“The Consort is already old,” Chen Xing said, “for her to have a safe delivery, it is truly heaven’s blessing.”
Xiang Shu spoke casually: “King Akele once had another son. He took part in a battle against the Rouran and died there. That’s why I thought I should come over and take a look. After all, Che Luofeng cannot escape his responsibility regarding this matter.”
Chen Xing: “…”
No wonder when mentioning the Akeles, Che Luofeng‘s expression was so strange.
“How often does this kind of situation happen outside the Great Wall?” Chen Xing turned his head slightly to look at Xiang Shu.
“A lot,” Xiang Shu said indifferently, “it’s even more fierce than the aggression between the Hus and the Hans in the South. There has always been infighting among the Hus outside the Great Wall. For the previous 10 or 20 years, it has always been either ‘I kill you or you kill me.’ While everyone seems to be living in harmony inside the Ancient Chi Le Covenant, in reality, there are blood feuds between all the tribes.”
Chen Xing thought about it for a while then said: “So, no matter the place and no matter the tribe, there is always a need for education and a need for law and order.”
“It’s easier said than done,” Xiang Shu was lost in thought. “Reconciling the Rouran’s and Akele’s feud took a lot of effort in the first place, and Che Luofeng na…” Saying that, Xiang Shu sighed again.
After a moment of silence, Chen Xing couldn’t help but ask: “Che Luofeng would not come and try to look for trouble with the Akeles, ba?”
“It depends on him,” Xiang Shu frowned deeply, “three years ago, the Rourans' First Warrior who died under Akele’s hands was called Zhou Zhen, and he was Che Luofeng’s…”
“Good brother,” Chen Xing remarked after recalling one of the conversations he inadvertently overheard back in Chi Le Chuan regarding a bit of the Rouran’s past.
“Not just that,” Xiang Shu replied, “Zhou Zhen was Che Luofeng’s sweetheart. They were a couple.”
Chen Xing was surprised: “A girl? Surnamed Zhou? Or a Han?”
“A man,” Xiang Shu said, “with a mixed parentage of Han and Rouran. Brother Zhou Zhen was two years older than me, and when the Rouran King was still in the office, those two were inseparable as form and shadow all day long...”
Chen Xing said: “It was only to guard him ba.”
Chen Xing was laying on one side, facing Xiang Shu. Xiang Shu turned his body and changed his position so he was lying with his ear against the wooden pillow, making himself and Chen Xing faced each other.
“The way those two looked at each other, it was unmistakable.” Xiang Shu casually said, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Chen Xing suddenly had an indescribable feeling and felt a little sympathetic towards Che Luofeng. Three years ago, during the big fight, the Akeles lost its eldest prince, but at the same time, Che Luofeng had also lost his lover. He just didn’t think three years after Zhou Zhen’s death, Che Luofeng finally transferred his affections onto Xiang Shu, his Anda.
It would seem that Xiang Shu was well-aware of the fact that Che Luofeng liked men, yet he had never laid bare that fact.
“I think Che Luofeng…”
Xiang Shu’s tone became harsher: “I said, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
“You treat him very well,” Chen Xing said a little sourly.
“Do you want to be beaten again?” Xiang Shu said in the dark.
Chen Xing had no alternative but to stop talking.
“Can you stop being so mean?” Chen Xing summoned up his courage, then said, “Xiang Shu, I know this is not what you’re really like.”
Xiang Shu: “…”
When he had first learned about Xiang Shu’s deeds from Zhu Xu, Chen Xing subconsciously regarded him as a Hu man who was fierce, violent, and addicted to killing. However, as he grew to know him, he gradually discovered that Xiang Shu was not an aggressive man at all.
When he was being ambushed in the middle of the night on the streets of Chang’an City, he would instead choose to withdraw and retreat, so as to prevent the patrolling city soldiers from encountering strong enemies and wasting their lives. Every time he had to fight hand-to-hand with anyone, he almost entirely relied on his own strong martial power. He would hit that person’s pressure point to knock them down, forcefully teaching them a lesson. Also, up to this point, the only time he saw him kill anyone, it was only Princess Qinghe. Even then, when Chen Xing tried to think about the situation at that time, indeed, there was really no other choice.
