After receiving a secret letter personally written by his highness, the always calm Ruan Xingtian was in shock. Zhang Deyuan, Xie Dan, Zong Linxiang, and the other powerful officials killed by those miscreants were still alive! Ruan Xingtian’s throat felt dry, and he unsteadily poured himself a cup of water, downing it in a gulp.
Heart pounding, the first thought that appeared in Ruan Xingtian’s mind after this shock was—- now his highness was like a tiger with wings! Not to mention their individual abilities, just their reputations were enough to unite the hearts of the common people of Southern Chu. What his highness lacked the most wasn’t soldiers, but capable advisors and the hearts of the people! Now, those two big problems were resolved with these arrivals. Ruan Xingtian carefully read the secret letter once again and couldn’t help but laugh heartily. The will of heaven! This was the will of heaven!
Then, Ruan Xingtian’s slightly furrowed and emotions surged in his heart. Yi Chongren really was…he didn’t know how to describe. These officials that they all thought had long been killed by those miscreants were all secretly saved by Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren’s hands were still stained with the blood of innocents, but he exchanged the blood of these innocents for the lives of these important officials. It wasn’t easy to describe Yi Chongren as just good or evil. Ruan Xingtian released a breath. From this perspective, Yi Chongren had been planning to save his highness since long ago. Thinking of the frigid irony and scorching satire Yi Chongren had used against his highness from beginning to end and his incomparable ability to hold a grudge, he didn’t reveal any hints of his rescues. He had to consider himself inferior to such schemes.
Although his highness’s letter wasn’t very straightforward, Ruan Xingtian could tell that Yi Chongren was still alive. Thinking of how the eldest and youngest young masters were both in Yi Chongren’s hands, the worry in Ruan Xingtian’s heart was relieved. Ruan Xingtian couldn’t help but feel fortunate, fortunate that Yi Chongren was a “good person”, fortunate that Yi Chongren chose his highness. The emperor, Zhang Zhong, Sun Jiyu, and Sima Xian were all dealt with by Yi Chongren. If they still couldn’t help his highness win the world with this, then they wouldn’t be able to raise their heads in front of that person in the future. At this time, Ruan Xingtian’s attitude towards Yi Chongren completely changed. Yi Chongren was worth respecting.
Not only Ruan Xingtian received a secret letter from Huo Feng. Xu Baicai and He Jia, Huo Feng’s two most trusted subordinates, also received secret letters from him. The two had the same reaction as Ruan Xingtian. That hateful traitor was actually……the two, like Ruan Xingtian, couldn’t find a suitable way to describe him. Huang Han was always by Huo Feng’s side on the battlefield, so naturally, he was the first person to receive the news. After a few days, Huang Han was still stuck in the midst of “incapable of believing” and “unable to believe”. If it wasn’t still wartime, he would definitely be muddleheaded.
Compared to the shocked and mindblown state of his four subordinates, Huo Feng was a bit more unexplainably angry and frustrated. As a general, this may have been a reasonable reaction. But as a prince, as a prince who wanted to win the world, his wisdom, schemes, courage, foresight, etc. were far from enough. If Yi Chongren weren’t……Huo Feng couldn’t say those unpleasant words now, in other words, after Yi Chongren fed him the “Tian Xin Pill”, he couldn’t say those insulting words. If Yi Chongren wasn’t physically disabled, he would definitely have the strength to compete for this world.
But at the same time, Huo Feng felt a bit relieved. Yi Chongren was alive. However, so many people had come to find him, so Huo Feng followed Zhang Deyuan’s advice and suppressed this news, also hiding the identities of Zhang Deyuan and the others. They still used their fake names. Zhang Deyuan and Xie Dan stayed by Huo Feng’s side. Zhang Huaiqiu, Xie Ming, and the others became subordinates under He Jia, Xu Baicai, and Ruan Xingtian. The troops in Huo Feng’s hands were split in three groups, but to win the world, seven hundred thousand soldiers were far from enough, not to mention that Huo Feng’s troops suffered some losses after several battles. At present, on one hand, they had to continue attacking cities, but on the other hand, they had to steadily fight to absorb power and personnel to strengthen their own forces. With the additions of Zhang Deyuan and the others, Huo Feng and his subordinates became more confident towards the future. Everyone knew that if they still didn’t achieve the final victory with such great circumstances, then they would truly be a bunch of fools.
