"You even dare to chase away the emperor?"
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
This sentence was so shocking that Chen Xing was stunned for a long time. His body actually recovered very quickly; he was able to move around freely in less than three days. During the time he had been bedridden and unconscious, he had to depend on Xiang Shu's care. Unexpectedly, he hadn't lost weight or become out of shape. Some days later, while having dinner with Xie An and Xie Daoyun, who had come to pay a visit, Chen Xing suddenly thought of a possibility —— Did Xiang Shu, like Feng Qianjun and Xiao Shan, also want to use resentment to activate the Acala Blade?
Then again, after being refined by resentment, these ancient divine weapons would show different capabilities. For example, in the historical records, when the spiritual qi of heaven and earth still existed, Senluo Wanxiang had had the ability to govern over the growth of all living things. After borrowing resentment, it had turned into a dark blade that made the plants on the ground it touched grow wild then wither.
Cangqiong Yilie was said to be able to summon thunder to purify evil and corruption. In Xiao Shan's hands, it had turned into a divine weapon that was able to tear up the space.
If the Acala Blade were to fall into the evil path, he was afraid that its power would be difficult to control. Moreover, Chen Xing had always not been keen on controlling too much resentment. Since it was likely to have some kind of influence on Xiao Shan and Feng Qianjun, if he had a choice, in no way would he want Xiang Shu, as the Protector Martial God, to be covered with resentment, even relying on this dark mana to confront Shi Hai.
Chen Xing couldn't help but steal a glance at Xiang Shu. He used to think that Xiang Shu was very good-looking, and now, he felt that Xiang Shu was even more handsome than before. If before he said that looking at Xiang Shu was like a feast for the eyes, now, it always gave him a sour feeling in his heart and made him want to talk to him. How could Xiang Shu always have that 'do-not-come-any-closer' kind of expression? If Chen Xing approached again, it would hurt his own self-esteem once more. He was so itchy he wanted to gnash his teeth; he both loved and hated to annoy him.
"Found the location described on the map?" Xiang Shu asked Xie An all of the sudden.
Xie An was caught off-guard and almost choked. He said, "Someone said that one of them might be in Mt. Longmen in Luoyang, but I can't confirm it. I've dispatched people to check it first, making sure your trip doesn't end up in vain."
Xie Daoyun said, "Currently, the situation north and south of the Yangtze River is tense. Chen Xing, you've just recovered. Within half a year, try not to rush about."
Xiang Shu thought for a moment and said, "I'll go to Mt. Nanping some other day."
Chen Xing remembered the second drawing and volunteered, "I'll go with you."
Xie An added, "Your attempt to kill the dragon in Kuaiji has already alarmed the whole Jiangnan. What happened to the dragon?"
"It escaped," replied Xiao Shan.
Many things had happened during the three months Chen Xing had been in a coma. First of all, the Dongzhe Bank had practically collapsed. Part of the property had been swallowed by the Emperor of Jin, who had been trying to find such opportunities for quite some time, and the rest was taken care of by Feng Qianjun's Xifeng Bank. The Wang family, who had been its secret backers, was met with sudden misfortune. After running around to many places, they finally managed to keep their share, moving the property to Wu commandery for the time being. In the short term, they would no longer be able to compete with the Xifeng Bank.
Chen Xing felt concerned and eventually asked a question, "Lin-daren, he..."
That was the messenger who died in the middle of his journey at the hands of Shi Hai and his group. It was apparent now that, no matter how much he had been tortured before he died, he hadn't breathed a single word about the results of the investigation.
Xie An consoled, "Died in the line of duty. Lin Yong hasn't married yet. A young and talented Moling person..."
When Chen Xing heard this, he couldn't help but feel sad. Xiang Shu deeply frowned; he wanted to say something but then hesitated. Fortunately, Xie Daoyun's next words made Chen Xing feel a bit better.
"Lin Yong's parents and younger sister had been bedridden because they caught the plague six months ago," said Xie Daoyun faintly. "Thanks to you all, they finally got better. This must also be what he wanted all along."
It was the only comfort for Chen Xing.
"What about Wu-daren and Zheng Lun?"
Xiang Shu opened his mouth, "They were hurt, but fortunately they were not seriously injured. They had to stay in bed for two months, but now their conditions have already improved."
Chen Xing breathed a sigh of relief. At the last moment, he had seen with his own eyes the two imperial court officials, Wu Qi and Zheng Lun, both scholars to their core, protect him by standing in front of the drought fiend king. If the officials were to be seriously injured, the consequences would be very grave, not to mention that Wu Qi was still the governor of the region.
When the news broke, the whole Jin court went into a heated discussion that lasted about half a month, talking about the reappearance of the exorcists in the world. Sima Yao had even sent soldiers to look everywhere for the azure jiao's whereabouts, but he came back empty-handed and in the end, also gradually gave up. Not long after that, a news came from the North saying that Fu Jian, with the help of Wang Ziye, had been recruiting a large number of soldiers. He was preparing to go south to conquer Jiankang in the coming year.
