Chapter 106: The Search
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The teams consisting of ten men each dispersed throughout the provincial lord’s mansion as they began their search for answers.
Where have the soldiers of the New Moon Army, who were stationed in the city go? Why was the lord’s mansion in shambles? Most importantly where was the lord of the New Moon Province?
Full of questions, everyone carefully split up and in went from one room to the next trying to find signs of life. Of course everyone was equipped with mirrors and would shine sunlight into every room before entering. Even once they entered, someone would stay outside with a large mirror and reflect sunlight inside. Those who were inside would use midsized or small sized mirrors to reflect the sunlight reflected on the large mirror throughout the rooms. This was a way; Zhang had come up with to bring light to places where the sun’s warm rays could not reach.
Windows were propped up and doors were kept open as a sign that a room had been searched already. Zhang had instilled a set of procedures in place to ensure everyone’s safety. This was because of the likelihood of someone injured or killed during the search turning into an enemy that he made everyone be extra careful.
While many people were busy searching the grounds, a few had been ordered to return to the hotel and transport the blocks of ice that had encased the Jiangshi, over to the mansion. They were also ordered to acquire as much water as they could so that in case Ling needed to use her magic there would be an ample supply of water to use. Zhang had forgotten about this when they had left the hotel and headed for the provincial lord’s mansion or else he could have stored away all of the ice into his interspatial ring. But things done later are better then things left undone.
“Ran, if you can use your magic and reinforce the outer walls of the buildings for us to stay in tonight that would be wonderful. Also some tall guard towers and walls to section off the mansion.” Zhang said as he was overlooking the search.
They were plenty of open space in the courtyard of the provincial lord’s mansion for Ran Kaitou to construct things that could provide lots of protection in case of enemy attack. As for the rooms in the mansion, Zhang felt that the walls seemed too flimsy, so he asked Ran Kaitou to reinforce them with earthen magic.
“Okay, everyone make room.” Ran Kaitou said as a yellow earthen glow enveloped his body. Once his hands pressed down onto to the ground a rumble sound became audible as the ground began shifting.
The ground underneath Ran Kaitou began to rise into the sky, creating a stone pillar beneath his feet. The pillar began to mold itself and slowly change into the shape of a guard tower that was complete with a ladder made of stone.
Ran Kaitou who was now standing on the roof of the guard tower, had a bird’s eye view of a large portion of the provincial lord’s mansion allowing him to plan where to and what to construct next.
Soon enough a yellow earthen glow was sent from the top of the guard tower down to the ground below causing a dozen more stone guard towers to shoot out from the ground. Stone tiles were unturned and buildings were left with holes in their ceilings as circle of guard towers was erected. Of course these buildings had no people in them because they were in sections that haven’t been reached yet, so no one was injured by the falling roof tiles.
“I’ll be needing some of that stuff you gave to me last night.” Ran Kaitou yelled down at Zhang.
Zhang waved his hand and ten or so bottles of essence water appeared and levitated up to Ran Kaitou who collected them and stashed them into his robes. Afterward walls rose upward and sectioned off the provincial lord’s mansion, they of course came equipped with gates and stairs for easy access. A fortress now replaced the provincial lord’s mansion.
“The evacuation should be starting right now.” Zhang thought as he saw puffs of cloud smoke rise into the sky in the north western section of the city.
“Ran, I’ll give you the opportunity to become a hero now. Take half of the men and help the civilians evacuate outside of the city. Use those bottles I gave you to erect a fortress or something to keep the people safe. Also recruit as many people as possible to bolster our forces.” Zhang had thought that they would opposite when arriving at the provincial lord’s mansion so he had Cheng Yu ensue panic and evacuate the city but that was not the case when they arrived. So now was to ensure the safety of the civilians and also paint themselves in a good light with the masses.
“A fallen prince turned mob boss turned hero, one cannot fathom what the heavens has planned.” Zhang laughed as he thought at how ironic somethings were in life.
“Right away…” Ran Kaitou replied as a stone pillar rose the sky and then lowered him to the ground. He had stopped questioning Zhang’s orders and simply did what he was told because a certain level of trust had been established between the two. Zhang was no one to mistreat those who followed him and Ran was not someone who turned away benefits so a mutual relationship was put into place.
Thus Ran Kaitou departed the provincial lord’s mansion and his men mixed into the evacuating citizens. Although there were no apparent threats occurring, everyone was fleeing the city. With the tales that the acting troupes and storytellers and the commotions and deaths during the night, the city at the end of its wits. The fire and news of an apparent enemy attack from in the north western section of the city was the last straw that broke the camel's back.
The fact that there were no soldiers or guards in the city added more fuel to the fire. This could be the perfect moment for a hero to arise amidst the chaos and that was Zhang had planned for Ran Kaitou. If Ran Kaitou could project the image of a hero into the hearts of the people, then if Zhang placed him as lord over the province then things would progress much more smoothly.
But of course even if he was placed as provincial lord, Zhang would still keep an eye on him. Although they currently had a common goal he couldn’t tell if they would stay allies in the future.
“I’ll have Sun Ce and Zhang Liao move a battalion over into that fortress I’m having him erect in the on the outskirts of the city to keep an eye on things after this is all over.” Zhang thought as he looked toward the southeast where Ran Kaitou should be. He was a trusting person but he was absolutely not a fool, perhaps no one noticed but Zhang had placed checks over all of the forces under his control.
Sima Yi who was stationed in the Red Mist Province along with the those in the Aurora Province and the Heavenly Sword Province kept the Green Clover Province in check. While the Green Clover Province and the Aurora Province kept the Red Mist Province in check. Then the Green Clover Province and the Aurora Province kept the Heavenly Sword Province in check. Thanks to their positioning all of the provinces in the Aurora Kingdom kept each other in line. If the New Moon Province were to be subdued and added into the Aurora Kingdom, then the Heavenly Sword Province and the Aurora Province which border its southern and part of it eastern region to keep watch over it.
