“What does that mean? Is he afraid of getting recognised?“
Editor(s): Amelea, juurensha
“Why are you following me again? Didn’t we agree to let bridges be bridges, and roads be roads?”
After the meal, Chen Xing walked on the bustling street and realised that Xiang Shu was actually still following behind him.
“So you can walk on this street, but I can’t?” Xiang Shu asked with an indifferent expression.
Chen Xing, “Okay, you’re going this way too. Where are you going?”
Both of them were standing in the middle of the main street as they glared at each other, and for a moment, neither of them spoke. On second thought though, Chen Xing realised, yi? Could it be that this bastard has no money on him?
He had asked for his medicine bag back from Xiang Shu on the way here, and Xiang Shu had returned it to him. He hadn’t gotten a lot of gold from when he robbed the bank, but Chen Xing didn’t see him use any either, so when did he spend it all?
“Are you seeking shelter with a friend too?” Chen Xing scrutinised Xiang Shu from head to toe. When he saw how dusty he was all over, he was dissatisfied and said, “Clothes make the man. If you seek shelter with a friend looking like that, you’ll just be looked down upon. Forget it, I’ll buy you a set of clothes, follow me.”
Chen Xing asked around for directions and bought ready-made clothes for himself and Xiang Shu in Chang’an Garment Shop.
“Do you want to take a bath?” Chen Xing asked.
Chen Xing thought about it, then took Xiang Shu to a public bath to wash up. Along the way, Xiang Shu didn’t utter a word and didn’t pay either. He just stood behind Chen Xing and watched, waiting for him to pay, and followed him wherever he went without even making a sound.
“I really miss that killer Dage.” Chen Xing was already used to Xiang Shu’s attitude, so he soaked in the bathhouse pool and entertained himself by playing with his towel as he said casually.
“He’s not a killer.” Xiang Shu came down as well and soaked in the pool.
“I know, he’s a swordsman.” Chen Xing answered, “I was just saying that. He doesn’t seem to have much money on him either……”
“He’s not a swordsman either.”
Ever since Feng Qianjun left, Xiang Shu seemed to talk more.
Chen Xing, “?”
“Then what is he?” Chen Xing asked tentatively. He didn’t know why, but he always felt that on their way here, there was a faint trace of some sort of competitiveness between Xiang Shu and Feng Qianjun -- like the mutual apprehensiveness and vigilance between martial arts experts. However, Feng Qianjun himself admitted that he wasn’t Xiang Shu’s opponent, so why did Xiang Shu pay such special attention to him?
Xiang Shu said coldly, “I don’t know.” Then he picked up a small folded knife folded by the pool, lowered his head slightly, and faced the surface of the water as he shaved.
“Do you need help?” Chen Xing asked him, fearing that Xiang Shu would scratch his face, then helped him shave along the side of his face from his temple to his lower jaw. Xiang Shu was imprisoned for half a year without any sunshine, so his skin was really fair, but he was still quite good-looking. After changing into new robes, he looked like a completely different person and wasn’t inferior to the beautiful men of Xianbei who walked up and down the streets.
When the two of them left the public bath, it happened to be noon. Chen Xing looked at Xiang Shu, who took out the mask that he had seized in Longzhong and casually put it on his face. It was a thin wooden mask that could be seen everywhere in Chang’an City’s market and only covers a small area. After wearing it, it could only conceal the upper half of his face while his warm lips and high nose bridge were left exposed, further enhancing his handsome and mysterious temperament.
What does that mean? Is he afraid of getting recognised? Chen Xing thought.
“Then, you……” Chen Xing felt really sour in his heart as he studied Xiang Shu. He had wanted to say, “I’ll say farewell to you here then. It’s over, you handsome bastard Protector, just get lost ba.”. But those words could never leave his mouth no matter what.
Yet Xiang Shu mounted a horse, and Chen Xing quickly cried out, “Ai! My horse!”
Previously, the horse that Xiang Shu rode from Xiangyang to Chang’an was a Great Qin’s official horse, so he naturally couldn’t ride it into the city. At present, only Chen Xing’s horse was left for the two of them, and if it was snatched away by Xiang Shu again he would be left without one!
However, Xiang Shu didn’t spur the horse to leave and just stared at Chen Xing from atop the horse.
“Where are you going?” Xiang Shu said impatiently, “Get on the horse!”
Chen Xing thought, you’re going to send me there? Looking at this situation, Xiang Shu most likely just wanted to take his horse again…forget it forget it, let him send me to my destination, and I won’t need the horse anymore anyway, it won’t hurt to let him ride it.
“I’m going to the west side of the city, the Wen residence.” Chen Xing said grumpily, “Send me there and you can take the horse away after that ba.”
Both of them shared a mount, and Chen Xing couldn’t help saying, “Why are you so rude? Do I owe you something?! Do you still want your face anymore?”
Xiang Shu, “Say one more word and I’ll throw you down right now.”
So Chen Xing had no choice but to stop talking. He hugged Xiang Shu’s waist from behind as he was taken across Chang’an’s main street and felt somewhat uncomfortable. Then, he smelled the faint scent of honey locust soap that wafted up from Xiang Shu’s body and all sorts of feelings welled up in his heart.
Which tribe is this guy from? Chen Xing couldn’t help but wonder. Amidst the Five Barbarians in Chang’an now -- Di, Jie, Xiongnu, Qiang, and Xianbei: the Di people were imposing and bold, the Jie people were brave and aggressive while the Xiongnu people had rough and wild personalities. Only the Qiang people and Han people had similar customs, and they had settled in Longxi for many generations.
