Death Scripture Chapter 411
Long Fanyun led five hundred elite troops to rush to Gulping Wind Gorge overnight. They caught up with Ha Chilie just in time, as he was about to lose support.
On the second day after Dragon King and Maid Lotus had left, the fat chief and his ten children and grandchildren were poisoned to death.
Maid Lotus gave them the most common pills that could only last them for another day. The antidote to the scattering technique had been very hard to prepare. Maid Lotus did not have much left on her hands. Having to save some to ward off her enemies, she had not wanted to waste it on people who had nothing to do with this matter.
All of the important men in the fat chief's family had fallen in the attack. Since there was no leader among the surviving descendants, they started to fight amongst themselves.
The Dragon King left too soon, and Ha Chilie's authority had not yet been established. He won little support in the name of the grandson-in-law of the fat chief, and even became the target of power struggles. He was unjustly criticized many times, with some people openly claiming that he was linked to the death of the fat chief.
In those two days, Ha Chilie was in danger and in no less trouble than the Dragon King. Several sons and grandsons of the fat chief spent all day gathering a team of supporters. News spread quickly of these teenagers preparing to kill Ha Chilie and then close the north and south gates.
Ha Chilie hardly slept. He clung to his long-saber every moment, preparing to defend himself against the enemy's attack.
At a most critical moment, Miss Ming Zhen played a significant role. She was only fifteen years old and was too shy to speak in front of outsiders, but she had already learned the art of collaborating and scheming. It was with her help that Ha Chilie had met many influential people at Gulping Wind Gorge and made promises to them in order to win their support.
The residents of Gulping Wind Gorge were divided into two distinct factions: those who supported the Dragon King, and those who supported Golden Roc Fort.
No one was concerned with the lives of the weak. The bodies of the dead lay about, uncollected. Everyone was waiting apprehensively for a final decisive battle.
If it had not been for Long Fanyun's army that had arrived just in time, a bloody battle would have started in the village. No one could have predicted the winner.
Five hundred strong swordsmen from the Great Snowmountain could deal with any problem. Most people in the village had accepted a certain fact: Gulping Wind Gorge had already fallen to the Dragon King. Many of the dissatisfied and those who feared retribution fled overnight and disappeared.
Long Fanyun went after the Dragon King. So he left a hundred soldiers to be commanded by Ha Chilie and led the remaining four hundred men without stopping, reaching the capital of the An Kingdom only a day after the Dragon King.
The gates of the city were firmly shut. Long Fanyun had no way of knowing what went on in the city. He could only find a suitable place to set up a garrison and send troops up the city walls to shout at the city guards; however, no one answered.
At this time, Gu Shenwei had been thinking of ways to harvest the prickly fruit that he had planted: to tell the residents of the city that he was the Dragon King.
He had intended to force the city to admit the facts with a tough attitude, and then offer kindness in exchange for the residents' obedience. In the end, someone had helped him to resolve this embarrassing situation.
The queen mother had sent someone to summon "General Gu".
Troops inside and outside of the city were waiting for Gu Shenwei to make a decision. After hesitating a while, Gu Shenwei finally decided to see the former princess from the Central Plains.
The queen mother received Gu Shenwei in the main hall of the royal palace. The throne was empty and the ministers were absent. There were only scores of eunuchs and court maids in the hall who were as old as the Queen Mother. After the incident last night, she could hardly trust the young maids.
Upon sobering up, the queen mother regained her elegant demeanor. She despised the self-proclaimed lone king and naturally would not regard the Dragon King as true royalty. Hence, she gave the excuse of being old and feeble, and bowed to the Dragon King like an elder meeting someone of the younger generation, and avoided a sensitive power struggle.
Gu Shenwei was not bothered by this stunt. To him, it was no time to fight over fame and status.
The queen mother seemed to have a little understanding of the Western Region's situation, especially the forces related to the Central Plains. She knew a thing or two such as the alliance between the Dragon King and the Central Plains-- she had heard this from someone. As for the split that happened afterward, she knew nothing as neither side had been open about it.
However, she was also very naive. After beating around the bush, she first thanked the Dragon King for his rescue last night. Later, she started to talk about how naive Norland and Golden Roc Fort were. She then talked about the five countries of the Xiaoyao Lake: especially the short-sightedness of the An Kingdom, the foresight of the Dragon King, and so on.
Gu Shenwei listened patiently to the old lady's nagging and finally understood her intention.
It turned out that the queen mother was extremely dissatisfied with her son, the current king of the An Kingdom, and hoped to force him to abdicate. She would allow her grandsonto succeed the throne ahead of time and herself govern the country as the Queen Mother.
This was a story about political infighting. This was not surprising to Gu Shenwei. So he solemnly agreed, yet added several restrictions, such as the support of the An Kingdom for the Dragon King, the public support of the Central Plains, and the like.
The most critical thing was, the queen mother had to explain to the masses and generals that "General Gu" was the Dragon King, and that the Dragon King had no intentions of slaughtering the city nor indulging the army in plundering.
The queen mother did not understand Gu Shenwei's half-hearted intentions. She had gladly accepted the conditions and agreed to allow the Dragon Kingto give orders in her name in the palace hall.
Gu Shenwei summoned groups of men one after the other. First, guard leader Wu Zongheng, and others. They were the only professional soldiers among the scores of mob members.
The queen mother solemnly expressed to the guards that the Great Snowmountain was now allies with the Central Plains. The Dragon King was a friend of the An Kingdom, "General Gu" to the masses, and the person who was sent by her to infiltrate the city. As for conscripting the men in the city to form an army, it had also been her idea.
