Chang An was awakened by the sound of crying. All the people in the tent had left, so at this time, it was very quiet. His shoulders were a little stiff, as they always were after lying down for a long time. A’Ye had said there was a problem with his qi and blood, but Chang An didn’t take it to heart. There really weren’t many places on his body that didn’t have problems. If he worried about his head, he couldn’t worry about his feet, so he figured he might as well let it be.
At that moment, two hands suddenly lifted his upper body. Hua Yi rubbed his shoulders and back, not too lightly but not too heavily. Chang An was half-lying on his lap in a daze. His eyes blinked twice, half-opened, half-closed, as if he were a little guy again lying sickly in Zhe Yan’s arms, a little confused about what was going on today.
After a few moments, however, the tip of his nose couldn’t help but twitch a little. He couldn’t smell the scent of herbal medicine in his memory, and only then did he regain consciousness, the blood flowing freely through his upper body.
When Hua Yi saw he was fine enough, he let go of his hand and helped him up. Then he brought down the bowl of fish porridge on the small stove. “Have some.”
Chang An pointed to the outside of the tent and asked, “What happened to that thing?”
Hua Yi said, “Don’t worry about him. He’s just pretending. It hadn’t been a few days since this mermaid came ashore. He didn’t learn any shit skills, but now he’s so proud of himself1倒长行市 – Describing someone who has become capable, but it’s used in a derogatory way. after learning how to fake cry.”
Chang An listened carefully, and sure enough, the cry wasn’t right. It wasn’t a straightforward cry. It had a pitch that went high and low and had varying rhythms. It was melodiously sung like a ballad, interspersed with a few rhythmic hiccups.
Hua Yi smiled. “Did you hear that? It’s a beautiful cry. After a while, someone might be willing to pay him to fake cry.”
Chang An had never heard of anyone willing to spend money to do such a thing. Hua Yi reached out and rubbed his hair, and his eyes softened little by little. He explained gently, “There are always some people who are not filial to their parents, but they don’t want anyone to know about it. When their parents die, they’ll hire someone to go to his family house and cry. It will look good to outsiders… Never mind, you don’t have to understand this crap.”
Chang An drank half the bowl of porridge in one gulp, and his cheeks bulged. Hua Yi looked at him for a moment, and then suddenly said, “Why don’t you come live with me?”
Chang An was caught off guard. He was eating in a hurry, and when he wanted to speak, he didn’t care about the hot porridge in his throat. He immediately choked and coughed disorderly.
Hua Yi stole some fun on one hand, but on the other, he also tried to break the worried expression on his face. Patting him on the back, he said earnestly, “See, you can even choke on porridge. How have you been living? It’s such a mess.”
After having a hard time catching his breath, Chang An’s face turned red. He said, “Get lost.”
Hua Yi stopped talking, disgusting Chang An with an expression of a good wife and loving mother that he had learned from somewhere. He just looked at him with a smile without saying anything, waiting for his answer.
As Chang An endured the goose bumps on his body, he slowed down and drank the remaining half of the bowl of porridge. He turned the small bowl twice in his hands, then asked with some hesitation, “How can two men live together?”
When Hua Yi heard the words, his eyes immediately turned cold. He pressed down on Chang An’s shoulders, and his fingers unconsciously tightened. Lowering his voice, he asked in a slightly forced tone, “Who was it? What nonsense did they tell you behind my back?”
Most of the time, Hua Yi was a wise, far-sighted, broad-minded, and gentle leader who not only treated his men well, but also his own tribe. He took over a tribe halfway through, and within a few months, he was doing a good job at it. After running away from calamities, many people died, but since he kept accepting refugees, the size of the tribe was now three times larger than when Luo Tong was the leader. The fact that people were willing to follow him wholeheartedly showed that this Chief had done a remarkable job.
But no one was perfect after all. When Chang An’s temper flared up, he would be more violent than usual. Hua Yi, however, was much more subtle than him and would not show it. But the hotter his liver got2肝火愈盛 – the more angry he becomes, the colder his heart would become, and he would judge others with the greatest malice.
Before Chang An’s voice died down, seven or eight conspiracies of different degrees and purposes had already appeared in Hua Yi’s heart like stormy waves. He believed that Chang An was broad-minded, and that this kind of fuss would never enter his eyes. A few years ago, he couldn’t even figure out how kids were born, so how could he ask such a question?
However, Chang An paused and said frankly, “No one said anything. I wanted to ask myself.”
Although he may be a bit slower than others, he was not blind. Even a dull-witted teenager would grow up one day. After the Autumn Hunting Festival, Chang An became interested in these things, and he often paid close attention to how other people lived in their “homes.” He would also trace back to the memories of his childhood, which all seemed right, but were actually wrong. Inevitably, he felt it was a bit absurd and a little awkward.
As for why it was odd, he couldn’t explain. It was just like how most people held chopsticks with their right hand. Was there a problem in holding chopsticks with the left hand? Chang An couldn’t figure out how the reasoning was wrong, yet it just wasn’t right. He had also seen A’Fen correcting little Jila, forcing the little thing to stop using his left hand and instead use the right one.
