When the army that resembled dark clouds quietly stood tall atop the ninth stone platform, the commotion of heaven and earth gradually subsided as astonishment flashed in many people's gazes.
The aura that this army emanated was no weaker than the strongest army under the other eight Lords.
"That's the Nine Nether Troop of the Nine Nether Palace?"
"I didn't expect the Nine Nether Troop to have such a majestic aura. Didn't they say that the Nine Nether Troop was the weakest army in Daluo Territory? Doesn't seem like it at all, judging from this aura."
"Yes, seems like the rumors are not credible. Nine Nether Palace has always been low-key, but they have been silently training their capabilities and biding their time. It's said that the master of Nine Nether Palace, who had been missing many years, has returned, and I'm afraid Nine Nether Palace is going to rise soon."
"It's not going to be so easy. During the time Lord Nine Nether was in Daluo Territory, Nine Nether Palace also remained mediocre and was completely unable to match up to the other eight Lords. Even if Lord Nine Nether is back now, I'm afraid it's no simple feat to compete with the other eight Lords."
Many glanced at the unmoving army as murmurs spread in the crowd. Nine Nether Palace did not have a famed reputation in Daluo Territory, as Nine Nether in the past did not have a strong ability. When she became the Palace master, there was gossip and rumors about it, but due to the Condor King's support and the support from the Nine Netherbird Clan, no one commented openly. However, it was clear that they had their suspicions and doubts over Nine Nether's position.
Just as the crowds were focused on the Nine Nether Troop, their gazes landed on the slender young man with a calm expression standing right in front, prompting them to ask in curiosity, "Who is that young man?"
"He seems to be the new Commander of Nine Nether Palace named Mu Chen, and he was brought back by Lord Nine Nether."
"Such a young Commander? Hmph, this Lord Nine Nether still treats matters as if they were child's play. Does she think that anyone in this Daluo Territory can rise up in ranks?" Some couldn't resist scorning coldly, clearly envious that Mu Chen could become Commander in Daluo Territory at such a young age.
"Although this Mu Chen is young, it's said that he has advanced into the Sovereign-stage, and two months ago, a Commander under Lord Blood Hawk had challenged him to a duel but was defeated in one move."
"Haha, defeating Commander Zhao is nothing. Lord Nine Nether seems to want this Mu Chen to fight for a slot at the Golden Pool, and this would inevitably pit him in a fight against the four great Commanders. Although this Mu Chen does have some capability, he still lacks experience to match up to the four great Commanders."
"Mmhmm… Your words do make sense. Lord Nine Nether seems to be overly hasty this time. I'm afraid it will not only fail to bring honor, but they will only disgrace themselves…"
After the Nine Nether Troop appeared, three beams of light soared across as one landed atop the throne on the ninth stone platform, drawing many glances.
The graceful silhouette was slender and svelte. She wore black armor that accentuated her delicate curves, and she tied her hair up casually, presenting a valiant and heroic charm. The long pale legs under her armor attracted many heated gazes, and some people's mouths went dry upon seeing such a beauty before them. The beauty had a bodacious figure and cold but elegant features.
Not to mention, a brilliant lady who possessed such a high rank would arouse people's desire to conquer her.
This slender figure was of course, Nine Nether.
Her beautiful eyes swept the surroundings as she sat atop the throne with Tang Bing and Tang Rou on her left and right. They had the same facial features, but exhibited completely different demeanors, and their arrival became the center of attention.
"Haha, Nine Nether, your Nine Nether Palace has finally arrived. I thought you had forfeited your chance and in that case, that would be belittling the slot that you expended much effort to get." As Nine Nether appeared, a loud and boisterous laugh rang from a stone platform not far away. Lord Blood Hawk looked in Nine Nether's direction.
Upon hearing his words, she leveled a cold glance at Lord Blood Hawk and stated nonchalantly, "I won't trouble Lord Blood Hawk to show concern regarding the matters of my Nine Nether Palace."
Lord Blood Hawk smiled as his palm rubbed the armrest of his throne. A chilling and sinister glint flashed in his crimson eyes.
Anyone could clearly feel the tense atmosphere between Nine Nether and Lord Blood Hawk, and all the other Lords looked on coldly from the sidelines with no intention of meddling.
