Chapter 117 - Suspicion
When they got to Friendship river, the navy and the Meng Chong warships were already there, awaiting their arrival.
Due to the abundant rewards, the warships had to make a dozen trips back and forth to transfer the rewards across the river. As it was just a simple mission for the navy, the navy commander Pei Donglai did not show up. The navy immediately returned back to Beihai Town as soon as they helped the last cavalry cross the river.
In order to avoid suspicion from the Tian Feng tribe, Ouyang Shuo ordered the cavalry unit to return back to the camp immediately after they crossed the river. The same went for the warhorses seized in the battle. The warhorses couldn’t be dispatched to the cavalry unit now or it would only be sheer self-exposure. Since there was not enough Mingguang armor, riding or not riding the warhorse wasn"t really an issue now.
The 100 Qingfu stallions were transferred by the Transportation Division to the horse breeding field in Ji Feng Valley, whereas the 304 Qingfu warhorses and the thousands of sheep were kept in Shanhai Town"s pastures on the west side of the town. The pasture, after a few upgrades, now occupied a land area up to 50 square kilometers. This pasture was divided into a few areas for the pigs, sheep, and now the horses. Out of convenience, the pasture was named West City pasture by Ouyang Shuo.
About operation "Dawn", as everything about the operation was executed secretly, it did not causes any chain reactions amongst the people of Shanhai Town. Everything was going on as usual because of this reason.
However, this massacre caused a great uproar amongst the other nomadic tribes.
Shen Juan Lake, Tian Qi tribe Warchief"s Tent.
"Khan, the scouts have brought news about the Tian Lian tribe located in the southwest. The tribe was burnt to ashes in one night, and there were no survivors. All of their 800 people were slaughtered." said a muscular and bearded middle-aged man. He is the first member of the 3 generals in the Tian Qi tribe, known as Lion of the Grassland, Lhakhshen.
The Tian Qi tribe had 30,000 tribal people with 12,000 of them being soldiers. Among the 12,000 soldiers, 2000 of them were the elite of the elites and they were the elite guards for the Khan. They were placed under the lead of the 2nd member of the 3 generals in the tribe, and also one of the Khan’s most trusted generals, known as Wolf of the Grassland, Boraktyna.
The rest of the 10,000 soldiers were separated into 2 divisions, which was the eastern division and western division, consisting of 5000 soldiers each. They were responsible for the defense of the eastern and western parts of the tribe. The eastern division was placed under the command of Lhakhshen, whereas the western division was placed under the command of the last member of the 3 generals of the tribe, known as the Black Tiger of the Grassland, Daiqin.
The tribe that was annihilated by Shanhai Town belonged under the jurisdiction of the western division. Therefore, as soon as Lakhshen received the news that Tian Lian Tribe was wiped out, he quickly reported it to his Khan, Mengke, as quickly as he could.
Mengke was a man who was reaching his fifties, and was considered to be a man of the elder age group in the savanna. His previous handsome face was now full of wrinkles, and his thick and curly hair was turning white. All of these things were indicating that this man was really getting old now. Despite all of this, no one had ever dared to be disrespectful to Mengke. This was because it was not only because of his majestic aura, but also the respect deep in their hearts.
Mengke inherited his father"s position of the Khan and took over the scepter and crown passed down to him when he was 14 years old. When he took over his father"s position, a strong vassal called Gru took advantage of Mengke"s young age and treated him as a puppet. The tyrant used Mengke"s name to control the entire tribe.
Mengke did not show a sign of dissatisfaction, and he pretended that he knew nothing about any of this. Not only that, he also pretended that he was very fond of Gru at that time. However, without the knowledge of Gru, he secretly accumulated his own forces and cultivated his own generals. After two years, when Mengke felt like the time had come, he assassinated Gru with a killing blow when Gru was drunk and sleeping in his tent. After killing him, Mengke boldly commanded his generals and cleansed the entire tribe with the blood of Gru"s faction, thus allowing himself to regain control of the tribe again.
For the next 30 plus years, Mengke"s rule became more and more experienced and bloody. During his time, Mengke was called the "bloody butcher" and more than 5 tribes were exterminated. Up to now, the other smaller tribes were still living under his shadow. Mengke"s name was so feared amongst the tribes that they dared not to even voice the tiniest dissatisfaction about Mengke at all.
Although the other tribes all feared him and spoke of Mengke in insulting and derogatory ways, to the Tian Qi tribe, Mengke was their supreme leader, their god, and they could even die for him.
When Mengke first took over the position of Khan, the tribe was only a medium-sized tribe and had only 4 to 5 thousand people. Under his rule, the tribe got bigger and stronger. Despite the barricades of their strong rivals, Tian Qi tribe managed to defeat them all and finally became the strongest tribe in the savanna. They were so strong that all of the other tribes respected him as the savanna"s Khan.
With that said, the throne of this old Khan that looked like he was going to die was actually made with the blood of his enemies. Lakhshen was still a newborn child when Mengke inherited the position of Khan. He grew up hearing all sorts of stories about Mengke. Therefore, even after Lakhshen became a strong man like he was now, this lion of the savanna, he dared not show even the slightest disrespect at all.
