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He had been restraining a belly full of anger that entire journey. The man didn't even know what he had been escorting. This entire journey had been an unusual mystery to him. On top of that, they had hastened the entire journey. As a result, he and his twenty men were nearly falling apart due to exhaustion. Moreover, nothing unusual had happened since the beginning of the journey.
[Isn't this just pure and unnecessary torment?]
[The Zhao Family's men seem to be very serious. It seems like their mothers have died. And, then there are those other bastards… God knows where they've come from! Those guys have acted so arrogantly …as if my men are just meant for odd jobs! Would the Emperor's Imperial Bodyguards have acted like that with me if they were here instead of this bunch?] Meng Xiao Song had been left feeling very gloomy because of all these factors.
They had hurried the entire journey. Their buttocks had been segmented after riding their horses for the entire day. So, they had all sighed with relief when night fell. They had just started to think that they could finally rest… that they would look for a decent tavern and enjoy a good wine. They were in the mood to find a young woman to have a good time with. But, they had unexpectedly received a command to accelerate their pace further.
[This is against the will of the heavens! Isn't this completely unreasonable? ]
[Every mission I take becomes a scenic tour. So, why are you giving us such a hard time? Do you think that I would've personally come on this trip if it weren't for your promise to pay an insanely-high price of fifty thousand silver taels? However, I've given you the respect of a man. So, don't think that you can work me like a donkey!]
That is why Meng Xiao Song — the Vice-President of the Southern Trading Union — couldn't bear it anymore. So, he asked in a rude and loud voice.
"It's of great importance! We have no choice but to be vigilant! Vice-President Meng is extremely magnanimous, but still I ask him to forgive us for this," Zhao Wu Ji forced a smile and cupped his hands.
"Bullsh*t! 'Of great importance, of great importance;' I must've heard this line 800 times over the course of this journey! I'm sick of the trouble you've been giving me! Zhao Wu Ji, I advise that you give us some respect. You're paying us a lot of money to protect your convoy on this trip. But, we are not the Zhao Family's hired errand boys. You must understand this point very clearly. Don't think that we're dim-witted pigs!"
Meng Xiao Song was anxious. He had heard that line, "great importance!" so many times over the course of the journey that it had caused calluses in his ears. So, he couldn't help but explode when he heard it again.
Zhou Wu Ji forced a smile. He was about to give an explanation because it wouldn't do to have his own side stuck in internal strife. But, four men suddenly arrived riding on their horses. The faces of the four horsemen were cold as they came over. Their eyes were open wide as they stared at Meng Xiao Song and spoke coldly, "What's going on? What are you arguing for? You brat, why are you so dissatisfied… did your mother die or something?"
The four horsemen were from the Devine Storm Guard. They had also made a difficult journey. So, they too harbored a lot of complaints in their hearts. However, they didn't like it when they saw Meng Xiao Song take the lead and voice his discontent. [We haven't complained one bit. So, what are you worth?]
Meng Xiao Song could clearly feel an intense murderous intention emanate from those four horsemen. His heart suddenly flew into a rage. [These handfuls of trivial Gold Xuan soldiers dare to threaten an Earth Xuan expert like me? In fact, they're scolding me!? This is against the heaven's law! How can it ever be reasonable?]
"Why? You have something to say in this matter?" Meng Xiao Song looked at them coldly, and put his hand on the hilt of his sword.
However, Meng Xiao Song instantly regretted doing that because ten other warriors suddenly crowded around him. Their swords made 'ringing' noises as they shouted and unsheathed them; their blades glittered with a cold light. Then, those warriors suddenly charged towards them without saying another word, and slashed down mercilessly with their swords.
"Insane! You're insane!"
They were many in number, but they were only at the Gold Xuan realm. So, they shouldn't have been much of a problem for someone like Meng Xiao Song who was at Earth Xuan realm. However, action of the Devine Storm Gaurd had been completely unexpected since they were all companions for the duration of this trip. …Meng Xiao Song's face had made it obvious that he wasn't exactly happy, but he hadn't done anything as of yet. But, those men had suddenly started to attack without saying anything… or giving any reasons. The other party wasn't even ready…
"Stop! Everyone stop! We are all on the same side!" Zhao Wu Ji had started to sweat profusely. But, he rushed over to mediate.
"Slam! Slam!" they had finally withstood the first round of the siege. But just then, another horseman came over with the intention to attack them; those men weren't very strong, but their disposition when mounting an attack was that of 'one soldier filling the gap left by a toppled comrade'. They wouldn't give-up unless they had defeated the enemy.
Zhao Wu Ji was extremely anxious. He was barely able to speak, "Everyone! Everyone, we're on the same side. We're all going to the capital for a major event. So, why are you attacking friendlies?"
After several efforts to mediate… both sides called for a halt.
The Second Prince's Imperial Bodyguard was accustomed to oppressing people. So, how could they tolerate Meng Xiao Song? [So what if your cultivation is at Earth Xuan Realm? Many Earth Xuan exerts have died by our brothers' hands. How could you be any different?]
[We see that you're Earth Xuan, and we are merely Gold Xuans. But, us brothers are the Imperial Family's sworn bodyguards. We're the government, and you're the commoner! We'd get it if you were a Sky Xuan or higher. But, how can you dare to display such a temperament when you're not? We'll brand you a traitor you idiot!]
The Imperial Bodyguards maliciously looked at Meng Xiao Song's fleshy butt. [We've heard that many serious felons are into buggery…]
Meng Xiao Song had flared up in the beginning. But, he had calmed down after Zhao Wu Ji had whispered a few words into his ears.
"These men are from the Imperial Bodyguard," these softly spoken words had immediately dispelled Meng Xiao Song's anger. In fact, they had terrified him.
