CHAPTER 5: SOUTHERN BANDIT

VI

Bandit leader Jing Xu was following the 'Southern Frontier soldier' who had come to inform him to save Fu Zhi Cheng and the situation, but after a while, this experienced old bandit discovered one problem — the one leading the way seemed to be bringing them to a place the bandits often used for 'knocking the bell'.

There were often such places in the Southwest mountains. The terrain was extremely complex, with mazes that were born from nature, and except for the local snakes, no other would be able to make out the directions. There were countless dens underground. If the people inside were to set up an ambush, they could reach the level of unparalleled.

Mountain bandits generally first tried to trick people into such areas, then would block off the escape and rob them. This kind of place was ideal for carrying it out. It was specially designed to deal with some famous cargo escorting crew or groups from the pugilist world, referring to it in their slang as 'knocking the bell'.

Although Jing Xu was in a rush, his mind remained clear. Nearing the destination, he was shocked to realize that this place was a 'bell top'. With a layer of cold sweat on his back, he immediately stopped his footsteps and questioned the 'Southern Army soldier'. However, in just a few words, there had already been countless loopholes. The 'soldier' wanted to attack, but after being restrained by the bandits, he had drunk poison to commit suicide.

There was a burst of suspicion in Jing Xu's heart, he immediately ordered his men to turn around. On the way, he encountered two brothers from his camp, their bodies drenched in blood – only then did he know that his lair had been overturned. When they hurriedly rushed back, there was only the wreckage of rubble and burnt corpses everywhere.

Ten years of accumulation, destroyed overnight.

"Big brother!" A bandit ran over and grabbed Jing Xu's arm. "Secret passage, don't panic, we still have the secret passage!"

There were many mountains in the Southwest. Most of the mountain bandits learned to build many dens, together with a lot of secret passages in the mountains, it allowed them to flee underground.

If the enemy pressed in on their mountain, they could pretend to fight back, then escape into the thousands of secret passages. Even the Black Eagle in the sky could not catch an underground rat.

When the others heard this, their eyes lit up.

But Jing Xu was swaying and shaking, his expression in a daze. No trace of happiness could be found.

He watched as his underlings went to search the secret passages with joy and hope – he knew that the secret passage was now useless.

If the other party intended only to kill people, then most of those on the mountain could escape along the secret passage. In any case, they could not shake the foundation of the lair, but they had actually burned the mountain instead.

Even Kuai Lan Tu did not know what it was that he had burned down.

Jing Xu stood motionlessly for a long time. Not far from him, there was a sudden burst of a sharp cry. He could hear the person who went to search for the secret passage shouting in despair: "The secret passage has collapsed!"

Jing Xu closed his eyes — sure enough.


In this ordinary secret chamber under the mountain, what was stored was not real gold and silver like in Xing Zi Lin, but Ziliujin.


The imperial court's Ziliujin distribution to the local garrison was incredibly limited. Even the Black Iron Camp was no different than the rest, let alone the South Frontier Garrison, but Fu Zhi Cheng certainly had his own way. Kuai Lan Tu received a secret report and learned that Fu Zhi Cheng and Jing Xu had a very close relationship — but he did not know that in truth, Jing Xu was the 'clerk' who smuggled Ziliujin for Fu Zhi Cheng.


The mountain bandits' business was robbing, doing whatever that could be beneficial to them. Jing Xu came in contact with the black market for Fu Zhi Cheng and smuggled the Ziliujin, it was impossible for him not to profit off of this, but he believed that he was not a greedy man, only keeping one part for himself each time. Fu Zhi Cheng was aware of this and had always been silently accepting.


Just before this, Jing Xu just sent the latest batch of Ziliujin to the army of the Southern Frontier. In the secret room under the mountain, there was only just a surplus of ten percent of the Ziliujin, who would have known that it would become a life-claiming talisman, for after igniting, it had exploded in the secret passage in the mountain, annihilating and wiping out the entire lair.


Was this a coincidence? This could be a coincidence?


Jing Xu remembered a long time ago, someone had told him: 'the righteous are well versed in morals, the wicked are well versed in profit - those who gathered due to profit, will be scattered by profit'.


He and Fu Zhi Cheng were gathered together for profit; now that this matter had been uncovered, Fu Zhi Cheng, of course, could also easily abandon him. Bandits were plentiful on these mountains. Get rid of one Jing Xu, he could still raise countless others to replace him.


Someone ran up to him and said in a choked-up voice: "Big brother, let's dig up the secret passage, maybe there are still some survivors left."


Jing Xu stood there with indifference, shaking his head.


"Big brother!"


The sounds of crying broke out from all sides, Jing Xu suddenly shouted: "Enough!"


