Tie Long Cheng was unable to restrain his anger. He raised his leg, and kicked Wu Kuang Yun; like he was kicking a rubber ball. Wu Kuang Yun flew-up from the ground, happened to land on his plump buttocks, and bounced twice.
"You've been wronged? My a*s! I saw how you were acting all 'self-satisfied and complacent' a while ago! Motherf*ker, I would've kicked you to the Ninth Heavens if it weren't for those two 'toys' dangling inside your underpants!" Tie Long Cheng's anger seemed authentic.
Wu Kuang Yun wanted to cry, but found no tears to shed. He recalled that Tie Long Cheng had been waiting for him when he arrived. Therefore, he had indeed violated the military law.
[But... what law did I break? His Majesty had personally made that decision...]
Wu Kuang Yun felt that he had been wrongly accused.
Did Tie Long Cheng not realize that he had accused him wrongly? Tie Bu Tian was there with him at the time. So, could Wu Kuang Yun dare to be in-charge? Could he make a decision on his own?
"Supreme Commander..." Wu Kuang Yun cried out in a whimpering tone.
"I'll extract your body fat and use it to light a sky-lantern(1) if you repeat this crime again!" Tie Long Cheng pulled-out his long sword, and suddenly slashed it. Wu Kuang Yu was crying and whimpering, but he suddenly stopped making those noises when the sword-light flashed.
The rope had been severed in a flash.
The shining sword's edge had hacked very close to Wu Kuang Yun's eyes, which were wide open at that moment since he was extremely frightened. Even his eyelashes were severed by the sword's edge to some extent. The ice-cold sensation made him feel as if he had just taken a lap around King of Hell's palace. He couldn't help but let-out a strange cry.
"Get lost!" Tie Long Cheng pointed outside, and bellowed like a thunderclap.
Wu Kuang Yun jumped-up nimbly, and rushed out of the commander's tent; he held his head in his hands out of fright. He fled in a miserable state.
Not only did he not receive any reward for delivering the prisoners of war… he ended-up becoming an undeserved target of the Supreme Commander's wrath. He was really... unlucky this time.
Tie Long Cheng thought for a long while. Then, he picked-up a pen and wrote a letter. He then ordered his a Deputy General to find a reliable person to deliver the letter to Tie Bu Tian.
The Deputy General was puzzled and asked, "General Wu went back a while ago. Why didn't the Supreme Commander give it to him..."
"Nonsense! How can I trust that shameless bastard to deliver this confidential information?" Tie Long Cheng's pent-up anger hadn't disappeared yet.
The Deputy General shrank back in fear, and didn't speak another word.
"Ask Minister Chu to come over. Tell him that Supreme Commander wants to have a chat with him," Tie Long Cheng spoke in a formal manner.
Tie Bu Tian was standing on top of a mountain peak. He was gazing into the distance. The sleeves of his robe were fluttering in the wind. His posture reflected confidence and ease. However, his facial expression was serious and somewhat melancholic.
[Who knows where Chu Yang is at this time…?]
[I wonder how he is. Is he still going strong?]
There had been no news on Chu Yang of late. Tie Bu Tian was very worried because of this. However, this had also made him somewhat relaxed.
'No news' was the 'best news' in the present situation. Diwu Qing Rou would never let go of a chance to crush Iron Cloud's morale if Chu Yang were to fall into his hands. He'd start an unstoppable propaganda.
Therefore, lack of any news was proof that Chu Yang was still struggling tenaciously. At the very least — he wasn't dead, or hadn't fallen into Diwu Qing Rou's hands.
Tie Bu Tian was burning with impatience, but couldn't show it to others. He was at his wits' end, and felt powerless. He couldn't do anything besides waiting here.
He couldn't tell why his mood had been off. To put it briefly… he had been very upset lately. He had lost appetite and found it difficult to swallow food and water. He would dream about Chu Yang every night. Chu Yang would be standing in front of his bed, and would be completely drenched in blood. Then, he'd wake up from the dream with a start.
