Wayfarer - C.366: War of Empires


C.366: War of Empires

After the officials of the Dazheng Empire were appointed, Xiao Nanfeng strode off the altar and into the Xuanhuang Hall.

The officials followed him in.

The Xuanhuang Hall was particularly large and grand in scope, with carved railings, painted balustrades, and pillars in the form of coiling dragons. At the north of the hall was placed a draconic throne. Beneath the throne was a draconic vein; above, the cloud of fortune that hovered above the empire. The throne marked the heart of the Dazheng Empire proper, its seat of honor. Xiao Nanfeng slowly sat down.

"We greet Your Majesty!" the officials chorused, bowing.

"Rise," Xiao Nanfeng said.

"Yes, Your Majesty!"

The court officials stood on either side of the hall, all looking toward Xiao Nanfeng.

"State all petitions now pending dismissal of court!" the minister of rites called out.

This was the first session of court after the establishment of the empire, and it certainly couldn't be dismissed so quickly. Ye Sanshui, forewarned, was the first to step forward.

"Your Majesty, the Dazheng Empire has undergone countless struggles in its ascension. Tianshu Immortals attacked our borders and harmed our people. Then, their spirits attempted to prevent the transplantation of draconic veins into the heart of the Dazheng Empire in hopes of delaying or forestalling our ascension. The Tianshu Emperor, Nalan Qiankun, personally came to Yongding in an attempt to assassinate Your Majesty. The vile Tianshu Empire is a den of iniquity, and it has made clear its desire to eradicate us. Your Majesty, I hereby petition to wage war against the malignant Tianshu to preserve the peace of Dazheng and excise the evil from our borders!" Ye Sanshui's tone was resonant and stentorian.

"Your Majesty, we petition to wage war against the malignant Tianshu to take revenge and safeguard our people!" the generals chorused.

"Your Majesty, we petition to wage war against the malignant Tianshu to take revenge and safeguard our people!" the civil officials likewise chorused.

The petition stoked the fighting spirits of all the officials of the court.

Naturally, this petition had been planned in advance. The demonstration now only served to cast their incursion in a righteous light.

"I approve this petition," Xiao Nanfeng declared. "All forces not responsible for municipal defenses shall form a brigade against evil. Marquis Ye Sanshui shall lead this brigade as commander-in-chief, and Marquis Ye Dafu as his general. Marquis Zheng Qian shall serve as chief administrator for the brigade, dealing with matters pursuant to supply and logistics. I declare war against the malignant Tianshu."

"Yes, Your Majesty!" Ye Sanshui, Ye Dafu, and Zheng Qian replied simultaneously.

Then, Xiao Nanfeng continued to assign generals to the brigade. The first session of court of the Dazheng Empire brimmed with fighting spirit.

Days later, with the brigade against Tianshu formed, the Dazheng forces began to attack the Tianshu Empire in earnest.

Of the two empires, Tianshu and Dazheng, only one could and would survive.

In the imperial study of Tianshu at Beidou, Nalan Qiankun sat at his writing desk as he reviewed reports from the frontline. His face was set in a frown, and anger palpably radiated from him.

A white-robed man sat before him, coughing into a handkerchief intermittently.

"A brigade against evil? Xiao Nanfeng really doesn't know what's good for him. If I hadn't spared his life, would he have been able to establish an empire? He dares declare me evil?" Nalan Qiankun's face was dark.

"Your Majesty, the Dazheng Empire controls only 40% of the Eastern Sea, whereas the Tianshu Empire commands 60%. In terms of military might, they're weaker than we are and have fewer Immortals besides. However, Xiao Nanfeng is no easy foe, and many Immortal sects do favor him for some reason. Ahem!" The white-robed man coughed again.

"Mr. Wen, do you think that he can withstand the forces of the Tianshu Empire?" Nalan Qiankun frowned.

"His military strength and imperial strength are subordinate to ours, but he has four other strengths that particularly favor him," Mr. Wen replied.

"Oh? Which four strengths?" Nalan Qiankun seemed a little uncomfortable.

"A fight between empires values righteousness above all. Whoever stands on the moral high ground can unite its people. Xiao Nanfeng is clearly a strict adherent to morality and ethics. His declaration of evil has spread throughout the land, and he is invoking those ethical considerations against you. In his declaration of kingship, he enumerated your failings, sins, and crimes against morality. In terms of ethics, he is the clear winner: his first strength.

"Next, the Dazheng Empire rose far too quickly. Its administration is incredibly organized, with clear laws and regulations, generous rewards for merit, and harsh punishments for crimes. It has laid an excellent foundation for the future. If I'm not mistaken, even though the Immortal sects across the Eastern Sea know that it's too late to be joining the Dazheng Empire now, they're still willing to win merit for themselves under its rigorous guidelines: his second strength.

"What's more, a few days ago, you fought personally against Xiao Nanfeng, Your Majesty. Although victory was indeterminate, you were ultimately the one who retreated. This dramatically damaged your reputation, and those unaware of the situation will think that you've lost. As a result, they'll bet on Xiao Nanfeng and allow him to garner more support. Like a snowball, he will only gather more and more momentum: his third strength.

"Finally, and most importantly, Xiao Nanfeng has the support of the common people. He's particularly adept at winning the hearts of the people, and his cities prioritize the good of the commons. As word of the common people's living conditions spread throughout the Eastern Sea, the people of the Tianshu Empire will start to waver. This disease of the heart is impossible to eradicate—for the people to want to be invaded is a lethal threat: his fourth strength."

