Chapter 58: Puppet
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
The Village Chief trembled, and took sometime to process what Pei Zi Yun was talking about. His heart was pumping furiously within his chest. He could hear the loud noises made by the drums, his ear was buzzing and his stomach felt empty. His head was spinning in fear as he took two steps back and fell on his butt, where he sat, not knowing what to do.
"My god!" A gust of wind blew past as the Village Chief shook once more, his whole body was shaking, "Is this real? Am I dreaming!"
"Listen, the drums are being beaten!" Pei Zi Yun looked up, and saw that everything was pitch black. However, he heard several villagers echoing the bowmen, "There are bandits here. The bandits have attacked us!"
"Zhang Er Zi has been killed!" Someone shouted from the entrance of the village.
The Village Chief let out a groan of despair, "We're finished. We're finished. We're all doomed."
The Village Chief had given up, but everyone else was still fighting for a chance at survival. The beats of drums echoed deep into the night. At this point the entire village had come alive with fear. A villager had been woken up by the sound of the drums. He walked to the door and pressed his ears to it. He then understood what was happening.
The woman on the bed had woken up too. She carried a one-year-old baby and walked over. The baby boy was wailing loudly.
Hearing the commotion outside, he turned around and retrieved his spear. This spear was given by the government officials, to defend the village against bandit attacks. Seeing her husband retrieving his spear, the woman's face turned pale. The man said firmly, "Wife, I have to go out. If the bandits win the battle, and they come into our house, you will be unable to flee as well. Do as we did the last time, go to the back and hide. When everything's over, I'll call you out."
The woman squeezed her hands into a fist as her nails cut into her palms. She did not put up a fight, instead she said resignedly said, "Come back earlier. The boy and I shall await your return."
She then said to the boy in her arms, "Tell daddy to come back home soon!"
The boy was only one year old, and naturally would not understand anything. Instead, he started wailing even louder. He took a long look at his son, before turning around wordlessly, holding on to his spear as he entered the fray.
The village was chaotic, and yet several villagers weren't afraid. The Patrol Officer had sent men to the village to train these villagers, they've also been given long spears and were taught how to use them. It was enough to deal with these bandits. Also, the fact that the Black Wind bandits were exterminated after attacking Snail Village was enough to prevent any other bandits from attacking.
With confidence in their abilities, the brave village men gathered together. The bravest among them were the seventeen or eighteen-year-old men, as they dashed out of their homes fearlessly, wielding their long spears. The minute they saw villagers running away, they asked, "Where are the bandits?"
Before long, the open space in front of the Village Chief had about 7 or 8 young men running over. They were all carrying spears. Seeing the Village Chief look this distraught, they had no idea what caused it.
'I cannot let this man ruin the confidence and mood of our village men!' Pei Zi Yun looked at him and understood what he had to do. This Village Chief was always awe-inspiring on a normal day, yet when the time called for him to lead his people he started imploding and was on the brink of giving up. During times like these, everyone had to kill in order to ensure their own survival. With this thought in mind, he shouted loudly, "Village Chief, the bandits have attacked our village. You are the chief. Hurry up and inform all the households of what has happened. Gather all the brave men of the village here, facing the bandits. So that we know that everyone behind us are our own villager."
"And, remember to ask the weak and old to hide themselves. For those that do not have time to hide, tell them not to leave their houses no matter what. If not, when the killing starts, they would be murdered easily."
Under the torch, it was clear that Pei Zi Yun was dressed in his High Scholar robes. After shouting several orders, the panicked folks around him had steadied their hearts, seeing a leader take control of the situation. Pei Zi Yun then shouted once more, "The Black Wind bandits are evil and ferocious. Do not think of running away from them, for they will break our village and kill our families. If you wish to stay here, fight on, and protect our family, come with me. Zhang Dashan, where are you?"
"I'm here!" Zhang Dashan ran up, holding his spear.
"You are the leader of the village's brave men. Gather the men, do not panic, and follow your training procedures."
