The juvenile and the murderer’s gaze met. The young wolf’s fangs had not yet sharpened but it seemed as if his fierceness was naturally born.
This might be a natural temperament. When people were trapped in a deadly situation, two kinds of people would fight back. The first was the type of person who had calculated carefully, or would act out of morality, duty, integrity, or even after weighing the pros and cons, it was the last resort. Their heart was not ignorant of fear, but their conscience or intelligence could overcome this fear. This was real courage.
There was another kind of person who would not think of anything. Everything was based on instinct: instinctively angry, instinctively full of will to fight, even if inside their heart they could vaguely understand that their resistance will lead to more terrifying results, yet they still could not restrain themselves from taking a bite out of the enemy.
At this moment, Chang Geng was undoubtedly the latter, and perhaps the word “fearful” itself was enough to irritate him.
Recalling those years, it was not just Xiu Niang who had to battle with her conscience, Chang Geng was actually the same. In the end, Xiu Niang did not kill him, maybe because half of the blood flowing in him belongs to her elder sister. Chang Geng did not kill her either, maybe because despite the long years of torment, she was still the one who raised him after all.
The scarred barbarian seemed to had been stabbed by his gaze. Raising his massive fist in anger, he had to make Chang Geng shed blood.
Just then, a roar suddenly came from the direction of the door, and a barbarian who was standing guard flew away and broke down half of the room.
The dark room was suddenly lit up, and intense sun rays started pouring in. Chang Geng squinted his eyes; he heard a blood-curdling scream before he could see any light.
The arm of Scarred Man that was grabbing Chang Geng was cut off mercilessly. Chang Geng’s foot suddenly had nowhere to step on, he couldn’t help but fall to the side. In the next moment, he was gently embraced by another armored arm.
There were always a few pieces of steel armors that have been dismantled lying around in Teacher Shen’s yard. It’s just that Heavy Armors were very expensive, and were not allowed to be maintained by the Mechanics of the common folks – even an involved individual like Xu Baihu could not.
Only on one occasion, a Heavy Armor was completely done for and was about to be brought to the General Slope to be dealt with. Teacher secretly used his connections to request for it to be brought home. He enthusiastically dismantled bit by bit the Heavy Armor that had been around since the beginning of time, then explained to Chang Geng about its inside and out carefully.
Chang Geng still remembered he once said that when someone put on Heavy Armor, one could obtain the power of thousand forces, crushing military horses, pushing down surrounding walls, and if the basics were understood, even children could do it.
However, the toughest thing to do was to not lift a mountain.
The strongest iron armor warriors were those who donned the Heavy Armor and could still pass the finest thread through an embroidery needle.
The iron armor of the man who just arrived was different from those of the barbarian warriors. It seemed to be a little smaller in size. The exterior of the armor also did not have that bright silver light; it was dark and not eye-catching at all. He gently patted Chang Geng’s back and placed the boy onto the shoulder of the Heavy Armor. He spoke in a hushed tone: “Don’t be afraid.”
The voice came from behind the iron mask was somewhat distorted, Chang Geng keenly turned back, thoughtfully staring at the tightly covered surface of the mask.
It was only then that the barbarians at the door finally reacted; they rushed in like a swarm of bees. With the Scarred Man as their center, they spreaded out in a circle, surrounding the man in black armor and Chang Geng.
The man in black armor had one arm shielding Chang Geng’s shoulder, and the other carried a bare “iron rod”, thin steam coming out from the tail of this unsightly bar.
His slashing movement just now was truly too fast. Chang Geng did not get to see clearly – was his weapon really this worn-out iron stick?
Scarred Man broke out in a cold sweat, his face blue. He backed away two steps in caution and spoke in a low voice: “Black Armor, Wind Slasher (1)… You are one of those demon crows.”
Chang Geng wasn’t able to react at first. Not long after, his back suddenly stiffened – demon crow!
That’s right, fourteen years ago, in the Northern Expedition, The Black Iron Camp rushed straight into the northern barbarian savanna. Coming like a black whirlwind, the barbarians resented and feared them and had given them the name “demon crow”.
The man in black armor did not pay any regard to it and cooly reminded Chang Geng: “Hold on tight.”
