“Tch…. In the thrill of the moment, I forgot to plan for this.” Zhang said in a low tone to Ai as he realized his blunder.
Although the thought of leaving the city with his soldiers during the chaos that had ensured last night had popped up into Zhang’s head, he had figured it would be more beneficial in the long run if he stuck around.
“Now there are two options for us to choose from the first is to skip the dinner and the other is to kill that General Hei Ang and his high ranking officers.” Zhang thought.
If he chose to flee with Ai and mix into the common folk who were in the city, then it would be fairly difficult for them to be found. However, this would cause Tang Hong and his sons to developed a sense of doubt and be much more reserved with dealing with Zhang. Then there was the direct approach where he simply killed General Hei Ang while either revealing his identity or hiding it.
Within the mansion’s garden, there were dozens of rectangular tables, large enough for a single person to sit, positioned in two rows in front of a small stage. While Zhang and Ai were pondering their next move, Tang Hong, his sons and the various government officials of the Red Thorn Province, along with the higher ranking officers of the Dark Legion were all seated and a merry atmosphere was present.
“I would like to thank you and your soldiers for helping us quell the rebellion before it got out of hand.” Tang Hong said with a rosy complexion on his face.
“No need to thank us Lord Tang Hong, it is our duty to help you since we are all currently in the same boat.” General Hei Ang replied with a smile. Although he had been somewhat reluctant to lend a helping hand, now that he had done so it was only natural that he stated it was his intention all along. This way he could use the opportunity to ask Tang Hong for compensation and various things the Dark Legion was currently lacking.
“Had it not been for one of your soldiers named Lee Ming, then my father would have been killed by that filthy traitor and we wouldn’t have even known about it…” Tang Shiang said with a face full of disdain as he recalled what his uncle had done.
“Lee Ming? Do you recall having someone by that name in our ranks?” General Hei Ang asked one of his subordinates after some small talk with Tang Hong and his sons.
“I believe so general, apparently he was the one who helped cure that strange illness that a few of our captains and lieutenants had caught.” One of Hei Ang’s vice commanders said.
“Is that so, have him brought to me after the banquet. I’d like to meet with him in private.” General Hei Ang said. People with talent are naturally sought after in an army that was as large as the Dark Legion, especially those with medical skills since there were almost always injured people and doctors were always in high demand.
“I’ll tell him to accompany us back to camp after the banquet.” General Hei Ang’s vice commander said.
While everyone engaged in small talk and appetizers were brought out by beautiful young maidens carrying trays full of food, the merry atmosphere continued to be lively. Soon enough, dancers, singers, and musicians filed onto the stage and began to perform.
Like any other banquet, plenty of liquor was passed around and everyone indulged in either drinking or teasing the pretty maidens passing out food.
“Shang, how come your friends aren’t here yet?” Tang Shiang’s mother asked. Since she was not there to witness Zhang cure his husband, she had hoped to thank him today and perhaps give him a small gift as a show of appreciation for what he had done.
During the period of time when Tang Hong was ill, she had been to a total of eighty-seven temples and had met with one hundred and twelve doctors in order to try to help her husband get better, she had even secretly come to terms with the fact that her husband loved not only her but also Tang Wei’s mother, Sheng Yi.
“I don’t know he should be on his way.” Tang Shiang replied as he looked toward Tang Wei for an answer but was replied with shrugged shoulders.
After the incident with his cousin and uncle, Tang Shiang’s relationship with his half-brother had taken a one eighty degree turn for the better since they had experienced life or death together the two of them had been able to somewhat put down their past differences and consider themselves both sons of their father. Thus, they were able to work together and help their father with his plans to strengthen the province and the city.
While everyone was mesmerized by a very beautiful dancer putting her skills on display on stage, the musicians and singers suddenly stopped and screams soon reverberated into the air as they all began to flee.
“What the…” Someone said as they turned back from their seat to find many dozens of black colored wolves within the garden. These wolves had blood red eyes, fur as dark as the night, fangs that appeared to be as sharp as swords and bloodlust that could only be found within nightmares.
“Protect our lord!” General Song Ren yelled as he withdrew his sword from its scabbard and rushed to where Tang Hong was.
“Defend the general!” The various vice commanders and high ranking officers of the Dark Legion said in unison as they encircled General Hei Ang.
Surprisingly enough the black colored wolves did not attack anyone and simply sped through the crowd of people who had all but fell into panic. Since it was generally rare to run into demonic beasts, even in the wild, within the Warring States Region, so to have what seemed to be a hundred of them attacking simultaneously it was obvious that those with little to no combat experience such as the government various officials present would be stricken with fear.
Luckily for them, the black colored wolves ignored everyone and closed in only on the members of the Dark Legion. Using their sharp fangs and claws, the wolves unleashed dozens of attacks on the various high ranking members of the Dark Legion with unstoppable fury.
Had the officers of the Dark Legion not been equipped with high-level armor and possessed tough physiques it was obvious that they would have been riddled with wounds as the one hundred or so black colored wolves took turns attacking them. Like caged animals, General Hei Ang and his men were trapped amidst the group of predators and had no way to escape.
It was not until one or two of General Hei Ang’s aid were killed and when he was filled with rage did he used his sword to strike out at the wolves, to which he found that the wolves were extremely fragile.
