ST Book 4 Chapter 10

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B4C10: A sudden turn of events

The setting sun is going down westwards. On a plains highway that runs through the 2 Northern region counties, an army is advancing nonstop like a sinuous wandering dragon. It is so long that at first sight no one can see its other end. The soldiers are going four abreast fast with long strides.

Every soldier of this army is vigorous and has a faint killing intent around him. This is a regular army of the Qin clan. Having fought wild beasts in the Wilderness for several years, it is the real deal. Despite being powerful, a single soldier of this army is not fearsome at all. The fearsome thing is, in this army the soldiers as strong as him are counted by the ten thousand.

The 2 special groups near General Zhao Yunxing are especially redoubtable. One of them consists solely of the 1000 soldiers trained by him using the Limit Training method and internal techniques and the other is made up of his personal bodyguards, whose number is only 300. These 2 formidable groups are the trump cards in Zhao Yunxing’s hands.

There is a red-haired lion standing between the 2 groups, which looks as if its entire body is ablaze. Zhao Yunxing is riding this red-haired lion and overseeing the general situation from the middle of the army.

“General, we’re going to reach Lanshan City in only one hour. North Vanquishing Prince has already prepared nice camps for us. When we arrive, we can stay and rest in Lanshan City immediately.” A scholar who is riding a deep red horse says to Zhao Yunxing.

Zhao Yunxing nods with a smile: “Xue Lan, this time we’re arranged to enter the 2 Northern region counties last, it seems His Highness has his own plan.”

The scholar says with a nod: “Among the 3 armies that borrow ways from the 2 Northern region counties this time, yours is undoubtedly the most powerful offensively, but His Highness still let General Sima’s army and General Ouyang’s army go into the 2 Northern region counties first. Despite being pretty good in attack, they are known for their defense. His Highness must have had a good reason to make such an arrangement.”

Zhao Yunxing nods: “There must be a reason behind His Highness’s arrangement. There are many things we can’t understand at the moment but a few months later we’ll realize His Highness’s intentions.”

“His Highness must’ve been waiting for today for a very long time. When the news that the Black Water bandits suddenly changed sides and became an army of the Qin clan spread, everybody extremely admired him.” The scholar obviously holds Qin De in great esteem as well.

Afterwards, Zhao Yunxing and his troops enter the 2 Northern region counties.

……

At this moment the 1st step of the Way Borrowing plan that Qin De and Shangguan Hong agreed upon in their secret meetings has been carried out perfectly. A 300,000 strong army group of the Qin clan has come into the 2 Northern region counties. Of course, according to this agreement, Shangguan Hong does not have to send his troops to attack together and only needs to supply the Qin clan army with some materials.

Now a new situation has arisen in the Chu kingdom.

In the south,

Having occupied several cities of Lei Xue County, the 300,000 Black Water troops are confronting the Mu clan of the 3 Southern region counties. The Mu clan has 600,000 troops altogether but many of them have to defend its own 3 counties so the number of troops who actually can attack is only 300,000 to 400,000 at most.

The Black Water Army does not go on the offensive and only defends so it is simply impossible for the 3 Southern region counties to defeat it. After all, to seize fortified cities, in general the attacking side has to outnumber the defending one by several times.

In the west,

The 3 marshals, Qin Feng, Fu Bing, and Jiang Tao, all have garrisoned their armies in Lei Xue County, which borders the Xiang clan’s Shang Que County and Ba Chu County, wherein the capital of the Xiang clan is located. Their 300,000 troops are confronting the Xiang clan. At the same time, the 50,000 Fierce Tiger troops have also entered Lei Xue County.

As for the north,

In the 2 Northern region counties, at the moment 300,000 troops of the Qin clan are marching nonstop, borrowing ways to head for the west. It is clear that they are preparing to attack Zhen Yang County, one of the Xiang clan’s 4 counties, from the Northern region.

The Qin clan has deployed most of its troops in those 3 directions, leaving only 150,000 troops in the 3 Eastern region counties. 50,000 of these 150,000 troops belong to the Forbidden Guards of the Qin clan, a corps that specializes in protecting the Qin clan’s base and has extremely powerful fighting capability.

……

The Xiang clan, however, does not make any big moves. Its action has been very simple — only increasing the defense of the areas bordering Lei Xue County. In the end, the number of troops in these areas reaches 400,000. Even though the troops of the Qin clan confronting them only amount to 350,000, these troops actually have amazing fighting ability. Moreover, 50,000 of these 350,000 troops are the Fierce Tiger Corps.

The Xiang clan has also garrisoned 200,000 troops in Zhen Yang County, which is next to the 2 Northern region counties.

As for Shang Que County, which shares a border with the Mu clan, there is nothing to worry about here so the Xiang clan defends it with only 30,000 troops. The Xiang clan also has nearly 400,000 more troops, most of whom are stationed on the border with the Han kingdom. The Han kingdom has not interfered, but preparations have to be made in case it does.

