Capital city .
Even the snow falling from the sky seemed to carry considerable weight .
Zijin Palace .
Yuwen Xiu wore a set of golden armor .
The emperor’s sword stuck in his belt looked almost as if it was made of gold .
In the main hall…
The young emperor’s Black Dragon Armored Men stood still . There were thirteen of them in total . Although one of them died in Beiluo, he was immediately replaced .
Members of the Black Dragon Guard had set their eyes to be a part of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men .
Yuwen Xiu created a competitive culture among the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men . The strongest one could gain not only wealth and status but also instructions and guidance directly from the Black Dragon .
Therefore, every member of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men cultivated and competed at every single moment .
They understood that becoming stronger was the only way to obtain more wealth and a higher status .
They vaguely heard the rousing battle cry from outside of the capital city .
Yuwen Xiu’s inscrutable countenance gave little away .
The old eunuch lowered his head . The battle cry outside gave him mixed feelings . The moment had come, after all—the moment when the very existence of the Great Zhou Dynasty was at stake .
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men stood below the dragon throne with somber faces .
They looked at Yuwen Xiu sitting high up and had no idea what the young emperor had planned on doing .
They couldn’t block the attack under normal circumstances…
They could still fight and defend the throne without fear if it were only the Great Xuan launching an attack . But they were not confident about fending off the attack now that Western Liang, led by the Overlord, had been was added to the equation .
Liu Hao, the leader of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men and the emperor’s personal bodyguard and who had almost broken through to the Internal Organs Realm, looked at Yuwen Xiu and said in a worried voice, “Your Majesty…”
Yuwen Xiu stood up after a long silence . He walked to the direction of the imperial garden .
“Everyone of you, follow me . ”
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men exchanged a bewildered look .
Why were they going to the imperial garden at this time?
Shouldn’t they be sent to the frontlines?
However, they didn’t say anything .
Instead, they all followed Yuwen Xiu .
Imperial garden .
Covered by thick snow, it was bone-chilling as usual .
Wearing the armor, Yuwen Xiu stomped on the snow, creating creaking sounds, as he walked toward the pond .
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men followed him closely .
Just then, there were ripples on the water surface, as green wavelets started rolling . The smell of blood permeated the air . However, Yuwen Xiu was calm as if he was used to the scent .
Suddenly, the water in the pond rolled…
As though it was boiling .
The water formed a giant whirlpool where the outline of the Black Dragon came into view . The cold black armor gleamed brightly .
Its penetrating eyes could almost speak .
Yuwen Xiu’s eyes were filled with tenderness when he saw the Black Dragon .
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men behind Yuwen Xiu lowered their heads in utmost reverence . They stood still and didn’t dare to move because of the sense of oppression the Black Dragon gave off .
The Black Dragon gripped the rock with its sharp claws and leaped out of the water…
Only now, they saw that the Black Dragon grew four more claws in its abdomen, and its scales were denser . And he had almost recovered from the wounds inflicted by Lil Phoenix One .
The Black Dragon moved next to Yuwen Xiu . Its gigantic head lowered and touched Yuwen Xiu’s head .
It was like the two shared the same mind .
“This is a critical moment of life and death for my Great Zhou… You’re the only one I can rely on,” Yuwen Xiu muttered softly, holding the Black Dragon’s head in his hands .
The Black Dragon’s eyes sparkled with intelligence .
It looked at the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men and opened its mouth . A black round ball slowly floated out .
Then Black Dragon shook its body once .
And thirteen black scales fell off in an instant .
The black scales floated in front of the Black Dragon, while the black Dragon Pearl spun, and a glutinous liquid oozed out and dripped on the thirteen black scales .
“Black Dragon’s Saliva . ”
Yuwen Xiu’s eyes brightened up .
He turned his head to look at the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men and waved his hand .
Liu Hao stepped forward first . A dragon scale flew to Liu Hao and hit him dead center in his forehead . And in an instant…
Liu Hao felt excruciating pain . The black scale seemed to want to dig into his head .
His eyes were bloodshot from the pain .
However, Liu Hao was thrilled because…
He had a breakthrough!
He entered the Internal Organs Realm from the Peak Qi Core Realm!
Yuwen Xiu clenched his fists with excitement .
