Wuxiaworld > Nightfall > 788 City of Sins Part II

788 City of Sins Part II

Earlier, Ning Que left the Chao Mansion at the Spring Breeze Pavilion and headed for the Vermilion Bird Avenue. He left behind the worried Zeng couple and Old Master Chao who did not seem bothered at all.

Chao Xiaoshu left Chang'an with Liu V and the cavalry of the Valiant Cavalry Battalion. Yet, the Chao Mansion bustled with life as numerous decrees were issued from the house to every part of the city. Furthermore, they had also harbored dozens of refugees, so the Chao Mansion had been crowded in the recent days.

The Chao Mansion was quiet today because the servants and refugees in the house had heard a lot of deafening noises coming from the city since early morning.

They first heard bells ringing throughout the city, and then, they heard the wind howling and blades colliding followed by thunder, snow, wind and explosions. Then they saw the flaming snowy cloud in the sky.

They gradually grew afraid because they did not know what was happening. When Ning Que came and left, they found out that the battle was no longer confined to the mortal world, and they grew increasingly disconsolate.

There were government officials, war refugees, and brave members of the Fish-dragon Gang in the Chao Mansion. However, they were all ordinary people and did not have the means to join the battle.

The courtyard was shrouded in silence for a long time. Refugees held their children nervously for fear that they might make a sound. Meanwhile, the Old Master Chao and the Zeng couple sat by the desk with a myriad of expressions.

There were people who could bear it no longer, and the first person to stand was the one the Old Master Chao expected. He looked at the person and said, "You should know very well that you'll die if you go."

Mr. Qi replied, "Second Uncle, have I ever been afraid of death?"

Chen VII who had been standing silently by the windows turned around to look at his fourth brother. He frowned slightly in disapproval. Just as he was about to speak up to stop him, the old Master waved his hand.

"Go if you wish. Do you need my approval to seek your death?"

Mr. Qi smiled. He turned around and left the Chao Mansion with several members in black of the Fish-dragon Gang.

After a moment of silence, Chen VII said, "It's pointless."

The Old Master Chao knew what he meant. The battle on the Vermilion Bird Avenue had long gone beyond the scope of the Five States. It was not a battle that could be influenced by efforts in secular world. Should the Academy fail to defeat that powerful enemy, not even the deaths of the Fish-dragon Gang and everyone in Chang'an would be able to stop him.

"All men need to be helped. Or perhaps, one should say, we all hope to be helped."

Old Master Chao said, "Mr. Thirteen might not be ordinary like us, but I suppose he could use a little help from Chang'an citizens like us."

Chen VII said, "It's pointless if our help is useless."

"Even if the Abbey Dean was really a deity who could kill us mortals with a single glance, would it be completely pointless if there is someone in the crowd who can make him take a second glance?"

The Old Master Chao's face was filled with calmness. He said, "Even if it is just as you said, that our appearance is completely pointless, as long as we appear there, then it would be meaningful."

Grand Secretary Zeng Jing sitting by the desk was the first person to comprehend the statement. He nodded in approval.

"The Academy is the Academy of the Tang Empire, and the Tang Empire belongs to the Academy. The Tang royal family respects the Academy and devotes all its resources to it. But have you ever seen a single Tang citizen speak down to the Academy and treat them as their servants? Why is the Tang Empire so different from other countries who have been bullied by the Divine Hall? It is because of the rules set by the Academy and the Headmaster. Most importantly, it is because of the attitudes of the Tangs."

The Old Master Chao said, "We are nothing like the Yan Kingdom, the South Jin Kingdom or the Kingdom of Song who are the slaves of Haotian Taoism. We are the masters of this land, so we need to make it there, even if we may die."

Chen VII was the Strategy Counsellor of the Fish-dragon Gang and was versed in long-term planning. However, he rarely went up to a real battlefield to judge the situation and would often act before anything else. When he heard the old Master's words, he seemed to have thought of something.

"Since I have to die, I would of course die with the old, weak, and disabled. I have already lived for more than 70 years, now it's my time for it."

Old Master Chao shakily pushed himself up from the table, accepting the cane that his servant passed him. Then, he walked out of the mansion with the help of an old servant.

Grand Secretary Zeng Jing said, "I am old too, and should travel with Second Uncle."

Mrs. Zeng said, "I am a useless woman, I should go there even more so."

Old Master Chao signaled for Chen VII to watch over the couple. He smiled and said, "If Ning Que saw that his in-laws were tricked by me and sent to their deaths, he might quit helping me."

The Spring Breeze Pavilion was devoid of spring breeze today; there were only dancing snowflakes. The main gates of the Chao Mansion opened and the Old Master Chao brought his aged and weak servants, including some elderly refugees, into the streets.

The Old Master Chao held his cane in one hand and knocked on every door he passed. He called for his friends and invited his companions, calling all the neighbors he had known over the years to come out.

"We only want the old, not the young."

The Old Master Chao said. His expression was not solemn nor sad. Instead, he said that with a smile, as if he was inviting old friends for tea and a chess session by the West Lake.

