Xingtian, Huang Han, Xu Baicai and He Jia spiritedly stood up: “Where are they from!”
“They appear to be imperial guards.”
“Prepare the archers!”
He Jia picked up his spear and walked out. Ruan Xingtian, Huang Han, and Xu Baicai picked up their own weapons and also strode out. Could it be that those bastards had caught up?
The four men quickly climbed up the city gate. Archers in place, the torches on the city walls drove away the darkness, and the warning horns blew, telling the new arrivals that this was Jade City Pass, not a place where the Hu An guards and imperial guards could do whatever they wished. The four men were very anxious. Those bastards had already caught up but his highness had yet to return. Could it be that something happened to his highness?
Thinking of this, Ruan Xingtian blamed himself. He should be by his highness’s side!
At this moment, an energetic roar sounded from the distance: “Tell He Jia to open the city gates. I’m back!”
Ruan Xingtian’s heart trembled. Joy appeared across the faces of Huang Han, Xu Baicai, and He Jia as they turned to run down the city walls.
“Open the gates! Quickly open the gates! It’s his highness! His highness has returned! His highness has returned!”
The archers retracted their bows and the heavy city gates slowly creaked open. The four men immediately mounted their horses and led a few hundred soldiers to welcome them back. Fiery light beamed out of Jade City Pass, lighting up the road. The four men’s eyes widened as they stared ahead. They could already hear the clear sound of hundreds of horses galloping. The horse whips sounded, and both sides were so eager, eager to clearly see each other.
The leader dressed in the eagle robes of the imperial guards stopped first. Seeing this man’s face clearly, Ruan Xingtian, Huang Han, Xu Baicai, and He Jia were all so excited they couldn’t help but let hot tears flow from their eyes.
“Your highness! You’ve finally returned!”
“Your highness, was your journey alright?”
The four men jumped off their horses and surrounded his highness to ask. The bearded Huo Feng replied in a deep voice: “My life is not that easy to take.”
Ruan Xingtian immediately spoke: “Your highness, let’s go back to Yidong immediately and make plans for the future. You can’t be too soft-hearted this time.”
Huo Feng slightly turned his horse, looking behind him: “I want to wait for one more person. Don’t worry, this time I won’t hesitate.”
“Your highness, who are you waiting for?” Huang Han asked curiously.
The four exclaimed in surprise.
“Your highness, why are you waiting for him?”
Huo Feng didn’t reply and instead whipped his horse: “Bring something for me to eat, I’m starving to death. And boil some water, I want to have a nice bath.” Without giving his subordinates an opportunity to argue, Huo Feng directly rushed into the city.
“Ai, this, why does his highness want to wait for Yi Chongren?” Huang Han mounted his horse and followed curiously.
Xu Baicai said: “Yi Chongren humiliated his highness, so his highness must not be able to let go of this injustice. If he returns, we can kill him, preventing from hurting any more people.”
Ruan Xingtian and He Jia shared a look. Really? Just now when his highness mentioned that person, he didn’t appear to want revenge. With all kinds of doubts, the four hurriedly followed.
Lying in the bathtub, Huo Feng put a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes. In one day, his home was destroyed, his wives died, and his two children disappeared. He was almost forced to bite his tongue and commit suicide.
—- “You are a coward.”
— “……Who knew the great Prince Yue with seven hundred thousand troops in his hand could be bullied to such an extent by an accursed castrated dog. If you aren’t a coward, what are you?”
— “I’ve always looked down on you, now even more so.”
— “……but you, you can’t even compare to a castrate!”
The hand on Huo Feng’s forehead gradually clenched into a fist until the green veins bulged on the back of his hand.
“You are a coward coward coward……”
“Can’t even compare compare compare……”
An opening and closing mouth appeared before his eyes, poking into his sore spots word by word, cruelly tearing open his wounds.
Water splashed everywhere as his fist plunged into the water, and his eyes opened, blazing with hatred and determination.
Yi Chongren, you have humiliated me, so I will have you pay me back with interest! As if seeing those eyes again, those mocking, cold eyes, Huo Feng stood in the bathtub, eyes blazing like torches.
Changing into clean clothes and shaving off his long beard, the thin Huo Feng summoned his four subordinates. After meeting with much misfortune and fleeing for days, Huo Feng’s cheeks had visibly sunken. However, his eyes revealed a new level of determination. Seeing his highness like this, Huang Han, Xu Baicai, Ruan Xingtian, and He Jia strengthened their resolve in their hearts. They would follow his highness even in death.
Huo Feng looked at Ruan Xingtian, and Ruan Xingtian immediately understood. He told his highness everything he had explained to Huang Han and Xu Baicai. Huo Feng didn’t say a word from beginning to end, so calm to the point that his subordinates were a bit puzzled.
After he finished speaking, Ruan Xingtian was still uneasy: “Your highness, are your children really safe?”
Huo Feng seemed to fall deep into thought and didn’t respond, so Ruan Xingtian again said: “I heard that the youngest young master was taken away by Yi Chongren. That person is so cruel. With the youngest young master in his hands, I’m afraid…..”
