“Are you sure you still want to take this challenge?”
Lu Fan’s words made Nie Changqing zone out a little .
At this moment, he was thinking about a lot—about Nie Shuang and about his wife Ru’er .
If he really stepped into the forbidden area and could not make it back…how sad would Nie Shuang and Ru’er be?
If he really died in the forbidden area, just how much despair would Nie Shuang and Ru’er be in?
Hesitation sets in a person’s heart the moment they grow attached to something, and it is even possible to say that they would become so weak that they lose the courage to go forth without looking back .
Nie Changqing stayed silent for quite some time .
Lu Fan made no move to rush him either .
In all honesty, this decision was one that only Nie Changqing could make .
The three forbidden areas might have been a result of Lu Fan’s actions, but he would never force anyone to enter those areas .
Because of this, he had never once forced anyone to enter the areas ever since their creation .
Because not one, not even Lu Fan, could tell whether they would die in there .
Lu Fan was not too sure what came after the forbidden area, because he had never been there .
Even his Spiritual Sense was not enough to overcome the walls of the forbidden area .
As such, only Nie Changqing could decide if he wanted to enter the forbidden area .
The peach blossoms on the island swayed . They were in bloom, beautiful and tender .
The Heaven Facing Spiritual Chrysanthemums welcomed the breeze, swaying in it .
Lu Fan leaned back in the Thousand Blades Chair, looking placidly at Nie Changqing .
Nie Changqing’s white shirt billowed in the wind . The Dragon Slaying Knife was strapped to his waist, and he rested a palm onto its handle, gently caressing it .
There was a war waging within his heart .
His eyes regained a look of unwavering determination .
He lifted his head and looked to Lu Fan .
“Young Master…I’ve decided,” Nie Changqing said .
Lu Fan raised an eyebrow .
“As of now, the Heaven and Earth is undergoing tremendous change and it’s regained the glory of the era of cultivators from the past, but it has also brought along with it an enormous danger… If the Alien Evil Spirits come killing again, the Young Master is the only one out of all my fellow cultivators who can resist them . Isn’t that just too cruel?”
“And so…I want to become stronger . It might be painful in the short run, but I’ll be able to make this world a safe space for Shuang’er and Ru’er as long as I don’t die,” Nie Changqing said, austere and somber .
His tone brooked no argument as if the tumult in his heart had cleared up .
Lu Fan smiled .
He stroked his hand gently and said, “Go on, then . Live . ”
Nie Changqing took a step back when he heard this . He lifted his long robe as he fell into a deep bow .
He kowtowed solemnly to Lu Fan .
Nie Changqing turned around, his clothes billowing in the wind . With his Dragon Slaying Knife in his grip, he stepped onto the lake .
Onto Beiluo Lake, which was enshrouded in a dense, thick fog, far away from Lu Fan’s sight .
He left the lake island .
Nie Changqing heaved a long sigh . He reached Beiluo West Mountain .
Nie Shuang was still loitering in the Trial Pagoda .
He did not wait for Nie Shuang to leave the pagoda . Instead, he left a message with Lv Dongxuan to be relayed to Nie Shuang .
“Are you really going?”
Lv Dongxuan gripped the giant gold chain hanging from his neck, his expression betraying the conflict he felt .
The forbidden area…
It was an area that could draw out the grim side of the Young Master and was definitely dangerous beyond compare . The moment Nie Changqing stepped into the area, walking out of it alive would be another question .
“Someone would have to take this first step… Besides, as the only Heavenly Lock in the world, who would enter the forbidden area if not me?” Nie Changqing laughed .
In the far distance…
Gongshu Yu walked over . He had heard that Nie Changqing was going to wander the forbidden area .
He retrieved a metal ball and handed it over to Nie Changqing .
“Hey, Nie . Nobody knows just how dangerous the forbidden area is, but…you have to work hard to stay alive . What I just handed to you is the Pear Blossom in the Storm that I’ve modified . You can keep it, and I hope it’ll serve as a protection of sorts for when you enter the forbidden area,” Gongshu Yu said .
He was small in stature and a little hunchbacked, but his eyes were sharp beyond compare .
“My deepest gratitude, Senior Gongshu . ”
Nie Changqing hurried to receive the Pear Blossom in the Storm . This was the most powerful hidden weapon the Jiguan School had .
Before, when the philosophers from the Hundred Schools of Philosophy had challenged the Young Master, the Pear Blossom in the Storm had been magnificent and stunning, its beauty shocking everybody .
