The attack on Great Zhou was, naturally, what everyone was focused on .
The aristocratic families of each county, as well as the great powers, all had their eyes on this great war that directly concerned the fate of the Great Zhou Dynasty .
Of course, for Jiang Hu, this battle was of utmost importance to them too .
The current Jiang Hu was already gradually transforming to become one of the cultivators . Many Qi Core Realm cultivators who had condensed Spirit Qi had been appearing without end after that transformation of Heaven and Earth, like bamboo shoots growing after the spring rain .
After all, it was still the Jiang Hu, and it still had to answer to the imperial court . But the Jiang Hu—composed of cultivators today—was not enough to repel the imperial court, not even the strongest power in Jiang Hu could, but of course… that’s aside from supernatural existences like White Jade City .
Basically, they would be trampled in the face of millions of soldiers and armies .
Whether it was Daoist Pavilion or Book Pavilion or the other schools and sects in the Qi Core Realm…
Because of that, they were actually waiting for the situation in the imperial court to unfold fully and for the ownership of the world to be determined, after which they would decide the direction their sect would go in .
South County .
Compared to the snow that fell ceaselessly in the north…
The snow in the south was not like goose feathers falling everywhere . Instead, it was much like corn—every single grain of it was visible .
Sima Qingshan had his bookcase on his back, and behind him followed a young lady with a read coat draped over her shoulders . The young lady was carrying an oil paper umbrella that shielded her from the grains of pure snow . She walked slowly in the snow, looking every bit like she had stepped out of poetry or art .
“Nanjiang City . ”
“Are you from Nanjiang City, Master?” the young lady asked curiously in a warm, gentle voice .
Sima Qingshan laughed . “No . My home is in Nanjin . It’s a place frequently invaded by the barbarians . ”
“I come to Nanjiang City only to visit a friend and to help him since I’m here . ”
The young lady nodded, deep in thought . She had heard of Nanjin City . No wonder Sima Qingshan had empathized so deeply with the refugees on his way here . It was because he had grown up in similar circumstances .
The young lady’s name was An Miaoyu, an exceptionally poetic one .
She followed Sima Qingshan to study art under his tutelage, and she was the first disciple of Hua Sect, as well as the first disciple Sima Qingshan had ever accepted .
They reached the Tang Manor in Nanjiang City .
Sima Qingshan was someone that all the servants and guards in the Tang Manor recognized . Very quickly, somebody informed Tang Yimo .
Tang Yimo rushed out of the Dragon Gate, his clothes completely drenched .
He could not help but grin wide when he caught sight of Sima Qingshan, who was currently sitting in the main hall and sipping tea .
He strode out to give Sima Qingshan a bear hug .
“It’s good that you made it back alive . ”
Tang Yimo patted Sima Qingshan’s shoulders .
It was indeed not easy to be able to return from Beiluo City without being harmed at all . Tang Yimo went to Beiluo City once . From what he remembered, that had been an exceptionally terrifying place .
Sima Qingshan coughed . At this moment, Tang Yimo finally noticed the quiet young lady sitting at his side .
Tang Yimo could not help but stare . Sima Qingshan headed out and managed to find himself a pretty lady on his trip, huh?
As expected of a cultured man—he was attractive indeed .
As if he knew what Tang Yimo was thinking about, Sima Qingshan introduced, “My disciple, An Miaoyu, who’s also the first disciple of Hua Sect . ”
“My name is Tang Yimo, Chief Commander of the South Manor Army of South County . ”
Tang Yimo introduced himself without waiting for Sima Qingshan .
He sat in his chair, pouring himself a cup of tea and downing it in one go .
He shot Sima Qingshan a glance . Hua Sect?
Had Sima Qingshan founded his own sect?
“When I went to Beiluo this time, Young Master Lu had given me some advice . He said I should roam the lands more, and perhaps then I would stumble upon unique enlightenment myself . Besides, he also said that this might be the cultivator’s era, but…there are all sorts of cultivations that can lead to a long life . If the cultivators’ contention of the Hundred Schools can be realized, then it will be beneficial to the progress of the cultivator’s era . ”
“Because of that, I founded Hua Sect . I plan to contribute a little to this contention and also to find a small boat in roaring waves that are the cultivators’ strife and to fight the waves,” Sima Qingshan said .
“The cultivators’ strife among the Hundred Schools of Philosophy?”
Tang Yimo thought about it for a beat .
