Chapter 59: Staying with You for a Lifetime

Warnings: descriptions and imagery of violence, blood, and death

Chen Miao Ping quickly retracted his eyes and felt his head suddenly ache in pain.
If Xie Yan Ping was guarding the city gates, that meant that Xie Yu Zhi was still inside the Imperial Palace. 

The situation did not look good, as otherwise, why would there be so few people left to defend the gate? Why would his father-in-law be bringing the majority of the troops who were guarding the gate to assist with the protection of the palace?

While he was thinking, the gates opened, and Da Jin soldiers were heading out of the city to pick up dropped weapons and the bodies of their comrades.
Taking this chance, Chen Miao Ping crouched down and quietly headed towards the gate.
Using the darkness of the night as a cover, he dragged the dead body of a Da Jin soldier back towards the forest.

It was the first time that Chen Miao Ping had touched a dead person and the other still had a lingering warmth on his body.
An arrow was sticking out of the man’s chest, and his wound was already foaming white and bloating up from the rain water.
The armor itself felt oily and sticky, and it was unknown what made it so, whether it was blood or some other residue.

“Sorry…… for disrespecting you……”

He clumsily took the armor off the body and quickly switched both of their clothes.
Chen Miao Ping fixed the position of the helmet and picked up a sword off the ground, before covering his face with dirt and blending into the troops of the Da Jin army.

He followed the others, picking up dead bodies for Da Jin and loading them onto a wooden cart by the bottom of the city walls.
Chen Miao Ping was moving very slowly, purposefully slower than the others by half a step.
Seeing that no one was paying attention to him, he quickly moved and crossed over the city gates to a side street.

There was a bright side to patrolling the streets as part of a normal work routine.
At least Chen Miao Ping knew where the small alleyways and shortcuts were, allowing him to catch up to Xie Yan Ping in the shortest amount of time. 

No one was out on the streets, and all the citizens had shut their doors and windows tight.
Even the most boisterous and lively Ping Kang Road was devoid of activity and light.
There were some stores that had not been quick enough to close their doors, and with one peek at them, one could see the stores’ wares knocked all over the floor, as if they were robbed. 

A normally lively city had become like a ghost town.

Xie Yan Ping was moving quickly with his troops.
But as they had just experienced a fierce battle, they didn’t retain any formation.
Some of these soldiers had suffered terrible injuries and they were slowly being outpaced. 

Chen Miao Ping was running pretty fast to catch up, and he hid himself by the corner of an alleyway.
When the troops went past him, he slipped in at the back, slowly increasing his speed to merge in.

Li Qin Wang evidently had been planning for this for a very long time.
His private army was full of strong trained men who could battle ten regular soldiers on their own.
Compared to the other side, of those who were still loyal to the Emperor holding down the fort, they were having greater difficulty blocking their advance. 

The situation seemed to be even worse inside the city walls than the mindless slaughter on the battlefields outside.
It did not help with eunuchs and maids escaping everywhere and anywhere they could to save their own lives, creating a mesh pit of chaos.

The sky was starting to become brighter, with the rain slowly coming to a halt.
After such an intense night of fighting, the numbers of Xie Yu Zhi’s soldiers were already cut in half. 

Sun Tong climbed up the cobblestone steps, and the bottoms of his feet were full of sticky residue, most likely from the pools of blood he stomped through on the battleground.
He led his troops closer and closer to the main assembly hall of the Imperial Palace and yelled out ruthlessly, 

“Please, Your Majesty, step down!”

The Emperor was dressed in full armor and the sword in his hand was still dripping with blood.
With a murderous aura around him, he yelled out, 

“How dare those greedy officials and lawless thieves yell such disrespectful words in front of Zhen!”

Xie Yu Zhi’s eyes were frosty cold and his face was caked in dried blood.
The silver armor on his body was also drenched with blood, so much so that no one could see the original color of his armor anymore.
He held the long sword tightly in his hand, protecting the Emperor behind him.
With an aura that could not be tamed, he coldly declared, 

“Lawless thieves and officials who dare to revolt, all of you and your families will be executed–“

Although Sun Tong had the upper hand, his face did not show it.
Instead, he felt that the situation was not good.
According to his original plans, at this time he should have already taken over the Imperial City. 

But the entire night, he had been occupied by Xie Yu Zhi and his troops, battling against him and the tiny amount of people he led.
Even with the combination of his and Li Qin Wang’s armies, they were still not enough to take over the Imperial City. 

His opponents were clearly at the end of their line, but that only meant he could not be reckless and just open fire, in fear of them taking out more of his troops as their last stand. 

