Zhao Ge Chapter 111-120

Chapter 111

Chapter One Hundred and Eleven, Khlajöwwma(kelazhuoma), the Banished People. (克拉卓玛, 放逐之⼈)
When they heard the elderly person’s words, the face of the man whose waist hung a curved blade could not control itself and revealed a sliver of excitement.

“A’Sa, are we going in right now?”       The man raised his head up to look at those giant rock mountains, and the Ghost City that exposed a corner of itself to them within the sunlight.

When the man was speaking with the elderly person, the others within the group all whispered to each other one after another, discussing something. The faces of people who were slightly older all had an excited expression, while the young children were influenced by the adults, and were also particularly excited.

This caravan that only travelled within the desert, no matter if they were man or woman, old or young, the fronts of their chests hung with some necklace made from some wild beast’s teeth, and the clothing beneath their outer robes had an extremely unique coloration belonging to the desert’s small tribes.

This was not a merchant group.

They were Boyikh(buyike) tribespeople.

Inside the large desert within Jin Tang’s northwest region, when Guang Wu did not yet move the refugees, there were also very few tribes that lived here, and the Boyikh tribe was one of those tribes. They moved within the Khlajöwwma Desert in the northern parts of Fu Yi and deep in Jin Tang’s northwestern region, and was a branch of the nomadic tribes.

And “Boyikh”, in the local dialect of Gua Province, contained the meaning of “going along with the sands”.
The Boyikh tribe was a wandering[1] tribe within the deserts. Starting some time ago, the Boyikh tribe walked within the large
Khlajöwwma deserts along with the sandstorms, chasing after the season’s meagre precipitations to live on. In the years of Guang Wu, when Jin Tang migrated the refugees, they also attempted to have this tribe wandering in the big deserts settled within the oases.

However, this tribe that was apparently strange even in Khlajöwwma, instead seemed like they were chasing after something all life long, and did not settle as Jin Tang’s officials requested, continuing to wander within the deserts, acting quite oddly.

Later, there were a few merchant groups that were robbed. Jin Tang’s garrison suspected it was the work of the Boyikh tribe, and also suppressed them a few times, however, they were just like fish in water within the desert, and went around mysteriously, making it hard to pursue. After mobilizing forces a few times and getting exhausted without any results, Jin Tang’s garrison also put these thoughts to rest.

However, from that time on, the Boyikh tribe were put on Jin Tang’s orders for arrest, and other than being called the “sand-like vagabonds”, they were also called the “tribe that had been exiled”.

Within the Boyikh tribe, a’Sa meant “the omnipotent shaman that can perceive the ancestors’ spirits”.

The elderly person called “a’Sa” by the man, was Boyikh’s shaman, and was a bit similar to Huang Ling dynasty’s tribal priests- within the Boyikh tribe, a’Sa’s position was extremely high.

A’Sa was the one within Boyikh’s tribe with the most extensive knowledge, and at the same time, was the person who could communicate with the ancestors’ souls, able to foretell disasters.

Towards the man’s question, a’Sa shook his head, and he hunched his back, and put away the map in his hands, “Kw’lang, let everyone rest a bit. Wait for the evening, when Namu’s wind is about to come, and we will again enter Namu’s homeland.”

Namu, within the big desert of Khlajöwwma, referred to the omnipotent deity of the country of the deceased.

The original inhabitants of Khlajöwwma believed that after people died, their souls would return to the kingdom ruled by the dead. There, eight sky pillars held up the skies, black waters surrounded underneath the sky pillars, and the deity called Namu ruled there from a lofty position. Furthermore, Namu was also the desert’s deity- Khlajöwwma Desert’s autumn and winter sandstorms, were Namu’s breaths.

These kinds of sayings were passed down generation after generation among the desert’s original residents, deeply rooted inside them.

This was also one of the reasons why Jiu Xuan Sect could not be bothered to build a branch here. The locals revered these sayings, and felt that the immortal cultivators’ strength offended Namu’s might. Jiu Xuan Sect once recruited disciples here, and found that there were a few children with the aptitude, yet the other party would not join the sect even if they died. Angering the Jiu Xuan Sect inner-sect disciples responsible at the time to just simply leave.

In truth, even in Jin Tang dynasty, this piece of land in the outer frontier, Gua Province, was in an extremely awkward position.

Jin Tang’s scholars called this place the “place of the barbaric[2], [with] people outside civility[3], at the height of foolishness”, and protested when they first rejected the orders of opening up fields during Guang Wu’s years as “going against Heaven’s graces, committing high treason and heresy.”

A’Sa’s orders could not be opposed, thus, even if the leader named “Kw’lang” wanted to immediately enter the homelands of Namu that they searched for many years, he suppressed the excitement in his heart, and turned to instruct the tribespeople to find a place to put up tents, and first rest and wait until evening, when the sandstorm was about to come, then again enter Namu’s homeland.

Tent after tent went up. The first to be put up was a tent with many ornaments carved from bones, that was comparatively magnificent.

Kw’lang helped a’Sa first into the tent.

“A’Sa, have we really reached Namu’s homeland?” Without anyone else around anymore, Kw’lang then asked a’Sa. He seemed very elated, but also seemed to be in a bit of disbelief.

“Namu’s might shines on Khlajöwwma like the sun, ever scorching, without rest. Namu’s subjects will at last return to the homeland.” A’Sa’s hands held a bone-teethed bracelet, where each tooth on the bracelet had a mysterious and strange relieved engraving, in a rough and barbaric style, “Boyikh are Namu’s keepers. Do not forget our mission, Kw’lang.”

“Yes.” When a’Sa mentioned “keepers”, Kw’lang’s expression turned serious for a moment, carrying a kind of graveness to it, and he subconsciously sat straight. “Bring a’Mu over here.” A’Sa half-closed his eyes, and turned the bone-teeth bracelet in his hand, “I need to ask her a few things.”

Kw’lang lowered his head and answer with a “yes”, then stood up and bowed , and lifted the curtains and walked out.

When Kw’lang walked out, a’Sa stopped turning the bone-teeth bracelet in his hands, and knitted his eyebrows.

This elderly person with a sublime reputation within the Boyikh tribe doubtfully looked at the bracelet in his hands, and muttered to himself, “The One is too hard to discern, the day too diverse and complicated, strange, why can’t I calculate it out?”

Not a moment later, Kw’lang brought “a’Mu” back.

The a’Mu they mentioned was a small lady of eleven, twelve years old, and thin and small—— Boyikh tribe’s children were pretty much all like this, since trekking through Khlajöwwma’s sands all year exceeded the burdens of children at this age.

A’Mu’s hair was half-long, and turned into many small braids tied to the back of her head using a faded colour band. The amount of animal teeth on the necklace hung on her neck was several times more than other children, while the five features were deeply engraved on her face, with a pair of deeply caved eyes that bore a foreign tribe’s deep-green colour.

This little girl’s body seemed to have nothing out of the ordinary, however, when looking into that pair of eyes of hers, one would instead feel a sliver of coldness for no apparent reason, while a’Mu’s expression would also carry a type of mysterious tint, half-asleep, half-awake, as though the world in her eyes was different from everyone else’s.

“A’Mu, what did you see?”        A’Sa asked, with his voice carrying a sort of peculiar intonation, like transmitting over from a very distant place. The girl seemed to have been suddenly called awake, and she shivered, then looked towards a’Sa holding the bracelet, “I…… I saw a person.”

“What person?” Kw’lang asked closely.

A’Mu’s ability to express with words seemed to not be very good, however, from her fragmented descriptions, a’Sa and Kw’lang were able to piece together an image.

A’Mu saw within a span of deathly-still darkness, was a giant circular pillar rising up from the ground, all the way to even the skies. Many overlapping figures came and went, however, she could not see those people’s figures clearly. The sole person that she could see clearly, was a person who had their back to her the entire time.

That person wore a bamboo hat, and was draped in a big and wide cloak. When the cloak fluttered up, a’Mu saw that his hands held a long, long, gold-coloured bow burning with fire.

“That bow was very, very long.” A’Mu’s face had an astonished expression. Her tribe’s people were good at fighting, with many outstanding archers, however, she had never seen a bow like the one held in that person’s hands that long, that was even glittering, burning with fire.

Was that made with gold? How valuable it must be. A’Mu
thought.

What a’Sa and Kw’lang focused on was obviously not like the
eleven year-old a’Mu, whether the longbow was made of gold or not. A’Sa let a’Mu talk in detail about what that bow looked like, but a’Mu would only repeat with difficulty how it was “gold, very, very long, and even burning with fire.”

A’Sa knitted his brows, pondered over it, and took out a roll of fabric, then laid it open, “A’Mu, come look, is it exactly just like this one?” A’Mu came close, looked at it once, and nodded her head continuously.

“The Bow of Setting Sun.” A’Sa was suddenly enlightened, and muttered, “No wonder time was complicated and diverse, and the One could not calculated at all…… the sun-setting bastard came out. This means that there is someone who wants to shoot the sun down.”

A’Mu ignorantly looked at the aged a’Sa, and could not understand what his words meant.

◈◈◈
“Was it not one day?”

The sun in the daytime’s Gua Province was scorching. The top of the cavern they were at stuck out, and barely provided some shade. Ye Qiu Sheng used a majority of the day to process those wolf corpses, and after processing them, he put them inside the ring as food reserves.

Who knows if they would be able to find other things to eat afterwards?

When Ye Qiu Sheng was at the cavern entrance thinking about things, he suddenly heard a sound come from the back.

Bai Li Shu coughed, then propped against the stone wall, and walked out from the cavern.

When he stood at the entrance, in this place with plenty of rays of light, Ye Qiu Sheng looked at him, and found that this person’s facial colour was certainly far too white.

Bai Li Shu did not answer his question. His circumstances looked to still be very bad, and with the support of the stone wall, barely managed to stand up, and slightly knitted his eyebrows while looking towards the direction outside the Ghost City. “A caravan.” Bai Li Shu said, “Someone wants to enter Ghost City.” Ye Qiu Sheng nodded his head.
Within the desert, the sound of camel bells was distant, and its piercing strength was very strong. He already stood at the entrance for a while, and also faintly heard the occasional sound of camel bells mingling within the winds.

Last night, Ye Qiu Sheng carried the unconscious Bai Li Shu and did not dare enter too deeply inside Ghost City, and only went in a certain distance, enough to evade the sands and wind, then stopped.

The camel bell sounds were far off, and from listening to it, it was not something that one or two camels were able to emit.

This was a caravan.

Was it a merchant group?

But when was there an unappreciative merchant group that would rush towards the clearly notorious Ghost City?

[1] The term here not only means nomadic, but implies a more negative connotation, like vagrant, and the homeless.

[2] 蛮夷- specifically a term to address small tribes in the surroundings, but the characters alone mean barbaric/barbarian. Separately translates as rough and barbaric/foreign.

[3] 化外(⼈)- people/places that are not affected by the teachings of the government (civility/humanity). Literally, outside change.

Chapter 112

Chapter One Hundred and Twelve, Jin Tang Civil Officials, Leaves Grow in White Courts. (⾦唐⽂官, ⽩廷叶⽣)
In the evening, the sun gradually sunk towards the horizon.

The Boyikh tribe that rested put away their tents, but everyone did not ride on the camels either. Kw’lang helped the old a’Sa, and within the gradually stronger sands and wind, this tribe that wandered around the Khlajöwwma Desert for many years stepped into Gua Province’s Ghost City.

Before going inside Ghost City, Kw’lang took out a flat wine flask from his carrying bag and gave it to a’Sa.

A’Sa twisted open the wine flask, and poured out not water, but a handful of sand.

The sand was raised up high and blown away by the winds, while a’Sa’s aged voice resonated, “Namu’s might shines on Khlajöwwma like the sun, ever scorching, without rest, and Namu’s subjects will at last return to the homeland.”

“Namu’s subjects will at last return to the homeland!” No matter if it man or woman, old or young, everyone repeated this line with a loud voice.

Sands swept up from the continuous dunes. Within the yellow sands, this group of ancient tribespeople that wandered for many years stood outside their homeland, and the sunset of the western sky scattered on their bodies, like the ancient glows[1] of the ancestors.

“Let us go.” A’Sa instructed.

The camel bells rang once again, and this time, all the tribe’s young men walked at the front, the children walked in the middle, while the elderly walked at the very end.

Kw’lang chose a few strong young people to go with him, and take the lead to open a path for the people of the tribe.

