Chapter 992: The Early Bird Catches the Worm
“The north is cold and dry, so that’s why the people of the north are usually tougher than others.
There are many cultivators here as well, so a slight dispute will often result in blood being spilled,” Sang Hong said.
Zu An thought to himself, It’s just like the ‘Whatcha lookin’ at’ attitude from my previous world.
“The north’s lands aren’t as fertile as those of the south.
Because of some historical reasons, many people were forced into exile, thus becoming bandits.
Then, they discovered that stealing was much easier than farming, so more and more people began to turn to the bandit life.
The north is full of mountains, with some that are permanently covered in snow.
If the army surrounded them, they’d just hide inside.
Once most of the soldiers left, they’d come out and start stealing again, giving all of the local governments and the imperial court a huge headache,” Sang Hong continued.
“The Devil Sect is a comparatively large branch among them.
But unlike the normal bandits, they have their own political structure.
Together with their beliefs uniting them, they’re also much stronger than ordinary bandits.”
Zu An was stunned.
“The Devil Sect emerged in Yi Commandery Their base of operations is here” When he had passed by the North Order Commandery ruled by King Wu back when he was being escorted to the capital, he had witnessed a battle between the Devil Sect’s army and the official government army.
He had thought that was where their main base was.
Sang Hong shook his head.
“The Devil Sect’s teachings are bewitching in nature and are quite popular among the lower level people, to the extent where they’re still extremely prevalent among the masses even after repeated prohibitions.
Their people are everywhere.
Even though there are a few main bases, no one knows where their true base of operations is.
This is also why the Devil Sect is hard to eliminate.
“Since they have to constantly fight against the Devil Sect and local bandits, local officials are also required to adapt to the situation.
However, the Devil Sect is also powerful and impossible to wipe out by just relying on the local commandery’s military.
That’s why princes from the royal clan are assigned to different places as kings to oversee the area.
These territories vary in size and influence, and King Yan’s territory is one of the greatest of them.
“King Yan has earned many accomplishments over the years.
He’s captured and executed many Devil Sect evildoers, but the Devil Sect is incredibly tough and he just can’t completely eradicate them.
Thus, both sides have entered a stalemate.
The court was also worried that the local powers would grow too great, so that’s why they’ve assigned local officials to supervise these kings.
“You saw for yourself that King Yan is a grandmaster, and even Minister Sun is at the master rank.
His attendants include experts at the seventh and eighth rank.
If the local officials were at the same level as those of other commanderies, how could they possibly keep him in check That’s why, whether it is the governor, the martial supervisor, or other officials, their cultivations are all much higher than those of officials in other commanderies.”
Zu An was a bit confused, saying, “But even so, they’re still far too weak compared to the grandmaster King Yan and master rank Sun Xun! How can they possibly keep King Yan Manor in check”
Sang Hong chuckled and said, “Don’t forget that there’s still the imperial court.
Unless King Yan rebelled publicly, how could he dare to touch the local officials here Furthermore, Yi Commandery has its own army as well.
Even if King Yan wanted to start a war, with the existence of the regular army, individual strength wouldn’t be as important.
Of course, that wouldn’t apply to you if you were really at his majesty’s level, but there’s only one earth immortal in this entire world.
Of course, what you said isn’t entirely without reason.
I suspect that the court has other cards they’re hiding.
For example, the Embroidered Envoy has the responsibility of monitoring the entire world.”
Zu An recalled Golden Token Seven. Could it be that he was placed here just to keep an eye on King Yan That he was working together with the governor, martial supervisor and other officials, coordinating with them in the shadows
But that doesn’t really seem right either.
King Yan is the emperor’s uncle, so he isn’t young either.
Even if he does have any ambitions, he still can’t become the emperor!
The royal family had a complete set of inheritance rules.
Forget about the emperor, who had the crown prince and other sons; there was also that ridiculous figure, King Qi.
Apart from King Qi, there were some other brothers in the same generation.
Rather than someone like King Yan who was a distant relative of the royal family, there were more than a hundred people before him in line to succeed the throne.
He was unlikely to have any such ambition.
Sang Hong then said, “I’ll use this chance to stay in Yi Commandery for three days under the pretext of expressing sympathy for King Yan, and of helping Governor Zhang keep the order locally.
However, we can’t stay here for too long.
No matter what happens after three days, we must continue on our journey.”
Zu An knew that Sang Hong was warning him that if he was going to do something, then he had to do it within those three days.
Otherwise, Sang Hong wouldn’t be able to cover for him.
Considering Sang Hong’s identity, doing all of that wasn’t easy.
He said, “Thank you, respected uncle.”
Sang Hong sipped on his tea and said indifferently, “I’m not doing it for you, but rather… Forget it.
You need to be careful.”
Zu An suddenly thought of something soon after he returned to his room.