A hidden weapon crafted from the essence of Jiguan School philosophers—this was incomparable .
Of course, Gongshu Yu had obtained the Tool Refining Manual as of now, and crafting the Pear Blossom in the Storm was no longer as taxing as it had been .
And he no longer needed to spend all of his time crafting it, either .
“This is the Pear Blossom in the Storm, the hidden weapon, after it’s been modified . Although it’s only an Earth Level Mid Grade Spirit Tool, in terms of offensive strength…it’s no lesser than an Earth Level High Grade item . ” Gongshu Yu chuckled, something about his tone betraying his pride .
Nie Changqing pocketed the metal ball like it was something precious and then thanked the other man with a fist and palm salute .
Nie Changqing turned to leave the Trial Pagoda .
He returned home . Because she had lost her Spirit Intellect, he had his attendants take care of his wife Ru’er . Nie Changqing stayed by his wife’s side, walking about in the garden and chatting quite a bit .
When night fell…
Nie Changqing, dressed in his white robe, strapped his Dragon Slaying Knife on and headed out of the city .
Luo Yue, who had been guarding the city gates, nodded his head in acknowledgment when he saw Nie Changqing .
Without talking too much, Luo Yue had one of the guards open the city gates . The city gates opened with a low rumble, and white snow flew off with the force of the movement .
From atop the lofty mountain, Nie Changqing headed out on his own .
Tianhan Gate .
An awful feeling filled the air .
From above in the gate tower, the elite troops of the Great Xuan State all drew their longbows .
A Xuanwu Guard stood up in the gate tower, his gaze fixed on the large enemy troops ahead of him .
“I’ve already notified the Lord . Reinforcements will arrive shortly…” a Xuanwu Guard said to his leader .
The leader, who was a Ninth Stage Qi Core Xuan Wu guard, nodded slightly in acknowledgment .
“No matter where the large army below the city comes from—whether they’re Xirong or Guifang—he who opposes the Great Xuan State shall perish!” The Xuanwu Guard leader roared .
Up in the gate tower, there was the sound of armors clinking . The soldiers of the Great Xuan State let out explosive roars .
The densely packed army crossed the boundless desert to reach them .
This was an overwhelmingly powerful army . They were decked in armor and held in their grips elliptical shields and long blades, as well as a longbow and arrow spear . Standing in formation, they stood with their backs straight as they made their way forward .
Like a stormy cloud, they brought on some kind of oppressiveness with them .
Some of the older generals at Tianhan Gate gave the army a quick glance, and they could more or less tell how many enemies they were dealing with—it was in the range of 40,000 to 50,000 .
This was a large army .
On top of that, this sort of formation and equipment had never been seen before .
Beneath the gate tower .
From amidst the gargantuan phalanx…
There were several excited and passionate soldiers from the foreign tribe standing in the barracks .
They had never expected that such a prosperous land existed in the east, as long as they crossed the vast desert . Behind the ancient and mottled castle walls lay yet another wealthy kingdom .
It was like the Golden Tower Kingdom that they had once conquered .
They were an army of conquerors, and their king was one as well .
They loved conquering powerful countries, one after the other .
Someone called out gently, “My King!”
A middle-aged man who was neither too tall nor too short stepped out of the barracks, dressed in his linen armor .
He took off the copper helmet . The middle-aged man had a head of curly hair, and he sat in a high position .
He pointed toward the lofty Tianhan Gate . The desire and excitement of challenging and then conquering another kingdom were written all over his face .
“We have once conquered the Golden Tower Kingdom in the far west, an ancient civilization that we pressured for several days beneath their city . Their king surrendered without fighting after those few days and offered up their land and wealth with a salute…”
“Today, our soldiers have crossed the desert to reach the land in the far east, and we’ve found yet another ancient civilization!”
“One with boundless lands and wealth that awaits us . Now, what should we do?” The middle-aged man asked .
Beneath the tent…
The generals had a crazed look on their faces . They unsheathed the knives strapped to their waists and roared out .
“An ancient civilization means it’s rotten and backward . How could it possibly be a match for our troops of the Madun Kingdom?”
“After we attack the city, Madun Kingdom will conquer the entire world, and its territory will span from the west to the east!”
“Our King Yali will become the master of the whole world, the leader of this world!”
From within the barracks, the shouting rang out incessantly .
The middle-aged man seated high above the rest broke into a smile .
He looked toward the tall and lofty Tianhan Gate, passion and bloodlust swirling in his eyes .
He had an incomparable desire to conquer .
