20 A fortune teller or charlatan

    Within the camp, the third day the little girl had been feigning unconsciousness had arrived and the set date for the camp army doctor to return to the camp was fast approaching.

    Within the room, where she had laid for nearly three days, pretending to be ill and staying almost as still as a dead person, she did not feel the slightest boredom, in fact, it had felt quite amusing as she could overhear the conversations within the tents and what comrades would do when overcome with boredom.

    It was fascinating for her to see those who fought in countless battles to allow themselves to let loose in such a manner.

    In those past days, she had not been merely confined to a bed within a tent. She had also had some opportunities to secretly sneak out and she had watched Gongsun Leng while he was practicing his martial arts.

    It was surprising, as she had anticipated that there would be an airtight patrol, but apparently not, as she was able to successfully sneak past them with ease.

    [Maybe it's because they are close to the capital and their families that they are so relaxed, but the should really increase the security if they are going to send more confidential information here.]

    [The third day is approaching, that army doctor should return soon. I should get going now.]

    When night fell, she secretly got up from that comfortable and warm bed, and sneaked to the outer parts of the camp, bypassing all the patrolling guards who were marching. The outdoors was cold and she was clothed in nothing but a thin cotton-padded jacket, as she went into the forest that she was brought from.

    Oddly enough, she could not feel the bone-chilling weather that was in the forest, but she could hear the howling winds.

    The only thing that she took from the camp was the bronze tablet, with the words Gongsun engraved into it. She didn't think that anybody would actually miss it, considering the way it was carelessly left on the desk, with so many intelligence reports thrown on it. The person it belonged to would most likely come up with the conclusion that they had misplaced it.

    As she walked into the forest, she suddenly felt an urge to look back in the direction she had walked from.

    [What? I can't let go of it?]

    Her lips curved into a bitter smile as her fingers tightened around the bronze tablet as she clutched it in her pocket.

    [I could easily walk away from a place that I have lived in for many years, but this place, I have only stayed here for less than three days, yet I am unwilling to leave.]

    [Now that I have left, I wonder if I will be viewed as a spy?] She knew that those military camps could easily get suspicious of unknown people that go into the camp. She wondered if the boy or his uncle will have such suspicions.

    She took a deep breath before turning back around and walked into the forest.


    As the sun set, a Taoist who was among one of the last people to exit the city, before the city gates were officially closed for the night.

    "The gates are closing." The guard yelled as many soldiers came to close the gates beneath the rain of blood that pitter pattered on to their uniforms and helmets. At least their bodies were more protected from the falling blood that was still somewhat fresh.

    Looking back towards the city walls that hung the heads of the many victims from the mass execution. Within his eyes there was no pity, they were indifferent to the bloody scene that hung from the city walls.

    The blood would drop to the dirt ground below the city gates where it would congeal itself in small blobs that were mixed with dirt and sand.

    Anyone that was coming or going in and out of the city over the next few days could not escape a few drops of blood falling on them.

    The fishy stench of blood was enough to make anyone's stomach churn and cause the contents of their stomach to go up their throats, in fact some of the soldiers who that stood atop, guarding the city walls had such a problem and they were said to be the veterans of hundreds of battles, having seen so much bloodshed, yet they were unable to bear such a scene.

    So how could normal civilians face such a gory scene?

    Just the stench was enough to make a few people pass out while looking at the disembodied heads would cause so much influx of stomach content and those who had allowed their curiosity to get the better of themselves would most likely have recurring nightmares for the next fifty years or so to come.

    Nevertheless, the Taoist priest stood a distance from the city wall and began to pray for the lost souls of the wrongly accused and executed. He was perhaps the only person within the vicinity of the city gates that had on an indifferent expression.

    Standing there for a good while with his hands clasped together, in a praying position, with his eyes closed. No one paid any heed to the priest praying, as they stood patiently outside the city gates, waiting for it to open again when the sun rose in the morning.

    They all waited at a good distance from the wall, with their carts and bags of possessions. Some were merchants, while others were farmers, they all had a simple goal and that was to sell those goods and earn a profit, though it would probably be best if they went to a prosperous nearby city, instead of the imperial capital, after all, that had happened within the city these days.

    But perhaps they did not want to spend more money on travel expenses to go to a nearby city and lose their yearly profits.

    "Why do you bother praying for them, when they were alive, they fed on our livelihoods like blood-sucking beasts." An old man said hatefully as he stared at those severed heads with hatred and disgust.

    The man was dressed as a farmer, his face was full of wrinkles and his skin, dark from laboring under the scorching hot sun, he looked to be in his late sixties. One had to understand that some high ranking officials would use their power to oppress the common who depended on farming for their livelihoods. They would sometimes demand high taxes or buy the crops at dirt cheap prices, before selling it on the market for a high price.

    This caused many farmers to suffer.

    "Birth, aging, sickness, and death, this is the process of life. When they were alive they fed on the people, when dead they will feed the animals. Such is an endless cycle, why bother so much?" The Taoist priest said calmly, his eyes were still closed.

    "Old priest, why are you telling me the dao of life, I know it very well." The man said.

    [Old? Do I look that old? Oh right, I am quite old, he is not wrong.]

    He had long forgotten how old he was. It had been awhile since he continued to keep count.

    He had long stopped keeping track.

    The Taoist priest opened his eyes slowly, his eyes had a coldness surrounding it, those eyes saw the person before as nothing more than a corpse, he looked at the farmer in an observing manner.

    The farmer felt a sudden shiver run throughout his entire body as he prepared to leave.

    "Wait." The Taoist priest said.
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