Chapter 363 - Borrowing Troops
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Do you even have the capability? Of course not!
If he had the capability to ambush Gaoshan Village, would he have been oppressed by the bandits for so long?
“Prince Rong, this lowly officer will definitely rescue Teacher Ji, even if I had to sacrifice my own life.” Zhang Huanping exclaimed, wringing his hands.
“Forget it. Tell me every last detail you know about the Gaoshan Gang.”
“Yes, sure! Immediately!”
Zhang Huanping began to narrate about the Gaoshan Village, the bane of his career.
“This lowly officer has tried many ways to solve this problem over the years, including sending petitions to court. But Prince, you know as well that this is a strategically pivotal area. The main reason why the court-appointed officials all failed in suppressing the bandits, is the formation around Gaoshan Village. It’s filled with hidden mechanisms left behind by the old master, making it difficult to even approach. Moreover, Gaoshan Village is on a mountaintop; attacking it presents layers upon layers of complications. Prince Rong, this lowly officer isn’t unwilling to deal with this problem… if those bandits were angered, it would only bring trouble upon the people of Shanhuai county.”
“What kind of secret mechanisms are there?” Jing Rong asked.
“All kinds. Just below the peak, there is a mechanism that shoots a rain of arrows when activated. We’ve tried to attack the village before, and most of our men were taken down by the arrows.”
Jing Rong now understood why there would be such an orderly and tightly spaced rain of arrows in that part of the forest. It was because of the secret mechanism!
Mo Ruo walked over and waved Zhang Huanping away. “You leave first.”
“But… what about Teacher Ji?”
“For now, just gather your men and be ready to respond at anytime.”
“Yes, of course, right away!” He agreed eagerly as he left.
Only then, did Mo Ruo say to Jing Rong, “Zhang Huanping is only a county governer after all. It’s difficult for him to be able to control those bandits.”
“Are you speaking up for him?” Jing Rong gave him a look.
“No, I only thought that we can’t really kick him from his post, since he knelt for so long.”
“I don’t care about his official post, I need news about Ji Yunshu.”
“But the village is full of hidden mechanisms”, reminded Mo Ruo.
Fighting against the pain in his chest, Jing Rong insisted, “Even if we had to force our way through, I must go to the village!”
Faced with the stubborn resolve of his friend, Mo Ruo was rendered speechless.
At this moment, two silhouettes appeared in the doorway.
Ah! It was Lang Po and Shi Zijin!
The two quickly entered.
“Prince, we have news.” Lang Po reported with a bow.
Lang Po quickly drew the cloth and chain from his sleeve. As he handed it over to Jing Rong, he said, “This was sent out by Teacher Ji.”
Jing Rong grabbed the items and unfolded the bloodstained cloth. On it were two lines of words, obviously written in blood.
Mystery in tiger’s den, all’s well that ends well. [1. Meant to be cryptic. 虎穴如饮，良辰自圆. 饮 probably refers to 隐 which means something hidden. Chinese play on similar sounds.]
Seeing these nine words, his anxiety reduced slightly.
“Prince, what do these two lines mean?” Lang Po asked.
He had read it, but had not understood a single thing!
Mo Ruo craned his neck to take a look. He, too, did not understand.
“Is this a secret language between the two of you? I can read it, but what did Teacher Ji mean by this?”
“She had already guessed that there were problems within the village.”
Jing Rong clenched the cloth in his hands and looked at Shi Zhijin. “You have always been by her side; you would have gone to save her if something went wrong. But even before you arrived, she already knew that there was something wrong with the village.” He sighed. “She does not want us to go into the tiger’s den; she wants to save herself instead.”
“Save herself? Teacher Ji on her own? That’s obviously impossible.” said Lang Po.
“Since she was able to send news out, she must be fine. Who knows, she might even have found a solution.” Mo Ruo continued.
“No! Nobody can guarantee that Yunshu is safe. We don’t know what the situation in the village is like either. This prince can’t just do nothing. Lang Po, immediately send people along with the county’s men to attack the village.”
“But Prince Rong, Gaoshan Village is on the mountaintop. The terrain is complicated and filled with hidden mechanisms. Prince, unless there is a good plan in place, you’re just sending them to their deaths!”
“What about Yunshu’s safety? Am I to not care a whit about her?”
“Are you not going to listen to my commands any more?” Jing Rong questioned.
Lang Po hung his head and did not dare to speak further.
Seeing this, Mo Ruo quickly stepped forward to dissuade him. “Jing Rong, don’t be so impetuous. Since Teacher Ji said so, she must already have a solution. If you send attackers, you might even spoil her plans! Moreover, do you really want to send people to their deaths? Even if you did succeed in rescuing Teacher Ji, do you think she would rest easy knowing it was exchanged with so many lives?”
Jing Rong was frantic. Who knew what would happen if he was too late to help? But Mo Ruo had a valid point as well.
There would be no guarantee of success if they attacked. Furthermore, there would be countless lives on the line if they failed; and even if they did succeed, would Ji Yunshu rest easy?
Seeing that Jing Rong was considering his words, Mo Ruo continued speaking. “You’re also injured and can’t personally mount a rescue. It’s better to first calm down and think of a good attack strategy.”
Jing Rong nodded and leaned weakly back onto the bed. He gradually calmed down as he contemplated. Mo Ruo, Lang Po and Shi Zhijin glanced at each other and stepped aside to await orders.
Jing Rong suddenly asked, “This prince recalls that six years ago, Marquis Kang kept an elite troop of soldiers in Jingzhou, didn’t he?”
After a moment of thought, Lang Po nodded. “That’s right. Marquis Kang still had that troop when he retired from court.”
“Is it still in Jingzhou?”
“Jingzhou is not too far from here. You take a swift horse to Jingzhou and borrow that elite troop from Marquis Kang.”
Hearing the order, Lang Po was conflicted. “Prince, Marquis Kang left the capital a few years ago precisely because he had some disagreements with the emperor. In the past few years, he was all the more unwilling to work for the court. This time…”
Marquis Kang was said to be an obstinate person. Just because he had a difference in opinion with Emperor Qi Zhen in court, he had thrown his official hat onto the ground in a fit of anger and left! [2. The official hat represents the post. Leaving the hat behind is equivalent to resigning.]
The next day, he even moved his whole family to Jingzhou, drawing a clean line between himself and the court. In recent years, Marquis Kang took no notice of court matters, no matter what happened in court. He was only occupied with training his elite troop, living a life of leisure!
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