Chapter 1 : Heir of Chang Lin

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Preamble: If you have just left Xiao Jingyan and Lin Shu, welcome back, and welcome to the start of another NIF journey……


Autumn covered the mountains completely, their forests dyed in autumn colors.
Amidst them, the buildings and pavilions that peeked through the low hanging clouds and swirling mists added an other-worldly magical feel to the whole scene.

This was the famous Lang Ya Pavilion.

From the rear peak of Lang Ya mountain, a waterfall cascaded down and gathered into a deep natural pond measuring about 10 square zhang* halfway down the mountain.
By the pond was a ravine, over which a stone bridge was laid for passage.
*measure of length.
1 zhang = approx.
3.3 metres

A brown robe was piled on the damp, moss-covered ground in the shade of the bridge, as if it had been carelessly thrown down, without fear of getting moss or mud stains on it.
In contrast, kerchiefs, a sleeve pouch, necklet and other sorts of similar odds and ends were carefully placed right in the middle of the robe so that they would not be stained.
A little boy of about eight or nine perched on the rough stone railing above, swinging his legs, his round little face tense as he stared anxiously into the deep pond, muttering, “Sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy, seventy-one….”

The depths of the pond was quiet, and the initially shallow ripples on its surface had gradually flattened until it was calm and still, like a mirror.

In a panic, the little boy leapt off the stone railing and shouted towards the mountain, “Old Pavilion Master, it’s bad! Pingjing gege has drowned!”

At just about the same time, the surface of the pond broke open in a tall spray of water and a figure jumped out, landing on tiptoes on a spot of mountain rock.
Dropping nimbly onto a messy pile of vines, he casually flung his head back, and the drops of water from his hair flew and hit the little boy’s round cheeks like a drum.

The almost 21-year-old Xiao Pingjing was tall and slender, with a strong and lean waist.
The upper contours of his face had already set, revealing a firm character.
Only his smooth lower jaw still reflected his youth.
Seeing the little boy haphazardly wiping the water droplets off his face, he burst into laughter.
Raising his eyebrows, he asked, “You’re really useless.
Would I drown so easily?”

The little boy didn’t get angry with him and hurriedly asked, “Have you found it after diving for so long?”

Xiao Pingjing brought out a clenched fist from behind and opened it to reveal a glittering crystal-studded stone in the palm of his hand.
After teasing the little boy awhile with it, he threw it over and strode to the robe that he had thrown down on the bridge.
Laid right at the top of the robe was a neckband made of lambskin, soft and supple.
Hanging from it was a small silver lock given to babies, exquisitely made, fringed with little bells.
For fear that the dampness would tarnish the silver, Xiao Pingjing first grabbed the kerchief and roughly wiped himself dry before skillfully unfastening the clasp and putting it around his neck

“Why did the old pavilion master punish you by making you look for the crystal stone* in the lake today?” Holding the quartz in his hand, the little boy ran over to ask with curiosity.
“Did you do something wrong again?”

Xiao Pingjing sighed.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.
I just wasn’t careful and spoke the truth….”

The little boy pursed his lips.
“I don’t believe you.
Why would the old pavilion master be upset that you spoke the truth? What did you say?”

Xiao Pingjing frowned and hesitated for a moment.
After looking around to confirm that there was no one around, he bent down and stared into the little boy’s eyes.
“Xiao Dao, I’m telling you alone.
You must definitely not tell anyone.”

Seeing his seriousness, Xiao Dao hastily covered his mouth with both hands and nodded solemnly.

“This morning, I told the old pavilion master that he looked….like he had gained a lot of weight!”

Xiao Dao stared at him dumbfoundedly for a long while before slapping him softly on the face, saying angrily, “You’re teasing me!”

Xiao Pingjing laughed loudly, scooped him up and threw him into the air.
In the midst of this playing, the clear sound of a flute suddenly penetrated through the clouds, its tune changing gradually from slow to fast.
Xiao Pingjing lifted his head and listened carefully for a while, a look of surprise on his face.
“This is the Zhejin tune…..has this old man so quickly lost his anger that he’s asked me to return?”

A narrow ridge connected the rear peak to the front of Lang Ya mountain.
Due to its much lower terrain, the mountain mist had already completely dispersed by the noon period.

A square courtyard lay just beyond the gate where visitors would enter.
Right in the middle of this courtyard, a thousand-year-old ginkgo tree was just beginning to shed its leaves, forming a thin layer of gold on the ground that reflected the dazzling noon sunlight.

