After anxiously waiting for a while, Xie Ming and Yuanmai returned at night, bringing news that would make everyone even more worried. —– The Hu An guards and imperial guards encountered the Tian Shen Sect and confronted their main forces, suffering heavy losses. “Yi Chongren” was hit by a poisonous arrow and died on the road back to the capital. However, the Tian Shen Sect also didn’t gain many benefits. Sima Xian died, so the dragon lost its head. Even if Sima Xian’s son was now the heavenly envoy, he did not have enough prestige. It could be said that the court and the Tian Shen Sect were both defeated in this battle. The Hu An guards and imperial guards kept looking for the assassin who killed Sima Xian, and it was said that the empress dowager considered this matter of utmost importance. They met imperial guards in the town today. This was a remote place in the southwest. The fact that the imperial guards were able to find this place meant that they placed great importance on the assassin.
Xie Ming’s face turned pale as he said: “We heard that the assassin was likely heavily injured by the people by Sima Xian’s side.”
“His excellency was seriously injured?!” Xiaoqin’s body shook, “The assassin who killed Sima Xian is his excellency!”
Yuanmai’s face also turned a bit pale as he said: “I heard people in the teahouse talking about this.”
Yuande looked towards the crowd of people: “This must be the reason why his excellency hasn’t returned yet. His excellency was heavily injured, so he found a place to recuperate. Our place is too far away and there isn’t any good medicine, so his excellency couldn’t possibly come back here to recover. Huaiqiu hasn’t returned, so I think he must have found his excellency. No news is good news. His excellency must still be alive!” Saying this, he looked towards Yuanmai, “The imperial guards didn’t notice you?”
Yuanmai shook his head: “No. They didn’t see me. They were just questioning people around the medicine hall and inn.”
“That’s good.” Yuande thought for a bit before saying, “His excellency hasn’t returned so we mustn’t move rashly. Everyone should prepare for his excellency to return at any moment. His excellency said before that once he returns, he’ll take us all away.”
Everyone nodded their heads with heavy and worried expressions. In the room, two children that were not yet a year old slept soundly, still ignorant of the vicious world.
Two horses slowly entered “Lianshan City”. The two men riding the horses appeared unimpressive. The sun had already risen, everyone had already woken, so the streets were bustling with activity. Lianshan City was a small city in the southwest of Southern Chu. The small city was located near a mountain range, hence its name. Because of its remote location, the main forces of the Hu An guards and imperial guards didn’t go very deeply in, as at this time, the magnificent battle didn’t really impact this place. The people living in the town lived simple lives, working at sunrise and resting at sunset. However, recently, a few strange imperial guard soldiers disturbed these people’s peace. Although the people here were simple, they knew that the arrival of the Hu An guards and imperial guards meant something. Luckily, this group of people only stayed there for two days before leaving, so the common people could release a sigh of relief.
The two people first found a place to eat breakfast. They spoke the local dialect and wore the local wear, not attracting much attention from others. There were quite a few small villages in the mountain range, and the manner of speech of the two people seemed to come from there. The two calmly observed their surroundings, and after finding out that there were no suspicious people nearby, they rode their horses through and out of Lianshan city.
The small village was filled with a thick, anxious atmosphere because of news of a certain lord’s late return and heavy injuries. The first thing everyone did after waking up was take a look at the entrance of the village. However, everyone would return in disappointment.
It was already the fifth time Yuanmai came out of the courtyard to take a look. He held very complicated feelings towards that lord. However, he was the same as everyone else in that he didn’t want his excellency to meet any accidents, hoping his excellency would return sooner. Because he wasn’t tall enough, Yuanmai raised his hands to vigorously climb up the big tree by the door. This way he could see even farther. In the past, he never did such unruly things, but now, after going through some great changes, he learned how to do many things that he used to look down upon. Climbing trees, farming, fetching water, folding the bedding by himself, etc. Walking out wearing course clothes, no one would believe that he was the eldest son of Prince Yue.
After watching for so long without even seeing a person’s shadow, Yuanmai sat on the tree trunk with disappointment. At this time, two fuzzy black dots appeared on the mountain path to the village. Yuanmai was first stunned, before he jumped up from the tree trunk, almost falling off.
Heart pounding, Yuanmai rubbed his eyes, trying to open them as wide as possible. The villagers would not go out unless absolutely necessary, and if anyone wanted to go out, they’d tell everyone first. Yuanmai didn’t hear about anyone going out, so that must not be someone from the village!
