Edited and proofread by KitKat
The battle outside Yanzhou was fought for two consecutive days. Soldiers from either side refused to cede. Swords and spears crossed as blood spilled over the battlefield, dyeing the land scarlet. In the aftermath of the siege, the corpses that were left outside the city looked like they were floating on a red sea.
An Chang Qing sat on the roof of the manor, awaiting the coming dawn.
Impending Xiao Zhige’s return, An Chang Qing couldn’t help but worry. Only under Zhou He Lan’s persuasion and his declining health was he willing to rest up back in his room.
The following day, An Chang Qing woke up to the sound of murderous calls from outside the city. The Beidi army had begun their second siege. That day, An Chang Qing stayed inside the manor and concentrated on crafting the piece of purple jade. This was the only thing he could do to keep himself from worrying.
When the rough surface of the purple jade was polished, the inner luster of the gem revealed itself. An Chang Qing observed it in his palm and finally decided to craft it into a personal seal for Xiao Zhige.
The rugged jadite was slowly carved into shape but Xiao Zhige still had yet to return. An Chang Qing routinely stopped working in the evenings, heeding Xiao Zhige’s instruction to not overwork his eyes in the dark.
The denizens of Yanzhou seemed to go on with their daily lives but they were not null of the influence from the war outside the city gates. A heavy air hung over the city and the people couldn’t help but cast worried looks towards the city gate from time to time.
And so, the second day came and went. At midnight, there was a knock on the Generals’ Manor gates.
An Chang Qing got up immediately. He randomly grabbed at a piece of garment and hurriedly put it on as he rushed out. Getting close to the gate, An Chang Qing eagerly called out ‘Wangye’, thinking that Xiao Zhige had returned.
When the gates opened, Tie Hu’s towering body came into sight. He scratched his head and saluted, “Wangfei, Tie Hu has arrived with the remaining rations.”
An Chang Qing was disappointed. He looked down briefly before raising his head and smiled, “Thank you for the hard work.”
The following morning, Qi Wei brought his men to check up on the newly delivered supplies. The grains they previously received from An Chang Qing were almost depleted and Tie Hu had arrived in the nick of time.
Qi Wei’s face was beaming, he patted Tie Hu’s shoulder and exclaimed, “My good brother!”
Tie Hu grabbed Qi Wei’s back collar and pulled him away, “Get to work. These supplies were all thanks to Wangfei’s efforts. I’m only obeying orders to deliver them!”
Qi Wei adjusted his collar and turned to An Chang Qing. He bowed and said, “I thank you on behalf of Yahzhou’s troops!”
An Chang Qing smiled and told him he did not have to be so formal. He then hesitated before asking, “Is Wangye at the barracks? Does he need anything? I can have it sent over.”
Qi Wei’s smile slightly froze and he quickly covered it up, “There is no shortage of anything. Wangye is currently on military duty and does not have time to return for the time being.”
An Chang Qing did not miss the small change in his expression. He continued to question, “Is that so? But when Wangye left, he told me that he will not be in the city for a few days.”
“The General even told you that?” Qi Wei was taken aback and quickly comforted An Chang Qing, “Big brother-in-law, please do not worry. The General will return safely.”
“So the General has really left Yanzhou?” An Chang Qing had deceived Qi Wei to get the truth. His heart sank as he remembered the words Xiao Zhige had said to him before he left- ‘I will definitely return’. Now that he thought about it, there wasn’t a need for such strong-willed words had it been a battle just surrounding Yanzhou.
Putting aside his uneasiness, An Chang Qing tried to ask in a calm voice, “What exactly did Wangye leave to do?”
Qi Wei was in shock that the gentle and good-natured Wangfei was able to dupe him with words. Qi Wei contemplated through plausible excuses but fearing that An Chang Qing might still be able to detect any trace of lies, he simply knelt and pleaded, “I am bound by military orders, please forgive me for I am unable to disclose it to Wangfei!”
An Chang Qing looked at him for a long time and finally gave in. He only asked, “Is it dangerous?”
“This…” Qi Wei hesitated, “There is danger involved but the General commandeers his troops like the God of War, he will claim victory!”
Qi Wei’s words of encouragement were now meaningless. An Chang Qing’s face remained pale as he feebly responded, “I understand.”
An Chang Qing returned to his room but he could no longer sleep with ease.
On the fourth day, the weather had turned particularly scorching. After three days of fighting, momentum on both sides was dwindling.
An eagle circling the sky descended into the Beidi’s camp.
Hu Yan Ah Te took the message attached to the eagle’s foot. His face changed drastically after reading the message, “The Imperial City is under attack. Xiao Zhige had led his troops to raid the Palace. Father has ordered for us to return with haste!”
