Chapter 254: Prisoners
Following their master’s example and thirsting to obtain more heavenly energy to empower themselves, Zhang’s subordinate saints quickly closed in on Liu Bang’s men from all direction.
Outnumbered roughly one to ten, Liu Bang’s subordinates could only flee with all their might as their leader fell from the sky.
Surprisingly enough despite being impaled by the Rising Moon Sword and plummeting from the sky, Liu Bang was actually alive, barely but still alive.
“Oh, no you don't! It would be best to give up and refrain from attempting to pull off any tricks.” Zhang said as he flickered through the air and arrived beside Liu Bang, gripping the latter’s neck tightly and lifting him up.
Reaching forward with his other hand, Zhang quickly retrieved a blue colored pill inscribed with dozens of golden inscriptions from Liu Bang’s hand.
“Let's make sure you don't try any more of this silly business.” Zhang said as he stored away the blue colored pill into his interspatial ring before grasping the hilt of the Rising Moon Sword and dislodging it from Liu Bang’s chest, splattering blood everywhere. With his sword in hand and a single effortless swing, Zhang severed one of Liu Bang’s hands, that was equipped with five beautiful looking rings.
As blood seeped out from Liu Bang’s new opened wound, a swift shadowy serpent emerged from the dark depths of Zhang’s Abyssal Cape and hooked its fangs onto the severed hand that held all of Liu Bang’s riches.
“I'll keep you at a hair’s breadth away from death and take my time to show you it was a bad idea to mess with my home when I was away.” Zhang said as purplish colored essence congregated on his fingertips and flew into the gaping wound in Liu Bang’s chest and arm, quickly patching things up and stopping the latter from bleeding to death.
“You will regret this! Once our senior brothers arrive, your fates will be a hundred times worse than ours!” Fu Wen said mere movements before Ai’s heel smashed down onto his shoulder and propelled him toward the ground like a meteor.
“I-I-I surrender!” One of Liu Bang’s subordinates cried while dropping his weapons and raising his hands high up into the air.
“The option to surrender is not for you to choose.” Zhang said as a pair of full saints under his command impaled and bisected Liu Bang’s surrendering subordinate.
Fueled by bloodlust and the thirst for more heavenly eagerly while being spurred on by their master, Zhang’s subordinates hacked and slashed to their heart’s content, allowing for blood to rain down upon Aurora City, bathing it in a crimson veil.
“Someone hang him up on the city walls for me and keep an eye on him.” Zhang said while casually tossing Liu Bang’s limp body through the air where it was caught by a few lesser saints looking to be of service to their new master.
In next to no time at all, the indomitable force that had overtaken the Aurora Empire was defeated, broken and slaughtered.
After witnessing the overwhelming power that Zhang now processed at the tips of his fingers, a large number of people residing within Aurora City were either jubilant with cheer or quaking in their boots.
While many chose to remain, loyal and were sent to the imperial dungeons with Jian Wei, many more chose to yield and submit to Liu Bang’s rule, either out of fear or hoping to propel themselves to newer heights.
Like a tree that bends in the wind, these people had defected, allowing themselves to bask in glory and power for a short time, however with Zhang’s sudden return, their dreams, hopes and aspirations were shattered and a cold hard reality not seeped into the very fiber of their being.
“He should be here…” Zhang thought as he and his wives soared across the vast imperial city, toward where Jian Wei and the others were being held.
After getting rid of Liu Bang, they were now filled with a sense of overwhelming joy and nostalgia, although they hadn't dwelled within the imperial city for long, it was still a place that they called home and after being away for so long Zhang and the beauties couldn't be all the happier to return.
“I wonder if the old man will be happy to see us.” Ai said with a silly grin on her face.
“If he isn't that we can just leave him in the dungeon for a little bit longer.” Yuying said with a chuckle.
“Leave him in the dungeon a bit longer?” Zhang laughed as Ling and Lingqi’s faces held subtle smiles.
Landing in a gloomy portion of the imperial city, Zhang quickly led his wives toward a large tower that had hundreds of iron-barred windows.
“You ten, go in and bring all of the people imprisoned inside out here. Pretend to be Liu Bang’s men and don't let on another what had happened earlier. Of course, you are not to harm them in any way.” Zhang said to ten lesser saints who had landed not too far from where he was while sporting a devious smile on his face.
“As you wish cove master.” The ten lesser saints all said in unison before marching into the dungeon, knocking a pair of large gates onto the ground and causing a group of twenty or so guards clad in white colored armor to flee outside to where Zhang was.
“Cr-crown prince Zh-Zhou Zhang…” One of the guards stuttered before falling onto their knees and represent begging Zhang for mercy.
Even without witnessing Zhang’s dominance in the battle against Liu Bang’s forces, the mere fact that Zhang had arrived in front of the imperial dungeons was proof of his victory and the revival of Aurora’s original ruling party.
