Book 8 Chapter 7: Soldiers are Fiercer than Bandits
The two Scarlet Wind War Hous galloped side by side.
“Follow this path, keep advancing forward, and we will reach Tian Village,” the girl named Ah Xiu hastily said.
Teng Qingshan looked at Ah Xiu and said, “What happened to Tian Village? Save who?”
“Ah Xiu, what… happened?” Teng Shou also asked.
The village girl said as she weeped, “A group of soldiers came to Tian Village to collect taxes, but the tax was just too high and Tian Village couldn’t afford it, so those soldiers began capturing the young women in our Tian Village. The Village is currently in disarray. I crawled out of the doggie hole in the fence and ran to find you guys.”
“Collect taxes?” Teng Qingshan frowned.
In his hometown, Jiangning County in Yangzhou, the gangs of bandits would collect annual fees. If the villages didn’t have enough money to pay the annual fees, the bandits would occasionally capture some strong men or some young women as replacement for the money. The muscular men could be bandits, while the young women could be sold to the brothel or given to the bandits in the gang to enjoy.
Anyway, in this chaotic world, strong men and young women could all be counted as money.
“Soldiers collecting taxes and capturing women? What difference do the soldiers have with those bandits?”
Teng Qingshan already saw the village up ahead. The village wasn’t far away from the Crescent Moon Lake with just a distance of around two Li.
“Please! I beg of you! Let me go! Please let me go!”
“Ahhh… save my mother….”
“Motherf*cking… F*ck off.”
“Brat, I will kick you to your death.”
The loud cries of the women and children and the reprimands of many soldiers were heard. It was utter chaos.
Teng Qingshan and Teng Shou rode on the Scarlet Wind War Hous. That was the scene they saw when they reached the spacious area in front of the village.
“Stop!” Teng Qingshan immediately shouted in rage.
The furious shout was like the rumble of thunder during spring, causing many people to cover their ears in fear. The originally noisy and chaotic area instantly became quiet.
Teng Qingshan finally saw clearly. The people in the spacious area were divided into two sides. One group was the people of Tian Village. They were the ones that were forcefully suppressing their rage and gripping the machetes, spears, and staves in their hands, but not making any moves. The other group were the soldiers dressed in light armor. Concurrently, these soldiers had taken many young women hostage.
Some of those women struggled crazily. It was obvious that all the women knew… of how miserable it would be if they were taken away.
“Who are you?” The leader of the troop, mounted on a One-horned War Hou, asked as he stared at Teng Qingshan.
“Father, Mother.” The girl named Ah Xiu leaped off the Scarlet Wind War Hou and dashed into the group of villagers.
“Ah Xiu, you… who allowed you to run away?” the chief of Tian Village, a white-haired elder with scars on his face, scolded furiously. Anxiety and worry filled his heart. He knew clearly that… even if the people Ah Xiu called here were very strong and were able to drive these soldiers out, the revenge of the soldiers in the future would be much more terrifying!
The white-haired elder hastily cupped his hands and said, “I am Tian Weishan, the chief of Tian Village. Ah Xiu was being naughty…”
Yet Teng Qingshan did not listen to him. He looked at the leader of the soldiers and asked, “You, what happened here?”
The leader of the soldiers scrutinized Teng Qingshan and thought to himself, ‘I wonder where these two people came from…. So arrogant…. However, their mounts are Scarlet Wind War Hous! Tsk, tsk. Such mounts are precious! And people that ride the Scarlet Wind War Hous are not ordinary people.’
“Haha….” The leader of the soldiers smiled and said, “We are here to collect taxes. However, Tian Village refused to pay. According to the rules, we should take the people in place of the taxes. This is right and proper. We only collect taxes once a year. It’s not a lot.”
“We already paid three times this year!” One of the women that the soldiers caught howled, “You are all ruthless bastards. After paying again and again, we didn’t even have enough food to eat. Yet you still want us to pay! The women and children are all farming to earn money. Still, it wasn’t enough for all you—”
“Pa!” A black-bearded soldier holding her prisoner immediately slapped the woman and the woman’s mouth was filled with blood.
“Mother.” The voice of a boy in Tian Village already sounded hoarse. A sturdy man next to him immediately covered the boy’s mouth while tears could be seen in the sturdy man’s eyes.
“Once a year, but this woman said that they have already paid three times.” Teng Qingshan had just started talking when he was interrupted.
The leader of the soldier frowned and shouted, “This tax collecting is the troop’s business. Why are you, a passerby, meddling in affairs that have nothing to do with you? I just spoke a few more words with you because I wanted to give you respect! Don’t be a hindrance!” The leader immediately turned and glared at the chief of Tian Village as he shouted, “Old Man Tian, quickly hand over the fellow that wounded my brother, or else there will be more than one death in Tian Village!”
“F*ck, I regret not slaughtering you all just now.”
A young man with a horrifying expression and flushed red neck roared as the men of Tian Village dragged him away, “Give me back my wife! Let go of me! All of you, let me go!” The young man struggled, yet he couldn’t free himself from the group of strong men.
On the snowy area in front of Tian Village, the Tian Villagers and the troop stood against one another. There were many bloodstains on the snowy ground.
Teng Qingshan, who was off to the side, also guessed it….
Someone must have died just now.
“You are already at the brink of death, but still so stubborn. First team! Go capture him! Give no quarter!” the leader of the troop sat high on the One-horned War Hou as he ordered. Hearing this, the people of Tian Village panicked. “Ah Shou!” The village girl named Ah Xiu shouted pathetically. She had seen Teng Shou sparring, thus, at this very moment, she could only depend on Teng Shou.
“Ah Shou, take him down.” Teng Qingshan pointed at the leader of the troop.
