The Song of Swords: Chapter 175 + Chapter 176 preview out!

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  • Chapter 98: Mercenaries

    The trio quickly made their way out of the city, settling into a quick sprint as they sped in the direction of RockFire City.

    It would take two days for them to reach RockFire City. In the meantime, let’s explain what Jia Yuan’s plan is.

    First off, Jia Yuan knew he needed to acquire the protection and backing needed to challenge the Four Kingdoms. This is where Guo Huo as well as the teacher come into play.

    After Jia Yuan had read the first 40 shelves of books and scrolls in the teacher’s estate, the idea of forming his own new Kingdom wormed its way into his head. After a while, he couldn’t help but think about it whenever he wasn’t reading or training!

    One day, he told the teacher about it, who had laughed after hearing Jia Yuan’s plan.

    “Fine,” the teacher had said. “If one day you really do try to create a new Kingdom, I’ll pledge my name to your Kingdom, hahaha. You really are one ambitious brat. Read those books and scrolls and you want to try and recreate the Sword Kingdom again? It would definitely be a good thing for the Continent as a whole…hmm…”

    After saying this, the teacher had dismissed Jia Yuan, saying that he needed to meditate on the matter.

    Meanwhile, Jia Yuan knew that he had another source of backing: Guo Huo and the Black Wing Merchant Guild. As Jia Yuan’s Mentor/Master/Teacher, as well as the teacher’s past comrade, Guo Huo would definitely support Jia Yuan’s endeavor.

    But just acquiring backing wasn’t enough. Even if the Water and Earth Kingdoms had all of their troops fighting the Fire and Air Kingdoms, who were too busy defending their own borders to care about anything else, three people wasn’t nearly enough to take over a city. Even though the Kingdoms were at war, the only ones fighting for the Water and Earth Kingdoms were registered soldiers. It was likely that even a small city still had over a hundred cultivators residing in the City.

    None of the Kingdoms were capable of rousing every single capable warrior to fight in the war. As such, many capable warriors stayed behind as mercenaries, guards, or just lived a normal, non-combatant life.

    As such, Jia Yuan knew that his brothers would need to recruit troops. What’s the easiest way to acquire a small army?

    Money.

    But then who would provide the soldiers?

    The Black Wing Merchant Guild! As one of the most influential Guilds on the Continent of the Five Elements, they naturally had their own mercenary Army that they used to guard their Guild Halls, caravans, and Elders. They even kept a large standing Army made up only of strong cultivators who were paid extremely well.

    The mercenaries were paid very well, and were trained extremely well. The Black Wing Merchant Guild had around 20,000 cultivators registered under their name, almost comparable to any of the Four Kingdoms.

    It was precisely this army that Jia Yuan was hoping to utilize to form his new Kingdom.

    Of course, hiring a mercenary army was very expensive and rather risky. After all, the mere fact that a mercenary can be hired for money means they can be re-hired for a larger amount of money.

    But no matter.

    Two days have passed, and the three brothers find themselves in front of RockFire City. They quickly passed through the city gates into the main city, and headed toward the Black Wing Merchant Guild Hall.

    After about twenty minutes, they arrived in front of the Guild Hall. Jia Yuan and Fan Meng walked up to the guards. “Hello! Please tell Guo Huo that Jia Yuan and Fan Meng have arrived. He’ll know who we are.”

    For good measure, Jia Yuan pulled out the gold Currency Card and flashed it in front of the guard’s eyes.

    Seeing the card, the guard’s eyes flashed. “Please wait, sirs. I’ll let him know.”

    Just a few moments later, the guard came back. “He bids you all to go up to his office. Do you need any help?”

    Fan Meng waved his hand. “No, that’ll be all.” He flicked a small fire shard over to the guard, whose face brightened.

    The three walked up to Guo Huo’s office, where they introduced him to Dou Di.

    “Ah? You three are sworn brothers now?” Guo Huo looked delighted as the three told him the news. “Good, good! It’s great to have people you can trust.”

    Guo Huo looked a little wistful as he said the last line, but quickly brightened up.

    He patted Jia Yuan on the shoulder. “You brat, you’ve only been gone for so long but you actually had me believe you were dead. And the moment I find out you actually aren’t dead you’re actually asking me to sell you so many mercenaries! Do you have no shame?”

    Despite the man’s annoyed words, he had a big smile on his face.

    Jia Yuan hugged Guo Huo then backed off. “Hey, old man. Did you manage to get the mercenaries?”

    Guo Huo nodded then shook his head. “I did, but it was very hard to do so. Do you understand how hard I had to work? All of the mercenaries had to return to their respective Kingdoms after the war broke out in fear of being killed by the people around them. I even had to secure permits for them to travel to the destination you wrote me.”

    Jia Yuan nodded. “Yeah, yeah. We owe you one, old man. My question is, how many of them are willing to live as permanent residents in the city?”

    Guo Huo laughed. “Your guess was right. While most of our mercenaries don’t want to be tied down somewhere, there were enough who didn’t care or wanted to have a new city to call home. And like you guessed, some of them have family from the other Kingdoms who they currently aren’t able to safely meet.”

    “They’ll all be under your command within a month. As for the thousand Fire Song Mercenaries you asked for, you can bring them with you now. They’re staying in various places in the city for now, but I can have them all ready to go by tomorrow morning. You just need to deal with their pay...”

    Fan Meng smiled. “You don’t need to worry about that, sir. We’ve acquired enough currency to make even you rather jealous.”

    “Good, good.” Guo Huo decided not to ask. He had a feeling the youngsters would tell him all about it soon enough. “Let’s go, I’ve prepared you guys a feast!”

    The three youngsters cheered as they followed Guo Huo out of his office.

  • edited September 2016
    Chapter 99: Well-equipped Army

    The following day, the trio strolled out of the city alongside Guo Huo, who had decided to come along for the ride.

    The Black Wing Merchant Guild had decided to invest in Jia Yuan’s endeavor, giving him a 50% discount on the hiring fees for their mercenaries.

    In return, if he was to create a Kingdom, the Black Wing Merchant Guild’s transactions in the new Kingdom would be taxed at 80% of the rate of other Merchant Guilds.

    All in all, it was a fairly safe bet by the Black Wing Merchant Guild. If Jia Yuan failed, the mercenaries would probably die for the most part anyway. If Jia Yuan succeeded, they’d have a step up in the new Kingdom.

    Sending Guo Huo along was insurance for the Black Wing Merchant Guild. The four Kingdoms had agreed to not use True Disciples in the war, but if Jia Yuan were to create a new power on the Continent, this rule would naturally not apply to the new power.

    Besides, Guo Huo was worried about Jia Yuan. The last time Jia Yuan went to war, he'd gone missing for an entire year. He knew that he couldn't shield Jia Yuan forever... but he didn't want to let his only disciple, his hope, be rendered hopeless by a True Disciple again.

    About a hundred yards outside the city gates, there stood a thousand or so burly looking men who were chatting amongst themselves. Some of them gazed at the women passing by them, some of them boasted about how great their weapons were.

    However, once a few people spotted Guo Huo, all of them stopped talking and saluted him.

    As a True Disciple, Guo Huo naturally wasn’t lacking in admirers. For hot-blooded warriors like the ones standing in front of him, maybe some of them viewed him as an idol.

    Guo Huo cleared his throat. “Ahem… hello everyone, thank you for coming. This idiot here—“He motioned toward Jia Yuan, “is my disciple, as your military commander for the foreseeable future. Don’t be fooled by his young looks. He’s of the Manipulation realm and was a former Battalion Commander of the Burning Legion.”

    Guo Huo stepped back and Jia Yuan stepped forward. “We need to move out a little more, and then I’ll brief you guys on the mission at hand.”

    He waved his hand, and the mercenaries instantly formed lines. Jia Yuan, Fan Meng, Dou Di and Guo Huo walked through the lines, pleased at the sight.

    Once they had made their way through the ranks. The three began to run at high speed as the troops followed. As they were still close to the city, there was a large amount of traffic. However, the other travelers generally dispersed so that the mercenaries could continue. For those who couldn’t, the mercenaries orderly rushed around them without breaking rank.

    Many of the travelers on the road looked toward the miniature army in awe. So many people running at such high speeds. All of them had to be cultivators! It was quite an inspiring sight. About an hour later, Jia Yuan felt that they had made enough distance. He spread out his sense to make sure that there were no potential enemies nearby.

    In the immediate area, there were a few groups of people traveling to and fro, but there weren’t any suspicious parties. As such, Jia Yuan relaxed and began to brief his troops.

    “I’m sure you’ve been briefed by people of the Black Wing Merchant Guild. I am, as of this moment, effectively permanently hiring you from the Black Wing Merchant Guild. Not only will you be paid extremely well for your efforts in battle, but your families will be welcome to live in any cities we capture. Properties that may otherwise be out of your reach monetarily may present themselves as potential prizes.”

    “That you are here means that you have told the Black Wing Merchant Guild that you are willing to be permanently hired and that you are willing to be loyal to the new Kingdom. In essence, if our quest to create a new Kingdom succeeds, you will be the first official troops of the new Kingdom. I will not tolerate deserters. If you have any such plans to leave, you can go now.”

    He paused and let his gaze sweep across all of those who stood before him.

    “Follow me, and I will promise you that you will never regret it.”

    Seeing that nobody left, Jia Yuan was pleased. He waved toward Fan Meng. “Make a straight line and we’ll begin to distribute armor. As mercenaries, I’m sure you have your own weapons of choice. If you don’t currently have a weapon, I guess we can try to supply you guys on the way.”

    “Our target is about a week’s hard sprinting from here. Our plan is to get within 5 miles of the city, and then rest for a day so that our fighting power will not be diminished, and so that we will have time to go over the battle plan.”

    “I do understand that it is harder to run in full armor, but I assure you, this armor won’t hinder you much, and I’m sure all of you are strong enough to bear with it. I’d rather be safe than to be attacked by an enemy without being ready.”

    Jia Yuan clapped his hands and all of the mercenaries lined up for their armor. As the first ones received their new armor, many of the mercenaries began to gasp.

    The armor was simply too awe inspiringly made! The armor’s color was completely black. It look extremely sturdy, but some parts, such as the shoulder area, were made with awe-inspiring designs.

    After wearing the armor, each any every mercenary looked like a demon god of war.

    Not only did the armor look good, but some of the more attentive mercenaries checked the inside of the armor, where they could see some inscriptions. Clearly, the inscriptions were there to boost one’s fighting power and defensive capabilities.

    Soon enough, all of the mercenaries were outfitted in the armor and were lined up in formation.

    It was truly a breathtaking sight!

    Jia Yuan and the rest allowed themselves a few moments to simply take in the view. Even though the Burning Legion was well equipped, the armor the 31st Battalion had been supplied with simply couldn’t compare.

    Even Guo Huo, who had travelled beyond the reaches of the continent, had a peculiar look in his eye as he looked over the soldiers.

    Jia Yuan clapped his hands again. “Fan Meng. Lead the way!”

  • Chapter 100: GoldRiver City

    Guo Wei staggered back into the alley-way. “I swear, I didn’t know it was a trap! I was just telling you what I knew!”

    Mo-Ri Jaio lifted Guo Wei up by the collar. “I’ll let you live this one time, only because all of your previous information was accurate. If you lead me into a trap again, I’ll make sure you’re tortured so heavily that your ancestors will hear you scream. Understand?”

    Guo Wei’s face blanched. “I understand.”

    “Now, do you know what those brats did after they killed all my men?”

    “Ah-yes. They brought the bodies of your comrades to the royal palace. After a bit, they left the Palace and left the city altogether.”

    Mo-Ri Jaio’s eyes narrowed. “Where did they go?”

    A few days later, about a thousand men stood before the gates of GoldRiver City.

    Jia Yuan swept his gaze over the city. “According to what I’ve read, this is where the former capital of the Sword Kingdom used to be. Even now such a wonderful city sits in its place.”

    Dou Di nodded. “It’ll be a good start. Brother… our childhood dreams were truly too conservative, eh?”

    Jia Yuan laughed. “It’s not that they were conservative, but rather we just misjudged our potential.”

    “Don’t count the chickens before they hatch. We still need to take the city first.” Fan Meng chided the other two, but there was a smile on his face as well.

    Inside the city, the Governor of the city was walking along the walls in a panic, while the Militia Leader stood gazing over the walls.

    The Militia Leader was rather confident. “My lord, judging from what I see, they only have about a thousand troops. Despite the fact that we only have a handful of actual warriors left in the city, we were still able to scrounge up over 5 thousand troops. That, combined with our defensive walls, should be more than enough to defend the city.”

    The Governor wasn’t buying it. “Then tell me why the hell a thousand troops are standing out there without retreating! They aren’t flying any flags. Who are they? Why are they here?”

    The Militia Leader shrugged. “Does it matter? There’s only two outcomes here. We either defend the city and continue to live our lives, or they break our defenses and do whatever they wish with the city. Besides, that’s assuming they even want to fight. I’m not even sure they want to fight.”

    The City Governor turned around. “Why?”

    “Well-“

    At this point, the Militia Leader cut himself off, because a loud voice could be heard from outside the city. It was that of Jia Yuan’s.

    “Hello Governor, Militia leaders and whatnot. I can see that you’ve prepared defenses. From what we can tell, you’ve prepared roughly 5,000 fighters to defend against us.”

    Fan Meng nodded. A few days ago, he’d used GoldRiver City’s population numbers as well as some other factors to calculate the city’s total fighting force. The number he got? Just over 5,000 capable fighters.

    Jia Yuan continued to speak. “I can tell you now that it is useless. I see ballistae mounted on the walls. I see that you are prepared to fight. Or so you think. As someone who does not wish to shed blood, I am willing to tell you right now that your defenses are useless in front of us. I would advise you to surrender.”

    The Militia Leader proudly looked down on Jia Yuan from over the city walls. “Ha! You’re still a youngling and yet you want to take over the city with such a paltry amount of troops? And you dare to say such big words? We won’t surrender!”

    Jia Yuan shifted his head a bit to the right. “Alright.” He took out his black sword and unsheathed it. “To me!”

    Using the power of his Song, he flew up into the air, promptly followed by the rest of his troops. Guo Huo tagged along for good measure.

    Instantly, the Militia Leader’s face blanched. The entire enemy battalion was full of strong cultivators who were capable of flying! No wonder they were so confident! In the entire city, there were probably less than 100 cultivators, most of whom were fairly weak ones.

    The entire population of GoldRiver City was only about 100,000, and that was before a large amount of the fighting population had left to fight in the war. Now, there were probably only about 70,000 people, 30 thousand of which were capable of wielding a weapon of any kind. Of those 30 thousand, only 5 thousand of those could actually be considered fighters.

    Mere seconds later, Jia Yuan and his soldiers flew to the top of the walls and landed in front of the city’s defenders, and fighting ensued. In mere seconds, almost two thousand of the city defenders died. Cultivators vs. Non-cultivators. Was there even a point to fighting?

    The Militia Leader quickly yelled at the top of his lungs. “STOP. WE SURRENDER!” He couldn’t bear to see all of the fighters die for nothing.

    A bit later, Jia Yuan walked up to him a cocky smile on his face. “Why didn’t you just surrender in the first place? Where’s the City Governor?”

    The City Governor shakily walked up to Jia Yuan. “Er, yes my lord. What can I do for you?”

    Jia Yuan smiled and gestured in Dou Di’s direction. Puzzled, Dou Di walked over.

    “Governor, meet Dou Di. Give him the city rights.”

    Sighing, the Governor nodded. “Come with me back to the Governor’s Mansion…” After a moment, Dou Di left with 100 of the mercenaries to the Governor’s Mansion to have the city officially handed over to the brothers.

    Fan Meng and Jia Yuan stayed on the wall with the rest of the troops. “Hey, someone open the gates. We’ll let the citizens leave if they so wish to. However, we’ll give them a message before they do…”

    After about 20 minutes, a stage of sorts had been created in front of the city gates. The citizens of GoldRiver City surrounded the area near the gate, but they were wary of the stage. After all, there were several people standing on the stage, which was in turn guarded by hundreds of soldiers dressed in pitch black armor.

    After a bit, Jia Yuan took his black sword and plunged it into the floor of the stage. Instantly, the surrounding citizens quieted.

