"Isn't it all just you, Wang Ziye, playing different roles in one opera?"
Translator(s): moon, Elestrea
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
Chen Xing was still musing on who should speak first after Fu Jian came in, and as expected, everyone was watching Xiang Shu. However, he didn't say anything, nor did he make any motion of greetings. It was instead Xie An who spoke first. He smiled and said, "Not too early or too late. Your Majesty gave us the opportunity to reminisce on the past."
Fu Jian didn't recognize Xie An. Hearing this, he said in response, "Turns out that the Han people and my Ancient Chi Le Covenant have past things to reminisce on. What a happy coincidence, Zhen never expected it."
"Within the four seas, all are brothers," Xie An smiled. "So it can be said that we are like 'old friends at first sight'. I've long since heard of Your Majesty's elegant demeanor. Today, being able to lay my eyes upon it, upon my Majesty's behalf, this one expresses his regards"
"En," Fu Jian responded, before looking over the assembled people, saying, "Zhen accepts his regards."
Xie An said, "Coming hence this time is also because of Your Majesty's graciousness. Thank you for being willing to quell the conflict between our two countries, and for being willing to travel to Luoyang."
After Fu Jian arrived, he almost managed to seize control of the situation, but Xie An didn't let him have this chance to turn into the focus of all those present. Murong Chong and the Jin people were clearly allies, as he hadn't enlightened Fu Jian of Xie An's identity. In the beginning, Fu Jian had thought that the visitors were just common diplomats, and the only factor to dread was Shulü Kong, but he suddenly came to a realization that this Han person was not simple either.
It was as if the two sides were at a stalemate; though this middle-aged person didn't have many people behind him, his bearing was as if he had thousands of troops on his side. In the confines of this small discussion tent, he was actually able to carry on a lively conversation as an equal of Fu Jian's.
Fu Jian swept his gaze over the assembled people, before it finally fell on Chen Xing's face.
"Quell the conflict between our two countries?" Fu Jian asked unhappily. "This is your strategy? Zhen thought at first that you were here to fight."
Just as Xiang Shu was about to speak, Xie An said, very lightly, "If we can't come to an agreement, then we'll have to fight, so everyone's purpose is to try not to fight. I hear that Your Majesty likes to read the books of the Han people, and I imagine that the words 'try peaceful means before force' is something that Your Majesty has long since been familiar with."
Fu Jian's expression instantly turned grey-green. Ever since he defeated the Xianbei Murong clan, no one dared to speak to him like that. However now, the Han people of the world were the only ones who dared to speak like this, and their audacity stoppered his words.
Chen Xing observed Fu Jian, only to see that there was a swell of black energy between Fu Jian's brows, a little bit like Tuoba Yan's… but had Tuoba Yan come? And where was Yuwen Xin? Was he outside leading the imperial guards?
Xiang Shu sat cross-legged, having spoken no words at all. At this moment, as he sat next to Chen Xing, he put his hand on the back of Chen Xing's, giving him a look before nodding. Chen Xing knew then that the arrangements were already in place, and that gesture was to ensure that he wouldn't worry.
"First, we should resolve the most important thing," Xie An said lightly. "According to our understanding, Your Majesty Fu Jian has been using the necromancer Wang Ziye's evil arts in Chang'an, Luoyang, and even Xiangyang and other such places, causing the previously living there to not be able to rest in peace, all for the sake of creating an army, the intention of which is to use it to invade my Great Jin's territory. Is such a matter true?"
Chen Xing had already made his preparations, and even Sima Wei had been brought over. The horse cart that was keeping him encaged was just outside. As soon as Fu Jian denied this, the order would be issued for it to be brought in for everyone to see. Of those assembled, Shi Mokun had seen him before, but King Onobayashi was not very aware of this.
But they hadn't expected Fu Jian, not only to not deny it, but to respond with, "The previously living? Your words are too heavy, this is merely an immortal army. Zhen wonders if the assembled members here are willing to join with me and mine, to become a member of the immortal humans?"
Chen Xing, "..."