Within Namu’s homeland, big and tall rock mountains scattered all around, and hills eroded by the winds mingled around. When walking within it, the things in the surroundings looked to be no different from each other, and it was very easy to lose one’s direction and circle around in the same place.

Thus, Kw’lang would leave marks on the road, and point the direction for the majority whose pace was comparatively slow. Although they confirmed that Gua Province’s Ghost City was the homeland of Namu they were looking for, as a tribe of the Khlajöwwma Desert with a very long lineage, they also knew that the dangers within Ghost City were many.

And within the caravan, there were both young children and elderly people, so they needed to ascertain a comparatively safe road for the tribe members.

“Wait.”     Kw’lang who was carrying a curved blade suddenly raised his hand to signal for all the people to stop. He knitted his eyebrows, and slowly observed the surroundings.

The wind blowing by carried a slight scent of bloodiness.

“Be careful, I’ll go over and look.” Kw’lang waved his hands, and let the others stop. The scent of blood mixed within the winds was already very faint. If one was not a very experienced hunter, it would be very hard to distinguish it. Kw’lang pursued in the direction where the wind came from, and he drew out his curved blade, and held it in his hands.

The bloody scent in the wind smelled like a desert wolf’s.

The desert wolf packs within the deserts always moved as a group- this kind of beast was extremely cunning, and was very seldom at a disadvantage, could it be they got into a fight with something?

After going around a rock mountain, Kw’lang’s eyes slightly contracted.

—— The sunlight had not completely dimmed down yet. In front of a rock mountain that was like a prostrating beast, large stretches of dried blood laid over the sandy floors, and desert wolves’ heads were piled neatly on the ground, while a young man dressed in Central Plains’ wide robes sluggishly leaned against a rock wall.

As though perceiving his gaze, the young man raised his eyes, and directly looked over here.

The instant the young man’s gaze swept over, Kw’lang only felt like he saw a knife.

The fierceness that was like a sword rushed straight to his face, making Kw’lang terribly surprised- just when did those bastards from the Central Plains that only knew how to read a bunch of shitty old books have this kind of terrifying killing intent?

He held his blade up to his chest on a conditional reflex, and arched his body.

“That friend over there, can you not go fighting just as you come?” Unexpectedly, the young man standing by the cave entrance still lazily leaned against the wall, and had no intent of moving, “Just asking, but do you guys know these roads?” ◈◈◈
“The situation is pretty much like this. They are Jin Tang officials who have been expelled and banished to Gua Province.” In a’Sa’s tent, Kw’lang very respectfully reported this to a’Sa.

The people who had the qualifications to enter inside a’Sa’s tent were typically the elderly who held a high status within the tribe and the young hunters with high fighting capability, however, today, an exception appeared.

Within the tent right now, sat two clearly-dressed Central Plains
people.

A young noble lord dressed in wide Confucian robes sat up within
the tent, with their each and every move completely self-important-looking. The other Central Plains person’s waist hung with a blade, while their hands, with intent or not, was pressed over the hilt, and stood behind that young noble lord, and looked to be their bodyguard.

Kw’lang and the others who first scouted the path met these two Jin Tang Central Plains people who encountered desert wolves within Ghost City. Though the bodyguard killed the desert wolves, he himself also got injured, and the official who could not fight was similarly injured too.

The young bodyguard’s cautious appearance was so annoying, the Boyikh tribe hunters in the tent glared at him.

But in truth, the young hunters’ gazes would more often occasionally go towards that young noble lord sitting down. That young lord dressed in Confucian robes was certainly like the Central Plains people from their impressions- their figure was even more thinner than Boyikh tribe’s women, and their face was extremely pale-white.

However……

Even if they were extremely xenophobic, the hunters who disdained Jin Tang’s Central Plains people could not help but admit, this young noble lord really looked pretty, and was even more prettier than their tribe’s most prettiest lady. Even though it was a Central Plains person that they were not fond of, just by sitting within the most honourable a’Sa’s tent, it gave people a kind of patronizing feeling for no reason at all, making people feel like letting him sit here was practically a discourtesy to him.

Oh Namu, this was practically a preposterous thought.

The hunters hurriedly shook off that heretical thought from their minds, however, they still could not help but look towards that young lord.

“This lowly one is Bai Ting, and unfortunately met with danger along with my attendant, and have lost our way to here. Our rations and water are completely gone, but if we are able to receive a bit of aid, we will give our utmost thanks.” The noble lord who called himself “Bai Ting” slightly smiled, and neither humbly nor arrogantly spoke up.

According to what he said to Kw’lang, they had offended someone in power in the courts, and were exiled to this remote border. Everyone did not doubt it.

Although this young lord phrased it quite gently, the style of mannerisms in between completely made it evident that the other party must be from an affluent family from the Central Plains. For a noble lord with this kind of background, who would be so free to come to this kind of poor and wile big desert to experience hardship, other than if they could not stay in the capital.

Gua Province had been established for many years. Other than military officials who were stationed here year-long, of the civil officials dispatched over here, not one did not offend a person of power.

Jin Tang valued culture, where the school of Confucianism was popular, so there were many traditional practices in place to not kill scholars. If it were a disobedient civil official, many of them would choose to be sent off to the poor and wild lands with evil waters and wicked mountains. In private, the people of Gua Province would call those capital officials re-deployed here as “exiled civil convicts”. No matter what kind of background the other person had, when they came to this impoverished desert, whether they live or die, all depended on the garrison general. And the gap between the military and civil officials, was typically made famous.

One could understand by imagining, the civil officials demoted to this place usually did not have a good end to them.

This young noble lord demoted to this place in front of them neither hurriedly nor slowly said, “This lowly one has also once heard of the matter of the Boyikh tribe being wanted, however, there is no need for worry.”

He paused, slightly smiled, and his looks appeared with a bit of weariness, “This lowly one has been demoted to Gua Province, and while this one is called a serving official, in reality, is actually just an offender. There is actually not that much of a difference with everyone.”

He called himself not a official, but a convict, letting the comparatively tense atmosphere in the tent ease up.

In the period when Jin Tang’s Guang Wu migrated refugees to the north, they had not yet succeeded in taking down the Boyikh, and after several failures of suppression, they put the Boyikh tribe on the list of arrest. On the other hand, Boyikh tribespeople were resentful against Jin Tang, and had a natural hostility towards Jin Tang’s officials, but this Lord “Bai Ting’s” words were wise, called himself a convict, and formlessly had himself and Boyikh’s tribe members pretty much designated as one in the same circumstances.

The people inside the tent turned their gazes to a’Sa who did not say anything the entire time.

This elderly person’s hair was all white, yet was the person who truly made the decisions.

A’Sa slowly lifted his head up, and his gaze fell upon the Confucian robes of the young official, and after a while, slowly opened his mouth, “Namu’s will allowed for you to survive from the mouths of the desert wolves, Namu’s subjects would naturally not disobey his decree. Kw’lang, arrange a tent for them.”

After finishing, the elderly man closed his eyes, with a look of not wanting to say more.

“You guys got lucky.” After Kw’lang acknowledged [the orders], he walked in front of Bai Ting, looked at them in surprise, then lowly said this.

When he met that bodyguard with a curved blade in front of the cavern, although the other person said he was asking for directions, the extremely guarded Kw’lang still ended up fighting with the other person.

The hunters to the back heard sounds, and when they rushed over, the young man put a blade against Kw’lang’s neck, and both parties temporarily entered a stalemate.

When they could no longer stay in the deadlock, that pale-faced noble lord walked out from the cavern, and stopped the young man holding the blade.

He lost, yet the other person still spared their lives. Even if Kw’lang was unresigned, he still had to bring the other person back.

Only, he did not think that a’Sa would actually say this was “Namu’s will”. Within the Boyikh tribe that worshipped Namu, this was definitely an extremely harsh and honourable statement. Originally, he already saw that bodyguard as an eyesore, but when he thought to a’Sa’s disagreement, the Kw’lang who left the other person behind could not help but be unhappy.

And at the same time as the unhappiness, he was also extremely surprised.

The two people from the Central Plains were actually “Namu’s will”? You must be joking. And he hardly realized that the “bodyguard” he took as an eyesore was even more surprised than him.

These Central Plains people that Kw’lang encountered that self- proclaimed to be “exiled to Gua Province”, were Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng.

Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng’s circumstances were not considered to be good, and did not know what the situation was with the other party’s caravan, thus, Bai Li Shu changed out of the white robes with Jiu Xuan Sect’s symbols on it, and into Ye Qiu Sheng’s Confucian robes. Ye Qiu Sheng had walked through the twelve dynasties for many years, the things he had done couldn’t really see the light of day, and most of the time, he would conceal his name, so his clothes did not have Tai Shang Sect’s symbols on them.

Bai Li Shu changed into Confucian robes, and pretended to be a demoted Jin Tang civil official, while Ye Qiu Sheng changed into short robes, and disguised himself as his bodyguard.

Though there weren’t any mistakes found in their identities, Ye Qiu Sheng could not help but worry about one thing: with Bai Li Shu’s ice-cold manners pretending to be a civil official, was it even possible?

He could not help but imagine for a bit, the look of an expressionless Jin Tang official who would not say anything the entire time, and really started sweating.

He didn’t think that when this person really disguised himself as a civil official, there really weren’t any mistakes for people to find.

Refined and cultured, practically unlike the Bai Li Shu he recognized.

—— Though he actually never did understand this fellow.

However…… Ye Qiu Sheng deeply thought, when Bai Li Shu smiled…… it really did look good. [1] 余晖- either means the sunlight of the evening, sufficient radiance, or the graces/blessing given by a higher entity (emperor, monarch, official).

Chapter 113

Chapter One Hundred and Thirteen, Endless Pictures, Vast Histories. (⽆尽画⾯, 浩浩历史)
The Boyikh tribe was chased by Jin Tang dynasty for several hundreds of years, and the origins of hostility against the Central Plains people had come from a time long ago- now that the group suddenly had two Central Plains people present, everyone discussed it with one another.

A few young and arrogant hunters still wanted to cause trouble for these two Central Plains people, however, with a’Sa saying that this was “Namu’s” will, they had to suppress it down. As for the comparatively young children within the tribe, they all circled around and curiously observed.

The people of Khlajöwwma Desert were mostly wrapped in long robes all day, wearing bamboo hats, while each and every one of their skins was a dark colour from being blown with the wind and being basked in the sun all day.

It was the first time they saw that Confucian scholar-dressed young lord’s appearance, a good-looking person who was just as fair as ice porcelain. Practically just like a picture.

“He’s a lot prettier than (Big) Sister a’Duo.” Kw’lang was helping those two Central Plains people put up a tent. A little boy whose hair was tied into a braid at the back of his head bit on his fingers, and said this to his companions in a suppressed voice. The boy’s companions subconsciously nodded their heads, and just when they nodded, they immediately stopped, “He’s from the Central Plains! Sister a’Duo……”

The Sister a’Duo that the boy and his companions spoke of, was the prettiest-looking lady within the Boyikh tribe. The companions wanted to say that “Sister a’Duo is still more prettier”, but when they were about to say it, they looked at the young man slightly raising their head to look at in the sky within the evening light, and could not say it out loud.

“But he really does look prettier than Sister a’Duo.” The boy muttered, as though he felt like he should not be saying good things about the Central Plains people, but he genuinely felt like that Central Plains young man was good-looking.

“He’s from the Central Plains……” The boy’s companions grumbled.

“What about Sister a’Duo are you guys talking about?” Just as they were speaking, someone slightly tapped their shoulders.

“A’Mu, what are you doing!” The boy was suddenly scared into a jump, and asked this with a bit of discontent. The one who tapped them was a’Mu whose head was full of small braids.

A’Mu tilted her head, and blinked, “I heard you say bad things about Sister a’Duo! I’m going to tell Sister a’Duo.”

“Tell if you want, we didn’t lie!” The boy made way in a sulking manner, and pushed a’Mu, “Look for yourself, Sister a’Duo really isn’t as pretty as that person.”

The boys were a bit taller, while a’Mu was comparatively short. Before, her line of sight was blocked by them, so a’Mu did not see who this bunch was looking at. At present, the boy pushed her to the front, and a’Mu’s line of sight temporarily opened up. At this time, Kw’lang already helped those two Central Plains people put up the tent, and the bodyguard whose waist was hung with a curved blade arched his back, and raised the thick drapes to go inside. That young Central Plains noble lord the boys were talking about was still standing outside the tent, speaking with Uncle Kw’lang about something.

When a’Mu saw the back figure of that young man dressed in the Central Plains Confucian robe, she froze.