All the surviving bandits stood on the scorched surface of the ground and looked at him.


"Follow me." Jing Xu’s eyes gradually became red, like a beast that was ready to bite someone. He pressed his voice low through his teeth. "If Fu Zhi Cheng is not benevolent, don't blame me for being unjust — after these many years, does he truly think I do not have any ways to deal with him?”




"The Southern Frontier has many mountains and many hideouts. These mountains' bandits formed a system, and they don't act independently. As far as we know, there are three big bandit leaders."


In Xing Zi Lin, Chang Geng took out a leather map. It had been tattered from being flipped through many times. He pointed out for Gu Yun; the marks on it were extremely complicated, from the terrain, the climate, what type of road, what type of horses could be used to travel on them, so on and so forth.


Such a drawing, Gu Yun had seen it before in Jiangnan. This was undoubtedly the pen of the Lin Yuan Pavilion. He looked at Chang Geng thoughtfully under the oil lamp; he did not respond, indicating for him to continue.


Gu Yun let three thousand Black Iron Camp soldiers mix in with the caravans returning home from the North. Using smoke as a signal, they had secretly made their way through at night and swooped in from the sky when Kuai Lan Tu’s guards had surrounded Fu Zhi Cheng. More than twenty killers of the sky controlled the situation of dogs biting other dogs. They were divided into two directions, and the tens of thousands of Southern Army troops stationed at the foot of the mountain were separated into several sections.

Their commander had been captured, the Black Iron Camp had also arrived in person. The Southern Frontier Garrison, although having many soldiers, resembled a group of sheep who could not resist, submitting to Gu Yun as a result.


When a commander did not lead his troops with the intention to kill but to feel more courageous, then no matter what kind of tiger or wolf was behind them, they would become nothing more than sheep.


However, this chaos in Xing Zi Lin was not even finished, yet Chang Geng had brought another piece of news.


Chang Geng: "The forces of these three leaders divided the Southern Frontier into three territories. They are normally at peace, each of them restrained their own underlings, all were more or less connected with the troops stationed in the south. The most special one is the priest Jing Xu from the north."


Shen Yi asked: "Why is this person special, is he the most powerful? Or is he the closest to Fu Zhi Cheng?"


Chang Geng: "Because he smuggled Ziliujin for General Fu."


Gu Yun narrowed his eyes and looked up: "How did you know this? In the end, what are you doing in the Southwest this time?"


Four years ago, when Liao Ran led him to Jiangnan, Gu Yun already had a speculation. The Lin Yuan Pavilion was in the vast pugilist world, it was impossible to fully monitor the exchanges of the court's officials. The reason why they could find traces of the Eastern Sea disaster, it was through tracking the Ziliujin black market.


Chang Geng smiled a little. He seemed to be reluctant to say more and only replied: "People from the pugilist world have their own methods, yifu does not have to worry."


Gu Yun raised his hand to stop him, his expression darkened: "You should know what kind of crime smuggling Ziliujin is — getting captured would mean death. The Ziliujin black markets are full of those who risk their lives, the righteous do not stand under a wall that is about to collapse, do you understand?"


Shen Yi, who was standing on the side, was immensely embarrassed as he heard this, almost wanting to blush in Marshal Gu's stead. Using such righteous words when teaching others, as if the smuggling of Ziliujin did not have anything to do with him!


Chang Geng did not fight with him, nor did he get angry. He only looked at him with a smile, his face clearly expressing: "I already knew of this little matter of yours, there are outsiders here, it is not convenient to speak of it out loud."


Gu Yun was startled at first, then he immediately realized: "What? This little bastard even investigated me?"


Chang Geng held down Gu Yun's hand: "Yifu, don't be angry, listen to me first."


Chang Geng covered the back of Gu Yun's hand with his own. His grip was warm, and his joints were well-defined, grasping with the gentle strength of holding a hatchling, letting go as soon as he held on. No one knew why, but it felt rather strange.


Gu Yun suddenly felt a bit awkward. Between friends and brothers, if having a close enough relationship, they would hug, jokingly hold hands, and even a kiss was not a problem. Military commanders did not pay much attention to trivial courtesy, this was especially true for the soldiers in the army, but this gesture of Chang Geng...was a bit too 'intimate'. Gu Yun unconsciously retracted his fingers, momentarily forgetting what he wanted to say.


Chang Geng's face was unchanging: "Ge Chen used a wooden bird to send a letter to me just now, saying that Jing Xu's mountain has been burned down."

Gu Yun: "... Ge Chen?"


Chang Geng: "It is Ge Pang Xiao."


