Once the torch in Xi Ning’s hand landed onto to the water the freshly poured oil instantly turned into flames. Like hellfire these flames burned on top of the surface of the water. The entire harbor along with everything on the water caught fire.
Seeing this Jin Sho tossed the Black Thorn into the water and extended it until it lodged itself into the bottom of the harbor. Then he made the whip grow and enlarge itself. Soon like a giant vine it shot through the surface of the water causing violent waves in the water.
“Chang grab on!” As he grabbed onto one of the vines sticking out of the black thorn which carried him upward. Once it grew to a large size a flower bloomed at the very top. Jin Sho and Jin Chang used the giant thorns to climb their way up and stood on top of one of the giant flowers petals. (Imagine jack and the giant beanstalk but as a flower.)
The Black Thorn whip had turned into a giant flower with its stem sticking out from the water and a massive and beautiful flower bloomed on top with hundreds of petals. The stem was black as the night and the flower looked very much like a white lotus. (there is a real queen of the night flower looks really nice.)
That being said it did not take him very far up the surface of the water due to how deep the lake was and how much power he put into it.
“With your trivial fire don’t even think about burning me ahahahah!” He laughed madly while looking down from above. The Black Thorn being originally a part of the “Queen of the Night” demonic plant of course is fire resistant. As a queen among plants it had many mysterious powers.
“Bastard….” Zhang and a few other people cursed.
“Archers fire!!” Xi Ning yelled
Thousands of arrows shot through the air targeting the father and son however before the arrows could hit their targets small vines came from the black thorn and whipped them away.
“You think you can hide up there?” Zhang yelled as a chained dagger appeared in his hand.
The chained dagger flew out from Zhang’s hand a white light appeared in Zhang’s hand where he gripped the chain and it began extending. Once the dagger lodged itself into one of the petals of the flower Zhang held on and made the chain shorten.
As the chain shortened it pulled Zhang closer to the giant flower and his two targets.
“Fool! Now fall into the sea of fire you lit.” Jin Sho yelled out as he ran toward the petal where Zhang’s dagger had stuck itself into the flower. A sharp looking sword appeared in his hand and with a chop he cut off that petal.
With the petal cut Zhang began falling toward the sea of fire below. However, another dagger appeared in his other hand that was free and latched onto another petal. Zhang swung around the stem of the giant flower using his 2nd dagger. Just was he being about to get to the petal by shortening the chain Jin Sho once more hacked off the petal.
However, this time Zhang was close enough to the stem grab onto one of the huge thorns. As he climbed up the stem of the giant flower many small vines extended and whipped at him. However due to how slick his armor they didn’t do very much damage to him at all. But they did slow him down a for a while.
Some vines even latched onto his feet to which he had to cut them with a sword that he had taken from the treasury of the Sai Empire. The sword was nothing special but it could cut through these small vines with ease.
Had his armor not been made of scales overlapping each other than the vines more likely would have ripped through it.
After a while Zhang reached a ledge that would get him to the tower of the flower when a voice rang out.
“Fool you think you can get up here just like that?” Jin Sho and Jin Chang were standing at the ledge where Zhang was trying to climb over with swords drawn. The two of them chopped down toward Zhang looking to kill him.
Although he wasn’t sure if their swords could cut his armor or not he knew if he was hit he would most likely lose his grip on the flower and fall down into the sea of fire below.
That was when a chained dagger appeared in his hand and with some usage of the Underworld Heart it snaked through the air and pierced into Jin Chang.
Seeing the dagger pierce his son Jin Sho dropped his sword and ran to his son’s side.
“Chang! Chang are you okay?!” Jin Sho yelled while holding his son up. The dagger he stuck itself straight into Jin Chang’s chest.
Jin Chang tried to say something but blood just kept coming out of his mouth as he tried to talk. But in his eyes one could see the plea for help.
Then suddenly the dagger rose to the air lifting his body and shook him into the air. The dagger had launched Jin Chang into the air and sent him falling into the sea of fire below.
“NOOOO!” his father yelled as he tried to grab onto his son.
“You have other things to worry about.” Zhang’s voice sounded out behind Jin Sho. Behind Jin Sho Zhang stood with the sky piercer in hand.
“I surrender. Kill me.” Jin Sho said looking disheartened and closed his eyes.
His son had died and his domain taken away there was no point in continuing. Even if he staged a comeback and had another son that would all be too late. He was already a middle aged man and soon to be an old man everything would be pointless.
“So be it.” Zhang said as he lifted the sky piercer in his hand and swung down. The sky piercer with one swing disconnected Jin Sho’s head from his body.
Once Jin Sho was dead Zhang took his interspatial ring and bound it with blood. Then lifted the severed head into the air and screamed.
