Feng Zhao Wen threw that familiar-looking young general off his horse using a lance, in the battlefield. The Great Chen’s army worked through hell to get him back.
When the Crown Prince returned to the tent later, he was in a quite good mood.
I blocked Tian Bing Qing outside Feng Zhao Wen’s tent, “His Highness has feeling for the young general?”
Tian Bing Qing stared at me with a look that said ‘a decayed wood cannot be carved’ and walked past me while carrying a tea tray.
(TN: A decayed wood cannot be carved; 朽木不可雕 (xiu mu bu ke diao) = a useless person is useless no matter what.)
I was puzzled, I had been following Feng Zhao Wen rather close for the past few days and had done nothing that warrants anger from those two. Nothing went well for me today.
General Wu Ke pulled a warhorse while walking steadily from another tent. I quickly grabbed him by the sleeve, “Where are you heading, General?”
He struggled to release my hold on his sleeve, “Rinsing my horse.” His neck was stubbornly turned on the other side, simply refusing to look at me.
I touched my own face. Actually, I forgot to say this in the beginning but General Wu Ke was extremely handsome. He looked even more feminine than that young general in white from the Great Chen. Despite his appearance, he was capable enough to lead an army and was so unparalleled when it comes to it; this was a lesson to everyone who knew him.
Last year, I took advantage of Feng Zhao Wen’s favoritism and bullied him greatly. Our relationship as colleagues was bad. In all honesty, it was pretty foolish of me. By doing just that, I became a loner. I didn’t even have anyone to badmouth our boss with everytime the boss scolded me.
I was embarrassed to admit to him then, that I simply didn’t want to enter the commander-in-chief’s tent and face the Crown Prince and his eunuch’s weird temper.
I smiled brightly towards the back of his head, “General Wu, I want to take part in the fun too.” Even though he was not even looking at me, being courteous will not make one lose anything.
Wu Ke continued dragging his horse in silence as I followed him close from behind. Despite my best effort in speaking, I failed to raise his amusement or break his silence.
There was a small creek outside the camp. When Wu Ke got there, there were a couple of horses that had just returned from the battlefield. There were a number of soldiers in little groups far away. On the river, there were six to seven shirtless men doing menial labor with beads of water dripping off of them. I froze while Wu Ke cynically said, “Wipe your drool.”
…….. Actually, I thought those young men were familiar to my eyes.
I was originally broad minded and did not care for pettiness, so I ignored his provocation and simply took the leash from his hand before laughing, “Let me help you rinse this horse.” I wade through the water with the horse and went past those people.
When those people saw me, it was as though the time had stopped. I struggled to rinse the horse with a straight face. A tall and lanky young man from the bunch spoke up with a curious tone, “Ya~, I was wondering who this is! Turns out it is General Guang Wu. It is rare for General to come over here and rinse horse.”
I thought I had forgotten to check my almanac before going out today. Everyone treated me weirdly today, from Feng Zhao Wen and Tian Bing Qing to these people.
One of the people next to him whispered to that person, “Su Ren, hold your mouth! Do you think this is the Great Chen?”
That name brought enormous impact to my brain; I felt as though everything was crashing together. I reluctantly laughed, “Who is… General Guang Wu?”
That guy with the name Su Ren mocked me, “The Great Chen’s General Guang Wu, An Xiaolang; what are you playing at?” He looked at me in hatred.
In the blink of an eye, my blood drained and my brain turned into a mush. Countless of thoughts surfaced in my head and my body turned into a block of ice. I finally started to understand the weird looks I got in the camp and back in the Great Qi’s eastern palace. While I was at a loss, a couple of officers wearing the uniforms of the Great Qi were observing these people from the shore.
Seeing them taking a break, one of them whipped their lash while saying, “Do your work! Stop fooling around!”
Wu Ke who was quite a distance away made his way towards me in just a couple of steps. His eyes were filled with horror as he asked me, “What did they say to you?” He grasped my shoulders tight, “What’s wrong, An Xiao Lang? Why is your face so pale? Like a ghost…”
Those couple of young men looked at me in wonder. I thought I better make up an excuse. I pointed at my own head, “I got muddle-headed a little.”
I was frustrated at how Su Ren did not show even the slightest desire to pay respect to a higher level officer. He appeared alarmed instead, “Don’t tell me his head turned bad after being hit that day in Huang He Valley?” Then, he pointed at General Wu Ke, “It was you who hammered him that day! Why are you pretending to be the good guy, now…..”
Actually, I never really asked who hit me that day. Being hit by the enemy meant that I was an incompetent officer and failed my comrades; why would I ask around and promote that fact everywhere?
Being secretly targeted by my own people, on the other hand, meant that I was not well-liked; even my own people couldn’t stand me.
As long as it was not Feng Zhao Wen, being hit by anyone else was not a big problem.