A gust of wind blew, and the gauzy curtains danced. From the front of the tent on the plains, they could perfectly see the yique of the Longmen Mountains in the distance. At this moment, Feng Qianjun, leading his subordinates and Xiao Shan, was approaching the Yique region.
Thousands of Fusou shadow warriors and warriors of the ethnic minorities of the south, who had cost a lot of money to hire, were all mixed together, and every one of them was equipped with a can of kerosene that was extremely easy to set alight. From all directions, they clambered up the cliffs of the mountains using grappling hooks, preparing for the last whistling arrow that would come from Feng Qianjun.
But the closer they got to the drought fiend encampment on the yique, the denser that resentment became, to the point where even Xiao Shan and Feng Qianjun's divine weapons reacted. They began to buzz faintly as they vibrated uncontrollably.
"You've finally come."
When they arrived at the top of the cliff, a woman's voice spoke quietly.
Feng Qianjun, "..."
"Shi Hai-daren said you'd come sooner or later." Princess Qinghe wore an outfit of white gauze, the skirt of which fluttered in the strong summer winds atop the southern que of the Longmen Mountains.
"Who is she?" Xiao Shan asked.
Feng Qianjun replied, "An old friend."
Feng Qianjun put away his blades, and on top of that cliff, he quietly faced Princess Qinghe.
Xiao Shan noticed that Qinghe's face looked a little like Gu Qing, but Feng Qianjun said to Xiao Shan, "Go to your spot, I'll be able to take care of it. I've long since gotten over it."
Xiao Shan didn't protest. He nodded and said, "You be careful."
And with that, Xiao Shan used his claws to latch onto the rocks. With a leap, he tossed out a grappling hook, swinging across a distance of some tens of zhang as he hurtled towards the eastern que of the Longmen Mountains.
Xiao Shan's slim silhouette flew over the peaks as he came to the highest point, untying the longbow strapped to his back. From his vantage point, he could see the Yi River delta down below the two mountains, and in front of him to the south, was the discussion tent erected on the vast land. The riverbanks were filled with dignified troops. In the distance, Murong Chong's silver cavalry billowed towards them, rushing towards the Yi River delta, charging towards their last appointment with Murong Chong.
Behind him was the 300,000-strong drought fiend encampment enveloped in resentment.
Xiao Shan looked at the western que some hundred paces away, only to see Feng Qianjun's lithe body rise to his feet. The wind began to blow as he untied the longbow on his back, nocking a whistling arrow to the string. As soon as the discussion tent on the plain below sent out the signal that they had successfully detained Fu Jian, he would shoot the arrow towards the sky.
But it was exactly at this moment that a wave of rotten air came from the trees at the summit, and the undergrowth rustled as a huge head appeared in front of Xiao Shan.
It was a wolf, and it slowly walked towards Xiao Shan. It was easily a zhang high, and its fur was greyish-blue, as its clouded eyes stared at Xiao Shan. Xiao Shan kept backing up; compared to this physique, his was much lesser, and he appeared scrawny and small.
"Do you recognize it?" a voice said in a bantering tone. "Huyan Chaogula, I've expended a great amount of effort to find it. What would you address it as? From a certain perspective, the address of 'father' wouldn't be too far-fetched, would it?"
A Han person, his body emitting black energy all over, appeared behind the huge wolf. Though his face had changed a long time ago, that was still Wang Ziye's voice.
That rotten wolf lowered its head. Its mouth opened slightly, revealing sharp, pointed canines. Xiao Shan breathed heavily as he backed up to the edge of the cliff.
"Seems like there's still some response," Wang Ziye smiled warmly, gripping a folded fan in his hand. "A pity that a little mishap occurred along the way, but thankfully we've managed to catch up in time for the plan. You guys will stay here, spend some time reminiscing about the past ba. I still have many things to do, so I won't keep you company."
And saying this, Wang Ziye flicked the folding fan, turning into a black flame-enshrouded meteor and flying towards the tent down below where the various parties were holding negotiations.
Within the open-air tent, the atmosphere was dead silent. Fu Jian sat upright in the middle of the main seat, his expression dark, and everyone was clear that this large battle was unavoidable. They all closely watched him.
