Chapter 22.1: Big Giant's Panic
"Since he is an important personage of the Count’s Palace, we humble men dare not stand in the way." Said Tian Thirteen.
Jin Zhong remained calm and steady. "Thank you."
He waved his hand gently and ordered his subordinates hiding in the shadows. "Come. Escort the Shen Family into the sedan chair."
A dozen or so martial practitioners appeared from the veils of the darkness. They carried not a weapon but a royal stretcher.
Though Jin Zhong was unhappy with Shen Lang, he was ever loyal to the Count’s Palace and dutifully did what was instructed of him.
More than a dozen martial practitioners carefully lifted Shen Lang's family on the stretchers and brought them to the sedan chairs. Thereafter, they gently asked them to sit on the sedan chairs.
The size of the sedan chair was colossal that one could lie down to rest.
Six martial practitioners lifted the three sedan chairs resting on the ground. It seemed light as a feather as if the weight of the three people posed no such problems.
"I will be taking my leave." Jin Zhong said.
"Take care, Honored Guest." Tian Thirteen bowed.
From beginning to end, Jin Zhong did not assert his abilities nor did he threaten Tian Thirteen. The reason for the arrest was completely legal and document evidence backed it up.
Shen Lang's father did build a house in the barren hills and has not paid his taxes since then. But it is normal. Countless lowly peasants in Xuanwu City had never paid taxes to the government and the court officials never held them accountable of such as it'd only end in the deaths of the peasants as their lifestyles were too poor to forcefully coerce them to pay taxes.
Besides, Jin Zhong paid no heed to the working poor. If Tian Thirteen wished to arrest them then arrest them he shall, but he's been handed an order; it was his duty to protect Shen Lang's family.
Soon as the presence of Jin Zhong and the martial practitioners could no longer be felt, Tian Thirteen staggered backwards.
Next to Tian Thirteen was his subordinate. He mouthed words of exasperation and furious rage. "Master Tian, this… we just let it go like this…?"
"Fool, do you not know who those people were just now? Are you blind?"
The subordinate shook his head. "I do not know."
"He is Jin Zhong, the head servant of the Count’s Palace and the Count’s trusted confidant." Tian Thirteen replied.
Suddenly, the countenance of the subordinate and those nearby darkened.
"How did that white lotus face hug the thighs of the Count’s Palace?" The subordinate questioned.
Tian Thirteen sighed. "Let us pray that Shen Lang's relationship with the Count is not that deep. It is better that he hugged the thighs of the head servant… otherwise…"
"Otherwise what, Master Tian…?" The subordinate grew uneasy.
"Otherwise… " He said slowly. "… you'll need to go home and say goodbye to your parents, your wives, and your children."
"It-it's that se-serious…?" The subordinate stuttered.
"We'll die!" Tian Thirteen shouted.
The brief but impactful memories of Shen Lang emerged in his mind. He recalled that lotus face… always calm and full of smiles. He thought it nothing then, but now, he felt a sudden chill run through his back as the wind blew. That smile… it's a smile full of danger.
"Let us return and report to Righteous Father. Case the worst of our imaginations occur, 'lest we're prepared for it. We must not die due to our very own ignorance." Tian Thirteen warned his subordinates before jumping over his horse heading towards the quarters of the Black Warrior Gang.
To save one's self, one needed to move fast. Otherwise, it'll be too late. Before he knew it, Shen Lang had already climbed the ladders and hugged the Earl's thighs. He who fell to the bottom pits of status quickly rose by garnering the protection of the Count.
Tian Thirteen spared no rest and galloped wildly to his destination.
In less than an hour, he arrived at the Black Warrior Gang Headquarters.
…. … …
The Black Warrior Gang's headquarters was not in Xuanwu City but from a distant place twenty miles out.
A small fortress could be seen from a distant. This small fortress inhabited a thousand camps of the city's army. Each camp contained hundreds of soldiers.
Because of the ongoing New Deal the Great Yan Empire concocted, local officials sought to attract all sorts of forces, including the army, to fight against the traditional and old aristocratic nobles hence the Black Warrior Gang held the banner of the local officials.
Tian Thirteen hurriedly rushed towards the headquarters.
Usually, he'd stop by and chat with his comrades and brothers. Tian Heng had many sons all with great potential thus it isn't easy to stand out if they wished to gain power. Not only to please their Righteous Father, they needed to win the hearts of their people.
But Tian Thirteen did no such thing. There were far important matters which weighed his mind that he reported directly into the room of his father.
At this time, he happened to meet a beautiful woman crouched under the table. He saw white liquid stains on her flowery skirt.
Tian Heng crushed the cup in his hand. Anger filled him as his moment of lust was disrupted suddenly. He looked at Tian Thirteen with an ice cold gaze. "If you've not any good reason, I will dig out your eyes."
Tian Thirteen knelt down. "Righteous Father, forgive your unfilial son. His mission was ruined and failed to destroy the Shen Family."
Tian Heng's eyes narrow. His own son could not even handle such trivial matters. Pitiable. He'd already taken the commissioned money too. One thousand and fifteen hundred gold coins in total.
"Jin Zhong of the Count’s Palace took Shen Lang's parents away. They sat on a noble-like sedan chair as martial practitioners led them away. The head servant said Shen Lang and his family would be attending the wedding before carrying them away."
Tian Heng stood up abruptly as his face darkened.
The woman who served Tian Heng choked. Pushed back, she coughed in pain.
"Ah…" The woman cried out softly. Her mouth bled from the unexpected turn of event. "My Lord…"
"Get out!" Tian Heng roared.
The woman quickly scrambled out in a hurry.
Men are fickle. When in a good mood, they'll seek pleasure of the highest quality only to kick them away when their frame of mind turns around.
"Righteous Father, who from the Count’s Palace is to be married come this evening? Are they concubines? No… this does not seem right. Shen Lang… he should be able to climb the ladder that fast, right? I have heard that he is a waste and a fool."
"Thirteen, do you think Shen Lang is a waste?"
Tian Thirteen scrunched his brows and pondered over the question asked. Thereafter, he looked up and shook his head violently.
"The Count’s big marriage is not to seek a concubine but a son-in-law to wed to their daughter, Jin Mulan."
Tian Thirteen's eyes bulged. He shook his head as his lips quivered. "No… that's… absolutely impossible!
Tian Heng smiled bitterly. "I don't think so."
"Righteous Father, who is Shen Lang? A foolish boy from the village. Even a weed is superior to him. And what of the Count’s daughter? She is of a martial talent and her appearance and stature cannot be compared. The Jin Family, they're a century old giant. Even if Shen Lang acquires riches and power, he'd not be able to match half of Miss Jin's fingers. Even a rich family like the Xu Family did not place Shen Lang in their eyes. Then what of the Earl's Palace?"
Tiang Heng nodded.
Though Shen Lang and Jin Mulan shared the same sky, it seemed impossible to connect them as a couple. They are different from each other.
Though the moon and sun rises and rests in the same direction, their life never connected.
But… Jin Zhong appeared in the village to pick up Shen Lang's family to attend the wedding held tonight looked suspiciously strange.
Tian Heng sighed. He stood up and walked back and forth in the tent. His eyes revealed a touch of uneasiness.
"I'll go to Xuanwu City." He said after a long period of silence. "It's going to be a gloomy day."