Minister Chu gave the order to the soldiers. He then crossed his hands behind his back, and watched as a total of 400,000 enemy soldiers surrendered.
It had been an effortless victory. The battle had ended with no blood on his men’s swords.
The enemy had obviously arrived at the dead end, and Minister Chu had been rather opportunistic at the right time. However, one simply can’t deny that there were no issues in Minister Chu’s strategies…
He had undertaken a very vigorous and resolute stance the moment he gained the command of the army. He had decided to deal with the war’s situation with authority, and so he had begun to send wave after wave of troops to harassment the enemy. This had pushed the enemy in a state of panic. It was similar to applying salt in their wounds.
Later, he had sent Wu Kuang Yun to persuade the enemy to surrender. This was an amazing move. Wu Kuang Yun had a special status in the army. And, he had personally come out to persuade Long Ao. So, Long Ao would’ve been despised had he not come out of his army formation as well. Moreover, Wu Kuang Yun’s in-person arrival for the ‘surrender’ talks also gave Long Ao a hint that there may be a scope for negotiations!
…That was because these two men occupied high-enough positions.
Moreover, Long Ao had been at the end of the line. So, Wu Kuang Yun’s arrival had given him a chance to save his face. He had no option but to get out of there. So, he had decided to try out his luck, and had come out to discuss his surrender.
However, Minister Chu had instructed Wu Kuang Yun that he was supposed to send Long Ao in wild rage… if not irritate him to death as long as he were to come out to talk! Wu Kuang Yun was obviously to ensure that Long Ao lost his prestige and honor in front of his entire army at the very least.
It was one thing to get agitated under usual circumstances. However, he had lost his prestige in such a life or death crisis… this was tantamount to being ‘finished’!
Long Ao had been instigated to commit suicide in the end… Hence, the remaining army of 400,000 soldiers had become similar to a headless dragon. Moreover, Long Ao had lost the trust of his subordinates before he died. In fact, they had started to despise him. This was coupled with the impasse they were in… so, how could they not surrender?
There were many Iron Cloud Generals who were dissatisfied with King of Hell Chu’s approach. They couldn’t help but think — ‘Even I could’ve achieved this victory!’
However, they took control of the enemy army, and found out that Long Ao had been building a large slope in secrecy. This meant that the enemy soldiers could’ve easily disappeared without a trace.
In fact, this slope would’ve been completed in half-a-days’ time at the most…
These generals would’ve waited for the enemy to starve themselves to death if Chu Yang hadn’t arrived in-time. And then, the 400,000 enemy soldiers would’ve escaped from right under their nose… this situation would’ve been similar to watching ‘a thoroughly cooked duck fly away’... It could be said that these generals would’ve had heart-attacks if things had really evolved that way...
Everyone was covered in cold sweat when they found out how the prisoners would be dealt with. In fact, the younger generals amongst the enemy’s ranks were so frightened that they pissed their pants.
Because… Minister Chu said — "Kill them all!"
Minister Chu was clad in a black robe when he had spoken these words. His face was hidden behind a black mask, but his eyes appeared cold and ominous. So much so, that it seemed as if they were completely devoid of any emotions!
The crowd was overwhelmed with shock and horror!
Tie Bu Tian — as the Emperor of Iron Cloud — pled for leniency because he believed that this act might enrage the heavens.
However, King of Hell Chu replied, "What’s wrong with this? Aren’t these only 400,000 people? Didn’t we crush those other 600,000 to death? So, why should these 400,000 get any preferential treatment?"
Everyone present there felt cramps throughout their body after they heard this sentence.
[So… those terrifying landslides that happened on that terrible day were caused by this King of Hell Chu? Holy crap… is he even human?]
The crowd was too scared to speak. And, Minister Chu was determined to kill them. He even said… "Let them dig a big pit on their own. Then, they can jump inside and bury themselves alive..."
Tie Bu Tian repeatedly pled for mercy. And, King of Hell Chu seemed rather helpless when he saw the Emperor of a nation beseech with such earnest. So, King of Hell Chu finally gave in. But, he still looked very unhappy, and spoke in a threatening manner — "I’m sparing you all today in order to give face of His Majesty. Otherwise, I would’ve killed you all! But…! If there’s any person among these prisoners who turns out to be dishonest, and tries to pull-off something… then, he shall be killed along with his entire team! And, all 400,000 prisoners shall be buried alive if even one team turns out to be dishonest!"
