Chapter 136: Deadline
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While the flames of war were about to spark in the other provinces, an eerie silences swept over the Dark Sea Province. Today was the deadline that Zhang had set for Liu Biao, today would become a turning point in the Dark Sea Province’s history depending on the path that it decides to take.
Early in the morning, Yuying’s one thousand disciples rose a massive army of undead skeletons in case Dark Sea City decided not to surrender. These skeletons would serve as the vanguard and help lessen casualties.
With all sides of the city surrounded and nowhere to go, the soldiers of the Dark Sea Army stood atop the city walls with uneasiness in their hearts. Unlike Zhang’s soldiers who would only begin to move in after the massive army of skeletons broke into the city, the soldiers atop the walls did not have the luxury of someone else fighting the battle for them.
If their lord chooses to fight, then it was highly likely that many if not all of them would be sent to the Underworld. Anxiousness loomed in the air as no one knew what Liu Biao’s decision was going to be.
“You lot, move the trebuchets into range and prepare the battering rams, I’ll move in once the skeletons scale up the city walls. I also want forty thousand men mounted and ready to move in case the enemy decides to try to break through our lines and escape.” Gan Ning could be heard issuing commands.
As one army prepared to attack and one army prepared to defend the sun rose to its peak.
“Brother, do you think they’ll surrender? This is pretty boring; can I go break down the wall?” Ai asked as she sat beside Zhang.
“They should be sending out a messenger anytime now if they don’t then I’ll let you have a go at the wall.” Zhang said with a smile as he stroked Ai’s hair.
Almost instantly after the words left Zhang’s mouth, all of the gates that led into Dark Sea City opened and hundreds of white flags were raised into the air.
Moments after the city gates were opened, the eight hundred thousand soldiers within the city marched out, not in orderly rows but more like a mob of regular people.
Once they were outside of the city gates, every one of these soldiers tossed their weapons onto the ground and took off their armor, creating a hill of weapons and armor in front of the city walls.
They had taken things a step further then what Zhang had anticipated, opening the city gates and allowing him to enter and disarming their soldiers. This was a show of good faith and trust that earned Liu Biao a few good marks in Zhang’s book.
“Have the skeletons move in and secure the outer walls and city streets, all of the soldiers who had just disarmed themselves are to be watched in case of enemy deceit.” Zhang said to a handsome yet sturdy looking man who stood beside his throne. After the orders were given, the army of skeletons entered the city and secured the walls.
Zhang had to make sure that Liu Biao was truly surrendering and not trying to pull off some kind of trap. Perhaps Liu Biao did not truly surrender and was simply luring Zhang into the city so he could close the gates and rain arrows down from the city walls. There were a number of possible traps that could have been laid, however this would not matter since Zhang had sent the skeletons into the city first.
If anything was to occur he would not lose a single soldier while Liu Biao’s ploy would be exposed, that was of course if Liu Biao decided to act when Zhang was entering the city. There was still the chance of assassination or poison coming into play after the city fell into his control so Zhang had to be careful.
After the skeletons had complete control of the city walls and the streets were lined with them, Zhang’s soldiers began to enter the city. Sitting atop a lavish golden throne that was laid onto a large cart pulled by a team of fiery horses, Zhang made his way through the empty city streets.
No one dared to leave their homes nor even peek outside once the skeletons had marched into the city, which was a good thing since it would allow Zhang’s army to move inside without having to mind the civilians.
It did not take long after Zhang entered the city before a procession of people arrived to welcome him. Liu Biao, his sons and hundreds of government officials and high ranking military personnel had gathered and kneeled on one knee in the middle of the streets, showing that they had submitted to Zhang.
“No need to be so courteous.” Zhang laughed as he hopped off of his throne and walked over to help Liu Biao up.
“We welcome your highness into our city and hope that you will take care of us in the future.” Liu Biao said politely.
After some formal introductions to the various dignitaries that were in Dark Sea City, Zhang and the beauties were led to the provincial lord’s mansion where a feast was being held in their honor. Gan Ning, Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang were also to be honored but they had declined due to the number of duties that they needed to do.
Gan Ning needed to find housing for the soldiers while Sima Yi had to city’s treasury, granary, and army. Lastly, Zhuge Liang had to rally his supporters and create a list to give to Zhang, this list would be used to replace corrupt or inept officials. Since one of the main problems that the Dark Sea Province faced with cause by the two fractions of rival government officials, a purge was needed.
Truly corrupt and heinous officials would be executed while others would be replaced or given punishments according to their crimes. Of course, Zhang had ordered Zhuge Liang to keep the number of individuals purged to the minimal because he did not wish to replace all of the Dark Sea Provinces officials since that would only serve to cripple the government. But by ridding the province of many of its corrupt officials, Zhang would not only be establishing his dominance by making an example out of those who abuse their power and preventing future problems, but this would also aid him in obtaining the hearts of the civilians.
Since it was the common folk who suffered the most at the hands of the corrupt officials, they would more than likely see Zhang as their savior instead of a ruthless conqueror.
So while Gan Ning, Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang were busy with their various tasks, Zhang and the beauties headed off to the provincial lord’s mansion.
Much like Liu Yuan’s suggestion, Liu Biao was wholeheartedly submitting to Zhang and inwardly praying that he had made the right decision. But without having Yuying scan Liu Biao’s thoughts, Zhang still remained somewhat vigilant.
Within a large hall filled small rectangular tables, each only large enough for a single person to sit, Zhang was given the seat of honor that was located at the very end of the hall up above a few marble steps.
