"I’m here!" Wu Kuang Yun came hopping with his hands on his buttocks. The beating with the army stick still hurt him. He had been lying low to avoid getting caught in a new operation of the Emperor’s. He didn’t wish to get implicated again… and punished thereafter.
"Consolidate the military forces and set-off immediately. Go and examine the mountains that are on fire," Tie Bu Tian made a prompt decision, and issued an order.
"This... this isn’t a good idea, Your Majesty... " Wu Kuang Yun was startled. He shouted as if his buttocks were on fire, "Your Majesty… Your Majesty... "
His buttocks stuck out as he followed after Tie Bu Tian. His hairy face was dripping with sweat, "Your Majesty… please consider this thrice… Your Majesty... Your Majesty… wait a minute! Your Majesty, we mustn’t do this... "
"Why?" Tie Bu Tian turned around and glared at him.
"It’s extremely difficult to manage things, Your Majesty. The slope of this slanting valley is extremely narrow and steep. Our army won’t be able to cover a distance of one-hundred-and-fifty kilometres in case the enemy attacks. Moreover, we’ll need to travel over two-hundred kilometres if we go to ‘Beyond the Heavens Sect’. It’ll become a matter of life and death if the enemy attacks during our return."
Wu Kuang Yun realized that foam was coming out of his mouth.
Tie Bu Tian was aware that his decision was extremely rash. However, he was thinking about Chu Yang… Chu Yang had crossed several mountains and rivers over a distance of five-thousand kilometres. He had survived hundreds of battles to arrive this far. Now, he was only two-hundred kilometres away ¬– trapped in a burning mountain-forest. The thought of this made his heart ache. He wished to sprout wings and fly over to him.
[I might have to face a huge army of Great Zhao. I’m certain… there are many experts too. Moreover… I don’t have enough manpower on my side. We don’t stand a chance in a straightforward confrontation.]
However, he figured that Chu Yang would get roasted if he didn’t reach him in time. His difficult escape of sixty-five-hundred kilometres would be useless. Tie Bu Tian felt as if his heart was being pierced with a knife as this thought crossed his mind.
Nothing was as important to him as Chu Yang.
[What’s the use of this world if it doesn’t have Chu Yang in it?]
Tie Bu Tian’s heart was overwhelmed with grief. It was extremely difficult to bear.
[I don’t want this land… I don’t want the people of this land… I just want you to come back… safe and sound.]
"Don’t talk unless you have to. Our army arrived here after covering a distance of eight-hundred kilometres. Our horses covered this distance in two days and two nights; this much time is enough. We just have to find someone and provide help. Then, we’ll come back. Nothing bad is going to happen."
Tie Bu Tian urged, "General Wu, start moving."
"Rescue? Rescue whom?" Wu Kuang Yun stared in a daze.
"We’ll provide some support…" Tie Bu Tian said in an angry manner, "Are you going to defy my orders?"
"I’ll never defy your orders… even if you behead me," Wu Kuang Yun cried out. Tears started to roll out of his eyes, and he began to sweat profusely. "But… you are the head of our nation. We can’t put your life in danger."
"Are you coming or not?" Tie Bu Tian asked in a furious tone.
"Your Majesty should wait here. I’ll lead the troops." Wu Kuang Yun clenched his teeth as he puffed-out his chest.
"You’ll go? Do you know whom you’re supposed to rescue?" Tie Bu Tian squinted at him.
"I..." Wu Kuang Yun wanted to say, [How am I supposed to know if you don’t tell me?] But he didn’t dare to say anything.
"Then, transmit my orders quickly!"
"Your Majesty, you’re killing me," Wu Kuang Yun spoke in a tragic tone.
"Do you think that I don’t have the guts to kill you if I want to?" Tie Bu Tian kicked his foot and shouted, "Messenger, pass on my imperial decree. Wu Kuang Yun has defied my royal decree. He no longer holds his position of honor. He intended to plot a rebellion and wanted to capture me. His entire family will be captured and beheaded on our return to the capital. His nine generations will be wiped-out... his wives and concubines will be sent away to satisfy the army as a penal sentence..."