This person’s back…… She seemed to have seen it before. It was very familiar.

However, at this time, a’Mu could not recall just where she saw this person’s back figure, and thus stood in place and fell into a trance while looking at the young man.

As though perceiving the gaze of a’Mu looking at himself, the youth who was originally talking with Kw’lang turned his head, and looked over.

When he turned his head, on top of the horizon, that sunset originally falling down dejectedly suddenly crashed down, and the night spread out across half the sky. A line of afterglow of red-orange mixed with purple smeared across the skies to the west, the final sliver of light fell on that person’s body, and the young man’s face was outlined in the half- dimness and half-brightness.

Just like……

That person’s gaze once observed the world walking into the darkness, sinking into dreams.

That moment the young man’s gaze was sent over, a’Mu’s eyes suddenly widened, and she continuously retreated back several steps, crashing into the boy’s body in the next moment. The boy didn’t think that she would suddenly step back, and his nose was bumped into, and tears came out in an instant. “A’Mu! What are you doing!” The boy pressed on his nose with tears coming out the corners of his eyes, and asked angrily.

A’Mu did not pay attention to him.

Her pupils slightly dilated, just like she was possessed, and stared at the Central Plains noble lord standing in front of the tent, while her body slightly shivered.

The boy called out to her two times, but after not receiving an answer, he took down the hand pressing on his nose, then suspiciously looked towards a’Mu, and discovered that she kept staring in a direction. Her figure slightly trembled, and a line of blood tears flowed from her eyes.

“Oh no! A’Mu’s sick again!” The boy was so frightened by a’Mu’s appearance, he fell flat onto the ground. He cried out, and climbed up in a stagger, then ran off out of his wits.

The boy’s cries drew in a lot of people’s attentions, and the Kw’lang who was originally talking with the young man hurried over.

However, a’Mu already could not hear anything.

She could not hear the boy’s shrieking voice, could not see Kw’lang who walked over to her from the young man’s side, could not hear the sound of the sandstorm gradually rising up, nor could she see the overspreading dense ink-like colours in the sky.

The instant the young man’s gaze met with hers, the world in her eyes changed.

Many, many images, so many images that she had never seen before quickly passed through her eyes.

—— A fire that spread over the world, a fire that could even submerge the Khlajöwwma Desert, that even the sky and earth burned up.

Lots and lots of people, wearing clothes of varying styles and fashions, those people and many scary wild beasts so unimaginably big—— Heavens! Those beasts were just as big as forts—— fought together. Within a flowing river that split the earth in two, a turning scaly dragon and a big snake with many, many heads tangled together.

A young man held a sword and stood within the blood, while a big bird whose body was burning with fire flying over the skies let out a sharp and ear-piercing cry, and in the next moment, the young man was submerged by flames.

—— A black and sunken gloominess. On top of a stone staircase of some place of unknown depth, a young man walked down while holding a longbow. His figure was hazy, just like he was on that stone staircase, overlapping with a figure of the walking young man who walked on top of it at a different time.

Deep in the darkness swept with things she could not see clearly, a ice-blue light hovered around.

The youth’s figure disappeared within the darkness.

—— Clouds and mist overflowed from the deep valleys, with a boundless green she had never seen before. The forest tossed and turned within strong fierce winds, and giant trees snapped apart, while the underground rushed out with red glowing magma, and a longsword pierced into the magma from the skies.

And then, was bound in ice for thousands of miles with the blink of
an eye.

A young man holding a sword half-knelt on top of a layer of ice, and
a person carrying a bow, dressed in spacious robes jumped down from the canyon, and caught the young man’s hands, then pulled him and ran outside the canyon.

…………

Countless scary pictures mingled together, and passed through her eyes, emerging and breaking apart. Those pictures were more terrifying than all the pictures she saw before—— they were the kind that just by looking, could make a person feel a scary pressure, that made the soul tremble along with it. Those images, were so, so big, with each picture just like the scenes of an apocalypse overturning the world.

Those were not images she was able to see clearly, nor was she able to understand.

A’Mu was already unable to completely see those images clearly anymore. Just like countless sandstorms surging up in an instant, she was engulfed by those images. She even did not know what she was doing herself, or where she was standing, letting those images drown herself.

She let out a piercing scream, and before she was submerged by even more images, she sunk into darkness.

A’Mu fainted.

After seeing that Central Plains person, a’Mu got sick again.

This news very quickly spread around the Boyikh tribe’s caravan.
People discussed it with one another.

Though a’Mu was just a child, and even a girl, her position in the Boyikh tribe was not ordinary. From young, a’Mu often fell into a trance while looking at something, then screamed. At that time, everyone thought this child was a blockhead, and did not pay heed to it, until one time, when a’Mu’s uncle was going to go hunt, a’Mu suddenly screamed, and clung onto her uncle’s leg, not letting him go.

At that time, people felt like this child was going crazy again, and took her away. Who knew that at the hunt, the hunters met with a wolf pack, and her uncle died.

Everyone at this time recalled a’Mu’s abnormality, and thus reported it to a’Sa. After a’Sa saw a’Mu, he said that a’Mu’s eyes had been blessed by Namu, and was a set of extraordinary eyes, able to see the things that Namu foretold for people.

From that time on, a’Sa started teaching a’Mu some strange and old things, and a’Mu no longer suddenly screamed out loud.

Except, throughout this time, the things that a’Mu saw were not some good things, so everyone was even a bit fearful of her. This time, a’Mu screamed and even shed blood tears. Everyone got concerned, and felt like those two Central Plains people really could not be kept around.

“A’Sa, what happened with a’Mu?”        Kw’lang worriedly looked at the unconscious a’Mu, and lightly asked a’Sa.

In the tent, other than a’Sa, was a young Boyikh tribe woman. She dressed dexterously, and her waist was also hung with a curved blade, while her appearance carried a foreign race’s flamboyance. This young woman was the “Sister a’Duo” that the children mentioned, called Duotana. She was Kw’lang’s blood-related daughter.

A’Mu’s parents all died, and her sole uncle also died at the hunt that time. Duotana felt like this little girl a’Mu was very pitiful, and thus always took care of her, affectionate to one another like sisters. Kw’lang also acted like he had another daughter.

A’Mu was still unconscious, and her entire body trembled and shook. Even inside her dreams, it was like she was still scared.

Duotana held her hand, and hummed a leisurely and slow tone, comforting her. However, it seemed like its effects weren’t that big. When she heard Father ask a’Sa, she stood up, and looked towards a’Sa.

A’Sa knitted his eyebrows, and turned the bone bracelet in his hands, then closed his eyes, seeming to be pondering over something. After a while, he opened his eyes, and his face carried a bit of an uncontrollable astonishment, however, this sliver of astonishment was quickly retracted by him. A’Sa shook his head, and let out a long sigh, “She saw something she should not have seen.”

“What did she see?” Kw’lang could not understand after thinking it through so many times, and did not understand what it meant for something that should not be seen.        “A’Mu only took a single look at that Central Plains person, an invalid, what could she have seen that shouldn’t be seen?”

“Central Plains?” Duotana’s long brows were raised, and she stood up, “I just know those Central Plains people are the worst.”

As she said this, before Kw’kang could call out to her, she angrily lifted up the curtain, and exited the tent.

Chapter 114

Chapter One Hundred and Fourteen, Eyes of Namu, Army of Zangmu. (纳姆之眼, 臧穆之军)
The tent the two Central Plains people were at was situated in the middle of the group, with the surroundings faintly spread with the tribe’s young hunters’ tents, obvious that Kw’lang was not extremely assured with these two Central Plains people- placing them here had the meaning of being watched.

After a’Mu got in an accident, the people surrounding the Central Plains people’s tent did not completely disperse. Everyone vigilantly watched that tent.

When Duotana walked towards the tent the Central Plains people lived in with big steps, the people she met with on the way subconsciously let out the path for this violent-aired girl.

Duotana’s position in the Boyikh tribe was fairly high- not merely because she was the tribe’s prettiest girl or that her father was the tribe’s leader, but more because she originally was a very talented hunter. This name Duotana, in the Boyikh tribe, had the meaning of a “divine hawk’s eyes”. Duotana’s skill with the bow was the best within the tribe, while her technique with the curved blade was swift and fierce, and did not lose out to any man.

At the time she still had a fair distance from the tent, Duotana coldly snorted, then stopped. She took down the bow from her back, got out an arrow from her arrow bag, raised her hands, and with a “shoo” sound, the feathered arrow flew through the air, and shot at the ornaments hung on the top of the tent’s pole.

“The ways of hospitality in this tribe are so unique.” After the feathered arrow shot out, the curtains to the tent flipped out, and a bodyguard-dressed young man came out with smiles while holding a blade.
“This lady, what honourable business might you have here?”

“Where’s the other one? Let him come out.” The corner of Duotana’s eyes carried a ruthless aura. She returned the bow to her back, and took down the curved blade from her waist, with her tone an unfriendly one.

Ye Qiu Sheng narrowed his eyes, while his face still carried a smile, “This lady here first uses arrows and now takes up the blade. Is this Boyikh tribe’s traditions on hospitality, or……”

Ye Qiu Sheng paused. A smile still remained on his face, and his tone carried a bit of frivolousness and indecency as always, “…… or did you want to get in a fight? I’ll say this first……”

“I can only kill people, not fight to a certain point and stop.”
With this final line, his tone lightened up all of a sudden, just like casually making a joke.

But Duotana who directly faced Ye Qiu Sheng only felt like she was suddenly dropped into an ice cave. When that Central Plains person standing in front of the tent said that last line, their gaze suddenly turned fierce and sharp.

The sensitive perception as a hunter made Duotana instantly freeze in her original spot. In the instant she saw that Central Plains person’s gaze turn fierce, she almost thought what she faced was not a human, but a ferocious beast, a wolf…… Either way, it was those things filled head-to- toe with killing intent that when ruthless, would not bother with their own lives.
scent. In an instant, it was like she smelled a boundless and endless bloody

She fought with wolves in the desert once. The alpha wolf’s killing intent from that time made her feel like her breathing was filled with a bloody air, and at present, the gaze of this Central Plains person in front of her that turned swift and fierce, made her feel like she could smell a sea of blood.

The hand she held the curved blade with started slightly quivering.

That kind of terrifying killing intent made her felt like as long as she moved, she would be cut into pieces.

The surrounding people’s surprised gazes swept over, and saw the originally violent-aired Duotana holding her blade and standing in place, faced with the considerably extremely conceited and arrogant words from the Central Plains person, yet not making any reaction whatsoever.

“Lu Zhou.” When Duotana’s forehead started rolling down with cold sweat, a voice came out from the tent. The voice was not stern, just like a spring’s waters slowly flowing through rocks beneath a cold moon. “Do not be rude.”

After that Jin Tang noble lord inside the tent opened their mouth, the Central Plains bodyguard holding his blade sneered, and his expression once again returned into that sloven and lazy appearance.

After he took his gaze back, Duotana acted like she just woke up from a long dream, and stepped back.

She looked at that young man standing outside the tent that was like a loyal bodyguard in astonishment, and was extremely shocked—— just when did the Central Plains come out with this terrifying character.

“Since you rushed here in a hurry, I think that there must be some important matter to ask, why not come in for a meeting?”         The voice that transmitted from the tent was extremely calm. Their tone was gentle and light, and by making matters lightly, they made the incident of Duotana fiercely shooting an arrow and Ye Qiu Sheng frightening her without a sound into one of the past.

Ye Qiu Sheng lifted the curtains open, and made the gesture to Duotana to go in with a seemingly smiling expression.

At this time, Duotana’s back was filled with cold sweat, and had not yet recovered from the killing intent just before. Although that voice was light and slow, and the words they used were appropriate and refined, in reality, there was no hint of allowing others to reject them.

However, she came over very threateningly to settle with these two Central Plains people- if one were to dejectedly go see the person courteously as the other person said at this kind of time, wouldn’t it be very humiliating?

She bore fear towards Ye Qiu Sheng, yet instinctively did not dare to be discourteous to the owner of that light and slow voice, so the aggravated feelings could only be let off towards the observers in the surroundings.

Duotana violently turned her head and shouted towards the still- surrounding people, “What are you guys looking at, go mind your own business.”

“This lady, the lord will see you.” As the people in the surroundings dispersed, Ye Qiu Sheng smiled, then once again spoke up.

Duotana almost could not maintain the expression on her face. Before she saw the actual owner, she ended up being scared by the other party’s bodyguard- no matter how it was said, it was a bit humiliating. She coldly snorted, and entered the tent.

