The snow was blowing in the cold wind .
The temperature plummeted as winter progressed . Snowfall also became heavier .
From a distance, Jiang Li stared at the Black Dragon in the pond . It was a beast that could hold people spellbound with only a glimpse .
With its overlapping Black Dragon scales and sharp claws, it gripped the solid ground like a piece of tender tofu…
As if it could crush the tofu into pieces with little to no effort .
Yuwen Xiu stood below the Black Dragon . He looked at Jiang Li with excitement as his dragon robe flapped in the wind and his hair covered with snowflakes .
Jiang Li stared at the Black Dragon . The shackles on his wrists and ankles rattled, creating clanking sounds .
Yuwen Xiu stretched out his hand to direct at the dragon and said, “This is my Black Dragon . ”
Wisps of dark energy spurted out of the Black Dragon and poured into Yuwen Xiu’s body .
Jiang Li had never seen such a strange scene . Nonetheless, this kind of unorthodox sight was not unusual anymore in the age of cultivators rising .
After all, the Lord of Xirong’s head could spew fire, and baby chicks could turn into phoenixes back on the battlefield of North County .
The psychological impact of the Black Dragon on Jiang Li diminished compared with what he had seen in the past .
The old eunuch stood on the side with his head down . He didn’t utter a sound .
The Black Dragon Guards around who were protecting Yuwen Xiu were observing with immense interests .
They knew Jiang Li, their former commander who trained the Black Dragon Guard . However, their reverence and admiration for Jiang Li plunged ever since they were promoted as Black Dragon bodyguards of the Young Emperor and became even stronger than before .
After all, Jiang Li was only a commoner who never stepped foot in the Dragon Gate . The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men, on the other hand, were mighty cultivators .
Yuwen Xiu didn’t move close to Jiang Li . He only looked at him from the distance .
“Citizen Jiang… Did you know the Imperial Advisor passed away?” Yuwen Xiu asked .
Standing in the swirling snow, Jiang Li was dumbfounded .
He was already thrown in the dungeon when the Master died in the battle of Dongyang County . So he didn’t know the things that happened outside .
Jiang Li only heard the news from Yuwen Xiu right now .
Stupefied by the blow, he couldn’t get a word out .
“People said that with Kong Xiu in the government and Jiang Li in the military, the Great Zhou Dynasty could enjoy worry-free prosperity… But as you can see, now that the Imperial Advisor is dead and Jiang Li wants to retire, would this spell the end of the Great Zhou Dynasty?” Yuwen Xiu said with bitter disappointment .
“Citizen Jiang… why don’t you continue to assist me? Tantai Xuan that scoundrel founded the Great Xuan . Xiang Shaoyun also established Western Liang as an independent country . They are leading their armies and marching toward the capital city to overthrow the Great Zhou . I… need you . ”
Yuwen Xiu stared at Jiang Li with a pair of pleading eyes .
Jiang Li’s face remained expressionless .
He was buried in grief for the Master’s death .
He admired the Master a great deal . Even though they rarely met in the capital city, it was impossible for him not to respect Kong Xiu, the Imperial Advisor who saved the Great Zhou from catastrophe with his own flesh and blood?
“Too bad, it’s too bad…”
Jiang Li sighed deeply .
“Your Majesty, I have already taken off my armors and decided to retire to do farmwork,” replied Jiang Li .
Yuwen Xiu glared at him and shouted angrily, “You can’t retire if I don’t let you!”
The atmosphere in the imperial garden became grim and menacing .
Jiang Li’s body also went stiff .
Yuwen Xiu paced in the garden . An invisible gust of wind blew the snowflakes away with each step .
The Black Dragon behind him slowly opened its mouth, releasing a fishy stench that permeated the air .
“Today… I’m giving you a chance to choose . Assist me or… become the food of my dragon . ”
“Two choices . Pick one,” Yuwen Xiu said .
Jiang Li shook his head and said, “Will Your Majesty believe me and trust me if I say I will assist you? Your Majesty only wants to see my deference and fear…”
“However… Why would I retire in the first place if Your Majesty conducted yourself well? I’m willing to protect the Great Zhou even if I have my bones buried on the battlefield . ”
“But have Your Majesty seen the soldiers fearlessly fighting against the barbarians outside of Tianhan Gate? They risked their lives to protect the land behind them from atrocity and to keep their families on this land safe and sound . ”
“To be honest, it was not unreasonable for Your Majesty to not send out reinforcements . After all, the Great Zhou is exhausted already . But Your Majesty should never have fished in troubled waters . ”
“In this regard, Tantai Xuan is better than Your Majesty,” Jiang Li replied .
Calm and collected, his voice was free from fear .
Nevertheless, Yuwen Xiu couldn’t help but clenched his fists upon hearing Jiang Li’s speech .
“What did I do wrong?!” Yuwen Xiu bellowed with rage .
He fished in troubled waters? Tantai Xuan was better than him?
