Chapter 128: Of All People
Heya folks O_O how are you doing?
Soon news of Zhang’s disappearance was spread throughout the Warring States Region, causing a frenzy of rumors to arise. Some said that Zhang had been killed, while others said that he barely managed to survive at the cost of all of his men, while other say that the beauties were captured and Zhang was currently trying to save them.
But unknowns to most people a caravan consisting of a thousand or two people was currently making its way through the Warring States Region. This caravan would make camp during the day and move out through the night. The few who have ran into this caravan are left with bit and pieces of memories that prevent them from recalling what they truly saw. However, some say they saw ghostly white monsters and thousands of people bound in rattling chains, overall a horrific sight to see.
Through these unusual encounters, the few who knew about the caravan began linking this caravan to a caravan that had gone missing countless years ago, and many believed that this caravan was comprised of the dead whose dying wishes have yet to be profiled.
On a particular night when the moon’s light was not obscured by clouds, hundreds of carriages could be seen making their way through an open plain. Pulling these carriages however were not horses but ghostly white spiders the size of horses.
Although no one knew where the ghost caravan was headed, but wherever it went news would quickly spread and so long it was mentioned everyone in the area would tightly shut their doors and not even dare to look outside, until they knew that the caravan was elsewhere.
However, unlike most places, tonight Red Mist City was bustling with activity. Soldiers could be seen shuttling supplies from one end of the city to the other as they prepared for the coming invasion that would begin within two weeks’ time. New recruits were being trained around the clock as the Red Mist Army was trying to bolster its numbers.
“They should be arriving soon, everyone move out. Xi Ning, Gan Ning let’s go out and greet our lord.” A scholarly looking young man who gave off an air of authority said as he climbed onto a muscular looking horse and dashed for the city gates. Soon to follow behind him were a dozen or so other men.
Once they dashed out of the city gates it did not take long for the ghostly caravan to come into sight. At the forefront of the caravan was a carriage being pulled by a massive white and purplish spider and a team of fiery horses.
As the team of horsemen and the caravan closed in on each other they both slowly came to a stop, and the horsemen all quickly jumped off their horses and bent down on one knee.
“We welcome your return, your highness.” All of them said in unison.
“No need for the formalities.” A voice rang out from the caravan as a familiar face appeared, this of course was Zhang.
“Brother Sima Yi, how are the preparations going along? Also didn’t I tell you to call me brother and drop the formalities?” Zhang asked as he helped Sima Yi up.
“Also I hope all is going well, for you two.” Zhang said as he looked at Gan Ning and Xi Ning.
“Our naval fleet is ready to set sail at your command and the rest of our army should be ready to face the enemy in battle.” Sima Yi said with a smile as Zhang patted his shoulder.
“Brother Yi, brother Gan Ning and brother Xi Ning, it’s been a while.” Yuying’s voice could be heard as she appeared beside Zhang, along with the other three beauties.
“Your highnesses.” Sima Yi, Gan Ning, and Xi Ning said in unison as they saluted the beauties. Although they were quite friendly with Zhang, they still felt that they needed to be formal to the beauties when in public.
Once all of the formalities were done, Sima Yi lead Zhang and the rest of the caravan into Red Mist City. Not long after the Red Mist Army was assembled, hundreds of thousands of men who were either clad in the red armor of the Red Mist Army or black armor that symbolized they belonged to Zhang’s personal army.
“Thanks to the funds confiscated from the Jin Clan, we were able to allocate much more spending to our military. Whereas before when the Red Mist City was solely focused on defense, we now have tripled the size of our naval fleet and increased our infantry by a substantial amount.” Sima Yi reported.
“How many ships does our navy consist of now?” Zhang asked.
“Our navy consisted of roughly thirty ships before and now there is a total of one hundred ships, eighty warships, nineteen carriers and a commanding vessel. Now that the Jin Clan is gone and there is no more embezzlement, we can properly fund our military.” Sima Yi replied with a smile.
Had the Red Mist Province’s navy and army been properly funded then perhaps Zhang’s assault on Red Mist City would have most likely failed. But now that Sima Yi was given command, and the proper amount of funds were allocated to the military, it could be said that capturing Red Mist City like how Zhang had done is now but an unattainable dream.
“How many mobile ballistae have we managed to construct?” Zhang asked.
“Roughly eighty of them, thanks to the cooperation of the Golden Lotus trading company we were able to secure plenty of building material however we did not have enough artisans at hand due to the construction of the new warships.”
“Have most of them placed onto the commanding vessel and the remaining few on the warships. They’ll be a great surprise for our enemies. Also ready the men we set out toward the Dark Sea Province at sunrise.” Zhang said with a devious smile.
“I’ll have the ballistae moved onto the vessels, but doesn’t the invasion start in two weeks? If we move out now we’ll arrive too early.” Sima Yi asked.
“The enemy probably knows that the invasion will begin in two weeks and will be ready for our arrival, so we don’t we come a bit early and give them a pleasant surprise.” Zhang said.
After Zhang’s words and a nod from Sima Yi, ninety percent of the soldiers within the Red Mist Army and all of Zhang’s personal soldiers began boarding warships. The remaining ten percent of the Red Mist Army was to remain within Red Mist City to defend it.
Zhang’s prisoners who had attacked him when he was moving through the New Moon Province were the last to set foot on the naval ships and assigned to be the oarsmen since they couldn’t really be trusted, they were kept bound in chains. Of course Zhang was not cruel enough to ensure their deaths if one of the ships were to sink in battle so he had promised to relocate them to the carrier ships if enemy forces show up.
