Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cold Sands (Beyond the Frore Dunes) - ch31

Translator: ayszhang
Proofreaders: krabbykabbi, Luzo, Pau & Red

Cold Sands ch 31
 The Yan army is here!!! :O Are we going to see an old face?

XXXI Besieged

I coolly cast my gaze at the crimson tide advancing from the distance. 

I see a forest of spears and hear the thundering of hooves. The sun shines on the sharp spearheads and blades, shattering into icy fractions of light. A blurry, yellow cloud of sand grows from underneath the horses’ hooves and the red armour seems to form a sea of blood, stranding the island that is the capital.

Everything behind me seems to be frozen in place. No one speaks. There are only the increasingly rushed breaths.

The Lupine Blood Mounted Squadronthis means I’ll see an old friend. But I do wonder what expression would appear on that sniggering face of his when he sees my face.

It certainly is a small world.

The soldiers standing guard steadily watch the gradually advancing red sea but the hand and weapon of a young soldier next to me is shaking nonstop.

The Blood Mounts are infamous for their coldblooded murder and cruelty. After devouring twenty thousand men, this bloodthirsty wolf has aimed its mouthful of sharp fangs at the heart of Great Rui.

My heart is pounding but I don’t show it. “Announce my decree: Do not be alarmed. Civil officials are to return to their posts and all the soldiers are to make preparations.” I turn and shout to the crowd behind me. “General Pei!”

Pei Yuan hurries out and gets down on one knee. “Your orders, please, Your Majesty.”

“Deploy the Golden Guardians and shut the palace gates; notify the superintendent of the inner palace to secure all buildings and prohibit all movement! Those who disobey shall face decapitation!”

Pei Yuan rushes off with the orders and the civil officials leave in an orderly fashion without much commotion. I approach the ledge and place my hands on the crenel before carefully studying the scene before me.

“Your Majesty, this place is too dangerous. I beseech You to step aside,” someone suggests from behind me. I ignore it and summon the new Minister of Defense. “Get someone to command the army and inform the people in the capital of my determination to live and die with the capital! The troops are not to take a single step back; those who run away shall be shown no mercy!”

He bows in obedience and I continue, “Have the weapons and equipment been prepared accordingly?”

He answers with a calm expression, “In reply to Your Majesty, all weapons have been prepared. I had made orders for all arrows and swords in reserve to be transported to each battlement for the soldiers to use when needed.”

I nod with a smile but drop it right away. I clutch my hands, trying to stop the sweat from coming out.

I then summon the Minister of Revenue. “Go post an announcement in the city telling the people not to be alarmed. You must also take the lead and get all officials to take care of the people’s living. Tell them that I and the officials swear to live and die with this city and not leave them behind.”

He lowers his head but Heng Ziyu interrupts, “I also request that you organize young, healthy men to transport rock and lumber, and all doctors to prepare medicines for any wounded soldiers.”

The minister leaves in a hurry with the orders. I and Heng Ziyu share a smile before looking back into the distance.

The beating of the metal horseshoes is getting louder and louder and the earth itself seems to be quaking. Sand is swept high into the air and the numerous flags flap wildly in the wind. Red cavalrymen in uncountable numbers have reached the city.

The endless red wave has just stilled when it seems to be split apart by a blade. A perfectly straight path clears down the middle and two people come forth on horses. The one farther away is the assistant delegate from the other day while the one in front of him has a strong build, tall and proud. He’s wearing shiny iron mail that is glistening under the sun. He pulls on the reins and turns his head when the horse halts, pointing his gaze straight in my direction.

A violent shudder runs through me.

That personthat figureisn’t that Murong Yu?

My mind goes blank and I step backwards without even realising it.

I think Heng Ziyu noticed my slip up because he holds me by the waist and warns quietly, “What’s wrong, Your Majesty? You mustn’t show fear.”

I pant roughly and shake all over. I don’t want him to know that I’m the emperor of Rui. Even if it’s just a temporary escape, I don’t want him to know the current circumstances. It’s better to not meet at all. I’d rather he think I’m dead.

Right before I completely embarrass myself, I finally recognize the manYuwen Yuan.

My body falls limp instantly and only by holding onto the crenel do I manage to stay standing.

It was only a moment but it felt like eternity.

I adjust my posture while Heng Ziyu scrutinizes my face with a hint of suspicion. He lets go appropriately. I close my eyes. All I can feel is my crazily beating heart and the whooshing wind in my ears.

When I open my eyes, the delegate is yelling, “Listen up, all of you on the walls! This is the general of the Lupine Blood Mounted Squadron of Great Yan!”

My throat feels constricted and I can’t speak very loudly yet. Heng Ziyu steps forth and remarks, “So you are General Yuwen. It certainly is a pleasure!”

Yuwen Yuan spits coldly, “Enough chitchat. Get your emperor to come out!”

