Chapter 58: The Trip
As Zhang descended the mountain alone on top of his inferno wind walker horse, he saw countless men clad in blue armor stood in neat rows.
However, as he came closer, the rows parted and a path was opened up leading to a platform in the distance.
“His highness is waiting for you at the platform young lord.” A soldier yelled out as he rode towards Zhang from the platform.
Once Zhang reached the platform, he jumped off his horse and bent on one knee.
“Zhou Zhang greets his majesty.” He said politely.
“Be at ease, please rise.” King Huang He said as he began asking Zhang about what happened.
Thus began Zhang’s recollections of events that had occurred.
As Zhang told the story, he eyed his father and a reassuring smile appeared on his face. Neither his father nor Ling’s father spoke due to being in the presence of the King.
After the account of the events was told, the soldiers of the Heilong kingdom dispersed and returned to their respective posts.
Leaving a sizable force to protect the King and ministers.
“If everything has been settled, then I will be returning to the capital now. I wish you a safe journey back to Aurora and would also like to apologize for what happened.” King Huang He said.
“Don't think too much about it your majesty. Nothing grave happened.” Zhang said with a smile. He purposely did not ask the kingdom for assistance when attacking the headquarters of the Yu Sect. Had he asked for help, then all of the riches and treasures of the Sect would have been taken by the kingdom.
And he would have not gained the additional six thousand archers for his army. One could say that Zhang was being greedy and risked the lives of his men for no reason, but he had always been a person who weighed the pros and cons before acting.
Had he asked the kingdom for help then he would have missed out on the riches that the Yu Sect had amassed and without even mentioning the new soldiers , the Yu Sect would of had enough time to go into hiding.
After some more chatting King Huang He returned to the capital leaving Zhang, his father and Ling’s father to talk among themselves.Half of the royal guard was left behind to keep watch from a distance to ensure their safety.
Once the King was gone the three of them began conversing.
“Zhang is Ling okay?” Wu Tong asked with a hint of worry.
“She’s perfectly fine uncle. She is safe and unharmed.” Zhang said with a reassuring smile.
“You still calling me uncle?” Wu Tong said jokingly after knowing his daughter is safe.
Zhang didn't reply but a broad smile appeared on his face.
“Maybe soon someone will call you grandpa too.” Zhang said teasingly.
“You rascal!” Wu Tong said slapping Zhang’s back.
“Father I’m sorry for worrying you.” Zhang said apologetically to his father.
“It's alright son as long as you are okay.” Zhou Cheng said to his son.
Now that they were the only ones around in hearing distance the father and son had nothing to hide.
After some chatting Zhou Cheng saw Zhang off and soon departed and returned to the capital with Wu Tong.
As his father departed Zhang jumped on his horse and looked in the direction of the capital of the Heilong kingdom and murmured “father, mother one day we'll be together again. In a safer and better place.”
After which Zhang withdrew a flare from his interspatial ring and shot it into the sky. As the green flare flew through the air, Zhang his mount galloped through the misty paths and up the mountain.
A while later as he approached the mountain top his armies could be seen waiting in neat rows.
In the front of the army thousands of horsemen stood ready to move. While in the back hundreds of carts were hooked up to large stallions.
Since they could not acquire such a large number of horses in such little time, Lu Xun opted to make makeshift carts to move the soldiers.
They needed to make it to the Black Wind province as soon as possible, so the sooner they headed out the better.
“My lord we saw your signal flare and are ready to move.” Lu Xun said saluting to Zhang.
“Also the misses are waiting in the carriage for you my lord.” Lu Xun added as he gestured to the magical carriage behind him.
“Alright let's move out. Hook up my horse to the carriage”. Zhang said as he hopped off his horse and walked toward the carriage.
Soon the army began descending the mountain. As they made their way down the villagers that lived on the mountain cheered. These people had been oppressed by the Yu sect for many years and now that their oppressors were gone, these people were jubilant.
Lu Xun looked at these people and thought “Now that the Yu Sect is gone they are celebrating but when another force appears they will be oppressed again. If one does not stand up for themselves they will forever live under the feet of others.”
