“Yifu was wrong, all right?”
It was difficult for Chang Geng to regard Shen Shiliu and Gu Yun as the same person.
Shen Shiliu was simply just some improper man from the border town, spending all his days wandering and idling about, not working for a living but also being a picky eater who was immensely difficult to please. He was genuine and true yet repulsive at the same time.
But Gu Yun was not.
For most people in this world, ‘Gu Yun’ might not be an individual. He was more like a symbol; an incredible being with three heads and six arms, exceptionally skillful and talented.
In a grand nation that encompassed thousands of miles, there could only be one person like Gu Yun.
Not only Chang Geng, but for Ge Ban Xiao and Cao Niangzi, when discussing this matter, they also felt as if they were only dreaming.
It’s just that Chang Geng was different from his two little friends. After all, Shen Shiliu was not their yifu.
Chang Geng did not resent Gu Yun for deceiving him. After all, he was already surrounded by deception since the day he was born, adding one more into the midst did not make that much of a difference.
Besides, what could the Grand Marquis of Order obtain by deceiving a poor orphan boy like him?
Generally, it could be said that it was because of Xiu Niang’s blessing — who forged him this false identity — that such a lowly character like him could have the chance to meet with the Marquis of Order in his lifetime. The man even lowered himself down to ‘trick’ him, there must be other reasons for it.
It’s just that for Chang Geng’s affection — two parts went out to his home country, two parts were given to Xu Baihu who seldom came home. The remaining six were all for his little yifu. But now that Marshal Gu had caused his little yifu to disappear, those six parts of affection fell to the ground in vain and shattered, hollowing out a large pit in his heart, the bleeding spreading out all over a vast expanse.
But at this moment as Shen Yi brought in the medicine this late at night, Shen Shiliu and Gu Yun — two separate figures that should be on two completely opposite sides — suddenly and unexpectedly overlapped with each other.
After a while, Shen Yi came out with an empty bowl. Chang Geng heard him notify the soldiers guarding outside the Marshal’s tent: “You all keep watch here, don’t let anyone come in and bother him.”
Chang Geng hesitated for a moment, but proceeded to step closer as if he had been pushed forward by an invisible force.
After many days of traveling together, Gu Yun’s personal guard certainly recognized him. But due to Shen Yi’s instructions, he had no choice but to move forward to stop him: “Your Royal Highness, Marshal is feeling somewhat uncomfortable today, he has already taken his medicine and gone to bed. If you have any business please command your subject, I can do it in your stead. ”
The man who he used to live next door to and could easily find without even knocking on the door, now Chang Geng had to trouble others just to have a glimpse of his face.
Chang Geng bowed his head, his voice seemed dyed with loneliness: “This brother…”
The guard immediately knelt down: “I don’t dare.”
“No, no, I don’t mean it like that.” Chang Geng quickly waved his hand then smiled helplessly. After a moment, he sighed: “It’s just that back in Yanhui Town, I used to bring him medicine. I only wanted to take a quick look, if it really is inconvenient, then I…”
He could not speak anymore. Chang Geng made up his mind, deciding that if he got rejected again this time, he would not humiliate himself any further.
Unexpectedly at this time, another guard came up and whispered in his ears: “Didn’t Marshal instruct that there was no need to inform him if it was His Highness who came to visit? Don’t be so stubborn.”
Chang Geng was sharp, of course, he could hear this. He raised his head in surprise, momentarily not understanding the emotion in his heart. And just like that, he was allowed in.
The scent of the medicine had not evaporated, the bed curtains were left open, a figure of a person laid there silently.
As he moved a little closer, Chang Geng discovered that Gu Yun still hasn’t slept yet.
Perhaps due to the headache, Gu Yun’s fingers were pressed tightly against his temples, a deep scowl between his brows; he did not notice that someone just came in.
Chang Geng cleared his throat from a few steps away, then gently called out: “Mar…”
He only just made a sound but Gu Yun, who was lying on the bed had instantly risen, he pulled out a sabre hidden inside his blanket, unsheathed for about three inches. Chang Geng could not even afford to blink his eyes when the sharp blade of the sword has already been placed against his neck, its coldness climbing up on him. The person holding the sabre resembled a vicious dragon that had just been awoken.