Hu Yan Ah Te and Hu Yan Zhi were both the King’s sons. The two looked at Hu Yan Xun anxiously and ordered, “Retreat! And prepare to return to the Palace!”
However, Hu Yan Xun’s eyes lit up at this moment, “Xiao Zhige is now absent. We can take this chance to seize Yanzhou. Once it’s been occupied, we can welcome our father and brother here, making Yanzhou the new Imperial City!”
“You don’t want to pull out?” Hu Yan Ah Te asked in shock.
Hu Yan Xun grit his teeth and said, “This is our best chance!”
Hu Yan Ah Te looked at Hu Yan Xun with cold eyes and said to Hu Yan Zhi, “Brother! Let’s go by ourselves!”
Hu Yan Zhi complied and they both ordered for their soldiers to pull out and headed straight for the northern desert.
“Reporting! Hu Yan Ah Te and Hu Yan Zhi have led their troops into the northern desert!”
Xie Ling jumped up and said, “Send troops to stop them!”
The scout replied, “But Hu Yan Xun’s troops are still stationed outside the city!”
Qi Wei slammed his fists on the table, “Ignore Hu Yan Xun! We have to stop them! How many did they bring with them?”
“Around ten thousand soldiers.”
The Beidi army had 50,000 soldiers. Hu Yan Ah Te and Hu Yan Zhi took 10,000 with them; there still remained 40,000 soldiers right outside Yanzhou.
Xie Ling bit his teeth and demanded, “No matter what, we have to stop them!”
Xiao Zhige had arrived at the Imperial City with 5000 elite soldiers at the fastest speed.
The Beidi Imperial City was located in an oasis deep within the northern desert. However, due to the majority of the soldiers having been deployed to Yanzhou, the city’s defense had been drastically weakened. In less than two days, Xiao Zhige had managed to break through their first line of defense and was now charging towards the Palace.
In the Imperial Court, servants could be seen scuttering in all directions but the Emperor and Crown Prince were nowhere to be found.
The three warrior princes were all fighting in Yanzhou while the Emperor and Crown Prince looked over the Imperial Court and yet, they had disappeared once the Palace had been besieged.
Xiao Zhige continued to search for them and on the fifth day, he discovered a hidden passageway in the Emperor’s bedroom which led directly to the outside. He followed the path and eventually found the Emperor and his son in hiding.
They had fled in panic and only had over a dozen guards with them. The soldiers were able to subjugate them easily and proceeded to chop off their heads.
This battle had gone smoother than he had anticipated, instinctually giving rise to a sense of danger in Xiao Zhige’s heart. Signaling at the direction of the Royal Court, Xiao Zhige urged his men to prepare for the trip back to Yanzhou.
After riding away for ten miles, there was a slight tremor and a dust cloud was kicking up in front of them.
The scout ran up and reported, “It’s the Beidi army! They’re catching up with soldiers at least two times that of ours!”
Xiao Zhige immediately knew that part of the Beidi troops in Yanzhou had split up. At present, they are too far from Yanzhou. Furthermore, their strength had been drained after the raid. They would not stand a chance against the incoming enemy. He quickly surveyed the surrounding terrain and noticed a twisting path along an ominous looking mountain range.
Xiao Zhige waved his hand and commanded, “Through there!”
When Hu Yan Ah Te managed to catch up, he found that the horseshoe prints were heading into the mountains. He stopped his soldiers and bursted out, “They have dared to enter Mt.Er Gui! Let it be known that they will never be able to come out alive!”
Hu Yan Ah Te sent out a scouting team to survey the area. Mt.Er Gui was a forbidden area in the northern desert. Even the locals most familiar with the land dared not enter. The terrain itself was a complex maze with trails laced with poisonous organisms and hidden quicksands. It is said that once you enter, there is no getting out alive.
After a while, the scouting team returned with two soldiers less. They carried a black battle flag with the word ‘Ge’ in gold – the flag representing Xiao Zhige’s troops.
“We did not find any sign of the enemy. They must’ve gone deeper into the mountains.”
Hu Yan Ah Te’s face lightened up, “Xiao Zhige will surely die! My father and brother will be avenged!”
“Soldiers! We will charge back to Yanzhou and make it our new Imperial City!” Hu Yan Ah Te proclaimed and the ten thousand soldiers immediately cheered. They carried the broken ‘Ge’ flag and marched for Yanzhou.
2 thoughts on “TTBE 50.1”
Poor An Chang Qing – even knowing Xiao Zhige survived in his previous life he can’t help worrying 😿
Thank you for the chapter 💝
Thanks for the chapter!