“That person in White Jade City is simply too unfathomable . Is White Jade City really a power made up solely of practitioners?” Tang Yimo muttered .
Sima Qingshan looked at Tang Yimo . “On my way back from the capital city, I heard that Western Liang and Great Xuan were attacking Great Zhou . I was thinking if the South County was taking any action at all, so I came back here to help you . ”
Tang Yimo smiled . “South County has long stepped out of this battle to take down Great Zhou…”
“South County…has no right to take part in this battle . ”
Tang Yimo’s word shocked Sima Qingshan . After a moment, he understood what the other meant .
“Was it because of the total destruction of your army after you colluded with Nanman?” Sima Qingshan questioned .
Tang Yimo nodded slightly in acknowledgment, but then shook his head soon after .
“That’s part of the reason . ”
“Of course, I was also part of the reason . Compared to Beixuan and Western Liang, I really am a far cry from them . Although Tang Xian, my father, had worked hard to nurture me in these three months, I am still too far behind these formidable men . ”
“Besides, South County’s reputation had really taken a hit after that incident with Nanman, so it’s difficult to contend with these two newly established countries . ”
“Honestly, South County is at an advantage . Both the Daoist Pavilion and Book Pavilion are situated in South County, and we can invite them to join the battle if necessary . Because of this, we are no weaker than Western Liang and Great Xuan in terms of battle strength . ”
“And yet…it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve lost our honor,” Tang Yimo said .
“Because of that, what South County has to wait for now…are the results to this attack on the Great Zhou . ”
Sima Qingshan fell into thought .
He looked at Tang Yimo, somewhat in admiration .
Compared to the hot-blooded young man he had known before, Tang Yimo had grown quite a bit .
In reality, Tang Yimo might be strong, but he did not like wars all that much . He fought, mostly because he wanted to protect the people and things he wanted to .
Sima Qingshan smiled . He looked at Tang Yimo and then said jokingly, “As part of the earliest batch of cultivators in South County, why don’t you…start your own wave, take part in this cultivator’s strife of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy?”
“Your cultivation and my Dao of painting are on two ends of the spectrum . Though they’re different, it should be rather interesting if they do manage to collide . ”
“Besides, as the future ruler of South County, don’t you want to have proper authority over the cultivators in South County?”
“Once you have control over Jianghu, the imperial court will be much more stable . ”
Sima Qingshan might have been joking when he spoke, but Tang Yimo was astonished .
And his eyes were gleaming more and more brilliantly .
Beiluo, Lake Island .
Lu Fan sat in his wheelchair, the unkept scholar Kong Nanfei brought his disciple Meng Haoran and walked over .
The two of them bowed in greeting to Lu Fan .
“You can head to West Mountain and take a look… The Trial Pagoda in West Mountain might be of some help to your cultivation,” Lu Fan leaned back in the chair and spoke as he looked at Kong Nanfei .
“The Trial Pagoda in West Mountain . ”
Kong Nanfei was astonished . He turned around and looked at the colossal pagoda that was so tall it seemed to pierce the clouds . He could not help the sharp intake of breath .
“You can try there . As for this disciple of yours…he’s still not quite good enough, so wait for him to cross over to the Ninth Stage of Qi Core before he attempts the Trial Pagoda,” Lu Fan said .
Meng Haoran’s little face flushed instantly .
Outside this place, he was a genius that inspired envy .
But…in front of Lu Fan, he…was really just trash .
Lu Fan was lost in his thoughts as he took in Kong Nanfei’s unkempt appearance . He must have stumbled upon some discovery and found his own Dao . Maybe it’s only a narrow, winding trail of a Dao for now, but it’s not impossible that it might not become something impressive in the future . ”
“Off you go . If you can make it to the fifth floor of the Trial Pagoda, I will gift you something . This item will be of much help to your Righteousness Qi . ”
Kong Nanfei’s eyes twinkled at Lu Fan’s words .
He had nothing but fear for the other man .
After all, Lu Fan had forcefully contested the Heaven’s might and emanated a bout of terror so strong that Kong Nanfei could not even straighten his back, which was enough to make him understand what a terrifying person Lu Fan was .
Because of that, Kong Nanfei trusted Lu Fan’s words deeply, because…he felt that he did not even have the right to be scammed by the other man .
Meng Haoran, face flushed, wanted very much to tell Lu Fan that he was a genius with a Qi Core capacity of 18 wisps .
But Lu Fan barely paid any mind to him .
Kong Nanfei left .
