Martial King’s Retired Life – Vol. 14 Ch. 109

Ubiquitous Sparks of War in the Capital

While the lights in the night sky were pretty, nobody celebrated when those stationed in the public eye and those stationed in the dark had their hands full to different degrees. All sense of order had seemingly gone out the window. They already had enough trouble deciding if they had to go to the rescue of a secretary or a Prince’s maternal uncle. Therefore, the fire from the residential area of commoners stressed them out even more.

The fire in the residential zone a long distance from where they were had the various groups yelling and running disorderly, leaving them vulnerable to ambushes and the sort. The fire in the sky was no more than a ripple in the water, but it had potential to collapse the entire security system from within.

Though the groups in every cardinal direction were affected, the faction that suffered most was the biggest faction – the security department in charge of all nine gates. It’d take someone with only half a brain cell to think that the chaos was coincidence. The enemy wanted to put them in a dilemma; regardless of whether they chose to rescue the officials or citizens, they’d be wrong one way or another. Needless to say, the leaders would be afraid of the consequences they’d have to bear. It would take time – a luxury they didn’t have in the moment – to report to their superiors and request instructions.

“Go! Go! Go! I don’t want to see anyone standing around!” urged Long Zaitian, deciding to prioritise the safety of the citizens. “Go! Go! Go! I’ll hang anyone who dares to stand around from the city walls without his pants!”

Long Zaitian wasn’t a noble official who cared for the citizens as if they were family; he made the decision solely because the person he respected the most was a hero who could hold off Beijiang’s army at the border alone. Long Zaitian simply put himself in Wang Muren’s shoes to make the decision.

“Brother!” Long Zaitian grabbed Song Ou’s shoulder and yelled, “If we work together, we’ll get through the chaos tonight!”

Teary, Song Ou broke out of Long Zaitian’s grip. “Brother? Are we even friends?”

“Can we put aside our grudges for the meantime?”

“You’re the one who bullies me… Aren’t we sweeping your actions under the r-”

“The country needs us! Why are you letting your foolishness blind you?!”

“… Tell me what needs to be done first.”

“See the anarchy?”

“I have eyes.” Song Ou had an inkling his family might’ve been involved.

“Someone is setting fire in the capital on purpose to mislead us. I’m going to lead a team to bring the situation under control.”

Song Ou wrinkled his nose. “You haven’t even checked on the officials. Aren’t you asking for trouble? Moreover, isn’t the best strategy in this situation to ignore the fires? Aren’t you playing right into their hands by running around?”

“Did you forget your brain at the office?!”

“Hey! Wh-”

Before Song Ou could finish wiping the saliva off his face, Long Zaitian elaborated, “You think the enemy didn’t account for that? They’ve been preparing for a long time. If we go to the assistance of the officials, the citizens’ district could be up in flames. There’s no way there are many of them setting fire, so they can’t launch attacks in both directions simultaneously. As soon as they notice us stop, they’ll set fire before you do your little ‘ignore the fires’. What’s an easier way to incite panic than arson? There isn’t.”

Long Zaitian pointed in the direction that the imperial guards went. “There are lots of residents in the residential area. Not only are the buildings close, but they’re also built from wood. If they use the slightest iota of intelligence, they’ll be able to roast several hundreds of people with a small fire.”

Song Ou patted Long Zaitian on the shoulder. “Gotcha! You’re a real one! What do you want Liu Shan Men to do?”

“The imperial guards are armed and strong, but they don’t have any elite fighters. In contrast, we may number less, but one of us equals many of them. I’ll protect the citizens. You protect the officials and whatnot. Don’t let the enemy have their way.”

“Brother Long!”

“What?”

“Long Zaitian, go for it. I’ll cover this side.”

“Ou!”

“Long!”

The duo: “Take care!”

Just as Long Zaitian predicted, a small fire started in an alley of the residential zone not long after the imperial guards rushed over; it was a few kilometres from where the closest fire was. The fire probably could’ve burnt down two streets if the imperial guards didn’t arrive in time to extinguish it.

On Song Ou’s end, some fires were real. Some household suffered casualties, supposedly at the hand of a group masked men who started slaughtering people without a word. They would’ve suffered even more casualties if the killers stayed around for long. Some fires, however, were fake, and residents stated they never saw anyone despite a fire actually starting in their backyards somehow.

Liu Shan Men’s constables and the Qilin Guards had nothing to show after all their running around. Clearly, the enemy’s strategy of creating false alarms and sprinkling in real problems worked wonders.

“After all this time, there’s not even a trace despite all the planning for tonight,” remarked Dugu, crossing roofs as if he was working on flat ground with a team.

“If this plan is his alone, then you have to respect him even if he is an enemy,” replied rank eight on Seventeen Hidden Dragons, Li Shijiao.

