Chapter 316: Great fire in Xiang City
One of the servants from the governor’s estate had failed to escape in time. He was dragged kicking and screaming before Lou Zigui, and forced to kneel.
Lou Zigui didn’t bother to dismount. “When did Xie Wenyuan leave the governor’s estate?”
The servant shook his head violently. A soldier used the back of his knife to tap the servant’s body. “Speak!”
The servant stuttered, “I-I didn’t see. His Excellency-His Excellency didn’t know that the Grand Preceptor left.”
Xiang City’s governor was just abandoned by Xie Wenyuan like that? Thousands of thoughts flashed across Lou Zigui’s mind in a matter of seconds. Is Xie Wenyuan still hiding in the city, or has he already escaped Xiang City? If he’d escaped, how did he manage to slip past the governor?
One of Xu Feiyu’s deputy generals rode to Lou Zigui’s side. “Supreme Commander, Xiang City’s governor has been executed. Xie Wenyuan isn’t in his estate,” he reported with a cupped fist.
“Take the troops to sweep the city.” Lou Zigui commanded. “Those who find Xie Wenyuan should kill on sight.”
The deputy general received the order, and turned to head towards the streets. Once the deputy general had gone, another general from the Black Frost Cavalry rode his armoured horse to Lou Zigui’s side and muttered, “Xiang Tiange has taken some men to the north city. There are still some rebels in the city; what do you plan to do, Supreme Commander?”
Little Red let out a snort. Lou Zigui patted his horse’s head, and said lowly, “Let them out of the city.”
“Could Xiang Tiange have taken Xie Wenyuan out of the city?” the general speculated, “It wouldn’t be surprising if no one discovered him amongst all the rebels.”
Lou Zigui shook his head. “They’re heading north. Xie Wenyuan doesn’t have any allies there. A large part of the rebels are his enemies. If he left with Xiang Tiange, that’s no different from committing suicide .”
Frustrated, the general continued, “So he just grew wings and took off?”
“Just let the rebels out of the city.” Lou Zigui waved his hand to dismiss the general.
“Supreme Commander, are we really just letting them off?” the general anxiously pressed, “These are all criminals who deserve to die, how do we answer to His Majesty if he finds out that Supreme Commander let them off?”
“Regardless of the outcome, I owe Xiang Tiange a favour.” Lou Zigui placidly stated. “If Xiang Tiange himself is in the city, I won’t let him go. As for the others, they’re all insignificant. It’s fine to let them go.”
The general had no choice but to obey his orders, and led some soldiers to the streets.
Lou Zigui looked at the servant kneeling before him and instructed the military officer before him, “Take some men to sweep the governor’s estate again.” Hearing this, the military officer hurried to indicate his obedience.
Lou Zigui urged his horse forward and left the governor’s estate with roughly twenty men following closely behind.
The servant tried to look up as the clatter of hooves grew softer, but had his neck sliced by a soldier beside him. The middle-aged servant collapsed to the ground with blood streaming out of his neck. Then, his body twitched a few times before he stopped breathing.
The military officer took some soldiers and entered the governor’s estate. This was the largest house with a courtyard in Xiang City. It wasn’t long before bodies were heaped everywhere, and blood stained the whole ground.
Lou Zigui stood on one of Xiang City’s main streets. The sides of the street were dark, and there was nobody in sight. It was almost eerie how quiet it was.
“Should we search the whole city?” suggested the deputy general behind Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui eyed the pitch-black street. It’s possible that Xie Wenyuan might still be hidden in the city. He probably wouldn’t expect him to search the whole city? If the city’s gates were sealed, with enough patience the troops would definitely be able to sniff out Xie Wenyuan. What makes the old bastard thinks he’s safe in the city?
Xu Feiyu, who had gone to the east city, rode his horse to a stop by Lou Zigui’s side. He shook his head and said, “Xiang City’s governor is dead. I have searched the east and west cities and didn’t find Xie Wenyuan. He didn’t leave from the east or west gates.”
“We came in through the south gate and Xiang Tiange left from the north,” Lou Zigui said slowly. “Xie Wenyuan couldn’t possibly have left from the north or south.”
Xu Feiyu was visibly murderous. “Then, he’s still in the city?” Lou Zigui eyed the street again. There was something off about the whole situation.
When Lou Zigui didn’t say anything, Xu Feiyu hastily asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“Xie Wenyuan can’t be in the city,” Lou Zigui murmured to himself.
“Then how did he leave?” Xie Feiyu asked, confused.
Lou Zigui scanned the street again. Upon seeing what Supreme Commander Lou was doing, Xu Feiyu blurted out, “Do you think Xie Wenyuan is on this street?”
“Why do I hear sounds of water?” Lou Zigui frowned.
“What?” General Xu wondered if Lou Zigui was trying to tease him. The street wasn’t anywhere near a river, how could there be the sound of water? However, when he listened more closely, he realised that there really was the faint sound of running water.
Lou Zigui dismounted and looked around, before walking down the street.
Xu Feiyu hurried to dismount, and followed Lou Zigui.
There was a drain by the side of the street. A soldier brought a torch over. The reflection of the dancing flame could be seen on the water’s surface.
“Is this a water canal?” Xu Feiyu whispered.
