Let Go of that Shou Chapter 37

Chapter 37

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On the seventh day of December, in Qinzhou, chaos reigned on the official road. Refugees formed long lines, pushing and shoving each other. It was dimly lit as the light snow covered the mountains and rivers, turning everything into a silvery white.

“The barbarians are coming—”

“Everyone run—”

“Someone’s child—”


“It’s only been a few months since we last left the mountains, how did things change like this?” You Mengzhe exclaimed in disbelief.

Yu Wenhong also looked bewildered. They had left Canghai Sect in Qinglong Town and traveled from the East Sea, heading north, passing through Dong’e Prefecture on their way to the frontier. They had originally intended to visit the territory of the Xianbei people, but unexpectedly encountered this chaotic world.

In just four short months, the Central Plains had changed drastically. Refugees were fleeing everywhere, and it seemed that there was a large army of barbarians pressing into the region. Martial artists from all over the world responded to the call, heading to Qinzhou in the northeast to defend their homeland.

“Excuse me, Big Brother,” You Mengzhe stopped a passerby and asked, “What exactly is happening?”

“The Emperor is dead! The Emperor is dead!” the man cried out in mourning and hysteria. “The princes are fighting! They’re killing each other! Rivers of blood are flowing!! The Prince Consort has fled with the princess! Everyone else is either dead or silent! The capital is just silent!! Da Yu is left silent—!! Da Yu is finished! There will be a change of dynasty! The Xianbei people have invaded! King Yuwen is here—everyone, run!!”

“Well, that’s a clear explanation,” You Mengzhe’s mouth twitched. “Dad, what should we do?”

Yu Wenhong scratched his head and asked, “What do you think?”

You Mengzhe suggested, “Shouldn’t we go back to the capital first and take a look?”

Yu Wenhong said, “Alright, I’ll go with your suggestion.”

After some consideration, they realized that it was impossible to reach the Saiwai Layan Mountain on the frontier. Therefore, they headed southwest toward the capital. Along the way, they encountered countless refugees. You Mengzhe walked intermittently, and on the fifteenth day of December, they arrived in the capital. The weather grew colder, the once prosperous capital now appeared desolate and in ruins.

Since Li Xiao ascended to the throne, Da Yu had not experienced any wars for several centuries. The military stationed at the borders had long been lax in their training, and the northern border had turned into a playground for the wealthy to hunt falcons and compete in dog fights. As a result, they were easily defeated by the Xianbei people when they invaded. You Mengzhe learned about the reasons for the recent upheaval in Da Yu since the Dragon Boat Festival, realizing that the country had undergone tremendous changes.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, the Emperor traveled to Jiangzhou. A sudden downpour soaked many people, and Emperor Li Yi of Da Yu, who had always appeared strong on the outside but was actually weak in health, suffered from a delicate constitution. Additionally, the damp and humid climate along the cold riverbank of Jiangzhou did not suit him. When he arrived in Jiangzhou on the third day of the fifth month, he got caught in a light rain, and on the fifth day, he stood under the scorching sun with his officials to watch the dragon boat race. The combination of the cold wind and the heat of the sun aggravated his condition.

When he set out to return to the capital on the seventh day of the fifth month, he fell ill along the way. If he had stopped for several days to recuperate with medicine and rest, he might have only suffered a minor illness. However, as Emperor Li Yi was in the prime of his life and thought he was fine after taking medicine, he urged to continue the journey without delay. The strain of the journey, combined with his past overexertion, resulted in all his accumulated illnesses culminating in a fatal blow. Before reaching the capital, he breathed his last and returned to the heavens.

This event threw everyone into chaos. With Li Yi’s sudden death and no final words left behind, and with the young crown prince still in his minority, there was a fear of ambitious courtiers seizing power and the princes rebelling. To prevent this, the Empress immediately issued a secret decree to withhold the announcement of Li Yi’s death. Only the Empress, the Prime Minister, Yu Changqing, the Prince Consort, and the Princess were informed.