    “Hello, citizens of GoldRiver City. I am sorry for those of you who suffered losses in today’s battle. I do not ask for your forgiveness. However, I do ask for your understanding. My brothers and I are creating a new Kingdom. One in which people from all walks of life, from all of the current kingdoms, can live in harmony.”

    “Why do you fight against those from the Fire Kingdom, or those of the Air Kingdom? Is it because they are able to harness the power of different songs? Is that it? Or is it because those in power urge you to go to war for their own interests?”

    “Make the decision for yourselves. I won’t force you to stay. If you wish to leave, you may do so now. If you’d like to try and live with those who will come from other Kingdoms, you can stay and keep everything you currently own. Details on how we are going to operate the city will be released in a few days.”

    “For those who wish to leave anyway, I’d recommend you to travel a large distance before settling down again, as we have our eyes set on the neighboring cities.”

    With that, Jia Yuan waved his hands and the gate opened. Instantly the surrounding area was filled with the noise of families debating whether or not stay.

    Eventually, about 30% of the population left, while the rest stayed. As the day came to a close, the three brothers stood at the edge of the wall, staring into the city.

    Finally, Fan Meng spoke up. “Phase one of the plan is complete. That went pretty smoothly, don’t you think?”

    The other two nodded, but neither of them smiled. Finally, Jia Yuan sighed.  “We’ve got a long way to go… the hard part isn’t here yet.”

  • Chapter 101: Dragging Down

    A week later, the various Black Wing Merchant Guild soldiers had made their way to GoldRiver City, which had been newly christened as “Sword City.”

    Now, they all stood in front of the city gates, divided into three groups.

    In front of Jia Yuan stood 500 cultivators of Fire and 500 cultivators of Water, while in front of Fan Meng stood 500 cultivators of Fire, 500 cultivators of Water, and 1000 cultivators of Air.

    As for the 1000 cultivators of Earth, they stood within the city gates, behind Dou Di.

    The last few days, the three brothers had utilized their time by planning out their actions for the next few weeks.

    They decided that Dou Di would concentrate on working on the defenses of Sword City. With 1000 cultivators of Earth, he would be able to create extremely strong defenses. In the event that Fan Meng and Jia Yuan ran into trouble, Dou Di would provide the security blanket so that the three brothers would be able to survive.

    Jia Yuan was the strongest of the three brothers. As he was in the first level of the Manipulation realm, it was extremely unlikely that any of the cities in his path would have a cultivator capable of fighting him.

    However, Fan Meng’s weak cultivation was not the full reason as to why he was given the largest army. True, Jia Yuan may be able to conquer cities with raw strength, but Fan Meng was the smartest amongst the three brothers and he was also the strategist. As such, he’d been given the hardest task and needed the most troops.

    Even though he was the one who had contributed the most to developing the plan, he’d spent the last few days fighting with himself. Was he really good enough to accept the main task at hand? Was it okay for him to control the most troops? After all, the next few weeks… would likely determine not only the size of the future Sword Kingdom, but if things went badly, the next few weeks could result in him and his brothers being killed.

    In the end, it was Jia Yuan and Dou Di who gave him the support needed to clear his mind. In the end, he’d taken the responsibility of handling 2000 of the hired cultivators, all of whom were much stronger than him.

    The three brothers looked at each other, and entered a three-way embrace.

    Jia Yuan spoke up. “Brothers, we will see each other in a few weeks. Don’t you two dare die on me.”

    Dou Di gave a wry smile. “Please, I’m just being this city’s mother. It’s you two who are at risk…”

    Fan Meng just smiled. Even though his brothers trusted him, he still felt the pressure at hand.

    Jia Yuan looked at Fan Meng. Even though he trusted his brother, he knew that his brother was still very worried. Unfortunately, there was no real way for him to help Fan Meng at the moment. Only by successfully leading his troops to battle would Fan Meng develop the confidence needed to thrive.

    After a few more words, the three brothers parted ways.

    Jia Yuan headed north. His job was to steal cities away from the Water Kingdom – this included cities that the Water Kingdom originally owned, as well as the ones they had recently acquired from the Fire Kingdom.

    Fan Meng had told Jia Yuan to head for the cities the Water Kingdom originally owned first. After all, that’s where the Water Kingdom’s supply chain starts. If Jia Yuan was able to deprive the Water Kingdom soldiers of their supplies, it would be much simpler for him to fight them.

    However, the downside to this plan was that if Jia Yuan aggravated the Water Kingdom too much, the Water Kingdom could send a huge amount of soldiers their way – as they were now, the three brother didn’t have the soldiers to fully deal with any of the Kingdoms’ armies. All they could do was sting like a wasp and steal what they could.

    Fan Meng headed south. He had a similar job to that of Jia Yuan’s except that his goal was much harder to accomplish. After all, the Earth Kingdom is famous for their ridiculously elaborate and effective formations. It was his job to poke holes through these famed defenses.

    Dou Di stood at the gates of Sword City, gazing into the distance. His eyes were filled with worry, and a bit of self-loathing.

    He knew that his brothers had given him his job because he was simply too weak. Even though he now had access to a high level Song, and he was nearing the top of the Absorption realm, he was still far inferior compared to his two brothers. Jia Yuan was a genius who had already made it into the Manipulation realm, and was capable of completely destroying those who were below the 5th level of Manipulation.

    Fan Meng on the other hand, was gated at the lower levels of the Absorption realm, but his mind was impeccable – for even a True Disciple like Guo Huo to call him a genius, he was truly an incredibly talented prodigy.

    Dou Di’s eyes glazed over with determination. This wasn’t the time to feel sorry for himself! I too, have a job that I need to accomplish! I’ll show my brothers that I will not be the one between the three of us who drags the others down!

  • Chapter 102: Raiding

    Jia Yuan and his troops had spent the last week skirting their way around the Water Kingdom’s territory. On the way to their target, they had raided several supply caravans. As such, the troops were tired, but they had full bellies and had more than enough supplies.

    Normally, it’s not a good feeling to steal from other people. Generally, people do it out of necessity. True, there are some who do it for the thrill, but generally speaking thieving is someone usually associates with guilt.

    But thieving from an enemy in a time of war? Nothing could compare to the glee that Jia Yuan and his troops experienced every time they looted the Water Kingdom’s caravans of their goods. There wasn’t really even any danger involved. As with most other Kingdoms, the Water Kingdom only used the worst of their soldiers to deal with supply caravans.

    Compared to Jia Yuan’s army, where everyone was above the 7th level of Absorption, was there even a point in fighting?

    Soon enough, they had made their way to the first city Jia Yuan had been assigned to take over by Fan Meng, Black Mist City.

    In the Water Kingdom, this city had a rather shady reputation. However, the strength of the cultivators in this city could not be underestimated. Fan Meng had specifically warned Jia Yuan that if he wasn’t confident in being able to sack the city without taking minimal losses, that he could just leave the city and proceed to the next one.

    While creating more havoc and conquering more cities was more beneficial for the Sword Kingdom, they had a very limited amount of troops. While they expected more people to flock to Sword City, they currently only had 4000 cultivators as soldiers.

    Jia Yuan had the troops camp out behind a hill that was about half a mile from the city. He peaked out from behind the hill toward the city. To the right of him a cultivator of Water, the strongest of those Jia Yuan had brought with him.

    “What do you think?” Jia Yuan asked.

    The soldier to his right shook his head. “You can’t tell, but this city is actually a nightmare to siege. The land directly around the city is capable of sinking down. Then, that land will be replaced with water, which can be used by the Water Kingdom cultivators defending the city. “

    “We Water cultivators would be able to use it as well, obviously, but the 500 cultivators of Fire that you brought along would be heavily suppressed.”

    Jia Yuan nodded. “But if we were to be able to get past the city walls…”

    “Then it would probably be a more even fight. Even easier if you don’t care about the citizens in the city. Then, we’d all be able to fight to our full strength. However, I think you’re thinking about this the wrong way, sir.”

    “Our job, from what I gather, is to disrupt the Water Kingdom as much as we can to lower the pressure the Fire Kingdom is facing as part of your agreement with the Fire Kingdom. At the same time, you want to capture some cities so that you can expand your Sword Kingdom. However, you currently only have about 4 thousand troops. The reason Fan Meng told you to only try to take over the city if it looked simple was because he knows that the Sword Kingdom currently isn’t capable of holding more than four or five cities.”

    “So, we should just cause some trouble here. We don’t have to overtake the city. Just by showing that we have a presence here will cause the Water Kingdom to pull troops in this direction. Then, we can fight those troops in the open, where they don’t have the advantage of city walls and defensive formations.”

    Jia Yuan thought it over, then nodded. “Alright, that’s what we’ll do. In the morning, we’ll show ourselves outside the city and launch some attacks toward the wall, then retreat. We’ll make our way to the next city. We have to take over that one though… It’s one of the main cities we have our eyes on.”

    “Of course, sir.”

    Just like that, Jia Yuan decided for the first time in his life to pass on a challenge. It wasn’t a show of weakness, but instead that he was becoming more responsible. He had been trusted with the lives of a thousand cultivators. He couldn’t just throw away useful fighters for the sake of his pride.

    A few hours later, the sun set in the west and the sky slowly shaded black. A thousand soldiers clad in pitch black armor swarmed their way over the hill and ran at their fastest speed toward the city. Luckily for Jia Yuan and his soldiers, there was no moon hanging in the sky tonight. As such, they were able to sneak their way within a hundred meters of the city before the city guards noticed.

    Instantly, shouts spread across the city walls. “We’re under attack!”

  • Chapter 103: Those damn kids!

    Jia Yuan and his troops rushed toward the city until they were right beneath the city walls. They formed a long line, a thousand soldiers lined up next to each other. Jia Yuan stood in the middle, while to his right stood the 500 cultivators of Water, to his right, the cultivators of Fire.

    The thousand cultivators all drew their weapons and send their attacks toward the wall. As the skills hit the wall, the entire city trembled.

    A few seconds later, the entire section of the city wall in front of Jia Yuan and his soldiers crumbled into dust. He and his soldiers backed up a bit as bits and pieces of the wall fell into a heap in front of them. Finally, some stray Black Mist City soldiers fell on top of the rubble, instantly dying on impact.

    “Oof…” Jia Yuan winced.

    At this point, thousands of foot-soldiers ran through the rubble and began to fight with Jia Yuan’s soldiers, but were quickly repelled.

    Jia Yuan nodded. “We’ve achieved our goal! Let’s go!”

    Jia Yuan and his troops turned around and high-tailed it away from the city, leaving the Black Mist City Soldiers in a rage. Most of them were normal fighters without any sort of cultivation. Not only were they too slow to chase, but even if they were able to chase, they would just be sending themselves out for slaughter.

    The city governor himself was also in a rage. He was currently screaming his head off at his advisors. “How much none of the other cities in the area notified us of these rogue soldiers? How come nobody realized they were heading in our direction?? This is a disgrace!”

    In all honesty, it wasn’t the advisors fault. They had scouts in the areas surrounding the cities, but for the most part they only had scouts where large armies had to pass through – they didn’t account for an army fully made up of strong cultivators. These cultivators would be to fly and go through paths that normal armies wouldn’t be able to pass through.

    And this is exactly what Jia Yuan’s troops had done.

    Over the next few weeks, the Water and Earth Kingdoms who were originally reveling in their success in the war were thrown into disarray. Numerous cities reported being attacked, while even more cities were taken over by a mysterious group of highly skilled soldiers. In the span of a month, The Water and Earth Kingdoms had lost control of a total of 12 cities.

    The Sword Kingdom itself had gained seemingly permanent control of 4 cities. The Sword City was the center of the other three cities, and was therefore in the safest location.

    As Jia Yuan and Fan Meng gained notoriety through their military conquests, Dou Di had been reinforcing Sword City’s defenses. In fact, from outside, the city seemed more like a giant fortress than a city. However, Dou Di had also made improvements on the inside. An entire network of traps had been set up throughout the city, and there were even many large traps hidden outside the city. In short, as long as the city had someone to operate the traps, it would only need a few soldiers to probably defend itself.

    In the short time that the Sword Kingdom had been established, and influx of people had flooded into the city. Amongst some of the people who had arrived were craftsmen, some were blacksmiths, some were soldiers. Actually, only those who were of use to the Sword Kingdom were allowed into Sword City alongside their families.

    Many came into the city to find a new life for themselves. Some came into the city so that they would be able to reunite with their families; when the war began, many families had been split by the various Kingdoms. For example, if a family had a husband from the Earth Kingdom and a wife from the Fire Kingdom, then they had to retreat to their original Kingdoms for safety. The new Sword Kingdom allowed for them to reunite. For this, they were willing to serve the new Kingdom.

    In this manner, even though most of the population left every time the brothers conquered a city, the population of the Sword Kingdom still swelled. Soon enough, they had enough soldiers to properly defend the four cities. In all, they had about 50,000 soldiers spread across the four cities. Many of these soldiers were actually cultivators who were looking for new opportunities. In all, while the power of the Sword Kingdom couldn’t match up to one of the big Kingdoms, they still had to be recognized as a new power.

    However, hard times were in store for the three brothers.

    The Water Kingdom and Earth Kingdom were angered by the Sword Kingdom’s actions. They were close to winning the war against the Fire and Air Kingdoms when these kids had come out of nowhere and begun to stir up trouble.

    Furthermore… this new Kingdom had a troubling name. Although the commoners didn’t know it, the Kings of every country knew about the true history of the Continent. Was this new Kingdom’s name a simply coincidence? Or was this the true second coming of the Sword Kingdom?

  • Chapter 104: City Defense

    After causing trouble throughout the Water and Earth Kingdoms, the three brothers withdrew their troops to the four main cities.

    In the days previous, their scouts had reported that massive armies were making their toward the newly created Sword Kingdom’s territories.

    And so, the three brothers were currently meeting with their most talented leaders to discuss the battle plan for the days to come.

    According to the scouts, the Water Kingdom was diverting about a hundred thousand normal soldiers and about two thousand cultivators from their theatre against the Fire Kingdom.

    As for the Earth Kingdom, they were sending a comparable amount of soldiers. Evidently, the two Kingdoms seemed to be rather earnest in their alliance.

    For the new Sword Kingdom, this was to be their first serious test. Previously, they had only been fighting against raw, unexperienced soldiers. However, the troops that were now heading in their direction were not only large in number, but had experienced multiple large-scale battles through the years.

    Of course, this included city sieges.

    After hours of debating, the three brothers were able to hammer out a cohesive plan.

    Each of the three brothers were given an outer city to defend. Jia Yuan was best suited to fight those from the Water Kingdom, so he was to bring 1500 cultivators of Songs of Water as well as 1000 cultivators of Songs of Earth to the Sword Kingdom’s most northward city, which had been newly christened as IronWill City.

    The cultivators would form the core of the city’s defenses, Jia Yuan was also to bring along about 8,000 common soldiers to support the cultivators’ efforts. They would also be able to man defensive weapons, such as ballistae and other large-scale weapons that could be mounted on the city walls.

    About 3,000 of the common soldiers were archers, who would be able to unleash a sizeable amount of havoc unto the Water Kingdom’s soldiers from a safe distance.

    All in all, Jia Yuan commanded a rather impressive group of soldiers.

    Fan Meng had been extremely successful in the Sword Kingdom’s previous venture, and now had some experience with dealing against the fighters of the Earth Kingdom. However, he was forced to take the Westernmost City, as the scouts had seen a massive force heading toward this city, comprised of both Water and Earth Kingdom soldiers and cultivators.

    Naturally, Fan Meng had given himself the hardest assignment. Not only did he have to deal with the Earth Kingdom’s famous siege weapons and formations, but he also had to deal with the tricky minds of the Water Kingdom. Together, this was an incredibly potent challenge for any strategist.

    Finally, Dou Di was to head toward the Southwest, where the last outer city stood. The incoming force was fully comprised of Earth Kingdom soldiers and cultivators.

    As for Sword City itself, command of this all-important city had been given to Guo Huo, who lightheartedly promised the kids that the city would definitely still be standing when they returned.

    But as he saw the three brothers leave with their respective armies in tow, he couldn’t help but shake his head.

    A few days later, Jia Yuan stood atop the wall of IronWill City alongside his soldiers. Together, they gazed at the Water Kingdom Army sprawled out in the distance.

    Jia Yuan’s jaw was clenched and his face was truly ugly to behold.

