A small village sat atop a remote mountain. A family woke before dawn to prepare for the day’s tasks. Spreading the wheat harvested from the day before in the courtyard, an elderly man opened the courtyard door and walked out, breathing in the clean mountain air. He picked up the hoe by the door, preparing to take a look at the fields.
The village was very small with only a dozen households scattered around. Smoke rose from each house, signifying that they had all woken up. The old man had only walked a few steps before hearing the gallop of horseshoes. He immediately put down his hoe, looking toward the entrance of the village. As the sound of horseshoes drew closer and closer, the villagers came out of their courtyards one after another. Gradually, everyone was able to clearly see who had come. Some people waved for family members still in their houses to quickly come out, and others immediately ran over.
There were two people on the horse. One appeared to be around twenty years of age with a handsome face, but carried the tired demeanor of someone who toiled for days on end. Sitting in the man’s lap was a young boy, and in the arms of the young boy was a basket. The boy appeared a bit frightened.
After someone shouted this, everyone gathered around. The newcomer tightened the reins on his horse and came to a halt before the old man.
The man got off the horse. He transferred the basket in the arms of the boy over to his father, and then carried the child off the horse.
The old man lifted the cloth on the basket and saw a baby inside. The old man immediately said, “Come in come in.” The others did not ask the man about the two children, surrounding him to enter the old man’s courtyard together. A woman walked out of the house, and the newly arrived man called, “Mother.”
The woman was at first overjoyed by her son’s return, but upon seeing the strange children, she pulled the curtain aside, saying, “Quickly come in. Mother will go make you some food to eat.”
“Mother, is there any milk or rice soup? The child in the basket just turned a month old.”
The man took the basket from his father’s hands to give his mother a look. The woman hurriedly took out the sleeping child. “Leave it to me.” Afterwards, the woman carried the child away, and everyone entered the house.
The door closed and someone stayed outside to guard. The man brought the ten year old boy before him and whispered to everyone, “This is the eldest son of Prince Yue, and that child is Prince Yue’s newborn youngest son. Zhang Zhong acted against Prince Yue. The two prince consorts are no more.”
“Ah!” they exclaimed.
The boy bit his lip as tears welled up in his eyes.
“Prince Yue has already escaped the capital. I followed the lord’s order to bring the children back here.” Then, the man said to the child, “Young master, from today onwards, this is your home. My father and mother are your uncle and aunt. Your name is Yuanmai, mai as in wheat; your little brother’s name is Yuandou, dou as in bean. I am your cousin, named Yuanqiu. Remember this.”
Young master Huo Yunkai nodded and wiped away his tears. “I am Yuanmai, my little brother is Yuandou, and big brother is Yuanqiu. This is my home.”
The man pushed the boy before his father and said, “I must go.”
Immediately after hearing this, the old man asked, “What about our lord?”
“Our lord is escorting Prince Yue back to Yidong. Father, war is upon us. You should warn everyone to prepare. Our lord said we might need to find a new place to live. Tell mother that our lord fed the child some medicine, so he should wake up in a while.”
“Tell him not to worry. I will arrange it accordingly.”
“Then I’m leaving.”
Without time to even eat a warm meal, the man bid farewell to his family and hurried out the door to mount his horse and leave. The crowd of people stood by the door and watched the man’s figure fade into the distance. Everyone’s eyes carried deep hatred. The old man returned home with the young master. At his side, the young master cried, asking, “Uncle, will my father be ok?”
The old man said in a deep voice, “With our lord protecting him, he will reach Yidong safely.” In his heart, the old man hoped that Prince Yue would make up his mind to protect the common people from water and fire, and return peace to the land.
Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu respectively issued instructions to the Hu An guards and imperial guards across the land, ordering them to chase and intercept Prince Yue. Along the way, reports regarding Prince Yue appeared one after another. The Hu An guards and imperial guards followed the news, but couldn’t even see Prince Yue’s shadow. All across Southern Chu, one could see soldiers wearing the uniforms of the Hu An guards or imperial guards, as well as officers and soldiers from all over the country on the chase. For a while, all the conflicting reports threw the search into chaos.
