Today there were no clouds in sight and the warm rays of the sun embraced the soldiers of Aurora as they returned to the capital. Lu Xun and Gan Ning along with one hundred thousand men had set off to pursue the fleeing Heavenly Sword Army.
Upon arriving atop a hill where the gates and walls of Aurora City were visible, Zhang noticed something odd despite having hundreds of banners atop the city walls it seemed as if the city lacked manpower because thanks to his good eyesight he was able to see that standing atop the city walls were not soldiers but thousands of scarecrows. There should be roughly one hundred and ten thousand soldiers within the city but from the looks of things Zhang could guess that something must have happened.
“Foster father you stay here and I’ll go see that status of the city.” Zhang said to Jian Wei
“Take this with you.” Jian Wei said as he tossed a jade emblem at Zhang.
The emblem was nearly identical to the emblem that Zhang had been given earlier and would allow him to command the soldiers of Aurora at will. This these emblems would allow him to order the city guards to open the gates without having to go through all the hassles and formalities that it would take without the emblem.
Originally Zhang had an emblem of his own but he had loaned it to Sima Yi before their forces split up and headed different directions. Once Zhang was a fairly close distance from the city gates he shouted up at the men atop the walls.
“Open the city gates!” Zhang said once he arrived at the front of the gate while holding up the Aurora Emblem that Jian Wei had tossed to him earlier. The emblem once struck by sunlight emitted ray of opalescent of colors.
Upon seeing this emblem in Zhang’s hands and the ray of colors it emitted the soldiers atop the walls hurriedly began signaling for the city gates to be opened without a moment's hesitation. The crystal that made these emblems could only be found in Aurora and the method of refining them so they could emit the ray of light was only known by a few people within Aurora City. This process was passed from generation to generation within some very important clans within the province which meant that it was next to impossible to obtain an emblem without being granted one. Of course there was still the possibility of the emblem being stolen, but this was prevented by a seal placed upon the emblem by its makers.
If the emblem were to leave its bounded owner without permission, then it would crumble to dust. Meaning the Lord of Aurora, Jian Wei could grant the emblems and also destroy them at will.
After a short wait the city gates slowly crept open revealing dozens of soldiers clad in white armor. The moment they saw Zhang these men instantly saluted him respectfully. Be it they knew that Zhang was the next lord of Aurora or not everyone who possessed an emblem was someone with lots of influence in the province.
“What's the situation in the city? How come the walls look is filled with scarecrows?” He asked quickly trying to figure out what was the situation.
“My lord most of the able soldiers in the city which numbered roughly one hundred thousand had departed many days ago with lord Sima Yi.” A soldier replied while clasping his hands together.
“Depart? Where did they go?” Zhang asked as a storm of questions had brewed in his mind. Of this was only natural because where could Sima Yi possibly have gone with one hundred thousand soldiers? He headed for the Beast’s Gorge then Zhang would have run into him but that obviously was not the case.
“Lord Sima Yi said that the battle at the Beast’s Gorge would definitely end in our victory so there was no point in heading there. As for where Lord Sima Yi went he did not say. But he did mention that once he completes his task he will send word back to Aurora City.” The same soldier replied to Zhang.
“Okay I will look into this later myself but for now make preparations for lord Jian Wei’s arrival.” Zhang said before riding away from the city and back to the army.
Jian Wei was currently atop a fine war steed and slowly making his way back to Aurora City while Zhang had ridden ahead.
“How great it feels to be back here alive.” Jian Wei thought with a cheerful smile present on his face.
Despite Gan Ning’s successful raids against the enemy when they were trapped in the gorge, Jian Wei had always thought that perhaps the gorge would become his burial place.
Although the gorge’s abundant resources were able to support their entire army it was only a matter of time before overconsumption played its part. His army would have dwindled until the enemy was able to easily overtake them and then his life would have ended or so he thought. But thankfully Zhang came with reinforcements and the tides of war changed, bringing about salvation.
“Once we get back I’m going to hold a massive feast to celebrate, and then we can get to working on that wedding for those brats. I’ll hold the largest wedding the world’s ever seen for them hehehe” Jian Wei thought with a very broad smile on his face.
He was going to plan a wedding fit for an emperor for his dear foster son, with guests from everywhere being invited to share in the festivities.
“A celebration so large that people will make a holiday out of it.” Jian Wei chuckled as he spotted Zhang riding toward him from the city.
At another place and another time something unbelievable had happened.
“Lord Sima Yi we have captured the lord of this city and are awaiting your orders on how to deal with him...” A soldier clad in black armor said with his arms clasped.
“If he is willing to cooperate with us then tell him he may keep his position as city lord, if not then expose of him and his family.” Sima Yi said coldly as moonlight shone on his face.
Before him were large masses of people surrounded by soldiers, these people were not soldiers but regular everyday common folk. Sima Yi had taken one hundred thousand soldiers and plunged straight into the Heavenly Sword Province. Simply heading north from Aurora one would arrive at one of the villages on the border of the Heavenly Sword Province.
With their forces that were sent to the Green Clover Province and the Aurora Province gone the entire Heavenly Sword Province was severely lacking soldiers. This meant that with enough soldiers in hand Sima Yi could single handedly conquer the entire province in one fell swoop. He figured at most there would be only a few thousand soldiers left to protect the cities in the Heavenly Sword Province so with his one hundred thousand strong army even if he had to siege the cities his army would vastly outstrip the defenders.