Besides the Aurora Province no other province in the Aurora Kingdom housed an army larger than the other provinces in the kingdom.
While the investigation occurred and Ran Kaitou went to help with the evacuation, the ice and water that Zhang had ordered to be brought to the newly erected fort had arrived. Now an abundant supply of water was available if Ling were to use her magic.
“Darling you know that after all of this is over, we are going to have to extend our honeymoon time.” Lingqi said as she stood beside Zhang atop a guard tower that Ran Kaitou had erected.
“Of course, our honeymoon can last as long as you guys want. Also once we have the time we can do what we talked about earlier.” Zhang said with a devious smile on his face. As his words reached Lingqi’s ears they turned a crimson red as her face blushed.
“What was it that you two were talking about earlier?” Yuying asked as she chimed into the conversation.
Lingqi proceeded to walk up to her and whisper into her ears the same words that Zhang had told her in the morning. Afterward Yuying’s checks also began blushing and she did not have any more questions. Later Ling and Ai would learn of what their husband had said and would end up with flushed faces also.
“My lord we have found traces of blood in a large room in the western section of the mansion.” A man yelled up at the guard tower Zhang and the four beauties were in.
“You four stay up here and enjoy the view I’ll be right back.” Zhang said as he leapt off the guard tower and landed on the ground.
“Lead the way.” He said to the man who had reported about the traces of blood.
Zhang was then lead through the twisting and winding paths of the provincial lord’s mansion. Soon they arrived at a small courtyard where a few men were waiting.
"My lord we have found traces of blood in that room over there. So far no other traces of people have been found elsewhere.” A men said respectfully to Zhang as he led him into a small room where a bloody handprint could be seen imprinted on the side of the door. The inside the room a single trail of blood could be seen trailing toward the door. The trail had seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and only led to the door.
“Hmmmm” Zhang said as he looked down at the trail of blood. Then an invisible pulse of essence began emitting from his body and scanned the room.
“Go and get more men over here.” Zhang said as a glint appeared in his eyes. The pulse of essence had discovered an opening under the floor. But before he opened up a hole in the floor, just to be safe he wanted more people with mirrors around to reflect sunlight into the room.
Soon roughly a hundred men had gathered in the small courtyard with mirrors in hand, awaiting Zhang’s orders. He had not asked for his wives to come over because if something was lurking were to happen he did not want for them to get hurt.
With a vast amount of light shining into the room, Zhang waved his hand and withdrew his halberd from his interspatial ring. A purplish glow enveloped the halberd causing it to levitate into the air. With a flick of his fingers the halberd plunged itself into the floor and began drilling through it.
Dozens of cracks ran through the floor as the halberd shattered the rock underneath it. Not much time passed before the halberd left a large hole through the wall, revealing flight of stairs and a hidden room.
Without a single word said, a team of men entered the room and shone mirrors down into the flight of stairs. Light reflected down into the hidden room, but the flight of stairs seemed to extend into the dark indefinitely as only a small portion of it was revealed.
“Bring more mirrors and some torches…” Zhang said with a sigh as he looked down into the dark room beneath the floors.
“Maybe this is where everyone’s been hiding.” He thought to himself.
Moments later with more men and more mirrors, the exploration of the hidden room began.
Torches were lit and enveloped with a purple glow as they were sent levitating down the flight of stairs to make sure nothing jumps out and catches unsuspecting people.
A team of thirty men armed with mirrors followed behind Zhang as he walked down the flight of stairs and descended into the depths. After a certain distance a man would stop descending and use his mirror to extend the reach of a ray of light that was sent down from the surface because only a sliver of light was needed to wipe out a whole army of lesser Jiangshi and the same went for a full fledge Jiangshi if it was kept exposed to sunlight for a slightly longer duration of time.
By the time they reached at the last step of the staircase all thirty men who had accompanied Zhang were busy reflecting light down from the surface.
“Send word up for more men to come down here.” Zhang said and soon after dozens of voices echoed to the surface for more men to come down.
While more men were descending the stairs the sound of rattling chains drifted into Zhang’s ears. With a thought the torches that he had kept levitating around him flew around the darkness, helping to illuminate the room and lift the veil of darkness that had shrouded the room.
As the light illuminated from the torches brought light into the room, a wall with hundreds of chains attached to it came into view. Bound by these chains were close to a hundred Jiangshi, not lesser Jiangshi but full-fledged Jiangshi capable of individually raising armies of undead. From the aura they were emitting Zhang was one hundred percent sure these were not lesser Jiangshi.
“Well fuck me…” Zhang cursed as he saw the hundred or so Jiangshi chained to the walls. Upon closer inspection each chain had dozens of strengthening inscriptions etched into them. Had it not been for the strengthening inscriptions the chains would have only been there for decoration because there was no way that average chains could keep Jiangshi bound.
“At least they are bound and I can take my time extinguishing them with sunlight…” He sighed as he thought about what else might show up down here.
“If something stronger than these show up I’m out of here…” He mumbled as a scowl crept into his face. Just imagining something stronger than a hundred Jiangshi appearing ruined Zhang’s mood. For instance, if an undead dragon appeared then Zhang would be long gone and maybe even have the borders of the Aurora Kingdom be moved back a few hundred miles away from the New Moon Province.
Seeing the one hundred Jiangshi also proved that they could be mass produced and maybe one day Yuying would have an army of them under her control along with her army of Titanic Spiders.