Chapter 382 - Amputating An Arm
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
With a snap of his fingers, the surrounding bandits moved into an attacking stance. They pulled back their bows, aiming their arrows right at their prey, the reflective metal arrowheads illuminating each target.
Ji Yunshu hurried forward. “Zhao Huai, why gamble with the entire Gaoshan Gang at stake?”
“You forced my hand.”
“Step back, otherwise it’ll really be too late. Did you want to see those outside give up their lives in vain?”
Zhao Huai hesitated. In that moment, Mo Ruo approached Jing Rong carefully, reminding him softly, “You’re still hurt. When you enter the room, you know what to do with that wine jar, don’t you?” He placed a firestarter into Jing Rong’s hands.
Jing Rong nodded and asked, “Can you hold them off?”
“For a bit.”
“Mm.” Their exchange was quick and quiet.
Zhao Huai had also made up his mind. He pointed forward, crying out ferociously, “Kill them!”
And so, the lethal arrows were released.
Jing Rong immediately grabbed Ji Yunshu’s and Wei Yi’s hands, entering the room at lightning speed under Mo Ruo and Shi Ziran’s protection. They closed the door just before a torrential rain of arrows came flying at them from all directions, each one aimed to kill. They were lucky that Mo Ruo and the Shi siblings were highly skilled martial artists, and could hold off the attack for a while.
Razor sharp arrows pierced through from the outside, wedging themselves into the door, the windows, some even making their way through the fine paper covering the window panes, landing on the pillars inside. Each room in Gaoshan Village was comprised of three walls and a door. Although this made the room a suitable hiding place from the arrows, it also essentially locked them into a dead end. Wei Yi was so frightened that he did not dare breathe. Ji Yunshu hugged his trembling body as they hid themselves in a corner, crouching into a foetal position.
Jing Rong quickly took out the wine jar containing the sulphur powder. He pulled out an arrow firmly lodged into the pillar and dusted the arrow with sulphur powder from the jar, then lit it up with the firestarter. He threw the flaming arrow as hard as he could, hitting the rooftop opposite and setting it on fire. Jing Rong continued this process, throwing arrow after arrow outside. They were soon surrounded by a ring of fire.
Inside the little yard, the shower of arrows ceased amidst the smoky fog. Mo Ruo kicked open the door, pulling Jing Rong, Ji Yunshu and Wei Yi out. Together, the four of them escaped the chaotic yard. Ji Yunshu had become weak after inhaling some smoke, so Jing Rong supported her as they made their way out.
Zhao Huai and his men chased them all the way to the gates of the village. Although the main gates were firmly shut, the sound of clashing weapons and war-cries could be clearly heard through those closed doors. It was evident that the three thousand troops had already fought their way up the mountain.
As soon as Jing Rong and the others arrived, the main gates were pushed open from outside, the sound of fighting growing more deafening. The Jing Province troops encircled the Gaoshan Gang members, forcing them inwards inch by inch, taking control of the exterior barrier in no time. However, there were only about a thousand calvary at the top of the mountain; most of them had been sacrificed on their way up, injured or killed by the traps that lined the mountain. They could only imagine how terrifying, bloody and fierce the battle at the foot of the mountain must have been.
Lang Po rushed in with some soldiers, regrouping with Jing Rong and the rest. “Your Highness!” His forehead was damp with perspiration, but his voice was strong and resonant.
Jing Rong was startled. He questioned Lang Po, “Who ordered you to bring the men and launch this attack?”
“The Shanhuai County Governor.”
“Ridiculous!” Zhang Huanping, oh Zhang Huanping - this Prince is definitely going to rid you of your official hat and gown!
Only a thousand odd remained of the three thousand troops, but Zhao Huai only had barely sixty men remaining of his six hundred-strong Gaoshan Gang. It seemed that they were already at checkmate. Zhao Huai could not believe his eyes - it wasn’t long that had passed, but all of his men outside the village were dead! He was heartbroken, but also vengeful. He intended to charge to his death. He glared at Jing Rong with those bloodshot eyes, “We, the Gaoshan Gang, won’t ever admit defeat even if we were down to the very last man!”