Those tall city walls that seemed so threatening and mighty inspired within him the desire to conquer!
“Storm the city!” King Yali unsheathed the longsword on his waist and bellowed .
His roar pierced through the clouds and shattered their layers .
The powerful city separated by the vast desert had lifted off the mysterious veil covering it to reveal itself to the Madun Kingdom . What they had…was the desire to conquer!
Beneath Tianhan Gate .
The war cries rang out .
This large army had instantly started their attack . The foot soldiers were covered in armor and held four-meter-long spears as they led the charge .
They kicked up a storm of sand that filled the air .
“See if there are any cultivators in this huge army . ”
The Xuanwu Guard up in the Tianhan Gate tower squinted and then raised his hand to signal for the soldiers to fire the arrows .
In an instant, an innumerable amount of arrows crossed the vast sky and struck down onto the black mass .
This was indeed an elite army . They had raised the shields in their hands to deflect the arrows .
Although there were some casualties, the wounds seemed to have spurred them on even more, if anything .
King Yali, with his copper helmet and linen armor, stood in the golden chariot and waved his sword . It seemed like he had given the signal to charge .
The horses trampled forward . Under the force of the cavalry and the foot soldiers, the ground shook as the army made their way toward Tianhan Gate .
Lu Fan, who had been playing chess leisurely, suddenly raised an eyebrow .
His line of sight wavered, and he caught sight of the war that had broken out outside of Tianhan Gate .
Those densely packed soldiers that had been charging forward in their formation made Lu Fan feel rather strange .
Now, Lu Fan was very much aware that the Wuhuang Continent consisted of more than just the Great Zhou Dynasty . The Great Zhou Dynasty was situated in the east . In the west was a vast, boundless desert, one that was inhabited entirely, but past that desert was an expansive land .
This army had come from that land .
Nie Changqing and Li Sansi had driven the Xirong soldiers into that desert .
The desire to live had driven the people from the various tribes of Xirong to cross the desert and reach that expansive land, which alerted the natives over there that there had been a glorious and illustrious civilization on the other side of the desert . And so, they dispatched a huge army to engage in war .
That land was occupied by a powerful dynasty, named Madun Dynasty, and ruled by King Yali .
This was a country filled with the desire to conquer .
Lu Fan had nothing more than a basic understanding of them, and he did not want to know too much about them either .
Because he had not invested too much Spirit Qi into that vast domain, and the changes of the Heaven and Earth had not affected that country too much .
This was because the Great Zhou Dynasty was the center of it, and so the transformations within the Great Zhou Dynasty had been the earliest . Perhaps these changes would slowly affect the neighboring countries, but that would require a long time .
What Lu Fan had not expected was for this country to have actually crossed the desert to reach Tianhan Gate .
Lu Fan shook his head with a smile .
Was it a bad thing to stay where they were?
If it had been the North County of before, then perhaps this army would have been able to score a draw .
But now, after the recovery of Spirit Qi, there had been an explosive increase in the number of cultivators in Great Xuan State…
And they could easily vanquish this terrifying army .
The gap between a mortal and a cultivator was a chasm impossible to cross .
And not everyone was as powerful as the Master .
As such, Lu Fan only laughed and continued setting up his chessboard .
Tianhan Gate had been protecting the North County frontiers for centuries, and it was a gate filled with an extensive history .
Although the large army of Madun Dynasty was extremely experienced in war, they would really suffer once they reached Tianhan Gate .
In fact, they had not reaped any benefit from the first round of battles .
This was to the extent that they had lost hundreds of soldiers .
No matter how Madun Dynasty fought, Tianhan Gate was an unmovable force . As long as the other side tried to storm the city, they would be greeted with a rain of arrows .
The large army of Madun Dynasty was about 50,000 strong, while the Tianhan Gate garrison was barely 10,000 people strong . The difference in numbers had made the Xuanwu Guards of Tianhan Gate choose to guard the city .
More importantly, the Xuanwu Guards were also worried that there would be cultivators within the large army .
The attack continued for several days .
Within Tianhan Gate, the sound of cavalry finally rang out .
Tantai Xuan was decked in his armor, and his red cape floated in the wind . He led a group of Xuanwu Guards, as well as a large army, and he charged toward Tianhan Gate .
Upon receiving news that the Lord of Beixuan was making his way over, the garrison of Tianhan Gate was suddenly filled with courage, and they let out loud cheers .
Tantai Xuan was somber .
They had definitely wiped out the Xirong troops, so why was there another army appearing now, one much, much bigger than the Xirong army?
