West County, Dongyan River .
Luo Mingsang was wrapped in a skirt, and a medicinal salve was smeared on her finger as she gently cleaned Xiang Shaoyun’s wounds .
Xiang Shaoyun sat in the big tent with his back straight . He had removed his clothes to reveal the smattering of wounds on his body . Some of them were hideous and terrifying, with blood still oozing out .
These were all scars from the great battle with the purple smoke couple .
Aside from these fresh wounds, there were still scars of different shapes and lengths .
Luo Mingsang felt her heart squeeze as she took in the sight of the Overlod’s scars and then reached out to stroke them with her pale, elegant finger .
Success was no fortuitous thing .
Success was always driven by hard work, so overwhelmingly immense, it was difficult even to imagine .
Even the most brutal of demons was no exception to this .
Xiang Shaoyun seemed indifferent as he looked at the secret letter he clasped in his hand .
After cleaning his wounds, Luo Mingsang picked up her skirt and walked to a corner of the tent . She picked up a changqin, sat cross-legged on the floor, and then laid the instrument across her lap . Her graceful hands plucked at the instrument gently, and a moving melody started playing .
Upon hearing it, Xiang Shaoyun’s face morphed into a gentle expression .
He very much enjoyed listening to the melodies that Luo Mingsang played on the instrument, and they often made him forget about his worries, leaving him carefree .
He folded up the secret letter in his hand . Xiang Shaoyun closed his eyes, listening to the melody .
“That old fart Tang Xiansheng is going to the capital city… There’s something off about him . ”
“Is he planning to join hands with the young emperor against the North and West Counties?”
“That old fart… On what basis?”
The Overlord had closed his eyes while deep in thought . But after half a beat of thinking, his lips curled up into a smirk .
“Bring it on, then . We’ll just roll with the punches . I’m a Western Liang warrior, so why would I fear a battle?!”
North County .
Tantai Xuan had a weird look on his face .
The devastating defeat he had suffered on Buzhou Peak had left him angry and in despair .
He was furious that… He had led an army of 30,000 men, ready to seize the Dragon Raising Site on Buzhou Peak, only to be stopped by a Daoist priest, and the heavenly dragon descendant ended up wiping out half of his troops .
His heart was bleeding .
He felt deep despair because he, Tantai Xuan, seemed like an insulator against Immortal encounters; any sort of Immortal encounters seemed unrelated to him .
Was he doomed never to experience one for the rest of this life?
Had he offended an Immortal?!
The huge curtain was drawn, and Mo Beike strode in leisurely . Walking beside him was Mo Ju, who was calm and composed .
“Mayor . ”
“As its name suggests, Immortal encounters are encounters, so you shouldn’t worry too much about them,” Mo Beike said .
Tantai Xuan glanced at Mo Beike, the expression on his face slowly becoming less tense . “You don’t understand, Giant . ”
“The feeling of being in death’s crosshairs and the setback of coming so close but still not being able to attain an Immortal encounter, you won’t understand…”
Tantai Xuan shook his head .
There was a sort of suffocation that came with being the only one who was still stuck in the same spot when the entire world was changing, and that feeling was enough to drive anyone crazy .
“The capital city has a Dragon Gate, the South County has a Dragon Gate, and even the West County has a Dragon Gate too . All of the great powers have Dragon Gates, but I… can only hope to have one because it’ll never happen . ”
“That… really is a little miserable,” Mo Beike said as he stroked his long beard .
Tantai Xuan muttered unintelligibly under his breath .
“Mayor, the mayor of the South County, Tang Xiansheng, has been making his way to the capital city at high speed as of dawn today… This person might be joining hands with the Great Zhou Dynasty to wipe out West County and North County,” Mo Ju said .
“Join hands? Bulls**t! That old thing Tang Xiansheng fears him the most!”
Tantai Xuan slammed his hand on the table and said, “South County is so rich and prosperous so much so that they’re basically dripping gold . With capital like this, who’s going to believe that man isn’t ambitious?”
Mo Beike nodded slightly . “Tang Xiangsheng is no ordinary person . This man is exceedingly crafty, meticulous, and deliberate . He’s definitely not ordinary . ”
“Besides, of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy, the Daoist School and the Sword Sect are both within the perimeter of the South County . Xie Yunling, a philosopher from the Daoist School, is old and behind the times, so he won’t be one to depend on South County . But the Sword Sect, on the other hand, well, it’s hard to tell with them . ”
“There are ambitious ones among the Sword Sect… If they help South County, who’s already strong enough on their own, they’ll basically be giving them wings . ”
Taitan Xuan clenched his fists . “Hmph!”
