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A Step into the Past Chapter 226

Volume 20 Chapter 7

Book 20 Chapter 7 – Victorious Return

Xiang Shaolong and the rest went up the ships which Xiao Pan sent to them and followed the river back to Xianyang, avoiding the arduous journey of a long road travel.

On the ships that came there were Ji Yanran, Zhao Zhi, Zhou Wei and Lu Dan’er, which was a pleasant surprise for Xiang Shaolong, Wu Guo and Jing Jun.

Wu Tingfang, the perfect mother who loves her son more than her own life did not come along because she wants to stay at home with Xiang Bao’er. Naturally the Tian sisters will have to stay behind as well.

All of them happily updated one another of the events that had happened.

During dinner at the dining area of the ship, Xiang Shaolong asked about Qin Qing and Ji Yanran’s expression became gloomy as she said, “Lady Huayang just passed away last month and Sister Qing wrote a letter back to say that she wants to observe a mourning period of one year for Lady Huayang and at the same time take care of the family business. She won’t be able to return to Xianyang for the time being.”

Dan’er, who was being all lovey-dovey with Jing Jun and whispering to him, said smugly, “Third Brother have yet to thank me. This time if not for me who kept pestering his Highness such that he cannot reject, how can you possibly be hugging Learned Lady Ji on your left and Sister Zhi on your right?”

Everyone saw that although she is already a wife, but she still retains the innocence of a young girl and they all smiled.

Zhou Wei said with a sigh, “Ever since all of you left for war, not only us, but the whole of Xianyang was really worried. The people on the streets all lost their smile, afraid that the coalition army will arrive at our gates. Only when the reports came, the whole city erupted in joy and everyone rushed out to the streets, dancing and singing all night long and constantly cheering his Highness and Master Xiang’s names. They believed that the Black Dragon has protected them, that’s why we have such a miraculous outcome to the war.”

Everyone was proud and touched at the same time.

Lu Dan’er’s focus suddenly turned towards Huan Qi and with the air of an elder sister, commanded, “Xiao Qi, on your return to Xianyang this time, you should settle down and start a family. I’ll make arrangements on this matter, you just have to listen to my instructions.”

Wu Guo chortled, “If you listen to Lady Jing’s suggestion, won’t that be a blind marriage?”

Immediately everyone in the hall roared out in laughter.

As Lu Dan’er was staring angrily at Wu Guo, Ji Yanran said, “We heard that once Lu Buwei received news of your great victory, he lost his appetite for three days. Three days before we left to come here, he led his people and went to his new house at Donggun. But we suspect he has another ulterior motive, maybe he’s gone to see people like Cheng Qiao and Du Bi.”

Teng Yi asked, “How’s Lu Buwei’s relationship with Lao Ai now?”

Lu Dan’er fought to reply, “There’s nothing much between the two of them, they even appeared close during Guan Zhongxie and Lu Niangrong’s wedding, talking and laughing. But the people under them were having a good time fighting one another. Now the city guards are obviously split into two factions, on one side is Guan Zhongxie and Xu Shang and on the other side is Han Xie. And Xu Shang and Han Xie are fighting over Drunken Wind Loft’s Yang Yu, arguing all the time.”

She turned towards Xiang Shaolong and said, “Lord Changping instructed me to inform all of you first that he will be arranging another celebratory feast for all of you at Drunken Wind Loft.”

Huan Qi was concerned about the reinforcement troops he singlehandedly trained and started asking about the Meng brothers and little Wang Bi’s situation.

Zhao Zhi said, “His Highness has promoted Xiao Bi to General and sent him to Dongjiang to support Wang. That Li Mu is really formidable, all of his battles are swift. If not for Commander General Wang who is there to hold the fort, I’m afraid we’d have lost the four counties in the east.”

Teng Yi asked about Meng Ao and Ji Yanran sighed, “He fell sick shortly after he was summoned back to Xianyang. That heartless man Lu Buwei was very cold towards him. Now Lu Buwei is fully supporting Guan Zhongxie, Xu Shang, Zhao Pu and Lian Jiao. Recently he sent Guan Zhongxie and Zhao Pu to attack Han and I heard they even manage to take over a city.”

Xiang Shaolong thought that this is a big headache. After all Lu Buwei does hold power in his hands and now that he is in cahoots with Cheng Qiao and the rest, he’ll be even more difficult to deal with. Guan Zhongxie is well versed in both scholarly and martial pursuits, if he turns into another Meng Ao and start to rebel at a later date, there will be even greater trouble.

