Chapter 79 – Attack
He took a step forward, and drained another cup in one gulp.
Every step he took, he picked up a cup and drained it. When he had finished all seven cups, he was slightly inebriated. His face was flushed as he came to a halt at the end of the table. Pei Zi Yun picked up a bowl and a chopstick. He knocked the chopsticks against the bowl in a rhythm and started singing.
“How long will the full moon appear? Wine cup in hand, I ask the sky. I don’t know what time of the year it would be tonight in the heavens. Riding the wind, there I would fly. Yet I’m afraid the crystalline heavens would be too high and cold for me. I rise and I dance, with my own shadow I play. On high as if on earth, would it be this joyous?”
“The moon goes round the red mansions. Through gauze-draped windows soft to shed. Her light upon the sleepless bed. Why then when people part, is it often full and bright? Men experience sorrow and joy, they part and they meet again. The moon can be bright or dim, and may wax or wane. She hasn’t been this perfect since the olden days. Let’s wish that men will live for as long as they can. Though miles apart, we’ll share the same beauty the moon displays.”
The dancers on the stage were dancing to the beat that Pei Zi Yun was playing, and were like butterflies, or banished deities.
When Pei Zi Yun finished his poem, the entire hall was silent. The governor was still holding onto the wine jug, his eyes were wide and his mouth was opened. The governor had long heard of the reputation of Pei Zi Yun, and had met him once at the Academic Institution. He had been slightly displeased that the Top Scorer of the High Scholar examination was not a person who had intended to pursue politics. Rather, he had chosen to tread along Dao. He was disappointed.
But at this point, seeing Pei Zi Yun draining all seven cups and reciting such a marvelous poem he could not feel disappointed any longer. Although the structure of the poem was very different from –Let’s Drink Up–, this poem gave off a very Daoist impression. The way the poem was recited was unbridled and free spirited, much like a Daoist person. The governor then understood why he had chosen to walk this path and paused for sometime before letting out a huge sigh.
The sigh broke the silence in the hall, and the entire crowd erupted in cheer.
The governor sighed once more, “I had originally felt disappointed that our Top Scorer chose not to serve the nation, and instead wanted to be a Daoist warrior. Who would’ve known that he could convince me of the free and easy life a Daoist person could lead. The way he described it was sure to make most of us envy him.”
“Well said. The moment the first sentence came out, I was in awe.” An official said, as he stood up. All of a sudden, there was a loud “BOOM” that shook the entire boat.
Everyone looked in the direction of the sound but could not see anything. They could however hear the sounds coming from outside of the boat, “Kill”
The pirates were all shouting. The boat came under attack.
“Protect the governor. Send out the distress signal. Hurry, send out the distress signal.” Someone shouted as the entire place was thrown into pandemonium.
The officials, renowned literary experts and scholars were all thrown into confusion. To know that they were under attack by the pirates caused most of them to freeze in fear, as cold sweat formed. A pirate was outside trying to break open the window, “Piang” The entire window shattered and the people around it screamed out in shock and surprise.
The sounds made by the pirates were drawing closer. A soldier then rushed over and reported, “This is not good governor. We are being attacked by pirates outside. They’ve already boarded the boat. Your excellency please try and avoid them, hide if you can.”
A general inside the boat stood up and shouted defiantly, “Wretched pirates. You have the guts to threaten the life of the governor. Watch me as I slaughter every single one of you.”
He drew his sword and rushed into the fray.
The official who had been with the governor stood up and shouted, “General Han, there are no traitors or pirates inside the boat. Do not worry. Go and lead your men.”
“Kill all the pirates!” The general told his soldiers, as they bidded his command and rushed out of the boat.
Pei Zi Yun observed his surroundings and found that there was nothing and nobody else around on the upper deck. Apart from the four guards surrounding the governor, the governor and himself, everyone else had rushed out. Something about this felt strange. Based on the original owner’s memories, the governor had been attacked by a group of bandits, and not by pirates on a boat. Something about this was wrong.
There was another “piang” that resounded from outside the boat. Within the halls, thick black smoke dispersed throughout the hall. Following that, men dressed in black robes jumped in. They were all wielding swords.
“Bandits!” The people on the lower deck near the window shouted in fear. Within several seconds, with a flash of their blades, a pair of High Scholars screamed out in agony. Blood gushed out of their wounds as they fell to the ground, lifelessly.
The entire hall was silent for several seconds before it was thrown into yet another frenzy. People were running in all directions, shouts could be heard, and the black smoke that was getting thicker.
