“What does that mean? Is he afraid of getting recognised?“
Editor(s): Amelea, juurensha
Chen Xing suddenly sensed that Xiang Shu seemed to be a little impatient listening to him; he radiated a kind of air like he was ready to pick a quarrel and cause trouble at any time.
“Tell me frankly, do you have any enmity with the Yuwen family?” Chen Xing observed Xiang Shu’s expression, but because he was wearing a mask, he couldn’t see it clearly. He was afraid that Xiang Shu would suddenly blow up if he saw something wrong with Yuwen Xin, and there would be a lot of trouble if he were to kill Yuwen Xin straight away on the spot.
“No.” Xiang Shu answered.
At that time, Yuwen Xin had even asked Chen Xing to be his wife. Although Chen Xing was still young at the time, he was very knowledgeable and instantly burst out laughing and made fun of him. How could he ask a man to be his wife? Yuwen Xin read sacred books, yet he still retained the wild spirit of the Five Barbarians within him. Amongst the Hus who came from the north, they never talked about abiding by any rules to harmonise Yin and Yang; as long as they saw beautiful youngsters, they would ask them to be their wives, whether they were a man or woman and regardless of whether they were close relatives. It was common for them to have several wives as well. Furthermore, by marrying a male wife, they could even help with physical labour, herding livestock, and hunting. Send a few cattle and sheep to get married, take the person home, and set up a tent to perform a ceremony commonly known as "Qinglu Kowtows". After exchanging kowtows, they would shamelessly start making love once the tent curtains were let down, then The End.
After Chen Xing, who was six years old at that time, finished listening to all that, he turned around and sold Yuwen Xin out. He ran over to ask his father if he could get married to Yuwen Xin, and Yuwen Xin ended up getting a good beating.
Chen Xing certainly wouldn’t bring up the past again. But when he thought of the friendship between childhood friends at that time, he found it quite interesting still. During the nine years of his training with his Shifu in Mt. Hua, his Shifu had a clear and cold appearance, and usually spoke bluntly. Even before his death, he rarely showed any warmth or affection. Chen Xing would often think about Yuwen Xin during lonely nights; such simple teenage feelings had always managed to touch him.
Although Chen Xing couldn’t remember Yuwen Xin’s face clearly, Chen Xing has always remembered the scene of that person climbing up the treetop in the yard to pick dates for him in his heart.
Dusk was at hand. Chen Xing’s belly was full from drinking tea and he thought, why isn’t he back yet? He went out to ask a few times and even the servants sitting idly outside had changed hands, yet there still wasn’t any signs of any activity.
“I already said I don’t know ah.” This servant didn’t take his money, so he was getting impatient from Chen Xing’s questions, “If you don’t want to wait anymore, just go back.”
Chen Xing began to feel bored. He paced back and forth in the room, but Xiang Shu continued sitting down lazily. He had one foot raised that he placed on the tea table, and even though he didn’t look like a Hu, that sitting posture of his was just like how Hu people appeared as if they were saying, ‘the heavens are great, the earth is great, but I am still the greatest’. He minded his own business as he fiddled around with a dagger in his hand -- it was the one he had seized from Chen Xing before, although Xiang Shu had already returned his medicine bag to him on the way here.
Chen Xing felt really discontented; this family didn’t even ask him to stay for dinner, so they must not care much about him at all. Whenever he visited the Yuwen family when he was a child, he was always treated with great hospitality.
Suddenly, he heard someone shouting not far away, as if passing on thea message that said “Master asked for wine”.
“He’s back?” Chen Xing muttered to himself.
“He was back a long time ago.” It was rare for Xiang Shu to speak.
Chen Xing, “And how do you know that? You heard him?”
Chen Xing left the room and said to the servant, “I want to see your family’s master.”
“I already said that he’s not back yet.” The servant said.
“I heard someone ask for wine to be prepared.” Chen Xing was about to walk to the main hall when the servant said, “Ai! Stop right there! You dare act wildly here?!”
The servant went up and wanted to drag him back, but his neck was pinched with two fingers by Xiang Shu, who was behind him. Within an instant, everything before his eyes went black, and the servant fainted and fell to the ground.
Chen Xing was about to go to the main hall when the housekeeper heard the shout. He had already come over and stopped, “Young Master Chen, the master of the house has not yet returned, why don’t you continue waiting for a short moment? Or you could go back first, and come back again tomorrow?”
Chen Xing stopped and said, “He must be back, I heard everything. Go and tell him that Chen Xing’s here. Go, now.”
Xiang Shu had always been following behind Chen Xing. The housekeeper looked up at the masked man. He wasn’t afraid of Chen Xing, but this man was of unknown origins and didn’t seem like someone who was easy to deal with, so he dared not pick a fight with him. He smiled at Chen Xing patiently, “He really isn’t back yet, you heard wrong.”