Everyone chatted for a while longer before returning to their own bunks to rest.

The two ladies happily helped Xiang Shaolong shower and change and when lying on the bed, Ji Yanran said softly, “The dowager went to Yongdu again, accompanying her was Lao Ai and Mao Jiao, can Husband guess what is happening?”

Xiang Shaolong was taken aback, “She’s expecting again?”

This is her second pregnancy with Lao Ai.

Ji Yanran nodded her head silently when Zhao Zhi plaster herself behind him from the back and said with emotion, “Xiang-lang! We missed you so badly!”

Learned Lady Ji who was in front of him blushed immediately as she gave him a coy look.

What followed after, is of course what everyone knows will happen.

When Xiang Shaolong and the rest were disembarking at the jetty outside Xianyang, the musicians started playing a welcome tune. Xiao Pan, Lord Changping and the other court officials have already been waiting a long time on shore.

On the way back to the Palace, the people filled the streets, cheering and letting off fireworks. Lanterns and banners were hung up in every household and the atmosphere was lively, filled with the Qin people’s gratitude and enthusiasm.

The Crown Prince and Xiang Shaolong’s name was constantly being chanted.

Under Xiao Pan’s lead, all of them went to the temple first to offer their prayers to the ancestors and late rulers of the Qin royal family and at the same time mourn for the warriors who perished in the war. After that, it was announced that a state feast will be held that night where the three armies will be given their rewards.

After that, Xiao Pan had a meeting with Xiang Shaolong at the inner court and with them were Xiao Pan’s three other trusted aides, Wang Ling, Li Si and Lord Changping.

By this time, Xiao Pan is 19 years old in name, but in actual fact he is 21 years old. He’s already an adult.

Although he is half a head shorter than Xiang Shaolong, but compared to the average person he is already considered well built. Besides, he has wide brows and a solid back, full of self confidence, his eyes deep with unfathomable knowledge. The power and influence that is befitting a ruler can indeed convince one to put down their lives for him.

He was just sitting casually but his imposing aura is enough to make one have the urge to rush forward and throw themselves at his feet.

After everyone congratulated Xiang Shaolong, Xiao Pan said happily, “So do you prefer me to address you as Grand Tutor or Commander General?”

Everyone roared in laughter.

Xiang Shaolong replied with a laugh, “I think Grand Tutor still sounds much better.”

Xiao Pan shook his head and sighed, “Victorious but not proud. I’m afraid Grand Tutor is the only person like this in Great Qin. Grand Tutor’s battle have solidified Great Qin’s foundation to unify the world and have helped me regained my reputation greatly. Now no one will dare to talk behind my back and said that I’ve been treating Grand Tutor too well.”

Lord Changping smiled, “Lu Buwei has long been making a fuss over his Highness’s treatment of Han Chuang but his Highness just replied that ‘there’s no such thing’ and it’s enough to hold off Lu Buwei’s arguments. If anyone asks about it in future, Shaolong can use the same famous words as an answer.”

A warm feeling welled up in Xiang Shaolong’s heart.

Xiao Pan said, “This is just a small matter. Even if Han Chuang is released, how capable is he of doing anything substantial. This goes to show that Grand Tutor is not a heartless person like that Lu Buwei. But if you do manage to capture Li Mu in future, Grand Tutor must never release him.”

Once Xiang Shaolong thought of the possibility that he will meet the most respected and most fearsome Li Mu on the battlefield, his heart sank.

Wang Ling understands his feelings and said with a smile, “But for now such a situation will not arise. Right now Li Mu is moving his troops to attack Qi. Not only has he fought back the Qi troops who were trying to make use of the opportunity to take over the Zhao people’s land, he has also taken down Rao’an which belongs to Qi which gave his King some relief. Li Mu is indeed formidable. As long as this person remains, he will become our greatest obstacle in moving easy.” 

Li Si said, “This time Shaolong has executed his prowess. Even is Sun Wu is resurrected, he won’t be able to win this battle as swiftly and beautifully.”

After Xiang Shaolong expressed some humility, he had a thought and said, “Now that your Highness’s power and influence has grown so greatly, it’s time to summon Wang Jian back.”

Lord Changping said, “That is indeed his Highness’s intention, that’s why he is planning to send the two brothers Meng Wu and Meng Tian to Wei for war. Once they have the experience, they can take over Wang Jian. But if we act rashly on this matter, this important position which will hold great power over the border soldiers may end up in the hands of Lu Buwei and Lao Ai’s men.”