Amongst the Five Barbarians, Xianbei was publicly recognised to be the best-looking ones. Xianbei people were of Donghu origins; they had smooth and soft milky skin, dark blue eyes, but very cruel and obstinate natures. The one whose name was known all around the world and also the one who Fu Jian was madly in love with, Murong Chong, came from the Murong family, one of the four major families of the Xianbei clan.
In addition, the close friend that Chen Xing had come to look for came from a family that was ranked fourth among the influential Xianbei families.
“I’m looking for Yuwen Xin.” Chen Xing was with Xiang Shu in front of the Yuwen family’s large residence as he said to the doorman.
A small window opened from the inside, “My Master is not at home.” Then it was closed with a bang, and the wooden window was shut right in front of Chen Xing.
Chen Xing, “He is here! What do you mean by this? Open the window!”
Xiang Shu just stood silently behind Chen Xing and didn’t respond to him, as if nothing had happened.
Chen Xing could only knock on the small window again and say, “I’m your Master’s schoolmate, we used to be best……”
Before he finished talking, a golden light flashed -- when the small window was opened again, Xiang Shu had casually flicked a gold ingot inside, and they heard a happy “aiya” sound travel out from inside. The side door was unlatched, “Come come, come on in!’
Chen Xing, “………………”
Chen Xing looked at Xiang Shu and just followed him in. After the servant watching the door obtained the gold ingot, he took the two of them to a room used for entertaining guests and said, “My Master really did go to the palace……please sit down and have some tea, What message would you like me to deliver?”
“Just tell him that Chen Xing is here.” Chen Xing saw that the Yuwen residence was both grand and spacious with bamboo planted everywhere. Water from the mountains could be heard gurgling; it was a quaint place, and there were numerous maidservants. Then he continued, “Are Old Master Yuwen and Old Madam Yuwen around? It’ll be good for me to greet them.”
“Old Master has died from an illness.” The servant answered, “Old Madam lives in Youzhou, it’s rare for her to come here even just once a year.”
Chen Xing asked, “Has Yuwen Xin gotten married yet?”
“Not yet.” The servant answered, “Please take a seat first.”
Chen Xing said with a casual laugh, “He did say that he wanted to marry me and sure enough, he hasn’t gotten married yet.”
Xiang Shu, “……”
Xiang Shu sat at one side and didn’t drink the Yuwen family’s tea. Chen Xing pushed it towards him, but got no reaction, so he just did as he wished.
“Do you know the Yuwen family?” Chen Xing asked.
“No.” Xiang Shu answered.
Chen Xing obtained such a concise answer again and finally couldn’t resist from pricking Xiang Shu, “Has anyone ever told you that you’re really boring?”
“Everyone says that.” Xiang Shu cast a glance at Chen Xing from under his mask.
Chen Xing said, “I think the two of us have to talk truthfully and openly between ourselves.” But when he said this, Chen Xing also thought it sounded a bit strange. The Heart Lamp choosing a Protector was all just one-sided wishful thinking on his part; to Xiang Shu, they were strangers, so why would he be obligated to talk to Chen Xing?
Xiang Shu finally picked up the tea cup, took a sip of tea, and looked at the cup in his hand.
Chen Xing really wanted to chat with Xiang Shu. On their way here, he always felt like the two of them had a lukewarm relationship. Yet after saying that they would completely part ways, Xiang Shu did not leave after they bid farewell to Feng Qianjun. In terms of getting to know each other, the two of them were still not familiar with each other right now.
An idea occurred to Chen Xing -- perhaps if he were to take the initiative to talk about himself, he would be able to extract a few words from Xiang Shu.
“Yuwen Xin and I started schooling together when we were young.” Chen Xing explained, “Do you know what ‘schooling’ means? It means being instructed. We Han people have to memorise the Thousand Character Text: heaven and earth, profound and primary, flood and desolation of the universe. You Hu people don’t have……”
“I’m a Hu, not a pig.” Xiang Shu answered earnestly, “In your people’s eyes, as long as someone isn’t a Han, would they all be illiterate idiots who only eat raw meat?”
So Chen Xing could only say, “When my father was still alive, many people in Jinyang looked up to him.”
If one thought about it carefully, Chen Xing’s family could also be regarded as descendants of a prestigious family. His great-great-grandfather was Chen Ping, one of the founding heroes. He came up with six ingenious strategies. During the last two generations of the great Han dynasty, the Chen family were all scholars, and Chen Xing’s father was a learned and famous scholar of Jinyang in his generation.
When Yuwen Xin was 11 years old, the good time for his studies to begin had been delayed, so his father sent his only son to a private school run by the Chen family to be educated. Chen Xing’s father believed in education for everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds, and didn’t discriminate against Xianbei people. Chen Xing learned to read and write essays ever since he was five years old, so naturally, there was no need for him to attend school everyday. When he went over occasionally out of curiosity to visit his father, Yuwen Xin took a strong liking to Chen Xing. He would hold Chen Xing’s hand and take him everywhere to play.
Little by little, the two of them got acquainted with each other. Chen Xing took him home, and after Father Chen saw that his son had a playmate, he loved both the house and the crow it houses and allowed Yuwen Xin to study at the Chen residence. The two of them spent the best two years of Chen Xing’s life together—— during those times, both his parents were still around, and his grandmother was in good health. Yuwen Xin loved Chen Xing dearly; whenever his family sent something over, he would definitely save some for Chen Xing. When Yuwen Xin made mistakes in his reading and writing, so he would have to endure scoldings and get punished to kneel, Chen Xing would accompany him in the yard too.
The two of them would sleep together at night and chat as well……
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.