A few days later at the district headquarters of Xiangyang District.

“General Jiu, taste this aged wine. This is the most treasured wine of the former district magistrate. A jug of it is worth hundreds of taels of silver. I think the wine only suits a heroic, stalwart man like you. I’ll pour some for you…” The steward, dressed in brown clothing, smiled obsequiously. He bent over to pour some wine for a burly man with a thick beard.

The man was in his early thirties. He had extremely broad shoulders, and his muscles were like boulders. They clumped together, making him look strong.

His palms were large and rough like a cattail leaf fan, which made the big bowl in his hands seem pocket-sized and delicate.

He leaned against his seat at the upper end of the table, cuddling two naked, slim women in his arms. Their skin was not in great condition. The man touched the two women with his empty hand. Not long after, new red marks formed.

The two women were extremely terrified. They could only bite their lower lips and quiver. They did not dare to resist.

“Bah. Do you call this fine wine? It doesn’t taste any better than what I’ve had before…” The man took a sip and straightened his fierce-looking face. He spewed most of the wine out of his mouth, then threw the bowl in his hand against the floor.

He was a gruff and brawny man. Sitting there, he looked like a small mountain of meat. He was the size of four men put together.

The steward dressed in brown clothing was so frightened that both his legs shook. He almost dropped the jug of wine in his arms.

“Get lost, you useless coward. Don’t disturb my leisure.” The man swung his hand and pushed the steward dressed in brown clothing away. He did not use any strength, but the steward fell backward and rolled on the ground. The steward fell so hard that his teeth were knocked loose.

Upon seeing that, the man laughed out loud. His laughter sounded like thunder and could be heard outside the courtyard.

The steward dressed in brown clothing got up and limped away. Behind him, there was the faint sound of the two women crying and gasping.

It was originally the district magistrate of the Xiangyang District’s residence. The two women inside, who were as pretty as flowers, were the beloved mistresses of a wealthy businessman in the Xiangyang District.

The man seeking pleasure inside was the leader of the Tsing Yi Army, General Jiu.

As Feng Jin and the others had mentioned, the leader of the Tsing Yi Army was a bandit from the mountains. He had a full record of crimes and misdeeds. Had it not been for the earthquake—or for the royal family of Dongqing’s insistence on moving the capital, which caused public resentment—the Tsing Yi Army would probably still occupy the mountains, raid homes, and plunder houses.

They had started an uprising, however, which gained the admiration of many. General Jiu suddenly transformed and proclaimed himself a general. He was in high and vigorous spirits.

The so-called General Jiu of the Tsing Yi Army called himself the flying tiger, but he was originally a rustic. One day, he got drunk, and his sexual desire was suddenly aroused. He assaulted his neighbor’s daughter, but she resisted him firmly. He accidentally killed her. He was afraid of being imprisoned, so he could only run for dear life. He became an outlaw in the end.

He now lived in a house that at one time he could not even get near, and he slept with women that are one point only appeared in his dreams. He was living an unrestrained and carefree life.

“Report!”

Just as General Jiu was starting to have fun, there was a messenger of the Tsing Yi Army calling for him. He got up from on top of the women’s bodies unhappily and questioned him in a thunder-like voice, “Report what? What’s wrong now?!”

“We found something just outside the city.” The man smiled and lifted his head. He was the trusted aid whom General Jiu took with him from the bandit hideout. He was not afraid of General Jiu. “According to the guys, it’s the people who transport the army supplies and gear from the court.”

“The court…” There was fear in General Jiu’s heart. He asked, “How many are there?”

“There are about 3,000 people, and most of them appear to be injured. I think they barely made it out of a large battle.” The messenger continued, “There are hundreds of carriages stocked with their supplies and gear. We have followed in their footsteps to investigate. It appears to all be rice.”

General Jiu could not help but feel tempted when he heard the messenger’s words. However, he was a bit worried. “3,000 people… Isn’t that too many?”

The messenger replied, “You don’t have to worry. Among the 3,000 people, 70 to 80 percent of them are people who fled with them. The rest of the soldiers were wounded in action. I think the grain was given out by the fool in Shangjing and will be delivered somewhere else for disaster relief…”

After the establishment of the Tsing Yi Army, they repeatedly robbed Jiang Pengji’s troops and took away a lot of grain. From the bandits’ point of view, it was better to steal the food for their own benefit than to waste it on people that were already half-dead.

The Tsing Yi Army had started an uprising.

“General, in my opinion, if we let them pass through the Longhu Boardwalk, it will be difficult for us to follow them.”

After passing through the Longhu Boardwalk, one would be in Chengde County. There were a few Tsing Yi Army troops there. They would then have a petty gain on such a fat piece of meat.

General Jiu contemplated and asked, “How much food do we have left?”

The messenger replied, “We have a lot of stolen money, but we don’t have much food left. A lot of the guys are already starving themselves.”

There was actually a lot of food, but there were tens of thousands of people in the Tsing Yi Army. Everyone ate without inhibition, so the food bottomed out after only a few days. It was the autumn harvest, and there was not much grain storage in every household’s granary. Their only choice was to starve.

General Jiu frowned and impatiently stated, “Take the guys with you and rob their grain. Don’t let anyone else get the petty gain.”

The messenger was delighted. Did General Jiu mean that he was not going to take the field?

General Jiu could not help but be inwardly wild with joy when he thought about what his subordinate reported. They transported a lot of grain, and the people who fled with them carried heavy sacks. They could stand to reap a gigantic profit.

“General, how many guys should I take with me?”

“Just take 3,000 guys with you.”

General Jiu wanted to say 4,000 initially, but he thought about how most of the people were commoners. They did not have a high combatant value.

“I got it!”

The Tsing Yi Army dispatched people to keep an eye on the group transporting the grain. Once they had a head count on the men, they could go out of the city attack them.

Just two hours after they left the city, the Tsing Yi Army could vaguely see the group crawling towards the Longhu Boardwalk like ants.

It seemed as though they had gone through a fierce battle. Every one of them was wounded. They looked tired and walked slowly.

They could not travel fast while they were transporting such a large amount of food. Moreover, the team was cumbered by thousands of people. Hence, they were as slow as tortoises.

“I thought it would take longer for the fish to take the bait. I didn’t expect them to come so fast…”

Meng Hun had noticed movement from afar. He shaded his face from the sun with his hand and quietly turned his head. He was keen and noticed that the Tsing Yi Army was chasing after them.

Xu Ke smiled and said, “That’s enough. Let’s go. Langjun is ready.”

He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and was dressed as a commoner. Wearing a pair of straw sandals that were starting to tear, he looked extremely abject.

“Do you know how many of them there are?” Xu Ke asked Meng Hun. He pressed down on his bamboo hat to keep the sun out of his eyes.

“Judging from their movements, I think there are about 3,000 of them. Most of them are walking. I think they’ve raided people along the way.” Meng Hun smacked his lips, and there was a hint of sarcasm in his tone. “A long-range raid is tiring, but they still want to attack us from behind and rob our grain. Their brains…”

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