Chapter 149: Observers
This chapter was meant for yesterday but I didn't get home until really late in the night and it was short about two hundreds words so I decided to wait until morning to finish.
As one hundred thousand soldiers raced through Red Thorn City their rhythmic footsteps awoke every home they passed by. Curiosity, fear and a mixture of emotions crept into the hearts of everyone who was woken up from their dreams and peaceful night’s sleep. While countless eyes peaked out onto the streets, countless torches and gleaming shields and swords could be seen under the moonlight.
Although Tang Wei’s messenger had reached the barracks where the Dark Legion was staying, however upon receiving word from the messenger, General Hei Ang was filled with contradiction.
“General, should we ready the men?” One of General Hei Ang’s aids who's still dressed in a nightgown asked.
“No… We will wait and see how things play out before we intervene. Although we are allies with them right now, our mission was to engage the forces of Aurora and stop them from advancing and not to take part in another provincial civil war. Also make sure that messenger never arrived here.” General Hei Ang said with a sigh.
In the end, his mission was still his priority and even if the leadership of the Red Thorn Province changed hands it wouldn’t really affect his mission, there was also the fact that if he choose to intervene, his forces could possibly suffer casualties which might end up hindering him when facing the forces of Aurora.
Lastly, although the southern region was currently united and aiding each other, they would definitely revert back to enemies once the war was over. So as General Hei Long saw it, if he extended a helping hand to the Red Thorn Province, there was a chance that he would end up helping his future enemy.
So for now his best choice of action would be to get rid of the messenger and pretend that he did not receive and pleas for help. Then, once the fighting reached its peak, the Dark Legion would show up and back the winning side.
Or if the situation totally gets out of hand then perhaps the Red Thorn Province will fall into the hands of the Dark Legion.
Back in Tang Pan’s mansion, the few hundred soldiers the two Tang brothers had with them were busy trying to barricade the gates with whatever they could find things from tables, beds, carts and even doors were gathered. Now that the fighting inside the mansion had ceased, Zhang could be seen up and about helping the wounded and aiding the attempt to barricade the gates.
“Once father gets here you’ll all die like dogs!” Tang Xiao laughed manically despite being bound and laying on his side on the ground.
“Shut the fuck up or I’ll cut out your tongue!” Tang Shiang roared his foot smashed into Tang Xiao’s stomach and send him flying into a wall.
In a fit of rage, Tang Shiang continued to violently beat Tang Xiao until his half brother finally intervened.
“Stop! Or else you’ll kill him and he’ll be useless as a hostage…” Tang Wei said as he placed his hand on his half brother’s shoulder.
“Consider yourself lucky…But keep flapping your mouth and you’ll regret it.Tang Shiang said as he spat onto Tang Xiao before storming off.
“You two keep an eye on him… If he tries to do anything funny cut off a few of his limbs… As long as he doesn’t die then it’s fine.” Tang Wei said as his patience with Tang Xiao was also at its limit. Had it not been for the one hundred thousand incoming soldiers then it was without a doubt that Tang Xiao would have been beheaded by now.
Although some may say that simply because Zhang said that wherever the Corpse Eater Silkworm would lead to the ones who schemed against the provincial lord, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Tang Xiao and his father Tang Pan were guilty.
However if they were not guilty of scheming against their ruler, then Tang Pan would not march one hundred thousand soldiers into the city. Even if they were innocent, the mere act of marching soldiers into the city without proper authorization is an act of treason.
“My lords, we searched the mansion and have found something we think you should see.” A soldier reported back before leading Zhang and the Tang brothers the mansion’s main hall where a passageway could be seen opening up in the floor.
“There was a hidden mechanism built into one of the stone tablets on the altar which opened up the floor.” One of the soldiers said.
Unlike most of the underground passages that Zhang had gone into that seemed like they extended infinitely into the dark depths of the earth, this one only required a mere thirty steps to reach the room hidden underneath the floor.
“What are these?” Tang Shiang asked as he saw hundreds of blue colored pearls, placed on tidy looking shelves that lined the walls within the small chamber. Before anyone would answer him, he even picked up one of the blueish colored pearl and began to examine them.
“Those are without a doubt Corpse Eating Silkworms eggs…” Zhang said as watched Tang Shiang hold the bluish egg close to his face.
“Wahh!?” Tang Shiang yelled as Zhang’s bit of information startled him while the bluish egg rolled out of his hands and smashed into the ground spewing its contents everywhere.
“So it was them…” Tang Wei said as his fist slammed into a shelf next to him causing a few eggs to roll onto the ground.
“Burn it…” Tang Shiang said with unhappy look on his face since these eggs reminded him of his bedridden father who was at death’s door.
“You heard him! Burn it!” Tang Wei roared at the two guards who accompanied them and Zhang down into the small chamber. Like his half brother, the moment he realized that theses were the eggs that spawned the tiny monster that was eating away at his father, Tang Wei felt an unbelievable amount of rage.
“These may come in handy later.” Zhang thought as he quickly swiped away a few of the bluish eggs and hid them in his robe’s sleeve. Since he did not have the Ruler’s Domain and since interspatial rings can not hold living matter, Zhang had to keep the eggs tucked away instead.
By the time the underground chamber was set ablaze, the Tang brothers were alerted by their men that their uncle Tang Pan’s had just arrived and had surrounded the mansion while demanding the release of his son.
“Good nephews, release my son and I promise nothing will happen to you. I’ll even ensure the safety of your men.” Tang Pan’s voice echoed into the mansion while a middle aged man with streaks of grey hair and a charismatic looking face could be seen atop a white stallion outside of the mansion’s walls.
