"Chen Xing? Chen Xing! Xing'er! Xing'er --!"
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
Chen Xing held on to the railings of that platform; he had no energy left, and he sank into a kneel. Suddenly, the sound of metal boots tromping on wood came from behind. Wu Qi and Zheng Lun whirled around in response.
Zheng Lun asked, "Chen-daren, are these also your companions?"
Chen Xing endured the roiling of the blood and qi in his chest as he slowly turned around. He pressed his back up against the railings, and his feet skidded on the floor as he saw the three drought fiend kings, wearing full ensembles of black armor, walk up to the third floor of the official's manor.
"You guys… quickly… go." A trickle of fresh blood ran out of the corner of Chen Xing's mouth as he mumbled, "Xiang Shu, Xiang Shu…"
The three drought fiend kings simultaneously pulled out their swords, but Wu Qi and Zheng Lun positioned themselves in front of Chen Xing, not willing to escape on their own. Wu Qi angrily rebuked, "Evil yao without honor, the world will not allow for evil to triumph against good! Scram!"
The moment Wen Zhe turned to ash, Xiang Shu let out a sigh of relief, but as he lifted his head and raised his hand to wave in the direction of the platform, he saw fresh blood spray out from the platform on the third floor of that official's manor, and he froze for a few moments.
Chen Xing's back was to the railings, and above him the silhouettes of the drought fiend kings loomed.
Chen Xing already could not endure any longer, so he gritted his teeth as he leaned against the railing and tightly closed his eyes. In the next instant, Xiang Shu's loud cry came from far behind, and unknowingly, Chen Xing's meridians began to uncontrollably send power to the Heart Lamp.
That feeling was extremely strange. Before, when Chen Xing was using the Heart Lamp, he was purposefully doing so, and the Heart Lamp glowed in response to his intentions. But now, in this moment, hovering on the precipice of life and death, it was as if Xiang Shu forcefully caused him to pull out the light of the Heart Lamp. That bright light was more intense than any other time he used it before!
Soon after, on the long street more than a hundred paces away, Xiang Shu slightly arched his body with the Acala Blade in hand as he transformed into the war god wearing snow-white and gilded gold martial robes. The Acala Blade let out a "weng" sound as it turned into the faint silhouettes of all six magical weapons.
With a loud noise, Xiang Shu flew through the air like a golden comet with a brilliant tail, flattening all obstacles as he shot towards the highest point of the official's manor.
Chen Xing only felt that his entire body was bathed in a wave of warm brightness, and the passage of time seemed to slow. The drought fiend kings pulled out their swords, but they slowed as they moved to cut him down, until their motions came to a stop.
With light as bright as that of the sun, Xiang Shu rushed up to that platform, his six magical weapons appearing all at once to bombard the three drought fiend kings. Sima Yi's helmet was flung off, Sima Liang blocked desperately, and Sima Ying's armor-clad arm broke.
Chen Xing opened his eyes wide, and in his eyes was reflected the golden glowing silhouette of Xiang Shu's back -- it was exactly the same as the day when they had fought Feng Qianyi in the Light-Bearing Hall! The power of the Protector Martial God seemed to be activated under certain mysterious conditions, which Chen Xing didn't have the time to think about in detail as Xiang Shu stepped onto the platform, putting himself in front of Chen Xing. Lifting his hand, he summoned his weapons, and the six magical weapons that came from the Acala Blade circled around his body in a slow spin.
"I've had enough of you all," Xiang Shu said coldly.
The drought fiend kings realized that the man before them was definitely not an enemy they could defeat, so they all turned into black flames, flying off to flee, but Xiang Shu angrily shouted, "Cowards! You still want to escape?!"
Closely following that, the weapons melded together into a golden ring, which flew out with a "weng", blocking the escape route of the black flames. Xiang Shu then pulled his hands back, and the golden light dispersed as the weapon returned into his hands, once again turning into the huge bow, and a single arrow made of light pierced the three balls of black flame.
The black flames once again turned into the drought fiend kings, plummeting to the ground, and the bow in Xiang Shu's hand became a sword, sweeping in an arc towards them!
The golden flame burst, swallowing the three drought fiend kings in an instant and pulverizing half the official's manor as it turned into a hurricane that exploded outwards. The golden light collected on Xiang Shu's body before disappearing.
"Chen Xing? Chen Xing! Xing'er! Xing'er --!"
Darkness swam in front of Chen Xing's eyes, and he knew no more.
Early morning, Chang'an, as the officials entered the court.
Wang Ziye walked at the very front of all the officials, smiling calmly and making small talk, and he turned his head to the side to glance at Murong Chong who had recently returned to court. He smiled at Murong Chong and nodded his head.
Murong Chong's face stayed cold and sour, clearly not wanting to greet Wang Ziye in return.
Suddenly, Wang Ziye stopped in his tracks, his smile freezing on his face as he turned to look towards the south.
"Wang-daren?" a civil official asked from behind.
Wang Ziye's face was sheet-white, and a dazed look appeared in his eyes.
Murong Chong walked at the head of the military officials, and he glanced curiously at Wang Ziye before making a "please" gesture, indicating that he should go first.
Wang Ziye suddenly seemed worried, and as he lifted his foot to mount the steps to the hall, he actually slipped and tripped on the stair.
