Joy of Life - Chapter 519 - Longbows Seal The Mountain At Night[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:37]
Chapter 519: Longbows Seal The Mountain At Night
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The moon was as cool as water [JW1].
Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and looked down at the distant foot of the mountain and seashore. He gazed at the little boat rising and falling on the ink-like ocean.
His internal strength was powerful. His eyesight was startling, but he still couldn’t see the boat clearly. Strangely, he seemed to be able to, across the vast distance, see the old man on the boat, his straw hat, and wiry whiskers.
Of the four Great Grandmasters in the world, he had only seen Ye Liuyun.
Once when he was young and in Suzhou. Each time it had been startling. Ye Liuyun was a carefree person. This night, he rode a boat across the waves straight toward them. Before his aura had arrived, his graceful bearing had already enchanted everyone.
Fan Xian saw the boat on the vast ocean and thought of the Great Grandmaster. Although he was opposed by countless enemies, he stood isolated on the boat and headed straight for Dong Mountain. Seeing this, Fan Xian couldn’t help but feel moved. A thread of respect grew in his heart.
The little boat appeared closer than further. It was bathed in the moonlight on the horizon. Slowly, it came their way, as if it would never reach the shore.
Fan Xian knew the largest distance in the world was not between life and death. Thus, that little boat, which would determine the lives and deaths of countless people, would eventually arrive on the shore.
At the foot of the mountain, on the side with its back to the sea, there suddenly appeared flickers of firelight. Although they were just flickers, the light was enough to travel to the summit of the mountain. One could imagine the powerful rebel army that had suddenly appeared like ghosts on the battlefield fighting ferociously against the defensive line held by the Imperial Soldiers. The fire in the camp had grown to an uncontrollable size.
Fortunately, there was a lot of rain during summertime, in addition to the sea wind and damp atmosphere in the mountains. Otherwise, the fire would have scorched the entire Dong Mountain and burned everyone on it to death.
A few more signal arrows shot into the sky, but they only flew to about halfway up the mountain before tragically and disappointedly falling back down. Like the Imperial Army’s defensive lines at the foot of the mountain, there was not enough follow up power. They were about to break.
The little boat still had not yet arrived, but powerful enemies had already reached the foot of the mountain. The Qing Emperor and his group stood with their backs to the ocean, standing in front of the scenery viewing stone railings at the front of the mountain. They looked silently at the action at the foot of the mountain, watching the sometimes lit sometimes extinguished flames. They listened to the faintly audible sounds of killing. However, they were too far. By the time the sounds of killing had reached the summit of the mountain, they were changed by a slight breeze and the rustling of the trees into a twisted rhythm.
There was no murderous intention. At least the people at the summit of the mountain couldn’t feel such an atmosphere. In comparison, the little boat slowly floating toward them on the ocean behind Dong Mountain brought them more of a tense feeling.
At this time, the Minister of Rites, officials from Taichang Temple, and officials for the heaven worship had long come out of their rooms. Following behind the silent Emperor, they all felt shocked and terrified. No one spoke.
The Deputy Commander of the Imperial Army had long charged down the mountain, preparing to die on the front lines. Except, before he even arrived, the Imperial Soldiers would probably have dissolved into ghosts in the night and bodies in the mountain woods.
Fan Xian tasted a bitterness in his mouth. He unconsciously extended his tongue to lick his dry lips. An uncontrollable feeling of shock grew in his heart. Just where had this army at the foot of the mountain come from? Why did the Overwatch Council network in Dongshan Road not hear about any of this ahead of time? Why had the Black Knights placed in the Xiao Mountain region not come to any use? How was the opponent able to get to the foot of Dong Mountain without anyone knowing?
What shocked him the most was the situation moment at the foot of the mountain. Looking at the retreating fires, hearing the rising sounds of killing, and determining from the communication arrows being fired, he knew the Imperial Army couldn’t hold out for much longer. Two-thousand Imperial soldiers had fallen so quickly.
Qing Kingdom used martial strength to conquer the world. The Imperial Army was usually stationed in Jingdou and not as capable of fighting in the wild as Dingzhou troops, or the armies of the seven Roads of the Northern expedition camp. Ever since the Great Prince had taken over the position of Commander of the Imperial Army and brought over a number of capable generals from the Western expedition army, the strength of the Imperial Army had been effectively supplemented. Even if it was not a match for the national armies, it shouldn’t have fallen so quickly.
