Sha Po Lang

Chapter 19



He buried his face in the blanket and screamed. He was utterly disgusted by himself, too ashamed to see anyone ever again. He wished nothing more than to simply hit his head against the bedpost and end his life now.


After midnight, Gu Yun was utterly exhausted. He initially wanted to go back to rest, but in the end, affected by Shen Yi’s words, his footsteps unconsciously turned forward to the back quarters.

At this time, there were not many lights that were still lit up in the capital. Chang Geng had long fallen asleep, Gu Yun did not disturb the old servants outside. He walked into the chamber lightly, the reflective light of the snow outside the window serving as his guide as he reached out and pulled the quilt up for Chang Geng. But suddenly, he found that the child did not seem to be sleeping well, as if he was being terrorized by nightmares.

“Not used to living in the manor?” Gu Yun thought, his ice-cold finger held onto Chang Geng’s wrist.

Chang Geng was startled, he took in a deep breath then jolted awake, his gaze still stunned with fear and doubt, staring at the person at his bedside in a daze.

Gu Yun gently shook his wrist and softened his voice to ask: “Did you have a nightmare? What did you dream of?”

Chang Geng did not say a word for a while, his scattered gaze gradually found their focus once again. He stared at Gu Yun’s eyes that resembled two burning flames in the midst of the dark night, and suddenly embraced his waist.

Gu Yun was still wearing shoulder guards made of black iron, bringing inside the room with it the cold air of the early winter. The cold iron was tightly attached to Chang Geng’s forehead. Suddenly, in the haze of fright, Chang Geng seemed to have returned to the snowy night outside the city gate that year, with coldness piercing into one’s bones. He shivered intently, only now did he gradually break free from the grasp of nightmares, he thought to himself: I am still alive.

The gears of the house clock rustled as they turned, and the brazier ran by coals have also been heated up. It was like a cauldron, placed in the middle of the room, the thin white smoke emerging from below, and was immediately swept away by the pipes. Only the warm heat circulated comfortably around the room.

Getting hugged by Chang Geng so suddenly, Gu Yun was dumbfounded for a while, a strange feeling filled his heart – for the first time, someone leaned on him with all their strength, almost giving off the sense of mutually depending on each other.

His frivolous appearance of “I am invincible in this world” displayed on a daily basis was of course just a fraud. He was very well aware of his own strengths and limits. If the Marquis of Order was not so self-aware, then after venturing a few trips out the battlefields, the grass on his grave would have probably grown as high as a person already.

However, at this moment, Gu Yun’s heart suddenly created the illusion of “there is nothing in this world that I cannot do”.

Chang Geng’s bone structure has grown, but still bore the fineness of a young child. Just by reaching out and tightening the embrace, one could touch the bones under his ribs through the thin clothing.

This thin flesh was pressed heavily on him, Gu Yun thought, he must take care of this child, for him to grow up as the Emperor’s wish, protecting and watching over him, for him to live safe and sound until he’s of hundred years old.

He can finally make up for the incompetence and hopelessness he felt towards A Yan’s situation that year.

Gu Yun took off the iron guards on his shoulders, hung it on one side, and got on the bed of Chang Geng still in his full attire, he asked: “Are you missing your mother? – Ah, I meant your aunt.”

Chang Geng shook his head.

Chang Geng did not have any deep affection for the Emperor, it seems that he only called the old Emperor as a father out of respect for Gu Yun. He asked again: “Do you miss Brother Xu?”

This time, Chang Geng did not deny it.

In all these years, Xu Baihu was the first kind person he had ever met. Although he was not an exceptionally gifted man, he was generous and gentle. His stepfather had used himself to set an example; for the first time, had made Chang Geng understand that one can go through life with such peacefulness.

It’s just that Xu Baihu always had his hands full with military affairs and almost never came home, which created an opportunity for Gu Yun to come in to fill this empty gap in Chang Geng’s heart.

Seeing the boy had silently confirmed this, Gu Yun tilted his head and hazily stared at the bed curtain at the top, suddenly not able to stop this unpleasant sensation inside. He involuntary asked: “Brother Xu treated you better than I did?”

Chang Geng gave him a surprised look, not understanding why Gu Yun would ask such a question with an already obvious answer.

This time, Gu Yun had miraculously understood his eyes, suddenly feeling as if an ice cold wind had swept through his heart. He said dryly: “Well there is no other choice, the emperor’s order is hard to violate, you can only make do.”