Within the Daluo Territory, the ranks of the Nine Lords were not low, and with the exception of Nine Nether Palace in the past, their capabilities were on par with each other, thus no one was willing to bow down to another. They had also crossed swords to fight over profits and resources, thus they were no stranger to such battles, and were clearly not foolish enough to get embroiled within such conflicts unless they would be impacted directly. After all, Nine Nether was no longer like her past self, as her capabilities could now intimidate the other Lords.
Mu Chen stood silently in front of the Nine Nether Troop. His calm gaze swept towards the direction of Blood Hawk Palace. Atop the vast stone platform was an army clad in blood red armor. A malicious aura surrounded this army, and they were clearly a ferocious army adept in battle. This Lord Blood Hawk was domineering, and he had many strong men under his command.
Behind Mu Chen, Qiu Shan murmured quietly, his tone filled with resentment, "Commander Mu, this is the Blood Hawk Troop of Blood Hawk Palace. It is commanded by both Wu Tian and Cao Feng. The cities belonging to Nine Nether Palace were wiped out by them, and many of these cities were forced to change their allegiance to Blood Hawk Palace.
"Cao Feng is a lowly animal. If it weren't for our Lord Nine Nether, he would have been reduced to a dead dog, but now he's actually helping others to fight against Nine Nether Palace. That piece of s***. If there were a chance, the Nine Nether Troop would not let him off!" Qiu Shan gnashed his teeth, clearly enraged at Cao Feng's betrayal.
Mu Chen nodded slightly, his expression calm. He was about to speak when he felt two cold glances cast towards him. He lifted his head and saw Wu Tian and Cao Feng, who were standing in front of the Blood Hawk Troop staring at him.
The three men made eye contact. A cruel smirk pulled at the corners of Wu Tian's mouth, while Cao Feng's gaze remained cold, enmity apparent in his hostility.
In the past when he had been in Nine Nether Palace, the Nine Nether Troop had been in his control, and Mu Chen's position was exactly the same as his previously. Clearly, Nine Nether intended to replace him with Mu Chen.
Although he had betrayed Nine Nether Palace and left, Cao Feng still felt uneasy. If Mu Chen had done a more capable job than Cao Feng, wouldn't others say that he was inferior to Mu Chen?
As someone who was also brought into Daluo Territory by Nine Nether, this was something that a petty person like Cao Feng could not take lying down. His personality was clearly one capable of letting others down, but he would not allow others to let him down.
Cao Feng turned his head as he whispered to Wu Tian, "If there's an opportunity, I will try my best not to let him leave the Peak of the Golden Pool."
"Haha, looks like you do dislike this fellow a lot." Wu Tian smiled as he patted Cao Feng's shoulder saying, "There are bound to be casualties in the battle of the Golden Pool. It doesn't matter how heavy the blows dealt are. However, our main goal is to reach the peak. As for this fellow, our Lord has ordered people to deal with him specifically, so I believe he won't even get the chance to see the Golden Pool."
Upon hearing this, Cao Feng smiled regretfully as he thought, Oh well, this is for the best. If this fellow doesn't even get the chance to see the Golden Pool, that would just highlight his incompetence, and Nine Nether Palace will become a laughing stock.
As Cao Feng and Wu Tian appraised Mu Chen with malicious intention, Qiu Shan warned Mu Chen in low tones, "Commander Mu, in the battle of the Golden Pool, you have to be wary of these two fellows."
Mu Chen nodded slightly. He could clearly see Wu Tian and Cao Feng's gaze, as if they were cats toying with a mouse. However… he smirked. It was hard to say exactly who was the mouse in this equation.
A fragrance suddenly materialized as Tang Bing walked slowly towards Mu Chen, her beautiful eyes surveying the surroundings. She then smiled at Mu Chen, and her charming smile drew many heated gazes.
"What can I do for you, oh Palace Keeper Tang?" Mu Chen smiled teasingly.
Tang Bing rolled her eyes at Mu Chen as she replied, "Sister Nine Nether wants me to tell you that close to one hundred people will be joining the battle of the Golden Pool, and they are no weaklings."
"Why are there so many participants?" Mu Chen asked in surprise. Didn't they say that slots were limited?
"In this battle of the Golden Pool, the three majesties decided to increase the number of slots, thus the participants are no longer limited to the men under the Nine Lords, but also now include other subordinate forces in Daluo Territory."
