Desert Arc ー Chapter 21 (Part 2): Walking towards a New World
As soon as Yun Xiang thought about it, her face turned pale. “After you fell into the water, Teacher Song also quickly jumped into the water. At that time, we were already reaching the shore soon and I even saw Second Young Master, ah no, it was His Highness Prince Yan at the shore. He also jumped into the water to save you. The opposite shore was still shooting arrows so Uncle Qing pulled me into the water to escape. He swims well and I can also swim a little. Moreover, the currents weren’t rapid anymore so the two of us swam to the shore. The people on the shore could only let it go. Teacher Song swam very far but couldn’t find you and came back again to look for me. Just as we were worrying, we received His Highness letter which said that he had rescued you. Only then were we relieved.”
After I heard about it, I was very touched. “Then we still have to thank Teacher Song properly.”
Yun Xiang said bashfully, “I didn’t expect that not only is Teacher Song erudite, his martial arts are also good.”
Once I heard what she said, I was delighted and teased her. “Oh! The carrot in the twelfth lunar month, your heart has been moved*?”
*T/n: This came about from a pun. When the carrot is not stored well in winter, it will be frozen and spoilt. Its core (‘heart’) is said to be frozen. This sounds similar to the heart being moved.
Yun Xiang’s face became beet red and used the excuse of serving me tonics to flee.
In the afternoon when the sun was in the west, we arrived at Mountain Ding Pass.
It was the end of the towering Mountain Nan Tian. There was still a Mountain Bei Tian which had a continuous stretch of trees outside the pass as well as a boundless prairie. Mountain Ding Pass was set up at the foot of the mountain. The mountain wasn’t tall and perilous such that one man could hold out against a thousand but inside the pass, the terrain was complex. Not only did it have a vast plain for starting wars, it also had precipitous mountain forests where soldiers could lie in ambush. It was actually a plot of good land.
I suddenly thought of something and asked Song Zijing, “Teacher, the area outside the pass is also considered Dong Qi’s territory. Why is there a pass set up here?”
Song Zijing explicated, “Twenty years ago, Dong Qi’s territory was only up until this pass. That year, during the battle at Xi Yao City, Great Minister of War, Great General Luo Shengqing defeated the enemy despite having fewer troops, inflicting a crushing defeat to the late Nation Liao emperor, Ye Luhao. Hence, Mountain Ding Pass and the enormous patch of land in the west became our Nation Qi’s.”
He drew it out on the ground for me to see. So this territory of Xiao Xian was like using a scoop to scoop out ice cream. He had scooped out such a massive plot of land from Nation Liao’s territory. Although the land area was gargantuan, it was surrounded by Nation Liao from three sides. Song Zijing pointed out, “This belongs to Prince Shu Qing, this belongs to Prince Nan Ling and this belongs to Prince Wei Du.” It actually seemed like Xiao Xuan was living in the arms of the huge family of the enemy nation.
I remarked, “The purpose of keeping this pass is first to defend against enemies and secondly to guard against Prince Pan right.”
Mister Sun stroked his beard as he nodded. “It is just as what Young Lady said. However, the senior provincial official of this land is Prince Yan’s father-in-law. He can also be considered to be under Prince Yan’s sphere of influence.”
Only when he said this did I recall that this land, Tai Zhou, was precisely where the maiden family of Xiao Xuan’s wife who passed away early.
We traveled through the city. Tai Zhou City was an important land at the pass and was extremely prosperous and bustling. There were many merchants or foreigners with huge swords. There were also many artists of multifarious facial features who looked like they were from Anatolia. The men were tall and robust while the women were beautiful and charming. The design of their clothes was unique with vibrant colors and they attracted many tourists to pause their footsteps by standing at the roadside.
The carriage left the bustling market, left the city gate and traveled on the mountain road. Half an hour later, a simple and unadorned fort appeared at the end of the road. The fort had mountains on one side and water on the other and was tall and majestic. The carriage slowly approached it and I saw the marks left on the city wall left behind by the war fire and erosion over the years. The green vines crept all over the foot of the wall while the thin and tender branches and leaves gently swayed in the cool summer breeze in summer. The dazzling rays of light reflected from the weapons in the soldiers’ hands on the city wall was a stark contrast from this patch of peaceful green.
Suddenly, a resonant and vigorous voice could be heard from the tall of the city gate tower. “Mister Sun, hope you have been well!”
Yun Xiang pulled me. Thus, I let down the curtains according to customs.
I heard Mister Sun reply outside, “Hope you have been well too, Young General Zheng!”