It was also decided that Gan Ning would be the one to command the naval fleet because of all of the generals present, Gan Ning who used to be a pirate was the most knowledgeable person about naval warfare.
Also without know what the size of the enemy and what tricks they could have hidden in their sleeves, Zhang felt that he needed to be in the front lines where he could aid his soldiers and prevent unnecessary deaths if possible. Sima Yi of course would manage the land battles once they set foot on the lands of the Dark Sea Province.
Thus when the sun peaked out from the horizon, hundreds of oars struck the ever shifting waves of the western sea as the wind blew onto hundreds of red colored sails.
As the awe inspiring fleet made its way through the massive sea gates of Red Mist City, the same thought appeared in the minds of every resident present, perhaps the lost magnificence of the Red Mist Navy would soon be restored.
Atop the deck of the largest ship within the fleet, the commander’s vessel, was Zhang and the beauties. The commander’s vessel was built in a square shaped and was a staggering three stories tall, from afar it looked like a fortress that was floating atop the waves rather than a ship. Although it’s design was flawed and not really great for battle, the presence that it inspired was otherworldly.
Of all of the beauties, Ai could be seen excitedly looking out into the open sea with sparkling eyes. The fresh air, the gentle breeze and the boat’s gentle rocking reminded her of the time that she, Yuying and Zhang he spent at sea before running into Jian Wei. Although an experience could be unbelievably terrible, as time passed and when one reminisced, even the worst of experiences could be turned into a fond memory.
“Sis, I wonder if we’ll spot dolphins again.” Ai said to Yuying who was standing beside her and also looking out into the endless ocean in front of them.
“Perhaps.” Yuying replied with a chuckle. Like this the two of them stood side by side until Red Mist city was out of sight.
While Ai and Yuying were reminiscing about the past, Zhang could be seen watching over them from the second floor of the ship with a smile across his face, for he too was reminiscing about the events that had brought them together.
“Maybe one day we’ll return to that island and I’ll build a castle or something on it.” He thought as he looked toward the direction where a certain one hundred islands were.
Behind him atop a bed, Lingqi could be seen laying down.
“Of all of people I would think that you’d be the last to be sea sick.” Ling’s voice could be heard with a laugh.
The instant Lingqi had set foot onto the boat, she had shown signs of seasickness and once they left the calm waters within the sea gates, her symptoms worsened.
Without replying to Ling, Lingqi grabbed a small bucket beside her bedside and expelled the contents of her last meal before laying back down on her bed.
Very much like Ling, Zhang had not thought that Lingqi of all people would get seasick but there wasn’t much he could do for her in such a situation. So for the remainder of the voyage, Ai, Yuying, and Ling were able to enjoy the ocean’s view while Lingqi remained within her cabin. Zhang of course divided his time between keeping the beauties company and going over battle strategies with his generals.
Although they were fairly certain they could defeat the enemy at sea, the beast battlefield for Zhang’s army was on land, where their cavalry could trample the enemy lines. While on land Zhang could use his cavalry and a variety of other factors to achieve victory, but sadly on water battles tend to revolve around the number of ships one possess.
Since they did not know whether or not the southern provinces have banded together and formed an alliance or not, there was no telling how many enemy ships they will have to face.
“If we engage the enemy here they will not be able to deal significant damage to our forces and we can gauge the extent of their forces.” Gan Ning said as his finger pressed into a map of the western sea.
“If these navy vastly outstrips ours we can dock here and continue on foot. Once our ships dock in this bay they wouldn't dare to move in.” Sima Yi added while pointing to a location near where Gan Ning's finger was.
“This would also serve as the perfect place to trade the enemy of her highness were to use her water magic.” Gan Ning said.
“None of the then will be actively participating in this battle, unlike before when we were facing one province at a time, this time we can fighting a dozen provinces, each other their own experts who will be sent to the front lines to repel our invasion. Which makes it too dangerous.” Zhang said, disagreeing with Gan Ning's suggestion of using Ling’s magic for the naval battle.
Although it was commonly known that generally there are no saints and those who are at the tenth level of cultivation within the Warring States Region, from the sizable sum the southern provinces were willing to spend to delay the invasion, he could not be sure how many experts they could have gathered. Though most experts, unlike Zhang, do not seek personally wealth but mostly go after cultivation resources, if enough money is presented, who know how many people will come under the banner of the southern provinces.
That being said, the invasion is unavoidable because if they do not act then sooner or later the Aurora Kingdom would be attacked. The creation of a kingdom with the middle of the region definitely is an eyesore to most if not all of the other lords, so it was only a matter of time before a war began.
Few would ask, why didn't Jian Wei invade the north, rather than the wealthy south. But the answer is simple, he did so because the Aurora Kingdom was being sandwiched by two sides, if they invade the north than in the end they would still be sandwhich. Then the issue of defending the northern border against the various kingdoms north of the Warring States Region would come into play.
So the best and most logical decision would be to invade the south and solidly their power while using the northern provinces as a buffer zone. Then when they are strong enough they can absorb the northern provinces and for the first time in thousands of years the Warring States Region would be united as one.
“Only if the situation becomes dire will I let them put themselves in harm's way.” Zhang said.
“Then our best course of action would be to scout out the enemy and if possible move onto land. It would be best to dock here at this harbor and from there occupy this small village here and then use it as a command base to seige Blue Wind City. ” Sima Yi said as he traced a path across the map with his finger.
“That is to say I don't crush them at sea. If we sink them all then we can sail directly to Dark Sea City.” Gan Ning laughed as he stabbed a dagger onto the map, directly on where Dark Sea City was located.