Sha Po Lang - Chapter 97
Chapter 97: Dust Settled
If that was the case, the last words you would have said to me would be ‘get out’, I’m not willing to close my eyes even in death.
After Chang Geng said this sentence, as if spitting out all his pain, his whole body was empty, almost fainting directly. The moment he saw Gu Yun, his rigid backbone softened and was pulled out, there was not a trace of strength left.
Nevertheless, he still could not find the heart to shut his eyes, resting on Gu Yun’s shoulder and tried to recover for a moment. He seized Gu Yun’s clothing consciously or unconsciously.
Losing too much blood, Chang Geng’s body felt cold all over. Only Gu Yun’s temperature and the familiar bitter scent of medicine reminded him in a trance how Gu Yu wrapped him in his cloak in the ice and snow and took him inside when he was a child. For a moment, he lost his sense of time and murmured, “…do you have any wine?”
Xu Ling eagerly came over and tried to give them a hand: “Marshal, let me help…”
… Unfortunately, Master Liao Ran, who heard the whole scene from start to finish, held him back.
The monk who stood beyond the mortal world heard a few of Yan Wang’s delirious mumbles, instantly shocked by the hidden meaning inside.
Gu Yun did not utter a word. He safely picked Chang Geng up and carried him to the carriage. He frowned deeply and ordered, “Call a military doctor!”
After that, he took out a kettle — when on a march or expedition, the kettle did not carry pure water inside, but a little bit of salt would be mixed in. This trick was first learned from the merchants traveling in the desert.
Gu Yun let Chang Geng lay on himself, telling a blatant lie, “Here comes the wine, open your mouth.”
Chang Geng was only in a little dazed, not completely confused. If it wasn’t Gu Yun who came, he could kill another group of fierce rebels. He drank a few mouthfuls in cooperation, then chuckled and said, “You tricked me.”
Gu Yun not only deceived him, but he also wanted to hang him up and give him a beating, so that he could understand the meaning of the sentence, ‘a being of precious status should sit and stand properly’. But when he saw the real person in the flesh, his heart ached so much that his chest turned numb. How could he be angry?
No matter how Yan Wang overturned the river and the sea outside, he had never been injured like this right under his eyes. Gu Yun sat stiff for a moment expressionlessly, then carefully pushed the front of his clothes and took a look. A heavy scent of blood immediately rushed to his face. Gu Yun’s chest fluctuated violently. For the first time in his life, he knew what it was like to have trembling hands.
Chang Geng seemed to be able to feel his emotional turmoil. For a moment, he tasted the sweetness of acting spoiled and refused to stop. He poured oil into the fire and whispered in Gu Yun’s ear, “I was afraid I can never see you again…”
Gu Yun closed his eyes slightly, his face tensed, his hands were very gentle, all anger was concentrated on the tip of his tongue. He said coldly, “Pardon my poor eyesight, I cannot see what is there to be afraid of, consider Your Highness’s careful calculation’.”
Chang Geng did not seem to hear him. Using the curtain as cover, he rubbed his face gently between Gu Yun’s shoulder and neck. His voice was somewhat vague as whispered, “If that was the case, the last words you would have said to me would be ‘get out’, I’m not willing to close my eyes even in death.”
Gu Yun: “…”
He felt that the man in his arms was like an abominable vine, stretching out loads of deadly twig and poking endlessly into his heart.
Outside came the sound of horses hooves far and near. A man shouted in a loud voice of a messenger, “Marshal, the military doctor had arrived!”
Chang Geng seemed to be in extreme pain, but dared not let it show. He maintained his original posture and took in a soft breath slowly, revealing his pale neck. Gu Yun was both angry and distressed, he lowered his head and kissed him furiously under the cover of the curtain. His lips were gentle as dragonflies on the water surface, but his expression was like seeking revenge.
Chang Geng suddenly opened his eyes, his scattered sight suddenly regained focus, looking at Gu Yun with expectation.
Gu Yun said in his ear, “I’ll settle this matter with you later after we’re home.”
After that, he flung up the curtain and shouted towards the military doctor running over, “Hurry up!”
