“Give me that!”
The emperor read the jade himself before frowning, “This is too fast. So many men in just a few days? There’s no way Luo clan’s name is enough to pull it off.”
A taunting smile crossed Zhuge Changfeng’s face, “Your Majesty, it seems you forget about Zhuo Fan’s ingenious tricks during the last war, welcoming the other houses’ experts. With their deep roots, even when homeless, their names would live on in their lands. They just had to show themselves and their vassals would flock over in droves. They must think the war is over and are now grasping the winning leg. I dare say a million is on the low side, ha-ha-ha…”
The mockery grated the emperor’s ears, with him lashing out, “That mongrel came up with this move to put me on the spot. After inciting so many clashes between him and Regent Estate, I figured he’d be the weakest even if a winner. But he has gone beyond any forecast, becoming the biggest threat, taking the whole of Tianyu to war with me. “
The emperor’s teeth grinding echoed out and Zhuge Changfeng sighed, “Oh, Your Majesty, it is both of our mistakes. We each wanted to use Zhuo Fan and throw Tianyu in even more chaos for our own benefit. I, for the chance at rebellion and Your Majesty, to cleanse it of all other factions. But at the end of it all, I fell for Your Majesty’s scheme and now the kid has gotten all those factions Your Majesty wanted gone.
“Ha-ha-ha, a pawn turning into a player, taking advantage of others. Your Majesty, he just cooked your goose.”
“Shut your yap!
The emperor bit back in anger, “I am the son of heaven. I cannot, will not, lose… cough~”
After a harsh coughing fit, he looked to see the handkerchief stained in blood.
The emperor hid it in his chest and stormed out, “Zhuge Changfeng, watch closely. The final winner shall be me. Zhuo Fan will die beyond any shadow of a doubt.”
“Ha-ha-ha, show me, just whose hands will these lands fall into.” Zhuge Changfeng replied.
You Ming smiled and went after the emperor.
The jail had regained tranquility, with water dripping to Zhuge Changfeng’s humming…
The emperor burst into the imperial study and sat down, “Guard!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” Someone was already bowing.
“Is Shadow King back yet?”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“At this critical juncture he isn’t back? Just what is he doing?” The emperor slapped the table.
A soldier fell to his knee, “Your Majesty, sir Shadow King requests an audience. Quanrong’s high commander and his generals await outside the palace as well.”
“Send them in!” The emperor rushed.
Shadow King brought with him the echelons of Quanrong army.
Touba Lian’er and Tuoba Liufeng heard of their father’s arrival and were now together with him, along with the Eight Wolf Wardens and the Imperial Tutor. All of them were here before the emperor.
“Greetings, Your Majesty!” Tuoba Tieshan hinted at a bow, while others offered a full one.
The emperor smiled, “Commander, your reputation precedes your name. Now that I see you, it doesn’t do you justice, ha-ha-ha…”
The emperor went to the heart of things, “Commander, how did it go at your end, is it done?”
Everyone looked hopefully at Tuoba Tieshan.
It was about the fight between him and Dugu Zhantian. Everyone wished to know the result.
Blushing, Tuoba Tieshan hesitated. Shadow King took charge with a sigh, “Your Majesty, I have taken Dugu Zhantian down from the shadows…”
The emperor interjected and Shadow King continued, “But Zhuo Fan showed up just then, becoming Dugu Army’s new Marshal and took the struggling soldiers away.”
The emperor shouted, “That punk took Dugu Army? It’s bad enough with his strength but now he’s even more of a pain. How is it that you didn’t stop him? Or Dugu Army at least?”
Shadow King sighed, “Your Majesty is aware of his uncanny skills and I alone am not a match. But I don’t know how, he even got Commander Touba’s beast army to cower. He even took Commander Touba hostage…”
Tuoba Tieshan interjected.
That might very well be the worst humiliation of his life.
The children looked astonished. [Their undefeated father lost to a boy?]
Touba Lian’er was worried, “Father, did he hurt you?”
“Ha-ha-ha, he was only acting tough but could do nothing to me.” Tuoba Tieshan shirked it off.
Zha Lahan glared at the other five wolves, “Is this how you guard the commander, letting the enemy take our leader? What a disgrace!”
The wolves snorted, with Slaughter Wolf glumly saying, “The brat has creepy skills. In that moment of chaos, you’d fare no better. But to a cocky man like you, it will fall on deaf ears, having not clashed with him.”
“Who said I haven’t? I and Zhe Bie had him cornered three on one. Yet Zhe Bie ended up bedridden for a month…”
Zhe Bie nudged Zha Lahan, though a little late.
The Eight Wolf Wardens looked around and saw familiar looks. [Ah, the kid got all our asses handed to us.]
Their mood hit rock bottom.
Coming to Tianyu had given them the worst defeat of their careers…
Tuoba Tieshan frowned, “Your Majesty, just what on earth is he? How come we’ve never heard of someone with such skill?”
“Father, allow me. I’ve been in Tianyu for months now and had him investigated.”
Tuoba Liufeng said, “Zhuo Fan came from a no-name clan. He was born a servant and when the clan was on the brink of destruction, became its steward when all that was left of the clan was two children and a guard. From then on, he made deals with powerful figures, taking him ten years to bring that clan from the brink of collapse to what we see today, leading the enemy faction. His Majesty even gave him Best Steward Beneath Heaven title as evidence of his remarkable skills in leading.
“He knows how to handle his men, taking the houses’ experts for himself. His allies have complete trust in him, bearing heavy responsibility. Yet even so, everyone respects and fears him. Enemies and friends alike have the same view. Cunning as a weasel, sadistic as a wolf, shifty as a snake and grand like a dragon. He may show off every chance he gets, but inside is an unscrupulous twisted mind waiting for the chance to pounce.”
“Correct, the brat has become the biggest thorn in my side.” The emperor admitted.
Tuoba Tieshan said, “I knew he was something, but never this much. I need to be even more cautious with him than with Dugu Zhantian.”
“To that end, I ask Commander Touba to march on Windgaze City!” The emperor urged.
Tuoba Tieshan jerked, “But I only just got to the imperial capital. My army…”
“The kid is just too deceitful. In the name of his lord, he is amassing power. I can’t denounce him either, not when you’ve strutted into Tianyu for everyone to see. Any delay will have him at the helm of millions of soldiers. If the empire’s three guardian sects get wind of this, our deal will fall through.”
They all gasped at Zhuo Fan’s quick reaction.
“To guarantee a favorable resolution of this war, I’ll be sending my Divine Dragons and Shadow King. Alas, the enemy has its own share of capable experts…” The emperor frowned.
Imperial Tutor spoke at last, “Three experts from the Beast Taming Sect have come as well. No matter how tough the enemy is, it will prove for naught…”