Chapter 365: The Hidden Traitor
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn
Long Haiying was tall and sturdy; he even kept getting bigger after age 30. Now, he was 56 and looked roughly the same size of two swordsmen of the Great Snowmountain put together.
He was widely-known for his bravery and reckless behavior. Once, he had rushed into a crowd of 100 enemies and slaughtered half of them before scaring the other half away.
"I have a son." Long Haiying started with this sentence when he went to confess his crime to the Dragon King.
The reason he betrayed the Dragon King was just that he wanted to leave his son a strong and prosperous Greatsword Peak. To achieve that goal, he needed to remove two obstacles.
The first one was the Luoshen Peak and its chief, Long Qinying. As the eldest tribal chief in the entire Great Snowmountain, Long Qinying enjoyed high prestige among the locals.
The other one was the Danduo Peak, who had the most men in the Great Snowmountain. Its tribal chief, Long Xiaoshi, had long been venerated as a leader of the swordsmen and his status was second only to the Dragon King.
Among the five peaks, the Greatsword Peak was not the weakest one, but it could only be considered to be average. In the foreseeable future, it was impossible for the Greatsword Peak to surpass the two powerful tribes unless the two peaks declined by their own doing.
In the Dragon King's army, the Greatsword Peak still could not compete with the Danduo Peak and the Luoshen Peak. The former had the most swordsmen in the army and the latter had mobilized all the young men of the tribe to join the army, while on the other hand, Long Haiying had only taken half of his swordsmen to join the expedition and left the other half with his son in the Greatsword Peak of the Great Snowmountain.
"I don't know what happened. It must have been a devil who put this idea into my mind. I think that even if this army is wiped out and even if I die, my son with the young swordsmen that I've left with him will still be able to outshine the other four tribes in strength and thus the Greatsword Peak will become the strongest force in the Great Snowmountain."
Long Haiying admitted that he was the hidden traitor. However, he did not look or sound regretful, as if he had just made a small mistake.
Gu Shenwei had already roughly guessed what was on Long Haiying's mind. He kept calm and quiet and even gazed at the sturdy swordsman with a little respect.
"I've never thought of betraying you, Dragon King. You saved the Great Snowmountain. You're our guide and our leader. Even when the Greatsword Peak becomes the strongest tribe in the Great Snowmountain, we'll still be loyal to you."
With these words, Long Haiying untied his heavy sword and went down on one knee. "I've committed an unforgivable crime. Please kill me with my sword, Dragon King. It's my own idea and has nothing to do with the others," he said while holding his sword up high with both hands.
It took a lot of nerve for Long Haiying to make such a request. Based on the Great Snowmountain's tradition, killing a swordsman with his own sword was a supreme insult to him.
Beyond the tribal chief's expectations, the Dragon King declined to receive his sword. He kept waiting for a while before lifting up his head. His face blushed, and his eyes were full of sorrow and disappointment. "Isn't it enough to make up for the things I've done wrong?" asked Long Haiying.
"More than a thousand soldiers died because of you," Gu Shenwei said in a harsh tone. Long Haiying was old enough to be his grandfather, but he could not forgive this man just because of his old age. "The Great Snowmountain has the bravest young men in the world, but has always suffered the fate of being bullied by foreign tribes. Why? It's because of constant internal struggles," added Gu Shenwei.
Long Haiying placed his other knee on the ground and kowtowed to the Dragon King, while holding his heavy sword with both hands. "Please punish me any way you like, Dragon King. I'll accept it without complaint," Long Haiying said in a trembling voice.
Gu Shenwei took one step backward and said, "Since you've no regrets about it, tell me the whole truth. Don't put the blame on some evil spirit. Let me know who gave you this piece of advice."
Gu Shenwei knew his swordsmen well. He believed that Long Haiying himself could never think of colluding with the Golden Roc Fort no matter how much he wanted to help his son.
Upon hearing the Dragon King's demand, Long Haiying was shivering all over. In his eyes, betraying another person was worse than death, even if this person had once deceived him.
Gu Shenwei refused to back down. His army could not afford another serious setback caused by betrayal, since they would have to undergo all sorts of hardships and danger in the near future.
"Lu, Lu Huan."
Long Haiying seemed to have exhausted all his strength to utter that name. After saying it, his whole head sank down between his broad shoulders.