Xiao Pan lowered his voice, “Meng Ao is very seriously ill now. When I visited him some days ago, he was full of praise for Grand Tutor so it seems that he is indeed sorry.”

Xiang Shaolong told them about how Meng Ao had asked him to take care of the Meng brothers.

Xiao Pan got excited, “Once the Dowager returns, I want to appoint Grand Tutor as Marquis. No matter what, Grand Tutor’s position cannot be any lower than Lu Buwei.”

Xiang Shaolong saw that there are others around and it’s inconvenient to raise his objections so he just accepted without much enthusiasm.

In another three years Xiao Pan will be crowned as King. His only hope is that before that day arrives, if he need not to face Li Mu on the battlefield, this is enough to thank the Heavens.

Xiang Shaolong saw that there’s another 6 hours before the state feast begins and after he managed to extricate himself, he went back to the Wu residence.

His welcoming neighbors filled the outside of the Wu residence and as soon as he stepped through the main door, firecrackers were lighted in the square and the whole atmosphere was celebratory.

Wu Yingyuan lead the family our personally to welcome him. He rushed forward to grab Xiang Shaolong’s hands and said with emotion, “Our Wu family has finally come out with a famous general whose reputation will shake the earth, I’m so happy that I don’t know what to say.”

Xiang Bao’er covered his ears and ran into his arms.

After that Wu Tingfang and the Tian sisters also rushed towards him with tears and smiles.

Xiang Shaolong pacified them and hugging his wives and beloved son, went into the house. They first paid respects to the Wu family ancestors, showered and changed before going back to the main hall again to receive the congratulatory wishes from their clansmen.

Ji Yanran, Zhao Zhi, Shan Lan, Lu Dan’er and the rest all changed into exquisite gowns to come out and play hosts to friends and family.

Teng Yi, Huan, Zhao Da and the rest have all returned and this added to the atmosphere of joy in the air.

Zhou Liang made great contributions thanks to the Eagle King so now his status in the Wu family is vastly different. The Eagle King also became the main focus of attention, even more than Xiang Shaolong as the children all gathered around it, pointing and expressing their admiration.

Wu Tingfang clung herself to Xiang Shaolong and behaved coquettishly. Although this pretty wife of his is more than 20 years old, but her looks and behavior is still as lively as when they just met when she was a young girl.

Xiang Shaolong found a chance to discuss with Teng Yi, “I plan to suggest to his Highness that I want to resign from the position of Cavalry Commander, so 2nd Brother will have to take care of them in future.” 

Teng Yi replied with a laugh, “Third Brother should know very well that I am not interested in a career at all. In my opinion, why don’t we let Xiao Jun take over, with Wu Guo and Zhao Da supporting him. We can try to promote two more people at the same time.”

Xiang Shaolong replied, “Then make it Zhou Liang and Wu Yan! The other guards can be rearranged to join the cavalry, they need not follow us back to the farm and live a boring life.”

Teng Yi nodded his head in agreement and thus the matter was settled.

By this time Wu Yingyuan had walked over and pulled both of them aside to say, “I just came back from the borders last month. Your sworn brother Wang Jian is indeed a brave general with both wits and courage that even the Xiongnus are not his match at all.”

He paused and added, “The Xiongnus have always been running roughshod at the northern borders. Their men, women, old and young are all good at horse riding and archery, vicious and brave. They come and go like the wind and can take hardship. How would they to expect that they’ll first be defeated by Li Mu and after that suffer another defeat under your fourth brother. Wu Zhuo is now building a mountainous city around Lake Baikal and the nearby tribes who had often suffered under the Xiongnus have now come forward to seek protection. It’s best if we can send a thousand of our family warriors over to strengthen our hold, then we can have more confidence to expand.”

Xiang and Teng kept on nodding their agreement and both looked extremely eager about the idea.

Only when one is in his own country and home can one really feel the freedom and happiness.

That night at the Palace, Xiao Pan hosted the celebratory feast and all the citizens in the city were given food and wine.

To Xiao Pan, Xiang Shaolong’s victory in battle felt like his own victory in battle so he was especially satisfied and happy.

Naturally Xiang Shaolong became the focus of the feast as wine cups keep getting topped up. Halfway through the feast he was already so dead drunk that he didn’t even know how he managed to leave the place. When he woke up the next day, he realized he was sleeping on the future Emperor Qin’s dragon bed. It turned out it was Xiao Pan who insisted on giving him such treatment.

Ji Yanran and the rest all stayed in the Palace as well, waiting for him to wake up.

When Xiao Pan returned, he had lunch with Xiang Shaolong at the rest and it feels like a close family enjoying bonding time together.