Pei Zi Yun grabbed a single chopstick and ducked under the table. He then addressed the few people with him, “Everyone, do not be afraid. Someone, tell General Han outside that we are being attacked inside the boat as well. The pirates were a decoy. Tell him to send people in!”
“Kill, the faster we kill, the faster we end this. Do not delay!” A black robed bandit shouted. His accent sounded very strange. Just by listening to the way he spoke, it was clear that he was a Japanese pirate.
“Pu pu” The sound of swords slashing through flesh could be heard. Several soldiers who panicked and ran out died almost instantly to the organized assailants. The rest of the black robed bandits charged towards the governor.
Pei Zi Yun trembled in fear. The only remaining soldier guarding the governor walked towards the approaching bandits as he drew his sword. He shouted loudly, “Die!”
It was clear that there was only one soldier defending the governor. The other three rushed out to meet the bandits head on. Two bandits rushed towards the lone soldier. With a flash of the blade, and with speed like lightning, he delivered a total of three fatal blows to each of the two bandits. The fell down and died instantly.
“Kill!” The three soldiers took a step forward as they traded blows with another three bandits who rushed towards them. Within several blows, all three bandits had been dealt with and perished. One of the three soldiers had been stabbed at by the sword, but thankfully had his leather armour on him. As a result, his injury wasn’t severe. At this point, the entire hall was littered with five or six dead bodies on the ground.
‘That’s more like it. The Japanese have soldiers, but don’t they have any generals?’
‘In order to be assigned the job of protecting the governor, he must be one the best soldiers around.’
Just as Pei Zi Yun was deep in thought, one of the soldiers shouted in fear, “Poison!”
The minute the words had been said, the blood that was seeping out from his wound started turning black, as he fell to the ground.
“Kill!” Several bandits in black robes shouted. More than ten bandits charged towards the two soldiers. Without a care about their own lives, they rushed forward to meet the advance of the bandits. Swinging their swords so rapidly such that only the reflection of light from the sword could be seen. The first bandit met his doom within a second. He only heard the sound of the blade connecting with his body, before he fell dead to the ground. The soldiers delivered another fatal blow the nearest oncoming bandit as he too, fell. However, one of the soldiers failed to avoid an oncoming blow and was slashed.
Seeing that the governor was especially vulnerable now, a bandit used the smoke as as camouflage and stealthily crept towards the governor. Pei Zi Yun saw him from afar, and stepped up to meet him. This bandit didn’t expect any of the guests to know martial arts. Thinking that it was going to be an easy kill, he raised his sword. Just as the sword was going to land of Pei Zi Yun, he raising his hands towards the bandits face. At that instant, Pei Zi Yun realized that all he was holding onto was a single chopstick. However, he brought the chopsticks down onto the assailants face with all his might. And stabbed him right in the eye. The bandit screamed out in pain. He dropped his sword and fell down to the ground.
Pei Zi Yun rolled over and picked up the sword. With a single stroke, he slashed the fallen bandit across the neck. Blood spurted out from the open wound like a fountain.
“Do not harm the governor!” A shout could be heard as the shadow of a Daoist flew into the room. Someone then shouted at him, “General Han be careful. Do not get cut, as they have used poison.”
From the original owner’s memories, this man was the governor’s main general. At this moment, under the frenzied attacks of the many bandits, the two soldiers were unable to hold on any longer. They fell to the ground and shouted in pain. However, they have done well by buying time for the general to appear. The only official beside the governor was trembling as he stepped in front of the governor, “Your excellency, run now!”
In this short span of time, General Han had reached all the bandits. With his eyes wide open in fury, he shouted, “All of you, die now.”
“Pu” A sword stabbed through the heart of the official as he died instantly.
“Pu pu” General Han swung his sword wildly and several black robed bandits fell. The winds from outside blew into the boat through the open window as the black smoke dispersed gradually.
At this point, the soldiers that had gone out of the boat at first, returned. Seeing that the hall of the boat was swamped with bandits, they shouted ferociously as they intercepted the bandits, “Kill! Kil! all of these bandits! Spare none!”
Gradually, the sounds of fightings and killings decreased and got softer. General Han killed many bandits as they fell on the ground before him. The entire floor was filled with blood. General Han threw his sword onto the ground and stepped up towards the governor.
“Your excellency, you must be in shock.”
Pei Zi Yun threw his sword down and bowed as well, “Your excellency is in shock.”
The governor was about to speak when suddenly from the corner of Pei Zi Yun’s eyes, he saw the woman dancer pick up a knife and was going to stab the governor from the back.
