After a long while…
"Bluergh… bluergh, bluergh…"
Jun Mo Xie turned to look in the direction of the noise. Two individuals had damaged their lungs vomiting. In fact, it seemed that they'd even vomit-out their intestines. Then, the sounds of vomiting started to rise, and soon it seemed that many people had started to vomit…
"Old Pang, what's to be done about this vomiting…?"
"What can be done? Its vomit… it's useless to try to solve this matter. Let's go back… Bluergh…"
"The Young Master's strength is extremely astonishing. But, that method of his' was extremely… bluergh… cruel… heavens… bluergh…"
"You, shut up! We'll talk about this later! Bluergh…"
There was a gloomy warbling sound. Around ten men came out from their hiding places, and showed themselves. Their faces were pale, and the corners of their mouths were dripping unceasingly. One glance at their faces was enough to determine that they had been vomiting quite heavily.
It seemed that someone had taken the initiate to issue an order to these men, and they quietly departed. However, that person hadn't shown himself from the start to finish. In fact, it was almost as if that person was never present in the first place…
The deep curtains of night fell down. They concealed the crimes, and dispersed the bloody events…
The atmosphere had become peaceful and quite again.
~ The Jun Family Residence ~
It was already after midnight, yet Grandpa Jun's study-room was still brightly lit.
Jun Mo Xie was quietly returning home with his men when he saw that light, and suddenly felt a poetic feeling in his heart. So, he started to sing in his mind; [the night is calm, and the stars are glittering in the sky. The light still shines clear from Grandfather's window up ahead… He's working his heart out to write the research material. His tall figure is reflected in my heart…]
The Young Master Jun had his own way of enjoying himself. He went to his room, and went to sleep.
The two teams of his men rested, reorganized, recuperated and healed. Besides the 350 crossbows and 7000 accompanying bolts — they had also found twenty-to-thirty-thousand silver taels. Jun Mo Xie had generously divided them amongst his 200-plus men. Those who had sustained injuries were given an additional fifty taels. This had left everyone very happy and satisfied. His medicinal dans were curing the wounded men's injuries at a rapid pace without any major problems.
This was only natural since the Young Master Jun had very high-level skills in the medicinal field. His troops had received many injuries in the battle. A few of them had received grave injuries. And, there were some injuries that were so serious that they could be considered as 'fatal'. However, could these serious injuries prove to be a big deal with the Young Master's various medicines at hand? These injuries would obviously be cured within a short period of time.
The Emperor had lost his soldiers, his money, and his crossbows. Jun Mo Xie had ordered his men to use other methods for attacking or defending against the enemy. These crossbows were only to be used for self-defense. [In any case, we must set-off for Tian Fa soon. We needn't fear about being discovered if we use these crossbows in Tian Fa.]
Jun Mo Xie had just settled down. Old Pang had also quietly led his troops back to the Jun residence. Their faces were green, and their lips were white. Their footsteps were weak and unstable.
~ Inside the Study ~
"Lord Master… we've returned at last. Your subordinate has nearly madly vomited himself to death…" Old Pang gasped for air with difficulty.
"What happened?" Grandpa Jun was bewildered.
"It was the Young Master. That Method of his'… is very cruel… bluergh!" Old Pang continued to speak even though he felt nauseous.
"Cruel? What's the matter? Tell me properly," Grandpa Jun was even more bewildered now. Old Pang came from a family of warriors. He had been at his side for many decades. He had spent more time on the battlefield that Jun Wu Yi had. In fact, it wouldn't be an overstatement to call him a veteran of a hundred battles. What cruelty had he not seen already? He had killed at least a hundred warriors himself. And, that too was a conservative count. So, what could've possibly left him to look like this?
"Bluergh!" Old Pang retched as he tried to speak. But, he was finally able to, "My Lord, I've seen men getting killed. I've killed many men myself. But, I've never seen anyone beating a live person to death like that, and then stretching one's hands… only for it to come out from behind a man's chest-cavity with his heart in the hand. And, as for the other two men — their corpses can't even be called 'human corpses'. They resembled 'dumplings' more closely. Even the process of chopping wasn't required anymore. Do you still need me to explain in more detail…?"
"Bluergh! Don't talk about it… shut up, and quickly go outside to vomit! Get lost! Bluergh!" He hadn't finished speaking, but Grandpa Jun could well-imagine the scene. He couldn't help but burst out retching.
Old Pang's evil scheme had prevailed. He chuckled in an evil manner, and went away like a wisp of smoke. [It's not good to vomit alone. Everyone should get to vomit. Everyone should be treated equally. This is fair and equitable.]
However, Grandpa Jun was a top-notch warrior at the end of the day. He only retched for a moment. Then, he resumed his natural state. In fact, he couldn't help but smile as he muttered to himself, "This little devil is full of surprises! That stealthy poison was really… I can't tell how many more cards he has hidden in his hand!"
