"Of course I like him."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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Riding out of the city, the two people thus caught up with Tuoba Yan. The legion of the bones outside the city, looking as if they had received an order from a faraway place, gradually withdrew within the dense fog that was currently covering the northern plains. Halting his horse inside that fog, Tuoba Yan looked at the chaotic footprints on the snow to identify the direction Xiang Shu and Che Luofeng had gone.
"To the north!" King Akele approached him and said. "Go to Barkol Lake."
"Not this way." Chen Xing, on his horse, followed after King Akele together with Tuoba Yan into a forest.
But King Akele said, "It's a shortcut, listen to me."
Seeing King Akele dismounting and advancing through the forest, Chen Xing and Tuoba Yan had no choice but to follow, walking on foot as they pulled their horses along. Tuoba Yan asked Chen Xing, "What's a Protector?"
Chen Xing: "......"
Tuoba Yan, pulling his horse, carefully walked behind Chen Xing.
"Can I not answer this?" Chen Xing was slightly frustrated.
Tuoba Yan said, "The Great Chanyu is your guardian, and you are already promised to each other for a lifetime. Am I right?"
Tuoba Yan's way of thinking seemed to be completely different from other people. He was simple, straightforward, and would say whatever was on his mind. It was just like how he had had no qualms whatsoever and directly confessed his feelings to Chen Xing the first time he had gotten to know him before, and even went as far as to look for Princess Qinghe and Fu Jian to act as a matchmaker for him after he had been rejected. Chen Xing sometimes felt that there was truly nothing he could do about Tuoba Yan.
"Yes," Chen Xing thus said. "It's indeed something slightly resembling an oath or an agreement."
Tuoba Yan asked, "When did you and the Great Chanyu agree on this promise?"
Chen Xing replied, "Eeem... don't ask about it. He was a little angry seeing me go out by myself. It's my fault, it doesn't have anything to do with you."
When Tuoba Yan didn't give him a reply, Chen Xing turned his head and took a quick look at him. Tuoba Yan was also very good-looking; he was handsome, full of outstanding aura, and also had a kind of unique and simple temperament that young martial artists have.
Suddenly, Tuoba Yan said, "I dreamt about you."
Ah, finally comes the trouble. Chen Xing had always felt sorry for Tuoba Yan because the first time around. Not only did he reject him, he had also failed to save him; even at the moment when Tuoba Yan had died, he also wasn't there by his side. If this was described as if it was a matter of a previous life, in this life, Chen Xing truly didn't want to provoke Tuoba Yan in any way.
"You should only have... a slightly deep impression of me?" Chen Xing denied it right away. "When did you see me in your dream?"
Tuoba Yan said, "Just before you came to Chang'an."
Chen Xing dismissed it in a firm manner, "How could that be? You must've remembered it wrong."
Tuoba Yan: "I dreamt that you were sitting in front of me in the government-owned book pavilion in Chang'an, teaching me how to read... At that time, you were laughing the entire time."
"Eeerrrrr..." The corners of Chen Xing's mouth twitched. "Well, I am always unsmiling, so that person in your dream is certainly not me."
Tuoba Yan just continued, "When you stopped me on the street that day, I merely saw your face in a passing and failed to recognize you. But the more I thought about it later, the more I felt it was odd. When I saw you again the next day, I discovered that you were indeed the person in my dream. For some reason, I always feel that you are a reliable person, and after the drought fiend chaos, it was as if there was a voice, sounding like my own, that told me that not only had we known each other in our previous life, our relationship had also not been shallow. Letting myself come up north to find you, I'm sure that... I'm sure that not only you can help me, you are also willing to help me."
Chen Xing said in his heart, No way ba! What now? Are we doing this all again?
Chen Xing had originally been in a terrible mood, and it had only been lifted just now. He pretended not to hear the sentence "we had known each other in our previous life" and said to Tuoba Yan, "If you want help, you need to find the Great Chanyu. Didn't you see that I've just been scolded by him? Though it's not your fault."
This was indeed just messing around, but Tuoba Yan just nodded and said, "I'm sorry. I'll surely explain it clearly to him, I don't want to cause trouble and make you both quarrel because of me. What I said before, those words about how 'I want to protect you' were just me being too presumptuous."
"You are..." Chen Xing had wanted to tell him that phrases like "I’ll protect you" were of course very, very presumptuous, okay?! But then again, he basically couldn't use normal means to communicate with people like Tuoba Yan.
"I'm going to speak out of turn once more, do you like the Great Chanyu?" Tuoba Yan asked.
Chen Xing thought in his heart, You really do have a loud mouth.
"Of course I like him," answered Chen Xing. "So you also can see it?"
Tuoba Yan pulled his horse as he said, "Do you need help? After explaining it to him, I can tell him..."
