"He must have really been driven to desperation."
“Where’s Feng Qianjun?” Xiang Shu rode onto the Official Road and led over ten thousand people to Ahfang Palace outside the city.
“Tuoba Yan sent someone to protect him!” Chen Xing said, “He’s very safe.”
A marble white colour appeared on the horizon. When day broke, the vast sky was still densely packed with dark clouds. The sun hid behind the clouds, and chilly winds blew everywhere. Xiang Shu rode onto a small hill and looked at the ancient Chang’an City -- a deathly atmosphere had already thoroughly permeated the city.
“I don’t understand why Feng Qianyi would choose to act at this kind of timing,” Chen Xing said, “He must have really been driven to desperation.”
“He wants to save Feng Qianjun,” Xiang Shu said, “Is that very difficult to comprehend?”
Chen Xing, “If that’s what he wanted to do, why throw Feng Dage into the mirror?”
Xiang Shu said, “He’s saving Feng Qianjun not out of brotherly affection, but because he wants to use him.”
“What does he want to use him for?” Chen Xing uttered in disbelief. When he was reminded by Xiang Shu, he instantly understood: once Feng Qianjun got possessed by resentment and was able to use the Senluo sabre, he would be able to display an extraordinary strength. The family heirloom that had been thoroughly refined with resentment would also become Feng Qianyi’s, the sorcerer's, greatest support. If it were to erupt, no one would be its match.
Fortunately, they had saved him. Otherwise, if he had landed in Feng Qianyi’s hands, then it wouldn’t just be a simple matter of an outbreak of living corpses.
Thirty miles outside the western outskirts of Chang’an, in front of Ahfang Palance.
The west bank of Zaohe River was packed with Chang’an people who were fleeing for their lives with their families, and more people were arriving one after another. After the Great Qin’s imperial army experienced the sudden riot, they were quickly startled awake by the sudden event and assembled at the place where Fu Jian was located. The Northern Armoured Battalion was known for never losing a single war and now revealed the efficiency and discipline they had honed through their battles throughout the country. They gathered speedily under Fu Jian’s unparalleled prestige: the imperial guards were first, then the troops within the pass, and the cavalry from the various tribes came after. The generals took only six hours before they urged their horses to rush to the main hall of Ahfang Palace.
“What on earth happened?!” Murong Chui shouted.
“Silence!” Tuoba Yan ordered loudly.
Fu Jian sat upright in the main hall and said, “This mattered occurred all of a sudden, there’s no time to explain in detail. How many men do we have?”
Each tribe reported their military strength. Fu Jian still has 300,000 troops under his command. Murong Chui said, “Yesterday morning, a letter was sent to the governor of Pingyang. They’re currently on their way here while leading 100,000 troops to serve the emperor and will arrive tomorrow morning.”
The governor of Pingyang was Murong Chong. A letter sent out early yesterday morning and taking 100,000 people along to set out -- Fu Jian knew very well that this action was obviously not to serve the emperor, but to bring the troops here to get even with him for his older sister, Princess Qinghe’s death.
Fortunately, Chen Xing’s narration of the events that had transpired finally made Fu Jian sense that the Murong family was being slightly inappropriate. But looking at how Murong Chui and the others escaped in a flurry at night, they really didn’t seem to be accomplices. After all, if Princess Qinghe was colluding with Feng Qianyi, then they shouldn’t go so far as to kill the Murong family indiscriminately as well.
Fu Jian was filled with doubts but chose not to blow up because of this matter. He said in a low voice, “Take stock of kerosene in the palace and siege weapons. Each troop is to station themselves in advance, be prepared for my orders to retrieve Chang’an.”
“What on earth are those things?” Before the incident had occurred, Wang Ziye was having dinner when he was carried onto a carriage by the imperial guards in a hurry before fleeing. Civil and military officers throughout the city were suddenly met with such an unforeseen event; without their hair crowns and shoes, they appeared to cut quite a sorry figure and were in a state of terror and helplessness.
“The Great Chanyu has arrived——”
All of the civil and military officials became restless. Murong Chui pressed down on his sword.
“The one who’ll explain is here,” Fu Jian sighed and sat down, then answered, “Listen ba.”
Xiang Shu entered, his whole body covered in dust. His glance swept across the crowd, and he didn’t seem to care about Murong Chui at all. Chen Xing came in afterwards.
“What’s the situation?” Chen Xing saw that not a single sound was made in the hall and felt that something was wrong.