Yi Chongren was also affected by this fake news at first. After a while, he met with Yaba who had traveled ahead to scout their path. He ordered his men to directly march towards Jade City Pass and let other people continue to chase after Prince Yue. No matter where Prince Yue fled, his final destination would always be Yidong, so Jade City Pass was a road he had to travel.
After chasing for a few days, the subordinates were all extremely tired, so Yi Chongren handed these subordinates to an officer and asked them to find a place to rest. He and Yaba continued chasing. After resting for long enough, the officer brought the brigade to catch up to them. Everyone knew Yi Chongren had strong martial arts and was full of energy, and they admired Yi Chongren for his sincerity to Lord Dugong.
Yi Chongren and Yaba hurried to Jade City Pass. Elsewhere, Huo Feng headed towards Jade City Pass through the mountain forest path, only taking a few shortcuts. After letting the horses rest for a bit, Huo Feng continued on his journey. With enemies in front and behind, he could not delay for a moment. After rushing the horses for ten days nonstop, Huo Feng was on a small road three miles away from Xiangfan City when he bumped into the Hu An guards and imperial guards who were chasing him. Huo Feng’s party was dressed in military uniform so the other party did not question them, only asking, “Which government office are you from?”
Huo Feng calmly replied, “We are from Suiyang county, following orders to chase criminals.”
“Suiyang county?” The other party immediately said, “Jiujiang county found dregs that escaped Prince Yue manor, so our superiors ordered us to block off this area. Don’t bother heading towards Jade City Pass, come with us.”
The Hu An guards and imperial guards had the power to deploy forces from every city and county. Seeing this group’s messy and chaotic appearance, wondering how they possibly expected to catch up to Prince Yue in that state, the leader of the party decided to simply take them to capture the rebels together.
Isn’t Xingtian’s group headed towards Jiujiang? Huo Feng calmly asked, “Have the troops in Jiujiang been captured?”
The opposite party said impatiently, “If they were already captured, would we still need to give chase? Don’t be too wordy, bring your troops to follow.”
Huo Feng signaled to his soldiers to make way. Once the Hu An guards and imperial guards all passed, he suddenly pulled out a broadsword from his horse, covered the head of the man in front of him, and cut him down.
A pained scream sounded and the horses whinnied.
“It’s the rebels! They are the rebels!” someone screamed.
All hell broke loose.
Huo Feng vented all the pent up sorrows in his heart from losing his wives and children on these people. Their strengths were matched evenly , but because Huo Feng’s group had made a surprise attack, the opponent was caught off guard. In the midst of the messy fighting, some men turned their horses in the hopes of reporting the events to their superiors. Huo Feng, taking notice, cut down the enemy before him and hurried his horse to chase after them.
A cold arrow flew from the forest at the roadside. Huo Feng instinctively got down, and the arrow flew over his head, directly piercing the heart of the man trying to report them. The man released a pained scream and toppled down from his horse. Huo Feng tightened the reins of his horse and halted, vigilantly observing the area where the arrow had come from. He didn’t forget that he had also seen these mysterious arrows the night he had escaped.
Another set of arrows flew out of the forest, and multiple Hu An guards crumpled to the ground, screaming before being hacked to death by the Huo family army. Someone from the Hu An guards yelled, “It’s an ambush! Withdraw! Quickly withdraw!”
Those Hu An guards immediately looked for a place to break through the encirclement. So long as they could escape and call upon reinforcements, these rebels would be caught even if they fled to the ends of the earth.
They definitely could not allow a single Hu An guard to escape alive! Huo Feng rushed towards a fleeing enemy. Sword qi broke through the air and two black-clothed men leaped out of the forest. In the blink of an eye, hidden weapons appeared in their hands, and the remaining Hu An guards and imperial guards lost their heads. The black-clothed men were allies. Huo Feng breathed a sigh of relief in his heart as the broadsword in his hand continued to swing mercilessly.
These two people had strong martial arts. With their help, the pressure on Huo Feng’s side was lessened drastically. Two hours later, the ground was littered with the bodies of enemies, leaving no survivors. Huo Feng got off his horse, panting. After traveling on the road for so many days, eating in the wind and sleeping in the dew, having just experienced a fight, he was exhausted.
