The four looked at each other in shock.
“How can this be? Didn’t His Majesty send another edict just a while ago to destroy the traitors? Why this sudden cry for help?” Dugu Lin found it unnatural, “Changing his mind after just a few days, and we are so far away…”
“It only proves that the imperial capital is in such peril not even His Majesty can ignore it.” Dugu Zhantian grew angry, “The jade says old Zhuge is on the move, with two hundred thousand troops outside the city.
“We have no time to lose. We’re withdrawing!” Dugu Zhantian shouted orders.
Dugu Lin had more to say but the Marshal’s mind was made.
And since they were brothers with Luo Yunhai, avoiding a bloodbath was for the best.
In under an hour the Dugu Army was on the move, gone like the wind. Luo clan’s scouts came back with the report.
“Steward Zhuo, your ineffable machinations got Dugu Army to retreat!” Grandmother gave him a thumbs up.
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng were elated too.
Zhuo Fan could even bore down on the mind of the undefeated army god. He was awesome!
Luo Yunhai frowned, “Wait, this is not per godfather’s character. He acts with speed and force. Once the army is on the move, it won’t withdraw for any reason. Just what could’ve happened?”
Long Yifey took it in stride, “Maybe the Marshal had a change of heart, going to His Majesty to plead your case.”
“No, orders to a soldier are a sacred duty to perform. Godfather cares for Luo clan, but he would first capture us and present us to the palace before asking for leniency. He will never fall back like this.” Luo Yunhai shook his head.
Gu Santong mocked, “Humph, who cares. It’s all the same to me. Be it a million or three million, it’s just numbers this fist of mine will have to smash.”
The others had to force a nod.
Everyone knew about Invincible Scamp’s ridiculously strong arm, that not even Dugu Army could topple.
Luo Yunhai shook his head, “Senior Gu Santong, I know you’re amazing, but Dugu Army is no weakling. To deal with your brute force, Dugu Army has many formations with that in mind. They will leave a division to keep you busy while finishing us off.”
Gu Santong snorted and rolled his eyes.
Zhuo Fan finally spoke, “This no longer concerns us. We’d best move Regent Estate’s goods back to Windgaze City post haste. While we don’t have Dugu Zhantian’s army to worry about…”
Luo Yunhai asked, “Big brother Zhuo, why do you say that?”
“Dugu Zhantian is a master of war, yet also a lion caged by Tianyu.” Zhuo Fan stood up and walked away, “Eliminate the tool once it’s done its job. This has been in practice since time immemorial. The emperor is on the move.”
[Hadn’t he been doing that until now?]
In the Imperial Palace, the emperor sat at his desk holding a jade slip, “Zhuo Fan and Gu Santong became kin and the latter even sided with him completely. Since when has this been going on? Oh, Zhuo Fan, you sure are playing close to the vest. Not even I saw it coming…”
A guard rushed to his knees, “Your Majesty, please evacuate. The rebel army is pushing hard and the city guards are on the brink of collapse. Your Majesty’s safety is paramount. Please think of the world’s safety and leave the Imperial Capital!”
“Absurd! I am the ruler of this nation. How can I just leave the imperial capital?”
The emperor glared, “Have you found out where Zhuge Changfeng is right now?”
“Uh, not yet, Your Majesty .” the guard lowered his head in shame.
The emperor said, “Prime Minister Zhuge sure is thorough. With all my Divine Dragons away from my side, he still fears I’ll send someone after him and keeps hidden ever since the start of the rebellion. Ha-ha-ha, what can a coward possibly achieve? Ha-ha-ha, that crusty old man will only show himself when the rebellion is over.”
Crown Prince and fatty rushed into the study.
“Imperial father, the city guards are down and even the 6th-grade array has failed. Some bastard destroyed the core. The army outside is flooding the capital. Please father, evacuate!” Crown Prince beseeched.
The fatty nodded, looking outside in panic.
