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ZL - Chapter 969- Empire's Betrayal

On the side, the Chief Guard walked over and took two tokens from me. He whispered to my ear, "General Li, the empire has failed you..."

 My heart shook but I did not say anything. I looked at him deeply with killing intent.

 ……

 Lochlan stood up slowly and he looked at me with reddish eyes. "Master Li, what plans do you have in the future?"

 I slapped the other emblem on my shoulder and said,  "I am Dragon City's Dragon Rider; the world is huge and it has a place for me." 

 Lochlan said, "Master Li, you don't have to... You're still the Suiding Duke and the Master of Fan Shu City. It's just that the Royal Army can't continue to guard Fan Shu City. I..."


 I waved my hands and said, "Lochlan, there is no need to say anymore. I am not a general of the empire and Fan Shu City is just a land given to me. I understand that, but you..."

 Lochlan raised his head and looked at me. "Master Li?"

 I smiled. "Don't forget how you said that the one hundred thousand troops in my hands are large numbers, but in fact, your father Luo Xun has a two-hundred-thousand-strong army. My achievements were so high it made you feel insecure, but in comparison, your father could cut your head off ten times!

 "I..." Lochlan gritted his teeth and stood there, not knowing how to reply to me. He could only say, "Sorry, Master Li..."

 I smiled. "That's okay. We aren't related by blood, so even if I tell you that I am not of this world and will leave one day, that the land I have is still yours, you probably won't believe me."

 Lochlan's eyes were filled with tears and he knelt on both knees. "Master Li, I believe you; I've always believed you, but... Please let me pass these tough times. I will personally head to Dragon City and invite you back to Tian Ling City!"

 "There's no need to say anymore. I'm going to leave."

 I turned around and my purple cape fluttered in the air. As for me, I felt that without a title, I was much more relaxed. At that moment, the Chief Guard shouted, "General Li Xiao Yao, wait!" 

 "What?"

 He smiled. "Since Li Xiao Yao was removed, a new general must naturally be appointed as the commander. His Highness has given orders that the person chosen is General Xia Ye!"

 I was stunned and shocked that Lochlan had already decided to remove my powers before this. I was also impressed by how he chose people. Out of the four generals, Han Yuan was the most reckless and brave; that guy could be a general but not a commander. Xiao Lie was careful but not courageous enough. Long Xing was tough but was similar to Han Yuan. Only Xia Ye was calm and decisive.


 Lochlan said, "I'll write a letter. Master Li, please help me do something, which is to bring the letter appointing Xia Ye as the new commander of the Royal Army. Only you... can convince them."

 I laughed bitterly. Lochlan saw that point. The four generals were so arrogant, so how would they easily let the empire fire a commander that they had followed for such a long time?

 "Okay. Your Majesty, please be quick." I stood there alone and waited.

 Lochlan wrote the appointment letter quickly and placed his seal on it. His eyes were red but he avoided eye contact before placing the letter into my hand. He held my wrist and lowered his voice, "Master Li, do you know that there is a Flame Lion Mercenary Group in the Ice and Fire Plains?"

 I was shocked. "I don't know..."

 Lochlan continued speaking. "Flame Lion Mercenary Group has close to two hundred thousand troops. It's the strongest mercenary between Tian Ling City and Swirling Abyss City and they often raid the many tribes in Ice and Fire Plains. Those Barbarians are filled with rage and hatred, but... I sent people to contact them. After you leave, the Flame Lion Mercenary Group will raid Tian Ling City's farms. I will send the Guards Army over. They will lose and then the Royal Army will lose, too!"

 My heart sank. "Lochlan, this?"

 Lochlan's eyes were filled with decisiveness. "I will use ten thousand Guards and Royal Army troops to exchange for your return!"

 I felt my head go numb. "That isn't worth it!"

 "No, listen to me, Master Li."

 Lochlan grabbed my arm and his eyes were filled with passion. "Long Zhong, Les, Xiahou Ren, and Qin Ye are all under my father; how many people do I have?  Only by letting the Royal Army and the Imperial Guards lose will those people shut up. Moreover, when you return to Tian Ling City once more, I will use the reason of them sowing discord to take away the powers of Long Zhong, Les, and Qin Ye. At the very least, I can reduce the powers in their hands. Master Li, please have patience and wait for me..." 

 I was shocked and did not expect Lochlan to have such a scary and grand idea at such a young age. Still, if this succeeded, most of the troops in Tian Ling City would be consolidated under his hands and not his father’s. Such a decisive kid, he really had the ability to become an emperor!

 However, when I thought about how the Royal Army's troops would be sacrificed, I felt heart-pained.

 Lochlan saw my worries and said, "I will tell the Flame Lion Mercenary Group to pay attention. Don't worry. The Royal Army and Imperial Guards elites won't suffer too heavy losses."

 I had no better idea and could only nod my head.

 "Master Li, then be careful!" Lochlan said.

 "Okay."

 ……

 I was filled with emotions as I carried the emperor's letter. I clicked on Fan Shu City's interface and chose to return to the city. I teleported back to Fan Shu City and returned to where the Royal Army was at. A bunch of Cavalry said respectfully, "Commander!"

 I nodded my head. "Send out this order: ‘All Major-ranked Generals, please convene in the meeting room!'"

 "Yes!"

