With a sword brushed against his only son’s throat, Tang Pan ordered for all of his men to stop moving.
“If you don’t want your only son to take a trip to the underworld then have your men move out of the room!” Tang Shiang said as he pressed his sword even harder against Tang Xiao’s neck, causing a thin streak of blood to ooze out from Tang Xiao’s neck.
“Fa-father…” Tang Xiao managed to squeeze out of his lips as streaks of tears ran down his cheeks. Unlike other cultivators, Tang Xiao was aided by cultivation materials that his father gathered for him so simply said he was a playboy at heart and when paired with the fact that he rarely ever even got hit, one could imagine his reaction to having his hand cut off.
“Xiao it’ll be alright, father will invite the best doctors the province has and have your hand fixed.” Tang Pan said as he saw the sorry state his son was currently in.
As the standoff tensed and silence ensued, Zhang leaned against a wall and watched silently waiting to see what would happen next and to his amazement it did not take very long for something to occur.
The sea of soldiers filling up the courtyard began to split apart and four people could be seen being escorted through the crowd.
Within this group of people were two middle-aged women, a frail looking man, and a young looking man who could very well be a woman.
“Mother…” Both Tang Wei and Tang Shiang said at the same time while Zhang’s eye brightened once he saw Ai. It was without a doubt that Ai did not resist when they were apprehended or else they would have been a massive commotion, so Zhang and her covers were not yet blown.
As soldiers of the Dark Legion, at best they would receive a slap on the wrist if Tang Pan succeeds in becoming the next provincial lord, so there wasn’t much for Zhang to worry about despite Ai being capture. Also, if she wanted to, there were not many people present who could stand a chance against Ai in a fight.
“Release my son or else your father and mothers will be put to the sword.” Tang Pan said as he eyes the two brothers.
“Ho-how did you get to them so quickly…” Tang Shiang said in disbelief.
“You think that I don’t have any agents planted inside the provincial lord’s mansion? Let me remind you that I’ve been in that mansion well before your father had even stepped foot in it. Also, the city gates are all under my control now so even if the forces from the Western Fort arrives they won’t have any means of entering the city.” Tang Pan said mockingly.
“Shiang, don’t give this traitor what he wants.” A woman who seemed to be Tang Shiang’s mother said while revealing an air of nobility and grace.
“If I remember right, good nephew you are the one that cut off Xiao’s hand… How about I give your mother the same gift that you gave my son?” Tang Pan asked as he withdrew a gleaming blade from the golden scabbard.
“No! Wait!” Tang Shiang yelled as his uncle was about to attack his mother.
“Then release my son!” Tang Pan roared.
“Release our parents first!” Tang Wei yelled in reply.
“I suggest releasing them at the same time.” Zhang poked in before disappearing back into the crowd people behind the Tang brother.
“Very well then, if you release my son then I’ll release these four.” Tang Pan said with a smile.
In their current situation, no matter what Tang Pan did in the end he would still hold an absolute advantage because of the overwhelming numerical advantage that he possessed. However, a prisoner exchanged had to happen or else he could harm the four prisoners in his possession at will.
Soon enough a prisoner exchange occurred as Tang Xiao was exchanged for Ai, the provincial lord, and his two wives. As the prisoners slowly made their way to their respective sides, Zhang whispered into Tang Wei’s ear.
“Young master, it’s obvious once the prisoners are exchanged they will apprehend us and by then our lives will all fall into that traitor’s hands. So if I were to offer you an alternative scenario would you listen to my commands?” Zhang said in a whisper.
“How could we possibly get out of this situation?” Shang Wei replied with a sigh.
“Simple.” Zhang replied with a smile as the prisoner exchanged concluded.
“Capture them!” Tang Pan commanded once his son was safely by his side.
With a grin on his face and Ai by his side, Zhang waves his hand and made countless gold coins rain from the sky. Using the same trick Jin Sho employed, Zhang quickly signaled for Tang Wei to follow him as he charged toward a group of soldiers who were preoccupied with the raining gold coins.
Since Zhang’s goal was to damage either the forces of the Red Thorn Army or the Dark Legion as much as possible, if the civil war next occurs and the Dark Legion never gets dragged into it then in the end when his forces arrive they would face the combined might of two armies. So to further his plans, he decided to give the Tang brothers a way out of their dire situation.
Ignoring their master’s command, all of Tang Pan’s soldiers hurriedly tried to pick up as many gold coins as they could while Zhang and the Tang brothers tried to make their escape.
Since his men were clamored in front of him, not even Tang Pan was able to make his way to where Zhang was.
Although there was amazing about the amount of wealth that was currently falling from the sky, Tang Wei did not utter a word and stuck to ushering his father and mother to safety. Knowing greed would only result in their deaths, none of Tang Shiang’s men bothered trying to pick up any of the gold coins either and followed closely behind their lord.
It did not take long for the party to sneak into the back of the mansion where they, of course, ran into a group of soldiers who were busy picking up gold coins from the ground, so amazingly they were all able to exit the mansion and find their way onto a labyrinth of backstreets.
“Head to the western gate! We must leave open the gates so when our reinforcements arrive they can enter the city!” Tang Wei said.
“I’ll make sure to collect back every single coin…” Zhang thought as he saw the mound of gold coins that had risen above the mansion’s walls. Suddenly a flash of inspiration appeared in his head while a smile also crept onto his face.
“A new technique…” Zhang thought as he and the group headed toward the western city gate.
