Dragon’s Soul Chapter 25: Promises

The city fell into confusion as commoners and soldiers alike ran about. The explosion had caused many people despite orders to stay in their homes by the city officials to come outside. One could say that the city fell into pandemonium.

People hurriedly ran in the opposite direction from where the explosion sounded off. To their horror soon more explosions went off one after another. After these explosions a rumbling sound could be heard.

Many curious people stopped running and looked back to find the portion of the city wall had collapsed.

And to their horror the explosions did not stop there. Soon explosions could be heard the northern and south gates.

“Enemy attack!! Enemy attack!!” Someone yelled out.

Once that was heard the city fell into a state of panic. People hurriedly packed their things and prepared to flee the city.

As everyone ran toward the eastern gate there was one person mounted on a fiery steed galloping against the crowd.

Of course this person is Zhang fully dressed in armor and on top of his Inferno Wind Walker. After he reached the alleyway he released his steed from the Ruler’s Domain and sped toward the western gate.

Everything had gone according to his plan. He had given Jian Wei all of the black powder he had gotten from the pirate ship, which was used to collapse the city wall.

Zhang had gone and gathered the attention of all of the soldiers within the city upon himself. Once they were all focused on him his companions would be free to act.

First he would get the soldiers to follow him and then gather a mob of onlookers keeping the soldiers at bay. This made it so that once a large crowd formed more soldiers that were meant to guard the gates would be moved to prevent a riot from happening. Once the soldiers moved the gates would naturally lack guards.

Since the gates lacked guards it would be relatively eat for Zhang’s companions to plant explosives and collapse the walls. He had planned it so that explosions would go off on all of the gates but the eastern one. They would funnel all of the city’s people toward the eastern gate where all of the soldiers were.

With the civilians of the city keeping all of the soldiers at the eastern gate Zhang would be able to casually stroll out of one of the other gates and no one would be able to stop him. He used the hundreds of thousands of civilians as a distraction to escape.

After a few moments Zhang could see his companions waiting for him at the northern gate. Everyone was on top of their steeds and ready to move out. They had changed their original plan to travel along a trade caravan and decided to journey by themselves.

“You made it.” Jian Wei said.

“Yes let’s go.” Zhang said.

The group began galloping through the fallen northern gate and outside of the city. A trail of dust was left in their wake as they preceded to go east toward Aurora City.

They had been lucky this time that Zhang happened to have so much black powder if not then the sturdy gates and walls most likely would have not collapsed.

As the group headed east Zhang decided to go for a detour. He sped his way a distance away from the eastern gate of Red Mist city.

“Jin Chang you son of a bitch come out here!!!” Zhang screamed.

A short while after many shadowy figures could be seen appearing on top of the wall.

“Archers fire!!!”

Thousands maybe even hundreds of thousands of arrows flew downward from atop the city gates. So many arrows were shot that one could say they blocked out the sun. it turns out that Red Mist city’s army is composed mostly of archers because the city lord prefers defensive battles.

Although so many arrows none of them were able to hit. Zhang knew the maximum range that the arrows could reach so once he heard the archers firing he moved back to a safe distance. Once the rain of arrows stopped he would move back closer.

“I promise you that one day I will be back! And next time I’ll have your head on a spike!!!” Zhang yelled.

A bow and arrow appeared within Zhang’s hands. Zhang plucked the bow string and pulled back as far as he could.

Swooosh!

The arrow shot out from the bow and its tip spiraled through the air.

“Gahhhhh.” Jin Chang yelled out

The arrow had embedded itself into his shoulder piercing through it and poking out the other side. The impact of the arrow made Jin Chang fall to the ground.

After giving them the message he left as quick as the wind to go meet up with his companions.

The rest of the group was waiting for Zhang roughly three miles away on top of a small hill. Once Zhang arrived they would continue to their next destination a small village located at the entrance into the Dragon’s Maw.

Red Mist city was located on the upper south western coast of the warring states region while Aurora city was located toward the center of the region. And to go from Red Mist city to Aurora city one would have to pass a series of valleys called the Dragon’s Maw.