Chang Geng: “…”

Gu Yun burst out laughing, Chang Geng could feel the slight vibration of his chest as he did so and suddenly was struck with a foreign sensation. The left half of his heart felt that the distance between them right now was somewhat unnatural, and wanted to move slightly further away from him.

But the right half was wishing that he could be turned into a thin piece of paper, and be glued close to him without even the slightest gap.

These two ideas battling indefinitely inside seemed to tear him in half.

And just when this decisive battle was ongoing, Gu Yun’s bad habit is starting to kick in again.

Chang Geng’s hair was scattered behind him and unfortunately fell into Gu Yun’s hand. He began to unconsciously play with them, pulling back and forth. He did not use strength but gently tugged on his scalp.

Chang Geng was immediately startled, goosebumps spread out all over. The blood in his entire body shifted from flowing naturally to rushing like mad, as if he could hear the rustling as they ran through his blood vessels. An unknown source of heat broke into all his limbs and almost burned him from inside out.

Chang Geng quickly got up and took back his hair. He instinctively said with embarrassment: “Don’t mess around!”

Gu Yun was often sick when he was younger and was also late in hitting his growth spurt, even at twelve or thirteen years old, he still bore the appearance of a child, hence why he also did not regard Chang Geng as an adult and was the least bit aware of the inappropriate nature of this situation.

He half-heartedly retracted his claws, placing both hands behind his head and said to Chang Geng: “I am not married yet, and of course, I do not have children, I don’t even have any brothers and sisters, it is unavoidable that I wasn’t able to thoroughly take care of you.

“There are many things, that if you don’t tell me, it would be quite difficult for me to figure out, so if you harbor any grievances or irritations, don’t hide it in your heart, all right?”

The tone of his voice was deep and pleasant to listen to, probably due to his exhaustion, with it a little imperceptible ambiguity. It drove straight into Chang Geng’s ear, making the boy’s hairs all rise up, a thin layer of sweat coating his back.

Chang Geng nervously thought to himself: “He was only making some casual conversations, why must I feel as if I’m venturing out the battlefield?”

“Your Highness must also pardon me,” Gu Yun said with a smile, patting the space next to him: “Come, lay down, tell me more about your dream just now.”

At the mention of the dream, Chang Geng’s nameless wildfire has managed to calm down. He stared at Gu Yun for a while, forcing himself to hold back the desires to reveal everything about Bone of Impurity, he first tested the waters:

“Shiliu, in this world, is there an existing type of poison that can cause one to turn insane?”

Gu Yun raised his eyebrows in dissatisfaction: “Who did you call Shiliu?”

He only reprimanded on the outside but actually did not pay it much mind. He proceeded to speak after a pause: “There must be, this world is big, especially in areas of foreign countries, there grow many herbs and plants that do not exist in Central Plains, not to mention all of their divine beings and gods that have been passed down from generation to generation. There are many secrets and trickery of theirs that we cannot explain.”

Chang Geng’s heart sank, his fingers gripping the ruined blade on his chest.

Gu Yun felt this was rather odd, he questioned again in reply: “Why are you asking about this subject?”

Chang Geng’s fingertips were cold, the conflict in his head had abruptly come to an end, his voice layered in sadness: “It’s nothing. I dreamed that one day, I became a madman, and ended up killing a lot of people.”

After that, without waiting for Gu Yun to respond, Chang Geng had cut in first: “Dreams are all opposite from reality, I know.”

He finally made up his mind to seal tightly the secret of the Bone of Impurity, with his youthful determination and will, Chang Geng refused to admit the possibility of losing. He must fight against and resist the Bone of Impurity to stay sane until the day he died.

However, even with such great courage in his chest, he still did not dare to inquire about what Gu Yun would think if he knew what would happen.

Chang Geng thought, even if he was infected with grotesque ulcers all over, his little yifu would still not abandon him. But if he knew that Chang Geng would eventually become a hysterical madman?

He instinctively avoided talking about it, he did not want to dwell on it deeper and asked instead: “Do you also have nightmares before?”

Gu Yun blurted out a lie: “How is that possible?”

But after the words came out of him, Gu Yun quickly remembered Shen Yi’s words telling him to treat Chang Geng genuinely and sincerely, he then felt that his fib was a bit too far, he covered it up with a cough then saidy again: “No… Ah well, from time to time, when the sleeping position was not right, it could cause a few troublesome dreams sometimes.”

