“I need you to protect a family for me"
Editor(s): Juurensha, Namio
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The leader of the Tiele tribe, Shi Mokun, had come as well. The cavalry that had migrated to Chi Le Chuan flanked Xiang Shu and the rest of them as they escorted them into the city. Chatter in various tribe languages filled their ears, the noise making Chen Xing’s head spin, and there were even more people studying Xiao Shan and the rest -- a wolf-bei-child combination -- in astonishment.
“Send a notice to all the tribes.” The first thing Xiang Shu did after dismounting was enter the royal palace. “To convene for a meeting.”
On the way to the city, Chen Xing had a quick glance and saw that many people had settled down, and he couldn’t help but find the scene familiar. When Bai Zong passed by, a lot of people would bow as a greeting one after another.
Che Luofeng had noticed Chen Xing the moment they entered the city. The fact that the Great Chanyu had brought back a Han stirred up a commotion amongst the people, and that made Che Luofeng very nervous. When he rushed back to the palace and met him in person, for some reason, Che Luofeng detested this Han on sight, as if they were mortal enemies in their past life.
But underneath all that irrational hatred, Che Luofeng seemed to hold him in a bit of respect as well.
“He’s my Anda,” Xiang Shu said to Chen Xing. “Leader of the Rourans, Che Luofeng. You two should get to know each other better.”
Chen Xing smiled. “Sure--”
Che Luofeng: “...”
Right after Xiang Shu returned to the palace, he settled Chen Xing down, went to inquire about some pertinent matters, leaving Che Luofeng and Chen Xing in the main palace to face each other.
“You’re a Han?” Che Luofeng asked even though he already knew the answer.
“Yep--” Chen Xing smiled again. While he crouched down to organize his luggage, he said, “A weak, fragile Han. Anda, has your stomach been hurting recently?”
Che Luofeng: “???”
Chen Xing said with utmost sincerity, “I’m a physician. You don’t look too good, so I thought you might be suffering from some abdominal pain.”
Che Luofeng wasn’t feeling anything at first, but now that Chen Xing said this, his stomach suddenly started hurting a little, as if it was being held in someone’s grasp. The colour of his face alternated between green and white for a while. His lips parted a little, but no words came out.
“I...I’m not your Anda,” Che Luofeng took a step forward and said coldly. “You and Shulü Kong, how did you two meet?”
Chen Xing was checking his medicinal bag. When he heard this, he stood up straight. Che Luofeng reached out a hand, wanting to lift Chen Xing’s chin.
“Go away!” Xiao Shan stepped out from the side, knocking his gleaming claws against each other.
There was a scarf wound around Xiao Shan’s neck. His upper body was bare, and his skin was a little tan now too, his figure vaguely resembling that of an adolescent’s slim, muscled body. He was wearing a pair of trousers with a long skirt made out of fur tied around his waist. Before Princess Qinghe had left, she had helped him tie his hair into a braid as well.
Xiao Shan bared his canine teeth at Che Luofeng. Aside from Xiang Shu, he never let others get too close to Chen Xing.
Che Luofeng: “Wh...what are you? You’re the one who should go away!”
Che Luofeng didn’t know why, but he was terrified of the child who barely reached his chest in front of him. His words came out a lot less threatening than they were supposed to be, and he even took half a step back involuntarily as he lashed out with a trembling heart.
“Be polite,” Chen Xing said to Xiao Shan. “How many times have I told you? You can’t gut someone whenever there’s a slight disagreement.”
Xiao Shan stood in front of Chen Xing to block him from Che Luofeng. He raised his claws, pointing domineeringly at him as he said, “Back up, or I’ll slice your head off.”
Che Luofeng immediately lost his cool and roared, “Who do you think you are?! Get the hell out! This is my territory!”
Chen Xing was about to speak when Xiao Shan shouted back at an even louder voice than Che Luofeng, “The one who should get out is you!
“This is my territory!” Xiao Shan said coldly. “I’m the descendant of Hu Hanye, Yitu Xieshan! Who do you think you are, you Rouran?”
As he spoke, Xiao Shan grasped a jade carved tooth with a crimson root wrapped in gold and showed it to Che Luofeng, threatening, “Do you recognise this?”
