A gust of wind blew on the plains that curled up countless black embers that swirled into the sky.
The gales were getting stronger and stronger. Flaming tongues started to leap out of the encirclement. Thick smoke billowed and blotted out the sky. The soldiers on guard were shedding tears from all the smoke, and thick layers of clouds appeared in the sky.
Fu Jian’s intuition that had been honed through hundreds of battles and his experiences of braving through fire and water warned him like a fire alarm.
“Dispatch more men leeward!” Fu Jian ordered decisively, “Immediately!”
But issuing this order was still too late -- on the west side of the encirclement, the first gap appeared leeward. Flames began spreading from the living corpses to the soldiers on guard.
“Imperial guards, listen to my command!” Fu Jian was clad in a golden battle armour. He flipped onto a horse and shouted, “Follow Zhen and set out!”
The people on the other side of the river bank watched this scene in horror, and a disturbance started to stir. The encirclement had been broken through; the gap was getting bigger and bigger. Living corpses, enveloped in flames and the stench of being burnt, charged toward the river bank. Once they crossed the river, all of the remaining people of Chang’an would die there!
People began escaping in a panic, and this action triggered an even more serious disturbance. Fu Jian could no longer care for his people; if they lost this battle, then he could only abandon his people and the capital, and flee with the army! His prestige as an emperor would vanish from the face of the earth, and he was bound to become the joke of the whole world!
But right at that moment, everyone seemed to realise something. Someone began shouting, and everyone raised their heads and started looking around!
“The Great Chanyu is back!”
In the distance, from the direction of Chang’an City, a clear whistle could be heard!
More than 2,000 people gathered in front of a huge wooden bridge of Zaoshui. At this moment, it was as if they had all received an order at the same time as they rode their horses out.
Xiang Shu led the vanguard on a horse and by his side was Chen Xing who was riding on a horse as well. Chen Xing spurred his Heart Lamp, and its intense light shone brightly; the resentment that shrouded the plains of Zaoshui dispersed when it met the light, and the living corpses were driven back into the encirclement once again.
“16 tribes, listen to my orders——” Xiang Shu shouted in the Tiele language, “Guard Ahfang Palace!”
Former Hu subordinates that had been forced to move to the south and warriors who had been neglected by Fu Jian all voiced their agreement in unison. They turned their horses around and followed Xiang Shu. Even among the Xianbei people, there were a lot of people who responded unconsciously and also held up their weapons.
Murong Chui was instantly furious and shouted, “Keep your positions!”
Feng Qianjun’s mount galloped swiftly; he swung his Senluo sabre out, and its black light burst out, and countless pitch black vines sprang out of the ground. They reinforced the encirclement and trapped all of the living corpses that were on fire.
Xiang Shu carried his huge sword on his back and rushed over on his horse. Within just a mere thousand steps, he had already assembled a team. Fu Jian looked into the distance and saw that Tuoba Yan had returned too.
“Imperial guards!” Tuoba Yan wielded a halberd in hand while controlling the reins in another. He shouted, “Stand with me in battle, guard His Majesty! Protect Chang’an!”
The two reinforcement troops joined the battle. An encirclement took shape again, but the burning living corpses started fleeing west. They pounded fiercely against the siege and knocked a gap through once again! Tuoba Yan led the imperial guards and exerted his utmost to resist them; as long as they endured it for this short moment, they would win! Fu Jian roared, “They’ve all been set on fire! Retreat!”
“No!” Xiang Shu turned his horse around and roared angrily, “If the drought fiends enter the river, the Zao river will be poisoned! Who will take responsibility then?!”
The catapults released their last wave of kerosene. The raging flames began spreading again under the fierce gales. While the Qin army confronted their enemies, innumerable soldiers were burnt to death and scratched by the drought fiends. The Murong family suffered the greatest losses, and they looked to be on the verge of a crushing defeat. The earth was in an upheaval. Then, another batch of reinforcements arrived.
“Report—— Governor of Pingyang, Murong Chong has arrived——”
Within the blink of an eye, thousands of troops charged over from the eastern horizon, backlit by the sun. There were 100,000 cavalrymen dressed in battle armour that glistened in the sunlight; the young martial general in the lead wore a cloak as crimson as sunset clouds that fluttered in the wind. He led the Pingyang armoured cavalry and charged into the enemy’s ranks without a word!
“Fenghuang’er!” Fu Jian shouted.
The living corpses that were breaking through the west side were once again pushed back into the encirclement. At that moment, Xiang Shu held his heavy sword high and shouted, “Charge with me!”