At that, everyone in the Jin court suddenly grew nervous Xie An also became awfully busy. The officials' attitudes were in flux, one side watching from the sidelines, the other side sending scouts to Guanzhong to inquire about the news. It was a mess between the court and the people.
"I think Shi Hai's identity is very likely to be Wang Ziye," Chen Xing said all of the sudden. "The magical artifacts for the Ten Thousand Spirits Array are now with us. The array, in all likelihood, also won't be able to activate, and more than half of the drought fiend kings are gone. He will certainly find another way to persuade Fu Jian to start a war in order to have more dead people, because dead people means he can have more resentment."
When he talked, Chen Xing couldn't help but glance at Xiang Shu. Their eyes met —— Chen Xing found that Xiang Shu was also looking at him. Both of them averted their gazes in an unnatural way.
Xie An said, "It's not surprising that there's such a person by Fu Jian's side, manipulating him, but it's just not easy to confirm his identity. At the present, Chang'an is tightly protecting itself against the Hans, and even the scouts can't get much information. I'm even more afraid that he will utilize what you call the 'drought fiend army' and cross the river, that would be VERY bad."
In the face of national disaster, Xie An displayed utmost dedication to his responsibilities. These days, his mind was filled only with things related to the war: Wipe out the Qin and take back Chang'an as well as Luoyang in one fell swoop? Impossible, that's obvious. As long as the enemy could temporarily retreat, they would be able to survive for another day. But if the army sent to the South were all the living dead and if they could still infect more people, I'm afraid the Great Jin's soldiers would surely retreat without a fight.
"Fu Jian should still not be that insane yet," Chen Xing said. "I personally witnessed him kill hundreds of thousands of drought fiends. If the other way did happen, and he went so far as to use the drought fiends as the army for his southern expedition, it would be too… too…" Chen Xing also didn't know how to describe it.
Xie An nodded and said, "The point is, it's very difficult to send you to Luoyang now."
Xie Daoyun spoke all of the sudden, "I heard that the imperial court is preparing to send an envoy to Luoyang? Wang-daren suggested we should probably start from Murong Chong's place. The Xianbeis also didn't want to march south, so Wang Ziye and Murong Chong stood on different sides. Since he's the enemy of our enemy, we should be able to arrange something together with him."
Chen Xing's heart flipped, but Murong Chong was determined that Xiang Shu was the one who killed his older sister, and he was afraid it wouldn't work.
"Is Murong Chong a reasonable man?" Chen Xing asked Xiang Shu.
Xiang Shu: "I don't know him very well. You ask me that, how am I supposed to know?"
"Depends towards who ba," Xie Daoyun said after thinking about it. "I've heard some of Murong Chong's deeds. I can only say that he is, en… smart and fickle... sentimental kind of person."
Chen Xing was slightly surprised and asked, "You even gossip over Murong Chong?"
"Regarding good-looking men," Xie Daoyun said, "there are always some rumors in the streets. Girls like to comment about beautiful men, am I right, Great Chanyu?"
Xiang Shu: "..."
Chen Xing hurriedly waved his hand, but it would be impolite to take Xie Daoyun's words seriously. Xie An pondered for a while and then said, "This really depends on His Majesty's decision. However, if Little Shidi wants to enter the palace to meet His Majesty, you actually have an opportunity to do so… En… His Majesty has been clamoring for quite some time about wanting to meet the exorcists. Last time, he even proposed to come and have a look. When they had arrived at the door of your rooms, who would have thought Daoyun would chase them away..."
"Uncle!" Xie Daoyun said.
"You even dare to chase away the emperor?" Chen Xing was astonished.
Xie Daoyun had an expression that said "Why not?" However, Xiang Shu said, "Go ahead. I won't go, I'm going to Chibi."
Chen Xing said, "If Xiang Shu won't go, I'm not going either."
Xiang Shu: "..."
Xie Daoyun was angry. "Ten days from now, it will be the Autumn Deity Festival, and everyone in Jiangnan will be busy celebrating it. It's not too late to go after the festival is over. You need a boat, and if you're going now, no one will agree to board you. Wait until the festival is over;it's just a difference of a few days?"
Xiang Shu had no choice but to drop the idea. Chen Xing suddenly remembered that he hadn't celebrated the Deities' Days for so many years. Previously, in the North, the Deities' Days were divided into two, Spring and Autumn, celebrated on the fifth wu day after Lichun and Liqiu.
The Spring Deity Festival, for the most part, happened on the second day of the second lunar month, and in the North, it was also known as the "Raising Dragon Head" Festival, while the Autumn Deity Festival usually happened in the middle of the eight month, resembling the Hu's Autumn Close Festival. They offered sacrifices to heaven, the god of the soil and grain, and the god of earth, expressing their gratitude for the good harvest, the prosperity of the land, and the peace of the people. On this day, the court had to prepare three sacrificial animals, and the monarch had to personally appear to offer the sacrifices to heaven, while the common people in every household would prepare flowers, fruits, and rice to be offered as sacrifices. During the daytime, people would tie red ropes to the trees, and at nighttime, they would travel, light up lamps, and drink wine together while admiring the full moon.
