Chapter 22 Blood-like Sunset Part 2
The general’s defection was a very big deal. However, the high-powered veterans headed by the three-dynasty elder Pang Taishi strained themselves as they thought of ways to keep the power of the young emperor in balance. Now that Yan Changqing disappeared for no reason, it would be best to make a fuss over it. On top of everything, rumours had been circulating, saying that the Second Prince of Dongyun and Yan Changqing had a close relationship. It was reasonable to assume that General Yan voluntarily defected to Dongyun.
It’s just that no matter how the ministers tried to impeach Yan Changqing in the court, Murong Xiu was determined to oppose them. After having said too much, Murong Xiu only concluded faintly: “This is a matter of great importance, we will discuss it later.” Then, he disbanded the court.
So Zhang Jian staying on the emperor’s side, became anxious. Although General Yan completed a lot of military services, now it was unclear if he was living or dead, and there was no way to protect him. Seeing as Pang Taishi’s arrogance grew bigger, it was definitely not the time to make rash decisions.
The more he thought about it, the more frightened Zhang Jian became. He couldn’t help but say: “Your Majesty, since you have searched for many days and still can’t find General Yan, how about…?”
Murong Xiu raised his head and glanced at Zhang Jian. Suddenly, Zhang Jian saw something in his eyes that made him break out in chills. It was akin to a lion, quietly watching as invaders broke into its territory.
Zhang Jian choked, and swallowed his next words: “…we just sentence the punishment”. After all, he had also played around in the matters of court. He quickly changed his tone and said:
“Why don’t we search again?”
With a sudden inspiration in his mind, Zhang Jian added a ghostly sentence: “This minister is willing to go to the border and search for General Yan himself if you desire it!”
Murong Xiu opened his eyes and carefully examined the person in charge of affairs of the Privy Council standing beside him. Although Zhang Jian had always been at odds with those old officials, his face was warm and friendly. He was smart and loyal.
After a long silence, Murong Xiu dismissed all the palace members, and then slowly started to speak.
Zhang Jian stood next to Murong Xiu and listened respectfully. The longer he listened, the more sweat appeared on his forehead.
Helian Rongchuan stepped out of Yan Changqing’s room, and didn’t know how far he had walked when he heard Helian Jue scream:
“Second brother, what happened to your face?”
Helian Rongchuan brought a hand to his face and saw it come off scarlet. Only then did he feel pain in his forehead. After being dragged back to a room, Helian Jue was in a hurry looking for medicine to wrap the injury, while continuing angrily:
“Usually you have a glib tongue, you can even make a dying man feel alive with conversation. How come when you saw that big beautiful general, your mouth turned reserved. Why didn’t you explain?”
Helian Rongchuan could still see the resentful look in Yan Changqing’s eyes, the image still clear in his mind, and went on:
“Explain what? He’s angry now. Everything I say is useless, it would only irritate him more, add extra sword holes on his body.”
Helian Jue sucked in her frustration and continued:
“That’s why you have to explain. You have to tell him that the Dongyun Crown Prince originally ordered that none of the twenty boats were to remain intact. You had kneeled in front of the crown prince and were given over 80 whips by our eldest brother, that you were whipped until your flesh and blood were rotten before you got a non-lethal order. Then, you stayed up for two days and nights without eating or drinking, just to rush over as soon as possible to keep him safe!”
Helian Rongchuan shook his head. His eyebrow had a touch of guilt:
“But I did not save him. Your life was hanging by a thread and I had to hurt him.”
Helian Jue kept her gaze lowered. Hearing a sudden “ouch” pulled her out of her thoughts and she hurriedly bared Helian Rongchuan’s upper body, revealing mottled and glaring scars on his back. Because the wounds were not treated in time and were soaked in water, most of the deep whip marks had turned dark purple. His flesh was cut open and some of it even had pus. What was even more shocking was that not only the back but his chest also had a sizeable bloody hole on it. The flesh and blood were half turned out. It was the scar left by the arrow that he received last night.
He Lianjue gasped, “You—what did you do?!”
Helian Rongchuan whispered hurriedly: “Be quieter, don’t disturb Changqing’s rest.”
He raised his head and glanced at the few bare beams of the roof, and muttered to himself:
“This is a broken house, if the sound is loud, one can hear it next door. It’s really not a good place for Changqing to heal his wounds… Hey! Hey, hey, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”
Helian Jue couldn’t laugh or cry. She helped him dress the wound and said: “Why not let the other party know about this? Maybe they will see your injuries and soften their heart and forgive you?”
“Forgive me?” Helian Rongchuan laughed and his face was dejected: “Changqing’s heart is soft. Unfortunately, right now, he just wants to stab me to death with his sword.”
Helian Jue sighed again. She hurriedly gave Helian Rongchuan medicine, then wrapped him with white gauze: “I don’t understand this. Knowing your style, I thought you would rush over, tie him up and take him away.”
“Take him away? Then when he wakes up, how would he look at me?”
Helian Jue was taken aback and couldn’t answer.
“He will definitely hate me.” Helian Rongchuan lowered his voice to a murmur:
“I don’t want him to hate me.”
That’s why he thought of pretending to be hit by an arrow and force Yan Changqing to abandon the boat and escape with him. He hoped that in this way, Yan Changqing would not hate himself.
Helian Rongchuan was used to the days of licking blood off knife blades and looking for gold in bones. The benefits he reaped have always been for the sake of himself or others, but never for the so-called Kingdom. Therefore, he never thought that someone could regard the responsibilities the country entrusted to them as important.
For his soldiers, he was able to be their sharp, strong sword. For his country, he could become stronger. He could give up everything without hesitation and fight with his life on the line.
