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It wasn’t that he had never spilled sweet nothings on certain occasions. When drinking too much, he had even talked nonsense, making promises. But living for all these years, only until today did he realize that the so-called ‘vow’ was so heavy that it was difficult to express.
Gu Yun ran all the way back to the garrison. A group of privates behind him, without knowing what was happening, had to run after him as if training in the forest. The team of cavalry did not even change shifts nor adjust their formation. They just started running like mad, making the garrison appear as if they were facing great enemy. They also thought that there was a handful of foreign enemies. One by one, they held up their Qian Li Yan to look around
Inside the Black Iron Camp garrison, carriages from the capital were lining up. The manager of the supply storage had his hands full, but Gu Yun suddenly stopped without warning.
The soldiers also quickly stopped and exchanged a look with each other.
Gu Yun looked back at them in confusion. “Why are you all running in a panic?”
Gu Yun coughed drily and wiped away the nonexistent dust on his armor, turned his face without any obstacles and changed his demeanor to that of a leisurely stroll, casually walking inside the marshal tent with his hands behind his back.
In addition to the people on guarding duty, the patrol team had not come back yet. Gu Yun’s several generals were making conversations inside, circling a person in the middle. The man was dressed in a silk court attire, with a wide sleeve hidden under the snow-white fox fur. This was the newly appointed Yan w.a.n.g. When he turned around as he heard the movement, his eyes accidentally met with Marshal Gu’s who was leaning against the door frame.
Yan w.a.n.g seemed surprised, then his eyes brightened up, his weather-beaten tiredness was instantly washed away. He raised his hand somewhat irrepressibly, clearing his throat slightly. This cough sounded out of tune.
With this cough, everyone turned to look at the door and rose one after another to greet: “Grand Marshal.”
Some reunion and separation took only an instant, while some reunion and separation seemed to take a lifetime.
The kind that was intertwined with cold war and rage in the middle, was the kind that felt like an instant.
The kind with numerous unknown truths and ambiguous feelings that could not be put aside nor hold onto, was the kind that felt like a lifetime.
Either way, Gu Yun’s thousands of feelings were pouring into his heart, blocking his vast chest, filling in with pebble and stones.
… Only after a long time did a small flow of burning hot water leak out, dissolving into his limbs incessantly – Gu Yun’s palms behind his back was coated with a layer of sweat.
Like a wolf, he suppressed it and motioned the crowd to not be too overly courteous and casually walked in: “The border is not stable at this moment. Why did you come in person?”
Chang Geng said, “It will be New Year soon, I came to send some New Year’s goods to the brothers.”
Gu Yun replied with an ‘ah’, asking with a faint look: “It had been difficult for you. Over the past six months, everyone has not been living well. It’s really not easy for the court to squeeze out some rations – what decree does the Emperor have?”
When he said so, Chang Geng had to make an announcement first. As soon as the dismal scenery of the imperial edict appeared, the generals on both sides fell on their knees. Gu Yun was stopped by Chang Geng just as he was about to kneel down to receive the decree.
Chang Geng lightly supported him: “For the Emperor’s edict, Uncle only need to listen, there is no need to kneel.”
He doesn’t know whether it was intentional or unintentional. When Chang Geng spoke of the word ‘Uncle’, his tone of voice was slightly lowered.
Li Feng all day long calling him ‘Uncle’ had made Gu Yun tired of hearing the word, but suddenly he was called by Chang Geng like this. It seemed that a small hook was ticking him, and the four words ‘courtesy cannot be abolished’ already flowing to his lips could not be let out.
In the late winter, the northwest was bitter cold, but the cold armor almost made Gu Yun break a sweat…he could only manage to listen to some sentences of the edict.
Fortunately, Li Feng’s business was generally already said in the military approval request, written in the imperial edict were mostly empty words of encouragement. It did not make a difference whether they listened or not.
Until the group of generals thanked His Highness’ grace and stood up, Gu Yun still did not recover.
Generally speaking, on such occasions, the highest-ranking person should come forward and speak a few proud words of service to the country on behalf of the people. Only then could the imperial edict be considered as finished to be pa.s.sed on. Everyone could then get back to their business.
Gu Yun suddenly became so strangely silent, everyone had to follow suit. The generals of the Black Iron Camp all stared at him, wondering what did the Marquis had to say about this rather vague and empty imperial edict.
The surrounding was very quiet that Gu Yun finally realized he was doing something embarra.s.sing. He casually raised his unfathomable face and said with indistinct joy and anger: “Ah, His Majesty praised too much, this is all within our duty. Old He, send someone to prepare a little something as a feast for His Royal Highness Yan w.a.n.g… no need to be complicated, we are all family here. Everyone hurry up, let’s finish checking the supply and equipments before dark. What are you looking at, still hadn’t dismissed? Have we got nothing to do?”
The generals were awed by Marshal’s unfazed att.i.tude whether it be praise or injustice, moving out of the tent one after another. The Black Iron Camp had its own functions, its efficiency was incredibly high. In the blink of an eye, all the people were gone.
