A big army came from the north . They were large in number, densely packed on the state highway on such a snowy day .
Armors and knives clanged .
Like a proud lion leaving its own territory and showing its sharp claws, Tantai Xuan was riding a horse in his heavy armor .
Mo Beike was in a coach . He was old after all . There was nothing inappropriate about that .
Mo Ju was riding a horse too, just like Tantai Xuan .
When it began getting dark, Tantai Xuan commanded the army to set up camp and cook .
In the tent, Tantai Xuan, Mo Beike, and others were discussing the details of the war against Great Zhou .
Tapping the sand table, a military official said, “Lord, we’ll arrive in Great Zhou’s defensive city, Yuanchi City, if we go ten more miles ahead . The Great Xuan Army captured Yuanchi once before, but Great Zhou has already recaptured it, and it’s being guarded by the Black Dragon Guard . ”
“Yuanchi City… I know this place well . ”
But Tantai Xuan just smiled .
Mo Beike stroked the spot where the six guarding cities were located on the sand table gently with his rough fingers .
“Great Zhou’s capital city has six cities guarding it . Beiluo, Tong’an, Pingnan, Yuanchi, Wangtian, and the Drunken Dragon… Except for Beiluo, the other five are nothing to be afraid of . We are very confident we can capture them, but Beiluo…”
It was kind of quiet in the tent .
Then, Mo Beike broke the silence . He said slowly, “We don’t know Beiluo’s attitude towards this war against Great Zhou yet… Or White Jade City’s attitude for that matter…”
Lu Fan had issued a Truce Order before . So, if White Jade City issued another Truce Order when the war against the Great Zhou was at a critical point, it would be quite a problem for the Great Xuan Army .
Looking at Beiluo on the sand table, Tantai Xuan knitted his brows slightly .
He had suffered his first loss in Beiluo . And since then, he had always been losing . Fortunately, things started to change recently . And at the moment, Beiluo was his biggest concern in the war against Great Zhou .
“We should send someone to Beiluo to ask for Lu Changkong or Lu Ping’an’s opinion,” Mo Ju said, adjusting the crane cloak draping over his shoulders .
Many people in the tent agreed with Mo Ju .
“Should I go to Beiluo City in person?” Tantai Xuan asked after thinking .
As soon as Tantai Xuan spoke, the civil and military officials in the tent all tried to talk him out of the idea of going to Beiluo .
“Please don’t, my lord!”
“It is risky to go to Beiluo alone . My lord, you can’t go . ”
“Beiluo is a cured place . Please don’t come up with such a dangerous idea, my lord . ”
Tantai Xuan was pissed off by them .
Why did everyone think that he, Tantai Xuan, would definitely get killed by Lu Ping’an if he went to Beiluo?
He was blunt, but he was not stupid .
Mo Beike smiled . His heavy eye bags trembled . Pointing at where Beiluo City was located on the sand table, he said in a hoarse voice, “My lord, please send me to Beiluo this time instead . ”
“Report . ”
While they were discussing, a scout came into the tent .
Tantai Xuan’s eyes narrowed .
“Report to Lord of Beixuan . South County Mayor Tang Xiansheng has come from the south to see my lord,” the scout said .
“Tang Xiansheng? This old thing finally showed up…”
Tantai Xuan squinted . He had no problems with Tang Xiansheng, but that old thing collaborated with the Nanman people . However, he heard later that South County had suffered great casualties in the battle against Nanman . So, Tantai Xuan figured Tang Xiansheng must have actually schemed against Nanman .
But Tantai Xuan still did not like Tang Xiansheng .
“Tell him to wait . I’ll go see him when this meeting is over,” Tantai Xuan said .
The scout was leaving after a nod .
However, almost immediately, another scout ran into the tent .
“Lord, someone came from the capital city despite the snow,” this scout said .
Tantai Xuan was dumbstruck . “The capital city?”
“You know who that is?”
Tantai Xuan’s breath came faster . He could guess who had come .
The scout cupped his hands after hesitating for some time . He said, “Seems to be General Jiang . ”
Tantai Xuan’s eyes suddenly lit up .
“Where is he? Take me there!”
Tantai Xuan had been really anxious when Jiang Li had been imprisoned . Chi Lian came to North County to ask for his help, and Tantai Xuan just happened to be planning to send troops against Great Zhou . He had hoped he could rescue Jiang Li, but to his surprise, Jiang Li had fled the capital all by himself .
