Blood Over Four Seasons
It was a fruitful trip for Yun Yang.
He exited the restaurant joyously as seven other young masters escorted his leave, “Take care, Young Master Yun. Let’s meet again next time…”
The seven people finally let out a sigh of relief after losing sight of Yun Yang’s figure.
“I’ll eat! Eat all I can!” Young Master Ma gritted his teeth. “How much can I eat to get back my 2 million?”
The other six young masters rolled their eyes, reveling in his pain, as there was at least someone unluckier than they were!
Merely thinking about it made them feel delighted. “Come, come, let’s not return before we’re drunk! Boss, serve your dishes! Damn it, I’m going to eat up the portion I deserve!”
Then, they entered the restaurant once more.
Young Master Qin who was footing the bill, paled and exclaimed, “You guys want to overstuff your stomachs? Get out!”
He scurried in to stop them.
Lao Mei followed Yun Yang with a lot of money in hand, but the questions in his head were more than the money he had on hand.
All these seven young masters were insolent brazen characters who did nothing good, so why were all of them so obedient? Just this year itself, they have already been blackmailed twice by his young master, let alone the years before.
What kind of authority did his young master have on them?
“Use the 6 million in a few places generously.” Yun Yang instructed as he walked, “You know what to be cautious of.”
Lao Mei replied seriously, “Don’t worry, young master. I understand.”
Yun Yang nodded.
As they spoke, they had already arrived at the gates of Residence of Yun.
Yun Yang lifted his head to look at the four words on the metal plate, smiling in depreciation before he entered.
‘Cloud Trascending the Heavens1’.
The golden words hung above the entrance of Residence of Yun. They were personally written by the current emperor; an ultimate sign of respect towards Marquis2 Yun, that very much resembled a dragon.
The doors closed.
Far away, some place outside the residence, a person’s voice could be heard chanting, “Nine Supremes of Yutang, heroes of the world, the nation mourns, warrior souls sent, ninth of the third month, knights by the altar, behead the cunning and wicked, homage to the souls of heroes, the souls of warriors shall forever be, their great spirits shall forever remain…”
Countless of heavy hearted people were out; officials, military commanders, soldiers, civilians alike… Everyone was heading towards the flower and incense shops…
All candles and incense were sold out that afternoon in Tiantang City.
Faint sobs arose.
Today was the eighth of the third month. Tomorrow would be the day to pay tribute to the heroic souls.
Yun Yang leaned against the door of Residence of Yun, listening to the rise & fall of the chants, in agonized longing.
“Nine Supremes shall forever be!”
Yun Yang spoke softly, his eyes determined, “Because I’m still here!”
Residence of Yun.
Yun Yang was dressed in a purple robe, standing and watching Wu Wenyuan in front of him with crossed arms. A murderous glint flashed across his orbs as he spoke softly, “Censor Wu, I’ve long heard of your name, but never had the chance to meet you. Hence, I especially invited Sir3 Wu over today to have a good chat.”
Standing opposite him dressed in a prisoner’s uniform was Wu Wenyuan. He chuckled, “Young Master Yun, I’ve only thought of you as the young master of Marquis of Heavenly Clouds4, but never paid any attention to you before. It looks like you’re one unpredictable individual in the Empire of Yutang.”
He laughed, “To have easily brought me here from the prison gates, Young Master Yun seems to have exceptional tactics.”
Yun Yang looked at the President of the Censorate. He could see no hint of nervousness nor fear in the latter’s eyes.
This was a person prepared for death.
Yun Yang made a decision in his heart and briefly smiled, “Just simple methods, please excuse them.”
Wu Wenyuan spoke, “I wonder what it is that Young Master Yun wants to talk to me about, to have brought me out here from prison?”
Yun Yang smiled casually, “I’d like to play a game with Sir Wu.”
“What game?” Wu Wenyuan questioned.
“Hmm, a game of asking questions.” Yun Yang laughed. “You’ll ask me a question and I’ll ask you one in return.”
Wu Wenyuan chuckled as well, “You may be able to answer my questions but I may not want to answer yours.”
Yun Yang smiled, speaking gently, “According to my knowledge, Sir Wu’s entire family has been captured, including your old mother, your wife, two of your consorts, your three sons and a daughter.”
