Chapter 28 — Mountain Lodge
A handful of thousand-people troops rode along a secluded pathway. As for why they chose a pathway, that was because they needed to avoid being sighted. Furthermore, everyone knew that if they approached the south in an grand and imposing manner, they would likely get ambushed and separated before they could reach their destination.
“Crown Prince, there is an inn ahead. Will we be resting in the inn tonight?” Leng Yu Feng returned on his horse. They’d already traveled for 3 days and stayed overnight in the forest for all three.
Although nobody didn’t really mind, after seeing the pale crown prince, Leng Yu Feng hadn’t been able to resist riding ahead to inquire around.
“There’s actually an inn in such a remote place. Looks like this inn isn’t simple!” Huan Mo Che’s gentle smile was mingled with silken coldness, but he looked at Shang Wuxin and knew that Shang Wuxin’s decision was the most important and resolute.
Shang Wuxin looked skeptically at Leng Yu Feng. Right now, their best option was to bivouac in the forest, and she believed he was also very clear on that, so why was he doing this? She didn’t feel any malice.
“Can you guarantee its safety?” She asked. She didn’t ask about the dangers–she knew that since Leng Yu Feng brought up the inn, that meant he had a certain grasp on its nature. This man, although he’d been indifferent for the past few days, he was thoughtful.
Leng Yu Feng peered at the crown prince’s incomparably exquisite face. These few days, he dared not gaze at the prince excessively, but the prince seemed to have a bewitching charm that attracted attention.
At night, Leng Yu Feng would feel restless and crack open his eyes to furtively stare at the slumbering crown prince. The darkness concealed Leng Yu Feng’s burning gaze but did nothing to counter his rapidly skipping heartbeat.
“I can!” He affirmed. He originally wanted to say more, but all that came out of his mouth were those two icy words. However, beside him, Huan Mo Che noticed the warmth in his friend’s voice and wrinkled his eyebrows, feeling a bit uncomfortable in his heart.
Shang Wuxin nodded. Bai Shaolin gathered some people to arrange for accomodations. After all, their party did not just consist of a few people, but a few thousands of people, so even with an inn, it would be impossible to accommodate everyone.
Huan Mo Che noticed he seemed to be ignored. He opened his mouth and said laughingly, “I’m afraid it’ll take another seven or eight days to reach the south!”
TRANSLATOR CHANGE: VIN –> GIRLY
“I’m afraid we’ll be very busy from now on.” Leng Yu Feng said with a sigh, but his tone betrayed his eagerness to go all out. After all, they’d been walking quickly for the past three days, but after crossing those mountain woods, they would reach the mountain bandits’ territory. In the coming days, the journey wouldn’t be as easy and relaxed.
Shang Wuxin urged the horse, leading everyone to the remote inn. The inn appeared to be awfully shabby, and with only a few rooms. Fortunately however, it had a courtyard and at nightfall, the soldiers could also rest inside it. Shang Wuxin sized up the inn at a glance. Her eyes were still so deep, one couldn’t see the bottom; pitch-black and profound like a serene deep pool without any ripples.
Bai Shaolin was already waiting outside the inn since earlier. Seeing Shang Wuxin, he stepped forward. “Gongzi!”1Because they were outside, Shang Wuxin had already instructed everyone not to reveal their identities. But looking at the innkeeper’s eyes now, Shang Wuxin could clearly see through her.
“Oh my, distinguished guests, please come in quickly, quickly! Waiters, serve some tea without delay, the kitchen has already prepared food!” In charge of the inn was a graceful middle-aged woman. She was looking at them as if she was seeing money. As she was speaking, she wanted to get closer to Shang Wuxin, but Leng Yu Feng and Huan Mo Che blocked her path.
“Our gongzi2 doesn’t like people approaching him. Just concentrate on preparing the meals, that’s good enough!” Seeing that General Leng and Huan gongzi didn’t have good expressions, Bai Shaolin hastened to give instructions.
The innkeeper laughed a few times, then told the waiters to receive the guests. She went to urge the kitchen for the meals, while the waiters, also looking at everyone with big smiles covering their whole faces, endlessly served the soldiers tea or handed them water.
“Gongzi, your room is ready.” Bai Shaolin said. Although he wanted to find a nice room at all costs, the inn was in this condition. He still made people clean the room up everywhere, until he could let the crown prince reluctantly put up with it and rest inside.
