"May you treat all with the same kindness, and guide the lost to cross over this river."
This extra is from the 3rd volume of the physical, simplified version. Set four years after the main story, it focuses mainly on Lu Ying's journey to the west. Spoiler! Spoiler! Spoiler for Dinghai Wolf-Deer side CP, as well as what happens to Xiao Shan at the end of the main story. Read at your own discretion!
In the vast desert, fire beacons were reaching out to the sky.
"Dong—— Dong—— Dong——"
At the corner of the sandy soil, the sound of the rusty bell rang. The defenders of Layisu were startled and woke up in an instant. They saw the smoke and dust traveled upward in the distance: a huge army was covering the sky and overpowering the earth as it came towards them. The town defenders sounded the bell as their lives depended on it, making the people in that village town rush to hide inside their houses in succession.
Immediately afterward, arrows rained inside the town and filled the entire sky. The defenders rotated the winch, and the wooden gate, which was equipped with sharp spikes, slammed shut.
Lu Ying took out the arrow from one of the casualties. After the arrow made a "clang" sound and fell into the plate, he went to wash his hands at once. The person he was treating was a young soldier, who kept twitching while he was lying on the couch. The basin was dyed red with blood, and Lu Ying slowly washed his hand while voices of the bell continuously traveled in the distance, ringing one after another to urge the people to take refuge.
"Lu-xiansheng!" A Semu man broke in and anxiously said, "The Ionians are coming! We have to go!"
Lu Ying motioned for that Semu man to look at the youth who was lying: his chest and abdomen were exposed, and he was mumbling something in his coma. The arrow stuck in his abdomen had already been removed, but his whole body still had a high fever.
The Semu man was wrapped in a burlap robe, had a tall and sturdy build, and was leaning on a cane. He took out a sword from inside the cane; the blade glinted in the cold light.
It was too late. Soon enough, Layisu's fortifications were going to be breached, and this fire beacon tower, which had existed since the Han era, would be consumed by the fire of war.
"Pick him up, Di," Lu Ying said. "Take him home. Let him return to his parents' side."
The Semu man was called Diogenēs. He had an unruly and dark-brown hair, a pair of turquoise-green eyes, a prominent nose and deep-set eyes, a slim face and shaved-pale jawline, as well as a well-defined Adam's apple.
He knew that Lu Ying couldn't be persuaded to leave no matter what, for this man was even more stubborn than the fire beacon tower, so he could only pick up the youth and push open the door. Inside the house, Lu Ying sat down and drank a bit of water. He heard the distant sounds of people fighting outside of the city getting closer and closer to him.
An Ionian cavalry broke into the house with a vicious look in his face. When he saw Lu Ying who was dressed in white, he gave out another smile filled with malicious intent. He put away his scimitar and came forward, wanting to drag Lu Ying away, but Lu Ying just raised his head and glanced at him.
Some moments later, Lu Ying pushed and went through the door. The small town of Layisu in front of him had already been overflowed with blood, and corpses were everywhere in sight. A defender who had fought to his death leaned against the wall, his blood staining the wall red. Lu Ying reached out to check on the victim's neck and sighed, but then, he heard the bell ringing from the top of the mountain again.
"Xiansheng!" The people who were fleeing shouted, "To the mountain! Quick! They're coming!"
Lu Ying turned his head to look at the city walls: the earthen walls had almost collapsed and the Ionians had begun to set fire. Smokes billowed, and the flames burned along the city walls, making the earthen walls charred red and condensing them into glittering fragments of colored glazes.
The small town of Layisu covered an area of fewer than 1.400 mu, and was a garrison town under Bügür's jurisdiction. In the third year of Taichu, during the Wu Emperor's rule, Li Guangli attacked Bügür and established the Protectorate of the Western Regions there to rule over all the states of the Western Regions. Bügür meant "feather-toed eagle" in Old Uyghur. With the separation of government during the Three Kingdoms era at the end of the Han Dynasty and its reunification by the Jin Dynasty afterwards, after the Taikang Period, the Jins gradually lost the strength needed to govern over Bügür. And so, the Protectorate of the Western Regions became more disconnected with the Central Plains day by day.
