Chapter 307: The Crossbows... Have Arrived!
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Novel Saga
"But, I wish to go with you... Hee hee... following you will be quite amusing. You're not very restful by nature. So, the journey will be very interesting. How could it be any fun to go with my three foolish elder brothers?" Dugu Xiao Yi instantly realized that her 'trick' had been ineffective. So, she shamelessly turned to a new approach.
It was clear to Jun Mo Xie that the little girl's three brothers had flatly rejected her request to accompany them. So, she had come to annoy him. [Why else would she come to me?]
"I've told you. It's not going to happen. You're not to get involved on this trip. So, you can forget about leaving this place!" It was like Jun Mo Xie's heart was made of iron and stone. He wouldn't concede; no matter what. "You will accompany my sister-in-law at home. You can't go to a place like that. It will be hard to look after you. We're not going on an outing."
"I don't understand how she'll keep me company... Anyway, she won't be accompanying me because I'm going to Tian Fa," a cold voice spoke out. Jun Mo Xie's spine became stiff as he heard those words. He turned his head to look. [Wasn't that Guan Qing Han?]
Guan Qing Han had been feeling as if something was wrong with this matter of marching south to the forest. Not many people knew about their issues with the Xue Hun Manor. But, most of the influential families knew about it; the Imperial Palace was obviously no exception.
[And yet, they mentioned that Jun Wu Yi and Jun Mo Xie were to go ...why would they do that?]
Jun Wu Yi would have to lead the troops into battle. So, that was acceptable. But, why had Jun Mo Xie been dragged into it? This had worried Guan Qing Han. And, what she was most worried about was... [What if the Xue Hun Manor tries to use this opportunity to create problems for Jun Wu Yi and Jun Mo Xie? It will all be because of me... What should I do? The nature of this uncle-nephew duo is bound to make things worse!]
[These two aren't that strong. So, how will they be able to deal with the Xue Hun Manor is some problems were to arise? There's bound to be an argument if either of the two sides brings up my name. And, Jun Mo Xie and Jun Wu Yi won't back down given their nature... Then, how would it end?]
[And, Jun Mo Xie is particularly fearless!]
[Is there anything he wouldn't do?]
Therefore, Guan Qing Han had decided that she must go. She had to go... even if it meant the death of her. [I'll undertake that journey by myself if you refuse to take me along!]
Everyone would return safely if everything turned out alright.
However, Guan Qing Han could always use herself as a bargaining chip if any problems were to arise. She would rather sacrifice her life for Jun Mo Xie and Jun Wu Yi's safe return. However, she couldn't allow the uncle-nephew duo to learn of her intentions. If they were to learn of her intentions... they would rather break her legs so that she wouldn't be able to go. Her third uncle wasn't very likely to take this action. But, she was well aware of her brother-in-law's nefarious nature. She knew that Jun Mo Xie was perfectly capable of confining her.
Guan Qing Han was perfectly aware of that point.
"What's happening today, ah! My sister-in-law... my very own sister-in-law has come to add to this chaos... why did you all come to see me...? Look, I can't deal with this..."Jun Mo Xie grabbed his hair. It seemed as if he had been driven mad, "Don't come to me if you wish to go to Tian Fa. I've already said no... So, go to Third Uncle!"
"Your decision in this matter is your business. But, whether I go or not is mine!" Guan Qing Han looked unenthusiastically at Jun Mo Xie. Then, she quickly pulled Dugu Xiao Yi and left without consulting anyone. However, Dugu Xiao Yi gestured towards Jun Mo Xie with her eyes to demonstrate her protest as she left.
Her thought behind this gesture of protest was simple, [I'll be nice as long as you don't make trouble for me, and love me.]
Jun Mo Xie's mouth twisted wryly.
On the afternoon of the same day - Jun Mo Xie and his over-two-hundred imperial guards divided into groups, and disappeared from the Jun Family's residence.
Later that night...
Grandpa Jun's tall body stood sturdily in his courtyard. He said something to the ten shadowy figures that stood in front of him. Then, the ten figures dispersed and disappeared from the courtyard without a trace.
Grandpa Jun sighed and asked Old Pang, who stood beside him, "When will they reach...?"
Old Pang thought for a moment and replied, "Approximately by tomorrow evening."
"Hmm..." the Old Man frowned and spoke, "Old Pang, prepare the face-masks and dark clothes."
Old Pang's eyes beamed with happiness.
Jun Wu Yi was inside his small courtyard. The Third Master had torn a slip of paper between his hands. He chuckled and muttered, "Tomorrow evening..."
The curtains of night descended and ascended. The morning sun rose in the sky, and then set again. Soon, it was evening...
The moon was already on the rise after the sun had set. Time had passed in a flash. Zhou Wu Ji had forgotten how many times he had raised his whip to hasten his horse. It had been two mornings since he had left his ship and had come ashore. And, it had been two full days of haste.
They had hardly stopped ever since they had left the south. They had been travelling for nine days. And, they had hastened night and day. The result was also quite obvious. They were two days ahead of schedule. Two full days!
It was easy to imagine the number of mishaps they had avoided because of these two days.
This made him a little excited. Not a single unexpected incident had occurred over the last nine days... whether it was the land route or the waterways. They had smoothly journeyed with the current. However, this was also quite hard for him to accept... things had gone 'too' smoothly.