Huo Feng raised his eyes as his two hands clenched and loosened on his knees: “The child is safe because he is in Yi Chongren’s hands.”
“Your highness?!” Even the calmest of the four, Ruan Xingtian, showed an expression of shock. His highness hadn’t gone insane, right!
Huo Feng didn’t explain, instead saying another phrase that left the four in shock again: “If nothing went wrong, Yunkai should have also been rescued by him in advance.”
“Rescued? Yi Chongren? The Lord Qianhu of the Hu An guards, Yi Chongren? Your highness, you, are you……” Huang Han really wanted to ask if his highness had really gone mad.
Huang Han clenched his jaw tightly, took something out of his lapel, and presented it before the four men.
Huo Feng dully said: “This is the jade pendant that Yunkai always carried. Yi Chongren gave it to me.”
Huo Feng stared at the jade pendant and said: “At the moon viewing platform, Yi Chongren put it into my hand when he was addressing our private grievances. He blocked my mouth to feed me a ‘Tianxin pill’.”
Ruan Xingtian suddenly thought of something and immediately asked: “Your highness, were the ropes on your body also cut by Yi Chongren?” He had almost forgotten this point. Back when he went to rescue his highness, before he even acted, his highness had already escaped from his ropes. It was too chaotic at that time, so he didn’t think about this much. Thinking about it now, his highness’s martial arts should not have been strong enough to easily break free from the ropes used by the Hu An guards to restrain prisoners.
Huo Feng replied with doubt: “I don’t understand. He already knew people would come save me so why did he feed me the ‘Tianxin pill’. Why did he secretly cut the ropes?”
Ruan Xingtian pondered and said with uncertainty: “Maybe he thought we wouldn’t reach the capital so fast. Or maybe he had other plans. If he is the Yi Chongren we know, if he’s decided what he wants to do, he’d definitely make a fool-proof plan.”
At this time, Xu Baicai said: “No wonder I didn’t faint even after being whipped.”
“How could it be him?” Huang Han’s face distorted, obviously finding it hard to believe.
“I also didn’t imagine……” Huo Feng put away the jade pendant, “it would be him.”
A strange silence filled the room. Ruan Xingtian quickly put his thoughts together and asked: “Your highness, is he the person you’re waiting for?”
Huo Feng nodded and said unclearly: “He rescued me from the capital. I can’t put him in a tight spot. As for why he did this, I will ask him myself in the future.”
He Jia opened his mouth: “Your highness, did Yi Chongren mention when he’d bring the young masters back?”
The scene of Yi Chongren’s subordinate, Yaba “snatching” his youngest son from the arms of Yu’er flashed before Huo Feng’s eyes. He closed his eyes and said: “War is about to start. The children will be safer with him. I don’t think he’ll bring the children over.”
“……” The four men looked at each other, still unable to accept that Yi Chongren wasn’t an enemy but his highness’s savior.
Huo Feng suddenly said sternly: “You must not tell anyone about this! Whoever leaks a word will be punished according to military policy!”
The four were startled and said in unison: “We will not say a word!”
Afterwards, Huo Feng didn’t mention Yi Chongren again and began discussing important matters. He had a hunch that Yi Chongren would definitely come to Jade City Pass, and he had a strong desire to meet him. As for the reason why he couldn’t put Yi Chongren in a tight spot, that was just an excuse. Huo Feng’s mind was clear but also full of doubts. Since they had last met at the moon viewing platform, his mind couldn’t stop thinking about that name, that face. Thinking carefully, he never seemed to have seen Yi Chongren’s true face under all those layers of makeup. The rumors said Yi Chongren appeared very handsome, but he had only ever seen that disgusting demonic makeup. Huo Feng’s heart was conflicted, so conflicted that before returning to Yidong, he must see Yi Chongren’s face unveiled.
After covertly discussing important matters with his subordinates, Huo Feng let He Jia and Ruan Xingtian return to Yidong first. Those seven hundred thousand soldiers were the key to his success, so they couldn’t have any difficulties. At dawn, He Jia and Ruan Xingtian, who hadn’t slept all night, brought a few hundred soldiers back to Yidong. Fifty thousand elite soldiers remained stationed at Jade City Pass for now. Huang Han and Xu Baicai accompanied his highness as he waited. The two still found it too difficult to accept the sudden change in Yi Chongren’s identity.
After He Jia and Ruan Xingtian left, Huo Feng returned to his own barracks to rest for a while. He was very tired, but he couldn’t fall asleep. As soon as he closed his eyes, he would see those scenes of chaos. The capital, the palace, the prince mansion, the moon viewing platform, the suicide of his consorts, that cold and mocking face. Huo Feng had never been so affected by a single person, but now he was so affected, affected by that Yi Chongren who he could never see through. If Yi Chongren was good, why would so many people die at his hands over the years; if he was evil, why would he save him and his children?