Nowadays, following the conclusion of the Uprising of the Five Hus, Bügür had already turned into a fortress inhabited by people of various ethnicities. From generations to generations, its defenders had guarded the border of the Central Plains, eternally waiting for a change of station order that would never arrive. With the great chaos happening in the Central Plains and the rise of various armed forces on the frontier region, factions came and went one after another, and the Ionian cavalry also crossed over the Pamir Plateau and began to invade the Protectorate of the Western Regions.
"I'd rather die than surrender——" shouted a city defender.
Lu Ying followed the people and ran towards the mountain. The mountain wasn't high, in the presence of Mt. Tengri and Mt. Khoro, the "mountain" behind the small town of Layisu could only be regarded as a small earth slope. On the said slope, there was an altar out in the open, enshrining the statue of the Uyghurs.
The town's children raced up to hide behind Lu Ying, who seemed to be the only person they could rely on.
"Where's your father? Mother?" Lu Ying asked the dozens of children, "Your big brother?"
The children pointed at the city, and their crying gradually stopped. Lu Ying knew that the children's families, no matter men or women, had all gone to help defend the city. Layisu had already ignited a beacon requesting aid from the main city of Bügür. However, the reinforcements from the main city were limited, only around 3.000 arrived, while before their eyes, there were over 10.000 Ionian cavalry.
"Xiansheng." Diogenēs, the Semu man, crossed over the crowd and came to Lu Ying's side. "We have to go. We had agreed before that we wouldn't stay here for too long."
Lu Ying gazed down the mountain; half of Layisu had already turned into a sea of flames.
"Just wait, okay?" Lu Ying said in a soft voice. "Maybe it still can take a turn for the better."
Diogenēs sighed but didn't insist anymore. He went to sit next to Lu Ying soon after. The children crowded around, sitting on the ground by Lu Ying's knee. Some people leaned their heads against Lu Ying's legs, and he gently stroked their heads to give them courage.
The Ionians retreated their army at nightfall. A crescent moon rose —— its clear, cold light was illuminating this scarred world.
After the Ionian cavalry had broken through the city wall, they retreated and camped outside the city in order to rest and recuperate. Layisu had lost more than half of its 2.000 defenders; there were only 800 men left, yet, at this moment, they still devotedly circled the foot of the mountain and fortified the defensive line. They were waiting for the reinforcements to come, or else, by the sunrise, it would be complete annihilation.
Sounds of weeping could be heard all over the place until the latter half of the night when the cries gradually died down.
Diogenēs was sitting in front of the bonfire, compiling his notes regarding the Central Plains’ mountains, plains, and large rivers. The notes also recorded its roads, cities, towns, local specialty products such as silks, salts, jades, rouges, lacquerwares, teas, and spices, as well as its various types of hideous monsters, and also its grand, magnificent buildings. This was a precious record kept by him during three years of venturing through the Central Plains amidst the chaos of war. Only, the Great Jin Empire of the East had been destroyed by the fire of war brought by the barbarian races.
He and Lu Ying met in Dukhan. He taught Lu Ying Latin, while Lu Ying translated the Divine Land's Central Plains' ancient seal scripts for him. They traveled together to Bügür, and they were about to set out further west once more.
"Xiansheng," a child softly said, "will praying have any use?"
Lu Ying said, "There's no harm in praying. It might not have any use, but at least it can give you courage."
"Why won't it have any use?" asked another youth. "Is it because God can't hear us?"
When Lu Ying didn't answer, the child who had spoken before said to the youth, "He hears, but it's not necessary for him to come and save us."
"Why? Is it because we aren't devout enough?" said another person.
"God has mercy for the world," Diogenēs looked up from his notes and said in a non-standard Uyghur, "but mortals have mortals' tribulations, which you need to live through on your own. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."
Diogenēs closed his notes and looked at Lu Ying, his eyes filled with a question: When will we leave?
Lu Ying said towards the children, "Let us pray, and maybe God will hear our words, yes?"
And so, in the darkness of night, the children got up and followed Lu Ying to the statue. There were oil lamps in front of the statue, and the children knelt on the ground one after another.
Diogenēs tightly held Lu Ying's wrist and softly said, "Xiansheng, the Ionians will start besieging the city again at dawn. No reinforcements will come, you can't save anyone in the city! You have to think of a way to protect yourself!"
Lu Ying nodded his head and smiled at Diogenēs who had completely lost his temper.