Finally, the Black Dragon had transformed and had become stronger… The dragon indeed had a remarkable transformation since it started to eat cultivators instead of commoners .
The faces of the deceased flashed on the black Dragon Pearl . The Black Dragon kept its mouth open, while the black Dragon Pearl rolled back to its mouth .
The Black Dragon turned and dove back into the water .
Yuwen Xiu stared at the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men, sweat dripping from their bodies due to the transformation .
“The Great Zhou’s fate is on your shoulders . ”
Yuwen Xiu walked next to Liu Hao, the head of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men, and gave him two letters .
“Use it when it’s necessary . I trust you to take care of this,” Yuwen Xiu said .
His eyes sparkled brilliantly .
He certainly believed the two letters would be incredibly helpful if the Master were still alive .
But now, the leverage against the two people was lost because of the Master’s death . Yuwen Xiu couldn’t rest all of his hope on these letters .
Even so, it was still a good way to crush the enemy’s morale when it was necessary .
“Go . ”
“I look forward to the news of victory from you . ”
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men, including Liu Hao, looked determined and spirited . They gestured to say goodbye to Yuwen Xiu and then left the imperial garden and rushed to the outside of the capital city .
Thirteen cultivators in the Internal Organs Realm…
Although it was achieved through trickery… it was more than enough to bring about a favorable turn of events!
Beiluo Lake Island .
On the second floor of White Jade City Pavilion…
Lu Fan frowned at the moment when the Black Dragon spat out the Dragon Pearl .
“What a strong evil presence…” Lu Fan murmured .
The Black Dragon became more powerful and not by a slight bit . Eating commoners only brought him limited growth . But its power and evil energy soared ever since it started to eat cultivators like the Black Dragon Guard .
Not only did it refine an evil Dragon Pearl, but also it was about to grow horns on its head .
Once the dragon horns emerge, the Black Dragon would undergo the third transformation and become as powerful as a cultivator in the Golden Elixir Realm .
Although it was an evil path to take, it was indeed an accelerated one for cultivation, yet it was also the most atrocious and obscene one .
Lu Fan’s fingers gently tapped the armrest of the Thousand Blades Chair .
Even though Lu Fan wanted the cultivators to reach the Golden Elixir Realm sooner so that the Wuhuang Continent could level up from a Low Level Martial World to a Mid Level Martial World…
He genuinely didn’t want the Black Dragon to be the first .
“It looks like even Old Nie might not be a match for this Black Dragon . ”
“Not necessarily… Old Nie could stand a chance if he could break through the fifth level . ”
Lu Fan was immersed in thought .
Leaning on the back of the wheelchair, he continued to watch .
Also, Lu Fan vaguely sensed that Yuwen Xiu was plotting something .
Outside of the capital city .
The Western Liang Army launched an attack following the Overlord’s domineering opening act .
The battle cry reverberated throughout the field . A sea of soldiers charged through the plain and pressed on toward the capital city .
It was a vivid demonstration of the strategy used to attack a city—which was used to lay siege on the Mohist City of Traps .
The gate of the capital city was much thicker and heavier than the stronghold .
The Overlord didn’t choose to break it himself .
Holding the scaling ladders, the Western Liang soldiers sprinted toward the city from a distance . They set up the ladders at the foot of the city wall and frantically climbed upward one by one .
The army of the Great Xuan was also busy .
While Western Liang was charging forward, Tantai Xuan also raised the knife high and pointed at the capital city .
The army of the Great Xuan rushed headlong as well .
Two crack troops jointly attacked the ancient capital city of the Great Zhou Dynasty .
Attacking the capital city was a much more strenuous battle than the attack on the stronghold .
After all, the Great Zhou would be on the verge of ruin if the capital city were seized .
The Black Dragon Guard ran back and forth on the gate tower to motivate every soldier of the Great Zhou to fight more vigorously .
Only death awaited them if they didn’t fight .
Thus, it was a relentless battle .
The Western Liang soldiers who climbed on the gate tower were met by dozens of soldiers of the Great Zhou and the Black Dragon Guard .
They were either stabbed or chopped into pieces as soon as they reached the top .
It was a seesaw between the attackers and the defenders that tested which side could hold longer in this fight . Both sides would suffer massive casualties… But the gap would broaden the moment one side showed a sign of weakness .
