A tinge of peace and tranquility was spread across the surface of the Lotus Lake's water; a boat was floating in the lake, swaying from side to side, with no one aboard.
At the moment, Chu Yang was underwater.
He stood on the slippery mud at the bottom of the lake! Opening his eyes wide, he slowly swung the sword he held in his hand.
Underwater Sword Practice!
Since he had been unable to find the third fragment of the Nine Tribulations Sword until now, he had decided to comprehend the water's supple power instead. And even though the two nations were going through such chaotic times of turbulence, Chu Yang had actually managed to chance upon a rare moment of tranquility.
Huyan Aobo had already left a while ago, and the good deal of information that she had left behind was then being examined by Chu Yang, bit by bit.
It contained a great deal about Diwu Qing Rou's intelligence network, most of which was based out of Iron Cloud. It also included lists of several of the Iron Cloud's officials, and Generals' names.
Furthermore, Huyan Aobo had annotated each and every one of Diwu Qing Rou's strategic deployment and military allocation plan in her own handwriting, to relay precise information.
Chu Yang went through the particulars of the information, and smacked his lips in anticipation. [First things first, this piece of intelligence is capable of influencing this situation between these two great nations significantly, and hence I must immediately dispatch it to Tie Bu Tian. ]
However, since he became idle afterwards, he started to focus on his underwater practice.
His sword slashed underwater, and maneuvered around to make a side cut. Chu Yang stared with his eyes wide open, however his focus was not on the slash he just made, but on the turbulence produced in water as a result; he was trying to feel the water's supple resistance to his sword's blade.
This feeling of stagnation was very strange…
It would be inappropriate to say that the water had bound him, because it didn't do so deliberately. However, even when the water remained still, the sword inside moved… it was only the water's natural behavior to impede the sword's movement.
Chu Yang was suddenly startled, and started pondering over something...
He couldn't help but be lost in contemplation, and that too while he was still underwater.
A long while later, he felt as if his vitality had almost been used up. He immediately pedaled his feet to go up, and emerged from the shackles of the mud. Then, he suddenly rushed upwards and came to the water's surface, only to reduce his speed at the very last moment before gently exposing his head above the surface.
The fresh air suddenly burst into his lungs!
Chu Yang immediately felt his mind sobering up.
After having spent a long time being oppressed underwater, exposing his head above the water's surface made him feel as if he had been born once again! This feeling of being born again was quite wonderful.
Chu Yang suddenly felt: [If the domain underwater is considered a world in itself, then the one above its surface is another world as well! ]
[Isn't this similar to the separate existences of the Lower Three Heavens, and the Middle Three Heavens? If the underwater world is like the Lower Three Heavens, then the world above the water surface should be Middle Three Heavens. ]
Chu Yang treaded the water to come ashore. And though his whole body was still drenched, he sat down on the ground and began to meditate.
[But… what does this actually mean? From which angle does it relate to martial arts study? ]
Chu Yang suddenly felt his mind filling with insights, and not just one but several! Each and every one of them appeared to be fuzzily lingering inside his mind, making it difficult for him to concentrate on any particular one!
Chu Yang had a feeling that as long as he could grasp even one of those insights, he would be able to have a breakthrough from his current state! This was a rare opportunity!
Chu Yang tried his best to relax his mind while sitting quietly on the shore, his body completely hidden by the lush grass around. Just then, a thought suddenly cropped up in his mind: [Although the grass above is dry and withered, the grass below is still green and healthy…moreover, it's already palm-sized in length... ]
[What does this contrast between withered and healthy trying to signify? ]
[Perhaps… it has some other meaning altogether? Or is it…about the cycle of life and death? ]
Chu Yang's heart was completely swarmed by all sorts of insights that were revolving inside his mind like flies.
Chu Yang was sitting cross-legged on the grass and it seemed he wasn't breathing at all. Moreover, it seemed as if he had already fallen into a deep level of comprehension...
On the other hand, inside the Nine Tribulations Sword Space, the Sword Spirit was in utter shock and dismay, because he had already recognized the kind of realm Chu Yang was in right now!
This had already gone beyond the comprehension level of the second fragment of Nine Tribulations Sword. In fact, it could be said that… his comprehension had gone beyond the scope of Nine Tribulations Sword altogether… and had entered an entirely different realm.
This realm was a part of the 'World and Universe'... instead of the Nine Heavens!