    His scouts were wrong! In their estimates, Fan Meng and the rest had used the scouts’ reports to estimate how many soldiers would be heading towards each city. For this IronWill city, they had expected a force of between 60,000-70,000 soldiers to arrive. However, even with his naked eye, Jia Yuan could see more than 200,000 soldiers spread out before him!

    As the defenders, Jia Yuan and his soldiers had the natural advantage. They had the height advantage, as well as the advantage of being able to prepare defenses for any situations they could think of.

    However, there are some scenarios in which a city just can’t be properly defended. For example, when the invading army is 20 times larger than the one defending.

    Jia Yuan gritted his teeth, then turned around and began to give orders to his soldiers.

    He turned to a Battalion Commander. “Take your troops and have them evacuate the citizens out of the city toward Sword City. Make sure that they don’t come into vision of the Water Kingdom soldiers. If that happens, we don’t have the numbers to defend them.”

    The Battalion Commander nodded and dashed away.

    Jia Yuan then turned to another soldier. “How far can our arrows and ballistae fire?”

    “Sir. Depending on how the wind blows, with our height advantage, our archers should be able to fire to a max range of about a thousand feet. For accurate shooting, the targets would have to probably be within half of that distance.”

    “As for the ballistae, they can fire perhaps double that range. These monsters are treasured by the Water Kingdom, so they paid a high price to have these specially made by the Earth Kingdom. The destructive power of these ballistae can’t be ignored. You can even load explosive bolts into them. If you don’t have those, you can light the bolts on fire and it’ll still do a fair amount of damage, depending on what you hit.”

    Jia Yuan sucked in a quick breath. “Do we have any of these…explosive bolts?”

    The soldier grinned. “We actually found some sitting around in the city’s military district. I think they were going to use them against us when we took over the city, but we poured into the city too fast for the old folks to use them.”

    Jia Yuan crossed his arms and tapped his fingers.

    I guess holding the city is impossible, but it looks like we’ll be able to deal a large amount of damage with only a small amount of troops.

  • Chapter 105: It's not my fault!

    Jia Yuan hammered out a quick plan, then faced the soldier again. “Bring the close-quarters combat soldiers out of the city with the citizens. Have them protect the citizens from any troubles between here and Sword City.”

    “Yes sir!” The soldier quickly ran along the walls to relay Jia Yuan’s orders.

    “You!” Jia Yuan pointed at yet another soldier. “Get some soldiers and have them lined up all of the ballistae so that they’re at this section of the wall, and have them all face northwest.”

    “Then, you!” Jia Yuan pointed at another soldier to the right of the previous. “Get all of the archers over here. I want to see them all in front of me within 5 minutes!”

    The soldiers quickly distributed Jia Yuan orders, and before three minutes were up, all of the archers stood in front Jia Yuan.

    Jia Yuan strolled back and forth in front of the archers, sizing them up. Then he abruptly stopped and faced the archers. “How many of you are confident in being able to outrun the Water Kingdom’s soldiers?”

    Virtually all of the archers in front of him raised their hands.

    “Good, good. Those of you who aren’t confident, leave the city with the close-combat soldiers. Those of you who trust your own speed, stay.”

    A few of the archers left and ran down from the walls to rejoin the other foot-soldiers. For those who stayed, Jia Yuan began to relay his orders.

    “As you can probably tell,” Jia Yuan motioned toward the massive army spread out behind him. “We don’t stand a chance against an army of that size. It’s impossible to properly defend a city against an army of that size.”

    “So, we’re just going to focus on dealing as much damage as we can. Judging from their army’s movements, they’ll be ready for attack in maybe an hour. So, we have an hour to prepare.”

    With that, Jia Yuan continued to give orders. The archers started out as skeptics, but by the end of Jia Yuan’s monologue, the archers had two different reactions. Some of the archers felt that this plan was rather shameless, while others had evil grins on their faces.

    They’d be able to do a lot of damage!

    Even though there were less than 3,000 people left in the city, the northwest region of the city was incredibly busy over the course of the next hour as the archers ran back and forth to prepare for the plan.

    Soon enough, some of the archers began to shout. “The Water Kingdom’s army is advancing!”

    Jia Yuan quickly ran to the edge of the wall. Sure enough, he could see massive blocks of soldiers marching toward the city.

    Between the blocks of soldiers were giant siege buildings, as tall as the city walls themselves. In a perfect scenario, these siege buildings would latch on to the city walls. After latching on, the soldiers inside would be able to swarm out of the siege building onto the city walls.

    For Jia Yuan and the archer by his side, this would be the worst case scenario!

    Jia Yuan quickly gave out some commands. “Ballistae, fire at the siege buildings as soon as they come into range! Use the explosive bolts first! We don’t want to leave them lying around for these assholes!”

    “Archers! When they come into range, fire at the soldiers at the sides first. If they are able to flank us, then we won’t be able to escape! It’s okay if they break through the gate. I’ll handle them!”

    Having given the orders, Jia Yuan felt rather powerless as he watched the invading army advance. He wasn’t an archer, and he didn’t know how to work a ballista. As such, all he could do was watch and trust his soldiers.

    It wasn’t really his style to fight from atop a city wall.

    The first ballista bolts flew out from the city wall and found their marks. Instantly, 5 of the siege buildings exploded and hundreds of soldiers died as the siege buildings collapsed, and hundreds more died as the remnants of the siege buildings fell.

    Soon enough, the invading army was close enough for those archers to fire at them. Jia Yuan walked up to the wall’s edge and flicked his fingers. A line of fire flew out from his hand towards a long thin tough filled with a special flammable liquid. Once the liquid was lit up, the archers reached down and coated the tip of their arrows with the liquid. Soon enough, all of the archers held bows with flaming arrows.

    “Loose!”

    The archers began to fire the flaming arrows towards the sides of the invading army. With each volley or arrows, thousands of Water Kingdom soldiers fell.

    However, the invading army continued to advance. Even though thousands of Water Kingdom soldiers fell every second, there were simply too many! Soon enough, the Water Kingdom soldiers were within 150 feet of the city walls.

    Thousands of soldiers rushed toward the city walls and threw up ladders that led to the top of the city walls! Tens of ladders reached toward the top of the city walls.

    Others prepared a giant battering ram to break down the city gates.

    Jia Yuan had been waiting for this. “Trough! Run!”

    Every 10th archer handed their bow to the person to the right of them, while the rest of the archers ran to the back end of the city so that they would be able to escape to Sword City.

    The archers who handed their bows off and reached down to the trough that was still burning with the liquid inside. They carefully lifted the trough up so as to not burn themselves, then dumped the contents within over the edge of the wall.

    The flammable liquid fell onto the soldiers below the wall and the ground around them. Instantly, horrifying screams spread through the air. Jia Yuan had a grimace on his face.

    It’s not my fault you guys want to take my city!

  • Chapter 106: Beast of War

    Jia Yuan and the archers ran away from the city as fast as they could, but they still could not escape the horrifying screams that pierced the air.

    Not only was the liquid extremely flammable, but the fire that resulted from the liquid was very hard to put out and spread easily. These traits are well represented in the liquid’s name, “EverLasting Sorrow.”

    Even a cultivator of the Song of Water would have a hard time dealing with the flames – Jia Yuan and his troops had actually dumped the burning liquid on top of thousands of soldiers. If not controlled, the fire would spread to tens of thousands of soldiers in a matter of minutes.

    Soon enough, Jia Yuan and his archers had made their way to the nearby forest.

    Jia Yuan and the leading officers barked out more orders. In this type of guerilla warfare, the normal foot-soldiers wouldn’t be of much use.

    Kiting.

    This was Jia Yuan’s plan. He would utilize the archers’ capabilities to maximize the amount of damage he could inflict on the Water Kingdom’s army. They would set up at a location, unleash hell onto the Water Kingdom’s troops from far away, and then run away with their tails between their legs to the next location.

    Was it an honorable way to fight?

    Not really.

    Did it matter to Jia Yuan?

    Nope.

    In this manner, Jia Yuan and his troops continued to slowly whittle down the Water Kingdom’s troops as they retreated back toward Sword City.

    Although Jia Yuan didn’t know it, his two brothers were caught in similar situations. Both the Water Kingdom and the Earth Kingdom had sent more troops than expected. As such, Fan Meng and Dou Di were busy retreating to Sword City as well.

    A few days later, Jia Yuan and the archers had reached the gates of Sword City and were making their way in. Although he had been expecting to see Guo Huo, Jia Yuan was surprised to see that Dou Di and Fan Meng waiting for him as well.

    “EH? What are you two doing here? What happened…?”

    Jia Yuan felt a stone forming in his stomach as he awaited the news.

    Dou Di shook his head. “I was besieged by about 200,000 Earth Kingdom troops, backed up by about a thousand Earth Kingdom cultivators. The city walls weren’t reinforced enough… the wall collapsed within minutes. I was able to deal some damage to the troops though. Only about 150,000 should be heading over here.”

    Jia Yuan nodded. “Same situation over here. There’ll probably be about 100,000 Water Kingdom troops heading over here in an hour or two. Fan Meng, how about you? How was your situation?”

    Fan Meng nodded slowly. “I was in a similar situation, but I was able to deal with most of the troops. I discovered an abnormal lake. Not only was the lake uninhabited, but it was strangely at a higher level of ground than the land around it, even though the opposite should be true.”

    “I had the cultivators of Water plan out a path for the water to leak out of the lake toward the front of the city. I then had the cultivators of Fire blast a pathway for the water to flow out of the lake to the front of the city. When the time came, I had them blast a hole in the side of the lake so that the water would rush down the pathway to the front of the city, where the combined armies waited.”

    “In short, I basically flooded the enemy troops and then had the cultivators of Water and the cultivators of Air massacre them from the air as they struggled.”

    Jia Yuan let out a loose breath. “Color me impressed. Still… it look like we have almost 300,000 troops heading our way. Do you have a plan?”

    Fan Meng grinned. “Isn’t this the job we gave Dou Di? Fire away, brother.”

    Dou Di grinned. “Don’t wet your pants when you hear just how much I prepared! Actually, screw that. I’ll just show you when they start to attack.”

    Fan Meng and Jia Yuan groaned. Looks like this brother of theirs was too damn proud about his achievement.

    Jia Yuan shook his head. “As long as we survive this trial, I’ll be happy.”

    The three brothers began to prepare their respective defenses. Dou Di was given control of the main gate, as he was most familiar with Sword City’s defenses. Jia Yuan and Fan Meng were given assignments at the flanks.

    All the while, Guo Huo sat in the Governor’s Palace. It’d been a long time since he’d last fought. But today, it seemed that he had to fight for his disciple’s sake.

    He took a deep breath and stood up. From the Governor’s Palace, he had a clear view of the area surrounding the city. As he set his gaze on the horizon, he could see massive plumes of dust in the distance.

    Guo Huo used to be a beast of war, but he’d suppressed that feeling for the last few decades of his life.

    It was almost time!

  • Chapter 107: Traps

    As the defenders hurried around the city to finish up their preparations, the combined forces of the Earth Kingdom and Water Kingdom set up positions around the city.  Hundreds of battalions were clearly established in the area surrounding Sword City.

    From the city, it was impossible to see an end to the surrounding troops. Seeing the gigantic army on the front steps of Sword City, some of the city’s defenders grew increasingly nervous.

    At this point, Dou Di and his assigned cultivators made their way to the front wall. Their presence, to say the least, was awe-inspiring. Their black, demon-like armor formed silhouettes against the setting sun. Even more imposing was the aura of the cultivators. Not a single one of the cultivators had a cultivation less than the 7th level of Absorption. As such, thousands of powerful auras emanated from Dou Di and his troops.

    This sight reassured many of the defenders who had begun to grow nervous and had had thoughts of abandoning the city.

    Dou Di drew his sword and bellowed toward the heavens. “Scum of the Water and Earth Kingdoms! Come and take this city if you dare! For the Sword Kingdom!”

    “FOR THE SWORD KINGDOM!” Thousands of soldiers roared in response.

    Outside the city, the Water and Earth Kingdom troops looked toward the city.

    Some of them began to ridicule the defenders of Sword City.

    “Ha! They’re so scared that they need to hype themselves up this early? Watch! When we begin to attack tomorrow, they’ll wet their pants in fear!”

    Similar phrases spread throughout the invading army’s camps. After all, they had the clear number advantage. They had almost 300,000 troops to take over a city which had only about 50,000 defenders.

    While it’s true that it’s easier to defend a city than to siege it, with a ratio of 4:1, it was unlikely for the defenders of Sword City to be able to successfully defend themselves.

    The two armies continued to prepare well into the night. The defenders of Sword City soon finished and simply waited in position. Most of the soldiers began to sleep on the walls, while a few unfortunate souls were kept awake to stay as guards in case the Water and Earth Kingdoms were to suddenly launch an attack.

    All this time, Guo Huo stayed in the Governor’s Mansion, meditating. He had been spending all of time the last few days meditating in an effort to be at his physical and mental peak. He knew that even though those young brothers fancied themselves as great Generals of War, they would be hard pressed this time to defend the city. If the Water and Earth Kingdoms were able to breach the city…

    Then he would take action!

    Soon, the sun began to rise from the East. With it, the Water and Earth Kingdom troops began to take action. Dust was kicked high into the air as the troops began to march toward the city. When they reached a distance of about 500 meters, they began to charge.

    The commanders on the walls began to bark out orders. “Archers! Loose! Ballistae! Take out priority targets! Aim for any siege tools you see!”

    Some of the cultivators on the walls began to prepare themselves as well by Dancing to prepare their Songs for the fight ahead of them.

    Despite the defenders’ best efforts, the Water and Earth Kingdom’s forces were simply too high in number. In less than a minute, they had reached the city walls and were beginning to set up siege ladders.

    Alas, this was all according to Dou Di’s plan. His eyes glinted as he gave his first command as chief commander of Sword City. “Trap #1. Release!”

    At his command, the cultivators of Earth around him began to concentrate. Mere seconds later, thousands of spikes burst out from the ground in front of the main wall. Similar situations happened at the side walls where Fan Meng and Jia Yuan were defending.

    The spikes were each more than 10 meters long and started at 3 meters wide. Because of how tightly packed the Water and Earth Kingdom soldiers were, each spike that erupted from the ground impaled more than 20 soldiers.

    In total along the three walls, over 4 thousand spikes rose up out of the ground. Not only did they impale and instantly kill thousands of soldiers, but they also impeded the progress of the troops behind.

    However, the Water and Earth Kingdom troops continued to swarm toward the city walls.

    Seeing this, Dou Di’s smile twisted into a smirk and his eyes gave off a wicked glint.

    As the Water and Earth Kingdom troops swarmed past the raised spikes, Jia Yuan gave his second command.

    “Trap #2! Collapse!”

    The cultivators of Earth Concentrated again and the huge spikes all collapsed sideways. As they fell, each spike crushed tens of soldiers as thousands of thuds sounded from around the city.

    The traps began to piss the leaders of the invading army off; The Earth Kingdom’s General and the Water Kingdom’s General began to argue with each other.

    The Water Kingdom’s General was named Shui Hou, while the Earth Kingdom’s General had no true name, but was nicknamed “Di Zi,” which meant “Son of Earth.”

    “You scoundrel Di Zi! I should call you Di Zhu (Earth Pig) instead! Why didn’t you tell me that something like this could happen?”

    The Earth Kingdom’s General snorted. “How was I supposed to know what they had set up? I told you that the defenses would be more difficult to pass than what we saw. You were the one who insisted on intimidating the enemy by sending in all of our forces instead of conserving our forces.”

    “…” Shui Hou was livid, but he had to admit that it was he who had insisted on making a show of strength.


    • Chapter 108: Defending

      Di Zi thought for a bit, then began to speak again. “I think it’s still fine. With those traps, there can be at most 1 trap left outside the city. While the loss of troops is unfortunate, we’ll still be able to accomplish our mission.”

      Just as he said these words, back standing along the wall in Sword City, Dou Di had just given his 3rd order.

      At this time, the ground around Sword City began to shake. Walls more than 10 feet high appeared around the city. Some of the soldiers were pushed up by the walls, and could see what was happening more clearly than those who were stuck at ground level.

      It was a gigantic maze!

      Dou Di smiled, and instead of an evil smile, this one was one of pure pride. This was the biggest project he’d finished while Fan Meng and Jia Yuan had been out conquering cities. This was his contribution to their endeavor!

