Chapter 80: Beast“s Gorge
Hello folks O_O how goes? Everyone well? So yea Zhang is back to plotting O_O >:D.
Written by: iEndWorlds
Proofe/Edited by : Nyx
Tonight, the moon was shrouded by thick curtains of clouds as thousands of soldiers in purple armor stood guard at the entrance to the Beast’s Gorge. Hundreds of torches had been lit to ensure that not even a mouse could leave the gorge unnoticed.
“Strategist Qian Long in place of our lord, I welcome you to the Heavenly Sword Army.” An elderly man dressed in purple armor said with a smile.
“No need to be so formal with me General Tong Zhao. I will be the one in your care.” Qian Long replied respectfully.
“Hahaha actually, I think that after you help our lord take the Aurora Province and kill Jian Wei, your merits will place you above me. Then I'll be the one to be under your care.” General Tong Zhao laughed.
“But might I ask, why aren't we moving in to take Jian Wei’s head nor are we attacking Aurora City? We have been camped here for weeks already and the men are getting restless.” General Tong Zhao asked, puzzled.
“That's simple general, if we move into the gorge, then there is a chance that we might be ambushed. Despite being cornered inside the gorge, you can't look down on the soldiers of Aurora. They will fight until the last man standing if we charge in now. So we must simply wait until they are out of food and water. That is the best time to move in. Since there is only one way in and out of the gorge they can’t leave as long as we stay here. As for why we aren't attacking Aurora City, that is simple: if we attack now, even if we conquer the city, as long as Jian Wei is alive we will never have complete control of the province.” Qian Long stated.
“Then I'll leave everything in your hands strategist Qian Long.” General Tong Zhao said.
As the two men talked, yells could be heard from outside of their tent.
“Fire! There's a fire!” Someone yelled.
“Bring water quickly! Extinguish the fire.” Another voice rang out.
Exiting the commander's tent, Qian Long and Tong Zhao saw that a part of the wooden fence that was erected to block off the entrance into the gorge had been lit ablaze.
In the distance, the jingling of bells rang about as a group of men made their way back into the gorge.
“Boss you sure we shouldn’t grab a few of those bastards and skin them alive?” A man with dozens of scars on his shirtless chest said.
“Ahaha tomorrow we will be paying those bastards another visit. Next time we will skin a few of them and hang them up for their friends to see.” Gan Ning laughed as he ran through the night.
After making their way through the foliage and deep into the gorge, Gan Ning stopped in front of large trees marked with large Xs on their trunk.
“You guys remember where we set those traps right? If not, follow behind me and watch where you step.” Gan Ning said cautiously as he took out a small cylindrical wooden tube and opened it. Inside the tube were tiny red embers that soon turned into a small fire. Gan Ning took an ember to kindle a flame, then he broke a branch of a dead tree and made a torch out of it after wrapping some cloth on the branch.
If one now looked closely, they'd be able to see dozens of vines arranged on the ground. Those were trip wires that Gan Ning and his men had attached to large logs that were hoisted up into the forest canopy.
As they carefully crossed the forest: Gan Ning recalled where the pitfalls were dug, where the trip wires were tied and the other traps that they had set.
Soon enough, they made it into a clearing where the gorge opened up. There were thousands of tents erected but not a single campfire was lit.
Suddenly hundreds of soldiers in white or black armor appeared from the underbrush of the forest with spears ready to kill.
“Boss you’re back.” A few men greeted.
They were Gan Ning’s men integrated with the soldiers who were under Lu Xun and Jian Wei’s command.
“Boss, Lord Jian Wei and General Lu Xun are waiting for you in the commander's tent.” One of Gan Ning’s men said.
“I'll head over there right now, go back to your positions and show everyone else how we do things.” Gan Ning said as he headed to the commander’s tent.
Every since Gan Ning and Lu Xun met up with Jian Wei’s forces they delegate Gan Ning in-charge of the camp's security. As a former fugitive, he had many ways to make sure that the enemy could not enter the gorge nor capture himself or Jian Wei.
“Lord Jian Wei I've returned.” Gan Ning said in a respectful tone. After having been given a second chance and a high pay he didn't want to screw things up.
“How did things go?” Jian Wei asked. After the ambush, nearly half of his army had been killed and another quarter of it was left injured. Had it not been for Lu Xun and Gan Ning who secretly followed and protected him then perhaps Jian Wei would already be dead. They had left the civilians and prisoners under their care in New Leaf City and secretly followed Jian Wei.
“Everything went well my lord. Over the next few nights I will continously instill a sense of fear into those bastards. Either they will be too afraid to attack or will be lured in and be wiped out by the traps we set.
“Good, the sooner we can leave this place the better. Elder Qian Long had caused us to lost half of our rations so we can't stay here for too long.” Jian Wei said as creases appeared on his brow when he mentioned Qian Long’s name.
“I beg to differ my lord. I've been in a situation like this before. Before our rations ran out, if our men can hunt animals or find edible vegetation in the forest, then surviving is still possible.” Gan Ning said.
The next day, squads of soldiers were sent out to hunt animals and to look for any source of food. Water was abundant in the gorge due to natural rivers that streamed out from underneath the earth making it so there we no need to search for water.
But of course, hunting and living off the resources within the gorge could only support an army that numbered over one hundred thousand for not so long. Sooner or later, the gorge wouldn’t be able to support the consumption of the army anymore and they would have to try to break out since there was only one way out of the gorge.
