Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch21
The sound of wind strongly whipped in their ears. Pingting’s eyes were tightly squeezed shot and could feel Chu Beijie’s strong arms tightly clutching onto her. Although Chu Beijie fell later, he had flipped Pingting in midair so that his back was facing towards the ground.
There were several cracking sounds as the two fell through the canopy of dense forest. Snapped branches fell messily alongside them.
In the midst of the dense forest of tall, centuries-old trees, the cracking sound continued, although the two’s plunge seemed to have been softened by the branches a little. Pingting and Chu Beijie tightened their grips, refusing to let go, as they knew they were approaching the ground rapidly and survival was unlikely.
Even if they died, at least they were together.
Thump! Thump! Two muffled sounds came from within the quiet, ancient forest. There was no predicted sound of bones shattering as they hit the ground, only two strange sounds. It seemed that the ground was soft like cotton and had significantly reduced the momentum of the two’s fall.
Pingting and Chu Beijie opened their eyes, not daring to think that they were still alive. The two looked around and suddenly yelled, “Ahh!”, in both delight and shock. The surrounding trees grew an unknown type of berry. Due to its remoteness, its flowers bloomed of their own accord and no one picked its berries, leaving them to fall onto the ground. Year by year, the layer of wild berry and leaves has increased in size. At this time of the year, the wild berries had just ripened and fell once more, so the layer had been thick enough to save their fall.
The foliage that lay peacefully on the ground was like a landing cushion and had saved them as if fate decided so.
Pingting flashed Chu Beijie a sweet smile, they were in a place where no one had ventured before. The corners of Chu Beijie’s mouth had not quite lifted, when they froze, revealing a strange expression instead.
Seeing his state, Pingting’s face couldn’t help harden as her eyes quietly studied Chu Beijie.
It was as if Chu Beijie had thought of his something and his expression darkened every passing second. Then, as if covered in a layer of frost, he spun out of the “fruit mix” and chose a less fruit-covered place to rest.
Pingting gaped as he walked away, staring dazedly ahead for a while. She saw that Chu Beijie had taken off his war bag and that fresh blood was trickling out of his right arm, towards the ground. Realisation shocked her as she approached him, head bowed in shame. “I’ll help you,” she whispered.
“Go away.” Chu Beijie grunted, cold and ruthless. He heard Pingting stiffen and take a step back, eyes fixed on himself. Chu Beijie ignored her and took out some expensive ointment, that he always kept nearby in cases of emergency, out of his battle bag. He spread it over his wound, grinding his teeth in pain and wrapped it up in a bandage.
“Cloud Valley route…” Pingting knew that he was angry and softened her voice, “I was the one who ordered to stop you from reaching our command tent, sorry for forgetting to tell you.”
Chu Beijie didn’t seem to be listening. His head was bowed too, as he continued to wrap up his wound on his right arm.
“Back then, the two armies were clashing and as the main military advisor, I had to decide on a tactic. I…who knew that you’d return that way too…”
Chu Beijie jerked his head, his sharp eyes piercing Pingting. In a cold voice, he said, “Coming or returning, I would’ve gone on that route either way. So your original…original plan was to kill me. Nice, nice.” He stared at her even harder. How could he not be angry, first feeling delighted then realising that he might’ve just been killed by the very same person, his sweetheart?
He was no longer grinding his teeth as he said this, only smiling coldly. “Let’s swear to the moon, never turn against each other…”
“Hah…” He repeated it twice, then tossed his head and laughed loudly, yet mournfully. “Geez geez, Chu Beijie, you’re such an idiot!”
Pingting’s heart froze at his words. Even back in the palanquin, facing the several thousand enemy troops alone, she hadn’t felt cold. Her face was drained of colour beyond measure as she stammered, “I…I…” She had commanded Ruohan to break the Cloud Valley route, but hadn’t expected him to still make it look untampered so that the enemy troops would plunge to their deaths without suspicion. However, if you stood from Ruohan’s perspective, killing or injuring as much of the enemy troops was much needed in war, so it was understandable.
Pingting continued to say, “I…”, for a long time. Looking at Chu Beijie, tears slid down her cheeks, yet she couldn’t say a single word.
The moon hung high in the sky, the forest was a deathly quiet. Pingting’s knees were shaky. Leaning on a tree for support, she slowly pulled herself to sit down, whispering, “You mustn’t get a cold while you’re injured. Is it okay if I light a fire?”
Chu Beijie sat cross-legged at another tree. He gazed far into the distance, expressionless. “When you light the fire, I wonder who’ll find us first, mine or the Bei Mo army.”
It was as if Pingting had been punched in the chest. It hurt so much that she could no longer talk. Her eyes blurred once more and she held them back with great difficulty. Her heart felt like it was melted, yet he thought she was more like the poison of a snake and scorpion than anything. She wiped her tears with her sleeve and stood up against the trunk, turning to leave.
