With the passing days, the wind was becoming increasingly stronger. Standing at the steep cliff gazing south, a sight of towering mountains amid the raging wind came into view. Turning in the opposite direction, the northern landscape was of vast fields and still skies.
Still in her armor, Hua Zhu Yu steered her horse back towards the training camp. Once she arrived at the entrance, she dismounted and gave her horse a quick stroke before lifting the curtain of the tent and entering.
She was in the midst of training the soldiers when she was suddenly called back. Two days ago Wang Yu had send Tang Yu to lead a team of 50,000 troops to Xiang Yu Guan to intercept the Northern Army, leaving 13,000 troops behind to continue training. Naturally it wasn’t only her Hu Battalion that was training. She heard that Ji Feng Li was also training in some secretive place.
Having just left training, her clothes were soaked in sweat. As a result, she feel the cold seeping into her back with each gust of wind. She lifted her sleeve to wipe away the sweat dotting her forehead and followed the subordinate leading the way into the tent.
Inside, Ji Feng Li and Wang Yu were present, in addition to Lan Bing and the other commanders, including Nangong Jue.
Ji Feng Li was sitting there studying the map. When he heard the guard report that Commander Bao had arrived, the hand holding the map slightly shook but he did not look up.
Upon seeing Hua Zhu Yu arrive, Wang Yu smiled and said, “Commander Bao, it’s been hard on you, training the troops these days.”
Hua Zhu Yu’s gaze swept across Ji Feng Li before she smiled and replied, “General is over praising.”
“Great, everyone is here. Liking this General was saying, Lord Chancellor and I have decided on a course of action for the upcoming battle and it is a risky plan. At present, Northern Kingdom has allied with Western Liang. It’s confirmed that they have intentions of attacking Yangguan. We have already fought a few times with the Northern Army. Lord Chancellor intends to dispatch a team of elite troops to secretly follow behind the Northern Army, blocking their path of retreat. Attacking them from two offensive fronts, we shall defeat the Northern Army for good,” Wang Yu declared in his deep voice.
Hua Zhu Yu lowered her gaze. She thought that this wasn’t a bad plan though it was very risky. If successful, Southern Army would be victorious. If unsuccessful, the entire team may be completely wiped out. Since this team would be encroaching on the Northern border, if they were to be spotted by the enemy, there was no way to escape. However, at present there was no better plan.
“If we can come up with this plan so can the Northern Army. They’ll be wary of us and take precautions. How can we successfully tail them from behind?” Nanggong Jue asked.
Everyone turned towards Ji Feng Li.
Ji Feng Li stood and gave the signal to Lan Bing and Nangong Jue to hang the map up. He then walked forward, his fingers moved from Yangguan to Mt. Lian Yun then to the eastern part of the Gobi desert. “If we want to reach the Northern Army’s rear without being detected, we must cross Mt. Lian Yun. This is the closest and most direct route to penetrate the northern border. Of course, the defense around this area will also be most strict and we will be easily discovered. Thus, we can only use the path east of Mt. Lian Yun, cross the desert of Eastern Yan then turn and head back towards Northern Kingdom.”
As soon as he finished, everyone was in an uproar.
“Lord Chancellor, if we cross Eastern Yan, I fear it will be even more difficult. After all, we are not familiar with the route through Eastern Yan. Furthermore, that’s the Gobi desert, we won’t have access to provisions if we were to cross it. In addition, we would have to beware of being discovered by Eastern Yan and Northern Kingdom,” a commander spoke.
Ji Feng Li narrowed his eyes. “Therefore we must train the troops thoroughly. The dispatched team cannot be too big, otherwise they would be easily detected.”
“With that said, this General feels Commander Bao would be the most suitable candidate. The Hu Battalion has practiced battle formations that allow the least number of people to exert the maximum attack and defense,” Wang Yu said.
“Absolutely not,” Ji Feng Li suddenly raised his head, a complicated expression upon his face.