Rather reluctantly and indignantly, Meng Haoran stepped onto the lake and left the island, heading straight toward West Mountain .
Lu Fan laughed .
His consciousness stirred, and the Thunder Movement Technique activated . Lightning flashes were moving indistinctly, and then his body disappeared . When he appeared again, he was already on the balcony on the second floor of the White Jade City Pavilion .
Snow fell from the skies .
Lu Fan picked up a green plum, added a peach blossom petal, and then started cooking up a pot of plum wine .
His gaze flitted . He had started with keeping an eye on the battle in the capital city, but the attack on the Great Zhou had caught his attention as well .
Because, Lu Fan thought, this attack on the Great Zhou could prove to be rather interesting .
The Western Liang and Great Xuan soldiers were gathering below the capital city .
Chaos had long since broken out in the capital city . The numerous ministers were seized with fear and trembling in terror .
With the Overlord’s mighty reputation, how could the ministers in the capital city not know about him?
So many people had died when the Mohist City of Traps had been taken down by the Overlord .
And now, there was no way the capital city of the Great Zhou would surrender after being attacked, judging by the temper of the young emperor Yuwen Xiu . Because of that, these ministers from the Great Zhou were all afraid the young emperor would take them down with him .
If the Overlord were to turn ferocious, this group of ministers might lose their lives .
As such, the capital city was thrown into chaos and turmoil .
Quite a number of ministers had packed up their things and were prepared to blend in with the large group of refugees and move out of the capital city . They wanted to leave the capital city, the eye of the storm, where the danger would surely be at its peak .
This group of ministers quickly despaired .
Yuwen Xiu had given the order to put the capital city on lockdown .
The noble families and high-ranking officials of the capital city were all sealed within, unable to leave .
Black Dragon Guards dressed in inky-black armor were guarding the gates .
There were also thousands of elite Great Zhou soldiers waiting quietly behind the city gates, and they filled the long streets of the city .
There was a sort of urgency and seriousness to this situation, not unlike the wind that swept by before an imminent storm .
But what had been a greater source of despair was the person from Zijin Palace who had given out an emperor’s decree—that any minister who wanted to escape from the capital city would be sentenced with a punishment befitting his crime . He would be taken to prison, and his house would be seized .
After several ministers were taken away to prison by cold Black Dragon Guards wearing black dragon masks…
Several of the ministers were trembling in fear, afraid to speak .
Severe punishments were just par for the course during troubled times like this one, and this was Yuwen Xiu’s move .
The oppressive atmosphere in the capital city was becoming increasingly stronger . The people in the capital city were furious but did not dare express that rage; even the numerous aristocratic families of the city were angry as well, but they did not voice it out, powerful as they were .
Lead like clouds weighed down upon the city . Snow drifted down from the skies .
The tense atmosphere filled the streets and alleys of the capital city .
In the teahouse .
Qianqian’s beautiful face was marred with worry and also a tinge of anger…
Because the Black Dragon Guards had started to round up the adult men as and when they wished, bringing them away to join the garrison army .
Although a lot of them wanted to resist, they could not—not when there was a blade held to their throat, and they were staring into the fearful eyes of their families .
They could only don the ice-cold armor and pick up the heavy blade and then move to gather outside the gate tower .
They had no choice but to join the battle .
Because the Black Dragon Guard had detained their families, the guards would kill their families the moment they so much as defected or fled .
So, because of that, they could only put on the armor for the sake of their families .
In Zijin Palace .
A storm was brewing, and the old eunuch could not help but take in a deep breath .
He knew that what was to come would eventually come .
He lifted his head . There were no candles lit in Zijin Palace .
Yuwen Xiu had changed into military attire . He put on a gold armor, one that seemed to glow in the dark with a brilliant radiance .
He stood in front of the throne with his back to the old eunuch, deep in thought over something .
Yuwen Xiu did not make his way to the gate tower in the capital city .
He did not personally monitor the war . Instead, he waited in Zijin Palace, as if in anticipation of something…
Outside the capital city .
Ten miles out .
The earth shook with great vigor, and it sent snow and mud rumbling .
The army was pressing forth . The smell of metal and blood was strong and pungent, flowing like a hot wave as they charged forth and sent the snow on the ground flying everywhere .
The Western Liang cavalry was at the forefront, followed by the infantry and then the archers .
Xu Chu was at the very front of it all, astride on his horse . The two large armies had flooded out from both sides like a powerful current, and they merged after a while, transforming into a mighty army . They charged right toward the ancient capital city that had seen many moons .