Gu Yan glanced at Sun Jiao. Since Kuai Lan Tu lost his life and Fu Zhi Cheng got arrested, Master Sun had become a fragile and poor little bird. Except for trembling, there was nothing else he could do. Gu Yun had to find people to watch over him.


This matter was easy to understand as soon as one thought about it.


Fu Zhi Cheng was soon aware of Gu Yun's whereabouts. If he truly wanted to brush off his relationship with the bandits, why would he decide to act in this critical moment? Was it not the same as proving himself guilty before even being accused?


Recalling Sun Jiao's moronic display of 'I have been colluding with Inspector Kuai' from beginning to end, it was all clear at a glance – in order for the Ministry of War to forcefully promote the Drumming Order, and for Kuai Lan Tu to remove Fu Zhi Cheng, they had joined forces with each other, fabricated a conflict between Fu Zhi Cheng and the bandits, and let them fight among themselves in front of the Marquis. When that time came, even if Gu Yun wished to protect Fu Zhi Cheng, there was already no other way for him to reverse the tide.


The inhumane action of setting fire to the mountains was undoubtedly Kuai Lan Tu’s work.


However, it was impossible for Kuai Lan Tu to have known the true relationship between Jing Xu and Fu Zhi Cheng. Otherwise, he would not set fire to the mountain, because even if there were clear pieces of evidence of Fu Zhi Cheng's collusion with the bandits, this crime might not be enough to put the Southern Frontier's commander and governor to his death.


If Kuai Lan Tu knew that Fu Zhi Cheng smuggled Ziliujin through Jing Xu, he absolutely would not destroy the evidence for them — the smuggling of Ziliujin was considered to be the same as rebellion, even killing ten Fu Zhi Chengs was not enough of a punishment.


"The Ziliujin black market has three sources," said Chang Geng. "The first is from the officials' storage. Although the regulation is strict, there are always rats who are willing to take risks for profit. They steal from the officials’ stock, mix in various impurities, then spread them out. The second is from the 'black gold merchants', these are those who are desperate enough to travel outside the country to look for a Ziliujin mine, risking their lives to dig it up; the third is from overseas, the reason why we came to check this line especially is because the ultimate source of Ziliujin is from the Southern Sea."


Gu Yun sat up straight: "Are you sure?"


Chang Geng nodded silently.


Shen Yi's expression had also become grave.


They all knew that the Southern Sea did not produce Ziliujin.


Ziliujin from overseas flowing into the big black market - was directly traded with the foreigners. It was a fixed line, with a fixed group of people. It would not be transported from someone else's location due to the risk being too high.


If someone truly was using the Southern Sea as a cover to control the Southwest Ziliujin black market from a distance – whoever behind it was taking such a big risk, hiding away so deep, their objective certainly was not just to buy and sell Ziliujin.


Chang Geng: "The Southern Sea is not within the country; we also have limited ability. We sent people to the Southern Sea several times, and they all returned in vain. This is one thing - there was also the priest, Jing Xu, who has yet to make his appearance. Yifu, I think that when a savage bandit had been exposed to Ziliujin, he would never think of finding the farming puppets to do fieldworks on the mountain."


After listening, Gu Yun was quiet for a moment, then he stood up and blew a long whistle. A Black Eagle quietly descended from the sky and landed in front of him.


Gu Yun's brow was slightly crinkled. He then gave out three orders in the blink of an eye.


"Two teams of Black Eagle scouts take this map, investigate the territories of the three major bandit leaders of the Southern Frontier, we must first capture the leaders!"


"Imprison the defensive troops of the inspector, thoroughly find out who had drawn out this plan for Kuai Lan Tu and let him use this method to provoke Fu Zhi Cheng and the bandits."


"Interrogate Fu Zhi Cheng, Ji Ping, you go."


Everyone took their leave as they received their orders. After Gu Yun finished, he could not help but narrow his eyes. Even Shen Yi hadn't noticed something was wrong, yet Chang Geng had already pulled him: "Yifu, isn't it...Did you bring your medicine? It will get brighter soon, let's take a break first?"


Shen Yi was only able to come back to reality once he heard the word 'medicine'. At the same time, he had a strange feeling inside. Chang Geng's eyes seemed to be glued to Gu Yun, detecting even his slightest movements.


Gu Yun wanted to deny it out of habit.


Chang Geng spoke first: "I still have not tried out the acupuncture method that Miss Chen showed me last time. This matter may not be finished yet. I am afraid there could be more developments, yifu, please let me try."


Gu Yun now remembered that Chang Geng already knew, so trying to hide any further was only useless. He left behind a sentence, "I will go rest in the back for a while" then silently followed him.