Although he felt this way there was nothing he could do so Lu Xun kept his thoughts to himself.
Once the horsemen descended the rumbling of hundreds carts filled with soldiers followed behind.
While the army made their way to the road Zhang and the three beauties were comfortably inside of the magical carriage. Inside the carriage the group had put a huge bed, table and chairs, and a bunch of other things that would make a long journey comfortable.
“Brother where is the Black Wind province?” Ai asked curiously.
“The black wind province is in the north of the Warring States Region, it's more towards the middle of the continent whereas the Red Mist province is toward the bottom western tip.” Zhang said knowledgably.
“Brother with only our current forces is it safe to go there in such a rush?” Ling asked Zhang with a hint of worry in her voice. She had never been outside of the Heilong Kingdom and traveling to an unknown place that possibly had hostile forces made her worry about their safety.
“Don’t worry I've sent a correspondent to Red Mist City and ordered for reinforcements to meet us before reaching the Black Wind Province. Also the Black Wind Province and our Aurora Province are allies.”
“But what you should be more worried about is our wedding.” Zhang said jokingly as he took his hand and brushed her hair.
“My-my wedding?!? Bu-but you can take care of that.” Ling said as a hint of red appeared on her face.
Yuying seeing Ling in such a state chuckled. Despite the fact that she herself would react the same way Ling would. They were all still young and although marriage although was inevitable it was something new to all of them. They knew they liked each other and we're happy being together, but marriage would be stepping into another playing field.
One could say that it would be a turning point in their lives. A new chapter that would have been added to the Book of Fate had they not tampered with it.
As the group of love birds joked and chatted in the magical carriage the soldiers outside were steeply advancing toward the Black Wind province.
Each time they were close to a city or town Lu Xun would send some men to buy up as many horses and supplies as they could.
The army had avoided directly entering the towns and city as much as possible. This is of course because entering a city with twenty five thousand soldiers would cause a commotion and Zhang did not wish to attract unwanted attention.
That being said although the army could not enter cities and towns, Zhang and the three beauties could. They often sneaked into town and roamed about to go sightseeing.
The three beauties like many women loved going from store to store looking for things that they felt looked pretty. But of course even if they wore the ugliest dress they could find the three girls would still look beautiful.
“Brother does this look nice?” Yuying would often ask Zhang while picking out clothes.
And of course Zhang would say “everything looks nice on you.” At such times a broad smile would be present on his face.
When the group spent time together all of the worries and problems of the world would fade away. At such times the world was much simpler.
“Perhaps if someone offered me to trade away all of the power I have in exchange for making these moments last forever I would.” Zhang thought to himself at times.
But deep down he knew that power was needed because without power to protect yourself and your loved ones everything you hold dearly could be snatched away.
Zhang often saw the dream about the man who had killed him in his past life. The same man would always chase him with a knife and no matter how hard he struggled in the end he would be killed. Each time Zhang saw this he was reminded of the fact that he needed power. With power he could prevent such events from repeating themselves.
But of course he did not let this trouble the girls. Their time together was too precious to be ruined by such awful thoughts.
Once Zhang’s army reached the midpoint of their journey they stopped in a small village to wait for their reinforcements from Red Mist city. They had left the borders of the Heilong Kingdom long ago and were currently back in the Warring States Region.
To be exact they were in the outskirts of Falling Star Province which was located just pass the upper part of the Dragon’s Maw.
Although it took longer to get to the Falling Star Province from the Heilong Kingdom versus from Red Mist city, Zhang arrived before his reinforcements did. Due to the time it took the correspondence to arrive at Red Mist city and the fact that the soldiers being sent from Red Mist city would be infantry.
This meant that Zhang would arrive first but the soldiers from Red Mist city were not that far behind.
Zhang’s army was currently camped in a forest near a small village called South Star village. The army had erected a fort out of felled logs in a clearing writhing the forest to secure their position.