That young man said, “I just met Elder Brother-in-law yesterday. He said that Mister will arrive shortly so I waited here since early morning and only now has Mister arrived. Mister, you can’t be like last time, you must stay a short while for one night before you can leave. My father has recently obtained a Zhen Long chess situation and is waiting for Mister to solve it.”
This young man seemed to be Xiao Xuan’s wife’s younger brother.
Mister Sun smiled. “Many thanks to Young General and Lord Zheng. It’s just that Sun has to let you down again this time. Sun has some important business and can’t stop over. Don’t worry, Young General, Sun will definitely compensate another time.”
That young man spoke again. His voice was already outside the carriage. “Mister Sun always rushes here and there. Elder Brother-in-law too. He doesn’t let Mister rest a while.”
Mister Sun said, “His Highness himself also has a tough time and is exhausted. How can subordinates like us slack off?”
“Exhausted?” The young man smiled. “Is he really exhausted?” He changed the topic. “Come to speak of it, what kind of person is sitting inside this horse carriage and actually needs Mister Sun to personally escort?”
As I was surprised, a hand suddenly lifted the carriage curtain. A young face poked in.
Comrade Little Zheng was around twenty years old, with thick eyebrows and large eyes. His facial features were handsome and he appeared heroic. He was rather striking. It was just that his expression wasn’t too friendly with his eyes slanted and mouth askew like he had a light case of stroke.
I smiled at him cordially. His eyebrows were furrowed even tighter.
“She looks very ordinary. What kind of eyesight does Elder Brother-in-law have?”
Veins popped up on my forehead.
Mister Sun hastily coughed to express that this wasn’t appropriate. “Young General, this is Young Lady Min, the female physician His Highness invited.”
“Physician?” Little Zheng disapproved. “With Mister Sun around, why do we still need some other physician? Seriously, the more Elder Brother-in-law tries to cover up, the more conspicuous it is.”
Mister Sun hastily said, “Ahh, Young General, what you just said is wrong…”
“What this laddie said is exactly right!” My clear voice disrupted Mister Sun’s words.
Little Zheng looked over in astonishment.
I smiled at him. “A straightforward person doesn’t resort to insinuations. This humble woman has indeed been sending secret messages to one another with His Highness Prince Yan for a long time.”
“What?” Even if he was beaten to death, Little Zheng wouldn’t have expected that I would be this rough and blunt, thus he was shocked and his eyes were widened until they were round. Mister Sun also recognized my true colors for the first time and was even more appalled.
I smiled even more jubilantly. “This humble woman is really lucky. I have so many sisters and every single one of them is beautiful like flowers yet His Highness Prince Yan happened to take a fancy to me and irrationally infatuated with me until he can’t free himself. It’s probably because I have that kind of elegant temperament like that of an immortal, can endure, has lofty morals, wisdom which twinkles with resplendent rays of light which no one can match, as well as a faint sorrow which causes people to involuntarily want to dote on and feel tenderness towards me which attracted him…” Such a long sentence.
Little Zheng’s face was pallid. I reckoned his stomach couldn’t bear it any longer but he was still stubborn. “Nonsense, Elder Brother-in-law wouldn’t…”
“Why wouldn’t he? I have been together with him for many years already. I show great respect to him as my husband while he treats me as if he is madly obsessed with me. Both of us are loving to each other every day and always go back home together.
I pushed Little Jue Ming forward. “Why is it impossible? Look at how big our son already is. Xiao Ming, quickly call him elder brother.”
Little Jue Ming obediently called, “Hello Elder Brother.”
“Wrong!” Yun Xiang suddenly called out.
This lass wants to undermine me?
In the end, Yun Xiang very carefully said, “You’ve gotten the seniority in the family wrong!”
Young General Little Zheng finally vomited blood and died.
When Mister Sun saw how the situation was, he hastily called for the carriage driver to quickly urge the carriage forward.
After we passed the pass, I suddenly heard a howl from behind, “Dear Heavens——”
The bawl echoed in the valley for a very long time.
The wheels of the carriage rotated and we passed through a long and dark tunnel. We came out of Mountain Nan Tian and gradually drove towards the light opposite us.
I lifted the carriage curtain and looked over in anticipation.
At the other end of the mountain was a grassland.
The sky vast and hazy and the wild was boundless and indistinct. The wind blew the grass low and the green waves reached the sky. The northern goshawk spread its wings to soar. This was a vastness and boundlessness I have never seen before.
Desert, I’m finally here.
Just in case some of you did not read my message in the previous release, I pasted the wrong text so for those who read it early, you may have read the wrong chapter. Sorry!