The brilliant glow of the dawn disrupted the tranquillity of the night .
Outside Yuanchi City .
Tantai Xuan was donning a full-body armor . His face was serious as he stood in his chariot . Its wheels dragged through the white snow, leaving heavy marks in it .
Snow drifted down from the sky, and the icy-cold snow covered the earth like a thick white coat .
Jiang Li was wearing his armor too . On horseback, he guided a crimson horse along—the horse huffing and releasing hot breath that was like a ball of flame in the white snow .
“Lord, there’s no need for you to fight with us,” Jiang Li spoke as he looked at Tantai Xuan, who was on the chariot .
Tantai Xuan shook his head, saying as he waved his hands, “The Great Xuan soldiers are charging the enemy lines . How can I hide behind?”
“If we’re fighting… We fight together . ”
Tantai Xuan was resolute and decisive in his decision .
Jiang Li sucked in a deep breath . “It will obviously be a lot better if you’re able to go to battle as well . It will really raise the soldiers’ morale . ”
Tantai Xuan smiled, directing his gaze in the direction of Wangtian City .
The Overlord had attacked Wangtian City . With the Western Liang Army, as well as a cultivator like the Overlord, storming Wangtian City was actually not a difficult thing to do . In fact, the battle had probably ended quite some time ago, and the Western Liang Army was likely to be already preparing to storm the capital city .
Jiang Li said they had to hurry, as did Mo Ju .
But in reality, Tantai Xuan was honestly not too confident . The Wester Liang Army led by the Overlord… it was too powerful .
Of course, Tantai Xuan did not think too little of himself . He believed that his Great Xuan Army was not weak either!
The war drums sounded . The flags were flying high .
There was a dense, mellow bugling that shook up the snow falling from the sky .
Jiang Li leaped onto his horse .
“You lot, take good care of the lord,” Jiang Li seriously said as he put on his silver helmet and looked at two Xuanwu Guards .
After that, he gripped onto a silver spear, and his thighs tightened around the horse’s belly . The sound of horse hooves was explosive, and mud was sent flying everywhere .
The horse’s whine rang out, loud and clear, in the Heaven and Earth .
The crimson horse trudged forth .
Jiang Li charged forth among the Great Xuan Army, calling out the slogan in a booming voice for the soldiers to fall into ranks . With the sound of war drums, they moved on slowly toward Yuanchi City .
War was a fierce, tragic process .
Because they did not have an Internal Organs Realm cultivator as valiant and fearless as the Overlord on their side…
As such, it was not easy to attack Yuanchi City . But they had a clever plan to attack the city that was devised Mo Beike, a Mohist giant, as well as Jiang Li leading the charge .
Although war was cruel, it was much more relaxed than one would imagine .
Yuanchi City had also fallen into the control of the Black Dragon Guard, and the elites of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men led the Black Dragon Guard to launch their attack .
The Great Xuan Army had suffered overwhelming casualties instantly . After all, the Black Dragon Guard had joined the fray .
The army of cultivators were practically meat mincers on the battlefield .
Jiang Li tightened his grip on the silver spear, his eyes blown wide open in anger as he led the Xuanwu Guard into the war against the Black Dragon Guard .
No war’s more difficult than the other .
All victories were built upon mountains of corpses .
This battle saw devastating casualties for both the Black Dragon Guard and the Xuanwu Guard, but the Xuanwu Guard had greater numbers, and they charged forth fearlessly with no regard for death .
The Black Dragon Guard was terrified .
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men hurriedly hopped onto their horses and retreated . They did not quite understand why these Xuanwu Guards were so aggressive and bloodthirsty, so unafraid of death .
Tantai Xuan too was consumed with bloodlust . He might be the lord, but he was still right at the very front of the army .
When the Black Dragon Guard and the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men had left…
The Master of Yuanchi City did not leave, much like what the Wangtian City Master did . Similar to the old City Masters of these strongholds, there was a lingering nostalgia he held for Yuanchi City that would not dissipate . He brandished the weapon in his hand and charged toward Tantai Xuan, only to be stabbed by one of the Xuanwu Guards protecting Tantai Xuan .
