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Chapter 805: Colluding with the Enemy
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Duodun’s face suddenly changed. He winked at his friends around him, who immediately rushed out to open several other random boxes. They even knocked over some boxes on the southern side of the road, which all belonged to the Dragon King. All of the spilled boxes were filled with materials like iron ingots, weapons, and cotton-padded clothes; there wasn’t even a hint of gold or silver.
Duodun glared at the Dragon King and asked, “Is this what you’re here for?”
Gu Shenwei put on a look of surprise as he replied, “These are all important supplies. What else would Your Highness want?”
For the first time ever, Duodun felt so furious with the Dragon King that he almost wanted to wage war at all costs. However, he forcefully held himself back because the Dragon King was within ten paces of him and no one could stop him at that range. In the end, Duodun said, “We’ll meet again some other day” before turning around.
“Good-bye then, Your Highness.” Gu Shenwei replied politely.
As Duodun started trotting away, an officer asked a question he should have never asked. “Your Highness, these goods…”
Duodun raised his whip and lashed the officer mercilessly before commanding, “Take them away, fool.”
The officer covered his face and pa.s.sed the order along. Duodun’s anger abated slightly, and he turned around again, this time with a smiling face, to speak to the Dragon King. “In a few days, the young king of Shulitu will bring a part of the army to the Western Regions for the winter. Will the Dragon King come with me to inspect the soldiers?”
Liman solemnly nodded to the Dragon King and sighed for seemingly no reason as he patted his horse to follow Duodun.
The Norland Army put their newly acquired goods on their horses and quickly withdrew. The Restoration Army gathered up all the livestock and carts that the Norland Army had left behind. They’d rather clean up slowly than leave anything for the Meng family and Golden Roc Castle’s forces.
A hundred soldiers of the Golden Roc Army were then brought before the Dragon King. Their weapons had been confiscated, and everyone was nervous. Some of them even wanted to get down on their knees, but held back after bending their knees twice.
“Your mission is over,” Gu Shenwei said. “Go back to Jade City.”
The soldiers were all surprised that the Dragon King was letting them go so easily, and no one moved. Old Man Mu walked over and waved his long sword threateningly. “Why don’t you show your grat.i.tude and scram? Are you waiting for the Dragon King to kick your a.s.s?”
The soldiers of Golden Roc Army all turned around and fled eastward at the same time. In their haste, they left their horses behind, a decision they would soon regret a few miles later.
Shangguan Fei, his mouth agape, was riding at the back of the line as he continuously shook his head. Upon seeing the Dragon King, he immediately put on a flattering smile. “The Dragon King has long known that… No, it was the Dragon King’s brilliant idea after all. Haha, you’ve kept us all in the dark. Describe Duodun’s expression; I heard that he couldn’t stop b.i.t.c.hing and moaning.”
Old Man Mu, who thought a little further, pointed at Duan Zihua who was not far away and asked, “Do I have to silence him?”
Duan Zihua was startled by his question and anxiously rushed over. “Dragon King, I…”
Gu Shenwei lifted his hand and stopped him from doing anything more. “You are safe here. You don’t have to go back to Jade City. Just follow me from now on.”
Duan Zihua bowed to show his respect as he replied, “Yes.” He did not realize that the Dragon King in front of him was the stranger who had broken into his house and questioned him that night.
Dog Butcher, who did not fully understand what was going on, unwittingly asked, “What on earth is going on? Where are all the gold, silver, and jewelry? Didn’t the Meng family have more than half of their property in the carts?”
Old Man Mu made a triumphant turn as if he had known the secret all along. “Idiot, the Dragon King knew that such an important matter could not be kept a secret, so he simply created a diversion and drew everyone’s attention to the caravan. In fact, the Meng family’s fortune has already been smuggled away through other means.”
“If their fortune is really as large as they say, how did they transport it?”
Dog Butcher wanted to get to the bottom of the matter, but Old Man Mu didn’t have any answers so he casually said, “The dog’s head can’t think of anything. But how can you be sure that the Dragon King couldn’t think of anything?”
