Yan Bei war spirit! The excitement of the soldiers had been completely aroused. They jumped onto their horses and charged into enemy troops many times their number. A bloody street-by-street fighting ensued. The soldiers of Southwest Emissary's forces, who used to be rumored as weak and cowardly, became embodiments of lions, roaring in the streets, stabbing their weapons into the enemies.
"Master," Xirui and Biancang from the Da Tong association walked up the tower and grimly asked, "Southwest Emissary's Garrison have already made an opening in the enemies. 12th, 19th, and 36th Division received severe casualties from their assault. Shall we make our retreat now?"
"No, this is still not enough."
Xirui and Biancang looked at each other with a tinge of anxiousness. According to the plan, this should be the moment of retreat. Was the master so blinded by revenge that he became so fixated?
"The elites of the empires are still alive and well."
"Elites?" Biancang questioned. "I do not understand. The Cavalry Camp and the Green camp lost their commanders, and Southwest Emissary's forces have turned to our side. 12th, 19th, and 36th Division have suffered severe casualties. It is our victory."
"So what if there are no more officers among their ranks? The Xia Empire still have those soldiers who can be easily deployed."
"What does Your Highness mean?"
Yan Xun raised his eyebrows, and his eyes were completely devoid of any sympathy. He stood aloof on the tower. On his black robe he overlaid a white cape with an eagle embroidery that fluttered in the wind.
"If we do not uproot their forces entirely, they can easily remobilize. Order all the warriors of Da Tong to follow me to Shang Wu Hall, where the empire nurtures future military leaders. I want the Xia Royal family to have no capable generals to summon, no competent marshals to field for many years to come!" Yan Xun said.
Xirui and Biancang were stunned for a moment as they stared at the young man. The insatiable murderous aura exuded by this man who was usually peaceful and calm; the intense bloodlust was like overwhelming flood water, engulfing the entirety of the royal capital.
The massacre was only beginning now. The beginning of the decimation of Zhen Huang City had been activated by this man. The blade of destruction streaked across the pitch dark night sky, and the maddening cries of anguish resonated amidst the capital. History may forget Zhao Zhengde, but there would definitely be an unforgettable mark left by Yan Xun. On the 20th of May, Yan Xun rebelled and ordered the massacre of 3000 officer trainees in Shang Wu Hall. The majority of the empire's elite perished in that one battle!
Under the illumination of flame torches, all of Shang Wu Hall was dead quiet due to the lack of orders and leaders. The elites of the empires were wise and retreated to avoid the spearhead of the initial rebellion. No guards were sent out to maintain order, and for that reason they were still in full strength.
And yet, at midnight, the exterior suddenly was turned into a blazing inferno, and tragic screams came from outside. There were trainees who attempted to charge out of the school, but what they faced was a neat formation of Da Tong warriors waiting for their demise. In barrage after barrage of arrows, no one managed to escape. Through the dense crowds, one could see the ex-Prince of Yan Bei who used to always be in an inconspicuous corner of the capital. But now that same man's upright figure looked like the silhouette of a reaper, and these trapped officers shouted in fear, "It is Yan Xun! The traitor has come!"
Shouting in disorder, these 3000 elite soldiers had fallen into chaos before even engaging. Xirui taunted them, but he was ignored. By the third time, Yan Xun calmly instructed Xirui, "They have lost their will to fight. We can avoid close quarter confrontation and just burn the place down. You lot shall guard here and block the escape of those animals."
"Yan Xun, you coward! If you have the balls, come and fight me alone!" Wei Shuhan, the young general from the Wei faction, shouted at the top of his lungs and brandished his blade. But before he could even take one step forward, an arrow pierced his neck. His eyes still glaring with bitterness. He dropped dead among the wreckage of the inferno.
Yan Xun had not even spared him a single glance as he flipped himself onto his horse and ordered, "Head to Cavalry Camp now!"
That night, the Southwest Emissary's forces defected, and the capital guard forces had mostly died in the chaos. 12th, 19th, and 36th Division fought the whole night with Southwest Town Emissary's forces, and both side suffered heavy losses. Immediately, using a string of similar methods, Yan Xun was able to annihilate the military forces from Shang Wu Hall, West Wing of Cavalry Camp, and the entirety of 7th and 9th Army. In the end, there were ultimately too many enemies, so Yan Xun ordered that the war stables be opened, and with barrages of arrows, he forced the remaining 2000 officers and soldiers of the 16th Camp to Xi Wei Square. Forcing the war horses to charge, the stampede claimed the lives of over 1800 lives, leaving the remaining injured and crippled, moaning in pain on the battlefield.
Biancang suggested to complete the act, but Yan Xun shook his head and said, "Let us leave all the crippled to Zhao Zhengde to settle."
At 2am, the sky sunk even deeper into the pitch darkness, and the entire royal capital was in ruins. There were few left alive in the camps, and the last team returned from Fuyi Yamen, reporting that the officials from Fuyi Yamen had already escaped. After slaughtering some hundred soldiers, they returned.
At this instant, apart from the 3000 guards under Song Que, and the three divisions that were currently locked in combat with Southwest Town Emissary's Garrison, there was no more military strength.
"Master, shall we inform Southwest Emissary's soldiers to back out? It is time for us to leave."
"Yep, it is indeed time to leave." Yan Xun slowly nodded while looking at the charred land that was left of the royal capital.