Finally, Shi Mokun spoke. "The Ancient Chi Le Covenant is formally asking for you to disband the drought fiend army in your control and destroy this army that goes against the natural order of the heavens and basic morality. Accept the supervision of me and mine while you burn it all down."
Fu Jian said darkly, "Otherwise what?"
King Onobayashi said, "Otherwise you'll be making an enemy of the world!"
Xiang Shu finally spoke. "Otherwise, today, this place will be your burial ground."
Fu Jian suddenly let out a spurt of wild laughter, and that laughter held a tinge of uncontrolled madness. Compared with the Fu Jian that Chen Xing recognized, this was already a wholly different person.
"So you all came today to accompany this group of Han people in interrogating me?!" Fu Jian said. "You all have finally spoken your true desire, but those gathered here, have you all ever thought about whether you have the right to interrogate an emperor?!"
And saying this, Fu Jian slowly stood up, creating a feeling of menace as he did so. The group immediately pressed their hands to their weapons, only waiting for Xiang Shu's command to attack.
At the same time, Murong Chong pressed a hand to the hilt of his sword as he stood behind Fu Jian's back. He nodded at Xie An, determination shining in his gaze.
"Your Majesty Fu Jian, what are you afraid of?"
Xie An's expression didn't change at all. As he stood up, that feeling of oppressive menace immediately disappeared, and Fu Jian's dignified majesty sheathed its sword. At the same time, Xie An once again, on an intangible level, counterbalanced Fu Jian's imposing presence.
The main agents of the northern and southern camps finally came to a stalemate at this moment, neither willing to give up an inch.
Fu Jian froze.
Xie An smiled. "Are you afraid that your disorderly crew will fight their way over the Fei River, usurping your position via internal conflict? Or are you afraid that the Han people who you look down upon will clip your wings and send you back?"
Fu Jian originally wanted to let out a bellow of "Impudent!", but that word never left his mouth. In that instant, Chen Xing suddenly saw a strange sight. An invisible wave of energy was collected in the divine and earth veins, gathering into an intangible dragon over the northern lands, contorting time and space as it charged towards them.
The dragon energy of the southern lands went against the currents, gathering within Xie An's body. If the two humongous swells of energy touched for even a moment, then they would disappear without a trace. It was as if the power of the divine and earth veins, the very foundation of the Divine Land, was undergoing a confrontation that no one else sensed. That confrontation happened in the span of an instant, and only Chen Xing and Xiang Shu felt it.
"What is that?" Xiang Shu furrowed his brows.
Chen Xing shook his head. He couldn't explain it either.
"Clip my wings and make me return?" Fu Jian laughed, enraged. "That will have to depend on if you all have the capability to do so. The world is already split into multiple parts, and the Han people merely cling onto the borders you currently maintain with a last, feeble gasp, but your days are already numbered. Throughout history, through thousands of years of humankind, they will only remember the heroes who united the world, and the sacrifices that were made for the sake of that goal, so what are you afraid of? If it had not been for the six countries that were annihilated under the hooves of my Great Qin founder Yin Zheng's cavalry, where would the thousands of years of splendor you Han people enjoy come from?! This world has been split into north and south for too long, so long that even the heavens can't bear to watch anymore, and Zhen is the only 'will of heaven'."
"Even if Your Majesty were to use such methods," Xie An said, just as politely as he had before, "Your Majesty will not scruple to enact them?"
Fu Jian said, "It seems like you all still hold disdain in your hearts for Zhen's immortal army."
Xiang Shu, as before, observed Fu Jian in silence. Murong Chong's hand on his sword hilt was already trembling a little, but Xiang Shu made a hidden gesture, signaling him not to act without thinking and just wait for his command.
"I'd like to introduce two people to you," Fu Jian started to speak. "Please, have a seat. Come inside, you two."
Xie An slightly frowned. Fu Jian turned around and sat down; there was a storm wind brewing in his eyes, though it quickly dissipated and turned tranquil in a flash. When the people who had been waiting outside the tent heard the summons, two Han people answered and entered the room.
"Besides King Onobayashi, we are all old friends here," Wang Ziye smiled. "There is no need for pleasantries. Although, I still wish to introduce everyone to this renowned…"
"Wang Meng?!" Murong Chong's blood surged at once, and his voice trembled.