After arriving in the Heavenly Sword Province village after village fell under his control and as of tonight Sima Yi has obtained control total control of Twilight City, the third largest city in the province. With this city under his command Sima Yi had taken one third of the Heavenly Sword Province. Like a tidal wave his forces swept through the defenseless villages and cities.
Of course the entire campaign had not been smooth sailing, roughly two thousand of his men had been lost during the process of occupying the villages and cities and another three thousand or so were injured. Thankfully they had not run into any high level mage or warrior or else their casualties may have been much higher.
As Sima Yi stood watching his men securing the buildings in the city to ensure that no enemy soldiers were hiding in them a thought suddenly appeared in his head.
“To think not too long ago I was practically a beggar with an empty stomach and rags for clothes and now I’m commanding armies and taking cities. Thank you for the opportunity I won’t let you down my lord to return your kindness I’ll start by presenting to you this province on a platter and then the rest of the region.” Sima Yi thought was a slight smile on his face as he remembered when Zhang offered him a way out of the dark abyss he was in. To repay this kindness the flames of war will soon spread across the entire Warring States Region.
“My lord all of the buildings in the city have been searched and every commoner within the city has been rounded up.” A soldier walked up beside Sima Yi and said.
“Good gather them all here I have a few words to say to the people of Twilight City. As for the merchants and more influential people within the city have them detained in their mansions I’ll personally pay them a visit later.” Sima Yi said to the soldier.
Not long after a sea of commoners were brought forth and crowded the streets. Every single soul within the city was currently out and amidst the crowd on the streets. Hundreds of thousands of commoners consisting of men, women, children and the elderly were not standing under the moonlight while being warmed by the flickering torches illuminating the streets. All of these people were gathered in the main street of the city and were gazing up at a two story building that was known as the Four Seasons Inn where a young man dressed in dark blue robes was standing out on the second floor balcony.
Once the commoners were gathered in one area the soldiers of Aurora appeared clad in armor with weapons in hand and marched forth in neat rows. Their duty tonight was to stand guard and make sure no thoughts of rebellion could possibly appear in the minds of the civilians of Twilight City.
“People of Twilight City! My name is Sima Yi and under orders from the lord of Aurora I’ve come to lay siege to the entire Heavenly Sword Province for daring to attack out Aurora Province. But instead of putting you all to the sword I would like to give you an offer. As our lord’s heir often says a kingdom is its people. So I am going you the opportunity of renouncing all of your connections to the Heavenly Sword Province and pledge your undying allegiance to Aurora.” Sima Yi said from the balcony while peering down at the sea of people below before clapping his hands to signal his men.
Chatter soon occurred amongst the civilians of Twilight city. Some looked forward to change and thought it was an opportunity to attain something better while others were afraid that their decision today may come back and haunt them tomorrow. These people were afraid if they didn’t take Sima Yi’s offer they would be killed while also being afraid of what might happen if somehow the Heavenly Sword Province was able to regain control of the city. They could possibly be branded as traitors and executed for choosing to side with the forces of Aurora.
Moments later the rumbling of wheels was audible. A dozen wagons that were escorted by tens of Aurora’s soldiers appeared with tarps covering their cargo. Once these carts arrived at the front of the two story building the tarps were removed revealing mounds of glistening gold coins. The doors of the Four Seasons Inn swung open and soldiers walked out carrying tables and piles of white sheets of paper along with brushes and ink.
“This is the first of many benefits to those who wish to join us. Our lord and his heir are kind people and will ensure prosperity for all under their domain. Everyone who signs one of these forms stating their allegiance to Aurora will be given a gold coin.” Sima Yi said holding up a white piece of paper while everyone was staring at the wagons fill with gold or were trying to catch a glimpse of it from afar.
Once someone signs the piece of paper they would officially be pledging their allegiance to Aurora and if they go back on their word then he would simply need to spread these forms to whoever’s rule they end up under and there was a chance they would be executed for treason against the Heavenly Sword Province.
The common folk of Twilight City were torn at the moment because they wished to receive the gold coin for signing the form but did not know if they should sign or not.
But that was when a young man was seen squeezing his way through the crowd and up to a table set in front of the Four Seasons Inn with the white paper on them. Once he reached the front of the table he picked up a form and brush then dipped the brush in ink and proceeded to sign it. After signing he dipped his thumb into the ink and pressed it onto the piece of paper leaving behind his thumb print.
Soon as he was gone a soldier handed him a shiny gold coin and the man disappeared back into the crowd. After this young man a few others made their way up toward the desks and signed the forms. Seeing this the people of Twilight City began following suit and filled out the forms too.
Seeing this a smile appeared on Sima Yi’s face as he walked into the Inn and into a large room.
“Tell those men they did a great job and has made a large contribution to establishing our rule in this city and they will be awarded accordingly.” Sima Yi said to a soldier standing inside the room.
“Yes my lord I will make sure to tell them.” The soldier replied.
Sima Yi had arranged for a few of his men to mix into the crowd of commoners and be the first to walk up and sign the form which would help manipulate the rest of the people in the city.
“Also prepare the army we must strike when the iron is hot and continue our conquest of the Heavenly Sword Province. Having someone send word back to Aurora stating our progress, the battle at the Beast’s Gorge should be over by now and our lord should have returned to Aurora City by now. “Right away my lord I will have someone send a correspondence to Aurora. Also may I ask if you would like an escort readied for you?” The soldier said.
“Yes ready me a small group of guards I’ll be paying the various clans and powers in the city visits tonight.” Sima Yi said with a sign, tonight would be a long night because he had to visit every clan and every influential family in the city and obtain their support or to suppress them.