Chapter 8 - Don’t Love Me in Your Next Life
Merchant’s City, Barracks of Gao Xianzhi!
Within the central tent.
Crown Prince Song and Gao Xianzhi were sitting and drinking tea, Lin Chong was respectfully standing in front.
“How is the morale of the soldiers?” Crown Prince smiled and asked.
Lin Chong nodded his head: “The arrangements by the General have caused the soldiers to be more energetic, at the same time, immensely hate Gu Hai. Now that they are allowed to communicate with their families, their mentality has improved, and during the conquest of the surrounding cities, the progress is a lot more faster due to heightened ferocity.
“What about that bunch of merchants?” Gao Xianzhi asked after drinking some tea.
“Everything has subsided, the merchants are no longer impudent and no one dares to set off any firecrackers or fireworks,, at most, they brought just a few more letters from the rear or secretly smuggled some family members of the victims. However, after the General’s a.n.a.lysis, the soldiers just blamed Gu Hai for the disappearance of their family members, none of them dared to lose their tempers!” Lin Chong respectfully said.
“Keep a careful eye on those merchants, whenever Gu Hai employs a stratagem, it is unblockable. Do not allow them have any prolonged exposure with the men. If anyone tries to resist immediately restrain them!” Gao Xianzhi said after a mouthful of tea.
“Yes, General, be at ease, only……!” Lin Chong suddenly frowned
“Oh?” Gao Xianzhi expression immediately tightened, What happened this time?
Ever since Gao Xianzhi knew Gu Hai was his opponent, he had never relaxed. He was very carefully about every little detail, after all, not long ago, a mutiny nearly occurred without any warning.
Lin Chong looked at Crown Prince Song.
“What’s going on? Should I withdraw?” Crown Prince Song said with a sullen face.
“No, General, Your Royal Highness, you should know this as well, the kidnapping of soldier family member could have been orchestrated by Gu Hai, with the s.h.i.+fting of the blame on local officials. However, even though the officials are not to be blamed, anxiousness still exists in everyone’s hearts. With the General’s request to His Royal Majesty for the involved parties to be punished, the restlessness in the soldiers subsided, however, the problem of the missing family members hasn’t been resolved and is still continuously ongoing!” Lin Chong explained.
“Indeed, all we can do at the moment is to search everywhere for them. We already know about this, what is difference this time?” Gao Xianzhi asked in doubt.
“It seems the target this time is the Royal Grandson, Song Zhengxi!” Lin Chong said sullenly.
“What?” Crown Prince Song’s complexion changed and immediately stood up.
The Royal Grandson? That would be his son. His son was all the way in the Song Capital City, how was he implicated?
Gao Xianzhi’s pupils constricted.
“In the past, it was just ordinary officials and n.o.bles, but now, it is the Royal Grandson? Gu Hai is finally baring his teeth?” Gao Xianzhi’s face was ugly.
“What’s going on?” Crown Prince Song’s complexion changed
“The news came from Song Capital, there were 15 incidences of families being destroyed, the evidence pointed towards His Royal Highness Song Zhengxi, the reasoning behind these situation was due to His Royal Highness Song Zhengxi coveting women, causing a disaster in the Song Capital. At the moment, there are 15 officers, now kneeling in front of my tent, requesting that General takes action!” Lin Chong frowned.
“That b.a.s.t.a.r.d Gu Hai! Sabotaging my son? Lin Chong, have you cleared things up with them? That all of this is just slander!” Crown Prince Song said anxiously.
Lin Chong knitted his eyebrows and said: “I have already investigated, they received the news were either from the relatives of the soldiers directly or from letters sent by their relatives, However, only 13 of them were reported as missing, which looks like Gu Hai was not deranged enough to kill the relatives of the soldiers!”
“Eh, if Gu Hai directly killed their relatives to sabotage my son, wouldn’t that be more beneficial to him?” Crown Prince Song frowned.
“Oh no!” Gao Xianzhi’s expression changed.
