Chapter 18.1: Danger

Sheng Chumu and a small group of troops were having a break in the forest, all of them completely exhausted and injured. Repeated waves of attacks from rebel troops had wiped out his forces and from two hundred men and he was now left with a few men. 

Sheng Chumu knew that someone must have tipped off the enemy. If not, how could so many rebel troops appear at Anxi Canyon all of a sudden. Of course, he knew who this person was even if he used his toes to think.

At this very moment, the Anxi Canyon was a huge hunting ground. Escaping was like ascending to heaven. However, he did not give up on everyone’s hope to live. He was willing to suck out poisonous blood from his comrades and he dared to eat live snake meat with his troops. Even if there was only a thin thread of hope for survival, Sheng Chumu would find it. 

Sheng Chumu took out a cloth map and studied it. “Our road has been drenched in blood. We are now familiar with the terrain and the enemy camps in the area. I added all these details onto the map. If any of us manages to escape, give this map to Assistant Lieutenant Xi Tao. Our troops would not have died in vain if this map allows our army an advantage in Anxi Canyon in the future.” 

Assistant Lieutenant Xi Tao was Fu Tao. At that time, Fu Tao was afraid others would find out who he was and create trouble. Hence, he purposely gave a false name. Sheng Chumu slowly got used to it. The Lu family would not have imagined that Xi Tao and the Fu family would be related. 

No one dared to take the map from Sheng Chumu and everyone pledged their loyalty to Sheng Chumu, declaring that they would sacrifice themselves to let Sheng Chumu escape. 

“There is no way I am going to let that happen.” Sheng Chumu was troubled internally but he maintained an optimistic look. “If the enemy troops surround us and they demand my life because I took down many of their cities, I will reveal who I am and lure the main troops away. Will you guys be able to escape?”

The troops knew that Sheng Chumu was right.

“How am I supposed to break through leading all you clumsy fellows?” As the troops took turns to look at the map, he continued, “Remember, you must only pass this map to Assistant Lieutenant Xi Tao. Relay my orders to him. He must pass this map personally to General Lu.” 

Having been by his side all this while, Fu Tao should be able to understand what he was trying to do, right? Please lord! 

All of a sudden, the rebel army shouted “Sheng Chumu” as they searched at the periphery of the jungle. They were about to enter the jungle anytime now. Sheng Chumu gritted his teeth as he dashed out of the jungle and ran to the side of the canyon. Just as the rebel army surged towards him and surrounded him with a murderous aura, he turned and jumped down the canyon.

A few days later, Fu Tao received the tragic news of Sheng Chumu falling off the cliff after being chased by rebel troops from two soldiers who had been lucky to survive. The soldiers handed over the map to him and expressed that Sheng Chumu asked him to personally hand it over to Lu Yunji.

Fu Tao had to hold himself back from killing Lu Yunji to seek revenge for his mother and Sheng Chumu. He knew why Sheng Chumu gave the map to him. He wanted him to claim merit and get close to the Lu father and son, waiting for the right time to take his revenge. After following Sheng Chumu in so many battles, he learned the importance of strategy. Even though he knew the opponent was superficial, he had to bear with it.

“There are only two survivors among those who went with General Sheng. I saw them the moment they entered Nine Pillar City. I immediately brought them to meet you. They also carried a map of Anxi Canyon with them that I will present to you.” 

Fu Tao gave the map to Lu Yunji. 

Lu Yunji took the map as his eyes lit up. With this, the army could easily deal with the rebel troops in Anxi Canyon. He was going to return victorious!

Lu Qi stood at a corner in the room. He surveyed Fu Tao and suggested, “Father, you are short of personal guards. Why don’t you give him a chance?” 

Lu Yunji truly appreciated Fu Tao. “Lieutenant Xi, are you willing to become my personal guard?”  

“Thank you for your grace. I am willing to die for you!” Fu Tao said each word with conviction. 

“Good!” Lu Yunji was overjoyed. 

