The situation was more dangerous than ever.
Chu Yang had rushed-through his escape-route by employing ambushes, tricks, ploys and strategies. He had been able to advance towards Beyond the Heavens Sect mountain range after he had fought several battles.
Beyond the Heavens Sect mountain range was an intersection that connected Great Zhao and Iron cloud. It was an extremely important location.
So, Chu Yang would be able to enter the Iron Cloud territory if he were to cross this mountain range. After that, he'd be out of his pursuers' reach; the Golden Horse Riders Department wouldn't be able to cause any harm to him.
Therefore, almost every available expert of the Golden Horse Riders Department was gathered here — more than a thousand of these experts were spread over the entire mountain range.
A few of them were hidden in secret spots, and had laid-out an ambush in advance. A few of them were waiting at key locations; and a few were keeping watch from a higher ground. Some of them were out in the open, while some were hidden in the dark. They would catch King of Hell Chu; no matter where he went.
Jing Meng Hun had been summoning the experts of the Golden Horse Riders Department to catch King of Hell Chu throughout his journey; the mark of 'one-thousand people' had long been surpassed.
Chu Yang's entire body was covered in cuts and bruises. However, he rushed into the Beyond the Heavens Sect's 'Nine Peaks and One Garden'.
Chu Yang felt relaxed as he saw the familiar mountain range. Then, he gently retreated.
Fortunately, this place still hadn't fallen into ruins. However, this place was merely an empty shell of what it used to be; no one was present there.
This location was around two-hundred-and-fifty kilometres away from the place where Tie Bu Tian lay in wait.
But, these two-hundred-and-fifty kilometres had blocked every link between the two sides.
Chu Yang was under the impression that Tie Bu Tian was still in the capital. He had no idea that Tie Bu Tian had arrived at the war-front. On the other hand, Tie Bu Tian was under the impression that Chu Yang was more than five-hundred kilometres away from his location. He couldn't have imagined that Chu Yang was in such close proximity.
Tie Bu Tian would've sent an army of five-hundred-thousand soldiers to greet him if he knew that. He wouldn't have returned without Chu Yang even if he had to fight to his last soldier's life.
However, he didn't know.
Chu Yang's vision had turned blurry by the time he had entered Beyond the Heavens Sect; he was extremely exhausted...
Meanwhile, at a very distant location - on the main road of Great Zhao…
The flags were fluttering. They seemed to be everywhere; so much so that they were almost obstructing the sunlight.
Hundreds-of-thousands of troops were meandering forward. It seemed as if a giant dragon was slowly moving on the ground. A bright-yellow carriage could be seen in the middle of this procession. It looked like a luxurious carriage; it was brimming with riches and the aura of nobility. Plain curtains were hanging around it.
This carriage had caught the eye of every person who was present in the vicinity. It seemed to be moving slower than the other carriages. However, it was brimming with serenity and elegance.
Diwu Qing Rou leant on the cushions inside his carriage. There was a warm and confident smile on his face. He was looking at the crowd on both sides of the road in an indifferent and cold manner.
The officials had gathered on either side of the main road to see-off Diwu Qing Rou to the war. Their hands were clasped in respect. The people had lined-up on the street to send-him-off; this had caused a great commotion. Therefore, the marching-pace of the army had become slower.
Diwu Qing Rou's facial expression was warm. However, he felt impatient in his heart. He wasn't pleased by the grand expedition ceremony in the Continent Centre. Moreover, he was fed-up of people crowding the streets to send-off the young soldiers to the war.
In addition, this place was only fifteen-hundred kilometres away from his destination. The officials were doing this in order to flatter him. They had called the masses to come and see him off. This had greatly annoyed Diwu Qing Rou.
But, he had no choice.
He knew that it was important for him to do this. It was a way of uniting millions of people together. The hidden power of this ceremony would be revealed in the near future when the news of victory would come, or the requirement of people's contribution to the war would arise.
It was indeed a monumental force.
He couldn't have denied the power of people's sentiment even if he was the ruler of the country.
Therefore, he could only oblige and accept the ceremony. Moreover, he was required to adopt the best stance in front of the masses.
The army continued to move slowly.
Diwu Qing Rou's carriage was ventilated from all sides. He looked elegant, and had a calm smile on his face. His far-sighted eyes complimented his confident smile. Therefore, he was being greatly admired by the people — most of whom were seeing their Prime Minister for the first time.
[Only such a person could defeat Iron Cloud. He can sweep the entire world… he can establish an unyielding foundation for Great Zhao.]
However, Diwu Qing Rou's mind had drifted far away.
He recalled the news about Jing Meng Hun and Wang Teng Long parting ways. He was resentful, as well as disappointed since both of them had failed to meet his expectations.
[Jing Meng Hun has the strength of a Ninth Grade King Level Expert. It can be said that it is the peak level of strength one can attain in the Lower Three Heavens. But, his head is stodgy and rigid. Nothing as grand as this incident has ever happened in the past… this incident has tested Jing Meng Hun's ability to handle things in a skilful manner. But, the matter of pursuing King of Hell Chu has reflected the limitations of his capabilities.]
[He thinks of himself as a man of the Jiang-Hu even though he's a Ninth Grade King Level Expert. He has never regarded himself as an Imperial Court Official. Moreover, he hasn't been able to blend into the administration system of Great Zhao.]
[He always dissociates himself from the system, and prefers to drift freely on the outside.]
[So, his highest achievement would always be limited to leading the Golden Horse Riders Department even though he's a Ninth Grade King Level Expert. Moreover, his inability to tackle too many problems at once has begun to unravel itself since the other three King Level Experts haven't been able to provide any assistance to him.]
