"I think you might as well change your Protector."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
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Chen Xing rushed past by the Hu people on the side and shouted, "Open the door!"
But Che Luofeng, who was guarding the passageway to the back, just shouted at him, "You're nuts! Those monsters outside will come charging in that way!"
The skeletons, which had already occupied the courtyard behind the imperial palace, were currently launching a neverending siege at the main hall.
When Tuoba Yan, who was currently guarding a window with a group of Hu people, saw Chen Xing running over, he demanded, "What are you going to do?!"
"Let me out!" Chen Xing loudly shouted.
Xiang Shu had already disappeared without a trace. Che Luofeng, who was firmly guarding the back door and several windows, angrily replied, "No!"
Tuoba Yan, however, didn't listen to Che Luofeng's order, moving sideways to cover Chen Xing instead. Pointing down his long halberd, he used his shoulder to knock open a window before proceeding to reach out to hold Chen Xing by the waist. And then, stepping on the windowsill, he leapt out.
With little to no trouble, a wolf skeleton jumped in from the outside and immediately bit Tuoba Yan, dragging him out along with Chen Xing! Soon afterward, a Rouran warrior who was right behind him failed to dodge and was also bitten; he was dragged out of the palace as he screamed.
His complexion changing, Che Luofeng immediately roared, "Seal the window! Just seal it!"
The skeletons were everywhere; looking akin to torrential rain, those bones of crows, geese, and eagles in the sky pounced down incessantly one after another, their jagged edges leaving bloody scratch marks on Tuoba Yan's neck and body. Tuoba Yan readied his halberd and rushed all the way out, bringing Chen Xing with him.
"What are you looking for?!" Unexpectedly, Tuoba Yan just single-handedly opened up a path for him into the courtyard without asking any questions.
When Chen Xing saw the stone tower, he called out, "To the tower!"
Chen Xing remembered that in their first life when the Silence of All Magic had still been in place, there had been a ready-made defensive array under that stone tower; it had made him very curious as to what kind of magical artifact was actually stored inside. Now that the mana had recovered, it should be possible to undo the spell that was sealing the door to this tower! Maybe there was a magical artifact that could be of use inside...
However, there were indeed too many skeletons. The moment Chen Xing turned his head after they had reached an elevated platform in the courtyard, he caught sight of an extremely spectacular scene.
Packed with a dense layer of skeletons, the area outside the palace looked as if it was being submerged by a mountain of bones. What's more, a layer of resentment also permeated all around on that mountain, acting like a barrier that prevented the spiritual qi of heaven and earth from flowing through.
Coming in from all sides, elephant skeletons continuously moved along the streets of Karakorum, and approaching the palace's main hall, the bones began to gather and wrung that huge palace hard. The palace, being rammed from all directions with that strength, had its outer bricks started to slowly collapse.
Good thing I left! If this goes on, the whole palace will soon collapse. Over a hundred thousand people sheltered inside are bound to be buried alive that way!
The instant he saw this scene, Chen Xing became terror-stricken and immediately shouted, "I have to pry that door open!"
Tuoba Yan, from his body all the way to his head, was already covered in blood. As soon as the two people appeared, skeletons flew toward them just like a storm; they gathered outside the stone tower, causing Tuoba Yan to have trouble closing in.
"There’s too many of them!" shouted Tuoba Yan. "I'll draw them away!"
Chen Xing had already been unable to distinguish what kind of bones were standing before him. The deposed skeletons of cows and sheeps slaughtered by the Hu people, as well as the carcasses of dead animals pecked by vultures, were automatically reassembled into countless strange monsters that kept pouncing on them.
Chen Xing was having a hard time approaching the stone tower. Yet right at this moment, from inside the palace not far away, a loud boom sounded.
Xiang Shu, his whole body covered in iron armor, broke through the window and rushed outside, with nothing in his hands!
Chen Xing: "Xiang Shu!"
Rushing inside that skeletal storm, Xiang Shu first dragged Tuoba Yan out and sent him back right into the palace hall with a kick. Right after, he grabbed that Rouran defender, the one dragged out by the skeleton, and knock him back into the palace, this time with a bump of his shoulder.
In an instant, Xiang Shu had arrived in front of the stone tower. Because he was wearing a full-face helmet, Chen Xing couldn't see his face clearly and just hurriedly shouted, "I have to open this stone tower, only then can I activate the defensive wall!"
Turning around and standing in front of Chen Xing, Xiang Shu moved at a speed so fast that Chen Xing didn't even have the time to clearly see him —— in a blink of an eye, all of the skeletons gathered in front of the stone tower were expelled.