Chang Geng: “What will you dream of?”

Gu Yun wasn’t fond of talking about his feelings, because this whole process was immensely embarrassing, like running on the street in front of people while stripped naked, he carelessly answered just for the sake of it: “Just an incomprehensible mess, I would forget about all of it as soon as I woke up- Hurry and go to sleep, the sky will be bright soon.”

Chang Geng didn’t make a sound.

However, after a while, as Gu Yun sneaked a glance at him, he saw that Chang Geng’s eyes were wide open, staring at him. He finally could not help but feel his head ache.

“All right,” Gu Yu sighed and tried to rummage through his memories, then spoke in the tone of coaxing children to sleep:

“When I was a child, I once dreamed that I got locked inside a place where I could not see my fingers. The only thing I know was that there are a lot of beasts surrounding me, so I kept running. It may be that because my legs were not stretched out. People said that if your legs are not stretched out properly, you won’t be able to run quickly inside your dreams. I ran to the end, but it felt as if my legs and feet were made out of cotton, the more I tried to rush forward, the more I cannot move.”

Chang Geng asked: “Then what happened next?”

Then of course, I was scared awake in fright, what else can there be?

However, Gu Yun’s mouth refused to admit that he was woken up out of fear, he made up a bluff sounding as lively as real: “In the end, I ran out of patience. I didn’t know how I was able to pull out an enormous blade engraved with golden strings, in one slash finishing all the beasts chasing me, and I woke up with satisfaction.”

Chang Geng: “…”

He really wanted to hear a few serious words from the mouth of this Gu, but it seemed that this was too much to ask for.

No one expected that Gu Yun would pose a serious question afterward: “Do you know what to do if you have nightmares?”

Chang Geng hesitated, once again easily believing him, he shook his head curiously, waiting expectantly for Gu Yun’s answer.

Gu Yun went on: “The reason why you have a nightmare is because there are little demons strolling in the house to play tricks on you. These little demons are all afraid of filth, so from now on whenever you have nightmares, remember to put the pot at the entry of your chamber, I guarantee it will scare those things running.”

Chang Geng: “…”

Chang Geng was particularly quick to believe other people’s made up fibs seriously, Gu Yun immediately found the enjoyment in teasing and messing with the boy, laughing energetically in the middle of the night.

Chang Geng once naively believed that his little yifu was visiting him out of concern. He now knew that this man was purely coming over to make fun of him for his own entertainment!

He turned over angrily with his back facing Gu Yun, two large words “Get out” was written clearly on it.

Gu Yun did not get out right away; he stayed until Chang Geng’s breathing gradually became steady again, gently pulling up the blanket for him, then got up to leave.

Before leaving, Gu Yun went to grab the shoulder guards he took off just now. But just as he reached out, he remembered there were sayings that the reason children got disturbed in the middle of the night was due to weakening and lacking of yang energy, thus attracting unclean spirits. It was better to place an object made of iron at the head of the bed.

Gu Yun had never believed these nonsense superstitions from the common folk, but at this time he suddenly felt that perhaps there was some truth to them, or else how could it had been circulating for so many years?

He decided to leave the pair of iron shoulder guards and walked away from Chang Geng’s bedroom in just his attire.

Marshal Gu might have been the natural nemesis of ghostly and evil spirits. Chang Geng was not at all bothered by these demons and slept soundly until morning.

It was a pity that after Chang Geng woke up, his facial expression was even worse than if he didn’t sleep.

He sat on the bed for a moment, his face green, and when he lifted the blanket to take a quick glance, he could not help but let out a deep sigh, the sound somewhat resembling a sob. Chang Geng rolled over and hugged his head.

This was the second time.

Chang Geng could no longer deceive himself. Because this time his dream was clear and true…

He had clearly and truly did disrespectful things to little yifu in his dream.

He buried his face in the blanket and screamed. He was utterly disgusted by himself, too ashamed to see anyone ever again. He wished nothing more than to simply hit his head against the bedpost and end his life now.

This time, even the ruined blade could not help calm him down.

Just as the boy was in a state of confusion and suffering, the sound of knocking on his door almost scared him out of his skin.

The first reaction was rolling up the bed sheets into a ball in a panic. He clenched his teeth, forcing his mind to stabilize, then dragged his feet over to open the door.

Unexpectedly, as he opened it, he was struck with a second wave of surprise.

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