People hadn't fought with government officials since the ancient times.
This was the eternal and steadfast norm since time-immemorial.
An Imperial Bodyguard could kill a local official without any justification, and no one would say a word. So, what value did a person from the southern district hold? And, that too someone with a business house in the southern districts?
[No wonder Zhao Wu Ji was acting like an obedient grandson! This assignment is tantamount to royal service. Could we dredge-up a semi-official position after this assignment is over?] Meng Xiao Song started to look at those Imperial Bodyguards in a flattering manner as this thought crossed his mind.
Then, the convoy resumed its journey. The mood had become quite harmonious because of that little tiff.
There was a tall mountain up ahead. It was called the 'Tian Xiang Iron Wall'. It was like a natural rampart that protected the Capital.
One could vaguely see the Tian Xiang City after they had climbed the top of that mountain.
The mission could be considered as ninety-nine percent complete after they had reached the mountain.
They could finally sigh with relief.
Zhao Wu Ji raised his palm, and ordered a short rest at the foot of the mountain. Those on foot unloaded their pots and pans, and started to prepare a meal. Everyone was to eat till they were satisfied, and then continue onwards with full speed to cover the remaining distance. The sooner they were inside the city walls… the happier they would be. Those 'brothers' were happily laughing together.
The smoke rose from the iron pots and disseminated the smell of rice. A barbeque was supported on iron frames. Its smell drifted in the air. Everyone swallowed their saliva with the greatest of greed in their eyes. Their spirits had been repressed the entire journey, and their bodies were extremely tired. It had been an unbearable trip...
However, they could finally relax and gorge themselves.
"Serve the meal!" Zhao Wu Tian shouted happily. He picked up a large iron bowl and advanced.
"He he... serve the meal? You think you'll get to have a meal? …That you'll gorge yourselves? You devils! The time is very limited! Go to hell, and eat a meal there!" a measured voice sneered. It seemed like an extremely cold wind from hell had started to 'whistle-about'. It chilled everyone to the bone!
"Who is it? Come out!" Everyone nervously sprang up, and unsheathed their swords in unison.
"We're here to rob you!" a loud and excited roar emanated as a blue light flashed. There was huge blast without any prior warning. The cooking pots on the ground exploded, and the cooked rice was scattered by the explosions. The iron fragments from the cooking pots flew everywhere. Then, the endless pained and miserable screams of several people were heard. The fact was that… many people had been unlucky-enough to die when fragments from the iron pots hit their bodies.
"A Sky Xuan expert?!" everyone exclaimed in alarm; without exception… whether it was the Earth Xuan Meng Xiao Song… or the previously arrogant Imperial Bodyguards.
A figure covered in blue light rushed out like a rocket. "SLAM! BANG!" several warriors in were sent flying. They sailed through the air like clouds in the sky. A masked and black-clothed individual stood in the middle of the area. He extended a hand, and grabbed Zhao Wu Tian by the neck. Then, he raised Zhao Wu Tian's body off the ground. His actions looked so effortless that it felt as if someone had grabbed a chicken by its neck. Zhao Wu Tian's face turned red and purple since he was being choked, while his arms and legs struggled helplessly in the air.
"Tell me! Where's that batch of Xuan Beast crossbows kept?" The blue light flickered around the masked black clad man as he tightened his grasp. A cold tyrannical light flashed in his eyes.
"Kill him!" a shout arose from all sides as thirty-to-forty people brandished their swords and dashed towards the black clad man without caring for Zhao Wu Tian's precarious situation. Meanwhile, Zhao Wu Ji shouted with a sense of urgency in his tone, "Careful… my younger brother…!"
Then, another excited roar emanated from the pitch-black mountain woods. This roar literally shook the ground. A second figure — his face hidden behind a mask, and body dressed in black clothes — suddenly rushed out. He too was covered in a blue light. He wielded his sword in left hand, and warned of the impending slaughter with his right.
The first black-clothed and masked man looked at Zhao Wu Tian and spoke in a cold tone; Zhao Wu Tian was struggling helplessly in his clutches. The masked individual's voice didn't have the slightest trace of emotion as he asked, "It'll be extremely bad for you if you don't speak. And, don't tell me it's inside the carriage. I won't be fooled by such a childish lie. You'll only meet one end if you dare lie to me — Death!"
"In… in…" Zhao Wu Tian's legs flailed in disarray, and his eyes belied his fear. A yellow ray of light flashed through him at that moment. He screamed and twitched for a moment. Then, he went limp.
"Bastard!" the black-clothed man cursed in rage and pounced. The nearly 500 men in the caravan were thrown into complete disarray.
Zhao Wu Ji let out a mournful and miserable scream in the midst of all that chaos, "Little brother!" He was suddenly filled with the desire to pounce at the warriors from the Imperial Guard, "You killed my younger brother!"
The warrior who was faced with Zhao Wu Ji's accusations… was actually the head of the Second Prince's Devine Storm Guard — Zhang Cun Xiao. He became even more ferocious when he saw the Zhao man becoming angry. His face became red, and he sternly shouted, "Zhao Wu Ji, you dare to go against the Second Master!? Your younger brother craved life and feared death. He would've divulged the secret if I had taken action any later! My decision to kill him was the proper thing to do. It was a natural course of action! A catastrophe would've befallen everyone if he had been allowed to reveal the secret! And, every member of your Zhao Family would've been beheaded because of it, you fool!"
Zhao Wu Ji trembled all over. Then, he came to complete halt. He had nowhere to vent his grief and indignation. So, he suddenly let out a violent roar. He then turned towards the first masked-and-black-clothed man, and dashed towards him.
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