Chen Xing tried to catch his breath over and over again, but Xiang Shu soon grabbed him and angrily said, "Go open the door!"
Chen Xing: "I will! Just... let me calm down first..."
Xiang Shu turned around. Now, his back was facing the stone tower while a full courtyard of skeletons stood in front of him. Those crushed skeletal remains that had fallen to the ground had begun to reassemble once more into countless animal shapes, crawling up.
Chen Xing, with one hand pressing on the stone tower and the other pointing toward the sky to draw the spiritual qi of heaven and earth in, said to himself, "I remember that the first time around... but why is it that this time... these bones are able to reassemble once they had been separated and reemerged from the ground..."
"Open it!" Xiang Shu roared.
"I'm on it!" Chen Xing had already been driven slightly mad by Xiang Shu's roaring.
When the entire stone tower shone in brilliance, the skeletons all around seemed to sense the danger. They moved at the same time, launching themselves toward Xiang Shu and Chen Xing in front of the tower!
"Still not open yet?!" Xiang Shu suddenly bent down and met a skeleton head-on!
"It’s open, open!" shouted Chen Xing. "Very soon! Open up ah!"
Almost half of the skeletons on the palace ground had moved away, all of them rushing toward the two people in front of the stone tower. In a mere split second, the world turned completely dark. Xiang Shu had no choice but to turn around and hold Chen Xing in his arms, using his own body as a shield to block the fierce, storm-like assault from that legion of bones. Chen Xing tried his utmost to inject all of the spiritual qi into the stone tower, causing the Heart Lamp to flash brilliantly!
Amidst the loud boom that ensued, the tiles of that stone tower all broke to pieces and flew apart!
That explosion immediately blew up the surrounding skeletons and revealed the altar at the core of the tower. There was a defensive wall magical array under that altar with its runes rotating around, while in its center...
......was a rusty, entirely corroded shield.
"What is that?!" Xiang Shu looked up in that brief interval of time.
"Th-th-that... what is that?" said Chen Xing. "What is that ah! A shield?! Just take it! It might be useful!"
There was no light emitted by the magical artifact, nor did the initial activation of the defensive wall have any kind of effect. The skeletons, which had merely been kept off by the flying pieces of the stone tower, once again started to rush at them in wave upon wave.
"Give it to me!" Xiang Shu, whose iron armor kept clanking under the constant attack, had no choice but to use his arms to keep them off.
Chen Xing, making a quick decision, grabbed the shield and dragged it off the altar. "I need a bit more time!"
Saying so, he pressed the White Tiger Pennant and the Zouyu Pennant together.
"How much longer?!" Xiang Shu tested the shield, only to find that it was so rusty, it could break down at any time. Alas, there was only this one so-called weapon in his hands; he was left with no choice but to stand sideways as he held the shield in his left hand. With one strike of this "beautiful" shield, he waved away the leopard skeleton that had been rushing at him.
"Could be another 12 shichen!" Chen Xing crossed the White Tiger Pennant and the Zouyu Banner in front of him before proceeding to activate the Heart Lamp, injecting its power into the defensive array below him.
Xiang Shu: "......"
A snake skeleton suddenly swept around its thorny, vine-like bone whip body toward the two people. Xiang Shu roared in anger as he charged in at the bone whip!
CLANG! The shield collided with the bone whip. In an instant, that rusty iron shield shattered into pieces.
Xiang Shu: "........................................................"
And all the while, Chen Xing was still closing his eyes as before, trying his best to activate the defensive wall magical array.
"Soon, soon!" Chen Xing said. "It's faster than I thought... Xiang Shu what are you doing?"
When Chen Xing turned his head around, he saw Xiang Shu grabbing the tail of a snake skeleton and swinging it around, and with it, he swept away those forever-unkillable skeletons surrounding them. Chen Xing immediately ducked to avoid that bone whip while madly shouting, "Watch it ah!"
Xiang Shu was practically going to be driven mad by Chen Xing soon.
In the next moment, the legion of the bones reassembled and encircled the stone tower once more. But suddenly, all of them stopped moving.
Xiang Shu, who knew that this was a sign of an incoming bigger assault, immediately turned around and hugged Chen Xing from behind. But just as they were about to roll on the ground, Chen Xing finished lighting up the final rune of the circle surrounding the altar.
"Heart Lamp!" Xiang Shu yelled.
At that moment, everything went dark. But as those innumerable skeletons rushed forward, a brilliant light flashed from the altar. Xiang Shu, bathed in a powerful light, blocked off the first wave of the assault.
