Title: Did We Agree To Be Arch-Rivals?
Original Title: 说好成为彼此的宿敌呢[穿书]
Author: 轻风白杨 (Qingfeng Baiyang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
Although the Icefield in the north was frozen throughout the year, there still existed a green sandbar that resembled a utopia. In the center of the sandbar, there was a fairly large warm-water lake.
The heat brought by the water temperature caused the surrounding mudflats to grow lush, green lawns, and Eluo Ghost Tent’s royal court was located at the lakeside.
It was Wu period* right now. The sky was uncommonly bright, and the pale sun was poised low in the southern sky, as if it was incapable of producing any heat.
(*TN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
A tall, gaunt figure stood silently by the warm lakeside. He was draped in a black fox-fur robe and rooted to the spot. Were it not for the white mists brimming in the wake of his breaths, he bore the appearance of an inanimate statue.
An Eluo Ghost Tent royal court guard briskly arrived at the lakeside, knelt down on one knee behind the person, and called out loudly: “Your Majesty, the Black Feather Army scout is here to report, saying that the Imperial Court is reinforcing troops at the Wasteland border in the south. It seems they mean to suppress our Eluo royal court.”
The man by the lakeside remained motionless.
The royal court guard couldn’t bear it after waiting for a while and called out anxiously, “Your Majesty!”
After a long time, a deeply hoarse voice called forth, “Alright. Instruct the Left Defence to dispatch the Black Feather Army to assemble at the southern border and to be on guard for the enemy’s army bearing down.”
Upon hearing these words, the royal court guard released a sigh of relief and nodded. He acknowledged and continued: “Aside from that, on the southeast border, Tengyun Pavilion and Qianfeng Villa claim that the Sword Sage’s Legacy is in our Eluo. They are instigating the Central Plains martial arts circles’ sects and schools to come and intimidate us. This matter…… do we need to pay more attention to it?”
“This King* is aware of this matter.” The man replied, “The Shadow Camp and White Skills Camp have been instructed to deal with it. No need to report it again.”
(*TN: The king is addressing himself.)
Seeing the royal court guard standing in place and not leaving, Eluojue finally inclined his head a little and turned around.
His face was as gaunt as his body, his eyes were spiritless and revealed some ruthlessness.
“You have other matters?” His tone was cold: “If there’s nothing, then withdraw.”
The royal court guard immediately lowered his head and said, “Your Majesty, the Black Feather Army scouts have discovered the movements of Tengyun Pavilion’s Young Pavilion Master and the Devil Sect’s Young Saint. Their target is the White Witch Tower, and they’re attempting to seize our royal court’s Great Witch’s White Firework Gu…… Do we still assassinate Tengyun Pavilion’s Young Pavilion Master and capture the Devil Sect’s Young Saint alive?”
Upon hearing this, Eluojue gave a chilly sneer.
“White Witch Tower……” His eyes narrowed a little. “White Firework Gu…… I’m surprised that they’re actually interested in that thing.”
The royal court guard said, “Your Majesty, do we instruct the Black Feather Army’s Right Defence to deploy additional manpower at the White Witch Tower?”
Eluojue practically spent no time pondering and smiled: “No need. Left Defence has gone to the border to resist the Imperial army in the south. Right Defence still needs to defend the royal court and can’t spare any manpower.”
He snorted again after speaking halfway, then said, “You go transmit the instruction to recall the assassination order for the Black Feather Army Shadow Camp. If the Black Feather Army scouts find traces of the Devil Sect’s Young Saint, there’s no need for them to take any action.”
The royal court guard asked, “Your Majesty…… desires to lure them into an urn*?”
Eluojue smiled, and shook his head, and said, “No need to ask any further; I’ve my own plans. You may withdraw.”
The guard replied respectfully. He bowed from the waist and took a few backward steps before turning to leave.
Eluojue’s gaze fell on the misty surface of the still lake. Just then, he raised his hands and gently stroked a bracelet on his left wrist that completely didn’t match his somber disposition.
