The snow was blowing in the wind .
A man slowly walked by with a butcher knife strapped to his waist . His white robe flapped in the chilling wind .
The snow underneath his feet created squeaking sounds as he stepped on them .
Raising his head and looking at Tianhan Gate in the distance, Nie Changqing couldn’t help but release a long breath .
It had been half a month .
He and Li Sansi chased the Xirong Army so far that a boundless desert replaced the snowy landscape .
The infinite desert seemed to be the end of the world from his point of view .
At least, Nie Changqing guessed it was probably only a void beyond the endless desert . He didn’t know for sure what was on the other side of the world .
That was why he and Li Sansi stopped chasing .
They returned to Tianhan Gate at full speed . After all, Nie Shuang and other people were still waiting for them .
He climbed on the tower of Tianhan Gate .
Yet he realized that Nie Shuang was the only one who was still waiting for him .
“Where are Qingniao and Luo Cheng?” Nie Changqing asked as he shook off the snow on his white robe .
“Sister Qingniao went to the capital city . We heard that the Young Emperor had imprisoned Jiang Li . Sister Qingniao brought her baby chicks to break him out of prison . Luo Cheng was worried about her, so he went along to protect her,” explained Nie Shuang .
Shocked was etched on Nie Changqing’s face .
Jiang Li was in prison?
It appeared that many things had happened in the past half month .
Unhurriedly, Nie Changqing listened as Nie Shuang recounted the events of the past half month . He rubbed his son’s head with tenderness in his eyes .
Even though he became an unrivaled cultivator in the Internal Organs Realm, his son was still the apple of his eyes .
Nie Changqing had mixed feelings after hearing the story from Nie Shuang .
The changes that happened in the world in the past half month… were not subtle . It was massive and significant .
The world had changed so dramatically that Nie Changqing felt like a stranger in it .
“Tantai Xuan set up the Great Xuan and called himself the Lord of Beixuan . The Overlord established Western Liang…”
“It’s a time of conflict,” Nie Changqing exclaimed .
He patted Nie Shuang’s head .
“We should get back,” Nie Changqing said .
Then, he walked out of the room with Nie Shuang behind . Two Xuanwu Guards—part of the army of cultivators of the Great Xuan—saluted deferentially at Nie Changqing .
Nie Changqing nodded slightly .
Every member of the Xuanwu Guard mattered a great deal since Tantai Xuan sent a punitive expedition against the Great Zhou . Yet Tantai Xuan still spared two of them to protect Nie Shuang .
“Go . Go to help your Lord,” Nie Changqing commanded .
The two Xuanwu Guards exchanged a look of excitement .
They left the gate tower after making a gesture at Nie Changqing to show respect . They planned to catch up with the expeditionary army . The soldiers of the Great Xuan were proud of dying on the battlefield!
Nie Changqing, on the other hand, led Nie Shuang and walked through the snow to the Dragon Gate at Buzhou Peak .
There wasn’t any snow at Buzhou Peak .
It was as if an invisible wall blocked the snow from the sky .
The peak remained green throughout the year with flourishing foliage .
Nie Changqing and Nie Shuang saw the young woman again who was sitting on the bluestone and playing the flute .
Nie Changqing’s eyes focused on the young woman and nodded slightly at her . He was frightened by the sight of the young woman .
He felt like he was facing the unfathomable Young Master .
But Nie Changqing still believed Lu Fan was scarier if he had to compare the two carefully .
The young woman didn’t pay attention to Nie Changqing . She kept playing the flute . Even the plants growing on Buzhou Peak swayed to the melodic sound .
He walked through the Dragon Gate at Buzhou Peak and returned to Beiluo Lake Island .
Nie Changqing felt as if decades had elapsed .
“Hey, Nie Shuang!”
Ni Yu’s eyes brightened up the moment she saw Nie Shuang . She waved at him .
Nie Shuang was not much older than a child . He rushed toward her as Nie Changqing smiled .
Nie Changqing walked to White Jade City Pavilion, step by step .
