Chapter 17.1: Swing

Sheng Chumu had taken two thousand of Lu Yunji’s troops and taken down Nine Pillar City, a city that was rumoured to never be able to fall. Moreover he did not lose any soldiers. However, the Lu father and son pair merely came over to take advantage of the fallen city and did not even thank him.

“I think that bastard just wants to kill you! The number of troops he gives you decreases with each order. Does he think you just need to use your mouth to win? If it is that easy, he should ask his timid son to attack the Nine Pillar City!”  Fu Tao cursed on his behalf.

Sheng Chumu only thought about how he could finally catch up on sleep. He tilted his head and lay flat on the wooden bed. 

“Sheng Chumu, are you still my teacher? You don’t have any spirit as a man!” Sheng Chumu was so mighty when they were walking the streets of Guangzhou. Now, he was listless.

“I don’t want to be a man.” He just wanted to live to return to Chang’an and to be by Fu Rou’s side. “Moreover, attacking the Nine Pillar City was pretty easy. The time was right and the conditions were favourable.”

First, he took down a portion of the city wall to analyse what material it was made of. Then he studied the constellations to determine which day the sun would be blazing the most. Before that day arrived, he ordered his two thousand troops to dig a channel to redirect water from a nearby river to flood the bottom of the city wall. When the sun eventually shone, cracks would form on the rammed earth that made up the city walls as they had been soaked. Lastly, he just had to attack. He did not even need to send his troops but merely made use of a catapult to aim at the section of the city wall with cracks. With this pressure, the solid city wall was easily brought down. 

Fu Tao was about to speak when the cry of a warhorse could be heard. Its cry shook the heavens. 

Sheng Chumu thought the rebel army had attacked and immediately jumped out of bed.  He snatched up his sword and headed out. However, as he walked out, he only saw men in the Great Tang uniform, shouting and robbing houses. They were bullying the citizens. Fury burned in Sheng Chumu's eyes. He turned around to look for Lu Yunji. Who else would dare to do this without the approval of the General?

Hearing that Sheng Chumu was looking for him, Lu Qi knew that things had gone wrong. The Lu family’s fortune came from war valuables. They robbed wherever they attacked. Unfortunately, the Nine Pillar City was not a rich city and most of the war valuables had already entered his pocket. He then allowed the other soldiers to ransack the city. He never thought that they would go through the entire city and create such a big commotion.

Lu Yunji remained calm. “It is a pity that I cannot make use of Sheng Chumu when he is such a talent on the battlefield.” His hand sliced at the air. Lu Qi understood. He meant to get rid of Sheng Chumu.

When Sheng Chumu entered, he had yet to open his mouth when Lu Yunji said that he was looking for him.

“You have made great accomplishments by taking down the Nine Pillar City. I wanted to let you rest for a few days but war matters are urgent and we cannot afford to relax. A messenger just came and reported signs of the rebel army along the Anxi Canyon. Take two hundred men with you and locate the rebel army. Report back to me immediately when you have any news.”

Sheng Chumu laughed bitterly in his heart. Lu Yunji really knew no limits. From two thousand to two hundred. Sooner or later, he would instruct him to go on a mission by himself.

Lu Qi sneered, “We are not asking you to fight, just to investigate. Too many people will make it easier to discover you all. Moreover, this is just a small rebel army. What are you afraid of?”

Sheng Chumu saw blood. “Since it is just a small rebel army, why do you need me, a General, to personally lead men to investigate? Even an Assistant Lieutenant would suffice.”

Lu Yunji said earnestly, “Chumu ah, when in war, one cannot afford to be picky. You can’t be the only one obtaining achievements like attacking the city. We also have to allow others to obtain achievements. Rest assured. When you return, I will reward you accordingly.”

Sheng Chumu laughed. “I will heed your orders.” The more Lu Yunji wanted Sheng Chumu to die, the more determined Sheng Chumu was on staying alive. He was going to receive his reward from the Emperor and piss off this pair of father-son bastards from the Lu family.

When Sheng Chumu returned to his room, he told Fu Tao about how Lu Yunji was sending him to track the rebel army.

“Anxi Canyon?” Fu Tao shouted. 

“The Anxi Canyon that is rumoured to be a death ground? Bastard! He is doing it again! How many people is he giving you this time? Don’t tell me that he is only giving you a thousand?”

“Two hundred.” Sheng Chumu had already accepted it.

Fu Tao patted Sheng Chumu’s shoulder sympathetically. “Brother-in-law, just run away. I hate people who defect the most but now I’m advising you to leave. A life as a defector would still be better than slowly getting tortured to death in here.”

“Defect?” It was not that Sheng Chumu did not think of this before. Why act as fish meat for someone else? However, “There are close to eight hundred people in the Duke Lu Residence. My father has been a general his entire life and achieved numerous feats. If I become a defect, what will happen to my parents? What will happen to Fu Rou? What about my two younger brothers that are still in Chang’an? I can’t defect.”

Fu Tao decided. “Then let me go with you. Even if I die, I will make sure you come out of Anxi Canyon alive.”

Sheng Chumu rejected him. “You can’t go. Moreover, there is one more thing that I haven’t told you. I have to tell you now. The huge fire at your house wasn't an accident.” Fu Tao listened as Sheng Chumu told him about the traces of oil found near the Fu Residence after the fire. 

His eyes widened. “That fire was started intentionally by someone?” 

“The Lu family.” Sheng Chumu explained, “Don’t ask me why, I am sure it's them. I am just not sure why the Lu family would start the fire.”

Fu Tao was stunned. “Lu family? Lu Yunji?”

Sheng Chumu stood beside Fu Tao. “Hence, if I don’t return, you must definitely stay alive to seek revenge for your mother and for me.” Wordlessly, he lifted his hands and karate-chopped Fu Tao’s neck.

Sheng Chumu was not going to let Fu Tao follow him. Mainly because it was too dangerous and even he himself was not certain of coming back alive, much less bringing Fu Tao with him. He also knew how much Fu Rou cared about her family. She already blamed herself so much over Third Madam. In addition, Fu Tao was her most beloved younger brother. Even if he could not protect himself, he should at least protect Fu Tao. Maybe that way, she would blame him less if he really did not make it home!

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