The Dragon’s Maw stretched hundreds of miles and was fill with snaking valleys. The reason it was called the Dragon’s Maw was due to its entrance being a cave shaped much like a mouth fill with rocks shaped like fangs. After entering the cave and travelling a short distance people would find themselves in a valley.

The town the group was headed towards situated itself right by the entrance to the Dragon’s Maw. And this town was the only town within miles of the entrance so many travelers would have to visit here before moving on.

This village was called Haven village because it was a safe haven compared to the dangers within the dragon’s maw.

The group galloped on top of their horses for hours until it was time to make camp. Jian Wei needed to return to Aurora City as soon as possible because as the city’s lord the longer he was away the more troubles may arise.

After tethering the horse to a sturdy looking tree with lots of fresh green grass by it. The group started pitching camp. Naturally Zhang, Yuying, and Ai would sleep in the same tent. The group still believed the trio was married to each other so it was normal for them to sleep in the same tent. The trio did not bother telling the rest of the group they were in fact no married because they did not want any unforeseen issues to happen within the group.

This is of course because if the rest of the group knew the two beauties were not take of course as men they would try to woo them and then that most likely would lead to internal strife within the group.

Zhang had bought a particularly large tent one that an army’s commander would use. Within the tent was the bed Ai had bought. Having interspatial rings, they were able to store and bring many things with them which made camping out very comfortable.

When everyone was done pitching tents everyone gathered around a campfire and ate their rations. The group had grown relatively familiar with each other which made the air around camp very harmonious. Jokes were shared and stories were told to pass the time.

While sitting under the sparkling starry night and surrounded by vast wilderness it seemed as if they were in a world of their own.

However, one’s world often intersects with another person’s. As the Zhang’s group sat by the campfire they sew what seemed to be lit torches in the woods. On light turned into two and two turned into four until there were hundreds of them.

“Welcome to my forest!” A voice rang out.

A man holding onto a touch walked out of the woods and following him were hundreds of people also holding torches. The campsite had been surrounded but the odd thing was that no one was able to sense these hundreds of people coming. They had let their guards down too much and immersed themselves within their own world for too long.

The man was in his late twenties and had short brownish black hair.

 

Jian Wei took the initiative and got up to speak to the man.

“Hello we are just travelers and did not mean to intrude onto your forest. If you wish, we will pack up our things and leave.” Jian Wei did not want to cause unwanted conflicts if he could. Being a ruler of a city sometimes one must be strong but other times one must be able to pretend to be weak.

“You may leave.” The man replied

“Yes we will go pack our things and go now.” Jian Wei replied as he started to walk toward the rest of his group.

“No need to pack.”

“No need to pack?” Jian Wei questioned.

“Those things all belong to the White Tiger bandits now. Also empty your pockets and hand over all your valuables and you may leave. We only take things not lives.” The man said as he placed his hand on top of his sword.

“Those horse look like fine horses leave them also.”

“Hmph give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Zhang chuckled as he stood up.

“Senior I’ll handle this.” Zhang said as he walked up and placed his hand on Jian Wei’s shoulder.

Seeing Zhang, the man was somewhat confused he this was the first time someone did not just hand over their valuables and leave.

The White Tiger bandits were famous within these parts for never killing if they did not have to. It was not that they were weak and did not wish to fight but it was because most of them were forced to become bandits due to how much poverty there was in these parts. The city lords and nobility gobbled up all of the wealth and left only a few scraps for the rest of the people.

So it was no odd that some good decent people became bandits to survive. But that’s not to say that all bandits are good this group was just one of the few who were good.

“So you’ll let us go if we hand over all of our valuables?” Zhang asked.

“Yes, I’ll let you keep some your rations and a map of the area that’ll give you the quickest way to the nearest village.” The man replied.

“How kind of you, how about you leave now and I’ll spare your lives.” Zhang said with a sneer.

“Hmph, impudent.” The man sneered back as he drew his sword.

“Everyone back I will fight him personally.” The man said to his followers.

With his sword drawn the man charged at Zhang.