Dog Butcher just smiled without asking further. He had gotten used to Old Man Mu’s habit of belittling others and did not care anymore.
The remaining half of the confiscated goods were spread out on the carts and were moved westward. Since Duodun had joined in dividing up the spoils, the Restoration Army no longer had to take side roads.
The leaders of the four or five camel teams all came together to thank the Dragon King. They had received permission to follow the army, but all decided in their hearts that they would after returning, they would persuade their masters to stop doing business because there were no more safe pa.s.sageways to the Western Regions.
Three days later, the Restoration Army returned to its camp without any hindrances. The Norland soldiers at the sentry post watched them pa.s.s almost respectfully.
The top commander of the Dragon King’s guards troops was a Vice Commandant of the Thousands Guards, named Wu Zongheng. He was a man of the An Kingdom of Xiaoyao Lake. He had been left at the camp for garrison duty, and he requested to see the Dragon King as soon as his group came back.
“Just as the Dragon King predicted,” Wu Zongheng said with a serious look. He had once joined the plot of the Empress Dowager of the An Kingdom, but had eventually been forgiven by the Dragon King, so he was particularly loyal. “We have captured him.”
Gu Shenwei nodded without asking who he had caught. “Take me to see him.”
The prince of Shule was pacing back and forth nervously in his tent. Upon seeing the Dragon King come in, he nearly collapsed onto the ground. Then he forced himself to calm down and, with feigned irritation, said, “Dragon King, I need an explanation. What is all this about? I am one of the commanders of the Restoration Army. Don’t I even have the right to leave the camp? Commandant Wu locked me up and said that it was your order.”
“Yes, it was my order,” Gu Shenwei said coldly, deliberately avoiding his eyes. Wu Zongheng brought over a chair, Gu Shenwei sat in it, and then said in an authoritative tone, “Sit down.”
The prince of Shule, whose legs had jellified long ago, immediately sat down on the soft couch. “Misunderstanding, there must be some sort of misunderstanding. Dragon King, please listen to me…”
Gu Shenwei shook his head. “You know that I won’t kill you. First, you are the prince of Shule and are still influential in the Shule Kingdom. Second, you’ve helped me in the past, and we have had cordial relationships. Third, you are Tie Linglong’s brother. I’ll spare you for her sake.”
The prince broke out in a cold sweat. Then he said in an ambivalent tone that shifted between relaxed and aggrieved, “Dragon King, you… I don’t know what you’re trying to say.”
“Do I have to say it? Don’t you understand? I am the only one who can protect you.”
The prince straightened up as if he wanted to fight to the bitter end, but then, like a deflated ball, he drew back and thought for a long while before whispering, “I want to speak to the Dragon King alone.”
Wu Zongheng received a signal from the Dragon King and retreated.
The prince seemed a bit calmer after Wu Zongheng left. “I’m not afraid of death, nor am I ungrateful. I’m just doing what I have to do in order to rebuild the Shule Kingdom.”
“I believe you.”
“The Norland people are too strong. Even if all the countries of the Western Regions join hands, we are still no match for them. It is impossible to drive them away through warring.”
“But you still took control of the army from me.”
“At that time, going to war was the only way. I must do it even if I don’t think I can. But it’s different now. The Norland has been torn apart. Prince Duodun wants to seize the throne of the Khan. Compared to his ambition, the Shule Kingdom is nothing in his eyes. Thus, I was wondering if we could send the Norland people away through peaceful means.”
“Are those your thoughts or Duodun’s?”
The prince blushed. “It doesn’t matter. The key is that it can be done. Prince Duodun promised me that he would lead his troops back to the prairie late in the spring of next year and fight Luoluo. At that time…” The prince hesitated for a moment before continuing, “At that time, he would allow me to recover the Shule Kingdom. Additionally, he would hand over Heaven’s Pa.s.sto the Shule Kingdom in return for me providing him with the necessary supplies…”
Gu Shenwei didn’t say anything. Duodun had offered a tempting proposal of exchanging services just like his proposal to the Dragon King. Almost n.o.body would refuse unless they were sure from the very beginning that it would never happen.