Only then did the bustling Marshal tent quieted down. Gu Yun let out a light sigh of relief, feeling that Chang Geng’s eyes had been glued to him, so much so that he almost had to do his best to simply turn his head.
He wondered if it was because of the fox fur or not, but he always felt that Chang Geng had gotten thinner.
On the northwest road, Huo Long’s and Miss Chen’s words flashed by his heart alternately. For the first time in his life, Gu Yun faced a person but did not know where to start. His heart was full of emotions, but his face did not know what expression to make, the contradiction causing him appear rather cold and calm.
As if he had just left home the day before, he said to Chang Geng, “Come here, let me look at you.”
Chang Geng did not know what his att.i.tude was for a moment. He temporarily narrowed his unbridled vision and suddenly felt nervous.
He had made a lot of commotion in the past six months. He did not know how much of it had reached the border, neither did he know what it would be like if Gu Yun found out. When Gu Yun left the capital, the relationship between the two of them were so-so. After such a long time, it was like a jar of wine, which had been buried underground in a hurry before the ingredients were finished to be placed in.
In just a few short steps, Chang Geng’s heart was like a horse-drawn lantern, no need to discuss what it felt like.
Who would have expected that Gu Yun suddenly reached out and grabbed him by the hand.
The Light Armor of the Black Iron Camp was wrapped tightly and seamlessly from shoulder to the second joint of five fingers, making Gu Yun’s embrace seem very hard. The small bit of exposed fingers was as cold as the Light Armor in the cold wind of Jiayu Gate. It seemed as if the chill had pierced the fox fur on Yan w.a.n.g in an instant. He shivered fiercely, suddenly at a loss from the affection he received.
Gu Yun narrowed his eyes, his arms tightened slowly, the soft fur collar sweeping across his face. The scent of tranquilizer followed like a shadow. He wondered if it was his imagination, he felt that the scent was heavier than before.
For more than twenty years, the Bone of Impurity was like a file, grinding the flesh and carving the bone into such a person. Gu Yun was incredibly pained, but he did not dare to mention a word. There was a kind of obstinacy in Chang Geng’s bone that he would not compromise with anyone. From such a young age, he would rather keep his eyes open until dawn every night than reveal anything to him.
If a person covered the wound so that no one could see it, someone must not pull his hands off. That was not caring, but giving him another stab.
“Zi Xi,” Chang Geng whispered, somewhat unnaturally, without knowing what he was up to: “If you continue to hug me like this, I will…”
Gu Yun reluctantly suppressed his emotions, swallowed his pity, and raised his eyebrows expressionlessly: “Hm?”
Chang Geng: “…”
He did dare not say it.
His Royal Highness Yan w.a.n.g, who had a brilliant talent in speaking, was seldom speechless. Gu Yun laughed aloud, reaching to fix his fox fur up: “Come, I will take you out for a stroll.”
They walked out of the Marshal tent side by side. The winter wind outside the gate was as sharp as a knife. The hunting flag was like an eagle spreading its wings in the air. The sky was high and the earth was wide. There were no clouds anywhere. The end of row of carriages escorting military supply could not be seen. Since the outbreak of war on four sides, everywhere seemed to be stretched to the limit. There was no telling how long it had been since such a scene so near to prosperity as this appeared.
Gu Yun stopped to look at it for a while and sighed, “How much effort would it take to clean up this chaotic mess thoroughly?”
“Sending this much first, I’ll think of other ways later,” Chang Geng said. “Now the Zhang Ling Law has been abolished. Several more steel armor inst.i.tutes have been added to the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute this month. They are recruiting talents from all Mechanics across the country, anyone who have made great achievements in the field of steel armors and machines, No matter their origin, everyone have the opportunity to enter the Ling Shu Inst.i.tute. Master Feng Han even swore that there was nothing frightening about the Westerners’ sea monster. If you give him time, he can do it.”
“Master Feng Han had never had enough food in his life. Is it necessary to eat a bowl and pour a bowl?” Gu Yun laughed. “Besides looking scary and consuming money, that sea monster had no other use. It does not matter whether there are funds. Even with Light Cavalry, I will kick those people that dare to come to someone’s territory to display their might back to their home sooner or later, you…”
He meant to say, ‘you don’t have to push yourself too hard‘, but as he turned slightly, half of his hand wrapped in steel armor hit Chang Geng’s palm. Chang Geng unconsciously grabbed hold of his painfully frozen hand, it was then covered by his broad court attire, inside the sleeve was filled with the warmth of a human body.
It was not that Chang Geng could not control himself, but due to Gu Yun’s unexpected embrace which was like an open fire, it lit up all the unrealistic expectations within him.
He looked straight at Gu Yun and asked, “What?”
Gu Yun forgot his words for the second time in a day.
From an outsider’s point of view, the two stared at each other as if they were ill for a moment. Gu Yun stood stiff for a long time and did not respond. Chang Geng’s face gradually grew dim, ridiculing himself inside and thought: “As expected, it is only my imagination.”
Just as he was about to retreat, Chang Geng’s pupil suddenly shrank. Under the long sleeve, Gu Yun held his hand in return. His cold and stiff fingers, with the strength of steel armor, brought no hint of avoidance or hesitation.