I’ve calmed down by now so I pull my helmet down so that it covers my eyes, and lean forward. “Oh, it is you again!” I shout to the delegate. “Why, did you come back because you missed our arrows?”

I hear soft, ridiculing laughter from behind and see the delegate’s face convulsing with anger. Yuwen Yuan looks up towards me with a smile but his tone is freezing cold. “This is your emperor?”

I’m not sure if he recognizes me yet. When I think about it, if Yuwen Yuan knows it means Murong Yu will, too.

“’Tis not too late to surrender the city,” he proclaims clearly and emotionlessly.

“And what makes you think I would do that?” I raise my brows.

With the sunlight dancing off of his helmet, I can’t see his expression clearly but I can feel the intention to kill, nonetheless.

“If you unlock your gates now, write down your will to surrender and kneel before us as subjects, we will spare your petty lives!”

I point my nose into the air. “And if I say no?”

He swings his spear and points it at me. “Then please pardon our ruthlessness, for it was you who denied our favour.”

Dropping my smile, I hiss, “I have no need for such favours!”

“That voice…” Yuwen Yuan stays quiet for a bit before bursting out in laughter. “It’s quite familiar. I would really like to take a closer look at you.”

My heart seems to miss a beat and I glare at him.

“Yuwen Yuan! Do not think for a second that the present Great Rui is still a weak, little lamb waiting to be butchered!” I bark. “No matter how fierce the Blood Mounts may be, you still cannot fly over the city walls like birds!”

Before I finish my sentence, Yuwen Yuan has nocked an arrow and he shoots. The arrow zips in my direction with a twang. Almost instinctively, I turn my head and the speeding weapon scrapes past my cheek and plants into the wall behind me.

“Your Majesty!”

My cheek is burning with pain; there seems to be a thin, long cut. Heng Ziyu pulls me back and a row of bowmen steps forth with their arrows nocked and ready to shoot at my order. Two teams of shieldmen dash forth and raise their shields in defense.

Warm liquid drips out and I wipe it off with the back of my hand, ignoring the pain. I fling Heng Ziyu aside and push my way through the crowd.

I overestimated your marksmanship!” I shout while continuing to glare at him. “We shall stay standing until the end, whether it be battle or death!”


I hear a mass of twangs from around me and the arrows fly through the air like rain but the cavalrymen aren’t alarmed. They quickly pull on their reins and retreat in unison while several hundred shieldmen leap forth from behind. The arrow rain plunges into their shields, going ratatat against the steel.

Yuwen Yuan holds his head high. “You shouldn’t underestimate us, either.”

Suddenly, long notes of the horn sound. From where I am, I see a large fleet of carts behind the thousands of cavalry, riding along the gentle curvature of the ground. The tall machinery is being pulled forward by cows.

“Escalades,” Heng Ziyu squeezes through his teeth.

I start feeling restless when he drags me by the wrist to climb to the highest battlement. We see the innumerable, red army dissipating to allow the machines to approach. More and more of our soldiers have climbed to the battlements, armed and ready for battle.

I take a deep breath and roar, “Fellow warriors! There is no turning back for us now. Behind us is our home and our families. We must fight for our home and fight for our families. None of us can take a single step back. Real men should die on the battlefield; there will only be dead warriors, not dead escapees!”

“Death before surrender!” they echo.

The horns’ notes abruptly climb higher and waves of soldiers rush towards the wall. Drums start beating from the battlements and the bowmen fire their arrows restlessly. The arrows shower down onto the field before the gate. Using ladders to cross the moat, three warriors carry each escalade while one pushes it from behind. Yan footmen charge up the escalades with their sabers and swords while some stay at the bottom to cover the former with arrows.

Loads of arrows, logs and stone are being thrown from the walls while other soldiers are furiously engaged in close-quarter combat with those that have climbed up. The sounds of murder fill the air at once. The war drums thunder, bodies tumble down the walls, blood sprays out everywhere, and the painful shrieks become louder and louder.

“Reporting!” Some soldiers run up to me. “An Shun Gate and An Ding Gate in the north are under critical attack.”

“Reporting! We have spotted Yan cavalry outside Yong Yang Gate in the west.”

“Reporting! There…”

Worried, I scan in the directions of the other gates. Although orders and preparations have been made for absolute defense, I’m not certain it will hold.

The man beside me holds my hand tight and says quietly, “No need to be alarmed, Your Majesty. Have faith in me, please.” Then he roars at the messenger soldiers, “Tell them to hold strong or die trying!”

I hear the horns blowing again; it’s the capital’s warning call. The soldiers shoot, hurl logs and stones at the enemies below and the Yan footmen tumble down from the escalades. There are many soldiers pouring boiling tar, too. The field below is wet with blood and flying body parts. Soon, the moat turns red.

Yet, Yuwen Yuan is patient beyond belief. He stays mounted on his horse and watches from afar.