The Scarred Man screamed, and four other well-trained barbarian warriors surged up along with him. Sword slashed out in all four directions. A dark purple light flashed under the feet of the black-armored man; he dexterously drilled through the gap of the slashes and leaped on top of the already collapsed roof of the Xu’s house. As soon as he landed, though the left shoulder that currently carried Chang Geng remained motionless, the right half suddenly turned at a dazzling speed, the “iron rod” in his hand appearing like an illusion.
Chang Geng’s eyes widened as he could make out that there was a blade at the head of the rod that the man in black armor was using. The whirlwind-like blade slash down, and the barbarian soldiers who charged forward were unable to dodge. They took a direct hit on the chest and the golden box at the center of their armor exploded instantly, the Ziliujin inside burst into a terrifying blaze, blowing up the body of that giant monster into little pieces.
Hot blood splashed onto Chang Geng’s face. He controlled himself with everything he had barely maintaining his unmoving look. His hand clung tightly to the corner of the black armor.
This was… the legendary Black Iron Camp that could pit one against thousands, there was no obstacle they can’t conquer.
The barbarians recognized the wide gap between their skills and their opponent’s, they no longer dared to fight alone. They exchanged looks with each other. At the same time, they ran out of Xiu Niang’s chamber, scattered in several directions, and bounced onto the roof.
One person rushed to the foot of the black-armored man, slashing the joints of his legs. One person swung his sword to the man’s head, sealing off his escape route. The other one aimed right at the golden box at the heart of his black armor.
After losing one arm, Scarred Man took more than ten steps back. He lifted his other arm, opening the compartment at the front of his metallic arm. A sinister arrowhead was ready to move, aiming right at Chang Geng who was being carried on the shoulder of the man.
These barbarians have gone hunting together since childhood, surround and kill, their teamwork was unmatched.
Murderous intent soared through the sky, one could feel all their hairs standing upright.
Chang Geng could finally see the iron rod in the Black Armor’s hand clearly. When propelled at high speed, the three to four-foot-long black iron blade was extended out from the end of the long rod, while continuously spitting out fine steam. When running out of power, the sharp blade would travel at top speed and retract back to the other side, one moving and one withdrawing. The blade rotated in a full circle resembling a terrifying meat grinder.
At this time, Chang Geng’s feet were suddenly off the ground. The man in black armor had pushed him from his shoulder into his arm. His entire body pinned to the chest of the armor, bending with it.
Chang Geng was shocked – not counting his weight, the single heavy armor alone must be hundreds of pounds already., After bending into this position, all their weight will be pressed onto the lower back of the man in black armor: will it not end up breaking his back?
The man turned his body, made a clean and neat spin in the air, holding Chang Geng and leaping down from the roof, accurately avoiding the arrow that the Scarred Man shot at them.
The light on the Wind Slasher concentrated into a thin line, his movement quick and precise, killing one person, slashing another’s legs, then the mechanism inside the leg guard spurted out white steam, pushing the heavy armor forward. He had already traveled more than ten feet in the blink of an eye.
It seems he could easily handle these barbarian soldiers, only because he had his hand full with Chang Geng that he did not clash with them for long.
”I will send you out of the city first.” The man still spoke with an even tone “It’s too chaotic here, and about your mother… please endure.”
Chang Geng leaned on him. He was silent for a while, then he said: “My mother drank poison to kill herself. She has always had contact with the barbarians outside the border. Maybe she is their spy.”
The man in black armor did not say anything; he didn’t seem to be surprised by this.
“You saved a barbarian’s son. It’s your loss -” Chang Geng paused, then completely unveiled the identity of the other party, “Teacher Shen.”
A cloud of thin white steam appeared at the ear of the man in dark-colored armor, then the black iron mask was pushed up, revealing the scholarly face of Shen Yi.
”There was a rebellion on the ship of the Northern Patrol unit,” said Shen Yi. “I first thought that the traitor was Brother Xu, but it seems now that Xiu Niang’s suicide was partially because of the remorse she felt for her husband. Brother Xu might have already sacrificed for the country, even until the end, he was not aware of any of this. You must also… endure this loss.”
”It seems that you have already known…” Chang Geng whispered, “Who are you?”
Shen Yi: “I am a subordinate of the Black Iron Camp, under the direct command of Marshall Gu.”
Black Iron Camp’s subordinate, under the Marquis of Order Gu Yun’s personal command.
Chang Geng’s mulled over this sentence several times in his head, and it all felt like a dream-he just learned that he was not his mother’s own son, this mother was also a barbarian spy, and now the old-schooled teacher living next door whose hands were never clean from machine oil was a General of the Black Iron Camp.