Without any hesitation, Pei Zi Yun stretched out his hand and pulled out a plum flower from the vase before him and threw the plum flower.
The governor was oblivious and saw Pei Zi Yun throwing something in his direction and was shocked, not knowing what to do. The stem of the flower flew past the governor, and darted towards the woman. It hit her from the side of her face, and pierced through her left ear lobe and entered her head.
There wasn’t much blood. With a crash, this woman fell to the ground and died instantly.
From outside the boat, the sound of war drums could be heard and the roar of soldiers was audible as well. The bandits outside the boat heard this and all started retreating.
The governor then regained his composure. He looked down and saw the soldiers and official that had been slaughtered, his face remained expressionless. After sometime, he said, “Today, I’m alive thanks to General Han and Top Scorer Pei. Who would’ve thought that these pirates would be so brazen.”
The wind blew against the boat and through the windows of the boat, into the hall. The remnant black smoke from within were blown out through the opposite ends. The entire hall was filled with corpses and blood. Several officials and High Scholars felt intense weakness in their limbs and were not able to stand up, “Men, come. There’s poison in the black smoke as well. All my limbs are numb and I can’t move.”
Several renowned literary experts saw the corpses sprawled all over, with blood oozing to every corner of the deck, and vomited over the edge the boat. Their faces were white as sheet and they were extremely afraid.
Pei Zi Yun did feel a certain numbness in his limbs as well, for he had inhaled the thick black smoke. This smoke was supposed to make people dizzy and faint. It was indeed poisonous. Pei Zi Yun thought about this and immediately went inside to report the news. The dizziness was gradual receding as well.
At this point, General Han and Pei Zi Yun were both protecting the governor. Nobody else was allowed to come close. The dancers saw their own friend trying to kill the governor in the dark, as they huddled up closely with each other in fear. A long time ago, they were prostitutes and would huddle up together in fear as they were being sold. Now, they were sticking closer to each other than ever.
The sound of metal armor clanging against one another could be heard as a deputy general walked in, holding a sword. His sword had the bloodstains of his fallen victims. Behind him were a troop of soldiers wielding spears. He started running towards the hall of the boat. The closer he got, the more dead bodies he saw, and more blood was all over the deck. Seeing the corpses of black robed bandits and guests, he felt a shiver ran down his spine.
“Your excellency, Sir Governor, I have come too late to rescue you. I deserve to be punished.” The minute the deputy general came in, he knelt down and seeked forgiveness without daring to shift the blame onto anyone else.
This particular deputy general had been assigned to guard the perimeter of the river bank and was rather skilled with martial arts. When he realized that the distress signal had been sent, he rushed over immediately. The governor looked at him and said, “General Hu came as soon as he saw the distress signal and reached very quickly. In fact, he moved with the speed of immortals. You did no wrong, arise.”
The deputy general got up, and raised his sword before shouting, “Protect the governor.”
“Protect the governor” His soldiers echoed the command. They then formed a circle around him, pointing their spears out, watching for any other intruders.
After sometime, a soldier walked into the hall and shouted, “Governor your excellency, report on the bandit attack is here. There were a total of 25 assailants dead. We have suffered 15 casualties, and Li Dui Zheng has died in the ensuing fight.
After that another military officer came in and paid his respects, “Your excellency, the pirates have all been killed or have retreated. These pirates arrived in speedboats and followed the current downstream. We were unable to catch them. However, we’ve already arranged for the navy admiral to chase after and kill them.”
“Inform someone to make a trip down to the city and inform the relevant authorities. Get someone to buy some coffins as well. We need to collect the bodies of noble Wei and these few scholars. I shall investigate this matter thoroughly and eradicate these pirates.” The governor clenched his fist and spoke loudly. Everyone around was able to feel the anger radiated from the governor.
“And, tell the admiral to look for me. I wish to ask him why didn’t he warn us of the pirate’s arrival. Don’t tell me the admirals in this army are all sitting around doing nothing? Such a big affair, and they didn’t even warn us in advance.” The governor’s face was stern as he scolded in anger.
“Yes, your excellency.” The military officer replied as he turned around to obey the order.
Pei Zi Yun did not utter a word. He watched as the governor instructed his men accordingly. With regards to the admirals not informing the governor in advance, Pei Zi Yun knew that there were several traitor officials that helped to corroborate this attack on the governor. He then thought, ‘There has to be someone on the inside that was helping the pirates. In fact, this was the execution of a long thought out plan.’
‘Could it really be Ji Bei Hou?’