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~
Before dawn the next day, Su Yang was awoken from his slumber by Gu Feidi.
All of them packed up and respectively mounted their horses.
Qin Jianyue and Chi Tong were returning to the capital to solicit troops and headed southeast. Luo Yu, Lou Yin, Gu Feidi, and Su Yang were going to the Wasteland, and they would have to travel all the way to the northwest.
They parted ways in front of the inn. They didn’t say much; merely exchanged a few auspicious words, then urged their horses and left.
It wasn’t convenient for Gu Feidi and Su Yang to follow the uncle-nephew pair of Luo Yu and Lou Yin too closely, so they fell behind a little and took a hidden road to trail them from afar.
At dusk two days later, Gu Feidi and Su Yang discovered the secret signal that Lou Yu had left at the side of the road sign just as the sky was getting dark.
Both Luo Yu and Luo Yin had already come across Qianfeng Villa’s scouts. They prepared to enter the campsite of Tengyun Pavilion and Central Plains martial arts circles, which was stationed next to an irrigation wall.
This was a vast expanse of flat land in the Wasteland, and there were no boulders anywhere that could be used as shelter. Gu Feidi and Su Yang could only remain behind a distant sloping hill, looking out at the towers of campfire smokes reaching for the skies.
All of a sudden, a tiny black spot whizzed across the sky and vanished into the dim glows of the setting sun in the blink of an eye.
Gu Feidi couldn’t help frowning: “Ghost owl…… those pesky things. If we can’t resolve them, all our movements will be perceived.”
Su Yang looked up at the sky, “We should’ve brought our bows and arrows along.”
Gu Feidi shook his head: “Ghost owls are silent fliers; they’re fairly small and fast. Even with bows and arrows, it’ll be difficult for us to hit them when the sky is completely dark. Thankfully, they can’t speak and are just used for delivering information.”
Su Yang ‘tsk’-ed and said: “Eluo Ghost Tent is truly competent. This is essentially information warfare and they’re in the sky…… How does that term go? Controlled airspace?”
“Controlled airspace?” Gu Feidi was puzzled.
“Exactly… control of this area of the sky.” Su Yang said, “The one who controls the skies is the one who has a greater chance of victory…… That’s the gist of its meaning.”
“You always have these kinds of amazing notions……” Gu Feidi said with a smile. He glanced up at the stars that had begun to appear and sighed, “If people were able to fly, the skies…… would definitely be a militarily disputed area.”
Here, the two of them talked leisurely about irrelevant matters in the open air. Over there, Luo Yu and Luo Yin were led by Qianfeng Villa’s scouts into a tent surrounded by Tengyun Pavilion guards. Luo Yu told Luo Yin to wait outside, and he entered the tent alone.
Gu Ruohai glanced up to see the person approaching, and his eyes were filled with astonishment. He instantly put down the brush and stood up with a frown, saying, “You actually descended the mountain! How did you come to be here?”
As he spoke, he lowered his voice and asked, “Does it have something to do with my boy?”
Luo Yu greeted him with a smile and returned the jade pendant to Gu Ruohai, saying: “I’m unable to control your son…… As it happens, I had some matters that needed my descending the mountain, so I accompanied him to Qingwu County. He received a letter from Shizun telling him to go to the Wasteland with Su Yang…… but before this, you’d pretended to expel him from Tengyun Pavilion. They decided not to reveal themselves at the moment for fear of disrupting your plan.”
Gu Ruohai frowned, “Why would Shizun meddle in this matter? Doesn’t she pay no attention to worldly affairs?”
Luo Yu shook his head and said, “I wouldn’t know, but I think…… I fear that Shizun has already seen all the world’s matters at present. If she wants to meddle, she would naturally have her reasons for doing so.”
As he spoke, he laughed all of a sudden: “Back then, didn’t we speculate that Shizun was an enlightened Taoist cultivator who needed to collect enough merits in the mortal world in order to ascend?”
Upon hearing these words, Gu Ruohai also laughed: “In order to check it out, Zhu Zhi’er* attempted to sneak us into Veiled Pearl Pavilion…”
(*TN: The ‘Zhu’ is referring to Su Huaizhu. ‘Zhu’ means bamboo, ‘Zhi’ means stick. Therefore, Gu Ruohai’s pet name for Su Huaizhu is ‘bamboo stick’.)