A white beam of light burst out from the altar and went straight to the heaven vein, and following that, a shockwave spread out in all four directions!
That shockwave flitted past Xiang Shu and Chen Xing's bodies and formed a dome of light as it kept expanding across the area, and any skeletons touched by it were immediately eradicated, as if they were blown away into some faraway place by a hurricane. Layers upon layers of dead bones covering the palace, just like a huge blanket on top of it, were swept away toward the gloomy sky before they finally scattered under the fierce wind.
With the imperial palace as its center, that dome of light swept across the entire Karakorum, not at all stopping its expansion until it finally settled itself quietly in front of the surrounding city walls.
And the skeletons that were piled up all around Karakorum, appearing like an ocean tide, simultaneously retreated to the north.
Chen Xing, his head covered in blood, wearily took some breaths as he looked into the distance in disbelief.
It's safe now.
"This defensive wall must've been set up by a great exorcist," Chen Xing said happily while entering the palace. "It's very powerful, simply too powerful! If the task to deploy it was left up to me, I could only protect the palace at most..."
Xiang Shu just threw his helmet to the ground with a dang. The first thing he did once they returned to the palace was to grab Che Luofeng.
"You actually let him go out like that?!" Xiang Shu snarled.
Che Luofeng was also very aggravated. "I couldn't stop them! That bastard surnamed Tuoba took him out!"
Xiang Shu pushed Che Luofeng aside. His armor already had dents in many places. With his hair loose, he clenched his fist as he stood in the middle of the hall to take a deep breath. Shi Mokun had already led his subordinates to reopen the four doors of the palace, and the people could see that they were all safe. However, none dared to go too far yet and merely gathered all around the palace.
From head to the body, Tuoba Yan was covered in blood he received from the bone demonic yao that had dragged him out before. He was currently leaning on his halberd, his back against the palace door as he caught his breath.
Chen Xing went over and said to Xiang Shu, "Give me your shield for now? Let me take a look, maybe..."
However, Xiang Shu didn’t reply and just roughly blocked Chen Xing to one side, preventing him from coming closer.
Chen Xing: "!!!"
The inside of the hall was silent to the point where one would even be able to hear the sound of a needle had someone dropped it.
"Don't be angry," Chen Xing said. "Xiang Shu, next time..."
"I think you might as well change your Protector," said Xiang Shu in a cold tone. "Just let that guy follow you ba."
Chen Xing: "..................."
Chen Xing just foolishly stood still. Sensing that Xiang Shu was angry, he hurriedly chased after him. "I was wrong! I was wrong! Xiang Shu! I'm sorry! I... You told me not to go anywhere, but at that moment I couldn't think about anything else except that stone tower..."
Yet Xiang Shu, still ignoring Chen Xing, just walked out of the palace and commanded, "Shi Mokun, transfer 2,000 men to me. Load all of the remaining fire oil in jars and set out with the army. Che Luofeng, follow me into the battle."
Che Luofeng had been watching the two people quarrel, but as soon as his name was called, he became vigilant and asked, "Where to?"
Xiang Shu: "Barkol Lake, to catch Zhou Zhen."
Che Luofeng looked around before saying, "Isn't this already..."
"Are you going or not?" Xiang Shu's voice carried a threat.
Afraid of Xiang Shu taking his anger out on him, Che Luofeng, without any better options, could only go back to change his armor. In an instant, some manpower began to gather in front of the palace of Karakorum. Chen Xing knew that Xiang Shu was most likely eating vinegar. He was angry because Chen Xing had decided to go to the stone tower alone without waiting for him and had let Tuoba Yan accompany him instead.
When the troops had begun assembling, Chen Xing trotted out. Xiang Shu only whispered a few orders to Shi Mokun before looking at Chen Xing from afar. Chen Xing was about to get on a horse when he realized he didn't have his own horse, so he said to Tuoba Yan, "Help me get a horse."
Within that interval of time, Xiang Shu and Che Luofeng had already left Karakorum without even looking back.
"The Great Chanyu said you must not leave this place!" Shi Mokun said. "Stay in the city and guard the magical formation you cast."
Chen Xing: "There won't be any problems as long as you keep an eye on the stone tower."
Once the defensive wall had been laid out, it would be able to draw energy from the spiritual qi of heaven and earth and protect people for years. Previously, inside the Yin Yang Mirror, Zhang Liu had used the Acala Blade to set up an array that stood unbroken for 300 years, and Wang Ziye had to try every means possible to get inside. Destroying it would also require a certain amount of magic power, and so Chen Xing actually wasn't worried about it. He set up a protective spell to protect the defensive wall and told Shi Mokun to have people guard the area surrounding the stone tower day and night so that no spies would be able to get near.