Chen Xing: “...”
Che Luofeng was taken aback at once and took another step back, because Xiao Shan was holding the “Golden Plume Dragon Tooth” in his hand. The Golden Plume was bestowed by Emperor Yuan, while the Dragon Tooth was in the possession of the Great Chanyu Hu Huanye. It was a representation of the direct descendant of the Xiongnu’s royal family, acknowledged by all the Hans.
It wasn’t Chen Xing’s first time seeing this. Xiao Shan had always been carrying it, but the Hu had always had a bunch of straight, bizarre decorations. King Akele had even been covered in necklaces, beeswax, and other such accessories, so Chen Xing never questioned it.
“You… you’re a Great Chanyu too?” Chen Xing was absolutely baffled as he asked Xiao Shan. He thought to himself, crap, they’re probably gonna start fighting. Both Xiao Shan and Xiang Shu were Great Chanyus?! If they really were to start fighting, who should he help?
“No,” Xiao Shan said to Chen Xing. “I’m a Chanyu, a small one, the average kind. A small Chanyu or an average Chanyu.”
Che Luofeng reacted at once and asked through gritted teeth, “You thief, where did you steal that from?”
At that moment, all of the leaders of the various Chi Le Chuan tribes arrived. When they saw the confrontation between the two of them, they could guess that the headstrong, irascible Che Luofeng was finding trouble with someone again. Just when they were about to mediate between them, the Xiongnu leader saw the token Xiao Shan held and immediately exclaimed in surprise, “Where did you get that from?”
Within an instant, all of the Xiongnu tribes crowded around Xiao Shan.
Xiang Shu had come as well. He glanced at Xiao Shan, saying, “You finally couldn’t hold it in anymore and decided to return to your tribe?”
Chen Xing thought, so you knew all along? Other people might not have been able to recognise the Golden Plume Dragon Tooth, but Xiang Shu was the Great Chanyu, so he should’ve known.
Xiao Shan answered, “Your Anda was bullying Chen Xing, otherwise I wouldn’t have said anything. Che Luofeng! The place where you stand was built by my ancestors. Karakorum was the capital of my Xiongnu people! If it wasn’t because Luhun Chanyu gave you Rourans your freedom, you guys would still be our slaves today!”
Within an instant, everyone in the palace felt a little ill at ease. The Rouran people did used to be the slaves of the Xiongnus. After Hu Hanye’s reign, the Rourans only regained their freedom after Luhun Chanyu had released them.
Xiang Shu ordered in a low voice, “Shut up! I don’t care if you’re the Chanyu of the Xiongnus now or not, Xiao Shan, since the Xiongnu has entered the Ancient Chi Le Covenant, they must obey my orders…”
“Forget it,” Chen Xing said. “It’s okay, Xiao Shan.”
So Xiao Shan stopped talking. Xiang Shu glanced at Che Luofeng, reproach obvious in his gaze. Che Luofeng was obviously stupefied by this sudden turn of events and couldn’t snap out of it for a moment. Xiang Shu raised his hand to stop Chen Xing from speaking, then continued, “...Whether they recognise your status is a matter of the Xiongnu tribe, I won’t meddle in it. But now, since you’re all in the Covenant, foreign enemies are threatening our borders, so we must let bygones be bygones and fight against them together.
“...Or would you like to leave the city and fight them yourself?” Xiang Shu asked Xiao Shan. Although his tone was strict, it didn’t hold the least bit of contempt or threat, and he instead sounded more like an authoritative father figure.
Chen Xing was about to smooth things over when Xiao Shan nodded, saying, “As long as your Rouran Anda doesn’t bully Chen Xing, I’ll naturally let him off.”
Che Luofeng’s expression couldn’t get any worse. Xiang Shu could only pretend not to see it and said, “Everyone should give their reports. It won’t be too late if the Xiongnu were to verify your status after they return later.”