Luo Yu couldn’t help being taken aback.
Gu Ruohai paused and abruptly spoke, “……Seeing you brings back some of the feelings of when we were young. I’m used to calling him this way.”
Luo Yu was silent for a moment, then asked, “Did you meet up with him some days ago?”
“Yes. His letter mentioned our Chongyang appointment from back then…… I kept the appointment.” Gu Ruohai said.
“So, this annihilation…… is it truly his plan?” Luo Yu asked.
Gu Ruohai was silent for a while before nodding: “Yes, he requested for me to lead Tengyun Pavilion and Central Plains martial arts circles to annihilate the Devil Sect a couple of days before the Winter Solstice.”
Luo Yu continued to ask: “You actually trust that he won’t use this as a pretext for his chance to round up all the elite troops of the Central Plains martial arts circles?”
The corners of Gu Ruohai’s mouth curled slightly. “I trust him. However, the Central Plains martial arts circles may not totally trust me. You’ve seen those people outside. Of all the various major power influences, how many have indeed sent their elite troops over?”
Luo Yu was silent for a long time, and he suddenly laughed and sighed.
“We should’ve guessed these kind of circumstances early on, considering his reputation in the Central Plains martial arts circles.” He said, “After all, that year he ordered the Devil Sect flower aides to massacre the Central Plains in his fit of anger; the entire realm was up in arms. But how many were cognisant that those he killed were undercover agents and spies that Eluo Ghost Tent had planted within the Central Plains martial arts circles? Even if he wanted to come clean, no one would believe him……”
“What?” Gu Ruohai immediately raised his eyes and pierced Luo Yu with an urgent stare. “Those people he killed were all Eluo Ghost Tent’s spies?!”
Luo Yu was astonished. “You didn’t know?”
At last, he understood: “That’s right, you didn’t know of Eluo Ghost Tent’s evil acts…… Although I was living in seclusion on Snow Mountain at that time, I’d also caught wind of this incident and specially asked Ah Yue to investigate it. Back then, Su Huaizhu did kill a lot of people for no reason, and there was perhaps some misjudgment, but an overwhelming majority of them came from Eluo Ghost Tent.”
Gu Ruohai’s expression wasn’t very good.
For a long while, he closed his eyes, sighed, and said in frustration, “I’ve misunderstood him all this while…… I assumed that he saw me getting married and couldn’t bear to kill me…… When he came to cause havoc at the wedding and was besieged by the Central Plains’ martial artists, I always believed it was due to that incident that he would vent his anger on them…… Which resulted in his killing atrocities.”
“He would never say what he was thinking of. Who could understand?” Luo Yu said helplessly, “In fact, I think when he killed those secret agents, it wasn’t because he was using them to vent his anger.”
Gu Ruohai frowned. “But if he liked Luo Jin, why would he act against Eluo Ghost Tent?”
Luo Yu widened his eyes and asked in shock, “Could it be that you had some misunderstanding of the word ‘like’? How could he treat Jin‘er that way if he liked her?”
Seeing that Gu Ruohai’s eyes were downcast, Luo Yu said, “I was shocked out of my wits when I heard he’d abducted Jin’er to the Devil Sect. So I took the risk and ventured out to Devil City to find him. I wanted to get a clear picture of what had happened, but I was almost captured by people from Ghost Tent’s royal court. I only managed to get back to Yuqiong Peak after much difficulty, and that’s when I heard the news of your marriage…… After the unrest within the Jianghu, not to mention the news of Jin’er’s death, I didn’t want to know any more.”
“Matters of the past,” Gu Ruohai gave a bitter laugh, “Don’t ask.”
“Although recently, I’ve managed to find out a few secrets from back then by chance,” Luo Yu frowned, “Which is why I want to know what was the reason both of you separated last time? Was it truly because of Jin’er?”
There was a lengthy silence.
Some time later, Gu Ruohai took a deep, unhurried breath and slowly told the truth in a low voice: “That year, when you went to look for Ah Yue, Su Huaizhu and I took Luo Jin to tour Jiuyan Lake…”
Back then, on the shore of Jiuyan Lake:
Gu Ruohai and Su Huaizhu were still young men who hadn’t yet been crowned*. They bore affection for each other and their feelings were deep.