The military doctor originally wanted to clear away any uninvolved people, but was already frightened upon meeting Gu Yun’s eyes. He dared not send Marshal Gu away even if his guts were bigger, he had to endure Gu Yun’s gaze that could make one sweat and treat the two horrifying wounds on Yan Wang’s body with trepidation.
When there are outsiders, Chang Geng refused to say anything. Only when the clumsy military doctor pulled his wound while pulling the gauze did he endure with a slight twitch. Gu Yun’s expression turned worse as time goes by, suddenly, Chang Geng placed a cold hand on his using the cover of his wide sleeve. Chang Geng seemed to know that he was upset and did not dare to hold it, only making light contact, sneaking glances at him several times.
Gu Yun looked down at him and saw a drop of cold sweat rolling down his forehead to his eyes, sticking to his eyelashes and rolling down with a blink. The gaze that came out of the cold sweat and appeared cloudy.
Gu Yun: “…”
When Chang Geng was a child, he was already very good at acting spoiled, but now he was no longer of ordinary level, it almost reached a godlike state. Gu Yun could not help it, being stared at by these eyes for an incense time, he truly had to give him anything he wanted, accepting his fate, he took Chang Geng’s hand and pulled him to his chest, whispering, “Close your eyes.”
Chang Geng shut his eyes without another word. During this trip, he had thoroughly cleaned up the chaos in Jiangbei, this big stone had fallen on the ground. At this time, his heart was almost free of concern. Listening to Gu Yun’s heartbeat, he felt that even if he died on this occasion, there would be no regrets, he fell asleep peacefully.
The Sha Hai Group could no longer stir up a storm with its internal conflicts. General Zhong honourably abided by the promise given by Yan Wang, not moving a single soldier. He sincerely wrote a letter of peace and sent it to them. The remnants of the King of Heaven’s people were cleaned up by Chang Geng. The rest were dealt with by the joint effort of the other three bandits leaders, the rebellion that should have shed blood into a river disappeared into thin air.
Three days later, Yao Zhen came from Jiangbei Camp to serve as governor of Liangjiang for the time being. Yao Zhen first captured Yang Rong Gui’s party, then led people to find where Yang Rong Gui had detained the refugees, released them all one by one, comforted them and re-compiled their official documents, he then asked the ones responsible for registering lost relatives and friends to send people to look for them, personally coming to comfort and compensate the bereaved families of those who had unfortunately fallen victim to it.
A few days later, the medicine sent by the court arrived in large quantities. Li Feng ordered that part of the stolen money and bribe would be returned to the capital, the rest would be distributed to the victims for relief immediately, then report back to the Ministry of Household.
Xu Ling restored his imperial status and thoroughly investigated the Yang-Lu party. He brought into full play his upright, impersonal attitude, confiscating their possessions neatly.
But as Yang Rong Gui said, there was hardly any gold or silver in his home. All of them were exchanged into Feng Huo tickets. Xu Ling had no choice but to consult the bedridden Yan Wang.
Chang Geng explained, “I know how many Feng Huo tickets were issued and who took them away. The treasury was not supported by that Yang. You can find out which folk businessmen he associates with on a regular basis, he was mostly in collusion with officials and businessmen. If you can’t read the account book clearly or distinguish between true and false, you don’t have to worry about it. I’ve looked for a person to come and help you. He will arrive in these few days, it is Du Wan Quan’s son. He grew up with an abacus when he was young, he has a good and credible personal relationship with me, he can be trusted.”
Xu Ling eagerly nodded.
“Also,” Chang Geng leaned on the bed and raised his gaze slightly. The eyes that appeared to have been carved by knives could not be erased, even with the coldness of serious injuries. “The court decree stipulated that the Feng Huo ticket was equivalent to gold and silver, which could be circulated among the people, and the price was stipulated. It could be used as relief money. What’s the problem?”
Xu Ling whispered, “Your Highness, the second batch of Feng Huo tickets has just been issued. There are not too many people who bought them. Except for your men, most of the people who bought the tickets are large families with some family background. They do not lack money to use. They usually leave the ticket at home for supply. Few of them circulate on the market. They really don’t know whether the merchants can accept it or not. This is…”
Chang Geng reached out and grabbed the edge of the bed and propped himself up. “I can’t control whether the holder is willing to keep it at home or take out to use. But it’s a felony for the merchant to refuse to accept the Feng Huo ticket. Tomorrow, count all the Feng Huo tickets in Yang Rong Gui’s house, then use them to buy relief food from large ration merchant. Let me see who dares to treat imperial decrees as waste paper —— ask for a few people from Jiangbei Camp to go with you, do you understand?”