Like a tiger with wings, Prince Yue’s army became even more powerful. The three hundred thousand soldiers sent as reinforcement from Kun were slaughtered by the approximately one hundred thousand of Prince Yue’s subordinates, and the remaining forces were forced to retreat. The ruler of Southern Chu had changed, and now all power was in the hands of Empress Dowager Ru. As for the agreement with Kun signed by the previous emperor, Empress dowager Ru had no intention to fulfill it. Not long after the troops from Kun withdrew from Southern Chu, Kun’s major military forces appeared at the border. Compared to the four cities agreed upon previously, they now wanted to take even more cities. Taking advantage of the chaos in Southern Chu, Kun also intended to take part.
Huo Feng reacted quickly, and he immediately issued an order in the name of Prince Yue. He ordered the common people and heroes to resist against Kun together and hoped to join forces with the Tian Shen Sect. The Tian Shen Sect suffered many losses from the battles with the imperial guards and Hu An guards and was later pursued and killed by the two groups of guards. Their situation could be considered terrible. Prince Yue was willing to join forces with them to face the shared enemy, so naturally, they were willing. Empress Dowager Ru also wasn’t someone easy to deal with. She also immediately issued an imperial edict in the name of the emperor. Southern Chu would mobilize all forces to fight against Kun. Although the common people were very dissatisfied with the court, at times like these, everyone was united, and the atmosphere of war spread further.
Regardless of how everyone was fighting outside, a large household in Jade City Pass lived their day to day lives in a low-key and peaceful manner. In the blink of an eye, summer had arrived once again. Two years had passed. To many, their lives all changed drastically. Yi Chongren, who had regained his original name, laid under the grape trellis for a nap with two chubby children beside him, appearing comfortable.
Huo Yunkai stood outside the grape trellis. Although the sun overhead wasn’t scorching, the heat was unbearable. He pursed his lips tightly as beads of sweat dripped from his forehead onto his arched knee. Huo Yunkai was in horse stance. His posture was standard and his gaze was firm, without a hint of dissatisfaction. After quite a while, his legs began to tremble. Yi Chongren opened his eyes, glanced at the position of the sun, and he said: “It’s time.”
Huo Yunkai exhaled and sat down on the ground, gasping for breath without any more energy.
Yi Chongren glanced at the two children who showed no signs of waking and slowly got off the bed. Under the grape trellis was a basin of water with melting ice inside. Yi Chongren wrung a cooled towel and threw it to Huo Yunkai. Huo Yunkai raised a hand with difficulty to catch it and wiped his face indiscriminately.
“Yifu , when can I become as strong as you?” Huo Yunkai asked with a sense of closeness.
Yi Chongren took the cloth towel out of his hand, pulled him up, and struck him: “You can’t even walk and you want to run.”
“I want to become stronger faster.” Huo Yunkai’s expression was unusually firm as he said this.
Yi Chongren wasn’t moved and said: “Your talent for martial arts isn’t bad, but even if you’re a genius, there’s only one way to become strong, and that’s hard work.”
“I’m not afraid of hardship.” Huo Yunkai’s eyes shined. After two years, he had already changed wholly.
Yi Chongren believed this. Huo Yunkai’s firmness and endurance exceeded his expectations. However, what surprised him most was that Huo Yunkai was determined to recognize him as his yifu. Unable to dissuade him, Yi Chongren didn’t act pretentious and accepted.
After resting for an hour, Huo Yunkai stood up, picked up his sword, and started practicing. Ever since they settled down there, Huo Yunkai had seriously studied martial arts under Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren was free of chores and relaxed physically and mentally. Huo Yunkai was indeed a good sapling, so he did not hesitate to teach everything he knew to Huo Yunkai. He had to say, Huo Yunkai was made for this. Huo Feng used the long saber and his Yanzhen blade was a precious sword. However, Huo Yunkai wasn’t interested in his father’s swordsmanship. His mind was now filled with his yifu’s swordsmanship.