Then what about Shiliu?
Chang Geng smiled sadly and thought, even if someone told him now that his yifu was Marshall Gu or even the Emperor himself, he would still unable to find the strength to be surprised.
”Why is Marshall Gu’s general hiding away in this remote area? Why did you save the son of a barbarian woman?” After asking these two questions, Chang Geng realized that he was about to lose control. He immediately wanted to close his mouth, but unfortunately, he still couldn’t stop that last unnecessary extra question from coming out: “Where is Shiliu?”
Chang Geng felt an overwhelming sadness inside his heart at this question. Things have already become like this yet he was still concerned about Shiliu. He was fully aware that that person is some kind of grand character in disguise as a commoner, yet he still worried that his eyes were not good, his ears couldn’t hear well, would he accidentally be injured in this mayhem, would he be able to find a hiding place…
He even couldn’t help but think: “How come the person who came for me was Teacher Shen? Why was it not Shiliu?”
The sound of killing and screaming filled the air. The shape of the Giant Kite engulfed Yanhui Town in its shadow, Baihong arrows were flying out everywhere creating a ghostly imagery. In the distance, someone’s house is on fire and the flame spread out quickly. Shen Yi remained stoic, turning a blind eye to everything as he moved left and right, dodging all the stray arrows in this chaos: “Your Highness, please sit tight.”
Chang Geng asked in a daze: “What did you call me? “
Shen Yi calmly said: “Fourteen years ago, when His Majesty was patrolling the South, the Royal Consort was pregnant. All alone in the palace, she had fallen into the scheme of wicked subjects. She successfully escaped thanks to the help of her sisters and loyal servants. On the way to the South, they came across the rebellious forces of the commoners. The Royal Consort was already very weak. She had fought tooth and nail to give birth to Your Highness amidst the chaos. In the end, she could never see His Majesty again.”
”The younger sister of the Consort took Your Highness and escaped, from then on all news was cut off. In the past few years, the emperor had sent countless people to search in private. He always thought that Your Highness has met your demise – only until three years ago that there were a few small leads. His Majesty had sent us here to welcome you back.” Shen Yi briefly explained in a few words, “We were unable to reveal our identities to Your Highness, please forgive us…”
Chang Geng did not know whether to laugh or cry. He felt that Teacher Shen’s brain might be filled with oil. He had compiled a story full of flaws. According to him, Xiu Niang was the younger sister of the Royal Consort, if so, then the Royal Consort was also a Barbaric woman?
In addition, if the Emperor sent someone to find his child, why would he send out only two people? Even if the Emperor was extremely poor, with the entire imperial court having numerous magistrates and military personnel, how could they only send two people? And why did the two men did not reveal their identity for more than two years?
With these incredible Black Iron Camp’s generals living next door, there was no way they did not know that Xiu Niang had been secretly communicating with the barbarians… Why did they not stop her?
Chang Geng cut him off: “You are mistaken.”
Shen Yi: “Your Highness…”
”You have the wrong person!” Chang Geng felt very exhausted, he suddenly did not want to be involved any longer with these people who only knew how to tell lies:
“Let me down, I am just a bastard son born from a barbarian woman and who knew which bandit, not worthy for the Black Iron Camp generals to put themselves in danger just so I can be rescued, not deserving of having you people as my yifu!”
Shen Yi could not help but sigh after hearing that last sentence. He felt that seventy to eighty percent of Chang Geng’s words were directed at Shen Shiliu. He just got caught in the middle, and Chang Geng had directed his anger at the completely wrong person.
He gently grasped Chang Geng’s leg that was kicking around in frenzy: “Pardon my rudeness – The pinky toe of your right foot is slightly bent compared to normal people, just like His Majesty’s, this is unmistakably the dragon’s bloodline.”
Chang Geng quickly jerked his leg back, his heart getting colder and colder.
He clearly remembered that this foot was not naturally born looking like this. It was broken by Xiu Niang herself when he was a child. She ignored his crying and screaming, twisted one of his toes then used the method for binding women’s feet to bind his toe into deformity.
Dragon’s bloodlines bullshit… even this can be fabricated?
(1) 割风刃: gē fēng rèn, lit. blade that could cut through wind. A 3D model has been made by a fan (and was also reblogged by priest on weibo!) here: https://fx.weico.net/share/41449681.html?weibo_id=4233612024973387