Under the arrow shower, several dozen men carry a large battering ram while several shieldmen clear a path for them. They start hitting the gate repeatedly. The steel gate shakes and clangs under the assault while the soldiers inside the city use everything they can to block the gate and keep it from budging.

More footmen rush forth as soon as the bowmen slow their fire, and force their way up to the walls. The defending soldiers have gone into a killing frenzy, hacking down anything that comes up the wall and immediately filling the gap in the line of defense. When one row of soldiers falls, another row steadily takes their place to continue the massacre. The Yan also have bowmen shooting up and soldiers are hit from time to time but more take their place right away.

I don’t know when this seesaw battle is going to end.

The battle lasts into the afternoon.

Clouds of black smoke shoot for the sky and enshroud the sun. The shouting, wailing, clanging of weapons and muffled thumps of blades digging into flesh keep echoing in my ears as the sun appears to dim.

There are battlements for cover but none for the soldiers out in the plains. Gradually, the Rui gain the upper hand from having higher elevation. The soldiers ramming the gates have all fallen under arrows and the footmen are killed before they even get to the escalade. The attack seems to slow down as well.

The first round of assault finally stops at twilight.

Yuwen Yuan raises his hand and the gongs ring. The Yan recede like the tide, leaving behind only the mounds of corpses in front of the city.

After brief cleaning and changing shifts, Heng Ziyu and I do a head count. The good news is that our casualties are fairly low.

Soon, the food service team climbs up to the battlements and delivers food and water for the soldiers. The dead and critically wounded are carried down while the ones with minor injuries are bandaged on the spot.

Along the way, all I see are broken weapons and limbs and blood everywhere.

“Would Your Majesty like to return to the palace for some rest?” Heng Ziyu looks at ease while I shake my head weakly.

I say after looking at the soldiers resting along the path, “I can at least boost their morale by being here.”

Seeing their blood-dyed armour and exhausted sleeping faces, I can’t say much else. The deep, ugly wounds and the rusty blood have brought me face to face with death and pain again.

Leaving Shang Wu Gates in the north side, he and I go over to An Shun Gate, An Ding Gate and Yong Yang Gate together. The soldiers there have also fought fiercely. The limestone has lost its colour from being soaked by blood and when I walk across it, I feel as if my feet are going to get stuck.

As Heng Ziyu and I descend the battlement side by side, the fatigue disappears from the soldiers’ faces and they stand up tall, their bloody and dusty faces full of liveliness. The centurion orders them all to stand properly but finds a young soldier asleep, curled up in the shadows. He seems to be sleeping comfortably with his babyish face hidden in his heavy helmet.

The centurion is about to wake the soldier when I stop him.

He’s just a boy and probably still needs a lot of sleep. The day has been bloody enough so I let him have a good night’s rest.

Under the gaze of everyone, I descend the stairs. The eyes behind follow me and I can feel their silent hope and dependence. It’s as if I have gone back to that night after the bloody battle when someone asked me, ‘Deputy General Han, are we gonna make it outta here alive?’

I was responsible for three thousand lives then; I’m responsible for one million now.

I could say that I didn’t know then, but how could I say that now?

Could I?


Because I’m their hope.

Hope, huh.

I look up at the dying sun. This vicious battle has just begun but could someone tell me when it’s going to end?

A strong gust of wind as sharp as a blade blows violently from the plains.

Heng Ziyu whispers from behind, “These soldiers aren’t very old. The youngest is just over thirteen years old.”

“They came with You, right?” I ask flatly.

He looks conflicted as he sighs, “Indeed, they have. Some places down south are so poor they cannot afford to feed their children, so they enlist them in the army so they can eat.”

“The South has always had prosperous people and fertile lands. How could that be?”

“The land and climate are good, indeed, but it’s plagued by floods every year. Most of the wealthy people have moved, leaving the commoners behind. But,” he starts getting a bit angry, “‘Tyranny is more fearsome than a tiger’. The people not only had to suffer the pains of flooding but also the embezzlement of corrupt officials.”

Startled, I remark, “But I recall the floods being dealt with every year.”

His face darkens. “If it has been dealt with, then it doesn’t need to be done every year! I couldn’t even begin describing how much funding has been embezzled all these years under the name of flood relief!”

I feel my sense of hope deflating inside. He continues as I secretly ball my fists up. “The military and politics are separate and are not to intermingle, so even if I wanted to do something, I couldn’t. I can only do my best to take in the sons of the commoners and alleviate the commoners’ burdens.” He chuckles but all I can see is bitterness.

I understand. Those born as a commoner experience much more challenges than me and can better empathise with the sufferings of the people.

I’ve heard of the corruption of the government officials in the South and hearing his words make me feel all the more depressed. Tyranny is more fearsome than a tiger; the government is more fearsome than the floods. Now that the North is under attack, it will be the end if the floods start in the South.

