But Qing Tian’s situation was even more dire than expected.
Ever since He Xia gained large amounts of power, his attitude to these minor Yun Chang generals who worked tirelessly behind the scenes gradually changed. Although his rewards didn’t stop, the feeling rusted away. Qing Tian was quite intelligent himself, so there was no way he couldn’t tell He Xia was putting all his energy into raising his own men. Promoting Cui Linjian as the main commander of the Ganfeng Regiment was a perfect example.
This meant that if he were to establish a new country in the future, it would not be centred around Yun Chang.
It seemed to mean that all citizens from four countries would be equal.
To the people of Yun Chang, this wasn’t good.
When Chu Beijie secretly visited late that night, Qing Tian was intensely distressed about He Xia. Qing Tian didn’t really know why Chu Beijie seemed to appear like a heavenly god before his eyes or why he didn’t call for his bodyguards either.
The Duke of Zhen-Bei, who had been missing for so long, seemed to become a dazzling folk myth. He Xia’s arch enemy suddenly, unbelievably appeared before his very eyes and was trying to persuade him. This was something Qing Tian had never thought possible.
Chu Beijie’s words couldn’t be said to be without truth.
“General Qing has personally witnessed the methods He Xia used to deal with the Gui family. The Gui family was ruined in his hands as well as the Royal House of Yun Chang. There’s no guarantee General Qing will survive and not be ruined in his hands either. As a son of a prominent family, does General Qing not want to the future generations to survive?”
Qing Tian had solemnly replied, “Don’t you dare try to sow discord. I haven’t done anything disrespectful to the Marquess of Jing-An, so how could he do anything to me?”
Chu Beijie saw his indignance. His smile became even deeper. “Then what did Yaotian do that was disrespectful to him?”
Qing Tian’s body shook slightly, “The Princess died while giving birth.”
He thought Chu Beijie would continue sowing discord, but he didn’t expect Chu Beijie would sigh softly. “If that’s what General Qing thinks, then what can I do? Heroic men should always die a valiant death on the battlefield, so how could Gui Changning possibly rest in peace after dying such a death?”
He was wearing clothes suited for lurking in the night, but he gave others a just and rightful feeling. In comparison to the romantic He Xia, this man had a bit more heroic courage.
Qing Tian watched him leave, his hand pressed against the hilt of his sword.
Chu Beijie visited him late at night, yet did not attack him. If this different treatment to Cui Linjian was made known to He Xia, it was certain his suspicions towards him would increase.
After hesitating for a few moments, he finally decided not to summon his bodyguards inside.
The thought of the current suspicion between major generals was really quite chilling.
General Qing Tian stiffly considered his way through the night. Dawn had yet to brighten the sky when a bodyguard stumbled inside to report, “General, not good, the prisoner in the water dungeon has escaped!”
“What?” The sleepless Qing Tian abruptly sat out of bed, his eyes as wide as bells. He urged, “How did he escape? Has anyone been sent to catch him?”
“He seems to have escaped by going underneath the water. The metal bars were loosened, and no one knows how he managed to open the prison door. General, should we immediately report to the Marquess of Jing-An?”
Qing Tian was dazed for a few moments before solemnly answering, “Not a whisper about this is to be leaked. All of you must guard your mouths. I have some plans of my own.” He dismissed the bodyguard and got up to change. Sitting or standing didn’t feel right; he could only blindly worry. When on an outing, he didn’t care how much blood he lost, but the work due to his rank during a war at standstill was always a pain.
Sigh, when it rains, it pours indeed.
The Royal Residence of Gui Le.
On the grand hall, Dongzhuo was currently in the middle of his report to He Xia. “The spies have found Ruo Han’s traces in Bei Mo. He appears to still be recruiting in secret.”
“Ruo Han?” He Xia waved his hands dismissively, “Just let him slowly recruit. I want to get all the rebels together anyway, so it’s easy to get rid of them in one go. Don’t worry, I have my own plans to deal with Ruo Han.”