“I suspect that this army has crossed the large desert to come here . They’re probably the large army from the west of the desert,” an old general said to Tantai Xuan with his hands together in a fist and palm salute .
Someone suggested to sit down and discuss with this army . After all, no one could be sure what the situation in the west was like .
“No matter where they’re from…those who oppose the Great Xuan shall perish!” Tantai Xuan cursed, his eyes alit with fury .
The other side was already up in arms—to hell with talking!
Tantai Xuan personally went up to the gate tower . Standing high up above the city, he looked down on at the densely packed Madun Dynasty army .
Tantai Xuan could not help but squint at their neat and orderly formation .
This formation reminded him of Jiang Li .
In terms of commanding troops, no one else could compare to Jiang Li .
It was a pity that Jiang Li had retired .
“Compared to Xirong, this army is much more elite… But they’re all from foreign tribes! The outsiders will never be on our side!”
Tantai Xuan slammed a hand down onto the parapet .
“Xue Tao!” Tantai Xuan bellowed .
“Here!” a Xuanwu Guard leader responded with a fist and palm salute . He was dressed in armor, and he took quick steps over .
“Take 800 Xuanwu Guard cavalry with you and lead the charge, and test the waters with the enemy…”
“No, forget it . When it comes to dealing with the unknown, we have to treat the other side with the utmost respect . Take another 200 with you—that makes a thousand… Is it enough?!” Tantai Xuan asked .
Xue Tao was a Xuanwu Guard commander under Tantai Xuan, a cultivator at the peak of Qi Core realm .
Upon hearing Tantai Xuan’s words, Xue Tao’s eyes lit up .
“Scare them all!” Tantai Xuan said .
“Understood . ”
Xue Tao had his hands in a fist and palm salute, and he turned to head down the gate tower .
A thousand Xuanwu Guards all charged forth, sitting astride their horses .
In the gate tower, Tantai Xuan’s red cape blew in the wind . His eyes were blown wide with fury as he fixed his gaze ahead of him .
The numerous generals squinted as well .
The gates to Tianhan Gate slowly opened .
After the Madun Dynasty scout caught wind of this news, he instantly ran back at full speed to the tent and reported this information .
King Yali was extremely gleeful .
The opponent behaving like cowards had given him quite the headache, and he did not expect them to have dared to open the gates and face the battle!
King Yali personally led the army and shaped their formation . With his long spear tipped forward to look like the claw of a ferocious beast, he got ready to welcome the fight .
The ancient and mottled city gates opened .
King Yali stood in his golden chariot, his gaze fixed upon those gates from under his copper helmet…
Only to see, in the middle of the gates, sand being kicked up everywhere .
A thousand cavalry was kicking up a storm as they ran out, and then the gates closed hastily…
King Yali was stunned .
The Madun Dynasty army was stunned as well…
They had originally thought the other would mobilize a large army, but in the end…when the gates opened, only a thousand people had been sent out .
1,000 against 50,000…
This ancient country, were they really this confident?
Xue Tao sat on his horse, four metal spears hanging off his back, his eyes icy cold .
Ever since he was young, he had been fighting on horseback . He had been involved in the war against Xirong; his father had died in battle, as had his brother .
He truly hated the foreign tribes with every fiber of his being .
On the other side, the 50,000 cavalry was extremely serious, and they gave off an oppressive aura .
Xue Tao was not the least bit terrified .
He raised a hand, and the 1,000 Xuanwu Guards astride their horses all looked excited .
With just one command of his…
A thousand Xuanwu Guards spurred their horses . The horses whinnied and then galloped forth and kicked up a flurry of sand, charging toward the enemy troops!
The Madun Army .
The numerous generals all broke out laughing . They truly had not expected for this ancient country to have sent a thousand soldiers to their death .
Their Madun Dynasty army was known for winning even with just a handful of soldiers . Everywhere their troops went, no one could defeat them in battle .
A Madun Dynasty general viciously drew his sword and shouted the command to charge .
The Madun army stepped out, and the ground shook as they drew closer to the thousand Xuanwu Guards .
All of a sudden!
Xue Tao, who had been at the front of this charge, suddenly triggered a burst of Spirit Qi from his Qi core .
Almost immediately after, the Xuanwu Guards behind him all triggered their own burst of Spirit Qi from their Qi cores .
The Spirit Qi turned into Spirit Pressure, instantly weighing down on the Madun Dynasty…
The army had been a thousand soldiers strong .
But they seemed to have the terrifying aura of tens of thousands of soldiers!