“Where are you going?” Chu Beijie heard her moving, though he still refused to look at her and his voice was still cold.
Pingting’s sighed, “Of course I’m going to find the Bei Mo army.” Not waiting to see Chu Beijie’s reaction, she walked away unhesitatingly.
Chu Beijie harrumphed once and only looked back after waiting for her to leave.
In the darkness, the light delicately bounced off a long hairpin in her silky hair. Yangfeng had given her the expensive, highly refined, jade hairpin.
Chu Beijie saw that she was only bending down in a nearby undergrowth, secretly relieved that she hadn’t gone very far. There were a lot of wild beasts and poisonous plants in the forest, meaning that most normal people wouldn’t be able to walk out safely. Having that thought in mind, his anger softened and his gaze refused to leave Pingting.
Not long later, Pingting walked back, her war bag filled with various things and spilled them out in front of Chu Beijie. There were some barely ripe fruits and a few roots of plants he didn’t know the names of. Chu Beijie had long turned his gaze away and it was back to the original indifferent expression.
Pingting sat down, picking up a fruit. “There’s enough wild berries in this forest to fill our stomachs, but as I’ve decided to kill you, it’s better if you don’t eat.”
Chu Beijie didn’t answer, so Pingting grabbed the roots that she’d just collected. “Of course these roots also have poison, it’s better if you don’t have them. It’s better to be a one-armed general then being killed by an evil woman after all.”
She pouted annoyedly, but Chu Beijie continued to show no interest, and she lost her enthusiasm quickly. She quietened, chewing a few berries, but quickly threw them away as they tasted bitter in her mouth. She sat back at the tree.
The forest wind was even wilder at midnight, chilling one’s heart.
The two were utterly silent, their gazes not touching. Pingting looked down at her feet and Chu Beijie’s face turned north. They were only a few feet apart, yet it felt like a thousand miles. No matter how hard they tried, they’d never get any closer and both were indescribably disheartened.
What had happened before the tampered route was like a dream. If it was a dream, they had woken way too fast.
Pingting’s eyes blinked wearily yet they refused to close properly, although they wanted to just collapse. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched the unmoving Chu Beijie. Blinking again, tears dripped out silently. At first she rubbed them away, but after a while she gave up. Let them flow, she thought, it seems to lessen the pain a little.
Chu Beijie was listening to Pingting with his ears. His heart twitched at the sound of her crying, but he still refused to look back, silently cursing himself that despite being part of the Dong Lin Royal House, he lacked perseverance. A moment later, he heard a muffled cough. She seemed to have blocked her mouth, letting only a barely audible sound through. He slowly turned around, unable to last any longer. He grabbed his robe that had been blown dry by the wind and softly tossed it. It flew and fell accurately close to Pingting’s eyes.
Pingting froze and stared at the robe as if it was like some rare thing she’d never seen before. A long while later, she put it over her shoulders. Her sad eyes moved towards Chu Beijie and she bit her lip as she stood up. She picked up the roots on the ground and crept towards Chu Beijie.
She uneasily touched Chu Beijie’s badly bandaged right arm. This man had almost never been injured and was therefore very clumsy when bandaging.
Chu Beijie’s body was rigid and his expression was dark. Surprisingly, he didn’t make any sound or action. Pingting sighed in relief and sucking on her lip, she undid his shabby bandages. Looking for a rock, she ground the roots and spread the paste evenly over his wounds.
Her right arm felt cool, an indescribably comfortableness. Pingting’s nimble fingers tenderly touched Chu Beijie’s developed muscles.
She continued to do so and then re-bandaged his wound. Pingting examined it with a somewhat tired expression, nodding in satisfaction. She stood up to go back to the tree.
Feeling her knees tighten, she realised that Chu Beijie was holding onto her ankle.
Pingting carefully turned around to look at him.
Chu Beijie didn’t say a word, only pulling Pingting down to sit down with his left arm. His right arm was raised and lightly brushed across Pingting’s face.
Pingting’s trembling eyes looked at Chu Beijie’s, which were barely visible in the moonlight. Lovingly obeying him, she leaned into his arms.
Baddump, baddump…Chu Beijie’s thumping heart was in her ears.
Maybe it was her own heartbeat.
“Am I wrong?” Chu Beijie sighed, “Pingting, tell me.”
“Should Pingting be pleased?” Pingting replied softly, “Whoever in this world could make Chu Beijie misunderstand?”
Chu Beijie felt helpless, a feeling he had never experience since birth. “How am I supposed to deal with you? What else are you lying to me about?”
“Will you believe me if I tell you?”