And thus, the battle of Yuanchi City came to an end .
To the Great Xuan, this battle had not been easy .
Blood dripped from Tantai Xuan’s armor . He walked all the way to the side of the Yuanchi City Master and heaved a heavy sigh .
The Master of Yuanchi City could have retreated with the Black Dragon Guard .
However… Contrary to Tantai Xuan’s expectations, this old City Master had chosen to die in Yuanchi City, in this battle .
“This is a good man . ”
Tantai Xuan took in a deep breath . He had someone carry the body of the Yuanchi City Master away so that a proper funeral could be held for the man .
The Great Xuan Army continued marching into the city .
They had gained control of Yuanchi City .
Tantai Xuan was no stranger to this city .
Mo Ju very quickly eased himself into control over Yuanchi City, and after adjusting the order of Yuanchi City, scouts rode into the city on their horses .
In the Yuanchi City war room…
When they heard the news carried by the scouts, the generals dressed in their armor all turned serious .
“The Western Liang Army stormed Wangtian City in less than two hours…”
“The Overlord took down the city gates himself and forced the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men to retreat, including almost a hundred Black Dragon Guards!” The scout was kneeling on the ground as he reported .
The blood on Jiang Li’s armor was still dripping . After he heard the news, he could not help but inhale sharply .
“As expected of the Overlord… This person is brave enough to take on 10,000 soldiers himself!”
“True to his reputation as an Internal Organs Realm cultivator!” Jiang Li exclaimed .
A crane cloak was draped over Mo Ju’s shoulders as he paced inside the icy-cold war room .
As compared to the generals who were in awe and shock, Mo Ju needed to think more .
“Compared to Western Liang, Great Xuan… has a glaring weakness that is difficult to conceal,” Mo Ju said as he looked at Tantai Xuan .
“Great Xuan lacks an unparalleled Internal Organs Realm cultivator like the Overlord,” Mo Ju said solemnly .
“When the time comes that the Great Xuan and Western Liang would collide, we will be at a huge disadvantage…”
“Not a single one of us can match up to the Overlord . Should the Overlord decide to implement beheading tactics the way he did before, charging in alone to grab the lord, what do we do then? Who would stop him?” Mo Ju asked .
His gentle voice was serious and steely .
This was, indeed, a rather serious problem . It was giving even Jiang Li a headache .
“How many people on the earth are Internal Organs Realm cultivators? The Overlord dominates everyone other than the disciples of White Jade City, but what can we do?”
Tantai Xuan laughed .
“Our goal is to take down the Great Zhou Dynasty, so for now… let’s not think about the Overlord issue . Let’s focus on attacking the Great Zhou!” Tantai Xuan said .
The people in the war room seemed to have calmed down .
“Don’t be so discouraged . In the past, I’ve wanted immortal encounters so much, but I kept failing, time and again, and even then, I hadn’t been as sad as you are now . What are you so afraid of? We’ll adapt to any situation that arises . ”
“The Overlord might be strong, but it’s not like our soldiers are made of dough!” Tantai Xuan called out loudly as he smacked a palm down onto the table .
The generals in the war room grew agitated, and they echoed after him .
Compared to the agitated generals, Mo Beike was rather calm as an advisor . He stared firmly at Tantai Xuan .
Though Tantai Xuan did not seem to mind, there was no way Mo Ju would allow something like this, something that would break the balance, to happen .
Because of this…
He stepped out of the war room .
After he left a letter for Tantai Xuan, he snatched up his crane cloak and rode out of Yuanchi City on his horse .
He headed north on his own…
Disappearing into the snow that fell endlessly .
Aside from White Jade City disciples, there was one other person in the Internal Organs Realm on this earth who could restrain the Overlord .
The capital city .
The old eunuch kept his head down as he scurried about .
He stepped over the threshold to Zijin Palace and hurriedly entered the place .
Yuwen Xiu was sitting in his throne with his eyes closed, as if resting his head .
