CHAPTER 14: DEAD END

III

That night, the messenger and the Pope completed their internal struggle, and ended with a brief victory for the messenger, reaching a consensus on launching a surprise attack on the Great Liang Navy.


The plan was scheduled for this gloomy evening, but before it could come into action, suddenly, news came from the watchtower that the Jiangbei defense line of Great Liang had been tightened and the alert level had been adjusted to the most serious and critical situation.


Master Ja quickly rushed into the main ship that was already full of power and ready to go: "Your Majesty! Gu Yun came too fast. Great Liang's Navy is obviously not only in its infancy. The opponent has increased their defense, if we fight fire with fire like this, it won't benefit our economy…"


Before he had finished, the messenger came in with an unsightly expression: "No one is allowed to change my plan!"


The messenger could represent the King and the aristocrats in the presence of the Holy See and the army, he must have had strong supporters behind him, a highly trusted and talented young master. He was arrogant and ambitious. A few days ago as he was bluffing, not putting the Great Liang army and the commander of the Black Iron Camp in his eyes, both outward and internally, it turned out, he already received this slap to the face not long after.


Not mentioning other things, the messenger's self-esteem would not find this acceptable.


The Pope was also anxious: "Please repress your personal feelings. War is not a matter of a joke or fighting to see who is better!"


The messenger turned red and argued roughly: "No one jokes about wars, Your Majesty! If the enemy is just bluffing, what can they possibly prove? This is precisely the best time for us to attack!"


Master Ja immediately asked, "What if it isn't a bluff?"


"There's no such possibility," said the messenger, giving him a somber look. "These fragile navies have no fighting power at all. You're just worried about taking risks—"


Master Ja: "These are illogical excuses!"


"Pay attention to your wording, sir," said the messenger coldly. Then, with a turn of his eyes, he drew a roll of parchment from his arms. "I'm not here for discussion, gentlemen. I signed the highest call order on behalf of the Holy Land half an hour ago. This is a backup copy. Please see through it carefully."


Master Ja's face was red from anger, before he could protest, the main ship ‘sea monster’ suddenly gave a long sigh. It seemed he had already acted without letting anyone voice their opinions.


"Are you crazy?" Master Ja roared. Instinctively, he pulled out the sword at his waist and said, "Stop!"


The messenger showed no sign of weakness and immediately drew his shining knight saber, "It is our honor to fight to the death for the King and infinite glory! We are not on the frontline to hide in our harbor and pray!"


Master Ja: "What did you say!"


The Pope shouted: "Enough!"


The messenger sneered: "Why, what else does your majesty wish to instruct?"


The Pope's cheeks twitched for a moment as if his nerves were abnormal and finally compromised helplessly on the departed main ship: "If we must follow your absurd plan, at least the battlefield will be directed by my men."


The messenger could not agree more, if this expedition failed, the Pope was a ready scapegoat. He gave Master Ja a pleased look and laughed, withdrawing his saber and loudly saying, "Go at full speed!"


Tonight, a line of Western Dragons under disguise dispersed in the long battle frontline of Liangjiang, quietly bypassing the Jiangbei Camp, ready to land in the glory of God.






In the Northern Frontier, thousands of miles away, the Eighteen Tribes also sent a second group of envoys to contact Great Liang.


Cao Chun Hua himself arrived in Northern Xinjiang. He and Chen Qing Xu had gone deep into the barren land in the north before, they were very familiar with the Heavenly Wolf Tribe, supporting the delicate situation in Northern Xinjiang and accompanying Shen Yi to see the Man envoys outside the Black Iron Camp defense line.


Through the Qian Li Yan, it could be seen that this time, the Northern Man envoy did not come empty-handed. They pulled a convoy behind. From the appearance and rutting impression of the convoy, it seemed that it was specially designed to transport Ziliujin.


A twenty-five to twenty-six year old young man, surrounded by a group of messengers, seemed to be the leader of this group at first glance. However, after a closer look, they saw that the young man was pale, with obvious fear and anxiety, caught in the middle of several horses, appearing as if he was forced to be there against his will.


Shen Yi dared not take the initiative to talk to Chen Qing Xu, he had to ask Cao Chun Hua in a low voice, "Who is that man?"


Cao Chun Hua looked through the Qian Li Yan and said, "The second prince of Jia Lai."


"What?" Shen Yi frowned. "Are you sure, are you not mistaken?"


