Plundering the Dao of the Immortal Journey Chapter 83
After some time had passed, a pirate reported, "Leader, we have already secured the town and acquired a great deal of money and women. What should we do next?"
"We've subjugated the town so quickly? How many casualties have we sustained, can we continue on toward the county?" The leader replied.
"Leader, there are only normal citizens within this town, and thus we didn't meet with much resistance. We suffered very minimal casualties and managed to secure it with ease. However, we didn't manage to plant any spies within the county, and thus do not have much information. We can try and if we meet with fierce resistance there, we can back off and find somewhere easier."
"Good, let's do that then." The leader commanded.
The fires were burning ferociously and fumes and smoke bellowed from the town, rising up to the skies. Everyone around were trembling in fear. Even when they finally mustered the courage to dispatch someone on a horse to inform the authorities, they were still very much afraid.
It was still early in the morning and a horse was dashing towards the city. The Governor was still deep in sleep when he heard the butler knocking on his door. Hearing that something of military importance had taken place, he dressed quickly and walked towards to discussion room. The military messenger then handed the report to him.
The Governor took the report hurriedly, and started reading it before his face fell and he scolded harshly, "The pirates have attacked the coastal towns."
"Quick, prepare my official robes. Gather all the generals. We have to discuss a strategy to deal with this problem right away!" The Governor ordered.
When Ji Bei Hou finally reached Hou Mansion, many war officials and generals had arrived and were deep in discussion about the pressing matter. When Ji Bei Hou arrived, they all hurriedly paid their respects to him.
Ji Bei Hou nodded his head before proceeding in, and bowing towards the Governor. The chatty atmosphere turned silent as tension filled up the room. Glancing upon the fearless Ji Bei Hou, even the Governor was slightly nervous as he felt the might of this war-seasoned, blood-thirsty man.
'I am after all the highest ranking official in this place and should not compare myself with this man. Besides, I have the backing of the imperial court, and have prestige in my own right.' The Governor consoled himself in his head.
"Your excellency Governor, this matter is pressing. I urge your excellency to make a swift decision, that is to allow Master Hou to lead the army and wage war with these pirates. We shall make an easy meal out of them." A general stepped forward and pleaded.
Immediately after, a deputy general called Zhao Han stepped forward as well and rebutted, "That cannot do. The pirates are wreaking havoc within the coastal towns. I think the Governor should lead the army himself, and Master Hou should assist him. But before that, we should send some of us generals ahead to secure the area for us to launch the attack from. This is the proper way of doing it."
Ji Bei Hou glanced coldly at this man, but didn't utter a word.
A war official stepped forward and said, "Governor your excellency, the pirates are plundering and robbing our towns now. I urge the Governor to lead the battle as well."
"It's decided then, I shall lead the army myself. We shall depart at the first light tomorrow. Send the orders out tonight, ready all our men and necessary supplies." The Governor was well versed in battle strategies as well. However with such urgency in the matter, he too was slightly flustered. It took sometime for him to calm himself down and issue the order.
The scribe was sitting by the side, recording every word that was spoken. The Governor pondered for sometime in silence, before turning back and saying, "For this attack I shall bring along two battalions and leave one battalion here. At the same time I shall deploy the navy to attack as well. Admiral Chen, make preparations with the navy and ensure that everything is in order before we depart tomorrow!"
"Yes your excellency. I shall prepare immediately." The admiral of the navy, Admiral Chen was clad in armor, he stepped forward to receive the command before bowing and leaving.
"Men, bring me my writing materials. I have to write a military report to the Emperor." The Governor instructed. With such pandemonium taking place, he had to personally prepare his troops and provide a detailed report to the imperial court about the matter.
"Tomorrow morning, all the generals shall group up and take on these pirates. Let's fight a good one for our motherland." The Governor said.
"Yes your excellency." The generals stepped forward to receive the order.
Ji Bei Hou cast a cold glance as he looked on from the side, not speaking. Only after he reached back to Hou Mansion and was in his study did he laugh loudly. Muttering to himself he said, "Heh? A mere official is able to lead troops into battle?"
"All it takes it for someone from my camp to report your every moves to the pirates for you to suffer a setback and even potentially be defeated."
"If you are able to emerge victorious under such circumstances, you must indeed be a war deity."