[How could King of Hell Chu escape for hundreds of kilometres if Jing Meng Hun had invested the entirety of his efforts into this task? The entire nation's force was after a single individual… but he still managed to escape... isn't that a big joke?]
Diwu Qing Rou hadn't spoken anything about this.
He knew that it would be futile to say anything. No matter how good a scheme was… the person who was required to implement it must be competent. Jing Meng Hun was obviously incompetent. So, there was no point of saying anything to him.
[If he's able to catch King of Hell Chu… then it'll be good. But if he can't catch him… then I - Diwu Qing Rou - will defeat him on the battlefield.]
[As far as I'm concerned… it's an easy task for me.]
There was also the matter of Wang Teng Long.
He was one of the top ten 'Tiger and Dragon Generals' of Great Zhao. However, he had left Diwu Qing Rou dumbfounded. Diwu Qing Rou had heaved a deep sigh after seeing the military report sent by Wang Teng Long. He hadn't spoken for a long time thereafter.
Wang Teng Long's military report was awfully objective. It didn't complain about the Golden Horse Riders Department. Instead, it was a mere description of facts mixed with a little bit of anger. However, it was done thoughtlessly; it could be overlooked.
But, Diwu Qing Rou wasn't angry because of this. He had answered Wang Teng Long with a sealed letter. He had closed his eyes - not wanting to hear any other news regarding that matter.
"You bear a grudge in your heart after facing an unfavourable situation in the battle. It's understandable and alright. But, do the reasons behind your failure include only others? Not yourself as well? Jing Meng Hun arrived late… that's correct. But, weren't you at fault too? You and your army knew that he was coming. Then, why did you relax and ignore the severity of situation? Couldn't an army of ten-thousand soldiers take turns to eat food? Was it really necessary to cook food for all the soldiers at the same time? You lost because of this reason; how regrettable it is! What can I say if you're a 'dumb old horse'…? It's your fault too. But, you're only blaming the other party involved. You will end up becoming a laughing stock if this goes-on."
[King of Hell Chu escaped. Does the blame lie on you or him? Jing Meng Hun arrived late… it's still pardonable. But, your stupidity is unforgivable. Does an army of ten-thousand soldiers need to have their meal at the same time? Both the parties erred at the same time… and become a laughing stock for all eternity. Fancy that… you still have the guts to complain before me!]
This was more or less written in the letter.
It was heard that Wang Teng Long was ashamed after reading this letter. He was so incited that he threw-up blood on the spot...
But, this couldn't be compared with Diwu Qing Rou's depressed heart, [It was a rare opportunity. At first… he was intercepted and pursued by them. From the beginning till the end… their strength was several hundred times more than that of King of Hell Chu; maybe a thousand times more than him. Moreover, they had encountered him face to face. Such a good opportunity to capture King of Hell Chu was wasted in such a manner.]
[Moreover, after wasting this golden opportunity… both the parties started to criticize each other...]
Diwu Qing Rou would've scolded them if it weren't for his self-control: [How dare you blame each other and shift responsibility… you mother*kers! You bastards, you both are the same… The disease called 'stupidity' runs in your blood! You chirp once again… and I'll lock you up in prison...]
However, Diwu Qing Rou's self-control would never allow him to say these words out loud. But, it didn't mean that these thoughts didn't cross his mind.
In fact, he wanted to catch these idiots and strangle them to death.
Diwu Qing Rou narrowed his eyes and thought.
The large army slowly advanced forward. Diwu Qing Rou pulled down the curtains. He closed his eyes to regain his composure. His train of thoughts had already gone thousands of kilometres away — to the battlefield.
[Tie Long Cheng, my old rival — Diwu Qing Rou is coming! But, I won't play any games with you this time. I will destroy you in one in one stroke!]
[Tie Bu Tian — I shall pull you down from your emperor's throne, and turn you into my captive, or perhaps a corpse! I'll let you know that this world isn't such a good place for someone in the position of an Emperor!]
[King of Hell Chu — Diwu Qing Rou looks forward to seeing you in the battlefield if you don't die during your escape! I'll let you experience my strategies, and make you realize that you're far inferior to me; regardless of your wisdom and talent in martial arts!]
[This world shall tremble in my hands from today onwards! …Until I finally unite it!]
Diwu Qing Rou's body swayed up and down with the carriage. A burst of dense aura was emitted from his forehead. It enveloped the whole carriage. It raised gusts of cold rustling wind even in this blistering hot summer...
Chu Yang burst into Beyond the Heavens Sect Mountains like a storm. His strong spiritual sense instantly became aware that this seemingly quiet and peaceful mountain forest was filled with a dangerous aura.
Chu Yang's relaxed mind regained its vigilance and focus because of this dangerous aura! He was tired to death, but he didn't dare to breathe-easy in that kind of deadly atmosphere.
The count of the wounds on Chu Yang's body had increased several folds during the chase. The most serious one was from the time was when he had nearly gotten his leg chopped. But, he had somehow dragged himself, and had escaped the tight encirclement. Moreover, he had done all he could to avoid sustaining any injuries in his internal organs. That was why his internal organs had gradually restored to normal...
The orchid fragrance had also started to weaken and dissipate.
There was still a faint lingering smell, but it was of little significance. Otherwise, this entire journey would've been more thrilling and deadly for him. Perhaps, he would've made a slip and gotten captured because of the orchid fragrance.
That intense chase-fight had also subsided after the weakening of the orchid fragrance. Jing Meng Hun was very perplexed by this.
[It was such an intensive pursuit initially. He wouldn't have had the time to breathe! So, how have his internal injuries recovered? It should be getting more and more serious, right...]