The village elder of South Star had been bribed by my Zhang to keep the current location of his army hidden from the rulers of Falling Star Province. He did not want to attract unwanted attention if he could help it.
“My lord we have received news from our reinforcements from Red Mist city. General Sun Ce will be arriving in two days with twenty five thousand infantry.” Lu Xun said.
“Good when he arrives I will have him put under your command.” Zhang said standing on top of one of the wooden walls of the fort.
“And have the blueprints I drew arrived in Red Mist city yet?” Zhang asked.
“Yes my lord the blueprints arrived along with the funds you arranged, the construction of the weapons has commenced as well. They should be nearing the trial stage soon.” Lu Xun said.
Zhang had sent blueprints for war chariots to be constructed. Along with blueprints for a weapon that would allow his armies to demolish city walls. A weapon powered by black powder that fired balls of iron, a weapon called cannons.
The designs Zhang had sent for the cannons were very crude and needed a lot of fine tuning. But once these weapons were perfected then no walls would be able to stop the advance of his armies.
But there was one downside to this, that was the cost of the construction of these cannons. They required large amounts of metal and other components which all cost money to acquire. One single cannon was estimated to cost five hundred gold coins and each cannon ball roughly fifty gold.
One could say that Zhang will be shooting money out of these cannons.
After two days Sun Ce arrived with twenty five thousand infantry to reinforce Zhang’s army. Once the two armies were integrated together they resumed their journey toward the Black Wind Province.
The army of fifty thousand soldiers were loaded onto carts since there were not enough horses to go around.
As the army got closer to the Black Wind province the elevation of the land rose higher and higher causing their travel speed to become very slow.
“Brother are we there yet?” Ai asked in a bored tone.
“We are currently descending the mountain range and will arrive in the Black Wind Province soon. Then it will be a few days travel before we arrive at Black Wind city.” Zhang said.
Suddenly loud knocking could be heard on the carriage door.
As Zhang opened a small window on the door of the carriage Sun Ce’s face could be seen.
“My lord our scouts have reported that there is a village at the foot of the mountain. However despite finding many signs of life there were no people were found. When searching some of the homes, stale food was found left on the tables inside.and traces of blood could also be seen in some of the homes.” Sun Ce said.
“Have our forces move into the village and secure the surrounding area. We don't know what happened but moving into the village will be safer than camping out in the open. After resting a day we will continue to Black Wind city.” Zhang said.
“Right away my lord.” Sun Ce said as he rode to the front of the army to talk to Lu Xun.
Shortly after the army reached the village below the mountain and began moving in. A large perimeter was set up using arts to encircle the village.
Some soldiers moved into the vacant homes while others set up tents since there was no way such a small village would be able to accommodate all fifty thousand of them. Soon smoke from campfires and chimneys rose to the sky.
Just as the scouts reported signs of people were left everywhere but there was not a single soul in sight.
“This place gives me the creeps.” Ling said as she linked arms with Zhang.
“We won't be staying here for long and with fifty thousand soldiers what's there to worry about.” Zhang said to reassure her as the two walked through the village.
“My lord! My lord!!” A soldier came toward screaming.
“My lord we found a villager!! A women was found under the floor of one of the homes.”The soldier said hurriedly.
“Where? Lead the way.” Zhang said.
“Right this way my lord.”
Zhang and the three beauties followed the soldier to a house in the center of the village. The house was surrounded by soldiers curiously peeking inside.
Inside there was a haggard looking women in her late twenties laying on the ground wearing red clothes. She looked like a fire that was about to dissipate.
Zhang hurriedly walked up to the women once he entered the house. When he got closer he could see that her clothes were not red but was covered in blood.
Seeing Zhang the women faintly said “be-beware of the children who walk the night.”
Zhang quickly withdrew a bottle of Phoenix blood from his interspatial ring but before he could give the women some, her pulse stopped and blood stopped pumping through her veins.
“Brother she's gone.” Yuying said while looking at the woman.
Proofreaders/Editors: Nyx, faraonj,Alec
Next chapter almost done. And I've been waiting to write about the children in the night O_O