“I just thought of it, Gu Hai’s heart is truly vicious, how frightening! I was nearly deceived by him once again, to think that his plan concealed such a poison! When Gu Hai kidnapped the family members of the soldiers, the soldier began hating him, but, in their hearts, they still hold a trace of hope, thinking that at least their family was still alive, although they felt hatred towards Gu Hai, it hasn’t gone to the point where they were considered him as a mortal enemy. In their hearts, Gu Hai kidnapped their families, however, he didn't kill them, which is a rea.s.suring result. If they received the news from their kin personally coming to inform them, then it would have been a worst-case scenario for them. I restrained their anger and thoughts, however, they weren't able to calm their tempers down, instead, it was just suppressed. This kind of suppressed anger, once it explodes, they wouldn’t listen to anyone, including myself. Furthermore, If their families are with Gu Hai, then during battle, these soldier might hold themselves back! Although it is just a small group, but with this state of mind it would spread! I do not know what other plots Gu Hai has utilized on them, but if Gu Hai instigated them to join his camp, they might……!” Gao Xianzhi’s complexion keeps changing.
“Instigate them?” Crown Prince Song took a deep breath of cold air.
“Lin Chong, you said that out of the 15 officers, 13 of them had missing family members, what about the other 2?” Gao Xianzhi stared at Lin Chong.
Lin Chong’s expression turned ugly, gazed at the Crown Prince and lowered his head: “It was indeed the Royal Grandson, Song Zhengxi’s doings.”
“En? “ Crown Prince Song’s face sank.
“Your Royal Highness, this subordinate will be direct, the Royal Grandson, Song Zhengxi, have been using his ident.i.ty to cause all sorts of harm to civilian women. It is not as though you are not aware of these matters, just before the war, Your Royal Highness even helped him by taking care of the Song Capital officials, so that they would help suppress this ugly business of the Royal Grandson!” Lin Chong said in a soft voice.
“Peng!” Crown Prince Song slapped his hand on the table.
“Lin Chong, are you sure that it is the doings of the Royal Grandson?” Gao Xianzhi’s face was beyond ugly.
“Yes, the two of them are my direct subordinates, I know that their younger sisters are extremely pretty, they wanted to arrange a marriage between myself and them, but I already have Xiao Die and didn’t wish to take a concubine, thus nothing occurred. The person who delivered the news to them are brothers who went through life and death with them, just that they were crippled during a battle and were sent home. They have seen the incident happened and even seen the bodies, they even brought along an object from the family!” Lin Chong said quietly.
“Pa!” Crown Prince Song sat back on his chair with a plop.
“That brat, before I left I told him not to cause any trouble, I keep writing letters to his mother, to keep a close eye on him, to think that, to think that……!” Crown Prince Song said painfully.
“You just said, they are brothers-in-arms who brought the news? Are they reliable? Have they been bribed by Gu Hai? You must know that, regardless of the level of friends.h.i.+p or what they been through, there would always be something that could convince them?” Gao Xianzhi said in a low voice.
Crown Prince Song’s eyes brightened, the messenger could have been bribed.
“This subordinate does not dare to guarantee it, but they have been kneeling in front of my tent and are begging the General to do something. According to the notice issued, anyone who humiliate or bully the families of the soldiers, they will be executed immediately. The crimes of the Royal Grandson indicates execution! They are begging the General to handle this fairly! To take revenge for their loved ones!” Lin Chong said sullenly.
“This… this is still not confirmed, how do we judge?” Crown Prince Song said anxiously.
Lin Chong looked at Crown Prince Song said: “Your Royal Highness, although this subordinate does not dare to guarantee anything, but the Royal Grandson is fully capable of committing such acts, furthermore, while you were able to suppress him when you were in Song Capital, now that you have left for so long, not many people can control him anymore. If they were bribed by Gu Hai, then Gu Hai is too amazing because before these 15 officers were dispatched, the Royal Grandson has already exhibited an att.i.tude that they hated, this was deeply rooted in their hearts. Furthermore, as whether the messenger is a problem, although I can’t guarantee it, but I have met them, they are loyal and would rather die than submit and there were bodies as evidence. There is a 90% chance of it being the truth!”
“A 90% of it being my son?” Crown Prince Song’s complexion turned unsightly.
“They want the military law to be upheld, to execute the Royal Grandson!” Lin Chong nodded his head.
“Song Zhengxi cannot die!” Gao Xianzhi’s face sunk.[a][b]
“Oh?” Crown Prince Song’s eyes brightened as he looked at Gao Xianzhi.
