Chapter 849: The Summit
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
After watching for a while, Gu Shenwei finally confirmed that Han Fen was dressed, so he tapped her twice with his sheath.
Han Fen abruptly sat up, stared blankly into the space for a while and then turned her head and smiled at the Dragon King. “I’ve never had a better sleep.”
Gu Shenwei was astonished.
“Did dawn break?”
Gu Shenwei was astonished yet again. After recalling the previous night for a while, he believed that he definitely hadn’t been stalked by anybody. The only plausible explanation as for why Han Fen had asked the same questions as Shangguan Ru was that it was a coincidence. This also proved how plain a night last night had been.
But that plainness was something that he didn’t dare to even hope for at this moment.
“This is my tent.”
“It is. But you weren’t using it. Now that you’ve come back, I’ll just leave. Dragon King, I think that it’s about time you improve how you treat your prisoners-”
“What can I do for you?”
Han Fen scratched her head. “One moment. I just woken up and my memory’s not very good. Last night I had a lot of dreams, though they were very interesting dreams…”
Gu Shenwei pointed at the corner, “Was it you who did all that?”
Han Fen jumped onto the ground, walked to the corner, and discovered that unobtrusive slit in the bottom after searching for quite a while. She crouched and stretched her hand through the slit to find out how big it was. And then, chin resting on her hand, she abruptly stood up. “Ah! That wasn’t a dream!”
“Then talk about it.”
“But… But I kind of promised her that I would keep it a secret.”
Gu Shenwei stared at her for a while. “Since you’re my prisoner, you don’t have the right to make your own decisions. I will abolish your promise and now I demand that you tell me the truth.”
“It turns out that I don’t have the right to do that. Great. Last night, when I was sound asleep, a female came in. She stroked my chest and pressed her dagger against my neck. I used knockout powder, but it didn’t work, so I had no choice but to let her do whatever she wanted. Alas, that was the first time that I did that with a woman-”
“It wasn’t you that she came for.”
“Mm. She was here for you and that little girl. I told her what you’ve been doing and then she left.”
“What we’ve been doing?”
“Yeah. You know … this … and that … ” Han Fen interlaced her fingers and wriggled them back and forth.
Gu Shenwei didn’t want to ask Han Fen how she had found out about this, so he instead said, “Is she from Golden Roc Castle?”
“You’re so good at guessing, Dragon King. Her kung fu was so good that I only managed to make one move.”
“And then? Where is she now?”
“She left. And she threatened me.”
“Mm,” Gu Shenwei had deduced that this woman must be Qian Ying.
Han Fen still had something else to say. “She was very aggressive. She said that she would cut me to pieces or slowly roast me, and that she would strike her head on a wall and kill herself. She also said that she wouldn’t have to serve her master anymore-”
“She wouldn’t have to serve her master anymore,” Han Fen repeated loudly. “Oh! Her original words were ‘My service to my master is probably going to end soon’. She’s a pretty interesting person.”
“Think about why you came here. And get out if you can’t recall.”
After thinking for a while, Han Fen quietly walked towards the door. When she was near the doorway, she turned around. “I remember now. But it’s not very important, so I don’t know whether I should tell you or not.”
“Little Nie Zeng and the little, little girl had a quarrel, and they nearly fought. I think that you should do something about it, Dragon King.”
“Mm. Anything else?”
“And – you’re not afraid of reprisals, right?”
“A lot of people want to take revenge on me. Why should I be afraid?”
“Ha-ha. That’s exactly what I think. Then there’s nothing else. That old woman doesn’t even dare to cut a head off, and she needed me to help her. However, she was crying and even promised that guy that she would avenge his death.”
That old woman clearly referred to the Second Consort. Sometimes, Gu Shenwei really didn’t know whether Han Fen was genuinely stupid or she was just acting dumb. “I understand. You did a good job. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” Han Fen smiled, her eyes narrowing into slits. “I’m willing to help you, Dragon King. If you want me to do anything, just tell me. For example, that thing … I think that you can do far better. You should try doing it more slowly, with more-”
“Get out!” Gu Shenwei reprimanded.
After sleeping for an hour, somebody woke Gu Shenwei up.
Dawn had just broken. Dugu Xian had had a sound sleep and he looked pretty good. “A local guide said that Thousand Horsemen Pass can be seen from the top of a nearby hill. I want to go there and take a look. Do you want to come with me?”