"If that is the case, I will proceed to transmit the order to them"
"Stop right there." Yan Xun glanced at Xirui and asked, "Since when did I mention we were bringing the Southwest Emissary's forces along?"
Xirui was stunned and questioned, "Master?"
Yan Xun turned around, and continued to speak matter-of-factly, "Southwest Emissary's Garrison sacrificed themselves and volunteered to stay behind to block off the advancement of the fierce enemies in order to preserve the strength of Yan Bei. They are loyal and faithful, and should be the model of all soldiers!"
Xirui knit his eyebrows together, and walked up, "But, general..." Before he finished his sentence, Biancang held him back and covered his mouth.
"General Xirui, please do not doubt the loyalty of the Southwest Emissary's Garrison. They stayed undercover in the capital for many years, only waiting for this opportunity to strike back at the empire." Yan Xun's gaze remained steady. The coldness in his tone was anything but tactful, like an arrow pierced deeply into the crowd's heart.
Biancang immediately followed up, "Yes, Master, indeed! They are honorable in sacrificing themselves for our country, and we will forever remember them as the exemplar of soldiers!" His hand tightly held Xirui's clothes, fearing that this comrade would utter more words that could irk Yan Xun. Seeing Yan Xun's merciless slaughter just prior, he had no doubt that this seemingly peaceful man would order their execution with just a gesture of his hands.
"Alright, all forces are to retreat from the North Gate. Upon exiting, seal the gate!"
The majestic war horses bolted out, and the gates slammed shut. At that very instance, it was as if the heaven and earth turned dark, and the soldiers of Southwest Emissary's Garrison who were locked in combat with the 12th, 19th, and 36th Division were completely at a lost, utterly stunned.
After a long pause, desperate voice reverberated, "Your Highness! There is still us! We are still here!"
"We have been abandoned! We were betrayed!"
The seeds of fear blossomed within their hearts, and their formations that were hanging by string completely descended into utter chaos. The soldiers dashed out of their positions, and scattered around, shrieking miserably in fear.
"How? What to do? We've been abandoned!"
19th Division Commander Fang Baiyu instantly took advantage of this opportunity to rally his men. Wiping away a streak of blood on his face, he shouted, "Brothers! Follow me! Kill them!"
"Royal troops are here! Our reinforcements are here!" the soldiers of 19th Division shouted at once.
With sharp brows and a firm gaze, the man leading the reinforcements wore white armor, and held a pale green blade. Riding majestically, he seemed like embodiment of victory, clearing a path stained with the blood of enemy generals.
"It is the 7th Prince! His reinforcements came!"
Following arrival of the troops lead by Zhao Che, Zhao Yang readied himself, only to have his reins tightly held by Zhao Xiang. Zhao Xiang cautioned, "14th Brother, the capital is in such chaos right now. Father did not send you out, why would you poke your nose into this mess?"
Zhao Yang frowned and tightened his grip on his sword. Looking at his younger brother, he firmly said, "17th Brother, do you want to forever stay on the ground and look at others? Or do you want to stand tall and proud by your own power? If you want the latter, follow me out now."
Zhao Xiang's face turned flushed red, and jumped onto his horse without hesitation. Pulling out his blade, he loudly declared, "14th Brother, no matter where you go, this younger brother will always follow you!"
Zhao Yang nodded with approval, and stared at the imposing city gates from which sounds of fighting and death resounded from the other side of. The young prince brandished his blades, and steeled his gaze.
Bring along his personal royal guards, this troop consisting of barely a hundred men struck into the heart of Southwest Emissary's troops, like a hot knife slicing through butter. A rain of blood ensued, marking the rise of a new star of the empire amidst the slaughter.
Chu Qiao arrived at the waterside of the Chi Shui, AhJing was already in waiting. The opposite bank had thousands of war horses in waiting for the retreat. Upon seeing Chu Qiao arriving here alone, no one was surprised, and immediately acted to bring her across the river. Chu Qiao dismounted from the horse, and greeted AhJing and the others. Chu Qiao frowned and grimly asked, "AhJing, there is only one floating bridge. Southwest Emissary's forces consists of over ten thousand soldiers. Can we complete the river crossing by day?"
AhJing smiled and nodded. "These are the instructions from the prince, so it should be accurate. Shall I send you across first?"
Chu Qiao stood still, and a scary foremonition suddenly dawned upon her, and her face suddenly turned pale, showing a sign of panic. AhJing asked, "Lady, what is wrong?"
Chu Qiao quickly concealed that flicker of worry and smiled. "Nope, it is nothing. You can bring them over first. I will wait for Yan Xun."
AhJing frowned. "But his highness instructed…. "
"You need not waste more words. Hurry up and cross the river."
AhJing naturally knew the feelings that Chu Qiao and Yan Xun had for each other, and it was something that he could not interfere with. He nodded and did not insist any further.
One hour later, intense clashing of blades resounded from the south-eastern direction. It was even more intense than the previous skirmishes encountered in the capital. Chu Qiao's heart trembled. She mounted her horse, riding towards the battlefield.
"Lady! Where are you going?" AhJing panicked and shrieked.
"I am heading back to get Yan Xun!"
Before long, she saw a group of roughly 5000 soldiers racing towards her. Wearing black outfits and armor, the black war flag waved in the skies. Chu Qiao was ecstatic, and upon closing in, she spotted Yan Xun speeding towards her, with his robes fluttering behind him like the wings of an eagle.
"Yan Xun, are you okay?" Chu Qiao welcomed him and smiled in relief.