Chapter 360: Identity Exposed!
The sound of galloping horses echoed in the surroundings.
Wang Chong fell deep into thought, and eventually, the galloping came to a halt.
Not only that, there wasn't the slightest sound to be heard, as if the entire world had fallen silent.
"Hm?" Astonished, Wang Chong raised his gaze, only to see that the cavalrymen had gathered around him.
The ones at the forefront of the group were Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, and Bai Siling, and everyone's eyes were focused on him.
The atmosphere was slightly bizarre.
"What's wrong?" Wang Chong asked in astonishment.
"Who in the world are you?" Xu Gan asked with a grave expression, as if he was staring at some kind of unfathomable mystery.
"The battle has already ended, do you not intend to tell us who you are?" Huang Yongtu asked earnestly from the back of his horse.
"I have been with you all for the last few days, don't you know who I am?" Wang Chong chuckled.
"You know that that isn't what we meant." Xu Gan shook his head, but the determination in his eyes showed that he wasn't willing to let the matter rest until he got to the bottom of it.
"Siling, what about you? Are you going to join them as well?" Wang Chong glanced at Bai Siling, who was standing side by side with Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu.
"Do you even need to ask that?" Bai Siling rolled her eyes in annoyance. "I am the one who is the most curious of them all, alright? It's one thing for the both of them to not know, but I have been with you throughout the entire journey, and we have undergone many life-and-death situations together. Yet, you choose to conceal the matter from me as well! If not for my own decorum, I might have lifted you up to smack your bottom already!"
Bai Siling grit her teeth in suppressed fury.
That bastard seemed to be extremely wary around her. Even when they were clearing dens together, he would only put in the minimum effort required to accomplish the task, seemingly unwilling to reveal any more than that.
She was no fool, how could she have not sensed that?
If they had not encountered Iron Cloak Li, which forced that fellow into action, Bai Siling would have never known that he had such astounding ability to command within him!
The more she thought about it, the more furious she felt!
Thus, she decisively chose to side with Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu this time.
"This is a clear betrayal!" Wang Chong exclaimed.
"Tsk!" Bai Siling turned her head to the side heartlessly.
"If I'm not mistaken, that sword in your hand should be a Wootz steel sword, am I right?" At this moment, Xu Gan shot a glance at the sword in Wang Chong's hands and asked him that question.
"The price of such a sword has already skyrocketed to around eighty thousand gold taels each, and often it will even reach the hundred thousand price range. Furthermore, it is a market severely lacking in supply. Surely you won't say that a sword like yours is common?" As a scion, Xu Gan would be blind if he couldn't even recognize a famous Wootz steel sword from the capital.
At this point, it was clear that Bai Siling was right. He and Huang Yongtu had indeed gauged Wang Chong wrongly. Even he couldn't afford such an expensive item, needless to say, others.
But in response to that, Wang Chong simply chuckled silently.
"Lieutenant Zhang, do you share the same thoughts as them, as well?" he turned around to ask the silent Zhang Lin standing behind the others.
"I would be honored to learn of lord's identity," Zhang Lin said as he bowed deeply in respect.
Wang Chong had shown astounding prowess as a commander in this operation. If not for him, their group would have been completely wiped out. As such, Zhang Lin desired to know Wang Chong's true identity deep inside.
"Sigh, Lieutenant Zhang, you as well... I guess I have no choice then." Wang Chong grabbed his forehead in distress.
It was one thing for the others, but to think that even Lieutenant Zhang was joining along.
From the looks of it, if he couldn't offer them a proper explanation, they wouldn't give in.
And indeed, after all they had been through, it didn't seem right for him to keep his identity from them either.
"Alright. Since you desire to know so much, I'll fulfill your wish then." Chuckling, Wang Chong grabbed a golden token from the side of his waist and displayed it to everyone.
Upon seeing the token with the engraving of flames on it, astonishment flashed through everyone's eyes.
"Burning Clouds, this is the token of Wang Clan!"
"You are a member of the Wang Clan!"
In that instant, Xu Gan, Huang Yongtu, Zhang Lin, and even Bai Siling froze in shock. All this time, most of them had thought that Wang Chong had come from a humble birth.
But it turned out that not only was Wang Chong's birth not humble, it was even more prestigious than any of them here. Even the Xu Clan or Huang Clan couldn't possibly compare with a clan of generals and ministers like the Wang Clan.
Bai Siling did have her own guesses regarding Wang Chong's identity, but even so, the truth was far beyond her expectations.
