“I need you to protect a family for me"
Editor(s): Juurensha, Namio
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Shi Mokun was looking at a map in the palace, marking out several paths where he had dispatched the scouts. He looked up at Chen Xing, then glanced at Xiang Shu, a hint of a smile evident in his gaze as he nudged Xiang Shu.
“Shulü Kong?” Shi Mokun said with a smile.
Xiang Shu ignored him. After measuring the ingredients, he got up and brought them to Chen Xing, then passed them to his tribesmen. He sat down, legs crossed as he listened to Chen Xing’s instructions. Chen Xing merely glanced at the patient before writing down the prescription on a piece of paper.
Xiang Shu: “You only took one look!”
Chen Xing said, “One look is enough to tell what kind of ailment it is.”
Xiang Shu: “You didn’t even look up just now.”
Chen Xing said, “Could hear it through their voice. Come, I know you’re expecting, you’ll be fine after taking some medicine for miscarriage prevention…”
Xiang Shu, “You didn’t even look up but you can tell she’s expecting from her voice alone?”
“Why else do you think I’m called a Divine Doctor?” Chen Xing was secretly amused. He could still remember his past treatment experience, and he could recognise a bunch of the people who were in the queue. When prescribing medication, he didn’t even need to think twice. There was a pregnant lady who had left a deep impression on him, and this time, he saw her at first glance.
Xiang Shu: “...”
Chen Xing: “Do you have a problem with that?”
Xiang Shu didn’t know how else to comment on Chen Xing’s medical expertise. Chen Xing continued, “Fetch me the medicinal bowl, then fill another bowl with water.”
So Xiang Shu could only get up and busy himself. The tribesmen watched as their Great Chanyu, the one who commands all and the number one warrior beyond the Great Wall willingly listened to the orders of a Han man. It was as if they were looking at a Xiang Shu they’ve never known before, so they couldn’t help but find it a little amusing.
After the entire afternoon had passed, Chen Xing finally finished seeing all of the patients. He got up for a quick stretch and realised that the sun had set, then he said to Xiang Shu, “Why don’t you guys have a physician? Some of their ailments have been dragging on for too long.”
“Doctors wouldn’t come to the plains,” Xiang Shu said. “There are barely even any Hans, they don’t want to cross the Great Wall. Only old shamans would treat us every once in a while, but they can’t differentiate between most medications as well. When you were looking for the medicinal ingredients, some had been noted down by my mother, and that information was passed down.”
“Your mother was a doctor?” Chen Xing realised that he had rarely talked about Xiang Shu’s parents with him. Perhaps it was because Xiang Shu always looked like he wasn’t willing to reveal much whenever the topic of his family came up, so Chen Xing never probed too deeply into it.
Xiang Shu thought about it, then shook his head. He casually answered, “No, she just knew a little about pharmacology. After she married my father, she transcribed a great deal of books on medicine, astrology, the four seasons and martial arts. Our tribesmen then learned a bit about them little by little.”
Chen Xing pondered on that in silence. He suddenly saw Xiang Shu weaving something casually and glanced over out of curiosity.
It was a few strands of silk-like saffron, which were unconsciously being twisted into a rope by Xiang Shu and had lengthened considerably. By one side was a silver plate that had several glossy, oval-shaped mica that looked just like pearls.
While talking with Chen Xing, Xiang Shu picked up some cinnabar from the medicinal box to colour the rope made of saffron, as if he wanted to make a red rope out of medicinal ingredients and thread it through the mica to make a bracelet like the moonshell bracelet.
“What… are you doing?” Chen Xing asked.
When Xiang Shu heard his question, he realised what he was doing as well. He looked down at his hands, his slender fingers still stained with the colour of cinnabar, answering, “Nothing much, just playing around cause I’m bored.”
“Are you trying to weave something?” Chen Xing asked in a daze.
“No.” Xiang Shu seemed a little ill at ease. He quickly set aside his things, not understanding why he would weave a red rope out of instinct either, and even wanting to thread it through the mica.
“Do you want to give this to him?” That bei appeared out of nowhere, saying, “Then give it to him.”