Chen Xing pushed him and shouted, “Xin Ge!”
In the garden behind a corridor, two men had turned around and were about to leave. Chen Xing shouted, “Yuwen Xin!” Then he chased after them. Xiang Shu pushed the housekeeper aside, Chen Xing arrived at the front courtyard and shouted loudly, “Yuwen Xin!!”
He saw two young men sitting in the hall; one was standing, while the other was sitting. Both of them were in their twenties. The one standing wore an azure scholar’s robe, had a slender body, handsome face, and a clear countenance. The one sitting down was dressed in an ochre martial robe embroidered with the patterns of a Torch dragon travelling through day and night. They both looked like Xianbei people, and the one standing was handing a cup of tea to the man sitting down.
When they heard Chen Xing’s shout, both of them turned to face him at the same time.
It remained quiet for a while; the military official’s grip loosened, and the tea cup fell to the ground and instantly shattered into pieces with a clang.
Chen Xin, “??”
Chen Xin looked up, and his gaze swept across both faces. On the face of the young man who wore the scholar’s robe, he managed to discern the faint vestiges retained from childhood and laughed, “Xin Ge!”
Yuwen Xin finally snapped out of his trance and smiled immediately, “You’re Chen Xing!”
Only then did the housekeeper catch up. Yuwen Xin immediately threw him a reproachful glance. Chen Xing didn’t notice that minute detail and walked forward to pat him. Yuwen Xin instantly made a gesture to block him lightly, then changed it to shaking hands with Chen Xing and patting his arm.
Chen Xing didn’t mind it and smiled as he sat down, then motioned for Xiang Shu to come in.
“You’re still alive!” Yuwen Xin was surprised.
“Ah, yes.” Chen Xing remembered now. At the time, Yuwen Xin’s whole family had moved to Chang’an, while his own family was destroyed in the conflagration of war. For the past few years, he had sent several letters to Yuwen Xin but received no reply, so they were most likely lost on the way. He must have thought that Chen Xing was dead, so he explained, “You said that your family was in Chang’an, and I happened to come over, so I came to visit because I was thinking about you.”
After saying that, Chen Xing suddenly felt a sense of alienation between himself and Yuwen Xin. Yet Yuwen Xin just kept nodding, “This is great, I just knew that you must be alive.”
“Did you not receive my letters?” Chen Xing asked.
Yuwen Xin looked baffled. Chen Xing saw that the young military officer had been looking at him the entire time, so he smiled politely at him.
Yuwen Xin snapped out of his stupor and quickly introduced, “This is a Mounted Regular Attendant, Tuoba Yan, his Lordship Tuoba. Brother Tuoba, this was my schoolmate for two years, my Shidi.”
The young man named Tuoba Yan repeatedly nodded in a hurry. He didn’t say anything and just looked at Chen Xing with a hint of a smile in his eyes.
“Brother Tuoba is a true talent, and he looks so handsome too.” Chen Xing smiled. He knew that the post of a Mounted Regular Attendant was the commander of the imperial guards by the emperor’s side. Although he wasn’t too high in rank, he had great power. He didn’t expect that Fu Jian would appoint such a young man to the post.
And his words of praise for Tuoba Yan wasn’t an attempt to butter him up. As soon as Chen Xing entered the hall, he noticed that Yuwen Xin had grown up a lot in the past nine years and was different from before. On the contrary, this young military officer’s handsome appearance was unparalleled, and he looked quite elegant too. His stature was ramrod straight, and when he sat upright in a proper manner, it made him seem even more self-disciplined, which made Chen Xing feel very comfortable.
When he heard this, Tuoba Yan suddenly blushed and looked elated.
Chen Xing, “……”
Yuwen Xin, “……”
The scene was so awkward that Chen Xing had to laugh with a “hahaha” and say, “It’s true! Brother Tuoba, why is your face red? You……”
“What about this person?” Yuwen Xin quickly changed the subject.
“Oh, his name is Xiang Shu.” Chen Xing said, “He’s my……un……friend.”
Chen Xing had wanted to say ‘Protector’, but he’d rather not court a rebuff for himself. Yuwen Xin exchanged some pleasantries with Xiang Shu, but Xiang Shu didn’t pay any attention to him at all. Chen Xing thought, you’re the one who wanted to follow along, and yet you’re still gonna be like that after meeting my friend? You should at least greet him ba!
Fury was instantly aroused in Chen Xing’s heart, and he was so angry that he felt like he had the guts to do anything. He smiled at Yuwen Xin. “He’s mute.”
“Oh, oh!” Yuwen Xin nodded.
Chen Xing was only waiting for Xiang Shu to retort, so he could then exclaim in surprise, “oh so you can speak!”. But Xiang Shu actually didn’t say anything and just fell silent for a brief moment.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.