“Uncle! Someone’s coming! Someone’s coming!”
Yuanmai yelled. Seeing Yuande rush out of the house, Auntie Yuan, Xiaoqin……people from every household all came out of their houses.
“Who!?” Yuanmai ran out.
“I can’t tell, there’s two people!”
Yuande tried to open his old presbyopic eyes as wide as possible. But when he saw those two people waving towards them, his eyes instantly wet, and he waved his hands excitedly, shouting: “His excellency has returned! His excellency has returned!”
“His excellency is back!”
Once everyone heard, they all rushed towards the two men. Yuanmai jumped off the tree and also rushed over. That person had returned!
Running over, everyone could see clearly. Tears of excitement formed in everyone’s eyes. The two men on the horses dismounted, and Xiaoqin squeezed through the crowd, throwing herself into the arms of someone: “Your excellency!”
The person held Xiaoqin with one arm and lightly smiled toward the excited crowd: “I’ve let you all worry. I’m back.” Saying these final words with great emotion, he seemed to be relieved from a great burden.
Yuande wiped his eyes and said: “Xiaoqin, stop hugging his excellency. It’s so cold. Quickly take his excellency inside!”
Xiaoqin’s body shook, and she immediately let go of his excellency, crying as she laughed: “Look how foolish I am. Your excellency, quickly come in, aren’t you hungry?”
“Huaiqiu and I have already eaten outside.” His excellency let go of Xiaoqin and noticed Yuanmai, who kept staring at him. Yuanmai pursed his lips, stepped forward, and bowed towards his excellency: “Thank you, your excellency for your life-saving grace.”
“Hereditary prince is polite.” His excellency helped Yuanmai up and still lightly said, “I didn’t expect that your mother and erniang would commit suicide.”
Tears welled up in Yuanmai’s eyes: “I know. Your excellency has saved my brother and I, saved my father. Yuanmai will never forget this kindness.”
“That’s not necessary. Saving you was my heart’s intent.” Not wanting to say any more, his excellency lightly smiled towards the crowd: “Let’s go. It’s cold outside.”
“Quickly go in!”
The group of people surrounded his excellency as he entered Yuande’s courtyard. Seeing the corn hanging from the wall, his excellency drew in a deep breath and was escorted into the house by the crowd.
The small village was especially lively today. His excellency had returned, so everyone’s heart was at ease. Everyone squeezed into Yuande’s house, waiting to hear his excellency’s plans.
Yuande was still the first to speak. He asked: “I heard that you were heavily injured. Where’s the wound? Is it alright?”
Everyone looked worriedly at his excellency’s sickly pale face. His excellency didn’t respond. Instead, the man sitting beside him, who had returned with him, answered: “He nearly lost his life. The imperial guards, Hu An guards, and Tian Shen sect are all looking for him. It hasn’t been easy for us, so we hid in Yunyang city. The most dangerous place is the safest place. Everyone assumed that he fled, not expecting that we were hiding right under their noses.”
“Are your wounds healed?” Xiaoqin’s eyes were red.
“Healed.” This simple word concealed all the danger and pain. However, everyone here was someone who had crawled out of hell, so how could they not hear it?
As if those wounds weren’t worth mentioning, his excellency continued on to speak about serious matters: “Yi Chongren is already dead. I am now Lin Ruhai.” This lord wasn’t any other but the Yi Chongren sought by all sides.
“Lin?!” Yuande’s expression changed as he stared at Yi Chongren in astonishment, “You’re the Lin family’s……”
The expressions of most of the people in the room changed, and Yuanmai looked towards his uncle in confusion. Lin family?
A cold light flashed in Yi Chongren’s eyes: “I am the last survivor of the Lin family.”
“Ah!” Everyone gasped. Even Huaiqiu appeared to be in disbelief. Yuande’s lips trembled and he grasped Yi Chongren, no, Lin Ruhai’s hand: “Chancellor Lin is your……”
“Ah!” Yuande’s eyes instantly filled with tears, “You’re really, really Old Lin’s grandson……Chongren, no, Ruhai, fifteen years, fifteen years ah…….you……you”
Everyone who knew about the Lin family couldn’t help but let tears fall from their eyes. Xie Ming’s father, Xie Dan, explained to the young people with eyes full of tears: “Fifteen years ago, when the former emperor was still in this world, the Lin family was implicated in a miscarriage of justice, and every member of the Lin family was beheaded.”