At this time, Zhang Yuanshan was still in Changhai Sect in Jiangzhou, completely unaware of what was happening.

It wasn’t until the fifteenth day of the eighth month that news of Li Yi’s death spread within the palace. Upon hearing this, the various lords and nobles of Da Yu began to scheme. They argued that with the young crown prince, there was a risk of corrupt officials controlling the court. Therefore, they took up arms to stabilize the situation and protect the monarchy. Four princes with the surname Li from the regions of Sichuan, Qinzhou, Muzhe in the southern border, and Yanyun in the north, launched their troops and swiftly advanced toward the capital. In just two months, they arrived at the gates of the city and engaged in a brutal and merciless battle.

It’s ironic how Li Qingcheng, who could calculate the movements of the heavens and the earth, couldn’t foresee the downfall of his dynasty at the hands of his own appointed princes.

Meanwhile, Zhang Yuanshan was enduring the harshest trial of his life at Canghai Sect.

On the twentieth day of August, at a place called Dianbing Ridge fifty miles outside the capital, the Second Prince killed the First Prince, then the Fourth Prince killed the Second Prince. The Fifth Prince, with the smallest army but arriving the latest, took advantage of the chaos and ambushed the Fourth Prince while he was preoccupied with his victory, resulting in the Fourth Prince’s demise. The Fifth Prince then consolidated his forces, totaling eighteen thousand troops.

Shortly after, the Fifth Prince Li Zhi breached the capital. Yu Changqing had only fifteen thousand cavalry under his command, acting as a diversion to draw away Li Zhi’s attention. General Tang Ze, the guardian general of the nation, led forces to protect the princess, the empress, and the young crown prince, enabling them to escape from the capital under the cover of night. Unfortunately, the Empress, frightened by the ordeal, passed away on the way.

Li Zhi got his wish, ascending the Dragon Throne. He planned to ascend Mount Yuheng to offer sacrifices to the heavens and announce the new era officially during the winter. However, on the fifteenth day of September, Zhang Yuanshan returned to the capital.

Upon seeing the state of the capital, Zhang Yuanshan was momentarily stunned. After spending the time it takes to burn a stick of incense outside the capital, he spurred his horse and charged in. Riding alone, he stormed through the Zhuque Gate, along the Imperial Way, through the Meridian Gate, intent on seeking justice from Li Zhi.

Along the way, Zhang Yuanshan swiftly dealt with the guards, leaving them strewn on the ground. Finally, he entered the Imperial Palace and swiftly dispatched Li Zhi, who was in the midst of a meeting. The officials were horrified, their faces drained of color. Some fled for their lives, while others pleaded for mercy. Li Zhi’s forces were already a motley crew, and the soldiers recruited from the defeated princes were not unified. With their master dead, they became like headless flies. Many soldiers scattered like birds from a fallen tree, fleeing the capital under cover of night, seeking refuge in their hometowns.

 So Zhang Yuanshan took Li Zhi’s place on the Dragon Throne, reorganized the military forces in the capital, and temporarily assumed the position of regent. He sent people to retrieve the young crown prince, the empress dowager, the princess, the consort, and others.

The court of the Yu Dynasty was in chaos. Hearing about the internal strife in the Central Plains, the Yuwen clan of the Xianbei people from the northern border saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They led their army to invade, attacking the Layan Mountains. The second prince, who should have stationed troops in Qinzhou, was busy leading his troops back to the Central Plains to seize power. He left fewer than eight thousand soldiers at Layan Pass and Yubi Pass, which were entrusted to Li Zhi for defense. With the military forces depleted at this moment, the Xianbei Great King Yu Wenzhen divided his forces into two routes, seemingly walking into an empty land, intending to take advantage of the chaos in the Yu Dynasty to occupy the Central Plains in one fell swoop.  

When Li Zhi entered the capital, he killed many civil officials and promoted incompetent cronies, while executing loyal generals who had served Li Yi faithfully. This led to internal and external troubles when Zhang Yuanshan took over the court. There were no capable ministers to rely on internally, and no brave generals to lead the military campaigns externally.

