Chapter 864 – A Porter Forged From Steel1
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Ten-some warships belonging to the Great Zhou Navy appeared downstream, each manned by many soldiers armed with divine crossbows.
With a whoosh, many experts of the Imperial Court went ashore and ran into Fengyang City.
Several Daoists, their blue clothes drifting about them, flew out of the forest on the opposite shore. They gently touched the navy ships and then landed on the other shore.
The blue-clothed Daoists had cold, unfathomable expressions, and wielded Dao swords. They came from the Monastery of Eternal Spring in Luoyang.
The tattered leather boots stepped on the stone steps still not dry from the morning dew.
The tea merchants and pedestrians on both sides of the stone steps subconsciously backed away as this person approached, perhaps out of fear or out of shame.
Xiao Zhang didn't even look at these people, ignored those experts of the Imperial Court pursuing him. Holding his spear, he expressionlessly continued forward.
A few gasps came from some corner of the street and then rapidly faded away. Amidst the restless crowd, one could faintly see the cold glint of crossbow bolts.
The blue-clothed Daoists flew onto the stone steps like cranes. Behind Xiao Zhang, they had solemn expressions, able to attack at any moment.
The path from the river to the Seven Treasures Stronghold was completely made up of stone steps. Someone with nothing better to do had once counted them, finding that there were over seven thousand steps.
A normal person would need a very long time to walk them all.
But Xiao Zhang, even when burdened by heavy wounds, did not need much time.
In a few moments, he had reached the middle of the flight of steps. On the side was a very small park.
Several dozen people were standing in this park, in the shade of some trees, watching him with rather complex expressions. They were somewhat afraid, somewhat uneasy.
Suddenly, an extremely dim and stealthy sword glow pierced through a basket one of them was holding and stabbed towards Xiao Zhang.
This was an unthinkable angle of attack, a most sinister strike.
Yet Xiao Zhang seemed long-prepared. Grunting, he stabbed his spear through the air, accurately striking the sword glow with a fierce momentum.
The sword glow instantly shattered into pieces, the assassin hidden in the crowd forced to retreat in a wretched state, slamming against a tree.
Leaves drifted onto the assassin's body and were swiftly dyed red by vomited blood.
The assassin's face was brimming with fright. He wanted to stand and flee, but he could no longer muster the strength.
Surprisingly, Xiao Zhang only glanced at the assassin before continuing up the steps.
Chen Changsheng's group had already left the tea house and were now standing at the back of the crowd.
Seeing this scene, Tang Thirty-Six praised, "An excellent technique."
During the night of the coup of the Mausoleum of Books and the period that followed, Xiao Zhang had been a very intractable foe for the Orthodoxy to deal with, but things were different after he rescued Wang Po from the shores of the Luo River. At least in Tang Thirty-Six's view, this expert who should have been at the top of the Proclamation of Liberation was a powerful ally that they had to contend for, so he naturally had a favorable view of him.
However, Hu Thirty-Two and Zhexiu shook their heads at Tang Thirty-Six's praise. It was clear that they held different views.
"His wounds are too severe. Even more severe than we imagined," Chen Changsheng said worriedly.
Tang Thirty-Six understood.
Based on Xiao Zhang's violent style of fighting, if he still had sixty or seventy percent of his fighting capability, even an assassin from the Pavilion of Heavenly Secrets would have died to a single attack, their bones shattered.
Even if they managed to live by some fluke, Xiao Zhang's personality guaranteed that another strike would come, making sure of their death.
But the assassin was still alive.
This could only mean that Xiao Zhang's injuries were more serious than imagined, so serious that he was not even willing to expend the energy for another strike of his spear.
Several experts of the Imperial Court used the restlessness of the crowd to attack Xiao Zhang.
Xiao Zhang had successfully forced back those experts, but his body was beginning to sway, ready to fall at any moment.
"There are new injuries, and even more old wounds."
Like Xiao Zhang, Zhexiu regarded battle as a way of life. His eyes had clearly picked out just where Xiao Zhang's problems lay.
After being pursued by the Imperial Court for three years, fighting endlessly without a moment for rest, even if Xiao Zhang's body really was forged from steel, he would still feel tired.
Once he was tired, his reaction speed would slow, making it easier for him to be injured.
Once he started getting injured, he would continue suffering more and more injuries. His true essence would dry up. He would become unbearably exhausted, and finally be powerless to fight back.
He was a peak Star Condensation expert of the Proclamation of Liberation, and it was rare for him to find someone that was a match for him beneath the Divine. He was like some giant beast roaming the wastelands alone. Unable to counterattack, he was pursued by those scavenging vultures that were the experts of the Imperial Court for so many days, forced to fight over his long journey. A day would eventually come when his body crashed onto the ground.
Xiao Zhang finally reached the highest point of Fengyang City.
He stood in front of the Seven Treasures Stronghold. Looking down at the river below, he squinted his eyes.
The morning sun had already risen over the mountains. Its blazing rays shone over the river and mountains, the gleam rather dazzling.
He could clearly see that the experts of the Imperial Court and the divine crossbowmen had already encircled Fengyang City.
Although his mind was still in order, he was somewhat annoyed, like he had seen a swarm of houseflies that he couldn't disperse.
A person like Xiao Zhang truly might consider himself like a giant beast that stalked the wasteland alone, but he would never admit that these Imperial Court experts that had pursued him for several years were vultures. In his eyes, these fellows were vexing flies and mosquitoes, buzzing by his ear every day, making it difficult for him to sleep, which was why he now felt so drowsy.
Yes, he was just somewhat drowsy.
He felt like all he needed was some sleep, as why else would his eyelids be so heavy, his lips so numb, his pursuers have caught up to him?
He felt drowsier and drowsier, his eyelids heavier and heavier. Even he found it difficult to distinguish whether his eyes were squinting or already closed.
The morning sun shone over Fengyang City, and also on his face.
He swayed twice, then fell to the floor.
But he did not roll down the steps.
With a thump, the end of his spear jabbed into the ground. At the most dangerous moment, it helped support his fatigued body.
At this sight, those people who had never forgotten all the good Xiao Zhang had done for Fengyang City could no longer bear to look, and turned around. But some people stood up.
The first to stand up was a tea merchant of Fengyang City, as well as ten-some shop assistants who worked in the tea business.
"Protect Master Xiao!"
The tea merchant grit his teeth and shouted, then brought those shop assistants up the stone steps to Seven Treasures Stronghold and stood in front of Xiao Zhang. Some of them took out the swords that they usually kept on their person for protection, but even more used carrying poles that were usually meant for transporting goods, pointing them at those approaching experts.
As a tea merchant, one would inevitably encounter some troubles while doing business and would inevitably get into conflict with other tea merchants in Fengyang City. This tea merchant was known for his fierce temper, and the shop assistants under him were also extremely valiant with quite some reputation in the city, but how could they alone stop these experts and divine crossbowmen of the Imperial Court?
But soon after, more tea merchants and common people joined them.
The stone steps of the Seven Treasures Stronghold were quickly packed with people.
1. The specific term for 'porter' used here is '棒棒儿', which is a slang term specific to Chongqing. They are so called because they are usually seen with carrying poles/sticks, called '棒棒' by the locals.↩
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