Chapter 32 The Long War Hymn
On the trail, heavy snow fluttered about. A yellow, pear-shaped carriage pulled by eight horses was crazily running down the road. The wild blooded Western Desert horses kicked up snow from both sides of the carriage. The driver had to wear a multiple layered padded overcoat to somewhat keep out the chill. His face, however. was frozen in frost and snow as his two cheeks burned bright red. He looked awful, being frozen by the weather.
Wu Taoya pulled back the curtains to the carriage, narrowing his eyes into half slits staring at the howling north wind and the snow-covered ground. Li Xian was riding alongside the carriage shouting at him. But his voice have been like mosquitoes as it got lost in the wind. One could hardly hear him.
“Sir!” Li Xian shouted: “The snow is too heavy, go back into the carriage!”
Wu Taoya shook his head. The young face seemed a bit heavy as he looked up and shouted, “How much longer?”
Wu Taoya frowned as an ominous sense of foreboding slowly rose from the bottom of his heart. The words of his master slowly rose from the back of his mind. If it’s true, there maybe be a disaster is coming for Yan Shi Ye.
“Li Xian,” Wu Taoya urgently spoke, “You, take Shibayan Wei (Wei means guard in this case) along with you first. Be sure to pass on the news to the residence of the hostage prince. If these things cannot be, do not act recklessly. Try to contact that Yu girl in hiding, then wait for me to enter the city. Be sure to grasp the whereabouts the crown prince, to make sure that child is safe.”
“Your subordinate understands!” Li Xian promised. “Sir, be more careful, this subordinate leaves first.”
Having finished, he beckoned Shibayan and rode off.
Wu Taoya looked at Li Xian as he disappeared into the rain of snow before he dropped his curtain back down. Leaning back in the carriage, he took a deep breath.
He hoped that everything was okay and that he would make it in time.
Meanwhile in Zhen Huang City, at the white Willow Temple next to the martial arts field, the shadow guard Yan Shiqi just stopped by Yan Xun’s warhorse outside of the hostage prince’s residence. Looking pale and anxious, he reported to the Crown Prince, “The General of the first Army from the city walls, Song Sen, is leading troops to encircle the hostage prince’s residence. The Eldest son, Master Zhuge Huai, has already taken personal guards to rush to the other Zhuge Residences. Now it is time for them to come here.”
Yan Xun frowned, “What cavalry camps does the Zhuge’s people mix with to already inform the Presbyterian Church?”
“Crown Prince!” Fengmian shouted loudly, as sound of hooves rapidly approached from the rear. The child’s face was somewhat panicked, “The people following, are catching up!”
Yan Xun looking on calmly, turned around and asked, “How many people? Any of Zhuge Yue’s people?”
“No,” the child spoke so excitedly that the snow on his hood flew on the ground. “It’s the Wei family, I saw a team with Wei Shu Ye.”
“The Wei family?” Yan Xun furrowed his eyebrows, “When did the Wei and Zhuge family collude together? Not to mention, in such a short time the information can move so quickly as to mobilize the Wei family.”
He looked down at Chu Qiao sitting in front of him, frowning,” Girl, you got issues with the Wei family too?”
Chu Qiao’s eyebrows locked, as her small face turned solemn in thought, then she shook her head, “No.”
“It’s strange.” Yan Xun murmured, looking calm as he continued to think.
Chu Qiao turned around and looked at the youth with his fine-looking eyebrows, “ A person must live by the consequences of their actions. Yan Xun, it is my own affair, you do not have to be involved in this matter.”
Surprised Yan Xun, looked at the child with an obvious child face, but with her look and tone, there was a gap between her face and that solemn and calm expression. He could not help being somewhat spellbound. A donkey’s lips really doesn’t match the horse’s mouth. “Girl, I am very curious. Before you tell me the truth, I really cannot bear to let you be captured.”
Chu Qiao’s brow picked at that then calmly spoke, “The mountains do not change, the water will always flow. We will always have another day to meet. Moreover, even if they want to get me, it will not be that easy. Alone, I am just a small target and it will be easier for me to get out. With your status, I don’t want you to be implicated.”
Yan Xun eyes heated up as he watched Chu Qiao neatly dismounted from the horse. With her small frame, she didn’t want to cause him inconvenience. She looked up at him, “Yan Xun, even though we are of different status, time and time again you help me out. This signifies our friendship. In my heart I will always remember and in the future if the opportunities arise I will pay you back in full.”
Yan Xun smiled without a word. Chu Qiao looked at him strangely, although she had some doubts, she did not think too deeply about it. Time was pressing, she did not have time to be fussy like a woman. Even though the situation was a little outside of her control, unless Zhuge Yue pops out of nowhere or they alarm the soldiers under the Wei family, in this giant city, she had the confidence to hide safely.
Squatting on the ground in her tight-fitting clothes, she looked at Yan Xun one last time before turning around and quickly running towards the empty street.
