Chapter 687: Stall


Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation


Yan Liqiang only came out from the palace when the sky turned dark.


Eunuch He followed beside him, with three other lower-ranking eunuchs trudging behind them, struggling to carry Yan Liqiang’s gifts from the Crown Prince. Eunuch He’s face bloomed like a chrysanthemum flower as he behaved very politely around Yan Liqiang.


“Ah, Lord Yan is really impressive. The Crown Prince has never been this generous with anyone over all these years in the palace. He had quite a few masters who taught him swordsmanship, horsemanship, spear technique, fist technique, and calligraphy. Not only that, but most of them are also high-ranking ministers in the imperial court. However, none of them could earn this much respect from him to the extent that he would make them stay for dinner and personally send them off from the eastern palace with a pile of gifts…”


“The Crown Prince is being too courteous in showing his respect for his teacher. I am truly honored!” Yan Liqiang spoke casually. Seeing that he was about to leave the palace gate, he slowed down his pace. “Eunuch He, we shall part here. I know my way back and can go back by myself!”


“Oh, this won’t do. I have arranged a carriage for you already, Lord Yan. It’s parked just outside. The carriage will send you back to Deer Villa. There’s no way we are letting you walk home!” The old eunuch refused Yan Liqiang, and personally sent him to the Golden Water Bridge where he watched Yan Liqiang get on the four-wheeled carriage. After the gifts from the Crown Prince were loaded onto the carriage, the old eunuch gave the coachman some long-winded instructions before finally waving and bidding Yan Liqiang farewell at the Golden Water Bridge along with the other three eunuchs.


Yan Liqiang sat in the carriage and let out a long sigh when the carriage finally moved. He didn’t feel tired from acting as the Crown Prince’s archery master for the entire afternoon. He was only a little unused to his enthusiasm. Before he left, the Crown Prince showered him with gifts, claiming that those were his apprenticeship gifts, so Yan Liqiang had no choice but to accept them.


One of the two boxes in the carriage contained the Vibrant Dragon Bow. The Crown Prince had given away the most treasured bow among his collection to Yan Liqiang today. The Crown Prince explained that the Vibrant Dragon Arrows inside the other box were meant to be used with the Vibrant Dragon Bow. Yan Liqiang didn’t really ask much about it earlier. It was only now that he opened the box and took out one to take a closer look.


The Vibrant Dragon Arrow wasn’t an ordinary arrow. It was entirely made of metal. The black arrow was extremely heavy and each one of them was like a work of art. There were dragon-scales patterns on the shaft; the arrowhead looked like a dragon head and it glinted coldly. It only took one look for anyone to tell that these were the work of a famous craftsmith. There was a total of 108 arrows, all put inside a specially-made quiver. The arrows were perfect matches to the powerful Vibrant Dragon Bow as ordinary arrows were all too light. Only these Vibrant Dragon Arrows could bring out the maximum potential of the deadly bow.


Yan Liqiang returned the arrows to the quiver, then watched the night scenery of the Imperial Capital outside the carriage. When he recalled his encounter with the demon outside the palace gate during the day, his mood soured again as a sense of crisis crept up on him.


By the time Yan Liqiang returned to Deer Villa, the sky got even darker. As soon as he returned to his courtyard, lit up the lamps, and put away the Vibrant Dragon Bow and Arrows, a series of knocks came from outside. Yan Liqiang went into his yard and opened the door to find Liu Xitong, Guo Sida, Xu Shu, Meng Hui standing outside. They had wine and food with them.


“We heard Lord Yan just got back from mentoring the Crown Prince today at the palace! We are here to congratulate you…!” Liu Xitong said.


Yan Liqiang smiled. “Come in…”


He invited Liu Xitong and the rest inside, then closed the door and led them into the house.


Yan Liqiang knew they were not here to congratulate him, but to meet him instead. He had estimated that it was about time for these people to show up again. Given the small number of travel passes he gave them last time, they had probably used up all of them by now.


“Have a seat, make yourselves home!” Yan Liqiang invited them to sit down.


After the officers sat down, Liu Xitong spoke up again. “We have already handed out the travel passes you gave us a few days ago over to our families and close friends. We shall never forget the kindness you have shown us, Lord Yan!”


“Mhm, has everyone in your family left?”


