on the fun of you unfortunate children. How free I am"
This was a long story—
When the Mid Autumn Festival was approaching, General Gu, who was inspecting the border areas, was caught by the military affairs of the border defense for several days. When he was about to depart, it was already August 13th, and the steam railway in the west was still under construction. If he wanted to hurry back in time for the festival with Chang Geng, he had to fly back directly with the Black Eagle Armor.
Chang Geng was not willing to let him travel so far, he made the excuse that he had left the capital for inspection and especially sent a letter to tell Gu Yun not to rush back.
In recent years, the country was peaceful; with Gu Yun guarding all directions, naturally, there was no battle to fight. Therefore, all the blood in the Ling Shu Institute was invested in experimenting with this and that.
They created a combination of the Black Eagle and Giant Kite, its name had not been determined yet. They were still experimenting in the Northwest Frontier, which was sparsely populated. It looked like a wooden bird that Lin Yuan Pavilion used for communication. It had a big belly and was estimated to be able to carry more than twenty Black Armors.
When Marshal Gu heard that Ling Shu Institute was walking birds in the northwest, he curiously came to watch.
"The Giant Kite? Even a pile of shit had already cooled, it would take half a year to get out of the pass. It's slow and greatly consumes Ziliujin. Besides showing off the national prestige, what else can it do? The eagle is fast, but it's a lone wolf with a limited load. Moreover, not everyone can control it, it is also tiring for the person flying." Ge Chen shook his head and said, "Our new device has both speed and load capacity. In the future, it can also be used for civilian use, especially for squanderers like Old Master Du. Marquis sir, it's better to come at the right time than to come early. We have just succeeded in the test flight. Would you like to fly one circle?"
It was common for Gu Yun to wear Black Eagle Armor to frolic everywhere. As it was only a trip to the sky and did not cost him anything, he happily agreed.
…… As a result, at the festival, his frolicking did cause trouble.
The Black Eagle required the user to maintain balance themselves, but the big-bellied wooden bird was in the hands of others. The one who would operate the wooden bird to the sky was a young Ling Shu. Looking at him, he should be about eighteen or nineteen years old, when he saw Gu Yun, he did not even dare to breathe. He did not seem to be reliable.
Gu Yun looked at his small round face and hesitated a bit. Before he could sit still, the wooden bird went up to the sky like a Baihong arrow. Even though it was big-bellied, its speed was not much slower than that of the Black Eagle. It created a screeching wind sound when taking off and flew to the unoccupied wilderness.
Unlike the slow Giant Kite and the Black Eagle wherein one could still be cut by the cold wind even when wearing a mask, this thing was very comfortable. Gu Yun had a good time. After flying one round, he asked the young Ling Shu to fly to a higher and further area.
Unexpectedly, on their way, there happened to be a real bird flying by. Upon seeing this thing, thinking it had met its overgrown ancestor in broad daylight, it forgot to flap its wings and bumped directly into the wooden bird.
In order to lighten the load, the wooden bird was not like the Black Eagle Armor. In the high-speed flight, the fire wing was directly hit by a small bird the size of a palm, the golden box immediately exploded into fireworks. Gu Yun in the wooden bird's stomach was almost thrown out. The flying wooden bird fell headfirst from the sky, with a rolling smoke on its tail, and went straight to the north.
Fortunately, Gu Yun had a pair of Eagle Armor at the tail of the wooden bird. At the critical moment, Gu Yun picked up the small Ling Shu, poked open the belly of the wooden bird, carried the Eagle Armor, and jumped down before the wooden bird landed. Unfortunately, the Eagle Armor was in disrepair for a long time and could not bear the weight of two people. After barely stabilizing, Gu Yun flew for hundreds of meters close to the ground, with a loud bang behind him.
The wooden bird was fried into a burnt bird.
Poor Ge Chen waited for a long time. The Marquis of Order rode on the bird and never returned. He was so scared that he could not help himself. While crying, he asked people to write an urgent note to Chang Geng. On the other hand, he ran his horse north to search for the traces of the Marquis.
"The Giant Kite is slow, but it doesn't fall down either," Gu Yun took off one of the wings from the Eagle Armor for the young Ling Shu to use as a crutch. "Come here, I'll support you. Tch, Marshal doesn't bite, don't be afraid."
The young Ling Shu was no more than twenty years old. When Gu Yun was defending the capital and recovering the four regions, he was still a child. He grew up listening to legends about this man and never expected to see the real person one day… let alone almost fall into the grass pit together with the man. He was at a loss at what to do from being too tense, letting Gu Yun hold him. He didn't dare to breathe for a long time, his legs became weak.
"Ah," Gu Yun saw that the little Ling Shu was leaning to one side, he lifted his hand to grab the back of his neck, "I say, is Ling Shu Institute cutting your rations? Why are you this weak at a young age?"
Because the wooden bird had slipped a long way after being hit and damaged, the place where it fell was very delicate. It seemed that it was beyond the boundaries of Great Liang. At present, the wooden bird had burned. In order to avoid unnecessary trouble, it was not suitable to stay for a long time. With such a burden with him, Gu Yun couldn’t walk fast either. The two had been walking in the deserted grassland for a day.