Originally the Xiang clan declared publicly that it had 800,000 troops but in fact it had 1,000,000. Now, all of its forces have been revealed.

……

On a large plain that is being thickly occupied by soldiers, many military tents naturally stand out.

In the central, ordinary-looking tent,

“General Sima, General Ouyang, my Lord wants me to ask why the 2 of you suddenly pitched camp instead of launching your attack when now there’s only a one-day journey left before you reach the Xiang clan’s Zhen Yang County?”

Zhuang Jun, the number 2 figure in the 2 Northern region counties, is loyal and devoted to Shangguan Hong. He has saved Shangguan Hong several times.

Sima Yang and Ouyang Zhi exchange a look then the latter says with a comforting smile: “Brother Zhuang Jun, please inform your Lord that this is a military secret of the Qin clan. It can’t be told to anyone. When the war has ended, your Lord will automatically know what it is.”

Zhuang Jun slightly frowns — a military secret?

Using only this reason to dismiss him?

“General Sima, General Ouyang, my Lord said that this time my Shangguan clan and the Qin clan will join forces. If you’re not certain that you can breach Zhen Yang County’s defense, my Shangguan clan can help you with 200,000 troops.”

After saying, Zhuang Jun stares at Sima and Ouyang. However, these 2 generals smile as before. It seems they are not surprised by nor do they care about his words.

“It’s not hard to defeat Zhen Yang County at all. The reason why we haven’t got into action is a military secret. It’s up to the Qin clan army to decide when to attack so North Vanquishing Prince shouldn’t worry about it. However, we have to thank him for his good intention,” says Sima Yang.

After evaluating the situation, Zhuang Jun has no choice but to leave.

……

10 days later, Sima’s and Ouyang’s armies, totaling 200,000 troops, unexpectedly are still staying on the plain and have not gone forward a step. For the last 10 days, they have wasted large amounts of provisions and materials.

Zhuang Jun comes again.

“General Sima, General Ouyang, it’s been 10 days. Your armies haven’t advanced a step in 10 whole days. My Lord has started to doubt your Qin clan’s sincerity. You’re staying here without attacking or retreating, what do you actually want to do? Could it be the Qin clan has forgotten that agreement?” Zhuang Jun is slightly angry.

Sima Yang immediately stands up and says smilingly: “Please sit down, Brother Zhuang Jun. There’s no need to be angry like that. The Qin clan is sincere. If we weren’t sincere, why would we have run so far?”

After sitting down, Zhuang Jun says: “Your Qin clan has defended Lei Xue County with a large number of troops but hasn’t attacked yet. Your 200,000 troops here haven’t got into action either. In the back General Zhao Yunxing’s 100,000 troops are advancing very slowly as well. My Lord has suspected that you are secretly negotiating with the Xiang clan while disregarding the 2 Northern region counties. You can leave at will, but the 2 Northern region counties are next to the Xiang clan, when the time comes we’ll have to suffer its fury.”

“Ha-ha … Negotiate? How can the Qin clan possibly negotiate with the Xiang clan? Please return and ask North Vanquishing Price to stop worrying. Within 5 days we’re going to give him an explanation!” Ouyang Zhi says with a smile.

“5 days?” Zhuang Jun slightly frowns then says with a nod: “Alright, 5 days then. My Lord and I will quietly wait for your good news.” After saying, Zhuang Jun instantly turns around and leaves. At the same time, his personal bodyguard also leaves with him.

“5 days? Ouyang, 5 days is too short.” Sima Yang says while looking at Ouyang Zhi.

Ouyang Zhi thinks for a while then says: “I’m not clear about this either, but because this is His Highness’s secret military order, we only need to quietly obey it. His Highness must have other secret chess pieces. Sima, don’t forget our Lord is very formidable!”

Sima Yang also slightly nods.

Most of the generals of this generation were promoted by Qin De personally so they are extremely loyal to him.

……

Xuejing City is the base of the Shangguan clan. In a very ordinary small courtyard house in Xuejing City, at the moment Zhuang Jun is in a room of the house. This house is no remarkable place. In fact, it is where a mistress of Shangguan Hong’s lives.

“Your Highness.”

Zhuang Jun stands outside the beaded curtain and says respectfully. Through the beaded curtain, one can vaguely see that there are people sleeping on a large bed under a net made of muslin inside the room.

“Oh, is that you, Zhuang Jun? Wait for me to get dressed.” Shangguan Hong’s voice comes out from inside. “Your Highness, please sleep a bit more.” A lazy voice rises. Shangguan Hong says comfortingly with a smile: “Xiao Xue, don’t behave badly. I have an important thing to do.” After Shangguan Hong finishes saying, that woman indeed stops bothering him.

In a short while, having got dressed properly, Shangguan Hong walks out. That woman, who now is also fully-dressed, walks out with him. At the moment, this mistress of his still has a rosy face. Her entire body radiates an air of laziness. She is nestling against Shangguan Hong like a kitten.