"Wang-daren, be careful!"
Wang Ziye wiped off his sweat and barely managed to nod in response.
It was daytime, and inside the Qin imperial court the discussion continued about the proposal to start a southern campaign. As he sat on the throne, Fu Jian was close to nodding off, but the members of the court suddenly noticed something -- the idea of the southern campaign was spearheaded by none other than Wang Ziye, but why was his mind seemingly elsewhere today?
Not only Wang Ziye, but recently, even Fu Jian's expressions hadn't looked right. Murong Chong, however, was against the southern campaign, and it was exactly for this matter that he hurried back from Luoyang to Chang'an. That day, various officials brought up several reasons to not embark on the southern campaign, and Fu Jian didn't get irritated but rather just waved his hand, saying, "I understand. This court session is over."
"This official has an observation," Murong Chong didn't let Fu Jian dismiss the court and said, "Would His Majesty like to listen?"
Wang Ziye finally realized that he had an opponent, and he lifted his head up from this mess of a court to meet Murong Chong's gaze.
Fu Jian casually said, "If you want to say it, then we will want to listen."
But Murong Chong replied, "I will only say it if Your Majesty is willing to listen."
One of Fu Jian's rare smiles appeared, turning the atmosphere of the court a little friendlier
"Do tell," Fu Jian finally said.
Murong Chong said, "Your Majesty has worked hard in recent days, and I imagine that many of us have witnessed this. Since they have proposed this southern campaign to wipe out the Jin, then they must have considered this carefully. In return, they have been indecisive on their decision and should receive their just due in the future."
Murong Chong's voice carried clearly through the quiet hall.
"Before returning to Chang'an, this official believed that Your Majesty had already made up your mind, but today, it seems like there is still some distance to go before a consensus. What these honored officials have discussed, whether the troops should be dispatched, I imagine that Your Majesty has long since decided…"
"No," Fu Jian waved his hand, finally letting his gaze sweep properly over the gathered officials before it darted back to Murong Chong, and at last his gaze landed on Wang Ziye's face. "We have been hesitating, not over the issue of sending out the troops; it is imperative that the southern campaign reclaim our lost territory, and there is nothing to hesitate about here. We are mulling over if there is a different method to gather an army for the southern campaign."
Murong Chong raised an eyebrow and asked, "What method?"
Fu Jian said, "The opportunity is not yet ripe. When the time is right, Wang Ziye will naturally inform everyone. Court is dismissed. Chong'er, in a bit you should come to the palace to see Yan'er, he was almost like a true little brother to your sister when she was alive."
Murong Chong's forehead wrinkled.
The gloomy underground, in the Huanmo Palace.
"What you're protecting," that voice said coldly, "will always betray you one day. Today, your own hands are just digging your own grave…"
Chen Xing once again saw the scene in the Huanmo Palace, of the giant heart hanging in the middle of the underground palace, its arteries and veins extending into the Earth Vein all around it, sucking out energy.
Suddenly, Chen Xing woke up, panting desperately in a sunlit room.
Xiang Shu, who had been watching over him from the side, immediately lifted his head and took a look at Chen Xing. Chen Xing mutely stared back at him before lowering his head to look at first his body, then at his surroundings.
He didn't know when, but he had been changed into a simple inner robe, and someone had tucked him under a blanket. The room was filled with the smell of medicine, and there was a small stove next to the bed, in which some medicinal herbs were bubbling away.
"Where is this?" Chen Xing asked weakly. "Ay, how long have I been asleep? It was really comfortable."
Xiang Shu stared stunned at Chen Xing, before turning around a moment later and sweeping out of the room.
"He's awake!" Xiang Shu's voice was actually trembling a little. "He woke up!"
Closely after, Xiao Shan rushed in first, and with a loud shout, he pounced onto Chen Xing.
Chen Xing: "Xiao Shan?"
Xie Daoyun and Gu Qing also briskly came over, and Gu Qing said, "I'll go tell Feng-dage."
Xie Daoyun sat down to check Chen Xing's pulse, and Chen Xing said, "I feel like when I used the Heart Lamp, I may have overused it a little and damaged my meridians… I've slept for quite a few days, huh?"
Everyone in the room watched Chen Xing without speaking. Xiang Shu looked at him for a bit before he turned his head and paced a bit in the room, before looking again towards Chen Xing. His lips kept trembling, and the corners of his eyes were a little red.
"Alright," Xie Daoyun said. "As long as you're awake then there's no problem. You should rest a little first."
Chen Xing gently touched his stomach and responded, "I'm a little hungry."
Xie Daoyun glanced at Xiang Shu, saying, "Not mine to deal with anymore, it's your turn."
Xiao Shan hurried to go find some rations, and he handed them over to Chen Xing, who complained, "Can't you let the patient eat something easier to swallow down? Xiang Shu? What's wrong?"
Xiang Shu let out a breath, a little overwhelmed. He smiled weakly and said, "Awake… as long as you're awake, that's good, thank the heavens and the earth…"
"How long have I slept?" Chen Xing only felt that his head hurt.
"Three months," Xiao Shan said.
Chen Xing: "..."
moon: AND HERE COMES THE UNEXPECTED KNIFE!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.