Chapter 24 — And So Will-o’-Wisp Lu Makes Trouble
* Will-o’-Wisp is our translation for 白月光, commonly referred to as white moonlight in other translations. It holds the idea of a hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach, which seems to suitably describe many of these characters. Maybe except for the leading on, since there are some 白月光 who are actually truly innocent and not to be blamed.
Edited by DancingDolphinsYo
As Guan Shanjin was hugging Wu Xingzi and taking a short rest, Hei’er knocked on the door. Without waiting for Guan Shanjin to respond, he pushed the doors opened and entered, his aloof, solemn face appearing a little dark. Seeing the sleeping Wu Xingzi in the general’s arms, and how the corners of his eyes were still slightly damp and his nose still reddened, Hei’er hesitated with the words in his mouth.
“What happened?” Hei’er and the other three guards were Guan Shanjin’s closest subordinates with the exception of Man Yue. He was normally not very strict with their discipline even in the camp, and so he was not very bothered by Hei’er’s interruption. Most likely, Man Yue had sent another letter urging him to return.
“Vice General Man has sent a letter.” As expected, this was the first sentence Hei’er spoke. However, it sounded like he had more to say, so Guan Shanjin lazily opened his eyes to look at him.
Taking a deep breath, Hei’er again glanced at Wu Xingzi who was sleeping uneasily. He lowered his voice and continued, “In Vice General Man’s letter, he said that Mr. Lu fell from his horse two days ago, breaking a leg. He also has some slight internal injuries…”
Alarmed, Guan Shanjin stood up, and the person sprawled in his arms nearly fell to the ground. However, he gave no heed to it. Instead, it was Hei’er who quickly went up to support Wu Xingzi, preventing him from crashing onto the floor.
“Mr. Lu is injured?” Guan Shanjin’s glinting eyes narrowed and the anxiety in them could not be concealed.
“Why did you only mention it now?” He questioned sharply. That icy tone caused Wu Xingzi to shudder, releasing a m.u.f.fled groan. A tear slid down his white face, but it was as though Guan Shanjin did not see it.
“We’ll return to Bastion City immediately. Tell Man Yue to get Physician Tu to treat Mr. Lu.”
“Vice General Man has already called Physician Tu over. In his letter, he says that Mr. Lu’s injuries are not very serious. He’ll be able to get down from the bed after about two months of rest.” Hei’er paused for a moment. He took Wu Xingzi who had clearly been forgotten by the general into his arms, so that he would not fall and get injured.
Guan Shanjin snorted. “He needs two months of rest before he can get down the bed, but it’s still not very serious? Man Yue resents Mr. Lu, it’s hard to say that he won’t take this opportunity and irritate him further. I have to go back right now. The four of you will finish dealing with the matters in Goose City and come back, don’t slow me down.” Guan Shanjin’s smile was very dark. These close subordinates of his all did not like Mr. Lu. It was likely that during this recovery period, Mr. Lu was feeling very uneasy!
The more he thought about it, the more anxious he got. Guan Shanjin even had no intentions of leaving Restaurant of Songs through its front doors, but instead, used his qinggong and leapt out of the window. He did not want to delay his time for even a second.
“General!” With a person in his arms, Hei’er was unable to chase after him. He could only watch as the black figure disappeared in the distance.
They were in for some trouble now. Hei’er looked down at the pale-faced, despondent looking person in his arms, sighing in his heart.
Standing outside the door just now, he had also heard Adviser Wu’s story, and naturally noticed Guan Shanjin’s tenderness for him as well. This Adviser Wu obviously had a different position in Guan Shanjin’s heart, and people with eyes would definitely be able to see it. However, no matter how much Guan Shanjin liked him, Wu Xingzi would still never be able to compare with the person that had been in his heart for so many years.
In Man Yue’s letter, he had given some special instructions. There was not to be any delay, and they had to immediately inform the general about Mr. Lu. However, Hei’er did not understand why.