The 16 Hu tribes let out a roar that shook the heavens; they followed Xiang Shu to launch their first round of assault and charged into the flaming battlefield. Burning living corpses were instantly smashed into pieces, and this action immediately led to wave after wave of large assault battle arrays formed by the Qin army. The Murong family’s army, the imperial guards under Fu Jian, the guards led by the generals of Great Qin, and even Murong Chong’s Pingyang army relied on their armoured cavalry that rushed toward the living corpses and trampled all over them wildly.
The earth shook. The Qin army was like a tide that crushed them over and over again as if they were venting their frustrations. It was Chen Xing’s first time seeing such a scene. The sun had risen, and the clouds dispersed.
At this moment, the 300,000 living corpses finally vanished; they were made of dust, and to dust they returned as they crumbled into ash that scattered throughout the plains of Zaohe. They returned to the earth to nourish new life on this land, contributing to the flourishing of life there.
It was finally quiet. A gust of wind blew on the plains that curled up countless black embers that swirled into the sky.
Xiang Shu reassembled his team on an open space beside the river bank. Chen Xing felt so exhausted that he wanted to just lay down on the ground, but just as he was about to do so, Xiang Shu said, “Don’t get off your house.”
Chen Xing smelled the scent of danger.
Sure enough, trouble came. After all the living corpses were cleared, the army of Pingyang and the Murong clan began gathering around them. A martial general walked out, took off his silver helmet, and threw it onto the ground, revealing his handsome face.
Yet the 16 Hu tribes behind Xiang Shu weren’t the slightest bit afraid. Both groups stood facing each other from far away, separated by a shoal.
Murong Chong’s black hair fluttered in the wind. His Xianbei skin was as white as milk from his face to his neck, and his eyes were like amber soaked in water. Chen Xing almost thought that he was a beautiful female general at first sight.
Both sides fell silent.
Xiang Shu sheathed his sword and carried it on his back. His martial robe was in tatters, and his body was riddled with wounds. The large army behind Murong Chong was both orderly and disciplined -- not even the whinnies of their horses could be heard, and they looked were looking at the other side quietly just like that.
Murong Chong spoke, his voice was very gentle, yet it possessed a cold and stern quality.
“I’ve long heard of the Great Chanyu’s outstanding martial skills that are unrivalled in the world,” Murong Chong slowly said, “You are known as the ‘enemy of all armies’. I just wonder how you would fare against my 100,000 cavalrymen?”
Chen Xing thought Xiang Shu wouldn’t answer at first, yet Xiang Shu twirled the reins of his horse around his hands twice and didn’t even spare Murong Chong a glance as he said indifferently, “Ever since entering the pass, I haven’t fought an army of over 10,000 men unarmed before, so I don’t know yet. Are you sure you want to fight today?”
Murong Chong replied, “It’s not a question of whether I want to fight, instead I’ll have to ask the Great Chanyu if the Murong family has ever offended the Great Chanyu before. Whether it be an attempt to kill or dismember, please enlighten me.”
Xiang Shu raised an eyebrow and finally glanced at Murong Chong, “Never.”
Murong Chong said angrily, “Then why did you kill my Jie?!”
The Murong clan began shouting one after another with utmost indignation. Murong Chui stood out from the ranks and said aloud, “Great Chanyu, ever since the Ancient Chi Le Covenant, the Murong clan has never dared to blaspheme the covenant we pledged our allegiance to with blood. Now that the disaster has been averted, you should give us an explanation ba.”
Xiang Shu didn’t answer and just frowned slightly. Chen Xing did want to explain what had happened, but they didn’t have any evidence in hand, and they didn’t have any clues as to who the “Lord” Feng Qianyi spoke of was either. At this time, even if they had spared Feng Qianyi’s life for him to talk and get him to confront the Murong family, the other side would definitely not admit that Princess Qinghe had participated in the conspiracy and would just accuse him of framing her.
Otherwise, the Murong clan would be deemed guilty by association as well. How could Fu Jian ignore a family that was plotting a rebellion against him?
“Murong Chong!” Fu Jian finally came forward and entered the field. “Listen to me.”
Murong Chong’s gaze shifted and remained on Fu Jian for a brief moment but very quickly returned onto Xiang Shu. He was full of doubt as he studied Chen Xing, who was beside Xiang Shu.
“Shulü Kong,” Fu Jian said to Xiang Shu, “Where’s the evidence?”
Xiang Shu answered coldly, “No evidence. You should know best who’s right and wrong.”
Fu Jian, “……”
Fu Jian took a deep breath and resisted the urge to go forward and hack Xiang Shu to death. Wang Ziye rushed over as well on a horse and slowly said, “The Governor of Pingyang has travelled for a long time to get here. Why don’t you report back to Ahfang Palace first, and later……”
“Go!” Xiang Shu shouted decisively.