      Instantly, thousands of Earth Kingdom and Water Kingdom troops found themselves trapped in a maze. Some of them tried to hack at the walls, to no avail. The only ones who were able to either leap over the walls or destroy a portion of the walls, were the cultivators who had been mixed in with the common troops.

      However, the fact of the matter was the most of the troops were divided up into the maze. Lines of communication broke down, officers panicked, and the majority of the soldiers were unable to keep their cool and began to run around in a frenzy to try and escape the maze.

      At this point, it was incredibly easy for the archers on the walls to pick out targets to attack. However, the most important change was that the enemy’s troops were divided – they wouldn’t be able to make use of their large numbers if they were to fight in the gigantic maze.

      Seeing this, Jia Yuan and many other of Sword City’s cultivators jumped down from the walls into the maze and began to wreak havoc.

      Soon enough, fighting erupted outside of the city. Most noticeable was Jia Yuan’s location. Giant explosions wrecked the land around him. Soon, the area around him was no longer a maze, but just some organized piles of rubble.

      As such, most of Sword City’s cultivators retreated back to the walls. However, Jia Yuan continued to rampage to his heart’s content.

      On the other side of the city, Fan Meng was rigidly controlling the troops. This type of scenario was perfect for Fan Meng. Not only did he have a bird’s eye view of the battle, but the enemy’s officers were shut off from any information and wouldn’t be able to adequately respond to any moves he made.

      And so, the battle raged on well into the night.

      As the sun began to set in the West, horns sounded out in the distance and the invading armies began to retreat.

      The defenders tiredly collapsed on the walls, and some immediately fell asleep where they were. They had been fighting for the last 12 or so hours.

      The smell of blood permeated the air – Sword City had managed to keep its losses low at about a thousand soldiers, but the invading armies had suffered almost 80,000 casualties. It was clearly a win for Sword City, but its defenders were completely exhausted.

      The Earth Kingdom and Water Kingdom still had 200,000 troops left – and this included pretty much all of their cultivators.

      Just as the defenders of Sword City finally settled in to relax, a “pow” sounded out from the distance beyond the city walls, and a slight whistling could be heard by those in Sword City. Soon after, a giant rock was seen flying through the air and crashed into Sword City’s wall. Surprisingly, the wall caved in and those who had been resting on top of that section of the wall fell down to their deaths. Only the cultivators were able to quickly use the power of their Songs to escape danger.

      Dou Di was livid. Those bastards wouldn’t even allow them a bit of rest!

      Throughout the night, 10 giant rocks were shot into the walls of Sword City. Each of them were about half an hour apart, so the defenders of the main wall were unable to rest throughout the night.

      When the sun finally rose again, Dou Di and the defenders of the main wall were haggard, but still determined to defend Sword City’s walls.

    • Chapter 109: Mo-Ri Jaio!

      Again, the Earth and Water Kingdoms send their troops toward Sword City, but today the brunt of their attack was clearly on the main wall – most of the troops were there and virtually all of the siege artillery was concentrated on the main wall.

      Despite Dou Di’s best efforts, he and his troops were slowly overwhelmed. Jia Yuan and Fan Meng were still busy defending the flanks, but since they weren’t being focused, they were able to send some troops to help Dou Di out.

      Unfortunately, even that wasn’t enough to stem the flow of Earth Kingdom and Water Kingdom troops. Soon enough, the main gate was in danger of breaking.

      At this time, a figure inside the Governor’s Mansion slightly stirred. This figure was Guo Huo. Even as he meditated, he’d kept his sense spread around the city, so he was able to keep tabs on the battle being waged outside.

      Guo Huo opened his eyes, then slowly stood up. He reached his arm to the side, and his giant axe appeared in his hand. He walked to the balcony, the lightly tapped down with his foot. He soared 50 feet into the air and began to fly his way over to the main gate.

      Just outside the city, there were 50 Earth Kingdom soldiers handling a battering ram which they were using to break down Sword City’s main gate.

      They gave another collective shout. “Heave-Ho!”

      With this final shout, they ran forward and forced the battering ram into the main gate, which finally burst open.

      Shouts spread throughout the invading army as information about this new development spread throughout the invading troop’s ranks.

      At the rear of the invading army’s ranks, the two Generals finally heard word of the situation.

      The two Generals gave the same order. “Flood through the main gate and destroy the city! We must make an example of this city so that no new rebels will show up and try to grab power again.”

      This order was passed through the invading army’s ranks. Soon enough, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers were heading toward the main gate. Of course, there were many troops who were in the area already. However, these were engaged with some of the foot soldiers and cultivators that hadn’t been posted on one of the walls.

      However, these soldiers were being constantly pushed back by the massive wave of soldiers. Now that the gate was open, the defenders were hard pressed to keep them at bay.

      Soon enough, the defenders were driven to the breaking point. Most of the troops who weren’t posted on the walls had died, and those who were on the walls were too hard pressed to send troops over. Even Jia Yuan was struggling against the sheer amount of soldiers on his side. Even though he was able to kill more than a hundred soldiers with a single sweep of his sword when we was in prime condition, he had been fighting for several hours on end, and it was the second day of fighting.

      Naturally, he was extremely tired.

      However, just as the defenders at the main gate were about to crumble, a giant axe of flame appeared and chopped down on the invaders, instantly killing them all.

      Those outside the main gates paused, terrified at the sight.

      Guo Huo sped his way through the gate and rushed into the midst of the invading army. Seeing this, Dou Di’s eyes opened wide.

      He’d heard about Guo Huo from Jia Yuan, and he knew that Guo Huo was strong… but just how strong is a True Disciple of Fire?

      As Guo rushed through the invading army, he spread out his aura far and wide, then clenched his fist. As he did so, thousands of soldiers who had been in Guo Huo’s vicinity burst into flames and died as their insides burned to a crisp.

      Naturally, this did not go unnoticed. The surrounding troops began to flee from Guo Huo’s presence, and the two Generals looked toward this area.

      Shui Hou’s eyes were wide. “Is… Is that a true disciple? Fuck this, I’m leaving.”

      He ordered his aide to sound the horn for retreat and was about to leave when he suddenly realized that his aide wasn’t there.

      He looked around and a vein threatened to burst through the side of his neck. What he saw was Di Zi holding his aide by the throat.

      Shui Hou was livid. “Di Zi, what are you doing? Are you forgetting our Kingdoms’ alliance?”

      Di Zi gave a harrumph. “So you would have your troops turn tail while my troops are massacred by that true disciple? Fat chance. Besides… Did you really think that our Kingdoms would be allies forever?”

      Shui Hou’s eyes showed panic as he realized was Di Zi was implying. However, he didn’t have time to respond, as he suddenly felt something prick into his body from behind. He looked down and saw a blade sticking out of his stomach.

      He slowly turned around and saw a familiar figure in front of him.

      It was the Water Kingdom assassin, Mo-Ri Jaio.

    • Chapter 110: Liar liar, pants on...fire.

      Shui Huo stammered. “Y-y-you traitor! W-why???”

      Mo-Ri Jaio smiled. “It’s nothing personal. I failed my last mission and lost my entire team. You know what happens to assassins who fail…”

      “Luckily, the Earth Kingdom was kind enough to offer me a position… as long as I cleaned up a little bit of filth beforehand.”

      Shui Hou spit out some blood. “The Water Kingdom will not forgive you for-“

      Just as he was about to finish this line, Mo-Ri Jaio shoved the blade upwards, officially ending Shui Hou’s life.

      At the same time, Di Zi closed his hand around the Water Kingdom aide’s throat. With a *kchh* sound, the aide’s throat collapsed and his body fell to the ground.

      Di Zi reached out with a hand towards Mo-Ri Jaio. “Well done, brother.”

      Mo-Ri Jaio grinned and extended his own hand. However, as soon as his hand was within Di Zi’s grasp, he felt that his hand was being forcefully crushed.

      He couldn’t stand the pain and screamed his pain toward the heavens. However, this scream was short lived, as Di Zi promptly used Mo-Ri Jaio’s hand to drag his prey closer. Once Mo-Ri Jaio’s neck was within reach, Di Zi quickly grabbed it and ended the poor man’s life.

      “As if I’d trust the word of a traitor…” Di Zi spit on Mo-Ri Jaio’s body.

      He turned toward his own aide. “Signal the retreat for our troops.”

      His aide nodded. Soon enough, the Earth Kingdom’s horns sounded for retreat, but the Water Kingdom’s troops didn’t hear their own horns.

      As such, the Water Kingdom troops found themselves fighting alone against the fearsome of the capabilities of a True Disciple.

      Actually, fighting would be an overstatement. The Water Kingdom soldiers were simply being massacred by Guo Huo. Even now, there were probably only about 50 thousand Water Kingdom soldiers left.

      Seeing the Earth Kingdom soldiers retreat, Guo Huo quickly waved his axe towards the city, then sped after the Earth Kingdom soldiers.

      He couldn’t let any of them escape! If the Kingdoms were to find out that Guo Huo had fought for Sword City, they’d be justified in sending their own True Disciples over. Even though Guo Huo was confident in a 1 vs 1 matchup against another True Disciple… if multiple True Disciples were to come, Guo Huo would definitely be overmatched.

      As Guo Huo slaughtered his way past the retreating Earth Kingdom soldiers, soldiers poured out of Sword City’s breached gate. Guo Huo had already done most of the work – the soldiers that were still left near the city had seen the wanton destruction Guo Huo had caused. Many of them didn’t have the psychological capabilities to keep on fighting.

      Many of the Water Kingdom soldiers threw down their weapons as they saw the troops swarm out of Sword City, while others began to turn tail.

      At the main wall, the fighting was pretty much over. However, the side walls hadn’t received information about how the fight was going on at the main wall. As such, Jia Yuan and Fan Meng were still fighting their battles with clenched teeth and tired souls.

      As time wore on, however, the side walls discovered that the forces at the main wall had been pushed back. As such, they quickly retreated as well.

      As this was going on, Guo had completely decimated the retreating Earth Kingdom troops. Now, only Di Zi and a few of his aides and bodyguards were left.

      Di Zi’s brow was full of sweat as he sped his way through a small clearing. “Goddammit.” He muttered. “Why of all people did it have to be this old monster…”

      Just as he finished saying this, he abruptly stopped. In front of him was a figure made out of fire. He turned to the left and saw yet another flaming figure. To the right? The same.

      Behind him, Guo Huo slowly strolled into the clearing. “Hello, Di Zi. Long time no see.”

      Di Zi uncomfortably cleared his throat. “Ahem... ah, hello there Sir Guo Huo. Long time no see, long time no see. How are you these days? It’s been drab without you, truly. What brings you here today?”

      Guo Huo smiled, but this expression of humor did not reach his eyes. “Oh, nothing. I was just here for a walk in the park. Then, I saw some bugs annoying my disciple… so I decided to step on them.”

      Beads of sweat rolled down Di Zi’s face. “Ah, that’s truly unfortunate. Those bugs truly deserved to die, mhmm.”

      As he said these words, his aides’ faces darkened. Was this really the proud General they’d decided to follow? Was this really a person who was worthy of commanding hundreds of thousands of soldiers?

      Guo Huo smiled. “Ahh, truly. Well, since you understand I’ll give you a chance. If you kill the rest of these bugs…” Guo Huo let his eyes drift over Di Zi’s aides. “I’ll let you go. How about it?”

      Di Zi immediately balked. “Of course not! These are my –“

      As abruptly as he’d begun to speak, he suddenly grabbed his Warhammer and struck the aides behind him.

      His aides didn’t even have the time to curse him before they fell, never to rise again.

      Just as Di Zi was about to turn around to lick Guo Huo’s boots again, he felt a huge amount of heat heading his way. With it, his heart began to sink.

      As his consciousness faded, he heard a soft voice say “Ah. I lied.”

    • Chapter 111: Sword King's Coronation

      A week has passed since the Battle of Sword City. The battle was shrouded in mystery. Somehow, the newborn Sword Kingdom had managed to barely survive against the combined attack of the Earth Kingdom and Water Kingdom.

      Hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Thousands upon thousands of cultivators. All of them had died in their attempt to destroy the Sword Kingdom. The worst part for the invading kingdoms was that they had almost no information regarding the Sword Kingdom. Why did people migrate there? What kind of defenses did Sword City have? What kind of backing did they have?

      None of their soldiers had survived, so they weren’t able to retain any information!

      The entire continent was in a state of disarray. Not only did the Water Kingdom and Earth Kingdom failed in their conquest of the new Sword Kingdom, but on the second day of the Battle of Sword City, the Earth Kingdom had suddenly launched an attack on the Water Kingdom, breaking the previous alliance. This, in turn, meant that these two Kingdoms were forced to draw troops to a new battle frontier.

      For the Fire Kingdom and Air Kingdom, this was their chance to retaliate. These two Kingdoms that had almost been driven to the brink of destruction were finally given a chance to catch their breath and retaliate.

      As for the Sword Kingdom, their army has only increased in size since the Battle of Sword City. In the last week, they’d managed to reclaim their previous four cities and had begun to build incredible defenses on the walls and streets of the city.

      In fact, every single day tens of thousands of people migrated to the Sword Kingdom. People were sick of the fighting, people wanted to unite with people from the other Kingdoms on the continent.

      What the Sword Kingdom promised them was far superior to the other Kingdoms. In other Kingdoms, there were high tax rates, especially since it was a time of war. Nobles spurned the commoners, who were made to work exceedingly hard for little to no profit. In times of war, their sons were drafted to war, never to be seen again.

      The Sword Kingdom promised low tax rates. In the Sword Kingdom, there were no nobles to abuse the populace! The three brothers who ruled the Sword Kingdom were the only royalty in the Kingdom, and even they didn’t abuse their status! Even better, if one didn’t want to fight for the Sword Kingdom, they didn’t have to. Joining the army was completely on a voluntary basis.

      They had nothing to lose by migrating to the Sword Kingdom! In fact, their lives would be much better!

      So the common folk began to migrate to the Sword Kingdom, but soldiers and cultivators did as well!

      An army of 50,000 had defended a city against a gigantic army of 300,000 soldiers and cultivators. One of the three brothers was purported to be a martial genius, why another was said to be a strategic genius.

      Many youths of the Continent of the Five Elements had set Jia Yuan and Fan Meng as their idols, as people they wanted to become.

      As such, many talented youths traveled to Sword City. Many of them wanted to spar with Jia Yuan, while others wanted to discuss strategy with Fan Meng.

      As more people flooded to the Sword Kingdom, the three brothers decided that it was time to fight for the Sword Kingdom again.

      The Continent was in a state of flux. Cities fell every day and borders were changed by the hour. Now that the Sword Kingdom was not in danger of being destroyed, the three brothers felt that they could focus on expanding instead of defending.

      But before they left, they had one last final discussion.

      “So, while we three brothers have worked together to create this Kingdom, we have a Kingdom but no King.”

      Jia Yuan continued to speak. “I believe that Dou Di would be the best King.”

      Hearing this, Dou Di blanched and spew out a slew of words in a panic. “What? Me? No! I was a slave just three years ago. How am I fit to be King? I’m the least talented amongst the three of us. I don’t know how to lead! What?”

      Fan Meng nodded. “I agree with Jia Yuan. It is true that when it comes to fighting, you are not as talented as Jia Yuan, and when it comes to strategy, you are weaker than me. But from our time together, I’ve seen that you have an extraordinarily kind heart. A Kingdom needs a King who is selfless, who loves his people, and is loved by his people. I may be a good strategist, but I lack charisma. Jia Yuan had charisma and strength, but he is destined to lead a life of bloodshed. He is also not fit to be a king.”

      “Which leaves you.”

      Hearing this, Dou Di grimaced. “Ok, I’ll give it a try.”

      “Oi oi.” Jia Yuan was unhappy about Dou Di’s reaction. “You’re about to be a KING. Be happy about it! We’re gonna get you educated as hell. You’re going to be able to stay in Sword City and lead people and learn stuff while I gotta go out and do all the hard work!”

      Dou Di groaned. “Oh god. Spare me.”

      The three brothers laughed the night away.

      In the morning, posters had been spread out across Sword City. All of them had the same title.

      “Sword King’s Coronation”

    • Chapter 112: Sword Castle

      A week later, crowds filled the streets of Sword City for the coronation. In the space of this week, Jia Yuan and Fan Meng had stayed in Sword City to rest before the coronation.