Mr. Lu was about to seek a marriage alliance with the Yue family already, but right at the moment, this happened. The timing was too coincidental, and if not for Man Yue insisting over and over again, Hei’er had wanted to drag it out for a few more days before telling Guan Shanjin. Now, great, was he supposed to send Adviser Wu back to Qingcheng County? Or was he supposed to bring him to Bastion City?
Hei’er was not inclined to think further about it. Guan Shanjin’s att.i.tude was not surprising, and Man Yue definitely had his own intentions and that was why he had given him those instructions. Now, he only had to think about Adviser Wu.
After carefully wrapping Wu Xingzi tightly with a cloak, Hei’er pulled the doors opened and summoned the server, giving him a few instructions. He then carried Wu Xingzi and jumped out through the window as well. Landing, he returned to the manor in Goose City, and happened to see the back of Guan Shanjin riding his horse, Zhu Xing.
“Hei’er.” Fang He, a man with a big beard, came up to him. “What’s going on? The general only instructed us to bring Adviser Wu to Bastion City and left. Yesterday, didn’t he say that he was going to stay here for a few more days?”
“Vice General Man sent a letter saying that Mr. Lu has injured himself falling from his horse. How could the general hold himself back?”
At least he still remembered Wu Xingzi. Hei’er was a little gratified.
“Falling from his horse at this time?” Fang He was speechless, his eyes full of undisguised ridicule. “Isn’t he about to have a marriage alliance with the Yue family already? I heard that he’s planning on confirming the marriage before the New Year. This New Year is going to be tough.”
“Exactly…” Hei’er sighed, shifting the person in his arms. “If we’re going to bring Adviser Wu with us, should we go to Qingcheng County first? Or do we just take him with us while he’s still asleep?”
He had a vague suspicion that if they waited for Adviser Wu to wake up, it would no longer be easy to take him with them. Secretly, Hei’er wanted to let him go, as when they returned to Bastion City, it was likely that Adviser Wu’s life there would not be very smooth sailing.
“Would Adviser Wu be willing to go to Bastion City when he wakes up?” Fang He was the one who asked the question, but he also shook his head composedly.
The four of them all knew that Adviser Wu was not at all reluctant to part from the general. Even Manager Rancui probably had a higher position than the general’s pengornis in Wu Xingzi’s heart, so how would he ever be willing to leave Qingcheng County?
“We can only beg the adviser’s pardon later,” Hei’er sighed. His entire life had been spent in the military and obeying orders had almost become an innate part of him. Moreover, this order came from Guan Shanjing. No matter how he felt that it was not right, he was unable to disobey the order. Not everyone could be like Man Yue, with a soft and plump figure, excellent tactics, and a silver tongue.
“Adviser Wu’s body is weak, and he would not be able to endure an arduous journey. You should go ahead with him using a carriage, while we deal with the rest of the matters here. Once we’ve settled everything, we’ll immediately follow behind. If we arrive late by too many days after the general reaches Bastion City, I don’t know if the general will still remember the adviser.” Fang He shook his head compa.s.sionately, turning around to prepare the carriage.
It would be even better if he did not remember! The adviser would definitely return to Qingcheng County in delight, and spend his days with The Pengornisseur from then on, living his days peacefully and quietly.
One hour after Guan Shanjin’s departure, the carriage was ready. Although they were four rough men, they were very meticulous. Inside the carriage, there were very comfortable cushions and bedding. Although it was a little cramped, it was warm within. There were books, scripts and paintings to relieve any boredom and also no lack of snacks and tea. Even a few sets of clothes were prepared, neatly and tidily packed within the drawers.
Wu Xingzi’s creased brows relaxed upon feeling the soft bedding. His lips curved faintly into a smile, as he nuzzled into a cushion and fell into a deeper sleep.
Hei’er was very skilled at driving a carriage. On top of that, the carriage itself was constructed very well. During their journey, there were barely any jolts, and the minor swaying only made the journey even more pleasant. Wu Xingzi slept all the way till the next day. Upon waking up, he stared blankly at this s.p.a.ce that was even smaller than his own bedroom. Enveloped in a bedding that was as soft as clouds, for a moment he thought that he was still dreaming.
