Chapter 791 – One Great General of Sloping Cliff
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Luo Bu wanted to exchange the meat soup in Nanke's hands with medicinal broth, but Nanke did not.
She looked to Chen Changsheng. With some difficulty, Chen Changsheng blinked his eyes, and then, with even greater difficulty, he turned his head towards Luo Bu and used his eyes to express his thanks.
The bowl of medicinal broth was brought to his lips, and he noticed that the bowl had been cleaned very well. There was no leftover odor from food or smears of grease.
He then smelled seventeen different medicinal ingredients in the broth. In the capital, these ingredients were far from precious, but in this sort of remote horse farm, they were probably very difficult to gather. Of course, what shocked him the most was not the cleanliness of the bowl or the ingredients prepared, but the medical arts Luo Bu had displayed in this medicinal broth.
As meat soup and medicinal broth switched back and forth, time passed, and Chen Changsheng and Nanke had now stayed in Sloping Cliff Horse Farm for four days.
Nanke remained an imbecile, unaware of who Chen Changsheng was or who she was. She only had a vague recollection that Chen Changsheng was very important to her, so she spent every day keeping watch at his side, cooling his medicine, cooking meat, and bathing him, just like a maid. In addition, she would warily stare at any person who dared to approach the room, with only one exception, and that was Luo Bu.
In those first three days in which he couldn't speak, Chen Changsheng often thought that perhaps this was because Luo Bu had given her a lot of meat to eat?
On the fourth day, he was still unable to get out of bed, but his body could now make a few gentle movements, like turning his body or raising his hands. Most importantly, he could finally speak. To his surprise, the officer called Luo Bu did not continue to inquire into his origins.
Although this was a remote horse farm, there were still many matters that needed taking care of. As commanding officer, Luo Bu naturally could not laze away in that room forever. On many occasions, the one to deliver the medicinal broth was one of his bodyguards or another officer of the horse farm. Due to the properties of his bloodline and also because he practiced the Dao of following his heart, Chen Changsheng had a special trait that made others want to get to know him. At the time, even the Black Goat of the Imperial Palace and the Black Dragon beneath New North Bridge had been affected by this trait, so how could these soldiers with relatively pure and simple minds resist? In a very short period of time, he had grown familiar with them.
As long as they ignored Nanke's gaze, which was like that of a small beast protecting its food, the conversation between Chen Changsheng and those soldiers proceeded very smoothly. He developed a more vivid picture of the situation on the frontlines, had a more direct understanding of the minds of the soldiers, and most importantly, he came to understand the story of Sloping Cliff Horse Farm and Luo Bu.
Anyone who heard Luo Bu's story would inevitably feel a great deal of sympathy and anger at the injustice committed towards him, and Chen Changsheng was no exception.
He believed that Luo Bu had been able to accumulate so many military achievements in these past years not because of luck or backing, but because he truly was very competent.
Just from looking at Sloping Cliff Horse Farm's everyday administration and life, which seemed gentle and lazy, but was actually extremely orderly, one could see this officer's management techniques and his skill in using them. Moreover, just a few courses of medicinal broth from him had led Chen Changsheng's injuries to quickly recover, which was proof of this person's extraordinary skill in medicine.
Of course, these were impressions obtained through conversation and naturally inferior to one's own experience.
If he wanted to experience it for himself, he first needed to rise from bed and stroll about the horse farm.
But it never occurred to him to wonder about just why the officer called Luo Bu interested him so.
On the seventh day, Chen Changsheng got out of bed.
Back when Zhexiu had suffered innumerable tortures in Zhou Prison and had his meridians ruptured, he had ultimately relied on the stimulation of pain to recover in the shortest amount of time, and Chen Changsheng had used the same method. He had spent the last few nights in constant battle with an unimaginable pain.
Nanke had been attending to him the entire time, using a towel to wipe his sweat, helping him drink water, and gently massaging his abdomen. Her actions were naturally quite clumsy, but they were very sincere, and she devoted a vast amount of energy to him. Only in the late hours of the night, when she saw him finally fall quiet, did she finally relax and fall asleep. Surprisingly, she did not realize when he left the room.
