RHE: Chapter 2013: An Yaluoshan's True Face!

Chapter 2013: An Yaluoshan's True Face!

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Several black pearls rolled out of their bosoms, bouncing once or twice off the floor of the carriage before exploding into powder. Black smoke rose out of the remains and dispersed into the air.
As those black pearls shattered, the auras of An Yaluoshan, Cui Qianyou, and the others that had been attached to those men also disappeared.
"We were tricked!"
"Hu suicide soldiers from Youzhou!"
A City Guard general jumped into the carriage and carefully inspected it before turning to Wang Chong and grimacing.
Each protectorate would train a few suicide soldiers.
There weren't many of them, and initially, they had been meant to be used in stalemates or particularly important junctures. These people would use their deaths to open a gap for the army, break a stalemate, or block the enemy assault, thus giving the army a chance to obtain victory.
But as time passed, their nature changed, and they were no longer restricted to external wars. Occasionally, they would also be used in internal struggles.
These people had died without the slightest fear. They had clearly been elites.
Wang Chong's face chilled when he heard this.
"Let's go!"
With no time to say more, Wang Chong turned his horse around and began to ride in another direction.
Reports began to come in from all directions.
"Reporting! 'An Yaluoshan' was captured at Huaiyuan Store in the western sector, but it was a Hu in disguise!"
"Reporting! A Hu disguised as An Yaluoshan was discovered at Anle Street in the southern sector!"
"Reporting! Capture was successful at Azure Dragon Temple in Xinchang, but it was a fake!"
One report after another came. Even though 'An Yaluoshan' could be found all across the city, the end result was that every one of them was fake. The ten-some An Yaluoshans that Wang Chong had found with his Psychic Energy were all exposed, but none of them had been real.
After leaving the Pavilion of Petal and Sepal, An Yaluoshan had vanished into the capital like a mud doll in the ocean.
Neither the City Guard nor the numerous scions stalking the city had been able to find his true body!
As Wang Chong was leading more than one hundred thousand soldiers in scouring the city, few people noticed that to the north of the Imperial City, outside the Xuanwu Gate, a tall and slim figure was rapidly moving through the darkness.
Ever since the Xuanwu Gate incident, when several of Emperor Taizong's brothers were killed outside Xuanwu Gate, the northern gate had basically been abandoned. The taboo of the imperial household had made this place a forbidden zone that was rarely visited.
From a certain perspective, it could be considered desolate. Trees grew everywhere, forming a stark contrast with the other, more bustling and prosperous parts of the capital.
More importantly, ordinary folk almost never came here.
The darkness was still and quiet.
That man kept far from the lanterns and hid in the shadows, moving erratically and carefully to avoid attention.
If one looked carefully, one would see that this man had very lean cheeks with prominent bones, and he was also very tall and thin. Although he seemed to be moving neither too quickly nor too slowly, and his stride was not long, he was actually moving with incredible speed.
The man entered a gloomy forest, and when he sensed that no one was around, he smugly smiled and began to mutter, "Wang Chong, you're too simpleminded! What does it matter how powerful you are or that the capital is your territory? I, An Yaluoshan, can still enter and exit as I please! No one can stop me!"
An Yaluoshan?!
This person's shape was vastly different from An Yaluoshan's. No one would be able to recognize this man as An Yaluoshan, even if they were standing right in front of him, but this man called himself 'An Yaluoshan'?
"I sent out almost twenty clones, and gave all of them protective barriers. Wang Chong, you want to find me? Hahaha, keep dreaming!
"Once we leave the capital and I have that man's help, you'll never be able to threaten me again!"
The man turned to the dazzling lights to his south and arrogantly laughed.
He could almost imagine that man hastily leaving the Imperial Palace and running around like a headless fly in search of him.
"That should do it!"
Seeing that the northern city walls weren't far and that there was no one pursuing him or watching, he suddenly stopped. After taking one last cautious look around, he let out a sigh, and his body relaxed.
A moment later, as if by some magic spell, that man's body began to 'shrink', becoming smaller, shorter, and fatter.
The smooth, firm, and well-defined chest swelled with layers of fat like an inflating balloon. The tight skin around the face also went slack. In a flash, a chubby figure appeared in the darkness.
If this was not An Yaluoshan, who could it be?!
If Wang Chong had been here, he would have been stunned. The contrast between these two body types was so great—fat and thin, short and tall—but they were both An Yaluoshan.