Cao Chun Hua threw a glamorous eye at him, pointing his fingers to Shen Yi's chest. "Ah, General Shen, Teacher Shen, I remember two things very well in my life — One is the face, the other is the tone of a person's voice. You can trust me."


When he was a child, Shen Yi also taught him how to read books. At that time, he felt that he was a fairly normal girl. Who knew that when he grew up, as he "recovered" his male body, the whole person turned into having this conduct. Shen Yi, as an old age scholar and an unmarried man, was really not able to endure Cao Niang Zi's fierce provocation. At the moment, with goose bumps all over, he unconsciously moved closer to the direction of Miss Chen and dodged that finger.


"Xiao Cao." Miss Chen glared and coldly opened her mouth to warn Cao Chun Hua.


In the entirety of Lin Yuan Pavilion, he could offend anyone but could not afford to offend Doctor Chen. Cao Chun Hua immediately closed his lips and sat properly on the horse's back, feigning decency as he analyzed to Shen Yi. "General, it seems that the Eighteen Tribes really are sincere this time. To hand over the ‘Wolf King’ truly is a humiliating deed, perhaps they plan to push everything the envoy did in the capital onto this puppet Second Prince to ease things up."


Shen Yi tapped his finger gently on the horse's bridle: "Wait a minute, don't be too excited so soon. I'm thinking that for the Barbarians to give in like this, it's too easy."


He had dealt with the Northern Man many times, he knew how much of a bastard they could be.


For most of this cattle raising bunch, they would not shed tears before seeing the coffin. At this time, the Black Iron Camp had only threatened a little, they had not even reached the frontline of the Man, let alone done anything. Shen Yi felt that logically, the Eighteen Tribes should still struggle for a while longer.


Cao Chun Hua looked at the suspected large quantities of Ziliujin, licked his lips and asked, "What should we do? Do we let them in?"


Shen Yi said cautiously, "All Baihong arrow archers, take aim. Forbid the Barbarians from approaching, summon the Ziliujin inspectors to come and open them one by one for inspection."


Cao Chun Hua's expression changed, he looked back at Shen Yi. The two men both remembered the Trojan horse that was the Giant Kite in Yanhui Town that day.


If it was someone else, at least a fierce tiger would not eat their young, but normal logic could not be used to deduce Jia Lai Ying Huo. He truly could commit such a thing as using his son's own life to trick the enemy into opening the gate.


At Shen Yi's command, the Black Iron Camp immediately drew up its swords and arrows. The killing intent on the northern ground greatly increased, surrounding the envoys.


The Second Prince trembled on his horse's back, seemingly about to fall off, a team of trained Ziliujin inspectors ran out, opening the chests and checking in front of the Man envoys.


Several carts of Ziliujin, which made people drool, were thus exposed to Shen Yi and others.


The Ziliujin inspector dared not be careless. He inspected the purity of Ziliujin in each cart one by one, and put the characteristic pole into the sealed carriage to check the volume.


Several long poles stained with Ziliujin were presented to Shen Yi. The scale on them was almost full. The inspector quickly reported, "General, purity is of no problem, reaching the proper level for tribute."


Shen Yi made an ‘Mm’ sound, still did not put aside his doubt, then looked up at the Second Prince. On his forehead, there was an angry purple mark, appearing as if it was created by a whip. The prince’s face was wet with tears and snot, opening his mouth as if wanting to cry out but he could not make a sound.


Chen Qing Xu whispered, "General Shen, you see, there is a purple mark on his forehead. I have heard about it in the Eighteen Tribes. It is a witchcraft poison for extinguishing one's ability to speak. His entire body is stiff now, which is equivalent to being fixed on the horse. He will not even be able to let out a cough. In a few moments, when the purple mark darkens, he will fall to the ground and die. Even if doing an autopsy, he will only be found to have been overly frightened and died of fear and palpitations."


Without blushing or shying away, Shen Yi shouted, "Wait, stop them!"


The Eagle in the sky gave a sharp cry: "Stop!"


The horse of the Second Prince stopped suddenly, his whole body leaned forward as if his center of gravity was unstable. His hard boots hit the top corner of the nearby oil tank, making a lingering noise of an echo.


One corner of the tank was empty!


Shen Yi's pupils suddenly shrank: "Fall back!"