The prince was anxious to defend himself, saying, “It’s a good deal. The most important cause behind the fall of Shule was that there was no natural barrier to defend the eastern side. It will not be easy for the Norland people to come in again if we have control of Heaven’s Pa.s.s.”
“So you sold me out to the Norland.”
“No, no.” The prince’s face was sweatier than ever. Even during his exile, he had never been so pressured. “Duodun asked me to report the Dragon King’s movements to them, and he never said… He didn’t attack the Dragon King, did he? Because I told him that I didn’t want to kill the Dragon King as the Dragon King was an important force in checking Golden Roc Castle and the Central Plains’ power.”
Gu Shenwei didn’t point out the many loopholes in his words. “But you let Duodun down.”
The prince bowed his head in dismay. “I overestimated my ability to play tricks in front of the Dragon King. Prince Duodun wasn’t able to take the money from the Meng family and also didn’t expect the Dragon King to bring 10,000 men with him. He thought that I had given him false information on purpose and had demanded me to meet with him at once.”
“So you tried to run away.”
“He would have killed me!” The prince of Shule raised his voice somehow, “Duodun… Prince Duodun never forgives the mistakes of others.”
That was enough. Gu Shenwei stood up and felt a bit disappointed. He had set the bait and thought that the fish would be Shang Liao, the General of the Right. Instead, it had turned out to be the prince of Shule.
But it was reasonable enough. Shang Liao had a half-hearted loyalty towards the Dragon King, but he was clever enough to see through Duodun’s hypocrisy. He was certainly more willing to maintain a balance between the forces on either side rather than completely throw his lot in with one side.
“You said that you wouldn’t kill me,” said the prince of Shule immediately, raising his arm and leaning back as if a saber were slashing at him.
“I won’t take your life, but you have to hand over everything else. The city, the fodder, the soldiers, the n.o.bles, and the rich men of Shule. You know where they are all hiding. I’ll send someone to talk to them.”
The prince’s face turned ashen. “In that case, wouldn’t I have nothing left at all?”
“Mmm, you’ll have nothing but I’ll pay you back with a unified Shule Kingdom. When I take Jade City and conquer Golden Roc Castle, you’ll become the King of Shule.”
“But Prince Duodun and the Norland people…”
“They are my problem, not yours. Stay in the barracks and do not try to escape. That’s the only premise where I won’t kill you.”
The prince of Shule looked at the Dragon King with a queer look as if he were seeing him for the first time. “Yes, I’ll surrender everything.”
Gu Shenwei went back to his tent. After taking a short break, he suddenly said, “You’ve been quiet lately.”
Tie Linglong walked out. “Because I have nothing to say,” she said with a slightly cold tone.
Gu Shenwei looked at her and said, “Do not tell lies as I do. You are not good at that.”
Tie Linglong blushed. There were many words she wanted to say to the Dragon King, and she hoped to get just as many answers from him. However, she was too shy to open her mouth, so she changed the topic and instead asked, “That prince, why didn’t you just kill him?”
“I can’t touch him just yet because none of his relations have been severed.”
Tie Linglong had heard Gu Shenwei talk about ‘severing the target’s connections before killing them,’ but had not quite yet understood the concept. “Then do it slowly.”
Gu Shenwei felt Tie Linglong was a little weird, but it was not his first time thinking that so he didn’t keep it in mind. “What about the things I asked you to do?”
“You mean looking for the mole?”
“I hope that you took it seriously because you are the only one I trust among that group.”
Tie Linglong ‘s face turned even redder. She hurriedly said, “I took it seriously, really. But there aren’t many clues. Shangguan Fei secretly spoke to Lady Meng several times and he looked very happy after each talk. Dog Butcher was the most obedient and never met with any strangers. But Old Man Mu was completely different. He always disappeared mysteriously. No one knew where he went. I asked him, but he wouldn’t tell me. As for Han Wuxian, no one saw her at all. She seemed to have found something. Nie Zeng… Nie Zeng didn’t go to spy on the Central Plains people for two nights. He acted somewhat mysteriously and must have hidden something.”
There were indeed not many clues, but it was enough for Gu Shenwei to draw a preliminary conclusion.