A glimmer of suspicion rose along with his shock. Who did the attacking army belong to?
“They are Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers.” The Emperor stood beside the stone railing and looked toward the foot of the mountain. Although it was clear that he couldn’t see what was happening below, he saw a glimmer of unease in Fan Xian and Eunuch Hong’s eyes. Coldly, he said, “The Imperial Army is not a match for them.”
“Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers?” Fan Xian furrowed his brows and immediately thought of the strange Cangzhou pass between Cangzhou and Yanjing. He didn’t know what trick Yan Xiaoyi had used to deliver the soldiers to the foot of Dong Mountain. Since the enemies had already arrived, thinking about this was purely a waste of time.
“You are the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council. An army has raided a thousand li deep into the country. What crime are you guilty of?” The Emperor watched Fan Xian and asked with a slight smile.
Fan Xian forced a laugh and knew that the Emperor was making a joke. Given the dangers of the situation at the foot of the mountain, he did not have the frame of mind to make jokes. “Even if there is a secret passage to the north of Danzhou, the Overwatch Council should have received wind of it. I think there is someone in the Council helping them.”
The Emperor smiled and didn’t say anything. There was an additional glimmer of self-mocking in his smile.
Fan Xian spoke about the problem with the Overwatch Council to be honest and as a test. He wanted to test if the elite force at the foot of the mountain that was as ferocious as a tiger or wolf. Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers had been purposely let in by the Emperor. Looking at the Emperor’s confident expression and calm posture, Fan Xian believed this deduction in the depths of his heart. But, the Emperor’s smile appeared rather helpless.
“I want to know the specific situation at the foot of the mountain right now,” the Emperor suddenly opened mouth and said coldly. “I don’t want to be blind.”
The Emperor used to personally lead troops into war and had won many honors in battle. He had been known as the foremost general in the land. However, he had not gone out personally in 20 years. He had allowed Shang Shanhu, the Northern Qi person who had opposed the Man people, to gradually submerge the monarch’s military glory.
In this situation, in which the imperial entourage was under siege, if the Emperor could personally direct the Imperial Army, presumably the soldiers at the foot of the mountain would not have fallen so badly. However, although there was a bright moon hovering high above, it was not as if they were singing mountain songs up and down the mountain. Sending commands needed a long amount of time and personal direction.
That was why the Emperor’s expression was rather icy and his tone was unkind.
This slight unkindness did not terrify the people around the Emperor. Under the present circumstances, it was already very calm of the Emperor to not have flown into a great rage and beheaded all the officials beside him.
Fan Xian lowered his head slowly and connected the index and ring fingers on his hands into a bridge. In a flash, he began to activate all of the Tyrannical zhenqi in his body. He pushed into action the two circulations in his body that were different to other people and forced his six senses into the highest possible realm.
In a flash, the aura around his body grew enormously and whipped up a wind on the summit, slightly shaking the rocks and stones.
The Tiger Guards around the Emperor readied themselves. In such a sensitive time, they all began to take defensive actions. Only old Eunuch Hong remained in a half-sleeping state, standing behind the Emperor.
A moment later, Fan Xian respectfully reported, “Your Majesty, it is very strange. The other side seemed to have pulled back their soldiers.”
Hearing these words, the Emperor’s brows began to furrow. A moment later, he faintly said, “Just how many people did he bring to try and seal off the entire mountain and not let anyone out? Yan Xiaoyi… What an appetite!”
For the rebel army to pull back at the height of their victory gave the Imperial Army a moment to breathe. The officials at the summit of the mountain, including Fan Xian, were confused. Only the Emperor clearly realized what the rebel army was trying to do. They were giving the Imperial Army an opportunity to tighten their defense. They were afraid the two sides would descend into chaos and a few survivors would escape this massive net. The rebel armies at the foot of the mountain were not planning to let anyone escape Dong Mountain to send news to the provinces around them.
“Impossible,” Fan Xian said. He knew that according to the Overwatch Council’s process, the Sixth Bureau swordsmen mixed in with the Imperial Army should, at the first opportunity, break through the blockade to inform the Dongshang Road government and urgently relocate nearby provincial guards to their rescue.