Proudly slapping his stomach, An Yaluoshan revealed a playful expression.
In Youzhou, everyone knew An Yaluoshan as Zhang Shougui's fattest 'slave general', and he was also known as 'Fatty An' and 'Big Boy An'.
But unbeknownst to them, 'Fatty An' was never fat.
As long as he was willing, even when Zhang Shougui captured him to make him his slave general, he could return to his original form, that steppe warrior who was ambidextrous with a bow, could maneuver under his horse as agilely as an ape, and who was admired by countless Turkic sons.
But for the sake of survival, to not draw Zhang Shougui's attention, or the attention of anyone else, An Yaluoshan kept his fatter form.
Most importantly, though it had started as a way to survive, An Yaluoshan had slowly realized that maintaining this form would make many people look down on him and put down their guard, even rely on him.
And if he furthered the act and played the fool, the flattering jester, all of his foes would leave the gates open for him, falling into his schemes where they could be easily slain.
In the Andong Protectorate headquarters, An Yaluoshan had used these tricks to defeat his competitors and eventually become Zhang Shougui's 'adopted son'.
An Yaluoshan had even used this scheme to bring down Zhang Shougui, playing around with this fierce and influential general like a doll in his hands!
It was an almost intoxicating feeling!
An Yaluoshan had long ago lost the desire to return to the appearance of the 'Turkic warrior'. He had grown delighted with the form of 'Fatty An'!
When everyone was laughing at his fatness, jeering at his comical self, they would have no idea that they were the ones being jeered at!
An Yaluoshan looked up at the sky and mentally remarked, Given the time that's passed, Cui Qianyou, Gao Shang, and the others should have arrived. I'm the only one left.
Five people was too big a target, and too easily drew attention. Thus, when they left the Imperial Palace, An Yaluoshan had dispersed the group. He headed toward the east to draw attention, leading Wang Chong's men in a circle.
There was no other way of drawing away the numerous spies Wang Chong had throughout the capital!
As for Cui Qianyou and Gao Shang's group…
They were not Wang Chong's primary goal. If they separated from him, they would be able to escape much more quickly.
"…That bastard has probably gotten control over the guards at all the gates. Whether it's the eastern gate, southern gate, or western gate, I'll be walking into his net no matter what. But the northern gate has been shut for many years, and there are no roads there leading out of the city. Nobody would think about that place, so this is my best chance!"
An Yaluoshan smugly smiled as he looked at the looming walls in the distance.
While the capital was said to have four city gates, strictly speaking, there were only three. Nobody came in or out of the northern gate. This was partially due to taboos. After all, the sovereign was supposed to be seated in the north and look to the south, and nobody wanted to place themselves above the sovereign. The other reason was the Xuanwu Gate incident from Taizong's reign.
At the time, the Crown Prince, who had been vying with the future Emperor Taizong for the throne, had attempted to sneak in with several other Princes through the northern side of the Imperial Palace, the rarely traveled Xuanwu Gate on the northeast corner of the Imperial Palace, so as to catch Emperor Taizong off guard and kill him. But they had been betrayed, and an ambush had been waiting behind the gates. In the end, they had been shot to death by arrows.
It was a bloodbath of Princes!
Ever since then, the Xuanwu Gate located on the northeast side of the Imperial Palace, together with the northern gate of the capital, were blocked up.
But An Yaluoshan did not care!
With preparations, there was nothing to fear!
Did Wang Chong really believe that he only had the eastern, southern, and western gates to choose from?
If he had not come amply prepared, would he have entered the capital?
As he patted himself on the back, a small explosion came from An Yaluoshan's bosom. A bronze pendant around An Yaluoshan's neck also let out a pop. A moment later, a hazy light exploded from the pendant, an image of Wang Chong and numerous City Guard soldiers appearing within it.
In this scene, an 'An Yaluoshan' identical to him was slain by Wang Chong and collapsed in a pool of blood.
"Damn! This is already the thirteenth! So fast!"
An Yaluoshan shivered, a hint of fear in his eyes. The smug smile on his lips vanished without a trace.
Wang Chong was moving much faster than he had expected!
He had estimated that the clones should have been able to buy him at least an hour, but thirteen had now died, leaving only five.
It was a development that made An Yaluoshan's blood run cold.

Starve, Hypersheep325's Notes:

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Written by Huangfu Qi 皇甫奇. Translated by Starve, Hypersheep325. Edited by Desertdoe, Welmar, RED, Michyrr.