The other person was of a scholarly build. He was 8 chi tall with a serene look. His face was ash-pale, and his eyes cloudy. After he entered the tent, he cupped his hands and greeted everyone.
Chen Xing, ".................................................."
Wang Ziye had already switched bodies, and now, the man he brought out made Chen Xing feel as if he was struck by thunder from a clear sky, and his heart raged with fury. It's Wang Meng! My Eldest Shixiong!
During Murong Chong's imprisonment in Chang'an, not a single night had passed without him hating this Han man to the core; it was because this man was the one that exterminated the Xianbei's Great Yan back then! Nobody would be able to guess how many people of the Five Hus held deep grudges against this man.
Fu Jian said, "Zhen's greatest regret in this life is the fact that Jinglüe had to leave a step ahead of Zhen, and thus, Zhen's grand plan to pacify all the lands under heaven had to be shelved. Now, Wang Ziye has sought a way for Zhen to have eternal life. And for those who have passed on, he has resurrected… them all."
Fu Jian looked around and continued, "In this world, is there a greater joy than recovering what has been lost?"
For a moment, everyone inside that great hut was unable to say a thing.
"Zhen's grandfather, grandmother, father, mother," Fu Jian closed his eyes as he muttered. "Zhen's beloved, as well as the dear friends who had left Zhen one by one…" After that, he opened his eyes and looked at King Onobayashi first before his sight moved over to Xiang Shu, Chen Xing, Xie An, Shi Mokun, and others with a look of pity in his eyes that seemed to say, "Your father, mother, brothers, children…"
"Everything that has been lost will be restored," Fu Jian enunciated. "Our lives will know no limit, and death shall not come near us. The things in this world that weigh on your mind, you will be able to seek them for thousands of years to come and through all ages, forever eternal."
Wang Ziye looked at Chen Xing, the corners of his mouth turned up in a triumphant smile, as if he guessed that this move would be enough to break him beautifully. Chen Xing just stared blankly at Wang Meng. No more than seven years ago, Wang Meng had died and was buried in Chang'an, but unexpectedly, he was now also resurrected!
Wang Ziye said, "Everyone here always thinks that reviving the dead is an act against the law of heaven. The drought fiend army in your eyes only knows how to kill without a shred of humanity left in them. Today, I've invited Wang-daren to come here in order to show you how different he truly is now from when he was alive."
Wang Meng gladly looked at the crowd. Hit by this kind of impact, even Xie An didn't know what to say. If the one before him was indeed the Wang Meng of the past, the strategy to resist Fu Jian's southern expedition would need to be scrapped and started over! This guy's intelligence must not be underestimated at all; back then, even Huan Wen also suffered a loss in his hands!
"Xie Anshi," Wang Meng slowly said, "I didn't think you would personally come for a peace talk. It has been a while."
Xie An, "......"
When Fu Jian heard Wang Meng speak of Xie An's identity, he was at first stunned before his expression changed to the one that meant: "As expected."
"You're old now." Wang Meng sighed. "Anshi, you're not how you used to be."
Xie An's expression turned solemn, and he said in a low voice, "Wang Jinglüe, why are you doing this? No, you're not him."
Xie An became acquainted with Wang Meng early in his youth. After each had chosen their own master, although they stood in opposite camps, one with the Jin while the other with the Qin, they couldn't be more familiar with each other's style.
"I remembered, when you were still alive, you persuaded Fu Jian," Xie An said, "saying that in all his life, he mustn't attack the South. This current you is not you anymore."
"That was then, this is now," Wang Meng raised his eyebrows as he seriously said. "Since the opportunity has presented itself, why must I not do it now?" Saying so, Wang Meng turned his head, looked at Chen Xing, and continued, "Little Shidi, if this Shixiong remembers correctly, your life is intertwined with Iuppiter…"
Mumbling, Chen Xing said, "So it's like that, ah. If one talks too much, they're bound to slip up. I think you can just shut up."
Xiang Shu frowned.
Wang Meng was dumbfounded.