Given the ability of the Sixth Bureau Swordsmen to move through the darkness, even if there were tens of thousands of riders at the foot of the mountain, it was impossible in a night like this for all of the swordsmen to have been killed or captured. Some must have escaped.
The shadow of a grey-clothed man suddenly rose from the 10,000-step staircase to heaven. His qinggong was exemplary, although his posture was strange. It was as if springs had been fitted to his knees. Each time they touched the ground, they bounced up gently. Although the pose was not as elegant as legendary masters, it was faster and quieter.
Before the grey-clothed man had reached the top of the mountain, countless snowflakes began to fall from the night sky. Snow like knife blades were hidden in the long knives the Tiger Guards around the Emperor held. They chopped toward it. In a flash, it buried the brilliance of the moon.
The grey-clothed man did not strike out. He only held up a token. The token shone clearly under the light of the moon and knife blades. It was an Overwatch Council token.
Eunuch Yao swung his hand. The Tiger Guards pulled back their knives, but they continued to show their figure and surrounded the grey-clothed man in their center. A dozen long knives pointed toward him. The aura was very imposing.
Fan Xian believed that even if was him who was caught between these dozen swords, all he would be able to do is to escape. However, he took a step closer to the grey-clothed man with a questioning and worried expression on his face.
The grey-clothed man was one of the two wings of the Overwatch Council, Wang Qinian, Fan Xian’s trusted aide. During the great battle, he was down at the foot of the mountain leading the Overwatch Council in setting up a defense. He had long been shocked beyond description. He didn’t say much to Fan Xian. He directly knelt in front of the Emperor and Fan Xian while surrounded by swords and said, in a low voice, “Five-thousand rebel troops. Archers, they were all archers…”
Everyone on the top of the mountain fell silent because of this message. It confirmed the Emperor’s deduction. The attacking rebel soldiers were indeed Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers. Only a God of the Bow like Yan Xiaoyi could be able to train his soldiers to all become expert marksman.
Although arrows could not go as far as crossbows, they were much faster. In the darkness, without 5,000 godlike archers coming to attack, legend said that Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers were all longbow men. No wonder the Imperial Army and Overwatch Council at the foot of the mountain were finding it so difficult to resist.
The Emperor looked at Wang Qinian kneeling in front of him and asked in a low voice, “What of the battle situation?”
Wang Qinian’s tone broke. He immediately replied “When the attack started, I came up the mountain. I don’t know about the present situation.”
The Emperor huffed coldly but did not continue demonstrating his displeasure. The attack had happened in a short amount of time. Plus, there was a large distance between the foot and the top of the mountain. Other than a few communication arrows, Wang Qinian was the first official to run up to the summit to report. Looking at his pale face, he knew that in the short amount of time it had taken to charge up the hill, he had already burned much of his energy.
“Five-thousand longbowmen…” The Emperor suddenly laughed coldly. “If he wants to kill all 2,000 Imperial Soldiers, Yan Xiaoyi doesn’t have this kind of wild ambition and evil tricks. I am very curious as to who the genius is directing the troops at the foot of the mountain.”
The rebel soldiers sealed the mountain but did not attack at once. The situation was a bit strange. Fan Xian looked at Wang Qinian and directly asked, “Did anyone breakout?”
There were processes in the Overwatch Council. When a superior asked, the subordinate knew what they were asking about. Wang Qinian’s expression changed slightly and reported to Fan Xian, “The 17 members of the Sixth Bureau all died.”
Fan Xian’s expression did not change. “Are you sure?”
“Sure…” Wang Qinian lowered his head and reported. “I turned back once at the middle of the mountain. There were battles on the quiet southwest and northwest roads. There were aces ambushed there.”
Fan Xian’s eyes narrowed as his heart gave a pang of pain. He forcefully suppressed the thick anger and sorrow in his heart. The Sixth Bureau had always walked in the dark. How could there be swordsmen so familiar with assassination amongst Yan Xiaoyi’s trusted soldiers? To be able to kill all his subordinates in the night proved that the level of the assassins were much higher than that of the Sixth Bureau swordsmen.
Afterward, he glanced deeply at Wang Qinian.
Wang Qinian did not nod or shake his head. Only his right hand twisted slightly on the ground.