After he finished practicing the horse stance, Huo Yunkai began his sword practice. Yi Chongren watched from the side, giving pointers from time to time. Yi Chongren not only taught Huo Yunkai swordsmanship, he also taught him to read. Huo Yunkai practiced martial arts during the day, and after dinner, he would follow Yi Chongren to study the art of war, military history, Confucianism, legal studies, and even the art of the emperor. Yi Chongren was like a huge library. No matter whether Huo Yunkai liked it or not, he passed all his knowledge onto Huo Yunkai. Huo Yunkai studied seriously and assiduously, and his respect and admiration for Yi Chongren grew day by day. He often thought that the heavens were unfair. His yifu was so amazing, yet why was…….his body disabled. Every time he remembered when he was ignorant and cursed his yifu, Huo Yunkai would feel incredibly guilty and study his martial arts and books even more diligently.
No longer wearing any makeup, Yi Chongren’s face appeared more human. After living peacefully for over a year, his face also appeared more rosy. However, maybe because of years of hiding under heavy makeup, Yi Chongren’s face was very pale, even paler than most maidens. He was already very handsome, as even when he was covered in heavy makeup, he had aroused the interest of the Jiazheng emperor. Now, without the concealment of makeup, Yi Chongren was like a pearl from an opened clam shell, and even the aunties in the household would lose their concentration when they saw him. Yi Chongren’s body was disabled, so his figure and appearance were visibly a bit feminine and his voice was a bit softer than ordinary men. In the past, he was Lord Qianhu of the Hu An guards, and coldness was his camouflage. Now, without makeup, his coldness naturally receded quite a bit, and his voice became as refreshing as flowing water. Huo Yunkai was often distracted by his yifu’s appearance, but he would immediately be awakened by his yifu’s cold gaze. Even without makeup, yifu was still yifu, so Huo Yunkai never dared to underestimate his yifu’s ferocity.
After learning martial arts for a day, at dinnertime, Huo Yunkai ate as if he had been starved for three days. His entire body was quickly buried among a pile of bowls, lacking all the mannerisms expected from the heir of Prince Yue. All the remaining women and children gathered around one table. The men had all left to deal with important matters, so this courtyard was just these women and children’s beloved home. Yi Chongren did not hire any servants as all their identities were still sensitive and it was best not to let side issues arise amidst the chaos. Xiaoqin was now the stewardess of this “big family”, and Yi Chongren was naturally the head of the household.
Yuandou and Jiabao had already turned two and could start calling people long ago. Yuandou was different from his elder brother as he called Yi Chongren daddy. Yi Chongren tried to change this habit of his, but once Yuandou heard Jiabao call him daddy, he would immediately follow. Now that he was more intelligent, if he didn’t let him call daddy, he would cry, so Yi Chongren could only let him. However, Yi Chongren was still quite pleased with being called daddy by the cute Douzi. Yi Chongren recognized Jiabao as his son, but Yi Chongren treated Yuandou and Jiabao equally, so both children became extremely attached to Yi Chongren. They both didn’t have mothers, so their daddy wasn’t just their daddy, but also their mother.
Yuandou’s family changed drastically after he turned a month old, his mother died from suicide; Not to mention Jiabao, the scar on his left wrist had yet to completely fade. Yi Chongren feared that in the future, Jiabou would be left with some problems, so he would give Jiabao all the supplements he could get his hands on. Although Jiabao and Yuandou were the same age, he was a bit chubbier than Yuandou, but in Yi Chongren’s eyes, that was just distension, so he still needed supplements.
Compared with how strict he was to Huo Yunkai, Yi Chongren spoiled Douzi and Baozi very much. He held a big bowl, fed Douzi a spoonful, and then fed Baozi a spoonful. The two children ate and played hand in hand at the same time. Huo Yunkai was very envious whenever he saw this. He didn’t have a friend to play with.
After feeding the two children until they were full, Yi Chongren carried them off their stools to let them play by themselves before eating himself. Huo Yunkai was already eating his fourth bowl of rice.
“Daddy, peach, peach.”
Douzi grabbed his daddy’s sleeve, wanting to leave. Baozi sucked his chubby little thumb as his similarly chubby face was slightly drooling. Yi Chongren put down his bowl and picked up Douzi.