Shouts came from outside. The imperial guards were clashing with the rebels.
The imperial guards suffered a crushing defeat at the second prince’s rebellion just a while back and now were beset by another force before they could recoup. The fatty looked more distressed by the second.
“Humph, that crusty old man had quite a few hidden pawns placed inside the city, waiting for the right moment to strike.” The emperor strutted outside, “I am the rightful emperor, blessed by heaven itself. Let’s see how Tianyu’s best mind, my loyal Prime Minister, kicks me off my chair!”
“Imperial father…” Crown Prince and fatty shouted. But knew no words would get to the staunch emperor.
All they could do was follow him in silence.
The fighting closed in as they exited. With wails and shouts of pain, men in black flooded the area.
There was no sight of any imperial guard around, most likely drowning in their own blood somewhere.
The rebels had the Imperial Palace surrounded in seconds, with discipline and efficiency seen only in veteran armies.
Crown Prince and fatty stood guard on the emperor’s sides as they glared at the enemy.
The emperor nodded in praise, “Ha-ha-ha, just how many decades did the old timer take to raise such an effective army? It’s not far behind even the Dugu Army. Prime Minister Zhuge has shown great consideration for today.”
“Ha-ha-ha, Your Majesty shows no fear even in the face of a million soldiers. Truly a man of valor…” A man walked out from the ranks of the rebels. Zhuge Changfeng was followed by his yin yang elders and the entire court, smiling like the victor.
“Crusty Zhuge, you wretched thing dare rebel?” Crown Prince snapped.
The emperor merely waved, “Child, easy. Zhuge has been Prime Minister for decades, rendering great service to Tianyu. He did it for the people and for the future. He is a valuable official of Tianyu. A lord should not slander one such as he so easily either.”
Crown Prince choked on anger, forcing himself into a bow.
Zhuge Changfeng snorted, “Your Majesty, we’ve been working together for close to a century now. Yet you’re still so… fake. Now that I have the power, this is your final moment. Can’t you be honest for once?”
“Ha-ha-ha, why ask such a question, Prime Minister Zhuge? I’ve always been pleased with your conduct over the years in dealing with matters of the court. I can say with complete confidence that if not for Prime Minister Zhuge, there’d not be the glorious Tianyu Empire of today!” The emperor laughed.
If not for the swords in the background, everyone would think this was just a heart to heart talk between a lord and his minister.
Zhuge Changfeng mocked, “Oh, great and wise ruler, I have committed the heinous sin of rebelling, a righteous lord’s shame. Shouldn’t I be put to death? How could the treacherous me ever betray the compassionate and brilliant master?”
The officials around had no idea where the Prime Minister was going with this.
One official flattered, “He-he-he, the emperor is still blind to see his head is about to roll. No wonder everyone is set to fight him and get Tianyu in chaos. He is not fit to be called emperor, only the wise Prime Minister Zhuge can be the true eminent ruler here. Don’t you all agree?”
“Hark!” Everyone echoed.
Crown Prince and fatty were outraged compared to the emperor’s tranquility.
Zhuge Changfeng turned to the speaker and said with disdain, “Ministry of Appointment’s sir Cao, I have said this before, your flattery is too obvious. You’re better off not saying anything. And you’re wrong about something, His Majesty is no fool, but a shrewd man. I should know, I’ve been fighting him my entire life. If he were to be a fool, won’t that make me a moron?”
The whole court was stumped.
[What’s with the Prime Minister? Why does this look like two old friends catching up?]
[Uh, fellas, could you perhaps be kind enough to mind us, part of the rebel army? This isn’t a tea party, you know.]
[At least snap at each other and tirade already. It’s hard for us to get into our roles with you all being so cool with each other. Even rebels have their honor. Please don’t ignore us!]
Zhuge Changfeng and the emperor never cared about some extras’ feelings since all they could ever possibly do was stick to the side. They couldn’t even employ the height of their careers right, i.e. rear smooching…