The first thing Gu Shenwei did was investigate that guide’s background. After confirming that the guide was reliable, he decided to go with Dugu Xian to gauge the enemy’s situation. He also designated 1,000 cavalrymen to come along with him. Dugu Xian was surprised. He remembered that the Dragon King had only brought a couple dozen of guards with him the last time they scouted out a battlefield.
Gu Shenwei didn’t explain. On that occasion, he made the decision in the morning and departed right away. But this time, Dugu Xian was the one who had made the decision, and he had done so ahead of time. So, it was very likely that this message had spread and he had to take precautions.
Nie Zeng, Tie Linglong and Han Fen all came along with him. Shangguan Ru and Red Bat also accepted the invitation.
Gu Shenwei noticed that the green-faced assassin, Qian Ying, was absent.
“How’s Long Fanyun?” he asked.
“Thanks for your concern, Dragon King. He’s much better now. He can even sit up and eat porridge by himself now. So I decided to come out and take a walk with Instructor Shangguan.” With a big smile on her face, Red Bat didn’t look tired at all.
The guide led the way, followed by the 1000-men army. First, they progressed eastwards and soon arrived at the area where Gu Shenwei and Shangguan Ru had sat quietly last night. But because of the stamping of the horses, they couldn’t recall the exact position no matter how strong their memories were.
After traveling for over ten miles, the procession turned south and gradually entered a mountainous region. Most of the cavalrymen circled around and stayed outside in the open area in case of potential sneak attack. Aside from them, Nie Zeng and the guide led the way along with a dozen of guards, followed by Gu Shenwei, Dugu Xian and the others.
The mountain road gradually got bumpier, but the view was pretty good. At around noon, they reached the top of a hill that overlooked Thousand Horsemen Pass from dozens of miles away.
Thousand Horsemen Pass looked like a normal box, as if they could step over it in a single step, but Dugu Xian believed that it was very difficult to take. “The Norland cavalrymen are not good at sieges. Thousand Horsemen Pass is strategically located so that it is easy to hold and difficult to attack. We may suffer heavy casualties during this battle.”
The hilltop was bare and there was no room for any enemies to hide, so everybody was very relaxed. Tie Linglong also walked over to take a look. “Why do we have to take Thousand Horsemen Pass? Heaven’s Pass which is in the west is under our control, so we can just go through there and attack Jade City.”
Dugu Xian shook his head with a smile. “If we go through Heaven’s Pass to attack Jade City, then the Dragon Army in Xiaoyao Lake will have to take a detour through the Shule Kingdom in order to join the Dragon King. This would be both difficult and time-consuming, and our defense during that time will be vulnerable, too. Thousand Horsemen Pass is not far away from Shuangquan Village, and it takes only a couple of days to travel from Shuangquan Village to Xiaoyao Lake, so the Dragon Army will be able to launch an immediate attack if we need them to.”
Tie Linglong knew all this already, but she still couldn’t understand. “The Dragon King has more than 100,000 cavalrymen at his command. With the Naihang Tribe’s army, the troops number almost 300,000 – why do we still need the Dragon Army that’s all the way back in Xiaoyao Lake to attack Jade City?”
Smiling, Dugu Xian glanced at the Dragon King but didn’t answer.
“Because those “over 100,000 cavalrymen” are Norlanders,” Gu Shenwei said. “And I hope for them to stay on the grasslands and to avoid entering the Western Regions after we take Thousand Horsemen Pass.”
“But Dragon King, you have put so much effort…” Tie Linglong was even more confused now.
Now that the Dragon King had told her about it, there was no need for Dugu Xian to try to keep it a secret any longer. “A strong ally can defeat your enemy, but they can also reveal your vulnerability. So the greatest help that a strong ally can offer is to stand by. Take Golden Roc Castle for example. The Unique King had Norland cavalrymen on his side, but Shule Kingdom still eventually fell into other people’s hands, and Heaven’s Pass – which was established at a huge cost – became the Norlanders’ gateway. So the Dragon King’s choice is right. We should take Jade City with only the Dragon Army if possible.”
“So the reason why we went through all those things was because we want the Norland cavalrymen to take a small city and then have them stand by.” Light dawned on Tie Linglong, but she didn’t think that it was a good plan.