The inside of the tent was lit with an oil lamp, and within the warm yellow light of the lamp, the owner of the voice, who was also the person she came to pick on aggressively, sat right behind the lamp. Duotana had also heard, of the Central Plains people that Kw’lang brought back, that injured Central Plains official was a noble young lord, and looked extremely pretty. However, what other people said was only what other people said after all. In the end, it could not compare to seeing it for themselves.

And the feeling of looking at it first-hand was, the other person was more good-looking than how other people said they would be, as expected.

Behind the warm yellow oil lamp, a young man wore a white- coloured outer robe and a jade cap, while his hands held an old book. Upon hearing her come in, the young man closed up the old book in his hands, then raised his eyes to look over, and slightly nodded, “Please sit.”

This person looked to be very young, and his actions carried a noble air that made people pale in comparison. She also didn’t know if it was because the other person was also an official in Jin Tang, even though he spoke gently and phrased things elegantly, it formlessly made people abide by it unconsciously, and not dare oppose it.

Duotana did not realize that she subconsciously followed the young man’s instructions, and sat straight up.

Ye Qiu Sheng’s act as a bodyguard was also considered up to par, and did not forget that his current identity was Bai Li Shu’s bodyguard. He stood outside the tent carrying his blade, and did not enter inside.

But his hearing was sensitive- although he stood outside the tent, he could still hear Bai Li Shu and Duotana’s conversation very clearly.

He sneered.

Even the shitty old man might not understand this person Bai Li Shu- Duotana this little brat of society probably didn’t even realize that her own background was being uncovered completely and cleanly right now.

—— Maybe there was no need to use “probably”, since it was as
such. Duotana came here with aggressive airs, and left silently knitting her eyebrows.

Ye Qiu Sheng lifted up the curtain, entered the tent, and sat down cross-legged on the wool blanket spread over the ground, then raised his eyes to look at Bai Li Shu who once again opened up the old book to read. He glanced at the book in Bai Li Shu’s hand- although the book may be old and worn, it wasn’t some chart on a method to immortal cultivation, but was only a very ordinary county annals of the place’s customs.

“What did you find out?” Ye Qiu Sheng idly asked.

He was accustomed with saying a few words to Bai Li Shu, but did not actually hope to obtain some answer. If Duotana and those Boyikh tribe members were here, they would no longer feel like Bai Li Shu was like a Jin Tang official.

Once they did not need to pretend, this person’s features were like they were instantly sealed with snow, cold and indifferent, while the face did not have much expression to it. When he hung down his eyes and glanced at the book, he clearly looked more like an outer-worldly immortal broken free from the mortal realm.

Just like snow, just like a blade of ice.

Unlike a mortal with flesh and blood, and further unlike a refined and cultured Jin Tang official.

He didn’t think that Bai Li Shu would actually say something. His long fingertips flipped over a page of the yellowed old book and said, “A’Mu, that girl from the evening. It is said that her eyes are Namu’s blessing, able to see Namu’s will and foretelling.”

“Namu……” Ye Qiu Sheng repeated the name of the deity that Boyikh’s tribespeople worshipped. He also heard the matter of how Jiu Xuan Sect once tried to take in disciples in Khlajöwwma, but in the end, the other party rejected Jiu Xuan Sect, and had some understanding towards the Boyikh tribe’s worship. From how immortal cultivators saw it, believing in gods and deities was a very laughable matter. The final goal of immortal cultivation was to become a god and live long without dying, so what meaning was there in one worshipping oneself?

“In the old legends of Khlajöwwma, Namu was the deity that ruled the deserts and controlled everything here. After people died, they would return to the kingdom that Namu ruled over. Eight pillars held up that place, while black waters circled around the bottom of the sky pillars.” Ye Qiu Sheng recited the legend that he once heard before.

“Within Namu’s kingdom of death is an army. They were called Zangmu, meaning Namu’s eyes. The Zangmu would go to the lands through the winds, able to see a person’s past and future clearly, and would appear at the time a person’s life came to an end, then bring away the deceased’s soul.” Bai Li Shu indifferently said.

—— Spirit, oh spirit, who hast restrained you?    Just who took away the souls of the deceased people? And those who have died, just who restricts you?

—— The dead return, while the living grieve!

Namu’s army, the existence named Zangmu, brought away the dead’s souls, and headed towards the bottom of those eight pillars with black waters surrounding it.

“That girl is called a’Mu.” Bai Li Shu lightly said, “Her eyes can see the past, and can also see the future.”

Ye Qiu Sheng did not doubt Bai Li Shu’s words. However, a question emerged inside Ye Qiu Sheng- if that girl’s eyes really were able to see the past and the future, then, just what of Bai Li Shu’s did she see?

Ye Qiu Sheng looked at Bai Li Shu. This person focused on the old book in his hands. He did not know what he was thinking about, nor could he see if he cared about the things a’Mu saw, or minded a’Mu’s ability itself. He hung down his eyes, and could not seen to be in joy or grievance.

However, just now, although Bai Li Shu’s voice was light, it faintly carried a sort of unspeakable implication to it. Ye Qiu Sheng perceptively sensed when Bai Li Shu said these words, his feelings were not like how he was on the surface, uncaring at all.

Just what was Bai Li Shu concerned over? Ye Qiu Sheng did not understand. 

Chapter 115

Chapter One Hundred and Fifteen, Ghost City’s Flames, and Many, Many, Concerns. (⿁城⽕光, ⼼事重重)
Not long after Duotana left, Kw’lang came.

Kw’lang’s neck was hung with a blade by Ye Qiu Sheng before, and so could not get along with him, but he was still considered courteous towards Bai Li Shu before. But after a’Mu fainted, he felt even Bai Li Shu started being offensive to the eyes. When he came, his face was very grim and sombre, and the tone he said words with was quite stiff.

“Tonight, you two obediently stay here. No matter what you guys hear, do not come out.” Kw’lang said, and pressed on top of the curved blade on his waist in a completely threatening manner.

He looked like he couldn’t wait to give Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng some dry rations, then directly send the people off and away.

Ye Qiu Sheng wasn’t actually some person easy to get along with- Kw’lang found him an eyesore, and he too looked at this Boyikh tribe leader as an eyesore. Just as Kw’lang pressed on his curved blade, he raised his eyebrows, and his hand was also put over the hilt on his waist.

“Be more respectful to my lord.”         Ye Qiu Sheng bit on a blade of grass, and idly said this. He smiled loosely, his tone was also casual, but the instant he said this, the place where he hung the blade over Kw’lang started getting cold. Kw’lang subconsciously retreated back a step.

The body instinctively retreated, and after Kw’lang realized it, his face turned blue, and almost could not stay collected. However, after exchanging blows with Ye Qiu Sheng, he also very clearly understood, he really wasn’t a match for this Central Plains bodyguard, and could only coldly snort, then fling open the curtain while going out.

When Kw’lang went out of the tent, he heard Ye Qiu Sheng scornfully laughing in the back.

“Shit.”    Kw’lang cursed out loud, and just could not understand why a’Sa would let these two Central Plains people stay.

After Kw’lang left, Ye Qiu Sheng once again sat down cross-legged, “Can’t go out no matter what we hear tonight…… Young Lord Bai Li, you are much smarter than this lowly one, do you know what this is?”

Bai Li Shu did not pay attention to his teasing, and continued to flip through the pages of the book in his hands. Except, it was no longer that book back when Duotana came in. He seemed to have changed it for another book, but the contents were still only on some irrelevant things.

Back when he met Qin Jiu at Jiu Xuan Sect’s market, Qin Jiu laughed and said he had many irrelevant books that nobody would buy. Qin Jiu only casually joked at the time, but Bai Li Shu really did send a person to give a bunch of spirit stones to purchase them from him. After receiving the spirit stones, Qin Jiu also really used a lot of effort, and gathered numerous irrelevant books from various places in the twelve dynasties for him.

When Qin Jiu sent someone to bring the books to Bai Li Shu, he only took it as this Eldest Brother who no one could fathom only did it on a whim.

However, looking at the book in Bai Li Shu’s hands now, he seemed to really have all those irrelevant books read through. “The Boyikh tribe wandered within Khlajöwwma Desert for several hundreds of years, as though always trying to find something.” While Bai Li Shu flipped a page over, he opened his mouth.

Ye Qiu Sheng felt that as a member of the injured, Bai Li Shu was rather a bit overly hard-working. From the looks of it, it was like he didn’t care for his own injuries at all, with a look of preparing to read books throughout the entire night.

Without a bit of intent of properly resting at all. Did he really think he’s some iron man?
Ye Qiu Sheng reached out and took the book away from Bai Li Shu’s hands.

Once the book was taken away by Ye Qiu Sheng, Bai Li Shu finally raised his eyes, and indifferently looked towards him.

Ye Qiu Sheng saw his unmoved appearance, and shrugged, “I say, Official Bai Li, Lord Bai Li, right now, we are locusts on the same rope[1]. Don’t be in a rush if you want to work yourself out, but don’t fall down halfway, and make me carry you again.”

As he said this, he glanced at the book Bai Li Shu was reading- it was notes introducing Cang Pu dynasty’s climate and customs.

Ye Qiu Sheng closed the book up, and put it to the side, then lazily opened his mouth, “It is already late, Official Bai Li. Please do rest. If you must know about stories on Cang Pu, this lowly one as a bodyguard might not be well-learned, but luckily, has gone to Cang Pu once, and can speak about a few things with you.”

Bai Li Shu looked at Ye Qiu Sheng for a while. Ye Qiu Sheng’s face carried a frivolous smile, with a look of bearing cynicism towards life.

Just when Ye Qiu Sheng thought this person was going to take out another book, Bai Li Shu lowered his eyes, and turned to go rest. This tent Kw’lang gave them was not big, only merely able to provide a night’s rest. After putting it up, half of the interior was layered thickly, and was considered to be a bed. Kw’lang saw the Central Plains people as eyesores- it was already not bad to have him help them put up the tent, how could one expect him to still think about how to arrange the interior.

That place that allowed for people to sleep in was not divided up.

Bai Li Shu quietly laid down, and put the blanket over, then closed his eyes, with a look of resting. There was still free space beside Bai Li Shu, considered to have left Ye Qiu Sheng some space.

Ye Qiu Sheng looked at the quietly laying down young man with closed eyes underneath the lamp. Even if the other person laid down inside this kind of ragged and worn little tent, closing his eyes, he was still that…… that distant. His face was enveloped with snow of thousands of mountains, with whatever messy things under the sky heavily pressed down on his shoulders.

Why would he suddenly take away the book in Bai Li Shu’s hand?

If Bai Li Shu wants to have the messy things carried on his shoulders, then let it be so, what was it to him?

Ye Qiu Sheng also didn’t understand what he was thinking himself.

Perhaps it was because he no longer wanted to recall that slowly curling up young man within the karst cave. He joked around frivolously, while the words he said to Bai Li Shu hid a meaning of “even if the skies collapses and the earth splits, don’t mind it, and properly get rest”, and then felt like that weary young man who ran across the twelve dynasties finally had time to breathe too.

How immature and laughable.     Ye Qiu Sheng thought, and blew out the oil lamp, then laid down inside the tent spread with animal furs. He did not lay down in that empty space beside Bai Li Shu, but laid down where the curtains of the tent were, while his arms carried his blade. As long as there was some movement, he would be able to draw his blade and rush out at the first opportunity.

He held his blade, and did not close his eyes.

Ye Qiu Sheng’s head rested over his left arm, and looked towards the bright and prismatic patterns on the ceiling of tent unique to the region of Khlajöwwma, and opened his mouth, and spoke of the things he heard and saw when he was in Cang Pu neither hurriedly nor slowly. He once walked through those people-killing demonic forests, he climbed up those cliffs a thousand ren high, he saw the dense fog that would come up in the night……

“That is not a good place.” Ye Qiu Sheng sighed. He turned his head, and looked at Bai Li Shu laid down inside the tent.    “Even if you want to go admire the great mountains and rivers, it doesn’t have to be there, right?”

His eyesight was very good- with such a close distance, the darkness inside the tent was not that big of a hindrance to him. Bai Li Shu closed his eyes, peaceful and quiet, just like he was sleeping.

But Ye Qiu Sheng was very aware, just like him, Bai Li Shu would definitely not really sleep in this kind of place at this kind of time.

Ye Qiu Sheng looked at Bai Li Shu for a while, and without waiting for an answer, he turned his head over, and continued speaking about various things on Cang Pu dynasty.