“We-we planning on helping his majesty escape, however th-the enemy was too powerful for us to act…” Another guard said while continually kowtowing, praying that Zhang showed him mercy.
“Pl-please believe us your highness!” Yet another guard cried.
“Knowing your true intentions is something that can be achieved easily.” Yuying said as she waved her hand and summoned snaking billows of green smoke to shoot out from her sleeves. Wrapping around and binding all of the guards in a flash, the green smoke seeped into their mouths, noses, eyes and ears as Yuying utilized her magic.
“Do your true loyalties remain with Aurora? With Emperor Jian Wei? With us?” Yuying asked.
“Yes.” All of the guards replied in a voice void of emotion.
“Good, we will let bygones be bygones, you all are to gather up all of the imperial guards in Aurora’s main square for me.” Yuying said, dismissing the group of guards who ran away with faces fill with relief with a slight hint of joy.
While Zhang and the beauties stood outside waiting, the ten lesser saints had already made their way into the dungeon, opening all of the cells that came across and ordering everyone inside to follow them or die, pretending to be Liu Bang’s subordinates.
Before long they had arrived opened up every single cell within the imperial dungeon, least for one, the one holding Jian Wei and a large number of Zhang’s most trusted advisors and generals.
“We are under orders from the saint emperor to gather up all of the prisoners in this dungeon, don’t waste our time and come along obediently or we won’t refrain from using violence.” One of the lesser saints said while looking at Jian Wei.
“What does that bastard want with us now?” Jian Wei said with a sneer.
“You’ll see soon enough what plans our master has for you.” One of the lesser saints said with a chuckle as he effortlessly tore apart the chains that kept Jian Wei’s cell locked.
Despite talking to Jian Wei in an unruly tone, the lesser saints made sure to not physically harm him in any way or manner, waiting patiently for him to get up on to his feet on his own and walking out from his cell. They knew well enough of Zhang’s relations with Jian Wei and that if they were to cause any harm to this middle-aged man standing in front of them, their lives would more than likely be forfeit.
Without knowledge of the events that had transpired outside, Jian Wei heaved a heavy sigh as he stretched his legs and slowly made his way out of his cell, gazing into the eyes of all of the officials who had served within his imperial court.
“Regardless of what happens now, let it be known that we did not fail, we had succeeded in creating something that none have been able to do after hundreds of years of battle. We have established an empire in the lands of endless war and we have brought peace. Let it be known that we did not fail as rulers, ministers and generals, for as long as a single citizen of Aurora lives on, our legacy will live on. So regardless of what happens now, I command you all to walk forth with broad smiles on your faces and hearts brimming with pride.” Jian Wei said as he felt an enormous weight lifting from his shoulders.
Perhaps it was because he was able to let out the words that had been pent up within himself or perhaps it was because he thought that his life was about to come to an end, but the worried look that had been plastered on Jian Wei’s face ever since the appearance of Liu Bang was entirely gone.
It is said that the moment before one’s death decides what kind of person one is, one will either waiver in fear or stand resolute in the face of overwhelming odds and thus through Jian Wei’s firm steps it is easy to tell what kind of person he is.
“You’re right your majesty. As long as his highness survives, as long as Aurora remains our legacy will live on.” Sima Yi said with a slight smile on his face.
Along with the other officials of Aurora, Jian Wei proceeded to make his way out of the imperial dungeon.
“I see all of you are well.” Zhang’s voice drifted through the air, into the ears of the tens of officials who had just been bathed by the rays of the sun.
With surprised looks and mixed emotions, Jian Wei and all of the newly freed prisoners stood shocked and speechless. Not sure whether their eyes and ears were playing tricks on them, no everyone simply stood with their eyes wide open, gazing into the distance toward a familiar looking young man.
The first to snap out of the daze like state that had overtaken everyone was Jian Wei who walked forward with brisk steps and without saying a word, lightly tapped the top of Zhang’s head with his fist.
“Hey, what was that for? I figured you would at least welcome me back home first.” Zhang said with a chuckle, promoting a wide grin to appear on Jian Wei’s face.
“Hah, guess I’m not dreaming after all, nor is that bastard trying to play tricks on me.” Jian Wei said with a laugh as he proceeded to give Zhang a warm hug as tears of joy trailed out from the corners of his eyes.
“Scared you, didn’t we?” Ai said with a laugh before Jian Wei patted her head and ruffled her hair a bit while looking at her in a fatherly manner.
“I’m glad that you are all back and safe.” Jian Wei said just as all of Zhang’s generals and advisors rushed over and saluted their master, with bright smiles on their faces.
“I knew you’d come back and kick that bastard's ass.” Gan Ning said with a hearty laugh as he looked at Zhang.
“So now you're the saint emperor?” Jian Wei asked while grinning.
“I could say I am but I’ve never been one to like such titles. How about we go and get everyone a change of clothes and a good meal to eat, we can talk when there is food on the table and wine in our hands.” Zhang said.