As he finished, a man in the group of envoys rushed to an oil tanker and was shot dead by an Eagle with quick eyes. The whole Black Iron Camp silently fell back at the fastest speed. Shen Yi pulled Chen Qing Xu's horse rein, urging it to move back.


A cluster of sparks erupted into the sky.


It turned out that there was a small teenager hiding under the tank, waving a torch in his hand, lighting a hidden lead under it. He then looked up at the sky and smiled.


At the next moment, the first Ziliujin cart exploded, the young man turned into dust in the air.


From that point, a huge impact burst, several dozen feet of purple flame shot up to the sky. The surrounding air boiled instantly, invisible heat waves rolled in, the cold black armor of the Black Iron Camp soldier following behind was burnt red, and the golden boxes exploded like a chain reaction.


Trapped in an infinite nightmare, Gu Yun stepped onto the void, falling in the deep darkness. His muscles suddenly tensed, his whole body twitched violently, and he then woke up in the dark night.


He sobered up very quickly, and in the instant he opened his eyes, his soul returned to its place. He remembered exactly where he was and the things he had yet to do.


But at that moment, Gu Yun was stunned. Someone had placed a cold cheek on his forehead. Not to mention Jiangbei Camp, even those from the Black Iron Camp would never dare to be this 'intimate' towards him. He then caught the scent of tranquilizer and saw a silhouette with his half-blind vision that had adapted to the dark.


Gu Yun's existing sweat had yet to dry, and a new layer of cold sweat already came out. He thought, "Why is he here?"


Chang Geng twisted the simple steam lamp on the camp bed, silently pulled out a towel from the nearby basin and wiped away the sweat on Gu Yun's forehead.


Gu Yun's whole body was soft, and there seemed to be an invisible wound buried under his chest's skin and flesh. He could feel a dull pain whenever he exerted a little bit of strength. He fumbled around for a while and found his liuli glass in a bit of panic: "I'll do it myself..."


Chang Geng bowed his head and ignored him, pushing his wrist down with just a touch.


Gu Yun nervously moistened his lips, feeling a little guilty for no reason. He thought, "Did anybody talk nonsense?"


At this time, Chang Geng had cleaned his body thoroughly, tightened his clothes, and pulled the quilt over to wrap Gu Yun snug. Only then did he finally raise his head and make eye contact with him.


Gu Yun seized the moment and smiled at him.


Chang Geng looked at him expressionlessly.


Gu Yun weakly pulled out a hand, grabbed the back of Chang Geng's neck, gently kneaded it two times and caressed his chin with his fingertips: "Why the long face as soon as you see me? Your yifu's beauty and love has already faded so quickly?"


"..." Chang Geng suddenly wanted to see how well he could pretend. He asked coldly, "What happened to you?"


Gu Yun narrowed his eyes slightly and read his lips. His face did not change, "A cold."


Chang Geng: "..."


He expected that Gu Yun would cover it up, but he did not expect that he was this half-hearted in his cover up.


Gu Yun wanted this matter to pass by pleasantly, he reached out and patted Chang Geng's face. "Come, let me see if you have lost weight recently."


Chang Geng slapped his hand away and said angrily, "Gu Zi Xi!"


Gu Yun immediately adjusted his tactics and frowned, bringing his military authority out of nowhere: "Who has run their mouth again? General Zhong has just passed, has Jiangbei Camp already become this lawless?"


Chang Geng took a deep breath: "In the praying hall, you..."


Gu Yun the wicked accused first and intercepted, "Which kid was guarding the praying hall? Which camp did he come from? Call Yao Chong Ze here for me, this must be punished by military law!"


Chang Geng clenched his teeth silently.


Gu Yun shook his head like he was telling a true story: "Jiangbei Navy is still short in years, this kind of thing would not happen in the Black Iron Camp..."


"Really," Chang Geng said with a humorless smile, "I am that kid. What is Marshal going to do to me?"


Gu Yun: "..."


At this moment, the ever-changing and always-scheming General Gu understood what was called 'to be rendered speechless’.


Chang Geng actually had a belly of questions to ask him, but he knew that Gu Yun would not honestly confess. Unable to bear seeing this man exhausting himself trying to deal with him, his words were pressed down several times as they surfaced. As he was in turmoil, there was a sudden strange noise from outside the tent.


A soldier's voice outside the tent cried out in a hurry, "Your Highness! Your Highness Yan Wang!"


Chang Geng frowned and stood up, "What's wrong?"