Xiang Shaolong brought up the suggestion of letting Jing Jun become the Cavalry Commander with Wu Guo, Zhou Liang and Zhao Da as the Deputy Commander and Xiao Pan agreed immediately, saying with a smile, “It’s just a mere Cavalry Commander position, and really should not be under Commander General’s portfolio as well.”

Xiang Shaolong again took the chance to bring up the issue of him returning to the farm to spend some relaxing time. Although Xiao Pan was not very willing, he still agreed.

After the meal, Xiang Shaolong went back to the Wu residence with his wives and son and after a nap, woke up feeling refreshed.

Ji Yanran with his pretty wives and the Tian sisters were sitting on the mat chatting away, talking about Xiang Bao’er’s funny antics. The happy atmosphere was enough to melt his heart, giving him a sense of warmth and sweetness.

Compared to the cruelty of war, this is indeed a loving heaven.

The ladies saw that he has woken up and hurriedly helped him up.

Ji Yanran whispered quietly in his ears, “Housekeeper Tu asked to meet you at the usual place at dusk and Lord Changping have booked a courtyard at Drunken Wind Loft tonight and invited you to the feast. Hai! Doesn’t Lord Changping know that after your return, you’ve yet to have time to stay at home and accompany your wives and children?”

Wu Tingfang, who was at the side, pouted, “If you don’t come back tonight, Fang’er will not go up the bed to sleep.”

Xiang Shaolong almost had to make a vow that he will come back early before the two ladies were happy again.

A long parting is even more meaningful than a new marriage so when the Tian sisters helped him bath, Xiang Shaolong pulled Wu Tingfang and the rest all into the bath and consoled his wives and concubines with action.

He played with Xiang Bao’er for a little before leaving ‘incognito’ to meet Tu Xian.

After they met at the secret place, Tu Xian made some small talk before going into the main topic, “Shaolong has managed to show off your prowess and defeated the coalition army and at the same time disrupted Lu Buwei’s plans. Now that Meng Ao is seriously ill, he’ll have no choice but to change his tactics. Now not only is he in cahoots with Du Bi and the rest, he’s also trying to pull Lao Ai to his side and still trying to struggle against imminent death.”

He paused and added, “That old thief has totally lost faith with his Highness, knowing that the day his Highness is crowned King will be the day of his defeat so he’ll definitely make a final fight before that day and rebel. We must be on the alert against this.”

Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brows, “Now that his Highness’s power is growing day by day, Lao Ai won’t believe him so easily. What tricks can that Lu thief still be up to?”

Tu Xian sighed, “If there are benefits, there will be collaborations and the problem is that Lao Ai wants to rebel. You must know that Lao Ai is after all an evil and unrepentant hooligan, a scoundrel at heart. Although he has Zhu Ji’s favor but in the eyes of the Qins, he’s just a lucky servant who manages to jump ranks and don the outfit of a eunuch official. Other than Lu Buwei, who has an ulterior motive, who else would be willing to support him. Under such circumstances, it’s not impossible that the two of them will once again collude with each other. Of course their relationship will not last and I think the day that the rebellion is successful will be the day they fall apart.”

Xiang Shaolong asked worriedly, “Will Zhu Ji really just sit and watch while Lao Ai topple her own son?”

Tu Xian signed, “Zhu Ji has already sunken in too deeply, besides Lao Ai is especially skilful is handling women. And Zhu Ji’s craving for a moment of fun has accidentally resulted in Lao Ai’s grow to power, enough for him to form his own cohort. After Shaolong went to war, Lao Ai interfered in all matters big and small his capacity as leader of the court officials, to the extent of addressing himself as ‘Foster Father’ so one can see his true intentions.”

Xiang Shaolong guffawed, “Foster Father? To think that he could think of that. First it was Lu Buwei, then it’s Lao Ai. Don’t they ever think that by riding on the head of the ruler, they might attract death?”

Tu xian signed, “How many people can be like Shaolong who will retreat once mission is accomplished and avoiding the outcome of being a ‘dead rabbit or cooked dog’*. I heard from Mister Tao that the day His Highness is crowned King will be the day all of you will retire to the north. I wonder if you’d be willing to let my clan follow behind you as well?”

* dead rabbit or cooked dog – a Chinese idiom referring to the King of Yue during the Warring States Period. King of Yue is a person whom one can only share hardship with, but never fortune and glory. When he was fighting against Wu, he was very good with his men and formed deep friendship but once they won the war, his attitude changed and those who helped him risk being put to death for minor matters. 