My head starts hurting again as if something is squeezing on it, making it hard to breathe.

Salvaging the country from the war is only the first step. There is still a long way to go from there.

Dusk has gradually fallen and the sky is gloomy.

The evening breeze is a bit humid. The pungent smells of pine oil burning spread throughout the city. Heng Ziyu insists that he escorts me back to the palace.

“Your Majesty must appear at ease exactly because we are at war in order soothe the people,” he explains.

I understand what he means so I head back to the palace without retorting.

The residents that I see along the way all look high-strung as if disaster is going to strike, while on the other hand, the palace guards and servants are all working as usual. The attendants come and go in an orderly fashion, not appearing unsettled at all. I can’t help but feel relieved. The senior attendant in charge of the inner palace used to work for the Han clan but later swore loyalty to me. At this time of peril, he has used his strict management skills to hold the palace together.

I’m still not sure how to feel about the Han clan.

Without their protection, I couldn’t have survived until this day; without the Hans’ strong basis, I couldn’t have ascended the throne. However, no matter personally or as a member of the royal family, the clan is my biggest enemy.

Within me flow the blood of Lin and also the blood of Han.

I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have outright requested or discreetly implied for me to get rid of the Han clan. Yet, despite my tainted hands, I haven’t been able to. My heart hasn’t hardened completely to be able to withstand all attacks.

In the end, I’m not a coldblooded, relentless emperor.

After getting my wound bandaged and stuffing down some food, I summon the ministers to my sleeping quarters. They don’t look their usual graceful selves either and all seem exhausted.

“I have already sent scouts out to see where the enemies have set up camp and gather information.”

I flip open the list of fatalities with my head propped on my hand. “What is the total casualty?”

“In reply to Your Majesty, the total comes to two thousand and four hundred, of which six hundred only suffered minor injuries and can still be deployed.”

The black ink filling the white pages seems to come alive under the flickering candlelight. Every name stands for a human being who was still laughing to their hearts’ content just yesterday but is now sleeping in eternal darkness.

“Have the walls been cleaned? And are there any damages?”

“There are thirty-two places of damage and I have sent workers to repair them.” The Minister of Works pauses before continuing, “Shang Wu Gate received critical damage and is being repaired with everything we have got.”

I nod and push the list away. “How are the residents?”

“In reply to Your Majesty, there was a slight disturbance but the mayor had calmed the crowd. It’s not a problem now.”

“Tell him, he is solely responsible if there are any more problems with the people.”

The Minister of Personnel shakes a bit before bowing down.

I wave my hand after leaving more instructions and they leave. Impatiently, I shut the reports and lean against the desk.

The humid wind blows into the building and sweeps the curtains along. I spot a faint silhouette coming to a stop before hiding behind the shadow of a pillar. I smile. What is the old geezer doing this time?

“Master, why are you playing hide-and-seek with me?”

Master Liao steps out after a long period of stillness. He’s wearing a black robe and looks calm as usual.

“Your Majesty has not rested yet?”

I lean lazily to the side and let my eyes shut half-way. “I’m not sleeping tonight; the facade is only for other people to see.” I watch him as he approaches and sits down on his knees next to me. “You haven’t been around these days. Took a trip out to the country?”

He pulls a light smile while looking at me. “Just a trip out to the Blood Mounts’ camp.”

I know his martial arts is extraordinary so I joke, “Then this war should be easy. If you could go in and just behead Yuwen Yuan, this whole siege would be over!”

He shakes his head. “The Yan have set up camp thirty li from the city and the security is very tight. I am afraid it won’t be that easy to take his head.”

He adds after a pause, “The Lupine Blood Mounts originally totalled fifty thousand. The battle at Luo Yuan already brought them down to thirty-four thousand and they suffered many casualties today, too. The arts of war states, ‘the worst is to attack a walled city.’ Yuwen Yuan choosing to initiate warfare right away is none other than an attempt to boost morale. They saw how sturdy our defenses were and suffered such a heavy blow themselves. They are bound to feel worried.”

I raise a brow. “So you mean…?”

“I would like to think that Yuwen Yuan will not initiate another offense until their remaining forces arrive. The Blood Mounts are his bragging right. He isn’t so stupid as to harm it. Plus, if time allows, a long-term siege is undoubtedly the best option for them with regards to the one hundred thousand men on their way to the capital.”

I tighten my fist. With an army of over one hundred thousand, if they just charged all at once, they wouldn’t even need to lay siege for the twelve gates of the capital to crumble to pieces.

We look at each other. He’s smiling so I ask, “Seeing your smile, I suppose you have plans.”

“I cannot say for sure but I had a rough idea of what Your Majesty wanted to do when You asked me whether the Eidolons could infiltrate the Yan capital.” He lowers his voice, “Attack where it is not expected and expose their back and stomach at the same time.”