"Don't ask me that question again!" Chen Xing shouted. "You remind me of that bird!"
"Who are you talking about?" the phoenix flew in and said to Chen Xing.
King Akele: "......"
Chen Xing: "......"
Chen Xing immediately explained to King Akele, who apparently found the situation not that strange. His son had already turned into a drought fiend, so what was there to make a fuss about seeing a talking bird? Tuoba Yan, however, exclaimed, "It's you again!"
Chen Xing: "I don't need help, thank you! Yi? Aren't you supposed to be in Karakorum at this time?"
The phoenix replied, "It doesn't matter. Even if something were to happen to Karakorum now, Guwang would just let the said accident kill half of the people before going back to help. Even then, the wish would still also be considered fulfilled."
Chen Xing talked back, "But, in case an innocent civilian died... If I felt remorseful by this 'smashing a cracked jar' act and simply refused to ask for help, what would you do then? Moreover, a blow that big would certainly make Xiang Shu hate me to death, and if I lost Xiang Shu, there would be no guarantee that I wouldn't suddenly go insane. What if I came up with a strange wish at that time, ne?"
The phoenix: ".................................."
Tuoba Yan: "Don't be like that. Even a bird also wishes to be able to help you. Just accept its good intention ba."
The phoenix merely flew away again.
Chen Xing simply didn't want to talk to Tuoba Yan, but with Tuoba Yan smiling all the time with a sunny face that was practically sparkling, Chen Xing was unable to tell him off either.
"Or perhaps, I could pretend to ask for your hand in marriage?" Tuoba Yan offered. "During the Autumn Close Festival, if you are invited to go sledding......"
"Not in a million years!" Chen Xing finally exploded when he heard this sentence, thinking in his heart, I really should NOT have agreed on sheltering Tuoba Yan to begin with. While this move might work on other people, if that person was Xiang Shu, he might just run away once he got stimulated!
"Don't cause me trouble," Chen Xing said, "I won't let the matter drop otherwise."
"Okay ba." Tuoba Yan was a little frustrated. "I don't know why, but I always want to take care of you."
At this, Chen Xing just held his forehead with one hand; he had absolutely no idea how to answer Tuoba Yan's words. Fortunately, at this time, King Akele took him out of his predicament.
"I also dreamt about you," King Akele said, "in the imperial palace of Karakorum."
Chen Xing thus replied, "Then it's indeed thanks to our previous lives that the two of us are fated to meet now."
Tuoba Yan said, "But you just told me I must've remembered it wrong."
Chen Xing: "Yes I did, is there a problem?"
Tuoba Yan: "No."
King Akele added, "Maybe our meeting was not without reason. This kind of familiarity..."
Chen Xing smiled and patted King Akele's arm. When they arrived at the edge of the forest, however, King Akele suddenly came to a full stop and gripped Chen Xing's hand vigorously. He looked down and fixed his gaze on Chen Xing's eyes.
Chen Xing: "......"
Chen Xing, who suddenly felt some kind of ominous premonition in his heart, hurriedly said, "Umm... King Akele, I think even though you have some words to say at this age, don't just charge ahead without considering everything..."
"Hey, hey, hey," Tuoba Yan said. "Let him go, what do you want to do?"
King Akele, turning a deaf ear to Tuoba Yan, clasped Chen Xing's hand while saying, "Our Xiongnu people have a legend that says if people's tangled fate remained unfulfilled in one's lifetime, they will surely be destined to meet again in their next life... Tell me, do you also think I am experiencing things I have experienced before?"
Terrified, Chen Xing immediately changed his tune, "No! I don't know you!"
"Are you Youduo?" King Akele conscientiously asked. "You are the reincarnation of my son!"
"I am NOT——!" Chen Xing was driven mad. "Both of you, can you all stop letting your imaginations run wild all day long?"
However, King Akele still said, "I always feel that you are my son, I cannot be mistaken about this! His soul is living inside your body while his physical body wanders in the wilderness right now......"
Chen Xing: "How is that even possible?! You tell me, when did Youduo die? I am almost 20! Wait, no, right now I'm just approaching 17! For me to be a reincarnation, the timing isn’t even correct ah!"
"Watch out!" Tuoba Yan suddenly exclaimed.
A loud noise akin to a surging thunder burst out at that moment. Countless dark figures rushed into the forest, followed by thunder and lightning striking trees in the forest and setting them ablaze.
"Drought fiends!" Tuoba Yan brandished his halberd as he shouted. "Chen Xing! Come with me!"
The warhorses all ran away, frightened. A group of nearly a thousand drought friends, all of them being the resurrected Akele people, suddenly appeared before them. Seeing that burst upon burst of thunder was continuously gathering around the periphery, Chen Xing suddenly remembered something and said, "Xiao Shan! Xiao Shan! Stop striking!"
