Chen Xing pushed the door of the woodshed open a crack and looked outside.
This family was unusually quiet, so he felt a bit worried. Did the palace somehow manage to conceal the news?
Xiang Shu didn’t lose a lot of blood, so his complexion was soon restored. He got up with his sword on his back.
“What do we do next?” Chen Xing passed through the corridor. It was such a large residence, yet there was no one in at the back of the residence. When they arrived at the kitchen, breakfast had been prepared inside.
“I need to meet Jian Tou once,” Xiang Shu said, “To ascertain his safety, then think of a way to save Feng Qianjun. Since Princess Qinghe had a desire for revenge, she must have harboured it for a long time. We don’t know how many people that group has, and if a cornered dog is driven to desperation, Jian Tou need not even think about revenge — he may not even be able to stay alive. We have to get ready as soon as possible.”
Chen Xing knew that once Xiang Shu hid himself in the dark, with his level of martial prowess, no one would be able to touch him. Even if his attack didn’t succeed, he would still be able to retreat without a scratch. Yet if Xiang Shu took him along, it would be difficult to say what would happen.
Chen Xing said, “I……”
Xiang Shu, “?”
Chen Xing said to Xiang Shu, “I won’t go along and drag you down.”
Chen Xing felt quite troubled. Last night, Xiang Shu wouldn’t have gotten shot if he didn’t protect Chen Xing.
Xiang Shu, “You’ll wait here?”
Chen Xing, “I’ll try to think of another way.”
Xiang Shu kept silent as he seriously considered Chen Xing’s suggestion. However, Chen Xing suddenly changed his mind, “What if Fu Jian doesn’t believe you? Should we find the Yin Yang Mirror and let him personally take a look……”
“If he wants to believe me, he’ll believe in anything I say,” Xiang Shu just said it like how it is, “If he doesn’t believe me, he won’t believe me no matter what we show him.”
Chen Xing thought that was true. Xiang Shu pushed open the door to the woodshed and left. The sunlight was so glaring that Chen Xing could barely keep his eyes open. Xiang Shu looked to his left and right, then said, “You need to find a safe place to hide in.”
Chen Xing suddenly stopped. He saw a carriage parked in the backyard, and the two of them immediately looked at each other. Both of them had recognised it — it was Tuoba Yan’s carriage. Last night, they had somehow escaped into Tuoba Yan’s residence due to a strange combination of coincidences! No wonder there hadn’t been any signs of activity all morning. No matter how thorough the imperial guards were in their search, they wouldn’t search the residence of their own general.
A voice travelled over from the outside right then. From the looks of it, Tuoba Yan seemed to have returned.
“I’ll go see him.” Chen Xing said.
“Don’t go courting death.” Xiang Shu said, “Leave now!”
Chen Xing waved his hand and trotted quickly through the corridor.
Tuoba Yan had suffered a very heavy blow last night. After the night had passed, he was now on the brink of collapse. Fortunately, Fu Jian wasn’t devoid of sense even though he was raging madly and didn’t drag him to prison to punish him. All he did was inform the entire army to arrest Xiang Shu and Chen Xing at all costs.
Otherwise, the first one to be arrested and killed for Princess Qinghe’s death would be Tuoba Yan. Putting aside the heavy responsibility he needed to shoulder for this, Qinghe had treated him like a younger brother, so in terms of grief, the one who felt the most sorrow throughout the entire Chang’an City aside from Fu Jian was Tuoba Yan.
Tuoba Yan took deep breaths. He covered his forehead with one hand, burying his eyes in his palm. He sat alone in the hall and kept gasping for breath. Martial law had been imposed in the city, and the imperial guards were conducting a large-scale search everywhere. The Murong family had even excoriated the imperial guards and vowed to punish Tuoba Yan for his dereliction of duty. Seeing as how anxiety and fury were messing with Tuoba Yan’s state of mind, his subordinates were worried that this young man who wasn’t even twenty yet would do something irreparable on impulse, so they escorted him back for a short rest and assured him that they would report to him as soon as they obtained any kind of news.
“Tuoba Yan, there’s something I want to say to you.” Chen Xing’s voice suddenly rang out.
Tuoba Yan looked up at once and stared at Chen Xing in disbelief.
Without anyone’s notice, Chen Xing had appeared in the hall. Tuoba Yan immediately reacted and got up, but Chen Xing said, “Tuoba Yan!”
Tuoba Yan panted as he watched Chen Xing. “You……you……”
Chen Xing raised one hand and said, “If you’re willing to listen, then listen. If you’re not, tie me up right now and take me to see Fu Jian.” As he spoke, he spread his sleeves out to indicate that he was not armed. Looking left and right, it was certain he had come alone.