Gu Shenwei felt that his heart had just skipped a beat when he heard the name. Lu Huan was not a swordsman but a macheteman under the command of Tuo Nengya.
"Someone outside the Greatsword Peak was also involved in the betrayal. This is the worst possible outcome," Gu Shenwei sighed in his heart and then he thought of Zhong Heng's words, "'Looking for the truth' and 'solving the problem' are completely different concepts."
"Stand up," Gu Shenwei commanded.
Long Haiying managed to get up, his body still shaking.
"I want someone to attack the Golden Roc Fort's army in the southeast. By doing so, we can delude our enemies into believing that we're advancing toward the southeast and gain more time for our main body to retreat southward," said Gu Shenwei.
Long Haiying's gaze brightened at these words. He stopped shivering and doubtfully looked at the Dragon King for a moment. After that, he knelt again and said, "I'll never forget your kindness, Dragon King."
Long Haiying was a typical swordsman and not good at expressing his gratitude with words.
He knew that the Dragon King was planning to sacrifice his life to save his and the Greatsword Peak's reputation.
The Dragon King could not execute a tribal leader without announcing his crime. Given that, if Gu Shenwei directly executed Long Haiying, everyone would know the tribal leader's wrong deeds and keep cursing him for years after his death. The Greatsword Peak would also be disgraced by his conduct.
However, if Long Haiying ended up dying on the battlefield, he would be remembered as a martyr instead of a traitor.
"Don't take too many people with you," said Gu Shenwei. He had to send some innocent soldiers to accompany Long Haiying on this mission while knowing for sure that they would never be able to come back alive.
He had no choice but to sacrifice them for the future of the entire army.
Long Haiying left the tent with tears of gratitude and went back to his own tribe to pick out some swordsmen for the mission. He got so many volunteers that he found it very difficult to dissuade many of them from following himself.
Lu Huan was a subordinate of Tuo Nengya. When Gu Shenwei was pondering about how to break this to the elderly macheteman, a swordsman and a macheteman walked into his tent with a captive and then shoved the captive to the floor in front of him. They nodded to him without saying a word, turned around and walked out.
Swordsmen from the Great Snowmountain did not care much about social etiquette, and now the machetemen in the army began to follow suit.
The captive looked pale and crouched low to the ground, shivering. Different from Long Haiying, it was not the shame but his fear that gave him the shivers.
"Dra-Dragon King..." he stuttered.
Lu Huan, who was in his early 20s, did not look like a spy at all. With his round face, thick eyebrows and big eyes, he looked more like a little boy, and thus could easily win the trust of others.
"Tell me the truth. To be dead or alive, it's up to you," Gu Shen deliberately said something ambiguous to get the young man to talk.
"I'm a professional macheteman hired by the Golden Roc Fort, and my whole family has been taken hostage by the Supreme King. I've no choice. If I didn't follow the lord's order, my entire family would be killed. Dragon King, please forgive me. I don't want to die. I've two children..."
Lu Huan rambled a lot about his personal life, but Gu Shenwei did not want to hear this. He was well aware how good an experienced macheteman was at lying. Furthermore, even if what Lu Huan said was true, he would never let a traitor off. "Boss Tuo helped you a lot," said Gu Shenwei.
"Boss Tuo?" Lu Huan said, and uncertainty flickered in his eyes. He quickly concealed whatever might be showing on his face and added, "Yes, Yes, it was Boss Tuo who told me to..."
"That's enough," thought Gu Shenwei, while drawing his Five Peaks Saber to cut Lu Huan's throat. The young man's reaction had clearly showed that Tuo Nengya had nothing to do with this incident of betrayal . Before Lu Huan's dead body fell to the ground, Gu Shenwei had already sheathed his saber and stepped out of his tent.
The swordsmen outside looked bewildered; they had just finished preparations for battle and now they were asked to get ready to flee. Shortly after that, the tribal chief of the Greatsword Peak came out, announcing that he was going to lead a team to fight against the Golden Roc Fort's army but selected only less than 20 soldiers to join his team-it was all very bewildering.