Seeing Tantai Xuan rushing out of the tent in a hurry, the scout who had passed on Tang Xiansheng’s message to Tantai Xuan stared with his mouth agape .
My lord, do you have to be so obvious?
It was in the middle of a storm . The cold wind whooshed across the sky with noises like wolf howls .
Standing in the snow and watching Luo Cheng and Bai Qingniao disappear from his sight, Jiang Li breathed out slowly .
He pulled the arrow that had pierced through his body out . Blood immediately spilled on the snow ground .
Covering his chest, Jiang Li turned to look at the big army in the distance .
He did not go to Beiluo City with Luo Cheng and others . Instead, he told Luo Cheng to take Bai Qingniao, who was still in a coma, to Beiluo and make her wait for him there . He would retire and meet her in Beiluo City when he finished what he had to do .
Luo Cheng memorized his words . Then, he left with Bai Qingniao . He told her all this when she had woken up .
Luo Cheng knew very well what Jiang Li had chosen .
What happened before the city gate of the capital city had touched Luo Cheng .
The unkempt scholar Kong Nanfei and his apprentice, Meng Haoran, were traveling with them to Beiluo as well because Kong Nanfei wanted to find Mo Tianyu, who was still in Beiluo City .
Standing in the snow, Jiang Li did not turn around until Luo Cheng and others had completely disappeared from his sight . Then, he went towards the camp of Great Xuan’s army .
All of a sudden, Jiang Li slowed down .
He heard hoofbeats coming from North County .
Several men familiar to him showed up in front of him .
Chi Lian was armored . Her eyes turned red as soon as she saw Jiang Li . She dismounted the horse and staggered up to Jiang Li in the snow .
Tantai Xuan burst out laughing in the snow as soon as he saw Jiang Li .
He dismounted his horse and walked towards Jiang Li with steady steps .
Jiang Li steadied Chi Lian, and then looked at Tantai Xuan .
“I’m glad you are still alive . I’m glad you are still alive…”
Tantai Xuan was very emotional . He was glad to see Jiang Li come back alive from the capital city .
He had decided to declare war on Great Zhou mainly because he had been irritated by Jiang Li’s imprisonment .
Jiang Li cupped his hands and bowed to Tantai Xuan . Chi Lian stood behind Jiang Li obediently . She kept looking at him, her long eyelashes trembling slightly .
“Civilian Jiang Li salutes the Lord of Beixuan,” Jiang Li said .
Tantai Xuan helped Jiang Li stand up immediately . “Old Jiang, we can save the courtesy between us for later . ”
Jiang Li did not move . He continued standing there cupping his hands with a stubborn and serious look .
“Great Zhou is tyrannical . I want to give my best to fight on the side of the Lord of Beixuan against Great Zhou . I hope the Lord of Beixuan will consent to this!”
Jiang Li cupped his hands and bowed .
Tantai Xuan was dumbstruck .
To his surprise, the first thing Jiang Li did after seeing him was to offer to join the army in the battle against Great Zhou .
He had been trying so hard to recruit Jiang Li after having captured the latter, but Jiang Li had never agreed .
He only helped North County in the battle against Xirong’s intrusion .
Jiang Li was asking to join Great Xuan’s army himself .
Tantai Xuan came to himself very quickly . He was really happy .
“It would be a great advantage for us to have Brother Jiang in Great Xuan’s army!”
Tantai Xuan burst out laughing .
Looking at Tantai Xuan, Jiang Li asked, “Lord, you aren’t afraid that I might be a spy from Great Zhou?”
“If I doubt you, I won’t use you . If I use you, I won’t doubt you . I definitely trust Brother Jiang!”
Tantai Xuan supported Jiang Li by the arm and patted the latter on the shoulder . His laugh blew the snowflakes in front of his face away .
Jiang Li had joined Great Xuan . This was great news for Great Xuan’s army . After all, Jiang Li did not earn the title, Military God, for nothing .
The Military God who could create a great disturbance in the era of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy would definitely not disappoint them in this era of cultivators!
After Jiang Li allied with the Great Xuan Dynasty, a coach left Great Xuan’s army in the storm . Two long tracks were left behind it on the snow ground as it rumbled towards Beiluo City .
Outside Wangtian City .
Western Liang’s army was camped there . The tents in the heavily guarded camp were like flowers blooming on the snow ground .
Overlord looked up at Wangtian City . Behind him, Western Liang’s military officials were all standing there .
“My lord, Xu Chu has already arrived at Tong’an City with three hundred troops of the Xiang Family’s Army and fifty thousand other troops,” A military official said to Overlord, cupping his hands .