Chang Geng's bag carried a set of silver needles, some common medicines, broken pieces of silver, and a few books — Gu Yun soon discovered that this child might appear sharp and well-dressed, but in truth, he only had with him two sets of elegant articles of clothing to change into.


Gu Yun could not comprehend, when Chang Geng was a child, even taking him out to the market required every trick he had. In the end, for what reason must he insist on leaving the capital, living his days by wandering and tasting hardships?

It could be a fresh experience for a month or two, but would it still be fresh even after four years?


Chang Geng had performed acupuncture for many people before, but at this time, facing Gu Yun alone, he could not stop himself from tensing up irrationally. He hadn't felt this way even when he followed Miss Chen to learn acupuncture for the first time and performed it on himself. He unconsciously repeatedly washed his hands over and over, almost washing away his skin, until Gu Yun could not wait anymore, urging him: "Miss Chen has been teaching you this long, did she only teach you how to wash your hands?"


Chang Geng swallowed, his voice was tight, cautiously asking, "Yifu, can you lie on my lap?"


Gu Yun did not think there was anything wrong with it, after all, this was not a lady's legs, there was nothing to be afraid of. But he had really wanted to ask, 'can you actually do this?' — however he was afraid his words would increase the pressure on the half-hearted Doctor Chang Geng. Swallowing his question down in the end, he just thought generously: "What is there to fear, I'm not going to die anyway."


He had prepared to feel needles on his flesh, but Chang Geng was not at all as unskilled as his imagination. The very fine needles pinned into his acupuncture points basically had no sensation. After a while, the familiar headaches arrived again, there was no telling if it was a psychological effect, but Gu Yun truly did feel much better.


Gu Yun relaxed his body, he couldn't help but ask: "You followed the Lin Yuan Pavilion throughout many hardships, what is it that you hope to achieve?"


If he truly wanted to serve the country, he should be returning to the imperial court to act as a Jun Wang. Being a prince, for what reason must he follow those life-risking people from the pugilist world to investigate Ziliujin?


Chang Geng paused, though the movements of his wrist did not stop. He skillfully dodged the question: "I have not asked yifu where the poisonous wounds of your eyes and ears came from."


Gu Yun: "..."


Chang Geng smiled, assuming that he was able to block him off. Unexpectedly, after a moment, Gu Yun suddenly calmly said: "When I was a child, the old marquis took me to the battlefield in the Northern Frontier. A barbarian's poisonous arrow grazed my skin."


Chang Geng: "..."


Gu Yun: "I'm finished, your turn."


Gu Yun, this person, no matter whether he was playing the role of a wolf or a righteous being, he was an expert all the same. Speaking a few words with no expression, truth and false entangled, leaving no traces to uncover. Chang Geng could only rely on his intuition, feeling that there must be lies in his words.


"I...I wanted to see for myself," Chang Geng said. "Master Liao Ran had said to me before, if one's heart is as vast as heaven and earth, any troubles they experience will only take up a small corner. Mountains and rivers, all living things, if one often looked at others, then when bowing their head, they could also see themselves. If one has not taken care of a dying patient, they would think that a scratch was a grave injury. If one has not eaten a mouthful of rocks and sand, they would still think that iron troops and golden spears were a majestic shadow. If one has not tasted poverty, then complaining about the 'hardships of a thousand households' is nothing more than just lamenting without being ill."


Gu Yun looked at him.


Gu Yun's gaze gradually recovered its focus under the effect of the acupuncture. Chang Geng slightly hid away at first, then came back to his senses and calmly met his gaze, but he could not look into Gu Yun's eyes for too long — his chest seemed to have a golden box inside, its heat could never dissipate, scorching hot. His back itched, he unconsciously closed his legs, almost unable to sit still.


Gu Yun suddenly said: "Your teacher's surname is Zhong, Zhong Chan, right?"


Chang Geng was surprised.


"A grand general, his horseback archery skills and martial arts were unparalleled. Ten years ago, he had committed a sin due to him opposing the former emperor, but all of the imperial court magistrates and officials had pleaded for him. In the end, he was only dismissed from office and was not imprisoned.


"When the Western Regions rebelled, in a panic, the Emperor had thought of welcoming the old veteran back to his position but could no longer find him. "


Gu Yun sighed. "As soon as I saw that arrow you shot, I already knew that it was his teaching — no wonder all the people I sent after you ended up being shaken off. Is the old man's body still tough?"


Chang Geng made a sound in response.


Gu Yun did not say a word for a long moment.


He did not tell Chang Geng — in fact, a long time ago, Zhong Chan was once his own teacher as well. Lin Yuan Pavilion had introduced Chang Geng to him. Was it a coincidence? Or intentional?


He couldn't help but look forward to it — the little prince that he had painstakingly raised from the age of ten, could he now finally grow into being a pillar?