      Even though they were “resting” in the capital city, Jia Yuan was actually busy cultivating. Fan Meng also spent his time productively – he drew out the Sword Kingdom’s near-term plan of conquest.

      As for Dou Di, his life had been transformed into a spiral of never ending gifts and audiences. Countless representatives wished to meet with the new Sword King before the coronation to garner favor.

      But this wasn’t all. In addition to all of these representatives, Dou Di was forced to meet with another kind of people; teachers.

      There was one person who’d been invited to teach Dou Di how to interact with nobles. There was another who taught Dou Di how to ride beasts such as horses. There was another for sparring, charisma, dance, and more.

      A King needed to grasp many skills. Unfortunately, Dou Di had to learn them all.

      Meanwhile, Sword City’s taverns and hotels cashed in on the mass of people who had come to Sword City for the coronation. Despite Sword City’s expansion, it was only capable of comfortably hosting a population of about 400,000. However, in the days leading up to the coronation, over a million people had “slowly” trickled into the city.

      As such, not only were the taverns and hotels cashing in on the influx of people, but even common households were able to cash in. The day before the coronation, a single room with a bed cost 2 entire large shards of currency.

      Today was the day of the coronation. The Governor’s Mansion had been given some quick upgrades, and now grandly stood above the rest of the city – It was renamed to “Sword Castle.”

      Guards formed a circle 50 feet around the building. A minister walked out of the Castle and the immediate crowd quieted.

      “The Royal Sir will crowned in an hour.”

      With this, the minister turned back around and strolled back into the castle. As soon as the minister re-entered the castle, the surrounding crowd began to chat amongst themselves.

      “Hey you hear that? Only an hour left.”

      “I wonder who it is… I bet it’s Sir Jia Yuan. He’s apparently the military commander amongst the three. His ability to fight for the throne would be the strongest, yeah?”

      “Hmph. What do you know? Jia Yuan may be strong, but you know of the saying ‘brains over brawn,’ yeah? I hear that Fan Meng was a genius who had been previously hailed as a ‘child genius’ by an elder of the Black Wing Merchant Guild. Someone of that caliber can’t possibly be a pushover.”

      “Huh? Isn’t it a trio of brothers? What about the third?”

      “Uh…”

      At this time, Dou Di was being changed into a special gown. The gown was black with silver linings and gems. There were 2 rubies, 2 emeralds, 2 sapphires, and for good measure, 2 diamonds.

      These were there to symbolize the unity of the four Elements under the rule of the Sword Kingdom.

      In the middle of the gems was a meticulously designed sword – the same sword that flew on the flags spread throughout the Sword Kingdom’s armies and cities.

      It was a long and wide sword. It was a sword, but it held the aggression and unwavering stance stereotypical of the Fire and Earth Kingdoms. The sword also somehow managed to be elegant yet wild at the same time, something that many people would have said to have been an impossibility.

      Yet, this sword had somehow achieved this impossibility.

      In the meantime, Dou Di had finished wearing the gown. As helpers continued to swarm around him like a flock of crows, Jia Yuan and Fan Meng entered the room.

      Jia Yuan was the first to open his mouth. “Well damn, brother. You really look good in that… Hey, hurry. Where is your sword? Try posing with your sword!”

      Dou Di dutifully reached over for his sword and posed with it. This time, even Fan Meng was fascinated by the sight.

      Jia Yuan sighed. “It doesn’t really seem right that the prized sword of the Sword Kingdom’s King is actually from the Fire Kingdom’s treasury…”

      Fan Meng nodded. “This is something that will be fixed in time. Our Sword City already has a few blacksmiths. While the most famous ones are unwilling to relocate their smithies, we’ve managed to acquire a few who were willing to start anew. Furthermore… in the recent future, we’ll be looking at SkyForge City, the city of forging.

    • Chapter 113: A Few Lines

      Jia Yuan started. “Oh? But… that city hasn’t fallen in hundreds of years. I was talking to one of the new blacksmiths about it and he said that the city is protected by so many formations and traps that-“

      Here, he was broken off by Fan Meng, who’d begun to laugh without pause.

      “Brother, you really have a narrow mind. Military force isn’t the only way by which to take a city. I was thinking about negotiating with the city’s governor. He’s loved by the people of SkyForge City, and is known as one of the best blacksmiths on the continent.

      “SkyForge City currently pays taxes to the Earth Kingdom and the blacksmiths there are forced to toil without much pay for the Earth Kingdom. I am sure that the city’s governor would be willing to sign the city over to us if we were to promise him protection from the Earth Kingdom, lower taxes, as well as some other benefits.”

      Jia Yuan raised an eyebrow. “And how is it exactly that we are going to afford these… benefits?”

      Fan Meng snickered. “We’re going to afford it by being less greedy than the Earth Kingdom was. I’ve already sent people to begin talks. They should be there in a few days. Let’s not talk about this much eh? Today is Dou Di’s big day.”

      As he said this, the two brothers smiled at Dou Di, who groaned. “Come on this robe makes me feel like a grandpa. Let’s go and get it over with.”

      Jia Yuan gave a single snort. “Ha!”

      In the main hall of the Sword Palace, Dou Di slowly walked toward the throne, Jia Yuan and Fan Meng by his side.

      As he neared the newly made throne, He paused and turned to the side and knelt.

      In front of Dou Di was Guo Huo and a maid who carried a finely decorated chest. Guo Huo motioned toward the chest, and the chest’s lid opened with a gust of wind. Guo Huo slowly reached inside and picked up the crown. He then turned towards Dou Di.

      "From today onwards, you will bear the responsibility... of being the Sword Kingdom's first true King. Bear it well." With that, Guo Huo placed the crown on Dou Di's head.

      Guo Huo muttered some more words into Dou Di's ear. After hearing them, Dou Di slowly stood up and the magnificent gown and crown shined together in the light.

      He slowly stepped toward the throne, each step heavier than the last. Just a few years ago, he’d been a slave.

      Now, he was ready to take his throne!

      Now, the vast majority of the people who’d come to Sword City wouldn’t be able to see the coronation. However, in lieu of the usual invited nobles was an unusual assortment of people. A few days ago, there’d been a free raffle in the city to see who would be given the chance to witness the coronation in person.

      Some of those who won the raffle had decided to sell the ticket – tickets went for hundreds of thousands of shards of currency. Buyers were various nobles or affluent merchants who wished to curry favor with the new Kingdom.

      And so, the finely dressed nobles and merchants were put together with the commoners who were lucky enough to win a ticket and had decided to keep it.

      Actually, some of the nobles began to grow suspicious upon seeing Guo Huo’s presence in Sword City. After all, everyone had been wondering how the Sword Kingdom had been able to defend against such a large amount of troops.

      If Guo Huo were to fight for them…

      But alas, the nobles (and the other kingdoms) had no proof.

      A few moments later, the coronation ended and those in the main hall retreated out of the castle, while Jia Yuan, Fan Meng, and Dou Di made their way to a large balcony from which they see the majority of the city laid out before them.

      Likewise, those standing in the streets of Sword City were able to see the trio walk onto the balcony.

      Dou Di walked to the edge of the balcony and the crown glistened in the sunlight. He raised his right arm, then abruptly clenched his fist.

      In just a second, all of Sword City quieted.

      Dou Di took a deep breath. He lowered his arm and looked over the streets of Sword City. He wanted to begin his speech, but his stomach clenched and his throat locked up.

      A stray bead of sweat began to roll down his temple. Jia Yuan walked up and patted Dou Di on the shoulder. “It’s alright, brother. Just say a few lines and we’ll go back and celebrate.”

      “Whoo…” Dou Di took his time and stretched his neck.

      “Citizens of the Sword Kingdom…”

    • Chapter 114: Unite?

      Dou Di took another breath.

      “I realize that calling you citizens of the Sword Kingdom may sound unusual or even conceited to some. After all, the Kingdom was established so recently. Although you have come to live under my rule, you may have worries.

      “While our military has shown capability, it is still small. We do not have a large amount of backing, and the leaders are unbearably young. Among my three brothers, not one of us has turned 20 years of age. Can the Sword Kingdom survive long enough for you to settle your families here? Will the Sword Kingdom survive long enough for your children to grow peacefully? For your children’s children?

      “I can make all of the empty promises in the world to you, but the truth is that I can’t guarantee that the Sword Kingdom will be here for any period of time. It could fall tomorrow, it could fall thousands of years in the future. It could never fall.

      “What I can say is that we are confident in our ability to defend the cities we currently control. We also plan to expand heavily in the future.”

      Hearing this, the entire city erupted as over a million people began to mutter to each other and themselves.

      Expansion? Heavy expansion? Wouldn’t this mean…war with the other kingdoms?

      Dou Di continued his speech. “Yes, this means that we will be at odds with the other kingdoms. This also means that we will need to prepare weapons, armor, soldiers. We need the entire Kingdom to come together and work as one.

      “The end goal? We want to unite this continent. For you to have come to the Sword Kingdom, you must understand that those of the Fire Kingdom and those from the Earth Kingdom are not so different – they were simply born at a different location, and because of the people they have descended from, are able to cultivate Songs of different power. But is that enough of a difference to spark constant war on the continent?”

      To prepare for the speech, Dou Di had asked Jia Yuan for some help. Faced with this conundrum, Jia Yuan had thought back to the books and scrolls he had read while training in the Water Kingdom. He then recounted his findings, centered on the numerous wars he’d read about.

      This would form the base of Dou Di’s speech.

      “Throughout history, countless wars have plagued our continent. And for what? The greed of those who stand above the rest of the populace? Those who do not have to man the front lines of a war, knowing that they may be sent to their death at any day? In the future it could be you, or your sons or daughters, who are forced by some monarch they have never met, to fight a war they know nothing about. My brothers and I have fought and bled for the Sword Kingdom. However, before we set out to establish the Sword Kingdom, we fought on the frontlines for the Fire Kingdom. We know how it is to be a foot-soldier, fighting a war simply because someone who controls the lives of hundreds of millions is greedy for more.

      “What about before that? What were we before we were foot-soldiers in the Fire Kingdom’s army? Jia Yuan and I were slaves in the Fire Kingdom, whereas Fan Meng was a child who had been abandoned because of his poor cultivating talent. We understand the common people. We understand the hardships that come with war, because we’ve truly experienced it ourselves. This people of this continent cannot afford to follow the whimsies of one proud babied majesty after another.

      “What I ask is that you work together with me to create a true Kingdom, one that can last through the ages, one that every citizen can be proud of being part of. One where a person of the lowest caste can still, through his own hard work, be one who is revered by the masses.

      “What I ask is that you create this utopia with me. I may be an idealist, but I believe that with hard work and bloodshed, we will be able to unite the continent and finally end the wars that have plagued us for so long.”

      Upon hearing this, those in the city had two different reactions.

      The first reaction was one of dry disbelief. If the continent could really be united, wouldn’t it have been done already? What if the continent was united? Would war really be over? Conflict was human nature.

      The second reaction was that of hope. This reaction usually swelled in those who had mixed families who wished to be able to safely live together. This reaction manifested itself in those who were still young and naïve, those who were idealistic.

      Those with the second reaction would be the ones who would turn the small Sword Kingdom into the ruling Kingdom of the Continent of the Five Elements.

    • Chapter 115: Cultivation issues

      After the speech, the three brothers celebrated the coronation by holding a feast in Sword City. Yes, not their new-built palace, but the city. For the day, they’d convinced the restaurant owners of Sword City to provide free food to all those who had arrived for the coronation. In return, the restaurants would be compensated over the next three years in way of decreased taxes and regular payments.

      And so, the entire city partied until the sun rose. Even Guo Huo joined in on the festivities. He drank down 2 whole barrels of beer and delighted the masses by breathing out a fire dragon over 500 meters long from his mouth.

      However, Jia Yuan didn’t participate. Instead, he stayed in his private room in the palace, meditating.

      With all of the slaughter he had experienced recently, he’d been able to progress to the 4th level of Manipulation. To move from the 1st level of Manipulation to the 4th level so quickly was perhaps unprecedented on the Continent of the Five Elements. However, Jia Yuan knew that it wasn’t because of his talent.

      It was because of the sheer amount of fighting he’d recently experienced, augmented by the continuous nourishment of his secret stash of pills that he was able to progress so quickly.

      But now, again, he was starting to feel a bit of unrest from his Song. After some thought, he took this to mean that he had to slow down his cultivation so that his Song would have time to settle and develop at its own pace.

      For now, he knew the identity of his Song. After progressing through a level of cultivation in the Manipulation realm, the cultivator would be able to slightly manipulate their Song. The first few levels, he’d chosen to make the soft sections of the Song quieter and the loud sections louder.

      When translated to fights, this meant that Jia Yuan would be able to conserve energy when fighting those weaker than him, and also that he would be able to use more energy to raise his power when fighting those who were strong enough to demand such treatment.

      Of course, both raising and lowering specific sections meant that he was unable to raise the overall power output of the Song of Swords, which was something that most people did.

      Most cultivators did not possess a Song at the level of the Song of Swords. Lower quality Songs tended to not use much energy. As a result, they didn’t provide all that much power when compared to higher quality Songs. As such, they’d manipulate their Song to be more explosive and impactful overall.

      However, because of the quality of the Song of Swords, Jia Yuan didn’t have an issue with the impact of the Song of Swords. What he needed was the ability to use it without expending energy if he was going to use it for a prolonged time.

      In fact, a fairly large amount of his previous training had been geared towards his control of his Song so that he would be able to control his energy output better.

      It was possible to revert the changes and re-change the Song. Once. The only reason this is possible is because the Song supposedly receives a qualitative change. However, not much else is known about it. There are simply too few True Disciples in the Continent of the Five Elements, and even they don’t understand everything about the True Disciple realm.

      Jia Yuan sighed.

      I need to improve faster. But my cultivation… why does my Song’s soul feel so restless?

      He spread out his sense. He could tell that the entire city was still celebrating. With some difficulty, he was able to single out his brothers. After verifying that they were still safe, he relaxed.

      The day after, Jia Yuan walked into the main hall of the palace. Standing in the main hall were Fan Meng and Dou Di, discussing the expansion of the Sword Kingdom.

      Jia Yuan gave a light cough as he walked up.

      Fan Meng raised an eyebrow. “Oh, are you sick? What’s wrong, brother?”

      Jia Yuan gave a wry smile. “I’ve… run into a problem with my cultivation. I need to leave for a bit. I understand that this is a key moment for our new Sword Kingdom… but the Kingdom itself isn’t in danger of being destroyed any longer. With you two here, our expansion should still run smoothly.”

      Dou Di nodded. “I expected you to have some trouble. After all, you love food. For you to miss out on a celebration like that, it was quite unusual. Fan Meng already discussed this. If you have to leave, you can do so. New volunteer soldiers and cultivators have already begun to apply for positions in the Sword Kingdom’s army. If it wasn’t for the fact that we need to verify that none of them are spies or have ill intent, I think our army would’ve almost doubled in size today.

      “Rest assured brother. As long as you’re able to come if we run into any issues, I think we’ll be able to go ahead with plans even without you.”

      Jia Yuan nodded and pulled his brothers in an embrace.

      “Then, I’ll have to trouble the two of you.”

      With that, he broke the embrace and walked out of the palace alone.

      Looking at his lonely brother's back, Fan Meng sighed. "I really hope he'll be okay."

      From the shadows, Guo Huo stepped out. "This is something we cannot help him with. Ever since the Battle of Sword City, I've sensed that his aura is very unstable. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the Song he is cultivating. He'll have to figure it out himself. Perhaps he'll benefit from this. Perhaps he'll be crippled or die. One thing is for sure. This is his battle."

    • Chapter 116: Stupid Rich Kid

      Where to go?

      Jia Yuan decided to return to the pool of fire. When he’d trained in the crater with Guo Huo, they’d only used it to train Jia Yuan’s cultivation as well as his control of the element of Fire. That had given him a unique advantage, but Jia Yuan felt that something as special as the pool of fire should provide more than just that benefit.

      The only problem was that the crater had previously been near the shared border of the Fire Kingdom and the Water Kingdom. Since the last time he’d been here, the Water Kingdom had conquered all of the land near the crater. As such, he’d have to sneak through enemy territory- except this time, they would know what he looked like. Due to the numerous battles he’d experienced recently, countless soldiers had seen his face. Then, he’d publically shown himself alongside Dou Di and Fan Meng. By this time, the other Kingdoms would have been notified of his appearance.

