Chapter 72: The Merciless Flames of War

In the spring of his second year here, the Mongol Horde led by Fan Lingyue assaulted the City of Yangui, however, they merely blockaded it and didn’t attack, confusing the residents within.

The reinforcements from Grand Xia continually poured in from all over the empire, whether it was supplies or soldiers, they all rushed towards the frontline at Yan Gui.

Three days later, the Xia Emperor woke up from his sickly slumber and resumed court. As he read through the mountain of reports sent in by the hour and by the minute, his wizened face grew ever colder.

Ten days later, another bolt from the blue struck the empire of Grand Xia. Yangui had fallen in just one night. All 170 000 soldiers were defeated without any survivors left. The Northern Marquis was severely injured during the battle and had gone missing.

It was an earthshaking piece of news and even the most ardent of supporters amongst the citizenry could no longer put their blind faith in the invincibility of Grand Xia.

Within the walls of Qinghe City, Zhang Sun first reacted with shock and then anger. She had definitely passed on that letter to the Xia Emperor and yet he didn’t act.

With its defenders dead, the Mongols marched into the city unimpeded and massacred the residents. In just the span of a few days, over a million citizens were murdered. With no one left alive, the corpses piled high into the sky and a river of blood flowed. This heartless order which sent a shiver down the spines of even the most hardened of generals was given by the Lady Strategist herself.

Half a day later, the 300 000 strong Mongol Army set off once more.

In the western region of Grand Xia, the city of West Ling was finally breached right after the fall of Yangui. Having lost the supervision of Marquis Xueyi and faced with the heavy cavalry of the cult, the city’s defenders were completely defeated. Even without their horses, the heavy cavalry of the cult were a formidable force.

With the wind in their sails, the Mongols and the Cult advanced through the north and west of Grand Xia unhindered, slaughtering every living being in their path.

Under these crushing pressures, the united front of Grand Xia finally began to crack. Within the empire, three cities rose up in rebellion and started a civil war. With both internal and external forces working against it at once, the thousand year old empire seemed like it was in its twilight years.

Standing at the front of the vast Mongol Horde, Fan Lingyue gazed at the horizon above the Imperial City of Grand Xia. Its once unshakeable destiny no longer seemed as invincible as before, even now, these purple strands of destiny were in the midst of fraying. Looks like no matter how strong an empire was, it couldn’t stand the march of time.

With their fearsome warhorses, the iron-blooded cavalry of the Mongols were unmatched throughout the lands whether it was terms of combat strength or numbers.

Over 100 000 horsemen plus 200 000 elite troops, these were the troops under the complete control of Fan Lingyue. Under her command, they ravaged the northern region of Grand Xia with each step they took.

Qinghe City…

Three days ago, Marquis Pingan was given the command to march north as well. Bringing the remaining 150 000 troops of Qinghe with him, there were less than 10 000 troops left defending the city.

That was how serious the situation was in the north. Having lost a heavily defended city in less than a day, the massacre of Yangui left a crushing burden on the empire along with overwhelming grief.

Amidst all these, Ning Chen laid there on the bed within Qinghe Manor, unconscious as always. Zhang Sun only had three Reversing Heaven Pills left in her possession and all of them had already been fed to the boy. Right now, his life was preserved by the sheer force of these domineering medicines. Thus it was that zhang Sun’s domineering will showed itself in the most unexpected and forthright manner once more. As long as she didn’t want him to die, he couldn’t die, even if he was already a foot into the grave.

Ever since the fall of Yangui, Zhang Sun made the decision to distance herself from the palace. Without a doubt, the Xia Emperor had gone mad, even allowing the death of over 170000 soldiers and a million citizens under the ruthless blades of the Mongols despite being warned of it.

Every day, Qing Ning would come over to perform a blood transfusion on Ning Chen. For this reason, the manager from Du An Pharmacy was transferred over by Zhang Sun’s command. While they didn’t know if it would help, it was worth a shot.

The list of blood donors was only restricted to Qing Ning as Zhang Sun didn’t dare to allow anyone else to try. She distinctly remembered what Ning Chen told her previously — the more people you drew blood from, the more dangerous the transfusion was.

By now, Ning Chen’s body was filled to the brim with violent medicinal energies from the three Reversing Heaven Pills. Under their regenerative properties, his body underwent a constant cycle of destruction and reconstruction. For every tissue reconstructed, an even stronger destructive force would wreck it a second later.

Looking at the shattered body of Ning Chen, her heart couldn’t help but ache, at the same time, she felt responsible for his plight. Back when the Xia Emperor recalled Prince Yan to the palace, she immediately felt that something was up. Though the letters sent by those four confucian officials and the rumors spreading around the city had played a part in raising the Emperor’s suspicion, it wasn’t to the extent that he would have acted out against the Prince.

In light of that, even the people who spread those rumors were suspicious. Since the target wasn’t the Prince, then their real target must’ve been Ning Chen.

She sent word of her own suspicions to Prince Yan who upon receiving these warnings, immediately defied his confinement and barged out of the palace. Unfortunately, it was still too late.

Yet neither she nor the Prince would’ve ever imagined that the mastermind behind all these was the Lady Strategist. Even more so, they didn’t expect her to think so highly of Ning Chen to the point where she even dispatched the head disciple of the Mongol’s Xiantian, Fourth Sword.

To kill a chicken one didn’t need a butcher’s knife. Everyone knew the logic behind that but not the Lady Strategist — even if it meant using a blade several times larger than needed, she wanted Ning Chen dead.

Seated on top of his dragon throne, the Xia Emperor silently flipped through the reports in his hand, his face turning ever grimmer which each report.

“Your Majesty, Jiangyu City has been acting strangely as of late, they might be plotting a rebellion.” Within the grand hall of Revelation, a shadowy figure flickered into existence and knelt before the Emperor.