“I should have been there before.” Suddenly, Bai Li Shu’s voice resounded.

Ye Qiu Sheng turned to look at him. The youth already opened his eyes, however, did not turn over here. His tone was very calm, like stating an unimportant small matter. Bai Li Shu went to Cang Pu before?

Ye Qiu Sheng raised his eyebrows, and recalled the things regarding this Jiu Xuan Sect eldest disciple brother. Several years ago, Jiu Xuan Sect’s sect leader, Yi He Ping, left the sect to roam about, and when he returned, he instead brought a young boy whose age was not that big. Several days later, Jiu Xuan announced the Jiu Xuan Sect’s eldest disciple brother to the outside.

As for the origins of Jiu Xuan Sect’s eldest disciple brother, Bai Li Shu, even the most well-informed Nine Provinces Private Bank did not know either.

It was like the other person appeared out of thin air, and when he asked the shitty old man, he only obtained shady and mysterious answer of “fate”.

At present, Bai Li Shu instead said he went to Cang Pu before. Could it be that Jiu Xuan’s Sect Leader Yi He Ping brought him back from Cang Pu?

◈◈◈
The night was dark, and the skies were like they were sheathed over. There were no dark clouds above the vault of heaven, like it was dyed in thick ink. The winds in the Ghost City came in bursts, and the shadows of the rock mountains mutually intertwined.

The place where the Boyikh tribe chose to stay was at a small flat piece of land between several rock mountains not far from the cavern Ye Qiu Sheng and Bai Li Shu were at before, with the magnificent tent a’Sa stayed in at the centre, spread out in an arc. The middle was left with a small clearing.

It has already entered the night, but a’Sa’s tent still burned with a
lamp. Just like the daytime, the respected elderly within the tribe and the excelling young hunters all gathered here, and sat down spread around inside the tent. A’Sa sat at the top with his eyes closed closed, while his hands held a bone-teeth bracelet.

“A’Sa, I still do not understand why we let those two Central Plains people stay, tonight are we not……” A young hunter obviously could not hold in the urge, and looked left and right, then said this.

“Is a’Sa’s decision something you are able to question?” Kw’lang raised his eyes and shouted, but his tone was not that strong.

“I just don’t understand! If those two Central Plains people saw……” The young and vigorous hunter angrily retorted.

Kw’lang’s face sunk, as though about to burst in a rage.

“Stop, all of you.” A’Sa opened his eyes, and his gaze sharply looked towards Kw’lang’s face.

Kw’lang then shivered inside, and knew that this meant that a’Sa could see he actually was more unconvinced than the hunter, and wanted to borrow the young hunter’s mouth to ask.

“Letting them stay here, naturally has a reason for it.” A’Sa’s gaze swept by every person inside the tent. Although he had aged, his eyes seemed like the edge of a curved blade, “Right now, we are in Namu’s homeland, all needs to go according to Namu’s will. Wait until the time has come, and you will naturally understand.”

A’Sa’s words were strict. Everyone did not dare to ask again, and could only reply with a yes.

At this time, a young hunter came in from the outside with a body full of cold wind, “A’Sa, the preparations are ready.”

“Let us go, the time has also come.” A’Sa stood up, and hunched his back and first went out of the tent. Outside the tent, on top of that clearing they left, burned with a circular bonfire at this time, burning in a blaze, and right in the middle of the bonfire, raised with a tall platform.

Around the bonfire circled a bunch of people changed into attire that would be worn on Boyikh’s festivals, holding strangely-shaped ancient blades while standing around.

The bonfire was burning intensely, and the tongue of the fire jumped up midair.

The white-haired a’Sa waved away the Kw’lang who held him, and directly walked towards the middle of the circular fire, and stably walking right into it.

[1] ⼀ 条 绳 上 的 蚂 蚱 - expression for two people in the same circumstances, with their lives tied together- so don’t think about running away alone, cooperation is unavoidable.

Chapter 116

Chapter One Hundred and Sixteen, Relying on a Sorcerer, Jin Tang’s Disaster. (任⽤妖⼈, ⾦唐之祸)
The tribe members changed into attire raised the ancient blades in their hands up high when a’Sa passed through the blazing fire and walked into the middle of the circle completely intact- that was a curved blade made from a beast’s bone, and looked ferocious under the flame. All the people’s faces surrounding the bonfire carried a pious and solemn expression.

Kw’lang and the others who walked out from a’Sa’s tent joined into the group, and stood around the bonfire. They similarly long already changed into the attire, and their waists were also hung with the bone blade.

The high platform was inserted with a torch, and when a’Sa reached the high platform, he raised that torch.

“The Exiled wander within the winds and sands of Khlajöwwma.” A’Sa opened his mouth with a low and deep voice. All the people turned quiet, and the fire burned, letting out bits of sparking sounds, “Our ancestors, our forefathers, all received the brave warriors’ will, and were buried under the scorching sun of Khlajöwwma.”

The aged Boyikh shaman’s voice was low and deep.

The tribespeople quietly listened to a’Sa speak of the tribe’s past. The several hundred years of roaming and searching, the weary souls wearing bamboo hats trekking through the sand and dust, camel bells passing through the entire Khlajöwwma from east to west, the Gobi sands left with ancient tribe’s marking……

The white-haired a’Sa narrated on top of the high platform, while the unconscious a’Mu scrunched up her body in the tent, and her face let out a pained expression. She grabbed the animal leather carpet, and her face faintly emerged with some strange markings.

“Namu’s might shines on Khlajöwwma like the sun, ever scorching, without rest. Namu’s subjects will at last return to the homeland!”
A’Sa raised the torch in his hands up high, and the blazing fire swept up with a “fwoosh” in the wind. His voice passed through the bonfire, and crossed through the night’s winds.

“Namu’s subjects will at last return to the homeland!” The Boyikh tribespeople raised the bone blades in their hands up high, and shouted out loud.

The shouting that carried boundlessness and destiny hovered over top of the circular bonfire, and the blazing fire jumped up at the wave of voices. The flame swept several zhang up, and the flames from the original bonfire burned into a whole wall of fire. Scarlet flames swept and spun like it was madly dancing, and had each of the Boyikh tribespeople holding the bone blade wrapped within it.

They knelt on the floor, and placed the bone blade on the ground, then heavily kowtowed towards the blade.

Once, twice, and once again.

The flames wrapped around each person’s body, yet did not burn them- clearly, they were just ordinary mortals, but at this time, they were safe and sound inside the fire.

Scorching flames, bone blade, kowtowing. The fire spread towards the high platform in the middle of the circle, and climbed up the platform like vines. The a’Sa who was standing on the high platform was enclosed in the flames, and when the tribespeople kowtowed towards the bone blade, he recited a lengthy and abstruse long poem passed down the generations of Boyikh tribe.

Over top of Khlajöwwma where the sandstorms were like knives, countless secrets were hidden within this long poem passed down every generation.

Along with a’Sa’s recitation, the flames spread out from the circular bonfire, and spread out on the sandy floor like a long snake. The flames climbed up towards a rock mountain across from the encampment—— that was a giant rock mountain that was just like a odd beast when looked at from afar.

Nine bows and nine kowtows later, the Boyikh tribespeople stood up. Both their hands held the bone blade, faced in the direction the flame was climbing to, and turned to that odd beast-shaped rock mountain and recited the long poem passed down in the Khlajöwwma sands for a long time along with a’Sa.

The entire encampment lit up like daytime.

The flames spread to the top of the rock mountain, and climbed up like several giant snakes, and by the end, gathered at the top of the mountain, and hovered over two places.

On top of the big and tall rock mountain, the flames slowly gathered, circulated, and finally formed into the shape of a pair of closed eyes.

A’Sa closed his eyes and recited in a deep voice, while the bone bracelet in his hands rotated.

As he turned the bone bracelet in his hands, a’Mu who was in the tent slowly sat up like a wooden puppet on strings, and the patterns on her face were just like the flames climbing up the rock mountain, similarly flowing and gathering to her eyes.

Inside the flames, a’Sa’s loud voice shouted out the final line of the poem, and his voice already turned hoarse.

In the tent, a’Mu opened her eyes, while the deepest parts of that pair of foreign-land-coloured eyes seemingly burned with a flame.

“Namu’s fires soon burn the time, Namu’s legacy will cross through the ancient times, and befall an ever-high glory.”     The hoarse voice rose up along with the rising blazing fires, and the flame on top of the rock mountain suddenly opened its eyes.

The instant the flame eyes opened, the rock that was like an odd beast grovelling on top of the vast lands transmitted with a rumbling sound like muffled thunder, and in that instant, the bone blades in the hands of the Boyikh tribespeople that were enveloped in flames emitted a cold light, and an ancient power within their blood vessels surged and flowed.

That kind of power was only restored for an instant, and in the next moment, along with sound of the atmosphere vibrating, the bonfire died out, and the flames disappeared. The eyes on the rock once again hid itself, and the power went quiet along with it.

However, all the Boyikh tribespeople were filled with tears.

The elderly of the tribe knelt down, and tears freely flowed, “Namu…… Namu did not discard his subjects, Boyikh tribe’s glory……”

The tribe that wandered in the desert for hundreds of years, that faced countless sandstorms, countless starved wolves, that lived like wild animals, at this time, cried like children.

One after another, these exiled people of the desert slowly got on their knees on the ground, while their mouths muttered words that even they did not know the meaning of. When the bonfire went out and the tribespeople knelt down, the solitary a’Mu in the tent closed her eyes, and unknowingly fell backwards.

A’Sa stood on the high platform, and turned the bone bracelet in his
hands.

He silently watched these devout tribespeople, with his hair white
like snow.

And in another part of the Boyikh encampment, the tent where Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng were.

Ye Qiu Sheng no longer laid down. He sat cross-legged inside the tent, with the blade laid across his knee- his face was stiff, and his forehead had cold sweat. They clearly heard the Boyikh tribe’s reciting and calling inside the tent, however, Ye Qiu Sheng did not go out to check. This was not to follow Kw’lang’s orders.

When the flame rose up into a fire wall, even with the tent blocking it, the light of the flames still illuminated the interior of the tent brightly. At the time he wanted to go out to check, Bai Li Shu opened his mouth.

“Do not go out.” Bai Li Shu lightly stopped him.

Ye Qiu Sheng turned to look at him. The light coming in illuminated Bai Li Shu’s profile, while a bright, warm yellow colour reflected on the border of his outline.

“Fire of the Scarlet Flame.”

—— The flames of the Scarlet rise from the deep abyss, above the skies, and down in the earth. Namu who ruled the kingdom of death was born in the Scarlet Flame.

Bai Li Shu recalled this one line from Khlajöwwma’s narrative poem, and got absorbed in thought.

Just when Ye Qiu Sheng wanted to ask about the “Fire of the Scarlet Flame”, the inside of the tent turned brighter, his breathing slightly turned suffocated, and a hard-to-describe ancient pressure spread out from the direction of the clearing outside the tent.

The stagnate pressure that was like tidal water made Ye Qiu Sheng’s energy and blood surge up, and in the situation where their primordial energy was sealed and was unable to be circulated, and the primordial energy in the body was in disorder, it almost made him directly vomit out a mouthful of blood.

What the hell, isn’t the Boyikh tribe just a bunch of ordinary people, how could they make this kind of thing happen?

Ye Qiu Sheng gripped his ancient blade, and turned to look to the outside the tent, and only saw a magma-like illumination flow past from the outside. As the magma-like light passed outside the tent, that kind of formless pressure turned heavier and heavier, and made people’s chest turn stifled.

Just as Ye Qiu Sheng held up the ancient blade and wanted to use his own blood to forcefully awaken a bit of the Hui snake’s spirit in the ancient blade to share the burden, the pressure on his body disappeared all of a sudden, and a familiar aura appeared inside the tent.

Bai Li Shu took out his Golden Crow longbow.

The longbow emitted a faint golden light, and blocked off that pressure for them.

“Boyikh tribe……”      Bai Li Shu sat up. His face was a bit pale, and he similarly looked towards outside the tent.

Only, the direction he was looking at, seemed not to be towards the long river of flames flowing outside the tent.

◈◈◈
“General! Look over there!”       When the bonfire turned into a wall, inside a blockhouse by Ghost City, a young guarding soldier told this to a patrolling general on the walls in extreme shock.

He pointed in the direction towards Ghost City, and his face had an astonished and fearful expression.

This soldier was an enlisted local of Khlajöwwma, and had a natural fear towards Ghost City.