Xiang Shu: “...”
Chen Xing: “Shut up! How is it any of your business?”
Xiang Shu: “This has to do with you?”
Chen Xing walked over and knelt down beside Xiang Shu. He looked down at the crudely made bracelet, then looked up at Xiang Shu.
Xiang Shu’s gaze looked a little uneasy. He thought about it, then when he was about to speak, a figure appeared outside the palace that blocked the light of dusk. Both of them turned around at the same time and saw that it was Sima Wei’s tall figure carrying a half-dead man inside, who then bent over to put him on the floor.
It was a man with gray hair. Several necklaces hung around his neck, and his face looked like it had been through the vicissitudes of time. There were many slash wounds on his body, and they were all turning black. Xiao Shan was following from behind and ran in like a gust of wind.
“King… King Akele!” Chen Xing cried out in shock.
“You know him?” Xiang Shu asked, astonished.
Chen Xing: “Quick! Prepare the medicine for him!”
Bei: “Oh no, he looks like he’s about to die.”
“Shut up!” Xiang Shu and Chen Xing shouted at the same time.
That man was King Akele -- he appeared to be seriously injured, yet he was still conscious. He was murmuring in ancient Xiongnu language as he continuously called out Youduo’s name.
Xiang Shu quickly conversed with him in the Xiongnu language. Sima Wei said, “I found him to the north of the city.”
Chen Xing sent Sima Wei out to protect King Akele and his consort, yet Sima Wei brought him back! According to Sima Wei, after he set out with Bai Zong yesterday night, he found King Akele in a forest. When Chen Xing described King Akele and the consort’s appearance to Sima Wei, he didn’t expect much, yet Sima Wei actually managed to bring him back.
“I’ll try looking for his wife again,” Sima Wei said.
“Was he alone?” Chen Xing asked in disbelief.
Sima Wei nodded. “I’ll continue searching in the direction of Barkol lake.”
Chen Xing thanked him profusely and Sima Wei left again. Xiang Shu helped grind the medicine at once while Chen Xing started on his acupuncture treatment for King Akele. Looking at his wounds, he must have been seriously injured for nearly five days. He didn’t know what kind of willpower had supported him as he left Barkol Lake and walked towards Karakorum alone.
“Medicinal soup,” Chen Xing said.
Xiang Shu brewed the medicine and Chen Xing fed it to King Akele. Xiang Shu frowned. “When his son was alive, he had a dispute with Zhou Zhen over Shui Cao and they died then.”
Chen Xing knew about that. In that case, King Akele might have discovered Youdou’s trail and left Barkol Lake to head south to search for his son, and got assaulted along the way, which was why he was in such a situation now. And after Youduo left, he chased Zhou Zhen to Chi Le Chuan and attacked the white bone army from behind…
“King Akele!” Chen Xing said, “Hold on! Don’t sleep! Xiang Shu, talk to him.”
King Akele was on his last legs. He lost too much blood, so if he fell unconscious, he probably wouldn’t be able to wake up again. Chen Xing had prepared a medicine for him to strengthen his heart, and after feeding it to King Akele, he began coughing violently. Fortunately, King Akele had drunk most of it, so they just needed to wait for the medicine to work.
“Do you need help?” The phoenix appeared again. It flew down from above and stopped by the bed.
“What exactly did you come here for?” Xiang Shu asked, baffled. Why would this bird always ask the same question whenever it appears, and Chen Xing would always answer ‘no need’.
“No need!” Chen Xing knew that King Akele had a strong constitution, and an even stronger will to live. Moreover, nothing vital was injured, so he resolutely rejected Chong Ming’s proposal, saying, “At least not now.”
“Aiya, my lord!” That bei saw Chong Ming and immediately floundered out from a corner. With its short legs as support, it started kowtowing to the phoenix, “Humble me is a bei from the Yin Mountains, I’ve been cultivating for a hundred years…”
The phoenix casually waved its wing and blew that bei out of the palace.
“When you do need me, it might be too late,” the phoenix reminded Chen Xing.
Chen Xing said, “I’ll take note of the timing. If it’s truly hopeless, I’ll call for you straight away.”
