Chapter 99: Conspiracy

SOOOOOOOO tired T_T, some lady almost rammed into my car on the freeway because of a giant tumbleweed the other day…………………………………. Welp here’s new chapter :D. Also I’ve started a new story which I’ll post when I reach a decent amount of chapters. It’s called “Ascending The Heavens.”
 
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Zhang and the four bestirs stood in front of the provincial lord’s mansion with confusion on their faces. Of all the places the trail of essence could led them to, it led to the provincial lord’s mansion.
 
That in itself was strange, personally Zhang had expected the trail to lead to some cemetery or the outskirts of the city. However, they were led here, to the center of the city.
 
“Darling should we force our way in?” Lingqi asked as she wee the hulking men standing in front of the gate.
 
“No, now is not the time to draw attention to ourselves.” Zhang said in a whisper as he directed everyone to head off.
 
The provincial lord’s mansion was not a place anyone could just wander into, although Zhang was fairly confident he would be able to get in and out, it was still very dangerous. An enemy that could create three Jiangshi and keep them contained was not an enemy that one should engage without preparing.
 
“We can’t possibly enter and not arouse suspicion, so the best plan would be either taking care of the Jiangshi when no one is around, or inform the people and have them leave this province. Of course neither will be easily accomplished.” Zhang whispered to the four beauties beside him.
 
“But before then we might as well enjoy the festival a bit.” Zhang added.
 
“Cheng Yu, you and the rest of the men go enjoy yourselves a bit. Meet me back at the hotel before sundown.” Zhang said to Cheng Yu who was trailing behind him. A few moments later a small bag of a dozen gold coins shot toward Cheng Yu.
 
“Many thanks my lord.” Cheng Yu murmured before he disappeared into the crowd.
 
With Cheng Yu and the guards gone, Zhang and the four beauties began to indulge on the festivities.
 
Fire spotters, dagger jugglers, opera singers, dozens of acts were occurring on the streets of New Moon City. As they passed a crowd of people watching an opera group enacting a play, an ingenious idea began concocting in Zhang’s mind.
 
“If I tell the citizens of the city that a Jiangshi is the one doing the killings, I doubt they would believe me. Jiangshi are usually many times more destructive than the three that have been appearing here and most believe they are but creatures of legends. However, if I had someone else plant a seed of fear in their hearts, then my words will seep in better.” Zhang though at his eyes glittered.
 
“Let’s have a seat and watch the play.” Zhang said to his wives. With a wave of his hand a bench appeared, which he hoisted on his shoulder and through the crowd. Once Zhang arrived at the front of the crowd he deployed his bench and sat down.
 
Not long after four beauties that could be considered goddesses joined him, to enjoy the play.
 
This troupe was currently enacting a piece about a man who fought a black dragon.
 
“Pretty spot on.” Zhang thought as he recalled the paintings from the underworld, depicting the battle between the founder of the Heilong Kingdom and the Black Dragon.
 
However, a princess was added, and a scene where the dragon’s head was ripped off, but grew back was shown. There was also some random scene with a penguin for comedic relief and then there was a mysterious tumbleweed.
 
“Damn the penguin! It stole the hero’s sword!” A few people in the crowd yelled as they emerged themselves in the play.
 
“What’s up with that tumbleweed causing a carriage collision?” A few others asked.
 
From the look of things, it seems the crowd wasn’t enjoying this adaption of the story of the creation of the Heilong Kingdom. Despite a strong start the actors were now getting booed off the stage.
 
Once the play ended the actors all walked off the stage with their heads drooped.  With a sense of dread and defeat was emitted from the.
 
“Dammit why does it happen every time…” A man who played the part of the penguin cursed as he wiped tomato stains off his costume.
 
“Because our troupe leader always makes you play the penguin…” Another man muttered.
 
“You forget the fact that some parts of our play is flat out stupid…” A beautiful woman playing the princess rescued by the hero said with a hint of disdain in her tone.
 
“Well there’s not much we can do, our playwright quit, which made our earnings plummet and now we can’t afford to hire any good playwrights for our troupe…Soon we might even have to disband because of our lack of funds” A middle aged man said with a sigh, he clearly was the leader of this troupe. Many wrinkles and creases ran across his face, visibly showing the hardship the troupe was currently enduring.
 
“I’m looking for the leader of this troupe.” A voice rang out. As the troupe members looked back they saw a young man, and behind him were four women who could only be described with the word mesmerizing or beautiful.
 
“Young master how may I be of service.” The troupe leader said quickly. From the clothes of this young man and the women behind him, they were clearly part of the social elite and if their troupe could get a sponsor or be hired by people of such status, they would be able to pull out of their slump.
 
“I would like for you to enact a play for me. The details are on this piece of paper. As for any fees you inquire, on top of the cost of hiring you I believe this should be enough to handle them. You can also use some of it to hire a good playwright.” Zhang said with a smile as he handed the troupe leader a small sack of gold coins.
 
The troupe leader’s hand trembled as he griped the bag of gold coins in his hand. During his entire life he had never had so much money in his hands.
 