Under the astonished gaze of the swordsmen, Long Haiying gathered his men and mounted his horse. When this team was about to take its leave, Gu Shenwei walked to Long Haiying, slightly bowed to the elderly swordsman and then turned around to face the soldiers gathering nearby. "The tribal chief of the Greatsword Peak and these 16 swordsmen are going to sacrifice themselves to protect us. Please remember that. Our foe is the Golden Roc Fort. We're going to take revenge on it some day in the future."
Upon hearing the Dragon King's words, every swordsman present immediately unsheathed his heavy sword to pay his respect to Long Haiying and the 16 swordsmen. They held their sword hilts with both hands, brought their sword tips down to touch the ground and lowered their heads toward the team.
Long Haiying cast a grateful glance at the Dragon King, while feeling that he had a lot to say to the young lord. On second thought, he considered that there was no need to say such words at all.
"May heaven bless you, Dragon King! May heaven bless the Great Snowmountain!" Long Haiying shouted, while squeezing his horse's sides with his legs, and then he led his suicide squad consisting of only 16 soldiers to gallop out of the camp, heading toward the Golden Roc Fort's army in the southeast.
"Break camp," commanded Gu Shenwei. He would lead the remaining 1,600 or so soldiers to travel deep into the wilderness in the south and make a detour to reach the Xiaoyao Lake
This route only existed in legends. Gu Shenwei had heard about it from some elderly machetemen who had rich jianghu experience. After talking to them for several days, he finally found three men who could work as guides for the journey.
These three guides did not know the exact route, but all of them earnestly assured that besides the two routes in the desert, there was another one in the mountains, which also led to the Xiaoyao Lake.
Gu Shenwei was determined to take that route to avoid being trapped in a battle against the Golden Roc Fort at this place, which he probably could not win easily. Besides, Norland's cavalrymen were running rampant in Shu-lik now and could steer their troops to catch up and eliminate the Great Snowmountain troops at any moment.
The Great Snowmountain troops quickly finished preparing themselves for the expedition to the south.
When the army hit the road, Gu Shenwei came to the machetemen troop.
Tuo Nengya was carried on a stretcher by two machetemen, since he had just recovered some health and the ability to speak.
Gu Shenwei held his hand and walked beside his stretcher silently for a long time.
"Who's the hidden traitor?" Tuo Nengya suddenly asked. Unlike the simple-minded swordsmen, he could intuit the Dragon King's thoughts sometimes.
"Lu Huan. But that problem is already solved. You don't have to worry about it anymore," replied Gu Shenwei.
Upon hearing that, Tuo Nengya immediately knew what the facts were. "As an ordinary macheteman, Lu Huan could never have incited the swordsmen to fight a head-on battle against the Golden Roc Fort's army without the help of a powerful person. The tribal chief of the Greatsword Peak, who volunteered for a suicide mission, is probably the one that got used by him. The Dragon King just wanted to express his confidence in me by coming here and telling me not to worry."
"That's good," said Tuo Nengya, while thinking that this was perhaps the best solution to the problem.
Like a junior fulfilling his filial duties to the elderly macheteman, Gu Shenwei walked a long way while holding Tuo Nengya's hand.
Three days later, when the Golden Roc Fort's army discovered that the remaining 1,600 or so soldiers of the Great Snowmountain had already sneaked into the barren mountains in the south, they were astonished. They had gotten accustomed to the swordsmen's usual fighting style, which was "only advance, never retreat", and never expected them to flee.
They had only met the tribal chief of the Greatsword Peak and 16 swordsmen on the battleground, but such a small team could not satisfy their appetite and was quickly annihilated.
When Dugu Xian examined the dead bodies after that battle, he recognized Long Haiying and knew that he had been outwitted by the Dragon King. "That youth is more cunning than a sophisticated con man." From that moment on, Dugu Xian began to see the young man differently.
After that battle, Dugu Xian led his elite cavalry units to chase after the Great Snowmountain troops. Five days later, when his vanguard units discovered the trace of the Great Snowmountain troops, a snow storm suddenly arrived and completely blocked the way leading to the south.
Everyone in Du Xian's cavalry troop firmly believed that the Dragon King and his soldiers were killed in the unexpected snow storm; this was further substantiated by the discovery of a large number of corpses when the snow stopped. They brought those dead bodies back to Jade City as proof that the Snowmountain soldiers had all perished in the snow storm.
In the following six months, almost all the people maintained that the Great Snowmountain was no longer a major power in Western Region.