“Not yet, but they are done with their preparations. After discussing this for the past few days, we concluded that rather than letting our families leave the capital region and wandering around without a place to settle down, it’s better for us to take up your offer and have them go to the northwest where they will receive your protection and aid. That way, we will be more at ease!”


Yan Liqiang looked at the officers, then smiled at them. “No problem, I’ll give you an address and write a note for each of your families. Hand all these things to them, ask them to go to the address, and show the note I wrote for them to the people there. After leaving the capital region, they will be escorted all the way to the northwest…”


The officers were all touched by Yan Liqiang’s words as they expressed their solemn gratitude to him once again.


The officers looked at each other, then a squad commander called Meng Hui awkwardly spoke up, “My lord, there’s one more thing. We know that this may trouble you, but we are also stuck in a difficult position with our families. We’re not sure if it is alright for us to talk to you about it…”


“What is it? Let’s hear it!” Although Yan Liqiang already knew what he was going to say, he still smiled and encouraged him.


“Well… um… do you still… still have extra travel passes with you, my lord…?”


“Oh? The ones from last time weren’t enough?”


“Well they were enough. After we took those travel passes back, we didn’t think much and distributed some to our relatives and close friends as goodwill to help them. Little did we expect that after that, more and more acquaintances would find us and our family through connections to ask for the travel passes. It certainly put us in a tough spot…”


“Yes, at first we were only going to just hand out the remaining passes to our other family members and close friends. We didn’t expect it to cause such a huge commotion back at home. My two sisters-in-law asked some for their families. When their families found out about it, they came over to ask for more, telling us that they also had relatives who needed them. The travel passes I brought home were used up in just a flash. People are still coming to ask for some when they hear about it. It’s like we will never have enough of those passes…” Gu Sida smiled wryly. “My parents couldn’t bear to see our relatives stay behind and wait for their deaths so they asked me to think of a way…”


“We know that you are also in a difficult position, Lord Yan. If you don’t have a way, we can ask them to pay for it! As long as you set a price for it…” Even Xu Shu, the most silent officer among them spoke up.


Everyone looked at Yan Liqiang nervously and awkwardly while they waited for a response from him.


Yan Liqiang pondered for a moment before speaking. “Putting aside the travel passes, have you thought about what you will do when the Heavenly Tribulation arrives in six months? Are you all planning to stay in Deer Villa and await your deaths?”


Liu Xitong gritted his teeth. “Since you asked, we are not afraid to tell you either. We have been discussing it for the past two days. We plan to send our families away first, then travel on foot from Deer Villa to meet up with our families in the northwest just a few months before the Heavenly Tribulation strikes around the seventh or eighth lunar month…”


Yan Liqiang narrowed his eyes as the expression on his face became serious. “Leaving your posts in the army is a crime punishable by death. Aren’t you all worried that I will take you down by telling me this?”


“We are not afraid. All of us believe that you are not this kind of person, Lord Yan. Without your help, our families would probably die in this Heavenly Tribulation without knowing anything. If Lord Yan wants us to die, it will be an easy feat.” Liu Xitong spoke passionately, while the other officers nodded in agreement.


Yan Liqiang finally smiled again. “Since all of you are prepared to give it your all and aren’t afraid to die, then are you all brave enough to join me in making and selling these travel passes? This is a chance for all of you to make a wealthy future for yourself and your families before you leave the capital city!”


“Please enlighten us, Lord Yan…”


“Come closer…”


The officers leaned in to hear Yan Liqiang’s whispers, and their eyes gradually lit up…


Half an hour later, Yan Liqiang saw them off from the courtyard. Less than five minutes after they departed, someone knocked on his courtyard door again. Yan Liqiang opened the door and saw chubby Supervisor Wen waiting outside obediently with a brocade box in his hands.


“Supervisor Wen… This is…”


“I heard Lord Yan just got back from teaching the Crown Prince in the palace, so I have come to see if there is anything I can do for you…”


“Alright, come in first…”


“Sure, sure…”


There were indeed many smart people in Deer Villa. Even Supervisor Wen came knocking on his door after picking up some clues. In the end, he also happily walked away with the one hundred travel passes Yan Liqiang gave him.


It would seem like this stall that Yan Liqiang had set up was getting bigger and bigger…