Zhang Yuanshan then carried out another round of purges among the civil officials involved in the rebellion, further reducing the number of capable individuals. With foreign forces pressing closer and closer, he had no choice but to immediately mobilize all the military forces to the north. However, the Yu Dynasty had enjoyed peace and tranquility for hundreds of years and had not experienced war for a long time. The soldiers were weary, the generals were mediocre, and there was no one capable of leading the troops. Moreover, the whereabouts of Yu Changqing and Tang Ze, who were able to lead the troops, were unknown.

Zhang Yuanshan had no choice but to summon his sworn brother, Zhao Feihong. Zhao Feihong, well-versed in military strategy and martial arts, had led martial artists in battles before, making him somewhat capable. On the seventh day of the eleventh month, Zhang Yuanshan entrusted Zhao Feihong with a hundred thousand troops. They shared a cup of oath-taking wine, and Zhang Yuanshan saw him off outside the military camp. Zhao Feihong led a massive army to confront Yu Wenzhen.

As news spread in the capital that the powerful army of Yu Wenzhen was approaching and the Emperor had passed away, and with the Crown Prince’s whereabouts unknown, the defense against the Xianbei invasion was entrusted to a martial artist. Rumors circulated with vivid details, claiming that the Protector General Tang Ze died in battle, and Prince Consort Yu Changqing hanged the princess before seeking new romantic interests elsewhere. Panic ensued, and within half a month, the capital became almost deserted. The city’s residents and wealthy merchants packed up their valuables, heading south to Jiangzhou and Yangzhou for refuge. All the shops closed their doors, creating the desolate scene witnessed by You Mengzhe.

You Mengzhe: “…”

Yu Wenhong: “…”

“This is too much,” said You Mengzhe. “I still wanted to take you to eat some vegetarian dishes at Ningcui Pavilion.”

Yu Wenhong suggested, “Want some candied haws? There’s a place over there.”

Sparse commoners still remained in the capital, You Mengzhe and Yu Wenhong wandered through the main streets and narrow alleys. The inns were all closed. Yu Wenhong asked, “Is there food in the palace? Maybe I should go find some.”

You Mengzhe replied, “Let’s go together. I roughly remember a few routes. We’ll head towards the less crowded areas.”

Yu Wenhong naturally bent down, allowing You Mengzhe to climb onto his back. The two entered the palace as if entering an uninhabited area. They leaped into the harem through the flying eaves and walls. You Mengzhe pointed out various places, and Yu Wenhong nodded frequently. Having been raised in Canghai Sect, he had never seen such grandeur before.

“Why does that person’s voice sound so sharp?” Yu Wenhong remarked.

You Mengzhe whispered, “Those are eunuchs, Dad, you wouldn’t know.”

Yu Wenhong asked again, “What about those things they’re holding?”

You Mengzhe explained, “Those are called jade ruyi, they carry them around to play with. Wait a moment, let’s stop outside the study. I want to see… see my… see my foster father.”

You Mengzhe momentarily couldn’t change his words, but Yu Wenhong didn’t mind. Outside the study, they held hands, and You Mengzhe poked a hole in the window paper to peek inside.

The study was brightly lit, and Zhang Yuanshan still had that expressionless look. He wore a seven-star crown and a dark yellow dragon-patterned robe, sitting at the desk reviewing military intelligence.

Two eunuchs giggled on the ground as they sneakily watched the regent, seemingly admiring his handsome and manly demeanor.

“Let me see, what’s inside?” Yu Wenhong nervously asked.

“You poke a hole yourself,” You Mengzhe said, turning his head and giving Yu Wenhong a kiss on the cheek, indicating that he should look himself.

The eunuchs had a lovestruck expression as they glanced at Zhang Yuanshan. Zhang Yuanshan furrowed his brows slightly, scanning the study with a glance, and the two eunuchs quickly straightened up. Zhang Yuanshan’s gaze returned to the military report, and the eunuchs smirked and winked at each other.