Sun Tong took one step closer to Xie Yu Zhi, 

“General Xie, you are such a rare talent.
Why would you give up your life for someone so insignificant to you? Why don’t you switch over to my side, and I can promise you glory and riches, just like you have now.
If you were to lose here, what a pity that would be.”

The third son of the Xie family, Xie Ping Zhi, was also well versed in martial arts, and he was forced to put on his armor by Xie Yan Ping and join in on the battlefield.
When he realized that the situation wasn’t looking that good for the side he was on, he had wanted to throw everything and run away.
But in the end, he was killed in one swing by Sun Tong, ending his life as he fell off his horse.

Xie Yu Zhi stared coldly at him, but he did not speak.
Yet the mocking in his eyes was glaringly evident and Sun Tong was driven mad from his stare.
Sun Tong’s sword swung down in rage, chopping a nearby candle holder in half.
He pointed his sword at the Emperor, viciously yelling, 

“Kill! Kill them all! Whoever can present me the heads of this fucking Emperor and Xie Yu Zhi, this general will record him as having done an important deed and grant him unimaginable rewards!”

The moment he spoke the last word, a thunderous racket rang outside.
Everyone almost jumped up in fear, and not much longer after, sounds of slaughter could be heard inching closer and closer.
Sun Tong looked back in shock as he was greeted with the sight of Xie Yan Ping leading his troops to come assist the Emperor. 

Galloping fast on his horse, Xie Yan Ping was holding something in his hand.
With a flick of his wrist, that something landed perfectly beside Sun Tong’s feet.
Sun Tong looked down, and a head stared back at him, still dripping and oozing fresh blood.

Xie Yan Ping yelled out to everyone in the palace, 

“The rebel Li Qin Wang has already been killed.
Your highest orders have ended now.
Quickly surrender and those who do will not be killed!”

The soldiers behind Sun Tong were in various states of shock, and the Emperor immediately took this chance to step forward.
His imposing eyes looked over everyone, 

“Zhen knows you all have been compelled by seducing words and false lies.
Zhen now gives you all a chance.
Put down your swords and surrender, and Zhen will swear on his ancestors’ graves, those who do will not be killed!”

Xie Yu Zhi’s eyes scanned over all of the opposing soldiers, and there were a few that even once belonged to a part of their military troops.
He sheathed his sword, expressing his attitude quite clearly, and retreated a few steps behind the Emperor.
He said with a solemn voice, 

“Those who surrender will not be killed–!”

“Don Tong” 

A light sound echoed out.
It was unknown whose blade first dropped on the floor, but it was like a signal.
Tightly following that sound were more and more of those who surrendered.
Sun Tong furiously looked back at them, eyes burning in rage, 

“Are you all crazy?! Pick all those weapons up for me right now! Pick them up! This old man is telling you to pick them all up! Their words cannot be trusted! They cannot be trusted!”

He was in a crazed state, kicking the soldiers around him who had surrendered.
It was as if he decided that that wasn’t enough to pacify his rage, and he even wanted to and moved to behead all of them. 

It was at this time that an arrow was shot, and all those around could only hear a thump before Sun Tong suddenly froze up.
He stumbled backwards a few steps before falling straight onto the floor.
His eyes were expanded wide and it could be seen that his throat was stabbed with an arrow, the end of it still vibrating.

Eyes followed to where the arrow originated from, and they could see Xie Yu Zhi pulling the bow taut once again, but this time, it was accurately aimed at those who had not surrendered.
They froze in shock once more, clearly feeling the murderous aura emitting from him, and they started to panic as they looked at each other.

One of Xie Yu Zhi’s fingers loosened, and the arrow glistened with a cold gleam, soundlessly striking fear into their hearts.
Finally another “Don Tong” and the rest of the rebels followed suit and threw down their weapons.
They were all afraid enough to kneel on the ground and start banging their heads towards the Emperor, 

“Your Majesty, please spare our lives! Your Majesty, please spare our lives!”

It was only declared that those who surrender will not be killed, not that they won’t be punished.
The Emperor waved his hand in the air as a signal, and there were people who quickly dragged them away. 

What waited for them was perhaps a hundred flogs or perhaps exile, being forced to walk no less than thousands of miles away.
No matter what, there would not be a good conclusion waiting for them.

Outside, Chen Miao Ping was smack in the middle of the troops, but from his position, he could still catch a glance of Xie Yu Zhi.
He stared from far away at him, and at long last, the corners of his mouth started to hook up, showing a smile that had become rare since everything that had happened. 

The tension that had been wound up so tight in him was finally relaxing.
He had been following Xie Yan Ping all the way here, following the troops as they slaughtered their way through their enemies.
The entire time he had hid left and right, but it was nonetheless still dangerous, and he was almost killed. 