"Don’t do this… please don’t... Your Majesty... please don’t implicate my wife in your decree. I... I..." Wu Kuang Yun was extremely frightened; so much so that he had goose bumps. He had been lying motionless – like a dead dog – and pleading until now. But now, his hands started to shake as he jumped-up. He had a worried expression on his face. He gnashed his teeth and stomped his feet, "I still can’t do it... damn it! I still can’t..."
[The imperial decree isn’t something to toy with! The Emperor’s words aren’t retractable. If it’s true… then all I can do is cry my heart out.]
"You haven’t gone yet!" Tie Bu Tian said coldly. [The person who’s closest to his heart… is his wife. His wife is his favourite. A threat of confiscating his family’ possessions may not affect him much… but that may not be the case when his wife comes into the picture...]
"Yes..." Wu Kuang Yun crawled and got-up. He rushed outside as fast as he could. Then, he started to pass-on the orders. He wanted to make the best possible use of time since he was bound to head-out. So… the sooner… the better.
"Wu Yi! You stay here. I’m leaving behind two-hundred-thousand soldiers with you. It’s important to guard our strategic gateway as well… Defend the military camp properly," Wu Kuang Yun shouted at a square-faced big-eared tall general. This Deputy General’s name was Wu Yi. He and Wu Kuang Yun had been working together for ten years. So, Wu Kuang Yun was confident that Wu Yi could handle things in his absence.
Wu Yi had a huge stature and a big head. But, his body didn’t have an ounce of flesh. He was like a thin chicken that could be blown away by a gust of wind.
Wu Kuang Yun hadn’t finished speaking yet… when Wu Yi grabbed his sleeve, "You… you… you... you’re going to do... do... do what? You… you… you... must… stay… things... may... go... very urgent here…"
Wu Yi stuttered; so much so, that he couldn’t even speak properly. His face had become red, and foam had started to come out of his mouth. He had tried to speak in a hurry. So, he had put a lot of pressure in his words, and had ended-up spraying spittle on Wu Kuang Yun’s face.
"***!" Wu Kuang Yun wiped his face, "I’ve got to do something."
"Wu! Wu! Wu... Kuang Yun!" Wu Yi shouted out aloud. He glared at him in a severe manner. He pointed a finger at his nose, "I’ll force you to tell me... his majesty looks... as if he’s... is up to something... is up to something... something... something… if any… any mishap happens… will you take… take responsibility?"
"***! …You’ll die from stuttering too much… keep… keep... keep your hand off me." Wu Kuang Yun held his hand and shoved it away. He was burning with anxiety and impatience. He had heard Wu Yi stutter so much… that he had himself started to stutter.
But, Wu Yi wouldn’t let go; no matter what he said. His face was red and his lips were trembling. He was shaking his head persistently. He looked as if he wanted to say something. Even his stomach was bursting-out to say things. However, the more anxious he got… the more he stuttered. As a result, he couldn’t speak a single word.
"Supreme Commander… the troops are ready to set-out," a messenger came and reported.
Meanwhile, Tie Bu Tian had dressed-up in his armor. He shouted, "Wu Kuang Yun… what are you doing?"
Wu Kuang Yun couldn’t break-free from Wu Yi’s grasp. Wu Yi was neither saying anything, nor releasing him. Suddenly, Wu Kuang Yun knelt down with a thump as he struggled, "Grandpa, please let me go. Have pity on my beautiful wife… she’ll be made to serve the army as a punishment..."
Wu Yi was startled. He scratched his head, and pulled his hand away, "Serve... serve... serve… what..." He titled his head and opened his mouth. Then, he rolled his eyes, "... the army?!"
Wu Kuang Yun felt relaxed as he threw-off his hand and broke-free from his grasp. Then, he broke into a run like a whirlwind. He leapt-up on his horse, and clamped his legs on either sides of it. After that, he dashed out while raining curses, "Serve... serve… serve… your wife…"
The nearby messenger heard this and announced loudly, "The Supreme Commander has issued an order – Rush… rush… rush... to his wife!"