The young Ling Shu knew that he was a burden. He was so embarrassed that he wanted to dig a hole to bury himself. Seeing the sun set in the west, his tears almost came down: "Marquis sir, why don't you just leave me here and go first, then find someone to pick me up later, I...I... "
"You’re going to be the death of me, why are you crying?" Gu Yun joined the army at fifteen; he had never seen such a crybaby before. Feeling tense, he quickly raised his hand and pointed, "Look, isn't there chimney smoke over that direction?"
Although Gu Yun found an antidote to his poison, old habits died hard; when it was dark, he still couldn’t see clearly. He simply walked by feeling and could not see anything. He only pointed to a random place to coax the child.
Unexpectedly, after the little Ling Shu listened to it, he wiped his eyes hard, and exclaimed, "Marquis, there really is smoke!"
Gu Yun: "..."
As they moved on, Gu Yun became more and more familiar with the scenery around him. There were more and more people around. Looking at the dark river running from the outside to the small town, he suddenly stopped and realized that they had arrived in Yanhui!
Yanhui Town changed a lot. The original site of the town became a part of the border trade zone. The old streets and workshops in the town had moved less than ten kilometers to the south. People were coming and going on both sides of the underground river. There were many merchants from the north and the south. Gu Yun was not afraid to be recognized in the street. He found a small clinic to treat the injuries from the collision, put down the limp young Ling Shu, and went out for a stroll.
He saw that there was a peddler coming from a long way on the road peddling sweet-scented osmanthus cakes. Remembering that when Chang Geng was in Jiangnan in his young days, he only liked this food. He bought three pounds.
Then, he found that the crowd and chariots were pouring in the direction of the General’s Slope and was a little curious — long ago, the local people used to think that the General’s Slope was ominous — he followed with interest to find out.
A small ancestral hall was built on the once deserted slope, the incense was quite prosperous, and there was an endless stream of tourists.
Gu Yun caught a peddler selling incense and asked, "What temple is this? Which god is being worshipped?"
The peddler replied enthusiastically, "It's the Mountain God. Is this your first time coming here sir? This mountain is called "General’s Slope", which is the most famous place for our Yanhui Town. In the early years, the three factions of the Black Iron Camp discarded their broken armors here on their way back to the capital and formed a hill. At that time, Marshal Gu once captured Jia Lai Ying Huo in Yanhui Town alive and brought the Fourth Prince back, who is the current Emperor. I heard that in his young years, His Majesty often practiced swords on the General's Slope. Think about it, this mountain is protected by the three factions of the Black Iron, and it has the spirit of the true dragon, combined with the Emperor's light, how can it not be effective?"
Gu Yun repeatedly nodded: "Right, effective."
The peddler took advantage of the opportunity: "You should also buy incense sticks to worship it, every wish will come true."
"I accepted your blessing words." Gu Yun thought it was interesting, so he searched around for some change. He planned to pay homage to the true dragon spirit left behind by his Chang Geng, and asked, "What do people ask for? To pass the imperial examinations? Since it is a General’s Slope, it must be more effective to pray for the top spot in the military imperial examinations than the literary imperial examinations, right?"
The peddler waved his hand: "The Bodhisattvas are in charge of those things. Our Mountain God isn't."
"What is the Mountain God in charge of?"
"Promotions and becoming rich, for a good marriage and even to have children! How many wives and concubines does Master have? How many children? Are there enough sons and daughters? If it is already satisfactory, you may pray for relatives and friends as well! Helping someone else, I guarantee it will work!"
Gu Yun: "..."
"Don't go, Master! If you don't want children, It's very effective to ask for wealth. You can have great luck next year, bowl and basin filled up, and you can also ask about marriage! I can see that you are handsome and unrestrained, you will be entangled with peach blossom for a lifetime... "
Gu Yun laughed and scolded: "Go away!"
When he was in the Liangjiang battlefield, he chatted with Shen Ji Ping, saying that he was "willing to defend the country, and become a world-famous general", so that after a hundred years, people would worship him as a god general, making a living from incense, and to do business like "scamming, being a matchmaker and a Guanyin Bestower of Children".*
He didn't expect that in less than a hundred years, the little slope Chang Geng practiced swords on would be honored first.
Gu Yun released the wooden bird to inform Ge Ban Xiao and his men. He found an inn to rest at. When he looked up and saw the silver plate-like moon, he was surprised that it was the night of the Mid Autumn Festival. Everyone had gone home for a reunion. No wonder the inn was so quiet.
From when he picked up the dying small Chang Geng outside Yanhui Town, twenty years had passed; time resembled water, quietly flowing.
Gu Yun felt something in his heart; he jumped up to the roof of the house, took out a white jade flute that he carried with him and blew it. Surprisingly, it was not out of tune.
This piece was written for him by Chang Geng one year on a whim. Marshal Gu learned one song for three years. During this period, he tortured Chang Geng to the point of almost becoming a god, making him want to chop off his own dragon claws that caused troubles; there was a time that whenever he would see the white jade flute, he would have a migraine.