A tall young man of 27 or so walked into the courtyard.
He raised his hand slightly, and the members of his entourage who were following close behind immediately bowed their heads and came to a stop, standing await by the door.

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Although he was casually dressed in plain and simple attire, this young man did not deliberately keep a low profile.
His embroidered collar, the dragons adorning the edge of his sleeves, and the flawless jade annulus hanging from his waist, all revealed his noble and distinguished status.

The steward responsible for receiving visitors to Lang Ya Pavilion greeted him at the foot of the steps, clasping his hands in greeting.

The young man nodded in return, and announced his name, “Chang Lin Mansion, Xiao Pingzhang.”

The steward smiled and bowed.
“Shi zi*, welcome in.”
I’ve kept this because it’ll be used constantly to refer to him in both second and third persons, and calling someone “heir” is just too strange.
Closest approximate pronunciation: “s(h)earcher”

Lang Ya Pavilion had always claimed to be in the business of answering questions and clarifying doubts.
Regardless of one’s nationality or identity, as long as one could afford to pay the price, anyone could go up the mountain.
In the two hundred years since the pavilion was established, it had only grown in reputation, and the number of visitors had increased.
As a consequence, the small courtyards where they received visitors had expanded from the original four to nine.

But only a handful of people know that there is a tenth courtyard where Lang Ya receives guests.

The rear of the front hall was filled with plum* trees.
Beyond it, through the forest, was a high and narrow wooden path chiseled into the cliff face** that wound its way to the other side of the peak.
Built there was an exquisite pavilion called Lantai, where only the honoured guests of successive pavilion masters could step foot.
*Chinese word for “plum” is “Mei”, which is the same character as Mei Changsu’s Mei
**for images, google “棧道”

Lin Jiu stood waiting quietly under the porch of Lantai.

It was autumn, and it was getting colder in the mountains, but he wore only a set of light blue garments with an inner lining and the wind blew at the corners of his robe around him revealed a thin body.

It wasn’t Xiao Pingzhang’s first time in Lang Ya Mountain, so of course he knew that this man in his thirties was not the usual person responsible for receiving guests, but someone who had long taken over most of the affairs of the inner pavilion, which is why he stopped at the foot of the steps and clasped his hands in greeting.

Lin Jiu smiled and returned the gesture, inviting him to enter the hall and have a seat as he had the tea served.

After the tea boy retreated, Xiao Pingzhang raised his tea cup in respect to his host, then took a small sip from it before replacing it on the table.
He sat cross-legged, his hands resting on his knees, his waist straight, his jaw restrained, his posture highly dignified.
In the imperial capital, Jinling, the Heir of Chang Lin was well-known for his attentiveness to proper behavior and strict adherence to etiquette.
Seated in the Lantai tea room, his every movement was naturally calm and unhurried, executed perfectly with skill and ease, as if a force of habit, without any tension.

If not for Lin Jiu’s sharp and observant eyes, no one would have noticed the uneasiness he bore deep within his heart.

Another steward entered the hall, carrying a tray with both his hands, on which lay a sealed pouch.
Following Lin Jiu’s signal, he placed the tray before Xiao Pingzhang.

“Shi zi sent someone to our pavilion some days ago with a question.
This is the answer.”

Xiao Pingzhang leaned forward to express his thanks and accepted the pouch, but did not immediately open it.
“The old pavilion master is really willing….to provide me with the answer I desire?”

Lin Jiu smiled faintly.
“Lang Ya Pavilion is a business, and we keep to our end of the deal.
Since the price has been quoted, an answer must be given.
It’s the same for everyone, whether you’re the heir of Chang Lin or anyone else.”

With these words, he slowly got up, made his salutations and left the tea room.
Left alone, Xiao Pingzhang composed himself before untying the pouch.
With some effort, he pulled out a thick fold of paper, which when unfolded consisted of two sheets of paper.

Since the beginning, the answers that Lang Ya Pavilion sold often consisted only of a few words.
Whether or not they were understood, the answers were succinct and to the point, but did not provide detail or elaborate further.
It was said that years ago, Da Liang’s imperial family also went up the mountain to plead for answers, and the prophecy that they paid a lot of money for were no more than just these few words: “The Qilin talent.
Have him and you’ll have the world.”