The old eunuch kept his body bowed . In a rather shrill and raspy voice, he opened his mouth to speak, “Your Majesty… The report from the frontlines is back . ”
It was silent for quite some time in the palace .
After a while, Yuwen Xiu finally opened his eyes and said, “Speak . ”
If it had been like in the past, Yuwen Xiu would definitely have been too impatient to wait, not unlike an ant on a hot pan . But now, he was surprisingly calm and quiet .
“Under the command of the Lord of Western Liang—the Overlord—the Western Liang Army had lay siege on Wangtian City . Within two hours, they had taken over the city, and the City Master died in battle…”
“Yuanchi City and the Great Xuan Army were locked in a battle for eight hours . The Black Dragon Guard retreated without fighting the Great Xuan Army . The Yuanchi City Master had died, and Yuanchi City has been taken . ”
“Tong’an City was attacked by an army led by top-class Western Liang general, Xu Chu, and fought fiercely for six hours . The Tong’an City Master opened the city gates to welcome the Western Liang Army, choosing to surrender…”
It was extremely quiet in the hall .
There was no sound aside from the rather shrill tones of the old eunuch who was reciting loss after loss on the battlefield, which made for a rather peculiar atmosphere .
After the old eunuch stopped talking, he sneaked a glance at Yuwen Xiu, who was sitting on the throne .
Had it been like it was in the past…
Yuwen Xiu would definitely have leaped up in rage upon hearing these words .
Yuwen Xiu was extremely quiet now, so much so that it exceeded the old eunuch’s expectations .
“Your Majesty, three of the six strongholds have fallen as of now…” said the old eunuch .
Yuwen Xiu waved his hands . “I’m aware . ”
Yuwen Xiu rubbed the sides of his temple . He looked at the old eunuch and said, “Of the six strongholds, three have fallen . Beiluo City exists only in name, nothing but an empty shell, so the North and South County Armies can practically march right in with no resistance at all…”
Squinting, Yuwen Xiu stood up from the throne .
With his hands behind his back, he paced back and forth .
After a while, his eyes glinted something sharp . “This is an order . The City Masters of Pingnan City and Drunken Dragon City are hereby ordered to lead their respective armies to retreat to the capital city . We will build up our strength here to fight back against the rebel troops!” Yuwen Xiu said .
Rather than waiting for the strongholds to fall one by one, it was much better to gather the troops of the five strongholds here .
Besides, Yuwen Xiu was not without any tricks up his sleeves .
He squinted and retrieved two letters from the throne, patting them gently .
Beiluo Lake .
Snow fell in heaps, and yet Beiluo Lake did not seem the least bit frozen .
Mo Beike strode toward Beiluo Lake . He paused for a short while as he looked at the lake that was shrouded in dense Spirit Qi . His heavy eyelids trembled .
He saw hordes of cultivators stepping out of Beiluo Lake…
As if they were strolling about idly in a park . He knew these cultivators were the disciples of White Jade City .
He saw Lu Changkong .
Lu Changkong from the Internal Organs Realm was holding a single petal of peach blossom, and he crossed the lake to approach him .
He said nothing, only pointing to the other end of Beiluo Lake, before he marched off .
If Lu Fan allowed Mo Beike to enter the island, he would be able to . If Lu Fan did not, then he would not be able to .
Mo Beike found himself a bamboo raft .
He stepped onto it and held onto the rowing stick himself, causing the raft to sway . He rowed across the surface of the lake, stirring up some ripples, and headed right toward the lake island .
The raft rowed forth slowly, sailing from one shore to another, bumping headfirst into the dense clouds sitting on the surface of the lake .
Mo Beike could not help but take in a deep breath at the dense Spirit Qi .
He saw the Dragon Gate, and he saw the little Responsive Dragon sprawled by its entrance . The little Responsive Dragon glanced at him, snorting white air out of its nose .
The raft reached the shore, and Mo Beike lifted his clothes up slightly as he stepped onto the island .
The gigantic chrysanthemums towered up to the sky and were blooming beautifully .
There were stalks of peach blossoms, each one stunning like the beautiful face of a shy lady .