(*TN: below twenty)
Travelling with them was the Eluo Ghost Tent’s young, royal daughter: Eluojin alias Luo Jin, who’d been entrusted by her xiong zhang* to his two good friends to keep an eye on her——Luo Jin was aware of the relationship between Su Huaizhu, and Gu Ruohai and she would even tease them about it. As such, Luo Yu didn’t think much of it and he left his meimei in the care of these two young men.
(*TN: respectful address for elder brother)
Unexpectedly, when the three of them were roaming Jiuyan Lake…… Su Huaizhu found a letter on the table in their room one evening.
Gu Ruohai asked what the letter said, but Su Huaizhu merely gave a faint smile and kept it away. Gu Ruohai surmised that it was news from someone within the Devil Sect and didn’t ask further. As usual, he manipulated his inner strength and went into meditation.
After a long while, night had fallen, and Gu Ruohai awoke from his meditation. It was only then that he discovered Su Huaizhu, who would normally be protecting him while he meditated, wasn’t in the room.
Gu Ruohai assumed that Su Huaizhu had gone to deal with the matter stated in the Devil Sect’s letter, so he didn’t worry about him. Instead, he got up and pushed open the window to look at the stars.
At the moment when his gaze had just landed on the roof, he noticed that the windows of the next room where Luo Jin was staying were wide open and the room was empty.
All in all, Luo Jin had been entrusted to them by their good friend. Gu Ruohai immediately became extremely worried that a young girl would run into some mishap when she went out at night, so he searched around for her right away.
At last, he located a wooded area on the shore of Jiuyan Lake…… but the scene he witnessed there was—to this day—too painful for him to recall……
“His face had no trace of remorse that day I’d unwittingly ran into him. He went so far as to…… shout for me to leave.” Gu Ruohai lowered his eyes and said, “Luo Jin also sobbed for me to help, but…… my mind was completely blank at the time and I was at my wit’s end…… I fled.”
As he spoke, the corners of his mouth tugged, and he revealed a wry smile: “Who’d have known that, not only did he not return to the inn, but he’d abducted Luo Jin to the Devil Sect. During that time, there were stories from the brothels and red alleys along the way about his daily sexual romps. They also mentioned the tattoo on his body that not many are aware of. I wasn’t able to endure my lack of convictions…… I never expected that the next time I saw him again would be at my wedding.”
“He wreaked havoc at your wedding, but he didn’t tell you the reason back then why he did it? “Luo Yu asked.
“I……” Gu Ruohai said, “At that time, he injured my father and wanted to kill my new wife. I was furious and got into a fight with him and……rampantly lambasted him a great deal.”
“His skills were higher than mine, and I was unable to block. I could only protect the innocent woman by shielding her in my arms…… He wanted to kill me and my wife with a single stroke of his sword, but withdrew. I thought he wouldn’t cause trouble again and was just about to ask him what happened back then. He…… turned around and slaughtered a guest who was present, then broke out of the encirclement before walking off…… Subsequently, there were news that he’d massacred the Central Plains.”
“It’s been twenty years, but these matters still remain clear in my mind.” Gu Ruohai closed his eyes a little, “At the time, if he didn’t like Luo Jin, why did he have a secret meeting with her by the lake late at night……”
Luo Yu heaved a sigh. “If he liked Jin’er, why would he force her?”
“Indeed, I’ve given this matter some thought after that and believe that there’s some concealment involved.” Gu Ruohai said, “But I still followed my father’s orders to get married and have children. Not long after that, I heard the news that the Devil Sect had a Young Saint……Why should I insist on the truth of those years? We can’t go back anyway.”
After speaking, he smiled bitterly and shook his head: “It wasn’t until a few days ago when I’d met Su Yang for the first time that I realised that I was wrong back then. At any rate, I shouldn’t have abandoned the quest for the truth, and at least there would have been closure. But when I asked Su Huaizhu during Chongyang about what had happened that year, he was still unwilling to give me an earnest reply.”
When he heard this, Luo Yu released a low sigh, saying, “Su Yang…… is also a pitiful child.”
Gu Ruohai frowned, “Before when I’d met him, I found out that for the sake of saving my son, he’d practiced an extreme Yin technique while his body was in the state of harbouring an extremely cold matter……You’ve diagnosed him. What’s the outcome?”