This time, however, he held two full pages in his hand.
They were densely filled with small written characters, which, for a while, alarmed the young heir of Chang Lin, for he wasn’t sure if the old pavilion master had suddenly changed his habit, or if his question really required such a detailed reply.

The fine sounds of dropping leaves wafted through the window.
Xiao Pingzhang lowered his head and read the pages carefully, line by line, word by word.
The story of the heir of Chang Lin’s remarkable talent of remembering everything he had read after just one reading was much told tale in the capital city.
When he was nine, the court had admitted newly selected scholars into the administration, and the previous emperor had summoned all the talents of the time to the imperial gardens to compose their poems, essays and political theories under the apricot blossoms, which were then compiled and submitted.
Seeing that Xiao Pingzhang had followed along with the Prince of Chang Lin, he handed the young boy the content list to read.
Halfway through the banquet, a strong gust of wind suddenly blew through, sending all the writings off their tables in different directions.
It took a while of confusion before the attending eunuchs could gather everything, put them in order and present them to the Emperor.
At this moment, Xiao Pingzhang left his father’s side and approached the Emperor’s table.
He flipped through the stack of writing and spent some time reorganizing them.
The previous emperor thought at first that Xiao Pingzhang was just amusing himself, so he didn’t pay it much attention.
It wasn’t until later that he realized that the young boy had been rearranging the writings according to the order listed in the content list, a list that he had read only once, and not one of them was out of place.
The previous emperor was pleasantly surprised by this.
He personally carried the boy and put him on his knees as he said to his court officials, “I hope all my grandchildren will be like Ping Zhang.”

Whether Wujing Emperor Xiao Jingyan’s praise was good fortune or a burden on this young heir of Chang Lin is left to be seen, but it at least demonstrated Xiao Pingzhang’s ability to read and memorize that far surpassed that of a normal person.
Although these two pages were filled with characters, he had already kept their memory deep in his heart in the time it took to drink half a cup of tea.

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The faint sounds of a flute playing a battle tune carried from the mountains.
The sand in the hourglass that sat in the corner of Lang Ya’s Lantai had emptied into its bottom.
The time it took to burn two incense sticks had quietly passed.
Xiao Pingzhang’s head was still lowered, his body still as a statue.

When he had initially decided to make a detour to Lang Ya Mountain, he had already prepared himself, and the contents of this letter were not wholly unexpected.
But no matter how prepared one was, once speculation is confirmed as fact, the fine tendrils of pain were unavoidable, like tens of thousands of needle points densely piercing the heart, until it was difficult to breathe, pain that had no visible wound.

The sound of hurried footsteps could be heard through the partition wall, and the wooden door of the tea house burst open soon after.
A clear voice pierced the stagnant silence in the room.
“Da ge*!”
*big brother

Without thinking, Xiao Pingzhang immediately folded up the letter, stuffed it back into the pouch and put it into his sleeve pocket.

Xiao Pingjing leapt forward and gave his brother a bear hug, almost knocking him off his feet.

The youthful body brimming with happiness along with the heat generated by the hug penetrated through the clothes, seeping into flesh and bone, imparting some warmth to the body.
Xiao Pingzhang slowly raised his hand, patting his younger brother on his back, a genuine smile appearing in his sad eyes.

“I can’t believe you’re really here! When the old pavilion master summoned me, I thought he was playing tricks on me again.”

Xiao Pingzhang pushed him away, looked him carefully up and down and smiled.
“Why, does the old pavilion master always play tricks on you?”

“Aiya, there’s nothing to say.
The older he gets, the less serious he is.” Xiao Pingjing dismissed the topic with a wave of his hand, and sat down next to his brother.
“Da ge, how long will you be staying this time? I’ll go get a room ready for you.”

“Don’t trouble yourself.
Meeting like this is enough.
I can’t stay for long and need to leave right after.”

“But didn’t you just come?” Xiao Pingjing was taken aback, feeling disappointed and a little puzzled.
“Da ge, you can’t have traveled all this way just to say two or three words to me, refusing even to stay one night?”

The hand that was concealed by his sleeve tightened around the hidden pouch.
Until he had given it some thought, he didn’t intend to tell his brother his true purpose of coming up the mountain.
He just smiled placatingly at him and said, “Father* has assessed that there might soon be a big battle in the northern border, so he has ordered me to hurry over to Ganzhou and secure the line of defense.
I rushed the journey so that I could carve out half a day to make a detour here.
There are some things….that I wanted to say to you in person before I go north.”
*Used in place of “父王” Lit.
“Father Prince”, formal term for father.