The bracelet was woven from countless strips of extremely bright coloured cloth; gold silk threads were coiled throughout, and it was also embellished with a little round gold pig. The bracelet was tightly fastened over his bony wrist. Clearly, it was no longer suitable for his age, but perhaps it bore some special significance, which was why he continued to wear it until now.
“Devil Sect’s Young Saint, Su Yang…”
Eluojue suddenly mumbled, then laughed scornfully before pausing a while. He glanced down at the wrist bracelet and said in a low voice, “Your son…… If he resembles you, I’ll spare his life—but it doesn’t matter……”
Su Yang swung his sword to deflect a strike from the Black Feather Army soldier opposite, then rushed backwards to help Gu Feidi block several feather arrows from the side.
In the present encounter, both of them faced an entire Black Feather Army squad. Whilst the opponent’s martial arts were not as skilled as the Shadow Camp assassins, they clearly had the advantage of numbers. Even though Su Yang and Gu Feidi had combined their moves, the fight was quite challenging. If it wasn’t because the enemies were using crossbows from a distance and taking into account that they needed to capture Su Yang alive, the two of them wouldn’t be contending with these foes up until now without sustaining any heavy injuries.
Earlier, when they’d acquiesced their willingness to be used as bait, Luo Yin subsequently instructed the Eluo Ghost Tent Shadow Camp assassin who accompanied him that day in the forest to covertly assist Su Yang and Gu Feidi.
But at that moment, there were too many from the Black Feather Army squad, and it wasn’t convenient for him to make an appearance. Su Yang and Gu Feidi could only depend on themselves to escape the Black Feather Army’s encirclement.
Yes, it was enough just to be able to escape.
Lesser Cold was just over a day away, and they were already extremely close to Eluo Ghost Tent’s White Witch Tower. At the moment, they made use of this ‘encirclement escape’ to detour a little more, which could provide cover for the timing of their plan. This way, Ghost Tent’s royal court wouldn’t be able to speculate that they’d agreed to make their move on Lesser Cold.
Su Yang shielded Gu Feidi, drawing out his sword and using the ‘Unfolding Emeralds’ move to stab the Black Feather Army’s squad leader. He flipped his body and was about to behead him.
The leader painstakingly blocked Su Yang’s strike. Seeing that four from his squad had been killed, he hastily turned around and called out, “We can’t hold them off! Retreat!”
The Black Feather Army’s remaining squad soldiers obediently adhered, and no one questioned the leader’s order. They instantly withdrew their weapons and swiftly retreated.
Su Yang didn’t give chase.
He turned around to tug Gu Feidi by his arm, and the two of them fled into the dense forest side by side.
“I wonder why Eluojue ordered for me not to be killed.” Su Yang frowned as he took some clean snow from a branch and helped Gu Feidi wash the minor injuries on his arm while mumbling, “Since he’s the type that can murder his own brother and usurp the throne, he’s clearly not someone who cares about blood ties. Don’t tell me he’s still reluctant to kill this lowly nephew of his?”
Gu Feidi reflected for a moment and said, “Perhaps…… he’s doing it for the sake of the Eluo Ghost Tent royal female bloodline in your body.”
When Su Yang recalled the secret of the White Firework Gu that Luo Yin mentioned and the insight on Eluojue’s seizure of the White Witch Tower’s Great Witch’s authority, he also felt that this hypothesis sounded fairly reasonable.
After a cursory handling of all their small injuries, both of them took turns to stand guard while the other meditated and recovered their internal strength.
The Shadow Camp assassin allocated by Luo Yin stood guard on the side. Once he saw that both of them had woken up from their meditations, only then did he turn into the forest and vanish without a trace again.
Although the winter solstice had passed, the Icefield was located far in the north, and the daylight hours were extremely brief, but after a few shichen*, the sky began to darken again.
(*TN: one of twelve 2-hour periods of the day)
During the dimness of night, their field of vision was restricted, and it was easy for them to become sleepy and lazy. This was the best time for assassinating and ambushing. However, it wasn’t clear if something had happened in Eluo Ghost Tent. That night, Su Yang and Gu Feidi felt incomparably tranquil—not even a single ghost owl had appeared above them, not to mention any assassins.