Gu Yun fell asleep during his train of thoughts, vaguely feeling as if someone had caressed his face.


When he woke up again, the sky was already bright. He pushed away the thin blanket on his body, not knowing who had placed it over him. He asked in a low voice: "What's the situation?"


The Black Eagle at the door: "Marshal, the three bandit leaders gathered together at night, forming a rebel mob near the river to the south..."


Gu Yun frowned.


"They have ten Baihong arrows, dozens of Heavy Armors. If your subordinate was not mistaken, these mobs even have 'Eagles' in their hands.”

This one sentence from the Black Eagle scout had fully awakened Gu Yun.

"Eagle," he asked again in a low voice. "You truly weren't mistaken?"


Black Eagle scout: "Your subordinate can guarantee with his own head — this is true."


'Eagle' was the most unique of all the military services. Although it was not the one to burn through the most fuel, it was extremely difficult to maintain and care for. They were required to be repaired by the experts from the Ling Shu Institute every year, and the total cost certainly would not be cheaper than Heavy Armors.

In contrast, Heavy Armors were much more commonly seen. In various military troops, even Kuai Lan Tu's guards had several sets of armors, surpassing the authorized level. However, looking at the entirety of Great Liang, only one Eagle faction — the Black Eagle — could be fully developed.


Where did the Eagles of these bandits come from?

Stolen from the Black Iron Camp?


Gu Yun stood up and strode outside. People in the Xing Zi Lin den were tense. Fu Zhi Cheng who had been stripped of his weapon was kneeling in the middle, shouting loudly as he saw Gu Yun: "Marshal! Marshal, I have been wronged!"

Gu Yun lifted his leg and kicked him in the middle of the chest. Fu Zhi Cheng, a strong and sturdy man, was sent flying. He spat out a mouthful of blood, coughing and rolling on the ground, unable to speak.


"You have been wronged?" Gu Yun said coldly, "Bastard, you have raised a group of rebels right under your nose, Light and Heavy Armors, Baihong arrows set up for two miles, even the 'Eagle' was obtainable. Compared to the Jiangnan Navy, this is still much more lavish. You have quite the abilities, Fu Zhi Cheng!"

Fu Zhi Cheng struggled on the ground; his look of surprise did not seem to be a false pretense. He continuously pleaded: "Marshal, I swear to the sky, I don't know where their iron Eagle comes from, even my Southern Frontier Garrison has no Eagle!"


Shen Yi whispered: "Marshal, I tried to investigate him all night, even General Fu himself could not tell me the origin of the Ziliujin. He only admitted to telling Jing Xu to go contact people."


"This idiot, conspiring with a tiger yet still thinking he raised a cat." Gu Yun stared at Fu Zhi Cheng for a moment. "Continue to investigate, get the map — all troops get ready, prepare to encircle the rebels, the Southern Frontier Garrison temporarily will be under my command for the time being, any offender will be punished by military law!"


He talked as he reached out and equipped his armor, but he could not find his bow when he searched around for it. Only then did he remember that his bow and arrow had been gifted to Chang Geng.

Gu Yun was slightly startled, asking: "Where is Chang Geng?"


At this time, Jing Xu was quickly passing through the long and endless secret path inside the mountain, where an individual was already waiting for him.


He was a tall man. His facial features under the steam lamp were as sharp as a knife. There was a deep wrinkle by the corner of the mouth. His exact age could not be seen, and there was no telling which foreign country he came from. In short, he was not of the Central Plains.

His face was tanned from the sun, and the skin that was exposed to the outside was wrapped in a layer of weather-beaten color. His slightly blue eyes were staring at a large sand table.


In the face of this person, Jing Xu showed extreme cautiousness: "Master Ja, will that Gu Yun fall into the trap?"


'Master Ja' lifted his face and looked at Jing Xu: "You may be able to trick him into coming, but it is impossible to hold him off. The Marquis of Order has been on the battlefield since he was a child. He only needs to take one look to know that those steel armors flying in the sky and running on the ground of yours does not have any true fighting power against the Black Iron Camp."


Jing Xu: "Then..."


Master Ja lifted a finger: "Remember what I told you, the Black Iron Camp was built by three generations of people. It is one of the world's top-class military forces, a malicious weapon that leaped beyond our time. Do not harbor any hope that you can challenge them directly, it will be nothing more than a giant fighting a child. What we have to do is just briefly lead the tiger away from the mountain and delay them for a moment."


His fingers lightly tapped on the sand table: "Gu Yun will be led here by the Eagles and Heavy Armors we have left in the light, although we can't hold him off for a long time — though, I just got a message, Fu Zhi Cheng partially helped you. He has drawn most of the troops to Xing Zi Lin. Now the internal defense of the troops stationed in the Southern Frontier Garrison is completely empty, and the people left behind don't even know that you have switched sides."