He Xia had yet to learn of Ze Yin’s rescue.
He had numerous benefits of keeping Ze Yin alive back then. This Main General’s effect on the Bei Mo army was equivalent to Chu Beijie’s effect on Dong Lin, so he kept him alive to prevent the remnants of Bei Mo rebelling in the future.
How could the Bei Mo rebel forces not lose their morale when they charge their sharp swords pressed forwards and suddenly find their most beloved, respected Main General Ze Yin, thought to be long dead, appear before them?
Important things had to be hoarded until used at an important time. This was the one value He Xia always upheld when setting down his strategies.
“Qing Tian’s report has just arrived. He said he didn’t disobey military orders. It is because his troops caught a strange illness recently, and every soldier has been feeling weak in their limbs. Their body itches…”
“Hmph,” He Xia sneered, “So shameful, to say such a ludicrous excuse. Since it’s an illness, has the name of it been confirmed?”
Dongzhuo was earnest in personality and honestly replied, “Qing Tian doesn’t seem to mean it as an excuse. I’ve been getting other news at the same time, all saying that several of Yun Chang’s army camps have gotten the same symptoms. We worried if it was the plague, but fortunately the soldiers weren’t too ill, so no one died.”
At these words, He Xia’s attention was caught, “Has the food supplies been examined?”
“Yes, they have been examined. There’s no problem with them at all. It seems the problem isn’t with the food.”
He Xia coldly smiled, “It’s even more suspicious if the tests came out negative. Have you forgotten who is on Chu Beijie’s side? It’s not the problem of the food supplies of a single army camp but several all over the country. How dare they sneak in my Yun Chang’s territory.”
Dongzhuo knew he meant Pingting. His heart was startled. He frowned, “It’s not easy to tamper with military food supplies that way, so I think it’s impossible. Unless they have enough skill to sneak into Zuxi and tamper over there?”
The other officials in the main hall, especially the military ones, all quietly nodded in agreement.
He Xia knew Dongzhuo was right and thought for a bit. His expression changed slightly. He raised his voice, “Bring the map!” After pushing open the map and carefully studying it, He Xia’s hand pointed at the map. He exclaimed, “They really are good thinkers to think of something like this.”
The crowd was below the. They craned their necks as they could not see where on earth He Xia was pointing on the map. They then heard He Xia suddenly ask, “Who is the Governor of Qierou right now?”
Someone hurriedly checked the list of officials, reporting, “It’s Fanlu.”
He Xia heard this and knew he was one of Gui Changqing’s men, confirming his suspicions even more. He rolled up the map and solemnly said, “I bet Chu Beijie is currently in Yun Chang. Immediately make preparations to leave, I will personally lead troops back to Yun Chang.”
His forte was leading troops and never once be defeated. When he mentioned he was going to lead troops, his expression was very firm and resolute. Even if the people below him were doubtful, they didn’t dare advise him. They all answered with a loud ‘yes’.
The generals all knew there was a battle to fight, meaning there was accomplishment to gain so they approved of it even more. They began to feel very excited.
He Xia turned to Fei Zhaoxing, “Zhaoxing, I’m worried about Gui Le. You deal with things appropriately, so I’ll leave you here to take care of things here. There was originally a group of elite soldiers to govern the city here, and they will now be allocated to you. As for the Weibei Regiment and the other people, come with me on this expedition.”
Fei Zhaoxing’s heart froze.
In a few words, He Xia managed to strip him away of his military power and even transferred the several generals he’d finally managed to win the hearts of. Didn’t it mean almost certain death if He Xia left a secret Order to deal with him while he left?
Fei Zhaoxing secretly clenched his fist, but his expression didn’t change at all. “Yes.”
He Xia watched him use the seal and transfer the rights to command the Weibei Regiment right there and then. He nodded, “Everyone can go prepare. We shall leave in three hours from the rear city gates.”