Xiao Pingjing blinked his eyes as understanding dawned.
His shoulders drooped as he said dejectedly, “Are you sending me back to Jinling? But dad* already promised me…..”
*Used in place of “爹” pronounced “di-yeh”, a more casual, affectionate term for father

“Father agreed for you to come to Lang Ya Pavilion to be schooled in its skills, but it doesn’t mean that you can cut yourself off from responsibility and do as you wish!” Xiao Pingzhang deliberately made his tone stern, but he couldn’t help stretching out his hand to straighten the crookedly worn necklet around his brother’s neck.
“Pingjing, you’ll soon turn twenty-one.
In the next year, His Majesty will certainly urge Father to find you a new betrothed.
Once you’re married, you’ll have to establish your career.
You might be carefree for the moment, but how can you remain carefree forever? The responsibility for the future of Chang Lin Mansion…..”

Xiao Pingjing muttered in a low voice, “But there’s you…..”

The pouch in his sleeve pocket burnt into his forearm, distracting him momentarily.
It took a while before he regained his composure and said solemnly, “Chang Lin Mansion belongs to a martial family and defending the country is everyone’s responsibility.
I cannot always stand in for you.
We never know when…… In any case, I’m sure you understand what I mean and I don’t need to say more.
Give it careful consideration.
Once the northern border is secured, regardless of the situation, you must return to Jinling.”

Xiao Pingjing had always been an alert and observant person.
Hearing his brother’s half-swallowed sentence, he couldn’t help feeling something amiss.
Staring suspiciously into his brother’s eyes, he asked, “The situation at the northern border this time… it very dangerous?”

Xiao Pingzhang said with a faint smile, “Of course it won’t be easy.
But Father and I have done a comprehensive review of possible outcomes, and there is a still a chance of winning.”

Xiao Pingjing continued to stare at him for a while.
Seeing no further irregularity, his expression relaxed.
Leaning on his brother’s shoulder, he said praisingly, “Da ge has always been victorious, so of course this time will be no exception!”

“You’ve got a sweet mouth, but all these flattering words are useless.
Once I’m free, don’t think you’ll be able to get away.” Xiao Pingzhang gave his brother a sideways glance, and flicked a finger at his forehead like he used to do when Pingjing was a child.
Then, supporting himself against the table, he got up, saying, “I need to push on with my journey, so I won’t linger.
Come, see me off.”

Xiao Pingjing was born into a martial family, so of course he understood that military orders had to be obeyed and should not be taken lightly.
Unlike him, an idler, his brother shouldered heavy responsibilities.
But having to part after such a brief conversation, when they had not seen each other for half a year, filled his heart with reluctance, and he was sullen all the way out of Lantai.
Fortunately, Xiao Pingzhang had watched him grow up and thoroughly understood this child’s temperament.
He also knew what topics he was most interested in.
All along the way, he asked questions in casual conversation, and it didn’t take long before he got his brother to forget about his sorrows, his hands dancing as he talked about what he had learnt in the mountains, and interesting anecdotes of his travels through Jianghu.

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Lin Jiu, who had been drinking tea in Lantai’s side hall, did not come out to send the guests off as was customary.
Instead, he climbed onto the high deck, and after observing the two brothers disappear into the far distance, he returned to the rear pavilion to report to the old pavilion master.

“Pavilion Master’s pouch has been handed over to the heir of Chang Lin.
At this moment, Pingjing is sending him down the mountain.”

The old pavilion master’s eyebrows drooped as he sighed, “He didn’t express any desire to see me, to explain the answer….actually in his heart, he has long known it.”

“What happened back then is not something the heir of Chang Lin can easily accept…..” Lin Jiu frowned and asked doubtfully, “Is it really appropriate for you to tell him everything in this way?”

The old pavilion master remained silent for a long time.
Then, raising his cup, he took a sip of tea and said, “Since he has already started making enquiries, he would have found out sooner or later, so there’s no need to hide it.”

“But these are not normal times.
The situation in the northern border is clearly very unusual.
The heir of Chang Lin’s race to Ganzhou is only the first step.
The Prince of Chang Lin has already submitted a memorial to the Emperor to request for the Xingtai military tally.
Once it is approved, he will soon……”

“The affairs of the country has nothing to do with Lang Ya Pavilion.” The old pavilion master raised eyes to look at him, his gaze deep and profound, and gently shook his head, “What you know is what it is.
It is not necessary to think too deeply about it.”