      Thankfully, Jia Yuan had a rather unassuming form. He looked strong and capable yes, but just about any person who had to work to earn their fill could achieve a similar body. During his time in Sword City, he’d been gifted many things. Some of the gifts included clothing and jewelry.

      Jia Yuan paused a bit, then shrugged. He found a secluded area in a forest and began to redress himself. He chose the gaudiest, most colorful robe he could find in his ring, then covered himself with enough jewelry to run his own moving jewelry store.

      After a bit of shuffling, the new Jia Yuan was born.

      This new Jia Yuan walked out of the forest and within minutes arrived at the closest village. Luckily, this village had a stable full of horses. Clearly, there was a horse-lover in town. Jia Yuan waddled his merry way past the horses and yelled.

      “Hello? Anyone here?”

      A weak-looking elder slowly made his way toward Jia Yuan.

      Seeing the ostentatiously dressed youth, the elder sighed and grumbled to himself. “Just another stupid rich kid. Probably is going to ask for my best horse and is probably going to pay me half of what I say it’s worth.”

      In a louder voice, he addressed Jia Yuan. “Hello young master. What can I do for you?”

      In his most overly-arrogant voice, Jia Yuan loudly announced to the world at large. “I request your finest horse. Of course I’ll pay well for it.”

      Even though he was doing his best to play his new “role” he didn’t want to inconvenience such an old man who clearly cared a great deal about his horses.

      The elder slowly made his way into the stable. He led Jia Yuan over to a white horse. “This is a fine stallion. One of the best I’ve bred.”

      Jia Yuan pretended to observe the horse, but he spread out his sense and observed the energy of the horses around them.

      Of the horses in the stable, the one the elder had lead him to was one of the weakest of the horses there. Upon noticing this, Jia Yuan wryly smiled. He still had his role to play.

      “Ah, old man. I don’t know how I feel about a white horse. Isn’t that too ostentatious?”

      Hearing this, the elderly man nearly vomited. Ostentatious? The kid was wearing a robe with rainbow colored dragons! He was wearing so much jewelry that the old man himself was confused as to why the kid hadn’t been mugged yet!

      But a customer was a customer. “Alright, alright. How about this one?” This time, the elder pointed to a brown horse across the stable. “This one is younger, has more energy. Not the fastest of the horses, but he’ll be able to run a lot longer than the other horses here, I think.”

      Jia Yuan had already used his sense to examine this horse. While it wasn’t as bad as the previous horse, it was still one of the least impressive horses there.

      He decided to cut to the chase.

      “Elder, give me that horse.” He pointed toward a black horse. “What do you want for it?”

      “That one… I’m not quite willing to part with. He's the finest horse I've ever bred, young sire. I was hoping that he'd sire a whole line of horses."

    • Chapter 117: Returning to the pool

      “Hm… how much would I have to pay for the horse?” Jia Yuan was dead set on the horse. He was technically the General of the Right for the Sword Kingdom, yet he had to walk everywhere.

      It’s not that I’m being wasteful…it’s just that, what’s the point of being a General if I even have to move everywhere on my own two feet? Clearly, A great individual such as myself deserves…ah… requires a great horse.

      Hearing this, the elder’s face darkened. While he didn’t want to part with the horse, he had a useless son and daughter he had to feed…and grandchildren…

      “Alright, alright. 100 large pieces of currency.”

      Jia Yuan was rather confused. In the past, people had always specified what they wanted to paid with. If they didn’t it was because it was expected that the other party know. For example, if you were doing business in a Water Kingdom city, of course you were going to use their currency.

      “Uh, any currency?”

      “Yes, young master. With the current state of things, it’s hard to know what doggone Kingdom is going to be in control of this land a week from now. I can now buy food for my family using any currency. The big merchants that farmers sell to accept any currency now, so I can pay them with any currency.”

      “I see, I see.”

      Jia Yuan waved his hand and a small pile of large fire shards appeared. “Here’s 120 large fire shards. I know that this horse is an investment for your family’s future, so it must pain you to sell it to a stranger like me. I’d also like one of your best saddles, some feed for the horse…”

      Jia Yuan continued to list some supplies that he needed. Some of them, the elder had. Others, he would have to run around the village to buy.

      Running around the village, he noticed that some of the younger families seemed to be packing.

      When he’d finished his errands, he asked the elder, who had a better impression of him due to the additional money Jia Yuan had offered.

      “Elder, why are some of the people in the village packing?”

      The elder looked up. “The young’uns are leaving. There’s a new Kingdom on the continent, the Sword Kingdom. They promise many things they do, this Sword Kingdom. But good things don’t last in this world, no they don’t. The young’uns are fooled they are, enticed by the poisonous lies.”

      The elder continued to grumble as he walked away, leaving Jia Yuan with the horse.

      Jia Yuan continued to stare in the direction of the departing elder, conflicted. He knew that he and his brothers truly had good intentions with the creation of the Sword Kingdom, and while he was happy that people were clearly willing to migrate to the Sword Kingdom… was it really possible for them to keep all of their promises?

      We can try.

      Jia Yuan climbed onto the horse and awkwardly began to ride.

      After a few days of hard riding, Jia Yuan found himself at the edge of the crater. He jumped off of the horse and walked toward the crater’s edge.

      “Whoo…”

      Jia Yuan turned back and approached the horse. He squatted then shifted so that he was under the horse. He then stood up, lifting the horse above his head.

      “Hm, horses are pretty heavy, huh.”

      He ran toward the crater’s edge. Upon reaching the edge, he jumped into the crater.

      At the same time, he activated his Song. Jets of fire more than 10 feet long appeared under his feet, and his quickly descended his way into the crater.

      At the bottom of the crater, Jia Yuan spread out his aura. At this current level, he was more than capable of clearing out a space with his aura so that the humidity and other factors unique to the crater wouldn’t affect him or the horse.

      Jia Yuan pulled out a sword from his ring and stuck in the ground, then pulled out a piece of rope and tied the horse to the sword.

      “Stay here.”

      With that done, Jia Yuan walked toward the pool of fire.

      Hello, old friend. Do you have the answers I seek?

      As Jia Yuan reached the distance of a meter from the pool, the fire in the pool of fire suddenly flew out and flew towards Jia Yuan!

      Jia Yuan reached out with a hand and the fire abruptly stopped, then retreated back into the pool.

      “Oh?” Jia Yuan muttered out loud. “The flames in the pool are stronger than last time?”

    • Chapter 118: Jumping into the pool

      After a few days of meditating by the pool, Jia Yuan’s control over the element of Fire grew stronger yet. Although Jia Yuan had thought he’d benefited all he could from his last visit, it seemed that he’d been wrong.

      As the days passed, Jia Yuan’s cultivation stabilized as his understanding of the element of Fire improved and the strength of his body and soul rose.

      But, he still felt unrest from his Song. Something wasn’t quite right with it. It was almost as if the Song of Swords was…hungry?

      Meditating next to the pool of fire seemed to quench the Song’s thirst, but only for a short period of time. After an 8 hour meditation session, Jia Yuan would be free from his Song’s unrest for about 4 hours. After that, however, he would again feel unrest from the depths of his soul. Sometimes, when he was trying to sleep at night, he would wake up in a pool of sweat, unable to rest due to the Song’s hunger.

      After realizing that the Song’s hunger seemed to have something to do with the pool of fire, Jia Yuan began to experiment with the pool in other ways, to no avail.

      After a month by the pool of fire, Jia Yuan hadn’t been able to make any real progress. Although his cultivation had stabilized, he was still at the 4th level of Manipulation, and the amount of unrest he felt emanating from his Song grew by the day. At this point, he felt that he was close to the brink of failure, that he would lose his powers if something didn’t change for the better – and fast.

      Now, Jia Yuan stood in front of the pool of fire, shaking. He knew that he would have to take bigger risks than pure meditation. It was moments like this when Jia Yuan realized that the world is truly fair. His Song was incredibly powerful, but therefore used more energy, has strict rules for progression, and has a plethora of unique requirements for continued cultivation.

      The harder the path, the stronger the result. This was the natural way of things. To gain true strength, one needed to take risks! He had no choices left!

      Jia Yuan steeled his nerves and directly jumped into the pool of fire! He began to sweat profusely as he felt the intense heat surrounding him. Some of the pool’s flames burned so hot that the heat passed the protection of his aura and began to burn his skin. However, by exerting all of his strength and willpower, he was able to keep himself in the pool.

      Okay. First part of the plan is a go. Now, for part two!

      During his time in the crater, he’d always controlled the flames from the pool of fire by exerting pressure on it using his aura.

      By using his aura to fight against the flames, he could, with great control, manipulate the pool’s flames.

      But what if he was to attempt to absorb the pool’s flames? This was Jia Yuan’s gamble.

      Okay. Let’s just start with a small bit.

      Jia Yuan sat in the lotus position and closed his eyes, using his aura to observe his interactions with the pool of fire.

      Slowly, Jia Yuan manipulated his aura so that part of the aura extended forward and created a pocket for the pool’s flame to enter.

      As soon as a piece of the pool’s flame entered the pocket, Jia Yuan closed the pocket off, effectively engulfing the flames.

      He then attempted to disperse the flames throughout his aura. To his pleasant surprise, the pool’s flames quickly and effortlessly dispersed evenly throughout his aura, strengthening it.

      It was working!

      Over the next few hours, Jia Yuan slowly repeated this process. After a few hours of effort, Jia Yuan was no longer affected by the pool’s flames, as his aura was far stronger than it had been previously.

      The most important part was that Jia Yuan could feel that his Song’s hunger was being sated as he absorbed the pool’s flames. He was no longer in the dire situation that had forced him to so rashly enter the pool of fire.

      In fact, he felt better than ever! He could tell that this time around, the pool of fire had directly given him three main benefits. First off, his aura and flames were both much stronger than before! While his flames had previously burned red and orange like the rest of the cultivators of Fire, the flames surrounding his body now burned a bluish-white. The temperature of his flames had nearly doubled!

      Second, his Song no longer threatened him with the constant feeling of hunger. With this, he could finally concentrate on his cultivation again.

      Third, it had given him an idea. If his Song was able to absorb flames from this pool of fire, what if he were to try and absorb another cultivator’s flames?

      After all, this had probably never been properly attempted before. Jia Yuan had two unique advantages. First off, thanks to Guo Huo’s training regime, he had exquisite control of his aura and Song. Secondly, as had been demonstrated again and again, his Song had unique properties. Never before had he heard of a Song giving off a sense of hunger. Perhaps, Jia Yuan mused, this hunger was a side-effect of one of its abilities.

    • Chapter 119: A meeting

      If he really were able to absorb other cultivator’s flames… then he wouldn’t ever be worried about fighting another cultivator of Fire again. He would be able to convert the other’s energy into his own.

      It was simply cheating!

      Unfortunately, Jia Yuan wasn’t sure if it was possible yet.

      Wait. What if he were able to do this with the other elements? Jia Yuan had already found a pool of fire and a pool of water. If he were able to increase his Song of Water’s aura, wouldn’t he be able to drastically improve again?

      Furthermore, if there are pools of fire and water, shouldn’t there be some sort of pool-like construction for air and earth? It only made sense!

      “Hahaha…” Jia Yuan began to laugh madly. Although his Song really did have some inconveniences, the more he thought about it, it was a cheat! With his current aura, he would be able to match against those near the top of the Manipulation realm. At least, they shouldn’t be able to fight past his aura.

      He jumped onto the pillar in the center of the pool of fire and  pulled out an apple from his ring and chomped down. “It would seem that this adventure has been a success.”

      At the same time, a small group of individuals sneakily made their way toward the Sword Palace. To the untrained eye, the five individuals seemed to teleport through the air. However, the truth is that this was merely an illusion – the five individuals were merely moving at high speeds and were leaving after-images in the air.

      The five flew their way into one of the highest rooms in the palace, where they found six chairs set up in a circle.

      A figure was already sitting in one of the chairs.

      “Come, come. Don’t be shy. It’s not like this is our first meeting.” The sitting figure spoke.

      “As expected of the Fire Demon. Your presence is still as impressive as ever.” One of the five standing individuals spoke up.

      The sitting man shifted and spoke in a dry tone. “Hehe… my presence won’t be like this for long. Ten more years, perhaps, and I’ll be nothing but an elder struggling on the brink of death. However, a compliment from the Emperor of Ice naturally brings warmth to my heart.”

      The five individuals sat in the chairs. If one were to look around the room, they would be shocked. Every figure in the room was a renowned True Disciple. Each of them was capable of eradicating entire cities and armies. Given a choice, any of the Kings on the continent would choose one of their services over the services of 500,000 soldiers.

      On the Continent of the Five Elements, the power of a True Disciple was without question – they represented the peak of existence. Tonight, the Sword Palace was given the honor of housing six of them.

      “Hurry up, Demon of Fire. You called us here, so let’s get on with it.”

      “Ho… of course. Tonight, I wish to address two matters. As you all know, this Sword Kingdom was established recently. The five of you understand the true history of the continent, and the dangers that lie beyond. This continent requires the Sword Kingdom to survive.”

      Hearing this, those around the room stirred. A thin man who looked to be around 40 years old raised an eyebrow. “Are you saying… that the three brothers who created the Sword Kingdom… cultivate Songs of Sword?”

      The one they referred to as “Fire Demon” or “Demon of Fire” chuckled. If Jia Yuan were here, he’d recognize this “Demon” as his teacher, Guo Huo.

      “No, two of the brothers cultivate Songs of Fire. However, the third, Jia Yuan, cultivates a Song of Sword. Furthermore… I suspect that the Song is at least at the Heavenly level.”

      Hearing this last line, those in the room collectively gasped. Those in the room understood just how important the quality of a Song was. Even the “Fire Demon” only had a high quality Song. A Song of Sword of heavenly quality…

      A large burly man stood up from his chair. “So, what are we waiting for? He’s exactly the person we need! What level is his cultivation at?”

      “4th level of Manipulation. He’s currently 17 years old, almost 18.”

      Those in the room glanced at each other. Some of them seemed to be deep in thought, while others seemed to have made their mind up already.

      In the end, all of those in the room agreed. “This Jia Yuan must be nurtured, for the sake of our continent.”

    • Chapter 120: Sacrifices

      One of the True Disciples who had spent more time deep in thought spoke up. “I have a question.”

      Guo Huo nodded. “Spatial Saint, you have the floor.” (The various True Disciples of the Continent of the Five Elements all had their own aliases that they used when communicating with each other)

      “You could have just told us about it through any message or so. Hide the meaning so that others don’t understand, and you wouldn’t have had to call us all here. You’re not one to waste other people’s time. What’s the deal?”

      Guo Huo cracked his neck and stood up. “Jia Yuan’s Song seems to require…sacrifices. From observing, it seems that not only does he need to constantly fight to progress, but the more people he kills, the faster he progresses. Especially after the Battle of Sword City… it seemed that he benefited a great deal from slaying multiple cultivators.”

      “Are you saying…”

      Guo Huo nodded. “If he is to properly defend the continent, he needs experience fighting against True Disciples. I believe that his cultivation would also benefit greatly from fighting and killing a True Disciple. It just so happens that he is at odds with a certain True Disciple.”

      Guo Huo paused, then continued. “He has met Huang Ying on the battlefield before. Furthermore, Huang Ying killed Jia Yuan’s ex-master’s children. It can be said that Jia Yuan would definitely appreciate a chance to fight against and kill Huang Ying.”

      Those in the room held a somber attitude. “So you’re saying… that we should sacrifice Huang Ying for Jia Yuan? I suppose that’s not impossible… but what does the Water Kingdom think?”

      Everyone in the room turned to a single figure in the room. “Ice Lotus. Thoughts?”

      Everyone in the room turned to a single figure. If Jia Yuan were here, he would recognize this man as his second teacher, the owner of the estate in mountains of the Water Kingdom.

      “In all honesty, I have also met this Jia Yuan. I’ve taught him about the true history, as well as the basics and some of the finer aspects of controlling the element of Water. I believe that he will be a priceless asset to our continent before long. As for Huang Ying… he has always been a rogue. The Water Kingdom will have another True Disciple before long. We do not need Huang Ying.”