I drop my gaze, not sure whether to feel happy or sad.

“If Your Majesty would grant permission, I would like to take charge of the Wraiths. I have done similar things when serving under the duke.”

I stare at him and ask slowly, “A trip to Yan is extremely dangerous. Are you willing to do so, Master?”

He smiles calmly. “Your Majesty, I went through a lot to search for the duke’s son when His Lordship failed. I nearly died in the hands of the oppression army. My life is no longer mine so please entrust the task to me.”

After much debate, I fish out the half-moon shaped pass that Uncle gave me and hand it to him. Master Liao pushes it back to me. “I only need one letter written by You and stamped with the Holy Seal. This pass has other uses.”

My hand shakes a little. “You mean…?”

“Yuwen Yuan is not the marshal. He cannot make every decision. There is only one who can really control the army of one hundred thousand and that person is Prince Lie, the Prince Royal of Yan.”

I shudder and stop smiling. Master Liao does so too and says sternly, “There is no ultimate alliance for us. We can cooperate with anyone. Our enemy in this moment could become our friend in the next.”

“Yes, you are right, Master.”

I write a letter to the Wraiths in Yan at once and stamp it with vermillion. I hand it to Master Liao and he folds it into his breast pocket, lowering his head. When he looks back up, he falls to his knees and knocks his head on the ground hard.

“I have served His Lordship for many years and have lost regard for my own life. To be able to serve the Eldest today, my life was worth it. Even if it meant giving up my life, I will gladly exchange it for the Eldest’s safety.”

The Eldest.’ So many people used to call me that when I was young.

“I have two things to say to Your Majesty.”


“One, I would like to remind Your Majesty that Heng Ziyu can be a temporary partner but cannot be trusted deeply. Two, there are thirty Eidolons in Tai Qing Palace. If there is an emergency, they will use their lives to escort You out of the capital.”

Servants have been replaced all over the palace since that day when I cleansed the inner palace. Naturally, Master Liao could let the Eidolons in under my permission.

Master Liaohe is so loyal but he couldn’t possibly know that I would choose to die with this city if it came down to it.

“You must remember, three claps is the signal.”

I nod. “Understood.”

Am I going to see him again when he leaves this time?

Even if I have a million things I want to say, I can only say this.

“Take care on the road, Master.”


I go back to the inner hall and take a short nap. In my dream, there are sudden flashes of blades and war smoke. I can faintly catch the silhouette of my parents but the next thing I know, the darkness enshrouds them and I can no longer see.

After struggling in the dark for a long time, I finally blink open my eyes. Covered in cold sweat, I push myself up. The darkness outside is impenetrable. It’s almost the fourth watch. The fourth watch is the closest to dawn but it’s also the coldest and darkest time of the night. I don’t want to get up so I wrap myself up in the silk blanket and lie back on the large bed.

I still can’t recall what my parents really looked like and I don’t have their portraits. The only way I can see my parents is through nightmares. How ironic is that?

It keeps getting colder, making it hard to fall asleep again. I get up and slip on the first thing I see. After a second’s deliberation, I take down the xiao that is hanging on the wall.

The night sky is filled with a billion twinkling stars far and wide. The wind brings chills starting from the feet and creeps up the legs. I’m starting to regret only wearing one layer and a cape, but I don’t want to go back so I just keep walking.

Only the whistling wind sounds in the quiet plains. The pale grey city walls are glowing red from the fires. The night watch soldiers huddle close to keep warm. Some are napping away in the corners. The centurion starts tapping their helmets to wake them up.

A centurion wearing black leather armour dashes out from behind me. I wave a hand and dismiss him. “Not a sound.”

He falters for a moment before leaving quietly.

I pick a quiet place along the wall to sit. The wind blows in my ears. I run my hand along the xiao, sliding across the cool instrument and the scores of scratches along its body before placing it against my lips.

In the limpid night, under the pure glow of the moon, a soothing note rises from the xiao, welling up from the depths like the tides and swashing along quietly before abruptly shooting high over the city walls. Even the howling wind seems to be frozen in place by the web fabricated by the xiao’s melody.

The loose ends of my clothing get swept up into the air, attempting to run away.

The notes stop bluntly as another low voice speaks, “Your Majesty.”

I lower the xiao and reply without looking back, “What a coincidence, Marshal.”

“What were You playing?”

I cast my gaze off to the dark plains. “Heaven Within the Moon.”

Heng Ziyu draws close next to me. “I didn’t know Your Majesty was skilled in the winds.”

“Why have You come instead of resting?” I crack a thin smile.

“It’s an old habit of mine to patrol the premises while armed no matter the size of the battle. Once in the first half of the night and a second time in the latter half.”

“Many thanks, Marshal,” I say while facing straight ahead.

It falls silent until the wind starts whooshing again and it seems to get colder again.