“Tell me, ever since becoming the advisor of the Bei Mo army, why have you been using delaying tactics? Are you waiting for something?”
Pingting’s star-like pupils gazed at Chu Beijie as she replied honestly, “I’m waiting for the news from the King of Dong Lin.” Feeling Chu Beijie stiffen, Pingting softly laughed, leaning comfortably in his arms. “Give Pingting one last chance. Let Pingting prove herself to you with the truth, Pingting would never do anything to hurt you.”
Chu Beijie whispered, “What’s going to happen to the Royal House?”
“No matter how bad the news is going to be, it’s just a misunderstanding.” Pingting’s beautiful eyes shone softly in the dim light. In a sweet, dreamy voice she said, “When you get to Dong Lin, you’d know that Pingting doesn’t dare hurt you and would never hurt the people around you. Beijie, go back to Dong Lin and see my real intention.”
In the moonlight it was a beautiful scene, even the harsh forest wind, seemed to have softened too. The bitterly cold feeling had left, leaving an inviting warmth behind.
Nothing else to be said, nothing else to change.
Just like that, quiet in both mind and surroundings, hearts listened to hearts.
The two snuggled together, watching the moon fade as the sun rose in the east, listening to the cheerful chirping of birds.
Pingting seemed to wake up from an illusion that was beautiful beyond words as she lazily stretched.
“I wonder what’s going on outside.”
“The two armies have both lost their advisors. The Dong Lin army’s thoughts will be a mess but as your Bei Mo army is waiting, they won’t attack either.” Chu Beijie calmly analysed, “Both sides are the same, one side doesn’t know what’s happening with the enemy, while the other is still at the foot of the mountain, searching for us.”
They exchanged looks, thoughts back onto war.
Human voices were heard and Chu Beijie abruptly got up, backing away rapidly. He hid amongst a clump of trees, calling, “It’s the Bei Mo army.”
Pingting’s expression changed. “If they find you, even I can’t protect you.” She put down the war bag and handed it back to Chu Beijie, urgently whispering, “I’m going to go out and they’ll find me, so they won’t have to do such a large-scale search party anymore. Stay hidden until you see the Dong Lin army’s search party.
Chu Beijie grabbed her and kissed her fiercely. Lowering his voice, “When you get back, find a way to get rid of them. I’ll wait for you in Dong Lin.”
Pingting blushed, desperately studying him as she parted.
Bei Mo’s search party were extremely delighted at the finding of their main advisor.
Pingting told them of her adventures since falling down and everyone said it was fate that she’d survived. No one cared about Chu Beijie, not to mention the Dong Lin army search party that would cause immediate bloodshed if the two were to meet.
Anyway, finding the main advisor was a great achievement already. She was immediately escorted back to the main camp.
At the main camp, Ze Yin personally led the other commanders to welcome her back. The other women serving the military were asked to help her with a bath. After putting on clean clothes and some fragrance, she was led to the main command tent, where Ze Yin and the others were waiting impatiently for her.
“Congrats My Lady for the complete victory! Chu Beijie’s invincible streak has finally come to an end.” Ze Yin laughed for a while, adding, “Pity Chu Beijie’s actions were too quick, while we were still doing preparations, he had already crossed the route. Otherwise, we would’ve completely defeated the Dong Lin army.”
Ruohan’s voice was still disturbed, “If it hadn’t been for My Lady’s advice, we would never been able to turn the tides so that the enemy would give up, or we would be long dead because of Chu Beijie.”
“What’s even more surprising, is My Lady’s courage to die in order to trap the enemy. That’s something that even us, men, can’t do.” A strong voice interrupted, said Sen Rong, the commander of the right wing.
Pingting felt ashamed as the Bei Mo commanders had misunderstood. This misunderstanding was difficult to explain so she gave up. Blushing, she whispered, “My Generals are overestimating me, if I hadn’t everyone’s support, how is Pingting, a weak girl, able to do anything? Unfortunately there are lots of berries in the forest below the valley, so Dong Lin has probably not lost their invincible general.” Hoping that the Dong Lin army had already found Chu Beijie, she remembered his last words, “I’ll wait for you in Dong Lin.” Her heart was no longer lonely, as if flowers had blossomed instead.
Ze Yin saw Pingting blush, but thought that she was feeling guilty for not being able to die with the enemy commander, quickly adding, “My Lady has already completed the task. Today morning, we received the news that the Dong Lin Royal Residence is a mess.” He secretly thought she’s a woman who fell through dense forest and it was only luck that she managed to turn around, falling in a safe place. Such loyalty is incredibly rare in this world. Yangfeng was right about her personality, and her adamance to follow her every word, no matter how ridiculous they sound.
Remembering his wife back at home, his heart sweetened and he smiled.