But thankfully…

Thankfully he was able to make it here in time……

The two of them were still alive, and he still had the chance to call the other Second Master, could still make him angry, could still hear Xie Yu Zhi yell out again that he was a bastard.

Chen Miao Ping was very tired, and he felt that he didn’t even have the energy to keep standing anymore.
His hands and knees were burning in pain, and he leaned against the pillar behind him for support. 

He wanted to take a breath to rest, but a sudden noise from a horse rang out.
He subconsciously looked over and he was greeted with a long and strong shadow jumping onto a horse, viciously whipping it to make it run out the entrance of the Imperial Palace.

Although Chen Miao Ping could not see the other’s face clearly, he knew that man most likely had to be Xie Yu Zhi, because Chang Guo Gong was jumping in rage, to the point where he forgot his courtesies and was yelling, 

“Unfilial son! Rebelling now are you! You even dare to steal your father’s horse!!”

Chen Miao Ping was stunned enough to laugh out loud, but he suddenly realized what Xie Yu Zhi wanted to do.
And all thoughts of resting disappeared into thin air.
What if the other thought he ran out to marry a woman? What would he do then?

Outside the Imperial Palace, there were dead bodies every few steps.
There were bodies of maids, there were bodies of eunuchs, of soldiers and of commoners.
The cobblestone floors were being washed quite a few times, but there were still immovable dark red shadows.
Everyone was busy with their duties, and so no one cared about that fast fleeing horse running by.

Chang Guo Gong’s estate had been searched through and the highly skilled guards that had been left behind to protect it had all been slaughtered.
The structure of the buildings were still intact, the pavilions and the lakes, everything seemed as normal as they could be, but it was dead silent. 

No sign of human activity at all. 

After the night of bloody battles, Xie Yu Zhi was already out of energy.
He jumped off the horse and his legs wobbled, almost crashing onto the ground.
But he forced himself up, limping as he ran straight inside.

Qu Feng Courtyard was in a state of shambles, but Xie Yu Zhi didn’t care.
He opened the secret mechanism to head inside the underground chamber, and…

Of course, it was empty. 

The bricks under the bed had been covered well, but there were still some signs of scratches that signalled it had been opened.

His heart that had been hanging in fear suddenly dropped down to its normal state.
Chen Miao Ping must have left.

If he ran away, that was good……

If he ran away, that was good……

It meant that Chen Miao Ping had not been found by those people who came to raid the estate.
He was smart, so he should be able to find a safe place to hide.
When news of the revolt failed was spread, naturally he should be coming back.

But then Xie Yu Zhi thought about it.
The Liao Empire had not been completely eradicated, so he should bring some people with him to go find him instead.
It was much safer after all when Chen Miao Ping was under his eyes. 

He resealed the underground chamber and walked out, using the last bit of his energy.
He couldn’t have expected that as he crossed over the doorway, his eyes would catch a shadow crouching by a corner of the wall.
He paused in surprise.

The other man seemed to discover his footsteps and lifted his head to look at Xie Yu Zhi.
That man’s handsome face was covered in dirt and grime, but it did not hinder Xie Yu Zhi from recognizing him.

“Chen Miao Ping……”

Xie Yu Zhi used the door frame to hold himself up and stared at Chen Miao Ping with unmoving and intense eyes.
He forgot how long he had not called out those three words.
Perhaps it was one day, perhaps it was ten days, but it felt as if many years had passed since he had done so.

“I didn’t leave.”

Chen Miao Ping was so tired he couldn’t even stand up.
He braced himself on the wall and turned his head to look at Xie Yu Zhi.
Using a tone that hinted at a bit of pride, he repeated again, 

“I didn’t leave.”

The scaredy-cat, the one who was afraid of death, Chen Miao Ping, had not left.
He himself thought that it was a very unbelievable thing.

Xie Yu Zhi’s Adam’s apple moved but no words would come out.
In the end, Chen Miao Ping mustered some kind of energy to push himself up and came forward to wrap himself around Xie Yu Zhi. 

He smiled, and like so many nights ago, his hands slowly smoothed up and down Xie Yu Zhi’s back.

“Don’t worry.
We are both living and living fine.”

“I didn’t leave.
And I won’t marry a woman.
For this entire lifetime, I will only be with you.”

After a washing by yesterday’s rainstorm, the ground had built itself a covering of leaves.
The Chinese parasol tree in the middle of the courtyard lightly swayed its branches, dropping its last leaf down. 

It symbolized that winter was coming, but it also meant the advent of spring.

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