When the moon slanted to the west and dawn could be seen approaching, blankets of dark clouds suddenly gathered on the horizon, shrouding all the stars, and the sky immediately turned dim again.
Luo Yin noiselessly arrived; his expression was somewhat grave.
“We’ve anticipated wrongly.” His brows tightened, and he said, “Eluojue did not reinforce his troops at the White Witch Tower; instead, he increased the manpower of the royal court’s guards…… Furthermore, he also revoked his assassination order against the two of you. If this is the case, I fear that it’ll be troublesome for me to infiltrate the Black Feather Army in time.”
Hearing this, Gu Feidi became anxious: “He revoked the assassination order? How could this be?”
Luo Yin said, “Revoking the assassination order. Relinquishing the White Witch Tower. These commands are perplexing, but regardless of how you view them, it seems like a trap.”
Gu Feidi said, “If Eluojue requires shixiong’s royal female bloodline, would he…… lay a trap in the White Witch Tower to try and capture him alive? What’s the competency of the Great Witch currently in command of the White Witch Tower?”
Luo Yin wasn’t able to answer this question just then.
He faltered for a moment and said, “Shu fu and I are unable to infiltrate into the White Witch Tower at the moment. We only know that the current Great Witch lives in seclusion and hardly makes an appearance. There are only half the number of witches remaining compared to previous years, and those that survived the power grab are all Eluojue’s confidants.”
Su Yang heard this and flattened his lips: “Regardless of whether it’s a trap or an ambush over there, if we want to obtain the White Firework Gu, we’ll have to storm in. Luo Yin, it’ll be Lesser Cold tomorrow. If it does snow, we’ll make our move…… You can also use this chance to slip in. As long as you can access the royal court, it’ll be easier for you to find someone you’ve been in contact with.”
Luo Yin hesitated for a moment: “For now, this seems like the way to go. I’ll inform shu fu of the plan at once, then return to find you.”
After speaking, he turned and left.
Su Yang and Gu Feidi stood in the shadow of a huge cedar tree with their backs leaning against the trunk while holding hands.
“This mission is likely far more perilous than we’ve anticipated.” Gu Feidi said suddenly in a low voice.
Su Yang turned to look at him and smiled after some time, asking, “Why’ve you lost confidence all of a sudden?”
Gu Feidi said, “This is a battlefield; there are too many variables. You see, Eluojue’s command to Ghost Tent exceeded all of our conjectures. Once there’s snowfall and we raid into the White Witch Tower, who knows how many unforeseen events we’ll encounter.”
Su Yang swung his hand that was holding Gu Feidi’s and gave a light laugh as he asked, “So are you now anxious or scared?”
Gu Feidi smiled and looked at Su Yang: “If I was all alone in the world, of course I wouldn’t need to be anxious or scared of anything.”
After speaking, he turned to stand before Su Yang and used his free hand to tidy the side of Su Yang’s hair.
“It’s just that this matter concerns your life; that’s why I’m worried.” He said, “If the result of this battle isn’t what you and I wished for, it would’ve been better back then—”
“You’re even more apprehensive than you were before.” Su Yang teased and gave a ‘hmph’, saying, “We’ve already come this far, what else is there to worry about?”
After a long time, Gu Feidi heaved a sigh. He shook his head and forced a smile: “Because of love, there’s fear; because of love, there’s worry…… I don’t want anything to happen to you, but I’m not capable of blocking the sky with my hand. Also…… there’s not enough time to become more powerful.”
Su Yang smiled when he heard this.
His smiling eyes were full of adoration and affection. He stared at Gu Feidi for a time and said, “You don’t have to worry about this and that…… At the moment, there’s only one thing you need to do.”
Gu Feidi was confused: “What’s that?”
Su Yang lifted his hand to hook his neck and smiled at him as the tip of his eyebrows twitched.