“We were waiting for you two.” Fu Jian said, “Speak ba, make it clear.”
Chen Xing glanced at Xiang Shu, who nodded as a signal for him to speak. Everyone in the main hall drew their swords in an instant. All of the generals of the Murong family were trembling slightly, as if they would rush forward and try to stab Xiang Shu to death at the next moment to avenge Princess Qinghe. But Chen Xing, who was used to witnessing Xiang Shu’s skills, knew very well that as long as Fu Jian didn’t participate in the battle, then even if everyone here were to charge forth at the same time, they wouldn’t even be able to match up to even one of Xiang Shu’s fingers. This guy is truly way, too, strong!
“Where should I start?” Chen Xing was tired too. He walked to the steps in front of Fu Jian and sat down, then said to everyone in the hall, “I think the true perpetrator behind everything that happened is actually His Majesty, and everyone else present here can’t escape the blame either.”
A clamour was instantly erupted within the hall, and everyone angrily denounced Chen Xing. After the crowd quieted down, Xiang Shu suddenly said, “The pitiful ones are the innocent people who died of unnatural causes because of your battles throughout the country, as well as your desire to do great things and be recognised for it.”
“Zhen’s achievements are unparalleled in the world!” Fu Jian said in an authoritative voice, “Only Qin Shihuang can stand on equal ground with Zhen. If Zhen had not recaptured the entire northern territory, only more people would have died today!”
Chen Xing retorted without giving him any face, “But how many people did you kill? Calculate it for yourself! Every time you wage a war, hundreds of thousands of people would die! How much hatred would that have released? How many mortals were reluctant to die? All their hatred and reluctance would wander around the world and converge into resentment, and it was from this that the chaos of the drought fiends arose……”
Chen Xing was now almost certain of the series of events that had transpired. He spoke with fervour and confidence in the hall, and from the fragments of events, he pieced together the entire process of the havoc wreaked by the living corpses that packed Chang’an—— in order to overthrow Fu Jian, the Feng family restrained their emotions for all these years. They bought the original site where the Exorcism Department had been located and rebuilt a new Xifeng Bank on Mt. Song.
While they were digging up the headquarters of the Exorcism Department and filling the canyon, the Feng family inadvertently found the Yin Yang Mirror left behind by their exorcist predecessors, as well as the method for controlling this magic weapon.
So in order to confront the ever expanding Qin State, Feng Qianyi turned deranged and let everything get out of hand. He began to find ways to transform people who died during wars into drought fiends, then absorbed the resentment in the world and used it to refine them. He refined the shadow warriors in the mirror world, as well as the general there, and waited for the right time before releasing this living corpse army from the mirror to overthrow Fu Jian.
“You provided him with his greatest strength,” Chen Xing, “As well as the most suitable materials.”
The palace suddenly fell silent.
“You still haven’t answered this yet,” Murong Chui said eerily with grief, “The Feng family was plotting a conspiracy, but why did they kill my niece? What does this have to do with Princess Qinghe?!”
Wang Ziye immediately interrupted and asked, “How did Feng Qianyi refine them into drought fiends? Does he have an innate familiarity with such secret arts?”
“It’s a kind of sorcery,” Chen Xing answered, “It was not recorded in the texts I’ve studied. As for the specific process, we can only obtain answers by asking him about it.”
Tuoba Yan said, “We now have very little information on our side; we don’t even know the military strength of our enemy. In view of the current situation, it shouldn’t be less than 200,000……”
In the midst of all these questions and answers, they had avoided Murong Chui’s query. No one wanted to mention how Princess Qinghe had participated in the rebellion conspiracy in front of Fu Jian, and they just wanted to get over it as soon as possible.
Fu Jian’s brows furrowed slightly, and he began observing the faces of the Murong family. Some people had already noticed this and revealed alarmed expressions -- looked like they really were unaware of what was happening.
Xiang Shu answered, “Preliminary estimates suggest that there are at least 300,000 living corpses.”
“So many drought fiends hid in just one mirror?” Wang Ziye uttered in disbelief, “Where on earth did he find it?”
Chen Xing answered “Yes. It was from this mirror, and it may have been found in the battlefield at the Central Plains. There aren’t a lot of living people in this world, but dead ones are still quite easy to find.”
Then Chen Xing held up the Yin Yang Mirror; a black vapour enshrouded the magic weapon in his hands as it gradually spun around in mid-air. Everyone got a fright and retreated one after another.