Xiang Shu’s expression suddenly became strange.
After returning to Chi Le Chuan, Xiang Shu had seriously tried to maintain the Ancient Covenant and ensure that each tribe peacefully coexisted together. For him, this responsibility was very important. No matter the dispute between the Akeles and the Rourans, Xiang Shu never discriminated against one party and now, he gave assistance to the Akeles.
“I always think that your viciousness is just a façade,” Chen Xing told the truth of the matter with a remark. “It’s just because you need to set up your prestige as the Great Chanyu, to make all tribes in the Ancient Covenant respect and fear you. Hence, using brute force all the time to suppress them became a habit for you, am I right?”
Xiang Shu suddenly got up. Chen Xing backed away at once, fearing Xiang Shu would hit him again.
But Xiang Shu just put on his robe without uttering a single word, tied up his belt, and went outside the tent.
“Xiang Shu!” Cheng Xing also got up, gloomily said, “We really can’t have a proper chat, can we?”
He realized he must’ve been right. Xiang Shu was, in fact, a person with a gentle and tender heart. He didn’t resemble a Hu man at all.
“Quickly come out!” Xiang Shu opened the tent entrance’s curtain, knitted his brow, then said, “Put on your clothes!”
Chen Xing: “???”
Late at night, when the entire Akele camp was still fast asleep, a weak tremor could be felt from a distance. Xiang Shu was the first to detect the anomaly. He immediately put his sword on his back and rushed into King Akele’s royal tent, shouting loudly in the Xiongnu language. Within a moment, almost all the people in the camp woke up.
A whirlwind was blowing in the snowstorm during the fifth of the night watch periods. Chen Xing ran out in a daze. Xiang Shu had already led the Akele warriors to wade through the snow and surrounded the camp, guarding it.
“There’s nothing!” Chen Xing said.
“Go to the rear! Stay with the Consort!” Xiang Shu readied the bow and nocked the arrow. All the men were extremely nervous because they all could perceive an odd scent in the wind. The cold wind smelled pungent, yet Chen Xing could still faintly smell another odd scent.
This... the foul smell of corpses!
The Akeles shouted loudly in the Xiongnu language, Xiang Shu angrily said something to King Akele, and King Akele utterly panicked right away. They walked through the snow and went into battle formation. Immediately after, Xiang Shu turned his head sideways, drew his longbow, and let loose the first arrow towards the snowstorm!
An anguished scream sounded, and following that, an Akele warrior let out a miserable shriek. He was thrown to the ground by a living corpse who rushed out of the darkness.
“Why are they here too?!” Chen Xing shouted loudly.
Xiang Shu called out: “Withdraw to the riverbank! Chen Xing, you go first!”
Chen Xing: “I won’t! Why should I!”
Within a short interval, Xiang Shu swept over the surrounding, coldly said: “The Akeles have long known that there are drought fiends in the North.”
“What?” Chen Xing blankly looked over and discovered that the situation was indeed a little fishy. When the Akeles saw the drought fiends, not only was there not the slightest hint of panic, they could even retreat while still shooting arrows, as if they had fought against the drought fiends before.
Since it was not easy to light up torches in the snowstorm, it was dark all around. The camp fell into the enemy’s hands, screams and cries of pain could be heard from behind, and they didn’t know how many living corpses surrounded them, lurking in the dark night. Chen Xing immediately lit up the Heart Lamp, illuminating the small area in front of him in an instant.
There were thousands of living corpses! And he still didn’t know how many more were behind him, ready to rush through the snow.
Luckily, because Xiang Shu had put his ear on the wooden pillow, he was able to detect the tremor in the ground. Else, if he had realized it a step later, the Akele camp wouldn’t be able to escape from the fate of being attacked by these living corpses.
