Chapter 145: Kill or Save
You guys didn't expect another chapter did you? But well I stayed up to 3:31 Am (time right now) to finish writing a 2nd chapter for you all lol. Also will see to making more revisions to the map :D
Throughout the trip from the barracks to the provincial lord’s mansion, utter silence filled the inside of Tang Wei’s carriage.
Due to their roles as mere soldiers of the Dark Legion and Tang Wei’s role as the next provincial lord, neither Zhang nor Ai spoke. Rather instead of not wishing to speak, Ai was rather captivated by the view of the scenery outside.
It seemed like Tang Wei wanted to strike up a conversation but did not know what to talk about.
Before long the carriage stopped and an attendant opened the carriage door for Tang Wei, Zhang, and Ai to disembark.
“If you two would follow me.” Tang Wei said as he gestured for Zhang and Ai to follow him.
Compared to the other provincial lord mansions Zhang had been in, the one in Red Thorn City was rather plain.
Whereas the other mansions resembled small imperial cities, this one was simply decorated and there did not seem to be many servants at all.
As Zhang and Ai were lead through a series of hallways, they spotted a few people in servant uniforms packing sacks onto dozens of carts.
“Up until recently our province had gone through a terrible famine for a very long time and only thanks to this war and the aid coming from the other provinces have we been able to keep afloat.” Tang Wei said as he spotted Zhang and Ai looking at the carts curiously.
“There was even a point when my father had to sell off various things in the mansion to buy grains and rice to feed our people. But now when everything is becoming better he isn't able to enjoy the fruition of his sacrifices.” Tang Wei said with a sigh.
Before Tang Wei could even utter another word and as they walked into a small courtyard, a loud voice rang into everyone's ear.
“Tang Wei what are you doing here? Didn't I tell you and your whore mother to scam!?” The loud voice said. Once Zhang looked toward where the voice came from he saw a bald young man in his late twenties with a medium build surrounded by dozens of people in the clothes of a scholar.
“Tang Shiang, you're telling me to leave? I'm the one father chose to replace him once he is gone. And do not talk about my mother like that or else I'll kill you.” Tang Wei said in a furious tone.
“Ha! You guys here that!? He wants to kill me.” Tang Shiang laugh.
“Go teach him a lesson.” He said to some hulking men who stood behind him and the group of scholars.
“But my lord, he is your brother and this is the provincial lord’s mansion after all. On top of things, he's the next provincial lord. One of the hulking men said in hesitation.
“Hmph, you think my father's bastard has a right to be the next lord while I'm still alive? Go teach him a lesson or else I'll have everyone here go teach your families a lesson.” Tang Shiang said to his guards.
After info hearing Tang Shiang’s words, all of his guards steeled themselves and charged toward Tang Wei.
“My lords I don't know what issues you two have with each other but if you can wait for another time.” Zhang said with a smile as he withdrew a sword that hung from his waist. This sword was, of course, a standard issue from the Dark Legion.
“Kill that son of a bitch.” Tang Shiang said as he pointed to Zhang.
“Come and try!” Ai yelled as she too drew a sword.
“Call off your men! Do you want to encode the wrath of the Dark Legion!” Tang Wei yelled.
“Dark Legion?” Tang Shiang asked with a hint of confusion appearing on his face.
“My lord, the Dark Legion, you know the one that is heading to the front lines to fight the forces of Aurora.” One of Tang Shiang’s people whispered into his ears.
“I'm General Hei Ang’s nephew, if you dare to lay a finger on us then my uncle will turn your city to ashes before the armies of Aurora even makes it here!” Zhang said in a haughty voice.
“Young master, if his words are true and we anger General Hei Ang and the Dark Legion then let alone ourselves, the entire city may be implicated.” One of Tang Shiang’s followers said.
“This is Red Thorn City and you're in the provincial lord’s mansion, even if I were to kill you, who would know?” Tang Shiang said.
