All two-hundred-and-fifty-four soldiers had a breakthrough; not a single one of them failed. Then, they got up from the ground, and quickly organized themselves in their previous formation. They were looking at Jun Mo Xie with eyes full of grat.i.tude... and... franticness...
Two-hundred-and-fifty-four people kneeled to the ground, and knocked their heads against it. The sound produced by their act of grat.i.tude was so loud that it echoed in all directions.
"Thank you, Young Master!" over two-hundred men roared in unison.
"I will give you two days. Use the usual training to adapt to the changes in your body. I want everyone to coordinate their style with the changes in their Xuan Qi. And, on morning of the third day — you will go to the weapons a.r.s.enal and receive your weapons!"
Then, Jun Mo Xie nodded coldly and continued, "Moreover, 'this matter' is cla.s.sified as 'top secret'. No one is allowed to divulge it to anyone. All of you will be implicated — without exception — if anyone leaks this information!"
"Yes! Your subordinates would rather die than divulge!"
Grandpa Jun was still atop the tower. There was a sense of anxiety in his gratified eyes, "Mo Xie's finesse is enough to make a coherent and charismatic leader. He has the prestige. And, he certainly has the required genius. But, I don't think he's fit to lead the troops."
"Why? Father, Mo Xie leads his troops by demanding exact compliance with regard to instructions. His strict discipline has produced such great results. His leaders.h.i.+p has transformed these troops into an elite force… So, why isn't he suitable to lead the troops?" Jun Wu Yi was puzzled.
"He has a very fierce mind!" Grandpa Jun snorted. He then sighed. It seemed as if he was looking at something which was perfect… except for one defect. "He's a suitable leader for 'special' troops, but not for regular soldiers. The words he just spoke were the only the usual threat, but pay mind to his last words, 'All of you will be implicated — without exception — if anyone leaks this information!'"
Grandpa Jun sighed again, "Mo Xie didn't hesitate as he stated his fearful doctrine; there wasn't a strand of emotion in his tone. When I heard his words… I realized that Mo Xie will stay true to his threat even if one of those men steps out of line and divulges the secret. And, he would actually implicate each one of them…"
"That doesn't mean anything, does it? If he can train this batch… he can also train another." Jun Wu Yi disagreed, "Father, you and I are well aware that discipline is important. And, things can get very harsh and cruel at times, but it's of utmost importance to maintain order. How can we be soft-hearted under such circ.u.mstances? This is the right thing to do."
"That's why you will only be a commander. But, you can't become a commander-in-chief," Jun Zhan Tian sighed, "A commander will only have a few troops under his command. And, you can deploy them as per the war's situation. These handfuls of troops can follow you to the letter since they are well-trained and understand things. So, they won't be able a problem. Your personal troops and Mo Xie's platoon are an example of that. But, these handfuls of troops only make a small portion on an actual army… There are likely to be hundreds-of-thousands of troops under a commander-in-chief's command. And, it is vital for a commander-in-chief to control the overall situation. But… if you were to act this harshly with all of them… I'm afraid you will bring about the doom of your own army.
"Frictions and contradictions are inevitable when many platoons are stationed together since armies are full of hot-blooded men. You can have hundreds of dispute within a night of them being garrisoned together. Now, if we followed yours and Mo Xie's approach… you would have all of them beheaded." Jun Zhan Tian sighed, "A commander needs to be strict and impartial, but a commander-in-chief needs to be tolerant. Being a commander and being a commander-in-chief isn't the same thing.
"You're too unyielding, and Mo Xie is too fierce. These are your strong points… but, also your shortcomings." Jun Zhan Tian spoke in a profound manner, "Mo Xie is too ruthless, but that is sufficient to protect himself. However, you can still suffer a loss since you act so unyieldingly. That is the primary difference between the two of you."
Jun Wu Yi stood calmly. He pondered over his father's words, and remained motionless for a long while.
The harsh training had begun on the training-ground. But, the intensity of the training was ten-times higher than before.
Jun Mo Xie returned to his courtyard, and drew a long breath. He had enhanced everyone's skills. Now, the only person who was left was he-himself. He had refined those Dans, but hadn't yet tried them himself.
[I've recently reached the middle level of the Jade Xuan Realm. So, would the Dans produce good effects?]
Jun Mo Xie wasn't sure. But, he also knew that any positive effects would only tantamount to extra benefits.
Therefore, he didn't hesitate as he swallowed a 'Ten Years Dan'.
However, Jun Mo Xie didn't take the 'Devil's Heart Dan'.
The 'Devil's Heart Dan' was certainly very dependable, but this was an opportunity to practice self-discipline. Moreover, this Dan had a very negative impact on the promotion of the spiritual realms.
Jun Mo Xie felt an abundance of Qi-flow in his dantian. He was very delighted by this. [This is really useful...]
As his mind settled down — he realized that… [I forgot something]. He initiated the 'Art of Unlocking the Heaven's Fortune', and his meridians were flooded with powerful waves of Qi-flow.
The Imperial Edict was issued the next day. As expected, it appointed Jun Wu Yi as the commander of the army that was to leave for the Tian Fa forest. He would command an army of 20,000. The army would be deployed in the next couple of days to follow. It would depart south towards the Tian Fa forest. Every major family would provide a.s.sistance to deal with the 'Xuan Beast Uprising'.
Apart from Jun Wu Yi… the Emperor had mentioned the names of several other people from the major families on that list. Jun Mo Xie's name was impressively high on that list. A few people from the Meng Family were mentioned as well. The Murong Family was to send Murong Qian Jun and Murong Qian Li. The Dugu Family was to send three of the "Heroes and Legends". And, even the Song Family was to send some people.
