Chapter 254: Great General Chen stains the streets with blood Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
After the Pei siblings left the palace, the front gates shut as well, much to the surprise of the assembled officials before it. Grand Preceptor Xie saw the angry displeasure written all over Elder Li’s face and murmured, “Elder, it looks like Lou Zigui isn’t coming out.”
“How can this be?” Elder Li muttered to himself.
“This old man doesn’t need to be Elder’s antagonist now,” Grand Preceptor Xie said as he shook his head, one hand resting against his forehead. “Lou Zigui is simply a vicious dog who keeps quiet until he decides to bite.”
“What does he want to do?” Elder Li asked.
“Stall for time,” Grand Preceptor Xie declared. “Without His Majesty protecting him, the only thing that can save him now is to flee to Anyuan’s six provinces.”
Suppressing the grief in his heart, Elder Li said, “It’s only going back to Anyuan. How could he…” Elder Li suddenly stopped mid-sentence. With Grand Preceptor Xie here, there was no way Lou Zigui could leave the capital in peace.
“This old man will never allow Lou Zigui to leave the capital,” Grand Preceptor Xie swore.
Elder Li only felt completely listless at the moment. How could he and a bunch of scholars be able to turn the tide?
“This old man wants to transfer the military barracks soldiers into the palace,” Grand Preceptor Xie declared. “Elder, what do you think?”
Elder Li stared at the tightly shut gates before nodded quickly. “This old man wants to see His Majesty in person.”
Grand Preceptor Xie sighed. “I only hope that His Majesty’s fortune is as large as the skies.”
Nobody would say anything like seeing His Majesty’s corpse before they saw the emperor for themselves.
Chen Lu had heard the news that His Majesty might have passed away even before rushing from Iron Buddha Temple to the palace gates. After seeing Grand Preceptor Xie, he asked, “Grand Preceptor His Majesty is…?”
Grand Preceptor Xie only said, “Hurry and get to the military barracks. Fight and conquer the palace for this old man.”
Chen Lu was astonished. “Grand Preceptor, you’re going to attack the imperial palace?”
Grand Preceptor Xie began to walk to a place with no people. Chen Lu hurried after him and heard him say in a low voice, “It’s very possible that His Majesty’s already passed away.”
Chen Lu’s face paled.
“This old man will bear all consequences for everything that happens after this,” Grand Preceptor Xie added. “You only need to do as you’re told.”
Chen Lu’s lips trembled before he asked, “Grand Preceptor, has His Majesty truly…?”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s expression turned solemn. “Would this old man joke about things like this?”
Chen Lu was powerful and imposing within the military barracks, but he was simply a blind yes-man before Grand Preceptor Xie. “This soldier understands,” he nodded at Grand Preceptor Xie.
“The imperial guards and the Dragon Guards,” Grand Preceptor Xie continued, his expression warming up again, “Have real skill. How certain are you of beating them?”
Chen Lu turned to look at the towering buildings of the palace before sucking in a deep breath. Quietly, he murmured, “Their combined numbers aren’t more than 10,000 men. This soldier can take the palace within a single day.”
“Good,” Grand Preceptor Xie patted him on the shoulders. “I’ll be troubling you.”
“This soldier will go to the barracks and transfer troops and horses right away,” Chen Lu bowed before turning to mount his horse and gallop to the barracks with his bodyguards in tow.
In the watchtower, Lou Zigui sat watching Chen Lu ride off into the distance. Next to him stood two Black Frost Cavalry generals, whose expressions were solemn and respectful. “Chen Lu must be returning to the military barracks to transfer the troops,” one murmured softly. “Supreme Commander, can the imperial guards hold the fort there?”
Lou Zigui muttered back an assent. As long as the Pei siblings moved fast enough, Chen Lu would never get the battle started. In less than the time it took to brew a cup of tea, a bodyguard went on one knee in front of the Lord Protector in front of a tea shop that bordered the road to the military barracks.
“Master, Chen Lu is coming with nine guards.”
The Lord Protector nodded and told him, “Go to the intersection up ahead and alert the archers. They’re to shoot on sight and kill Chen Lu without mercy.”
The guard muttered an assent before leaving to pass on the message. The Lord Protector then called for another guard and told him, “You go to the gates of the military barracks. Tell second young master that I’ve made my move.”
The second guard hastily accepted the orders and hurried off. The Lord Protector rose to his feet and drained the contents of a wine bowl sitting on the table. He then wiped his lips and told the rest of his men, “I don’t bear any deepset grudges against Chen Lu, so I’m not killing him out of personal vendettas, but as a move against his master. My Lord Protector’s estate has been oppressed by Xie Wenyuan’s hand for years. All of you have followed my Pei Clan despite your unsuccessful careers throughout these same years. Fortunately, His Majesty recognized our worth and gave us this chance to strive for something better. Killing Chen Lu this time is for the sake of pledging loyalty to His Majesty, and a chance for I, Pei Yi, to express my gratitude.”