Looking to where his finger pointed, the young general wearing armour knitted his eyebrows.

He only saw the direction of Ghost City actually burn with flames. Tonight, the night was dark, so the flames were extremely apparent. But Ghost City was not that close from here, and the inside of Ghost City mostly had many big and tall rocks and mounds formed into mountains, just what kind of fire was able to burn into one that could even be seen from here?

“General Chen.” Just at the time of the young general’s hesitancy, a voice resounded.

A person dressed in black robes, wearing an iron mask also came up the walls at some time ago. This person’s voice was very strange, hard to discern from a man or woman, and seeped with a wave of coldness that made people’s skin raise with goosebumps. When they saw this person, the young general’s face clearly passed through an expression of disgust.

The garrison general of the blockhouse opened his mouth with a skin-deep smile, “So Mr. Yan[1] has also not slept yet, is there something to advise on?”

The tone this young general spoke with was a bit strange.

The way he spoke was not like a typical military official, rough and unrefined, but was just like a civil official, speaking like a book. His accent carried the intonation of Jin Tang’s capital. The iron-masked person called “Mr. Yan” seemed to not hear out the loathing from the young general’s words, and continued to be neither hasty nor slow, and used a kind of cold, strange tone to speak, “The Scarlet Fire of Ghost City has been lit up by someone, I ask that General toil, and bring the army and follow me.”

“Insolence!”

That solider had never seen this Mr. Yan, and also did not know what identity he had. However, this solider was someone who was, when General went out and saw him being surrounded by desert wolves, ordered to be saved. When he heard that there was actually someone ordering General right now with a contemptuous tone, he could not help but say this out loud.

Just as he said the words out loud, the remaining half was stuck in his throat.

The person wearing a mask turned around, and the eyes behind the mask dimly flashed for a bit, and the soldier’s body sprung with a black flame. The soldier didn’t even have the time to scream for a doctor, and turned into ashes.

“You!”         The young general turned outraged, and the blade on his waist came out of its sheath with a clanging sound.

But after being drawn out a single inch, it could no longer be drawn out.
“General, please mobilize the troops.” Mr. Yan mysteriously said. Mr. Yan left, and the young general smashed his fist into the wall, “Utilizing a sorcerer, is Jin Tang’s calamity!”
[1] 颜先⽣- yan, for colour, or more possibly, face, ironically.

Chapter 117

Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen, Hard to Tell Black from White, Sensibility Protects the Body. (⿊⽩难分, 明哲保⾝)
The blockhouse was a troop-stationing fort set up in Guang Wu’s time within Gua Province, near Ghost City, so the military fort was not that big. According to Jin Tang’s military system, the number of stationed troops for a military fort of this scale would not be too many, and typically would have two to three companies[1] as per standard.

However, the number of troops of the blockhouse’s garrison, were not two or three companies, but the number of one full regiment.

According to Jin Tang’s formation, two hundred fifty people formed one company, and five companies made one regiment- there were a full two thousand five hundred troops stationed at the blockhouse. Not only that, in Guang Wu’s age, he pushed the “Military Reform”, granting imperial favour to various small tribes in the borderlands, allowing for them to enter the army as a “soldier-by-right”. Although they were not on the list, they were able to receive the same military pay.

There were quite a few soldier-by-rights in the blockhouse, and added together, the garrison had about three thousand total, designated as “Quan Jie[2] Left Wing’s First Army”.

The commander was that young general with an accent from the capital who was patrolling around, the blockhouse’s area commander, Chen Ge Guang[3]. Jin Tang was founded with the aid of the aristocratic families, and in the several hundred years later, they implemented the principles of literature, so an area’s garrison adjutant was typically held by a civil servant for moderation. However, the present Quan Jie Left Wing’s First Army’s land officer[4] was not a civil official, but was that iron-masked, strange- acting “Mr. Yan”.

The previous land officer was a frail scholar exiled to this place, and not long after arriving here, he “died of serious illness”. After this, the position of land officer was empty for a period of time, up until the past few days, when this Mr. Yan of unknown origin suddenly came.

On the surface, Mr. Yan’s post was lower than Chen Ge Guang, however, Mr. Yan actually came with the current emperor’s personal orders.

In the secret order, the emperor decreed that all that Mr. Yan did was the emperor’s will, and those who saw the secret order could not disobey it.

This was why Mr. Yan, as a land officer, was able to directly order Chen Ge Guang to mobilize the entire army.

Quan Jie Left Wing’s First Army, other than the troops on defence, all gathered according to Mr. Yan’s request. Of the five companies, two were light cavalry. Chen Ge Guang alone rode a steed, leading the light cavalry to go first, while Mr. Yan rode a carriage at the back.

In the nights of Gua Province, sandstorms would wreak havoc all around. However, with Ghost City separating it, the sands close to the blockhouse were comparatively small. The marching troops wore helmets with masks, and went up against racing sands and winds, so their pace was not that fast.

Chen Ge Guang looked towards the fire in that corner of Ghost City, and took a guess at what it was, however, the flame did not last for that long. Once the big group of people and horses lost the guidance of the flame, in the hazy night of sandstorms, it was very easy for them to lose direction.

Chen Ge Guang knitted his brows, and ordered the cavalry to stop, then sent a soldier to rush to the back, and ask that mysterious and shady Mr. Yan if he had any brilliant ideas.

Just as the soldier left, Chen Ge Guang heard his own personal guard let out a surprised sound.

The top of his head transmitted with the sound of wings flapping, Chen Ge Guang looked towards the sound in wonder, yet only saw a small trumpet bird flap its wings from the top, and fly down from the sandstorm.

Trumpet birds were often seen on the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, however, in the arid Khlajöwwma, there were few of these extraordinary birds rumoured to live in the clouds that flew in the high skies. At this time, when they saw this small trumpet bird flying through the sandstorm, everyone was extremely surprised.

When Chen Ge Guan saw that trumpet bird, he thought of something, and his expression slightly changed.

He reached out, as though wanting to hail the trumpet bird to come
down.

But that trumpet bird stopped in midair in front of Chen Ge Guang
instead, and its beak opened and closed, transmitting with that gloomy voice of Mr. Yan’s that would make people’s backs go cold:

“General Chen just needs to follow me.” After saying this, that trumpet bird turned and flew towards Ghost City in a neither fast nor slow pace.

Chen Ge Guang took back his hand, and his face turned grave, “Follow it.”

The personal guard to the side still wanted to ask something, but was scared by Chen Ge Guang’s cold gaze that they did not dare let out a sound and touch on his wrath.

Chen Ge Guang rode his horse and lead the light cavalry in front. That trumpet bird really flew at their front within the sandstorms the entire time, and led the way in a neither fast nor slow manner. When seeing that trumpet bird, Chen Ge Guang recalled something.

Chen Ge Guang was not a military official born of commoner background- he was actually born in an aristocratic family. There were many influential clans in Jin Tang, but Chen family, Liu family, and Ye family as well as the Ji clan that was the imperial family were called the “Four Big Families”. However, in the incident ten years ago, “Song Over Clouds” Liu family revolted and passed away, and the four influential clans was left with three.

It was at this time that Chen Ge Guang was exiled to this place where not even birds come, Gua Province.

As a part of “Nan(south) Huai’s Chen family”, as well as one of the direct line of descent, Chen Ge Guang should have taken up a post as the capital’s official, with his career on an easy and smooth path. With a prestigious family at the back, no matter what, he would not be reduced to defending within a desolate city up the frontier, unable to return to the capital.

One could only say that the Chen Ge Guang of that year was young and full of vigour. After Song Over Clouds’ Liu family’s incident, pretty much everyone used everything they had to clear themselves of any relations, not daring to say what should not be said, avoiding in fear of being too late. He, on the other hand, seven days later, held up a bottle of wine, and directly went to the ruins where the burned ancestral temple of Liu family was at.

He sat on top of the shambles, cried and laugh, and expressed condolences to his friend who died in the sea of fire, Liu family’s eldest young lord.

Having said enough condolences, drunk with enough wine, with a turn of the head, he was sent to this shitty place with endless yellow sands all around. Before going, Father was enraged like thunder, and scathingly attacked him how he was not sensible, committing foolery[5]. “Committing foolery? What is committing foolery? After seeing right and wrongs being confused, seeing a close friend die to injustice, then playing it safe[6] , isn’t this committing foolery?” While kneeling in the hall, he fought back against his father.

“You rotten son[7]!”

“To hell with the wise protecting oneself, that’s called being a coward. I would rather die in the large deserts, than live like a good-for- nothing.” He said with a cold laugh.

And then, he guarded this small city in Gua Province in the blockhouse for a good several years.

Protecting a stretch of yellow sands, his prospects turned into empty words, but Chen Ge Guang never felt like he regretted it either. If one were to give him another chance, he would still carry wine without hesitation, and go to those shambles after the big fire, and mourn for his deceased good friend.

A proper and true man, having read that many scriptures and poems, was not to read to become a good-for-nothing trash no better than women.

However, even if he was demoted to this place, in the end, he was still a Jin Tang person- even if he had some veiled criticisms towards the current emperor, he was still concerned over Jin Tang’s state of affairs. In these few years, even if he was at Gua Province’s deserts, he also felt that obscure and dark turbulence, and unease gradually hovered over him.

This kind of unease, at the time the iron-masked Land Officer Mr.
Yan carrying Jin Tang’s secret orders came here, reached its peak.

Although Jin Tang dynasty was the secular realm’s dynasty, it was not entirely composed of ordinary people. Within the prestigious families and imperial clan, there were immortal cultivators, so it was not rare for immortal cultivators to take up official posts, however, the conduct of this Mr. Yan who was granted high authority by the Emperor clearly seeped with a nefarious air. Someone with an aura like an evil demon, was not some proper and just person.

For the emperor to actually start heavily trusting this kind of person, would Jin Tang dynasty really not be met with some disaster?

Laden with many anxieties, Chen Ge Guang fought against the sandstorm, and followed the trumpet bird.

[1] The specific term here is 指挥(command) and is not to be confused with the verb. In older times (up to the Song dynasty), this term was used to refer a unit of the troops in the military. Following with Jin Tang’s division of 250 per “command”, we will simply refer this as a “company”, which in English military division is 80-250 people. Same thing goes for the ‘regiment’.

[2] 泉捷- quan, for springs(water), and jie, for either speedy, or as a noun, victory.

[3] 陈葛光- Chen, same character as Chen dynasty’s (but obviously not from the imperial family). Should be from the Chen clan of Jin Tang mentioned early in the story. Ge, for either kudzu vine, or a fabric, or quarrel. Guang, for light, and all that can be associated with light (e.g. bright, glory, favour, etc etc.)

[4] The titles are based on ancient terms. First, Chen Ge Guang as ‘area commander’ is 都指挥使 which is a rank from the Ming dynasty, the person who holds the highest military authority within a single province.
That being said, they call him ‘general’, and it is translated as such, but he
does not hold that actual rank within the government. Land officer, 都虞使, Mr. Yan’s ‘title’, literally translates to officer in charge of the area’s territory(being the plains, rivers etc).
[5] 胡作⾮为- or, commit evil. Misbehaving. [6] 明哲保⾝- be wise and play safe. Or, literally, being wise protects the body.

[7] Not filial. Also term to address a child of a concubine (and I assure you this is not a nice way of saying it)

Chapter 118

kahka is in a part of the world that still uses daylight savings, so chapters will now release at 4:00 PM PDT instead of PST (one hour earlier for those who don’t use daylight savings) starting tomorrow.

Chapter One Hundred and Eighteen, the Young Bodyguards, Things to Be Asked. (年轻护卫, 所问之事)
The bonfire perished, and the light outside the tent dimmed down. Ye Qiu Sheng slightly lifted the curtains of the tent open, and looked outside. After the raging flames were put out, the camp returned to the darkness, and the Boyikh tribe’s people dispersed within the dark. Ye Qiu Sheng could faintly see that aged a’Sa from the day being supported by Kw’lang into the biggest tent.

Ye Qiu Sheng sensitively perceived, after this night’s incident, the aura on the Boyikh tribespeople rose with an obscure change.

Like a kind of strength sleeping within the blood vessels of these wanderers of Khlajöwwma Desert was being gradually awakened.

This situation made people recall the matter of Jiu Xuan Sect coming here to take in disciples. These people who proclaimed themselves as “Namu’s subjects” seemed to not really be ignorant and unknowing, and they truly had another inheritance of strength that people did not know of.