“How could this be…” General Hei Ang mumbled as he began to unleash a barrage of attacks against the black colored wolves. Usually, even the weakest demonic beasts were a chore to handle, let alone demonic wolves who were usually at least the fifth or tenth rank of cultivation.
“General, these are similar to those things we faced when we were attacking the fort!” One of General Hei Ang’s men said as he cut down an Abyssal wolf.
“That means that he’s around here somewhere…” General Hei Ang said as his gaze scanned the surrounding area.
“No need to look.” Zhang’s voice reached General Hei Ang’s ears as the sound of arrows piercing through the air could be heard. Before long the sky is blotted out as thousands of arrows rained downward onto the area where General Hei Ang and his men were clustered.
As blood-curdling cries could be heard, many of the high-ranking officers of the Dark Legion were skewed through by countless arrows while they desperately tried to protect themselves but to no avail since there were simply too many arrows. Also, these arrows were tipped with Lightning Eater Scales, allowing them to pierce through the armor that the officers of the Dark Legion wore as if it were made of tofu.
Moments later, Tang Hong, Tang Wei, Tang Shiang and all of the other people present in the provincial lord mansion’s garden watched in shock as the rain of arrows ended. General Hei Ang was barely alive as his body had dozens of arrows stuck to it while all of his men were all dead but still standing upright, shielding their leader.
“Come out you coward! Come and face me! Enough of your tricks! Damned prince of Aurora!” General Hei Ang roared despite the horrid state his body was in.
Instead of a verbal reply, General Hei Ang was gifted with another volley of arrows. By the time, the volley of arrows ceased General Hei Ang was on his last leg and stumbled onto the ground and there was not a single inch of earth near him that was visible. Though heavily injured General Hei Ang still showed slight signs of life, so it was obvious that he was at least a level six or seven warriors to have survived the onslaught of arrows.
“I’m ready to face you now.” Zhang said as he and Ai walked into the garden.
Judging from what General Hei Ang had been screaming, it was obvious to everyone present that Zhang was not Lee Ming but Zhou Zhang.
“It seems you all have a bit of trouble on your hands.” Zhang said with a polite smile.
“Seize him! Capture the prince of Aurora!” General Song Ren commanded.
“If I were you I wouldn’t do that because you have bigger problems at hand. Let’s say you do manage to capture me, what then? How will you explain to the rest of the Dark Legion that their general and all of the high-ranking officers in their army was wiped out while no one on your side suffered even a scratch? There is also the fact that it’s more than likely that all of those who know who I am in the Dark Legion had met their end here, so if I simply tell them that you teamed up with Aurora and killed our general then tried to frame me, who do you think they’ll believe? Lee Ming, who helped saved dozens of people from a strange disease, who had been traveling and befriending hundreds of people within the legion or you folks here?” Zhang said calmly.
“No matter what is done I believe that your all sort of in a tough situation right now.” Ai said as she walked up beside Zhang.
Considering that General Hei Ang’s life could end at any moment under Zhang’s discretion, while all of the high ranking officers of the Dark Legion were slaughtered, and by the fact that Zhang’s men were mixed into the Dark Legion still, even if he was captured by the forces of the Red Thorn Army he could definitely make the situation unfavorable for them.
All he had to do was allow for his men to spread rumors about the Red Thorn Province allying with Aurora and with their general and commanders gone, the Dark Legion, like a dragon without a head, would be easily manipulated into attacking the Red Thorn Army.
“If you would lend me your ears for just a bit.” Zhang said as dozens of soldiers filed into the gardens with swords and spears ready for battle.
“Father let him speak, if he wanted to kill everyone here I have no doubt in my mind that he could have easily done so.” Tang Wei said to his father.
“A few words won’t hurt anyone and he did, after all, save your life.” Tang Shiang’s mother spoke.
“Speak…” Tang Hong said with a sigh.
“Simply put as things are now the only option you have that wouldn’t lead to the destruction of this province is to work with me. If you follow my plans, then we will be able to disarm and incapacitate the Dark Legion. After the armies of Aurora arrive and have swept southward, I’ll even reward you for helping me.” Zhang said with a confident smile.
“How about doubling the size of this province? Or maybe triple?” Ai suggested.
“Tri-tri-triple?” A few of the government officials stuttered. If one considered the size of the entire Warring States Region then a plot of land three times larger than the current Red Thorn Province was not much, however for the government officials of such a small province simply imagining the land that is available for them to govern tripling was something unimaginable.
After tens of minutes of utter silence, a pact was formed between Zhang and Tang Hong. Since Zhang’s option was perhaps the safest, Tang Hong decided to secretly ally the Red Thorn Province with Aurora. When the possible benefits that Zhang offered were paired with the danger that he could present to them, there wasn’t really much of a choice to begin with.
Zhang could have simply unleashed hell on earth in Red Thorn City and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of soldiers, but that was not the person he was and he felt that it would only serve to frighten the populace and prevent other provinces from surrendering to him in the future.
With their pact in motion, Zhang had Tang Hong lock up General Hei Ang and then send a convoy of supplies to the Dark Legion. These supplies, of course, would be laced with various drugs and would cause the soldiers of the Dark Legion to lose their ability to resist after consumed.
Once the Dark Legion’s soldiers were left without even the strength to tussle a chicken, the soldiers of the Red Thorn Army would march in and capture them all.