Everyone retreated one after another.
“Great Chanyu, I’ll seek your advice here today. Murong Chong obviously didn’t want to let Xiang Shu go. With an order, the 100,000 troops behind him opened up into a charging formation; they actually wanted to rely on their advantage in military strength to kill Xiang Shu on the spot and take revenge for Princess Qinghe!
“Who dares to move?!” Fu Jian roared angrily.
Xiang Shu didn’t say another word. He turned his horse around and charged out of the encirclement. A deputy general nocked an arrow on his bow, yet he was struck off his horse by Xiang Shu’s sword. The entire army erupted in an uproar immediately. Murong Chong was furious, his army formed a heavy siege as they chased after Xiang Shu!
Chen Xing spurred his horse to follow along. The ground quaked violently in an instant, and the gigantic Pingyang army began to speed up as they launched their surprise attack!
However, another group of cavalrymen instantly charged in during this interval. All of them dismounted one after another with their shields and spears raised up as they faced the 100,000 Pingyang armoured cavalry. Tuoba Yan took the lead and charged through his camp on this horse and shouted, “Imperial guards, obey my orders! Kill anyone who dares disobey the imperial decree!”
Murong Chong roared angrily, “Tuoba Yan! You traitor!”
Seeing as how the imperial guards the the Pingyang army had a clear barrier between them, Murong Chong wasn’t willing to challenge Fu Jian’s authority again no matter what, so he could only throw his weapon onto the ground hatefully.
Xiang Shu had already galloped away from the west bank of Zaohe and passed the huge wooden bridge. With the sound of a crisp whistle, people everywhere below Ahfang Palace got up one after another and looked toward the direction in which the former 16 Hu subordinates were leaving. Even more young people from Chang’an ran down the hill, flipped onto a horse, and chased after Xiang Shu.
Smoke and dust billowed. Under the eyes of nearly 600,000 Chang’an soldiers, Xiang Shu led thousands of soldiers and civilians to leave just like that, leaving a trail of dust in their wake.
“You’re on your own, we’ll meet again someday!”
Fu Jian’s gaze seemed conflicted as he watched Xiang Shu take his subordinates to gallop onto the Official Road and leave Chang’an.
Hooves struck the ground heavily on the Official Road, then they turned into the wilderness.
In the height of summer, the sun shone brightly, the grass grew tall and orioles soared through the sky. After they left Chang’an, clear skies for ten thousand miles could be seen in a flash, as if the azure sky had just been bathed.
Chen Xing looked back at the large troop behind that stirred up a billowing trail of dust: the old 16 Hu warriors were first, then it was the younger generation of the Hu people who were following Xiang Shu. Close to 6,000 people converged into a torrent that gushed out of Guanlong like a magnificent tide as they headed north.
“What are we doing?” Chen Xing spurred his horse and asked Xiang Shu, who was riding side by side with him.
Xiang Shu didn’t answer. He glanced at Chen Xing and deliberately slowed his horse down.
“Chang’an doesn’t welcome us, don’t you get that?” Xiang Shu said calmly.
Chen Xing asked again, “Then where are we going now?”
Xiang Shu answered, “We’re going home!”
“Going home?” Chen Xing was baffled.
“Chi Le Chuan!” A warrior reminded Chen Xing in Chinese. (the Han language)
Xiang Shu’s clear voice rang out.
“Chi Le Chuan—— Under the Yin Mountains——”
As soon as the song started, it immediately brought with it the vigorous overtone of lofty mountains and vast grasslands.
“The sky resembles an arched hut——” A bunch of Hu people followed behind Xiang Shu and Chen Xing as they sang aloud, “Covering the whole plain——”
Chen Xing was instantly struck by this song. The Xianbei dialect was originally a clear and elegant one, yet Xiang Shu sang in such an imposing manner that it sounded like an eagle crying out into the vast skies. The crowd sang in unison,
“The sky is so vast and blue, the wilderness is boundless too——”
“When the winds blow, the grass bends low; cattle and sheep will show——”
“Jia!” Xiang Shu spurred his horse and barrelled away on his horse. Chen Xing rushed to catch up on his horse. The Official Road was perfectly straight as it led to the lofty and imposing pass in the north, and it led to the Great Wall under the imposing pass.
The boundless sea of grass on their way to the Great Wall blanketed the sky and earth. The extensive ranges of sacred mountains stretched out on the way out of the Great Wall. The huge pond of Hulunbuir glistened like gems, and the shimmering rivers appeared like jade belts.
At the end of the Divine Land where the arched hut covered the desolation, where the vast skies were blue and the wilderness was boundless too, there was naturally an expansive world there.
——Volume One·Senluo Wanxiang·End——
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.