Ye Qiu Sheng’s expression turned slightly stern. He was not a Boyikh tribe member, and naturally did not believe that there really was some deity or god in control of a kingdom of death, however, with tonight’s matter, Ye Qiu Sheng had to take heed to this Namu deity spoken of in Khlajöwwma.

From how he saw it, there was a large possibility that Namu was some strong existence from the long river of the eras, and through the bloodline, the Boyikh tribespeople who were descendants of Namu inherited a portion of his power. Except, this portion had always been in a state of deep slumber, and must undergo an unique ritual to be able to be slowly awakened.

Ye Qiu Sheng subconsciously recalled when it was evening, Bai Li Shu was looking through an old book under the light recording a long poem of Khlajöwwma that casually mentioned Namu’s soldiers, the army named Zangmu.

“What do you think Namu is?” Ye Qiu Sheng asked Bai Li
Shu.

When the flames were extinguished, Bai Li Shu put away the
longbow, and he got up, then sat in the darkness. As for Ye Qiu Sheng’s question, Bai Li Shu did not directly respond, and spoke up after a while, “Khlajöwwma’s worship of Namu already existed in the era of Ten Thousand Immortals, but……”

But what, he did not continue on.

The young man sat in the dark, unable to discern his expression.

Ye Qiu Sheng was accustomed to this person’s conduct that was pretty much the same as those of Tian Ji Valley, all mysterious and strange, pressing down every matter on themselves- obtaining this kind of answer capable of making typical people even more at a loss was not unexpected either.

Furthermore…… That in which Bai Li Shu spoke of, made him think to certain guesses as well.

The era of Ten Thousand Immortals, that period in which both immortals and demons existed together, an era that only lasted for fifteen thousand years, called the “Severed Era”- that severed era left too many riddles, and for these many years, he travelled through the land of the twelve dynasties, pursuing what were the answers to those riddles.

Ye Qiu Sheng would always have a kind of strange feeling.

He always felt, sometimes when he looked at Bai Li Shu, it was like he saw those ancient, fragmented eras. Back when he made that widely- spread nickname for Bai Li Shu, Immortal Beyond Heaven, one half of the reason was due to being the number one of the Twelve Beauty Records that was famous in the immortal cultivation realm, and the other half, was that feeling of obscurity he would sometimes have.

When he saw that white-robed youth come over with a sword, he would always recall that karst cave deeply buried underneath Cang Pu dynasty he entered once.

In the humid underground, stalactites dropped down with icy cold water, then fell on the rocks, and emitted a clean and silvery sound. The lightless and dark world seemed like it was forgotten by time, and was very far from the flourishing and bustling twelve dynasties. He held up a torch and walked to the front of the rock wall chiselled flat by someone, while the torch illuminated the drawings on the rock wall.

Each and every picture, drew some scenery from the previous era.

The lines of the stone drawing were already a bit faded, so the scenes were not very clear, and the final drawing was almost destroyed for the most part. Nevertheless, Ye Qiu Sheng stopped in front of the final picture for a very, very long time. His gaze was drawn to one area of the picture. In the final stone drawing, the contents drawn were much more harder to understand- a giant pillar submerged into the vast lands, a hazy crowd running away, and within the fleeing crowd, one person went against the flow, and walked towards that giant pillar sunk deep underground. The stone picture was not detailed, the style of it was primitive, and the figures were all drawn with very few strokes.

But when it portrayed that person, it turned particularly detailed.

He did not know why, but the back figure that was unlike everyone else’s on that final stone drawing was engraved deeply into Ye Qiu Sheng’s mind, and when he looked at that back figure, he would always feel some kind of hard-to-describe sadness.

That hint of sadness was without cause, nor did he know the reason for it either.

And when looking at Bai Li Shu, Ye Qiu Sheng did not know why, but there would be times he would strangely recall that final stone picture inside the cavern.

The young man sat within the dark, with his figure very thin, and Ye Qiu Sheng once again recalled that drawing.

“Let’s go, we’re seeing the Boyikh’s a’Sa.”       Bai Li Shu draped on his outer robe, and he walked to Ye Qiu Sheng’s side.

The mysterious ritual already concluded, the Boyikh tribespeople who had some faint changes to them already returned to their own tents, and the encampment sunk into a stretch of silence.

“En?” Ye Qiu Sheng let out a single tone of questioning.

Bai Li Shu fixed the outer robe, and did not have any intentions of explaining.

“Fine, fine.” Ye Qiu Sheng helplessly smiled. He propped up with one hand, and quickly stood up, opening up the curtains of the tent for Bai Li Shu adequately, and half-bowed his body, “Since the Lord has made a decision, this mere little bodyguard will naturally not speak out. Please, my Lord.”

Bai Li Shu glanced at Ye Qiu Sheng whose face bore a frivolous smile. The other person bowed, acting with the appearance of a bodyguard.

He moved away his gaze, and directly walked out.

“You are not my bodyguard.” Bai Li Shu lightly said.

There was that one instance when he recalled those young bodyguards within the Bai Li family.

When he was still Dong Ling’s Bai Li, when he was still Bai Li’s family head, as he walked through the corridors, the young bodyguards would bow towards him. They were the clan’s young members, they very respectfully called him Family Head…… they saw him as a god……

Bai Li Shu closed his eyes.

The thin young man passed by his shoulders, and the outer robe left with a bit of coldness on it whisked over the hand he lifted open the curtain with. Ye Qiu Sheng heard the young man calmly say “you are not my bodyguard” with a voice just like water flowing through limestone that was lit up by moonlight on the night of a chilly cold moon.

He raised his eyebrows, and watched the youth’s back figure going farther and farther away.

The night winds whisked up that person’s outer robe, and the spacious robes fluttered about, just like a white crane. That person’s figure was thin and straight, walking forward alone without a stop, not caring if there was anyone following along at all, nor even caring if there was someone going together with them.

The corners of Ye Qiu Sheng’s mouth twitched, and he suddenly lowly laughed. He put down the tent’s curtains, and went to catch up.

Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng silently passed by tent after tent, while the sounds of wind within the night of Ghost City were faint and indistinct, desolate and abnormal. They arrived outside the biggest tent where Boyikh tribe’s a’Sa was at, and also saw the ashes left after the bonfire was put out.

Other than that circular bonfire, the encampment had no other abnormalities, just like that scene of magma rushing around outside the tent was just their hallucination.

Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng stood in front of the tent.

“Come in.” Before they could say anything, a’Sa’s old voice resounded by the two’s ears.

Bai Li Shu lifted the curtain up, and was about to enter with Ye Qiu Sheng, and then a’Sa’s voice resounded once again, “I’m only seeing one person.”

Their tone did not allow for negotiation.

Bai Li Shu paused, and he turned to look at Ye Qiu Sheng.

Ye Qiu Sheng slightly froze, and very quickly returned to that appearance of cynicism. He carried his blade, stood outside the tent, and raised his eyebrows, “Please, my Lord. This small one will be on guard for you.”

“What bodyguard does not protect their official, right?”

The young man dressed like a bodyguard hung a frivolous smile on his face that made people unable to see if he was sincere or just teasing.

Bai Li Shu stared at Ye Qiu Sheng for a small while, and then hung down his eyes, “Then you will guard.”

After saying this, he directly entered the magnificently-decorated
tent. In the tent, there was no other person. A’Sa alone sat in the middle- the aged elderly person closed their eyes, with a head full of white hair, while their hands turned a bone bracelet. When he heard Bai Li Shu walk in, he stopped turning the bone bracelet, and opened his eyes.

Dressed in Confucian clothing, the gentle and refined young man dressed as a Jin Tang official stood where the tent’s curtains were, and quietly looked at him. The two people did not say anything.

After a long while, the youth slowly smiled, and acted with the demeanour of a scholar, “Old mister, for paying a visit in the middle of the night, do forgive this lowly one’s whims.”

A’Sa narrowed his eyes, and once again turned the bone bracelet, “Sir is an official of Jin Tang dynasty, this old one is merely a wanted person lingering on their breath, fortunate to receive Namu’s blessings. Although I am old and not dead yet, for Sir to come see me is this old one’s honour, so how could one speak of whims? Please, sit.”

This elderly person named a’Sa with a high status in the Boyikh tribe, in between words, did not accept any of Bai Li Shu’s courtesies.

Bai Li Shu calmly sat down.

“What is it that Sir wants to ask this old one? If it can be said, this old one will definitely say all that I know.” A’Sa neither hurriedly nor slowly turned the bone bracelet, “However, this old one is the Boyikh’s a’Sa, if it is things regarding private matters of the entire tribe, do forgive for being unable to inform you.”

Bai Li Shu lightly brushed his sleeves, and faintly smiled, “Mister, do be at ease. The things this lowly one wants to ask, has no relation with the Boyikh tribe.”

A’Sa stopped turning the bone bracelet, narrowed his eyes, and after a moment, he slightly waved his hands, and the sound of wind outside the tent suddenly went far away. The entire tent seemed like it was separated from the outside world, extremely quiet. “Please.”

The curtains hung down, and blocked the situation inside.

Ye Qiu Sheng leaned in to listen. Logically, with how perceptive his hearing was, even if he was separated by a tent, he should be able to listen in on the conversation. However, other than those first few words of meaningless chitchat, ever since Bai Li Shu said he wanted to ask a’Sa about something, he could no longer hear the sounds inside.

Unable to hear any sound, Ye Qiu Sheng rotated the old blade in his hands, and the neither long nor short old blade spun out with sparks of continuous snowy light.

He didn’t seem to be surprised that the Boyikh tribe’s a’Sa had this kind of ability of isolating sound like a barrier.

The blade rotated once, and Ye Qiu Sheng put the blade back in its sheath.
This made it a bit hard for people to handle.

At any rate, he was that “Jin Tang official’s” bodyguard in name right now, so he should take full responsibility over his own lord’s safety, right? With this situation of being unable to hear even a bit of movement, how could one fulfill a bodyguard’s responsibility?

Being Lord Bai Li’s bodyguard truly isn’t some easy job.

Chapter 119

Chapter One Hundred and Nineteen, Snow-like Edge, Illuminated Like Flames. (⼑锋如雪, 得照⽕光)
The time Bai Li Shu and a’Sa conversed was not long, and after half an incense’s time, Bai Li Shu came out.

“If the Lord did not come out, this little one was prepared to break through the doors and save your Grace[1].”

It was like he had words within words, and secretly pointed to the matter of a barrier being raised when Bai Li Shu and a’Sa talked. However, the thing he held in his hand wasn’t really a decoration either- if Bai Li Shu did not come out after an incense’s time, Ye Qiu Sheng really planned on moving in.

Although it was said that this eldest disciple brother of Jiu Xuan Sect always calculated everything out, at present, the great Lord Bai Li Shu was a patient, and no matter how it was said, as a temporary partner, he must put forth some kindness and look after him, right?

Though from the looks of it, the other party really calculated everything out, and did not need others to worry.

“Doesn’t breaking in require dropping a cup as the signal[2]?”

Bai Li Shu walked straight to their tent, and from the ever-constant expression on his face, one could not see just what he said with a’Sa. When Bai Li Shu heard Ye Qiu Sheng’s words, he slightly turned his head, and looked at him.

Dropping a cup as the signal?

Ye Qiu Sheng was slightly dumbfounded.

In the common realm, within stories of battles between the twelve dynasties and enemies being executed, there would often be a banquet to entertain guests with executioners placed all around. When the wine and meat was filled to one’s content, with a signal of dropping a cup, the executioners would kill the political enemy. Ye Qiu Sheng walked through the vast lands of the twelve dynasties, and when he rested in a teahouse while concealing his name, he would often hear storytellers talk about this as well.

What made people dumbfounded was not the words itself. But that the person who said these words was Bai Li Shu.
This made people have a kind of surprise of how “he would also have that little bit of humanity in him”—— albeit the other person’s tone was calm as always, carrying a slight coldness to it.

Ye Qiu Sheng looked towards the other person’s back figure leaving without a stop. After a long while, he suddenly laughed a bit.

While carrying his blade, Ye Qiu Sheng slowly caught up.

When Bai Li Shu and Ye Qiu Sheng returned to their tent, Duotana was at a’Mu’s tent taking care of her. In the middle of the night, a’Mu finally woke up.

After waking up, a’Mu sat up absentmindedly, then hugged her knees, and curled up into a ball.

Duotana only saw a’Mu like this once, and that was after her only uncle met with an accident. Duotana was Boyikh’s tribe leader Kw’lang’s daughter, and was also the prettiest-looking lady in the tribe, always living like the sun in the sands, hot and blazing, while wielding blades and shooting arrows, being open and resolute.

