Chapter 15 Huacan Qing Gu Part 5
Seeing Yan Changqing’s guarded expression, Helian Rongchuan said, “If you want to know who it is, Yan Daren can come with me and treat it as a good deed.”
Two people, two horses, and a basket of dates, without attendants. After leaving Yaocheng and heading south all the way, they soon set foot on Hundred Cliff Mountain. Here it was sunny and the ground was not scorched completely away by the fire set off by Helian Rongchuan. The vegetation was prosperous, the water was gurgling, and it was quite a quiet and secluded area. Only a cliff on Hundred Cliff Mountain in the distance leaned out obliquely. The steep towering black rock looked like the palm of a giant, carefully half-shielding the humble wooden house at the foot of the mountain.
Yan Changqing’s white horse Shuang Zhui seeing that the grass was clean and plump neighed with interest. Yan Changqing knew that the horse had been running all the way, working hard, so he dismounted and tied it to the densest and tenderest grass to allow him to eat. Helian Rongchuan did not tie his horse. The owner was unruly, so the horse was also reckless. As soon as he let go, the horse ran away without a trace.
The person in the wooden house heard the noise coming from outside and came out to greet them. It turned out to be a weak old woman with gray hair and a cane. Helian Rongchuan held the basket of spring jujubes and smiled and said, “Madame, I picked these jujubes for you. They are very sweet.”
The old woman turned her head stiffly when she heard the sound. They only saw her muddy eyes covered with a layer of white clouds. She nodded with a smile: “It must have been inconvenient for you.”
This old woman was blind.
Yan Changqing was taken aback for a moment. Suddenly, he felt that the face of this old woman was familiar, he seemed to have seen it somewhere, but he couldn’t quite place where.
Helian Rongchuan had already walked to the door with the old woman. Seeing Yan Changqing still standing on the spot, he said, “Hey, what are you doing? Come in quickly.”
The old woman said: “My lord also brought guests with him today?”
Helian Rongchuan raised his eyebrows and glanced at Yan Changqing, then smiled: “This guest is of high status. Auntie, sit down and let me tell you.”
Yan Changqing stepped into the wooden house, frowning slightly. The house was very neatly cleaned, and it was a bit more spacious than appears from the outside, even magnificent. Whether it was the furnishings or the layout, it looked simple at first, but the materials used were of great value.
Helian Rongchuan had already greeted the old woman familiarly at the small table, and suddenly he said, “Auntie, where is the Bodhisattva on your neck?”
The old woman sighed, then regretfully patted her legs: “On the day I ran into you in the Stronghold, I somehow lost it. After looking for it for a long time, I couldn’t find it. Blame me for being a blind old woman, a silly blind old woman…”
Helian Rongchuan, “It may not be lost. Maybe it’s in this house. Today we have two discerning people who will help you find it.” As he spoke, he began rummaging around. After looking for a long time on the ground, Helian Rongchuan let out an “Ah”. He ran over with a smile, spread his palms, and said to the old woman, “Touch it and see, is this it?”
The old woman touched it and her murky eyes seemed to light up. She said with joy: “That’s it! That’s it!”
In the palm of Helian Rongchuan laid a small Guanyin jade pendant, lifelike, and the jade was extremely delicate and transparent. It was just that the piece of red rope seemed to have been soiled for some reason, showing the colour of dried blood.
Helian Rongchuan continued: “That’s right, I have to introduce you. The distinguished guest I brought is a high-ranking official. Didn’t auntie say that your son wants to join the army again? Let me tell you, this big official has already approved of it.”
The old woman opened her blank eyes in disbelief: “Is this true? This officer doesn’t despise my son…” Her tone almost trembled.
Helian Rongchuan said: “Of course it is true. If you don’t believe me, touch the sword of the official ——” Helian Rongchuan stretched out his hand to grab the waist of Yan Changqing, who was still confused. He patted his hip with his hand——
Yan Changqing was caught off guard. He never expected that Helian Rongchuan would make a move with his hand. He glared at him about to erupt, but Helian Rongchuan was serious. He gracefully made a look at him: “Go ahead. ”
Yan Changqing: “…”
He took a few steps forward.
The old woman stared with her milky-coloured eyes. She leaned forward cautiously and reached out her hand to touch the scabbard around Yan Changqing’s waist. Large and turbid tears flowed from her eyes instantly. The old woman suddenly knelt on her knees and let out a trembling sound: “Thank you, Sir! Thank you, Sir!”
Yan Changqing was startled and hurriedly helped the old woman rise. Helian Rongchuan’s tone was tinted with pride: “Look, it’s true!”
The old woman cried with joy: “It’s true, it’s a real official! My son said that only real officials, and generals, can wear such a good sword. My son is blessed to be able to fight with such a big official to kill the enemy. I got what I wanted, I got what I wanted!”
Helian Rongchuan: “It’s a pity that this draft is too urgent, so your son went on the road before he could come back to tell you. Fortunately, this official was reasonable and considerate to his subordinates. He came over to talk to you to let you feel rest assured.”
The old woman was even more excited when she heard these words. She was so grateful that she almost knelt on the ground again. Yan Changqing hurriedly helped her up, glanced at Helian Rongchuan, then said: “Popo (grandma), does your son have a leg deformity?”