Could it be that he knew he would rebel, so he wanted to defect to a new master? Immediately afterwards, Huo Feng shook his head in his heart. Even if he knew he would rebel, how could Yi Chongren know that he would succeed? Yi Chongren could be said to be at the height of his power. Once Zhang Zhong died, he would be the most powerful eunuch in the court, especially with his identity as the crown prince’s savior and Noble Consort Ru’s favor. Why would he need to take this risk?
On one side were the loyal officials that died at Yi Chongren’s hands; on one side were his own children that were saved by Yi Chongren. Huo Feng couldn’t wait to ask him face to face why he did this, what was his true intent. But Huo Feng also clearly knew that Yi Chongren would not tell him. He had a feeling that their meeting at Jade City Pass would be their final meeting. That person saved him but looked down on him.
Two fires appeared in Huo Feng’s eyes. Yi Chongren!
Huo Feng’s guess was correct. He had just lay on his bed to rest for an hour when Huang Han hurriedly (excitedly) came to report– Yi Chongren arrived with the Hu An guards. Huo Feng awakened almost immediately. Having not taken off his shoes yet, he left his bed, picked up his broadsword, and headed out.
As soon as he arrived atop the city walls, he could see Yi Chongren with that demonic makeup, wearing the court uniform of the eunuch in charge of the Hu An guards. That man still had that cold expression with a slight sneer on the corner of his lips. Seeing Huo Feng appear, he drew his flexible sword from his waist. Half the length of a horse behind him was the man who always followed Yi Chongren, Yaba, whose disfigured face made it impossible to make out his original appearance. Huo Feng couldn’t help but glance at Yaba a few times. He was indeed a bit taller than Yi Chongren.
Yi Chongren spoke first with a voice revealing traces of exhaustion from chasing for days on end. With one hand holding his broadsword and one hand dropped at his side, Huo Feng looked at Yi Chongren blankly and also spoke: “Yi Chongren, you came a step too late. There are fifty thousand of my elite troops in Jade City Pass. How are you going to capture me?”
Giving his broadsword to Xu Baicai, Huo Feng stepped forward and took a bow and arrow from a half-kneeling archer on the wall. With a precise action, Huo Feng let the arrow fly.
There was a commotion among the Hu An guards as the men frightenedly tried to avoid the arrow whose path could not be determined. However, Yi Chongren didn’t move, looking towards Huo Feng as calm as an old monk.
The arrow whizzed past his ear and a shrill screech sounded behind him. A man fell from a horse with an arrow passing through his heart. The Hu An guards became more chaotic, and no longer caring about Yi Chongren’s orders, they turned their horses to retreat.
The city gates of Jade City Pass opened from the inside and a Hu An guard shouted: “Lord Qianhu! Let’s retreat!”
Yi Chongren raised his hand, and the man who had just spoken was whipped off his horse. The whip wrapped around the man’s neck, and with a forceful action from Yaba, the man’s body was thrown into the air. When he hit the ground, the man was already dead from a broken neck. Yaba took back his whip, and no one else dared to mention the word “retreat”.
“This is what happens to those who try to shake the army’s confidence!”
Coldly glancing at that dead subordinate, Yi Chongren once again looked towards the armored man standing atop the city walls – the great general of Southern Chu, Prince Yue, Huo Feng.
Behind the gates of Jade City Pass was the Huo family army, surrounded with killing intent, led by Xu Baicai. Huo Feng once again drew his bow and took aim. This time, his arrow flew unhindered. Once again, it whizzed past Yi Chongren’s ear, and another Hu An guard died under Huo Feng’s arrow with the arrow passing straight through the heart.
Xu Baicai’s Xiaotian halberd aimed towards Yi Chongren. With his shout, ten thousand elite Huo family soldiers followed him to rush towards their enemies. Prince Yue’s two arrows had already cast the Hu An guards into panic. At this time, facing this group of soldiers surrounded with killing intent, they were so frightened that they wet their pants. Normally holding these positions for prestige and fortune, they had never imagined that they’d face such fierce enemies. No longer caring about shaking the army’s morale, a Hu An guard turned his horse and fled. Yi Chongren didn’t stop him. He was still coldly looking at the man on the city walls.
More and more Hu An guards began to flee, and the Hu family soldiers that rushed over passed Yi Chongren to chase after the fleeing Hu An guards. Those who didn’t have time to escape were surrounded and hacked to death.
At this time, the man standing atop the city walls moved. With his Zhenyan blade in his hand, Huo Feng directly jumped off the city walls that were tens of feet tall. A white horse galloped out of the city. Huo Feng mounted the horse and rushed towards Yi Chongren. Only then did Yi Chongren take action. He sped his horse through the Huo family army encirclement and headed towards Huo Feng. Yaba tried to follow Yi Chongren but was blocked off by Xu Baicai.
Outside of the encirclement, Huo Feng’s blade collided with Yi Chongren’s sword. The horses were agitated by the seriousness of the surrounding atmosphere. Yi Chongren directly dismounted, and Huo Feng also dismounted. Broadsword vs flexible sword, Prince Yue vs the eunuch controlling the Hu An guards. In the past, the two had a confrontation and Huo Feng lost tragically. The outcome of this second confrontation was difficult to determine.