“The Lin He miscarriage of justice?” Huaiqiu was shocked. He remembered!
Xie Dan nodded: “The previous emperor was suspicious by nature, and the Lin family produced important ministers for three dynasties. The previous emperor ordered the Hu An guards and imperial guards, those miscreants, to slander Chancellor Lin and Prime Minister He. At that time, the two families were killed, staining the capital with blood, and snowing in June.
Yuanmai also couldn’t help but gasp.
And Yi Chongren, still indifferent, as if it had nothing to do with him, only said: “The Lin family has long been gone. Regaining my surname is just a simple name change. It’s been more than ten years. Not many people still remember the Lin family. We are going to hide in Jade City Pass.”
“Jade City Pass?!” Everyone was shocked, and Yuanmai was the most shocked.
Lin Ruhai nodded: “Jade City Pass is an important place guarded by Prince Yue. The Hu An guards and imperial guards won’t be there. There also aren’t any members of the Tian Shen Sect there, so it’s the safest place. If Prince Yue fails, we will return here.”
“My father will not be defeated!” Yuanmai’s eyes burned with the flames of hatred.
Yi Chongren looked over: “Then I’ll take your word for it. However, young master is still just Yuanmai for now. Even when we reach Jade City Pass, you must hide your name. You and your brother are all your father’s weaknesses, so we definitely can’t let anyone find out where you are.”
Yuanmai nodded: “I know. I won’t go find my father!” When he said this, Yuanmai held back his tears. After all, he was still an eleven year old child. It wasn’t easy to bear not being able to see his father.
A trace of appreciation flashed in Yi Chongren’s eyes: “After we reach Jade City Pass, I will personally teach you martial arts. If you don’t want to hold back your father, you must become stronger.”
“Yunkai will always remember your excellency’s great benevolence in his heart. I will never dare to forget.” Yuanmai, Prince Yue’s heir, Huo Yunkai, directly kneeled and gave Yi Chongren three kowtows. Yi Chongren didn’t stop him. He bent over to help Huo Yunkai up and said: “To me, I have already avenged the Lin family. Young master should just call me Uncle Lin. But I still have a small favor to ask of young master.”
“Uncle Lin, do tell.”
Yi Chongren carried a thin child out of an aunt’s arms. He took the child’s left hand and pushed up his sleeve. There was a clear scar on the child’s wrist. Huo Yunkai was no stranger to this wound and a certain guilt appeared in his eyes.
“Young master should already know. Jiabao is the child I exchanged your brother with. He suffered the pain of blood loss in place of your brother, and I’m afraid his body may be affected by it in the future. I want young master to promise me, no matter when, to protect Jiabao.”
“Jiabao is also my brother. I will treat him just as I treat Douzi.”
A trace of an immature smile befitting of his age appeared on Huo Yunkai’s precocious face: “It’s Yuandou. I call him Douzi. Jiabao is Baozi.”
“Douzi, Baozi……” A trace of a smile appeared on Yi Chongren’s sickly pale face, “Sounds like a pair of brothers.”
“Douzi and Baozi are both my younger brothers.” Huo Yunkai seriously said once again. Seeing how Huo Yunkai’s eyes resembled those of Huo Feng, Yi Chongren handed the child to an auntie and with a suddenly firm expression: “I’ll give everyone a day to prepare. We’ll be moving at the hour of zi tonight (11 pm).”
No one asked any more questions, so those who ought to leave left and those who ought to pack went to pack. Yuande didn’t move, and Yi Chongren knew that he had something to say to him. Huaiqiu took Huo Yunkai away.
“ Old brother.”
Yi Chongren visibly didn’t want to hear the other party refer to him in this way. Yuande smiled with gratitude.
“I used to alway think that you were a saboteur someone planted in the palace. I never imagined……” Taking a deep breath, he murmured: “Lately, I keep thinking that, maybe, it’s about time for us old bones to leave the mountain.”
Yi Chongren grasped Yuande’s hand: “Old brother, you must think carefully.”