Mo Beike was overwhelmed . White Jade City was very much like the immortal realm .
Beneath White Jade City Pavilion…
A figure dressed in white sat in a silver wheelchair, his hair fluttering about .
He turned about slowly to look at Mo Beike .
Mo Beike looked at Lu Fan, and he felt a peculiar pressure weighing down on his heart, making it difficult for him to catch his breath .
Mo Beike’s thick eyelids trembled, but he did not step back . He strode forward .
Finally, he came to a stop about ten paces away from Lu Fan, unable to move forward anymore .
“Mohist Giant, you’ve finally dared enter Beiluo City . ”
Lu Fan smiled as he looked at Mo Beike .
“I apologize to you now, Young Master Lu . What happened before, it was this old man’s folly…”
Mo Beike looked at Lu Fan and greeted him with a fist and palm salute, bowing three times before the other .
Lu Fan understood what Mo Beike was referring to .
In the past, a philosopher from the Yinyang School, Wei Luan, had disguised himself as Mo Beike to enter Beiluo Lake . Although Yinyang School and the Mohist ranger had eventually all died in Lu Fan’s hands, Mo Beike understood that this was still his crime to bear .
He studied Lu Fan before and was all too aware of this Young Master Lu’s temper .
Lu Fan stared firmly at Mo Beike without saying anything .
He smiled .
Now that he was looking at Mo Beike, there was a vague feeling that he was staring at his master .
In reality, Mo Beike was actually rather similar to Kong Xiu . They had both been powerful figures during the era of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy .
Lu Fan did not put Mo Beike in a spot .
With a flick of his sleeve…
The Spirit Pressure Chessboard floated in front of him instantly .
“Would you like to play a game with me?” Lu Fan asked .
He pushed lightly with a hand, and the bowl of white Go pieces instantly flew toward Mo Beike .
Mo Beike caught it, his face twitching a little .
“I’ve heard the rumors that you’re unparalleled when it comes to this game… Then, you’ll have to excuse me . ”
Mo Beike held the bowl of white Go pieces and picked one up, placing it down on the board .
Lu Fan rolled his sleeves back and picked one up as well, putting it down gently on the board .
In the snow and wind, the two of them played silently against each other .
The snow that fell from the sky seemed to have faded in the background, unable to affect the two of them at all .
They took turns, one after the other, and the crisp sound of Go pieces hitting the board was ceaseless like a stream .
The more pieces Mo Beike put down on the board, the more he frowned . After quite some time, there were fine beads of sweat on his forehead .
He was actually not too bad at chess, but he could not keep up with Lu Fan’s pace at all in this round . The other moved erratically, placing pieces here and there, as if his eyes were fixed on every single corner .
A single drop of sweat rolled off Mo Beike’s nose and dripped into the snow .
He put down the white piece, which was pinched between his fingers, and shook his head .
“I lose . ”
Lu Fan leaned back in his wheelchair, waving his hand about . Instantly, the pieces on the board returned into the bowl .
“I know what you’re here to ask . Honestly, you should already have the answer after this round of chess . ”
“This was a wasted trip . ”
“To save you some regrets, I’ll answer you with the same words I said to the Master,” Lu Fan spoke as he looked at Mo Beike . He leaned back in his wheelchair, his white robe fluttering lightly .
Mo Beike was taken aback . The words he had spoken to Kong Fei?
Mo Beike sat up . “I am all ears . ”
Lu Fan chuckled . He cast his gaze toward Beiluo Lake . “Whether it’s Great Xuan or Western Liang, Beiluo City will not interfere with you as long as you do not provoke us . ”
“If you don’t provoke me . ”
“This imperial court, this earth, and what happens to them… What does that have to do with me?”
“I am, after all, one to treat others sincerely and honestly . ”
Mo Beike was stunned when he heard this .
He thought about how White Jade City had done all sorts of things in this world, but it was true that they had never once personally intervened with matters of the imperial court .