In fact, even if spies were to come, mortals wouldn't be able to crack this magical array, but Chen Xing still added a layer of defense in the end.
"Umm... Your Majesty the Yao King," Chen Xing said to the phoenix, "if anything were to happen to Karakorum, I might seek you out?"
The phoenix: "......"
Chen Xing just looked at the phoenix, full of sincerity. The phoenix coldly threw a question at him, "Aren't you going to the Barkol Lake?"
Chen Xing thought for a moment before replying, "Suppose that Karakorum faced any danger. I think at that time you would probably come over flying to ask me 'do you need help?' and I would definitely say 'yes.' Correct?"
The phoenix: "................................."
Chong Ming's third wish actually was being used in such a way. Not even mentioning the fact that everything was only a what-if scenario, if Chen Xing had said "please help me defend Karakorum," then the third wish would've been fulfilled, but too bad, what he said was actually "suppose that Karakorum faced any danger." That is, if there was no accident, there would be no need for this wish, and if there was indeed an accident, the phoenix would have to fly over to say "do you need help?" to Chen Xing. If he said "yes" then, Chong Ming would need to hurry back again to help defend the city.
The phoenix was basically angered to death. But still, finally catching a glimpse of hope, he had no better option but to not argue with Chen Xing and flew to the roof of the palace.
With the delay it took for Tuoba Yan to get a horse, Xiang Shu and Che Luofeng had already vanished without a trace. Chen Xing climbed over the city wall. While the white-dust gale had gradually calmed down, the world was still bathed in pure white; their field of vision was no higher than 30 steps away.
Where did this guy go? Chen Xing activated the Heart Lamp. Xiang Shu certainly had felt it, but refused to acknowledge him.
Tuoba Yan asked, "Why is the Great Chanyu angry?"
Chen Xing was exasperated as he thought in his heart, He has more or less forgotten all kinds of things, big or small, that happened in the past. But how could Xiang Shu still remember his hostility toward Tuoba Yan? That kind of hostility seemed to be rooted deep. From the moment he saw Tuoba Yan, Xiang Shu never gave him even a little bit of a good face, as if he was subconsciously treating Tuoba Yan as a rival.
Chen Xing originally thought that it was all his own fault back then, that he shouldn't have gone out until Xiang Shu came back. But the situation had been dire back then, and on another thought, what if the person by his side was Feng Qianjun ne? Or Xiao Shan? Xiang Shu definitely wouldn't be this explosive. In the final analysis, this was precisely because it was Tuoba Yan.
But there was nothing between him and Tuoba Yan ah. While Tuoba Yan, due to an unexpected turn of events, had fallen in love with him at first sight in the first life, it was clear that he had no feeling for Chen Xing this time around, and had only traveled to the land beyond the Great Wall for Fu Jian's sake. Even with this reasoning, he still could get angry.
"He's eating your vinegar!" Chen Xing said in his bad mood.
Tuoba Yan: "???"
Tuoba Yan, who was clearly very innocent, asked again, "Why?"
Chen Xing: "There is no why. He just likes to do it."
Tuoba Yan: "......"
Chen Xing: "We have to quickly find him... Wait, no." This deduction he made just now left another kind of feeling within Chen Xing. So, Xiang Shu already likes me right now, ma? Otherwise, why doesn't he target other people, but focus only on Tuoba Yan?
The phoenix flew in and, perching on one side of the tower, he said, "Do you need help?"
"No need, thank you!" Chen Xing said, bold and confident.
Tuoba Yan: "???"
"I'll go find him," Tuoba Yan said. "I don't know why he's eating vinegar, but I have to explain it clearly to him."
"Wait!" Chen Xing hurriedly said.
But Tuoba Yan had already gone down the city tower, mounting his horse and getting ready to leave the city. Chen Xing, who originally planned to leave the city, went down quickly, only to see King Akele coming, bringing with him two horses.
Chen Xing: "King Akele, you can't go out now."
King Akele: "My wife and my people."
The storm had gradually subsided. King Akele obviously knew what had transpired and continued, "You aren't familiar with the road. Follow me."
Chen Xing felt moved. King Akele was obviously very familiar with the road in the North. Back then, it was also him who had brought Chen Xing to Karakorum the first time.
"But you must promise me," Chen Xing said, "that no matter what happens, you won't do anything without permission."
"Wu," King Akele replied.
Chen Xing: "Swear in the name of the dragon god of the Xiongnu people."
King Akele replied, "I promise you."
*laughs at Xiang Shu*
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Elestrea.