The crowd fell silent at his words before an old subordinate cupped his fist and said, “Lord Protector, don’t worry. We will all do our best.”
The Lord Protector nodded before striding out of the tea shop. Rumors of the emperor’s death had spread all throughout the capital. To the people who treated him as their world, there was nothing but dread at the news. All of the streets were empty and the shops sealed tight. Everyone was locked in their homes, refusing to come out. The homeless refugees in the streets had all huddled away in the back streets and alleyways, making the bustling city that was even lively at night a silent and soundless place.
Chen Lu galloped through the streets on his first. He had caught occasional glimpses of people hurrying to and fro, but they all but disappeared when he was two blocks away from the barracks. Seeing this, he halted his horse. His guards followed suit.
“Master?” one of them asked in a small voice.
Chen Lu swept his eyes across the streets. This was a market lane, so it was always busy and bustling no matter the time of day. But now it was completely deserted. From what Chen Lu could see, there were only a few stray dogs that had settled beneath the eaves of a shop stall, splitting the remains of some meal.
“Not a single person’s here,” one of his bodyguards sighed. The sight made the hair on the back of their necks stand on end even though it was broad daylight out.
Chen Lu felt his heart itching, but hid his unease. He told his guards to keep moving before stirring his horse forward. Usually, the lanes were so busy that all they could hear were voices and indistinct conversations. This was the first time Chen Lu and his men realized how noisy hoofbeats could be on an empty street. When they were about to reach the intersection, Chen Lu exhaled in relief. It looks like I was feeling uneasy for nothing.
At the exact same moment, he heard the sound of an arrow being unleashed. Dozens of them suddenly flew towards him from the shop roofs on both sides of the street. None of the guards expected an attack from above in the middle of the capital city. They didn’t have time to react---and all nine of them were clustered close to their master, so six of them were hit and fell from their horses. Chen Lu used his saber to deflect the weapons and prepared to jump off his horse when a fresh storm of arrows assailed him anew. His remaining three guards were all struck and sent toppling off their horses. One arrow buried itself by Chen Lu’s collarbone, but its tip stopped any blood from flowing out.
Another one of Chen Lu’s guards braced himself against the pain to climb to his feet and run for the intersection, hoping to call for reinforcements from the barracks. The two teams of archers had their orders to focus on Chen Lu, so none of them pursued the straggler. As Chen Lu’s horse suffered the next arrow, it gave a whinny and sprinted furiously forward. But a coarse hemp rope laid across the ground as a cheval-de-frise suddenly rose up in the air, stirring up the dust that had disguised it on the ground. Chen Lu’s battle horse tripped on the rope and crumpled forwards, the momentum sending Chen Lu flying into the air. He tumbled harshly to the ground in pain.
By now, his bodyguard had reached the doors to the barracks, but lost his head to Lord Protector’s blade as he suddenly appeared on horseback. Death came so quickly that the man hardly had time to react; his body even managed to run a few more steps before it crumpled to the ground, its head behind him. Chen Lu grit his teeth at the sight of his guard’s tragic death, then crawled to his feet and took up his saber.
A single arrow struck Chen Lu from behind.
Great General Chen didn’t even turn back, but half staggered, half ran. If he could get close enough to Pei Yi, the archers on the roof would naturally stop shooting for fear of hurting their commander. The Lord Protector only smiled coldly. You want to fight me even though you’re still injured? Does Chen Lu really think he has the best martial arts skills in the capital after being babied by the Grand Preceptor all these years?
As Chen Lu ran, another arrow struck his left shin. Meanwhile, the Lord Protector approached Chen Lu while sitting astride his horse and hacked at him from above. But Chen Lu took this chance to make an unexpected attack. Instead of blocking the Lord Protector’s blade, he sprawled on the ground and rolled beneath the man’s horse.
The Lord Protector hastily pulled on the reins.
“Neighhhh!” the Lord Protector’s gray stallion reared up on its hind legs before stomping towards the ground at Chen Lu’s body.
Chen Lu rolled to the left and avoided the deadly hooves before running into a narrow alleyway. At the same time the horse’s hooves hit air, the Lord Protector swiped out with his sword and caught Chen Lu in the back, staining his clothes crimson. Chen Lu stumbled a few steps, but didn’t stop running. Instead, he quickened his pace and scurried into the lane. Though the opening was guarded by the Lord Protector’s men, Chen Lu’s martial arts skills was still strong enough to kill his way through the guards and carve a path through. This proved that while his fighting skills weren’t the best, they were still far from being subpar.
“Chase him!” the Lord Protector roared. How can I let Chen Lu escape after all that?!
Seeing the human vanish into the alley, the stray dog A’Wang asked his boss, “Should we tell Xiaoyao about this?”
Big Yellow chewed on the meaty bone in his mouth before swallowing it to reply, “Chase after him and take a look. That human who was sliced and shot is called Chen Lu, the Great General of the military barracks. He works for the Grand Preceptor, so we should check to see if he’s still alive.”
A few stray dogs followed Big Yellow into the alley after their new quarry.