On the second floor of the pavilion…
The Young Master leaned in the wheelchair and held a crystal-like Buddhist prayer bead in his hand .
Nie Changqing’s pupils contracted suddenly . He sensed a familiar scent from the Buddhist prayer bead .
It was the scent of the Buddhist monk he met on the battlefield in West County .
Indeed, was it the Young Master who crushed the monk with a massive palm from the sky?
Lu Fan lifted his head and glanced at Nie Changqing, saying, “You’re back?”
“You missed my lecture regarding the realms above the Internal Organs . You can learn more from Sister Ning or Old Lv,” Lu Fan said .
Nie Changqing’s eyes sparkled . The realms above the Internal Organs?
“Young Master, Li Sansi, and I chased the Xirong people to the edge of the world in the past half month . We drove these Xirong tribes into the endless desert,” Nie Changqing said .
“The edge of the world?”
Lu Fan cracked a smile after hearing Nie Changqing’s words .
“Are you sure it was the edge of the world?”
Nie Changqing was stunned . He seemed to realize that there was more to it that what Lu Fan said .
“You didn’t reach the end of the desert yourself . How can you see it’s the edge of the world? Don’t draw a rash conclusion without firsthand experience . ”
“Maybe, there is no end to this world . The Great Zhou is the center of the world in your eyes . But in fact, the Great Zhou might only be a small area of the world,” explained Lu Fan .
Nie Changqing was astonished .
“All right . Go to cultivate… You have fallen behind a great deal during the past half month,” Lu Fan said .
Nie Changqing recovered from the daze . He gestured hurriedly and left the second floor of White Jade City Pavilion .
In the distance, Ning Zhao was cultivating with her legs crossed . Five swirls of Spirit Qi spun around her body and became an intricate armor of Spirit Qi, even more exquisite than Nie Changqing’s armor .
He had been driving out the Xirong people for the past month . Although he was making some progress, the improvement was not significant or apparent .
After all, he had tempered the internal organs . He had to develop elemental Spirit Qi if he wanted to move forward with his cultivation .
Obviously, it wasn’t that easy to comprehend elements .
He hadn’t been cultivating much for the past half month . Ning Zhao, on the contrary, constantly cultivated on the island overflowing with Spirit Qi . It was typical that she caught up with him .
Nie Changqing’s eyes glanced and discovered a familiar face .
“The poor painter . ”
Nie Changqing laughed with surprise at the sight of Sima Qingshan .
Sima Qingshan was sitting on the floor, cultivating . He hurried to stand up and gestured at Nie Changqing .
“Mr . Nie . ”
He didn’t dare to call Nie Changqing a butcher even though it was how Nie Changqing introduced himself . He understood the basic etiquette .
“You’re in the Internal Organs Realm now…” Nie Changqing’s eyebrows arched in astonishment .
“I was lucky to comprehend it at the time of the anomaly of the world… With guidance from Young Master Lu, I barely reached the second level now,” Sima Qingshan explained .
Then, he solemnly cupped one hand in the fist of the other hand and said, “Thank you for saving my life in Nanjin City . I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything if it were not for you . ”
“I owe you a great favor, and I will defy all difficulties and dangers if you need anything . ”
Nie Changqing waved his hand .
“I only saved you by chance . Don’t let it weigh on you . ”
“You have joined White Jade City?” Nie Changqing asked .
Sima Qingshan shook his head . The shabby blue robe full of patches flapped . He looked at the second floor of the pavilion and said regretfully, “Young Master Lu didn’t want to take me in White Jade City . ”
Nie Changqing’s brows raised . It was unfortunate that the Young Master didn’t favor Sima Qingshan after all .
“Young Master Lu told me to establish my own sect in the Jianghu and restore the golden age of cultivators,” Sima Qingshan said .
“I should take off now that I have met you and formally thanked you . ”
Sima Qingshan smiled and placed the bookcase on his back . He gestured at Lu Fan on the second floor and Ni Yu and then took out the brush and scroll Gongshu Yu made for him . He drew a canoe and left with it .
Nie Changqing gazed at the receding figure of Sima Qingshan .