As he finished, a sudden tremor came from the ground. Chang Geng was startled. Only when an explosive fell could such a tremor be created!


Taking another look, the Jiangbei Camp had bright lights lit, the sound of hooves came from near and far, cold iron armors, the tonghou on top rang loudly, carrying with it the unique air of thick vapor in Jiangbei, slowly spreading out like thunder, as if it could awaken the entire northern half of the country. The ready-to-go Sea Dragons along the coast with their steam lights igniting one by one, piercing the dense vapor with cold light. The straight light column on the watchtower shot through Jiangbei.


Enemy attack!


Gu Yun couldn't hear clearly, but he recognized the vibration from the ground and the lights coming from the door. After he arrived in Jiangbei, the first thing he did was strengthen the defense line. In truth, it was only to stabilize the people's hearts. He did not expect that the usually patient Western Navy would indeed choose this time to raid Jiangbei Camp.


Sometimes when one did their best, one also had to obey the destiny of the heavens. Although on this side, they had calculated every move, they were not aware that the enemy's backyard had also caught on fire. Unknown to them, they changed to a commander with an entirely different fighting style.


Gu Yun had no time to think about it. He grabbed his coat and wrapped it around him. When he got up, he staggered as if he had just finished eating five kilos of muscle-softening drug and almost knelt down.


Just then, a Black Eagle flashed across the sky and landed directly at the gate of the Marshal's tent. Before he could open his mouth, the red ribbon letter slipped out of his hand and was stepped on by Gu Yun.


Gu Yun struggled to support himself with the head of the bed and bent down to open the letter by the steam light. At the same time, the Black Eagle quickly reported, "Marshal, in the pretext of peace talks to surrender, the Eighteen Tribes brought suicide soldiers and six carts of Ziliujin to our border as bait. After detonating to break open a path, tens of thousands of elite soldiers poured out, intending to break the net."


Gu Yun raised his eyes from the red label letter: "What about the situation? How many casualties are there?"


Black Eagle: "Your subordinate left in a hurry, I do not know!"


Gu Yun calmed down then gritted his teeth. Forcing out a bit of strength, he reached for the Wind Slasher hanging on the bed and shouted, "Bring me a Heavy Armor."


At this time, only the Heavy Armor with its own support could make up for his fatigued body.


Chang Geng raised his hand and stopped the guard, he turned to Gu Yun and murmured, "Zi Xi, you stay here and keep watch, I'll go."


Gu Yun looked at him with his lips pursed slightly — Chang Geng recognized the expression, which was basically a precursor to him saying ‘no’.


Without waiting for Gu Yun to open his mouth, he rushed to say, "Do you trust me?"


Gu Yun sighed: "I..."


Chang Geng opened his palm: "Give me the Wind Slasher, I will go for you. If you still believe me, don't leave this tent."


The battle fire in the distance was reflected in Chang Geng's eyes, and it was like a fire in his pupils, burning like the nation of Great Liang at its last breath then being reborn once again.


Chang Geng tentatively grasped one end of the Wind Slasher, slowly and firmly pulled it out of Gu Yun's hand — it was not difficult, Gu Yun's wrist contained no strength, even trembling a little.


He held the sharp weapon in his hand, slanted it across his shoulder and slightly bowed. "Let me be a soldier for Marshal."


Gu Yun took a deep look at him, then suddenly turned around and said to the Eagle, "Prepare the sand table, you will be a messenger."


Chang Geng left with the blade.




Once the Western sea monsters crossed the ocean, they emerged slowly from the misty river. Under the vast shadows, countless Western Dragons, as fast as tiger sharks, approached slowly. Gu Yun's previously laid out defense responded to the alarm. At the same time, the three Light Cavalry units of Jiangbei came out in three routes, occupying key ports on the shore, and colliding with the Western Navy intending to land stealthily.


Blood soon flowed down the river, with the artillery fires that had yet to extinguish on the surface, interweaving into a brilliant sea of fireworks.


"Don't stop the large explosive," Chang Geng spurred out. "In the intermittent, push Baihong arrows up in their place, all Eagle Armors stand by immediately during the interval, there is half a minute for you to assemble to suppress the situation in the air. We must not let the Eagle Armors on their sea monster's main ship take off, lock them down in their spot!'


"Close the right wing!"


"Dragons in the entire harbour, ready the gunpowder, charge at once!"


The messenger at his side thought for a moment that he had misheard him: "Your Highness said the entire harbour? Do we launch a full scale battle?"