“The song sounded cold and distant and maybe a little bit sorrowful to me. Are You not afraid that it will disturb the soldiers?”

“Those being trapped playing the xiao to show ease and confidence, is this not what they want to see?”

I lean against the crenel and let my clothes flutter in the wind like a white bird dancing through the heavy gloom of the night. I have not felt this relaxed for a long time.

Heaven Within the Moon—sounds like a song of love and longing.” His tone turns playful. “Your Majesty, are You longing for Your lover?”

I laugh nonchalantly. Only he would say such suggestive words.

Lover. Lover.

The same scene occurred a long, long time ago. I was playing the xiao when he found me.

He, too, asked me what song I was playing.

The song I played then, Cries of Soaring Swan Geese, was a song of love and longing.


This word that has never been enounced will only be uttered as another word.


The next thing I know, he reaches out and picks the xiao out of my hands. Startled, I turn to see him looking up from the instrument to clash with my gaze. I can’t tell if he is cheerful or angry.

“There are so many sword marks. This must be one feisty woman.”

I don’t want to lose my temper so I stay quiet. He clips his lips while looking at me. “Could it be that Your Majesty has been glum because of the owner of this xiao?”

“’Tis the gift of a friend of the past.” I glimpse him from the corner of my eye. “Also, the current owner of this xiao is I.”

Heng Ziyu plays with the xiao with much interest. “This is a good xiao. Probably of excellent make.” He looks up, his gaze becoming more heedless and his smile more enigmatic. “The woman must be a one-in-a-million beauty, too, to constantly be on Your Majesty’s mind.”

I falter. One-in-a-million beauty? I guess it’s correct but sadly, that person isn’t a woman.

“Marshal.” I open my palm in front of him. He smiles at me after a momentary pause and places the xiao back in my hand. He lets out a suppressed, cold laugh that reaches far into the chilly night.

“Your Majesty is already the master of this realm. Why are You always so doleful?”

I gaze at the empyrean and before I know it, my eyes are wet.

“You know, Marshal, no one would be happy being stuck between dream and reality.” I slap the xiao against my palm. “Once upon a time, I had a small dream but now I have abandoned it and it will never be within reach again.”

He drops his smile. “You’re the son of God. What could You not accomplish?”

I sigh quietly and close my eyes. “In my opinion, being that can never make anyone happy. Not one bit.”

Before he can speak again, the xiao’s notes rise again, slowly circulating in the dark of the night like a crying swan geese, soaring off to somewhere faraway.
ayszhang: First of the special triple release >o< / See you all tomorrow for ch 32! I noticed the percentage of Heng supporters in the poll has been increasing ;D

dairytea: Waah, I can't help but love both Heng and Murong~ There should be a threesome! DX

BTW, if anyone is having problems commenting via Disqus, please email Dairytea at Please include a screenshot or detailed description of your experience. Thank you~~~

Chapter 30
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Cold Sands - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. First! :D I have to come back later to read this chapter, though :(


  2. Second. ZY wake up HX never gonna be yours as you realized his for our Muryong. And thank you Ayszhang

  3. Ugggghhhh too much feels :____; And why Master Liao said that Heng cannot be trusted deeply? Why why? And that small appearance of Murong >< Can't wait for the next updates. Thanks for the translation as always. I adore you :)

  4. Two more chapters until Murong's return!! Hope to see Marshal Heng and Murong battle (team Murong all the way! Even Master Liao thinks Marshal Heng can't be fully trusted) And, they must have some good eyesight to be able to see someone's face from high above the wall and probably a good 50 feet away.... Or I'm just blind...

    Thanks for th release!

  5. Hip, hip, hooray for the triple release, and here I thought that I had to patiently wait for Thursday release only. Thank-you, thank-you AZ. Your are the greatest.

    I feels so, so sad for HX. I think that I had tears in my eyes when HX play a sad, longing song on his/MY xiao.

    AZ, do you think YY might feel hate/love/hate for HX because when YY met HX being with the princess, he hated HX, and then when YY fought HX, and HX showed to be on par with YY in skill, YY may be showing admiration/love for HX but then hate HX because MY and the princess showed their concern for HX? What do you think?

  6. Actually i want to be the first but........😒 my work always make me late .

  7. Yeah. Me too. I want to be first but I lives in a time zone that by the time I get up in morning, get ready to go to work, have a little time to drink coffee looks at the site to see if anything new posted and to read before leaving the house to work, the new chapter is already up and people already read it and commented on it.

    To AZ, on your comment of the last chapter believe last night, I get the idea that you live in BC, Canada. If you live in BC, then you should be in the same time zone as me, right? Do you stay up really late to post the new chapter, or do you wake up really early to post it? Either way, I am really amaze that you posted so early.

