“One can’t accomplish such a thing on his own!” Wu Qian Qian jumped-up in anger as she said, “Even a man of iron would perish if were to take such a route. And… Chu Yang is a human… made of flesh and blood. Moreover, he’s seriously injured. Also… the experts of the Golden Horse Riders Department are constantly chasing him. Are you just going to watch with folded arms?”
“It may be impossible for a man of iron… but it isn’t impossible for Chu Yang,” Tie Bu Tian replied coldly.
Tie Bu Tian felt as if his heart was on fire. He was as worried as Wu Qian Qian. He wanted to grab Wu Qian Qian’s collar and scream, [I’m also worried about him. No one could wish for his safety more than me. Because… because…]
But, he couldn’t say this; he couldn’t scream either. He could only hide his feeling.
“Then, I must go to Beyond the Heavens Sect… and wait,” Wu Qian Qian got-up to leave; she seemed to have made a decision.
“You? What can you possibly gain by going there? It wouldn’t be of any use even if you go with 200,000 of our men. Moreover, you wouldn’t be able to coordinate with the army.” Tie Bu Tian snorted and said, “I must go!”
“You?” Wu Qian Qian was surprised. [The Emperor of the nation wants to leave the military front on the verge of the break-out of a war?]
“Don’t forget that the concerned road is a battlefield. 500,000 of Diwu Qing Rou’s men have set-out for that place.”
Tie Bu Tian continued in a heavy tone, “Second Imperial Uncle has been managing things for the last twenty years. As long as we have him here… our defence is impregnable. However, that location is favorable… We need someone to manage it for our strategic advantage. I and Second Imperial Uncle will part ways. I’ll go and defend that place. Second Imperial Uncle wouldn’t refuse. That’s because that place is safer than this place in his opinion.”
Wu Qian Qian was silent.
[Indeed… No wonder Diwu Qing Rou has deemed it as an essential target. It’s because the mountainous terrain is high and dangerous. Moreover, it’s easy to guard. Even ten-thousand men wouldn’t be able to open the mountain-pass if a single man stood guarding it.]
[Several million troops can simultaneously fight in the battlefield here… whereas less than 10,000 men can fight there at any given time.]
[And these 10,000 people will include soldiers from both the sides. Iron Cloud Citadel stands in the steepest and the most crucial area.]
[Diwu Qing Rou has allocated 500,000 soldiers for this attack; it’s on an unprecedented scale.]
“Fine… I’ll go with you.” Wu Qian Qian stood up as she spoke, “Let’s go together.”
“No, you can’t go.” There was a strange sparkle in Tie Bu Tian’s eyes, “Second Imperial Uncle is under a lot of pressure. Moreover, he’ll have no one to consult once I leave. So, he may take arbitrary decisions. It’ll be risky to confront Diwu Qing Rou in this manner. So, it’s necessary that you stay behind. It’ll be of great help; even if you only provide consultation as an advisor.”
Wu Qian Qian frowned. She then replied with a stubborn look on her face, “That’s out of question! I have to go. My heart won’t be at ease until and unless I see him return… safe and sound.”
“You have to stay here!” Tie Bu Tian didn’t yield.
Tie Bu Tian didn’t want Wu Qian Qian to go. He knew that Wu Qian Qian would be extremely happy to meet Chu Yang after a long separation… once he returns safely. She would never forget this reunion.
However, he couldn’t allow Wu Qian Qian to accompany him; and his mind couldn’t be changed.
They argued for a long time. Finally, they reached an agreement – Wu Qian Qian was to be informed once Chu Yang was back. Moreover, Wu Qian Qian would get to meet Chu Yang as soon as she received this news.
However, Wu Qian Qian would leave to search for Chu Yang if he didn’t return within a month; no matter what.
They were both deeply worried. However, Tie Bu Tian had a feeling that he had won this inning. Wu Qian Qian bit her lip, but seemed completely unaware of this. She established the nobleman’s agreement with Tie Bu Tian in a reluctant manner.
Wu Qian Qian felt wronged. She couldn’t insist on going even though she wanted to…
She felt that Tie Bu Tian’s decision was rash and wilful. Moreover, she knew that it was dangerous for Tie Bu Tian to go there. But, she hoped that Tie Bu Tian would be quick to reach there… so that he could out-manoeuvre the invading troops and rout them in one fell swoop. Then, he could lead his army south to help Chu Yang.
Moreover, Tie Bu Tian had mentioned that the army wouldn’t obey her commands. Therefore, she would’ve been rendered helpless if she were to go instead of Tie Bu Tian.
This was the reason why Wu Qian Qian had made that compromise.
Tie Bu Tian and Tie Long Cheng had a discussion the next day, wherein Tie Bu Tian expressed his desire go to Beyond the Heaven Sect. Tie Long Cheng had been worried about Tie Bu Tian’s safety on the frontline. So, he agreed when he heard the proposal. In fact, he was extremely happy.
They would be facing an army of four million soldiers on the frontline here; even a small accident could end the life of the Emperor.
Emperor’s safety couldn’t be guaranteed on the frontline.
Therefore, Tie Long Cheng had been racking his brains to find a way to send His Majesty – the Emperor to a relatively safer place; the Emperor had given him what he wanted…
He sent-out a force of 100,000 elite soldiers and 40,000 palace guards — led by Wu Kuang Yun — to accompany Tie Bu Tian. Moreover, he arranged a few martial experts who would be disguised as ordinary soldiers to secretly escort Tie Bu Tian. The Emperor’s flag was to be held high in the army camp… to reassure the Emperor presence.