The “he” they referred to was none other than Gongsun Chu.

Ever since Yi Ya returned to the capital, it would’ve been extremely difficult for Gongsun Chu to plant moles and the sort in the capital, not to mention a lot of time would’ve been needed to prepare the fire strategy. The best time to have prepared it was a month ago, when there were all sorts of people in the capital.

Gongsun Chu had arranged his men into several teams. Some of them helped make the mirage possible. Some did the leg work to draw attention. The last group set up the fires for tonight.

The hidden dragons immediately began searching for the culprits upon seeing the fires. As they were a group of elites rather than a group that maximised head count, they weren’t the best choice for rescue mission, but they were perfect for search and destroy jobs.

Upon finally founding one of the sources of the chaos, Dugu said, “I never expected the notorious Bronze Mask to be a young girl, but I’m even more surprised that the one snooping around starting fires is League of Assassins’ number one.

Bronze Mask went from roof to roof with a fire torch in hand using her incredible qinggong. Dugu figured out why he failed to identify Bronze Mask no matter how he looked after he learnt Bronze Mask’s true identity. Daren Academy provided a convenient hiding spot, while her affiliation with the White Princes erased her suspicion. It might’ve seemed a waste to have her set fires when she was skilled enough to defeat Dugu, but her qinggong made her the best candidate for the job.

Dugu halted a dozen-odd metres away from Bronze Mask. “Miss Bai, your father is a famous and respected hero. He would not be happy to see you turn to the dark side.”

The other five Hidden Dragons dispersed, essentially encircling Bronze Mask, yet she didn’t look worried in a slightest.

“Weaklings.” Bronze Mask slashed out broadsword qi in a curve, bringing all five Hidden Dragons into her attack range.

All the Hidden Dragons had to block the attack. In the meantime, Bronze Mask slashed at Bai Laimu. Though they came from the same clan, he had never seen Bai Yumo attack so ruthlessly. In his moment of panic, Bai Laimu failed to put up a defence in time. Clang! Sparks rained down from Bai Laimu’s forehead level.

While Dugu managed to protect Bai Laimu with his shield, Bronze Mask leveraged the impact to bounce back, effectively putting more than twenty-five metres between her and her opponents. She spun whilst still in the air and slashed another trail of broadsword energy, voiding her pursuers’ formation; they either had to move or block. Upon landing on a roof, she tried to vanish into the darkness.

“You’re not getting away!” Dugu yelled.

Bronze Mask’s sixth sense kicked in, informing her of an arrow that was headed towards her neck. She ducked down, only to see a second arrow, forcing her to turn her head, then had to sweep in front with her blade to intercept the following three arrows. By then, the six Hidden Dragons had closed the gap.

Bronze Mask glanced out of her peripherals to see Ye Luo loading up more arrows from over two hundred metres away. Bronze Mask took a deep breath, and then Ye Luo lost track of her in a blink. The other Hidden Dragons saw the same sight. Rather than say she disappeared, it was as if her existence was an illusion.

Dugu hurled his shield and shouted, “Ye Luo, dodge!”

Ye Luo lowered her bow as she retreated, but she heard a quick “clang” on her iron blow. Her bow snapped in half before she realised it happened. At the same time, she started bleeding from her left arm and ribs.

Bronze Mask knocked Dugu’s shield aside and ran. In spite of having defeated Dugu once, she knew it was unwise to fight the group under Dugu’s leadership. Even so, her retreat looked orderly and calculated. Dugu had trouble believing a seventeen-year-old maiden could make decisions so quickly.

Where did things go wrong? Who is she helping? Who hired League of Assassins’ top assassin group, and what is their goal?!

If parents of Daren Academy’s students hadn’t picked up their children, then the students studied in their rooms. As a result, the award ceremony for the idol competition was quiet.

“Chaos has descended outside,“ Xun Feng remarked, peering into the alight sky.

“It is none of your business,” reminded Lan Jiqiong.

Due to Ling Shaoxuan and Bai Yumo’s circumstances, only Xun Feng rocked up to accept the prize.

Xun Feng smiled. “The situation outside seems to be on your mind.”

Lan Jiqiong heaved a breath. “I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t true. Tonight is bound to be different to every other night.”

Lan Jiqiong grabbed a box from the desk behind him. If the transparent blue box was made from the legendary ice jade that was insulated from heat, then it was worth a handsome amount. “This is the prize you three won.”

Glossary

Omitted joke – “Brother Long” sounds the same as “breast enhancement surgery”, so it went like this:

Song Ou said, “Brother Long!”

Long Zaitian responded, “You enhance your breasts. I don’t need breast enhancement with my thick pecs!”

 

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