 I headed into the meeting hall right away, and after a short while, the four Generals and Majors like Ling Luo entered. Han Yuan smiled. “General, that battle at Prohibited Dragon Land was so amazing. I heard that Nine Heavens City's Summer Fire Army was so strong in the past, but they're only so-so. Our Royal Army is the top force in the world!"

 Xiao Lie smiled. "Right, sir!"

 Xia Ye sat on the secondary seat and said, "General, I heard that our Royal Army wasn't given a piece of the mines in Prohibited Dragon Land. Why was that? Didn't we sacrifice thousands of brothers for that mine? How could His Majesty be so unfair..."

 I smiled. "All of you, quiet down."

 I took out Lochlan's letter. "This is from the Emperor. Take a look!"

 "Oh?"

 Han Yuan took it and looked. Suddenly, his face flushed and he stood up to shout, "Why? Why?! General, you are Suiding Duke and are loyal to the empire. Why are they taking away your troops? This... This Emperor Lochlan is a stupid ruler; we were wrong about him. If we had known that this would happen, we would've sliced off his head long ago!"

 Xiao Lie was shocked. "What is going on?"

 "Take a look at this yourself!"

 Han Yuan passed the letter over, and instantly, the ten Majors of the Royal Army stood there appearing stunned. Xia Ye tore it to shreds and knelt on the ground, "I am willing to pass my life to General Li Xiao Yao. General, please trust me!"
,
 I nodded my head. "Understood, but since things are like this, there is no need to say anything else. Give out the order: The Royal Army will head to Fire God Mountain. It will not remain in Fan Shu City."


 The veins on Han Yuan's face swelled up. "General, don't we slash our way back to Tian Ling City and slice off Lochlan and Luo Xun's heads? You can become emperor, then won't that be great?"

 I raged. "Han Yuan, stop your nonsense! Plus, even if we take down Tian Ling City, we will only cause more war to erupt. Do you think people like Long Zhong, Luo Xun, Les, Baili Ning, Xiahou Ren, and Situ Xin will look on as we kill our way to the throne? Don't mention such words ever again; if not, you'll be dealt with harshly!"

 Han Yuan was furious but Xiao Lie pressed him down.

 "Sir," Xiao Lie said solemnly, "what should we do?"

 "Head out of Fan Shu City. Xia Ye, receive my orders. The commander of the Royal Army is you from today onward!"

 Although Xia Ye was not willing, he could only receive the badge of Commander in Chief. He knelt on the ground and cried, "I will temporarily keep it for the General. The Royal Army is forever yours!"

 ……

 Two hours later, Fire God Mountain was covered in logistics and troops. The Royal Army's seventy thousand people headed out of Fan Shu City and headed below Fire God Mountain.

 Han Yuan held his blade and asked, "General, what is your next plan?"

 I looked at Ba Huang City and said, "Dragon City's Frost is my teacher. I will find her. Don't worry as I'll be fine."

 Han Yuan's eyes opened wide. "You'll be fine? Sir, don't you know that Luo Xun, Les, and Louis all want you dead? I don't care! I'll go with you. At most, I won't be a General for this empire!"

 Han Yuan tossed his Major badge onto the ground. "I'll head to Dragon City and follow you, General! Even if I become a mercenary or a traitor, I am willing to do so!"

 Xiao Lie and Long Xing all tossed their badges together. "We are willing to follow the General even if we become traitors!"

 I shouted, "Preposterous, all of you don't want to live anymore?!"

 I bent down and picked up Han Yuan's badge and rubbed away the dirt on it. "Don't forget all your roles. All of you are troops and must follow orders. Protecting the country is what all of you should do."

 Han Yuan said, "I don't care. I am following the General to Dragon City. Since the General doesn't abandon me, I'm naturally willing to be a foot soldier. Anyway, we are unwilling to stay in a Royal Army without you! If the General doesn't agree, then just slice my head off; this is my show of loyalty toward you!"

 Xiao Lie sucked in a deep breath and said, "Sir, I have made my mind up. Please don't say anything."

 I sighed. "Okay then, bring some grain and follow me to Dragon City. There... Should have a place for us to survive..."

 ……

 In the end, what surprised me was that, besides Han Yuan, Xiao Lie, and Long Xing, a large number of Generals left the Royal Army. Thirty thousand troops followed me out of Fire God Mountain. I felt emotional and touched over their loyalty to me, but I also felt like I had failed them.

 Xia Ye was forced by me to remain in Fire God Mountain. As for the Dragon Crystal Cannons, we did not take a single one. We just headed to Ba Huang City like that.

 ……

 After an hour, we passed through Ziwu Mountain.

 We lined up as a group and most of us were Cavalrymen. Still, there were many Barbarian Blade Shield Soldiers who left with me. Although we left the Royal Army, this bunch was all laughing. They were not sad that the empire had given up on them. These fellows felt much more optimistic compared to me.

 "Hu hu..."

 Xiao Lie looked ahead with his one eye. "Not good. There's an ambush!"

 Peng peng peng...

Flames exploded within the Royal Army crowd. Those wereㅡ

 The Dragon Crystal Cannons!

 ……

 "D*mn! They didn't want us to return alive!" Han Yuan held his blade and covered his eyes to block the shockwaves from the Dragon Crystal Cannons. The robe behind him was shredded by the wind and blood appeared on his skin. He shouted in rage, "This time, the empire has betrayed us!"



Ciel, ryangohsf's Notes:

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Written by Shi Luo Ye. Translated by Ciel, ryangohsf. Edited by Slumber, Pret.