All he wanted was to bring back Jiang Li… How was he wrong?!
The Black Dragon behind Yuwen Xiu immediately understood his meaning . It opened its mouth and let out a deafening roar .
Jiang Li’s pupils contracted . He vaguely sensed the intimidating force from the dragon and an intense sense of oppression .
The Black Dragon became a flash of black lighting and sprang at Jiang Li with its bloody mouth open as if it was going to swallow him whole .
The terrifying force of the dragon deprived Jiang Li of courage to move even a finger .
Even so, Jiang Li bit the tip of his tongue . Blood spurted out . The piercing pain brought him back from the paralyzing fear .
He bellowed with fury .
The shackles around his ankles broke off . He stamped on the ground and darted backward like a cannonball as he exerted his Spirit Qi .
The Black Dragon smashed a deep hole in the imperial garden .
However, it failed to catch Jiang Li, who dodged the attack and hid in a distant place, gasping for air .
He freed himself from the chains on his wrists as well and looked exceptionally stern and somber .
In the distance, the old eunuch secretly curled up his lips with his head down . It looked like… the cultivation method he gave to Jiang Li was useful and powerful indeed .
Jiang Li had great talents . He had reached this level after secretly cultivating in the dungeon for only half a month .
The old eunuch wondered if Jiang Li could escape the heavily guarded capital city .
It wouldn’t be easy .
There was a large number of Black Dragon Guard in the capital city in addition to the crack troops of the Great Zhou . Jiang Li was only one person . How should he escape?
To make things worse, Yuwen Xiu also had this frightening Black Dragon .
Jiang Li was a dead man walking, no matter how the old eunuch thought about it .
Yuwen Xiu didn’t expect Jiang Li to have Spirit Qi .
Yuwen Xiu narrowed his eyes and asked, “Didn’t you say you will never enter the Dragon Gate and cultivate Spirit Qi?”
“I achieved the Qi Condensation after a momentary slip . There is nothing I can do,” Jiang Li solemnly answered as he shook off the shackles .
He glared at the Black Dragon that held its head high . The blood in Jiang Li’s body almost curdled .
This Black Dragon…
Might be in the Internal Organs Realm above the Qi Core Realm!
Jiang Li couldn’t be certain at all .
Yuwen Xiu waved his hand and ordered, “Black Dragon Guards, kill him . ”
Jiang Li was right . The young emperor only asked Jiang Li to return and assist him so he could gain back the people’s admiration and submission . Yuwen Xiu wouldn’t dare trust Jiang Li even if he agreed to continue to serve him in the future .
Jiang Li had to die either way .
Two people from the Black Dragon bodyguards moved .
They charged at Jiang Li at top speed . Then, the Black Dragon Guards waiting outside of the imperial garden also rushed in .
The old eunuch stood aside with his head down . He didn’t move .
Yuwen Xiu glanced at him yet didn’t speak .
Jiang Li gripped the broken chains and swung it like a whip .
The advancing Black Dragon Guards were all extraordinary fighters above the ninth level of Qi Core . Selected by Yuwen Xiu, they possessed tremendous strength .
After a short time, Jiang Li began to have difficulties holding his own . He backed several steps .
“Commander Jiang, do you remember me? I was a foot soldier trained by you . ”
A Black Dragon Guard took off the mask and revealed a creepy, mirthless smile . He closed in on Jiang Li and rained repeated blows on him .
The Spirit Qi dispersed .
Jiang Li kept stepping backward under the attack .
The Black Dragon Guards surrounded him . Jiang Li was engulfed in a sea of blackness .
Snow fell from the sky .
The clanking sound of the armors of the Black Dragon Guard faded in Jiang Li’s ears . He could only hear the creaking sound of snow crushing underneath their feet .
Jiang Li raised his head and looked at the snow swirling in the air .
He forced a bitter smile .
As a commander who drilled countless soldiers, Jiang Li would never expect himself to die in the hands of the soldiers he trained .
This… was a cruel irony…
A pitiful life of a Militarist disciple .
Bai Fengtian died in the Great Zhou . Would Jiang Li… also die in the Great Zhou?
The silhouette in the desert covered with sunset glow appeared in front of his eyes again .
It was always a spine-chilling moment for people like him to die in the country they fought for, instead of being on the battlefield .
Jiang Li concentrated his mind . He let out a deep roar .
He didn’t want to die yet . He had to protect Bai Qingniao and watch her grow up!
Jiang Li released all the Spirit Qi in his Qi Core . He dashed at a Black Dragon Guard, who had only a few wisps of Spirit Qi . Jiang Li tackled him in an instant and knocked him out .
Jiang Li grasped the guard’s knife and used it to defend himself against the weapons heading his way .
Sparks disrupted the swirls of the snowflakes .
The Black Dragon bodyguards went into action .