As a result, Zhao Wu Ji's heart hadn't been able to relax. On contrary, it made him even more alert. These circumstances were highly unusual. And, he was surprised by any lack of misfortune.
Ever since he had received this job - the Zhao Family's head, Zhao Wu Ji - had tried to understand what this represented and what it meant. But to his regret... it was already too late by the time he figured it out.
This was because the manufacturing had already commenced by the time understood this matter.
[The Second Prince is up to something...!]
[However, what would a prince wish to manufacture with these things? And moreover, why would he wish it done in secret?] Zhao Wu Ji had realized that he had unwittingly stepped onto the Second Prince's pirate ship. And, now it would be too awkward to get down.
From the moment they had received this task - his family would end-up getting tied closer to the Second Prince's war chariot with each and every kill from those crossbows. And, it would become even more difficult to get out of this situation if the blood of any other Imperial Prince was shed.
However, he had no means to resist this.
Leaving alone the fact that the manufacturing had already started... how could he have backed-out even if it hadn't?
His family had some influence. But, it was still nothing when compared to the Second Prince's strength. He feared that his family would be annihilated in half-a-day if he had declined that job; they would vanish from the face of the earth.
Great risks represented huge profits. His business could earn three-hundred times the profit from this job alone. This would make his business even more profitable. So, even if he had to stake his life on the line for this job... it was worth the risk.
Moreover, this entire matter was somewhat political in nature. So, if he could gain some foot-hold in the political structure of the country as a reward...
Zhao Wu Ji felt that he had swallowed a housefly. But, he still had a smile of appreciation his face. [The fly tastes disgusting when it enters one's mouth. But, it's quite nutritious. After all, it contains a high amount of protein.]
The Xuan Beast Tendon crossbows were manufactured very quickly. No mistakes were made while manufacturing them. The Zhao Family's head - Zhao Wu Ji - had then relaxed a little. However, his nerves had become taught soon-after since he had realized one thing clearly; the journey to deliver these crossbows to the capital was the real test.
Therefore, he had chosen to halt the entirety of his family's business, and had gathered all the experts in their ranks to safely escort these crossbows to the Capital City. But, he still didn't feel relieved in his heart. So, he started to look for additional manpower. He incurred a massive cost, and engaged the Vice-President of the Southern Trade Union to personally lead experts who were to escort the cargo... just to ensure complete safety.
However, the Second Prince disrupted the proceedings just when the preparations had been put in place. He had sent the troops from his elite guard to escort them. This was done to ensure absolute safety. But, this matter scared Zhou Wu Ji. It had seemed to him that the preparations he had made were quite sufficient. In fact, he felt that they would be more than enough to deal with any eventuality.
However, the Second Prince wasn't even remotely comforted. This was a very serious matter. So, it was quite possible that the cargo would find itself ambushed by an unusual and exceedingly strong force. The strength of the original escort-convoy wouldn't be sufficient to deal with the matter if this were to happen.
The true use of these crossbows had become abundantly clear at this point. His plans had failed even before their start.
Each step the horse under his crotch took... was a step closer to a bloody Imperial struggle.
Eventually, they were close to the Tian Xiang City.
"Elder brother, we've safely come so far. The Tian Xiang City lays just two-hundred kilometers ahead. Even if someone wanted to intercept us... I don't think they would be able to commit such a huge crime so close to the Capital!" A slim man walked his horse besides Zhao Wu Ji. He was smiling, and looked gratified. "It seems that we were worrying so much for no reason. I really didn't expect things to go so smoothly. It seems that the Second Master's arrangements for secrecy were genuinely outstanding!"
This slim man was Zhou Wu Ji's younger brother, Zhao Wu Tian. He was also one of the very few people in the Zhao Family who was aware of their client's identity.
"I hope so!" Zhao Wu Ji sighed as he looked at the darkening sky. He suddenly felt that the grey heavens were transforming into a giant black-hole. He felt as if this black-hole was sucking him and his family into it... and he didn't have the strength to resist such a thing.
"Only the last stretch of the road remains. Everyone is to raise their spirits, and use the entirety of their remaining energy to reach the Capital as soon as possible so that we can deliver and unload the goods. Our responsibility will be over with that, and we can finally relax then," Zhao Wu Ji breathed out. He lowered his head as he tried his best to disperse those gloomy and chaotic thoughts.
"Yes!" Zhao Wu Tian responded, and quickly slowed-down his horse. He then took out a small banner from his bosom, and quickly waved it twice in the air. The whole caravan was moving quite fast anyway. But, it suddenly started to move even faster.
There was a sudden sound of urgent hoof-beats. A tall and sturdy middle-aged man quickly caught up; he was atop a red horse. His windblown and travel-weary face had an impatient look on it. "Zhao Family's master, there's not much distance to the Capital now. So, there's no need to hurry like this, right? We brothers have been scared and jittery the entire route since we've been hasted throughout. We're exhausted. The sky is also getting darker. I don't know how hard the road will be at night; things might change under the dull light of the night sky. I suggest that we find a place to 'set-up camp' for the night. Then, we can start again tomorrow. We are anyway ahead of the agreed-schedule by two days. So there is no need to hurry since we'll have plenty of time in the morning, right?
The man speaking was the South Trade Union's Vice-President - Meng Xiao Song.