Different from the Western Liang Army, who chose to climb the gate tower…
The army of the Great Xuan decided to break the city gate .
Hundreds of soldiers of the Great Xuan lifted an enormous wooden trunk and hammered the ancient gate .
Dead bodies of soldiers from both Western Liang and the Great Zhou kept falling from the gate tower .
The battle lasted for quite some time .
Finally, Xu Chu sprinted to the gate tower, brandishing two giant iron balls . Several enemies were knocked down with one blow .
Then finally, there was a breach on the city gate .
The Western Liang Army rushed upward to the gate tower fiercely .
The wooden trunk of the Great Xuan also successfully broke the city gate that was held by the soldiers of the Great Zhou .
The soldiers who were holding the gate were thrown in the air by the impact .
Led by Jiang Li, the army of the Great Xuan rushed into the capital city .
Jiang Li rode his horse at the front, and in a short moment, blood splattered all over his silver armor .
He remembered how he escaped from the capital city before .
The severed heads of the two soldiers popped up in his mind .
And the will to fight started to boil in his heart .
Then the battle commenced .
It was the ultimate manifestation of savagery and brutality .
As he continued riding his horse, going deeper into the city, the sound of the battle started fading away . The snow kept falling from the sky and was dyed crimson as soon as it hit the ground .
Packed with soldiers of the Great Zhou, the long street of the capital city came into sight . The militia—drafted at the last moment—also brandished their weapons and joined in the melee .
“Please ne’er talk of leading your army to become a great Noble—Under the Victory General, ten thousand troops to death would stumble!” 
The ground of the long street was covered in snow yet not white, but blood red .
Tantai Xuan didn’t hide in the back . Riding his horse, he wielded his weapon and fought at the frontlines .
His eyes were bloodshot . Around 10,000 troops would fall to their death . Indeed, the throne was built upon countless dead bodies .
Inside the capital city .
A troop of armored horsemen was approaching .
There were only around 300 of them . Yet the terrifying sense of oppression made people’s hair stand on end .
“Xuanwu Guard, take your positions!” Jiang Li ordered .
The pressure made Jiang Li’s face twitch involuntarily .
The armored horsemen advanced forward like dark clouds, accompanied by the stench of blood and the wails of the ghosts of the wronged…
Disturbed, Jiang Li’s face became somber .
“It’s the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men at the front… Why do I feel different this time?”
Jiang Li took in a deep breath .
From their last encounter, he felt that the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men were somewhat different . They were even more devilish .
The sound of horses’ hooves galloping echoed around the field .
Wearing black dragon masks and black armor, the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men led three hundred Black Dragon Guards and charged toward the enemy .
It was the best defense of the capital city .
But it was also the last resort of the Great Zhou .
Raising the black spear in his hand, Liu Hao shouted in a hoarse voice, “Fight!”
“Wipe out the rebellion army and become a noble!”
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men and the Black Dragon Guard feverishly bolted forward at once .
The soldiers of the Great Zhou yielded a way to let the Black Dragon Guard pass by .
In front of the gate tower…
Jiang Li ordered the Xuanwu Guard to create a formation .
The formation made by cultivators was more powerful as the energy coalesced .
“Fight!” The Xuanwu Guard bellowed .
The Black Dragon Guard dashed toward the Xuanwu Guard like a black spear thrust into a shield!
“Lord, get back!”
Holding the silver spear, Jiang Li rode fast to protect the blood-covered Tantai Xuan .
Tantai Xuan wouldn’t end well if he were pulled into a fight of cultivators .
Tantai Xuan had good self-awareness . Back in the day, he might have yelled back, “I too can fight!”
However, Tantai Xuan was now well aware that he didn’t possess the ability .
Therefore, he took the advice and moved back .
The Xiang Family’s Army also got down from the gate tower . It became a battle of cultivators .
Wielding two giant iron balls, Xu Chu joined the Xuanwu Guard and fought away the Black Dragon Guard .
Liu Hao, head of the Black Dragon bodyguard, let out a deep roar . “Kill!”
Then, all the Black Dragon bodyguards on horseback unsheathed each of their black spears, which they carried on their backs .
They called the spear Dragon’s Thorn .
The energy exploded .
One by one…
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men unleashed tremendous energy .
And on their foreheads, the black dragon scales became visible .
