Two days passed since Zheng’s group returned to Edoras. Their only reward from the journey to Isengard was killing Saruman who had gone insane. Such a famed wizard died to Legolas’s three arrow Explosive Shot and Heng’s Charged Shot. He didn’t even use a barrier. At that stage, he was merely an old man.
The tower began to collapse after Saruman’s death. This differed from the movie plot. Gandalf told them it was Saruman’s magic that supported the tower and that it would fall to the ground upon Saruman’s death.
“It’s such a pity to the items inside. According to what you said, a wizard should have a rich collection. The treasures of a White Wizard could rival that of a kingdom. I wonder how many energy stones and other magical items are in there.” Zheng said to Gandalf.
Gandalf was rather embarrassed because to him, team China didn’t necessarily have to participate in the war against Mordor. His recruitment of them as mercenaries dragged the team into the war. The energy stones he had given them were obviously of too little value for what they had done. Yet, he was not nearly as rich as Saruman since he just became a White Wizard.
Gandalf said. “Once the war is over, I will try my best to compensate you. Don’t worry. Your teammate’s death won’t be in vain.”
Zheng answered without paying attention. He was thinking of finding a time to return to the Lord of the Rings world to dig up the items buried beneath Isengard. The tower could collapse but the things inside wouldn’t disappear. The treasures were still buried there.
Nothing much to be said about Isengard. The group returned to Edoras. The villagers of course cheered. This was a victory over a battle that was expected to destroy the kingdom. Furthermore, Theoden’s consciousness returned and he began bringing back the exiled riders. The number of riders increased to seven thousand in just under a week. Even without counting the injured and sick, there were five thousand capable elite riders. This was a strong army in this world, enough to pose threat to the half orc army of Mordor.
“Tell me.” Theoden shouted. “Why should we ride to the aid of those who did not come to ours? What do we owe Gondor?”
The others had no words. The players couldn’t understand but to the people of this world, allies must fight when the time came. If the other party broke the promise, it was generous already to not break all their bonds. Fighting for such people wouldn’t happen so easily. Theoden was only exercising his right.
Gandalf said in an unconvincing tone. “Yet if Gondor falls, Rohan will be next…”
“No!” Theoden stared at him in seriousness. “Our dignity is more important! If Rohan forgets the heartless that Gondor showed and go aid them, our kingdom will no longer have any dignity. We will not aid them unless… the Beacons of Gondor are lit. Let them tell us by themselves, that they are on the brink of death and need the blood of Rohan to save them. Or else, our riders will not leave even if Mordor raze Minas Tirith to the ground!”
This was Theoden’s answer. Gandalf had no choice but to ride to Minas Tirith ahead of everyone. He planned to persuade ruling steward of Gondor and have him light the Beacons. The forces of men would then become one. He didn’t bring Aragorn along because Denethor was still in control of Gondor. Aragorn going would incite unexpected consequences.
“You must come to Minas Tirith by another road. Gondor’s final force lies there. Seize that power… you will what it means to be the king of men.”
(Planning to have Merry sneak in and light the Beacons when he fails to convince Denethor? Isn’t this the same as the original plot?) Zheng simulated HongLu’s thinking process. The battle at Minas Tirith was of utmost importance. It affected how the team would obtain influence in the remaining time in this world. He had no choice but to accompany Gandalf.
“We need to split here. Lan and I will head to Gondor. We have to protect Gandalf and Merry and secondly, to help Gondor achieve victory. These aren’t the key-points. The problem lies in the attacks from the other two teams which we need to be on guard. Although I can’t control the fourth stage, it’s still extremely powerful. I can pose threat to the other two teams by heading to Gondor… YinKong, Heng, and ChengXiao go with Aragorn. The Army of the Dead in the movie are strong. You have to help them obtain the oath at all cost. Of course, put your lives before anything.” Zheng said in a serious manner.
ChengXiao laughed. “Don’t worry. As long as I can still breathe, I will protect YinKong. As to Heng, go back to where you came from. I won’t protect men.”
Zheng grabbed him by the collar and lifted him up. “I need you to live, not to see you standing in front of women again. Live on. This is more important than anything. More important than anything… Live on. We will all live on together!”
ChengXiao couldn’t help but nodded. After Zheng released his collar, he murmured about him tore his shirt. Though they could see a hint of seriousness in his eyes.
“Well then… meet in Minas Tirith. Let us all live on!” Zheng pulled the lead rope. The Nightmare stood up then ran off.
Zheng and Lan followed closely after Gandalf’s white horse toward Minas Tirith and slowly disappeared from the other members.
The Nightmare and the white horse could reach Minas Tirith in three days. All four people were quiet on the road. All that was on their mind was hurry to Minas Tirith and light the 火台 before Mordor sent out its army. So the riders of Rohan would assemble in the shortest time and aid Gondor.
Two days later, Zheng suddenly asked Gandalf loudly. “Do you still have the spatial bag on you? Or have you put it on Legolas?”
Gandalf was focused on riding the horse. It took him a while to register the question. “Uh. I gave it to Legolas and he seemed to have forgotten to give the bag back to me. Is there anything wrong?”
Zheng paused. He shook his head and said. “No. Nothing. Maybe I was overthinking it.”
Lan, who was in his arms, asked. “What happened? Did you guess something?”
“Uh, just a little feeling. I feel that Xuan wouldn’t die so easily. There was a notification but considering his calculations, this might be another one of his schemes. He schemed everyone of us and made us his chess pieces. And possibly made himself a piece of his calculation… I feel that he might be alive now that I am not seeing his dead body. It simply feels…” Zheng smiled bitterly.
He pulled the lead rope and the Nightmare ran faster. “Anyway, if he’s not dead, something interesting is going to be bound to happen. There’s no point to keep pondering. If he actually died, I have to actively seek more challenges. Or else our team will no longer has any hopes!”
While Zheng and Gandalf headed to Gondor, the people in Rohan didn’t waste any time. Everyone trained themselves. The two people whose weapons were unbounded adjusted to the lighter weight of the weapons and the true powers contained within them.
Excalibur was more than just its sharpness. Its attacks ignored battle Qi. It could annihilate any layers formed by battle Qi instantly. The light blade from Tiger’s Soul would probably shatter upon contact too. However, YinKong still hadn’t discovered the noble phantasm that Zheng described to her.
Heng also discovered interesting uses of his bow. He went to Legolas for help. When he saw Legolas, Legolas was seeing a rider in black rode off. The rider was slender and wasn’t wearing any armor. His horse headed out the city.
“Who’s that? Why does he look so familiar?” Heng muttered.
Legolas seemed surprised by his voice. He laughed awkwardly. “A messenger… that brings victory.”