Nalan Qiankun's gaze was stony. After a pregnant pause, he finally said, "Mr. Wen, your analysis deeply discomfits me, but only you would tell me the truth and summarize things so clearly."

"It's precisely because you're willing to listen to my suggestions that I dare to speak, Your Majesty. In the short term, the Dazheng brigade will be on the losing end of things, but dragging this war out will only advantage them. To be frank, without exceptional forces, strategy, or circumstance, the Tianshu Empire will be in dire straits," Mr. Wen said seriously.

Nalan Qiankun paused for a moment before he smiled confidently. "Worry not. Exceptional circumstances will arise."

"Oh?" Mr. Wen asked curiously.

"I shall soon ascend into an Earth Immortal. With an Earth Immortal's body and the Spirit Emperor's peerless treasure in my possession, no one shall be a match for me. As long as I kill Xiao Nanfeng and leave the Dazheng Empire without a leader, even the strongest forces will collapse," Nalan Qiankun said confidently.

Mr. Wen nodded, his features shifting imperceptibly. "Precisely, Your Majesty. Against absolute strength, even Dazheng's advantages will fall short."

"Mr. Wen, you are a skilled tactician and strategist. Before I ascend into an Earth Immortal, please continue lending your assistance with regards to battlefield planning," Nalan Qiankun said seriously.

Rather than allow Mr. Wen an official position, he only requested that Mr. Wen come up with plans, as though he were on guard against him.

"I will do my best, Your Majesty. However, my malady has worsened recently. Your Majesty, you promised me that you would allow me to treat my malady with the Spirit Emperor's peerless treasure once you acquired it. Might I ask if..." Mr. Wen trailed off, looking at Nalan Qiankun expectantly.

Nalan Qiankun frowned briefly, but wiped that emotion away almost as quickly as it had appeared. Then, he smiled. "Mr. Wen, please don't worry. I am a man of my word. I ask that you bear with it for a little while longer until I ascend into an Earth Immortal."

He stared at Mr. Wen, wanting to ascertain his attitude.

Mr. Wen, however, only relaxed and exhaled. "Excellent, Your Majesty. I've had this malady for many years, and I can bear with it a little while longer."

"Very good. I was worried it might be urgent." Nalan Qiankun smiled.

"Your Majesty, I urge you to be careful in this war against the Dazheng Empire," Mr. Wen said seriously.

"Oh?" Nalan Qiankun sounded perplexed.

"The Dazheng Empire boasts incredible momentum at present. You must be wary of the possibility that your frontline troops might be subverted, Your Majesty. In addition, you must guard against his assassins. He has a group of skilled assassins in his employ," Mr. Wen emphasized.

Nalan Qiankun frowned. He too had his own intelligence network, and he was aware of the presence of these so-called spectral guards. The leader of the spectral guards had been seen often recently, and was known to be particularly dangerous.

"Thank you for your reminder, Mr. Wen. I'll be careful," Nalan Qiankun said.

"It's nothing, Your Majesty. I can only provide verbal guidance." Mr. Wen smiled.

Half a month later, within Xiao Nanfeng's study in Yuanding, a man offered Xiao Nanfeng a portrait.

"Division Leader Xiao, ever since you handed us a portrait of this Mr. Wen over half a year ago, we blackguards have been investigating him. His origins are mysterious; it's almost as if he has appeared out of thin air. We've bought information from countless organizations worldwide, past and present, and finally obtained some information of relevance. We found the identity of a man very much like Mr. Wen, but we can't confirm that they're one and the same," the blackguard reported.


"There was a Mr. Wen from a century ago whose features and body shape are known to be much like this Mr. Wen. However, his facial contours are a bit different. That Mr. Wen was once a strategist associated with a crown prince of some divine empire. He was skilled and particularly intelligent, especially when it came to malicious and deceitful plans. He attempted to help that crown prince seize the throne and came just one step away from success. In the end, the crown prince was too weak to bring the plan to fruition, but that Mr. Wen managed to destroy the divine empire with barely any cost whatsoever. Though his plans boast incredible success, they cause great destruction and evil. The righteous disparaged him for being shameless and cold-blooded, while the ambitious and ruthless sought him out. Later on, one of his enemies apparently took revenge and killed him; he was then forgotten by the world. Unexpectedly, a Mr. Wen then reappeared in the Tianshu Empire. Except for some differences in facial features, he appears near-identical to the past Mr. Wen, but we haven't been able to conclusively determine the relationship between them. Here are the details on the past Mr. Wen." The blackguard handed Xiao Nanfeng a packet of information.

"My thanks." Xiao Nanfeng nodded.

"It is our responsibility, Division Leader Xiao. If there's nothing else, allow me to bid you farewell," the blackguard replied.

Xiao Nanfeng nodded.

After seeing the blackguard off, rather than look through the packet of information, Xiao Nanfeng retrieved a letter from within a stack of documents: "Xiao Nanfeng, as a favor to Xiao Hongye, I'll help you take down the Tianshu Empire at minimal cost to you. Once you succeed, I wish to receive the Spirit Emperor's peerless treasure that Xiang Shaoyang possessed as payment."

The letter was unsigned and of mysterious origin. He didn't know how it had ended up within a pile of battlefield reports. The letter had been noted by messengers along the way, but no one dared to discard or otherwise manipulate it. As a result, it had ended up in Xiao Nanfeng's hands.

For some reason, despite the fact that the letter was unsigned, Xiao Nanfeng couldn't help but think of the mysterious Mr. Wen.

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