      Guo Huo was surprised. “Oh? The princess has already progressed to such a level? Congratulations!”

      “Aha… thank you, thank you.”

      The others nodded. “Since the Water Kingdom has spoken, we’ll proceed this way. If it comes to it, Huang Ying will be sacrificed for the greater good.”

      Some of those present stood up in preparation to leave.

      “Ahem.” Guo Huo cleared his throat. “I do believe I said that there was a second matter to discuss. Although, I suppose I can just say it now. As you know, we’ve heard rumors that forces were being sent to attack our continent. Today, I can confirm for you that this is indeed the case. Forces from the neighboring Continent of Dragons are heading to our continent now. According to my sources, they have sent 8 True Disciples, who should be arriving in just over a year.”

      Those who had stood up immediately sat back down. “Just over a year? But the continent is in a state of turmoil. At most, we would only be able to fight with us six. But even if we could match up 1 to 1, they would still have a numbers advantage. I guess there’s Huang Ying, but he’s being sacrificed to Jia Yuan. Ice Lotus, would your princess be at the True Disciple level by this time?”

      “Nothing in this world is certain, but most likely, yes.”

      “Then it’s a 7 against 8. We still need 1 more to make it an 8 on 8… furthermore, even if the princess is able to become a True Disciple by that time, she’d probably only be a True Disciple of the 1st level.”

      Guo Huo nodded. “No matter how we look at it, we’re not in a good position. Return to your abodes and train as much as you can. We are fortunate that we received solid information so early. We have a year to prepare. Use the time well.”

      Those in the room nodded and began to fly out of the room.

      Guo Huo and the one who was called “Ice Lotus” stayed behind.

      Ice Lotus tapped his chair’s armrest. “Where is Jia Yuan now?”

      Guo Huo sighed. “He had met some problems regarding his cultivation. As such, he set off in an attempt to fix these problems. He left over a month ago. I haven’t heard from him since… perhaps he has died, or perhaps he has fixed the problems he had encountered. We’ll find out at some point.”

      “And you didn’t tell the others?”

      “Was there a point in worrying them further?”

      “Ha… I guess not.”

    • Chapter 121: 30 Cities

      Another month has passed. In this time, Jia Yuan has completely devoured the pool of fire. Now, when he releases his flames, they burn a bright blue. His Song no longer showed any abnormalities. In fact, Jia Yuan could feel himself approaching the 5th level of Manipulation.

      It was time to leave the crater! After all, the pool of fire had been consumed, so there was no longer any reason for him to stay there. He spread out his sense and located his horse. Given the amount of time they’d had to spend in the crater, Jia Yuan had let the horse run around freely in the crater. Locating the horse, Jia Yuan ran his way over and picked the horse up and lifted it over his head, then flew up and out of the crater.

      Back outside of the crater, Jia Yuan tapped his arm. What to do?

      I can go back to the Sword Kingdom and help it expand, or I can go to the Water Kingdom and visit the pool of water…

      After thinking about it, Jia Yuan decided to head back to the Sword Kingdom. He’d just acquired a huge bonus from the pool of fire. To go and immediately head to the pool of water would be rather greedy. Plus, he wasn’t quite sure what the Song of Swords required to be able to devour something like one of the elemental pools.

      It was better to just return to the Sword Kingdom. After all, he hadn’t seen his brothers in over two months…

      I wonder how the Sword Kingdom is doing…

      Jia Yuan once again donned the ridiculously flashy disguise and sped back in the direction of the Sword Kingdom on his horse.

      After a few days of riding, he found, surprisingly, that he was already in the Sword Kingdom’s borders. Soldiers carrying the Sword Kingdom’s banner could be seen marching through the roads. However, none of them were able to recognize Jia Yuan with his disguise.

      Pleased, Jia Yuan continued his way toward Sword City. After another few days of riding, he found himself in front of the gates of Sword City. The city had expanded yet again. In the short two months that Jia Yuan had been gone, a second wall had been established around the city, and a large amount of buildings had already been completed between the first and second walls.

      Jia Yuan confidently rode into the city, then proceeded to the palace. Upon trying to enter the palace, he was stopped by the palace guards, who crossed their weapons, forcibly stalling Jia Yuan’s path.

      With a smile, Jia Yuan returned his ostentatious disguise into the ring, revealing his usual self.

      The guards started. “Ah! General of the Right! I’m deeply sorry sir, we didn’t recognize you with your outfit. Please, enter!”

      These were the same guards who had guarded the Sword Palace at Dou Di’s coronation. As such, they were able to recognize Jia Yuan at a glance.

      Jia Yuan waved at the guards and entered the palace. In the main hall, he found Dou Di and Fan Meng discussing matters with some ministers.

      The officials of the Sword Kingdom were all hand-picked by Dou Di and Fan Meng. They took into account only a person’s personality and natural abilities. Many people had approached the Sword Kingdom and had tried to make use of their backgrounds to secure official positions. However, these people were all refused.

      Seeing Jia Yuan enter, Dou Di and Fan Meng quickly rose, smiles on their faces. Seeing Jia Yuan’s happy expression, they understood that Jia Yuan had been able to fix the problems he had had with his cultivation.

      The three brothers quickly greeted each other with some hugs and pats on the back. Then, Dou Di and Fan Meng did their best to bring Jia Yuan up to speed.

      Currently, Fan Meng was giving Jia Yuan a brief report of their successes in the last two months. “So, our Sword Kingdom now has an army of about 300,000. About 50,000 are specialized archers, 200,000 are foot-soldiers who are adept at a variety of weapons, and the last 50,000… are cultivators. 40,000 of them are at the lower levels of Absorption, while 9,800 at the higher levels of Absorption. We’ve somehow managed to acquire the services of 200 who are in the Manipulation realm.

      “In terms of cities, we’ve managed to secure 30 cities. This means that we have roughly 10,000 soldiers per city. Of course, we care more about some cities than others. As for the SkyForge City that we spoke of last time… They’ve joined our Kingdom. We had to offer a lot for them to join us, but in the end, I believe that it will be worth it. Actually it has already been worth it. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to properly equip all of our soldiers. Not only is our army growing at a fast pace, but they are also the best equipped army on the continent.”

      Hearing this, all of the ministers present seemed very pleased. After all, many of them had taken large risks to join the Sword Kingdom. After all, even after Dou Di’s coronation, the Sword Kingdom had only a few cities and a miniscule army. In the short period of two months, they’d already grown enough to properly challenge the other Kingdoms for ownership of the continent.

    • Chapter 122: Lion City

      A week has passed, and Jia Yuan sits on top of his horse in front of the door to the main hall of the Sword Palace. In front of him stands an army of 10,000 cultivators, each of whom sits atop of their own majestic horse.

      A minister loudly announced to the palace. “By his Majesty’s orders, the General of the Right, Jia Yuan, will lead an army to seize from the Water Kingdom the cities of Lion City and IceShard City. If he succeeds in this mission, the Sword Kingdom will have secured the two most northward cities of the continent. In the event of success, the General of the Right will also receive 100,000 large shards of currency and all soldiers will receive one rank of nobility.”

      With that, the minister rolled up the scroll he had been reading from.

      Jia Yuan waved his hand and the black sword appeared in his hand. He raised the sword into the air, and the cultivators in front of him all gave a shout.

      “For the Sword Kingdom! For the King!”

      With that, Jia Yuan spurred his horse forward, followed by the cultivators. All of them were clad in pitch black armor, giving them a very fearsome look. Even more impressive was the collective aura of the 10,000 cultivators. As Jia Yuan and the cultivators paraded down the city street toward the main gate, the citizens of Sword City cheered them on, showering them with flowers and such.

      Finally, outside of the city, Jia Yuan and the cultivators joined up with 40,000 foot-soldiers and 10,000 archers.

      “Forward!”

      Given how far the two cities were, it would take them about a month to make their way there. As such, Jia Yuan made an effort to interact with his officers and soldiers.

      Every day, the army would march their way, but instead of marching in silence or to a drum, they marched in time to songs. As time went on, the soldiers developed friendships and the army as a whole grew rather close.

      Naturally, Jia Yuan grew close to some of the soldiers and officers as well. One of the cultivators he’d become friends with was a talented cultivator of Air by the name of Hua Lian. One of the few female cultivators in the army, she was looked after by the rest of the army. Although she didn’t compare to girl he’d met at the estate in the Water Kingdom, she had her own gritty charm.

      Like Jia Yuan, she was 17 years of age. Impressively, she was already at the 3rd level of manipulation with a high level Song. Clearly, she was one of the new gems of the Sword Kingdom’s forces.

      Why had she come to the Sword Kingdom? According to her, her family in the Air Kingdom didn’t give her the freedom she wanted, so she decided to run away when she found out that the Sword Kingdom accepted people of all backgrounds and was a place where one’s family or background didn’t matter. All that matter’s was one’s own ability.

      As the troop trekked their way northward, Jia Yuan and Hua Lian grew closer together and they conversed. Through his time at the estate in the Water Kingdom, Jia Yuan had learned much about the Air Kingdom’s history and culture. As such, he was able to understand Hua Lian’s grievances toward her family.

      However, he was quite curious. Usually, daughters were not treated as well as sons. For example, a noble house may spend their fortunes to secure a high level Song for their Song, but settle for a low or medium level Song for their daughter, if they bothered to let her cultivate at all.

      However, Hua Lian had actually been given a high level Song. While Jia Yuan was slightly suspicious as to Hua Lian’s background, he didn’t think about it much. After all, he liked her company.

      Finally, the army was only about a day’s march from Lion City. As such, the officers began to formulate plans.

      Lion City was a city with extremely strong defenses. The city’s warriors prided themselves as lions, and thus fought with the ferocity of lions. Not only that, but the city had several layers of defense. Now, it was unlikely that Lion City would be able to keep Jia Yuan from overtaking the city. After all, he had several fighters who were at the manipulation realm. However, it was important for Jia Yuan to win as cleanly as possible so that he would have enough troops to take over IceShard City.

      The next day would come around, and the army would find itself in front of Lion City, shocked.

      It turns out the reason Lion City is named such… is because the entire city is situated in a gigantic structure of a lion, so big that it was capable of holding a city large enough to fit more than 200,000 people inside.

    • Chapter 123: IceShard City

      Instead of the usual wall and gates, Lion City was protected… by the structure of the lion.

      It seemed that normally, one would be able to enter by ascending through the lion’s mouth. However, it seemed that the ramp that normally would have been used to ascend through the lion’s mouth had been raised, instead forming a barrier inside the lion’s mouth.

      So then, it seemed that to assault the city, there was only one choice; fly into the lion’s mouth and break through the barrier. However, this brought a whole slew of problems. For a city to be so meticulously constructed, the city’s planners definitely wouldn’t have missed a chance to fill the city’s only entrance with numerous traps.

      Clearly, it was too dangerous to enter the city through the mouth. Even if they did… then they would have to leave the foot-soldiers behind.

      Jia Yuan ground his foot into the earth, then turned around and faced his officers. “Anyone have ideas?”

      The officers glanced at each other, then collectively turned back to Jia Yuan and shook their heads. It’s not that these officers weren’t talented, it’s just that Lion City was far too abnormal! The entire city was elevated, so the usual siege towers and ladders wouldn’t work. Even if the cultivators were to fly into the lion’s mouth or directly into the city, they would probably take large losses on the way in. Furthermore, it was likely that they would have to fight a large amount of soldiers inside the city.

      There was too much that they didn’t know about the city!

      Jia Yuan groaned and scratched his head. “Okay, so the city itself isn’t worth worrying about now. There’s just too much we don’t know. We’ll have to spend a few days to let the scouts gather information.”

      At this point, Hua Lian spoke up. “General, why don’t we just leave this city behind and directly head towards IceShard City? In an open field, we wouldn’t fear Lion City’s forces, even if they were to flank us. The only risk is if they were to flank us while we were in the middle of sieging IceShard City. If that were to happen, we probably wouldn’t be wiped out, but we’d take substantial losses.”

      Another officer nodded. “Right. And we can use our scouts to prevent such a situation from occurring. I support this plan.”

      The other officers also nodded. However, one, the officer in charge of covert operations, spoke up. “I agree, but I believe that we leave some of our agents in Lion City. Every city has a weakness. We just don’t have enough information.”

      Jia Yuan nodded. “I’ll leave this in your care then, Guo Wei.”

      After the incident with Mo-Ri Jaio, Guo Wei knew he had to find a new protector. After some time, he’d found himself in Sword City. Showing off his experience from being an informant for the Water Kingdom, he’d secured himself a spot as an officer for the new Sword Kingdom Covert Ops.

      Fortunately, the Water Kingdom had decided to let bygones be bygones. Either way, Mo-Ri Jaio had also betrayed the Water Kingdom. As an actual assassin, the Water Kingdom was more worried about him than Guo Wei.

      “I’ll prove my worth!” This thought rang through Guo Wei’s head as Jia Yuan approved his plan.

      After some discussion, the officers agreed on a plan. In the middle of the night, they’d leave a skeleton army to cause a lot of noise to distract Lion City’s defenders. In the meantime, the rest of the army would use the night’s cover to head towards IceShard City.

      As the sun set in the west, Jia Yuan and his soldiers quickly made their way past Lion City. In the meantime, the skeleton army they’d left behind began to raise havoc. They’d only left behind a thousand soldiers, but they were all cultivators. Now, these cultivators bombarded Lion City with the power of their Songs. They were each only about 20 meters away from Lion City, but because they were so spread out, it hard to tell how many soldiers were attacking Lion City. Even as Jia Yuan and the rest of the troops slinked their way away from the city, they could hear countless alarms ringing in the city and thousands of shouts as all of Lion City mobilized to defend against the “invading army.”

      A few days later, Guo Wei’s spies infiltrated Lion City. At the same time, Jia Yuan and his army began their assault on IceShard City!

      Unlike Lion City, IceShard didn’t have any special designs. True, the city was mostly made of ice, but this wasn’t much of a problem.

      Ice walls? Unlike Lion City’s sturdy walls, Jia Yuan and the rest of the cultivators of Fire could easily destroy ice walls. In fact, it took them but a minute to destroy enough of IceShard City’s walls for the entire army to charge through.

      Blood splattered IceShard City’s icy streets as Jia Yuan and his army charged through. IceShard City was only a perimeter city of the Water Kingdom. Although they had over 30,000 foot-soldiers, they didn’t have many cultivators.

      In truthfulness, IceShard City was a fairly defensible city. The ice walls were thick and tall, and the gate was similarly sturdy. A million common foot-soldiers could storm the walls, and they would be unable to pass.

      In fact, they would be slaughtered. Why was IceShard City named so? Because of how the city’s people were used to defending themselves. They would stand atop the walls and throw incredibly sharp shards of ice down toward the invaders. For cultivators, they could summon tens of hundreds of ice shards and have them fall onto the invading forces. As such, the invaders would be brained by these falling shards of ice.

      Unfortunately for IceShard City, Jia Yuan’s army had a large number of talented cultivators and didn’t need to directly approach the walls in order to break open the gate. They had the cultivators of Earth create a shelter for the strongest cultivators about 50 meters from the city walls. Then, Jia Yuan led these talented cultivators in blasting a hole in IceShard City’s walls.

      Jia Yuan himself did most of the damage. To the shock of his army, he had impressively summoned a giant blue ball of fire more than 200 meters in diameter. This giant ball of fire alone had blasted a gigantic hole in IceShard City’s gate.

      Alas, after his troops managed to swarm inside the city walls, IceShard City quickly surrendered. In all, Jia Yuan’s troops had only suffered about 50 losses, while IceShard City’s Southern Wall had been almost completely destroyed. In addition, despite only fighting for about ten minutes, IceShard City had suffered over 3,000 losses.

      And so, the reputation of the Sword Kingdom’s armies would rise yet again. They’d managed to steal yet another city from the Water Kingdom, and had done so with virtually no losses. However, even as Jia Yuan and his officers celebrated in IceShard City, they knew that they had only completed half of their assignment, and by the looks of it, the far easier half.

    • Chapter 124: Bad Ideas

      Jia Yuan’s army spent about a week in IceShard City to hammer out the terms of surrender with the city’s governor. By the end, the city’s governor was rather relieved. He would still be the governor of IceShard City. Those who directly worked for the royal family were sent out of the city. Those were had worked only for the city and were not directly related to the royal family were allowed to stay. All in all, those who were in power were allowed to stay.

