"Oh, it’s you."
Slaughter Wolf had a wide grin, "You were that black smoke just now. I know from fighting you."
"Men, form up and take him in!"
Thousands of soldiers gathered around in formation, their fused Yuan Qi and bloodlust reaching the clouds.
"By Commander’s orders, nobody is to go in or out. Your head is mine!" Slaughter Wolf whistled his halberd through the air.
Shadow King was stunned.
He was injured and was now facing a formation. The ending was obvious to anyone.
He opted to drop all facade and took out the golden badge, "Wait, I am His Majesty’s envoy, here to help Commander. Take me to him!"
"His Majesty? Which one?" Slaughter Wolf barked.
Shadow King hardened, "Tianyu’s!"
Slaughter Wolf sized him up and nodded. He rested the halberd still oozing killing intent on his shoulder, "Come, we’re going to see the Commander. But don’t you try anything…"
Slaughter Wolf shifted the halberd and its cold and sharp blade froze Shadow King’s blood.
[If not for Zhuo Fan’s strike, do you think I’d stand for your puny flair?]
Despite all that, he knew he was the weaker one here and had to bend a knee following Slaughter Wolf.
Entering Quanrong’s commanding tent, he cupped his hands, "Commander Tuoba, I am Emperor Yuwen’s Shadow King, captain of the shadow guards. I heard about you trapping Dugu Zhantian for so long without resolution and came to your aid."
Shadow King took out the golden badge. Slaughter Wolf presented it to Tuoba Tieshan.
Tuoba Tieshan held it in his hand and waved the soldiers away, "It is genuine, but this is the last battle between Dugu and I. I didn’t ask for help either. Lord’s kindness is appreciated, but you should return. "
"Not at all."
Shadow King shook his head in disdain, "Commander Tuoba, this isn’t about rivalry, but a trade between nations. Sir has many other tasks besides dealing with the Dugu Army. But it no longer matters as I have provided my help already. You just need to send your men into the gorge and victory is yours."
Tuoba Tieshan’s heart thumped with unease, "What do you mean by that? What did you do?"
"Ha-ha-ha, oh, nothing."
Shadow King stuck out his chin, "I just saw Dugu Zhantian. Using His Majesty’s envoy as a cover, the old man never saw it coming. I stuck him with the Soul Rotting Needle and by now he should be dead. This is your best chance. Without their leader, the Dugu Army is ripe for the taking. Commander only has to march in…"
"Shut your yap!
Tuoba Tieshan exploded, grabbing his collar, "I have gone to war countless times with Dugu Zhantian. This time I might have the advantage, and was somewhat honorless, but at least it was a fair fight. But you and your men have fouled our last duel, now ruined by rotten people like you. Old Dugu isn’t the only one enraged, I am as well! The only reason you’re still standing is because of that Tianyu envoy crap. Or I would’ve killed you as a tribute to Dugu Zhantian!"
Tuoba Tieshan roared and all the other generals held hatred for the Shadow King.
From anger and sadness.
The undefeated Dugu Army wasn’t just an enemy but a respected opponent. It found its end not by Quanrong’s blade, but was ruined by its own nation.
As soldiers, these men felt the injustice and malcontent the Dugu Army was subjected to.
Shadow King couldn’t give a damn, sporting a twisted smile, "Commander Tuoba, soldiers have a duty to carry. You must go in there, lead your men and kill them all for the good of our nations. That’s your duty!"
Tuoba Tieshan squinted, "Soldiers have their mission, but also army spirit. Dugu Zhantian was an honorable adversary. As he passed away on this day, I will enter three days of mourning. Then we’ll attack."
Tuoba Tieshan glared with fury as did the five wolves.
Spending even a second around such a foul and treacherous filth was a disgrace to the Quanrong army.
A soldier burst in, "Commander, the Dugu Army is at the gorge entrance, ready to attack!"
Tuoba Tieshan and Shadow King cried out at once. Dugu Zhantian had just died and instead of the army mourning him, they were ready to attack?
Tuoba Tieshan went out with his five wolves and Shadow King.
From the thick mist of the gorge came out rows of soldiers. [How were they able to break free with the entrance surrounded by the beast army?]
Dugu Army’s formation was impeccable, each step drumming the earth, intimidating the Quanrong.
The four tigers were in the lead, carrying a simple makeshift stretcher holding Dugu Zhantian.
Tuoba Tieshan felt pain and sorrow.
[And so a God of War fell, a hero of his generation, to cruel and insidious means.]
Luo Yunhai held the flag of Dugu Army as he led the procession, struck with sorrow still, but of firm discipline.
Tuoba Tieshan spoke, "Brother Zhantian fell from misfortune and needs his rites. I will give you three days to mourn, then we will settle this!"
Tuoba Tieshan’s heart grew heavier, but he had to carry out his orders, to wipe this hardened army from these lands.
Shadow King still had that sour look, snorting.
"Ha-ha-ha, Commander Touba, I take it? We appreciate your generosity. But the funeral of Marshal Dugu is too important. We wish to take his body back and give him a proper burial. It is what a God of War should receive by right!"
"Who said that?" Tuoba Tieshan shouted.
Zhuo Fan walked out from the ranks as the glares of all Quanrong soldiers rested on him.
More like, on that blade.
"What’s old Dugu’s Dragonslaying Crescent Blade doing in your hand?" Tuoba Tieshan cried.
Zhuo Fan had his trademark evil smile, "By Marshal Dugu’s command, I am the new Marshal of this army… "
"There’s no way that’s true!" Shadow King butted in.
Zhuo Fan glanced over, "Yes, I am now Marshal Zhuo. As for you, Shadow King, you won’t have such an easy time sneaking up on me!"
Soaked in sweat, Shadow King tensed up and sighed. Dugu Army had fallen into Zhuo Fan’s pocket, the worst news so far.
With a creepy snicker, Zhuo Fan taunted, "Commander Tuoba, your future rival is me. Do be careful."
"Cocky prick, the only one I ever had respect for was old Dugu. What can a brat do to me?" Tuoba Tieshan snorted.
Slaughter Wolf stepped out, "You’ll have to go through me first!"
Shadow King shook his head and sighed.
[The Quanrong had just come to Tianyu and knew nothing. Now they take this uncanny hellish schemer as nothing but a boy.]
[It’s over, all over. They’re facing an even worse existence than the likes of Dugu Zhantian yet patronizing him instead.]
Shadow King grieved. He could practically see the end.
Zhuo Fan’s grin almost split his face, his eyes dancing in joy. He signaled and Gu Santong came over as he said, "Commander Tuoba, there’s no rush to see if I can match you. The question is, though, if ‘you’ can match me!"
Tuoba Tieshan shuddered.
[Arrogant little snot…]