Understood, forcibly using this hoodlum trick, starting from Jiangbei, to deter the whole territory, forced people to recognize that ‘Feng Huo ticket’ was equal to gold and silver.
Starting with the big merchants who were so-called “shoe-wearing people fearing the barefooted”, nobody wanted to offend the court. They could either pinch their noses and accept it, holding onto it after business was done, or they must try their best to turn the Feng Huo ticket into real gold and silver, sparing no effort to push it.
“Give them another ignition,” Chang Geng whispered in a weak voice. “Let Brother Chong Ze write a decree in the name of Governor Liangjiang. If businesses, big or small, unreasonably refuse to accept the ‘Feng Huo ticket’, everyone can report to the Yangzhou government, if it turned out to be true, they will be punished by sticks and rods, those who repeatedly offend will be sent directly to prison.”
Xu Ling understood His Highness’s method of ‘coaxing when it should be, punishing when it should be’. He responded hurriedly and ran back to work. Before he reached the door, Chang Geng suddenly stopped him and said, “Ming Yu.”
Xu Ling turned around.
Chang Geng’s stern face faded, and in a twinkling of an eye it was the gentle and elegant Yan Wang: “It all depends on you.”
Xu Ling asked in confusion, “What do you mean, Your Highness?”
Chang Geng said, “I’m afraid I have to delay some time on the way, I won’t be able to accompany you back to the capital. At that time, I hope you can bring a request to the Emperor for me.”
A while ago, the pace was pressing, he should also be temporarily retreating. Footsteps need to be evened out, it was just in time for him to take advantage of the injuries to let go of power.
Unfortunately, the honest Master Xu obviously failed to understand what he meant. He solemnly put his hands together and said, “It is precisely this reason, Your Highness is seriously injured, you should take more care of yourself. You must take a good rest and leave the errands to me. If I don’t understand something, I will ask you again.”
Chang Geng laughed, seeing that he did not understand, he simply did not explain either, waving his hand to let him go.
Xu Ling was walking outside when he met the Marquis of Order who came in from outside. He quickly stopped to greet him.
Gu Yun politely nodded at him and brushed past. Suddenly, Xu Ling was stunned, Gu Yun was holding a bunch of fresh osmanthus flowers in the hand he hid behind his back, blooming golden with sweet fragrance.
Xu Ling watched him bring the flowers and walked to Yan Wang. He rubbed his nose full of flower fragrance, thinking in astonishment, “Marshal Gu is too attentive to His Highness.”
Gu Yun went into the room and hung the flower branch on Chang Geng’s curtain. “The osmanthus had bloomed, I was afraid you would feel stifled after lying down for too long — you don’t dislike this scent, do you?”
Chang Geng’s eyes stuck to him and refused to be averted.
Gu Yun looked straight at him: “What are you looking at?”
Chang Geng stretched out his hand to pull him.
Gu Yun was afraid that it would affect his wounds. He bent down and held his hand back. “Didn’t I tell you not to mess around?”
Chang Geng grabbed his clothes relentlessly and pulled him closer. “Zi Xi, my wound hurts.”
“…” Gu Yun said emotionlessly, “Let go, I won’t fall for this trick.”
This time being injured, Yan Wang did not seem to want to reserve any dignity anymore. As long as there were no outsiders around him, it was always, ‘my wound hurts, kiss me’.
The more one went along with a bad habit, the bigger it grew, there was absolutely no mistake.
Gu Yun flicked Chang Geng’s forehead then turned around to change his clothes.
Chang Geng watched him moving behind the folding screen, grabbed a small sweet-scented osmanthus flower and chewed it carefully in his mouth, then stood up with a wooden cane on one side. He could not straighten his waist for now, reaching the desk step by step, dipped his pen tips with the little residual ink, spread out the paper and began to write reports.
This work truly required stamina. Before long, his forehead broke out a layer of sweat. Suddenly, the pen was pulled away from behind him. As soon as Chang Geng turned around, he was dragged up and carried to bed with both arms.