Chang Geng was shocked by his killing intent and was forced to blurt out:
Gu Yun tilted his head, after a brief moment he narrowed his eyes and seemed to recognize Chang Geng, he vaguely said: “Sorry.”
He put the sabre back into the blanket then gently rubbed Chang Geng’s neck: “Did I hurt you?”
Chang Geng was startled, just as he gathered himself together again, a suspicion started to rise up inside: Could he really not see?
But he immediately cast this impossible thought aside — how can the Marquis of Order be a blind man?
Gu Yun searched for an outer coat and carelessly draped it on his body: “Why have you come here?”
But he toppled as he tried to stand up due to dizziness, ended up half-sitting, half-fallen onto the bed. Gu Yun sucked in a deep breath and held his forehead with one hand, the other was pressed onto the bedside for support.
“Don’t move.” Chang Geng subconsciously reached out and caught him.
He hesitated for a moment, then bent down and lifted Gu Yun’s leg up, tucked them back on the bed and properly pulled the blanket up for him. While avoiding the mess of long hair that scattered around, he supported Gu Yun’s shoulder to help him lie down. After finishing this series of actions, Chang Geng dumbly stood there for a while, he suddenly could not find any words to say, only a stiff question came out of his lips: “What happened to you?”
Gu Yun’s medicine was starting to take effect, he did not expect Chang Geng who was ‘throwing a tantrum’ would suddenly come for a visit. He could only reluctantly endure the headache and the sounds echoing near and far in his ears.
He had intended to send Chang Geng away first, he laughed casually: “Made a little ungrateful brat that doesn’t acknowledge me angry — pardon me, Your Highness, could you fetch me my wine bottle?”
According to his experience, in a situation like this, drinking some wine might be able to make it more bearable.
Chang Geng frowned and looked at him with suspicion.
Gu Yun’s head was aching as if being cracked open, he lied: “Shen Yi’s medicinal wine can help cure migraine.”
Chang Geng was fooled easily, he went to grab the bottle that was hung next to the Light Armor suit.
Gu Yun tilted his head and downed half of the wine in one go. As he almost finished the whole bottle, Chang Geng quickly held on to his wrist and took the bottle away by force: “Enough, don’t drink so much even if it is medicinal wine.”
The strong wine flowed into his stomach like burning fire, the blood in his whole body boiled up. Gu Yun let out a breath and felt that his sight was clearer now. It’s just that he started to get a bit dizzy from drinking too fast. The two had nothing to say for a moment, and after looking at each other for a while, Gu Yu could not hold on. He leaned on the bed and gently closed his eyes.
His intention to send Chang Geng away was made crystal clear, even Chang Geng himself understood that he should leave, but his feet seemed as if they were rooted in one place.
Chang Geng mocked himself on one hand: “Even if you feel worried it would all still be meaningless, just be sensible and leave now.”
But at the same time he involuntarily reached out and pressed the acupuncture point on Gu Yun’s head.
As he continued, he felt that he himself was despicable and low, yet he could not stop.
Gu Yun’s forehead was cold, and except for the frowning of his eyebrows at the beginning, he did not express any other opinion, he simply let Chang Geng do as he pleased.
It was only until Chang Geng’s hands felt a bit tired that he whispered, “Do you feel better now?”
Gu Yun opened his eyes and looked at Chang Geng silently.
The so-called ‘even the wise can be wrong at times, and even the fools can at times be correct’ under the influence of wine — Gu Yun was able to say something sensible for once. Looking at Chang Geng for a while, he suddenly said:
“Even after we arrive at the capital, yifu will still be here to protect you. Don’t be afraid.”
Chang Geng was completely stunned. Under the dimly lit light, he seemed to tremble greatly.
Forced to mature so soon at this age, when knowing full well that he had nowhere and no one to rely on but himself, he would only clench his teeth and force himself into a calm and restrained adult.
But, in the face of just the slightest bit of warmth that he had always longed for, the tough and brave exterior fell apart and revealed the soft and fragile child inside.
Gu Yun stretched out a hand towards him: “Yifu was wrong, all right?”