She always felt as long as one lived, if there was any problem, it could be solved with a fight- Namu’s subjects should be just as firm and resolute as a goshawk.

So how could there be people that lived so cowardly and lowly in the world?

Duotana heard of the name a’Mu before, also knew of some rumours about her, and saw that child a few times as well. Thin and small, getting in fights with the few boys in the tribe, with her gaze as ferocious as a wolf’s. That day when they were going out hunting, a’Mu suddenly pounced out from the crowd, and grabbed her uncle’s clothes, not letting him go.

No one knew how a small little girl would have that big of a strength.

Duotana was also part of the hunting group that time, and when a’Mu hugged her uncle, she went over and tried to pull her away, but in the end, was ruthlessly bitten by the other person.

But in the end, a’Mu was still pulled off, and everyone said this child’s illness acted up again.

When they left, Duotana did not know why either, but she turned to look at a’Mu who was blocked off by everyone, and saw that the thin little girl’s eyes carried tears.

And then, her uncle died. Duotana saw that honest hunter who did not ever say much get his neck bitten off by a desert wolf, while blood splattered and spewed out.

She thought back to a’Mu’s eyes that bore tears. After returning, Duotana went to find a’Mu, and after going around the residential area of that time, she found the little lady in the shadow of a pile of rocks. She was that ferocious and fierce when fighting, but the wolf cub-like a’Mu curled within the corner, looking vacant, while her gaze was not even a little bit light, and was grey and hazy.

Duotana hated that kind of expression.

Namu’s subjects can live just like wolves, fiercely brandish blades, and die with a body full of wounds, but they could not be cowardly and timid, just like rubbish.

“Hey, little brat.”      She lightly kicked a’Mu who was curled up into a ball, with one hand on her waist. “Don’t be such a good-for- nothing.”

A’Mu did not move, and did not pay attention to her.

Duotana almost couldn’t keep calm, then turned her head to leave, but then recalled that day when a’Mu tried that hard to stop her uncle again
——she was trying to save her uncle. Slowly, Duotana sat by a’Mu’s side, and tried to pat her shoulder.
The other person turned their head, and bit down on her hand. “Ssss——” Duotana sucked in cold air, and cursed, “Girlie, are you
a wolf?”

But the cursing was only left at that, and Duotana did not hit this little brat either. She reached out to embrace the little lady that curled into a ball, and awkwardly said, “Sorry.”

Sorry, I didn’t know you wanted to save your uncle.

Duotana thought, if she knew her own father was in danger, and there was a person stopping her, then not only would she bite down with her teeth, she would even pull her sword out. A’Mu cried out loud, cried until the skies and earth turned dark, and her snot and tears rubbed all over Duotana’s clothes.

From that day forth, Duotana had a little sister.

“What’s with that look again?” Duotana sat by a’Mu’s side, and poked her face. Her tone was a bit scornful, and also a bit guilty.

—— In the daytime, she clearly wanted to cause trouble for those two Central Plains people, but in the end, she was scared stiff by that bodyguard. This matter was a bit shameful, making Duotana feel a bit dispirited for a’Mu.

A’Mu blinked, just like she suddenly woke up in the middle of something.

“What happened with you in the daytime? What did you see?” Duotana skilfully put the very thin little lady in her arms, and asked.

A’Mu buried her head in her embrace, “Don’t remember, I only felt like my head was in a lot of pain, and then, I don’t know.”

Her voice was so soft and low that the careless and casual Duotana did not hear out the peculiarity in her tone of speech.

A’Mu lied.

She certainly did not remember all the images, but instead faintly remembered a few, and remembered that young man in the pictures. But those images were just too scary, and there was even a kind of unspeakable feeling that made people’s noses ache, a kind of heavy oppression that made her subconsciously not want to tell what she saw to other people.

Those were not some good images.

“If you don’t remember, then don’t think about it. A’Sa came to see you before, those are things you should not see.”    Duotana stroked her head. “Sister a’Duo, a’Sa…… a’Sa he……” A’Mu knitted her eyebrows.

“What about a’Sa?” Duotana asked in surprise.

A’Mu’s face revealed a vacant and uncertain expression.

She was just about to tell Duotana, when she fell asleep, she seemed to have heard a’Sa’s voice, and also saw a pair of eyes formed from fire.

But when Duotana asked, a’Mu suddenly forgot what she wanted to say.
“Nothing.” She replied.

In the largest tent of the encampment, a’Sa turned the bone bracelet in his hands. He had his eyes closed, with the face full of old wrinkles.
[1] ⼤驾- also can refer to the emperor.
[2] 掷 杯 为 号 - most has already been explained in the following paragraphs, but wine goblets, in banquets and feasts are commonly seen things in people’s hands. Dropping the cup signals for the killing to go through, whereas placing the cup down signals for the abandonment of the assassination. See, the famous story of the Hongmen Banquet where this was derived from.

Chapter 120

Chapter One Hundred Twenty, Ghost Rather Than Human, Visitors Bear Bad Intentions. (⼈不如⿁, 来者不善)
Ye Qiu Sheng returned to the tent a bit later than Bai Li Shu. Bai Li Shu did not ask what he went to do either, and covered himself with the rough blanket Kw’lang gave them, then laid down. Ye Qiu Sheng looked at him for a while- the youth closed his eyes, calm and quiet, just like he was asleep.

It was not long before it was daylight, so Ye Qiu Sheng couldn’t be bothered to lie down again, and directly sat by the curtains, then closed his eyes with his blade in his arms.

There were very few times Ye Qiu Sheng did not carry his blade around. He was that type of person who would have to hold their sword tight even if they fainted, while his bones were engraved with the word “reckless[1]”- even if the skies collapsed, this person would chew a blade of grass from who-knows-where, and smile frivolously and loosely while brandishing his blade going up against it.

Though Ye Qiu Sheng closed his eyes, he did not rest.

Instead, he tried to take care of that strange spacial power inside his body. Ye Qiu Sheng looked to be about the same as usual these two days, careless and casual, laughing and cursing without restraint, insolent and improper, and could not seen to be have a bit of anxiety nor care that his cultivation was sealed. He also randomly asked Bai Li Shu once about his circumstances, but Bai Li Shu did not answer, and so he did not press on.
either. Nor did Bai Li Shu ask him how his sealed cultivation was now

However, there was not much change to the situation. Ye Qiu Sheng guessed that that sliver of spacial power in his channels might belong to a higher class of power.

This was a bit bad. Ye Qiu Sheng stroked the blade’s hilt, and thought.

Boyikh’s ritual, the conversation Bai Li Shu had with a’Sa, the flames flowing by like magma, a might that made people in fear…… Khlajöwwma’s sands, hid with countless secrets that changed and fluctuated like flowing dunes.

After some time passed, Ye Qiu Sheng heard the sound of Bai Li Shu getting up.

He opened his eyes, and reached out to open up the curtains, and the not-considerably bright sunlight fell inside. Outside the tent, the Boyikh tribespeople already came out in trickles.

Ye Qiu Sheng narrowed his eyes a bit, carefully observing these Boyikh tribespeople, wanting to find the changes in them.

From the surface, they did not look to have much change, except, each person’s face all carried an inconcealable happiness. And then from the feeling of aura, these Boyikh tribespeople’s strength seemed to have received some enhancement compared to before. Although they were not immortal cultivators, they faintly seeped with a bit of an unfathomable arrogance.

However, this kind of change was not big, and was only considered to have turned a diseased person into a vigorous one in their prime, and did not reach the qualitative change of a normal person transforming into an immortal cultivator. Looks like the ritual last night was not enough to completely awaken that ancient power in their blood.

“Someone’s coming.”        Bai Li Shu slightly narrowed his eyes, yet did not go to look at those Boyikh tribespeople putting away tents and preparing to move. He walked over to the entrance of the tent, and looked to the sky. The skies of the early morning did not completely light up, and there were not many clouds in the skies either.

Ye Qiu Sheng turned to look at him.

Bai Li Shu stood by the curtains. The sunlight trickled in, but did not completely illuminate the young man’s face, and half of his face was hidden within the darkness.

Outside the Boyikh tribe’s camp, within Ghost City’s big and tall rock mountains.

A few thin desert wolves hung down their tails, and quietly went about. Their movements were well-concealed, and distantly wandered outside the Boyikh tribe’s encampment, located in the downwind area at every moment.

Of these few desert wolves, there were one or two, whose bodies had scars.

◈◈◈
Jin Tang’s military flag spread open fiercely within the winds.

After braving against a night of sandstorms, Chen Ge Guang lead the Quan Jie Left Wing’s First Army and reached the borders of Ghost City.

The blockhouse was the military fort closest to Gua Province’s Ghost City, albeit this proximity was only a relativity. Gua Province belonged to the large Khlajöwwma Desert, with sources of water critically short, and oases few and far between, distributed in small amounts, while the distance between each military fort was very far. When merchant groups passed by Ghost City, the first oasis they would reach was the blockhouse.

But in truth, setting off from the blockhouse to Ghost City also needed half a day’s journey.

And with a large group on a march, plus the night’s sandstorms, the time needed was doubled compared to normal.

Chen Ge Guang brought the light cavalry and stopped outside Ghost City, then took a small rest. That trumpet bird Mr. Yan sent to guide them fell onto a horse’s head, and gathered up its wings, seeming to be resting too.

The matter of how Fu Yi dynasty sent troops that year to try to cross from this place to make a sneak attack, but no longer came out once the big army entered Ghost City, was heard of by all the people who lived in Gua Province for a certain period of time. At this time, when the soldiers saw the march throughout the night actually headed to Ghost City, and had the intentions going inside, everyone’s faces revealed an uneasy expression.

Chen Ge Guang climbed up a rock mountain, and stood in a high place while looking towards the direction where the fire burned last night.

The sun rose up very quickly, and light fell on the rocks and sands, extremely glaring. Chen Ge Guang narrowed his eyes, and knitted his eyebrows. This rock mountain he climbed up was certainly not low, but the rock mountains in Ghost City were irregularly strewn tall and low, taking up a wide space, so his line of sight was very obstructed, and he could not see anything.

“General Chen is very skilled.” Just as Chen Ge Guang was observing, his back resounded with a person’s gentle voice without warning.

“Who!” Without any mental preparation, Chen Ge Guang suddenly jumped in shock, and instinctively turned to draw his blade. However, he forgot that he was standing on the peak of an uneven rock mountain, and suddenly hurriedly turned back, and his foot fell through, then almost directly fell down from the rock several ten zhang high.

The person who spoke out did not react slowly either- they reached out and pulled him, and prevented the commander of a blockhouse from falling down midair under everyone’s watch.

“Fuck!” Chen Ge Guang stabilized his body, and almost directly hurled out a bunch of profanities. “Mr. Yan, are you a ghost?”

After he stood still, he discovered that Mr. Yan who was originally following at the back actually arrived at some time ago, and even quietly went up this rock mountain. This wasn’t the first or second time Mr. Yan appeared and disappeared mysteriously, but when Chen Ge Guang was suddenly scared by him this time, his face almost dropped down, and could not help but ridicule him out loud.

With Mr. Yan’s unswerving manners, he usually acted like he didn’t hear those open or private ridicules regarding him, and Chen Ge Guang thought this neither human nor ghost bastard wouldn’t have a reaction this time as well.

Who knew that this iron-masked Mr. Yan unusually paused, and that pair of cold and gloomy eyes beneath the mask fell onto his body like a knife.

Chen Ge Guang’s hand pressed on top of his blade hilt, and only took it that this person was hurt, and prepared to take action. He slightly stiffened his body, and got ready to strike out at any time.
Mr. Yan only looked at him for a while, then moved away his gaze. “General Chen worries too much.” Mr. Yan’s voice was as usual,
and the sombreness wandered away like a venomous snake, “This lowly one might not be called human anymore, but I’m afraid, there still needs to be some time before turning into a ghost.”

After his gaze moved away, Chen Ge Guang only felt the pressure on his body suddenly alleviate, and before he could react, he once again heard Mr. Yan briefly laugh coldly.

“But if you must make mention of it, I’m afraid this ghost is a bit more genial than humans.” His cold voice stopped here, and suddenly turned fierce, bringing about an unspeakable violent air to it.

And…… Mockery.
[1] 不要命 the words translate as, without a care for their own life, in the same vein as 亡命之徒 what I translated as desperate person. So desperate they wouldn’t spare their lives to do something.

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