Overlord nodded slightly . He took a step forward on the snow ground .
Despite his large body, which was supposed to be heavy, he seemed to be as light as a plume . He did not leave any footprints in the snowy ground .
The control he had over his strength really amazed the military officials who were also cultivators .
Overlord’s strength was unfathomable .
“Lord, Great Xuan sent Mo Beike to Beiluo City . Should we send someone to Beiluo too?” an advisor asked .
However, Overlord shook his head . “No, that’s not necessary . Beiluo City will not meddle in this war . ”
Overlord knew White Jade City very well . And he knew the teenager sitting in the wheelchair well too . That person had no intention of ruling the world or anything like that .
If he really wanted to, the world would certainly be his .
But that was not his ambition .
Therefore, Beiluo City would not take part in the war on Great Zhou’s side .
So, it was not necessary to send people to Beiluo to clarify his stand at all .
In this regard, Overlord’s judgment was clearer than Mo Beike’s .
“Everyone, listen to my order,” Overlord commanded . “Get some rest . We’ll attack the city at dawn . ”
The military officials behind him cupped their hands and bowed . Then, they left, looking fanatical .
Overlord was still the same Overlord . He was as decisive as always . Just do it . Don’t think twice .
As long as this defensive city was captured, they could reach Great Zhou’s capital city smoothly .
Fewer gimmicks worked better than a practical strategy .
West Mountain, Beiluo City .
Ning Zhao and Nie Changqing had gone inside the Trial Pagoda that soared into the clouds and whose top could not be seen .
As soon as they sat cross-legged on the two cushions that they had found on the ground floor, they felt as if their bodies had been distorted . At last, they appeared in spacious but mysterious worlds .
It seemed to be a primordial forest with a lot of trees . It was in winter in Beiluo . It was snowing a lot . However, it was summer in this forest .
“You will get an opportunity to comprehend the Origin by passing the first five floors of the Trial Pagoda,” Ning Zhao heard a voice say in her head as soon as she stepped into this mysterious world .
She was dumbstruck . At first, she thought it was the Young Master who had spoken, but quickly, she realized it was not Lu Fan’s voice .
“An opportunity to comprehend the Origin…”
Ning Zhao’s eyes lit up .
She had been stuck producing elemental Spirit Qi for a long time . If she could get an opportunity to comprehend the Origin, maybe she would be able to achieve that sooner .
Then, she would have the opportunity to go to the Heavenly Lock Realm Young Master had mentioned .
“Attention . You will have three chances to challenge each floor of the Trial Pagoda . You will revive after the first two deaths, but the third death will be the real death . ”
Ning Zhao heard the voice in her head again .
She felt nervous instantly .
She breathed out . Without hesitation, without fear, she took a step forward decisively .
Standing in the primordial forest, Ning Zhao suddenly felt a violent quake . She raised the Cicada Wing Sword . Spirit Qi surged . A Spirit Qi armor covered her body .
When the quake stopped, one after another, spooky creatures showed up in the forest .
These creatures were perched on trees . Each of them wore a black mask which seemed to be an integral part of their faces . There was only one round hole at the center of the mask .
Maybe they saw Ning Zhao wielding her sword, so they raised their hands and formed black versions of the Cicada Wing Sword .
“One, two, three, four, five…
“All of these five people are at the Ninth Stage Qi Core Realm . ”
Ning Zhao frowned . It seemed easy to her .
The five creatures jumped off the trees . Cold eyes seemed to be boring into Ning Zhao from the round holes of the masks .
Spooky human voices came from the creatures .
Ning Zhao raised her Cicada Wing Sword . She charged without hesitation .
Five cultivators at the Ninth Stage Qi Core Realm . For Ning Zhao, they would not pose any threat to her at all .
Swords clashed . Ning Zhao killed the five creatures very quickly . Black blood splattered on Ning Zhao’s body .
The Spirit Qi armor shone and the black blood disappeared .
“Easy . ”
Ning Zhao raised her fair-skinned chin .
In the next second, a white formation was surging under her feet . Shrouded by the formation, the Spirit Qi she had consumed was recovered . A blurry staircase leading to the second floor showed up in the white formation .
She walked slowly onto the second floor of the Trial Pagoda .
There was a primordial forest here too .
However, this time ten spooky creatures showed up .
Behind the masks, these ten spooky creatures were staring at Ning Zhao with killing intent . They gave her goosebumps .