But Gao Xianzhi’s face remained gloomy.
“I understand now, the Royal Grandson is just a big banner. If we kill the Royal Grandson, then the next day there could be evidence against the Royal Tutor’s misdoings, then the day after, it would be the Prime Minister, soon after, it would be the Princes and the Dukes. When that happens, the royal family will be killed every day, which in turn would affect the morale of the army! Forget about fighting the war, the government would be in a panic which would shake the entire nation.” Gao Xianzhi’s face turned very ugly.
“Song Zhengxi cannot die?” Lin Chong looked towards Gao Xianzhi in astonishment.
“Gu Hai’s plot is too intensive. We can no longer take it slow, we have to summon all the soldiers and initiate the final battle. We should storm the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s asap. Even if it very well ruin us, we have to destroy them with everything we have and end this quickly. Or else, we would never be able to stop him!” Gao Xianzhi said.
“Then…Then, what should we do now? They are still kneeling outside my tent!” Lin Chong said in a worry.
Crown Prince Song also starred at Gao Xianzhi. At this moment, there was too much at stake. If Gao Xianzhi was determined to kill Song Zhengxi, then even he, as the Crown Prince, would not be able to stop it. Not only was the King overseeing, but the Immortal Sects as well. He had no means to save him.
But now, Gao Xianzhi wanted to save him?
“General, does this count as using your authority for personal gains? Suppressing the weak with power?” Lin Chong said with a frown.
“No, the situation is more troublesome than I expected, I need to immediately suppress this. Your Royal Highness, please issue an order to recall all the troops attacking the surrounding cities, immediately gather the 800 thousand soldiers and storm the Tiger Cage Pa.s.s. Once we destroy Tiger Cage Pa.s.s, then Gu Hai’s plots would be useless, regardless of how many he has!” Gao Xianzhi said in a solemn tone.
“Alright!” Crown Prince Song nodded his head in grat.i.tude.
“What about Song Zhengxi?” Lin Chong look towards Gao Xianzhi.
“You just said that there were 15 people kneeling outside your tent, 13 of them should be easy to restrain, just push the blame to Gu Hai. As for all the soldiers whose family members are missing, just allow them to go home and search for their family with the city, they should be very willing.” Gao Xianzhi said in a low voice.
“This subordinate understands, to remove these unstable elements, but what about the 2 soldiers that are likely to have been harmed by Song Zhengxi?” Lin Chong asked in a heavy tone.
“Secure them, lock down the news. You can even let them go back to investigate. We must keep the news from spreading to the minimal!” Gao Xianzhi said.
“What if they insist on having General to take action?” Lin Chong frowned and said.
“At this moment, keep the bigger picture in view! Lin Chong, you have followed me for years, you should understand an army does not run on compa.s.sion!” A cold gleam flashed in Gao Xianzhi’s eye.
“Yes!” Lin Chong frowned as he walked out of the tent.
Crown Prince Song’s order was quickly pa.s.sed down.
Lin Chong once again saw the 15 soldiers who had been kneeling.
He pacified the 13 people, blaming everything on Gu Hai and got them to pack their belongings up to go home and search for their family.
However, there were two left, staring at Lin Chong.
The two of them have already cried till their eyes had turned red. They refused to get up from their kneeling position.
One of them tore his clothes.
“My lord, look at this, look at my body, these are the scars I obtained when I went to the battle with you. After following you for so many years, I have never complained about anything, but now, my sister have been dishonored, my old mother was killed, my whole family had been silenced. I only ask My Lord to help me. After following you for so many years, do I not even have the right to ask you this?”
“My lord, stop trying to persuade me. You should be well aware of what kind of person is Old Wu is, you have seen him. I had saved his life, he has no sons or daughter, he is crippled, do you think, he would be moved by money? No matter how much you give him, he has no need for it. Why would he lie to me? Do you know what he brought me? My sister’s stone which had always been on her neck. Since childhood, it had never left her body, it has always been hidden in her clothes and no one knows about it. If not for the fact that old Wu had to deal with her corpse, he would not be able to have it? My lord!”
The two of them continued to knock their heads on the ground.
Lin Chong also felt badly in his hearts. Although he believed the two of them, the General’s orders...