“Your Highness,” Zhuang Jun slightly signals with his eyes.

“Xiao Xue, you can go out to play first. I have an important thing to discuss with Zhuang Jun.” Shangguan Hong pats Yan Xue’s hands then casually takes out a purple jade bracelet from his pocket and puts it in her hands. After receiving the purple jade bracelet, Yan Xue gives Shangguan Hong a kiss. Only now does she leave with a smile.

The personal bodyguard outside immediately closes the door of the room. Now there are only 2 people, Zhuang Jun and Shangguan Hong, in the room.

“Your Highness, I took another trip to the military camp to meet General Ouyang and General Sima,” says Zhuang Jun.

“Oh, how did they explain why they haven’t done anything for 10 days? Don’t tell me it was a military secret or some bullshit like that again,” says Shangguan Hong with a cold laugh. According to his and the Xiang clan’s secret plan, when the Qin clan’s army attacks Zhen Yang County, the Shangguan clan is going to stab the Qin clan’s army in the back.

At that time, because the Shangguan clan is going to suddenly switch sides while the Qin clan is fighting the Xiang clan, the Qin clan’s army will be plunged into chaos and therefore be defeated at one stroke.

However, when the Qin clan’s army was only a one-day journey away from Zhen Yang County, it unexpectedly stopped. Because of this, Shangguan Hong naturally has become anxious. He is even worried that the Qin clan has known about the secret plan of the Shangguan clan and the Xiang clan.

“Your Highness, they said that they’re going to give you an answer within 5 days.” Zhuang Jun bows and says.

“5 days?” Shangguan Hong frowned deeply at once. All of a sudden, his face slightly changes color. He stands up and says: “Let’s go. We’re going back to the princely mansion first.” At this moment, seeming to have remembered something, Shangguan Hong instantly walks toward the door in large strides.

Suddenly —

Pu!

Shangguan Hong is completely transfixed. His face turns very white. He looks back at Zhuang Jun in disbelief, saying: “You ……”

At the moment there is a dagger stuck in Shangguan Hong’s waist, a middle Xian-grade dagger. Zhuang Jun has reached the late phase of the Xiantian level so this stab, delivered when Shangguan Hong was completely unprepared, was enough to penetrate his armor and hit a vital point of his body.

“You’re smart.” A smile now appears on Zhuang Jun’s face. Suddenly he says: “Dominant Dragon Corps expert above, why haven’t you come out?”

A silhouette flashes by. A thin sharp man appears in the room. This man’s eyes look very strange — they are unexpectedly green. At this moment this man is boiling with killing intent, but Zhuang Jun looks at him smilingly, saying: “You’re full of hatred for me, aren’t you? Your job must be to deliver messages between the Shangguan clan and the Xiang clan, right? At the same time you also have to protect Shangguan Hong. Too bad …”

The green-eyed man takes a look at Shangguan Hong. He knows Shangguan Hong has been severely wounded and can only endure for a short while.

“You will die.” The green-eyed man says in an ice-cold voice.

Just now, when Shangguan Hong wanted to leave the room and was passing by Zhuang Jun, he struck his blow without any signs so this green-eyed man had no time to stop him. So, Shangguan Hong was seriously wounded and is going to die soon.

“Why did you assassinate me, Zhuang Jun? I’ve treated you well, right?” Shangguan Hong can feel his life force vanishing away but he still finds this hard to believe.

There have been people who attempted to assassinate Shangguan Hong and sometimes he would have really died if not for Zhuang Jun’s help. Therefore, in his heart, Shangguan Hong really does not want to accept that the person who has saved his life several times has just struck him a killing blow.

“Your Highness, you’ve treated me very well. It’s regrettable that I’m one of the Three Eagles in the Qin clan’s Flying Eagle plan. I’ve been enduring for so long for this day. I’ve killed you because now after your death the Qin clan will definitely be able to take over the entire army of the 2 Northern region counties!”

Zhuang Jun says smilingly.

“Flying Eagle plan? One of the Three Eagles? Take over the 2 Northern region counties’ army?”

At this moment, all of the doubts in Shangguan Hong’s mind are cleared. Now he understands everything. He knows his few sons will basically be no match for Zhuang Jun. After all, Zhuang Jun has been his number 1 subordinate for so many years and, moreover, there is the Qin clan behind Zhuang Jun’s back.

The most important thing is … the Qin clan’s Flying Eagle plan is so terrifying. Even a late Xiantian expert like Zhuang Jun has been lying low for so long, and he has even killed some experts of the Qin clan.

“The Qin clan has been holding itself back for several hundred years. Besides the Black Water bandits and the Flying Eagle plan, what other secret trump cards does it still have? My admiration to you, admi … ration …” Shangguan Hong spews out a mouthful of blood. Afterwards large amounts of blood continuously spurt from his mouth and he dies.

Even though it has been so noisy inside the room, none of the personal guards outside has come in yet, which is strange.

End of b4c10.


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