Venus, signifying dawn, gradually rose from the east, and marble-white color appeared on the horizon. A bugle-horn sound was heard from outside of the city —— the decisive battle for Layisu had begun, and its final 800 or so defenders were incomparably tragic. With rusty weapons in their hands, they chanted the ballad of the Western Regions.
"All things made of ashes shall return to ashes, and dust to dust..."
"I shall become one with this wind-blown sand, and the wind shall carry my voice to the distant land… Provide us with the Holy Spirit which nurtures the passing of time as well as the mother earth…"
"The Pāramitā of Light and Shadow, oh deity of mine…"
In front of the statue, Lu Ying softly said, "May you treat all with the same kindness, and guide the lost to cross over this river."
The children heard the screams coming from the distant place, which was immediately followed by the roars of ten thousand stampeding horses and the collapse of the earthen walls. Under the assault of ten thousands of people, Layisu's houses were easily destroyed, falling apart as if hit by the hurricane. Those ruthless iron hooves were on the verge of flattening the fire beacon tower that had existed for 400 years; the Ionians were about to brandish their blades to slaughter children who were even shorter than wheels, deprive Layisu's residents of the statue of their god, and turn the entire place into a bloody ravine.
"If you hear me," Lu Ying looked up and softly said, "I pray to you, relieve us from the suffering of mortals."
It was at this moment that the Morning Star flashed and then blossomed in pure radiance. The milky-colored glow of the dawn was ephemeral, and the Milky Way, which was about to disappear soon, turned into stars that fell all over the sky. Amidst the sound of the bugle-horn, in the distance, came a long howl of a beast.
Diogenēs rose in disbelief and looked to the east.
Lu Ying was draped in white robes which fluttered under the morning breeze. He was still kneeling before the statue. When he opened his eyes, he saw a huge shadow under the eastern canopy.
The children opened their eyes one after another and shouted excitedly!
In a split second, the Ionians' horses lost their heads out of fear, neighing non-stop.
"I heard you," a man's voice echoed beneath the sky.
A giant indigo wolf stepped across the river of stars and let out a roar that swept things away like a raging sea. The giant wolf was 10 zhang tall. It stepped out from the horizon, and houses which it trampled upon crumbled like pieces of earth lumps, and the remaining walls that were yet to fall completely collapsed under its might.
"I heard you," the man's voice sounded once more. "I heard you calling for me."
The giant wolf immediately rushed into the battle and crashed into the Ionians' battle formation of over ten thousand cavalry. At once, all of the enemies were frightened stiff; the order of retreat sounded and blood-curdling screeches came from all over the place. The Ionians' horses, which were claimed to be the masters of the Divine Land's Central Plains, couldn't withstand even a single blow from the wolf, and they all neighed in fear and rushed up to flee.
The giant wolf squinted his eyes and lazily looked into the distance. A circle of pure white fur around its neck made its face more elegant and outstanding.
"Wolf God!" One by one, the residents of Layisu kowtowed towards the place where the giant wolf was located. The battle ended at the lightning speed; the Ionian cavalry trampled on each other and rolled away just like the ebb tide. The giant wolf held both their leader and his horse with its mouth before flinging them far away. The Ionian's leader fell to the ground and made a muffled sound of body collision.
Lu Ying raised his head and carefully looked up at the statue on the slope's summit: it was the Wolf of Tengri Mountains, the one who had nurtured the ancestors of the Uyghurs.
The figure of the Grey Wolf faded under the light of the sun, leaving only a tall and straight figure of a 20-year-old young man. The youth was half-naked, showing his well-defined, muscular chest and lower abdomen. He wore a pair of martial trousers and was carrying a dagger on his waist. His hair was arranged into many fine braids that went up the back of his head, and around his neck, he had a gold and jade plate that was tied with a red string.
With indifference and provocation in his eyes, he glanced at the chaotic battlefield before turning around and walking over towards the mountain.
"I heard you," he said towards the mountain.
"Xiao Shan," Lu Ying said on the mountain, "you still came."
The title of this extra is from “Song of White Snow”, a poem by Cen Shen, written during the Tang Dynasty.
As before, I translated using photos given to me by @lilfayt#7115 (THANKS AGAIN MUAH!) since my copy hasn’t arrived, so I might (I hope not) miss something, do tell if you spot any mistake(s)!
09/10/2020: I’m delaying the update for this extra. For more info, check here!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.