He changed into his Golden Token Eleven outfit and went to Xiao Jianren’s room.
Golden Token Seven was also there.
He was a bit surprised to see Zu An, because he actually hadn’t noticed when he arrived. This person is mysterious as expected.
Looks like I can’t evaluate him purely through his cultivation strength.
He had originally been worried whether Zu An would even be able to really be of help in his mission.
He’d had no one else to depend on before, but figured that for better or for worse, the other party was also a golden token envoy.
That was why he had braced himself and asked Zu An.
When he saw that, he felt completely at ease.
“I’ve already received information that the escort fleet will depart from the city’s western main gate at noon.
After traveling for a bit, they’ll then turn and head south.” Golden Token Seven unfolded a map that had detailed records of the local mountains and other terrain.
It was the highest level military map, something normal people would never be able to see.
However, with his identity, that was naturally not an issue.
Zu An thought to himself, This person’s intelligence network really is formidable. Sang Hong had just talked to Governor Zhang!
Then, Golden Token Seven pointed at a position on the map.
“We’ll make our move in Lone Wolf Valley.
There are several hundred meters of valley terrain for us to exploit, and it’s a place that’s difficult for a large army to make use of their advantage.
It’s a good chance for us to make a move.”
“Lone Wolf Valley Do they have any formidable wolf-like beasts” Zu An suddenly thought of some of his earlier encounters.
Some strong beasts had always showed up out of nowhere whenever he was on the verge of success.
They were going to be heavily outnumbered in this rescue operation, so it would be easy for things to fall through if such a variable occurred.
That location is named as such because there’s a massive rock formation shaped like a lone wolf's head to the side of the valley, at its very peak.
Even though there are some beasts roaming the vicinity, they’re all low rank.
They won’t affect our operation at all.” Golden Token Seven felt more and more appreciation for the other person.
In his opinion, cultivation was actually secondary for an Embroidered Envoy.
A clear head and prudent nature were the most important things.
He then gave Zu An a rough summary of the cultivation and skills of the main individuals involved in the escort operation.
It was even more detailed than what Sang Hong had explained before.
Golden Token Seven even patiently explained many things about the regular soldiers.
This is what you call being a professional! Zu An thought in praise.
The two of them chatted for a bit, then Golden Token Seven quietly left.
He had to monitor the fleet’s activity, or else the other party might suddenly change their mind at the last minute without him knowing.
As for Zu An, he rushed to Lone Wolf Valley.
He sought out Pei You, Gao Ying, and the others before leaving, telling them that he had recently made some progress in his cultivation and needed some time to cultivate in seclusion.
He told them to not let anyone bother him.
The two naturally agreed, even congratulating him.
Sang Hong even implied that he would help Zu An cover things up.
Afterward, Zu An then secretly headed to Lone Wolf Valley.
With his current cultivation, he arrived at his destination without using up much time at all.
He observed the area from atop a mountain peak, and subsequently understood why Golden Token Seven had chosen the location.
The valley was like a funnel, wider on the outside and narrower the further in one went.
The deepest parts were only a few meters wide.
The narrowest part was a few hundred meters long, before the path gradually widened again.
Once one went into such a place, the power of numbers would be greatly reduced.
But even the most ordinary commoner would know it was a strategic location, so how could the army not know Yi Commandery had set up sentries there, and was always observing the situation in the valley.
If they saw something strange, they would immediately use smoke signals to contact the nearby cities.
Meanwhile, Zu An’s first mission was to figure out a way to deal with those sentry posts, to temporarily remove their communication functions.
Golden Token Seven had warned him that getting rid of the sentries wasn’t difficult; what was difficult was doing so without alerting anyone.
Even though there weren’t too many people in charge of overseeing the valley, they were quite scattered, positioned at the valley entrance, inside the valley itself, and even at the far end.
Furthermore, there were people monitoring the place from above the cliff, and every single location could send smoke signals.
They would immediately light a fire beacon the moment there was anything strange in any area.
But that wasn’t the main issue.
What was more difficult was that if the escort fleet saw that there was something wrong with the valley sentries, they naturally wouldn’t go inside.
That meant they could only eliminate the sentries above and inside the valley.
However, if they wanted to enter the valley, they had to pass through either end of the valley.
Zu An wasn’t too worried himself.
If he could even move freely in the Imperial Palace, how difficult could it be to navigate through some local guards He immediately came up with four possible solutions.
He rushed to the entrance of the valley, moving quickly.
It was daybreak just then.
Even though the horizon was starting to glow, the valley was still dark.
He borrowed the cover of the darkness, making his figure hard to detect.
As he approached the first sentry post, he was just about to do something when he suddenly frowned.
He smelled a strong bloody odor.
What’s going on he thought as he carefully approached the sentry post entrance.
He saw that the sentries were already lying in puddles of blood.
Every single guard had a fatal wound, clearly unable to respond at all before they died.