The entire army bellowed in unison, "Rush… rush… rush... rush to his wife!" They were in high spirits.
Wu Kuang Yun’s face was covered in tears...
Wu Yi rolled his eyes in anger. Then, he titled his head with an open mouth; it was frothing. He couldn’t speak a word. He looked like a catfish which had kept its mouth open for too long. He finally managed to curse out loud, "Rush to... your wives… dammit!" Then, he spat out saliva with a ‘pooh’ sound.
However, the army had gone far away by then...
Wu Yi cursed in anger and began to sing loudly, "Wu Kuang Yun… you son of a bitch... I’ll kill you with a thousand swords. If you ever try to imitate me ever again… then I’ll kill you... I’ll kill you for sure..."
As the proverb goes… the cripple can dance and the stutterer can sing. This saying proved to be true as Wu Yi sang loudly without stuttering...
He would sing whenever he wanted to curse Wu Kuang Yun. This time was no exception...
The army rumbled forward with intensity. Tie Bu Tian spurred his horse to push forward as fast as he could. [I wish... to reach on time. Chu Yang… you must stand firm. I’m coming to get you.]
Three army units were stationed in three different directions; about seven-hundred-and-fifty kilometres away. The same order was issued to these three armies with a loud bugle sound.
"All cavalry soldiers set-out. Our target is the mountain range of Beyond the Heavens Sect. Move at the fastest possible speed. We must hurry and reach our destination in a day-and-a-half… even if we die of exhaustion."
The soldiers shouted in agreement. The tens-of-thousands of cavalry soldiers were prepared to rush out on their armored horses. The flags fluttered at the front as their commander took the lead and dashed forward like an arrow.
"Quickly! Quickly… catch up!" the continuous shouts urged the soldiers to do their best. It seemed as if molten iron was flowing from three directions – giving rise to a storm of smoke and dust. It looked like an angry dragon was soaring into the black curtain of night.
"The foot-soldiers should move at the fastest possible speed… and try to keep up."
Hundreds and thousands of armed soldiers rushed out from three directions with a loud crash, and started to follow the footprints of the horses...
Chu Yang was underground in the cave. Suddenly, he felt the ground tremble. He thought, [Has the army arrived?]
He hurriedly started to dig his way out. It was night when he finally came out. Suddenly, a pungent smell blew into his face, and nearly choked him. He looked around, and noticed that the entire mountain-forest had been set on fire.
He was in the midst of a sea of fire...
He heard a faint sound of someone’s roar, "Withdraw! Retreat to the mountain-pass. Iron Cloud has come to his rescue. We only need to guard the mountain-pass to stop King of Hell Chu from escaping. That is really important."
It was Jing Meng Hun’s voice. The voice was coming from afar...
Chu Yang frowned, [This is especially said for me to hear. This means that they’ve come up with a plan. In fact, this is not even a plan; this is an open conspiracy.]
[They must’ve set an ambush for the team of soldiers who are coming to rescue me...]
Chu Yang was burning with anxiety even though he was aware of the enemy’s plot.
[Why would they go so far as to set-up an ambush for a few people?]
[There’s certainly someone important from Iron Cloud in the rescue team. Who’s it? Wu Qian Qian? That’s impossible… Tie Long Cheng? It might be possible. Wu Kuang Yun? That’s also possible...]
[But… no matter who this person is… this person isn’t someone whom Iron Cloud can afford to lose. Moreover, they mustn’t be lost for my sake.]
[In any case… I’ve recharged my strength and spirit. It’s time to come out.]
Chu Yang made up his mind.
He sprang to his feet and leapt forward – like an arrow leaving the bow spring. He dashed forward and covered more than two-hundred feet with a ‘swoosh’ sound. The sound generated from his movements blended with the sound of the wind as he crashed into the sea of fire...
Note: There is a word play on the word ‘chong’
• 冲: Chong: It means to dash or rush
• 充: Chong: which means to serve or satisfy
The words are used interchangeably causing a misunderstanding amongst characters.
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