Today, I felt as though my entire world became muddled. I had a nightmare tonight and when I woke up, there was no one beside me. The light inside the tent was dim; I could see the moonlight from the cracks of the tent. I felt as though a distant memory was being reawakened. Out of instinct, I pulled out the blade I hid under my bed and ran it slowly across my leg. I heard an angry voice saying, “What are you doing?” A figure rushed towards me from a dark corner of the tent.
I was shocked and before I knew it, the blade was already plunging in towards my flesh. I heard the sound of pain coming from someone. I was shocked. I got up and hurriedly light up the tent. Once the lanterns brightened the inside of the tent, I could see the dagger plunging into Feng Zhao Wen’s palm. I covered my own face, having no ways to explain this.
I must have been muddle-headed from the sleep.
He glanced at me in anger, “Do you want to assassinate this prince? What are you waiting for; go and get medicines and bandages!”
Somewhere inside me, I felt like I knew someone who behaved just like that when angry. If I didn’t get cursed at, then I would get beaten. But I didn’t feel any fear from that memory. I quietly took out cotton wool and wrapped it around his wound. I looked up at his handsome face and spoke without even thinking, “Your Highness, you really look like my Father when you are angry!”
The Crown Prince’s eyes were filled with fury; as though the thing I stabbed was his heart and not his palm.
I really didn’t do it on purpose……
Anyway, I still could not remember how my Father looked like.
He finally spoke after a while, “You’ve remembered everything?” I could not tell if he was happy or unhappy.
I shook my head before getting up, planning to maneuver past him to go back to bed. He grabbed my hand as I walked past him, “What are those?” There were trails of blood on my white skirt. I suppose it was that dagger’s doing; that dagger must have been really sharp.
He was suddenly furious again, “Can’t you feel the pain?”
I looked at him innocently, not understanding why he chose to be this angry at this kind of hour.
He got even angrier and tore off my skirt. I exclaimed in shock. He subdued my arms and imprisoned me in his hold. I was astonished to realize that there were a couple more scars at the place where I bled.
Feng Zhao Wen too froze as he stared at the scars on my legs before looking up and giving me a deep look.
I could not name whatever it was that swirled in his eyes, but I was sure I had seen that in somebody else’s eyes before.
I pointed at his face before saying, “See, Your Highness! You look more and more like my Father!”
His handsome face darkened. He forcefully wrapped cotton wools around my wound, his hand gradually turning lighter. His face was still heavy though.
I could only comfort him, “Your Highness, I am sure you are a lot younger and more handsome than my Father….”
He looked at me like he wanted to kill someone!
But, I still managed to leave the tent unscathed on the next day. It was truly not easy.
I did not know the truth, in the past. After one night, my head turned clearer. Even though I could not fully remember my past, watching my own country losing was not something worth celebrating.
Honestly, I didn’t have much contact with the prisoners of war. Taking advantage of Feng Zhao Wen going out, I secretly head towards the place where they held prisoner of wars.
The guards had obviously seen me following Feng Zhao Wen around, so they did not block me. As I entered the place, a couple of young men were making a ruckus there, gambling about whether or not the Great Chen would win. They did not look like slaves whose country was about to collapse at all. I was stunned.
I never thought there would be people as thick-skinned as I am in this world; only thinking about ourselves.
Su Ren was the first one who saw me, “Zhao Yong! Zhao Yong! Your little monkey that betrayed his own country is here!”
I was immediately pulled by a tall young man and was forced to sit next to him.
He eyed me from head to toe before giving a long sigh, “At least you are alive and well! Other than being a little muddle-headed and not recognizing people, you don’t seem to be sick.”
My heart immediately fell; the word ‘betraying country’ was a very heavy offense, after all. But, from the way they treated me, they didn’t seem to place great importance in treason either.
Being excluded by your own kind; one must be really courageous to do something out of the ordinary. I was not a courageous person so I could only safely follow the ordinary flow.
Su Ren laughed maliciously, “Zhao Yong, you failed to see your little monkey’s illness. He managed to climb the Crown Prince of Qi’s bed. Hehe….”
My face reddened as I stomped on his feet. He yelped in pain while everyone else laughed.
Zhao Yong glared at him, “An Xiao Lang is merely recuperating in the Crown Prince’s tent. The Crown Prince is benevolent. Do not have a crooked mindset.”
Su Ren retreated two steps while laughing weirdly. Zhao Yong continued speaking, “Even if An Xiao Lang has different ideas; the Crown Prince will never entertain his wishes… Even if he became ten times more handsome….”
I glared at Zhao Yong: Brother, are you from the Great Qi?
Everyone inside the tent laughed while slapping the table.
Perhaps I was inside Feng Zhao Wen’s tent for too long and was out of the loop; I never knew a country could perish so happily.
I, myself was shameless to no end. I had no sense of loyalty to the kingdom at all; who would have thought I would meet so many bastards of similar nature here?