Jing Xu's eyes brightened up.


"You only need to do what you have done every time while smuggling Ziliujin for Fu Zhi Cheng. Hide people in the delivery box, those in the Southwest storage will not stop you nor reveal themselves. When that time comes, both sides from inside and out will assist one another." Master Ja made a movement of slashing down, "Within the time it takes to finish a cup of tea, you can already take over the Southwest storage."


There was a large amount of Ziliujin in the Southwest storage area. As long as one person stood there with a torch, let alone the Black Iron Camp, even the gods would not dare take a step further.


"There are thousands of pounds of Ziliujin there. Once it is all burned, even the Marquis of Order himself could not carry this crime." Master Ja gently swayed the steam lamp hanging on the sand table, causing his eyes to flicker in the dark, his lips revealing an unfathomable smile. "You will have a lot of room to negotiate with the court."


Their plans could not be said to have an opening, but at this time on the land of the Southern Frontier, there was another force that had not come out yet.


Before the Black Iron Camp made their move, Chang Geng in Xing Zi Lin received a second wooden bird.


The first one that flew here was released immediately. Shen Yi did not even get to touch one of its feathers. Seeing the second bird fly in, Shen Yi's drool was flowing three feet long, he eagerly came closer, rubbing his hands together: "Your Highness, you see...can I open this one for you?"


Chang Geng generously handed it to him. The wooden bird truly was as good as real. When held in his hands, apart from the hardness that differentiated it from a real bird, there was no other difference.


Shen Yi held the divine bird with both of his palms, feeling that his heart was about to melt: "It knows how to nod and even how to peck!"


"..." Gu Yun: "Old maid, don't do anything embarrassing."


With this divine bird in his hands, what the hell was the Marquis of Order?


Shen Yi did not pay him any mind. Touching the back of the wooden bird with passion, he carefully looked for the mechanism on its belly.


Shen Yi: "Then I'll open it now."


Chang Geng: "Wait, you must first shake..."


He was yet to finish his words when Shen Yi already removed the belly of the wooden bird. Turned out, this little belly hid a secret. As soon as the cover was opened, a piece of paper bounced out like a cannonball, knocking against General Shen's straight nose bridge, almost causing a nosebleed, then covering his face in the blink of an eye.


Shen Yi: "..."


A bird as large as a palm hid a piece of paper that covered the entire wall.


"You have to shake it first," Chang Geng now had the opportunity to finish his words, "Because the space in a bird's belly is limited, sometimes people will use 'sea grain paper'..."


When Shen Yi heard this, regardless of the tears that were still in his eyes from getting hit, he continued to be lengthy: "Oh, sea grain paper! I know this one! It is a type of paper made using a special technique. No matter how large its size is, it can be pressed into a pill. The ink will not fade away, and it will even restore itself when left out for a long time!"


There was nothing in the world that could stop General Shen's incessant explanations, not even a bloody nose.

"Why didn't it just break his mouth?" Gu Yun thought without sympathy, grabbing the piece of paper that resembled a weapon.


It was a drawing of an 'Eagle' — from the two wings to the golden box, and even the protective mask, all were painted in a realistic and detailed manner, signed with a big character 'Ge'.


"This is the Eagle in the bandit's hand?" Although Gu Yun was not a Mechanic, every variety of battle armor was also a half of his body. He could see at a glance what was the difference between the Black Eagle and the Eagle on the drawing: "They cut down too much on materials."


Shen Yi covered his nose, took a look and said: "I think compared to a Black Eagle, its weight is lighter by at least the amount of one suit of Light Armor, perhaps they wanted to save fuel."


"Even a paper kite is more fuel-efficient — " Gu Yun said, his sentence was not yet finished when his expression suddenly changed. "Hold on!"


Although this Eagle was nothing more than an embroidered pillow, its designer was undoubtedly aware of the working mechanism of Eagles, they must have known that this armor had no combat power. The other side was hanging these Eagles up so high, they were undoubtedly intending to lead the tiger away from the mountain.


The question was: where was this 'mountain'?


There was a saying that when fighting a snake, one must hit seven inches from its head. The question was, where was the Southern Frontier Garrison's … and even Gu Yun's own heart, placed?

*there is a saying that a snake's heart is placed about seven inches from its head.


Gu Yun suddenly turned to Fu Zhi Cheng: "Where do you usually let the bandits send Ziliujin to?"