While Zhang’s group was making their escape, chaos was still present within the mansion as soldiers hurriedly tried to grab as many gold coins as they could. For a province that had undergone famine and poverty for so many years, such an amount of wealth had soldier clamoring, washing military discipline out of the door.
With a click of his tongue and a quick motion of his hand, Tang Pan withdrew his sword and walked into the crowd of crazed soldiers. A stern expression was evident on his face as he swung his sword downward, decapitating a soldier who had a small pile of gold in hand.
As their comrade’s head fell to the ground and began rolling about, the soldiers snapped out of the mad states of mind and soon silence filled the courtyard.
“I want you all to go and find them and since I’m feeling generous, for every head brought back I’ll reward a thousand gold coins. As for those who do not obey orders then they will join this fella here.” Tang Pan said as blood dripped down from the blade in his hand.
Considering the amount of gold that Zhang had left behind it was simply to say that Tang Pan wished to hoard it all for himself, but when considering a soldier doesn’t even make more than a hundred gold coins a year then he is offering a very large reward.
With frightened expressions on their faces, Tang Pan’s men rushed out of the mansion and began to try to track down where Zhang and the others had gone to. Nearby homes were thoroughly searched and every back street and alley were combed.
It actually did not take very long for Zhang’s group to be discovered at all but with some quick decisions the group of soldiers who ran into Zhang was slaughtered and their armor was stripped. Employing the same tactic that he had used against the Dark Legion, the soldiers loyal to Tang Wei and Tang Shiang were thus given the armor of the soldiers of the Eastern Fort.
For the most part, the armors were identical but the soldiers of the Eastern Fort had black thread lacing their armor while the soldiers of the provincial lord’s mansion had white laces. From afar they would all look the same but close up it was obvious that they belonged to different units.
Although they were equipped with the correct armor to camouflage themselves, the group still moved at a fairly slow pace due to the number of maids and the ill provincial lord who was a part of the group.
“Brother, at this rate by the time we get to the gate the enemy would have had a bunch of time to station their soldiers there.” Ai said as she walked beside Zhang as they moved through an alley.
“No need to worry, I just came up with a new technique that I think will come in very handy.” Zhang replied with a smile that was visible through the slit in the helmet he acquired not too long ago.
“If you say so.” Ai replied.
For the most part, the group Zhang was in was able to move unhindered despite running into dozens of enemy search parties after obtaining their camouflage.
“Damn… To think they already have so many soldiers stationed at this gate.” Tang Shiang cursed as the group arrived not too far from the city’s western gate after roughly two hours after their departure from Tang Pan’s mansion.
As they continued to near the city gates it was evident that the soldiers from the Western Fort had arrived due to the sound of banging against the city gates. It was clear since the soldiers of the Western Fort couldn’t get in, they resorted to using a siege ram. Luckily for them, since the Red Thorn Province was not in an official state of war yet, most of the city’s defensive weapons were stored away, along with most of its arrow supply. Meaning the soldiers of the Western Fort were met with relatively low resistance as they tried to break into the city to save their lord.
“Brother Lee Ming, do you have any ideas on how to pass all of those soldiers?” Tang Wei asked. By now he had partially become reliant on Zhang’s advice since for the most part Zhang had been a miracle worker in Tang Wei’s eyes.
“If you’ll keep a secret for me then I’m eighty percent sure we can exit the city unharmed.” Zhang replied with a smile.
“I promise.” Tang Wei said with a nod.
After giving instructions for Tang Wei to have the rest of the group wait where they currently were, Zhang and Ai headed toward the gate side by side.
As he stood roughly three hundred feet away from a cluster of soldiers who were defending the city gate, a golden coin appeared in Zhang’s hand. With a single thought, red bolts of lightning began to emanate from his body and coil around him as held the golden coin in his hand.
Moments later the gold coin was flipped into the air as lightning gathered in Zhang’s hand. While time seemed to slow down to a crawl the golden coin spun about in midair before gravity took its course. In a flash, a bolt of red lightning shot out from Zhang’s fingertips and collided with the golden coin.
Faster than the eye could see the golden coin cut through the air and the instant it touched the city walls an explosion occurred, sending bits of stone and gravel everywhere. While dust swirled and robbed every one of their vision Zhang proceeded to launch a few more gold coins through the air however unlike the first gold coin the following ones produced even larger explosions, with the last one creating the largest of the all.
Tang Wei watched in disbelief as he saw the aftermath of Zhang’s devastating attack once the dust settled. Large sections of the city walls were turned to rubble while hundreds of not thousands of Tang Pan’s soldiers were lying motionless on the ground.
“If only I was at a higher level of cultivation, then I can use this technique better…” Zhang muttered. Since he had not never tested this technique before Zhang had to gauge its power. He found that he needed to draw on the supply of essence in the Underworld Heart if he actually wanted to use this technique to its full potential since the supply of essence in his body alone was not enough.
The technique was roughly five times more devastating when using one hundred percent of his powers when compared to when he used fifty percent of his powers, however when employing the essence stored in the Underworld Heart, Zhang found that it was capable of becoming ten times stronger than when compared to using fifty percent of his powers.
He also found out that if he used too much power then the gold coin would liquefy and then evaporate, thus identifying the limit of the technique.
“Young master, we can leave now.” Zhang said as he turned back toward Tang Wei and the rest of the group who were all but stupefied.
As for Ai, there were sparkles in her eyes as she watched how cool Zhang was.
“Do it again!” Ai said with a laugh.