Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Under the wall of Beiluo City...
The thump of hooves was like thunder.
Amid the clouds of dust, Lu Changkong dashed toward Feng Shi like a bolt of lightning as the mane of his horse flew and whipped in the wind. He had donned his heavy armor, and he gripped his long halberd, his eyes burning with a glowing intensity.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
On the city wall, a strong man started swinging the drumsticks. The deafening beating of the battle drum began.
Feng Shi's attention was locked on the charging horseman. His eyes grew intense as his opponent rushed at him with such deadly aggression that the yellow sand beneath him started to rise before him like an ocean swell.
"Lu Changkong… a Grandmaster-level martial arts practitioner!" Feng Shi murmured to himself. The next instant, he burst into deafening laughter.
He spurred his shaggy black horse, who neighed loudly.
Without the slightest trace of fear, Feng Shi also flew at his opponent like a roar of thunder.
Everything seemed to fly behind him.
His eyes glowed with bloodlust, and he held his giant knife horizontally.
Two figures on their horses, one from the north and the other from the south, were pounding toward each other.
Feng Shi was a huge man: a First-Tier practitioner who had focused on external energy development.
Lu Changkong, though quite stalwart, was not as large. He had focused on internal energy development, which was mainly about the skill of controlling Qi and blood.
The two got closer and closer to each other, like two lightning bolts.
Lu Changkong lowered his upper body closer to the back of his horse. The long halberd in his hand suddenly swept out.
The blue veins in his arm bulged. They looked like tiny dragons.
Feng Shi roared.
In the deafening and blood-boiling drumbeats, Lu Changkong's long halberd and Feng Shi's knife clashed.
Sparks flew as the two met. The whole battlefield echoed with the explosive crash.
Feng Shi was extremely strong and brave, reveling in his ridiculous natural strength.
By his second strike, he had overpowered his opponent with only his strength.
Although Feng Shi was not a Grandmaster yet, his power was no weaker than that of one.
Lu Changkong's sharp eyes were filled with murderous intent. He looked at Feng Shi as if he were staring at a dead man.
Lu Changkong's long halberd suddenly rotated in his hand. He moved the Qi and blood in his body to give his weapon a boost so strong that even his helmet was bumped into the air.
The long halberd swept around Feng Shi's knife, pressing it down.
Startled, Feng Shi dropped his precious knife.
Lu Changkong snorted and threw his long halberd right at Feng Shi's weapon, pinning it to the ground.
Soon after that, Lu Changkong's fist was out.
Feng Shi roared in rage and met Lu Changkong's fist with his own.
However, since Lu Changkong was an internal practitioner whose Qi and blood flowed thick and rich, he quickly threw three punches in a row.
The blows landed before Feng Shi could recover his energy.
Feng Shi fell off his horse and hit the ground heavily, coughing blood as he flopped over the dirt.
"The city master rocks! Kill!"
"Our city master is a Grandmaster! Some savage with only physical power is no match for him!"
Up the city wall of Beiluo City, the defending generals and soldiers were all cheering. The morale of the defenders had been significantly boosted.
The army of North County, on the other hand, fell silent.
Lu Changkong didn't get complacent. His eyes were still calm and cold. Circling his horse, he quickly snatched his long halberd from the ground and swept it right at Feng Shi, aiming to cut him in half.
Without hesitation, Feng Shi started running back to his men.
His strong legs were like a pair of pillars, and the ground started shaking as if some giant beast were stomping on it.
Deep in the camps of the North County army...
Several huge tents stood.
A soldier flew into the largest tent and dropped to one knee.
"Mayor! The city master of Beiluo City came out alone. General Feng was defeated and forced to retreat," the soldier reported loudly.
On the central seat in the tent, a slender man sat elegantly. He was wearing armor and a red cape that fell straight from his shoulders and over his back.
As he sat in his chair, one of his hands held his chin, his index finger tapping on it.
Upon hearing the news, instead of getting worried, he looked somewhat pleased.
"I knew it! Lu Changkong came out in person."
Inside the tent, several generals also had strange looks of pleasure on their faces.
"Just as the mayor predicted! Beiluo City is ours to take." They all hurried to congratulate the mayor, Tantai Xuan.
His elegant, refined face formed a gentle smile.