The old people in the neighborhood did not think anything of it either. The Tangs were of military stock and they had all been in the army when they were young. Their trip to the Vermilion Bird Avenue was like how they went up to a battlefield in the old days.

It was something very normal.

They felt as if they had returned to the Military camp in those exciting days.

Chen VII dealt with Mr. and Mrs. Zeng and ran after the old Master. He saw the valiant figures of several old men and their sons and nephews.

A bitter and slightly mocking smile appeared on his face when he saw this. He thought to himself that these people were really stupid to go there just to let the deity take a second look at them.

Although he thought so, he did not slow down. Soon, he reached the front of the crowd and took over the old servant to help the Old Master Chao.

He had no choice because he was one of the Tangs, which sometimes seemed so "stupid and idiotic".

There was a Taoist temple in a street. It was a skinny Taoist who was in charge of the affairs in the temple. He loved eating noodles and other than cooking noodles, the thing that he did the most was to fix the roofs of the neighbors that had been damaged by the wind and rain. That was because he only knew how to do that. If he did not do that, he would have to save for a long time, so that he could afford wine to entice his neighbors to come and listen to him preach about the West-Hill teachings.

The Taoist temple was very humble. Many things that happened here would be written in history in the future. For example, Ye Su, the Haotian Taoism World Wayfarer once worked as a preaching Taoist here. The Eldest Brother of the Academy and Ye Su had once participated in a debate on the stone steps here. Ye Su once attained Tao enlightenment here and he destroyed the temple before building a new one.

The skinny Taoist was an ordinary Taoist. He only knew Ye Su's status from his Taoist bun, and he did not know his true identity. He also did not know that these things had happened in his own little temple. Otherwise, he would not be as frustrated as he was now. Or perhaps, he might be even more frustrated than he was.

"I'm very frustrated."

The skinny Taoist looked at the disciples in front of him with a worried expression. He said, "I really don't know what to do. Do you have any ideas?"

The little taoist priests were too busy memorizing and reciting the scriptures every day, how would they be able to come up with any ideas?

The skinny Taoist looked up at the burning snowy cloud in the sky. He said, "I am sure I have heard of the Zhishou Abbey. That's an Unknown Place in our Haotian Taoism. Then, the Abbey Dean is considered our grandmaster."

A little taoist priest said, "But I heard the neighbors say that our grandmaster is about to destroy Chang'an."

"That is why I'm very frustrated... Should we help our grandmaster or should we stop him?"

The skinny Taoist sighed.

Suddenly, he stamped his foot heavily and angrily. He shouted at the burning snowy cloud in the sky, "Who cares if he's the grandmaster or not. I've been minding this Taoist temple all my life. Even if it was Haotian who wanted to destroy my Taoist temple, I would also fight to the end!"

The skinny Taoist left the Taoist temple with his little taoist priests. They held heavy incense burners and carried old logs of wood that had been piled up in the corner of the wall, ready to fight against their grandmaster.

Unlike the ordinary people on the 2nd Street of the Spring Breeze Pavilion, their internal struggle was more intense. But once they had made a decision, they did not hesitate any longer and were about to do everything wholeheartedly.

Because they were all beings with faith.

Going against Haotian Taoism seemed to be a serious violation of faith, but neither the skinny Taoist nor the young taoist priests were sure about what they believed in.

They were Tang citizens and had lived in Chang'an all their lives. They once thought that they believed in Haotian. But when they lifted their incense burners, their wooden rods and walked out of the Taoist temple, they discovered that their faith was faith itself.

In conclusion, they were all beings with faith.

In the West-Hill Divine Palace's doctrine, suicide was a grave sin. However, it was a greater sin for taoist priests to go against Haotian Taoism. They would definitely be cruelly punished by Haotian.

The Old Master Chao brought his companions to the Vermilion Bird Avenue. They were walking to their deaths, and that was also suicide.

The skinny Taoist brought the little taoist priests and stood before the Abbey Dean. They were betraying the teachings and also committing blasphemy.

In other words, they were all soiled with sin.

There were many other people like them.

Three taoists from the Southern Gate Temple were setting up a tactical array.

They were skilled cultivators from the Imperial Center Administration and were also the most devout believers of Haotian.

They were pale and their hearts ached terribly.

But their actions did not slow at all.

Lady Chu brought the women and the young from her manor with her, wielding a knife in the street.

The Old Lady was the widow of General Chu Xiongtu of the 16th Guards. Her silver hair danced in the storm and snow.

She had seven sons and 37 grandsons.

In the past years, two of her sons and three of her grandsons had died at the Tang borders. She had lost 11 grandsons in the war waged in the Yan, in the Seven Stockaded Villages and in the Pamir Mountains.

Now, all the male servants in the Chu family were fighting the invaders on the battlefield on the Tang Empire's lands. She had only a dozen weak, elderly women and children as well as a few blades with her.

She knew that she was walking towards death, but her expression was indifferent. She did not care at all.

The Chu family was filled with brave and loyal souls. Even if they all died, they were still a family full of brave and loyal souls!

If Haotian was watching.

She would see that everyone on this long street in the storm and snow were sinners who had committed different sins.

Chang'an was a city of sins today.

What a sinful city!