“Fine,” the phoenix said patiently. “Guwang will wait.”
At that moment, Che Luofeng came in. He had clearly heard the news that King Akele had been brought back.
Night fell. Che Luofeng entered the palace and glanced at King Akele. Chen Xing looked at Xiang Shu with a pleading gaze, and Xiang Shu nodded, signalling to him that he would handle it. He called out, “Che Luofeng.”
Che Luofeng didn’t speak. He merely stared at King Akele with a troubled expression, then glanced at Chen Xing.
Chen Xing was behind Xiang Shu as he made a clawing gesture, mouthing threateningly, “Watch out, our Chanyu can claw you to death.”
Che Luofeng: “……………………”
Chen Xing knew that Che Luofeng and the Akele tribe must have some deep-seated enmity, but now that Xiao Shan had appeared, this was now very important for the Xiongnu. That was because ever since the decline of Hu Hanye’s clan, who had married Zhaojun, the Xiongnu had split into many different groups in the past hundreds of years. They had never stopped their incessant racket, so it was difficult to unite them. No powerful commander had appeared from any of the tribes to gather them together once again.
And it was because of that that the Xiongnu were losing their dominance in front of the Rouran, Tiele, and other such tribes. Now that Xiao Shan had returned with the Dragon Tooth, it was very likely that he would become the new leader of the Xiongnu in the near future. After Xiang Shu abdicated one day, he would even have the right to fight for the position of becoming the Great Chanyu of the ancient covenant. This kid’s martial prowess was so tyrannical that once the Xiongnu united, he wouldn’t be pushed around easily by the Rouran and Xianbei people.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” Xiang Shu said to Chen Xing, then got up and left the royal palace with Che Luofeng.
Chen Xing watched them leave, then looked at the phoenix, before looking down at King Akele.
“Don’t sleep,” Chen Xing whispered in the ancient Xiongnu language. “King Akele, you can hold on! You definitely can! Your wife is pregnant, and she’s waiting for your return, and your youngest son hasn’t seen his father yet!”
King Akele had been stabbed by a sword through his ribs, but luckily it had deviated a little from his heart. That wound was extremely similar to the one inflicted by a drought fiend king that had killed him the last time they were in Carosha, but Chen Xing firmly believed that since Feng Qianyi and Princess Qinghe’s destinies had changed, King Akele would surely survive as well!
“Child… my child…” King Akele trembled. “I let you down… Youduo, when he was alive… I couldn’t stop the Rouran, and after he died, I couldn’t avenge him either…”
Chen Xing held King Akele’s wrist. The warm light of the Heart Lamp was injected into his body to help him guard his heart meridians.
“Who… are you?” King Akele looked at Chen Xing. His lips, covered in a white beard, trembled as he said, “I saw… Shulü Kong.”
“My name is Chen Xing.” Chen Xing touched King Akele’s forehead and said in a soft voice, “Chen Xing, I’m a Han.”
“A Han…” In King Akele’s body, the medicine was slowly starting to take effect, and he let out a boiling breath of air. Some colour was starting to return to his face. “A Han, I see. Shulü Kong… Xiang Yuyan and Shulü Wen’s son. Are you… related to Xiang Yuyan?”
“Same clan,” Chen Xing said.
At that moment, Xiao Shan had been released by the leaders of the Xiongnu tribes. Chen Xing shot him a questioning glance. Xiao Shan didn’t look too happy after all that interrogation, but the Dragon Tooth was still hanging by his waist, so Chen Xing knew that meant that they had acknowledged his identity.
But he was really too young, so it would still be a few more years before he served as a Chanyu.
“Have you decided to take care of your tribesmen?” Chen Xing asked.
Xiao Shan didn’t respond and just looked like he was deep in thought. Chen Xing stroked his head. “Everyone has their own responsibilities to bear.”
Xiao Shan said, “The way you talk is really similar to Lu Ying.”