“You guys, don’t worry, immediately go back to the capital and investigate clearly, if it is true, then...!” Lin Chong persuaded.
“No, once we go, who’s going to believe us? Furthermore, when we ask the General to take action then, we, as small figures, might not even be able to return to camp. Although I am a boor, I understand what’s going on. If I don’t get an order from the General now, there will never be a chance in future!”
“My lord, I understand, in the past, the ones committing these crimes were just the small officials, no matter how many are killed, it doesn’t matter. This time, it is the Royal Grandson, a big figure, we are just ants, maybe halfway en route we might just die without knowing why!”
“My lord, I have already pa.s.sed the news around. Now, many people in the barracks are already aware of it. The Royal Grandson, while taking advantage of the chaos of war, had killed my whole family. He should be executed! But, he is in a high position, who would dare to trouble him? In the future, he might be the Crown Prince, and in the later future, the King. We would never be able to take revenge. Did the General not say that he would take action on our behalf? Now, let him take action, if he does not, then he was just spouting bulls.h.i.+t! The orders of the General are just bulls.h.i.+t!”
“Imprudent!” Lin Chong glared at them.
The two of them immediately knocked their head on the ground relentlessly.
“My lord, we just want revenge, even in the face of death, I want revenge! When we first joined the army, it was because of what you said, but now, because I listened, my family is dead. My lord, boohoo...!”
Lin Chong immediately felt incomparably uncomfortable. But he had no means to do anything.
“My lord, we fight with our lives on the line, for what? Song Zhengxi is the future King, despite us fighting for him, he kills our family behind our backs! Boohoo...!” Cried the other man.
“The General will give you the account, just that, the situation now is dangerous, when the battle is over, even if I have to risk my life, I will ask the General to do something?” Lin Chong persuaded.
“My lord, you should know more clearly than us, when the battle is over, no one is going to listen to the General, what use would it be? Boohoo...!” Cried the other man.
Lin Chong clenched his jaw, he had no other choice but to be vicious. Looking at the two man, his eyes had a cold gleam, his hands were placed on the scabbard of his saber.
“Brother-in-law, Brother-in-law!” Suddenly, there was an anxious voice coming from outside the tent.
An extremely thin boy with a pale complexion and tattered clothes face rushed his way into the tent, followed by two soldiers.
“My lord, since he is your family, I did not stop him!” The two guard explained.
“En, go out first!” Lin Chong nodded his head.
The two guards immediately left.
“Xian Yu, why are you here? Why do you look like this?” Lin Chong said in surprise.
Seeing Lin Chong, Xiao Yu starting to cry.
“Brother-in-law, you must avenge sister, sister died with a grievance, boohoo...!” Xiao Yu knelt on the ground hugging Lin Chong’s leg as he cried.
“Xiao Die? Xiao Die? What happened to Xiao Die?” Lin Chong’s face immediately turned wild, the hand gripping his sword suddenly trembled. He looked at the weak boy in fright.
“Sister… Sister was killed by the Royal Grandson Song Zhengxi, our whole village has been killed by Song Zhengxi, they burnt the entire village, everyone is dead, all dead! Boohoo...!” Xiao Yu cried in pain.
Lin Chong immediately felt stars spinning around him. The image of what happened before the war flashed in his brain.
“Husband, could you not go on this campaign? Isn’t it better for us to be just merchants? If you go to war, I would be afraid!”
“Xiao Die, believe in me, there will be no problems, I am following the General, and as long as the General is around, there won’t be any danger, trust me!”
“But, boohoo..., if you go, what if something happens? I can’t live without you!”
“Nothing will happen, following the General to gain merits has been my life’s dream, trust me!”
“But, lives are lost in a war, what if…, boohoo...!”
“Don’t speak anymore, I have decided! If I die, I will love you again in my next life!”
Love you again in next life?
Lin Chong stumbled, back then, because he really wanted to follow Gao Xianzhi, thus he stated those words in a fit of anger, he even established a premise that he might die. But not Xiao Die! Not Xiao Die!
Now that he thought about it, how hurt she must have been! Why didn’t he think from Xiao Die’s angle, why was he so selfish?
Xiao Die? I don’t want to love you in the next life, I want to love you in this life!
Lin Chong trembled. While Xiao Yu continued.
