Chapter 8: Refugees (2)
The moon gradually climbed atop the poplar crown and moved to the west. Eventually obscured by the clouds, its beams faded from the landscape.
The Wang youngsters’ laughing voices also disappeared into the distance and at length completely vanished.
Chen Rong lay in her carriage, not feeling sleepy. She tilted her head to look outside where it was pitch black. There was only a faint light issued from a single torch staked into the ground. In the dead of night when all were asleep, loneliness and mystery seemed to hover in the air with the swaying of that lone light.
Her eyes were wide-open in the dark.
It’s not for certain how long she had been listening by the time her mouth suddenly curved upward and revealed a little smile.
Her bright eyes were now staring at some approaching figures. These shadows made audible noises when they walked by. From time to time, someone also stumbled and fell. Faintly, there were also gasps, wheezes, and coughs that couldn’t be suppressed, as well as low barks.
They were not great sounds, but the contrast was rather blatant in the dead of night.
Chen Rong quietly watched them, her eyes following the clusters of shadows in both the front and back of the caravan. The front was where the principal members of the Wang household stayed; there were many riches to be had there. The back was where the Wang kept their food supply.
After these people snuck into the troop, Chen Rong could hear waves of low barks and sounds of things being carried away.
Fifteen minutes later, the shadows were retreating with bags of various sizes. Just as they were pulling back, another group of shadows entered the team.
A dwarf shadow hurtled forward and ran into something, the contact making a sound. This sound was low, but whatever got knocked into suddenly grumbled: “Who bumped into me?”
The sudden grumble startled everyone. The owner of this voice opened his eyes. He stared with eyes as large as brass bells at the tiny figure in front of him and finally yelled out in shock: “Who are you people? Wake up, everybody wake up!”
Despite being in a deep sleep, people immediately roused at this man’s howl. For the time being, clamors began to spread.
Abruptly, a powerful voice shouted: “Insolent vagrants!”
With this shout, torches began to light, and the entire team woke up.
The Wang patriarch, Wang Zhuo’s voice quickly rumbled: “Stop these refugees!”
He was referring to the shadows that were now scattering and fleeing away after they had stolen from them.
At Wang Zhuo’s command, the group was sent into a flurry. The guards rushed out of their tents without being properly dressed. Amid their chaotic shouts, a young girl also dashed out on bare feet, her hair untied, while angrily wailing: “My necklace is gone. My pearl necklace from the Southern Sea is gone!”
Another member of the Wang house shouted: “Seize them, seize them all! These peasants dared to attempt thievery. They dared to offend traveling nobles. Men, kill them. Don’t let a single person escape. Not one single person.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
The guards who were chasing after the refugees were quite riled — who were they? How capable were they? Yet they had allowed these unarmed refugees to actually near them and even steal things under their noses! With this mentality, the previous shout had fueled their courage to vent their anger.
Thus, a shrill scream soon resonated in the night sky. It rang out in the distance and attracted echoes all the way from Shanming Valley.
These were the cries issued from dying people!
Everyone stopped what they were doing in shock.
At this point, the Wang patriarch, Wang Zhuo, yelled out hastily: “Stop the killing, stop the killing…”
His panicking call broke the stupor and also brought everyone back to his senses.
After the red-eyed refugees heard these words, bloody fervor receded from their heads. They gave repeated shouts and quickly pulled back.
Wang Zhuo’s voice rang again: “Sirs, please leave what you have taken! Otherwise, don’t blame me for being ruthless!”
By the time his voice resounded, hundreds of guards on horsebacks had surrounded the refugees.
Seeing that they could not escape anymore, a brutish voice came forth among the refugees: “Brothers, don’t listen to this fogy. We are going to starve to death if we don’t take these things. If we’re going to die sooner or later, we might as well go big before we die!”
Another voice, slightly sickly, next said: “Sir Wang, one of your meals can feed hundreds of us for three days! Please be gracious and give us some food.”
These refugees were all honest people who knew their places. If they hadn’t been forced into a corner, they would never dare to rob the nobles. On the heels of the sickly voice, dozens of people cried out in chaos: “Sir Wang, let us have some food.”
“Give us some food and we’ll go away.”
“Aye, aye, give us food. All you have to do is eat a little less, and you’ll have saved countless lives.”
“If you won’t give us food, then my life isn’t needed!”
“We’ll return these things as long as you give us food!”
The clamor grew louder and louder, and louder still.
A young lad hurried to Wang Zhuo and exclaimed, “Father, you must not. We must never be threatened by these peasants!”
“Uncle, I think we should give them food,” said another youth standing beside them.
Wang Zhuo frowned, raised his right hand to stop the few youngsters from their yapping. He gloomily shouted: “Give them food! Wang You.”
“Order the team to leave immediately.”
“Lead the guards and herd these refugees to the side of the road. Tell them food will immediately be distributed to them. Ask them to give back all that they took.” He composed himself and called out solemnly: “If there are still those who want to lead a riot, don’t hesitate to kill off a few!”
“Give them food after we leave. Untie five sacks of corn, then drive the carriage away and just leave the corn on the ground.”
The moment Wang Zhuo finished what he had to say, several Wang youngsters lit up with pleasure. “It should be this way,” a young lad blurted. “How dare they threaten us. We shall let them sprawl on the ground to eat grains mixed with dirt!”
There was no need to speak of the trained guards’ stalwartness. Twenty starving refugees could not fight one of them. And so the situation was soon brought under control. In a short time, all that were taken had been recovered. These unarmed people couldn’t run a few short steps even if they wanted to. After several of their leaders were slain, they stood transfixed on the sides of the road and watched the Wang cavalcade drive away. They remained so until they walked to the stream of corn outflowing from the last carriage, their woodenly and helpless eyes abruptly lighting up.
Chen Rong lazily leaned against the carriage wall as she listened to the refugees’ cheers.
By the time a brilliant red glow hung in the eastern sky, the team had finally left the refugees behind, dashing through the vast wilderness.
At this time, a burst of hooves arrived outside her carriage, followed by a respectful inquiry: “Is your lady still awake? Sir Wang would like to see her.”
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