However, against Jun Mo Xie's expectations… Li You Ran's name wasn't mentioned on that list. In other words, Li You Ran wouldn't be heading to the Tian Fa forest.
[How could His Majesty retain such a dangerous person in this hollow capital?] Li You Ran was ambitious, and Jun Mo Xie couldn't be convinced that the Emperor hadn't realized it. But, it was problem for Jun Mo Xie since the Emperor had decided to keep Li You Ran behind… despite knowing about his ambitions.
That list contained the name of one-or-the-other youngster from each major family. Therefore, these families were bound to send some experts to protect their heirs. The Emperor's Imperial Edict hadn't explicitly stated this, but each powerful family would virtually end-up dispatching a major subset of their strengths.
Jun Wu Yi rushed to the Ministry of Defense to finish-up with the formalities the moment he received the Imperial Decree. The Emperor wanted the army to move within two days, but how could it be done on such a short notice? It would require at least five days' time to make the preparations.
The army hadn't moved, yet the supplies had already advanced.
Jun Zhan Tian — the Supreme Commander of the military — blew along the province like a storm to make the arrangements, and everyone was set to work. The Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Revenue, and the Ministry Defense joined hands. They acted swiftly and everything necessary to supplement the march of the army was readied in less than one day's time.
Such efficiency could leave anyone flabbergasted.
Armies had gone to war before as well. But, who had run around to make such preparation without a trace of dawdle in their efforts? In fact, the army would set out, but the army's supplies would never be in position. The army's ration supplies would always be delayed. It was hard to draw this nuisance's comparison with anything…
However, no one refused to comply this time.
Who was Jun Wu Yi? Jun Wu Yi had retired some time ago, but he was still considered a legendary general in the Tian Xiang Empire. It had been ten years, but this iron-blooded general was still a famous legend.
And, he was coming out of retirement for this battle. So, the entire military was in celebration. His old comrades-in-arms and his subordinates were particularly excited. It didn't matter whether a particular organization was under the Dugu or the Jun Family's military control... Jun Wu Yi got a green light from everywhere. No one dared to raise any objections… whether it was a civil division, or a military division!
The soldiers and the officers in the military had started to pray. They wanted to be a part of the army this legendary general would lead into battle. They hoped that he would point in the direction of their battalion, and select them as a part of his army.
The army hadn't started its march yet, but everyone was in high-spirits.
~Inside the Palace~
"You think it's strange that I've dispatched Jun Mo Xie, but retained Li You Ran?" The Emperor wasn't playing chess this time. He was sipping tea, while his face was covered with a smile.
"Yes. Especially since Jun Mo Xie doesn't have any ambitions, while Li You Ran's careerism is pretty obvious. So, I can't understand why His Majesty would send Jun Mo Xie and retain Li You Ran." Mr. Wen sat across from him. He asked in a puzzled manner.
"Li You Ran has some weaknesses. He's easy to control. He can't do anything when he is under my eyes. And, I want to see if this person can be of any use to me. So, I've kept him behind to observe him more carefully," The Emperor smiled lightly. "As for Jun Mo Xie… he doesn't have any desires. He'll go if you ask him to go, and he'll stay if you ask him to stay. He's like a floating cloud. But, he can't be controlled. So, I'm sending him to the Xuan Beast uprising. Whether he lives, or he dies… is up to him."
"I'm still not clear. If he's like a floating cloud… then why must..." Mr. Wen frowned.
"A floating cloud is of no concern when it's alone. But, a floating cloud can wreak havoc if it has a strong support behind it." A cold light pa.s.sed through His Majesty's eyes as he sighed, "Great merits can shake the world, but great power can also attract trouble."
Mr. Wen sighed in silence.
"Has there been any activity around my second son?" the Emperor smiled rather eccentrically.
"Yes, the crossbows will arrive in the southern suburbs of the capital on the morning of the fourth day." Mr. Wen gave a sly sigh as he spoke.
"Very good; I won't have the crossbows stranded outside," The Emperor gently kept his palms on the table. His fingers were spread out. His Majesty concentrated his gaze on his fingers; as if admiring how perfect they were.
"Be at ease, Your Majesty," Mr. Wen replied. "And with that being the case... why didn't Your Majesty issue an imperial edict."
"If it is my second son's doing — I'll have no choice but to destroy him," The Emperor smiled bitterly. He looked in the distance for some time. Then, he finally muttered, "It wouldn't matter if someone were sitting in a hall, in the harem chambers, or anywhere else on this land… this activity could shake everyone. A strong undercurrent is surging in all directions. We can't afford this vibration."
Mr. Wen lowered his gaze, and remained silent.
He had never thought the Emperor would do something like this since his fatherly emotions would intervene. But, he had come to realize that he had been mistaken; gravely mistaken. He laughed at himself, [the Emperor's thought-process is far worse than I imagined…]
"Send a letter. Convey an order to the Blood Sword Hall… and whether it is the southern Zhao Family or the southern trade unions… and also my Second Son's men — no one is to be let-off. Make sure that this matter is handled cleanly."
The Emperor exhaled in a profound manner, "My second son had no means to acquire these terrible weapons. The Blood Sword Hall took the initiative on its own. And yet, my second son hasn't suspected anything fishy... I've lost hope in my second son's intelligence."
Mr. Wen continued to remain silent.
[I wouldn't have suspected it. Rather… who could possibly suspect that you — the Emperor of the four seas — would still secretly be in control of such an a.s.sa.s.sination team in the dark?]
[In fact, I'm convinced that most people wouldn't believe this matter even if it came to light…]
Mr. Wen looked at the Emperor. A question rose in his heart, but he was too scared to bring it to his mouth. [How many trump cards does this Emperor hold in his hands?]