"As crafty as that old man Lu Changkong is, I knew it wouldn't be easy to get him to come out alone. Only some foul-mouthed, hot-headed character like Feng Shi had a chance to provoke him to come out of the city."
Tantai Xuan stood up. There was an edge to his gentle eyes, a hidden sharpness.
"We invited you Grandmasters to make it impossible for Lu Changkong to return to Beiluo City today. We only have one chance. If Lu Changkong makes it back inside the city and rallies his forces to defend the walls, it will take us months to take Beiluo City, at the very least."
"Besides, it's time for our insiders to take action. With both external and internal crises, Beiluo City is doomed," Tantai Xuan said, putting on his helmet and waving his hand.
All the generals present accepted the order with their fists cupped in their hands.
The sound of horse hooves was thunder-loud.
Feng Shi's heart skipped a beat.
Suddenly, the lines of North County's forces parted, and several figures on horses dashed toward Lu Changkong.
The roar of Qi and blood within their bodies was loud and clear.
Internal Blasting Resonance! Grandmasters!
All these men rushing out were Grandmasters!
Lu Changkong's chest felt tight. He drew the reins, and the horse reared, its hooves thrashing high in the air.
Feng Shi was relieved. He burst into wild laughter.
The air crackled with the power of the Grandmasters flying toward their opponent.
Four men moved in, each holding their own weapon of choice: a spear, a sword, a knife, and a whisk.
"Luo Sword Sect, Black Tiger Clan… and Green City Temple?!"
This surprised Lu Changkong. He hadn't expected them to send out four Grandmasters, not to mention that only one of them was a North County general and the other three were all from the martial arts world.
"As practitioners from the martial arts world, you were supposed to answer to the Imperial Advisor's call and contribute to our Great Zhou Dynasty. Instead, you have betrayed us and joined the traitors!" Lu Changkong roared in outrage. A vein at his temple bulged.
The long halberd in his hand moved as if of its own accord, its silver blade blinding, and clashed with the Grandmasters' sword, knife, and whisk at once.
Though he was up against three opponents, Lu Changkong didn't let them get the better of him.
Some distance away, Tantai Xuan was standing on an observation platform that had been temporarily erected in the midst of the North County army. His eyes grew more intense.
"Lu Changkong's gotten even stronger... Luckily, we have three Grandmasters from the martial arts world helping us. Otherwise, it would be quite difficult to stop him," Tantai Xuan murmured with a sigh.
"Unfortunately, even a Grandmaster like Lu Changkong is still human."
With one strike, Lu Changkong pressed his opponents back. He then turned around without hesitation and rode back toward Beiluo City at breakneck speed.
His power had improved greatly in recent months. He had thought everything was under control. Yet the Grandmasters had unexpectedly betrayed the empire and joined the enemy. Lu Changkong knew he couldn't fall off the horse. Once they brought him down, Beiluo City was doomed.
Suddenly, Lu Changkong's eyes filled with overwhelming rage. His heart boiled over with anger.
"How dare you!" Lu Changkong snarled. His voice exploded in deafening waves of sound.
The city wall was a mess.
Armed men wearing Confucianist gowns from the three aristocratic families were fighting against the defending officers and soldiers.
As he fought, the city's front gate had been open the whole time.
Now, the gate was shut. Lu Changkong was isolated.
By the time Ning Zhao pushed Lu Fan's wheelchair to the city wall, the outer edges of Beiluo City were complete mayhem.
Behind the gate, dead bodies lay in piles. One of Lu Changkong's most trusted officers had been run through with a long spike. He was kneeling on the ground with his eyes wide open, still filled with rage. He wasn't breathing.
In the air was the pungent scent of blood.
The men in Confucianist gowns killed the soldiers guarding the gate, then shut and barred the gate.
Lu Fan's brow was deeply furrowed. He grew a little pale. He covered his nose and mouth with his woolen blanket. He wasn't used to the odor.
As martial arts practitioners, Ning Zhao and Yi Yue were no strangers to scenes of fighting and death like this.
Even Ni Yu had seen her share of blood.
For Lu Fan, it was the first time he had witnessed such a hellish scene.
"Young Master..." Ning Zhao eyed him with concern.
Lu Fan waved his hands slightly, a look of sudden enlightenment passing briefly over his face.
That was what troubled times looked like.