“If he dares come, I’ll make sure he never leaves this place . ”
Taitan Xuan shook his head . “Mayor, don’t let your emotions rule your actions . ”
“South County is strong, and they have a Dragon Gate, but it’s not just that…”
“One of my Mohist rangers found out something terrifying . ”
Mo Ju and Tantai Xuan were stunned .
Just what was it that would scare even Mo Beike?
Mo Beike’s face turned serious all of a sudden .
“This person, Tang Xiansheng… He’s had a secret session with the Greatest Priest of the Nanman Barbarians . ”
The moment he said that…
The entire tent fell silent in an instant .
Tantai Xuan’s eyes were wide open with shock .
Mo Ju’s hands clenched around the feather fan in his grip .
“That scum! How dare he?!”
“Outsiders will never truly be on our side! That d*mned thing, how dare he collude with outsiders!”
Tantai Xuan’s voice exploded like a clap of thunder as he ceaselessly paced up and down in anger inside the tent .
“This is an internal strife for the Great Zhou Dynasty . Even if we’re pushed to the edge, even if North County is reduced to its last man, I, Tantai Xuan, would never dispatch a single soldier from Tianhan Gate . This is because I know that once we lose the protection of Tianhan Gate, those locusts from Xirong will pick away at our flesh and blood immediately!”
“An internal strife is an internal strife . How could he involve outsiders!”
Tantai Xuan was overwhelmed with rage .
Nanman, Dongyi, Xirong, Guifang, and even the Maurya Empire—the Five Barbarians outside the Great Zhou Dynasty had always been eyeing the dynasty, wanting to invade the Great Zhou and conquer the world .
For generations, the Tantais had held off Xirong and lost many heroes and many men in the process . Tantai Xuan had lost a few sons himself, and because of this, he greatly hated the idea of colluding with the barbarians .
“Calm down, Mayor . This piece of news is basically just a groundless accusation since nothing has been confirmed yet . ”
After some time, Mo Beike’s voice slowly rang out .
The tent fell silent yet again .
Capital city .
A secret letter flew into the Imperial City delivered by a messenger pigeon .
A eunuch carried the letter and moved swiftly, stepping over the bluestone nine-turn bridge to stand beside Yuwen Xiu .
Yuwen Xiu was now carrying a wooden bucket, and in it were blocks of raw meat dripping with blood . He had rolled up the sleeves of his imperial robe as he picked up a bloody piece of raw meat and tossed it into the clear blue pool .
The black jiao dragon spun around and swallowed the meat in one go .
“Speak,” Yuwen Xiu said without turning to face the eunuch as if he could feel the eunuch’s terror behind him .
“There’s a secret letter, Your Majesty . The mayor of South County, Tang Xiansheng, has personally come to the capital city . He brings great gifts to pledge allegiance to the Great Zhou Dynasty,” the eunuch responded hurriedly .
Yuwen Xiu stopped his movements and passed the bucket to the eunuch beside him .
He wiped the traces of blood off his hand with a black cloth and then reached to take the secret letter from the eunuch’s hands .
“That sly old fox Tang Xiansheng . The wolf is coming over to make nice with the sheep? How unsettling . ”
Yuwen Xiu squinted .
“I hear he’s put together something, some South Manor Army… He’s ambitious, but now that this old thing is coming to the capital city, does it mean he’s looking to work together?”
Yuwen Xiu was no fool . He fell into deep thought as he looked at the secret letter .
It had to be said, but Yuwen Xiu had grown quite a bit after going through Zhao Kuo’s rebellion .
If this were the past, he would definitely be heading straight for the Imperial Advisor . But today, he had learned how to think on his own first…
Because the rebellion had taught him one thing—most of the time, he was the only one he could rely on .
Perhaps this was what the Imperial Advisor wanted to teach him .
“Eradicate North County and then wipe out Western Liang?”
Yuwen Xiu laughed at that .
“Have General Jiang make the necessary preparations to welcome Mayor Tang . ”
The eunuch was startled .
At the lack of response, Yuwen Xiu cast a glance at the eunuch beside him, looking somewhat intimidating .
The eunuch felt a chill run down his spine . He shivered, fear in his eyes, as he hurried to respond, “Yes . ”
The sun was hanging high in the clear blue sky, and the white clouds were drifting leisurely .
