“We’ve been tricked!”
Ling Shoujing and Ling Lanyin looked at each other in bewilderment. With everything coming this far, it was obvious that Ghost Qin’s people were prepared for their assault. This was clearly a trap!
Ling Shoujing was an experienced general both adept at planning and fighting. He saw through the weak part of the opponent’s siege and made the decision quickly. With the cover of his daughter’s flying swords, he led the night assault team southwest!
However, when they were about to leap out of Huo Wujiu’s camp, intimidating howls echoed from the woods in the southwest. Then, dozens of round balls, spurting green sparks, were thrown toward them!
Ling Shoujing and Ling Lanyin had thought that it was magical equipment such as grenades that the enemy tossed at them. They hurried to activate their spiritual shield. The light flowed out, and all the Black Tiger Iron Guards were covered.
The items were blown away by the spiritual shield and rolled on the ground, but they did not explode because they turned out to be grimacing heads.
The mystic rays around the heads seemed to boast a certain preservation technique. Although the wounds below the heads were dry, indicating that they had been chopped off a while ago, they seemed to have just been taken away from the necks. The faces were still as vivid as when they had been alive. Even the devastation inside the eyes could clearly be seen.
Although they were not grenades, they had stirred the mind of the warriors of the Great Qian Dynasty better than a hundred grenades would have.
“Senior brother!” Greatly disturbed, Ling Lanyin, the female Cultivator, could not help exclaiming.
Who else could the head in front, which was illuminated by the ghostly fire around it clearly, belong to if not her senior brother, ‘Thunderous Straight Swordsman’ Lou Chongxiao, who was the best expert in the younger generation of the Purple Pole Sword Sect and had already advanced into the Nascent Soul Stage?
The Black Tiger Iron Guards of the Ling family were nominally responsible for the mission to the Southland of Sorcerers, but in fact, the mission was backed by the Purple Pole Sword Sect.
The Purple Pole Sword Sect had sent out Ling Lanyin, a sword Cultivator at the peak of the Core Formation Stage, to join her father’s army on the surface.
In secret, the young expert ‘Thunderous Straight Swordsman’ Lou Chongxiao, as well as a hundred elites of the Purple Pole Sword Sect, had set up ambushes next to the Sorcerers’ River, ready to assassinate the experts of the Ghost Qin’s reinforcements when they were unprepared.
If everything had gone well, Lou Chongxiao should have joined Ling Lanyin a couple of days ago with the heads of the enemies before they worked together to clean up all the Ghost Qin survivors and the barbarians who defied the Great Qian Dynasty in the woods.
However, Ling Lanyin had lost contact with Lou Chongxiao following their last correspondence half a month ago. She had never expected that she would meet her senior brother in such a way!
‘Thunderous Straight Swordsman’ Lou Chongxiao, one of the youngest Cultivators in the Nascent Soul Stage, bulged his unfocused eyes and stared at Ling Lanyin helplessly against the spiritual shield.
His eyes that were almost dry were filled with shock, fear, devastation, and desperation!
They were exactly what Ling Lanyin was feeling at that moment.
Somebody laughed from where the heads had been tossed.
A Dragon Wolf with a body size larger than a rhino, surrounded by black spiritual energy, slowly paced out, leaving footprints of black fire behind.
On the back of the Dragon Wolf was a giant more than two meters tall whose eyes looked like two bells.
For most of the giants more than two meters tall, if they happened to be heavy, they would easily give the feeling that they were unintelligent.
This guy, however, had a square face and a pair of broad eyes that were as sharp as lightning and filled with the immeasurability of a deep ocean.
His face was utterly devoid of the features of barbarians. Even his hairstyle was the fashion of the central plateaus. Had it not been for the ten or so gold rings hanging on his ears, he would have made a standard warrior of the Great Qian Dynasty.
His arrival made Ling Shoujing and Ling Lanyin’s hearts fall into an icy hole thousands of meters deep where nobody could pick them up.
“Han Yuantai—the regent Han Baling’s brother, the leader of the Behemothic Eagle Unit, and the renowned expert of the Cultivators from the Dark Cloud Prairies—has come in person!”
Ghost Qin had a different system from the Great Qian Dynasty.
In the Great Qian Dynasty, Cultivators lived, trained, and got engaged in activities under the fundamental communities as ‘sects’. Except for the few unaffiliated Cultivators, almost all the Cultivators belonged to a certain sect.
Even the officials in the court were restrained by their respective sects, too, and had to bear the interests of their sect in mind. Without the support of a sect, no politician or businessperson would be able to get things their way.
There had been some scattered sects on the Dark Cloud Prairies in the beginning. However, after Han Baling’s unstoppable rise, he had reformed the system by annihilating the few sects and grouping all the Cultivators in Ghost Qin into eight units.
As a result, all the Cultivators on the Dark Cloud Prairies were drafted into an iron army. There were no more sects or free, unaffiliated Cultivators. The only people that existed were the bloodthirsty warriors who traded military credits for training resources!
The Cultivators on the Dark Cloud Prairies were classified into eight units. Han Yuantai became the leader of the ‘Behemothic Eagle Unit’ as one of the eight most powerful persons only second to Han Baling not based on his bloodline but because of his wisdom and his accomplishments!
