Chapter 20: The State of Affairs
Chapter 20: The State of Affairs
The soldiers’ footsteps also marched forward at Ran Min’s departure. Under Wang Hong’s leadership, the nobles followed behind them.
All were now looking at Chen Rong in astonishment. They just could not understand why Wang Qilang would ask for a young lady’s opinion. Why did Wang Qilang seem to be more at ease once she said Ran Min could be trusted?
In just a short time, the group arrived at the main road.
The road was covered in deep wheel paths. Wang Hong furrowed his brow as he bade for the carriage to approach Ran Min. Placing his hands together, he asked the other man, “Sir, why are there so many carriage marks on the ground?” Anxiety was evident in his voice.
Ran Min turned to look and faintly smiled at Wang Hong.
There was a strong bloodlust in his handsomeness, his entire being as if enveloped in burning flames; even his eyes could burn. At the same time he looked over, the children lowered their heads to avoid his eyes, and even Wang Hong’s group sank in spirit.
Ran Min said dismissively, “Everybody is moving south. Naturally there would be heavy wheel paths.”
Wang Hong gave a start.
Without waiting for him to speak, Wang Wulang hastily asked, “What is your meaning, sir? They are so close to Luo’yang – why do they still go south?”
Wang Wulang’s voice was very loud. Suddenly, the crowd’s murmurs stopped as they looked up, waiting for Ran Min’s answer.
Ran Min gazed to the front, there was an indescribable somberness in his indifferent voice: “Why do they go south? Didn’t I already say? This place is overtaken by the barbarians!”
He was saying there were many barbarians here. But, wasn’t this Luo’yang?! This was the capital of Jin. Had the situation gotten so dire?
The crowd began to panic. Sobs again arose amid the commotion.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Witnessing the confusion growing louder and louder, Ran Min who had been looking to the front shouted: “Silence!”
His shout was so savage that the children quickly shut up in shock.
In the silence, Ran Min coldly spat: “So what if you’ll die? You are men of honor, how can you be so quick to tears? Hmph! What a disgrace!”
His words were somewhat harsh. These youngsters were used to being pampered and had always felt superior to other people. Even if Ran Min were incredibly frightening, in their eyes, only the frail scholars were true men of honor. Despite being extraordinarily handsome and remarkably imposing, just like a volcano hidden under a snowy peak, the man in front of them was but a barbaric brute.
All of a sudden, many turned a disdainful eye at Ran Min. Nonetheless, they could only secretly roll their eyes, for the person before them was a devil incarnate.
Wang Hong gloomily stared in the direction of Luo’yang and then at length whispered: “Is Luo’yang presently a ghost town, then?”
“There are some who haven’t moved,” replied Ran Min.
He paused and turned his head, looking at Wang Hong to say, “Might you have guessed who have left and who remain?”
“Would Lord Ran happen to know where the people of Luo’yang have gone to?”
Short history lesson: Luo’yang is the Jin’s capital from 265-311 AD and Jiankang is its capital from 317-420 AD. The change was caused by the invasion of the nomadic tribes in the north, pushing the Hans south.
Jiankang? That was thousands of miles away. Dismay once again seized the crowd.
Wang Hong lowered his voice to ask: “Then, are you escorting us to Luo’yang? What if we want to continue ahead?”
Ran Min laughed, replying without once looking back: “Do you not believe me, still? Rest assured. After 100 miles, you can decide for yourselves whether you will go to Luo’yang or Jiankang.”
Everyone was overjoyed. Wang Wulang raised his voice: “Lord Ran, are your words true?”
Answering him was Ran Min’s cold harrumph.
Seeing his mood had soured, the crowd who awaited his confirmation closed their mouths.
The long cavalcade once again kicked dust up to the sky. As they drove on, a series of hooves advanced from afar. A man hollered out in a strange Central Plains accent: “Han clans, it’s a group of Han clans.” Excitement filled his voice.
Several hundred nomadic men turned in their direction. Whiz, not waiting for Ran Min’s order, all of his soldiers simultaneously raised their bows. A shower of arrows instantly landed before the newly-arrived calvary’s hooves.
The Hu hastily pulled the rein on their horses. After a long silence, the same large man shouted: “Which tribe do you belong to?”
A series of disciplined voices came as a single reply: “Our commander is the Heavenly Prince Shi Min. (3)” This translation belongs to hamster428.