Chen Xing guessed that the Xiongnu people must be engaged in their own debates as well. Realigning their allegiance right after seeing the Dragon Tooth wouldn’t be realistic in such a short period of time, so they would only treat Xiao Shan as a crown prince and nurture him that way for the time being. Xiao Shan probably wanted to give them the Dragon Tooth, but no one would dare take it. He felt that Xiao Shan would rather follow him and Xiang Shu as he’d feel freer being an exorcist.
Chen Xing said, “If you want to take care of them, you’ll have to learn from Xiang Shu.”
Xiao Shan replied unhappily, “I know. I’m sixteen, stop treating me like the kid you first knew.”
“Ah, right.” Chen Xing remembered now. In addition to the three years from before, Xiao Shan was sixteen now.
“When I left my master to go look for Xiang Shu,” Chen Xing smiled. “I was sixteen too.”
Through his observation of Xiao Shan, Chen Xing believed that even though Xiao Shan was still quite young, he definitely didn’t present himself that way usually, and instead had a lot of visions for the future. He respected Xiang Shu like he would a father, and would even imitate his movements subconsciously.
Xiao Shan changed the topic. He motioned to Chen Xing to inquire about King Akele, “Who is he? Why is he sick? Ah!”
“It happened on the road I guess?” Chen Xing said, “He’s one of the Xiongnu as well, do you remember him?”
Xiao Shan’s face was filled with doubt. The last time he saw King Akele, he was in a hurry and only managed to spare a glance. By the time he returned to Chi Le Chuan, the Akele tribe had been exterminated. After thinking about it for a long time, he finally remembered.
Chen Xing recounted to him in detail how they had first met when King Akele took him to the North.
After he finished listening, Xiao Shan suddenly looked hesitant. He grabbed Cangqiong Yilie and glanced at Chen Xing.
When Chen Xing saw his gaze, he knew what he was thinking about - those eyes were just like that of Xiang Shu’s. If it wasn’t for their ages, sometimes even he would think that Xiao Shan was Xiang Shu’s son. “Do you want to protect his tribe?”
Xiao Shan asked, “Can I? I’ll be back soon.”
Chen Xing knew that Xiao Shan didn’t feel at ease having just Sima Wei protect them, and truthfully, he was a little worried as well. But there were no other reinforcements now, and he and Xiang Shu had to stay in Chi Le Chuan to guard it.
“If it were Xiang Shu,” Chen Xing smiled. “He would definitely do so too. Go ba.”
Xiao Shan nodded. “I’ll go kill Che Luofeng first, lest he comes to find trouble with you.”
“Don’t!” Chen Xing immediately stopped him. “Don’t touch him, otherwise I’ll be the one in trouble. Xiang Shu would definitely think I instigated you to kill his Anda. Just go and return as soon as possible. I can take care of myself, or do you not believe in me?”
Xiao Shan hurried out. Chen Xing ran out of the palace and ordered, “Xiao Shan! Remember what we talked about! Don’t just kill anyone you want!”
“Got it!” Xiao Shan replied impatiently, then mounted a horse and left Karakorum.
Chen Xing watched him leave, and after ensuring that he wasn’t going to get rid of Che Luofeng, he returned to the palace at ease.
King Akele’s condition was gradually stabilising, and he let out a breath of relief. At that moment, he suddenly recalled that King Akele’s consort knew what happened to Xiang Yuyan beyond the Great Wall! When they investigated the Xiang family in Kuaiji, the entire Akele tribe had already been exterminated, and everyone who knew what happened then had died, so the truth was buried along with them as well.
Now that they could start over, should he get to the bottom of it?
Thinking of this, Chen Xing suddenly got nervous. He said to King Akele, “Did you know the old Great Chanyu, Shulü Wen, and Xiang Yuyan?”
King Akele’s breath was even now. As he lay on the bed, the lamp flickered, casting a shadow of his imposing figure on the screen.
“How did they meet each other?” Chen Xing continued asking. “King Akele, don’t sleep, I have a lot to ask you.”
King Akele seemed to be lost in past memories before he slowly said, “Shulü Wen…”
“Yes yes,” Chen Xing said. “Do you remember what happened?”
King Akele was silent for a long time. As he thought of the past, he said, “Shulü Wen ah, I thought he’d be single forever and never get married.”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Zryuu.