So, he reached out and pinched himself on the thigh. Wincing in pain, he almost cried aloud before letting go.
Where… Where was this place?
Before he could even recover his wits, a ray of sun shone upon his face. A tower-like figure, blocking some of the light, spoke to him. “You’re awake already, Adviser Wu. Would you like something to eat or drink?”
Wu Xingzi squinted his eyes. That ray of sun was not especially glaring, but the eyes of a person who had been sleeping for an entire day and night were naturally sensitive, and the strength of the light was enough to bring tears to his eyes.
“Warrior, you’re…” Wu Xingzi hurriedly sat up from within the bedding. Now, he could finally see that he was in a carriage. How did he end up in a carriage? It couldn’t be that a robber had kidnapped him, right?
“I’m the magistrate’s adviser Wu Xingzi from Qingcheng County. Warrior, are you seeking my money or my life?”
Hearing this, Hei’er paused for a few breaths before laughing cheerily, “This is Hei’er, and I want your person.”
“Uh…. Co-commander Hei?” Wu Xingzi rubbed his eyes, and he could finally make out the person in front of him. Sighing a huge breath of relief, he bowed his head, feeling embarra.s.sed, and apologised, “I’m sorry. I just woke up, so my mind isn’t very awake. I’ve actually mistaken Commander Hei as a robber. With your magnanimity, please don’t take offense.”
“It’s fine. Adviser, you can just call me Hei’er.” Hei’er tied up the curtains of the carriage, allowing the rare warm winter sun to shine into it, hoping that it would give the adviser’s pale face a bit of a flush. “You haven’t eaten for a day and night, would you like something to eat?”
Once food was mentioned, Wu Xingzi could feel his stomach gurgling in hunger. With a red face, he pressed his hands against his tummy and replied bashfully, “I am a little hungry. Does Commander Hei have a little rations that you can share with me?”
“Why don’t you call me Hei’er, and I’ll call you Adviser? Our current form of address makes us feel very distant.” Hei’er felt helpless. In Man Yue’s letter, he had asked him to build a good rapport with Wu Xingzi, and it would be best if Wu Xingzi could get used to having a personal guard before reaching Bastion City. Even if Wu Xingzi was unable to treat him like a subordinate, they had to at least interact on the same peer level, and he was not to let Wu Xingzi demean himself.
Hei’er sighed. He had not expected that this mission would be so difficult.
“Uhh…” Wu Xingzi faltered. He was only a commoner, and he had an innate fear of military personnel. Moreover, the commander had to be at least a fourth-ranked military official! For an ordinary folk like him, they were essentially separated by heaven and earth! How could he ever have the guts to just randomly call him by his nickname?
“Then we’ll agree on it. I’d like to be able to interact with you on an equal level, please grant me this wish.” Hei’er no longer remained indirect. Adviser Wu was frank, honest and serious-minded. Rather than waiting for him to think things through, it would be more useful to quietly get him used to it during this journey of several days.
“Uh…” Wu Xingzi scratched his cheek. He really did not have the courage to refuse giving Hei’er any face, and could only nod his head wildly. He stammered, “Hei—Hei’er…”
“Hey.” Hei’er smiled at him. He then handed over a bag made of oiled paper, and Wu Xingzi hurriedly accepted it. In his hands, the bag was still warm, and he could smell a tempting aroma wafting out from it. Gulping his saliva down, he did not remain courteous any longer and tore into the bag. The fragrant bread and the rich aroma of the meat filling rushed out, and Wu Xingzi’s stomach that had been empty for a day and night gurgled loudly.
Blushing heavily, Wu Xingzi sneaked a peek at Hei’er. Seeing that he had already turned his head back to the front and was driving the carriage, he patted himself on the chest.