At this time, a long cry came from the sky, and several Black Eagle Armors circled down. Gu Yun raised his head unexpectedly: "These boys came quite fast..."
Before the word "fast" was finished, the first Black Eagle swooped down. Strong wind swept by, nearly dazzling Gu Yun's eyes. The next moment, he was grabbed by someone at the neckline. Under the great power of Ziliujin, Gu Yun was lifted up off his feet from the ground, the lamps in the inn were extinguished by the Eagle wings.
Gu Yun hadn’t seen yet who was so bold, when someone had said to his ears, "Gu Zi Xi!"
Gu Yun was startled and suddenly turned his head. He saw His Majesty who was "on patrol": "Are you not..."
The Eagles who followed Chang Geng all fell to the ground and knelt on one knee.
Chang Geng couldn't bear to let him run around, but it was always alright for himself to run around. He used the Black Eagle Armor to fly all the way, wanting to surprise him, but before he could arrive at the Northwest Camp, he was shocked by the news from Ge Chen. Now, his hands were still shaking and he couldn't speak for a moment.
As soon as Gu Yun saw that he was travel-worn, he immediately guessed ninety percent of what was going on. He thought "oh no", it must have been due to him disrespecting the Mountain God of the General’s Slope, which infuriated him. Thus, the god had sent him this man — it was his peach blossom as well as his misfortune.
He waved his hand to let the Black Eagles disperse. He quickly stepped forward, grasped Chang Geng's elbow, and smoothly connected the next line of his words: "Are you not the god of the Moon Palace, how did you sneak down here?"
Chang Geng shook his hand off… but was unable to, laughing from extreme anger: "Stop using this trick, let go!"
Gu Yun carefully pulled him to his arms: "No, since you're already in my hands, in this vast mortal world, don't think about coming back to heaven."
Chang Geng glared at him. However, seeing the face he had not gazed upon for three months, his angry brows collapsed.
"I think if that wooden bird is really completed, I would be able to go back to see you next Mid Autumn Festival, is that not right?" Gu Yun continued his efforts and stared at him, "Don't blame Xiao Ge, alright?"
Chang Geng always had no temper or bottomline when it came to him. After listening to his soft words, the anger on his face had dispersed by half, and he could only force out an expressionless face with difficulty.
"Besides, didn't I take an Eagle Armor with me? I must know that it's absolutely safe. How dare I make you worry?" Gu Yun's eyebrows bent, using his trump card, he took out an oiled paper package from his arms. Before it was opened, the fragrance of osmanthus had already come out. "What do you think this is?"
Chang Geng: "..."
Gu Yun clasped his hand, continuing to push his luck: "Otherwise, you wouldn't have a chance to come back to visit Yanhui. Do you still remember this?"
Chang Geng treasured the sweet-scented osmanthus candy cake in his arms. A complicated look flashed by his face, then he spoke angrily: "Yes, I still remember that you were deaf and blind, insisting on crowding in the market packed with people, even almost falling into the dark river..."
When he said this, he suddenly remembered something. He looked back at Gu Yun and said, "Twenty years ago, I exhausted myself because of you. How come after twenty years, there is still no progress at all?"
Gu Yun laughed and dragged him outside: "I have made progress, I'll take you to see the new Yanhui Town. Today, there are no irrelevant people, just the two of us."
"Can your sweet words be called progress? You... "
Before Chang Geng finished his words, he heard a cry echoing the wind: "Marquis—"
Ge Chen was here.
Gu Yun pulled Chang Geng and left through the back door of the inn: "Irrelevant people arrived as soon as you mentioned them, let's go!"
Chang Geng did not know whether to laugh or be frustrated, being pulled by him all the way through the small alley.
Gu Yun turned left and right, and cut off Ge Chen. With a bit of a wicked smile, he announced: "I'll take you from this end to that end. Along the dark river to the north, the General’s Slope is very bustling. The underground river is open tonight, there are many cruise ships. We can return by boat."
Chang Geng said with a smile: "You can also come by boat."
"Hm, what?" Gu Yun was stunned. Then he heard a familiar sound of an instrument. He suddenly turned his head and saw a huge boat in the middle of the dark river. Shen Yi let his precious son ride on his shoulder, who was leisurely swaying his head as he listened to Miss Chen's playing.
He looked up and met his eyes, putting his hands together towards him from far away. He grinned, showing his white teeth, which were particularly clear under the night river with the lanterns floating.
"Marshal!" Several Black Eagle armors landed on Shen Yi's boat one after another. The leading one with the loudest voice was Old He. He held the wooden bird released by Gu Yun in his hand, laughing with a wide open mouth, "I heard you fell down while walking the bird. Ha ha ha!"
Gu Yun: "..."
It was rare to see this person being exasperated for once, Chang Geng couldn’t help but smile.
The sound of the underground river rumbled. Under the clear moonlight, the shadow of the trees whirled. When he looked around, he found that the place where he had grown up was beyond recognition.
The Northern Barbarians were gone, and the expedition was over.
The autumn wind couldn’t blow out the bright moon. At this time, the moon was full, people were happy, the world had changed.