Tie Long Cheng was finally at ease. He felt relaxed now. Firstly, Tie Bu Tian would be much safer over there. Secondly, both partitions had powerful commanding generals who would co-ordinate with each other from a distance – forming a perfect pair. Thirdly, it would form a great cushion. After all, this was the final battleground. Iron Cloud wouldn’t perish as long as Tie Bu Tian was alive; even if they were to be defeated in the war.
Now, he could concentrate on fighting with his old enemy – Diwu Qing Rou; he would go all- out and fight to the death.
Tie Bu Tian left the camp the same night; he was leading multitudes of people. Wu Qian Qian and the people of Bu Tian Pavilion and Beyond the Heavens Sect stayed behind.
Tie Bu Tian had wanted to take Wu Yun Liang and the others along with him. After all, these local tyrants were familiar with the terrain. But, Wu Qian Qian had rejected this idea. Then, she had made Cheng Zi Ang, and the experts from Bu Tian Pavilion of Martial Great Master level and above, to follow Tie Bu Tian.
[The people of Beyond the Heavens Sect are familiar with the terrain. Moreover, their martial cultivation levels are quite high. But… there are several dangerous elements… such as Second Martial Uncle Li Jinsong…]
How could Wu Qian Qian leave them at Tie Bu Tian’s side? Wu Yun Liang couldn’t go as the remaining people would be in chaos if he left. Then, they would try to guess the reason behind his sudden departure. The following upheaval could leak the news…
Therefore, Wu Qian Qian had rejected these ideas in order to avoid any trouble.
Tie Long Cheng had suggested Tie Bu Tian to defend their position once he was there. But, he had warned him against any foolish act of bravery; he must strive to avoid any mistakes and give priority to his own safety.
Tie Bu Tian had promised to heed his advice before he departed.
It would’ve taken them four days to cover the distance even if the army had marched at full strength. But, Tie Bu Tian had urged the 200,000 soldiers to move as fast as the lightning. Therefore, they had reached their destination in just two-and-a-half days.
Two-and-a-half days later…
“Subordinate reporting to Supreme Commander – there are a few changes on the eastern front,” the mounted scout reported to Tie Long Cheng. The scout was extremely tired; so much so that he was having cramps throughout his body. He had ridden back at the maximum possible speed; he was visibly a wreck. He was almost falling apart, but he remembered Tie Long Cheng’s instructions to persevere till the end. Therefore, he had somehow been able to make it back.
“What? There has been a change on the eastern front?” The people discussing military strategies with Tie long Cheng were alarmed. [Tie Bu Tian has just gone there. How can these changes occur out of the blue?] There wasn’t enough time to think. So, he hurriedly asked, “What’s going-on over there?”
“General Wu Kuang Yun turned General Li Fan Lan into his deputy general once he accepted the military leadership. Then, he reorganized the 200,000 soldiers,” the mounted scout said.
“Wu Kuang Yun is acting quickly.” Tie Long Cheng seemed satisfied as he stroked his beard. “This couldn’t be counted as a change. Even if it is… then it’s a good one.”
Tie Long Cheng was happy, [Wu Kuang Yun is worthy of being considered among the ten famous generals. He is a little reckless sometimes, but he wouldn’t be careless in the key moments. He seems wonderfully direct and efficient. His majesty has gone with him. I am so relieved…]
“Yes… but that’s not all,” the mounted scout wanted to say something. However, he was hesitant; he raised his head to look at the Supreme Commander’s face.
“What’s the matter?” Tie Long Cheng was in high spirits.
“After receiving the military leadership… General Wu Kuang Yun readjusted the army troops; three units were combined into one. In less than an hour… he took a vanguard unit of 50,000 soldiers… and crossed the slanting valley to march towards the river bridge…” the mounted scout gritted his teeth as he said.
“Ah… what!” Tie Long Cheng flicked his hand instinctively, and pulled-out a wisp of hair from his beard. However, he didn’t feel any pain. He turned his neck around with so much force that he almost twisted his neck and pulled a muscle. His eyes popped-out of his head as he looked at the scout.
All the great generals in the army tent stood-up; it seemed as if they had been slapped. They all stood frozen at their places.
[Wu Kuang Yun? How could he have the guts to do that? This… this… Isn’t this a disgraceful practice? The war hasn’t even started at the frontline here. The whole nation is on alert… and is focused on defence under these dreadful circumstances. But this General Wu – who has recently become a commanding general – has launched an attack?]
[What’s going on? Are we dreaming?]
The advisors pinched their thighs to see if they were dreaming; they grimaced in pain as they did that. However, they still couldn’t believe this development.
“…General Wu Kuang Yun has ordered 300,000 soldiers in his leadership… to march forward as fast as the lightning and with an unstoppable force… to face 500,000 enemy troops led by ‘White Tiger General’ Bai Chang Tian of Great Zhao. The subordinate saw a distance of around 100 kilometres between the two armies before leaving,” the scout was sweating profusely.
Tie Long Cheng was dumbstruck. His eyeballs rolled back; he nearly fainted.
[My God… ah. The Emperor’s still in your army’s unit… dammit! Wu Kuang Yun… you pig… you maverick pig…]