Tuoba Yan didn’t call for anyone, so Chen Xing knew that there was still hope.
Tuoba Yan’s eyes were thoroughly bloodshot. He cried in anguish, “What on earth is going on? Why would the Great Chanyu kill her?! That doesn’t make sense! You must give me an explanation!”
Chen Xing took a deep breath before narrating the entire process to him. The more Tuoba Yan listened to him, the more absurd he thought it was, but he didn’t interrupt Chen Xing. His brows began to furrow tightly.
“That……” Tuoba Yan said, “That’s impossible! Why would she……”
Chen Xing explained, “She must have been misled and manipulated. Tuoba Yan, think about it carefully, did she ever behave in an abnormal manner?”
Tuoba Yan got up and paced back and forth in the hall for a while, then suddenly looked at Chen Xing.
“Where’s the mirror?” Chen Xing said, “As long as I have the mirror, I can prove it to you.”
Tuoba Yan reinstated his calm and said, “I don’t know. The situation was too chaotic then. You……how’s that possible? She was practising demonic arts?”
Chen Xing said, “There’s another way. Find Feng Qianyi, let me confront him.”
Tuoba Yan, “Everyone in the Feng family already packed up and left in the middle of the night last night.”
Chen Xing, “!!!”
Chen Xing approached Tuoba Yan, who sat down in despondence again. He murmured, “The Murong family is already causing a huge ruckus and is demanding……where did the Great Chanyu go? He……even if she was practising demonic arts, why did he have to strike such a heavy blow?”
Chen Xing sat side by side with Tuoba Yan. He remembered how Princess Qinghe had personally acted as a matchmaker for Tuoba Yan, so he could guess that the two of them were as close as real siblings. Moreover, the perpetrator everyone saw that night was Xiang Shu, so Tuoba Yan still hadn’t regarded Chen Xing as an accomplice until now, and he couldn’t help but feel upset.
Chen Xing pondered for a moment, extended a hand, and a warm, white light was emitted from his palm. He passed his hand under Tuoba Yan’s arm and gently pressed it against his chest.
Tuoba Yan exhaled and seemed much better now. Chen Xing said, “Xiang Shu went to search for a way to negotiate with Fu Jian.”
Now, it was of no use no matter who they tried to persuade. Fu Jian was the one with the power to decide everything. They would only be able to resolve this misunderstanding if they avoided his sharpness and explained everything clearly.
Tuoba Yan got up and said, “I’ll issue an order to hunt down the Feng clan now.”
Chen Xing didn’t hold onto too much hope. If he asked Tuoba Yan to protect him, he would be charged with shielding and harbouring a criminal, which was equivalent to being a participant in the conspiracy. However, the most important point for appearing in front of Tuoba Yan was this: he agreed with Xiang Shu’s opinion that they have to ensure the Yin Yang Mirror didn’t fall into the hands of Feng Qianyi or his other accomplices again.
As an exchange, he was even willing to go directly see Fu Jian and let Tuoba Yan protect the Yin Yang Mirror.
Tuoba Yan glanced at Chen Xing and said uneasily, “You can’t enter the palace now. Once you’re imprisoned, the Murong clan will think of all sorts of ways to kill you in order to avenge Biaojie.” As he spoke, he frowned as if he were considered a very difficult decision, then continued, “Or take you hostage and force the Great Chanyu to appear.”
“Stay in my house,” Tuoba Yan thought about it over and over and finally said this, “It’s the safest place right now.”
Chen Xing was very surprised. He said, “No! You’ll be harbouring a criminal……”
Yet Tuoba Yan just waved his hand and left by himself. He summoned his men over and ordered them to not let anyone into the hall. Chen Xing stood to one side of the screen, and after listening in on them carefully, he knew that Tuoba Yan had asked someone to enter the palace and retrieve the mirror from last night first, then leave Chang’an with a group of people to hunt for the whereabouts of Feng Qianyi and his family.
“The Feng family must not have run very far yet.” After Tuoba Yan returned, he motioned for Chen Xing to take a breather for a brief moment at the edge of the couch.
“You should be tired ba?” Tuoba Yan asked, “Sleep for a while. I’ll get someone to deliver some food over.”
Chen Xing felt inexplicably moved. He was about to speak when Tuoba Yan explained, “Do you think I’m protecting you because I like you?”