He didn’t know how this sentence had penetrated through the young boy’s cracked heart; perhaps not all of it was sincere, because for the most parts, Gu Yun never thought that he was wrong. Even if his conscience spoke up occasionally, it was not necessarily that he knew where exactly it was that he was wrong.
His gentleness and indulgence brought by the wine had given Chang Geng a way out.
Chang Geng held onto his hand tightly, like grabbing the last life-saving straw. The shoulders that had stiffened for many days suddenly fell down, he almost broke down in tears.
He now realized that what he had been waiting for all this time was only these two simple sentences, as long as that person said to him ‘yifu was wrong, yifu still needs you’, it was enough for him to know that even after the Xiu Niang who abused him no longer existed, after losing Xu Baihu whom he did not even had the chance to see again one last time, in this world there still existed this one bit of warmth left for him… then he could forgive his little yifu for anything.
In the past, and for ever after.
Whether if he was called Shen Shiliu, or Gu Yun.
Gu Yun felt that his eyelids were getting heavier and heavier. He leaned on the bed, closed his eyes then said, “Chang Geng, many things will change from now on. No one can know where their final destination will be right from the start, sometimes you must not think too much.”
Chang Geng stared at Gu Yun without blinking. His eyes unknowingly carried hints of carefully hidden greed. He admitted with sorrow that Gu Yun was right; many things will change, living people will have to die, good times will dissipate, relatives and friends will be in the end separated, affections as deep as the sea and as high as the heaven will eventually resemble a stream of water flowing towards the ends of the earth…
Only his own final destination was already permanently established: he would become a madman.
Gu Yun moved further into the bed, then patted the empty space beside him: “Come here, we will have to quickly be on the move again tomorrow, sleep here at my place tonight.”
After midnight, Chang Geng fell asleep in Gu Yun’s marshal tent. As usual, the Bone of Impurity refused to let go of him, endless nightmares came one after another. But he could always sense a faint medicinal scent around him. He knew very well that he was safe, even vaguely understanding that he was only dreaming, those fears and resentments seemed to be separated from him by a layer.
For Chang Geng, this was a rare night of peaceful sleep.
Of course, that was if he didn’t wake up and found that he had used one arm of the Marquis of Order as a pillow all night causing it to go numb, and not only that, he was even snuggled deep into the man’s chest.
Especially Gu Yun, that shameless bastard would never understand the sensitive and emotional heart of the still growing young boy. The more self-conscious the other became, the more he would pour oil into the fire. Marshal Gu believed that since they have already shared a bed for the night, Chang Geng had already reconciled with him, thus continuing his bad habits. He rubbed his numbed arm and teased the boy as his morning entertainment, it even appeared like he would remember this to always bring up again in the future.
Was this person’s ill and weakened appearance from last night just an act again?!
In the early morning, Shen Yi saw that Chang Geng was angrily stomping out of Gu Yun’s marshal tent, blushing red. For the rest of that day, he would turn another way as soon as he would see Gu Yun.
On the road, Shen Yi ushered his horse over, glanced at Gu Yun’s face then asked, “Is everything alright now?”
Gu Yun, like an old wolf, proudly said without a care: “Just a little kid, such trivial matters. There was nothing in the first place.”
Shen Yi had witnessed Gu Yun spin around with concern and anxiety from the previous two days, he was at a complete loss of words and could only sneer.
Gu Yun as per usual pretended he couldn’t hear, watching the back of Chang Geng from far away, he suddenly spoke: “Say…can I leave the Black Iron Camp into his hands down the road?”
Shen Yi dryly replied:” You want him to meet a tragic demise?”
Gu Yun made an irritated sound as if Shen Yi had just killed his mood.
“Do you really think that the Black Iron Camp is a nice thing? I am speaking honestly, Zi Xi, pardon me for saying these words that are difficult to hear,” Shen Yi said: “The Black Iron Camp in the hands of the Old Marquis, it was a ‘weapon for the country’. But when handed to you, it becomes a ‘weapon against the country’. The weapon for the country is radiant, favored by many, the same can’t be said for a weapon against the country.”
Hearing the meaning behind his words, Gu Yun’s lazy smile disappeared.
P.S. ICYMI, we have put an extra chapter at the beginning explaining the title Sha Po Lang 🙂