In turbulent periods of history, lives were highly disposable. Even though he had the stats page, if he couldn't survive, it would all be for nothing.
Those were the rules of this world.
"I'm fine," Lu Fan said calmly. "I'm just not a big fan of the smell of blood."
Three men wearing green Confucianist gowns and holding long, bloodstained swords stepped into the street, blocking Lu Fan and his maids.
They eyed Lu Fan in the wheelchair strangely.
It was the Young Master of Beiluo City. As men of the three aristocratic families, they could recognize him. But the sick Young Master Lu showing up at the city wall was something they hadn't expected.
They exchanged looks, and twisted smiles crossed their faces.
"Young Master Lu, this is not the place for you to write poems or meet girls. You should leave now. A disabled guy like you shouldn't be here."
"Beiluo City will soon have a new master. Cripple Lu, you might as well go home and pack. Hurry! Run for your life!"
"Run for his life? Without his dad, how long can this cripple last? I do think the maids are pretty nice, though. We'll be more than glad to take care of them on his behalf."
The three Confucianist-looking men sneered and laughed, ignoring the look on Lu Fan's face.
Before that day, if they had run into Lu Fan, they would have given him their respect. Now that their betrayal was so obvious, they didn't bother pretending anymore.
A paralyzed man in a wheelchair and three maids. It was a pretty funny combination.
Of course, the three men weren't intentionally underestimating the women, either.
Since Ning Zhao had reached the level of Grandmaster, she had hidden her Qi and blood flow deep in her body. It was impossible to tell her level, not to mention that she didn't look like she was even armed.
They paid more attention to Yi Yue, who had a long whip tucked inside her belt. She was apparently a martial arts practitioner.
Judging by her face, they could tell that she had a strong flow of Qi and blood. The veins at her temples bulged too. She was no ordinary practitioner.
As for Ni Yu, who was holding an umbrella...
She was simply there to be cute.
Ning Zhao's beautiful face was emotionless.
Yi Yue had lifted the whip at her side. Her eyes were cold and sharp.
Ni Yu stood right next to Lu Fan with the umbrella handle tightly clenched in her arms. Her petite body was shaking.
Lu Fan still sat calmly in the wheelchair. His fingers were knitted and resting on the thin woolen blanket over his legs. His gaze traveled to the top of the city wall in the distance, and he frowned a bit.
It had happened after all.
He knew it. Since the system had assigned him the quest, he had no doubt about what was happening.
"You humiliated the Young Master... Die!" Yi Yue's foxy face contorted in a ghastly expression of fury.
Her long whip hit the ground, striking the street with an explosive sound.
Then Ning Zhao put her delicate hand on Yi Yue's shoulder.
"Yue, stay with the Young Master," Ning Zhao said softly.
In the next second, her small, soft hand lightly patted one of the wheelchair handles.
A silver gleam darted out.
A long sword with a blade as thin as a cicada's wing was hidden inside the wheelchair.
She took the sword in hand.
Ning Zhao swept out like a light breeze, with Internal Blasting Resonances crackling from her body.
The three Confucianist men were stunned.
Then they were horrified.
"Internal Blasting Resonances? A Grandmaster?"
"A Grandmaster maid? What kind of show-off arrangement is this?"
Those three Confucianist men from the three great aristocratic families had never expected that the quiet, graceful, beautiful maid was a Grandmaster.
They were sickened by fear, and they had lost their will to fight.
They quickly turned to escape.
However, in front of a Grandmaster, three Second-Tier practitioners didn't have the luxury of running.
The silver-white gleam of the blade shot like lightning through the throats of the three men.
Their green gowns were soaked in blood as they dropped dead.
Swish, swish, swish.
As if a gentle gust of wind had just gone past, no dust was left.
Ning Zhao walked back to her group. She flicked away the drops of blood on her Cicada Wing Sword before putting it back into the sheath.
Lu Fan was covering his nose and mouth with the blanket. His brows knitted.
He didn't even look at the three slaughtered Confucianist men.
"Sister Ning, let's go up the wall."
Lu Fan kept one hand over his nose and mouth and tapped the other one lightly on the blanket.
His voice was a little shaky at first.
Ning Zhao's face bloomed with a charming smile. Instead of answering, she continued to gently push the wheelchair forward. Her gait carried them smoothly past the three dead bodies, and the four of them resumed their walk to the city wall.
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