“Do you know what this is!?” Zhang asked as he pulled out his magical communication jade after pretending to search through his robes.
“If I simply activate it and say a single word then my uncle and the rest of the Dark Legion will be here in a matter of minutes.” Zhang said.
Once the magical communication jade came into view Tang Shiang and his people began to buy into Zhang’s bluff.
“Hmph since the Dark Legion is our guest, as a proper host I’ll let things slide this time.” Tang Shiang said as he flicked his sleeves and walked off with his entourage.
“Brother Lee Ming you're related, General Hei Ang?” Tang Wei asked after his half-brother departed.
“If you don’t mind keeping a secret for me. We aren’t related, I’ve never even met the general.” Zhang said in a whisper as he leaned toward Tang Wei.
“Shall we resume the purpose of today’s visit?” Zhang asked as he began walking down the hallway once more with Ai by his side. As a grin crept onto Tang Wei’s face caught up to Zhang and Ai.
Soon enough, Tang Wei gradually opened up to Zhang after seeing how resourceful Zhang was. Zhang in return learned Tang Wei’s character and circumstances.
Tang Wei’s father, the current provincial lord, had married into the family of the provincial lord before him since the previous provincial lord did not have and male heirs. Roughly three years after marrying into the Tang clan and producing a male heir, Tang Wei’s father met his first love and childhood friend who he had lost contact with for many years., Tang Wei’s mother.
Of course, since he had married into the Tang Clan he did not have the right to marry more wives or take any concubines. So although their love was rekindled and they declared their undying feelings for each other, Tang Wei’s mother and father could no publicly show their affection for each other.
“My father who could not bear to part from my mother had her work in the provincial lord’s mansion as a maid and shortly after she began to live her, I was conceived. But of course like all secrets, father and mother's affair was soon discovered and mother was forced to leave by Tang Shiang’s mother. With only the clothes on her back and a small amount of money she left as father could do nothing to keep her.” Tang Wei said with a saddened tone.
“Working day and night, mother and I lived a humble life in a small village. Perhaps a simple life is a better life because at least all we had to worry about was having enough to feed ourselves. However, a great famine happened and food became scarce, whatever the village had stored away was quickly depleted and to make things worse there were even people coming from other places to beg for food.”
“I remember as if it was yesterday, I had just turned fifteen and to celebrate mother and I went into the mountains to dig for potatoes. Of course, we did not find any but after coming heading back home our lives as we knew it would completely change. That was the first time I saw him, sitting atop a large white stallion, clad in gleaming silver armor and surrounded by dozens of mighty looking guards. That was the day when I met father.”
“It turns out that a few years after mother left, father had become the provincial lord and had slowly gained the respect of those who ran the city, with his intelligence and kindness he had become a great ruler. A ruler who the people adored, a ruler who everyone looked up to, and a ruler who yearned to find what he had lost.”
“Perhaps it was the heavens who led him to us but while father was distributed rations to the common folk he one of his men suddenly feel ill so his escort had rested near where we went to dig for potatoes.” Tang Wei recalled as a smile appeared on his face as he reminisced about the past.
Once he had met his father, Tang Wei and his mother was brought back to Red Thorn City and into the Provincial lord’s mansion, where his mother was officially married with his father. But Tang Shiang’s mother and her son obviously were very much against this and tried to create as many problems for Tang Wei and his mother as much as they could.
To protect himself, his mother and to show to his father that he was an able person, Tang Wei practiced martial arts and cultivated day and night while regularly attending classes that taught etiquette, battle strategies, and the likes. As he continued to try to climb closer to his father, the more obstacles he met and sadly when he had finally proved himself and named the next provincial lord, his father fell ill.
The very moment his father fell ill, all of the officials and people of power within the Red Thorn Province one by one turned their backs on Tang Wei and banded together with his older half-brother. So in the end Tang Wei simply only had the title of next provincial lord but no power to speak of, besides a few retainers who are loyal to his father.
“We are here.” Tang Wei said as he, Zhang and Ai reached a room with four guards stationed outside.