Shang Wuxin nodded, then glanced at Leng Yu Feng and Huan Mo Che, and the three of them entered the well prepared room.
“You noticed?” Shang Wuxin asked as she pondered. Originally, she was prepared to wait awhile; she didn’t expect that some people would lose their patience so quickly.
Huan Mo Che sat at Shang Wuxin’s left side. He poured a cup of water for her and carefully made sure the water didn’t have anything peculiar inside, before he felt reassured. After pouring himself a cup, he spoke straightforwardly, “In this inn, whether it’s the innkeeper or the waiters, all of them know decent martial arts!”
From the moment Huan Mo Che entered the inn, he realized it wasn’t an ordinary inn. Even though the innkeeper successfully camouflaged herself as a greedy merchant, aptitude and caution flashed through her eyes, making Huan Mo Che understand things at a glance. Moreover, when the innkeeper left, her measured pace was similar to that of a martial arts practitioner. Also, all the waiters’ technique in wiping the tables or pouring the tea hinted that they were greatly unaccustomed to the task. More importantly, Huan Mo Che discovered that all the waiters had thick calluses in the web between their thumb and forefinger.
Shang Wuxin’s glance swept over Huan Mo Che. He unexpectedly surprised her. She already knew he wasn’t an ordinary person. Even if he looked like a precious, overly pampered young master from the capital, at present, Shang Wuxin was aware that Huan Mo Che wasn’t simple at all. On the contrary, he was immeasurably deep.
Seeing the crown prince’s line of sight on himself, Huan Mo Che suddenly held his breath. He hoped this line of sight would stay on him for a while longer, but unfortunately, the crown prince’s pair of clear as ice black eyes stopped over him for a second, then immediately left.
“These people aren’t mountain bandits!” Leng Yu Feng stated with certainty, but thinking a bit more, he added an explanation, “One can tell at a glance that these people are well-trained, and it’s absolutely impossible for mountain bandits to reach this level. Furthermore, they’re clearly here for us, but it’s unlikely that the mountain bandits know we’re delivering grains to the South!”
After Leng Yu Feng was done speaking, both he and Huan Mo Che looked at the crown prince. They wanted to find out what he would do, but based on their reasoning, they also knew the present predicament was definitely not so simple. Within the span of a single breath, Shang Wuxin’s chilly voice resounded, accompanied by a difficult to detect trace of ruthlessness.
“Go inform Bai Shaolin to pay attention to the meals tonight. If anyone gets drugged, tell him he no longer needs to return to the capital,” Shang Wuxin said with a faint smile. Not returning to the capital meant that if he couldn’t even accomplish this small thing, he would be directly discarded.
Originally, Leng Yu Feng should’ve gone for this task, but Huan Mo Che rushed to do it. In the past, he simply disdained getting involved in the Imperial Court’s matters. But now he thought that only getting himself involved in those matters would perhaps make the crown prince gaze at him a few more times like earlier.
“Tonight…” Shang Wuxin mumbled in a low voice, “Will be fun…”
Leng Yu Feng was looking at the crown prince, who was deep in thought over something with his head lowered. He was dressed in white brocade clothes with black edges. His black hair was like a waterfall, a jade hairpin holding it up as it draped over his shoulders and spilled over his back. He gave a cold impression, unable to be melted. Pale red lips, profound eyes, extraordinarily dignified, giving off a trace of ice-cold, bewitching flavor. A matchless cool elegance. As he looked on, Leng Yu Feng got somewhat obsessed. He was even imagining, if the crown prince didn’t have that kind of chilly manner, he ought to have such a graceful bearing.
“Hm?” Shang Wuxin suddenly raised her head and looked at Leng Yu Feng as she approached him, stopping a short distance away from him. “General Leng won’t go rest?”
Startled, Leng Yu Feng immediately retreated several steps. Previously, whether he was facing thousands of enemy soldiers or facing life and death, Leng Yu Feng had never retreated. But now, simply because the crown prince got near, Leng Yu Feng became a little terrified and withdrew several steps. He was afraid the crown prince would find out about those indistinct, unbearable thoughts of his. He was even more afraid that he wouldn’t be able to restrain himself… As for what he would be unable to restrain, even he didn’t know.
Without saying a word, Leng Yu Feng hurriedly walked out of the room. Looking at Leng Yu Feng, who seemed frightened, Shang Wuxin felt a little helpless. Was she too scary, frightening such a valiant general…