The Bai Clan could be considered as an extremely influential clan in the capital, ranking above that of the Xu Clan and Huang Clan. But even they paled slightly in face of the Wang Clan.
"What is your relationship with Duke Jiu?" Huang Yongtu asked with a grim expression.
"I am at a loss for words. The Wang Clan is founded by Duke Jiu, and I am an offspring of the Wang Clan. What do you think my relationship with him is?" Wang Chong said as he scratched his head.
Realizing the foolishness behind his question, Huang Yongtu descended into awkwardness.
"Of the Wang Clan, only the three children of General Wang Yan are involved in the military. The eldest son Wang Fu is currently serving on the frontlines, and the second son Wang Bei shouldn't be as young as you are. So if I'm not mistaken, you must be the third son, Wang Chong?" Xu Gan suddenly asked.
"Yes!" Wang Chong admitted to it readily. Xu Gan seemed to be more intelligent than he had expected, guessing his identity in an instant.
Hearing Wang Chong admitting to the matter, Xu Gan's gaze suddenly rippled with complex emotions.
Within the younger generation in the capital, the one whose reputation was the brightest at the moment was none other than the third son of the Wang Clan, Wang Chong.
The conflict with the Yao Clan, the regional commanders incident, the Goguryeon assassins... Even the most doted-on Consort Taizhen of the Sage Emperor seemed to have close ties with Wang Chong.
Despite his young age, the feats he had accomplished had impressed even someone like Xu Gan.
After traveling together for so many days, Xu Gan truly couldn't have imagined that the young man who he had looked down upon all along would actually be the famous Wang Chong.
Had he known, he wouldn't have adopted such an attitude. After all, a person of Wang Chong’s standing would be a valuable friend to make.
"AHHH! I can't take it any longer!" Just as Wang Chong was slightly gleeful over the awe he was getting, a voice suddenly raged from the side. Bai Siling was staring at Wang Chong with a frenzied expression.
"Brat, how dare you fool me for so long? I'll kill you!"
Brandishing her sword, Bai Siling leaped from the back of her steed and rushed up to Wang Chong.
Putting aside Xu Gan and Huang Yongtu, even Wang Chong himself was stunned by this turn of events.
"Bai Siling, what are you doing?" Wang Chong immediately executed his Phantom Steps and leaped down from the boulder.
Many sparks flew from the boulder as an inch-deep sword mark scarred the spot where Wang Chong was standing just an instant go.
Cold sweat began trickling down Wang Chong's back.
That violent lady really didn't hold back at all!
"Brat, don't you flee! Let me get three slashes on you to appease my anger!"
"Like hell I won't flee!"
The duo began flying across the forest, and the sight left the crowd chuckling lightly. The hilarious scene had lifted the sorrowful atmosphere drifting in the air slightly.
Eventually, Bai Siling ran out of strength and gave up. After all, she had suffered two heavy blows from Iron Cloak Li.
If not for her superior cultivation, she might have been shaken to death.
"I'll get back at you once I recover from my injuries!" Sitting down on the boulder, she wagged her finger at Wang Chong while panting heavily.
"Feel free," Wang Chong chuckled lightly. Even though Bai Siling had chased him around the forest, it did feel like their relationship had grown more intimate after he had revealed his identity.
Finally, when everyone had calmed down, Xu Gan asked, "What do we do now? How should we deal with the corpses of our brothers?"
"Let's bury them together. I wish to give them a proper burial so that they can rest in peace." Bai Siling was the one who suggested this with a sorrowful gaze in her eyes.
After all, she had spent many days fighting alongside them as comrades-in-arms, so she felt awful to see so many of them die so suddenly.
"There's no need for that." Wang Chong shook his head grimly. "Leave them here. We'll inform the Bureau of Military Personnel and have them send men over as soon as possible to deal with them. The families of the fallen soldiers will be compensated, and their children will receive special privileges. Their names will be recorded, and they will be honored like fallen soldiers on the battlefield. That would be the best for them."
Zhang Lin glanced at Wang Chong with slight astonishment in his eyes. However, recalling Wang Chong's background, he soon nodded in realization.
"Wang gongzi is right. This will be what they would have wanted as well, an honorable death," Zhang Lin said.
So that more people could live a peaceful life to a ripe, old age, some would have to pick up arms and brave the battlefield to protect them.
From the moment they first stepped on the battlefield, they were already prepared for death.
"But the Bureau of Military Personnel won't agree to it. After all..." Xu Gan said hesitantly.
Even though Xu Gan's words had trailed off at this point, everyone understood what he meant.
"Don't worry, they will. I will make them agree to it," Wang Chong said deeply.