Chi Lian was wearing a long black dress with slits up to her thigh . Her pale skin was visible from time to time as she walked, and many of the pedestrians on the long streets of Beiluo snuck glances at her .
Bai Qingniao carried a basket on her back as she walked beside Chi Lian with Lil Phoenix One and the little chick in her hands .
The stares of the people around them made her feel a little uneasy .
The two of them reached the pier by Beiluo Lake .
Chi Lian’s figure was mesmerizing as she stood there, looking out at Beiluo Lake Island, which was shrouded in a foggy mist . She took in a deep breath .
“Qingniao, remember to bow when we enter Beiluo Lake Island,” Chi Lian reminded .
“Sister Chi Lian, you’ve told me that more than ten times . I’m sick of listening to you say it,” Bai Qingniao retorted as she held Lil Phoenix One between her fingers .
Chi Lian nodded .
After that, she walked over to a fishing boat .
Initially, when Chi Lian said she wanted to head to Beiluo Lake Island, the old man on the boat had rejected her without another word .
Who would dare head to Beiluo Lake Island?
That was where the Immortal Young Master dwelled, the forbidden land of Beiluo City .
Young Master Lu had been generous by allowing them to fish at Beiluo Lake, so who would dare cause trouble on the island?
Even the silver ingots Chi Lian had produced were not enough to move the fisherman .
Ultimately, Chi Lian bought the fishing boat with two ingots and personally rowed to the island . The old man did not refuse her offer, gleefully pocketing the silver and leaving with his fishing pole .
Chi Lian turned to Bai Qingniao and said, “Get on the boat . ”
Bai Qingniao hiked the basket of little chicks over her back and jumped onto the boat .
Chi Lian was, after all, a martial arts practitioner . She grabbed the rowing stick and swung it down violently, and then the boat shot forward .
Bai Qingniao sat at the bow of the boat as Lil Phoenix One stuck its little head out the gap in the front of her shirt . It took in the Spirit Qi of the lake, flapping its little wings as it let out a series of chirps .
Bai Qingniao stroked Lil Phoenix One . Curiously, she looked around the surroundings that were enshrouded in thick fog .
The fishing boat was floating leisurely .
It steered into the fog, coming right to the center of it, and everything fell silent .
Chi Lian was nervous, goosebumps breaking out all over her skin .
Beiluo Lake Island, where the mysterious Young Master Lu of Beiluo resided…
It was rumored that philosophers who had tried forcing their way in never returned from their journey .
The little boat sailed languidly .
From beneath the boat, it seemed like something terrifying had skimmed over quickly .
It disrupted the waters and sent the fish into a frenzy .
Chi Lian’s heart lurched . Her hand was stiff as she controlled the rowing stick .
She stuck her head out and looked .
But she could not get a clear look to see if there was anything beneath the surface of the water .
Bai Qingniao gulped too . She clutched tightly onto Lil Phoenix One and slowly stretched her head out to look .
The surface of the blue lake rippled .
A huge, fat fish was spitting water above the surface .
Bai Qingniao relaxed .
However, just as she let her guard down…
That fish swung its tail and triggered a series of ripples that spread slowly .
From the bottom of the lake, a black shadow had abruptly magnified .
Water splashed about everywhere . A spiritual being with gills around its neck and scales all over its body stuck its head out . Its long beard fluttered about as it huffed out hot air from its nostrils .
Bai Qingniao was so shocked she could not move .
Lil Phoenix One, too, was so shocked it stayed unmoving in her hand .
Goosebumps broke out all over Chi Lian’s skin . She moved to draw the dagger strapped to her thigh while pulling back Bai Qingniao, who had been so scared she was unable to move .
Chi Lian’s gaze was fixed on the terrifying spiritual being .
An elegant and gentle voice rang out from the lake island and cut through the fog, and it seemed to linger in Chi Lian’s ears .
“Little Responsive Dragon, don’t scare them . ”
In the next moment, a massive bout of power was suddenly pulling at them .
Lil Phoenix One, who had been in Bai Qingniao’s hands, was suddenly sucked away by the massive force .
Lil Phoenix One was petrified . It flapped its wings as hard as it could, but the faster they beat, the more it flew toward the lake island .
In the end, all that was left of Lil Phoenix One was a pitiful “chirp”…
As if this was its final goodbye to Bai Qingniao .
Then it disappeared into the thick fog of the lake island .