The tent descended into silence. Wang Yu swept his gaze across the commanders and frowned. “If we send a different battalion, we may have to mobilize more soldiers. With such a large group, if we send another commander I fear the formation will not be utilized to its full strength.”
Hua Zhu Yu had been training her troops these days to perfect this formation. Her position was very vital, if someone else were to replace her, it’s true that the formation may not proceed as well. Without someone leading the formation, chaos will ensue, and the results will be unimaginable.
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“Lord Chancellor, please reconsider. Commander Bao has the insight and courage. He’s the most suitable candidate for the task.” Wang Yu said with a slight bow and hands cupped in a fist.
Ji Feng Li brows knotted. Wang Yu was right. If they wanted the perfect candidate, there was not else better than him. But this mission was no doubt dangerous to undertake alone.
“Please reconsider, Lord Chancellor.” the other commanders said in unison.
For some reason, Hua Zhu Yu felt highly uncomfortable. What kind of situation was this? Why did she feel like Ji Feng Li was covering for her? Did he think she needed his protection?
At this time, Ji Feng Li was standing there with his back turnt, his figure cold and indifferent.
“Commander Bao, what are your thoughts?” Ji Feng Li asked casually.
Hua Zhu Yu cupped her hands and raised them up as she took a step forward. “Commander Bao is willing to lead the troops.”
She spoke with full determination. Relying on her abilities, she was certain she can accomplish this task. Moreover, she didn’t need him to shelter her.
Ji Feng Li did not say anything. After some time, he finally turned around. His handsome face was frosty and his sharp eyes were staring straight at her.
This was the first time she was facing him at such a close distance since that night. She tried to suppress the emotions boiling within her. Her eyes was calm and cold as she returned his frosty, indifferent gaze.
“If that’s the case then it’s settled,” he slowly stated in a heavy tone.
Afterwards, the commanders remained to discuss the next course of action before dispersing.
Ji Feng Li left the tent. His handsome face was enshrouded in a layer of frost. Seeing him, the soldiers were overwhelmed with fear and trepidation, apprehensive to step forward and give greetings.
He headed straight for his tent and lifted the curtains before entering.
Rong Si was bent over his desk, cleaning it up. Hearing footsteps, she raised her head and caught sight of his icy expression. She was slightly startled, her smile frozen on her lips.
“Lord Chancellor, did something happened? Has the Northern Army attack again?” Rong Si worriedly asked.
Ji Feng Li calmed himself down before looking at her and replying, “No.”
After a moment of pause, he continued, “The battle this time will be dangerous. You should leave this place. I’ll let the guards escort you back.”
Rong Si placed the things in her hands down and shook her head. “I won’t go back. Wherever you go, I’ll go! I want to be by your side, in life and in death!”
“Absolutely not!” Ji Feng Li coldly said as he quickly went over to his desk and took a seat.
“Lord Chancellor, please let me stay here! I don’t want to leave your side!” Rong Si went to his side and begged.
“You martial arts isn’t great and I don’t have the time to take care of you. This place will become a bloodbath soon. You should quickly return to Xi Jiang Yue. In the future you won’t have to dress up as Rong Luo any longer. Quickly return to Xi Jiang Yue.”
“Alright, I’ll go. I’ll go back to Xi Jiang Yue and wait for you, wait for your return…” Rong Si said as she entered his arms.
“Lord chancellor, you must take good care of yourself,” Rong Si lifted her head and said.
A gently beauty was in his arms yet Ji Feng Li turned stiff. Instinctively, his hands reached out to shove her away but he restrained himself. He placed his hands on her shoulder and said, “Alright, quickly go and pack your things.”
Rong Si nodded and left the tent.
Ji Feng Li’s gaze landed on the desk in front of him and his eyes lowered. There laid the unfinished chess match which Rong Si had completely tidied up. The unfinished match will be forever unfinished. There won’t be any opportunity to finish this match in this lifetime he feared.