Gu Yun sighed, knowing in his heart that just now, he had taken this step forward in a half impulsive and half intolerant state. From now on, he could never turn back again. Chang Geng, who had been suffering from the Bone of Impurity for so many years, was not able to withstand this move. Moreover, changing his att.i.tude back and forth was not right. It wasn’t that he had never spilled sweet nothings on certain occasions. When drinking too much, he had even talked nonsense, making promises. But living for all these years, only until today did he realize that the so-called ‘vow’ was so heavy that it was difficult to express. The words already came to his lips, but only one sentence was left: “I want you to take care of yourself, preserving the green hills, there will be no fear of lacking firewood, no need to drive yourself to the limit. I am still here.”
Chang Geng was dumbfounded. Gu Yun’s sentence went in his left ear, then collectively retreated through his right. He was not able to take in a single word.
Gu Yun grew embarra.s.sed under his stare: “Come, those country b.u.mpkins are still waiting to see the elegant demeanor of Yan w.a.n.g, what is with standing here and drinking in the northwest wind?”
On the site of Black Iron Camp, it was impossible to carry out ‘delicious wine’ and ‘beauty singing and dancing’. In wartime, the army strictly prohibited alcohol. Anyone who dared to drink a drop will be punished by military law with no tolerance. Miss Chen, the only person here who had something to do with ‘beauty’, also took the position of a military doctor after Gu Yun’s steel plate was taken off. Having her hands full with the wounded soldiers inside Jiayu Gate, she never showed up for half a month. Now, there was only one ‘northwest flower’ left. Although he could not dance, he was free to look at and did not cost money.
The so-called feast for Yan w.a.n.g was simply to cook a few more dishes, the generals who were not responsible for defense for the time being will accompany them. They could not even stay until late due to having to change shifts. A little bit of rest time was very precious. They dared not relax for a moment, they were all scattered before nightfall.
There was only one Gu Yun left taking a rather dazed Yan w.a.n.g to settle down.
“This place is very boring, isn’t it? There are no good food nor delicious drink, the most extraordinary entertainment all day long is a few people come together to arm wrestle, there are no gains whether it be winning or losing,” Gu Yun turned his head and said: “Did you use to get angry when you were a child because I refused to take you here? Is it worth it?”
Although Chang Geng did not touch a drop of alcohol, his footsteps felt as if he was floating on the clouds. Feeling that he was dreaming, he said in a haze: “How can it be boring?”
Gu Yun thought for a moment and drew his white jade flute from his chest. “Let me play you a newly learned song from outside the fortress?”
Chang Geng gazed deeply at the jade flute. He felt that he would not be able to wake up from this dream.
At this moment, Shen Yi had come back from reorganizing the defense system, he already heard from a distance away that His Highness Yan w.a.n.g was coming. He intended to come over with a heart full of complicated emotions to have a chat with him. Unexpectedly, as he was still over a hundred meters away, his owl’s eyes had already caught sight of Gu Yun pulling out his precious flute! Shen Yi instantly turned his direction as if having just witnessed cruel enemies, he ran off and disappeared.
Gu Yun’s musical instrument changed from a bamboo flute to a jade flute, practiced for half a year at the bitter and cold frontier, however, his skill miraculously had not made any progress. He was now even better at urging people to urinate than before. A short burst of a foreign folk tune destroyed people’s hearts. Not far away, a horse waiting for its hoof to be fixed was frightened as if surrounded by a group of wild wolves, letting out a whine like it was in pain. Meanwhile, a patrolling Black Eagle landed from the sky with unsteady footsteps, stumbled and directly fell to the ground, appearing in the posture of begging for New Year’s money.
Chang Geng: “…”
At last, he found a hint that he was not dreaming – this sound that had went beyond his narrow imagination.
At the end of the song, Gu Yun, who thought he had been acting romantic, asked with a tone of voice dyed with a hint of expectation: “Is it nice?”
“…” Chang Geng hesitated for a long time and had to sincerely say, “Can clear the heart and awaken the mind, um…with the ability to make the enemy retreat.”
Gu Yun raised his hand and struck his head with his flute, not at all embarra.s.sed about his demented skill: “My aim is to wake you up. For these few days, are you going to sleep with me, or would you rather let someone tidy up a prince’s tent for you?”
Yan w.a.n.g who had just partially been sobered up was struck dizzy once again by this teasing sentence, temporarily stunned in one place.
Gu Yun watched Chang Geng’s ears redden, the blush spreading all over his face. He could not help thinking of Chang Geng’s uncomfortable appearance, changing his clothes for him when he had a high fever. At that time, he felt helpless, but now his heart itched incessantly. he thought: Taking advantage of when I broke all my bones and can only lie like a corpse to get touchy with your hands, did you not think this day will come?
Gu Yun asked, “Why don’t you say anything?”
“There is no need…” Chang Geng struggled for a long time, grinding his teeth and making up his mind, “I… I also want to look at your injuries.”
Gu Yun couldn’t help but continue to tease him: “Only to look at my injuries?”
Chang Geng: “…”
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