At this point, Tang Bing looked towards the direction of Blood Hawk Palace. Worry was apparent in her eyes as she continued, "This is not good news for you. As far as I know, among these subordinate forces, some are on good terms with Blood Hawk Palace, and they might stop you from getting near the Golden Pool in order to please Blood Hawk Palace."
Mu Chen's brows knitted together. After all, he was on his own, and just dealing with Wu Tian and Cao Feng would expend much of his effort. If more people were out to make trouble for him, then it could spell disaster.
This Blood Hawk Palace was indeed detestable.
Tang Bing saw Mu Chen's frown and bit her lips slightly. She glanced at the stone platform a distance away as she gritted her teeth and turned.
"Sister Tang Bing, what are you doing?" Mu Chen looked at her in bewilderment.
"I…" Tang Bing blushed as she said softly, "I'm going to look for Zhou Yue and ask him to lend a hand to help you get rid of those pesky obstacles so that you can conserve some energy."
Although she did not harbor any feelings towards Zhou Yue, she could seek his help at these times.
Mu Chen was stunned. He glanced at Tang Bing before retracting his gaze. He said coldly, "I wouldn't want to trouble Miss Tang Bing."
Tang Bing's expression changed as she bit her lips and stared at Mu Chen, clearly sensing the coldness in his tone. Ever since they had known each other, it was the first time she saw Mu Chen's hostile side. Her eyes welled up with hints of tears, moving those who saw her.
"Ahem, Commander Mu, Sister Tang didn't mean anything. She just wanted Nine Nether Palace to perform well this time to avoid disgracing Lord Nine Nether," Qiu Shan hastily commented. He was a lot older than Tang Bing, but he respected her very much.
Upon saying this, he then turned to Tang Bing whose eyes were slightly red with tears.
"Sister Tang, if you had really approached Zhou Yue, not only does it not reflect well on Nine Nether Palace, but others might say that Commander Mu had to rely on a lady to persuade others to help in a mere battle of the Golden Pool… Although we are aware of Commander Mu's ability, tongues might wag, and gossip is a fearful thing."
Tang Bing's eyes were red with tears. Her usually strong character refused to show a weak side even now as she stared at Mu Chen.
"I am not belittling you. I heard that Lord Blood Hawk has engaged four First Grade Sovereigns to form an alliance to deal with you, coupled with Wu Tian and Cao Feng. No matter how strong you are, do you think you can escape unscathed?"
Mu Chen's eyes narrowed as he glanced Tang Bing. Here eyes were still red with tears, but she was wearing a stubborn expression. His heart softened, and his cold expression became gentler as he said softly, "Sister Tang Bing, rest assured, if they really are out to get me, even if I can't leave the Peak of the Golden Pool, I will make sure all of them stay to accompany me."
The young man's voice was calm and soothing, but underneath was a palpable ferocity and a confidence that could not be concealed. He was not conceited, but it was not mere bravado, either.
Tang Bing gazed at Mu Chen. The young man's calm tone made her lose her courage to retort, hence she could only bite her red lips as if being bullied.
Thus, Mu Chen quickly felt hostile glares directed towards him, even among the Nine Nether Troop. This showed that Tang Bing was more well-loved in the hearts of the Nine Nether Troop and was far more important compared to him as their Commander.
In the face of increasingly hostile glares, Mu Chen coughed sheepishly as he murmured, "Sister Tang Bing, don't be like this. Rest assured, I have strong bones. It's not that easy for people to beat me to death."
Tang Bing finally smiled as she glared teasingly at Mu Chen saying, "I don't care if you get beaten to death. It's me being meddlesome and asking for trouble. I deserve to get scolded."
She couldn't help but to have slight resentment in her tone, as it was the first time in years someone had spoken to her in such a cold tone.
Tang Bing turned to leave after saying her piece.
"Sister Tang Bing, rest assured, as long as I'm here, no one can disgrace Nine Nether Palace." Mu Chen smiled.
Tang Bing paused in her tracks as she harrumphed softly, "Prove it with your performance. If not, don't even think about getting a drop of Sovereign Spiritual Liquid from me."
"Yes, I will follow the orders of the honorable Palace Keeper." Mu Chen smiled and clasped his fists.
Tang Bing pursed her lips, ignoring Mu Chen as she returned with quick steps.
Mu Chen turned as he stared at the stone platform where Blood Hawk Palace was. A chilling glint flashed in his dark eyes.
Since you want to play, I'll have fun playing with you then.