"Yes sir!" Zhang Dashan responded. The few villagers beside him were loyal and would obey his command.
Seeing this scene unfold before him, the Village Chief's expression underwent tremendous change. He knew that he had been cowardly just moments before, and lost his authoritative image. However, Pei Zi Yun's words were true. They could not run away. Their only hope was to fight this battle. After being a Village Chief for many years, he still knew how to lead men. He hurriedly called some people over, as he gathered the men and arranged for the old people to hide in various spots.
"All the men of the village, gather here. Those with enough strength, pick up a weapon of your choice."
"All the women and elderly of the village, hide yourselves. Those that are unable to hide, do not ever leave your houses."
Pei Household, Defense perimeter
"Ah!" Just as the first black robed man jumped atop the wall, his entire body froze as he fell back down. Zhang Jie Yu had almost ordered the rest of his men up the wall when he saw this man falling back down and was shocked, "What? Is this an ambush?"
He turned around, and slapped the man behind him hard on his cheek. He fell to the ground hard, causing dust and debris to fly up. Zhang Jie Yu looked down at him and said coldly, "Zhang Pei Sheng, you gave me an unreliable report."
This man in black robes was scared stiff, "Young master, I did indeed inquire properly. There are only a few fit men in the village. Very seldom does this village have Patrol Officers, patrolling the perimeter."
Zhang Jie Yu was furious as he heard these words. He drew his sword, its blade gleaming under the moonlight. Pointing at the wall, he shouted in anger, "If that were the case, why did the man who climbed the wall die instantly?"
"You climb up the wall now! And report whatever you see to me. If not I'll kill you right here myself."
Zhang Pei Sheng was a relative of Zhang Jie Yu. He only brought Zhang Pei Sheng out today because he was talented and capable. He had intended to groom Zhang Pei Sheng, and would not have thought of killing him ever. However, just one mistake in his report had cost him the deaths of four brothers.
If this wasn't the work of skilled patrol soldiers, there was no way he would incur such heavy losses this early into the fight. In fact, he would've broken through the village by now. The drums beating within Snail Village was getting louder and louder. Zhang Jie Yu realized that the element of surprise had been lost. He should've brought more soldiers and massacred the entire village anyway. Since he was already here however, he had to follow through with the attack.
Seeing that the bandits did not dare to climb over the wall, the Chief Patrol Officer was pleased. Someone ignited a torch behind him, illuminating the area around for a fraction of a second. He thought to himself, 'You group of bandits, how dare you attack this village? If you do not surrender now, your regrets will come too late!'
After igniting a torch, it was clear that there were only 8 or 9 soldiers on the wall.
A bowman saw Zhang Pei Sheng's head sticking out to get a better look. He then pulled back on the bowstring and aimed an arrow at his face "Woosh" The arrow flew past his face and scraped the side of his cheek. He touched his cheek and found that he was bleeding. He hurriedly rolled down in fear.
Just as he was about to cry out in pain, he looked at Zhang Jie Yu's grim expression and suppressed his cries. With some good news, he said contentedly, "Young master, it's not an ambush. There is nobody inside, just a few bowmen."
"It must've been a coincidence that they were here. If it really was an ambush, there would be more people."
Hearing that it wasn't an ambush, Zhang Jie Yu's face regained some color. Yang Kun's face remained stoic and expressionless. Afterall, he was the gang leader and should act as such, "Young master, are we moving forward or not. We've already lost the upper hand, if we proceed forward, we might incur heavy losses."
Zhang Pei Sheng seemed to be flustered as he shouted, "Young master, we can't back down. The Patrol Officer inside has already seen our faces, and you didn't wear a mask. If it was any ordinary citizen, we could forget it. But this Patrol Officer has the means at his disposal to uncover your identity..."
Zhang Jie Yu heard these words and his face turned cold. It was one thing for Pei Zi Yun to make preparations for the attack tonight, and it was another that his own identity might be exposed. The latter had more severe implications.