The crowd thundered ‘yes’ and immediately scattered.
Fei Zhaoxing left the Royal Residence gates alone. He suddenly heard someone yell from behind. “General Fei, please wait.”
He turned to see He Xia’s chief bodyguard hurrying towards him with around four guards. He smiled as he spoke to Fei Zhaoxing, “The Marquess of Jing-An has instructed to let general take command of the soldiers guarding the city. I have been ordered to bring you to meet them.”
His expression was very natural, thinking there would be no trouble. He didn’t expect Fei Zhaoxing to be cleverer than the average person nor that he had long been suspicious of He Xia.
Fei Zhaoxing’s gaze didn’t move. He just saw the guards behind submissively bow. There was no way he didn’t understand if he made the slightest movement, these guards would pull out their swords. He chuckled secretly in his heart as it seemed He Xia had already commanded his subordinates to capture him when no one was around and deal with him in the future. Fei Zhaoxing revealed a pleasant smile, “Fine, thank you brothers for taking the time to accompany me.”
Each of them got on their own horses and just turned the corner when Fei Zhaoxing unsheathed his sword, stabbing the chief of the guards right in the heart.
There was no way the other person expected Fei Zhaoxing to be the first one to attack. He cried in pain before falling off his horse.
Fei Zhaoxing gathered his reigns, turned his horse, and ran. The remaining people watched him leave before suddenly jolted awake, cursing as they gave chase. He Xia happened to be setting his Order at that moment with his men outside the gates, preparing to leave so the gates were wide open. Fei Zhaoxing’s military uniform were bounded off of him. The soldiers guarding the city hurriedly kowtowed to him. They had yet to stand back up before Fei Zhaoxing and his horse disappeared like the wind.
He Xia received the news and was instantly furious, “How could you not complete such an easy task?”
But the army immediately departed anyway. He Xia left a lieutenant to pursue Fei Zhaoxing and deal with Gui Le’s affairs by himself. The lieutenant dressed into his military uniform and rushed inside the gates.
In Qierou City, the echoes of laughter thanks to Ze Yin’s safe returned had yet to end.
Chu Beijie and Ze Yin were enemies on the battlefield once, but for Yangfeng and Pingting, as well as the chaos under the skies, they finally became people of the same path.
“Sigh, I just want to see my son a little.”
The two famous generals couldn’t help moan and groan at the mention of their sons.
Ze Yin said, “You’re a bit better off than me, having Miss Bai at your side. It’s a pity Yangfeng and Qing’er still don’t know whether I’m safe right now, and I don’t know what terrible, upset state they are in thanks to that.”
Pingting happened to come in from outside. She stiffled her laughter with a hand, “Absense makes the heart grow fonder. Yangfeng has been upset for a long time, so when she sees you, her heart will rejoice.”
Chu Beijie was an experienced man and understood Ze Yin’s feelings better. He softly comforted, “It can’t be helped. Dong Lin’s military power is pathetically little, so it’s better not to let the Yun Chang army notice them. To ensure confidentiality, we can only try not to pass on messages to them.”
At this mention, Fanlu held Zuiju as he came in. At the sight of Chu Beijie, he asked, “Duke, when will you go see Qing Tian again?”
“He won’t be able to interact with He Xia at all thanks to my escape, so he is definitely feeling restless. When the fish has had enough of the heat in the frypan, it will definitely jump out onto the table.” Ze Yin laughed.
Chu Beijie also had such plans and simply called everyone over. “Without further ado, we will go see Qing Tian again.” This time, Moran and Ze Yin were to go, while Fanlu would stay to guard Qierou.
Fanlu was a bit frustrated. He only knocked out two mere soldiers last time, not killing anyone. His hands itched, but he didn’t expect that he wouldn’t be able to go this time.
Zuiju stroked his chest. “Very good, very good. The monkey is locked up in his cage.” She narrowed her eyes at Fanlu.
Zuiju was very happy Chu Beijie didn’t let Fanlu go on a risky adventure.