After a short moment of quiet, Shi Mokun, the leader of the Tiele tribe, coughed a few times to break the awkward silence. “A month and a half ago, we received the letter sent from Chang’an by the Great Chanyu, and we’ve made preparations for countering the enemy…”
Sure enough, Shi Hai’s subordinates had attacked Chi Le Chuan in advance. Fortunately, there were no drought fiend kings in the battle this time. Twelve days ago, a large number of animal bones had rushed out from the Yin mountains, and with the fiercest animals in the lead, they attacked the camp under Chi Le Chuan set up by the various Hu tribes. Chen Xing made a quick guess that it had happened shortly after Shi Hai escaped Chang’an with the drought fiend kings.
It had been a moonless night. Thousands of monsters had roared as they trampled through the cheval de frise and rushed into Chi Le Chuan. Fortunately, because of Xiang Shu’s warning, Shi Mokun had made preparations beforehand, and they did their best to fight back. Once they realised they couldn’t win against their opponents, he immediately led everyone to retreat as they continued to fight and had fled Chi Le Chuan.
But in the middle of their escape, another group of drought fiends had appeared. Strangely, this group of drought fiends didn’t attack them, and instead aimed for the army of bones and gave them cover as they engaged in a fierce battle with the army of animal corpses.
When Chen Xing heard that, he immediately knew where that drought fiend army came from. It was Youduo, the one who was determined to seek revenge on Zhou Zhen, that led the dead defenders of the Akele tribe.
Then, Shi Mokun concluded, “That was what happened.”
Che Luofeng’s gaze wandered a little. When his eyes met Xiang Shu’s, he looked away, and instead he shot a few suspicious looks at Chen Xing.
Chen Xing asked Shi Mokun in the Tiele language, “Was anyone hurt?”
Shi Mokun nodded slightly. “A portion of the Rouran troops. They’ve all been settled down.”
Chen Xing stood up. “I’ll go take a look at them.”
Xiang Shu said, “Get them to come over, you should stay. All the tribes will take turns to stand guard. Shi Mokun, dispatch the Uyghur troops to scout out for the enemies’ whereabouts.”
“Xiao Shan.” When Chen Xing left the Xiongnu palace, he looked for Xiao Shan and said, “I’d like to ask Bai Zong for a favour. Where’s Sima Wei?”
Xiao Shan pinched his fingers together and whistled to summon Bai Zong. Chen Xing gave Bai Zong a map of Saibei. Bai Zong said, “I recognise all of it. What do you want me to do?”
“Take Sima Wei to Barkol Lake.” Chen Xing then said to Sima Wei, who had walked to his side, “I need you to protect a family for me and make sure they return safely to Karakorum. They should already be on their way there now.”
Sima Wei nodded and left without asking any questions. Chen Xing suddenly realised that Sima Wei was a surprisingly good asset. He was a drought fiend, so the drought fiends wouldn’t notice him and instead regarded him as their comrade. Plus, he was pretty good at fighting, and usually didn’t have any will of his own and would do whatever you told him to.
“Thank you so much.” Chen Xing helped Sima Wei wear a Akele helmet they had picked up, and so the towering ex-Han prince seemed like a completely different person.
Sima Wei said, “You’re welcome.”
This guy was like a loyal and reliable guard that was at Chen Xing’s beck and call. Also, aside from Chen Xing himself, no one else could kill him, so he just needed to be careful about getting discovered by someone else.
What did Sima Wei usually think about? Sometimes, Chen Xing couldn’t help but wonder. But he couldn’t even figure out what Xiang Shu was thinking, let alone a drought fiend king, like right now for example.
The next day, Chen Xing started treating patients in Karakorum’s palace. After all, he remembered that there were a lot of people in Chi Le Chuan who were ill the last time he came. So, aside from treating the injured Hu soldiers, he would resolve the ailments of Xiang Shu’s people on the side as well.
“Do you need a translator?” Xiang Shu watched from one side as he asked.
Chen Xing smiled. “I can somewhat understand them.”
So Xiang Shu took the initiative to help Chen Xing dispense the medication. The medicinal ingredients were all spread out on the floor in the palace. Once in a while, he would glance towards Chen Xing. Sunlight streamed into the palace. Half of Chen Xing’s body was enveloped in the light spilling through the open dome above the palace, and the concentrated look of his side profile appeared even more elegant in the light.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Zryuu.