Fu Zhi Cheng's face was covered in blood, he looked at Gu Yun in confusion for a moment, then could finally react to what was happening. His face showed a wandering look — admitting to smuggling Ziliujin, was it not the same as securing yourself to the crime of rebellion?


At this moment, Chang Geng gently said behind Gu Yun: "General Fu must think clearly, Inspector Kuai has died in your hands - with Master Sun of the Ministry of War as a witness, your crime of rebelling and murdering was for certain regardless of any reason. A person who is bound to die, what is the difference between dying in the capital and simply dying here?"


Fu Zhi Cheng had never seen such a gentle and elegant person like His Highness. When he first saw this young man, he might have suspected that he could not even move a barrel. However, at this time, he had no doubt that if he did not cooperate, the 'scholarly' Fourth Prince could kill him with one sword.


Gu Yun continued in a timely manner: "If you understand your situation, you still have the opportunity to atone for your sins and do the right thing."


Fu Zhi Cheng's lips trembled for a long while, his voice was unstable: "The Southwest storage, I do not have any other place, I have always let Jing Xu send Ziliujin here, I did not move any to my manor, not even a single drop."


Gu Yun stood up.


"Marshal!" Fu Zhi Cheng suddenly shouted at him. "This surname Fu had murdered and set fire, digging the tombs and turning the graves, there were no wicked things I haven't done, but with the order to station in the Southern Frontier, I have been working hard and stayed diligent, I have never harbored ulterior motives. I myself felt that I had never disappointed His Majesty, but now it has fallen into this ending, what might other comrades and brothers think if they were to know! Marshal, what do you think in your heart?"


Gu Yun gave him a deep look.


For a moment, Fu Zhi Cheng thought he had managed to touch Gu Yun.


However, Gu Yun was neither provoked by his emotions nor was he angered. His face seemed to be covered with a mask that could not be penetrated even by raging winds and storms, turning to leave: "Can you control what I think?"


"Ji Ping, you take the Eagles and move one step ahead, be sure to take over the Southwest storage before the bandits, Xiao An —"


The little Black Iron Camp soldier who followed Chang Geng in Sichuan stepped out of line as he was called.


Gu Yun: "Lead a branch of the Southern Frontier Garrison troops and pretend to attack the hills where the bandits gathered."


Xiao An: "Roger!"


"Wait," Gu Yun said. "Take their armor and splash a bit of black ink on it. It doesn't have to be very realistic, just be flexible."


This trick was learned from Liao Ran. Xiao An was startled at first, then immediately understood Gu Yun's intention and ran away with joy.




The three major bandit leaders in the Southern Frontier had already finished examining their subordinates. Jing Xu looked at the soundless group of bandits before him. In an instant, he also felt the pride and exhilaration of holding a thousand troops in his hands.


He made a praying gesture to the sky above and raised his voice: "The local garrisons let their armors run rampant. The Black Iron Camp resembles a demon crow descending from the sky, their fame running across the seas. Great Liang's military was this strong. However, in the past ten years, Fujian and Jiangnan Navy both previously rebelled. What was the reason for this?


"If it was not because of an incompetent ruler in power, letting sugar-coating subjects run rampant, why must us commoners be like a moth in fire and put our lives on the line? Today, us brothers have been forced into a dead end, our lives and the lives of our families have been placed onto thin ice, only the path towards death is left under our feet.


"But if we do not risk death, how can we find the hope for surviving? Are you gentlemen willing to join me by blood, to seek a common cause, to share blessings and to shoulder disasters together?"


The mountain bandits only ever robbed during their entire lifetime, the number of words they recognized were not as many as their own fingers. Jing Xu's calm voice had caused blood to rush to their heads in an instant, feeling as if they had placed themselves into the ranks of royalties.


Jing Xu took hold of a wine cup handed to him by one of his men, downed it in one go, and dropped the cup to the ground: "Success or failure is set onto this one move!"


The bandits all drank to gain courage, smashing their cups, and moving out of the spacious secret chamber one after another.


Jing Xu turned to look at Master Ja. This mysterious foreigner once acted as a connection from the Southern Sea back when he smuggled Ziliujin for Fu Zhi Cheng. He had lived in Central Plains for who knew how many years, extremely intelligent.


Just now as Master Ja listened to Jing Xu's speech of courage that arose from the bottom of his heart, there was not even a slight hint of change in his expression. The steam lamp deepened and extended the crease on his face, standing in a place that was neither light nor dark, revealing a slight smile of mockery.


The first time Jing Xu cut one part of Ziliujin from Fu Zhi Cheng, he had wanted to sell it through Master Ja, in exchange for gold and silver to sleep on every day. At that time, Master Ja would wholeheartedly persuade him to keep all this Ziliujin, to transfer it to another, safer place, then to start to gather weaponry. He even advised him not to store the collected armors and weapons in the same place as the money.