Tie Bu Tian gently knitted his brows, and secretly asked himself, [what's going on? What's wrong with you?]
[No, no; Minister Chu is a hardworking minister of Iron Cloud. He's indispensible to us. Iron Cloud cannot afford to lose Minister Chu; that's all. I'm just worried about his safety. There's no other reason...]
[Absolutely no other reason! Yes, really, there's none.]
Tie Bu Tian was repeating it over and over in his heart. But then, another thought came-up in his heart, [what should I do if Chu Yang died during his escape in this route that exceed 5000 Km…?]
He suddenly felt a sharp pain in his heart as he thought of this. His mind went vacant for a while; [it's as if... I don't have any confidence without Minister Chu…? What else is it?]
[Chu Yang is just a courtier! An unruly and rebellious courtier! It doesn't matter… even if worse comes to worst…]
Tie Bu Tian comforted himself over and over again. However, the more he did… the more chaotic his mind became. He was clueless as to what was wrong with him...
He just stood quietly atop the mountain peak, with his hands crossed behind his back. He stood there motionless for a long time. The clouds drifted over the summit and passed by. Tie Bu Tian's body appeared as elusive as the figure of an Immortal amidst the mist and clouds.
"Your Majesty, you should get down," two shadows appeared behind him and suggested in a whispering voice.
"Well, I'll stand here for a while and take rest." Tie Bu Tian replied with a smile, "Are there any new developments?"
"There's none. Great Zhao's army hasn't made any move in the main battlefield since the destruction of that army unit of 500,000 soldiers. And, Diwu Qing Rou is yet to arrive. He should arrive at the frontline in a month. They're waiting for him to arrive and make a decision," one of the shadows answered.
"I see; that means we can advance further from our present position," Tie Bu Tian spoke in a low voice.
"We mustn't!" the two shadows objected in unison. "Marching up to here was a big risk as it is! If we advance further and come across a mishap — we'll be rendered incapable of returning to our stronghold!"
"We'll be rendered incapable of returning to our stronghold?" Tie Bu Tian conjured a strategic topographic map in his mid. He seemed immersed in deep thoughts for a while. He then said, "That won't happen! There are three passageways 50 kilometers back in this valley that circle around the mountains. We only need to set up our military camp in the middle position. Then, we can easily take a detour and go back if something forces us to retreat. Even an army of 10 million won't be able to swallow us!
"We're safe here!" Tie Bu Tian spoke casually, "You two shouldn't worry!"
[We shouldn't worry... well… the talk about terrain makes sense, but... how can we be at ease when we're in the enemy's territory?]
"Well, any other news apart from that?" Tie Bu Tian asked quietly.
"...There's none." a shadow replied in a hesitating manner. He certainly knew what news Tie Bu Tian wanted to hear about. But, he had no news in that regard. The Golden Horse Riders Department had locked down all news channels very tightly. They simply weren't disclosing anything. The latest news was from ten days ago.
Tie Bu Tian hesitated for quite a while. He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it again. Then, he opened his mouth again, and hesitantly asked in a feeble voice, "Say... isn't there any news about Minister Chu?"
[Here we go again.]
The shadow sighed in his heart.
Tie Bu Tian would always intentionally or unintentionally ask this question every time they'd come to report the news. And then, he would turn silent. This had been the routine over the last few days.
Earlier, he used to ask about it very casually. However, he asked this question in a very feeble voice nowadays; it seemed as if his voice was swayed by worries.
"No," The shadow again sighed in his heart. These two brothers were King Level Experts. In the opinion of these two brothers, [if we brothers joined hands with the clear-cut objective of escaping from Great Zhao — even we wouldn't have any hope of survival …especially if we were being pursued and attacked by the Golden Horse Riders Department… and were surrounded by whole of Great Zhao's army]
[That journey is full of extreme dangers! Wishing to come back safety is as difficult as trying to ascend to the heaven!]
