Chapter 28 Blood-like Sunset Part 8
Yan Changqing stared at Zhang Jian’s face, and could no longer care about the courtesy between officials. He only wanted to cut him thousands of times to pay homage to the countless lives lost in Qixia Village. However, as soon as Zhang Jian spoke those words, it was like a basin of icy water had been dumped over his head, helping him calm down instantly.
Or more precisely, shudder.
“Help me?”, Yan Changqing murmured.
Helian Rongchuan was surrounded. Yan Changqing had a terrible misunderstanding to clear up, and now was the only time to do it.
Yan Changqing suddenly felt absurd that his anger had disappeared in an instant. His whole body kept shaking but his grip loosened and Zhang Jian finally fell to the ground. He sat up coughing violently. Ignoring the pain in his chest, he struggled to stand up and took out a jade silk brocade from his arms.
His trembling bloody fingers slowly opened the jade brocade, and on its splendid depiction of clouds and cranes, familiar handwriting leaped into view. Yan Changqing still remembered that when he was Murong Xiu’s escort, he tended to write with a strong character and a Shoujin font. This style of writing pleased Murong Xiu very much. He collected a lot of copybooks and practiced until his character shape was almost indistinguishable from Yan Changqing’s.
But right now every word seemed to be written in the blood of fallen villagers. Every stroke was like a sharp dagger piercing Yan Changqing’s heart.
Sarcastic and cruel.
Yan Changqing raised his head and laughed miserably, only feeling a surge of rage in his chest. He forced this feeling down. His wrist shook, and the imperial edict fell into the pool of blood on the ground.
Zhang Jian hurried forward, holding the imperial edict in his hands, and carefully wiped off the blood. He knew the exact weight of this imperial edict because every word in it was written by Yan Emperor, Murong Xiu. In this text, he commended Yan Changqing for strangling the water bandits at the border of the two kingdoms.
It turned out that Murong Xiu had already sent a spy to understand the reason why the temper snow stones were robbed. Zhang Jian still remembered Murong Xiu’s distorted and terrifying expression when he talked about the Dongyun man.
After all, the other party was the second prince of Dongyun. The predicament they found themselves in was not easy to solve but Murong Xiu thought of a strategy.
Aren’t there many water bandits on the Jiaolu River patrolling the border? So if the small village by the river is regarded as the nest of water bandits, their plan could work.
This way the entire Qixia Village could become a sacrifice for Murong Xiu and build up the military rank for Yan Changqing and wash away his guilt. With this imperial decree, the loss of the temper snow stones would have the most reliable explanation. It will not cause trouble to the Dongyun people, nor will it cause the impeachment of Yan Changqing, clearing him of any suspicion from the officials.
It was declared by the court that the entire population in Qixia Village are all water bandits who robbed the temper snow stones – so that is what they were.
Regardless of what is said, the dead cannot explain or defend themselves. As for the missing Prince of Dongyun, if everyone was killed and everything burned down, with so many singed bones, who would know the truth?
The little fat girl looked at the silent Yan Changqing with a face full of confusion. With fear obvious in her small voice, she asked: “Big brother, what’s the matter with you?”
Yan Changqing looked at Helian Rongchuan somewhat stupidly, with a bitter smile at the corner of his mouth: “I am blinded by the wind.”
Helian Rongchuan stared at Yan Changqing. He was overwhelmed by an emotion he had never felt before. Was this pity, resentment, or sorrow? He didn’t know, but he knew that there was too much despair and bitterness in his chest. He wanted to hold the man in front of him in his arms and soothe away all the sadness.
However, when he saw that imperial edict, he knew that he could never do that again.
“It turns out that this is the emperor’s strategy. It’s really wonderful, wonderful!”
Helian Rongchuan clapped his hands continuously, and couldn’t help but laugh eerily.
Seeing him like this, Yan Changqing felt an indescribable pain in his heart. Zhang Jian’s expression changed, and he shouted: “This person is the leader of the water bandits, hurry up and arrest him!!”
Helian Rongchuan looked at Zhang Jian, and a trace of vicious hatred flashed in his eyes. He said, “I am the Dongyun Prince, how dare you?!”
Zhang Jian sneered and said: “I don’t see a Dongyun Prince, I only know that you are the leader of the water bandits!”
Before he could finish his sentence, a dozen sharp arrows suddenly swished toward Helian Rongchuan. Helian Rongchuan had been already prepared for an attack and dodged by jumping sideways. He turned his back to the soldiers and retreated. The men in black under Zhang Jian did not wait for orders and immediately went after him.