Dugu Xian smiled but didn’t say anything more. Nie Zeng, who had been silent the whole time, suddenly said, “If the Dragon King hadn’t made an effort, the Norland cavalrymen would have taken Golden Roc Castle’s side…”
“I know that. You don’t have to remind me.” Tie Linglong’s face was cold, as if she didn’t want to hear his voice at all. Embarrassed, Nie Zeng said no more.
Dugu Xian pointed at the flat area to the south of Thousand Horsemen Pass. “Golden Roc Castle’s troops are there, about 10,000. There are also more in reserve. It’s a pity that we can’t see them from here.”
On their right side, there was a precipice which blocked their view of the southern area.
Raising his head, Gu Shenwei looked at those high hills and asked the guide, “Can we get over those hills?”
The guide bowed and smiled. “Birds can fly over them, but men could never make it. You see, this cliff is at least three hundred meters tall.”
“It’s not that high. I think that it’s about two hundred meters or so. I’ll go up there and take a look.” Gu Shenwei tightened his belt.
The guide’s face changed to a look of shock. Dugu Xian was also astounded. “It’s too risky, Dragon King. We can send some spies to the south to collect intelligence, so you don’t have to-”
“What we see with our own eyes is more reliable.” Gu Shenwei unfastened the Five Peaks Saber and handed it to Tie Linglong who was beside him. “Wait here. If anything happens at the foot of the hill, then you don’t have to wait any longer. I’ll return by myself.”
Dugu Xian racked his brains, still trying to figure out a way to stop the Dragon King. But Gu Shenwei had already walked to the foot of the cliff and started climbing upwards without using any of his lightness skills.
Now, they couldn’t persuade him even if they wanted to. So they all raised their heads and watched him. Han Fen was the only one who was totally indifferent about the situation. She took out some food and started gobbling it down.
When Gu Shenwei had climbed about thirty meters up, Shangguan Ru abruptly handed her wooden saber to Red Bat. “I’ll go up there too.”
Carrying the wooden saber, Red Bat was transfixed with astonishment. Shangguan Ru walked to the foot of the cliff, leaped up, landed on a position about three meters high, and then started climbing with both of her hands and her feet. It seemed like climbing the cliff was just as easy as walking on the ground for her. She soon caught up with the Dragon King and then even started leading the way.
Nie Zeng and Tie Linglong watched her in admiration. Both of them had thought that Shangguan Ru’s kung fu’s was average, but it turned out that her lightness skills were actually this amazing. They themselves were not confident that they could climb to the top of this steep cliff.
Han Fen was handing out jerky as she ate. When she walked to the two teenagers’ side, she complacently said, “Master Commander can do this too. And she can do it faster than both of them combined.”
Gu Shenwei cared more about safety than speed, but Shangguan Ru was right in front of him, so he couldn’t help but pick up his speed. This reminded him of a contest held by the “Tenth Young Master” many years ago. At that time, it had been a stone wall in Golden Roc Castle that they were trying to climb, and it was also much shorter than this cliff.
The two made it to the top of the cliff. Looking down, Dugu Xian and the others seemed as small as ants. Looking into the east, they didn’t get a vision as wide as they had expected because there was still a small hill blocking their view.
They exchanged a glance. Shangguan Ru was the first to rush towards that hill, followed closely by Gu Shenwei. Soon they had disappeared from the others’ sight.
Shangguan Ru was over ten steps ahead of him. After making a detour around the hill, she yelled in shock.
Gu Shenwei hurriedly rushed over. His eyes lit up. There was a completely different view behind the hill – a natural pool with crystal clear water. At this season, there was not too much water in it, and they could see large, flat, blue stones on the two sides. The most amazing part was that cold wind couldn’t penetrate here, so the temperature was as warm as that of early autumn.
Standing beside the outfall of the pool, Shangguan Ru looked into the distant south-west.
“I think that that’s Jade City,” she said. When she turned her head back, her eyes were full of tears.
Gu Shenwei walked to her side, staring into the distance. “Are you ready to go back?”
Tears dripped down her face, but Shangguan Ru didn’t wipe them away. Instead, a smile appeared on her face. “I don’t want to think about anything right now. I only know that there is no ending better than this one.”
Then she slowly undid her clothes as she gently said, “What a good opportunity. I want to see you clearly, and I want you to see me clearly, too.”