Gu Yun frowned and scolded, “What is so important that you have to write now? Lie down and don’t make a ruckus!”
Chang Geng explained without haste: “This time, the Lu family are all involved, and the Fang family has not been able to profit from this either. It is a good time to carry out the new policy. Although I am not on the stage, I have to get things ready in advance.”
Gu Yun sat beside the bed: “Do you still think about Ziliujin’s authorization? The Emperor will not agree.”
“It is not about that,” Chang Geng said. “It’s not yet time — the land confiscated along the canal can be used for settling the refugees. The best land for fish and rice will be kept for cultivation, and factories will be built elsewhere. Master Du, his trading group and the court will each distribute half of the funding. The factories will not be owned by private businessmen. They will be run by the court and under the Grand Council. In addition to the six ministries, a special department will be set up to supply Ziliujin, strictly controlling the source. On regular days, business affairs in factories will be handled by trading groups. Sixty percent of the profits obtained will be directly put into the national treasury, forty percent are for the merchants to build more factories, is it alright? This not only will settle the refugees, but also will not let the Emperor worry about Ziliujin flowing to the outside. It will also enrich the national treasury and also count as a benefit for the businessmen.”
Gu Yun listened and said nothing for a long time.
He understood, Chang Geng had thought it over several times, perhaps it had all been completed before he went down to Jiangbei, but if he had put it forward at that time, he would have created a large profit, all the noble families would have tried all their might to get a piece of it. Yang Rong Gui’s people even dared to steal the fund for disaster relief to add to their own pocket, let alone this.
In the end, this measure that planned to take down several birds with one stone would inevitably result in ‘the treasury not having any real profit, businessmen being constrained by the many complicated layers of officials in the court, refugees being treated as livestock, only the big and small worms standing in the middle able to fill their own private pockets’.
Therefore, he intentionally intensified the contradiction between the noble families and the new officers in the court, disturbed a pool of water in Jiangbei and divided the noble families with their linked branches. He planned to sit and watch how lawless they could be, then retreated behind the scenes to avoid the front.
In the middle, there were several accidents beyond the control of humans, who knew that after having several setbacks, it actually also let him achieve all his set goals.
Chang Geng blinked his eyes. “How is it?”
Gu Yun returned to his senses and said without a proper start or finish, “If one does not know better, they would assume you are a disaster sent by heaven.”
His sentence was off the wall, but Chang Geng understood it. He dragged himself beside Gu Yun, touched Gu Yun’s shoulder and said, “Great Liang’s fate stands behind me, do you believe it?”
When Gu Yun turned around, Chang Geng took the right moment to throw himself at him and let Gu Yun’s lips brush by his cheeks.
Chang Geng: “You kissed me.”
Gu Yun: “…”
Weren’t we talking business right now?
Chang Geng hugged his neck and wrapped his arms around him, pushing the strong fragrance of sweet-scented osmanthus between Gu Yun’s lips. Gu Yun had no objection to the ‘soft, fragrant, and warm jade’ throwing himself into his arms, offering affection. Unfortunately, at moments like this, His Highness would no longer obediently pretend to be the ‘soft, fragrant, and warm jade’.
In private matters, a beauty’s lips and tongue were of utmost importance, seemingly honey-laden, the taste of the loved one was the most superior delicacy in the world. ‘Tasting fragrance’ should go from shallow to deep, tasting and appreciating carefully.
But Chang Geng did not cooperate very well. Although he was obedient at the beginning, he ended up showing his fierceness after a while. It was not like lingering, but a bit like eating, making Gu Yun feel that this ‘delicacy’ was a bit ‘prickly’. The two could hardly be separated. The tip of their tongues were numb, but Chang Geng was still not satisfied, gently biting on his neck and chin passionately, as if he was looking for a place to bite, more like wanting to eat him.
The key point of the throat was treated as a rod for teeth grinding. Gu Yun instinctively tensed, but was reluctant to push him away, started to feel incredibly ticklish, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, “Were you bitten by a dog when you were a child?”
Chang Geng stared at him with burning gaze. “The ban imposed on me by Miss Chen is almost expired, is it not?”