“Brother-in-law, it was Song Zhengxi, he noticed sister during the previous lantern festival.When you left, Song Zhengxi visited us multiple times to hara.s.s sister, however, she wasn’t willing, until that day.... Song Zhengxi attempted to molest sister, yet she resisted by slapping him, which resulted in him leaving and only to bring a group of people, striving to a.s.sault her!” Xiao Yu cried.
“Song Zhengxi?” Lin Chong’s whole body trembled.
“Sister vowed that she rather die and decided to commit suicide by striking her head against a pillar. Song Zhengxi felt angry and humiliated as he ordered all of his subordinates to defile her corpse before slaughtering the entire village. He did not even show mercy to sister’s body. Everyone in the village including myself was impaled after which he burned the entire village; everyone perished! All of them are dead! Boohoo…!” Xiao Yu cried.
Lin Chong suddenly knelt on the ground, he held his head in pain as an unimaginable pain struck his head.
Departing for this campaign, the goal was to earn merits, but more crucially, it was to gain enough merits to become an official, which would make Xiao Die a spouse of an official, and be without worries. Unfortunately...!
“Xiao Die, I should have stayed, I shouldn’t have left! When you needed me the most, instead of being there for you, I was helping Song Zhengxi fight a war...I was actually helping Song Zhengxi fight a war!” Lin Chong cried as he held his head.
“Brother-in-law, before sister committed suicide, she looked north, seemingly looking at your direction as she spoke a few words! It looked quite sad!” Xiao Yu cried as he talked.
“Sister said: Lin Chong, don’t love me in your next life!” Xiao Yu painfully recalled.
Don’t love me in your next life?
Don’t love me in your next life?
Don’t love me?
Xiao Die’s despair and helplessness before her death kept resounding in his head!
“Ah!” Lin Chong held his head and shouted.
Lin Chong’s let out a loud and painful cry which resounded in the whole barracks.
“My lord, do you still want to silence us? To allow Song Zhengxi roam free?”
“Some big picture, some war, I just want my family to come back to life, my lord, I beg you, please get the General take revenge for us!”
“My lord, boohoo...!”
Sounds of crying were rising from the large tent.
In fact, Lin Chong’s painful cry had long since attracted the attention of the whole barracks.
After a while.
Lin Chong walked out of the tent like a zombie, followed by Xiao Yu and the two soldiers in pain as they slowly made their way to the central tent.
They walked till they were outside Gao Xianzhi’s tent.
Lin Chong slowly removed his battle gown and his officer robes as he laid his upper body bare and knelt outside Gao Xianzhi’s tent, causing everyone who saw his scarred body, feel chills running through their spines.
Behind him were the two officers, who followed his actions of removing their attires and presenting their scarred bodies. Together they knelt outside Gao Xianzhi tent.
“General, Lin Chong had accompanied General for 15 years, killed 500 enemy soldiers, received more than 50 injuries, went through fire and water, risked my life and limb, without a single complaint, without a shred of fear. Now, Lin Chong’s family has been slaughtered, and I beg General to take action, to uphold the law by executing the Royal Grandson, Song Zhengxi!”
“Begging the General to fulfill his promise, to uphold the law and execute the Royal Grandson, Song Zhengxi!” The two bitter officers shouted painfully as well.
The 13 soldiers who had been persuaded before, immediately rushed over the moment they overheard this news.
“Begging the General to uphold the law and execute Song Zhengxi!” The 13 officers resonated together.
When the soldiers who went through life and death with Lin Chong heard this and witnessed Lin Chong kneeling, they knelt as well.
Lin Chong was Gao Xianzhi’s Vanguard commander, when he begged, hundreds of others followed. They were always the first in line for battle, brothers-in arms that risked their lives alongside him.
Not long after, there were more than 500 men outside Gao Xianzhi tent. All of them unclothed and showcased their battle scarred bodies.
Lin Chong knew that secretly going to find Gao Xianzhi would be useless; to get revenge, he needed to mobilize the entire army.
Lin Chong's’ loud shouting had indeed attracted the attention of a couple hundred thousand soldiers within the barracks.
To execute the Royal Grandson? Someone who could potentially be the future Monarch. Was it even possible?