There were more and more up-and-coming youngsters .
Entering the Internal Organs Realm didn’t seem to be that difficult after the anomaly of the world .
Nie Changqing would be left behind easily if he didn’t cultivate hard enough .
Nie Changqing let out a breath and went back to ask Ning Zhao for details of the Young Master’s lecture regarding the realms above the Internal Organs .
Sitting on the pavilion, Lu Fan looked at the stressed-out Nie Changqing and curled up his lips .
It was a good thing to feel pressured .
The pressure worked as their motivation . They could only progress from the competition .
Lu Fan looked forward to seeing who would be the first one to enter Heavenly Lock Realm, break the ceiling of the Low Level Martial World, and help the Wuhuang Continent become a Mid Level Martial World…
Because judging by the current situation, anyone seemed possible to accomplish all this .
Lu Fan held the Buddhist prayer bead in his hand .
Of course, he did something during the past half month .
He studied the Buddhist dharma through the All Method Furnace and developed his own understanding and interpretation of the Buddhist dharma .
Lu Fan had fused Immortal, Demon, and Buddha into a single unit .
“It was almost time to wrap up the appraisal quest for leveling up the world…” Lu Fan said to himself as he leaned on the back of the wheelchair and enjoyed ing the breeze of Spirit Qi from the lake .
Although Lu Fan had solved the problem of the invasion of the wanderers, he hadn’t dealt with the spirits of the blonde man and the Lord of Xirong . Therefore, the rate of progress was only 3/5 .
Lu Fan should consider leveling up the world now that he finished studying the Buddhist cultivation .
Mid Level Martial World… . was eagerly anticipated .
Lu Fan didn’t intervene much when the civil war broke out in the Great Zhou Dynasty .
It was a time of conflict . He didn’t have reasons or the need to stop it .
The rise and fall of a dynasty were predestined .
Lu Fan also had a vague and preliminary idea of adding a Daoism of Fate to the dynasties in the world .
The concept of the fate of a dynasty could provide the emperors with an unorthodox path .
Of course, it was merely an idea . When the time came, Lu Fan could ask Lv Dongxuan to arrange the details .
Nie Changqing spending half of a month chasing Xirong served as a reminder for Lu Fan .
Although Lu Fan raised the level of the Wuhuang Continent, he didn’t know for certain if there were countries other than the Five Barbarians outside of the Great Zhou . However, Lu Fan tried before to “see” the depth of the desert Nie Changqing mentioned . There seemed to be a vast expanse of land on the other side of the desert .
Since Nie Changqing drove the Xirong army into the desert, would anyone move across the desert and arrive at that land alive?
Lu Fan leaned on the back of the wheelchair and pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes .
There were so many things to think about, and he was exhausted .
The public would overthrow the immoral and unprincipled Great Zhou .
Such words resounded across the Great Zhou Dynasty .
Led by the Overlord, the armored horsemen of Western Liang crossed the Dongyan River and marched in mighty contingents toward the capital city .
Tantai Xuan established the Great Xuan and named himself the Lord of Beixuan . He also led the army south for a punitive expedition against the Great Zhou .
The mayors of many large counties were still hesitating, and numerous warlords from aristocratic families hadn’t picked a side as of yet .
The two forces rose against the Great Zhou with irresistible momentum like a raging fire on a field .
The Master died, and Jiang Li was imprisoned . How could an ailing deer like the Great Zhou Dynasty withstand the attack from a fierce tiger and a roaring lion?
Therefore, the aristocratic families and major counties were hesitating on which side to support .
Their choices represented their bets on this war .
They would sink their families and ruin their prospects if they made the wrong choice .
Of course, the public also kept a close eye on South County besides the Great Xuan and Western Liang .
Everyone thought South County would free themselves from the Great Zhou Dynasty and set up a sovereign country just like what Tantai Xuan and the Overlord had done .
After all, even though South County suffered a great loss from the failed northern expedition, Jiangnan had been endowed with a rich piece of land, which the capital once sought after .
Therefore, many people were waiting for a response from South County .