A’Fen said that it was because, during festivals, people all ate in a circle. If Jila didn’t eat with his right hand like the other’s, he’d easily bump into their elbows, which wasn’t good.
He’d seen men and men together, but for some reason, they didn’t end up living together for a long time. So would it be… bad to be different from the others?
Hua Yi stretched out his hand and pinched his chin. The man stopped smiling, his face sinking. With a voice sounding as if it were frozen and his hand heavy, he asked, “What? Are you going to back out? Chang An, I am not going to go back on my word here, and you have agreed to it. If you hadn’t nodded, I wouldn’t object and wouldn’t argue with you. But now, you have given your word and nodded your head. If you waver and change your mind…”
… I’m going to have to fight you to the bitter end.
Hua Yi’s molars grounded lightly for a while. Saying to himself that “he wasn’t that bad yet,” he swallowed the last part of the sentence that hurt his feelings.
All his life, he extremely detested it when others betrayed him.
Chang An tilted his head back in discomfort and frowned, “I didn’t want to go back on my words.”
Then he thought carefully for a moment and suggested, “Why don’t you come live at my place? My place is quiet. Your tent is too noisy, with people coming and going all day long. If something happens, you can come back and talk to them. Is this okay?”
After hearing this, Hua Yi looked at him for a moment without moving or making a sound, and then his face eased. The tips of his eyebrows rose a bit, and he showed a little smile. He silently leaned in to hug him, then gently kissed Chang An on the neck.
Hua Yi said in a deep voice, “Okay, I’ll move in two days later. There’s gonna be war soon, so it’s more convenient for me to live here. You can fix up the place for me first. I’m going to share a room with you, okay?”
Then he deliberately blew gently into his neck, making Chang An’s scalp explode, and he ducked straight to one side. Hua Yi refused to let him hide. His hand around Chang An’s waist seemed to be made of iron, not relaxing at all.
Hua Yi continued, “No one is allowed to touch my territory, especially that little brat who peed in his pants…”
Chang An asked, “How did you know that Qingliang peed his pants?”
Hua Yi choked for a moment. He didn’t tell Changan that the whole tribe—no, it should be the whole walled city—was his eyes and ears. If he wanted to know something, not the slightest thing could be hidden from him. Evading the subject, he pinched Chang An’s waist and said vaguely, “I just know. The Wet Pants God told Suo Laimu.”
Chang An: “……”
A war was indeed coming.
Older people have heard about “Black Wind Puya.”
It wasn’t the name of a person, but of a clan—the largest ghost tribe on the continent. Unlike other ghost tribes, it was a complete tribe. They never intermarried with outsiders, and they were so mysterious. The most cunning and well-informed merchants always kept quiet about them. No one knew exactly where their tribe was.
Twenty years ago, the Puya clan was at its peak. The head of the Puya clan was born a madman. When Black Wind came into his hands, he became more and more brazen, sacking four or five large tribes in a row. They didn’t want territory. They just killed people, took the stuff, and left immediately. At one time, they swept across almost the entire Northern continent and even reached the South.
Unfortunately, that mad clan head didn’t succeed. He died of a sudden illness before he could reach the South. At this moment, the angry and terrified people with vengeances all breathed a sigh of relief. A large number of mercenaries were hired to kill Black Wind, but Black Wind Puya mysteriously disappeared into obscurity for twenty years and had no leader in sight.
This time, their plot to kidnap the fleeing tribe and try to infiltrate the gates of the city was foiled. They were obviously not going to play any games. Every day, they reported under the city gates, stalking them like a salivating wild dog.
Hua Yi’s tent was full of people, including the group of wounded soldiers who had been forced into the city and were “rescued” by Hua Yi. The wounded soldiers anxiously waited, relying on them to rescue their families.
After a long speech, Suo Laimu exhaled. He drank a mouthful of water to moisten his throat, shook his head, and sighed, “Looks like the calamity didn’t care whether your tribe is mysterious or not. It hit where it should hit. For years, no one knew where the Puya family was hiding, and it turns out they’ve been on the East coast. We really have fate with them, meeting them here after coming from far away!”
Hua Yi said coolly, “Yes, the fate is deep. So why don’t I open the city gates tomorrow and ask if there’s a young girl in the Puya family that they could ‘marry off’ to you?”
Ka Zuo simple-mindedly burst into laughter. But then Suo Laimu faintly gave him a glance, and his laughing abruptly stopped. He could feel a chill coming over his body.
Hua Yi gave them both a glance. His ten fingers were against each other, and he tapped them one by one on the wooden table. Soon there was no more whispering, and they all waited with bated breath for the Chief’s decision.
After a moment, Hua Yi said, “A fight is definitely in order. If we don’t kill all these sons of bitches, we won’t be able to live here in peace. No one will object if I say so, right?”
He paused for a moment, and the tent was even quieter than before.
Hua Yi looked around and nodded slowly. “As for how to fight, if you have any ideas, speak freely. I’m all ears.”