Whether Lin Chong’s situation was real and the General’s att.i.tude to it, were two separate matters altogether. Would the General offend the Royal Grandson for Lin Chong? Does he have the authority fulfill a promise he vowed not long ago? Or would he go back on his words due to the opposite party’s status? Are the military laws iron-clad or just a joke?
Countless soldiers arrived at the scene.
Crown Prince Song, who was issuing orders nearby, had his heart tremble when he suddenly overheard Lin Chong shouting for the execution of Song Zhengxi.
Gao Xianzhi, on the other hand, was seated in his chair, behind the curtain door of his tent knitting his eyebrows tightly. Although he couldn’t see the situation outside, he roughly understood it.
The teacup in Gao Xianzhi hand shattered.
“Gu Hai, I underestimated your speed, you didn’t even allow me any room to breathe?” Gao Xianzhi’s face was very ugly.
Song Kingdom, Song Capital.
Gu Han gazed at the crippled man in front of him, and the cripple stared back at Gu Han, with a gloomy face.
“I have already written the letter, I hope you will fulfill your promise, and spare the two children from my family !” the crippled said in a gloomy voice.
“Old Wu, don’t worry, they are definitely safe. Please forgive me, but I was forced to do it. In times of war, someone has to die. My actions minimizes the number of casualties. Once the war concludes, everyone will be safe and sound!” Gu Han stated gravely.
The cripple clenched his fist, as he was helpless.
Actually, the grievous situation of Lin Chong’s subordinates was false.
After Gu Han made arrangements for the crippled old Wu, he went to rendezvous with Gu Hai.
Gazing at the Weiqi board, Gu Hai was in deep thought.
“G.o.dfather, have you ascertained the latest news??” Gu Han asked.
“Even if it’s sent by pigeons, the news would be a lot slower, it's pointless to a.n.a.lyze it. Perhaps Lin Chong has already begun stirring up the barracks!”
“G.o.dfather, the real and the fake information that you have prepared early on, was it all for Lin Chong?” Gu Han asked curiously.
“Not bad, it doesn’t particularly matter whether the information is real or fake, it's sufficient as long as the most crucial one was true.Song Zhengxi asked for it! Although he is the grandson of the King, this can be considered my good luck!” Gu Hai placed a white piece down as he said.
“What would you have done if there was no Song Zhengxi?” Gu Han asked curiously.
“If there was no Song Zhengxi?” Gu Hai stopped and looked at Gu Han.
“Yes, what if Song Zhengxi didn’t kill Xiao Die?”
“Haha, it’s not a problem, this scheme is known as “creating something from nothing”. If Xiao Die didn’t exist, there would be Xiao Mao, Xiao Hua or Xiao Wen. Furthermore, I didn’t intend on using Song Zhengxi from the beginning, after all, he is just a Royal Grandson, his status isn’t high enough. It doesn’t matter as there are others that could be used as the openers of the play such as the Imperial Tutor or the Prime Minister. The key connection only requires a black piece, and in this game, I have more than one black piece!” Gu Hai laughed.
After saying this, he took a black piece from a bowl full of black stones and placed it on the Weiqi board.
Gu Han’s expression changed and nodded his head: “I see, Song Zhengxi just happens to encounter us, which could be considered as his rotten luck, anyone could have replaced him as long as they are in the right position?”
“That’s right!” Gu Hai gently smiled.
“Such a ma.s.sive undertaking, all for Lin Chong, will a single Song Zhengxi be sufficient?” Gu Han asked worriedly.
“It’s sufficient because he is the Royal Grandson. Currently, 800 thousand soldiers are waiting to see how Gao Xianzhi handles this incident!” Gu Hai revealed a trace of confidence.
“If I was Gao Xianzhi, I would kill Song Zhengxi, even if he is the Royal Grandson!” Gu Han said after a deep thought.
“Yes, kill! But, the round has just started, thus, I need him...alive!” Gu Hai stated as he slowly placed a white piece on the Weiqi board.
 Gu Hai is using a Weiqi/Baduk/Go a.n.a.logy, you need to surround your opponent’s pieces to remove them, thus creating a circle. Before the circle is completed, it would be missing one stone to complete the connection.
[a]this breaking point is fine
[b]okay than, ill look at the rest of the chapter tonight, early tomorrow morning