The early morning light fell on the meadow between the mountains. Through the thin fog drifting down from the mountains, a few noises could be heard from the just-awakened horse herds.
Chen Changsheng picked up a tree branch and used it to prop up his frail body as he randomly walked about the horse farm.
It wasn't that he didn't cherish his body. On the contrary, it was only through movement that he could firm up his newly reconnected meridians as quickly as possible.
The Sloping Cliff Horse Farm covered a vast area. Besides barracks and arrow towers, it also had array pivots. These seemed randomly placed in various nooks, but upon careful examination, one could see that their formation would ensure that they would have the greatest effect when confronting an enemy.
Chen Changsheng was well-versed in the Daoist Canon, but he had not learned military strategy. That he was able to see through the array of Sloping Cliff Horse Farm in a glance was because when Su Li was teaching him the sword on the long journey from the snowy plains back to the south, he also taught him of knowledge in those aspects.
From the wooden fences around the array pivots and the freshness of the mud at their base, he could see that this arrangement had been modified after Luo Bu's arrival at the Sloping Cliff Horse Farm.
The more he saw, the more Chen Changsheng felt that the military principles reflected in the arrangement of this array perfectly corroborated the knowledge that Su Li had passed on to him. He couldn't help but feel a great admiration for Luo Bu, but he did not associate this thought with a few certain matters.
The mountains of the north were high, imposing, and unfeeling, while the climate was temperamental. The chilly dawn suddenly kicked up a bone-chilling gale. Countless grains of sand were carried up by the frenzied winds and blown into the mountains towards the horse farm. In an instant, the world turned gloomy.
The sounds of whistling warning arrows, harsh orders, and hurried footsteps could be heard throughout the camp.
Chen Changsheng did not wish to add to the chaos. Holding his tree branch, he made his way back by slowly walking along the eaves of the buildings. Upon raising his head, he saw Luo Bu.
Luo Bu was very happy to see him able to walk. Revealing his mouth full of white teeth, he said, "Congratulations."
At this moment, he was in a rush to command his subordinates in dealing with the sandstorm, so he had no time to say anything else. Glancing at the tree branch in Chen Changsheng's armpit, he shook his head and pointed at the door behind him, indicating that Chen Changsheng should hide there for the time being.
With Chen Changsheng's speed, by the time he had trudged back to his original room, the sandstorm would have undoubtedly engulfed him. He had no reason to refuse and obediently walked in. Without waiting for him to turn around, Luo Bu closed the door, and then a clear clap came from outside.
Luo Bu had most likely struck some sort of switch on the wall or door. A thick bar of wood blocked the door while several firm planks of wood dropped down and tightly sealed the windows. At the same time, an oil lamp on the table suddenly began to glow, despite the lack of flame.
Chen Changsheng did not misunderstand, so he did not panic. After carefully examining the mechanisms in the room, he discovered that they were of simple but exquisite construction. Even the most ordinary person would be able to operate them. Presumably, all the living quarters in the horse farm were outfitted similarly, a fact which made him completely relax.
Right after, several objects on the table attracted his gaze.
The dusky light of the lamp shone over the table and illuminated several pieces of paper.
This was extremely precious paper from Shi Province. Let alone a remote horse farm like this, such paper would even be difficult to find in the Mount Song Army headquarters.
Some of the papers had calligraphy, while others held drawings.
Chen Changsheng was not skilled in poetry, calligraphy, or painting, but being well-versed in the Daoist Canon, he had a well-developed eye.
The words were written superbly, their vigorous character concealed under a plump exterior, disdaining to be seen by others.
The paintings were also excellent. One was a large painting of spring and autumn done in the xieyi style, while the other was a painting of birds and flowers reflecting the world done in the gongbi style1.
Just whose room was this? Who had painted these drawings and written these words?
In such an out-of-the-way horse farm, how could there be someone who could so extravagantly use Shi Province paper, who could write such fine words and paint such fine paintings?
In his heart, Chen Changsheng faintly knew the answer.
And then he saw the signature on the two paintings.
1. Xieyi and gongbi are two contrasting styles of Chinese painting, the first more freehand and expressive, the second emphasizing careful brushwork.↩