"You finally revealed your true nature," Chen Xing looked at Wang Meng, eyes full of surprise, before glancing at Wang Ziye behind him. In fact, from the moment Wang Meng had appeared before them, Chen Xing had been thinking about how to beat Wang Ziye's move of resurrecting the dead. If we wish for the alliance between Fu Jian and Wang Ziye to crumble, we must hit them with a blow to its "core." What is the "core" here? Naturally, it's these people.
So Chen Xing said in his heart, This might not be very upright and honest, but I'm sorry, I'll start to spread hearsay.
Xiang Shu turned to look at Chen Xing.
"Turns out, your so-called 'eternal life'," Chen Xing said in a serious manner, "means going all over the place to dig up other people's ancestral graves?"
Chen Xing calmly continued, "Then you call the dead out of their graves and use them as your marionettes? These people, in their 'cores', are no longer themselves! Isn't it all just you, Wang Ziye, playing different roles in one opera?"
Wang Ziye, "......"
This was really a baseless accusation against Wang Ziye, but at this time, how could he have a chance to explain that to everyone? Moreover, he still had to consider Chen Xing's aim in doing this was to fish out more details.
"It seems that you are possessing so many bodies." Chen Xing sighed. "And you even managed to imitate them to perfection. Shi Hai-daren has truly worked hard. May I be bold and ask, when you were pretending to be Princess Qinghe and had to get along with Fu Jian, didn't you feel awkward?"
The Fu family was stunned.
Wang Ziye turned furious at once. "You're spreading a false rumor! None of you can see! Do you think His Majesty is blind? If Princess Qinghe were actually me in disguise, how could His Majesty not see through it? Wang Meng, you say it yourself…"
Chen Xing interrupted. "Anyway! Shifu had never mentioned a word about my identity to Eldest Shixiong, let alone the matter regarding Iuppiter. This is not my Eldest Shixiong!"
Wang Meng interjected, "Shidi, you…"
Out of all living people present here, only Chen Xing, as Wang Meng's little shidi, was qualified to deny Wang Meng's identity. Thus, if I were to turn a blind eye on the actual situation, even if you were truly my Shixiong, if I say you are not, who can say otherwise?
Wang Ziye absolutely didn't expect that the other party would start calling a deer a horse at all. Having no words to counter this, he explained to Fu Jian at once, "Your Majesty! This kid is babbling nonsense! There's no such…"
After hearing Chen Xing's words, a chill went down everyone's spines. Was it true that these people who had been awakened from their graves by Wang Ziye, were just as Chen Xing said, having no consciousness of their own?! Zhou Zhen, Princess Qinghe, and even Wen Che… they were all just marionettes who acted under Wang Ziye's commands!
Wang Ziye finally couldn't help but explain. He sneered and said, "When Qinghe was still alive, she drank the blood of Devil God that I had offered up to her, so she still kept her self-awareness, Exorcist! Your understanding of this thing is still lacking, it really is still shallow."
"What?" Chen Xing narrowed his eyes; he had successfully pushed Wang Ziye into a pit. "Drink what?"
Wang Ziye, "......"
There was only silence all around the tent. Wang Ziye spilled his own secret; he didn't consider his word carefully and spoke out the truth.
There was no need for Chen Xing to say more. Fu Jian understood these words and grew furious for having been deceived.
"Wang Ziye!" Fu Jian said, tone cold, "Three years ago, you were already planning for this?!"
Wang Ziye suddenly let out a strange laugh. Since Chen Xing had exposed him, there was no point in hiding it any longer. His complexion turned dark as he said, "Since everyone has come prepared, we might as well see whether that Iuppiter of yours is able to 'love you, love your dog.' Will its protection extend to your companions?"
Chen Xing's complexion instantly changed.
"Don't listen to his nonsense! Do it!" Xiang Shu wasn't affected by Wang Ziye and crushed the wine cup in his hand.
juurensha: //wailing about xiao kun
namio: (doesn’t say a thing but probably going NO NO NO NO NON O NO NO NO N ON ON ON ON ON ON O NOOOOOOO)
moon: //laughing menacingly
El: sorry for the wait, here’s the promised double chapters! enjoy!
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.