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Chapter 40: City Massacre
The Imperial Guard set up base at the grass plains. Behind these plains were the twelve cities of the Qin Dynasty. Compared to the enormity of Yin Mountain, these two border cities were so tiny they were like twelve pearls scattered in the plains.
The closest city to the plains, and also the furthest from Yin Mountain was called Shanglao. This city had originally been the outermost border city of the Qin Dynasty, and once built for the prisoners sent here.
Near sunrise, a tall and large man appeared on the gates of Shanglao. He wore copper-colored armor. There were no visible patterns because the armor was covered with all kinds of sword marks. These marks, of various depths and age, were so dense they bloomed on the surface of the armor like dandelion flowers.
Under the sunlight, some metallic sections shone with golden light like cold lightning was moving within. Some marks were inches thick, but they had still not penetrated through. This meant the armor was astoundingly thick. Even more importantly, the sword marks were so close that under the pressure of these sword marks, the metal of the armor seemed to have changed, and some crystal-like lights had even appeared in the metal.
This tall man had a large face, and looked even rougher than people from Guanzhong. He wore two criss-crossing blades on his back, and not swords. The blade scabbards were leather and simply sewn. Even the fur on the surface had not been scraped off. They looked like grassland wolfskin. The hilts were light yellow and shone with a purple-red, not like metal but a kind of jade stone. His eyes were also like precious stones. They shone with the natural blue of the sky and looked as clear as the sky above the grasslands.
He looked far towards the grasslands, knowing well that that division of the Imperial Guard Army would reach this border city after noon today. He had come here because of that youth within the Imperial Guard Army. Yet he knew that his battle would finish before the youth arrived.
A morning breeze blew by. This wind came from Yin Mountain and was slightly chilly, adding some sense of murder to the air. It also carried over the distant scents of cow and sheep dung. Yellow grass rippled like the ocean.
The man standing on the gate tower narrowed his eyes. A grass blade, turning from green to yellow, appeared.
Shao Sharen, dressed in the robes of Min Mountain Sword Sect, slowly walked along the path made by horses and walked towards the gates.
There was a large clearing in the center of Shanglao. This place had originally been used to execute prisoners, but at this time, countless people were kneeling there, most of them women and children. The only one standing was a handsome man.
This man wore a white fox fur coat like he feared the cold. But the jacket was covered in dust and the weathered air of travel which even vital energy could not wash away. He had a long sword at his waist. There were many grand precious stones embedded in the sword hilt all carved into the shape of a skull.
The handsome man slowly raised his head among the wind that reeked of animal dung. Then he casually looked at the children and women kneeling ahead of him.
At this time, at the other end of the plaza, a man with ordinary and forgettable features appeared. But this man also wore green robes.
The man in the white fox fur jacket smiled faintly and said, “They all say the Human Butcher treats lives like grass. I had not expected this tactic to be effective against you?”
“Who can really treat human lives like nothing?” Geng Ren looked at this man and said without any special emotion, “But you, Yelu Canglang, the third crown prince of Donghu, someone extremely important to all of Wuzhi. You risk coming here because you treat other people’s lives like nothing or your own life like nothing?”
Yelu Canglang’s smile faded, replaced by a hint of coldness. “I am the most important person of the Wuzhi army. I naturally must appear at the most important place. Is there something more important than preventing people from Min Mountain Sword Sect from entering the battlefield?”
After a pause, he looked at Geng Ren and laughed self-deprecatingly. “If Min Mountain Sword Sect’s people will not appear on the battlefield, so what if I die?”
Geng Ren looked at him and said something only the two of them could understand at this moment. “If you are determined to do this, we may all become prey for someone else and die here.”
“So I did not kill these people to leave some conditions to talk to you. You only want to protect that disciple so important to Min Mountain Sword Sect to Donghu. I can get him to reach Donghu safely.” Yelu Canglang smiled faintly. “We can even go with you together to the border of Donghu, but the condition is we must leave together. My condition is any cultivator from Min Mountain Sword Sect will no longer enter Wuzhi.”
Geng Ren thought for a moment and said, “We also do not want to enter Wuzhi.”
Yelu Canglang took a deep breath and said, “I understand what Min Mountain Sword Sect feels so I feel that we can talk.”
Geng Ren looked at his eyes and said, “Without our protection, he will be in danger in Donghu.”
Yelu Canglang looked back into his eyes. “Ling Shan and I are here today. If we fight to the death today, he will be in more danger, even the Min Mountain Sword Sect will be in more danger.”
After a pause, Yelu Canglang said slowly, “And if he goes to Donghu, I can guarantee that none of Wuzhi will attack him.”
Geng Ren said slowly, “You are so reassured letting him go to the Donghu border?”
“That is between Donghu and Chu,” Yelu Canglang said with slight sarcasm, “If a realm five cultivator who loses the protection of Min Mountain Sword Sect can change everything there, then Donghu and Chu cannot influence the war between us and Qin at all.”
Geng Ren mulled.
Yelu Canglang glanced at him and said, “You do not have much time to make a decision. I had not thought that you value the youth so highly that even Shao Sharen has come.”
Geng Ren knew very well what he meant. After ten more breaths, if the strongest general of Wuzhi did not kill Shao Sharen, the latter would kill the other. Any person who was left alive likely would not have it easy.
He did not hesitate and nodded simply. “We will go with you to Donghu, and then return.”
Yelu Canglang smiled, then gave a clear howl.
Shao Sharen had already reached the front of the gates.
The man wearing armor on the gate tower had already gripped his blades in his hands. But hearing the clear howl, he shook his head with some regret and said to Shao Sharen, “We cannot fight.”
Shao Sharen’s figure disappeared among the yellow grass as did the man on the gates. Inside the city, Yelu Canglang and Geng Ren also disappeared.
The children and women kneeling started to sob loudly.
There were no hawks or vultures in the sky above. Looking down from high up, there was a circle of black and red low walls inside the border city’s walls.
The black were the remains of Qin soldiers in black armor and the bodies of the black vultures who usually flew in the sky here. The red was the spilled blood that had yet to congeal.
Other than these women and children, there was no one else alive in the border city.
Translator Ramblings: I’ve been using grassland/prairie all this time, but the location is technically the “Great Steppes” which cross all of Eurasia.