In the TianDu City, the capital of the country of Li, in a gorgeous palace, which was at somewhat east of the central axis of the imperial court, dozens of royal maids and eunuchs walked up and down silently. All of them held their breath and controlled their footsteps very carefully, with the sense of reverence and awe…
“XianEr stays here, and the others back off.”
On the wide bed of the well-crafted bed rails and valances lay a woman with the weak breath, and the order before was from her. The voice was very light, but people dare not to defied the order.
“XianEr, come up. Sit next to me, let me… carefully… look at you.”
The woman lying on the bed was actually the empress of the country of Li — Li QingCheng. Although Li QingCheng looked emaciated, but she had lost none of her original charm. As being called “first beauty” of the country of Li 20 years ago, it was still able to see the attractive appearance, like that of her past age, from her face.
Li Xian quietly sat next to Li QingCheng and looked at her own mother who was nothing but skin and bones, weeping with tears of sadness.
Seeing her daughter so sad, Li QingCheng just gave her a pale smile: “I have been sick in recent years, and I even didn’t take a good look at my little princess. XianEr, You’re growing up.”
“Mother empress!” Li Xian gently held Li QingCheng’s hand outside the quilt, just like cupping an easy-broken vase, and even the outline of the bones of Li QingCheng’s hands, every tiny blood vessels being clearly visible, could be clearly sketched.
“XianEr, don’t feel sad for mom. I have no regret except that I still worry about you and your brother… cough and cough.”
“Mother empress, let me call the royal doctor.” Li Xian held Li Qingcheng’s hand. The drops of the tears overflowed out of her eyes, crossed her face, which was about 70% similar to Li QingCheng’s, and spattered against the red brocade quilt. Every drop of tear were quickly sucked to dry, leaving only a round, dark red spot, like a dry blood stain.
“Oh my silly child, you know my condition. Just want to be alone with you for a while, and I have something to tell you.”
Li Wei nodded, but the dark red spots on the quilt were rapidly increasing…
Seeming to be trying hard to endure the physical discomfort, Li QingCheng spluttered as she gasped for air with the fluctuating chest.
“XianEr, in the future… If you want to make a good match, remember to follow your heart, I… believe in your eyes…Don’t have too much misgivings… You…just always…worry me.”
“Yes mother empress, I remember…”
“And your brother… your brother is not in good health. In fact it’s better if he doesn’t take the throne. If he also thinks so, he should make an statement as soon as possible…Lord Qi… was very kind. He will…will not… cough…cough.”
“Mother empress! I know!”
“You Majesty, the crown prince has come!”
Hearing the report of the royal maid outside the door, Li QingCheng’s bleary eyes flashed a glimmer of light.
“Let the crown prince come in!” Li Xian said quickly.
The door was opened with a creak. A young boy dressed in a white-jade crown and a black robe with golden-line embroidery came in.
It was just Li Zhu, the crown prince of the country of Li. He looked like his sister Li Xian, but there was a bit more men’s outline with fortitude between his eyebrows. However, the figure was somewhat small and his face looked a bit pale, which made him look a bit frail.
“Mother empress! Royal sister.” Li Zhu came up in front of Li QingCheng’s bed to salute his mother and sister.
“Come, my son, let mom look at you.”
“Yes, mother empress.” The 8-year-old Li Zhu stood upright in front of Li QingCheng’s bed, looking somewhat like an emperor.
Li QingCheng looked at two children and showed a thankful smile. She looked at Li Zhu and said hard: “My son, remember to listen to your sister.”
“Mother empress!” Li Zhu was only a 8-year-old child after all, even though he had been teaching “not bat an eye regardless of whatever happens”, but he finally cried out when seeing his mom’s condition.
Li QingCheng’s eyes wandered back and forth between a pair of children’s faces, and then looked at the closed door. The words she got ready to say just turned into a slight sigh, and then she slowly closed her eyes…
“ZhuEr, tell me. Do you want to take the throne?”
“Yeah…I want!” Li Zhu replied firmly.
The border of the country of Li
“Brother, put it on!” Lin Yu handed a tripe of three-finger wide burlap to Lin WanYue.
Lin WanYue took over the burlap strip, tied it on her head like the way what Lin Yu did and whispered, “What’s the matter?”
Lin Yu lowered his voice and said to Lin WanYue: “The empress passed away!”
“Oh.” Lin WanYue nodded.
Lin Yu continued: “The empress is the younger sister of our general.”
Lin Yu saw Lin WanYue’s surprised expression, and sighed that his brother’s political sensitivity was too low and he didn’t seem to care about anything other than killing the Huns. How could this be? Lin Yu kindly explained: “Brother, you may not know it. The father of general Li Mu is the close pal of the former emperor. The old general has a son and a daughter — general Li Mu and the empress.”
When Lin WanYue just wanted to say something, the battle horn was blowing.
“Enemy attack!” Hearing the sound of the battle horn, Lin WanYue directly grabbed the coarse-cloth bag on the bed up onto her back, took the spear on the shelf, and rushed out of the tent.
Lin Yu followed her closely, and they came to the respective units. After the units stood in line, the archers went up to the camp wall very soon. The beating of the battle drums and the heartbeat of Lin WanYue was almost incorporated in the same frequency.
The ground began to shake slightly. In the past two years, Lin WanYue had been able to judge the amount of Huns according to the shake of the ground. At this time, she realized the difficulty of this battle!
“Release!” With the commander’s order, the air-piercing sound of the arrows echoed around the camp.
The whinnies of the horses and the burst of the screams in pain were drifting from far away.
“Bang!” An archer who was shot fell off the camp wall, not far away from the unit of Lin WanYue. Lin WanYue turned her head and saw that an arrow had pierced into the center between the archer’s eyebrows at a depth of over one inch.
The flags of each unit had begun to wave, and Lin WanYue saw the front semaphore: archers covered; infantry charged straight; cavalry enveloped from both sides…
Lin WanYue held a spear in one hand and gripped the machete on her waist by another hand. As the drum-beating sound changed, the camp door was opened!
“Dash!” roared the pioneer general, and the infantry were the first to dart off!