He had already been a famous expert in the Nascent Soul Stage decades ago. Right now, he was at least above the middle level of the Nascent Soul Stage. His hands were stained with the blood of the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty, and he was one of the greatest headaches for Great Qian!
Ling Shoujing had never expected that such a renowned noble of Ghost Qin would arrive in person to settle the trouble in the Southland of Sorcerers. No wonder even ‘Thunderous Straight Swordsman’ Lou Chongxiao was no match for him!
Ghost Qin has attached such importance to the Southland of Sorcerers that the Lord of the Behemothic Eagle Unit has come here at risk in person!
Ling Shoujing’s face was pale, his former calmness nowhere to be seen. Even his hands were shivering uncontrollably.
He knew that he had failed the moment Han Yuantai showed up.
Moreover, who else could the smiling guy with a disgustingly big face that showed up together with Han Yuantai be if not Master Black Moon, who had been assuring him in the tent a moment ago?
Master Black Moon, the top expert in the Southland of Sorcerers, had long joined Ghost Qin’s side. Everything had been their scheme to concentrate the elites of the Great Qian Dynasty and eliminate them once and for all!
His heart in great pain, Ling Shoujing could not have regretted more that he launched the reckless night assault in his eagerness for victory!
However, it was not exactly his fault. Although Master Black Moon was a barbarian Cultivator, he was an avid embracer of the Great Qian Dynasty’s culture.
Over the past few decades, he had travelled in the central plateaus a lot and maintained quite a good relationship with most of the noble sects, including the Purple Pole Sword Sect, the Ling family’s greatest reliance. Even though he had not visited the Purple Pole Sword Sect in person for more than ten years, he had asked someone to deliver the local specialties of the Southland of Sorcerers to the headquarters every year.
With all the troubles that the Great Qian Dynasty was mired in right now, could they complain about such an obedient vassal?
Therefore, although Master Black Moon was based in the Southland of Sorcerers, the major sects were not biased against him but considered him a member of the Great Qian Dynasty.
After the emperor’s army arrived, it was quite understandable for Ling Shoujing and Ling Lanyin that Master Black Moon could not stand on the Great Qian Dynasty’s side openly because of the formidability of Ghost Qin.
Therefore, when the two parties got engaged in secret, and Master Black Moon agreed to the night attack plan, the father and the daughter of the Ling family did not grow suspicious at all.
It never occurred to them that the guy would betray them at the most crucial moment.
“Master Black Moon, you—”
Covering his chest, Ling Shoujing shook and almost fell off his horse.
He did not hate Han Yuantai very much. The two of them were enemies in the first place, and he had to admit his failure when his scheme was not as extraordinary as his enemy’s.
But he was seething with fury because of Master Black Moon’s betrayal!
Master Black Moon smiled and said casually, “When fate dictates a change of dynasties, one must choose whom to follow wisely. What is your anger about, my dear ambassador?”
“Why?” Ling Lanyin clenched her bluish flying sword and ground her silver teeth.
The female Cultivator was not angry at what had happened but shocked at Master Black Moon’s preference to the stinky barbarians on the Dark Cloud Prairies over the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty.
“Master Black Moon, the Great Qian Dynasty has never wronged you. We have never held any prejudice against you because you are from the southland or what you did in the past. We embraced you and regarded you as a fellow Cultivator. How—how could you do that?”
Ling Lanyin was so enraged that her head was dizzy. She almost did not know what she was talking about. “If you had made up your mind to defect, you and Han Yuantai would’ve been more than enough to kill us all. Why did you draw us to this place through such ploys? Is this your intentional humiliation?”
She was too young and had been training in the Purple Pole Sword Sect after all. Despite her high Cultivation, her mind was rather simple.
She did not understand Master Black Moon’s reason, but her father was smart enough to see through it instantly.
It was true that Master Black Moon and Han Yuantai, two Nascent Soul Stage Cultivators, could have killed the father and the daughter, both in the Core Formation Stage, and all the Black Tiger Iron Guards without much trouble.
However, the Southland of Sorcerers belonged to the Great Qian Dynasty on the surface after all. After hundreds of years, many tribes kept part of their loyalty to the Great Qian Dynasty out of habit.
If violent approaches had been adopted, the locals might have succumbed to them on the surface, but it would have been impossible for them to earn the people’s sincere trust.
The Southland of Sorcerers was a rainforest area with an extremely complicated terrain. Even the ordinary people were as deft and disobedient as monkeys.
When they crawled into the woods, it would be an awfully arduous task to find all of them without missing any, even for a Core Formation Stage Cultivator or a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator.
Therefore, Master Black Moon, Han Yuantai, and Huo Wujiu had set up the trap and deceived Ling Shoujing to break the sacred tradition of the ‘Hundred Victories Great Arena’ first through such a shameless plan as a ‘night assault’.
If the filthy approach worked out, and Huo Wujiu as well as the Ghost Qin soldiers who conspired with him were all executed, the hundred tribes of the Southland of Sorcerers certainly would not have any complaints.
But now that the approach did not work out, things were getting rather awkward!
Han Yuantai and Master Black Moon wanted much more than to simply kill them. They also wanted to diminish the Great Qian Dynasty’s influence in the area through the incident!