Lin Jiu’s forehead trembled.
Realizing the chaos in his mind, he quickly took two steps back and bowed in response, “Yes.”

Xiao Pingjing was completely oblivious to the turmoil currently brewing in Jinling and the northern border, and the worries that the old pavilion master and Lin Jiu bore in their hearts, nor did he think he should be concerned.
After his brother left the mountain, he continued to live the same carefree life in Lang Ya Pavilion as before, busy practising his martial arts skills and reading, teasing Xiao Dao while at the same time trying to avoid the old pavilion master’s tricks.

It was only during the occasional quiet moments, when he recalled his elder brother’s brief moment of silence and distractedness, that he would feel an indescribable uneasiness, like the rings that rippled out on the surface of a still deep pool long after a pebble was thrown in.

At the end of the ninth month, news from Jinling arrived via carrier pigeon.
Apart from his regular army, the Prince of Chang Lin had deployed an additional 50,000 Xingtai troops to the northern border.

When Xiao Tingsheng dispatched this large military force to the northern border, the main border towns flanking Da Yu and Northern Yan were still peaceful, with no signs of conflict or disorder, nothing indicating that war was imminent.
The only basis this Prince of Chang Lin had for requesting the military tally from the Liang Emperor was instinct and accumulated experience from decades in the army.

The ferocity of an army was tied to the fortunes of the nation, so the Emperor’s military tally was not granted lightly.
This was common understanding.
Xiao Tingsheng’s lack of any solid basis in presenting his memorial triggered a strong wave of opposition in court.
Many of the court officials felt that it was sufficient to deploy just the regular army, and since the heir of Chang Lin had already raced to Ganzhou to take charge of the garrison there, there was no need to further deploy the Xingtai army.

Unlike his father, the Wujing Emperor, who was strict and cold in temperament, the current Emperor, Xiao Xin, was good-natured and tolerant since birth.
He spent no less than four hours in Chaoyang Hall patiently listening to the disagreements and debates, before finally saying only, “I trust Chang Lin wang xiong‘s* judgment in the matter of military deployment in the northern border.”
*Chang Lin wang xiong = big brother Prince of Chang Lin where “wang” = “Prince” and “xiong” = “elder brother”

At the beginning of the tenth month, the imperial army of Da Yu launched a surprise attack on Meiling, deploying a total of 150,000 troops in a short span of a few days.
The reinforcements dispatched by Xiao Tingsheng in advance had arrived on Meiling’s peak at just the right time and successfully countered the enemy’s offensive.
Naturally, all the criticisms and complaints in the capital quickly dissipated and were replaced with praises like “The Prince of Chang Lin is sharp and shrewd, and deserves to be the greatest general of our time,” and so on and so forth.

However, Da Yu’s fierce attack on Meiling lasted only two days before it come to an abrupt end.
Overnight, the main force withdrew and marched on Gannan, as if it would conquer Ganzhou at all costs.

And the commanding general in Ganzhou was no other than the heir of Chang Lin, Xiao Pingzhang, who had rushed over in advance to assume personal command of the garrison.

In the mountains, the forest leaves had turned crimson, and frosty cold air blew through creaking windows into the room.

Xiao Pingjing suddenly shot out of bed, his forehead covered in cold sweat.
Swallowing the cry of alarm caught in the back of his throat, he murmured softly, “Da ge…..”

Though he was awake, the nightmare remained clear and vivid.
He could still see the shiny arrow pierce through the air, bringing with it a bone-penetrating chill as it hit straight at his elder brother’s chest.

Outside, the horizon was still just a pale line.
There was a bitterness on his tongue, and he was no longer sleepy, so he simply grabbed the robe from beside the bed, hastily putting it on as he hurried out.

The front of Lang Ya Mountain was the gateway for welcoming visitors, whereas the rear of the mountain was where the heart of their operation was, and nobody was permitted entry without an invitation.
Besides the old pavilion master’s residence, the Lang Ya library and the pharmacy, there was a man-made platform built halfway up the southern peak on which were set up row upon dense row of pigeon cots, where news flowed in from all over the land.

When Xiao Pingjing burst into the transcription pavilion, which was only a few tens of zhang away from the pigeon cots, the eastern sky was just turning light, and there was nobody around.
He felt his way familiarly through to Lin Jiu’s study, where he looked for the latest news from the north that hadn’t yet been filed away.
Then, sitting on the floor by the window sill, he browsed through it in the light of dawn.