Chang Geng lowered his eyes and glanced at him on his horse back. "All of it, let the foreigners see that Great Liang also has naval forces."


The weak Great Liang Navy was once vulnerable to attack, even having its commander die in battle. In a hurry, it was tidied up by a civil officer who could not even ride a horse properly and fled to the north in panic.


A year ago, the scattered old Navy units, together with their lost comrades from the four sides, formed an army that could not be more mixed, and returned to the place where they were originally humiliated. Many people who came from the six factions of the Army were seasick. Many people couldn't find the North and the South when they got to the surface of the water. Many others couldn't cope with the complicated mode of operation of the Dragons of Great Liang that were falling behind in technology...


Right now, that all seemed to be from a lifetime ago.


Since the establishment of the Jiangbei Navy, after two huge reorganizations and redesigns, the Ling Shu Institute had upgraded the Great Liang naval warships three times and sent over the amazingly fast 'tiger shark' ships imitated from the Westerners last year.


At this time, along the two sides of the river, there was a rare north wind raising up. The bright lamp burning in General Zhong's praying hall illuminated a piece of land, the white tent stood out among the crowded Jiangbei like a soul summoning sign, as if his soul still lingered.


This blade that had been tempered must be sharpened with the enemy's blood.


Gu Yun could neither see nor hear clearly. He could only judge the distance of the exchange of fire by the tremors under his feet. He was not even in the frontline of the battle. However, he did not panic. The Black Eagle was shocked to find that the whole defense of Jiangbei was in his mind, where the strong or weak points were, where the enemy would choose to make breakthroughs and so on...his speculations were entirely spot on.


Now that the command of the front line had been handed over to Chang Geng, Gu Yun simply and generously gave him unreserved overall trust, without making a single instruction of his own. The three armed forces in Jiangbei were all for Chang Geng to command.


Gu Yun generally monitored the overall situation of the war, while calculating the distribution of Ziliujin and ammunition everywhere. At the same time, he was holding the red label letter from the Northern Frontier, his efforts had been divided into two routes, landing in the two ongoing battles North and South of the whole territory of Great Liang.


The unexpected deployment of the Westerners this time was for the sake of the barbarians. Ultimately, it was for the sake of negotiating interests. If the northern battlefield could withstand, the Westerners would simply be clowns jumping about, but if the northern battlefield failed——





Jiangbei was bombarded with artillery in the haze, while the Northern Frontier was boiling endlessly in the silver-coated plains.


Jia Lai had used suicide soldiers and his son to open the way, setting off Ziliujin, then a large number of Northern Barbarian warriors rushed out like mad, as if they wanted to perish altogether with their enemy.


Shen Yi made a decisive choice and withdrew the Black Iron Camp, which had already penetrated the enemy's hinterland by more than ten miles, and galloped like mad on the snow.


The Black Iron Camp's quality need not be mentioned, running at incredible speed, the barbarians became only a single thin line in the distance.


The barbarians changed their faces faster than turning over the pages of a book. The garrison in the Northern Frontier had become accustomed to this style of their good neighbor. With a signal from the Black Iron Camp, they were immediately mobilized.


He Rong Hui and Shen Yi had been working together for many years. Needless to say, the reinforcements kept up with him quickly and cut across the long front.


Who knew that Jia Lai had used everything he had, when the cavalry opened, several Heavy Chariots which they had not been willing to use for many years were revealed. Hundreds of Heavy Armor's poured out, using fire power to push a big net, colliding with the black whirlwind that was the Black Iron Camp. The frontline was momentarily in a stalemate.


Less than half an hour later, the Northern Man's reinforcements arrived — but it wasn't human or steel armor, it was a large number of Ziliujin escort trucks. Large quantities of Ziliujin were transformed into vapor one after another on the front line of the Northern Frontier. The bitter and cold blizzard couldn't sweep away the hot air. The temperature rose sharply. Large areas of ice and snow turned into hot springs and dispersed into the dry land. The surrounding white fog caused the scene to be engulfed in a haze, the purple fire formed a tragic spectacle between heaven and earth.


When the iron armor was a bit closer, the surface temperature would start to burn. The barbarians would use their carts, their people and their hearts of the earth as fuel, pushing out continuously in a decisive way as if to hollow out their own land in order to open the way with this battle.


In the evening, the Black Iron Camp had to retreat again.