“Also I would like you all to move into the hotel listed on the piece of paper, all expenses paid of course. I wouldn’t want my entertainers to be living in some dump.” Zhang said, but of course his real goal was to keep these people safe because if they ran into any danger for taking part in his plan, it wouldn’t sit right with him.
 
“Troupe leader, what are you doing, thank the young master.” The man who played the penguin in the play said.
 
“Wait, we must go over some details first. To be honest this seems too good to be true. Why pick us? There are dozens of other troupe in the city. Also, I’m not one to turn down money but when someone offers so much for a simple play, it makes me wonder.” The troupe leader said, thinking Zhang’s offer was too good to be true. Who would give a bag full of gold coins for a simple play.
 
“First, you will not be the only troupe I will be hiring. Second, it won’t be just a simple play, it will be a play that will be remembered for ages.” Zhang said with a smile and left with the four beauties.
 
Soon after the troupe leader was tied up and gagged, as his troupe members dragged him to the hotel that Zhang was staying at. To their surprise they found that four other troupes had already arrived at the hotel and were bringing their things in. Not long after the rest of the troupes in the city were gathered by Zhang to enact his plan.
 
Each troupe he hired was to perform as play about a Jiangshi attacking New Moon City during the festival, of course they were able to freely portray the stories to their liking as long as they enacted the parts Zhang wished. The troupes would be dispersed throughout the city to send Zhang’s message to the masses.
 
He also hired storytellers, soothsayers, and many other people of the sort to begin spreading rumors about a Jiangshi attack.  He knew that directly confronting the lord of this province was not wise so Zhang choose to influence the populace instead. Much like his scheme with the stone tablets that said he was the chosen king, this plan was devised to basically mind wash the populace.
 
But for today, their objective was to all relocate to the hotel Zhang was staying in. He had even strictly stated that anyone who doesn’t arrive at the hotel would not be hired anymore. Later that day the hotel Zhang was staying at was swarming with people and all of the rooms were booked. Despite all the rooms being booked, many more people were still arriving.
 
Sheets and bedding was currently being spread out on the floor throughout the hotel to accommodate the hundreds of people Zhang had hired for his plan.
 
“Sweetheart, I’ve made dozens of dark essence repelling talismans and stuck them all over the hotel. So even if the Jiangshi attack here we should be able to repel them for a while.” Yuying said with a refreshing smile on her face. Zhang had previously asked her if there was any way to deal with the Jiangshi, Yuying could be considered one of the most knowledgeable people regarding the topics relating to the undead or the occult so asking her an obvious thing to do.
 
“Your enjoying this aren’t you?” Zhang asked with a chuckle as his hand traced Yuying’s long silky red hair.
 
“Of course, I’ve always wanted to create and control a Jiangshi myself and it seems that perhaps the lord of this province has found a way to mass produce them on a small scale. If I can acquire the method, I’ll create an army of Jiangshi.” Yuying said with a glint in her eyes. She had a maddening look in her eyes that showed she wasn’t kidding when she said she would create an army of Jiangshi. Zhang could image his wife standing in front of a massive army of undead and Jiangshi.
 
“Truly befitting of a princess of the underworld and my wife.” Zhang thought with a chuckle.
 
Dozens of talismans could be seen stuck to the many of the windows and doors of the hotel. Everyone was given instructions not to touch the talismans at any cost.
 
With everyone in the hotel busy doing this and that, it did not take long for the sun to depart and the moon to arise to the dark night sky. Once the moon was in the sky, the streets of New Moon City became a desolate place without a single soul. Although no one knew that Jiangshi were in the city, they knew people were being killed left and right, so everyone would head home before sundown and fortify themselves.
 
Once the people were gone, a parade of undead appeared from the darkness. Three Jiangshi, emitting terrifying auras began roaming the city looking for prey. Any poor soul that ends up in their hands was destined to turn into dried carcasses. The rhythmic hopping of the Jiangshi soon rang through the city, with a legion of undead behind them the Jiangshi were like heralds of death. Wherever they went a think black screen of invisible essence appeared.
 
The Jiangshi continued moving through the city until they spotted a cage in the middle of the street. Inside this cage was a dozen or so chickens, clucking away and scurrying about at the arrival of the Jiangshi.
 
Upon seeing the chickens, the Jiangshi sprang into action and pounced at the cage.  However, the instant they touched the iron cage a red glow emitted from it and repelled them.
 
Off in the distance, from the fourth floor of the hotel they were staying in, Zhang and Yuying could be seen peeking out of the window.
 
“Sweetheart you see? It works.” Yuying murmured cheerfully.
 
As they continued to observe, the Jiangshi began an onslaught of attacks against the cage but to no avail. They continue their unending assault until seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours. Soon a total of six hours had passed before the red light enveloping the iron cage finally faded.
 
The instant the red light was gone, the Jiangshi shattered the cage and consumed the chickens inside.

“We should find a way to mass produce these and distribute them throughout the city. That way casualties will cease to a certain degree.” Zhang said to Yuying.

“I’ll look into that.” Yuying said.

“Are you two done yet? How about catching some sleep?” Lingqi said from atop the large bed in their room with a yawn.

Seeing the results of their experiment, Zhang figured it was indeed time for him to catch some sleep and climbed onto the bed.

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