  8. guess i'm last ??? well *goes to prepare her usual comments*

  9. yay! First of the triple release! Thank you!!
    Eldest?? Does han xin have a sibling? Hmm.
    Heng seems jealous of han xin's one-in-a-million beauty lover. :)

  10. Omg ! A threesome ! 😳😍 Don't make me dream ! 😜

  11. Noooo.... only Murong for Han Xin!!! hahhahha Thank you!!

  12. Me too. I believe that Murong is the only one for Han Xin. Though, i do hope too for a threesome cause that would be seriously hot! :)

  13. :-| i understand you! As for me, i love my sleep more than my desire to read it in the morning. Cause ayszhang, post their translations 6am on the place im living.

  14. @AZ: thank you, thank you so much for the start of the triple release!

    I feel sad for Han Xin. He doesnt want Murong to see of what have become of him now but at the same time, he longs for Murong to be there for him.

  15. >A< Be prepared for more feels in the chapters to come!!!
    Well, he could betray Han Xin any time. There really isn't loyalty involved between Han XIn and Heng Ziyu.
    You're welcome <3

  16. Omg of course!!! They didn't have computers/phones to stare at all day long! DX
    You're welcome<3

  17. >u< awww <3 thank you for the love

  18. i❤PassionFruitMay 6, 2015 at 3:38 PM

    I feel so sad for Han Xin 😿 almost cried when he told Marshal Heng "no one would be happy being stuck between dream and reality ... Once upon a time, I had a small dream but now I have abandoned it and out will never be within reach again"😿💔 and my heart went out to him when he tried to hide his identity. I hope Murong will not think that Han Xin betrayed him and hate him for it.

    Anyway, thanks for translating and sharing this novel with us Ayszhang! 😂

  19. XD You're welcome~~~
    Whooops, it was originally the duchess' instrument XDDD
    Hmmm that is a good question. My opinion (and it's totally speculative) is that Yuwen likes/admires Murong.... The hate towards Han Xin might be real since Han was a threat to Murong's name and reputation. Basically, he thought Han Xin was going to cuckhold Murong because Duchess Xiao is Murong's fiance and she was really close with Han Xin. Other than that...I can't really say what Yuwen feels or his relationship with the other characters.
    Hahhaa congratz! :D Keep it up? ;D

  20. >.< that face though!
    It's okay. I love you the same no matter what place you are

  21. >A< Sorry guys~ I decided to move it earlier so people on the Eastern hemisphere could read it before the day ended...
    Yesss Vancouver baby!!! PST <3 Oh haha. My circadian rhythm is completely messed up XD but the posting is automatic. There is no way I could post it at exactly 9:00AM EST hahaha. I make the post the night before and edit it and everything and set it to post at the given time. I usually sleep at 5-7 AM PST so you will see me replying to comments at that time <u<

  22. Nooo he doesn't as far as I can tell. "Eldest" also means he is the closest heir to the throne. This is why Duke Yu Qing's baby son is called the Eldest.
    Hahhaha yessss I feel the jealousy in the airrrr
    You're welcome :D

  23. XDDD I love seeing the emojis! They look funky on the desktop version of the site
    Well! We can dream! >A<

  24. You're welcome :)
    Hahahaha yessss. I agree!

  25. The fire alarm would go off from the hotness ~ \ (>_<) / ~

  26. You're very welcome <3
    It's such a dilemma :( It's hard for me to translate it too because I try to put myself in the situation and feel the original Chinese words before transforming the feeling into it's like I've lived through his words / _ ;

  27. D': *sniff*
    That's a good question. Murong will tell us what he thinks of Han Xin's doings in ch 36 >A</
    You're welcome :D Thank you for reading and commenting~

  28. yeeesss more airing time for heng ziyu!

  29. Okie dokie, I was finally able to read the chapter! 😚 I don't know why, but I got really excited when Han Xin started playing the xiao. Perhaps I am a little jealous since I have yet to play one. I only have the dizi under my belt, haha

    For the love of God, Heng Xin! Make a move already!!! 😆 This foreplay has dragged on long enough...

    When Heng Xin was like "The song sounded cold and distant and maybe a little bit sorrowful to me. Are You not afraid that it will disturb the soldiers?”

    The band nerd in me wanted to be like "Hush, Heng Xin! Enjoy the music and let the master play!" 😤

    How long has it been since Han Xin properly slept? Poor baby 😣

    Thank you!!! <333


  30. so Xin still hasnt fall for Heng, seems Murong is still the number one for Xin......ahhhhh touched by the faithful ur triple release ayszhang

  31. ; u ; I know right? Han Xin <333
    Glad you like it ;D

  32. >u< hehehe. Band nerd~
    I like how you focused so much on just that one part hehehehehe

  33. Yeah, I commented at first that she is a duchess, then deleted because I thought that I was wrong and that she is a princess instead. Oh, I thought the xiao belong to MY, and MY had given it to HX.