"After you've suffered defeat, the imperial court would have to use me and this matter shall be resolved. It's just this Zhao Han, who has forgotten all the favors I've granted him in the past. He has the audacity to show his open support for the Governor and almost ruined by plans. Damn it."
Ji Bei Hou was pacing around in his room, his heart heavy with displeasure, "Men, call on Teacher Shen. I wish to invite him for some wine."
"Yes, master Hou." A guard standing outside replied.
After sometime has passed, a servant brought in some dishes and wine and placed them on the table. Shen Zhi then walked in, "To be invited by Master Hou at this time, could it be that our plan has succeeded?"
Shen Zhi stepped forward and asked.
Ji Bei Hou drained the cup of wine, "Ah, this is good. Today the pirates launched their attack on the coastal towns. There was a summon to convene at the Governor's Mansion earlier today. Although all is going according to plan, Zhao Han caused me some measure of anger. Nevermind the fact that another general opposed me as well. But I personally picked Zhao Han out and showed favor on him over the past few years, and yet he dares to cross me?"
"What should I do about him?" Ji Bei Hou pondered for sometime before looking at Shen Zhi.
Shen Zhi picked up a glass of wine and took a sip. After thinking for sometime, he smiled, "As for the general, I have no way to deal with him yet. But for Zhao Han, it's not difficult to have him killed."
"Oh? How should we do that?" Ji Bei Hou's eyes sparkled.
"This is the first time the Governor is personally leading the charge into battle and saving face is very important for him. Zhao Han has been handpicked by Master Hou to receive favor, and yet he betrayed you. However, his subordinates are still loyal to you."
"We can command one of his subordinates who's still loyal to you to poison their horses. This will cause him to report late, and delay the overall mission. Doing so would mean he has violated a war code, and is punishable by death. Would the Governor execute this man? If he does execute him, the Governor loses a general he can rely on. If he doesn't execute this man, he will violate a war code and openly show favor to this man."
"This is indeed a good plan." Ji Bei Hou's eyes shone as he laughed.
"Today, I had assumed that I would be granted control of the battle and be put in charge. Who would've expected Zhao Han to ruin my plans. Let's act that way then, and send him to meet his maker."
Hearing Ji Bei Hou give his order, Shen Zhi stood up and bowed, "Yes, Master Hou."
The Next Day
The Governor sat atop his horse as he glanced down at the troops before him, in vast numbers. They were standing straight as needles, gazing far ahead emitting a fearsome aura about them. Several soldiers who holding huge banners, and a couple of generals were on horseback circling the battlements
"Such a magnificent army, to be led by that Hou person, is not a blessing for our country." The Governor thought to himself as he relished the opportunity of leading the troops into battle. At this moment, Ji Bei Hou strode in. He walked across the Governor and bowed without saying a word.
"Send word to gather all the generals!" The Governor ordered. The soldiers around echoed the command, and drums were hit.
"This general pays his respects to the Governor and Master Hou." The generals took turns to pay their respects. There were about forty men present for the meeting. The sun was rising gradually and it was already past the time everyone was supposed to meet. Almost all the generals were present. The Governor swept his glance across his generals and furrowed his brows. Something wasn't right. Someone was missing.
He then asked, "Which general has yet to arrive?'
After some mutterings, someone reported, "Your excellency, General Zhao Han hasn't arrived."
From afar, someone was running as fast as he could, clad in full armour, toward them. The minute he reached, he fell to the ground on his knees, "Governor your excellency. There was something wrong with my horse today. I could not control it and it ran off in the opposite direction I was heading. I had no choice but to ditch it and run here on foot myself. I beg for your forgiveness. Let me kill the enemies to atone for my wrong."
Ji Bei Hou then cleared his throat, "When leading an army, as long as a general is late to convene, the punishment is death. If I were leading the charge, I will kill him without hesitation."
Hearing Ji Bei Hou's words, Zhao Han's face turned pale as he started sweating. He then walked towards Ji Bei Hou, "Master Hou, I had a valid reason to be late."
A military commander was standing behind the Governor. He inched his way slowly and whispered, "Your excellency, these rules and codes of the military must be enforced. If anyone could just flout these rules, nobody will turn up for war in future when there's a call to arms. I urge your excellency to act prudently."
Hearing these words, the Governor's face turned pale. This Zhao Han was a general he had recently turned over, and came under his charge. Who would've expected something like that to happen. It was evident that having to make such a decision displeased the Governor.