The crowd departed like last time. When sending him off, Pingting said to Chu Beijie, “Hurry back, Duke. I keep on feeling a little jumpy.”
Chu Beijie smiled gently, “When we’re apart, my heart always feels a bit uneasy. Don’t worry, I will be back soon.” He softly kissed her cheek, and Pingting closed her eyes, accepting it submissively.
Fanlu was on one side, smiling as he said to Zuiju, “Look at her, so obedient. Last time when I left, I said I’ll help touch your wound…” He had yet to finish, when he cried out in pain, obviously punched by Zuiju.
This expedition was different from last time as they left early in the morning. When they arrived at the Shuitai Regiment camp, it was still morning. Chu Beijie and the other generals were undoubtely masters of sneaking and hiding. They would hide wherever there was brick. This place had many more hiding spots compared to normal camps. Qing Tian’s courtyard was very quiet, and no one was seen, appearing to have all been dismissed by Qing Tian.
Chu Beijie studied the situation and had confidence more or less. He didn’t bother hiding his figure and simply strode inside.
Qing Tian was inside his room, frowning. When a light flashed in the corners of his eyes, he hurriedly turned to see Chu Beijie standing in front of him who calmly smiled, “Has General Qing made his decision? I have returned to hear the decision.”
Qing Tian solemnly replied, “Was Ze Yin rescued by the Duke of Zhen-Bei?”
Chu Beijie smiled and didn’t answer.
“Do you know with just the raise of my voice, you will die a meaningless death?” Qing Tian lowered his voice.
Although Chu Beijie was still smiling, his expression sharpened considerably. Their gazes locked into each other for a long time until he answered with a question, “Then why does General Qing not raise his voice?”
His gestures had the royal air that pressed down others.
Qing Tian stared at him for a long time before softening to a deep sigh, “I’ve thought a lot, these days…”
There were two opened letters on the table. He picked one of them and handed it to Chu Beijie. “I am, in the end, a person of the army, therefore I hate rebels the most. I originally made up my mind that if Duke came again, no matter what, I would make Duke stay behind even at the cost of my life. What importance is life when it comes to loyalty? Look at this Duke, if it hadn’t been for this letter that arrived just now, I’m afraid the sight of Duke would have me summon other people.”
Chu Beijie took it, lowering his head to read the inscription. The three characters for Fei Zhaoxing’s name were on it. They were scribbled, apparently hastily written.
“Isn’t this Fei Zhaoxing one of He Xia’s trusted generals?”
“Correct, this has Fei Zhaoxing’s seal, so it can’t be faked.” Qing Tian nodded, his expression suddenly revealing an unspeakably indignant heartache. “In this letter, he describes how He Xia…how He Xia harmed our Yun Chang’s Princess.” His voice was a little hoarse.
Chu Beijie suddenly understood.
His heart secretly wondered how this was such a clever coincidence, so he read the letter carefully. Although Fei Zhaoxing was currently on the run, his narrative was not cluttered. He went into depth about how He Xia imprisoned Yaotian and forced Yaotian to her death. Every scene was so saturated in description that even an outsider like himself felt that it was unbearable to read, not to mention a general who had been loyal to the Yun Chang Royal House for several years.
If Fei Zhaoxing wrote this letter around ten times, handed it to all of Yun Chang’s generals, then He Xia would be very unfavoured. But why did Fei Zhaoxing suddenly decide to betray He Xia to even such a violent method?
Qingtian waited until he was finished with Fei Zhaoxing’s letter before he suddenly asking, “Did Duke of Zhen-Bei come out from Qierou?”
At the mention of Qierou, even the experienced Chu Beijie couldn’t help jolt. He urged, “How does General Qing know?”
Qing Tian picked up the other letter on the table and handed it to him, “There’s another letter which arrived around the same time as Fei Zhaoxing’s. He Xia wants me to immediately depart, lead troops to surround Qierou. Hmph, I just want to lead troops to confront him and beat him to pieces!”