The Sword Spirit had never thought that Chu Yang was capable of displaying such an outstanding comprehension ability... [he has clearly managed to surpass the previous owner of Nine Tribulations Sword with regards to the success of this time's epiphany. Not to mention that his future prospects and development potential will also be far higher than his predecessor! ]
[Since no one has even been able to solve the biggest secrets of Nine Tribulations Sword(,)they have remained a mystery for tens of thousands of years beginning with its birth! Could it be that all these secrets… will finally be discovered by this youth? ]
This was the first time Chu Yang had undergone underwater sword training and that too (,)to learn nothing less than the supple power of water. However, he never would have imagined that the supple power of water was something that fell under the demesne of 'World and Universe'! So much so that… it could be classified as one type of 'domain' within the universe!
The Water Domain!
And it was when Chu Yang could no longer sustain himself under the intense pressure of water due to running out of breath that the extreme desire to breathe suddenly had helped him in stumbling upon some of the secrets of Heaven and Earth!
If he had realized this at that time, then everything thus far would have been for naught.
However, he immediately swam up and rushed out of the water, and that sudden awakening that he experienced was what actually gave him a feeling of 'smashing the space to enter a new world'!
This was clearly a breakthrough on a whole new level!
Of course, if it was only about these two insights which he had obtained just now, then his accomplishment wouldn't amount to much when taking the special guidance of the Sword Spirit into consideration. However, just this instant, he suddenly came to realize the profound meanings which lay behind the concepts of both withering and growth of living things!
And thus, it was Chu Yang's realization of the mysteries of reincarnation as well as the secret principles of Heaven and Earth that allowed him to sink deeper into the profound mysteries of the primal chaos.
Motionless, Chu Yang calmly sat there for a long time, not breathing even once. Furthermore, slowly and gradually, he completely lost his body temperature... it was as if every sign of life had disappeared from his body without a trace...
Leaving behind a total silence!
Only the dense green grass remained as green and thriving as ever beneath his idle body, growing and prospering in this warm and friendly climate of the spring...
And with the setting in of spring… bugs, ants and moths began to appear gradually at this quiet lakeside.
Carefree, Chu Yang had already fallen into a deep slumber and knew nothing of what was going on around him.
~~Iron Cloud Citadel~~
Far away, Tie Bu Tian and Wu Qian Qian were sitting in the Imperial Study Room with the secret message already unsealed and spread out in front of them. This secret intelligence had been delivered by an invisible falcon that was sent by Chu Yang all the way from the Great Zhao's royal courier service.
This message contained intelligence on a wide range of designs on manpower allocation, the identities of everyone involved in those plans and the associated command structure of all the military bases involved. Just to get one's hands on such classified information was simply mindboggling... enough to leave anyone gobsmacked!
However, more surprising was the fact that it also contained partial details on the secret military agreement between Diwu Qing Rou and the Wolf tribe of Northern Grassland!
And though it only contained bits and pieces of information interlinked together, but in the light of the recent unfortunate events that had occurred on both sides it could be said that this piece of secret information was undeniably true!
It was simply impeccable!
However, there would be a huge uproar if it was decided to punish all the involved suspects… and the ensuing commotion would simply be enormous!
Of course, if it did take place then it would definitely surpass the cleansing that had been orchestrated by King of Hell Chu earlier, whether it involved military personnel, government officials, businessmen, scholars, etc. And to make matters worse, all major cities would be brought within the target range...
After all, one simply couldn't ignore the fact that this was the result of Diwu Qing Rou's ten years worth of scheming and achievements!
"Your Majesty, what are you thinking?" Wu Qian Qian asked respectfully. She was clad in a black robe and one could easily tell that there was indifference in her voice. It was as if the confidential information lying in front of her was nothing more than a pile of scrap paper to her.
It seemed as if she just simply didn't take into account at all that... if these influential figures were going to be eradicated, then it would perhaps implicate the lives of no less than 100,000 human beings!
"Minister Chu must have suffered untold hardships in his effort to get hold of this piece of intelligence. However, as far as our Iron Cloud is concerned, this information has dealt a serious blow to us; but, at the same time, it has actually presented us with a golden opportunity that comes only once in a millennium!" There was a sharp light issuing from Tie Bu Tian's eyes as he further said: "We must get it over and done with once and for all!"
"Yes." Wu Qian Qian replied in a deep voice.