Xiang Shaolong replied solemnly, “To be able to ride side by side with you on the great plains of the north would be something that I will absolutely wish for.”

Tu Xian was so touched that he reached out and grabbed his hands, unable to speak at the moment.

Xiang Shaolong asked about Lu Buwei’s situation and Tu Xian replied, “I almost forgot one thing. Two swordsmen from the state of Qi came recently, they are both disciples of Jixia Academy’s Sword Sage, Cao Qiudao. One of them is called Ren Qianli and the other is Fang Yong. They seldom show themselves and are very secretive. If my guess is correct, they must be skilled fighters sent to Xianyang by Tian Dan under Lu Buwei’s request in case there is a need to assassinate Shaolong.” 

Xiang Shaolong exclaimed, “If that is the case, why would they let Brother Tu find out about their identities?”

Tu Xian chortled, “That’s because I have a lot of spies and links, and they overheard the private conversation between them and Xu Shang, and with the facts I was able to guess that Tian Dan is behind this. Now the person Lu and Tian hates most is Shaolong so even if benefits is not a consideration in killing Shaolong, it will at least give them a sense of joy in getting rid of you.”

Xiang Shaolong guffawed, “You think there’re not enough people who want me dead? Oh right, is that Xu Shang fighting with Han Jie over Yang Yu? Isn’t that almost like their version of a continuation of Lu’s fight over Meimei?”

Tu Xian gave a cold snort, “What’s there to fight over, Lu Buwei have already given strict orders to Xu Shang not to fight with Han Jie, that’s how I found out that Lu Buwei intends to collude with Lao Ai. Humph! Ever since that lad became an official, he’s getting more and more conceited. Any verbal disagreements and he’ll start hitting proplr and because he has the backing of Lao Ai, even his Highness can’t do anything to him. But now Han Jie have lost interest in Yang Yu because a new beauty, who is even prettier than Dan Meimei have arrived at Drunken Wind Loft. This lady can indeed evoke pity from anyone who sees her and she has insisted that she will only sell her craft but not her body so which man would not want to have a taste of her.”

Xiang Shaolong exclaimed in surprise, “There’s such a thing as selling only the craft but not the body? Who can protect her?”

Tu Xiang replied, “Just based on her name Feng Fei from ‘Dainty Swallow’ alone is enough to ensure her chastity. But she came at a very coincidental time, just three days before Shaolong came back to Xianyang. Now she’s already creating a big stir amongst the officials and royalty and everyone is making a beeline for Drunken Wind Loft now.”

Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brows, “Is Brother Tu hinting that she’s here to deal with me?”

Tu Xian sighed, “Feng Fei is the best of the three famed courtesans and very respected amongst the royalty in the various states. She used to be a Princess from Song but for some reason ended up as a courtesan. Rightfully speaking, no one should be able to make her do anything but it doesn’t hurt to be on the alert so Shaolong better be careful. Now Shaolong is the man most wanted dead among the 6 states.”

Xiang Shaolong smiled wryly, “The problem is I’ll be going to Drunken Wind Loft tonight and hopefully my bunch of friends have not picked her to accompany me.”

Tu Xian said with a smile, “If she’s willing to drink with you, then Shaolong should be even more careful because ever since she arrived in Xianyang, she has not agreed to drink with anyone yet.”

Xiang Shaolong laughed ironically before he sighed, “Beauties just have that kind of mesmerizing power. We men obviously know that they are up to no good but no matter what, we’ll always be able to find some good points about them and forget that maybe behind their exterior beauty is an evil heart.”

Tu Xian said with a smile, “You’ll understand once you see Feng Fei. She definitely is a stunner who possesses both interior and exterior beauty as well as intelligence. Maybe because of the different stands, she will become a manipulative enemy. Luckily Shaolong has always been able to resist beauties so no matter what ulterior motive Feng Fei has, she will not be able to execute them.”

After chatting a little longer, the both of them parted.

Xiang Shaolong suddenly have the urge to visit the critically ill Meng Ao but because he had to attend Lord Changping’s banquet, he had no choice but to leave this visit until the next day.

A Step into the Past

A Step into the Past

尋秦記, 寻秦记
Score 8.5
Status: Completed Type: Author: Native Language: Chinese
A lecherous army special task force soldier from 21st-century Hong Kong is selected to travel back in time, choosing to go to the Chinese Warring States Period. Unfortunately, the time machine runs into an error during the experiment. With no foreseeable way to return to the present, he must use his combat skills and knowledge of history to thrive in his new life in the year 251 BC.


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