Even if they did, it had been because someone had provoked Lu Fan…
Like when the aristocratic family of Beiluo City back then as well as the ministers in the capital city who had drawn up a denunciation to take down Lu Fan…
The main reason for White Jade City’s existence…seemed to be to nurture cultivators .
A force of pure cultivators?
Only the Tianji Order back then was sent out to call for the war to cease for three months . But after that, Mo Beike had also realized that White Jade City had probably issued that order because they had anticipated the Heaven and Earth would undergo a massive transformation and that the Five Barbarians would try to take down Great Zhou, so they issued that order .
Mo Beike was conflicted . He looked at Lu Fan and then stood up and greeted the other with a fist and palm salute as he said, “I understand . ”
At this very moment, Mo Beike understood as well that he was acting rather strangely . Because he had been studying Lu Fan all this time, it was difficult for him to stop acting so strangely . In reality, now that he had stepped out of that funk, he understood… There had been absolutely no meaning behind his trip to Beiluo .
Even Jiang Li had known full well not to involve Beiluo because there was no way Beiluo would take any action at all .
Now that he had heard it from Lu Fan, Mo Beike probed no further, and Lu Fan paid him no more attention .
He focused on setting up his chessboard .
Mo Beike looked at Kong Nanfei, who was in the distance .
He walked closer, and he saw the Master’s grave .
Upon seeing Mo Beike, Mo Tianyu and Kong Nanfei felt conflicted . The two of them did not expect to meet the person who had been their Master’s rival like this .
Mo Beike sat cross-legged in front of Master’s grave and spoke quite a bit to the tombstone .
It seemed more like he was chatting about his day-to-day living .
Mo Beike and Kong Xiu had been fighting their entire lives, and the two of them had never once sat down and spoken like this . Though this chat was one-sided and entirely done by Mo Beike, he was still speaking rather happily .
After he spoke…
Mo Beike left, rowing the bamboo raft to leave Beiluo Lake .
He stood on the bamboo raft, his back bent as he looked in the direction of the Master’s grave .
Envy stained the back of his eyelids .
The Master could be buried in this immortal realm-like place .
He still did not know where he would be buried in the future .
Mo Beike left Beiluo City .
He got into the horse carriage, speeding toward Yuanchi City .
Beneath the clouds that sat heavily like lead .
Wangtian City .
The Overlord stood in his chariot, the one drawn by three horses .
He moved straight toward the capital city .
Behind him, the Western Liang general brandished his weapon . The war drums were booming as the bugling rang out .
The Western Liang Army marched forth… Heading toward the capital city one step after the other .
In Tong’an City, Xu Chu took a look at the sky . When the time he had agreed upon with the Overlord came, he gave the order to let the Tong’an City army put down their supplies and charge toward the capital city .
If Jiang Li could deduce that Great Xuan and Western Liang were racing against each other, how could Xu Chu and the Overlord not?
To the Overlord, there was no need for any sort of repair or maintenance . He would charge to the capital city without end, to attack and to crush it, until he wiped it out .
Yuanchi City .
Tantai Xuan was astride his battle horse, Jiang Li and the numerous generals beside him .
The two advisors, Mo Ju and Mo Beike, were absent, but Tantai Xuan had to make a decision either way .
He looked at the dark sky, in the direction of the capital city .
Behind him, the Great Xuan Army that had gone through the battle at Yuanchi City had not yet recovered from their fatigue, but the excitement and anticipation were written all over their faces .
They did not retreat, nor did they fear . While they were taking down the Great Zhou, they would also be fighting the Western Liang soldiers .
Tantai Xuan laughed .
There was the sound of armor clinking .
His sharp blade seemed to tear through the dense, leadlike clouds .
The tip of the blade was pointed in the direction of the capital city .
The bugles sounded . A topless drummer stood in the middle of the snow, swinging his drumstick down ceaselessly, and the war drum sounded out like an asteroid that had crashed right into dry grass, lighting a fire within every single Great Xuan warrior .
Tantai Xuan’s sharp blade pointed in the distance .
Jiang Li brandished his silver spear . The Great Xuan Army advanced from Yuanchi City, crushing the snow underfoot, heading straight toward the capital city .