“Don’t worry,” Chen Xing said, “I’ve already recovered the magic treasure, and all the drought fiends have been released too. We can only wait for the right time to come, then find a suitable place to slowly release the resentment within the Yin Yang Mirror little by little and purify it. We’ll have to try our best not to touch it again within a short period of time.”
Wang Ziye said, “Since this little brother is an exorcist, then you must be able to purify this magic treasure.”
Yet Xiang Shu said in a low voice, “Even if he were to succeed, the magic weapon won’t be given to you to be used.”
Chen Xing was about to answer when he got interrupted by Xiang Shu and thought, don’t tell me you guys actually want this magic weapon?
Wang Ziye asked again, “Let’s put aside discussing the magic weapon for now. I’ll reiterate once more: since this little brother is an exorcist, then he should have an unusual way of dealing with that sorceror, Feng Qianyi?”
“No.” Chen Xing answered, “To be honest, after silence fell on all magic, exorcists of the world can no longer perform any kind of exorcism. At present, I’m the only exception, and my only strong point is that I’m able to expel a little resentment in a limited manner, which is only good enough for self-defense. As for Feng Qianyi, what he’s using is the plentiful amount of resentment in the world; when one waxes, the other wanes, and his is even more savage.”
“If His Majesty isn’t willing to stop the fighting and killing as soon as possible,” Chen Xing continued, “Then today’s tragedy will surely repeat itself in the future. That’s all I have to say.”
Fu Jian looked very glum. Ever since Wang Meng died, this was the first time someone dared to denounce him in such a direct way, and what he poked at was Fu Jian’s sore spot as well. If they weren’t in such an unusual situation, then just these few sentences would have infuriated Fu Jian so much that he would have ordered for Chen Xing to be flogged fifty times on the spot.
Tuoba Yan mediated the situation once again as he said to Fu Jian, “Since we’re clear on the ins and outs of the situation, this servant would like to request for orders to kill our way back with the Great Chanyu and Chen Xing in order to apprehend Feng Qianyi!”
Fu Jian snapped out of his stupor. He pondered for a short moment and looked straight at Xiang Shu, while Xiang Shu raised an eyebrow at Fu Jian and answered, “Old den got messed up, this isn’t a joke.”
Fu Jian could only say, “The imperial guards will be assigned to you temporarily for you to manage. Great Chanyu, our grudges will be settled after this chaos is over. If anyone dares seeks revenge against you in the meantime, the offenders may be beheaded.”
The whole hall should have erupted into another uproar, but the Murong family seemed to have realised what had happened, so they all looked at Xiang Shu with hatred in their eyes one after another without saying a word.
“You can keep the imperial guards,” Xiang Shu said, “The two of us are enough to capture Feng Qianyi. Taking the soldiers back would just be sending them to their deaths.”
“How could Zhen be a coward who’s only interested in saving my own neck?!” Fu Jian said angrily, “Zhen can still fight! Wang Ziye! Issue an order to the three armies! Open up the armory!’
Xiang Shu and Chen Xing left the main hall. Chen Xing was preoccupied with his thoughts, but he suddenly heard something when he passed by Murong Chui.
“In order to stop the massacres of the world, little brother has been running around everywhere,” Murong Chui murmured, “You must have been worrying yourself to death. After our brief encounter in Xiangyang, we haven’t seen each other for a long time.”
Then Murong Chui took off his mask to reveal the scars left behind by burns. Chen Xing got a fright and suddenly remembered the time when he took Xiang Shu to escape from the city, and when his carriage filled with kerosene rushed into the governor’s manor, he had met face-to-face with Murong Chui!
Xiang Shu, however, blocked in front of Chen Xing almost imperceptibly.
“There’s no time to find trouble with you right now, Murong Chui, behave yourself a little in front of Guwang.” Xiang Shu said coldly.
Chen Xing’s state of mind was rather perturbed. Right after he left the hall, he knew that there were some matters that would be difficult to put to rest. Even if they could clear themselves of the accusations regarding Princess Qinghe, Murong Chui would not let him off.
Xiang Shu slapped Chen Xing on his back, and Chen Xing almost vomited out a mouthful of blood from how much he jolted.
“What are you doing?’
Xiang Shu mocked, “You’re afraid of Murong Chui?”
Chen Xing settled down and said to Tuoba Yan, “How is Feng Dage doing?”