“Wait for daddy to finish eating before picking some grapes for you to eat.”
“Ok, Doudou pick.”
Douzi smiled, and Yi Chongren put him down. Baozi took small steps towards his daddy, a string of clear saliva at the corner of his mouth: “Baobao, Baobao.”
“Ok, Baobao also pick.”
“Hehe……” Baozi happily clapped his hands. Seeing the two children’s smiling faces, Yi Chongren’s heart softened. He was unable to have his own children so he thought of these children as his own from the bottom of his heart. However, Yuandou couldn’t stay by his side forever. Yi Chongren pinched Douzi’s little nose and let him go play.
After dinner, Huo Yunkai followed his yifu to the study to begin the day’s lesson. Once he sat by the desk, Huo Yunkai heard his yifu say: “Tonight, write an analysis on your homework from the past month.”
Yi Chongren pulled a letter from his lapel, casually sat on a soft chair, and opened it. Seeing his yifu reading the letter, Huo Yunkai swallowed the words he wanted to say, got some paper, and pondered over how to write his analysis as he grinded his ink block.
Yi Chongren received the letter from Zhang Huaiqiu. These two years, Zhang Huaiqiu stayed by Ruan Xingtian’s side. Ruan Xingtian trusted him very much, asking for his advice first whenever he met with an issue. Zhang Huaiqiu’s letter first told Yi Chongren about their situation, reporting their safety; secondly, he told him the current situation of the world. Although Yi Chongren was hiding in Jade City Pass, he was still well-informed on the happenings of the world. However, Yi Chongren never replied to these letters, and never offered any suggestions. With those old men supporting Prince Yue, his involvement was unnecessary.
Burning Huaiqiu’s letter, Yi Chongren picked a book from the bookshelf to read. According to the current situation, it would be difficult for Prince Yue to win all the mountains and rivers within three to five years. However, Yi Chongren was not in a hurry. A change in dynasties always brought foul wind and bloody rain. Three to five years was already a short period of time. Looking towards Huo Yunkai who was diligently writing his analysis, Yi Chongren’s eyes were full of approval. This child could definitely become a great person. Prince Yue having this son could be considered good shoots growing from bad bamboo.
In Huo Feng’s camp, after discussing important matters with his trusted subordinates, Huo Feng laid on his wooden board bed fully clothed to rest for a bit. Two years had passed, and Huo Feng was calmer and steadier than before, emotions unnoticable from the outside. Even Huang Han said he changed very much. Zhang Deyuan and the other’s arrivals helped him tremendously as battles passed far more smoothly than he expected. Only……he still needed a very long time to win the entire land.
That pair of eyes appeared before him once again. Huo Feng opened his eyes. After two years, his memory of that person’s appearance didn’t fade, instead becoming clearer and clearer, appearing in his mind from time to time when he was tired. These two years, he hadn’t not met with danger and hadn’t not been injured. But every time he “saw” that pair of eyes, he told himself he couldn’t lose, definitely couldn’t lose. He must win the world, must prove to that person he wasn’t a foolish coward!
Huo Feng knew he was bewitched, bewitched by “Yi Chongren”, but he was unable to extricate himself. These two years, he barely thought of his dead wives and missing children, but he couldn’t forget Yi Chongren, couldn’t forget that pair of eyes. He asked Zhang Deyuan where Yi Chongren was multiple times, but the other party always replied that he didn’t know. He knew Zhang Deyuan didn’t want to tell him , and he guessed that this was Yi Chongren’s own request. Huo Feng once again closed his eyes. After he won the world, no matter where Yi Chongren hid, he would find him!
 如虎添翼 with redoubled power
 冷嘲热讽 mock and ridicule
 义父 danmei readers should be familiar with this. Means adoptive father. Maybe this kid could be the ml in an alternative universe lol.
 长刀 two handed, single edged Chinese sword
 There are so many different addresses for “father” in this novel, so I’ll try to differentiate them based on formality.
 桃 (tao)==peach , 葡萄 (pu tao)==grape. The kids are saying peach instead of grape by mistake.
t/n: Sorry for the lack of updates last week. I got busy with some uni stuff and falling down new rabbit holes. I’ll try updating every weekend.