However, one expert inside the Jun Family was very depressed.
This expert was the same person who had recently been made the 'commander' of the Tian Fa expedition — Jun Wu Yi. He had personally led men to the Ni Chang Pavilion in order to arrest and kill Yue'er and everyone else. After all, the crossbows had arrived and their operation had already begun. Therefore, Yue'er and the others had outlived their usefulness.
This was part of Jun Mo Xie's plan.
However, they rushed into that place, and found it empty. They enquired and found that Yue'er had vanished on the dawn of that day along with everyone else. And, she had left no trace behind.
Jun Wu Yi was extremely disappointed.
He had used a mountain to smash an egg. Even a standard stone could smash an egg… but, he had failed to do so. He was depressed… really depressed. [Where was the information leaked from…?] This thought had greatly puzzled him.
Jun Mo Xie stood on the edge of the convened gathering on following day's dawn.
He had to depart with the army in the afternoon. So, Jun Mo Xie was 'racing against time' in the true sense of the meaning.
"Fatty, I'll be leaving later. Take proper care of the Aristocratic Hall. Bear that responsibility for me. In addition, I will supply you with some medicinal dans. Hold an auction for them every-so-often. And, auction a very small amount. Ensure that you protect the secrecy of the relevant information. And, as for the money you acquire from the auction — don't hesitate to spend it to acquire rare ingredients. You needn't spend much effort to acquire the ordinary ingredients anymore. And, don't collect the medicinal herbs the way you had previously done!"
Jun Mo Xie handed Fatty Tang a bottle of the Multi-Cure Dan, a bottle of the Mysterious Yang Dan, and a bottle of the Missing Yin Dan in order to earn profit. He wasn't going to sell the efficacy-increasing 'Ten Years Dan'. However, these three Dans were enough to cause wide-spread sensation.
"Little Yang Mo, you needn't be involved in the Aristocratic Hall's day-to-day transactions and workings. However, if someone from the royal family comes and proposes something — whether it is excessive or not, whether it is unreasonable or not — you will handle all of it. After all, Tang Yuan's identity is inconvenient for this. You understand, right?"
"But... but..." Little Yang Mo hesitated a bit.
"But nothing! It has been decided!" Jun Mo Xie decisively cut-in. Then, he stated in conclusion, "Quickly go back to your father — the Prince Equivalent — to ask for guidance if you're unable to handle it on your own. Ahem! This matter has already been decided. We won't speak of it again!"
The decision was squeaky clean. So, Yang Mo departed with some worry on his mind. Then, Jun Mo Xie turned to Tang Yuan, "Give all Imperial Family related business to Yang Mo. It doesn't matter if we suffer a loss. In fact, I don't care about any loss from that. Is that clear?"
"It's not clear. Why are you doing this? If per-chance anyone from the Imperial Family does come, and this little devil is unable to handle it… won't it mean that we'll be out of luck?" Tang Yuan's expression was one of protest. He didn't understand the Young Master Jun's decision.
"I don't require you to understand. I only need you to carry it out!" Jun Mo Xie glared in anger. The Prince Equivalent's family hadn't attended the Golden Scholarly Feast. However, he hadn't opposed Jun Mo Xie's intentional or non-intentional instigation either. Everything had seemed to be still.
It had to be said that the Prince Equivalent could certainly keep his composure. However, that move wouldn't work in front of Jun Mo Xie. [So, you're keeping calm? Good! I'll just add to the fire!]
[You think that you could just put up some money on the table, and buy a share… and then this Young Master will keep making money for you? How can it be that easy? What's the point of giving you so much money if I can't even tie your family to the Jun Family's war-chariot?]
[This isn't exactly openhearted. And, it can be considered very mean to exploit a child. However, I can give you a whole generation of Kings if your son's performance is good!]
[Who won't be satisfied with that?]
Tang Yuan still didn't understand his intention. However, he kept his mouth shut when he saw that Jun Mo Xie was getting angry. So, he only responded in agreement from there on. In fact, he himself hadn't thought of it… when had his childhood friend — some he used to go debauching-around — become so authoritative and domineering?
"Song Shang, you will brew wine during this time, and provide it to our families; do you understand? You will also be responsible for the Aristocratic Hall's security at night. Ensure that no mishap occurs!"
"I understand, Master."
"Hai Chen Feng, I want you to consolidate the underworld during the time I'm away. The amount of fighting strength you gather isn't that important to me. Rather, I would like you to gather as much intelligence as you can. Are you clear on that? For example; the beggars on the Capital's street, the people in restaurants, the barman, the pimps of various brothels, the men who stand and keep watch at the doors of the influential families and so on… Utilize their hidden talents, uncover the valuable intelligence, and record it. Intelligence is the first priority here. You can look to deal with the issue of military strength once you've established a definite line of intelligence. Do you understand?"
