The road to Yun Guan was long, but no one spoke.
Under Imperial Physician Wei’s care, Luo Wei did not fall sick again on their journey. Though he was tired and constantly on the move, when he stood before the Great Commander-in-Chief of Yun Guan, Luo Qi, Luo Wei’s complexion was incomparable to how it was in the capital.
(T/N: literal meaning = mustn’t speak of two things on the same day)
“How’s your health?” Luo Qi looked Luo Wei over from head to toe and asked.
“Already better.” Luo Wei spun a circle in front of Luo Qi and said, “Look, I’ve even gotten fat.”
“Where is the meat on your body?” Luo Qi saw that Luo Wei’s complexion could be considered rosy, and his taut nerves finally relaxed somewhat. He rapped Luo Wei’s head, “Point it out to me.”
“Big brother!” Luo Wei grabbed his head. “Why did you hit me again?” He murmured his complaint to Luo Qi, “I’m not a little kid anymore.”
“You haven’t taken a wife, so you’re always going to be a little kid,” Luo Qi lightly knocked on Luo Wei’s head again.
“I don’t know who was it that only just married last year.” Luo Wei rolled his eyes. This brother of his really knew how to talk.
Once Luo Wei’s voice fell, laughter rang out from all around.
“Enter the tent.” Luo Qi’s face reddened. As he walked side by side with Luo Wei, he talked business: “Dad sent me a letter. It almost scared your sister-in-law and me to death. Xiao Wei, you can’t scare us like that in the future.”
“I know, I won’t,” Luo Wei promised.
“We originally already left Yun Guan to go to the capital to see you, but who would’ve thought we’d meet Ning Fei halfway there. We had to rush back. A few days later, the imperial edict arrived. It told us to prepare to move. After you arrived, we would head to Black Frost City.”
“Where’s Chang Ling?” Luo Wei suddenly asked. He had walked among Luo Qi’s army for a long while but hadn’t seen Deputy Commander Chang Ling.
“Who?” Luo Qi had just been going through matters with Luo Wei. At Luo Wei’s sudden question, he didn’t react right away.
“Chang Ling,” Luo Wei repeated. “The army is about to go to battle, why isn’t he here?”
“Your big brother Chang Ling should be rushing here.” Luo Qi didn’t notice Luo Wei’s gloomy tone when he spoke of Chang Ling. “A few months ago he returned to Lingnan.”
(T/N: Lingnan is in the south of China.)
“Did something happen to Lingnan’s Chang clan?”
“I only heard that your big brother Chang’s third little sister might enter the palace. This little sister is the only little sister sharing the same mother as your big brother Chang. He’s treasured her since childhood.”
“Lingnan Chang clan’s first wife’s daughter. Her identity is precious. It seems she will accompany a prince?” Luo Wei reasoned.
“That’s what their family has planned.”
The Chang clan’s first wife’s daughter, Luo Wei suddenly stopped walking at the thought. He stood there. How could he forget this person? Emperor Ping Zhang’s empress, Rui Yun of the Chang clan, wasn’t she this Lingnan Chang Clan’s daughter?
(T/N: Recall that this is Long Xuan’s title as emperor).
“Xiao Wei what’s the matter?” Luo Qi asked Luo Wei with a strange expression. “Why did you suddenly stop walking? Can’t walk anymore?”
“No,” Luo Wei pushed a smile onto his face and walked to Luo Qi’s side, “let’s talk in the tent.”
“Are you really okay?” Luo Qi asked worriedly.
“I’m fine. Big brother let’s walk faster.” Luo Wei said he was fine, but his mind was like a carousel lantern. Chang Rui Yun shouldn’t have arrived at Long Xuan’s side at this time. He remembered Long Xuan’s designated proper wife this time should be a great clan’s daughter surnamed Zhou. Oh right, Luo Wei thought. In the last life, Princess Zhou was chosen for Long Xuan by Official Liu Shuang Shi. Now Liu Shuang Shi was dead, and it seemed the fate Maiden Zhou and Long Xuan shared as husband and wife also ended. But it’s just that Long Xuan had lost power. Would Lingnan’s Chang clan still send their first wife’s daughter to Long Xuan’s side? Chang Ling was still Yun Guan’s deputy commander, what did this Chang clan intend to do?
(T/N: Lantern with carousel of paper horses that rotates).