Yan Changqing was furious, and grabbed Zhang Jian by the lapels: “Stop! Make them stop!!!”
Zhang Jian’s face was pale, but he said with a serious face: “General Yan hasn’t recognized these men yet? These people in black are all under our command. They are the Emperor’s Qilin Guard!”
Yan Changqing was stunned. The Qilin guard is an elite guard personally selected by Murong Xiu. Even Zhang Jian of the second rank couldn’t order them around.
A trace of panic flashed in Yan Changqing’s eyes, and he ran to Helian Rongchuan in despair.
The setting sun was almost gone, and the sky full of clouds turned dark as if stained scarlet by the blood of Qixia Village. On a cliff which was lined with huge rocks, Helian Rongchuan was heavily surrounded, stepping back to the steep edge step by step. His chest, abdomen, and arms were covered in light or severe stab wounds. Each one of his steps left a bloody footprint on the ground.
But in his fierce amber eyes remained a flash of unrelenting fearlessness. At this moment he resembled a lion in a desperate situation who refused to give up.
Below the cliff was the Jiaolu River. What are the chances that one would survive the jump from this very cliff?
His chances of survival would double as long as he avoided the countless rows of sharp arrows in front of him.
Suddenly, with a sharp shout, a familiar figure emerged in front of him.
Helian Rongchuan’s face was pale, with thousands of unnamed emotions surging in his chest. Whether it was regret, resentment, or him being crazy, in the end, it all turned into a gentle smile at the corner of his mouth.
It was great to see him before he died.
The men in black saw Yan Changqing rush over. Although they were a little afraid of the consequences, none of them put down their bows and arrows. Only one man in black who seemed to be the leader said coldly, “Master Yan, please forgive us. Our Qilin guard only listens to the current emperor’s dispatch. This person must be killed today, please don’t interfere!”
As soon as the voice fell, hundreds of bows and arrows were aimed at Helian Rongchuan. With just one command, Helian Rongchuan will surely perish here!
Yan Changqing looked at the arrows shining with cold light surrounding them, and a sense of powerlessness suddenly appeared in his heart. He knew that every knife and every arrow of these Qilin guards had a sufficient amount of temper snow stone added, which made them exceptionally sharp.
Were the temper snow stones that he had tried so hard to obtain, originally intended to kill someone he cherished dearly?
Yan Changqing was about 70-80% sure that he could kill the leader in black with a single blow. But he also knew that as soon as he attacked, Helian Rongchuan would be shot to death by random arrows.
Yan Changqing took a deep breath trying to get control of his emotions. He turned around, and said to the man in black: “Doesn’t the decree state that I have merit in suppressing the bandits?”
The man in black was taken aback: “What does the lord mean?”
“This person must be killed by me personally.”
“This…” The man in black was a little shaken, and couldn’t help feeling that Yan Changqing’s words made perfect sense.
Anyway, under his nose, the Dongyun man wouldn’t survive. So he nodded in agreement.
Yan Changqing picked up a bow and arrow. He drew his bow without hesitation, the arrow pointed at Helian Rongchuan’s heart.
Helian Rongchuan was shocked, and he couldn’t help taking half a step forward. He couldn’t believe the situation he was facing and said, “Changqing–you?”
Yan Changqing pursed his lips not saying a word. His face was as pale as paper, and he was holding a bow and arrow motionlessly. In his eyes which were as clear as black mercury, faint waves of emotions could be seen.
No one noticed one crucial detail. The famous, reputed, Yan country’s number one shooter, Yan Changqing, had a tremble in his trigger finger.
Not getting any response, Helian Rongchuan seemed to understand something that instant. The shock on his face was replaced by a sad smile. He bowed his head and let out a long sigh, looking reluctantly at Yan Changqing’s expressionless face.
It turned out that in the end, he still failed to warm up this man of ice. Everything he ever wanted was just wishful thinking.
Helian Rongchuan said softly: “I understand. That’s fine, that’s okay. I won’t blame you.”
“General Yan, come on.”
Helian Rongchuan slowly closed his eyes.
It’s going to be dark. Along with the setting sun that was about to disappear in the sky, a sharp arrow burst out of the wind and shot Helian Rongchuan in the chest.
Helian Rongchuan staggered back, looked at Yan Changqing with nostalgia and sadness for the last time, rolled over and fell off the cliff.
His black hair fluttered with the violent gust of wind. Yan Changqing stared at the now empty cliff in front of him. He suddenly felt blood surging in his chest and he tasted the sweet tang of blood in his mouth. He dropped to his knees and spit out a large mouthful of blood.
Yan Changqing couldn’t hear anything anymore, his eyes went dark and he passed out.