Finding a Way Back
From the looks of it, the sun is in the fall. Soon it will reach evening time. Dee’s got to decide when they will make their move back, Dee would like to return by tomorrow morning. Nevertheless, it depends on how Yuchi is doing as of right now. Dee decided to check on Yuchi. He sent Rui away to the battlefield, meeting with the other members. Telling them to come to meet at the lunch spot after about an hour.
It didn’t take Dee very long to find Yuchi as he saw Shun sitting right in front of a tent, just like always, wielding his sword. Dee and Shun bowed to each other as they met. Dee looked inside the tent, indeed Yuchi is lying inside. Yuchi seems to be still in sleep, his eyes closed.
“Booo,” Yuchis suddenly shouted out, trying to spook Dee. However, Dee did not move a single bit, he remained as calm as a millpond.
“Haha.” Yuchi laughed in awkwardness, as he failed to scare Dee.
“Childish tricks, it can’t get me,” Dee said.
“Can’t deny, it was a good try.” Yuchi sighed.
“How are you feeling now?” Dee asked.
“Good.” Yuchi gave a short answer.
“Do you feel you can hold up if we head back to Chang’an today?”
“Not a problem.” Yuchi is confident in himself.
“Can you stand up right now?” Dee asked.
“Let me try,” Yuchi said. With the help of Dee, Yuchi was able to slowly stand up. He’s holding on to his right chest area, where the arrow struck him. “It’s too painful.”
Dee quickly stopped helping Yuchi up, instead, he assisted him back down. “It feels way better laying back down,” Yuchi exclaimed.
“Are you sure you can really take such a long long trip back?” Dee made sure Yuchi was comfortable.
“The pain will ease after a bit, so I’ll be fine,” Yuchi said.
“I’ll leave you resting for a bit,” Dee said. “If you are able to walk, then go get some food.”
Dee turned around facing Shun, who sat beside them listening to their conversation. “Help me keep him protected,” Dee said to Shun.
“I’ll do my best,” Shun replied.
“Sorry to bother you, Master Shun.” Dee walked away, leaving Yuchi with Shun. Because Yuchi claimed that he’s fine to head back, Dee has decided that sometime before tomorrow the crew is going to be on their way back to Chang’an. Although the decision is made, one problem might still prevent the crew from complying with the plan. The two coachman that rode the crew to Zundian are now brutally killed by the group of assassins. They don’t have anyone who can ride them back. However, in Zundian maybe there could be someone capable and is willing to help out the crew.
One member came and delivered the message that both the carriage and the horses are in good shape, the only thing left is to find two coachman.
Dee walked towards the central area of the town, where more people are crowded. It might be slightly difficult for Dee to find a suitable coachman, as he is not familiar with the town. Around evening time is the busiest time of Zundian, way more people are on the streets than compared to in the morning. The evening time here is actually quite a nice sight to see. As to keep the town bright and flowing, people will light small lamps and put them on the side of the road.
It Is still not completely dark right now, Dee is still able to see bits. If Dee could not find someone when it got dark, then the process would just get harder as the night completely hits. Dee walked a bit more, trying to see if there are stables or anything relating to horses. But, it seems like there aren’t any.
“Zundian is got to have at least some coachman,” Dee thought. He decided to approach someone and ask if that really is the case. However, after asking a few locals, none of them had anything to offer.
“Hello.” Dee decided to approach a nearby blacksmith. He’s already asked around six people already, Dee hopes that maybe this blacksmith knows someone that can help out the crew. “May I use some of your time?”
The blacksmith stared at Dee for a second, then went back to forging his item. He did not respond to Dee’s request. This blacksmith is a hunk man, rock slid shoulders and arms. A beard as long as a waterfall.
“Do you know if there are any coachman in Zundian?” Dee still decided to ask, despite the blacksmith not responding.
“Lucky you,” The blacksmith finally responded. “I know someone who can, but he probably won’t help you.”
“Would you mind telling me where he is at?” Dee asked.
The blacksmith pointed across the street. Dee looked back, he saw no one but a closed tent. “Over there, you go negotiate yourself.”
He crossed the narrow street, over to the tent. Dee said, “Excuse me, is anyone inside the tent?” Dee patiently waited, but heard no response. “Is anyone inside the tent?”