Seeing the sever head in Zhang’s head all of his soldiers cheered. Whereas the surrendered soldiers of Red Mist city had lots of mixed feelings. However, Sun Ce joined in the cheering and seeing him do that many of Red Mist city’s soldiers also joined in.
The cheered as they remembered the tyranny of the Jin clan and it was gone now. But a part of them was filled with fear, what if the new ruler of the city was even more ruthless than the previous rulers.
Soon the giant flower began to wither the Black Thorn had lost its owner so it was reverting to its regular shape and size.
Three days had passed since Zhang had taken over the city and slain its previous lord. The odd thing was the streets were bustling with people as if a war had never taken place. Merchants opened shop ready to do business. Customers lined up in front of stores with money in hand ready to purchase goods.
Although slight hints of the battle were everywhere. Charred buildings were being knocked down and rebuilt. Some arrows still stuck to the side of buildings can still be seen. Stains of blood on the ground in some places have not been wiped clean yet.
After taking over the city the new lord of the city Zhang had proclaimed that taxes would be cut in half and all of the people who had the assets frozen by the previous ruler would be investigated and if found innocent their assets would be returned. He also promised to get reparations to the owners of the burned down buildings and to the families of those who had died in battle.
Some people were extremely happy about the new lord seeing that he was going to possibly give them back their assets. Others were glad that taxes were cut and all of the money they made wouldn’t be taken away from them.
Of course there were some dissatisfied people, whose family members were killed in the fighting. After the battle the casualty toll on both sides combined with roughly twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand soldiers. Oddly enough none of the soldiers from Xi Ning’s village died. But in a city that had millions of inhabitants this number wasn’t very large.
Zhang had also ordered for the soldiers of Red Mist city be disarmed and disbanded. He was afraid that a rebellion might happen. Although Sun Ce surrendered a lot of the man could still be loyal to the previous lord and since Zhang’s forces were only roughly thirteen thousand in number there was no way he could manage all of the soldiers of Red Mist city.
So once he disbanded the old army Zhang tasked Xi Ning with recruiting new soldiers and maybe re enlisting some of the soldiers that had been disbanded. This of course would be done with lots of caution.
He gave Sima Yi the position of lead strategist in his army for helping him find out where Jin Sho and Jin Chang were. Sun Ce would be placed under Xi Ning and observed for a while and if he doesn’t have any bad intentions Zhang will promote him to be a general.
Today Zhang was sitting in the lord’s mansion specifically in the study room planning things out for the future.
“Commander all of the preparations are complete.” Lu Xun’s voice rang out from behind Zhang’s chair was facing the wall.
“Good did you make sure that he didn’t find out?” Zhang replied.
“Yes. Also we received a message from Aurora. The lord says he is very pleased with what happened although next time you should inform him before doing something like this and that he will be sending more soldiers to Red Mist city to bolster our forces.” Lu Xun said.
“Ah yes has our cavalry been supplemented?” Zhang asked.
‘Yes we selected skilled horsemen from the new recruits and our cavalry now numbers roughly twenty thousand. With a portion of the wealth we obtained from the previous lord we were able to secure lots of good horses.” Lu Xun said.
“Also my lord the villages around the city have all be subjugated and we are now in control of the entrance to the Dragon’s Maw.”
“Good! Thank you for your hard work you can take the next few days off and once everything settles here we will head out to Heilong.” Zhang said.
Lu Xun saluted and walked out of the room leaving Zhang in the room alone.
“Soon I’ll be home… Three years, I wonder how everyone is.” Zhang thought.
He sat there remembering the faces of his loved ones who he hadn’t seen for three years. His mother, father, and Ling were the ones he longed to meet the most.
Soon a voice rang out from. “My lord you wished to see me?”
“Yes mister Sima please come in.” Zhang said.
“What might you need me for today my lord?” Sima Ya asked.
“I wanted to go on a stroll through the city and I thought who better then to ask you.” Zhang replied.
A while later the two had left the lord's mansion and walked around the massive city. People were bustling about and a cheerful air was present as they roamed the streets.
As the two walked Zhang and Sima Yi conversed and talked about plans, goals, and strategies. Sima Yi was extremely intelligent and likewise Zhang was too. After a while of walking Zhang stopped in front of a gate of a mansion.
They had walked in a large circle from the inner ring out to the outer ring and now were back in the inner ring of the city.
On top of the gates to the mansion a plaque was hung with the word “Xia” written on it. Seeing this word Sima Yi tried to walk away however Zhang grabbed his arm.
“Why not enter?”
“Enter? We can’t possibly enter someone’s private residence like this my lord.”