“Good, good, very good!” The coldness in the Emperor’s eyes right now could even form. That was the fourth city, he truly wasn’t lacking in “loyal and competent officials”!

“Keep investigating, let’s see how many more cities plan on revolting!” Bellowed the Xia Emperor.

“Understood.” With that, the shadow guardsman disappeared into the darkness.

Seeing that the guardsman had left, the Xia Emperor shut his eyes wearily and in a soft voice, muttered, “Pei Liang, has there been any movement in the Western Palace?”

Hearing that, a wizened eunuch stepped forth and in a hoarse voice, replied, “Nothing suspicious yet!”

The Xia Emperor nodded his head and continued asking, “What about the Empress?”

“Your Majesty, Her Majesty hasn’t left the Marquis’ manor ever since she left for Qinghe city. It looks like she won’t be returning to the palace anytime soon.” Eunuch Pei answered in an earnest tone.

The Xia Emperor sighed, “She’s blaming this Emperor.”

Having said that, he opened his eyes and turned to look at the old eunuch who had followed him for over 40 years. “Pei Liang, has this Emperor erred?”

Eunuch Pei was old, so old that his face was covered in wrinkles and his body was mostly skin and bones now. Yet as he heard those words from his emperor, his expression was just as alert as ever and just as expressionless. “Your Majesty is the emperor of Grand Xia, whatever the Xia Emperor does is always right!”

“Haha.” The Xia Emperor erupted in uproarious laughter, a crazed look vaguely visible in his eyes. In a domineering voice, he bellowed to no one in particular, “That’s right, this Emperor is the monarch of Grand Xia, whatever this Emperor does is forever right. This Emperor is curious, how do these rats plan on swallowing up this Dragon!”

Pei Liang didn’t say another word but merely retreated a few steps back into his shadowy corner.

Amidst the cool air of Revelation Hall, there were still traces of Xia Rui’s crazed laughter.

Xia Rui, the former crown prince of the Xia dynasty and the current Emperor of Grand Xia, seemed like a completely different man having taken off his mask of cowardly prudence. He seemed that much more terrifying and that much more crazed.

Even now, that fateful letter delivered by Ning Chen was still lying on top of the Emperor’s desk. Who would’ve thought that such a simple letter would end up shouldering the lives of 170000 soldiers and over a million citizens.

Xia Rui chose to do nothing and allowed the events to play out. The city fell and the people died yet still he waited. He was waiting for a breakthrough.

“Men, prepare the carriage!”

“Understood.”

Half a day later, the Xia Emperor left the palace with 3000 personal guards escorting him in order to pray for the fallen troops on Qihua Mountain. The moment that happened, the news spread like wildfire across the world at a speed no messenger pigeon could compete with.

In this world, there were transmission methods that could, shockingly, cross an entire empire in moments, methods that ordinary folk couldn’t even fathom. Without a doubt, the Emperor leaving his palace was a major event worthy of such effort.

Qihua Mountain was located in the western region of Grand Xia roughly 300li (150km) away. If one rushed, the trip could be completed in merely three days. Thus, the Emperor smoothly reached his destination of Qihua Mountain on the third day under the watchful guard of his personal guards.

On the day the Xia Emperor was to climb the Heavenly Communion Altar, the grounds were sealed off tight by the 3000 guardsman while the Emperor himself had Eunuch Pei and five other Shadow Dragon guardsmen accompanying him.

Yet, the unexpected happened. A Half-step Xiantian expert and eight other Peak of Ninth-grade experts scaled the cliff walls of Qihua Mountain and caught everyone by surprise with their sudden appearance.

Half a day later, a shocking piece of news spread throughout the lands and stunned the masses. There was an attempt on the Xia Emperor’s life that ended with the Emperor falling off a cliff.

Initially, this news was met with skepticism but the moment the three grand dukes came out to officiate the court session once more, all that doubt disappeared.

Everyone knew that the grand dukes of the Xia Empire only stepped in when they were forced to by dire situations. That was the law in Grand Xia and had been so for over a thousand years.

Of those assassins, only the Half-step Xiantian survived yet after bringing news of the Emperor’s death back to Jiangyu City, he too died. Since then, the Xia Emperor falling off the cliff became a verified fact.

The empire of Grand Xia was immediately thrown into chaos that even the three grand dukes couldn’t suppress. After the revolt of Jiangyu City, three other cities revolted as well. As of now, the curtains had been raised on the Rebellion of the Seven Cities.

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In light of these external and internal threats, the once invincible Grand Xia seemed all that more isolated, their fall all that more inevitable.

Only now did people realize that Grand Xia had so many internal issues plaguing it. After 1000 years of dominance, no one even considered the possibility of it falling let alone having a rebellion.

At the end of the day, the masses of Grand Xia had underestimated the allure of power. Now that the Xia empire looked to be on the verge of collapse, these ambitious officials could no longer wait in silence.

It was then that Ning Chen finally woke up. Head dyed gray and dishevelled, his fingers gently jerked as he laid nearly motionless on his bed. At that same moment, the distant Ah Man reacted to him and her fingers began moving as well.

The Crystal Chestnut Flower grown from his lifeblood had inextricably bound the two together. Even separated by a thousand Li (500km), that didn’t stop their heart from resonating.

As if in unison, a look of joy spread all over the faces of the Man King and Zhang Sun; their tireless vigil had finally paid off.

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Different from Zhang Sun however, the Man King’s joy was tinged with a hint of sadness. As for Zhang Sun, her joy was dominated by an even greater sense of anger.

Time after time, she stepped in to protect him, even going so far as to defy the Emperor’s will and yet he recklessly throws his life away like that!

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