The energy of the Internal Organs Realm spread on the long street of the capital city like shockwaves .
On the gate tower…
The Overlord was walking down from the tower and immediately narrowed his eyes .
How could he be not surprised when he suddenly sensed thirteen beams of the energy of the Internal Organs Realm?
He looked into the distance and saw the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men .
Led by the strong fighters of the Internal Organs Realm…
The line of defense of the Xuanwu Guard and the Xiang Family’s Army was breached in a flash .
Xu Chu roared in anger . Liu Hao’s spear pierced through his iron balls and severely injured his shoulder .
Internal Organs Realm…
When did the Great Zhou Dynasty have so many cultivators in the Internal Organs Realm?
The shock and bewilderment didn’t stop the Overlord . Brandishing his giant ax and shield, he strode toward them .
Jiang Li was also astounded .
All of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men were in the Internal Organs Realm?
It was far beyond his anticipation .
Even though it was an age of cultivators, the Internal Organs Realm was still an incredibly high level .
How could the Black Dragon bodyguards have thirteen all of a sudden?
How was that possible?
“Was it because of the Black Dragon?”
An idea popped in Jiang Li’s head . His eyes focused as he took in a deep breath .
Led by the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men…
The Black Dragon Guard fought ferociously against the Xuanwu Guard and the Xiang Family’s Army from an advantaged position .
The Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men didn’t keep moving forward since they sensed a menacing, terrifying force that restrained their bodies .
Holding the Dragon’s Thorn, Liu Hao turned his head to look into the distance . He saw the towering silhouette of the Overlord walking toward him through the snowstorm .
The Overlord of Western Liang .
Liu Hao’s eyes brightened up with excitement .
He held the Dragon’s Thorn, the weapon that represented the status as being part of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men .
Nonetheless, Liu Hao was cautious, so he sent one man, spurred by the energy from the black scale on his forehead, to charge at the Overlord!
“Internal Organs Realm?”
The Overlord started to run with the ax in his hand .
The Demonic Qi surrounded his body and the ax . With one stroke, the force of the ax almost cracked the ground open .
The Overlord certainly saw the black scales on the man’s forehead as well .
And he understood the source of the man’s strength .
“You’re only a fake . The strength that’s not yours can’t help you!” The Overlord shouted with rage .
The Black Dragon bodyguard collided with the Overlord .
The Overlord even seemed taller, blue veins bulging on his neck .
The ax in his hand clashed against the Dragon’s Thorn of the Black Dragon Guard .
Sparks flew in all directions .
The snow in the air was shattered into tiny pieces .
The tremendous force of the ax terrified the Black Dragon Guard .
The real cultivator of the Internal Organs Realm was much more powerful than those who entered by the aid of the black dragon!
The Black Dragon Guard howled . Black dragon scales covered and protected his body .
“Black Dragon scale?”
The Overlord’s hair was billowing in the wind . He suffered a great deal just to break through to the Internal Organs Realm . These people who resorted to trickery—how dare they attempt to pin him down?
“Who the f*ck are you?!” The Overlord yelled in disdain .
The Demonic Qi engulfed the ax .
And then it came down sharply on the Black Dragon guard .
All of a sudden… .
Despite the dragon scales on his body, the Black Dragon Guard was cut in half at the waist . The blood poured out on the snowfield .
Tantai Xuan exclaimed while watching the fight from afar . Jiang Li and other cultivators were also stupefied .
Who could compete with the valiant Overlord?!
Even the horses stopped neighing in that instant .
As the head of the Thirteen Black Dragon Armored Men, Liu Hao’s eyes contracted in fright .
Deep in the Imperial City…
The Black Dragon in the pond roared with anger when the Overlord had killed one of the guards . The water in the pond exploded .
With its sharp claws, the Black Dragon gripped the ground on the bank of the pond, crushing the bricks into pieces like tofu, as it slowly got out of the water . A thick, dark fog rolled through the imperial garden, and all the plants withered right away…
On the long street of the capital city…
Blood dripped from the Overlord’s ax .
With a pensive look, he raised his head and looked into the Imperial City .
Vaguely, he seemed to see a black dragon howling at him .
 From “Two Poems Written in the Year of Ji-Hai No . 1 (of 2)” by Cao Song (828–903) .