As it turned out, this unpredictable foreigner seemed to have long anticipated the current situation.


A question suddenly arose in Jing Xu’s heart, the suspicious bandit leader. He thought: "Is this Master Ja truly only a snakehead in selling Ziliujin?"


At that moment, one of his men suddenly came to report: "Big brother, I can see a person wearing black armor coming up to the place where we left the Eagle!"


The doubts that just sprouted in his heart were overwhelmed by ecstasy: "Master Ja is right, they did indeed get fooled, enable the Baihong bow. Hold them off for however long we can! The entire army accelerates as planned! Quickly! "



At this moment, a team of unnoticeable escorts of Ziliujin was quietly approaching the Southwest storage. At the entrance, the man leading pushed up his protective mask slightly, revealing his face to the squad leader, "It's me."


With the smuggling of Ziliujin, the less people knew, the better. Therefore, Jing Xu on the delivery side and Fu Zhi Cheng on the receiving side all used fixed confidants of their own. The squad leader of the storage served as a connection to the bandits from inside the Southern Garrison. Fu Zhi Cheng had asked him to never make any sound each time he received the Ziliujin; everything must be carried out in silence.


According to the usual practice, the captain would not ask a single question in front of them, waving his hand with a natural expression and letting them in. Moreover, he would familiarly walk with them to the Ziliujin warehouse. But today, after the captain walked two steps, no one knew which ghost had possessed him, as he abruptly asked: "I remember you people just sent a batch a few days ago, how come there was another delivery so fast?"


The entire face of bandit escorting Ziliujin was hidden under the mask, he said with a sullen voice: "This is a matter between the Master and big brother. How can I know?"


Somehow the captain was somewhat in a trance, speaking while searching for the keys: "To tell you the truth, our Master moved more than half of the people with him yesterday, no one knows what had happened."


The bandit wearing the helmet stared at his movements as he opened up the warehouse, subconsciously licking his mouth, rudely urging: "We are all running errands here, we do not know either, open the door!"


The captain's hand twisting the key suddenly stopped, he turned back and frowned: "How do I feel that you are today..."


His voice went silent, he could see a bandit aiming a small bow at his throat three steps away.


The captain shivered. The mountain bandit, having immediately known that they had been discovered, simply decided to finish the job. The leader flipped his hand; the short arrow on the bow rushed into the squad captain's throat. The breath he inhaled preparing to shout no longer had a chance to come out again.


The bandit with the helmet stepped forward, grabbed the fallen captain's body by the shoulders, and reached for the key on the warehouse door —


His heart was about to jump out of his chest — because as soon as this door was opened, tens of thousands of troops from the Southern Frontier, three thousand black iron crows, all of them would be under his mercy.


At that moment, he suddenly heard a screech close to his ear. The bandit had yet to come back to his senses from the excitement; as he looked back unconsciously, he saw that his men were all frightened. It was only then that he felt that his arm didn’t feel right — the hand that was holding the keys had been pierced by an iron arrow that descended from the sky, only one inch of flesh was still connecting it to the arm.


Half of the exploded hand held the key of the warehouse tightly, blocking the way, unable to turn.


The bandit finally released a scream that was unlike a human voice.


With only such a short delay, the Eagles catching up to them had arrived. Having not put away the bow and arrow, Shen Yi directly landed on the top of the Ziliujin warehouse, taking out the Black Tiger Emblem. A rope was dangling under it — as if to get two for the price of one — where the very first Drumming Order of Great Liang hung.


He stood tall, behind the Eagle Armor was a pair of black wings as dark as a cloud, saying to the Southern Garrison troops in the storage currently in a state of shock: "The Black Tiger Emblem and the Drumming Order are here. Under the command of the Marquis of Order, I will be taking over the authority of the Southwest storage. This place is now under restriction, any criminals will be slain on the spot!"



The three Southern Frontier bandit leaders still weren't aware that the situation had changed. At the time, they were divided into three routes, leading their underlings drilling out from the ground, eagerly rushing to the Southwest.


At this moment, Jing Xu suddenly heard a sound of clashing metal, as if heavy objects colliding with stones were rolling down from the mountain, he looked up unconsciously —


A human head wrapped in Heavy Armor rolled off the hillside.


This Heavy Armor was hidden by himself in the Ziliujin escort cart, intending to sneak into the Southwest storage.


Jing Xu went stiff —


He could only see the Southern Frontier Garrison troops in the mountain's plains, with black iron armors hidden inside. Countless sharp arrows were pointed at them from the top of the mountain — at this moment, the other half of Jing Xu's force was still stuck inside the secret passage.