The surrendered enemy generals came out of the massive command-tent after this horrifying meeting was over. Their legs had turned limp. Their pale faces were covered in sweat. Many of them were so scared they had pissed their pants. They went back to their troops in such a miserable state, and issued the command — "No one is allowed to act rashly. Even one motherf*ker who tries something reckless will drag all of us down into the pits of hell along with himself!"
The generals then explained, "We must thank the benevolent Emperor of Iron Cloud. He strongly argued for what is right, and saved us from the King of Hell Chu’s butcher knife..."
One could easily imagine the response.
Chu Yang and Tie Bu Tian were obviously playing the ‘good cop, bad cop’ game to pacify the prisoners. The prisoners were then handed over to Wu Yi. Afterwards, 150,000 soldiers were left behind to guard the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass. Whereas, Chu Yang and Tie Bu Tian led the remaining 300,000 of their soldiers, and returned to the main battlefield in triumph!
Both — the guarding generals as well as the surrendered enemy generals — were greatly relieved when they found out that King of Hell Chu had left. They couldn’t tell why… but they felt their psychological pressure lift all of a sudden. They had felt as if they were looking at a thick black cloud loom over the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass whenever they’d see King of Hell Chu’s black robe. This had made them tremble with fear.
Tie Bu Tian was grinning from ear-to-ear while they were on the road. He said, "Minister Chu, your black face-mask is very effective! Even I was confused back then… I thought… why would you suddenly talk about ‘massacre’ when you were the one who had suggested that we must accept the enemy’s surrender…? Luckily my brain turned quickly."
Chu Yang tilted his head and looked at Tie Bu Tian with a strange look in his eyes, "Your Majesty thinks... I was kidding back then?"
Tie Bu Tian’s complexion changed as he stammered, "You… weren’t?"
Chu Yang smiled and replied in a cold and gloomy voice, "I think there’s no harm… in killing 400,000 trivial people. These prisoners are likely to become the biggest variable if Diwu Qing Rou remains undefeated and the war enters a stalemate. After all, this is the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass! It would’ve been better to get rid of them once and for all since it would’ve avoided any future problems."
Tie Bu Tian was stunned. A long time passed before he came to himself, but only to realize that his entire body was covered in cold sweat.
[Four-hundred-thousand people…! Did he say ‘kill’... kill them all at once?]
"However, you will become the Lord of the whole world one day, and this whole ‘massacre thing’ would’ve left a stain on your reputation. So, when you pled for mercy… I took advantage of the situation and gave you face." Chu Yang calmly explained.
Tie Bu Tian was speechless.
[It seems my face is really big ah...]
Chu Yang and Tie Bu Tian were on their way to the barracks on the main battlefield. Meanwhile, Tie Long Cheng hadn’t slept in three days and three nights. He had obtained reports about the movements on the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass, and had been burning with impatience ever since.
Tie Long Cheng had flown into a rage when he heard that Wu Kuang Yun had left behind the Emperor, and had himself rushed back to the safety of the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass. In fact, he felt like heading out for the Heaven Splitting Mountain Pass. He was dying to personally behead that ‘mad-dog’… even if it meant that he’d have to face defeats on all fronts!
Tie Long Cheng was so angry that he ended-up vomiting blood. He hadn’t slept or eaten these past few days. He felt like each day was dragging past like a year. In fact, Tie Long Cheng almost fainted from overexcitement when he finally saw that Tie Bu Tian had come back.
He rushed out in big strides to welcome Tie Bu Tian. His old eyes were stained with tears.
Tie Bu Tian suddenly noticed that Chu Yang had already left her side, and had disappeared without a trace. He realized that Chu Yang must’ve gone to switch places with Wu Qian Qian since she had been playing his role all this while. However, Tie Bu Tian felt an inexplicable sense of loss in her heart for some reason...
Chu Yang rushed at a fast pace, and arrived at the place where the Bu Tian Pavilion’s tents were located. He was aware of Wu Qian Qian’s habits. So, it didn’t take him long to find her tent. He was incredibly fast… almost like a burst of breeze. In fact, he was so fast that he didn’t even cast a shadow…
He was about to open the door when he suddenly heard someone heave a sigh inside.
Chu Yang was startled by this. So, he stopped his footsteps.
