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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 3

    Double Effect

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


    Chapter 03 : Double Effect


    “To beat the door so early in the morning, I thought the ship was catching fire.” Bai Shiqi complained to Zhao Ziheng: “When I ran out to ask, his family’s old men simply said that he was prompted by sudden impulse and wanted me to accompany you in morning practice. Does your cousin brother have any hatred towards you?”


    Thanks to her capabilities to adapt competently to changes these many years, it only took a minute to adorned herself neatly, from being wrapped in a quilt to getting up, to opening the door, and afterward… being pulled onto the deck.


    She had also attempted to refuse, but the guards under this Zhao Ziheng’s cousin brother seemed as if they could not understand human language, directly grasped and carried her onto the deck.


    Zhao Ziheng’s heart had calmed down by a lot: “…… Didn’t you also call him cousin brother? Who is the brother with whom? My cousin brother is also your cousin brother!”


    The two people were forced to stand against the penetrating cold morning wind to do horse stance. Bai Shiqi, ever since she started going up north with the ship, every day she always slept until she naturally awakens. Breaking free from Bai Zhenting’s control, day after day passed by leisurely and freely. Truly did not expect, on the return trip, she would be carrying Zhao Wujiu, this honorable Buddha.


    She had started training when she was small, so she had some experience in doing horse stance. However, Zhao Ziheng was much more tragic. After a while, he started to stagger for a while before falling on his butt. Clutching his tailbone, he grimaced in pain and was not willing to get up, bluntly and shamelessly: “I’ve hurt myself, I’ve hurt myself! I can’t do this anymore!”


    Bai Shiqi laughed.


    Shu Changfeng was under orders to monitor Zhao Ziheng, he grabbed his neck to lead him to stand up: “Thirteenth lang, Master has said that you have to stand for at least 2 hours.”


    The guard who followed behind him suddenly revealed an arm’s length long rod.


    Zhao Ziheng’s wailings shook even the sky.


    Amidst the first glimmer of dawn, the ship was sailing smoothly at the center of the river. Above the prow of the ship, Zhao Ziheng’s pair of legs stood shakily, behind him, holding an arm’s length wooden rod was Shu Changfeng. His calf had been severely hit several times, several times he felt that he could not hold on anymore.


    By contrast, Bai Shiqi who stood at the side, the stance was extremely steady, from time to time was still able to ridicule him with one or two sentences.


    When 2 hours had passed, Shu Changfeng and the others withdrew, leaving Zhao Ziheng sitting on his butt on the deck at once, crying without tears, really regretting this trip.


    In the beginning, his parents had ensured: “Wujiu’s nature is as stiff as a wooden board. There were many girls at the blind date feast held by the palace, yet not a single word was said before he scared them away. The empress’ idea, since she feels you are lively in nature and girls tend to fancy you, is to let you accompany him to Jiangnan to seek medical treatment, and in the passing… teach him a little bit.”


    Zhao Wujiu, when he was 16 years old, had departed to the border area with the identity of a prince. He had been fighting outside all year round, and now his marriage had become a major problem. He only returned to the capital once every two or three years. In regards to this, the empress at the palace had been having a headache. For this youngest child, she had held if not 10, then at least 8 blind date feasts at the palace, and yet each time, he successfully frightened off the well-bred young ladies who tried to strike a conversation, becoming one immovable refrigeration machine, resulting in extremely awkward silence.


    On the contrary, there was Zhao Ziheng, who had a lot of fancy tricks ever since he was young, with a mouth as sweet as honey, but depending on the situation, could also wax grieving poems. He was proficient in the art of living a life of pleasure. He was also famous, for, in every gathering of the youths, he would always be in the limelight, having a lot of fans.


    On the fifth month this year, Great Xia, which had been entangled with Great Wei in the northwest border for twelve years, was finally utterly defeated and fled to the west. At the last battle in Liusha Valley, Zhao Wujiu got seriously wounded and fell into a coma for half a month. He was escorted by a military doctor upon returning to the capital and had not been able to attend the celebratory banquet.


    He regained consciousness in the middle of the journey somehow, but unfortunately, he couldn’t feel the area from his waist below, wasn’t able to walk, let alone to mention the affairs of continuing one’s bloodline.