In the bag, there were four big meat buns. They were still steaming, and biting into it, the juices of the meat dripped down his chin. It was so hot that his tongue became numb. The bun was fluffy, and it was stuffed completely full with the filling. The meat was finely chopped, the taste well-rounded and pleasant, with a hint of the spiciness from ginger, but it was not overpowering. Like blossoms soaked in the juices of the meat filling, the bun was so delicious that he even wanted to swallow his tongue down along with it.
These buns were somewhat different from those available in Goose City. The bun was chewy yet fluffy, and the meat inside was extremely juicy, but was not overly tender. Tasting both fresh and salty, Wu Xingzi could not stop eating. He finished three in a go, and then stared at the fourth, not daring to touch it.
“Hei-Hei’er, I’m sorry. I was really too hungry, and I actually ate your share as well.” With four buns, it was expected that there were two for each of them. Hei’er had a fit and muscular body, and he most likely ate more, not less than Wu Xingzi. Wu Xingzi was so embarra.s.sed that he desperately wished for somewhere to bury his face.
“Adviser, what are you saying? These are all yours. I’ve already eaten.” Hei’er turned and consoled him, handing him a flask of cool water along the way. “There should be tea leaves in the drawers. If you’ll like some hot tea, I’ll prepare some hot water for you later.”
“No need, no need for the trouble…” Wu Xingzi quickly waved his hands. He was not used to being taken care of like this, and in such a strange place as well… Biting into the last bun, he looked around outside. The unfamiliar scenery rushed past them continuously, and the carriage was quite fast. The coats of the two horses pulling the carriage were shiny and sleek, their bodies st.u.r.dy and muscular. The clatter of their hooves was smooth and powerful, and they were extremely spirited.
Although he wanted to ask Hei’er where he was bringing him, Wu Xingzi was not a fool. Thinking over it, he could guess what was happening — this was definitely the path to Bastion City!
Oh no, his Pengornisseur! Would Manager Rancui know that he had been taken away from Qingcheng County? And his rattan case of pengornis drawings! His erotic drawings! His Mr.D!
At his wits’ end, Wu Xingzi sat upon the bedding. Licking at the leftover meat juices on his fingers, his heart ached so much that his mind turned blank.
Because he had been too drunk, Adviser Wu had long forgotten what had happened yesterday in Restaurant of Songs. Now, he also did not have the desire to think about how he had somehow gotten into this carriage on its way to Bastion City, or about Guan Shanjin who had been following him around the entire time, why did he see no sign of him?
The only thought in his head was, the weather had been quite cold recently, there were not many bugs around, so the insect-repelling scent pouch should be able to last for a few more days.
If he could not return to Qingcheng County before the New Year, his pengornis drawings might be in danger!
Each and every one of them was worth a coin! Every piece represented a beautiful night, and as he thought about it, his heart ached to the point where tears were about to roll down his cheeks. He did not have a flush that came from having had enough food and drinks, but instead, his face had an ashen look to it that spoke of desolation.
Hei’er did notice it, but he mistakenly thought that Wu Xingzi was upset about discovering Guan Shanjin’s absence. Thinking about it, he comforted him, “Adviser, you don’t have to worry about him. The general had something to attend to, so he went ahead first. You’ll be able to see him once we arrive in Bastion City.”
“What?” Wu Xingzi blinked, looking blankly at Hei’er. In his mind, he was still flipping through each pengornis drawing from his memories. His entire person looked lost, and he did not seem to be paying any attention to what Hei’er was saying, only nodding his head along.
“Also…” Hei’er saw how Wu Xingzi looked at the moment, and he could not bear it. So, he decided to remind him, “You don’t have to be too bothered about Mr. Lu. Although the general is unable to get away for now, you’re still in his heart.”
“What?” This time, Wu Xingzi heard it, but he did not understand what Hei’er was saying. That dazed look made Wu Xingzi seem even more pitiful. He was like a drenched quail, a little pile of feathers huddled on the bed.
“I’ll help you.” Sighing, Hei’er solemnly made a promise, hoping that the person in front of him would not be hurt too badly.
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