Chu Beijie almost snatched the letter off his hands. He hurriedly skimmed a few lines, his expression changing immensely. “Dammit!”
He Xia was leading troops to siege Qierou, yet Chu Beijie left Pingting and the others in Qierou.
Chu Beijie’s mind was a mess. His actions were quiet. He asked Qing Tian, “Can General lead the Shuitai Regiment against He Xia? What will you do if your subordinates report you’re rebelling?”
Qing Tian vaguely knew something was going to happen. He bluntly said, “The Shuitai Regiment are all sons of Yun Chang. As long as I read through Fei Zhaoxing’s letter, I can guarantee not one will want to follow He Xia. To be honest, ever since Dong Lin, Bei Mo and Gui Le were conquered, my Yun Chang’s brothers have been getting increasingly worthless.”
“Good!” Chu Beijie said, “Then please General, immediately come with me to Qierou and stop He Xia.”
“Of course I want to immediately go to Qierou to fight against He Xia, but hatefully my men are suffering from a strange illness. All of the soldiers have been feeling weak in the limbs and can’t even climb on their horses.”
Because Chu Beijie needed Qing Tian’s cooperation, he had long asked Pingting to make preparations. He hurriedly said, “Don’t worry about that, I have brought the antidotes with me. Dissolve it in water and give a small amount for everyone to drink. They will immediately feel better.” He patted the bag on his back.
Qing Tian’s mouth dropped opened, realisation dawning.
“There’s one more thing.” Qingtian frowned. “It’s not that I underestimate Duke’s power, but He Xia isn’t a normal person. He’s leading two regiments over, so my Shuitai Regiment only has half of his power. I’m afraid we will be no opponent for them. Also, when the two armies clash, it’ll be very difficult to determine friend or foe as the opponent also has many sons of Yun Chang.”
Chu Beijie thought of Pingting and was very anxious. His hand pressed on the hilt of the Divine Spirit sword was drenched in cold sweat, but he knew Qing Tian was right. He thought for a few moments, asking Qing Tian, “Apart from the Ganfeng Regiment, is the Yongxiao Regiment also nearby?”
“Correct, the Yongxiao Regiment was completely annihilated by Dong Lin and is now made up of remanants of soldiers from the fallen countries.”
“Where do most of them come from?”
Qing Tian praised how quickly he thought. He replied, “People from Gui Le are few, most of them are prisoners of war from Bei Mo and Dong Lin. He Xia is afraid they may not be convinced so deliberately put them in preferential treatment. Their supplies is twice the amount of normal soldiers. Although their commander, Chang Liang, is from Yun Chang, he is very loyal to He Xia. Even if he reads Fei Zhaoxing’s letter, he may not hate He Xia as much as me.”
Chu Beijie laughed for a few moments. “So what’s there to be afraid of?” He walked to the entrance, lowering his voice, “Come over here, all of you.”
The several generals hiding in ambush heard his summon and knew the big matter was complete. They all went inside.
Time was urgent. Chu Beijie rapidly arranged, “He Xia is currently taking two regiments to attack Qierou and can arrive at any time. General Qing Tian and I will immediately lead the Shuitai Regiment back to Qierou. The Yongxiao Regiment is approximately thirty miles in the north. Their commander is Chang Liang, a confidant of He Xia, but most of the soldiers are Dong Lin and Bei Mo people. Ze Yin and Moran, I want you two to go. Regardless of whatever things you do, kill Chang Liang and get the Yongxiao Regiment for me.”
Everyone was surprised from hearing of He Xia attacking Qierou. Ze Yin. Moran knew they held great responsibility and didn’t dare neglect it in the slightest. They received Chu Beijie’s orders and turned away.
Chu Beijie took a deep breath and looked at Qing Tian, “General Qing, let us go avenge Princess Yaotian.”
Pingting, you have to safely wait until I return.