Seeing that he had a few men with him, he took a mask and wore it before pointing his sword in the direction of the village and shouted, "We shall split up in two groups.The first shall wait at the back to block our target from escaping. The second group, break down that door. And force our way in."
He saw that Yang Kun was hesitating. He smiled and said, "Gang leader Yang. There are only 9 of them inside, and some of them are bowmen. The reason our brother died by an arrow was because we were not ready. Now that we are, and everyone is a skilled fighter, don't tell me we are not skilled enough to force our way in and kill our target?"
These words made sense. If there were more than 10 bowmen atop the wall, even the most skilled fighter would not be able to avoid the arrows. Just a mere few bowmen would not matter. However, Yang Kun was worried that if they continued with the assault, some of his brothers would perish here.
Among the 20 to 30 men with them today, half of them were his best men from the Luo gang. The rest were the remaining members of Black Wind Sect and Silver Dragon Temple.
If his best men were to die, how would he retain his position along the Hu River?
Plus killing an official was equivalent to starting a rebellion, and the punishment for such a crime was far too heavy to bear. As of now, nobody had seen his face yet either.
Zhang Jie Yu could see Yang Kun's face under the glow of the fire. He seemed to be deep in thought, considering something. Yang Kun was the leader of the Luo gang. Would he choose to be a martyr for their cause and risk his life?
Zhang Jie Yu eyed him suspiciously. He seemed to be extremely conflicted and unsure, still deep in thought. After sometime, he made up his mind and said, "Young master, about this matter..."
Even before he could say another word, Zhang Jie Yu's pupils constricted as he exuded a fearsome look. He reached into his pockets and touched a square bronze seal. The minute his skin made contact with it, it jumped out of his pockets and landed into his hands. Zhang Jie Yu started muttering the incantations taught to him by his sect.
He had been warned countless of times by members of his sect that this incantation was not to be used under any circumstances excluding emergencies. As he was reciting, he fet his forehead pulse. He combined his Qi with the spell that he was conjuring.
The seal started to give out a red glow of magical light, as it imprinted itself onto his brain.
Zhang Jie Yu shook violently as he thought, 'So this is what the incantation can do!'
Although this was described over sometime, it happened in a fraction of a second. Just as Yang Kun was about to reject the idea, a blinding flash of white light shot within his head. A man stood up, in his head, shrouded in red light, speaking in a loud and threatening voice, "Yang Kun, you still refuse to obey?"
Yang Kun has been a gang leader all his life. Even as this was unfolding within his mind, he still struggled and shouted, "No! I am the gang leader of Luo gang, and not your puppet!"
The man who was draped in light, inside Yang Kun's mind laughed uncontrollably, "A few years back, your slave father came to my sect for help, and signed a pact with me. And now you dare to go back on that pact?"
A red flash of light engulfed the entire scene within his mind. Yang Kun let out a groan as blood streamed down his nose, mouth and ears. He was shocked for sometime, before he said in a strained voice, "Fellow brothers, listen to me. Some of you, go down to the back and wait for our target to show up. The rest of you, follow me. Let's kill!"
He then rushed down the entrance of the village. Seeing the gang leader of Luo gang rushing out like that, everyone paused for a second before running with him toward the gate.
"A shame, what a shame!" Pei Zi Yun was not pleased about this, in fact, he was rather sad. Nobody would willingly become a puppet. After using this spell, Yang Kun would either die in battle or become a dimwit. Even if did manage to survive, he would resist the spell the first chance he gets. Even though a sect has the power of Dao, once an affiliate group rebels against them, the strength of the sect will take a huge hit and be impacted.
That was why, regardless of whether they win tonight or not, Yang Kun has to die!
And after he's dead, the next person who takes over Luo Gang will definitely not be as capable. This would be a big loss. As he thought about this, he let out a maniacal laugh, 'Pei Zi Yun, as long as your whole family dies under my hands tonight, I will willingly pay this price.'