The two black-clothed men not only wore masks, but also black veils and hats. Even when Huo Feng walked towards them, they did not take off their veils, obviously not intending to reveal their faces. The taller black-clothed man stood behind the other. It was obvious that the shorter, thinner black-clothed man was the one in charge.
“Thank you two strong men for your help.” Huo Feng clasped his fists in gratitude, both eyes staring at the shorter man, wanting to gaze through that black veil and see those shrouded eyes.
The other party did not return the gesture and did not speak a word. The taller man behind him opened his mouth to say, “These bodies cannot remain here. Take off their clothes and burn all the bodies.” After speaking, he reached into his mask and whistled. Then came the sound of horses galloping from the forest. Two handsome black steeds ran out and stopped beside the two men in black. The shorter black clothed man took a package from his horse’s back and directly threw it at Huo Feng. Huo Feng caught it with one hand, then opened it to take a look. Inside was an eagle robe and the waist token of the imperial guards.
Huo Feng immediately took off his dirty, torn clothes and changed into the set of clean clothes. The other party threw over a water pouch, obviously to let him freshen up. Huo Feng let his soldiers put on the clothes stripped from their dead enemies, regardless of whether they had blood stains or not. He held the water pouch and walked to the side, wiping his face with the dirty clothes he had just changed out of, and tidied up his messy bun.
“Go straight into the city through Jade City Pass. If someone stops you along the way, just show them your badge.” It was still the taller black-clothed man speaking. Huo Feng once again clasped his fists in gratitude, eyes still boring into the shorter man.
“May I have your names? If I can succeed in my revenge one day, I will be sure to express my gratitude.”
“No need for thanks. Your highness need only continue on without hesitating.”
The taller man mounted his horse. The shorter man also mounted his horse. The two left.
“Wait!” Huo Feng grabbed the shorter man’s horse reins with a degree of impatience in his eyes. “Is it you!” He spoke ambiguously, but he believed the other party understood his meaning.
The man reached out to grasp Huo Feng’s hand, and Huo Feng’s body suddenly shook. Pulling Huo Feng’s hand off of the horse reins, the man’s finger lightly tapped Huo Feng’s shoulder as if patting off some dust. Huo Feng’s eyes widened in shock, and he retreated a step.
“Your highness, farewell.”
It was the taller man who had spoken. The shorter man waved his horse whip. The horses neighed, and the two men’s figures quickly faded into the distance. Tightly clenching his fists, those words “your highness……farewell……” began ringing in Huo Feng’s ears. He had already heard this phrase three times in such a short period of time.
Farewell…… farewell…… I’ve already reached this point. If I still can’t win, if I can’t go on, isn’t it more likely that you’ll curse me for being a “foolish coward”?
Huo Feng mounted his horse. “Burn the bodies, let’s go!” Not long after, flames rose, and Huo Feng brought his subordinates out of the mountain into Xiangfan city. No one could stop Prince Yue from reaching Yidong.
At Jade City Pass, He Jia personally led fifty thousand elite soldiers over from the Huo family army camp in Yidong. The city guards were Huo Feng’s subordinates, and they had already received the urgent letter from the capital, so he was well aware that something had happened to Prince Yue. Jade City Pass was sufficiently guarded. He Jia decided that if harm really did come to his highness, he would order the Huo family army to kill their way out of Jade city Pass and take the capital as revenge.
Standing on the tall walls of Jade City Pass, He Jia looked anxiously to the horizon. There seemed to be dust rising in the distance, so He Jia immediately shouted to the men below him, “Go see if people have arrived!”
Two messengers quickly mounted their horses to investigate the situation. He Jia clenched his fists tightly, praying in his heart that it must be his highness, it must be his highness! After anxiously waiting the length of time it took to burn a stick of incense, a messenger finally returned and shouted, “Reporting to the general! General Huang, General Xu and General Ruan have returned!”
“What about his highness!” He Jia’s heart skipped twice.
“His highness has not returned. General Ruan asked us to continue waiting for his highness. His highness will arrive tomorrow at the latest.”