Chen Xing instantly felt very awkward. His face was flushed red, and he thought that this barbarian had just spoken too straightforwardly, so he could only wave his hand repeatedly to signal for him to not continue speaking any further. Yet unexpectedly, Tuoba Yan continued, “No, Brother Tianchi. The most important thing at present is no longer the cause of Biaojie's death. Once the hundreds of thousands of ‘drought fiends’ you speak of are released, the consequences would be disastrous. You’re the only one who can deal with this latent danger, so I definitely can’t send you to the palace.”
Chen Xing breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t expect Tuoba Yan to hit the nail on the head with such concise words, and he was very clear about it as well. For him to take on post as the commander of the imperial guards at only eighteen years of age, Chen Xing could see that Fu Jian had evaluated him well.
When Xiang Shu, who was hiding behind the screen, heard up to this point, he knew that Tuoba Yan had more or less believed in what Chen Xing said, so he jumped through the window at the back of the hall and left quietly.
“Thank you,” Chen Xing felt like a huge load had just been lifted off his shoulders, and he said sincerely, “Thank you, Brother Tuoba.”
Tuoba Yan drew out a map and spread it out on a table. Chen Xing caught a glimpse of it from the corner of his eyes and could tell that it was a map of the layout of the city’s defence. Tuoba Yan sighed again, “Now that Biaojie died, the Murong family wouldn’t let it go easily. The danger level is at its peak now; we can only hope that the Great Chanyu will undo this dead knot as soon as possible.”
Chen Xing did not dare look at it much and was secretly startled. What happened last night must have intensified the conflict between the Xianbei people and Fu Jian; as the people of the subjugated Yan state, the Murong clan might have even supported Qinghe in her secret plans for a revolt. If that really were the case, the one who was utilising resentment to create drought fiends and the mirror world would be the Murong family, and the troubles they faced would only get worse.
Fu Jian was about to be confronted with the Murong clan’s rebellion that would be pushed forward, and Tuoba Yan was in quite a dangerous situation too.
Chen Xing thought about it over and over, but he didn’t know how to comfort him and could only say, “If we can find the mirror, I guarantee there won’t be any problems afterwards.”
Tuoba Yan nodded solemnly and began reorganizing the arrangement of troops in Chang’an City.
Two hours later, Chen Xing was still quite energetic as he continued pondering, yet Tuoba Yan had fallen asleep on the table first. Chen Xing walked over to take a look; on one side of the table, the words “Marching On and On” that he had personally transcribed for Tuoba Yan not too long ago was spread out there.
At that moment, a noise could be heard outside the hall. Chen Xing quickly woke Tuoba Yan before hiding behind the screen.
Tuoba Yan sobered up a little and shouted, “How is it?”
“We’ve searched for its whereabouts throughout the entire Changfeng palace,” his subordinate answered, “But we didn’t see the round mirror General wants. We asked His Majesty, but His Majesty said he can’t remember it.”
Chen Xing’s heart jolted. Tuoba Yan didn’t say anything, and his subordinate continued, “Before coming here, we’ve already informed the palace attendants to deliver it here as soon as they find it.”
Tuoba Yan asked, “What else did His Majesty say?”
“His Majesty is in the midst of a discussion with Lord Wang Ziye.” His subordinate answered.
So Tuoba Yan could only wave his hand to signal for them to leave. The more Chen Xing thought about it, the fishier he thought it seemed. Only five people were present at the scene last night — himself, Xiang Shu, Feng Qianjun, Fu Jian, and Tuoba Yan, then they fled in a hurry within the chaos that ensued. Who could have taken it?
“It’s dangerous now,” Chen Xing said, “Tuoba Yan, it’d be better for you to move all the troops back to guard the city.”
Tuoba Yan hadn’t spoken yet when his men shouted again from the outside, “Report——General! After the Feng family left the city, their traces could not be found anywhere, and their whereabouts remain unknown. We’ve already dispatched people to pursue them along Sixteenth Road.”
“That’s strange,” Tuoba Yan frowned, “He has a family to drag along, and Feng Qianyi’s a cripple too, so they shouldn’t have been able to run far.”
Chen Xing said, “Then only one possibility remains — they’re hiding in the mirror. So a new problem has arisen……who’s holding onto the Yin Yang Mirror now?”
The imperial guards are under the command of the royal family, so they knew the palace grounds like the back of their hands. Don’t even mention finding a mirror, even if they had to find a needle, they would be able to do so. But the Yin Yang Mirror had still disappeared. There must be someone controlling all this from behind the scenes.
“Report——” The third wave of people suddenly came and shouted, “His Majesty has issued an order: at three quarters after the You period starts, at the execution ground located at the West street entrance, behead last night’s assassin who was in the palace — Feng Qianjun.”
Chen Xing, “!!!”
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), kee.