“The Dong Lin Royal Residence is in a mess so the Dong Lin army will get the news too. In other words, Bei Mo’s danger will be solved as Chu Beijie will leave when he hears the news.” Pingting replied assuringly.
“Is My Lady sure?” Sen Rong was still a little doubtful. A few days ago, he was still trying to fiercely defend Bei Mo with his last drop of bitter determination and now suddenly the Dong Lin army was just going to retreat?
Pingting gave him a certain expression, nodding with a soft expression. “General Sen, that is something Pingting, as the main military advisor, is most sure about.”
“A withdrawal!” A voice yelled outside the tent. The flap was thrown upwards as a spy exclaimed loudly, “It’s a withdrawal! Announcing to all the generals that the Dong Lin army has withdrawn! The Dong Lin army has withdrawn!” The sound rumbled at his excited announcement.
Ze Yin couldn’t help being startled and took two steps forward, grabbing the spy by the shoulder saying, “Have you spied properly? Dong Lin has really withdrawn? It’s not another trick?”
“It’s true!” The spy looked up, teary eyed, in a voice that seemed about to cry in joy. “When our brothers’ heard this, they couldn’t believe it so they went and checked themselves before reporting to all of you, Generals. The Dong Lin army are retreating away orderly, along with their luggage. Even their general, Moran looks pressurised. They’re really retreating!”
Although Pingting had long planned this, but when it really happened, it was still something incomprehensible. The once at stake Bei Mo was saved? The wolf-like, tiger-like, Dong Lin army were obediently retreated, without even doing one last nasty surprise attack? The blood-stained sky, the desperate eyes on the bloody battlefield, was no longer in sight?
Stunned silence in the tent, as if they couldn’t believe the brilliant news. After a while of silence, there was a loud cheer as Sen Rong jumped up from his chair, tugging the cloak on his shoulder. He fell on one knee in front of Pingting with a thump, his hands clutching onto his blood-stained and dirt-ridden cloak. Gazing upward, he said, “This cloak has been with Sen Rong through extensive travels, please accept it My Lady.”
Pingting could never accept it and stood up, waving her hand, “How could I accept such an important thing?”
“My Lady…Does My Lady look down on me? I, Sen Rong, owe my homeland and my family to My Lady, who saved them all.” This man’s face was unkempt and although his voice was as loud as a tiger, he was choking with emotion right now.
Pingting was a little startled and grit her teeth. “Fine, I’ll accept it.” As soon as she received the cloak in Sen Rong’s hands, she heard another thumping sound within the tent. All of the generals had fallen onto their knees, following Sen Rong’s actions.
Ruohan didn’t wait for Pingting to open her mouth and said, “In all of Bei Mo, only us who have fought with My Lady in this battle of Kanbu know that it was thanks to My Lady that the tables were turned in this battle that would have caused Bei Mo to be conquered. Only we know the heart stopping hardships that you have tolerated for us. This cloak has all of our deceased brother’s blood and all of our appreciation and admiration for My Lady. If My Lady doesn’t want to accept it, please burn it.”
Pingting was at a loss for words and her crystal-like eyes slowly rolled once. She turned to the crowd with a solemn expression and moved quietly towards them, taking the cloaks off their hands softly. Including Ze Yin’s, there were twelve cloaks in total. She laid them on the table, studying the cloth soaked in blood of their allies and enemies. She sighed, “War is really too scary, I hope I’ll never participate in it again.”
“Dong Lin army has retreated, therefore the war has ended.” Ze Yin stood up, the colour returning back into his cheeks as he shook Pingting’s hand, “The King has commanded for My Lady to return the command flag and go back to the capital, Bei Yali, to receive your reward.” His expression was not without guilt.
Pingting nodded, “That’s the way it should be.” She took out the command flag and handed it to Ze Yin. She was once more free and at once relaxed quite a bit. Chuckling, she said, “From the capital city of Dong Lin to Kanbu, even on the fastest horses, the news would take at least five days, meaning that the Dong Lin King has probably been in a coma for five or six days.” Seeing Ze Yin’s stunned expression, she asked curiously, “What’s wrong?”
Sen Rong shook his head, bellowing, “My Lady doesn’t actually know the latest news? The Dong Lin Royal Residence is chaotic not because the Dong Lin King is in a coma, but because two of the princes, who are not yet ten years old, have been poisoned to death. Now the Royal House is all fighting over the position of the crown prince.”
Pingting’s eyes widened, as if her head had been cracked open by lightning, and her world felt shaken.
Her ears buzzed and she dimly saw that the commander was opening and closing his mouth, but couldn’t hear a word.
“What did you say…” She weakly croaked out the words, her throat parched. Pingting cried, coughing out fresh blood in shock. A blinding white light flashed in her mind and an overwhelming darkness surrounded her as she fell.