Chapter 820 – The Spring Breeze Enters the Old City
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The black tide halted on the distant plains. Even with the specially constructed Thousand Li Mirror of the Tang clan, it was very difficult to clearly tell who these cavalry belonged to.
After a short time, a hundred-some cavalry broke off from the army and galloped towards Wenshui City, completely disregarding the divine crossbows mounted on the walls. Despite the fact that they had been drilled countless times, the soldiers and guards on the walls still grew nervous at this sight. After all, they still did not have any real experience.
The master of the city was hurriedly escorted to the city walls by his subordinates. He hadn't even had time to tidy his clothes, much less put on armor.
As he looked at that distant tide of cavalry and the squad of a hundred-some cavalry getting closer and closer, the city master grew paler and paler.
The hundred-some cavalry had already entered the range of the divine crossbows, but he did not dare give the order to fire. Sweating profusely, he turned to the Tang clan guards and asked in panic, "Where's the head clan? Why hasn't the head clan sent anybody?"
The city master of Wenshui City was appointed by the Imperial Court, but he was keenly aware that he could never be the master of this city.
For thousands and thousands of years, the master of this city had always been one surname: the Tang clan.
Quite some time had passed since the first warning bells had rung out. No matter how slow their response, the Tang clan should have sent someone by now.
Why was it that the only people on the walls were those guards, but not a single important figure of the Tang clan?
An advisor stared at the approaching cavalry and thought of a possibility. He whispered, "If there's no activity from the head clan, it means that there must be no problem."
The city master found these words rather reasonable. Wiping the cold sweat off his face, he shakily asked, "Then… just who has come?"
Time passed and the hundred-some cavalry reached the walls of Wenshui City.
No battle took place, because the people on the walls very quickly realized the identity of these visitors.
These visitors to Wenshui City were not an expeditionary army of the Demon race, but two thousand escorting cavalry.
Their mission was to escort three Sacred Hall archbishops into Wenshui City.
The reason the three Sacred Hall archbishops had come to Wenshui City was even simpler: attending upon the Pope.
No matter how upset the soldiers and citizens of Wenshui City were by this morning's abrupt visit, they had no justification to bar the archbishops from entering the city.
The vast majority of the two thousand cavalry remained on the plains, not showing any hostility.
The heavy city gate which had just closed not long ago slowly opened.
Two large carriages escorted by one hundred cavalry entered the city, watched by countless people with mixed emotions.
Archbishop An Lin spoke a few words to the city master through the curtain, showing no intention of leaving the carriage.
The people on the streets looked with interest at the figure in the carriage, some even piously prostrating and praying on the ground.
Linghai Zhiwang and Daoist Baishi were still sitting in the same carriage.
"The Tang clan's reaction is very fast. Ah, they're not that easy to attack."
Linghai Zhiwang expressionlessly said as he peered through the curtain, examining those Tang clan guards that were clearly not part of the Imperial Court's army.
There were many deeper meanings contained in this comment, but Daoist Baishi only gave a faint smile, nothing more.
Linghai Zhiwang glanced at him and said, "Wenshui City has never encountered the fires of war, so why is the Tang clan so wary and careful? They even don't mind exceeding the norms and installing so many divine crossbows and arrays, and why so many private troops? Could it be… that they're thinking of rebellion?"
The meaning was more explicit here. Daoist Baishi's smile faded, but he still said nothing, as he didn't know how to respond.
Two thousand cavalry escorted three Prefects of the Orthodoxy to Wenshui City.
They had ample reasons, as they had to ensure the Pope's safety.
No one could voice any objections.
But no one would forget a crucial fact: the Li Palace had not informed Wenshui City beforehand.
Taking without asking was stealing; coming without asking was a surprise attack.
Two thousand cavalry had suddenly appeared outside Wenshui City, their thundering hooves tearing apart the morning light.
Although nothing happened, all of Wenshui City felt nervous and uneasy on that morning.
A thousand years ago, the Demon Army moved down from the north and placed Luoyang under prolonged siege, their vanguard only three-hundred-some li from the capital. And yet they had never managed to reach Wenshui City.
Even further in the past, in that chaotic era in which warlords struggled for power, the continent was alight with beacons of fire, the people were displaced, and vast tracts of land were turned into scorched earth. Only Wenshui City did not suffer any attack, but quietly watched as the world roiled in upheaval.
This was the first time in countless years that Wenshui City had seen an army.
Just why had the Orthodoxy acted this way? To show off their might to the Tang clan? Were they worried about the Pope's safety? Or did they want to frighten some people in Wenshui City?
As imperial envoy, the Prince of Zhongshan had not immediately returned to the capital after leaving the Mount Song Army headquarters. Instead, he had represented the emperor and inspected the other armies in the north. When he received this news, he was at Blue Pass, and the first question he thought of was not any of the above but rather, the Orthodoxy's people didn't go to Cong Province?
One day, Linghai Zhiwang and two more Prefects of the Orthodoxy had brought two thousand cavalry and assailed the Mount Song with their thunderous momentum. Using the assassination attempt on the Pope, they had wrested away the position of Divine General of the Mount Song Army. A large percentage of their success could be attributed to the fact that they had arrived too suddenly.