The old woman was taken aback, the corners of her mouth trembled, and her gray eyes pleaded: “Yes…Yes, but this official can be confident that my son is completely healed. He is no different from a normal person, not different at all!”
Yan Changqing said, “Do you know who hurt his leg?”
The old woman said. “Yes. A famous general on the battlefield did.”
Yan Changqing let out a soft “oh”. He lowered his black eyes and fell silent.
The old woman said to herself: “My son is very brave on the battlefield, but the general was too powerful. My son couldn’t beat him after all, so he was caught. Who knew that the general was good-hearted and even though he hurt his leg, he let him go in the end.”
Yan Changqing thought he had heard it wrong: “Good-hearted?”
The old woman nodded and said, “My son has a strong temper and had always wanted to be a hero and die in battle. So from then on, he hated the general and the fact that he didn’t give him a quick death, letting him die earnestly, so his name can go down in history. Instead, he became a captured cripple.”
“But think about it. Every year, there is a war and so many deaths. People would just dig a big pit and bury them together. How many would actually know the names of the fallen? My son wanted to be a hero. But as a mother, I only want my child to survive. The general could have easily killed my son with a single swing of his sword, but he let him come back. If this is not kindness, what is it? Although he hurt my son’s leg, I am very grateful to him.”
Yan Changqing nodded stiffly, but couldn’t say anything.
After leaving the small house, Yan Changqing did not want to lead his horse. He raised his head and looked at the steep Hundred Cliff Mountain. Only one spot could be seen of the Hundred Cliff Stronghold on the top of the mountain, and it was still smoking.
The darkness, blood and sordidness of the Stronghold seemed to be really far away from this old woman.
Yan Changqing suddenly got the desire to go for a walk, and Helian Rongchuan followed him. The two were silent all the way. They could only hear birds singing in the mountains and the gurgling of the streams.
He didn’t know how long he walked until he reached a calm blue lake. Yan Changqing finally stopped and turned around:
“That Popo is actually Da Yan’s mother, isn’t she?”
“You brought me here because you wanted to act out a show? Have you fulfilled that Popo’s desires and resolved my heart’s knot?”
It was almost an accusatory tone. Helian Rongchuan lowered his head and laughed softly, but did not answer. He stretched out his hand to pick up a stone and threw it flat across the lake. Several birds flew up startled, causing ripples on the surface of the lake.
“I met this Popo that day during the battle against Hundred Cliff. After hearing her tell me a very interesting story, I wanted you to hear it too. As for whose mother she is, I don’t know.”
Yan Changqing glanced at him and remained silent. It took a long time before he sighed and said softly: “Thank you.”
Helian Rongchuan looked at Yan Changqing intently, without making fun of him. He knew that the young general who looked like a god, with a majestic appearance to outsiders, was slowly and very carefully revealing the softness underneath his armour.
A blast of wind came, blowing Yan Changqing’s long hair, which resembled black satin. Their surroundings were extremely quiet.
“I have been thinking about what would be the best end for those soldiers who would rather die than surrender on the battlefield.”
The year he met Da Yan, he was only seventeen years old. In the beginning, he wasn’t used to his blade tasting blood, the smell of bloody heads rolling to the ground. This was especially the case for those enemies who knew it was a dead end but still refused to surrender. After all, they still had a bit of a youth’s soft and simple mind. It wasn’t until later that he steeled himself for a long time and realized——
“A real warrior should die on the battlefield, instead of living a wasted life.” Yan Changqing looked at the calm lake. His black eyes reflected the sparkling water.
“So, even though Da Yan did a lot of bad things, I always thought that from the start, it was me who was wrong.”
It was he who destroyed a hero with his own hands and pushed him to h*ll.
A gust of wind hit Yan Changqing’s forehead and the strands of scattered hair were blown into a small mess. The surroundings were extremely quiet.
“But did you see? That Grandma was truly very grateful to you. She didn’t blame you.”
Helian Rongchuan said softly: “Sightseeing when I was young, I had once passed by an academy. Although it was damaged from the chaos of war, the preservation was very good. Do you know what was written on it?”
Helian Rongchuan continued: “The couplet stated that right and wrong are judged by oneself, while reputation is judged by others. Gains and losses are just numbers. The meaning is probably such that right or wrong, you can only seek the intention but not be defeated by it. As for praise and derogation, let it be. You and I are not gods, and our lifespans are only a few short decades. Whatever you desire to do, do it happily. As for the result, you can only hand it over to the heavens. Whether it’s good or bad, just seek a clear conscience. Other things, if they’re good or bad, what does it have to do with you?”
The sun was about to set. The warm golden light was slanting down against the distant mountains. A weeping willow lake was nearby. It seemed that everything was covered with a layer of soft, fluffy light.
Is right and wrong judged by oneself, reputation judged by others, and gains and losses only settled by numbers?
There was a very soft sigh, a sigh signifying relief.
Against the light, Yan Changqing looked at Helian Rongchuan’s sharply contoured face and suddenly felt a little unsettled in his heart.
Yan Changqing paused, turning his face to not look at Helian Rongchuan’s dark brown eyes.
“Helian Rongchuan” – the first time Yan Changqing said this name addressing him directly. His voice was very soft, but Helian Rongchuan could hear it very clearly.