At this moment, the old Khan sat up straight on his throne, showing no sign of burnout. After hearing Lakhshen"s report, he opened his turbid eyes slightly and said hoarsely, "Tian Lian tribe? If I recall correctly, they just bought 100 Qingfu stallions from us not long ago?"
Suddenly, Lakhshen was struck with a thought about the incident and said, "Yes, my Khan, do you mean that the Tian Lian Tribe was eliminated because of these stallions? Someone grew greedy of these stallions, so they wiped out Tian Lian tribe for the stallions?"
" *Cough cough* Lakhshen, when looking at a problem, you must look at the cause of the problem in order to solve it. Tian Lian tribe is one of the smallest tribes in the savanna. They have neither precious treasures nor do they possess an area rich of lush green in the savanna. If that"s the case, what else is worthy of being coveted?" Mengke coughed and said.
"My Khan, you are indeed the wisest man in our tribe." Lakhshen said respectfully.
"Are there any clues or traces of the remains of Tian Lian tribe?" asked Mengke.
Lakhshen shook his head and said, "There"s nothing but ashes left. The Qingfu stallions they bought from us, and their own horses and sheep are all gone. Judging from the heat of the remains of the tribe, the attack occurred at around 7 AM this morning. The enemies were all cavalry, as there wasn"t any other footsteps but only the horses" footsteps. Besides, this was probably a planned attack. Most of the body remains of the tribe people were found in the burned tents. This means that most of them were killed in the fire during their sleep."
Lakhshen was obviously an experienced warrior. Just by taking a look at the remains, he could still figure out what happened. This man was obviously not as foolhardy as he looked. Fortunately, Ouyang Shuo did not try to disguise the battlefield, otherwise the flaws would have been noticed by Lakhshen by now.
"Any survivors?" Mengke did not say anything and asked again.
Lakhshen shook his head and said morosely, "The enemies were as sly as a fox. They must have arranged scouts outside of the tribe, stopping and killing those who managed to escape from the tribe. Most of them were killed far away from the tribe after they escaped."
Suddenly, Mengke"s turbid eyes opened. This time, his eyes turned extremely sharp and said, "It seems like there"s a tribe that became unwilling to serve us and wants to challenge our dominance."
Lakhsen"s heart pumped quickly upon hearing what Mengke said and asked, "My Khan, which of the tribes do you think it is?" He is very clear that once the conjecture was confirmed, it would mean an endless war.
"Hmph, Tian Lian tribe just received our support and they got wiped out straight away. What else could this mean other than trying to provoke us? Those missing stallions were just a decoy." Mengke said coldly, and suddenly a bloody aura materialized out of his body without warning.
Lakhshen"s limbs froze for a moment. Even a man like him couldn’t withstand the pressure coming from the Khan. He barely stabilized himself and said, "To the south of Tian Lian tribe is just a river. To the west is the wilderness. To the north is us, and the east is the Tian Feng tribe. My Khan, are you suspicious that the annihilation of Tian Lian Tribe was caused by Tian Feng tribe?"
Mengke did not reply and sat emotionlessly on his throne, looking far into the distance. Lakhshen knew that his Khan was thinking of the problem and stood beside quietly.
10 minutes later, Mengke turned, looked at Lakhshen and said, "Dariachi is a very subtle man. He may be ambitious, but he will not act rashly. This man is a snake, he will quietly wait at the corner of the shadow waiting to deliver the killing bow while looking at us fighting each other, awaiting for us to show sign of tiredness. If we were to say this was the doing of Tian Feng tribe, it does not match Dariachi"s behavior at all."
Confusion could be clearly seen on Lakhshen"s face. This general was definitely good at fighting and had high intelligence, but this didn’t mean that he was good regarding these political issues.
"Then... who do you think did this, my Khan?" asked Lakhshen.
Mengke shook his head and said, "Without any further news, any speculations should never be made by a wise man as it may not be any help in solving the problem at all. My plan is that while we search for more clues, we should also improve our awareness on the other tribes. We’ll wait for the enemies to show up again and deal with them once and for all."
Although he was called the "bloody butcher", Mengke was not an irrational man at all. Of course, if he was an irrational man, he wouldn"t have achieved so much by now.
"However, Lakhshen, I have a bad premonition that an immense storm is coming towards us. This storm will hit us with great strength, a strength that we have never seen before. We must be prepared for any scenario." Mengke said suddenly.
Lakhshen"s heart pumped quickly again. In the Tian Qi tribe, Mengke was their god and his prediction was just like an oracle’s. Therefore, Lakhshen was easily convinced that a great storm was coming towards them.
However, Lakhshen was still a general, a man who was good at war, not politics. If he were to fight anyone he would never be afraid, so he said loudly, "Rest assured, my Khan! I"ll let them know that the existence of anyone who provokes us will perish!"
Mengke nodded but he didn"t say anything. He waved his hand and Lahkshen withdrew himself quietly.