South County didn’t react at all .
Neither Tang Xiansheng nor Tang Yimo responded .
It was beyond people’s expectations .
Capital city .
Zijin Palace . The morning meeting .
Wearing a spotless dragon robe, Yuwen Xiu sat high in the Dragon Throne .
The officials below kept quiet out of fear .
Looking frightened, everyone was worried about their safety . Some ministers had decided that they would pack the valuables and secretly leave the capital city once the morning meeting was over .
They were afraid that the manic Yuwen Xiu would drag them down as well once the Great Zhou was defeated .
The old eunuch stood deferentially and quietly on Yuwen Xiu’s side .
Yuwen Xiu felt the atmosphere in the hall . What a familiar feeling .
The main hall was also filled with terror back in the days when the armies of North County and South County reached the capital city .
Although Yuwen Xiu was the emperor at that time, he didn’t have any control . He was merely a puppet who couldn’t speak a word without taking cues from the ministers .
Yet now, everything in the Great Zhou Dynasty was in his hands .
He was delighted with the feeling .
“The rebellion army is approaching . What do you have to say?” Yuwen Xiu said in a low voice .
No one dared to say a word .
Yuwen Xiu’s fingers tapped on the armrest of the Dragon Throne . “The meeting is adjourned if you have nothing to say . ”
Yuwen Xiu stood up as his voice faded off . He took a good look at the ministers standing below before he left . How could he not understand what these people were thinking about?
They were probably eager to go back home to pack up and flee .
Nonetheless, Yuwen Xiu wouldn’t match up to his reputation if he would let them leave the capital city .
“Everyone thinks I would lose . However, do they really think I would be a defenseless lamb on the chopping block without Kong Xiu and Jiang Li?”
Yuwen Xiu clenched his fists under the dragon robe .
He turned his head and looked at the old eunuch and said, “Order the people to take Jiang Li to the imperial garden . I want to meet him myself . ”
The old eunuch’s pupils contracted in an instant .
Even so, he still bowed slightly and said, “Yes . ”
Yuwen Xiu left for the imperial garden .
The old eunuch’s eyes flickered .
He let out a long sigh .
Stooped, he walked to the dungeon in the Imperial City .
Inside the imperial garden…
Wearing a well-pressed dragon robe, Yuwen Xiu stood with his hands behind his back .
He first gazed at the pond and then raised his head to stare at the Dragon Gate with his penetrating eyes .
The Imperial Advisor died in the battle of Dongyang County, and Jiang Li was in prison .
Did Yuwen Xiu really have no help left?
Yuwen Xiu still had the best aid—the Black Dragon!
It was much better than Kong Xiu and Jiang Li!
It was quiet in the imperial garden .
Wearing light armors and black dragon masks, two men of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men stood next to Yuwen Xiu to protect him .
The water splattered .
The Black Dragon leaped out of the water . The strong fishy smell permeated the air .
Yuwen Xiu stepped forward and put his hand on the Black Dragon’s head . Wisps of black energy rushed out of the Black Dragon and wrapped around Yuwen Xiu’s body .
The Black Dragon had changed a lot .
The black scales, with a tinge of crimson, became more dazzling .
Two of the four bulges on the Black Dragon’s abdomen had broken . Its sharp claws gripped the edge of the pond and crushed it into pieces .
The two bulges on the Black Dragon’s head were about to break as well .
Behind Yuwen Xiu…
The old eunuch walked in front and said, “Your Majesty, Jiang Li is here . ”
With sounds of armor clanking and chains rattling…
Wearing shackles on both wrists and ankles, Jiang Li was brought to the imperial garden .
Snow was falling to the ground . Jiang Li’s hair was a little messy . He raised his head and stared intensely at Yuwen Xiu, and the Black Dragon emerged from the water .
The horrifying energy around the Black Dragon nearly melted the snow .
Yuwen Xiu turned back .
The eyes of the Black Dragon also turned .
Jiang Li’s pupils narrowed .
He felt like the eyes of Yuwen Xiu and the Black Dragon almost overlapped at the moment .