He Jia broke out into a cold sweat. Already seeing troops approaching, He Jia quickly came down from the city walls and rode out of the city to meet his brothers who had managed to escape death.
Jade City Pass was right before their eyes. Seeing He Jia, Huang Han, Xu Baicai, and Ruan Xingtian sped up their horses. Once they met, the three immediately jumped off their horses. He Jia also jumped off his horse and hugged the three of them. Ruan Xingtian pressed down his excitement saying, “Return to the city. If his highness doesn’t return by tomorrow, we will directly rush into the Pass.”
He Jia said, “I’m all ready. You must be tired, hurry back to rest.”
“First give me a whole roast lamb! Fuck, I’m starved,” Huang Han yelled, wiping his face.
Many of the returning soldiers had injuries, so He Jia let Ruan Xingtian, Huang Han, and Xu Baicai eat and rest first, and to allow him to deal with the aftermath. After ordering someone to investigate news on his highness, He Jia returned to the camp, only to see Ruan Xingtian, Huang Han, and Xu Baicai waiting for him. He Jia walked over and said, “It just so happens that I also have something to ask you all. If you aren’t tired, let’s speak now.”
Huang Han was most anxious and asked first, “Did that mysterious person send you another letter?”
Ruan Xingtian shook his head. “I already told those two. His highness didn’t have time to discuss with us.”
He Jia thoughtfully said, “After Xingtian left, the mysterious person stopped sending letters, which is why I was worried about whether you could escape smoothly.”
“Who the hell is this mysterious person?” Xu Baicai mused himself. Ruan Xingtian and He Jia shook their heads. They also wanted to know.
It turned out that after Huo Feng took Huang Han and Xu Baicai to leave Yidong to return to the capital, Ruan Xingtian and He Jia received a secret letter. The secret letter wrote that Huo Feng would face an ill fate upon returning to the capital. It was very likely that Zhang Zhong would take action against him, so they had to make preparations quickly. Ruan Xingtian and He Jia didn’t know if the secret letter could be trusted, but just in case, Ruan Xingtian immediately led men towards the capital city. He felt it would be best if they could catch up to his highness, but if they couldn’t, they would act based on the situation. They had to bring his highness back safely at all costs.
Not long after Ruan Xingtian led his men out of Jade City Pass disguised as a caravan, he and his men received a few carts’ worth of boxes. The boxes were all filled with imperial guard uniforms and an accompanied waist token. Ruan Xingtian had half of his men change into the imperial guard uniforms and the other change into ordinary army uniforms to rush into the capital city using two routes.
Before they reached the capital city, Ruan Xingtian received news that his highness had been caught, his two wives had committed suicide, his eldest son had disappeared, and his youngest son had fallen in the hands of Yi Chongren. Ruan Xingtian nearly crushed his silver teeth. But shortly afterwards, he received a secret letter from the mysterious person telling him to go to the Moon Viewing Platform to save people three ke past the hour of zi (11:45 pm). The letter also instructed him on how to respond and told him how to leave the city after saving the men as someone would find a way to open the city gates for them.
Everything had happened in accordance with the letter. Ruan Xingtian’s group, disguised as the imperial guards, was able to enter the Moon Viewing Platform under the guise of replenishing guards. As soon as he saw his highness tied up there, he knew what to do. Leaving the city went even smoother than expected. Ruan Xingtian became more and more curious about the mysterious person who sent him the letter. Who on earth was secretly helping them? To be able to make these kinds of plans, to be able to control the Hu An guards and imperial guards to such an extent—this person’s identity couldn’t have been ordinary. Who could it be?
Unable to come up with an answer, the four men stopped thinking. Although they were tired from the journey, Ruan Xingtian, Huang Han, and Xu Baicai didn’t want to rest because his highness hadn’t returned yet. The four men simply stayed in He Jia’s barracks to discuss major issues. His highness was loyal to the country, yet now his home was broken. In this way, the government had given them no choice but to rebel. The four men all believed that their prince would hesitate no more.
 He’s referring to his father as 父王 (fuwang)which is a respectful way of calling your father when he is a 王 (a prince). Kids are going to refer to their dads in a lot of different ways depending on their status so I’ll try to translate the addresses accordingly.