Finally, a half-bald man vigorously slashes open the curtains. “What. Who told you to bother me!” The man scolded the lone Dee, with clear anger.
“The blacksmith across the street.”
“Big fella,” The bald man yelled, seemingly at the blacksmith. His voice could cut through the entire universe. Then some not so pleasant word came out of his mouth.
“Umm.” Dee tried to interrupt
“What?” The bald man barked. “What do you want?”
“I’m looking for some coachman to….”
“I am.” The bald man admitted. “But I have no time, so leave.”
The man angrily went into the tent, refusing to communicate with Dee furthermore. Seeing him not cooperating, Dee said, “I can give you more money if you are willing to help me.”
“How much?” The bald quickly got out again, his attitude towards Dee changed dramatically.
Dee gave a price that’s a bit higher than what he usually gives his coachman. To convince the bald man, Dee showed him how much he’s got.
“That many!!!” The bald man shouted in excitement. “Deal!!!”
“Deal.” Dee felt happy that he found someone that can ride a carriage, even if the price he gave was higher than usual.
“Where are you heading?” The bald man asked.
“Oh.” The bald man seemed to be disappointed. “Something happened to Chang’an city, they don’t let people in no more. Can’t help you.”
“Just bring me to the gate, I’ll get in Chang’an myself,” Dee said.
“I don’t ride criminals.” The bald man has mistaken Dee for some reason.
Dee showed the man his official badge. “I am an official of Chang’an, and have permission to get in.” Dee calmly said.
“Great.” The bald man became delighted again. He stood up and stretched. “How many people?”
“My carriage can only ride a maximum of three.” The bald man shrugged.
“I have my own carriage that you can ride,” Dee said. “And also, I need another coachman. Do you know any?”
“For the same price?” The bald man asked.
“Same price for both.”
“I know someone that will definitely help out.”
“When are we leaving?”
“About an hour from now.” Dee calculated. “Just wait by the front Archway when it’s time.”
“No problem.” The bald man bowed. “May I please know your name, mister?”
“Nice to meet you Master Dee, you can call me Liang,” The bald man introduced himself.
“See you later.” Dee waved him goodbye, heading back to have dinner, before finally returning to Chang’an if all things go as planned. The process of finding the two coachman only took Dee about half an hour. Dee felt lucky that he was able to find someone in this short time span.
Dee would take some time to return near the cottage. His leg now feels a lot better, but still limping a bit. He told Shun and Yuchi the plan to leave by tonight and brought them to eat dinner together. Yuchi with the help of Shun is able to walk quite fluidly. The three arrived at the lunch place where Dee told the crew to meet up. Rui and two others have already arrived prior to Dee, however, two members are still missing.
“Where are the other two?” Dee asked Rui, who is supposed to be with them.
“They are taking care of the horses,” Rui explained. “We surely don’t want to lose them.”
Dee ordered his food, as well as some for the two hard-working members. Making sure the two don’t starve to death on the way back.
“Yuchi, you look so weak right now,” Rui laughed at Yuchi. “We should have a man duel.”
“I can still easily beat you when I’m in pain,” Yuchi jokes. The two laughed out loud. Rui excitedly told Yuchi about their findings today. The spear tip, and about Rosemary Flowers. He also shared his speculation of who these assassins might be. Rui also told Dee that the crew couldn’t find any useful evidence left near the battlefield.
“I want to thank everyone for contributing to the fight,” Dee thanked everyone, as almost everybody is here. Without every one of them, the fight could take a worse turn.
“I didn’t really do much,” Yuchi speaks awkwardly.
“You saved Master Dee’s life,” Rui cried out. “That counts as contributing.”
“How did you guys win the fight without me?” Yuchi curiously asked.
“We almost lost, but thanks to Master Shun we pulled away.”Surprising words coming out of Rui’s mouth. Shun and Rui stared at each other. They had past conflicts before, but Rui seems to be making peace.
“You too,” Shun replied to Rui’s friendliness. Dee felt grateful seeing the two making peace.
Dee looked at Yuchi, who has been in an extended conversation with Rui. Many of Yuchi’s food is still left. Dee had to stop the two from talking so that Yuchi could finish his food faster.