It was normal to have water canals in the city. There were no river channels in Xiang City, and every street had water canals. They connected to the city moat, and the sewage and rainwater flowed into the moat through the canals.
In Xu Feiyu’s opinion, there was nothing wrong with the drain. However, since Lou Zigui stood there motionlessly, he could only stand by his side.
“The direction of the current is wrong.” Lou Zigui suddenly muttered after staring at the water for a while.
“What?” Xu Feiyu hurriedly looked down at the drain below his feet.
“Why is it flowing into the city?” Lou Zigui continued. Xu Feiyu’s expression darkened. He squatted down to touch the water, and rubbed his fingers together. General Xu suddenly stood up and blurted in a low voice, “Sh*t, it’s oil!”
Lou Zigui’s eyes widened.
Xu Feiyu ran over to the other side of the street, and squatted down to touch the water in the drain again. He nodded at Lou Zigui. The drain also contained oil.
The doubts in Lou Zigui’s mind instantly vanished. Anxiously, he commanded, “Retreat from Xiang City, and order everyone else to do the same! Quickly!” At his order, all the soldiers frantically mounted their horses.
Xu Feiyu ran back. “Which gate do we leave from?
“The nearest one,” Lou Zigui swiftly mounted his horse. “Take them out of the city.”
“What about you?” Xu Feiyu blocked Lou Zigui from leaving.
“I’ll leave soon. Be careful, General Xu.” Lou Zigui was about to leave after saying this, but after thinking for a while, he stopped Little Red. “We can’t save everyone, but do your best to get all the citizens to leave the city.”
Xu Feiyu nodded. He wasn’t about able to leave the city and just leave the citizens to die.
“Go,” Lou Zigui urged his horse forward, following the drain towards the south-east direction.
“Is Supreme Commander going to capture Xie Wenyuan?” A deputy general couldn’t help but quietly ask his general.
“He’s gone to capture the one who’s setting the fire. If there isn’t someone setting the fire, the fire won’t be able to blaze. Stop talking sh*t; go and knock on all the doors in the city and get everyone to leave.”
Apart from the children and the sick, no one was able to sleep that night. They were all hidden in their homes. When they heard the soldiers knocking on their doors shouting that traitor Xie Wenyuan was going to raze the city to the ground, the common people didn’t even have time to think. The soldiers urged them to flee immediately and there was no time to grab their belongings. They ran towards the closest city gate with nothing but their family members.
The entire whole of Xiang City erupted into chaos. With everyone on the streets, the streets immediately became jam-packed. Horses and carriages were unable to move, and going on foot wasn’t quick enough. People even trampled on each other. Before the fire even started, a lot of citizens had died at the feet of others.
Despite his desire to help, Xu Feiyu could only watch helplessly. All he could do was protect the few citizens by his side as they fled the city.
Lou Zigui followed the drain out of the city, and finally reached the east gate.
The common people hadn’t reached the gate yet, but the general in charge of this city gate had already opened them. When he saw Lou Zigui charging forward with his soldiers, the general rushed over to greet him.
“Leave the city with me,” Lou Zigui addressed the general urgently without bothering to stop his horse.
The general gestured at his subordinates and hollered, “Leave the city!”
Over two hundred troops dashed out of the city with Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui stopped his horse outside the city. The east city’s moat only had a shallow layer of water, and the riverbed was visible. No, this can’t be water. This is....
A “pa” sound echoed from within the moat.
Stunned, the soldiers watched as fire erupted from the moat. The water transformed into a sea of fire before their eyes, and travelled along the drains towards the city.
Lou Zigui watched the sea of fire engulf before him. Not a single citizen had escaped from the east gate.
“This…” The general was so stunned that his mouth opened and closed, but not a single word came out.
“Supreme Commander, there’s a body here!” A soldier yelled from another corner of the moat.
When Lou Zigui reached the corner, he saw a man dressed in night march clothes collapsed on the ground. He was bleeding from every orifice, and was no longer breathing. His hand was extended towards the moat, and had been blackened by the fire. Without a doubt, this man was the one who had lit the fire, and after he’d done so, he’d poisoned himself.
“Is this whole river oil?” the general stammered.
Lou Zigui was silent.
“F*ck!” the general punched the ground, “I was wondering why there wasn’t any water in the city moat!”
When he had entered from the south city gate, the moat still had water. Lou Zigui frowned. How did Xie Wenyuan’s men manage to drain the water in such a short amount of time? How had the old bastard done it?
“Supreme Commander!” a soldier pointed behind Lou Zigui. Lou Zigui whipped his head backwards. The empty ground behind him was ablaze.
“Let’s go!” A soldier pushed the general that was originally guarding the gate before Lou Zigui’s horse.
“Is there a river here?” Lou Zigui asked the general.
The general looked around 50 years old. He was wearing armour, though his helmet was missing. His hair was loose, and his body was bloodstained. The general pointed towards the left. “There’s a sluiceway there. The water from our city’s moat is from the River Xiang.”
“You guys opened the sluiceway?” Lou Zigui asked.
The general shook his head. He really didn’t know. “Supreme Commander, this general is a Xiang City citizen. This general would never do such thing!” he cried out.
The sound of buildings crumbling erupted from the city. The ground underneath their feet shook. Xiang City had sunken into the sea of fire.Previous Chapter Next Chapter