The pounding of hooves suddenly sounded from behind. She did not have enough time to look back, before Chu Qiao’s small body was lifted up. Yan Xun gave out a warm laugh, “I do not believe I cannot protect you, little girl. Come, walk, we will go back to Yanbei. I would like to see what the Wei Family and their strong battalion are capable of doing.”
As he finished, he ruthlessly whipped his horse as sped away towards the city’s gates!
“Crown Prince!” Fengmian and Yan Shiqi yelled in surprise.
“Shiqi, go back and reorganize the troops and horses. The crown prince is going out of the city.”
The whole sky was filled with wind and snow as the north wind whistled about. More than a hundred people riding horses stampeded along the streets. The noise awakened most of the people within the city, however, no one dared to come out and see what is happening that evening. They just carefully shut their doors and windows, fearing deeply that the disaster may be brought to the fishes in the moat.(saying that means:Innocent people can suffer from an event that happened nearby.)
While Yan Xun was restraining his horse, he kept his body straight with his chin held up high. With cold eyes, he looked across the dense crowd of soldiers indifferently. Yan Shiqi slowly came forward, and loudly shouted, “We are Yanbei Troops and the Crown Prince’s people. Who are you to block our path?”
“We are the soldiers and major generals of the Northern Cavalry camp, and were ordered to close the road.”
Yan Xun frowned and with a thick voice loudly said: “This prince wants to present an imperial mandate to Sheng Jin Gong, who dares to block my way?”
“It is really unfortunate,” a slightly submissive but inwardly evil-hearted voice spoke. In such a silent night, who didn’t realize the grating like voice making the cold air even more dense. A man with a dark blue brocade gown trimmed with white fur slowly came out of the crowd on a horse as white as snow. The man lightly smiled, “Yan Shi Zi, unfortunately, I also have a mandate from Sheng Jin Gong, no one shall leave the city, the offenders….”
The man deliberately paused with a smile, his eyes resting on Yan Xun before his smiles widens to say those three characters, “Kill without exception.”
“Wei Shu You?” Yan Xun furrowed his brow, as he looked at the man who spoke. Behind him Chu Qiao frowned and could not help but take a step forward. Yan Xun holding the whip in his hand, uses it to block the path of the child, silently protecting her. Wearing the clothes of the Yan Wei, Chu Qiao looked at Yan Xun’s tall and straight back. Although she could not see the youth’s face because his head was turned, she felt warm feelings slowly creeping up. In such a cold night, the feelings that appeared were even more precious.
“Moreover, if I remember correctly, the imperial mandate the crown prince presents, says that tomorrow morning is when you will go out of town.”
Yan Xun chuckle loudly, raised his eyebrows: “This Crown Prince misses his mother, tonight I must go out of town.”
“Such heavy filial piety is a good thing, but the crown prince does not have to be so anxious in this moment.”
“Wei Gongzi (son of an official) mustn’t mock Yan Xun. He is young and headstrong and decided to leave right away or he wouldn’t be able to sleep well.”
“Is that right?” Wei Shuyou’s tone was soft as he gently smiled, “That being the case, Yan Shizi may want to sleep here tonight.”
“Young Master Wei’s courage is too big!” Little Fengmian took a step forward, his voice was crisp as he snapped, “Do not even just speak of the present. Even before, our crown prince is allowed to go out of the city to hunt whenever he wants. Who dares to stop us with half a word? Master Wei wants to obstruct us here, who is the one showing potential animosity?”
“To depend on war is Sheng Jin Gong’s power!” A deep voice suddenly sounded from behind him. Yan Xun, who suddenly turned around saw two men come sauntering up. Wei Shu Ye in green fur looking pale and cold and Zhuge Huai by his side, with his face not wearing his ordinary amiable appearance. His smile was frosty, not exposing any form of debauchery.
“Presenting the imperial mandate, the Prince of Yanbei has conspired with the rebellion and harbors ill intentions to plot a rebellion. Major General Wei Shu Ye has a special order to detain the Crown Prince then hand him over to the jailers for interrogation.”
As the voice fell, a silver light shone suddenly. Innumerable amounts of swords were instantly sheathed, as Yan Xun’s complexion turned in great alarm. But everyone else hurriedly surrounded Yan Xun to protect him.
“Hey!” Chuqiao pulled out the crossbow from her waist, leaning forward near the right side of Yan Xun, “It seems like the mobilization of these troops is against you.”
Yan Xun’s expression gradually relaxed, only leaving a calm facade on his face. He heard her speak but did not turn around to see the child. He was still tightly staring at the front “I’m sorry that I hurt you.”
“It does not matter,” Chu Qiao gently smiled: “It’s an eye for an eye. After this fight, we are all even.”
The darkness of this night was especially foreboding. The murderous intentions were gushing out as the Wei army flooded the streets. Again, the taste of blood slowly escaped.
The north wind would be called a blizzard that night, as tears of blood flowed by the swords that killed.