This tradition originally came from the Central Plains. During autumn, when people were no longer busy, they would set off to see some festival entertainment or watch the show. Young men and women would also get to know each other there, and if they were interested in each other, it could become a matchmaking session. When Chen Xing was still young, his father took him and Yuwen Xin to Jinyang City's official residence to have some wine and food. The two children were allowed to see the show from behind the pearl curtain, and what's more, there were also rice balls, sweets, cakes, and other festival snacks to be eaten. It left a deep impression on Chen Xing.
After the large-scale southward migration, the North was in a mess for a long time, resulting in the Hans' festivals gradually stopped being celebrated. The Hus didn't even celebrate the Lantern Festival anymore, only celebrating the Autumn Close and Lunar New Year's Eve. The South, however, still retained many traditions of the Central Plains, which made Chen Xing feel very warm.
Chen Xing fully recovered a few days later. At home, he taught Xiao Shan how to read, write, and speak every day. Taichu Palace once again sent someone to visit, and Xie An knew he couldn't refuse anymore, so he asked people to prepare new clothes for Chen Xing and the others in advance. A day before the Autumn Deity, when people on the Jin court had begun to have vacations, he took Chen Xing and the others into the palace to have an audience with the Emperor of Jin, Sima Yao.
Many ancestors in Chen Xing's family were scholars, so it was clear to him that the Simas themselves should've been responsible for a large amount of things that led to the Disaster of Yongjia decades ago. Sima Yao was also very courteous towards Chen Xing because of his identity as Xie An's younger martial brother. As a result, Chen Xing didn't revere the emperor that much.
Xiang Shu was once the Great Chanyu of the North. Even Fu Jian had been afraid of his three-point role. How could he be modest towards the Han Emperor?
Feng Qianjun came from a humble clan in the local area. Although there were no high-ranking officials among their younger generations, most of them were intellectuals due to the wealth they had amassed. Soon, the Fengs would become a distinguished family like the Wangs and the Xies, they were just waiting for an opportunity. Naturally, Sima Yao also wanted to win him over.
So Xiao Shan was the only one full of curiosity when they came to see the Han Emperor. Chen Xing felt that he was the easiest one to go out of control, so he quickly said, "You are also the descendant of Huhanye Chanyu and Zhaojun. When we see the emperor, you don't have to kneel. Act as usual and be good, and also don't make trouble, else next time we are invited, we're going without you."
Xiao Shan nodded. The boy's height had shot up since he first left Carosha; he had grown to the height of Chen Xing's shoulder and could no longer be held, but he was still thin, with a touch of youth's frailness.
Since coming to Jiangnan, Chen Xing had been constantly on the move and hadn't had this kind of leisurely day for a long time. He had such time back when he was in Chang'an with Xiang Shu, making clothes, taking baths, and then visiting his relatives and friends. After settling down in Jiankang, he had actually been wearing the same two clothes for several months, but now, he had remade his clothes once again. The materials and the style were specially selected by Chen Xing. The martial robe was mainly silk and lustrous white. Although it was in the Jin-style hanfu, there were a few tweaks that made it look like the Central Plains-style.
Although the four men' martial robes were different, they retained similarities in some small parts; it was akin to the Exorcism Department's official clothing in a way. This was also Chen Xing's small wish. While I'm still here, might as well rebuild the Exorcism Department ba, even though the mana hasn't returned yet. Legends about exorcists have already disappeared for a long time, but at least for now, they are really alive.
Xiao Shan looked like an elegant young man after being dressed up. Feng Qianjun looked more like a young master-ge from Jiangnan after changing his clothes; all they needed to do was to give him a folding fan.
They were just fine, but Xiang Shu, after changing his clothes, was immediately glowing with radiance. People were continuously staring at the four exorcists all the way to the palace, but the one people looked at the most, was precisely Xiang Shu. Chen Xing also felt that Xiang Shu had "changed shape in a single shake," all of the sudden regaining that gorgeous Great Chanyu's countenance of his like back on the prairie.
But, compared to the brash, arrogant manner of back then, Xiang Shu had become more reserved, as if wanting to smooth out all his edges. He had a pair of clear eyes that still concealed a faint gloom and seemed to examine everything, giving out an overbearing touch, a feeling that said they weren't being subjected to the laws of the world.
"You look good," Chen Xing said in a sour tone.
Xiang Shu looked at Chen Xing and said nothing, but every time Chen Xing praised him with a hint of jealousy and admiration, Xiang Shu's eyes softened a bit.
Fei-ge: “OK, the hurt is over, back to history lesson everyone!”
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