Ran Min was adopted by one of the nomadic tribes so his adoptive name is Shi Min. His title is explained here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tian_Wang.
As soon as ‘Shi Min’ was announced, the man exclaimed: “I did not know you are the Heavenly Prince Shi Min. We shall leave at once.”
Following his panicking voice was another dignified one: “Please don’t be affronted. We were merely passing through here.”
Several hundred stalwart Hu soldiers all at once turned their horses and raced away like the wind. Their speed was even faster compared to when they came.
The nobles stared at one another.
What happened had exceeded their knowledge and experience. In their cognition, barbarians were like wild beasts. Under normal circumstances, one barbarian could easily handle four or five Han soldiers. Until now, they had only heard of the Hans fleeing away upon meeting the barbarians. This was the first time they saw the barbarians fleeing when meeting the Hans.
The ‘Heavenly Prince’ was indeed a resounding appellation!
Wang Hong signaled for the carriages to go ahead while he walked behind with Ran Min. He raised his clasped hands and spoke: “Sir, we are all men of honor. I’ve misspoken.” A Han who could chase the barbarians away was, no matter what, always worthy of respect.
He took a pause and then sincerely asked, “In your opinion, would it be favorable for us to go to Jiankang?”
“The road leading to Jiankang has been taken hold by the Di and Xianbei tribes. If you insist on going, you will only become their army provisions.” Ran Min’s voice remained indifferent. It did not change because of Wang Hong’s display of respect.
He said ‘army provisions’ very simply, but those who knew the term’s meaning could not help themselves from shuddering. Barbaric cannibalism. The so-called provisions for the army were referring to them, living people.
Wang Hong bowed deeply as he inquired: “Though this world is large, I dare ask if there is any place for us?” His voice had started to sound bleak.
Suppressed sobs rose from the crowd yet again.
This time, Ran Min did not stop them. He pondered for a while and said, “You might try Nan’yang. The road leading to Nan’yang is under my jurisdiction. The Prince of Nan’yang, Sima Mo, also has a great army. For the time being, that place should be secure.”
“I thank you for your counsel, escort, and regard!”
Wang Hong was well-traveled. His experience compared to the present nobles was profound and broad. He thus could clearly determine Ran Min’s words were not lies.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
While Wang Hong and Ran Min talked, Chen Rong kept her curtain down and quietly stayed in her carriage. She had been abnormally quiet since Ran Min appeared.
Suddenly, her curtain was lifted – it was Sun Yan poking his head in to see her. He first stared at her before raising his raspy voice: “Is Ran Min truly trustworthy?”
She gave him a nod.
“My parents and the rest of the family were all made into army provisions by the Xianbei tribe.”
Suddenly hearing such a thing from the lad, Chen Rong looked up at him, stunned.
After some silence, she whispered: “It’s all in the past now. Don’t be too sad.”
“I’m not sad! I have to make them pay with blood. I can’t afford to be sad!”
Sun Yan slowly straightened his back. Eyes staring at Ran Min, he murmured: “The barbarians are all afraid of him. The barbarians are actually afraid of him! Ah Rong, tell me, should I join this man’s camp?”
Chen Rong stared wordlessly at him.
Recently, he was no longer submerged in grief and hatred. He ate well and slept well. His face grew healthier in color, his facial features increasingly handsome and fair. That silky skin, those sword-like brows and crystal eyes, straight nose and rosy lips, they all gave this young man an androgynous beauty.
Seated on horseback this very second, his thin stature and slender waist were more pronounced. Viewing his figure and milky handsomeness from the side and then thinking of his killing appearance on a battlefield, unconsciously, in Chen Rong’s mind emerged a line: “The warrior bends his willow waist…”
While she was in her trance, Sun Yan turned his head and watched her.
After some time, his dark eyes seemed to have caught on as a flash of ire sparked in them. A hint of blush also emerged on his overly beautiful face. He glared at Chen Rong and gritted his teeth: “Ah Rong of the Chen house, are you looking down on me?”
Chen Rong shuddered, quickly withdrew her gaze, and emphatically replied, “No, of course not.”
Sun Yan harrumphed and cracked his whip to send the horse darting forward. He left her an ashamed and chagrined line: “Ah Rong of the Chen house, you…! I’ll make you regret this!”
She stared after his disappearing figure, flabbergasted. “I didn’t even say anything…”