However after Tang Pan’s words, only silence filled the air while something unsettling occurred. Instead of a proper reply a severed arm tightly gripping a jade pendant flew over the mansion’s walls and landed in front of Tang Pan’s horse.
“Thi-this is young master’s jade pendant.” One of Tang Pan’s lieutenants stuttered as he held up the pendant for his master to see.
“Calm down that is not Xiao’er’s arm… They wouldn’t dare to harm him and are only trying to threaten us.” Tang Pan said in a calm manner.
Without the mansion, Tang Wei could be seen standing beside a corpse with a missing arm while a blood stained sword could be seen in his hand.
“Uncle Pan! Retreat out of the city or else our warning will not stay a warning for long.” Tang Wei yelled.
“It seems the Dark Legion aren’t going to be showing up…” Zhang thought while sitting beside the mansion’s main gate. He thought if they had any intention of showing up, then considering how close the mansion and the barracks were, the Dark Legion would have arrived by now.
“Also I doubt the reinforcements from that other fort will arrive in time, that is to consider if they too had not defected in the other side.” Zhang thought.
“Young masters, is there a chance that the soldiers in the western fort will not show or rather is there a chance of them defecting to the other side?” Zhang asked as he continued leaning back on the wall behind him.
“Impossible, the western fort and the eastern fort have little to no interactions at all.” Tang Wei declared with positivity and no hint of doubt in his words.
Not long after Zhang sat back down and a few threats were issued by Tang Pan, the soldiers surrounding the mansion began using battering rams against the gates and sections of the wall to create entrances into the mansion.
It was evident that Tang Pan was confident that the Tang brothers would not dare to kill his son so he acted without reserve and had his men move in.
Although the battering rams made quick work of the gates, the barricade that was stacked up behind the gate was able to keep them at bay. Mostly in part, thanks to the help of dozens of spears systematically being thrusted out at anyone who was trying to break down the barricade.
Since it was without a doubt that the people inside the mansion was vastly outnumbered, Zhang decided to lend a hand by picking up a spear and weakly thrusting it through the gaps in the barricade. Of course he wasn’t going to give it his all, but simply pretending to do his part was all Zhang needed to do.
This was because like the Dark Legion, Zhang simply needed to wait and see the outcome of this civil war. If the Tang brothers was showing signs of victory then he would convince them into possibly siding with the forces of Aurora, if Tang Pan wins then he would give the same offer.
Although this seemed contrary to Zhang’s regular approach to things, he felt that there was a need for chaos and conflict to occur. If the pot was not stirred then it would only serve to hinder his forces and harm his soldiers in the longer run, so as long as civilians are not harmed then Zhang was perfectly fine with sitting back and waiting to see how things played out.
But deep down there was a part of Zhang who was kind of worried about the possibility of the Tang brothers achieving victory and then fighting against each other. That would of course further damage the forces of the Red Thorn Army, while it would serve to have little to affect to the Dark Legion.
It was true that Zhang’s main army outnumbered the Dark Legion however if there was only a fourth of the Red Thorn Army remaining then it would be easily crushed by the Dark Legion which would then require Zhang’s forces to siege the city because their possible inside helpers were routed. Then once a siege began then the common people would suffer innumerable casualties because stones launched by catapults; and arrows possess no eyes when they are sent flying through the air.
If the beauties unleash havoc, things would even get worse, so Zhang’s best plan was to get the brothers to get along or have them lose to their uncle and then convince the winner to side with Aurora and then take care of the Dark Legion.
As spears thrusted out from behind the barricade and soldiers trying to break into the mansion were all gifted with trails of cut flesh and blood, large cracks began to form on certain sections of the mansion’s walls. Hammers were slammed into the stone walls while blades and axes were used to try to chip away at whatever they could.
Before long a small section of wall crumbled and teams of soldiers rushed inside with weapons drawn.
“Young masters, it’s time to move elsewhere and fortify our position!” Zhang yelled as he signalled to Tang Wei and Tang Shiang.
“To the main hall!” Zhang pointed. Since they had only set the underground chamber ablaze, for the most part the mansion’s main hall was completely intact and would serve as a secure location to hole up in for the time being.
As everyone abandoned the barricades and rushed into the main hall, a few of them met their end when archers stormed in through the broken wall and a torrent of arrows was released into the air.
“Shut the doors!” Someone cried.
“Let me go and I'll ensure your bodies stay intact after you die.” Tang Xiao said as he was dragged into the hall.
As axes, swords and spears were used to cut into the main hall's doors and paper screens.
“Pour this onto those doors!” Zhang said after he withdrew a keg of oil from his interspatial ring and passed it to one of the soldiers beside him.
As oil was poured onto the makeshift barricade, some of the paper screen windows that had been cut to pieces had people trying to climb into them.
With only a handful of about a hundred remaining combatants; a few dozen maids and butlers holding out until reinforcements arrived seemed like a fleeting dream.
“Hold him!” Tang Shiang said as his patience was at an end and the dire situation caused him to think irrationally.
With a soldier holding down Tang Xiao, Tang Shiang withdrew his sword and with a swing caused a severed hand to fall into the ground.
“Gahhhhh!” Tang Xiao cried while blood shot out from the spot where his hand used to be.
“Didn't I tell you to shut up!?” Tang Shiang roared as the barricades broke down before a fire could be lit to further the soldiers storming in.
“Stay back or else he dies!” Tang Shiang yelled as he tossed Tang Xiao’s severed hand at the enemy soldiers.
Upon charging into the hall and seeing his son’s severed hand land in front of his feet, Tang Pan felt an aching pain ring through his mind.
“Everyone stay back!” Tang Pan commanded.
Soon the two sides were at a standstill and stood silently staring at each other with neither side making any movements.
Even the previously rowdy Tang Xiao sat in silence as he tried to contain the amount he was in.