The arrow had already been nocked and he had no choice but to let it loose. He then shouted, "Zhao Han, violated ethical war code and thus is sentenced to die. Kill!"
The minute Zhao Han heard these words, his face turned pale instantaneously. Two soldiers stepped forward up and stood beside him. They placed their hands on his shoulder and dragged him aside. Zhao Han was trembling in fear, his lips quivering, trying to form words of redemption, but alas he uttered none. Before the next second passed, he was forced on his knees and a flash of the sword saw his head severed from his body.
The Governor looked on and saw the execution being carried out. He then glaced at Ji Bei Hou before turning around, "Let's set off!"
The minute Ji Bei Hou set off with his troops, several messenger pigeons flew from the city. The pirates received word that the Governor had departed and was already halfway towards them. They then retreated eager as part of their plan. When the Governor arrived, they pirates had long dispersed. Seeing such a scene before him, the Governor lashed out in fury, being unable to attack, and had to return with his tail between his legs.
Just as the Governor was within his tent, he heard a messenger shout out, "Governor your excellency, an imperial edict has arrived. The imperial messengers are about 500 meters away. Prepare yourself, your excellency."
Hearing these words, the Governor stood up, "What? An imperial edict? Hurry, everyone prepare to receive the Emperor's words."
The military camp then started turning into a frantic scene, where soldiers were all getting dressed and preparing to look presentable. With the Governor taking the lead, and Ji Bei Hou being the second in command, they stood at the edge of camp, eager anticipation. Ji Bei Hou's facial expression was normal by any means, a state of expressionlessness. However, he was secretly rejoicing inside. "After all that I've been planning to do. The imperial edict is finally here to command me to take charge of the situation."
"The imperial edict has arrived!" The palace eunuch led the way and stood facing the north. The minute the Governor and Ji Bei Hou saw the eunuch bearing the imperial edict, they fell to the ground and prostrated themselves, "This servant humbly requests to hear the words of His Majesty!"
"The imperial edict!" The eunuch replied before starting to read.
"The divine words of the King are as follows: The policy of "Pirates' Extermination" is agreeable to me. Take charge of my army, and lead them according to this policy towards success."
As Ji Bei Hou listened on, his face became colder and his expression fell. This imperial edict did not grant him increased authority. Neither did it command him to take charge of the military. In fact, this edict granted the Governor all the military authority, and instructed the Governor to open up sea trading routes to deal with the pirates.
The minute the Governor heard this edict, he answered immediately, "This humble subject does not deserve the grace and mercy of the Emperor. And yet this loyal subject shall do his utmost for the country, and rid the nation of the pirates, and do his best for the glory of the Emperor!"
The Governor then stood up to receive the edict, his face brimming with happiness as he was all smiles. He looked at Ji Bei Hou, whose face was crestfallen. Ji Bei Hou retreated to the camp and shouted for his men to attend to him, "The edict mentioned the "Pirate's Extermination" Policy. Find out who's behind this."
Several days later, the Governor and Ji Bei Hou returned to the city. JI Bei Hou hurriedly went into his study, and called for Shen Zhi to attend to him. Shen Zhi entered the room hastily and reported, "Master Hou, I've conducted a thorough investigation. The person behind this crafty scheme is Pei Zi Yun. This person approached the Governor and came up with this idea. The Governor immediately sent a horse towards the capital and palace to send word."
Shen Zhi then took out a piece of parchment and presented it, "This is the actual document!"
Ji Bei Hou retrieved it and read the contents. His face turned cold with disgust. This document severed the root of the pirate problem. Should this policy actually be implemented, the pirates would no longer be an issue to the nation. He fumed with anger. With a wave of his hands, he swept everything on the table onto the ground, "Why did we not know about this sooner?"
His words were coarse and he was extremely upset. Shen Zhi could tell from his expression and his demeanour.
"Master Hou, although we have planted several people within the Governor's mansion, this particular document did not pass the necessary channels. It didn't go through any editing or copying before it was sent to the palace. Furthermore, this policy was sent and ordered to reach the palace within the shortest time. You know that this was something beyond our control."
Ji Bei Hou heard this and cleared his throat twice. His face turned a deep crimson, "What should we do now."
"Master Hou, for now, we can only hide and endure. We have to wait for the next opportunity to strike." Shen Zhi's face was pale as he said timidly.