A horn was blown from inside the camp, and the Xiongnus fled in succession. King Akele set fire to the tents, the flames burst into the sky, hindering the living corpses’ movements. Chen Xing moved his hands apart, and in a split second, a ray of light shone brightly. The surrounding attacking living corpses first retreated back, let out a wild cry, and began hunting down the scattered Akeles again!
Xiang Shu let loose his arrows in succession, and Chen Xing cast his spell. Following that, just like pouring torrential rain, shining arrows went straight into the group of living corpses, clearing out the area in front of the two men. When his quiver was finally emptied, Xiang Shu grabbed his big sword off his back and swept through. Chen Xing grabbed a horse’s reins, yelling: “Get on the horse!”
Xiang Shu got on the horse, and Chen Xing said: “Still want to tell me to hide? You can kill the enemy if I hide ma?”
“Shut up!” Xiang Shu shouted, “Go rescue people! Come on!”
Chen Xing controlled the horse; in the snowstorm, it was hard to see, and the Xiongnu horse’s nature was fierce, so after being frightened, he went all over the place. Chen Xing said: “This horse doesn’t listen to orders ah!”
Xiang Shu circled his left hand around Chen Xing’s waist, grabbed the reins, then charged into the group of living corpses. The living corpses were chasing the Akeles who were at the back of the retreating group. Seeing that the women and children of varying ages who were running on foot were going to be quickly overrun in a moment, Xiang Shu suddenly said: “Light!”
Chen Xing put his hand on Xiang Shu’s right hand that was holding the sword, trying his best to inject the Heart Lamp’s light into it. A bright light suddenly burst out from the heavy sword, illuminating the dark night!
The light was even more dazzling than ever before, and as Xiang Shu waved his sword, a shock wave burst out, immediately overturning the group of living corpses in front of him!
Xiang Shu suddenly reined in his horse, dismounting on the riverbank. The Akeles had already escaped to the Xarusgol riverside. Xiang Shu grabbed King Akele by the collar and angrily interrogated him, which made King Akele’s face drained of all colors.
Chen Xing: “What’s going on? Let him go! The drought fiend groups are coming again!”
Xiang Shu had to let King Akele go. He picked up a rope, carried it on his shoulder, then pointed to his back, hinting to hurry up and cross the river. Chen Xing, who was beside Xiang Shu, formed a circle with both of his hands then began to cast spells, releasing the Heart Lamp. Suddenly, from the south bank of Xarusgol River, a shout in the Tiele language could be heard.
“The reinforcements are coming!” Chen Xing said, "Do we still fight?"
Xiang Shu said, “Withdraw!” Shortly afterwards, he immediately tied one end of the rope around his waist and threw the other end to Chen Xing.
“The time for your revenge has come!” Xiang Shu spoke, “Just let it go if you want to mess with me!”
Chen Xing held the rope with ‘baffled’ written all over his face.
The Akeles withdrew across the frozen river in succession, and the living corpses skidded on the ice, chasing after them. Chen Xing retreated to the south bank and saw Xiang Shu run several steps. With one foot on the rock on the bank, he pulled out his heavy sword, turning over his body first before turning back in, swinging over the heavy sword using all his strength in the process and smashing the ice forcefully!
The loud sound made Chen Xing's eardrums ring and hurt. In a split second, the surface of the ice cracked like a cobweb then burst into pieces. The water gushed forth, shooting out water arrows and blocking the living corpses’ way.
Chen Xing immediately grabbed the rope and madly pulled on it. He dragged up Xiang Shu who had fallen into the ice water and shouted, “You’re insane!”
I kept getting this… anime… vibe… when reading about how XS smashed the ice… BUT I CAN’T REMEMBER WHERE I’VE SEEN IT
Also, I’ve updated the glossary up until this chapter.
Btw, since I edited my last chapter to include this, probably people haven’t seen it, so I’m sharing this again. We kinda made a Feitian-dedicated Discord, if anyone wants to join us in this little corner, here’s the link.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.