"His Majesty came back, he came back?" Wu Qian Qian was startled. She was sitting in a chair. A contradictory pain arose in her heart. Her heart had basically turned to chaos with this news.
She had broken into a run when she heard that the army had returned. But, she had suddenly halted at the door, [what if… what if… ‘he’ hasn’t come back?]
[What if... His Majesty brought back a bad news...]
[What if it’s true…]
[What will I do?]
She had been swayed by her worries, and had almost lost control of her body. She couldn’t dare to take one step to go out! However, the ‘truth’ was waiting right outside. She just needed to go out and see for herself, but she still couldn’t dare to take that one step forward.
She had given-in to her fears. She was scared that she would burst out crying once she would see that he had come back safe and sound. She was also scared of the possibility that he hadn’t come back… that he was dead...
These contradictory feelings of hope and fear were eating her heart. She was so perturbed emotionally… that she was unable to make up her mind. So, she went back to her chair. At this time, it suddenly turned black before her eyes, and she heard a voice, "Minister Chu, which national affairs are you thinking about?"
Wu Qian Qian’s entire body trembled, yet she didn’t dare to turn around. She tightly closed her eyes shut, and then opened them. But, it was still dark. Her slender hand went towards her other arm to pinch it in order to confirm; [is this a dream…? Or is this not a dream?]
Then, she pinched with all her strength…
Wu Qian Qian wasn’t sure yet. So, she malicious twisted the skin, [still no pain?]
She felt disappointed. She opened her eyes, and was at a loss, "It’s just a dream... sigh."
Suddenly, a voice filled with pain and agony resounded from behind her, "Older Sister... you pinched my arm. So, you obviously don’t feel pain. But, my poor arm has already turned purple..."
Wu Qian Qian let out a loud cry and jumped up; the chair also flipped over with a ‘bang’. She was pleasantly surprised to hear this comment. So, she turned around, but only to see a face contorted in pain. Chu Yang inhaled and exhaled cold air as he said, "Older Sister... it hurts... please let go."
Wu Qian Qian looked down, and saw that her slender jade fingers were pinched into Chu Yang’s arm. She had jumped and turned around, but she hadn’t loosened her grip. Moreover, the sudden surprise had made her exert even more effort... to the extent that his flesh had already turned 360 degrees...
She quickly let go of his hand. She was embarrassed for a moment. She didn’t know what to do. Should she throw herself into his arms? Or… should she behave calmly and pretend as if nothing had happened?
However, her eyes had turned red. And, tears had started to stream down her face. She felt her heart pound wildly. She was so moved emotionally that she even thought, [even if I were to die right now… it would still be worth it! Because... because he came back safe and sound!]
[He came back!]
"I came back." Chu Yang smiled and said, "Were you worried?"
Wu Qian Qian’s face revealed a miserable smile. She quickly wiped her tears. She turned her back towards him and replied, "You... came back safe. Ha-ha, you’ve made people very worried over these past days."
Wu Qian Qian’s voice was still filled with emotions; it had still trembled a bit in the beginning of the sentence. However, her voice had managed to regain its tranquility by the end of it. She turned around and looked at Chu Yang. She then smiled, "I can finally relax now that you’re back. It’s been very tiring to do your job for such a long time."
Wu Qian Qian had used-up all her strength to suppress her feeling from exploding before Chu Yang. Chu Yang suddenly felt suffocated because he was overcome with a sense of guilt. He felt as if some kind of emotion was trapped in his heart, and was preventing him from breathing. He exercised a powerful self-control and spoke, "Yeah, it must’ve been very exhausting for you."
Wu Qian Qian faintly smiled and replied, "You take a seat. I'll bring you a glass of water." She turned around and walked away.
The two had met again after a long period of separation. However, they were still talking about random and irrelevant matters. They were trying their best to prevent themselves from talking about personal matters. They were exercising control over themselves, and were being very cautious… for they feared that they might take that one step out of line, and may overstep their bounds.
Wu Qian Qian turned around to walk out of the tent. Her small mouth suddenly flattened up, and she covered her mouth tightly as tears flooded out of her eyes. She firmly controlled herself to prevent even a tiny sound from escaping her mouth. And then, she hurriedly rushed out. She finally arrived at a corner, and crouched down to the ground. Then, her fragrant shoulder started to shake as she silently burst out crying.
[Thank heavens! He came back! He’s safe and sound!]