Thinking of this, Helian Rongchuan couldn’t help smiling a little bitterly. Even after going through so many plans, and calculating variables, he still managed to make things go in the worst direction.
Helian Jue looked at Helian Rongchuan’s silent profile and stopped talking. In her eyes, Helian Rongchuan has always been unscrupulous. It seemed as if there was nothing that could put a frown on his face, nothing he would put in his heart. It was the first time that she saw her half-brother (same father, different mother), work so hard for a person.
It seemed that the guess by her eldest brother, who was the Crown Prince, was true. The robbery and extermination of the ship in one fell swoop, while leaving the general alive. There are bound to be endless troubles coming their way.
Ten days later, Yan Changqing’s injury gradually healed but the numbness in his right shoulder remained unresolved. There would also be an occasional dull pain. Helian Rongchuan visited him regularly every day, delivering water, food, tea, and medicine. He was extremely diligent and always came to converse even if it was about nothing. However, Yan Changqing was determined to treat him as empty air and didn’t even look at him, let alone speak with him.
Ignored and neglected, it made Helian Rongchuan feel very uncomfortable, but he never said anything.
Yan Changqing would go out every day, going further each day. However, he would come back every day at sunset.
Helian Rongchuan knew that the reason he didn’t run away was that he was looking for the missing temper snow stones of the twenty ships.
The sun was shining bright on this day, and as soon as Yan Changqing walked out the door, he heard a loud noise not far away. He saw a group of children, who seemed short for their age. They were around an elm tree so big that even four or five people would not be able to hug their arms around it. Each one had a small bamboo basket slung in their hands, all looking up. Several toddlers who had just learned to walk were also held in their arms by their mothers. They would suck their fingers, while curiously looking up at the tree.
“Mother, when is Big Brother going to get the Elm Money down?”
“Be patient.” The village woman holding the child looked up anxiously: “Ah Mao, be careful.”
It turned out that there was a boy of about seven or eight years old on the tree. He was keeping his balance with his arms outstretched, tremblingly stepping on the branches, trying to climb them. After hearing the village woman’s words, he glanced down. Standing so high, the people under the tree became the size of one’s palm. He was not afraid and just responded with a grin, then he turned and jumped onto another slender branch.
A dozen children under the tree were constantly urging him like a crew of sparrows:
“Hurry up, hurry up, my mother is waiting to throw it in the pot!”
It was quite lively for a while.
Young green elm leaves sprouted early every spring. Two bright rays of sunlight leaked under the huge canopy, gently shining on Yan Changqing’s eyelashes.
A few days after being kidnapped to Xixia Village, Helian Rongchuan sent someone to monitor him, but he guards not restrict his actions. Yan Changqing’s goal has been to retrieve the lost temper snow stones, and up until now, he hadn’t gotten a chance to sit back and observe life in this small village at the border of the Yan Kingdom and Dongyun. Although the village was dilapidated, it was quite peaceful. There were green hills and white clouds, and flowing water. Small cottages scattered like dots at the foot of the mountain, all framed by a humble background. Dogs and chickens ran amok. It’s just that, whether it was the frolicking crowd in front of him, the cooking smoke not far away, or the mooing calls of the cows, all these noises and joys seemed to be far away from him.
Turning around and about to leave, Yan Changqing suddenly heard a creak behind him. He saw that the child named Ah Mao was about to fall from the half-broken elm branch under his feet!
“My son!” The village woman holding the baby screamed.
Yan Changqing was taken aback. Without thinking, he flew to him and grabbed Ah Mao’s arm. But at the same moment, he suddenly felt a sharp pain flashing like lightning from the wound on his right shoulder. His wrist loosened uncontrollably——
No good! Yan Changqing opened his eyes wide. Seeing Ah Mao was about to slip out of his wrist——
Between the time for a spark to be lit, a figure suddenly passed in front of him and grabbed Ah Mao’s wrist while the other hand firmly supported his waist.
Yan Changqing slowly fell to the ground. Startled he abruptly threw away Helian Rongchuan’s hand, turned around and left.
Ah Mao’s mother hurriedly hugged her child, stunned. Her knees softened, and she knelt in front of Helian Rongchuan and Yan Changqing with a plop. She hugged her son and toddler who were so scared that they were crying and kowtowed: “Thank you two gods, Thank you two gods!”
Yan Changqing calmly said, “I’m not a god, and I can’t save you, don’t thank me.”
Ah Mao’s mother was shocked. She did not hear what Yan Changqing said. She only saw two godlike figures, one in front of the other, saving her son in the air. It was as if a god descended from the world. At this time, she could only stop the two of them and then kowtowed as thanks. Tears ran down her face and she could not say anything else.
Ah Mao was courageous. He didn’t feel scared when he fell from the tree. He only found it fresh, interesting and thrilling. He was so brave that he pulled the corner of Yan Changqing’s clothes and grabbed Helian Rongchuan’s hand with a look of excitement. Turning his head back to his little friend, he said:
“Hurry up and look at that! These two immortal elder brothers can actually fly!”
Just now, the dozen or so children who were surrounding the tree all had their eyes light up. They hurriedly ran over with their short legs to surround the two people, each of them raising their excited smiling faces, and muttering:
“I saw it! They really can fly! “A little girl in a thin red shirt suddenly rushed over to hold Yan Changqing’s calf and did not let go. Regardless of Yan Changqing’s cold expression, she exclaimed excitedly: “This big brother flew the highest!”
“Who said that? This big brother is obviously the best!” Another chubby little girl pulled Helian Rongchuan’s hand, pouting her small mouth, and said, “Your big brother was hugged by my big brother!”