[Chu Yang's corpse must be rotting at the foot of a mountain in some corner…]
"Oh..." Tie Bu Tian let-out a pensive 'oh'. Then, his gaze turned towards the mist and clouds that spread over that ravine. He then spoke in a muffled voice, "You get down. I'll stay here and look at the scenery."
[Look at the scenery...] the two shadows silently glanced at each other. Then, they silently disappeared.
"Well, I can advance for 50km more. But, that's the limit..." Spellbound, Tie Bu Tian looked at the continuous stretch of mountains. He was talking to himself in a feeble and inaudible voice, "But... these 250kms that I've covered is nothing in comparison to that 6500 Km escape-route that is filled with danger at each and every step... sigh..."
Tie Bu Tian heaved a soft sigh. His sadness and anxiety had deepened hundred-fold.
This was the first time that he had allowed his emotions to affect his decisions. Moreover, it happened at the worst timing since such a strenuous situation had built-up between two nations. He himself was shocked by the decisions he had made, and found them unthinkable since the outcome would eventually decide the rise and fall of nations.
However, he found no regrets in his heart when he asked himself in all honesty. It seemed that he was willing to take any odd risk without batting an eyelid! In fact, he wished he could push forward for another 4000 Km to save Chu Yang...
He didn't seem to care that such a decision could lead to his own death...
"I've gone insane!" Tie Bu Tian murmured remorsefully.
A small team of men and horses had arrived at the foot of the mountain. It was Wu Kuang Yun. He had returned after delivering the war-prisoners. He had been all 'high and mighty' when he had left for the main military camp. However, he returned as fearful as a stray dog. He looked as homeless as a guy who had been sent into exile…
[He looks so distressed!]
Tie Bu Tian couldn't stop himself form bursting into laughter. He secretly said, "Second Imperial Uncle must be very angry at my reckless behavior, but… I specifically sent Wu Kuang Yun to help him vent his anger... But his wrath should've calmed down by now, right? It should have."
Tie Bu Tian had planned this all along.
If General Wu Kuang Yun were to find out that his task to deliver the war-prisoner was a means to deliver himself as a punching bag in order to absorb Tie Long Cheng's anger… he would vomit 3 liters of blood on the spot. He would've been depressed to death.
"Twenty-three days have passed since Chu Yang began his escape in Great Zhao... If I were to calculate the distance he could've travelled so far... " Tie Bu Tian looked at the colorful sky and continued, "... and considering that his legs aren't hurt, and he has advanced at a normal pace… he should've covered a distance of more than 5000 Km by now..."
"In fact, he should've covered a distance of more than 3500 Km even if he's injured — so long as he wasn't caught. So, the results of the calculation fall between 4000 and 4500 Km if both scenarios are taken into account. In short, it can be assumed that he has yet to cover more than 2000 Km to reach this placed. Even if I advance another 250 Km… he'd still need to cover more than 1500 Km..."
Tie Bu Tian exhaled a long breath, "But this 1500km route lies close to the warzone. So, there are more chances of getting surrounded and attacked... that will be far more dangerous... Chu Yang, you'll have to stand strong..."
Tie Bu Tian tightly wrinkled his eyebrows after doing this calculation.
However, he was unaware that Chu Yang had sustained injuries. Despite that, the speed of his advance had been much faster than Tie Bu Tian's speculation. That was because Chu Yang had nearly followed a straight line throughout the journey. He had even thrust into the depths of the enemy's forces in order to move straight!
He hadn't taken any detours. If one would mark Chu Yang's escape-route on a map — they'd be surprised to find that his escape-route was a perfect straight-line from Continent Center to Iron Cloud!
Without any turns!
Even a first-class geographer would be amazed to see it!
At the moment, Chu Yang was struggling to approach the Beyond the Heavens Sect's location. However, he had run into the biggest life or death crisis since his escape from the Continent Center!
When Tie Bu Tian was standing on the mountain peak — Chu Yang had landed in a difficult situation. He was presently in the middle of breaking-out of it...
Sky Lantern: Miniature hot-air balloon used during festivals