On the shore of Barkol Lake in the distance.
The loud thunderous sound alarmed Xiang Shu and Che Luofeng, causing both of them to look toward the other side of the lake. Xiang Shu turned his horse around and immediately ran toward that site covered by lightning
Xiao Shan, wearing a long scarf around his neck, stood on a high place with his claw aimed at the sky, attracting a chaotic mess of thunder and lightning altogether. On the side, Sima Wei charged into the forest by the side of Barkol Lake. Leading a group of Akele warriors on foot, he launched an assault at the drought fiends that rushed out of the forest.
"Stop! STOP!" Escaping out of the forest together with King Akele, Chen Xing, who was protected by Tuoba Yan, met Sima Wei head-on. Luckily, Sima Wei put away his weapon in time after nearly managing to chop Chen Xing to the ground. Chen Xing was so angry he slapped Sima Wei's helmet while shouting, "It's me! Aiyo, it hurts!"
Xiao Shan was surprised to see Chen Xing here. He put away Cangqiong Yilie and rushed down, shouting, "Chen Xing! Chen Xing!"
Chen Xing turned his head and asked, "What are you guys doing?! And where did these drought fiends come from?!"
There were nearly a thousand Akele defenders on the other side. As soon as they saw their clan chief had returned, they continuously blew the bugle-horn and began to retreat.
Xiao Shan: "We're chasing the drought fiends! They are all hiding inside the forest."
Chen Xing looked back, thinking that this group of drought fiends was clearly hiding inside the forest, laying an ambush. He then looked into the distance and saw a woman dismounting and, running toward King Akele in big strides, she tightly hugged him —— it was the consort.
Unexpectedly, the consort personally supervised the battle on the lakeside while supporting her big belly. As the Akele warriors began to gather one after another, the consort said to Xiao Shan, "What's next? Don't let them escape!"
Chen Xing: "The one laying an ambush, is it Youduo?"
Chen Xing immediately understood the situation. Youduo, who was no match for Zhou Zhen even after exerting all his power, returned and set up an ambush by the Barkol Lake. By sheer coincidence, the Akele consort discovered the whereabouts of her dead son at that moment.
Sure enough, the facts matched with his conjecture. After King Akele learned that Youduo had been hiding in this place, he immediately ordered for the whole forest to be surrounded. Chen Xing went to Xiao Shan's side and said, "Don't kill Youduo. Sima Wei, you're in charge of bringing him over. I'll make sure to expel the Devil God's blood from his body."
Thus, everyone regrouped once more. Xiao Shan stood in front of Chen Xing, covering him. Chen Xing thought in his heart, It would be good if Xiang Shu was here right now. Against a group of drought fiends, Xiang Shu is simply their bane of existence.
Xiao Shan said, "I'd better start a fire to force them out ba."
Chen Xing: "Weren’t you supposed to escort the consort as they withdrew to Karakorum?"
"They don't want to go!" Xiao Shan said. "There's nothing I can do about it."
"Let's start ba," Chen Xing said.
King Akele had already set up the battle formation. Xiao Shan, taking a deep breath, gathered up thunder in the horizon. Chen Xing hadn't been able to see it clearly that time in Chang'an, but now, seeing Xiao Shan trigger Cangqiong Yilie, he could see the vicissitudes of the world under its influence —— with rolls of thunder and flashes of lightning, he was practically launching the fury of the Dragon God of Creation! At that moment, both heaven and earth were all covered in roaring thunder resembling that of mad, huge lightning dragons. The electric arcs forming all around converged toward the middle, and wherever that lightning dragon passed, the trees in the area would immediately be set ablaze. That group of drought fiends, in a manner similar to someone smashing a beehive, was expelled.
King Akele ordered for the clan's warriors to launch an attack. Chen Xing said to Sima Wei, "Keep a good eye on their leader and bring him back."
More and more drought fiends came out, scattering toward the snow plains on the southeast. While King Akele had indeed ordered his men to surround the place, there were too few people in the end, which had caused a gap to be formed there. Chen Xing was about to get on his horse to give chase when another bugle-horn sound arrived from a distant place —— Xiang Shu had arrived.
Xiang Shu, leading Che Luofeng and 2,000 Tiele cavalry, thus joined the battlefield.
"Xiang Shu!" Chen Xing galloped his horse and shouted from a distance.
Xiang Shu was stunned at first, but then proceeded to ignore Chen Xing. Chen Xing went on and flashed the Heart Lamp in his hand, but Xiang Shu never gave him a response the entire time.
"That guy... is still angry." Chen Xing shouted, "Xiang Shu! Catch Youduo! Capture their leader!"
EVERYONE IS JUST A CLOWN IN THIS LAND
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.