The soldiers were stupefied. Wu Zongheng guessed that General Gu must have come from a formidable background and might even have been the Dragon King himself, but he was still surprised to hear the truth.
"How... How is this possible? General Gu is even going to lead everyone to resist the Dragon King." Wu Zongheng was astonished and violated royal etiquette, questioning the queen mother's words.
The queen mother looked ill and Gu Shenwei felt that he should speak. "You don't have to resist the Dragon King. The Great Snowmountain army is only passing by. As long as there are sufficient ships, the troops will leave immediately. I assure you, in the name of the Empyrean of the Great Snowmountain, that we will not loot or burn the city and the residents of the city are safe."
"But you made us an army..." Wu Zongheng thought more than the queen mother. All the youth of the An Kingdom had been forced into the army-- this was true surrender.
"The army will be disbanded today. I formed it in order to unite the hearts and minds of everyone, not to expand my own strength." Gu Shenwei admitted.
Gu Shenwei thought about the practicalities. This hastily-put-together army was extremely unstable and has no fighting capabilities; keeping it together only invited danger. Gu Shenwei would rather keep all his weapons than waste them on halfhearted men.
Wu Zongheng was relieved and he knew he did not have a second choice.
The guards knelt to the queen mother and bowed to the Dragon King to express their obedience.
Gu Shenwei did not let them go immediately. Instead, he asked for them to become the imperial guards of the main hall.
The guards, including Wu Zongheng's own troops, followed these orders. However, they had not realized that in actuality the Dragon King was no longer their general.
Next, the queen mother summoned the city's elderly, rich families, representatives of various trades, and fugitives. She called them to stay in the hall until past noon when the summons finally ended, and the hall had become overcrowded.
A total of a dozen people were astonished when they heard the truth. However, seeing how the people ahead of them had already compromised, they could only follow the opinions of the majority.
By this time, news had already spread throughout the city, and there were signs that emotions were getting slightly out of control within the city. Gu Shenwei, after discussing with the queen mother, immediately released the dozen or so people and allowed them to convey the Dragon King's sincerity to the residents of the city.
That afternoon, the city gates of the An Kingdom were opened. Four hundred warriors of the Great Snowmountain began entering the city, discovering the streets empty. The residents were hiding in their homes, watching nervously, waiting to see if the Dragon King's promise was indeed sincere.
Finally having gathered a trustworthy force, Gu Shenwei immediately ordered the soldiers of the Great Snowmountain to guard the city gates, dock, royal palace, and other important areas.
As for the temporary army, the soldiers were permitted to go home, including the young men who had been held in the market. However, all of them had to leave their weapons behind.
At this time, few were willing to pledge their undying loyalty to the Dragon King. Most had wanted to go home, while only a few chose to stay for various reasons.
Wu Zongheng only recognized the authority of queen mother. Therefore, he commanded the dozens of guards to voluntarily stay in the palace as palace guards. They were the only ones who had been permitted to keep their weapons.
The capital of the An Kingdom barely remained stable. However, the vast and unfettered ocean remained in front of the Dragon King and the Great Snowmountain army-- without boats. They were like beasts trapped in cages without a chance to use their claws.
Unfamiliar with this territory, Gu Shenwei still had to ask the queen mother and Wu Zongheng for help.
The queen mother was enthusiastic about helping. However, as she had always lived deep in the palace, she had known little about the affairs of the country. It was difficult for her to offer any valuable opinions.
Only Wu Zongheng was of great help. He had hoped to send the Great Snowmountain troops away as soon as possible, so he had been considering how to get hold of a boat. "There could be ships in the fishing village nearby but they might be too small and unable to withstand the wind and waves of the ocean-- they could only advance along the coast. In regards to big boats, maybe only this family still has one or two ships hidden."
"This family" referred to the Meng family of the Jade City.
The Meng family's industry is spread all over the Western Region, including the distant An Kingdom.
Upon hearing the arrival of the great army of the Dragon King, the counterjumpers of the shops, the hidden killers of the Dragon Roc Fort, and other machetemen immediately fled to the north bank of Xiaoyao Sea and took most of the gold and silver, faster than the king.
Only an old manager stayed back in the shop, faithfully guarding the goods that had not been taken.
Seeing the intrusion of the Dragon King's army, the old manager managed to remain calm. He pointed at the piles of luggage behind him. "They are all here. I hope everyone gives me witness that the Dragon King came to plunder and that I was unable to stop him..."
However, he was wrong. The Dragon King did not come to rob, but to conduct business.
A large bag of gold was thrown before the old manager. "I want to hire a big ship." declared the Dragon King.
"I... I don't have a boat, no big or small one." The old manager appeared shocked, but he did not panic.
Wu Zongheng followed and went up to him saying, "The queen mother decrees that whatever the Dragon King needs, the residents of the city would try their utmost to supply."
"Empty promises." The old shopkeeper remained stubborn.
Wu Zongheng took out the decree that the queen mother had personally written. There was no royal seal of the King but the personal stamp of the queen mother.
The old manager looked intently at the decree and made sure there was no mistake. "The shop does have a boat." the shopkeeper relented. "It isn't awfully big. It's moored at a bay outside of the city. I can hire it to you but you have to leave a receipt stating that the boat was leased out under the queen mother's decree; It will be easier for me to account to my master in the future."
Gu Shenwei agreed. However, he thought that if everything went well. He would be having to "account" to Meng Yuzun.
After more than eight months, the Dragon King had finally returned to the Stone Kingdom. This was half a year late compared to the time that he had promised.