This fight was a little more difficult than the one on the first floor . Although they were also at the Ninth Stage Qi Core Realm, these ten were better than those on the first floor in terms of collaboration .
But in the end, Ning Zhao won .
The white formation emerged . And Ning Zhao climbed the staircase up to the third floor .
On this floor, the number of those spooky creatures remained the same . There were also ten of them, but all of them were at the Peak Qi Core .
Ning Zhao, who had refined all of her five internal organs, fought a hard battle .
It was much more difficult than the battle on the first and the second floors . Ning Zhao bled a lot . Her Spirit Qi armor was smashed .
She had only killed eight of the spooky creatures so far .
A black Cicada Wing Sword as thin as a cicada wing streaked across Ning Zhao’s fair-skinned neck .
Ning Zhao blacked out . She was seized by a sharp pain .
She had failed…
She had only reached the third floor, and the enemy was ten lowly cultivators at the Peak Qi Core . However, she had failed .
Ning Zhao opened her eyes . Her forehead was drenched in sweat . She found herself still sitting cross-legged on the cushion at the ground floor of the pagoda .
She looked at Nie Changqing, under whom the formation was still blinking . His fight was still going on .
And over his head, there was a number three . Apparently, just like her, Nie Changqing was also challenging the third floor .
All of a sudden, Ning Zhao trembled .
She saw the number over Nie Changqing’s head change from three to four .
Nie Changqing passed the third floor . He went onto the fourth floor!
However, the battle on the fourth floor did not last long .
Nie Changqing lost . The number over his head disappeared . He opened his eyes .
He looked reluctant to accept the failure and complicated emotions flashed across their faces .
They did not choose to continue . Instead, they got to their feet and left because the Trial Pagoda had warned them there were only three opportunities for each floor and the third death would be a real death .
They wanted to cherish this opportunity, so they would study and learn from this battle outside first .
Neither of them was stupid . They had found out how dreadful and fantastic this Trial Pagoda was .
When the two had walked out of the white jade pagoda, the crowd that had been expecting them outside all peered over each other in excitement .
Lu Fan, leaning against the back of his wheelchair, was very calm as he watched Ning Zhao and Nie Changqing exit the pagoda .
Ning Zhao looked bitter . She had lost on the third floor . She thought her fighting power was extremely strong .
However, to her surprise, it turned out ten cultivators at the Peak of the Qi Core Realm would be enough to kill her .
She had refined all of her five internal organs . In terms of strength and speed, she was beyond the Peak Qi Core .
“I have already been informed of your battle,” Lu Fan said . “Your control over your strength is not as good as Old Nie’s . Think about this failure when you return . Try to work on your weaknesses . ”
Ning Zhao bowed and nodded .
Nie Changqing was feeling complicated too . He was a little stronger than Ning Zhao . He had climbed onto the fourth floor . However…
The battle on the fourth floor was against five spooky creatures who had just broken through to Internal Organs and had not yet refined their five internal organs . Nie Changqing had thought he stood a chance at winning . However… He was cleaved into half by the enemy’s butcher knife twenty seconds after the start of the battle .
Although his failure was partly because he had been too careless, the enemy’s strength was beyond his anticipation indeed .
He did not know beginners of the Internal Organs could be so strong .
It was a good practice!
That was a really good practice . With the Trial Pagoda, Nie Changqing believed he would be able to produce elemental Spirit Qi very soon . Even if he could not, his fighting abilities could be greatly improved .
Nie Changqing even had the desire to go back into the Trial Pagoda to go on with the challenge .
However, he calmed himself down because he was not sure he could win in the second challenge . He needed to learn from this failure and this experience before trying again .
Outside the white jade pagoda, the whole world was shocked .
This white jade pagoda was so tall . It was impossible to see its top . It would have at least one hundred floors .
And yet Nie Changqing failed on the fourth floor .
Of course, this was shocking .
How could White Jade City’s disciples be so weak?
This question occurred to many cultivators .
Lu Fan sneered at them .
He found Lv Dongxuan .
“Issue one Tianji Order . Cultivators across the world are all welcome to challenge the Trial Pagoda as long as they are at least at the Ninth Stage of the Qi Core Realm,” Lu Fan said .
“Go and arrange it . ”
Then, Lu Fan left West Mountain in his wheelchair .
However, just as he had gone down West Mountain, Lu Fan lifted his head in surprise . He looked out of the city gate of Beiluo City .
There, in the distance, Luo Cheng was carrying Bai Qingniao on his back and had three baby chickens in his collar . He was followed by an unkempt scholar and a teenager carrying a spear .