You Mengzhe noticed that Zhang Yuanshan’s little finger was wearing that tortoiseshell ring again, and suddenly he had the urge to burst in and see if Zhang Yuanshan would vomit all over the table.

Had his muteness been cured? You Mengzhe’s expression turned somewhat gloomy again.

After a moment, Zhang Yuanshan stood up, seeming to have difficulty making a decision. He paced slowly in the study, and You Mengzhe noticed the jade pendant hanging from his waist.

“Let’s go,” You Mengzhe said, feeling disinterested.

“Sure,” Yu Wenhong said, leading him out. You Mengzhe was reminded of his past life, feeling uncomfortable in his heart. He walked haltingly, his eyes turning red, and he kept rubbing against Yu Wenhong.

Yu Wenhong chuckled. “Why are you being so clingy again?” 

You Mengzhe remained silent, so Yu Wenhong hugged him and sat down in the corridor. A silver moon hung in the sky, and the winter night was cold as water. After a moment of comforting closeness, You Mengzhe felt a little better and said, “Dad, I’m hungry.”

Yu Wenhong replied, “Dad will go find something to eat.”

You Mengzhe said, “I’ll wander around here.”

Yu Wenhong thought for a moment and said, “If someone tries to grab you, just shout.”

You Mengzhe nodded. Inside the palace, there weren’t even any guards, let alone birds. With some martial arts skills learned from Yu Wenhong, You Mengzhe wasn’t in much danger. Yu Wenhong hooked his hand onto the eaves, flipped up, and leaped onto the roof of the Yanhe Hall, heading towards the Imperial Kitchen to find food. 

You Mengzhe sat cross-legged for a while before standing up and walking in the imperial garden. Passing by the Changqing Hall, he remembered the evening when the sun was setting, and Zhang Yuanshan was holding his hand, basking in the sunset outside the hall. Inside the hall, the princess held a round fan, looking at them with a charming smile.

You Mengzhe walked out of the imperial garden through the corridor, and behind the artificial mountain was the place where Zhang Yuanshan was poisoned and lay motionless on the ground.

That night, he was riding on Zhang Yuanshan like this and like that…

You Mengzhe turned around the courtyard wall and came face to face with Zhang Yuanshan. Both of them were startled and took a step back simultaneously.

 You Mengzhe: “…”

 Zhang Yuanshan: “!!!”

 Zhang Yuanshan’s expression became extremely strange, with a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth.

You Mengzhe was suddenly struck with fear, trembling as he stepped back, saying, “I-I-I… I didn’t mean to, I’ll just go now, hold it in! What did you eat tonight? Don’t vomit. Hold it in!”

You Mengzhe turned around and ran, considering whether to call Yu Wenhong, but Zhang Yuanshan chased after him. Along the way, You Mengzhe cried out in panic, “Dad—Dad!!”

“Dad—!!” You Mengzhe imitated Yu Wenhong’s flipping on the roof, leaping up with a whoosh, with the wind behind him, and Zhang Yuanshan chased after him!

“You!” You Mengzhe shouted.

“Wait,” a hesitant voice came from behind.

“Wait! Wait!”

You Mengzhe: “!!!”

He stopped in his tracks, staring at Zhang Yuanshan as if he didn’t recognize him. Unnatural flush appeared on Zhang Yuanshan’s thin, handsome face as he hurriedly caught up to the corridor, breathing slightly heavily.

“Was that you speaking just now?” You Mengzhe was dumbfounded.

Zhang Yuanshan nodded.

You Mengzhe: “…”

Zhang Yuanshan made a hand gesture, pointing to his own mouth, then smiled at You Mengzhe, indicating that he could speak now. Then he waved his hand gently, signaling that he didn’t want to talk about it now.

Huge shoutout to @_nyanmaru_ on Discord for commissioning this! The chapter will be posted regularly, show your support for Ciacia at Kofi.

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