A few weeks had passed since Zhang gained complete control of the Green Clover Province and was currently leading a force of two hundred thousand soldiers towards the Aurora Province.
He had left Guan Yu and ninety thousand of the original Green Clover Army behind to safeguard the province and the four beauties. Zhang had deemed the trip to Aurora would be too dangerous so he had left four future wives in the Green Clover Province under the care of Guan Yu.
“My lord the best course of action is to head directly to the Beast’s Gorge and attack the Heavenly Sword Army from the rear. If we are able to contact our forces inside the gorge then we can launch a two directional assault and caught them in the middle.” Sima Yi said while riding his horse next to Zhang who was riding atop his fiery black steed.
“Too bad the mobile ballistae are not operational yet. If we had those and the chariots I had commissioned, then victory would be more certain.” Zhang replied.
“My lord if you want certainty then perhaps we should see if we can send a word to Aurora City and have the one hundred thousand men garrisoned in the city join us.” Sima Yi suggested.
“Then I will head directly to the gorge while you take ten thousand men and head to Aurora City. Once you are there, present them this pendant and they'll listen to your commands. However, if you run into any problems that prevent you from entering the city, then retreat and meet with me at the Beast’s Gorge.” Zhang said while looking at Sima Yi.
“My lord! Our scouts have spotted people traveling in a carriage not too far behind us.” A soldier said as he rode up toward Zhang and Sima Yi.
“Keep an eye on them if they approach us then detain them for questioning.” Zhang commanded. He did not wish to harm innocent people, if these people did not turn out to be hostile a then he wouldn't cause them trouble.
“Yes my lord!” The soldier said as he rode off toward the back of the army.
After a few more days of travel, Sima Yi broke off from the main army and headed directly to Aurora City while Zhang headed to the Beast’s Gorge.
Many scouts had been sent out to ensure that the army wouldn’t run into any ambushes, thus making the march very uneventful. Beside for the carriage escorted by a few men that was traveling behind them, Zhang's army did not run into any other signs of life.
This was because most of the villages they passed had been abandoned when the villagers fled into the cities for protection. Also by the fact that, Zhang’s army had been avoiding the main road and used smaller, less known roads instead to avoid being spotted by enemy forces.
To kill boredom, from time to time, Zhang would secretly sneak out of the army's camp at night and gaze at the stars. He would often enter abandoned villages, and in the dead of night dig small holes and fill them with gold coins from the Sai Empire. He would then carve out the words, “the one chosen by the black flame, wedded to the four flowers, destined to rule all under heaven.” For the finishing touches he carved the seal of the Sai Empire onto the stones.
He figured, if he planted enough of these in the ground when people found them, they might think it's a sort of prophecy. One of the strongest influence in this world was faith and belief. If he could make the common folk believe this mumbo jumbo that he was cooking up then he would have the support of the masses which would make ruling many times easier.
“People were more likely to rebel against a kind king than a tyrant who they believe was chosen by heaven.” Zhang muttered as he filled in the hole he dug with gold and dirt.
“If a lie was told many times enough, over the passage of time, it would be considered fact.” Zhang thought after dusting off his hands.
Once the war in the Aurora Province was over, many villagers would return to their village and perhaps dig up one of the stones that Zhang buried along with the sack full of gold. Then, by word of mouth, the words carved on the stones would spread throughout the land. People would then certainly think that what was carved into the stones were true, because nobody in their right mind would bury so much gold and leave it for others to take.
Thus, Zhang would show off his black fire at his wedding with the “four flowers” and everyone would think that he was chosen by heaven. Finally, he would be dubbed a god king or something and have legions of crazy followers. Or so he thought, when he came up with this crazy plan.
After marching for many nights, Zhang’s army was only a day away before they reach the Beast’s Gorge. So everyone was on high alert of the enemy attack.
“My lord that carriage is still traveling near the rear of our army.” The same soldier who had informed Zhang about the carriage said.
“Surround them and capture who are inside.” Zhang commanded.
“Yes my lord!” The soldier replied and set off with a company of a thousand horsemen.
The one thousand horsemen clad in black armor rode forth and surrounded the carriage and escorts who had been following Zhang’s army for sometime.
“Lay down your arms and let the one in-charge talk to us! If you do as you're told you won't be harmed!” The soldier yelled from atop his horse.
Slowly the carriage door creaked open and a beautiful jade like legs slowly descended from the carriage on to the ground.
“Madam!” The soldiers wearing black armor yelled as they dismounted and saluted respectfully.
Soon, three more world class beauties got off the carriage. It seemed that Zhang’s four flowers had been not so secretly following him.
“Go back and tell brother that you checked the carriage and found an elderly businessman who just happened to be traveling in the same direction!” Yuying commanded as she stood in front of the other three beauties representing them.
“Also do not utter a word about us to him or terrible things will befall on you.” Lingqi added.
“Ye-yes we saw nothing but an elderly business man.” The soldier replied hurriedly.
The most fearful existences in Zhang’s army was not his generals nor his soldiers but these four flowers who could kill hundreds of people if they wished.
A master of poison that could kill thousands; a master of the dark arts who could call forth legions of undead; a master in water magic that could flood cities and freeze lakes, and someone who could summon a giant flower that could smash city walls. Yuying, Ai and Ling were monstrous existences writhing Zhang’s army and now they had the addition of Lingqi which propelled them onto an entirely different level of fear in the soldiers hearts.
Later that day, when Zhang's soldiers who had set out to detain the carriage returned to the camp, they reported the exact words that Yuying had told them and nothing more.