"In any case, these people are not to be spared come what may!" Saying this Tie Bu Tian slowly stood up and crossed his hands behind his back. There was a frown on his face as he began pacing back and forth in his study before he suddenly spoke in a sinking voice: "I would rather kill the innocents, than let the guilty off!"
A shiver ran through Wu Qian Qian's entire body the moment she heard this!
[I would rather kill the innocents, than let the guilty off! ]She had never really thought that one day she would hear Diwu Qing Rou's pet phrase from Tie Bu Tian's mouth.
"I only hope…Iron Cloud's internal turmoil would stop after that." Tie Bu Tian's slender finger skimmed through the lists of names, before he knocked the sheets of paper on the table with a loud pounding sound.
"Therefore, I won't hesitate to pay… any price!" And a ferocious look flashed in Tie Bu Tian's eyes as he continued speaking: "Not to mention that the lives of 100,000 people are simply nothing to me, as a matter of fact, even if I have to sacrifice the lives of one million people…I would go ahead with it without batting an eyelid!"
"Yes." Wu Qian Qian shuddered as she gave thought to what Tie Bu Tian had said just now.
From this one declaration itself, she had clearly sensed Tie Bu Tian's murderous intentions like that of a monarch, who was out to destroy the entire world!
"In addition to that, also keep in mind that there are some disobedient people who just don't know when to yield… make sure that you classify them as important targets during this purge!" Tie Bu Tian frowned painfully and though had finally managed to speak out loud, it was in a rather gloomy tone.
"Your majesty, this is... wrong." Wu Qian Qian said, startled. And she was certainly appropriate in her response because, after all, these so-called disobedient people weren't all necessarily spies or traitors; they used to be strong supporters of the previous Emperor…in fact, some of them still lent their support to the previous Emperor's authority… it was only the case that some of them were against the current authority of Tie Bu Tian!
"What's wrong with that?" Tie Bu Tian turned his back towards her, and without turning his head back sneered before speaking: "There's nothing wrong with that! You can mark my words, this world may lack chivalrous people, perhaps this world may also lack peak level experts or honest and incorruptible officials… but I can promise you that it will never be rid of pedantic scholars!"
"Even when the nation is going through a crisis, these people still advocate saintly methods; even when there are rivers of blood flowing everywhere, they still hold their moral banners high! Even when the entire nation and its people have no means to make a living… they still sing false praises for their own benefits! Even when the officers and soldiers are getting martyred, unyielding, in battles for the sake of their nation, all they do is boast about their own moral integrity in such difficult times, but at the time of nation's demise... they are the first ones to sell their country out to curry favors from the enemy!"
Tie Bu Tian gave a cold laugh before he cursed: "These utterly rotten and pedantic scholars!"
"They will never understand what common people really want. They will never try to understand what the soldiers need! And they will never know about the so-called prerequisites of war... all they know and care about are their own morals, etiquettes and how to exercise their so-called forbearance..."
"They will sing praises even while enduring utmost humiliation for the sake of their petty goals and this results in the nation being filled with the so-called 'brave warriors' who have grown too used to enduring humiliation all the time, not to mention that it also leads to a drastic decline in the number of iron-blooded warriors, who are capable of bravely facing the chilling winds of battlefields!"
"They always talk about how the fall of a nation is followed by the rise of another, but they never actually care about the struggle that precedes the destruction of their own nation... Of course, when the nation finally perishes, they are the first ones to accept any sort of humiliation and willingly become the courtiers of the enemies... they even disguise their shameless acts with righteous words, such as… for the welfare and benefits of common masses!"
"These people must be kept around during the peaceful and prosperous times of a nation! Because they can be used well in governing a nation by employing their scheming methods and inherently jealousy-driven tricks for instigating rivalry among the members of the younger generation, and also to maintain an overall balance of power within the imperial court so that one faction doesn't end up growing too influential than the others... these are some of the various advantages of having them around. However, when the nation is about to enter the crisis of war, these coward scholars cannot be allowed to stick around!"
Tie Bu Tian then turned around suddenly as his burning hot eyes gazed fiercely at Wu Qian Qian: "Kill them all! Not even a single one must remain alive! Our entire nation must come together and we must unite our hearts and souls to face the enemy; to give them a fight to the death as they desire! If we don't perish, we will keep pressing on! And if we don't perish, our nation shall not be exterminated!"