The Overlord stood in his chariot . Three Western Liang horses pulled his chariot forward .
Behind him was a luxurious horse carriage, and in it was a beautiful figure who was barely visible .
The Overlord had once promised her a picturesque sight, so it was only natural that she had to be brought along to witness for herself the most crucial moment of their storming the capital city .
Xu Chu brought along two large spiked metal balls and marched over in large strides .
“My Lord, I’ve completed the mission!” Xu Chu spoke in a voice that rang out like a large bell .
The Overlord laughed heartily and heavily patted Xu Chu’s arm .
Xu Chu was a competent general of his that he trusted quite a bit, and he was also the most powerful cultivator he commanded .
The leader of the Xiang Family’s Army, an existence at the peak of the Qi Core .
The Overlord trusted this man almost blindly .
“Once we attack the Great Zhou and enter the Imperial City, Western Liang will reign supreme in this world!”
“Revolt, against the tyrannical Great Zhou!”
“Rise, Western Liang!” the Overlord bellowed .
Xu Chu’s eyes were gleaming . He clutched onto one spiked iron ball and roared savagely like a wild bear .
His roar spread across all three armies, nudging the soldiers to brandish their weapons and let out a roar of their own .
This sound was like a huge wave that had touched the skies . They charged toward the capital city gate tower, and the Great Zhou soldiers paled with fear .
The Western Liang cavalry was every bit like fierce tigers—they were ferocious indeed!
This terribly frightening bloodlust had all but wiped out their confidence even before the war even happened .
The Overlord’s face was stony . He focused his gaze on the parapet of the capital city walls . Compared to the strongholds, the capital city had taller and thicker walls, and there were more soldiers stationed there .
They even had better weapons .
One could even say that this war might not be too easy, not even with the Overlord here .
The Overlord’s consciousness stirred .
He twisted around to look North . In that direction, smoke and dust stirred, and the earth trembled .
His eyes glinted .
Xu Chu was also filled with bloodlust as he turned to look north .
The large army was roaring . The Great Xuan Army donned intricate armor; with every step they took, they would swing their weapons down and roar furiously .
The Great Xuan Army often went to war with Xirong and fought foreign enemies . Their bloodlust was not any weaker than that of the Western Liang Army .
If the Western Army was like a lion, then the Great Xuan Army was like a ferocious tiger .
When a ferocious tiger meets a lion, there is simply no difference in strength .
“They’re here . ”
The Overlord’s mouth quirked up into a smirk .
Xu Chu’s lips split into a grin as well . He was extremely excited .
“Great Xuan, the army of the Lord of Beixuan!”
In the far distance .
Jiang Li had his silver armor on and his silver spear in his grasp . The crimson horse beneath him was much like fire . He was at the very forefront as they headed forth slowly .
Naturally, he saw the Western Liang Army .
The other party was imposing, and their aura hit him like a tidal wave . Even though Jiang Li had been through his fair share of fierce wars, he could not help but look in shock .
The Overlord was plenty powerful, and there was a different kind of aggression to the Western Liang Army now that they were under the Overlord’s command .
Jiang Li sucked in a deep breath harshly . As a descendant of a militarist, he inherited the mantle from Bai Fengtian .
How could he fall behind someone else when it came to leading an army?
Militarists were one of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy, so obviously they had their own way of leading troops .
Jiang Li raised his silver spear fiercely and shouted powerfully . Like a stone tossed into calm waters, he triggered large waves .
Under Jiang Li’s lead, the Great Xuan Army let out furious cries .
Jiang Li galloped off quickly . With every mile he covered, he would raise his spear and let out a fierce roar .
The Great Xuan Army shouted as they covered ground, and they banded together to become stronger and stronger yet!
At this moment, the Spirit Qi in Jiang Li’s Qi Core was operating speedily, as if it would break through .
This Dao of the Militarists seemed to have undergone unexpected changes after the Heaven and Earth had transformed…
Like the gathering of a large army’s strength .
The power of the Western Liang Army and Great Xuan Army collided .
Two newly established countries, two armies—they had finally collided outside the capital city .
There seemed to be an indistinct growl . The snow seemed to fall even slower from the skies .
Meanwhile, on the Great Zhou gate tower .
The morale of the Great Zhou soldiers was at rock bottom .
As they peered down at the dense gathering of troops, they trembled in fear .