Yuande patted Yi Chongren’s hand and smiled: “Old brother believes in your judgment. You chose Prince Yue to take this world, so old brother believes that he won’t be an incapable ruler. These few years, I’ve come to appreciate those words you once said to me the most. ‘Once the emperor no longer cherishes and sympathizes with the common people, letting the tigers and wolves in charge, then we should choose someone who can’. If it weren’t for you, we would have died tragic deaths long ago at the hands of Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu. Not only did we lose our clean name, but we also couldn’t earn even a sliver of guilt from his majesty. Our sincerity and our righteousness only made the common people live more difficult lives. Old brother promises you, if Prince Yue is also a hopeless incapable ruler, old brother will immediately withdraw without hesitation.”
Yi Chongren released a low laugh: “If old brother wants to go, then go. If I could get old brother out of Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu’s hands, what could others do?”
Yuande laughed loudly: “I only decided to leave the mountain because I have you.”
That night, everyone in the small village disappeared overnight, whereabouts unknown. No one paid attention to this small village hidden deep in the mountains, and no one paid attention to those few villagers that rarely left their village. In the middle of April, a large household surnamed Lin arrived at Jade City Pass and bought the largest courtyard in Jade City Pass. There were around forty to fifty people in that household. Many people were very curious about how a family would move to Jade City Pass during turbulent times, but it didn’t take long for them to understand. Southern Chu was currently in chaos, and Jade City Pass was Prince Yue’s rear defense, the safest place. Many people guessed that this Lin household came from the capital because many of them had capital accents. At the start, everyone was very curious about this Lin family, but gradually, everyone’s attention shifted to the war.
Yi Chongren went missing or died. Yi Chongren’s death stopped being a secret a long time ago, but some people couldn’t accept that the real Yi Chongren died. Empress Dowager Ru spent a few months in the palace flying into rage and then bursting into tears. But one person still believed that Yi Chongren was alive. Because Yi Chongren couldn’t die, definitely couldn’t die.
After reading the secret letter he had just received, Huo Feng’s expression turned gloomy, but he also revealed a bit of heaviness. Yi Chongren disappeared. No one knew where he was. He may have really died.
——- “You are a coward.”
——- “I’ve always looked down on you, now even more so.”
——- “Today also seems to be the fifteenth, who knows if the moon will be as round as that night.”
——- “Your highness, farewell.”
Huo Feng’s fists heavily punched the table. How could that incomparably scheming mind just die! He was definitely hiding somewhere! What that person wanted from beginning to end was never power, but to turn the world into a muddy pool of water. Even he himself could just be a chess piece in that person’s hands. Huo Feng couldn’t understand Yi Chongren at all, but according to Jidi’s investigation on Yi Chongren’s past in the capital, according to Huo Feng’s painstaking investigation and thinking, he became more and more sure of his own conjecture.
“Yi Chongren ah Yi Chongren. Don’t make me look for you……You owe me too many explanations!”
“Your highness, someone outside is requesting an audience.”
Huo Feng quickly put his thoughts away. He had just defeated Kun’s reinforcement troops the day before and now Kun’s reinforcement troops had shrunk back into the city again. He also ordered his army to rest and think of countermeasures.
“They refused to say, only saying they need to see your highness face to face.”
Huo Feng furrowed his brows. He now frowned so frequently that there were three more folds in between his eyebrows.
“Let him in.”
Burning Jidi’s secret letter, Huo Feng took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled. He already became the calm Prince Yue.
The door curtain was lifted, and about a dozen young and old people entered. Once he saw the old man who led the group, Huo Feng stood up, whole body shaking. The old man bowed towards Huo Feng and said: “Commoner Zhang Deyuan and son Zhang Huaiqiu seek shelter with your highness.”
“Commoner Xie Dan and son Xie Ming seek shelter with your highness.”
“Commoner Zong Linxiang seeks shelter with your highness.”
Not to mention Huo Feng, even the soldiers guarding outside were stunned by the words they heard from inside. Zhang Deyuan? That, that, that, isn’t that the former prime minister that died at that traitor Yi Chongren’s hands!”
Huo Feng only felt that his head was exploding as a pair of eyes appeared before him.
“Your highness, farewell.”
 The 连 in 连山城 (lian shan cheng (city)) is same 连 as in 连绵的大山 (lian mian da shan) which means uninterrupted mountains/ continuous mountain range
 No clue how to translate 二娘 so pinyin will stay for now. It’s referring to Huo Feng’s concubine
 出于本心 kind of means to believe from the bottom of your heart
 六月飞雪 refers to a major case of injustice
 大隐于市 means that a more hidden life can be found in the midst of urban prosperity
 豆子 means bean
 包子 means bun. The kids are literally called bean and bun lol