Two royal guards unsheathed their swords and approached me. Right then, Han Yuan, Xiao Lie, and the other generals rose up in protest. Han Yuan stepped out with his blade in hand and stood right in front of me. He shouted, “Nobody touches our general!”
Xiao Lie slid off his horse and shouted, “Royal Army, mount!”
All of the Royal Army knights donned their helmets and rushed onto their horses, pulling out their blades in one sweep. It was the precursor of a great battle. After the long expedition, the Royal Army had managed to maintain much of its battle power. There were at least 35,000 men who could still fight. These men had fought by my side against the Dragonling Army and the Revered One’s Demon soldiers. My authority in the army was unmovable. It is exactly for this reason that they were willing to take this risk for me.
I remained calm in the face of all these men and walked over with my Zhen Yue Blade in hand, “Your Highness Owen, my Royal Army fought beside the Flame Dragon Army throughout the expedition. Close to half of the Hybrid Demon casualties came from the hands of my men. Just what proof do you have that I, Li Xiao Yao, stood by and watched as His Highness Theodore died in battle? Were you personally on the battlefield, watching over us? Otherwise, what proof do you have to say that I took this opportunity for personal motives?”
Pearl piped up, “That’s right brother. If you don’t have proof, perhaps you shouldn’t judge Li Xiao Yao to be guilty so soon?”
Owen roared, “Sister, the one who died is our blood brother, how could you be so cold? You’re actually speaking on behalf of Li Xiao Yao. Do you not feel any guilt towards Theodore as you stand there?!”
Pearl immediately turned around and knelt before King Rob and sobbed, “Father, this battle has already broken so much, but in the end we were able to kill Luo Lin and Gawain. As a result, we destroyed the Revered One’s Empire. How could we execute the people who contributed to this victorious return? This would completely chill the hearts of our soldiers. Father, say something…”
The old king gripped Theodore’s icy hands and murmured, “Theodore, my child… now that you’re gone, who will I leave this empire to?”
Grief had completely overtaken the old king’s thoughts, stealing the old king’s consciousness. Owen’s anger was sharp and fierce as he roared, “Men, take Li Xiao Yao away for execution!”
A group of Royal Guards charged forward. Han Yuan and Xiao Lie of the Royal Army stepped forward and assumed a battle pose. Even Long Xing and Xia Ye came running to defend me. The situation was quickly evolving and it looked like the two sides were ready to break into a battle. The Royal Guards were barely a force to reckon, not to mention the fact that the Flame Dragon Army wouldn’t necessarily help them. Perhaps for a short while, the Royal Army would have the chance to control Tian Ling City. The only problem was that if Owen decided to use his Xia Yu Army and take back the city, then we wouldn’t necessarily be able to hold it. All the city would amount to would be a hot potato.
Owen’s temper continued to rise. Seeing the group of Royal Army officials step up, he shouted, “Xia Ye, have you forgotten where your loyalties truly belong? You actually dare to stand against me? Are you planning on betraying the country?!”
At this point, Xia Ye had lost all patience and quietly replied, “Your Highness, all I know is that our commander has taken many wounds for the sake of this country. Never has he shown an ounce of selfishness. If you decide to execute him today, then you will commit a grave injustice to this world. I, Xia Ye, have taken the empire’s food and am paid by the empire’s wages. I will naturally remain loyal to the empire. But killing such a highly acclaimed general such as Commander Li is something I will never be able to conform to.”
Owen roared angrily, “You traitorous dogs, what other majors are there from the Flame Dragon Army? Xu Yi, did you not know that Li Xiao Yao watched as my royal brother died? You are now the highest ranked commander in the Flame Dragon Army. Order your men to attack the Royal Army and kill these traitorous troops!”
Xu Yi slowly stepped forward from within the crowd of men, his eyes red with tears and his voice solemn, “Your Highness, Luo Lin killed the crown prince. At the time, we were dealing with a dragon invasion. Tens of thousands of dragons were ambushing us. Commander Li was the one who led his Royal Army to hold them off. They could barely take care of themselves, how could they save his royal highness when he was a thousand meters away? Your Highness, please forgive me, but I cannot in good conscience follow through with this order!”
Owen grew angry. “Keng!” He pulled out his sword and walked straight towards me. Motherf*cker, does this trash want to kill me with his own hands? Does he not realize that I can revive myself after he kills me?
Han Yuan shouted, “Your Highness, I implore you, please do not be stubborn!”
As he said that, he pulled out his nicked blade. I could see his grip grow strong as he channeled energy into the blade. He leaped up and spun around in the air, throwing an incredibly strong slice at Owen. Owen was long prepared for this fight and quickly whipped out his blade, cutting into one of the dents. “Peng!” Dou Qi exploded into the air and Han Yuan’s blade broke. The blade in Owen’s hand was a treasured sword. While he had broken the long blade, Han Yuan’s massive strength was enough to make Owen stumble back a few steps and crash into Theodore’s coffin.
Right then, Frost finally stepped out from the crowd. She stared intently at Theodore and then calmly said, “Li Xiao Yao is a citizen of Dragon City. If you want to kill him, don’t you need my permission first? Furthermore, Dragon City has always fought alongside the Royal Army and the Flame Dragon Army. I watched His Highness’ last moments. Does that mean that I also stood by and let him die? Second Prince Owen, you sit here on this high seat in Tian Ling City, but do you know the bitter suffering we went through in our fight against Gawain, Luo Lin, and Ignaus, three of the Hybrid Demon Kings? Not to mention the immense pressure that we were under from the crowds of dragons raining down from the sky. Under such circumstances, how could anyone save anyone? If Your Highness plans to continue his obstinance, then Tian Ling City will not only gain the Royal Army as an enemy, but Dragon City as well. I imagine Ba Huang City will follow suit as well. I, Frost, have no qualms with using my life to act as a wall of protection for mankind, but I also would not mind to see a change in ownership in Tian Ling City. Queen Angela would be talented in both civil matters and military strategy. I am more than confident in her ability to fill those shoes.”