The two thousand Orthodoxy cavalry had been garrisoned on the outskirts of Xunyang City and there was nothing but wasteland between there and the Mount Song Army headquarters, so it was not too inconceivable for their movements to be hidden from the Imperial Court. The question was, however, when had those three Orthodoxy Prefects left the Li Palace? How had no one in the capital noticed?
The Imperial Court would naturally not permit such a thing to happen again. Once the three Orthodoxy Prefects took their two thousand cavalry and left the Mount Song Army headquarters, they were constantly watched by the Great Zhou Army. Everyone knew that they were currently nearing the Cong Province Army headquarters.
This was something that many people in the court had predicted.
The Orthodoxy could not have sent out such a large force for just the Mount Song Army headquarters.
The Cong Province Army headquarters was located in the remote west, life there was difficult, and it was also extremely important. Critically, this was where Xue Xingchuan had begun his rise. Even though he had been dead for three years and the Imperial Court had executed many purges, it was still impossible to completely obliterate his influence.
From every angle, the Cong Province Army headquarters should have been a goal of the Orthodoxy.
Who could have expected that the three Orthodoxy Prefects and their two thousand cavalry would cross the lifeless mountain and desert overnight and suddenly appear outside Wenshui City!
Just what did the Orthodoxy want to do? Did that young Pope really go crazy and intend to massacre Wenshui?
The Prince of Zhongshan finally began to ponder these questions, his expression turning colder and colder.
He simply would not believe such an absurd conjecture, as he was very sure that the young Pope could not pull off such a feat.
And massacring Wenshui with just two thousand cavalry? This underestimated the wisdom of the Pope and the unfathomable strength of the Tang clan far too much.
At this moment, a burst of cheers suddenly arose from the streets of the army headquarters.
The Prince of Zhongshan slightly frowned and asked, "What happened?"
Though a few moments had passed, the cheers outside had no intention of stopping, and they were actually getting louder, as if all of Blue Pass was celebrating something.
Divine General Jian Xi walked into the military hall and said with a slightly gloomy voice, "We've just received news that the new batch of Cinnabar Pills will start being distributed tomorrow."
The Prince of Zhongshan's gaze grew more and more serene as he thought, I don't know how intelligent His Holiness is, but his bearing is truly unusual.
Wenshui was one of the few cities in the world that could be called ancient, and in the depths of winter, when the snow and yellow leaves contrasted against each other, it appeared even more serene.
Anyone who saw its ancient mottled walls or those signs that were unchanged despite hundreds of years of wind and rain could feel the thick aura of history.
Upon recalling that noble clan within the city, this thick aura of history would be supplemented by a power that had lasted through the tribulations of time.
Even Linghai Zhiwang ceased to be as irritable upon entering the city, becoming somewhat taciturn.
He raised the curtain, first seeing those people, kneeling or standing, on the road, and then seeing the light on the water.
Wenshui City was further north than the capital, but the river that was its namesake did not freeze even in the depths of winter, seeming like it could flow on forever.
Only the snow-speckled grass by the river and two or three yellow flowers that had clearly been frozen to death were proof of nature's nigh unstoppable laws.
The carriage stopped outside the Daoist church. Linghai Zhiwang ascended the stone steps, with Daoist Baishi and Archbishop An Lin following behind him.
At the end of this quiet and secluded stone path was the holy gate leading to the rear hall.
A pear tree was planted behind the gate, and under the tree stood a young man.
Linghai Zhiwang did not like this young man.
He had never liked him.
Even after he discovered that the young man was a legitimate successor of the Orthodoxy, he still found it impossible to understand why that Pope that he had revered above all else had chosen this person as his successor.
In his view, although this young man was certainly no coward, he was still lacking an edge. He was lifeless and showed no preference for anything.
A lack of preference meant that he did not like or dislike, and without fierce likes and dislikes, one would not understand what 'responsibility' meant.
At this moment, when he saw that figure under the pear tree, he finally understood something.
The young man had never been lifeless.
He had been calm and serene.
This young man was like a small stream.
The stream might have been somewhat shallow, but it was very clear. One could see the fish at the bottom and their own reflection.
The stream seemed gentle and soft, but it was also incredibly tenacious. Not even the sharpest sword could sever its flow.
The stream seemed very calm, but in reality, it contained an unimaginably powerful surging momentum. It could cleave through mountains, open up new lands, and flow west until the ocean.
It was just like how everyone knew that he should not have come to Wenshui City, that it was not to his advantage to come to Wenshui City, but he still had come.
Linghai Zhiwang finally understood the Pope's choice.
He calmly prostrated himself.
Daoist Baishi and An Lin glanced at each other with surprise on their faces, and then they prostrated as well.
The young man turned around and said, "Rise."
A cool breeze blew over, causing countless tiny flowers to fall from the tree and rain over his body. As they drifted onto his shoulders, they seemed pure and clean, like fresh flakes of snow.
Little white flowers rained down, covering the ground.
It was currently the frigid winter, so why was there such a beautiful sight?
Perhaps it was because he had made pills yesterday, causing the garden to suddenly warm and life to gradually bloom.
Thus, it was like a spring breeze had come in the night and caused all the flowers of the pear tree to blossom.
(End of Book 5 – The Yellow Blooms of the Battlefield)
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