“We can’t? I own this city I can go wherever I like and as long as you're with me you can too.” Zhang said and he held onto Sima Yi’s arm and led him inside.
As the two walked inside Sima Yi noticed something odd. The mansion was somewhat void of life but red decorations could be seen all about. Red ribbons could be seen hanging from the roofs.
“Wedding decorations….” Sima Yi murmured.
As the two continued walking through the mansion they had yet to meet a single person. The entire which normally would be filled with people from maids, guards, and many other servants was void of life.
Sima Yi having been inside these walls many times found it very strange how there was not a single person around. He kept walking and eventually ended up in a large courtyard. In this courtyard were hundreds of table with red table clothes. On top of them were many delicious looking dishes of food.
On the other side of the courtyard there was an altar and in front of it a person stood. This person was wearing a bride’s gown with a veil covering the person’s head.
Just from the figure Sima Yi knew who it was. It was the person he longed to meet every waking minute of his life but was too ashamed to. It was Xia Mei his ex-fiancée.
“Let’s have a closer look.” Zhang said.
Hearing Zhang’s voice the Xia Mei turned around and lifted her veil once she saw Sima Yi tears filled her eyes and rolled down her rosy cheeks.
Seeing her tears Sima Yi began running toward her. And seeing him running toward her she also began running toward him. The two of them ran faster than the wind and soon were in each other’s embrace. They were embracing and happy to see each other after so long.
“Why.. Why didn’t you come to see me after all this time..” Xia Mei said as she cried in his embrace.
Sima Yi did not know what to say. As intelligent as he was in front of this women he was at a loss of words. Emotion filled his heart and no words could describe it so instead he embraced her tighter.
“Congratulations!!!” Many voices cried out.
The two lovers looked around them and they could see friends and family surrounding them. Hundreds of gazes were on the two. Somewhat embarrassed they let go out each other. Confusion could be seen on their faces.
Behind Sima Yi was Zhang with a big silly grin on his face. He had learned about Sima Yi’s past through some investigating because of course you can’t have someone work under you without knowing where they’ve been and who they were.
“My lord you did this?”
“Of course who else can grant a marriage besides the lord of the city.” Zhang said and he proceeded to explain what had happened.
He had secretly met with the clan leader of the Xia clan and used his authority as the new ruler of the city or rather the red mist province to grant a marriage between Sima Yi and Xia Mei. With the new lord himself granting a marriage and Sima Yi’s status in the new government the clan leader readily accepted.
The clan leader had a much better impression of Sima Yi then Jin Chang and he somewhat regretted breaking up their engagement before so of course he would accept.
Zhang had given the Xia family bridal gifts for Sima Yi and let the clan leader of the Xia family pick the wedding date. The best date strangely was three days after the end of the war and if they missed that day then there wouldn’t be any more good days until next year. (In Asian culture they match the birthdays of the groom and bride and from that and the lunar calendar pick lucky dates to get married or something like that.)
The next part was to keep it a secret from the two love birds. Zhang had ordered Lu Xun to make preparations for the wedding in secret and on the day of the wedding he had his men drug Xia Mei with the spider venom he got from the Titanic Golden spiders.
Then maids dressed her in a wedding gown and everyone hid themselves in the mansion leaving her in the courtyard. Zhang had timed his arrival to when Xia Mei would have just woken up from the venom induced sleep.
Upon hearing what Zhang did Sima Yi was at a loss of words.
And thus the wedding went on. Sima Yi and Xia Mei got married after paying their respects to heaven. Although they were supposed to be the spotlight of the wedding Zhang, Yuying and Ai somewhat outshone them.
The clan leader of the Xia clan called Xia Bao had invited many of the influential people in the city to his daughter’s wedding and those people all tried to close up to Zhang. As the new lord of the city Zhang was someone they had to stay on the good side of.
So these people all gave Zhang gifts more lavish than those that they gave to the groom or bride. Some even offered to marry their daughters to Zhang. While some of the older guests suggested introducing their granddaughters to him once they found out he hasn’t wed yet.
But once Yuying and Ai appeared wearing extremely elegant dressed with lavish jewelry on them everyone stopped. How could their daughters and granddaughter compare to these two? If Zhang had these two, he wouldn’t bat an eye at other women.
As the wedding went on everyone got super drunk especially Sima Yi. It was as if he in a dream. A few days ago he was dressed in rags and broke but now he was wealthy and the strategist of the new lord.
Sima Yi staggered his way into the bridal room. Xia Mei helped him up and the two sat there embracing. Then suddenly bang! The door was kicked open. Zhang leading a large group of men came into the room.
“What are you doing. Come with us and drink some more!” Xi Ning yelled.