  34. haha, just posted one of nii_san's 'magnificently huuuge comments'.. who remember's this name ??
    i too read all comments, and i come here to check everyday when my turn to use the computer starts, when i am bored i see if there are new comments and secretly read my comments then keep laughing at them (i'm really really out of my mind, i laugh at myself being killed !! Another mysterious thing in nii_san all scientists of the world couldn't solve!!!)

  35. i knew it !!
    i've always thought it was impossible to post it at that exact time, not a minute earlier nor a minute later..

    I KNEWWWWWW ITTTTTTTTTTT!! I'M SOOO SMAAAAAAART !!!!!!!!!!!!! ( totally stupid -_-)

  36. hip hip hooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy....
    just wanted to say that too ^^

  37. OMG!, Nii_san, this comment just kills me. LOL.

  38. Exactly what I wanted to say!!!

  39. omg >o< arent you glad disqus doesnt have a word limit?
    Yeah Han Xin's reaction =w= it was kinda sad but cute and totally tsundere <333
    I knew you were going to talk about the xiao XD I missed it being in your comments and hitting you around like a baseball :pppp

  40. Nii_san, you just kill me again (LOL X 10 exponent. Tears are coming out of my eyes as I was reading this). Thank-you nii_san. By the way, how many bags of candies did you have today because it seem like your brain is doing the 360 in all directions.

  41. i didn't even taste one candy this day !!!!!
    I am naturally a phsyco !!!
    i wonder what would happen if i eat sweet ?? should i try ??.. naaaaah , i bet you'll die when you see my comments then.. you're already half dead anyway XDD

  42. Hahahahahahahhahahahahaha (tears) then dying again.

  43. yeeeeeep.. like heaven, i can write as much i as i want, and no one will stop me... Gyahahahahahaaaaa (i didn't caugh !!)

    baseball.. *remembers the baseball comment* maaaaaaan, i never thought that the Dowager would act that crazy !! I was soo surprised!! (as if i wasn't the one who wrote it!!)

    ohhh, Xiaooo, how much i loove the Xiaaooooooo... he just has the greatest personnality of themm all (after Han Xin ofc, andHeng when he starts teasing Han, and Murong for... for being Murong ..)

  44. now the reall dead person is me !! it's near midnight here!! sooo i'll have to go to sleep guys .. goood night (or good morning for you??)
    finnaly, i can get rid of this heat >< (it really isn't that hot -_- it just sucks that i just showered and then i'm all sweaty again)
    thenn.. i'll have a sweet dreaams (yeaah, very very sweet, i don't know how and when it started but i get these dreams where we're all talking to each other here, with all the crazy comments! guess i'm always thinking about you <3<3)
    Gooooood niiiighttt *gives you a biiiiig goid night kiss*

  45. AZ, why 333333 and not 999999..............? In the world gambling (not that I go gambling because too busy working and not enough pay and cost of living here is so damn high), natural 9 is the highest, right?

  46. oh nooo thats just a heart! <3 and <3333 just means a lot of hearts >u<

  47. Awww good night! :) Sweet dreams
    It's the afternoon where I (And eye44can1) are. Hmm. Now i gotta start working on tomorrow and Friday's posts...and the weekend's mothers day posts! XD

  48. I think han xin really missed his murong yu .. My hearth feel hurt when i read the last part .....

  49. Threesome! Threesome! Threesome! :-p

  50. I can live with that! ;) ;) ;) its a good thing i live in a house that 2 blocks away from the fire station!

  51. Sorry, my bad. I did not know that it represents hearts. Thanks for clearing it up for me.

  52. In 36? Hmmmm , thats about a month away. Anticipation is good. My happy hormones on rise now. Would there be some drama & angst theme? :)

  53. Ch 36 will be posted on the 28th of this month! XD Oh yesssssss. Our two beloved characters finally sit down and have a talk! I think their meeting extends until ch 37 :o I just started translating ch 36 so I'm not 100% sure whats in 37

  54. This could become our chant or motto or something XP

  55. No prob =u= internet lingo can be confusing hehe

  56. XD Yeah kind of impossible!
    Okay, so because your comment was soooo long I forgot to talk about how you read the art of war! :O Omg *applause* <3 It's such a great work and yeah some of it might have gotten lost in translation or there's no context/example. It's like the bible for strategists in all areas, be it war or business. *respect for my old Chinese ancestor*

  57. can't wait for another release XD

  58. Someone should write a threesome fanfic for this novel!!

  59. i❤PassionFruitMay 7, 2015 at 5:22 AM

    They're sitting down together to have a talk so that's a good sign right?😄

  60. Yesss please ❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

  61. hold on a sec... you think Yuwen like Murong???
    i'm speechless...
    we really think the same way don't we??
    or is it possible that !!!!
    you got infected by the nii_san germ ?!

    Haha, i bet it's just the fujoshi mind working (it's fujushi for you too riight?? or is another word? well same thing anyway, correpted mins XD)