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When Lin Jiu finished his morning practice and stepped into his study, the floor was completely covered with sheets of paper.

“Why are you turning things upside down again?” Lin Jiu tread his way through the paper to his desk and sat down.
Although his words were reproachful, he looked unperturbed.

Xiao Pingjing, who had already exhausted all the files, looked up blankly for a while before asking, “Is there any news from the north today?”

“More news from the north? How about news from Bei Yan?”

“Stop pretending.
Do you really not know what I’m asking about?”

Lin Jiu poured fresh water onto his ink stone and slowly ground it.
“Although this pavilion is part of the world, it is also apart from the world.
When the people of Lang Ya look at the world, it is like observing the water in a stream.
It flows constantly, but because it flows constantly, we don’t ask where it comes from, nor do we ask where it goes to.”

“I beg you, Jiu xiong, please don’t learn to be like the old pavilion master,” sighed Xiao Pingjing while holding his head in both hands, “If you don’t know, just say you don’t know, okay?”

Xiao Dao appeared by the door bearing a small tray in his hands, and was taken aback by all the paper littering the floor.
He tiptoed his way through them to the table and said, “This morning’s news from Ganning pigeon house.”

There were only two small cylinders in the middle of the try, both of which had were already opened, and the paper contained within them were loosely rolled up, obviously having been read.

Lin Jiu was a little surprised and asked, “Who has seen this beforehand?”

“Who else? The old pavilion master of course.”

Xiao Pingjing immediately rushed over, grabbed hold of him and asked, “Did the pavilion master say anything?”

Xiao Dao recalled for a moment, stood up straight, cleared his throat and putting on an old man’s voice, said, “Datong Prefecture….ah, people’s hearts are deep, sometimes they don’t trust themselves, sometimes they don’t trust others.
In the end, they still walk this path…..”

In the past, this would have amused Xiao Pingjing, but he was serious as he picked up the scrolls of paper and opened them.
Written on the half-finger-wide notes, there were only these few succinct lines of words: “River section at Datong Prefecture, three ships on left passage bearing military supplies, sunk in accident.”

He muttered to himself, his eyes moving erratically, his face slowly turning pale.
Suddenly, he leapt up, rummaged through the bookshelf along the eastern wall, and finding the scroll he was looking for, he spread it out on the floor.
It was a map of the northern prefectures.

“Left passage….” His rapid fingers first found the river course on the map, remained a moment before slowly sliding upwards and when they finally rested on the two characters, Ganzhou, his fingertips began to tremble.

Lin Jiu leaned over and followed with his eyes, and asked uncertainly, “Pingjing, what’s wrong?”

“Jiu xiong, I’ll have to trouble you to let the old pavilion master know that I’m going down the mountain immediately!” Uttering these words, Xiao Pingjing whirled around and left, not bothering to answer his question.
In less than the time it took to brew a cup of tea, the steward at the entrance to the mountain pass came to report that the second son of Chang Lin had already descended the mountain in a panic, bringing along with him only a sword and a small cloth bag.

Bewildered, Lin Jiu put away the papers on the floor.
He looked through them one by one, obviously unable to figure it out, then lowered his to look at the map in contemplation.

“Don’t bother.
Understanding military movements has never been our forte, so it’s not something you would understand no matter how you try.” The door to the study pushed open from behind, and the old pavilion master strolled in, glancing also at the map spread out on the floor.
“Pingjing is the son of a general.
Although he has no military appointment, he has been on the battlefield several times and has displayed his innate talents.
He must have left in such a hurry because he is worried about the war situation in Ganzhou.”

“Ganzhou?” Lin Jiu frowned doubtfully.
“The war has already started, and the north is far away.
He just descended the mountain.
What can he do?”

“In the northern border, Xiao Tingsheng would have faster access to the news we have received here in Lang Ya Pavilion.
He learnt from a great master many years ago, and one could say that he has taken on some of that person’s manner.
If there is truly a crisis in Ganzhou, he would react faster than anyone else.
Now, the crux of the matter is…..” The old pavilion master’s deep, still eyes wavered for a while, and he didn’t go on.

Lin Jiu’s heart sank, and he immediately understood his unspoken meaning.

Now, the crux of the matter is whether or not the heir of Chang Lin can hold out till the end……

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