Tuoba Yan motioned for Chen Xing to follow him. Feng Qianjun was safe now and was being confined in a side chamber halfway up a mountain of Ahfang Palace. When Chen Xing entered, both sides cried in surprise at the same time.
“That’s great, you’re alright.” Chen Xing said.
Feng Qianjun was exhausted. After hearing the story, he said, “This can’t be redeemed anymore, no matter what is done, but I’ll still have to go back and personally stop my Dage.”
Chen Xing sighed and looked at Xiang Shu for his opinion, yet Xiang Shu said, “Although the general overview has been sorted out, there are still a lot of doubts that remain a mystery. Feng Qianyi……where did he get the technique to transform ‘drought fiends’ from?”
Within the room, Xiang Shu, Tuoba Yan, Feng Qianjun, and Chen Xing sat down. When it came to this sort of situation, the more urgent it was, the calmer they needed to be. They must first find a way to deal with Feng Qianyi. Otherwise, if they were to return to the inner city of Chang’an recklessly, they would just be sending themselves there to get killed together.
Chen Xing naturally had nothing to fear. He had the protection of Iuppiter after all, so he had always been able to get through any daunting experiences without mishap. But this was by no means the case for Xiang Shu.
Chen Xing thought about it over and over, then said, “There shouldn’t be any methods for controlling resentment in the Exorcism Department or any sorcery arts for resurrecting the dead. I’m sure he didn’t dig it out from underground.”
“That is to say,” Feng Qianjun, “Dage learnt it from elsewhere.”
Xiang Shu, “Perhaps someone had taught him such sorcery.”
Chen Xing interrupted, “Or he could have obtained some kind of secret scroll through a fortuitous opportunity.”
Xiang Shu asked Feng Qianjun, “Did that bastard usually have any strange friends?”
Feng Qianjun had been separated from his elder brother since he was a child, and they would only meet every two or three years when he went back to the capital occasionally. He knew almost nothing about what his elder brother usually did.
Feng Qianjun shook his head.
“Remember the sorcerer we bumped into on Mt. Longzhong?” Xiang Shu asked.
Chen Xing remembered now. At dusk yesterday, Feng Qianyi also wore a mask similar to the one the mysterious man wore then.
Tuoba Yan said, “Which means that there’s still someone orchestrating this behind the scenes.”
Xiang Shu nodded slightly and murmured, “And that person is very likely in the palace.”
Chen Xing said, “Could it be one of Princess Qinghe’s palace maids? Although I’m also doubtful of how on earth that mirror managed to get back into Feng Qianyi’s hands from the palace, that’s not the most pressing concern in the present situation.”
Yet Xiang Shu said, “No, that’s also very important.”
Tuoba Yan frowned slightly, so Chen Xing roughly described what had happened in Mt. Longzhong to him. The four of them started thinking and deducing and roughly put together a story that might be incomplete, but could sort of explain everything that had happened.
“Someone had mastered the sorcery of resurrecting corpses and creating drought fiends,” Feng Qianjun muttered, “Conferred it onto my Dage and convinced Princess Qinghe as well. At least for now, the princess, my Dage, and that mysterious man in Mt. Longzhong are all henchmen of this sorcerous organisation.”
Chen Xing instantly felt like he awoke from a dream. If it were put that way, it would make more sense! Feng Qianyi’s legs were immobile after all, and he stayed in the capital most of the time, so going around everywhere to gather resentment to refine the Yin Yang Mirror and transporting hundreds of thousands of living corpses into the mirror world was obviously not very logical.
But he could sort of sense that Xiang Shu left a lot of things unsaid.
“Xiang Shu?” Chen Xing nudged Xiang Shu’s arm.
Xiang Shu shifted his gaze in an instant and stood slightly guarded as he looked at Chen Xing.
“If you know anything, just say it ba,” Feng Qianjun laughed bitterly, “Look at what my older brother has turned into, shouldn’t you say what has to be said?”
Xiang Shu pondered for a long time. He pondered for so long that Chen Xing was about to say, ‘never mind, never mind,’ before Xiang Shu finally began to recall.
“Five years ago, when I was fifteen,” Xiang Shu said,”A doctor named Kjera came from the Chi Le Covenant.”
Chen Xing, “……”
Chen Xing had a hunch that the truth regarding the greatest mystery revolving around Xiang Shu ever since he had gotten to know him was about to come to light.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.