“Has anyone visited father?” Tang Wei asked the guards.
“Only Lord Tang Shiang, my lord.” One of the guards replied as he helped open the door for Tang Wei.
“Thank you for your hard work.” Tang Wei said to the guards as he entered the room with Zhang and Ai following behind him.
The instant they entered the room Zhang caught sight of middle aged women sitting beside a large bed where a frail looking man with many sores visible on his face.
“Mother.” Tang Wei said in a happy tone.
Upon hearing Tang Wei’s voice, the woman looked away from the frail looking man and looked toward where Zhang, Ai and Tang Wei were standing. With delicate features and a smile that could brighten a dark room, it was no wonder Tang Wei’s father was so in love with his mother.
“Wei your back, come here and greet your father.” The woman said, but once she noticed Zhang and Ai she got up and curtsied.
“Are you two perhaps my Little Wei’s friends?” She asked in a kind tone.
“Mother, Brother Lee Ming here might be able to cure father's illness!” Tang Wei said in an excited voice.
“Really?! If you can then I, Sheng Yi, will forever be grateful.” Tang Wei’s mother said.
“Madam, I fear my medical skills may be lacking, however if I can help someone then I will try my very best.” Zhang said as he arrived at the Tang Wei’s father’s bedside and began to assess his condition.
“Don’t worry, this disease is not contagious at all.” Tang Wei said, assuring Zhang it was safe.
“Please do not resist or else implications may occur.” Zhang said as he extended his hand and placed it atop Tang Wei’s father’s forehead, Zhang sent a pulse of essence throughout the man’s body to inspect it to see what was wrong after pulling off the blanket that had covered the frail man’s body.
“There seems to be something living inside of his body, it should be located right about here. If memory serves and my guess is right, there should be an adolescent Corpse Eating Silkworm inside your father.” Zhang said as he pointed toward Tang Wei’s father’s abdomen.
“What!?” Tang Wei and his mother said in disbelief.
“It had hatched and began to gouge itself inside your father's stomach and once it finished eating his insides, it’ll hatch out of his body that is not acting like it’s cocoon and become a Blood Moth. From my examination, it’s consumed roughly half of his insides.”
“So there's nothing you can do?” Tang Wei said with a grim look on his face.
“The question here is how it got into his body, since Corpse Eating Silkworms generally only are found in bodies of the deceased and do not even live anywhere near this region.” Zhang said, not replying to Tang Wei’s question.
“Someone probably infects his lordship with it.” Ai pointed out.
“It has to be him…” Tang Wei mumbled as his brow creased.
“You couldn’t mean…” Sheng Yi, Tang Wei’s mother said as if she had a suspect in mind.
“Tang Shiang… Father fell ill only days after he announced for me to be his successor and as if he was prepared, Tang Shiang was able to gather all of the influential people in the province under his banner in a matter of days.” Tang Wei said.
“Sorry to interrupt but if I act now I may be able to save him.” Zhang said, interrupting Tang Wei and his mother.
“If you can get me some much-needed supplies, I can extract the Corpse Eater Silkworm out of his body and give him some medicine to help him get better.”
“But you said that thing has already consumed nearly half of my father’s insides.” Tang Wei said.
“Half is not all and with proper medication and help. Your father will be able to live for countless more years.” Zhang said with a smile.
“I’ll have someone lead you to our medicinal store room, everything in there you can use at will.” Tang Wei said to Zhang as hope ignited in his eyes.
“If I save his father then Tang Wei will definitely be indebted to me and as long as he fights his brother then chaos would surely ensue so my objective would have been met. If I take things a step further and help him take care of his brother, then there’s also a chance that I can bring Tang Wei to my side and have him cooperate with me once the girls arrive.” Zhang thought.
In the end, Zhang’s goal was still to aid Lingqi, Yuying, and Ling once they arrive, so as long as things were occurring that could possibly benefit his plans in the future, Zhang was ready to act.