Two chained daggers appeared in Zhang’s palms and shot out toward the man. The daggers pierced through the air and caused it to whistle. Moments later they were in front of the charging man and inches away from him.

However, with a sweep of his sword the man knocked the daggers upward into the air. Then using one of his hands the man grabbed onto the two chains and began to tug.

The man’s physical strength was clearly above Zhang’s when the two began pulling the chains back and forth. Knowing that in terms of strength he was lacking Zhang made a white light appear in his palm.

The man continued to tug on the chain something odd happened. The chain began getting longer and longer and because he was pulling back so hard the man fell over once the chain extended.

As once as the man stared falling over with a flick of his wrist Zhang made the chains dance about and loop around the man’s arms. Zhang began pulling and with his hands bound the man could not do anything but be dragged.

Zhang pulled the man as he weaved through the trees within the forest and after a short while he looped the chains around a tree and bound the man to the tree.

“You had your chance to leave but now only death awaits you.” Zhang said.

“Enough words do what you will!” The man barked back.

“STOP!!!” a voice rang out.

“Please spare my uncle!”

A small figure could be seen coming out of the woods. A little boy appeared holding a torch.

“Little Yan what are you doing here! Go home now!” The man yelled.

“Please spare my uncle, He isn’t a bad person.” The boy cried with trails of tears falling down his cheeks.

“Not a bad person? He’s a bandit!” Zhang yelled back.

“He’s no doing this because he wants to. He’s only doing it to feed us and the rest of the village.” The boy cried out.

“Please spare our leader.” Many voices rang out as many figures holding touches emerged from the forest.

Hundreds of people filed out from the shadows all dressed in shabby looking clothes. Although they looked physically fit one could tell that all these people lived a harsh life on the edge of survival and death.

“What’s about. Explain.” Zhang said coldly to the man.

“All of you go back! Do not beg! Men shed blood not tears!” The man yelled.

“I will explain just please don’t kill him.” A middle aged man spoke out.

The man told Zhang that originally the White Tiger bandits was a group of soldiers that was about of the army of Red Mist city. However, their leader did not agree with the views of the city’s lord and often clashed with him.

Their leader was named Xi Ning had eventually offended Jin Sho and was to be executed. However due to huge public disapprove he decided to exile Xi Ning. Once Xi Ning was gone the Jin clan once more had total control of the city within any disturbances.

Seeing their leader and his family exile Xi Ning’s loyal men packed their things and along with their own families followed him. The group established a small village a few miles away from Red Mist city. At first everyone was filled with hope of making something better for themselves and their families.

Now they were no longer oppressed by the nobility and rulers of the city. However, they soon found out that although they were no longer within the city they would still be oppressed. Red Mist city’s lord ordered a trade ban upon the small village they established.

No villages or cities within Red Mist city’s domain was to trade with their village. Soon the village fell into utter poverty and had no means of generating revenue to support its population. Many people secretly helped them with rations and small funds but charity did not last forever. Eventually help stopped and the villagers were left to their own devices.

That was when they decided to move the village and go elsewhere however when they tried to the city lord ordered the Red Mist army to block their path. He did not permit them to leave.

Xi Ning took to begging Jin Sho as a means for survival for his people. After many days Jin Sho agreed to lift the trade ban upon the village but he had one condition that village would have to pay taxes to the city.

By taxes he meant thousands of gold coins each year. How could a small village such as theirs be able to afford this?

Without the means to leave or generate the gold to pay the taxes the soldiers who followed Xi Ning suggest that they split off from the village and become bandits. Of course they would not allow anyone to make a connection between them and the village.

“I Understand.” Zhang said as he released his grip on the chains binding Xi Ning.

“Here consider this as a gift, seeing that you are only doing this for survival of the village.” With a wave of his hand a few thousand gold coins appeared on the ground.

Seeing this Xi Ning was stunned.

“No we can’t accept this.” He said.

“Indeed you can, how about this. You take the gold and consider it as me employing you.” Zhang said.

“Employ?” Xi Ning asked.

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