“Eh… you, Frost!”
Owen was seething with anger, yet he couldn’t even get a sentence out. Frost’s one sentence was by no means any less fearsome than the entire Royal Army. If Owen were to keep this up, then it wouldn't be as simple as the Royal Army’s soldiers changing loyalties. Instead, it meant that the Dragon City Army, the Ba Huang City Army, and the Royal Army would group up to attack Tian Liang City. If that were to happen, the coup might even succeed. After all, no one here was more clear on just how strong or weak the remaining Tian Ling Armies really were.
“That's enough, Owen….”
After a long silence, the old king finally turned around and spoke up with sorrow in his eyes, “Enough blood has been lost for this battle. Theodore sacrificed his body for his country, and is truly the pride of our royal family. As for whether or not Commander Li Xiao Yao has failed his duty, that is to be discussed at another time. Lady Frost, please do not be angry. Owen was only disrespectful because he was too overwhelmed with grief. I only ask that you understand. Han Yuan, Xiao Lie, and the other generals, return to your respective garrisons. After we bury Theodore, we will naturally discuss the rewards of the expedition. Take General Li to the dungeons below the palace. I will decide on his punishment in the future.”
Han Yuan raised his broken blade and shouted, “Your Majesty, we've only brought achievements and no failures back to Your Majesty. There is no reason for this kind of treatment!”
The old king shouted back, “Han Yuan, do you dare to rebel against a direct order from your king?”
Han Yuan clenched his teeth and stood his ground without another word. He just held his stubborn expression like a brash warrior. His display of fierce loyalty only made Owen, Louis, and Leis become even more annoyed. There is only love or hate for a fierce general like Han Yuan: Love for his loyalty, but hate for his pig-headed stubbornness.
I shook my head. Looks like this was the easiest path in the end. I smiled at the generals and said, “Han Yuan, Xiao Lie, Long Xing, Xia Ye, take the brothers back to our grounds to heal their wounds and rest. There were a lot of medicines we didn't have during the expedition. We shouldn't let our injured brothers die for nothing because of a disease. Hurry along, nothing will come to me in the palace.”
Han Yuan protested, “General, even though I come from a poor family, I can at least understand the balance of hazy political battles. The Royal Army can go back to the fort, but I will personally lead 500 of our own guards to watch these gates, ensuring the general’s safety at all times!”
Long Xing, Xia Ye, and the others all nodded in agreement, “We all are willing!”
Left without any other choices, I finally agreed, “Alright then. Deputy General Song will lead the men back!”
Deputy General Song nodded, “Yes, my Lord!”
Right then, two guards stepped up to me with their arms out, “General, if you would please make your way to the palace? In addition, please put away your weapons.”
Without another word, I waved my hand and my Zhen Yue Blade and my Dragon Reservoir sword were returned to my bag. With my hands empty, I smiled, “Look, what weapons?”
The two guards stiffened. Wan Er took this chance to bound over to me with a grin, “Pig, even though I don't fully understand the context of what's happening here, nothing critical will happen, right?”
I smiled back reassuringly, “It's fine, I'll just sit in jail for a bit. Then I'll log off and grab some food with you.”
Frost looked over at Queen Zhi Shu and Odelia and said, “How about we go to the restaurant outside the palace? I want to personally watch and see what they plan on doing with Li Xiao Yao.”
Zhi Shu smiled and said, Alright, I was just thinking the same thing!”
Odelia played around with her new Purple Wind Sword and said, “How about I hang back too? Every time I see these ugly faces, I'll kill them on sight. Then I can take their heads and feed them to the fish!”
King Rob and Owen both stiffened in shock. They didn't dare say anything more. After all, Odelia was practically a Holy Domain Warrior, and she was almost on par with a deity tier warrior. It was far too easy for someone on that level to kill the father and son duo.
After following the officials into the grand hall of the royal palace, I was then taken by the guards into the cold dungeons underground. Even so, my rank as the General of the South and the commander of the Royal Army had not been taken away. As such, I was probably just going to stand by to wait for a trial. Even when I passed by the jailers, they all looked at me with awe and respect. After all, I had been the first general that dared to lead troops against the Dragonling Army, not to mention someone who had gone on an expedition that journeyed deep into the Hybrid Demon territory. In Tian Ling City, I was practically a legend. This created an enigma for the jailers, because while they were impressed and in awe of my achievements, they were also worried and fearful of my strength.
I could finally cross something off my bucket list: “Ending up in jail”. I sat on the cold stone bed and couldn’t help but laugh wryly at myself. I knew exactly why Owen felt so threatened by me.
Now that Theodore was dead, King Rob’s only successor was Owen. As such, the only obstacle in his path was me, the commander of the Royal Army. It was simply because I did not show loyalty to anyone. Instead, I seemed to be leaning towards Pearl, and I had an enormous military strength. If he doesn’t eliminate me, Owen probably won’t be able to sleep at night.
Unfortunately, I never would’ve thought that Owen would stoop so low as to use these petty methods to deal with me. There was no chance I would let this pass by!
“Ding!” The system notified me that tomorrow at 12, there was going to be a Rewards Event held at the palace. At that point, I’d be escorted out of jail to receive my judgment. Not bad, I can take this time and get some good rest.
When I logged off, I went out with Wan Er and Dong Cheng and ate a satisfying meal before heading off for some well-deserved rest.
By the time I finally logged back on, it was time for judgment.
Ciel, ryangohsf's Notes:
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