Two months later Zhuo Fan and the six hundred thousand troops had reached Windgaze City with no interruptions from Quanrong.
Safe to say, the threat of the mighty duo had driven fear into them.
Dugu Feng had issued jades for the other legions of the Dugu Army, but none answered.
From being under the imperial family’s watch no doubt.
The Four Tigers of Tianyu sighed. No matter how much they thought about it, never once did they consider their own ruler to be the one wanting their deaths. Or they’d taken the whole three million men with them and would’ve avoided such heavy losses.
The guest houses in Windgaze City watched Zhuo Fan lead Dugu Army over with slacked jaws.
[That’s Tianyu’s mightiest military! What’s it doing with that kid? He’s really something to pull it off. There’s nothing in this world he can’t do.]
The house lords sighed…
With Dugu Army tucked in his base, Zhuo Fan convened with the tigers and other lords.
As the imperial family and Quanrong were rubbing elbows, and Zhuo Fan had long seen it coming, it was time for the next step in his master plan…
“This is how it stands, Marshal Dugu was assassinated, the imperial family colluded with the Quanrong army, and now it’s planning to root us all out!”
In the hall, everyone sat at a round table. Zhuo Fan watched them all with a grave look, “We have two options before us. Scatter from Tianyu’s chaos and avoid war, or meet them with everything we have and win the world for ourselves!”
Pavilion Lord Long slammed the table, “The imperial family has no shame, cohorting with outsiders and killing their loyal official. It has no right to sit on the throne. We fight! You can think what you want, but Veiled Dragon Pavilion shall go all out!”
Long Yifey spoke with valor and might, earning the nods of many.
Zhuo Fan snickered inside.
[They’re so simple. In the face of absolute uncertainty, they’d have bolted by now. But with Dugu Army around, they’ve found their courage in believing they will get their homes back.]
To these houses with a thousand year long foundation in Tianyu, having all of it ruined was the greatest pain.
With Luo clan as the vanguard, they were in support and with the hope of rebuilding as a done deal, they were all in.
It fell in line with Zhuo Fan’s intentions. They just had to do what he wanted and Zhuo Fan’s plans to have the world were nigh.
“The Quanrong are too many and they even have imperial family’s experts to back them.” Grandmother frowned, “To win this, we must expand our power, and fast!”
“Couldn’t be easier.”
Xie Xiaofeng’s eyes glinted, “Like brother Yifey said, the imperial family has brought the enemy into our lands and has lost all right to watch over Tianyu. All we need is to spread the word and we’ll have everyone on our side. The rebellion’s growth will settle by itself!”
The other two house lords clapped.
Leng Wuchang next to Zhuo Fan mocked, “Naive! Why would anyone believe you, who stands against the emperor? He would just have to declare it was you calling in the Quanrong and the rebellion would turn into a just pursuit to save the ruler. The one to suffer will be us. “
“Leng Wuchang, what’s with that attitude? The imperial family cast out Marshal Dugu, set up his death, and every soldier of Dugu Army bore witness too. It can’t get any clearer than that!” Xie Xiaofeng puffed his chest.
Leng Wuchang said, “Aren’t they also traitors? Although more in number, the imperial family has the final word. Who’d the clans believe, the emperor or us, the traitors?”
The house lords lapsed into silence.
Zhuo Fan smiled, “Sir Leng is right. Recall our battle with Regent Estate, the setting the imperial family created for both of us to be in dire straits and let him take the spoils. To the point that the Regent Estate announced they’d quell us down, whether right or wrong. Yet the emperor was silent when I issued my own challenge, of obscured facts and a chaotic nation, leading to an even more confused populace. It’s obvious that the imperial family has the people’s opinion.
“This time’s no different. The imperial family can call us what it wants and they’d swallow it right up. No matter what call or declaration we make to expand our forces, he’ll just crush it with one lousy paper. And not just foil our plans, but make us the public enemy.”
The men’s hearts sank and the gravity of it all set in.
Without a righteous cause, it would be impossible to beat the imperial family with outside help.
Dugu Feng was furious, “Is there no way to give godfather justice?”
“Of course there is, though not exactly justice. Just take a chunk out of his majesty.” Zhuo Fan smiled, “We cannot use the rebellion to amass power, but we can use our undying loyalty!”
“That’s ludicrous! You’re telling us we should help that senile emperor instead of fighting him?” Dugu Huo roared, “Marshal had been loyal, but not even he would permit for the emperor to sell his country. He would never stand by such an emperor…”
Zhuo Fan laughed, “General Huo, you misunderstand. Ever wondered why I spared Tuoba Tieshan?”
“Yeah, why? You never told me. You had that bastard right where you wanted so why didn’t you get revenge for the old Marshal?” Dugu Huo blustered.
Zhuo Fan stated, “Killing him would leave the Quanrong headless and they will fall into obscurity from everyone’s sights. By letting him live though, he will look into me and go against the emperor’s plan to foil me. Leading to an even more chaotic Tianyu and exposing itself in the long run.”
Leng Wuchang admired, “Just like Steward Zhuo, he has a contingency ready. Impressive and marvelous. By using loyalty as an excuse, we’ll force the emperor to swallow this bitter pill.”
Everyone was dumbstruck by what they were hearing.
[One’s an old fox and the other a kid, though just as shifty. Just what are they planning?]
“Sir Leng knows me well.”
Zhuo Fan smiled, “Regardless of the reason we use to get more support, the imperial family will make a statement, unless of course we do it in his name!”
Everyone lit up, with Grandmother laughing, “The imperial family can never admit to their deal with Quanrong. Steward Zhuo, the emperor will suffer for it.”
“Ha-ha-ha, the emperor is sure to have a plan in place for when the Quanrong came to light. At worst, he’ll pin it on Zhuge Changfeng. But never in his wildest dreams will he guess we’ll use it to bolster our ranks for the war with him. He’s bound to have one funny look, ha-ha-ha…”
The others laughed with him, further amazed by Zhuo Fan’s cunningness.
Leng Wuchang spoke with concern, “Steward Zhuo, that settles our numbers issue, but what about experts? With men that can rob lives for miles away, what good would numbers do?”
“What’s there to worry about when we have Invincible Scamp Gu Santong?” Long Yifey laughed, taking young Sanzi for his man.
Leng Wuchang shook his head, “In Tianyu, Gu Santong is invincible, but there’s also Quanrong. I fear they’ve called for experts from their guardian sect, Beast Taming Sect, in the Ethereal Stage.”
“Not to worry while I’m around.”
A booming voice entered the hall, followed by a stout and strong physique.
[H-he’s back. And stronger?]
“Congratulations Elder Li, for reaching the Ethereal Stage!” Zhuo Fan nodded.
Li Jingtian had nothing but endless gratitude for him…