“Both sides have suffered great losses, stop sending them to their deaths.” Jing Rong tried to persuade him otherwise.
“Gaoshan Village was my father’s life - you’ve already taken my life by destroying it.” He could barely contain his tears as he cried out.
The remaining bandits were likewise devastated, but were determined to charge alongside Zhao Huai with the last of their strength; to them, the Gaoshan Gang and Gaoshan Village were their family and home - once it was gone, they would have nothing to live for. “First Master, we’ll follow you - we’ll fight till our last breaths!”
The atmosphere began to heat up.
Ji Yunshu became teary at this sight. It was difficult to speak as she had choked on the thick smoke, so she grabbed tightly onto Jing Rong’s arm as she shook her head, eking out, “Stop killing.”
Jing Rong nodded. “Zhao Huai, it’s no more than a fruitless struggle. This Prince will command the troops to retreat - you can keep your Gaoshan Village.”
“You have massacred hundreds of my brothers - if I, Zhao Huai, were to agree, I’m a useless coward!” He ordered, “Kill! Charge!” Lang Po led the Jing Province troops from both sides, placing Jing Rong and the others safely behind their protection.
A bloody battle would soon commence.
“Stop!” Zhao Qing ran in, wedging himself between both camps. His eyes were already rimmed with red; his sturdy, tall figure an eyesore right in the middle of the room.
Zhao Huai spoke, “Zhao Qing, move aside.”
“Brother, I know everything - I know all about what has happened to me these past few years. All of you have been lying to me to protect me; but other than Father, I only have you left, Brother. Stop all this, stop the fighting and killing.”
“Brother! Please, I beg you.”
Zhao Huai began to sob, his entire body shaking as his sobbing grew louder. He eventually fell to the ground on his knees, collapsing into a heap. He looked up towards the heavens, “I, Zhao Huai, am useless. Since I can’t take revenge for my brothers, I’ll repay them with my arm.”
Hmm?? Before anyone could stop him, Zhao Huai raised his hefty knife, swinging it swiftly down onto his left arm. Fresh blood splattered everywhere and his amputated arm landed grotesquely on the muddy ground.
“Brother!” Zhao Qing knelt down beside him, the two brothers entwined together in a sorrowful embrace. Only their cries could be heard...
At this time, Ji Yunshu finally lost her grasp on consciousness. The time she opened her eyes, they were already at the Shanhuai County Yamen. Jing Rong sat next to her on the bed. As soon as he saw he saw her wake, he asked worriedly, “How are you? Are you uncomfortable anywhere?”
She shook her heavy head. “How’s Zhao Huai?”
“Mo Ruo is there.”
She nodded, noticing that Wei Yi was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Wei Yi?”
“He was scared out of his wits. I had someone bring him to rest.”
Jing Rong had someone prepare medicine, intending to take a rest after watching Ji Yunshu finish it. However, Ji Wanxin entered the room with reddened eyes, flopped down next to Ji Yunshu’s bed and began to cry. Ji Yunshu patted her head, and shot Jing Rong a look. “Could Your Highness please leave for a moment? I have something I need to say to my Second Sister.”
Jing Rong nodded and left. Ji Yunshu also got off her bed, sitting herself at the table.
“Yunshu, you’re still weak. You’d better rest in bed.”
Ji Yunshu just poured out a cup of tea and pushed it towards Ji Wanxin. Her face turned grave as she said calmly, “Second Sister, once you finish this cup of tea, I’ll ask His Highness to send someone off with you. It’s best if you return to Jinjiang as soon as possible.”
ChouFleur Rants Corner
;;-;; Big brother Zhao Huai *brotherly hugs*. And not-so-sisterly behaviour? *gasp*
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