    The present empress had brought up two princes. The eldest son was established as the crown prince early, and the youngest son was Prince Zhou Zhao Wujiu, who kept breaking her heart.


    Following Prince Zhou’s return to the capital, both imperial physicians and famous physicians from all over Jing had been taking turns running to and from the prince’s palace. However, several months had passed, and Prince Zhou’s illness was still the same as before, not showing any improvement.


    As time went by, the emperor and the empress were becoming more and more anxious and summoned the ministers with whom they had close relationships. Some of them advised the emperor to summon the most famous doctor in the world to treat Prince Zhou. The Minister of Revenue who came from Jiangnan, Xia Chengjie, mentioned the divine physician from JiangnanHuang Youbi. It was just that, this person’s whereabouts were unknown for most of the time, and he preferred to be alone. Even if one managed to meet him to give him a decree, he might not necessarily agree to comply, thus it would be better to look for him slowly.


    Hearing this, Zhao Wujiu wished to personally head to Jiangnan to look for him. The empress had tried every possible way to persuade him not to go, but in the end, she couldn’t change his mind, hence, out of all the members of the imperial clan, they finally settled upon the lively Zhao Ziheng, from the emperor’s grandfather’s relatives who were based in Suzhou, to accompany him.


    “…… Cousin Brother’s mother said that he is a quiet person, if I can play with and make him happy while accompanying him, it will be good.” He was hugging Bai Shiqi’s arm, hating that he was unable to cry, “Shiqi, can we turn the ship back? I want to go back to the capital.”


    This was not the case of him making Cousin Brother happy, but the case of Cousin Brother torturing him until he cried.


    The two brothers sat side by side on the deck, Bai Shiqi patted Zhao Ziheng’s dog head, “Ziheng, I truly regret getting acquainted with you.”


    One false step was all it took to let an evil incarnation, the tyrannical cousin brother, aboard the ship.


    Zhao Wujiu forced her to get up before the sun rose to exercise, causing her to be absentminded, the same kind of feeling when she had to skip the one-week long holiday during the National Day, and prepared to sleep to her heart’s content for the next 7 days in exchange. As the result, it was only on the third day when the company leader grabbed and took her back to work overtime, the unpaid kind of overtime.


    Let’s not talk about grievances anymore.


    Zhao Ziheng totally understood his close brother’s meaning, with eyes brimming with tears: “I also regret becoming acquainted with Cousin Brother.”


    The two helped each other going back into the cabin to wash up and eat breakfast. Zhao Ziheng’s legs were continuously trembling, and he was sitting in Bai Shiqi’s room. Even the breakfast sent by the kitchen tasted like chewing wax.


    Halfway through the meal, he put down his chopsticks, resolutely set in rebelling: “This won’t do, we can’t keep getting trampled on like this.”


    Bai Shiqi cheerfully consented: “Now you’re making sense.”


    Nobody should deprive her of her pleasure of sleeping in.


    Inside the next room, a bowl of congee and some side dishes were arranged on top of the table. Zhao Wujiu’s hair was combed neatly without a single strand out of its place, sitting behind the table eating breakfast: “How’s the morning exercise?”


    Shu Changfeng: “I’m afraid Thirteenth lang has never exercised before, he tumbled many times, this subordinate had to use the rod to force him to stand up. That Young Leader Bai must be a practitioner, his foundation is very steady.”


    Zhao Wujiu certainly did not anticipate this, raising an eyebrow: “A practitioner? How is he compared to you guys?”


    Shu Changfeng: “Since we have not traded moves, I do not know what kind of martial art he practices.”


    Zhao Wujiu: “Find the opportunity to find out.” He seemed to able to understand: “That Young Leader Bai’s appearance looks delicate, with frivolous and slippery manners, however, he is able to singlehandedly go north to escort provisions, along the way dealing with the officials on each checkpoint, it can be said that he has some real skills.”


    Know yourself, know your enemy. Then you shall emerge victorious in every battle.


    Zhao Wujiu had been in charge of the army for many years, he had become accustomed to controlling the overall situation; deploy an army, sends a team on a task. He did not like the feeling of being out of control.


    However, everything coming out of Zhao Ziheng’s mouth about Bai Shiqi were extravagant embellishments. The two had even sworn an oath and formed a brotherhood with different surnames.


    Zhao Wujiu was a bit skeptical of their brotherhood.