Finally, after some time, Yuchi would finish his food. Dee and the others had to wait on him for a bit. Luckily they were not late arriving at the archway. When they arrived, the two coachman Dee hired were already there. In the cold night of Zundian, the two shivered. Dee can tell that they aren’t wearing much, probably are freezing.
“You two are not wearing much. I can give you two a jacket to keep warm,” Dee told the two coachman.
“That would be great,” The bald man said while shivering.
Dee handed his own jacket to one of them, also telling Rui to do the same to the other shivering coachman. After the two felt warmer, Rui led all to the carriage, where two members were closely keeping care of.
Dee praised the two members for their hard work, and also gave the money beforehand to the two coachman. Just like how they came to Zundian, Dee, Rui, Yuchi, and Shun on one carriage, while the others on the other one. Dee didn’t feel sleepy at first, he decided to read the book given by Tianlan, the one about poisons. Maybe he could find some useful things while being on the carriage. Shun, as usual, did not say a word, he seems to be just staring into the wild, in a world of his own. Yuchi and Rui continued their conversation from dinner time, being their usual selves as well.
After reading the book for a long time, Dee eventually felt tired. Reading pages and pages is getting boring. He refreshed his eyes by looking out the carriage window, but only darkness. In the far, a dim light caught his attention. However, as the carriage rode off, the light became a thing of the past. Dee closed his eyes, in the hopes of falling asleep. He illustrated the gleaming Chang’an in his head. In his mind, if there is light there are hopes. The bright lanterns of Chang’an have been extinguished, but somewhere there are still shades of light. And in Dee’s heart, the light always exists. It’s rather uncomfortable to sleep on a carriage, as there is no place to lie down. Dee has past problems with his back, he wouldn’t fall asleep for a long time. But eventually, Dee still fell into sweet dreams.
“Master Dee.” A voice woke Dee up, it was Rui’s. “We are finally back in Chang’an.”
Dee slowly opened his eyes, only seeing Rui in the carriage with him. It seems that the others have already woken up. Dee jumped out of the carriage, the others all waiting outside. It is still very dark outside, considering the time they left and the time needed for the trip, Dee speculated right now to be around three or four hours after midnight. Dee looked around, this is certainly right outside of Chang’an, at the border gate of the city.
In the cold and dark night, also stands the two coachman. One of them said, “Master Dee, I haven’t thought about this, but how are we two suppose to go back to Zundian?”
Dee has thought about this problem beforehand and made a wise choice. “I’ll give one of the horses and carriage as a gift for you two. One of you rides the horse and the other in the carriage.”
“Thank you very much,” The two thanked, proceeding to return the jackets that Dee gave them.
“Keep the jacket as well. It’s pretty cold out here.” Dee did not want the two to freeze on the way back. One horse and carriage, plus the jackets is not a small loss. However, Dee thinks that it is acceptable. The most important thing is to keep everyone safe, including the two temporary coachman.
The crew waved the coachman goodbye, who took off back to Zundian. The crew, led by Dee, approached the border guards. Chang’an has been in lockdown mode, people are banned from leaving or entering the city. However, Dee has the search warrant that gave the crew permission to do so.
Two members used a rope to lead the horse, bringing the one remaining carriage with them. Dee showed his search warrant to the guards. The guards opened up the door, Dee and the crew walked in. They are finally back in Chang’an, after an eventful trip to Zundian.
Dee planned to find a stable nearby, in order to keep his horse safe overnight. Then, the crew will hopefully find a tavern to have a nice sleep in. They will return near the Royal Palace tomorrow morning to see if anything of significance has occurred. Dee and the crew are currently at the very south of the city, about a couple of hours away from the Royal Palace. Doctor Li’s death happened right in the palace, while General Sha’s mansion is to the north, but still very close to the palace. Dee also planned to go back to his place, to Ruyi’s tavern to get their uniforms back. Dee, as an official, lives rather close to the palace as well. Also only a few blocks away from General Sha’s mansion. The two death scenes and Dee’s house are all in one area, this really saved lots of time going from one place to another.
The plan went successfully. In a short amount of time, they were able to find a stable, as well as a tavern just enough for the eight people to spend the night in. Most of the members have already recovered fine from the fight, the fight didn’t do as much damage to them as Dee thought it did. Dee closed his eyes and quickly went to sleep. Sleeping in a bed is way more comfortable than sleeping inside a running carriage.