A cold light flickered in Jun Mo Xie's eyes. He had spoken the entire set of instructions in one breath. It had embodied the most important purpose for his control over the gangs. Therefore, it was very important that Hai Chen Feng understood it properly.
"I understand. The Young Master can feel relieved. I, Hai Chen Feng, will consolidate Tian Xiang City's gangs, and set-up a watertight intelligence network," Hai Chen Feng solemnly replied. He had clearly understood Jun Mo Xie's idea.
"Ahem! Good. Now, we come to another matter. This matter is of the utmost importance. It is something I won't compromise on; and that is the Jun Family's security. Hai Chen Feng and Song Shang, you both will be in charge of this matter. I will say this in short — I won't permit any mishaps. None whatsoever! Nothing at all! No matter the situation! Do you understand?!"
"Be at ease, Young Master! Anyone who wishes to mess with the Jun Family will have to pass over our dead bodies!" Hai Chen Feng and Song Shang replied in unison.
"Ahem! Then, I'm relieved," Jun Mo Xie nodded slightly. He then took out another porcelain bottle, "There are three Dan pills in this; for each of you. Take them. These will serve to increase your Xuan Qi cultivation by ten years! Tang Yuan, you can take Hai Chen Feng's assistance in this matter. And another thing, this matter is a secret of top priority. None of you is to divulge anything outside!"
The three people replied in unison with fanatical looks in their eyes. [To be able to increase Xuan Qi cultivation by ten years!] Tang Yuan wouldn't pay attention to matters pertaining martial strength under normal circumstances. However, even he wasn't foolish enough to disregard this, and got all excited about it. Hai Chen Feng and the Song Shang were both Sky Xuan experts. Their understanding of this matter was obviously more profound.
"You're all temporarily dismissed. Hurry up and go. I will leave for battle this afternoon. There's no need to see me off," Jun Mo Xie waved his hand. His eyes revealed a strange expression as he slowly continued, "If everything goes smoothly on this trip… then when we return… he he…" He laughed in a profound a manner. His eyes shone with a cold light that was akin to the one that's reflected off a sword's edge.
The people who saw this couldn't help but tremble. [What plan does this Young Master have? And, how can his expression be so scary?]
The sun had shifted slightly to the west. The drums for the army's assembling rumbled loudly on the massive drill-ground. Their echoes shook the heavens and earth.
Generals chose morning-time go to battle for the most part; preferably sunrise. They'd take the rising Sun to be auspicious. However, the vows before the troops were being taken at noon in this case. This was somewhat different to the usual practice. And, this wasn't a very good idea to say the least about it. How could it be good if the sun quickly set in the west? But, the Emperor of the Tian Xiang Empire had decided this, and no one had dared to ask the reason.
The biting-cold autumn wind dried-up, and boiled over the ground. What regrets would a man have if he could achieve such a feat?
[Let this magnificent army of men and horses follow me impassioned! All without exception will go forward — disregarding life and death!]
Mountains of joyous shouts echoed like tsunamis. It was amongst all this cheering that Jun Wu Yi grasped his wheelchair, and turned around to face His Majesty. He cupped his fists, "Your Majesty, your humble official Jun Wu Yi seeks to resign from his post in order to lead the army."
"I allow you to do so," the Emperor's face had turned red as loud celebratory music started to play.
"Play the music. Send off the Empire's heroes into battle!" Grandfather Dugu Zong Heng stepped forward, and proclaimed with a loud and majestic roar.
The battle drums echoed loudly like a surging tide since they were played with enthusiasm.
Eight horsemen attired in neat battle-clothing and shining armors carried the banner on their staffs. They led the way on their eight horses.
The biting-cold autumn wind blew upon the large banner, and made it rise up. It was the color of blood, and had a single golden word on it — "Jun."
The eyes of some of Tian Xiang's veteran soldiers had welled-up with tears.
The Jun Family's war-banner!
This banner had always symbolized unparalleled victory! This flag was a banner of iron and blood! It had finally risen again after an absence of ten years! However, it still excited everyone's souls; just as it had in the past! It still rolled-up in this weather; just as it had in the past!
The sound of hoof-beats was methodically emanated. The echoes rose as squadron-after-squadron of brightly armored cavalrymen moved out in formation, and slowly formed a vast and mighty torrent of steel as they galloped away in the wind.
A blade was raised towards the blue dome of heaven. The sword was pointed towards Tian Fa. The hero of a hundred battles had moved out. And, the hero's blood hadn't gone cold yet.
[Tian Fa! I'm coming!]