Although the table was only large enough for one person to sit, since the beauties either sat on Zhang’s lap or closed in beside him they were all seated at the same table. Besides the fact that they wanted to sit with him, for security purposes, Lingqi would taste all of the dishes first.
Being a master at concocting poisons and medicine, if there were anything wrong with the food Lingqi would know instantly.
Of course, no one else knew this since some were too busy being envious of Zhang while others were too lost in thought about what will happen to them now that Zhang was in charge. Without knowing what plans Zhang had in store for them many people were filled with fear.
“Here darling, have a bit.” Lingqi said as she used a pair of golden chopsticks to pick up a piece of meat and brought it in front of Zhang’s mouth.
“Damn if only I knew more about poison… She’s totally using this opportunity to her advantage.” Ling complained in her mind.
While the same thought appeared in Yuying’s mind, Ai was delighted that she could now enjoy the extravagant meal that was laid out on the table since all of the dishes had been checked and no poison was found.
As the festivities continued on and dancers filed into the hall, Lingqi decided to join in the fun by withdrawing a zither from her interspatial ring and gracing those within the hall with a few songs. Songs of joy and love echoed out from the large hall and uplifted everyone’s mood as Lingqi skillfully played the zither and sang.
After the festivities concluded, Zhang and the beauties were led a large mansion where they could sleep. Liu Biao had said that after making some arrangements he would move out of the provincial lord’s mansion and offer it up to Zhang but his goodwill was declined because would not stay within Dark Sea City for too long so there was no need.
Early in the morning, Liu Shan and Liu Yuan had arrived at the mansion where Zhang was staying and requested an audience with him, hoping to win his favor. As things stand, they both know that Zhang could very well be the one to pick who will be Liu Biao’s successor. So if either of them were able to gain Zhang’s support then it would be certain that they would become the future duke of the southern regions.
Wanting to see what the two brothers were up to Zhang followed them on a whim. Without telling the beauties Zhang and the two brothers arrived at the White Snow Brothel. With hundreds of guards stationed outside, the brothers led Zhang to the upper floors of the brothel where dozens of beautiful women were waiting.
Surprisingly enough the lower floors were filled with people, despite the fact that ownership of the province had just shifted hands. Usually at times like this people are too busy worrying about their lives but perhaps if one needed to have some fun then one needed to have some fun.
Of all things they could have done, the brothers were hoping to win Zhang’s favor through the use of women. Although unimpressed by their effort Zhang did not say anything and continued to watch the brothers.
“If all you two know is surrounding yourselves with women and fun then I’ll have to either have Yuying rewire you or have Liu Biao make more heirs. In the end, if neither of these plans worked then Liu Biao will be the last Liu to govern in the south.” Zhang thought as he poured himself a cup of wine and drank it. Unlike the two brothers, Zhang did not choose a few women to accompany him.
Meanwhile back at the mansion, the beauties were gathered up and conversing with one another.
“I bet those two are up to no good.” Ling said to the others.
“They probably took him to a brothel or something.” Lingqi added.
“Then should we go have a look?” Yuying asked.
“I think nothing will happen so why bother.” Ai said stating that she trusts that Zhang would not do anything that would get him in trouble with her and the other beauties.
After some back and forth the beauties departed the mansion and followed Zhang’s trail to the White Snow Brothel. Being the only place in the city with some many guards stationed around it, it was fairly obvious that Zhang was in there.
“Let’s go.” Ling said as she headed toward the Brothel’s entrance.
“Wait, we can’t go in there dressed like this.” Linqqi said as she grabbed Ling’s arm.
“What do you mean? It’s not the first time we’ve been into one of these places.” Ling said.
“All the other times we went with darling, but now we’re going in alone. Do you know what happens when women like us go into places like these alone?” Lignqi asked.
“Then what do we do?” Ai asked.
“Simple, follow me.” Yuying said as she pointed to a clothing store.
A while later after the four beauties entered the clothing store, four very handsome young men departed. Once they departed from the clothing store these four young men entered the White Snow brothel. The moment they entered a crowd of women swarmed around them.
“Young masters, are you here looking to have some fun?” A middle-aged woman with a hairy mole said.
“Even if I was a man I wouldn’t.” Lingqi mumbled in an inaudible tone.
“We’ll call if we need something, for now we just want to drink some wine.” Yuying said as she pushed through the swarm of women and made her way to the upper floors. She did not bother looking for Zhang in the lower floors because without a doubt someone of his status would not be led there by the two brothers.
“Now let’s see which room he is in,” Lingqi said as she poked a hole in a paper screen door.
“Nope not in this one… people doing this so early in the morning…” She mumbled with slightly blushing cheeks
The other beauties also began poking holes and peeking into the various rooms to find Zhang however he was nowhere to be found.
It was not until they arrived at the very end of the hall did they find the room where Zhang was. Unlike the other rooms, this one was crowded with people.
Half naked women and the smell of liquor the room as Zhang could be seen drinking wine. Strangely enough Liu Yuan was sitting beside him and talking instead of chasing after women like his brother Liu Shan.
“Now what do we do?” Ai whispered.
“Well now that we know he’s not doing anything unfaithful or trying to add another sister to the group we can leave.” Lingqi said.
But before they could leave a voice came out from within the room.
“Hey you four there what are you doing? Come in and join the fun.” Liu Shan yelled as he spotted the four beauties who were dressed as men peeking in from outside the door.