Wu Wenyuan’s gaze turned cold, “What are you trying to say?”
Yun Yang continued gently, “Sir Wu has already dismissed life and death, of course you shan’t need to care about anything anymore. It’s just… would Sir Wu dismiss your family’s lives as well?”
Wu Wenyuan narrowed his eyes. “You were saying?”
Yun Yang said lightly, “If you answer my first question, I can grant you an easy death. This is the first bonus.”
Wu Wenyuan said mockingly, “Would you let me live even if I didn’t answer any of your questions?”
Yun Yang lifted his head slightly. “How you die matters, Sir Wu must understand this too. If you don’t answer my questions, not a single family member of yours will live, but you, Sir Wu, you’ll have to live forevermore right here.”
He grinned, revealing a row of pearly whites. “Sir Wu, what do you think?”
Wu Wenyuan was prepared to die. but he still had shivers running down his spine.
To live forevermore…
This auspicious term of longevity was connoted with a sickening dread coming from Yun Yang. Of course Wu Wenyuan could not fathom how he could ‘live forevermore’.
He was silent for a moment before saying, “You mean, my family can still live?”
Yun Yang replied, “Naturally. Answering my second question guarantees your wife’s life, the third question is for your mother’s life… The fourth, your daughter. The fifth question, guarantees the life of your least favorite youngest son, and the last question, your entire family – except you – can live, and live as free men that is.”
Wu Wenyuan closed his eyes in anguish. “And if I don’t answer one of the questions?”
Yun Yang answered easily, “For example, if you don’t answer the fourth question, I’ll let your daughter live, but in a brothel. And I’ll make sure each customer knows she’s Sir Wu’s daughter. Hmm, each question represents one person in your family.”
Wu Wenyuan glared with widened eyes as he hissed, “You’re vicious!”
Yun Yang smiled. “It’s not me, it’s you. It’s your refusal to cooperate that has led to such a tragedy. Instead, as a son, a husband, and a father, you could have provided them with a better living environment.”
Wu Wenyuan shut his eyes, despair filling his heart.
His preparation to succumb to his death vanished without a trace.
Yun Yang had gotten his Achilles’ heel right when he spoke.
“Young Master Yun indeed.” Wu Wenyuan smiled dryly.
“What do you want to know?”
Yun Yang placed both his arms behind him and spoke softly, “The first question, the best time of the year is spring. This is a good saying, but to uncover the meaning within, I’d like Sir Wu to explain further.”
Wu Wenyuan’s face was of defeat, he seemed to be struggling for a while before he replied, “It’s the Four Seasons Tower… four seasons in a year. This means to have Hall of Spring take action…”
Yun Yang nodded. “Very well, as a bonus for answering this, you can die with ease now. Second question – tenth of the first month, what does it mean?”
“I’m the tenth of the first month.” Wu Wenyuan had his eyes closed, as he answered listlessly, “Each season of the Four Seasons Tower has three halls; each hall is named after a month and contains thirty people, from the first to the thirtieth.”
“Congratulations, your wife stays alive.” Yun Yang continued with a grin, “Third question, who’s Mr. Nian5?”
Wu Wenyuan met Yun Yang’s eyes and said, “I don’t know.”
Yun Yang frowned, staring into the man’s eyes for some time before relenting, “Okay, let me change the question, who’s the head of the Hall of Spring?”
“I don’t know that either.” Wu Wenyuan laughed humorlessly, “You really don’t have to keep asking me this. We’ve been using a single-way contact all along so nobody knows who the other party is. I don’t even know who is the ninth and eleventh of the first month, let alone the head of the hall!”
Yun Yang exhaled, he did not look pleased.
“The President of the Censorate in the imperial court is but only a day in the four seasons of the year without any duties… Four Seasons Tower, what a colossus!”
Yun Yang chortled but the chill within gave Wu Wenyuan goosebumps.
“Since you don’t know anything…” Yun Yang went on with a frown, “Then, who are the people involved in ambushing the Nine Supremes at Tianxuan Cliff during spring last year?
Just hearing about the ambush on the Nine Supremes at Tianxuan Cliff was enough to crack a spasm on Wu Wenyuan’s facial muscles. “I’m only a planted agent, the one responsible for implementing the plan has always been the head of Hall of Spring. I don’t know who’s involved.”