    After Zhao Ziheng finished eating breakfast, he summoned the courage to come to Zhao Wujiu to reason and brought his assistant Bai Shiqi along for moral support: “Cousin Brother, you can’t make Shu Changfeng come and pull me out of the bed to exercise so early in the morning. At my age, it’s too late to start practicing martial arts. Even if I were to do great, I’m not ready to enter the army as a general, why bother to suffer?”


    Zhao Wujiu who was ignoring him shot a glance: “If Great Wei has a general like you, it would be a great disgrace to the army.”


    Bai Shiqi who was all smiles went along with him: “It is still Cousin Brother who understands Ziheng.”


    Zhao Ziheng who was filled with grief and indignation: “Shiqi, which side are you on?” He, for the sake of both brothers’ idleness, struggled alone without any form of support. Bai Shiqi, who did not lend a hand the slightest bit, unexpectedly still went as far as licking cousin Brother’s boots.


    Bai Shiqi: “Cousin Brother was saying the truth ma.”


    Zhao Wujiu creased his brows, apparently did not find the flatter pleasurable, on the contrary, he was very upset at it.


    “If there’s nothing else, Changfeng will see the guests off.”


    Bai Shiqi: ……


    To be kicked out before the weapons were revealed in the first round, in addition, the enemy was this sort of person with contemptuous personality who was also condescending to others.


    Bai Shiqi was not happy.


    Early morning the next day, Shu Changfeng pulled Zhao Ziheng out of his bed to do horse stance, however, the other person who had gone to pull Bai Shiqi returned without result.


    The two guards who had followed Zhao Wujiu for many years had unexpectedly underestimated Bai Shiqi.


    “…… Young Leader Bai cannot be found.”


    “What do you mean he cannot be found?”


    “His cabin opened with a light push, yet sleeping on the bed is a boatman, not Bai Shiqi.”


    Shu Changfeng’s complexion was starting to turn green: “Did you ask the boatman of his whereabouts? Shouldn’t it be impossible for him to abandon the ship to flee?”


    Zhao Ziheng’s pair of eyes shone, and he fell back on the bed: “Shiqi has gone missing, nobody will accompany me to exercise. I’ll just make up for my lost sleep.”


    Shu Changfeng gritted his teeth: “Thirteenth lang, the master has ordered, if you’re lazy, the military rod awaits!”


    Zhao Ziheng tore his body off the bed with difficulty, with an ugly face he wore his clothes, preparing to exercise.


    It was almost noon when Bai Shiqi appeared, one did not know in which cabin did she rest last night.


    Zhao Wujiu sent someone to invite her over to talk.


    When Bai Shiqi entered, Zhao Ziheng stared at her angrily: “Shiqi, I treated you like a brother in vain!” Enjoying blessings together, yet letting him suffer hardships alone, did not even take him to escape together.


    She stretched her body, tilted into the chair as if the body was boneless, and yawned delicately: “One’s body gets sleepy easier as one grows older, I don’t know for what matters did Cousin Brother call me for?” She also advised her close brother sincerely: “Ziheng ah, you have to thank Cousin Brother’s painstaking effort for you, he cannot bear to see you wasting your time, so he sends someone to guide you. The primary goal here is you, I’m merely an escort. If Cousin Brother were to let someone pass some unique skills to you and I stay behind to observe, it will mean that I’m taking advantage of Cousin Brother’s goodwill, isn’t it so, Cousin Brother?”


    Zhao Ziheng was left speechless by her words.


    Zhao Wujiu’s impressions of Bai Shiqi were already bad in the first place, but now on he added another “silver-tongued” stamp on her forehead.


    “You don’t need to avoid doing horse stance.” He spoke resolutely.


    Bai Shiqi smiled mischievously said: “As a close brother, seeing Ziheng struggling in doing horse stance, I don’t feel good in my heart. I personally have never seen someone who struggles so hard to do horse stance, his legs tremble and his posture is completely wrong. Looking at the brother whom I see as a tall and lofty figure being harmed like this, my heart hurts, so I can only choose the alternative way, which is to avoid ah.” She, with the attitude of someone who was being understanding to others: “I’m also doing this out of the consideration of our brotherhood feelings. Ziheng, you have to be understanding.”


    Zhao Ziheng almost ran away in tears.


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