      However, the tax rate was lowered and how the city’s military and defenses operated had been changed to the norm of the Sword Kingdom. Soldiers would never be conscripted. Those who fought were those who chose to fight. There were many other small changes, but they’re not really worth noting.

      Jia Yuan and his brothers had decided that giving the cities they conquered lenient terms upon surrender was good for them, both in the short term and long term.

      In the short term, it meant that it was more likely for the individual city’s leaders to accept the Sword Kingdom as their new overlords. In the long term, as other cities learned of the Sword Kingdom’s lenient terms, they’d be more willing to surrender if the Sword Kingdom were to show up with a large invading army.

      It’s just common sense. Against someone who is like to eradicate you no matter what, one would be more willing to fight. That cornered sense could even result in unpredicted battle outcomes. However, if one knows that it’s always possible to surrender and receive minimal retribution, one is more likely to be willing to surrender.

      After thinking about how many soldiers he needed to take on Lion City, Jia Yuan finally divided his army up. Jia Yuan left behind a significant portion of his army, 10000 soldiers, to guard the city as he sent messengers back to Sword City to request reinforcements to IceShard City. While he felt that it was safe to assume that IceShard City wouldn’t try to revolt, he didn’t want to leave a skeleton crew to only find that they’d been massacred in the middle of a city revolt after he’d left.

      After dividing up the armies, Jia Yuan left with the remaining 50,000 soldiers and headed back toward Lion City. He’d had to leave it untouched last time, but after he’d had some time to think about the setup of the city, he decided that the city wasn’t so impregnable after all.

      While Lion City did have a very fearsome outward appearance, in essence, it was just a city that sat in a very large, elevated bowl.

      It was true that this type of structure had its advantages. Given the city’s elevated height, unless it was attacked by a large flying army, the defenders of Lion City would have the height advantage. This meant that they’d be able to shoot arrows and their Songs longer distances than the invaders could. Unlike a city’s walls, which were usually only tens of meters wide at best, the top of the lion’s body encompassed a huge amount of space. This meant that they could place a ridiculous amount of people on the top of the lion’s body. Imagine if instead of being able place 10,000 soldiers on its walls, a city was suddenly able to place 100,000 archers on its walls. It would be impossible for an army to invade it!

      But what about breaking the “bowl”? If Jia Yuan’s army was capable of doing this, Lion City would lose all of its advantages. Unfortunately, the “bowl” was too thick for Jia Yuan’s army to break. Unlike IceShard City’s ice walls, which looked impressive but were easily shattered, the lion that Lion City was situated in looked to be extremely sturdily made. After all, if not created from the finest metals, such a large structure definitely would not have been able to stand the test of time.

      As Jia Yuan and his army trekked back to Lion City, he and his officers discussed the situation. Even though all of them agreed that Lion City should have some sort of weakness, they weren’t able to find one.

      At this point, Jia Yuan’s stomach rumbled and he felt a stabbing pain in his stomach. “Ah, forgive me. I need to excuse myself for a moment." Jia Yuan jumped off his horse and ran away from his giant marching army.

      A stomachache! After he’d run a sufficient distance from the marching army, Jia Yuan found a tree that looked like it was worth fertilizing. He walked up to the tree then squatted and did his business.

      After finishing his business and cleaning up with the help of some leaves, Jia Yuan began to make his way back to his army when an idea forced its way into his head.

      Wait.

      Poop. There are so many people in Lion City. They all have to poop. If they’re in a bowl, where does the poop go? There has to be some kind of drain system for the poop to leave…the…city…

      Oh god. They’re not going to like this idea…

    • Chapter 125: Eight Fierce Generals

      As Jia Yuan returned to his marching army, a grimace could be seen on his face.

      As he finally made his way back to the officers, he jumped onto his horse. Seeing Jia Yuan’s unsightly expression, Hua Lian couldn’t help but ask.

      “General, what’s wrong? Your face seems to have a shadow cast over it.”

      “Ah… well I have good news and bad news.”

      The officers all swiveled their heads around. What news could have arrived after the General had just relieved himself?

      Seeing all of the gazes directed towards his direction, Jia Yuan could only sigh.

      “Well, the good news is that I think I’ve identified a potential weakness in Lion City.”

      Hearing this, the officers all nodded. As expected of the General! He’d managed to identify a weakness even while managing his business!

      “And, uh… the bad part is that… the potential weakness… is Lion City’s plumbing system.”

      “…”

      The officers around him were all those who were prepared to die in battle. For glory, for pride, for the sake of the new Kingdom that they’d come to live in.

      However, upon hearing Jia Yuan’s words, the officers’ eyes were all filled with fear.

      It was one thing to run into a hail of arrows. It was another thing to sludge one’s way through a city’s waste system.

      One gave the soldier a feeling of fighting against the heavens! The other…not so much.

      Jia Yuan frowned. “Don’t give me that look. I’m not happy about it either, but does anyone have a better idea? Besides, we’re not even sure whether or not such a plan is feasible. If you don’t want to end up trekking through their waste system, use your brains to think of a better idea.

      For the next few hours, all of the officers rode on their horses with intense looks of concentration.

      Despite their efforts, however, none of them were able to come up with a better idea.

      In the meantime, those in Lion City were likewise preparing to take on Jia Yuan’s troops.

      8 figures stood around a large table. On the table was an exact model of Lion City. These eight figures were the Eight Fierce Generals of Lion City. In times of conflict against other cities, these figures were those who fought for Lion City. Each of them had wondrous reputations in Lion City.

      In fact, most of the population of Lion City was confident that Lion City would never fall. This was the level of trust they had in their Eight Fierce Generals.

      This was with good reason! Ever since the Water Kingdom had spread and taken over Lion City hundreds and hundreds of years ago, Lion City had never suffered any defeats.

      Lion City’s Eight Fierce Generals were all of the Manipulation realm – resources that the Water Kingdom had long yearned for control of.

      If Lion City only had one or two cultivators of the Manipulation realm, then the Water Kingdom would have been able to threaten them if Lion City were not to “play along.” However, in times of war, the Water Kingdom could hardly afford to risk the ire of 8 warriors of the Manipulation realm.

      In times of need, they couldn’t ask. In times of peace, there was no need to ask.

      Unfortunately, Jia Yuan and the Sword Kingdom hadn’t learned of this. In fact, because the Eight Generals had never directly fought for the Water Kingdom, the Sword Kingdom didn’t have any information on them.

      Currently, the eight figures stood around the model of Lion City, discussing the upcoming confrontation.

      Among the eight figures were six men and two women. Each of them had their specialties and titles. However, none of them used them amongst each other. They weren’t just allies, but also competitors… and friends.

      “The army that marched past was said to be around 60,000 strong. That night when they tricked us, they had left about a thousand of them here… by following these thousand soldiers, we’ve managed to track his army.”

      The speaker was a thin, pale man who stood at the end of the table. His name was Wei Xiang. He was the strategist amongst the Eight Fierce Generals, and directed the other Generals.

      However, to call him a mere strategist would be an insult to his name. Not only was he their prizes strategist, but he also had the 3rd highest cultivation at the 7th level of the Manipulation Realm.

      “There are a few in his army in at the Manipulation Realm. However, I don’t think any of them would be individually stronger than any of us. They seem to be fairly green for the most part. Talented, but green.”

      Those around the room gave wry smiles. In terms of the Continent of the Five Elements, they could be called season veterans. Against those of the same cultivation, they were completely confident.

      “However. Their army commander Jia Yuan… He is the Fire Demon’s disciple.”

      Upon hearing this, those in the room started.

    • Chapter 126: Testing Skills

      In the corner of the room, a figure stirred. “Does that mean that we can’t kill him?”

      The speaker had a piece of cloth strapped around his head, covering his eyes. This was the famed archer of Lion City. He was also blind. Instead of using his eyes to aim, he used his ears and “sense” to locate his enemies.

      In fact, other than Jia Yuan, he probably had the best “sense” in the Manipulation Realm. His name is Hou Xian.

      Wei Xiang responded. “Perhaps you can. You’d have the excuse of not being able to distinguish your enemies by sight. However, if any of us were to… his wrath would probably descend on Lion City. This is not something we can afford. So yes, we can’t kill Jia Yuan.

      “The rest of his army, however… is fair game.”

      The Eight Fierce Generals continued to discuss their upcoming opponents.

      At the same time, Guo Wei and his spy network were meeting in one of Lion City’s outer district’s taverns.

      “What? Repeat that again.”

      “Lion City has the Eight Fierce Generals. According to the rumors, they’re all near the middle or top of the Manipulation realm.”

      Guo Wei slammed the table. “Bullshit! What sort of city could have so many strong cultivators sitting in their city in this state of war? Even if this is true…Eight Fierce Generals my ass. Eight Sitting Generals is more like it.”

      The reprimanded spy bowed his head. “It’s true, sir. I gathered this information from several locations throughout the city.”

      Guo Wei picked up a pint of beer and sipped. “How about you two? Anything?”

      Two other spies were seated at the table. While the first spy had been tasked with figuring out Lion City’s strength, these two had been tasked with finding the city’s weaknesses.

      “Many of the buildings inside of the city are flammable. Also, Lion City does not have an original source of water. Although those with Songs would be able to “create” water for people to drink, there are only about 3,000 cultivators in the city, and more than 200,000 non-cultivators. If the General wishes, we could just siege around the city for a few days. They would have to surrender.”

      Guo Wei stroked his chin. “Do they not have much water stored up?”

      “Uh… I uhh….”

      “Idiot! Go and find out. If they have water stored up, how would that siege work? The four of us aren’t enough to go around and destroy anything.”

      “You!” Guo Wei turned to his last spy. “Did you find anything useful?”

      “Useful, yes, but not ideal.”

      “Oh?” Guo Wei raised an eye brow.

      “It seems that although Lion City is protected from all sides. However, there is also a top and bottom. If the General is very intent on taking this city, it would be possible to bombard the city from outside. Given that Lion City is basically stuck in a bowl, it’d be a simple matter to continuously bombard the city and have the damage build up.

      “Especially if the General were to be able to take the Lion’s body. That way, he could bombard the city from above. There’s more than enough space to set up archers and siege weapons up there.

      “However, there’s also the bottom of the city…”

      At this point, the spy paused.

      Guo Wei impatiently downed his beer and popped some peanuts into his mouth. “What? What about the bottom of the city? Hurry up.”

      The spy paused, then leaned in. “The city’s waste disposal system… I walked through and it seems that an army would be able to march through three wide. The system reaches out to an underground waste reservoir of sorts. It’d be possible for the cultivators of Earth to dig a tunnel there and then enter the city from there.”

      Guo Wei tapped the table as he thought about the implications. “Alright. Draw me a map tonight. We leave at sunrise.”

      And so, Guo Wei had accomplished his mission.

      A week would pass.

      Jia Yuan and his army simply camped a distance outside Lion City. A few days before they’d arrived, Guo Wei and his spies had casually left Lion City.

      As such, they’d been able to fill Jia Yuan and his officers in on Lion City’s information. They’d drawn out maps of the city and a map of the waste system. They’d even pinpointed where Lion City typically stored their water and military supplies.

      However, none of that really mattered to Jia Yuan.

      “The Eight Fierce Generals, huh.”

      Jia Yuan grinned. “This’ll be a good chance to test my skills. Our cultivators of Earth should be done soon. We’ll move out tonight!”

    • Chapter 127: Cao Hu!

      At nightfall, 45 thousand of Jia Yuan’s troops descended into a tunnel that had been previously excavated by the cultivators of Earth.

      However, none of them were excited. They’d heard recently that they were going to be traveling through Lion City’s waste system… and they could already smell the filth they were heading towards.

      However, a lucky 5 thousand didn’t have to descend the tunnel. Amongst this 5 thousand were Jia Yuan’s officers and most of the cultivators that were near the top of the Absorption realm.

      Earlier in the day, the officers had drawn straws to decide who amongst them would have to lead the soldiers through Lion City’s waste system.

      Those who didn’t draw the short straw didn’t have to trudge through Lion City’s waste system, but instead they would have to risk their lives fighting against Lion City’s Eight Fierce Generals.

      The plan in a nutshell:

      First, the troops would make their way through the waste system. Once they surfaced in the city, they would fire a signal into the air.

      Upon seeing the signal, Jia Yuan would lead his officers and the various cultivators and fly/jump their way to the top of Lion City. The troops would wreak havoc in the city as Jia Yuan and the rest attacked from above and scouted for the Eight Fierce Generals.

      Jia Yuan and his officers were confident that as long as the officers were able to keep the Eight Fierce Generals busy, their soldiers would be able to conquer Lion City themselves!

      It would be a two-pronged attack. The troops would attack from below, while the cultivators would invade from above.

      Finally, the last of the soldiers had descended into the tunnel. Now, all Jia Yuan could do was wait.

      And wait.

      And wait…

      Jia Yuan and his soldiers could only chat and stare at the moon as they waited in the darkness.

      Finally, Jia Yuan grew restless and stood up. “Everyone, follow me! We’re going to prepare to scale Lion City’s exterior!”

      At this point, his officers ran up to him, confused.

      Hua Lian asked with a perplexed expression on her face. “Ji- err General? Weren’t we going to wait for the signal?”

      Jia Yuan tapped his foot. “At this time, even if the soldiers haven’t surfaced in the city yet, they should be close. We should be ready. Everyone, prepare for battle!”

      In just a few seconds, all of the cultivators had snatched up their weapons and were lined up.

      Jia Yuan closed his eyes and extended his “sense” to Lion City.

      3…2…1…

      From the back end of Lion City, a fireball flew toward the skies.

      Jia Yuan shook his head. “Quite unfortunate positioning… Although I guess it makes sense that Lion City’s waste system would lead to the rear…heh.”

      “Forward!” Jia Yuan bellowed toward the heavens.

      Immediately, all of the cultivators began to make their way to the top of Lion City. Those with Songs of Fire and Water flew their way up by using their elements to propel themselves. Those with Songs of Air did the same, while those with Songs of Earth summoned little stones in midair to “hop” their way up.

      Jia Yuan and his officers, being the strongest cultivators, were able to make their way to the top of Lion City the fastest.

      From the distance, they could see 7 figures flying through the air towards them. Jia Yuan spread out his sense and discovered…

      “Be careful! Those should be the Fierce Generals! There are 7 of them. The last one should be dealing with our troops who had gone through the waste system!

      “Officers. Engage! Everyone else, head into the city and kill all of the soldiers you see! Don’t harm the civilians!”

      Jia Yuan, Hua Lian, and the rest of the officers flew toward the Fierce Generals.

      In midair, the 7 Generals of Lion City clashed against Jia Yuan’s and 6 of his officers.

      Powerful waves of energy and elements crashed in the air. Jia Yuan’s opponent stood tall at 6 foot 5. He wielded a longer steel tiger spear in his hands.

      From the initial clash, Jia Yuan could tell that this opponent was no pushover. In fact, he was sure that this opponent was near the top of the Manipulation Realm!

      Jia Yuan and his opponent continued to quickly trade blows. For now, Jia Yuan had decided to predominantly use his Song of Fire.

      Each blow of his crashed heavily upon his opponent’s tiger spear. With each strike, intense white and blue flames surrounded his sword and burned the air around it.

      However, each blow of his was met by the opponent’s unyielding spear. Although Jia Yuan’s flames burned hot, his opponent’s blows were surrounded by an icy aura.

      Due to his opponent’s superior cultivation, neither side could gain an advantage.

      After trading about 50 blows in the space of 5 seconds, Jia Yuan backed off.

      “Hm, as expected from one of Lion City’s Eight Fierce Generals. This one is Jia Yuan. Fierce General, may I know your name?”

      His opponent raised and clasped his hands. “So you’re Jia Yuan. No wonder you were so strong, despite being at the 4th level of Manipulation. As expected from the Fire Demon’s disciple. This one is proud to be called Cao Hu.”

      Cao Hu paused.

      “Come and taste my spear!”

      Jia Yuan grinned kicked his foot back. A giant burst of flame extended out behind him and he soared forward.

      After propelling himself, he concentrated his aura around the black sword. As a result, the flames around the sword glowed a pure blue color. He raised the black sword up high. In the air, behind Jia Yuan, a phantom image of the same black sword appeared in the air.

      However, this phantom image… was over 100 times bigger than the black sword itself!

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