At this point, his personal guards entered the room. Two of them held the heads of beheaded soldiers. Fu Tao exclaimed in shock, “Aren’t these the two soldiers who managed to survive Anxi Canyon?” 

Lu Yunji wore a cruel expression. “A coward who abandons his general and escapes must be killed. If I do not kill them, how am I to establish the rules for the army. How am I going to answer to the Emperor and Duke Lu?” Lu Yunji gave an order to his personal guards. “Hang these heads outside the city and let everyone know the consequences of cowardice.” 

Fu Tao gritted his teeth. Lu Yunji was merciless; he had to be careful from now on.

 

The Crown Prince had called for Chen Ji and Chen Ji arrived at the Eastern Palace today. After spending some time with the Crown Prince, Chen Ji knew that the Crown Prince was in a good mood today. As he expected, the Crown Prince wore a bright expression when he entered the room. 

“Your Highness.” Chen Ji bowed towards the Crown Prince. 

The Crown Prince took out a bow and placed it on the table. “This is for you.”

Chen Ji stepped forward and commented, “It is a good bow.” 

“I presented the <<Han Dynasty>> to my Imperial Father today. He was very pleased and gave me many praises and gifts. This bow is one of the items that he gave me. But I am used to my own bow and I have no use for this one. This is for you.” 

Not only that, the Emperor had punished Prince Zhou for the incident of his horse trampling over farmers’ crops and Prince Zhou received twenty strokes. The Crown Prince felt relief. 

Chen Ji thanked the Crown Prince. 

“You don’t have to thank me. Sing a song for me.” The Crown Prince smiled. 

“Alright. Which song?” After interacting with the Crown Prince for so long, Chen Ji found him to be an easy-going person. 

“Changbanpo.” The Crown Prince requested. 

“Aren’t you sick of hearing that song?” Despite his remark, Chen Ji started to sing for the Crown Prince. 

Sun Lingshu was about to enter the room with Shuangxi, to deliver the ginseng soup. Seeing the Crown Prince so intrigued by Chen Ji’s performance, Sun Lingshu also broke into a smile. Just as she was about to step into the room, the Crown Prince waved dismissively, indicating that he did not want her to interrupt. Shuangxi quietly asked, “Why is His Highness acting this way? Didn’t His Highness say that he was not going to investigate the matter regarding Official Situ and make up with you, Crown Princess?” 

The Crown Prince had deduced that the three missing pearls incident was a scheme by Sun Lingshu. However, he could understand her reasons as he had not given her much attention and understood that she did it to get his attention. As such, he has recently started treating her better. 

Sun Lingshu sighed, “The Crown Prince has always loved listening to that song, he isn’t annoyed at me.” However, she was feeling worried.

Meanwhile, Sheng Chuling arrived on another side. 

Sheng Chuling had been influenced by his brother’s hard work. In addition, to see Princess Xinnan more, he applied for a role in the palace. However, fate was not on his side and he was assigned to be a guard at the Eastern Palace. He felt like although he was here, his heart was somewhere else. 

“Why do you always look at the entrance?” Imperial Guard Fan, a fellow guard, asked Sheng Chuling curiously. 

“The Imperial family is still a family. As the eldest brother in the family, why is the Crown Prince’s residence so far from the princess’ residences?” Sheng Chuling wondered out loud. 

Imperial Guard Fan chuckled, “Why? Are you trying to chase after a princess?” 

“No!” Sheng Chuling denied fervently. 

“By asking where the princess lives, you are very suspicious. I will report to the higher ups.” Imperial Guard Fan teased him. 

“Brother Fan, please don’t. I owe you two bottles of wine. Once our duty ends today, I will bring you to Swallow House. I will even request for Swallow House’s top beauty, Yan’er, if you want.”

Imperial Guard Fan gave a thumbs up. “Okay.” 

Sheng Chuling thought to himself. Wine and brothel houses aren’t that useless after all. I can use it to chase Princess Xinnan. 

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