Teng Shou transformed into a blurred figure, crossing a distance of over ten Zhang instantly. With great alarm, the leader of the troop immediately brandished his blade as he hacked it towards Teng Shou.
“Bang!” Teng Shou first punched the leader’s stomach, making the leader spew a mouthful of blood. He then lifted the leader up like he was lifting some dead dog and as he returned to Teng Qingshan’s side within a few steps, he simply threw the leader of the troop onto the ground.
“Weeeoooeee!” An ear-piercing whistle rocketed the high altitude. “Boom!” It flew to the sky and suddenly exploded.
With a trickle of blood appearing on the corner of his mouth, the leader of the troop was bent on the ground.
“You two… How dare you two—” The leader’s eyes reddened with extreme rage.
“Calling support here?” Teng Qingshan looked up at the exploded red dust in the sky and smiled. He then looked down at the leader of the troop and said, “Little fella, you are just a centurion. Why don’t you behave more tactfully and command your subordinates to release all the women, otherwise… you will die immediately!”
Teng Qingshan spoke with a peaceful tone. The centurion gnashed his teeth and yelled at the soldiers, “Release… release those whores.”
“Ah Shou, slap him,” said Teng Qingshan.
Teng Shou immediately slapped twice, causing severe bleeding in the leader’s mouth; two of his teeth even fell off. Those soldiers showed angry expressions, but they still suppressed the rage and released all the women. In their eyes… these women naturally couldn’t be compared with their leader’s life.
The group of young women rushed back to their respective families.
“Brother!” Those women held their own children, husbands, or parents. The women’s faces flowed with tears. However, many villagers still appeared anxious. They knew clearly that even if the two powerful experts riding the Scarlet Wind War Hous were able to drive all these soldiers out, they would be even more miserable in the future.
“Lords.” The chief of Tian Village knelt and cried uncontrollably as he said, “I beg the two of you. Please don’t bother with this anymore. We are already very thankful. I beg you two, please.”
Teng Shou’s face darkened.
As for Teng Qingshan, he gazed southward and a smile crept onto his face as he said cheerfully, “Tsk, tsk, it looks like quite a number of people are coming.”
Clop! Clop! Clop!
The hoofbeats were so concentrated that it even quaked the earth. On the official road ahead, a troop of cavalrymen galloped forward in a vigorous manner. The cavalrymen were like a flood of black steel. Within moments, the troop of cavalrymen occupied the entire area in front of Tian Village. Farther behind, many cavalrymen rode Hunchbacked Beast on the official road.
The troop of soldiers immediately arrayed themselves orderly.
“General!” Many soldiers saluted respectfully.
Attired in black, heavy armor, a grim-visaged man—tough and sturdy—was riding on an iron armored War Hou. As he approached, he gazed at Teng Qingshan and Teng Shou.
“You two, please let my subordinate go,” the grim and ruthless man said.
Teng Qingshan waved his hand and said, “Ah Shou, let him go.” Teng Shou immediately kicked the centurion, causing the centurion to fall onto the snowy ground. The centurion hastily stood up and dashed back to his troop. He respectfully saluted the general mounted on the iron armored War Hou and said, “General, we were collecting taxes and capturing those women as a replacement for the taxes. Those two came and stopped us. They even forced us to release those women.”
The general nodded.
“Who are you two?” The general spoke, “What right do you two have to meddle in this affair?”
“Friends,” Teng Qingshan answered as he pointed at the girl named Ah Xiu with a smile. “This child’s friends.”
Beside the general was a handsome young man wearing heavy armor. The young man approached the general and whispered, “Father, those two are both riding Scarlet Wind War Hous and they didn’t show any expression of fear when facing us. They might be some powerful figures. It’s better to ask for clarification as it wouldn’t be good to cause a bunch of trouble.”
The general nodded.
His son was very smart and had solved many difficult problems for him.
“You two, we are collecting taxes and they should pay their taxes. This is right and proper.You two, please leave,” the general smiled and said. It was obvious that he didn’t want to make things difficult for Teng Qingshan and Teng Shou. In his own opinion, he was already being friendly.
Immediately, the general turned and looked at the people of Tian Village. He then shouted heartlessly, “I want all of you to hand over all those ladies within fifteen minutes. If not… we will make all the men and women slaves!” The moment these words were spoken, the entirety of the people of Tian Village were terrified.
Be slaves? That would be the end.
“You, which clan are you from?” Teng Qingshan showed a hint of anger as he said, “Is it Wang Clan, Murong Clan, or Li Clan?” There were just these three supreme clans in Nanshan City.
The general felt a sense of suffocation as he was asked by Teng Qingshan.
Wang Clan, Murong Clan, or Li Clan? Teng Qingshan’s tone really stunned the general.
“You even set a fifteen minute time limit?” Teng Qingshan scanned the general and the soldiers with cold eyes as he said, “I want you all to disappear within fifteen minutes. If not… all soldiers, prepare to be slaves.” Previously, the general was the superior, the one who could willfully decide the fate of the people of Tian Village.
However, within only a few moments, the tables had turned.
“You… you…” Anger showed on the general’s face.
“Go back and tell your patriarch. From now on, don’t disturb the villages near the Godly Axe Mountain. Tell him that I, Teng Qingshan, said that!” Teng Qingshan said sternly.
The grandiose troop of soldiers became completely silent. Seeing this scene, the people of Tian Village also froze.
“Who is Teng Qingshan?” The people of Tian Village had no idea.
“Who is Teng Qingshan?”
The rank-and-file soldiers also didn’t know.
“Teng Qingshan?” The general’s facial expression changed drastically. He scrutinized the weapon in Teng Qingshan’s hands and instantly confirmed Teng Qingshan’s identity. As he recalled what Patriarch said, he felt so terrified that he began trembling.