Fan Xian let out a breath in his heart and knew that Thirteenth Wang was still somewhat safe. Relaxing his heart slightly, he turned to gaze at the Emperor. Without consideration, he said calmly, “Your Majesty, Dongyi’s people have also come.”
Hearing these words, the Emperor didn’t have any reaction as if he was waiting for something. A moment later, Eunuch Yao returned from the stone steps and said something into the Emperor’s ear. The Emperor’s expression gradually became dark.
Only now did Fan Xian know that when the first warning arrow had gone up, Eunuch Yao had already arranged to Tiger Guards to break through the siege to send a message. However, the report right now confirmed the breakthrough had failed.
The swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council and the valiant Tiger Guards tried twice to break through the siege and both failed. How many aces did Dongyi lend to the Eldest Princess? Did all the ninth-level aces produced by the Sword Hut, which produced the most ninth-level aces in the world, gather at the foot of Dong Mountain? Did Sigu Jian come?
A breeze picked up again at the top of the mountain. In the distance, the little boat continued to come closer on the ocean. The sounds of killing gradually reduced at the foot of the mountain. The moonlight lit up the mountain woods but did not chase away the darkness in the woods. No one new how much murderous intention was hidden and waiting for the people on the summit of the mountain.
The Emperor suddenly remembered the sight of Fan Xian using his training earlier and coldly asked, “Your abilities seemed to have recovered. Has your injury from last year flared up again?”
Fan Xian didn’t understand why, at this time, the Emperor would suddenly ask such an unrelated question. “It has not flared up again.”
“Very good.” The Emperor calmly looked at the ground below the moonlight. “Then I am at ease giving you this task to do.”
“Get out!” The Emperor roared in a dark and deep voice.
On the top of the mountain, other than the Emperor, Fan Xian, old Eunuch Hong, and the Tiger Guards hidden in the darkness, all followed the order and returned to the temple and their residences. They left the area empty for the Emperor and the Commissioner, this pitiful father and son.
“My trip to worship heaven this time was originally a gamble. I worshipped heaven and also gambled on heaven.”
A weight flashed across the Emperor’s brows. “I don’t want to wait anymore, so I bet with my life. I am betting that the Mandate of Heaven would return. Regardless of success or failure, it was all within the calculations. If it was a success, then the Qing court would not have internal strife again. Within three years, the sword would be pointed at the world and no one would hold back my steps.”
However, he didn’t say what would happen in a defeat. He opened his mouth and said coldly, “Perhaps I miscalculated one thing. I lured Uncle Liuyun to the mountain tonight because I had thought those two would not interfere. After all, this was Qing Kingdom breaking out its own pillars. If it had been in the past, they would have stood aside and watched.”
To the side, Fan Xian stood in silence. He was sure ninth-level aces from Dongyi were part of the rebel soldiers. As for whether Sigu Jian would come, no one could guess.
“Even if that idiot came, so what? However…” The Emperor closed his eyes and let out a breath. “I have to consider the aftermath, so you should leave the mountain.”
Fan Xian raised his head in surprise and didn’t know how to answer. He had thought for a long time about how to convince the Emperor to let him leave the mountain. Unexpectedly, the Emperor had raised this himself. However, all the paths out of the mountain had been sealed. With 5,000 longbows and the terrifying ninth-level swordsmen from Dongyi, how could he get out of the mountain?
The Emperor smiled with ridicule and said, “Did you think that I would keep you at my side to force Lao Wu to act?”
Fan Xian smiled helplessly.
The Emperor took in a deep breath as if he was going to suck in all the moonlight on top of the mountain. A moment later, he said in a cold voice, “Regardless of whether or not I can succeed, Jingdou will certainly say that I died. I need you to get out of the mountain. I need you to go back.”
He watched Fan Xian’s eyes calmly and said, “I have four sons. Other than two that are not even as good as pigs and dogs, help me discipline them when you return to the capital. Don’t disappoint me.”
Fan Xian’s emotions were complicated. Then, he heard the Emperor say something that was gentler than the ocean breeze, “There is no need for you to stay here to gamble your life with me. Go back to the capital. If things don’t end the way I imagined, go do what you want. You can decide who sits on that chair.”
Fan Xian’s heart jumped in shock. He was completely speechless.
[JW1] It might be, “The moon was like water.”– I suspect a typo, but I’ll leave both translations here..