THE ROAD TO LIANG ZHOU
Translation and edits: Dot
Spring had finally come to an end. With the arrival of summer came the endless rain, quenching the soil and transforming the city into a misty wonderland.
It was the calm before the storm.
The capital city seemed to be void of it’s usual bustling, but the court was anything but that. Xiao Huaijin, the chief commander of the army, had been invited to lead the new recruits to Liang Zhou. However, Immediately after Xiao Huaijin’s leaving, the situation in the court had changed once again. The crown prince tried to keep it hidden, but it was quite evident he was both proud and self-satisfied.
The affairs occuring in the court were mainly irrelevant to the common folk, so there were little to no changes in their lives. It had been a few days, but the assailant of the Fan family’s young master still hadn’t been found. The Fan family had tried everything, but it was to no avail. Helpless and desperate, they could only turn to his wife. However, her family’s decisions were truly unexpected. After the young master’s death, the head of the Tang family had forced the head of the Fan family to annul their marriage, allowing him to bring back their daughter. He would never allow his own precious daughter, Tang Ying, to be widowed at such a young age. She was still in her prime, and had a future ahead of her.
Meanwhile, He Yan had become irrelevant, a supporting role in the accident. Her body was also nowhere to be found, but it was of little importance compared to Fan gonzi’s missing body. It was like she had never existed in the world, her family the only ones remembering her.
The light drizzle had become a downpour, obscuring He Yun Shen’s vision, and leaving him with no choice but to go out wearing his bamboo-rain-hat. After He Yan’s ‘accident’, he stopped attending classes at the institute, opting to stay home instead for five days. Today was the tenth day since he sent the letter regarding his leave. He was afraid that the Fan family would use some underhanded tricks on him, but he couldn’t bear to ruin the opportunity He Yan had won for him.
These days, he had been keeping himself busy by investigating his home, making sure there weren’t any guards monitoring him. He would only be at ease once he was sure.
He Yun Sheng hastily changed into his old clothes, as he didn’t want to attract attention to himself. He lowered his head, left through the back door, and went into the heavy rain.
During these past ten days, He Yun Sheng was living a life worse than death. He was unable to fall asleep, his body yearning to rest but his mind thinking otherwise. He wanted to hear about He Yan, but he was also afraid. There was no news about He Yan being captured and taken away by the government, so he assumed she was safe.
Nevertheless, he was curious as to where she went. If He Yan wasn’t in the capital city, where was she? Apart from the people in relation to the He family, she had no friends. She was bound to wander about aimlessly. He didn’t know if she had been sleeping well, or eating well. Has she been bullied? Thinking of this, He Yun Sheng’s footsteps became faster.
Liu Quan Ju acquired its name from the spring at the back and the row of willow trees beside it. There were few people in the tavern on this rainy day, so nobody paid much attention to He Yun Shen when he entered.
He still remembered what He Yan had said.
“If you ever find yourself at a tavern named Liu Quan Ju, look for the letter I left. There is a row of willow trees near the back. Dig down three inches under the third willow tree from the left.”
He Yun Sheng crouched down.
Dig down three inches down the third willow tree from the left.
The upturned soil was wet from the rain. He continued to dig, until his fingers were met with something hard. He Yun Sheng’s heart skipped a beat, and after a moment, a package was uncovered. Instead of opening it on the spot, he filled the hole he dug in with soil, and left with the package held in his arms.
After exiting the tavern, he started to break into a run. When he arrived, he noticed He Sui wasn’t there. Therefore, He Yun Sheng returned to his room, locked the door, and placed the package on his lap.
He had kept it in his arms the whole time, so it wasn’t wet from the rain. He Yun Sheng opened the package, and took a look at what was inside.
Inside, there was clothing and a letter.
He Yun Sheng decided to unfold the letter first. It was likely written in a hurry, as the paper wasn’t one for writing, but for packing food. One side of the paper was patterned, and both were full of creases and oil stains. On the other side without patterns, there were a few beautiful characters written in exquisite handwriting.
“I’ve enlisted in the army. I’ve departed for Liangzhou, where the mountains are towering and the rivers are broad. After the chilly spring and the scorching summer, we will surely meet again. Take care of yourself.”
He Yun Sheng gaped at what was written, but after a while, he understood, clenching his teeth and grabbing the clothing.
The clothing was the one she had custom-made at the old tailor’s shop. When He Yan and he had parted that day, they each wore the clothing to disguise themselves. This one had been neatly folded and sent back.
The material felt cold to the touch, reminding him of the girl’s cold smile and soothing words that day.
“Don’t worry, we’ll meet again.”
A hush fell over him.
However, the silence was soon interrupted by He Yun Sheng’s loud, desperate sobs.
He Yan, who had just been called a liar, didn’t know she was being scolded behind her back.
She had been busy on the road to Liang Zhou. This time, there were only around 20000 soldiers, but there were more on the way.
By noon, the soldiers were all sweating profusely. The sweltering summer heat had made it difficult to travel, forcing them to leave camp at the crack of dawn.
Hong Shan plopped down on the grass, picked up a tree leaf, and fanned himself with it. While gnawing at the dry rationed food, he asked, “Damn, it’s way too hot. When will we arrive?”
“It’ll take a little over two months to get to Liang Zhou.” He Yan poured water from the flask into her mouth, “take your time.”
“I miss the mung bean soup in Beijing,” Xiao Mai said while smacking his lips. “It was served in a bowl and soaked in the well for several hours. It’s sweet and cool, ah, so refreshing!”
He described it so delectably and in detail that everyone who was listening started to drool.
“Cut it out. Since you’re in the army now, you shouldn’t be going on about some mung bean soup. You should be grateful you’re not starving.” Hong Shan sighed. “Maybe we’ll be able to taste some if we get promoted and obtain a reward, just like General Xiao.”
He Yan had lots to say about Xiao Jue.
She had joined the army and followed them to Liang Zhou in her past life, traveling day and night with little to no rest. He Yan stayed in a separate tent at night, never having an encounter with Xiao Jue. He and his men were always leading upfront, but they also lived and rested in tents separated from the soldiers. From her time in Xiangchang institute, she knew Xiao Jue was an extremely particular and picky person. The second son of the Xiao family was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, resulting in him eating and dressing to his heart’s content.
Even if he was traveling with the rest of the soldiers, his life as a general was still much more comfortable and lavish than theirs. They were all young generals, yet they were all so different from each other.
She had become a soldier under him once again. He Yan sighed. After all, who would believe her crazy story? Her only goal was to earn military achievements and get promoted quickly, but Xiao Jue was the pickiest General out of all of them. He made it difficult to be a soldier, much less get promoted.
Even if she wanted to drop out, where would she go? She had already enlisted, so her only option was to wait and see.