They sprinted to fight against Jiang Li . The Black Dragon bodyguards were certainly more forceful than the ordinary Black Dragon Guards . Moreover, they received energy directly from the Black Dragon .
Their movements were much more peculiar and threatening .
The Black Dragon didn’t catch Jiang Li before . It shook its head and stared at the besieged Jiang Li with an icy stare .
Then, his claws plowed deep furrows on the ground .
The Black Dragon leaped forward at Jiang Li .
A Black Dragon bodyguard’s eyes were ablaze with fury, for he failed to defeat Jiang Li in a long drawn-out fight . Black scales were indistinctively visible on his skin .
With a roar…
He smashed Jiang Li’s knife in half . Jiang Li was flung away, spraying blood, and hit the ground with a resounding thud .
Immediately, the Black Dragon sprang at him, raising a gust of wind .
Jiang Li couldn’t dodge the terrifying stench of the dragon this time .
In front of Jiang Li’s eyes, the dragon’s bloody mouth seemed to grow larger and large .
All of a sudden…
A ray of yellow light beamed down from the sky .
It landed on Jiang Li’s head and even bounced a little .
The Black Dragon was shocked and thereupon stood stock-still .
Jiang Li was also astounded, looking at the yellow ball above his head .
He had a strong sense of deja vu .
South County .
Tang Manor in Nanjiang City .
Pattering, the winter rain accompanied by an icy wind brought bone-chilling coldness .
Tang Xiansheng returned to the room from the courtyard . He sat next to the fireplace and enjoyed the warmth .
Sitting next to Tang Xiansheng, Tang Guo was reading a book while eating a piece of fruit .
Tang Xiansheng was in the rocking chair with a thick blanket covering him . His old, wrinkled face reflected the flames . Looking at Tang Guo, he was in a good mood .
Footsteps sounded outside of the room .
Tang Yimo walked through the cold winter rain, water still dripping from his armors .
He took off the armors and flapped his soaked inner clothes and then walked to the fireplace .
Tang Guo squinted when she saw Tang Yimo . She called him affectionately, “Brother . ”
Tang Yimo’s cold face beamed with tenderness .
He rubbed and patted Tang Guo’s head and said, “Go play outside . ”
Tang Guo’s eyes brightened up . She put away the book and skipped out of the room while holding a piece of fruit between her lips .
Looking at Tang Guo’s receding figure, Tang Xiansheng laughed . “This girl must be so bored from keeping me company . ”
“She’s a child who likes to play . It’s all right . ”
Tang Yimo’s face became stern again the moment Tang Guo left .
“Let me guess . You wouldn’t come to see an old man like me if you don’t have things to ask… It seems like you ran into a problem since you’re here,” Tang Xiansheng said .
Tang Yimo didn’t beat around the bush . He threw out his question straightforwardly . “Tantai Xuan founded the Great Xuan . The Overlord founded Western Liang . Now, everyone is looking at South County . What should we do?”
Tang Xiansheng didn’t answer right away . The room suddenly became extremely quiet; only the sound of burning wood could be heard .
“What do you think?” Tang Xiansheng slowly asked .
“Everyone thinks South County should establish a sovereign country as well…” Tang Yimo inhaled a deep breath .
“But you don’t think you have the ability to govern a country, right?” Tang Xiansheng said .
Tang Yimo lowered his head .
“You don’t have what it takes to be a Lord . You will definitely lose if you join the conflicts . ”
“You couldn’t defeat the Overlord or Tantai Xuan . You might be a better fighter than Tantai Xuan… But it doesn’t rely on the individual physical strength to be the emperor . ”
Tang Xiansheng was forthright too . The father and son shared the similarity when it came to this .
“What should I do?” Tang Yimo asked expressionlessly .
It was not his first time to be criticized by his father . He had made plenty of mistakes ever since he took over South County and had been scolded by Tang Xiansheng many times .
Tang Xiansheng slowly stood up from the rocking chair .
He kept coughing, his shoulders stooped .
He walked to the window . Hands behind his back, he gazed at the icy rain outside with his cloudy eyes .
“To be honest, it’s fine not to establish a sovereign country . South County might be threatened and then completely annihilated if you do it . ”
“It’s a general trend that can’t be reversed unless you’re a cultivator like Lu Ping’an,” Tang Xiansheng slowly continued .
Tang Yimo stood up .
“Ask people to prepare a horse carriage and assign me a guard of the Tang Manor . I will go to meet with the Lord of Beixuan,” Tang Xiansheng said with a cough .
Tang Yimo paused for a moment . He apparently guessed what Tang Xiansheng was planning . He asked, “Why the Lord of Beixuan?”
“Do you think Tantai Xuan will win this war?”
Tang Xiansheng smiled . He spoke unhurriedly while looking at the rain outside of the window .
“The Overlord seems to be indestructible . But his weaknesses are actually obvious . Tantai Xuan, on the contrary, seems to be full of vulnerabilities, while in fact, he is invincible . ”