“Xiao Wei?” Luo Qi patted the commander’s desk. From the time Luo Wei entered his commander’s tent, he only lowered his head in thought. He thought so hard that he didn’t even raise his head. Luo Qi understood this little brother’s thoughts less and less.
Luo Wei retrieved his thoughts that had almost flown to the skies above. He walked to the front of Luo Qi’s desk and said, “Did Ning Fei already tell big brother everything?”
“He did,” Luo Qi confirmed. “I’ve agreed to everything else except you entering Sima Qingsha’s army.”
“This is His Majesty’s decree,” Luo Wei explained with a smile. “If big brother doesn’t agree, he has to go to the capital and find His Majesty to talk it through.”
“You all are making trouble.” Luo Qi became anxious. He spread out the map beside his hand and pointed to the field Long Xuan designated as the battleground for their decisive faceoff with the Black Frost Cavalry. “This Tian Shui source, is it a place to do battle? Who told you all this?”
Luo Wei asked, “Isn’t that a field? It’s just right for the two armies to face off.”
“You and His Second Highness both haven’t been there, how could you know that it’s a place where two armies can do battle?” Luo Qi replied. “That place, that place, and that place,” his hand pointed in in succession on the map, “these places are all marshes. The miasma is so heavy that even birds can’t fly across. They’ve always been desolate and uninhabited. Our garrison troops cannot even station there. How can we fight this battle?”
Luo Wei pointed at a few places Luo Qi hadn’t picked, “Then here? Here shouldn’t be a problem right?”
Luo Qi supported his forehead. “Xiao Wei, you guys tricking the gates of Black Frost City open is already not easy. You want to trick Mo Huan Sang to retreat to the Tian Shui source, and big brother already thinks this is impossible. You guys even want to ensure that Mo Huan Snag retreats to this place at Tian Shui’s source? Mo Huan Sang isn’t an idiot. He knows that entering Tian Shui’s source is akin to walking the road to death. He won’t enter.”
Luo Wei looked at the map. It was different from the one in Emperor Xing Wu and Long Xuan’s hands. “This map… is not the same as the one I saw in the palace.”
“This is one I just drew,” Luo Qi explained. “Tian Shui’s source in the winter is a tundra. When winter retreats and spring returns, and the tundra’s snow melts, it’s all mud. No one lives there. If not for the traveling salesmen walking that route all year long, in this season no one would dare to enter Tian Shui’s source.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s all a quagmire. You can’t distinguish the road and the swamp. Isn’t entering the same as seeking death?”
Luo Wei, stumped, stared blankly. He hadn’t even arrived at Black Frost City and his own big brother had given him his first clubbing. Guiding Mo Huan Sang’s Black Frost Cavalry to Tian Shui’s fountainhead seemed impossible now. Then what could they do?
Luo Qi moved a chair over for Luo Wei to sit, and then stuffed a cup of hot water into Luo Wei’s hands. Then he spoke: “Wait until we enter Black Frost City. Xiao Wei you also don’t need to go to Sima Qingsha’s army. We’ll seize Black Frost City at that time. Big brother and Mo Huan Sang will decide who is superior at Black Frost City. Is it possible for big brother to lose to Mo Huan Sang?”
“How could Mo Huan Sang be big brother’s opponent,” Luo Wei said, but he still shook his head at Luo Qi. “It’s just that to the north of Black Frost City is flat land one can gallop across. Without danger we can defend, but we cannot defend Black Frost City.”
“You still don’t believe that big brother can win against Mo Huan Sang?” Luo Qi inquired, displeased.
“Mo Huan Sang must die.” Luo Wei looked towards Luo Qi, adding in his heart, because this is the foe in the past life who trampled you and your horse into mud.
“Let’s first enter Black Frost City and then talk,” Luo Wei answered. “Wait for His Second Highness and his rear army to arrive. We’ll discuss together.” At this time thinking of Long Xuan disheartened Luo Wei. Encountering a problem that was impossible to solve, he actually thought that Long Xuan might have a solution. “Damn!” Luo Wei cursed.
(T/N: Literally in Chinese it’s “should die,” a common curse. Translated as “damn”).
“Who are you cursing?” Luo Qi asked. He heard Luo Wei curse and was baffled.
Luo Wei himself also did not know who he was cursing. Was he cursing himself or Long Xuan? Or Northern Yan’s rulers and ministers?