Yun Yang nodded. “Other than you, there must be other planted agents. Are they from the military?”
Wu Wenyuan answered, “The ninth and eleventh who’ve contacted me felt like military generals, but I don’t know their exact positions and I’m not sure of it either.”
Yun Yang continued, ”Alright, I’ve finished asking my questions. You can begin asking me now, should you have any.”
Wu Wenyuan shuddered before asking louder, “Why do you only ask these questions? Since you’ve asked about the incident at Tianxuan Cliff, you should have more to ask!”
Yun Yang answered coldly, “Because I know the answers to the other questions. Besides, if I go on asking and you manage to successfully answer, I’ll have to release your son, and I’m not willing to do so.”
Wu Wenyuan was angered and shouted, “But you’ve already asked me four questions!”
His anger was met with a flat tone, “You didn’t manage to answer the last two questions, so I’ll be kind and count that as you answering one. Thus, in total, you’ve answered only three of my questions. The first question grants you an immediate death, the second question lets your wife live, and the third saves your mother. Don’t worry, leave that all to me!”
Wu Wenyuan’s body went limp; hopelessness evident in his heart.
This person gave him hope by betting on life & death questions, but cut it off at the most crucial moment – the most important person whom he cared the most about, was still unable to escape his fate of dying.
He looked at Yun Yang’s fiendish expression and asked abruptly, “Who are you really?”
An extreme grief swept across Yun Yang’s face as his gaze stayed frozen in midair while he slowly uttered word by word, “I am Supreme Yun!”
I am Supreme Yun!
Ever since his last battle and his return to Tiantang City with severe injuries both physically and emotionally, an utmost grief and pain filled his entire being each time he thought of his own identity.
He could finally utter these four words by himself after a year!
Because I’ve found the first clue, I can finally have a slight wave of peace when I think of my brothers.
Wu Wenyuan’s face was of intense shock, looking at Yun Yang, dumbfounded. The shock had rendered him speechless. He could only hear Yun Yang continue proclaiming word by word, “I am… Supreme Yun of the Nine Supremes!”
“You didn’t die?!” Wu Wenyuan hissed, “You’ve died!”
A strange expression appeared on Yun Yang’s face; his voice agonized, “The Nine Supremes will never die!”
Wu Wenyuan snickered distractedly, “So be it, so be it… You haven’t died…”
He whispered the line to himself a few times, his eyes losing glow and his soul seemed to have left him. “Who would have known… the central figure of the Nine Supremes is actually alive… This, is this fate?”
Yun Yang’s face was distant but his gaze was as deep as the ocean.
With such pools of darkness, no one could see what a rollercoaster ride his inner thoughts were experiencing.
“Sink the clouds in the sky, whirl the winds on the earth, startle the lightning and thunder, secure the vault of heaven.” Wu Wenyuan murmured, “the golden ray shines, the dragon rises and soars up high, to infinity it achieves, prairie fire burns, traces of water lost to blood of the heroes, and for eternity it nourishes! Nine Supremes, there’s still someone alive…”
Yun Yang’s gaze was set ablaze as he heard the lines; he mumbled softly, “Indeed, I’m still alive. And since I’m alive, countless people must die!”
“All who were involved in the incident of Tianxuan Cliff… must die!”
“The blood debt that so many of my brothers seek…” Yun Yang lowered his head and spoke gently looking at Wu Wenyuan who was in front of him, “You’re the first.”
1 Cloud Trascending the Heavens (天外之云 tiānwài zhī yún): literally means cloud that is higher than the sky/heaven; used to mean the superiority of Yun Yang’s family – a word play using his family name ‘Yun’.
2 Hou (侯 hóu): equivalent status of a marquis, that is a nobleman of hereditary rank in imperial China.
3 Sir (大人dà rén): Chinese suffix (prefix after translating to English) used to address an official or a person of authority.
4 Marquis of Heavenly Clouds (天外云侯 tiānwài yún hóu): lit. Marquis of the Clouds outside the Heavens. Seemingly a title bestowed upon the head of the Yun Family.
5 Mr. Nian (年先生 nián xiān sheng): a person referred as ‘year’ as halls were named after months and people in it were referred to in day 1 to day 30.