The north belongs to the Jianghu.
It meant the border of Shaanxi, Gansu, Shanxi, and Hebei.
To reach lake Baikal, where the North Sea Ice Palace, which held power over the outer north, is located, you would have to pass through the great plains that were ruled by several barbarian tribes.
Clip clop! Clip clop!
In the border area between Shanxi and the Great Plains.
The sound of horses running echoed everywhere.
More than four hundred or so elite Yulin Clan warriors were moving to the north in a line.
As previously announced by Kang Soah, the unit commander, the situation was urgent, so after a non-stop trip, they reached this place in just three days.
Of course, to get to Shanxi at that speed, they had to stop by other clans under Yulin, which were on the way and change horses.
Clip clop! Clip clop!
Throughout the ride, the commander, Kang Soah, was silent and concerned.
There was a reason for his concern.
It was because he heard unexpected news on his way to the north.
[Are you saying that your people have asked for help from the Demonic Cult?]
[Yes. Well, it wasn’t a formal request, only one member of the army was sent to them, but since it wasn’t an official request from the main palace, the demonic cult might not dispatch any troops.]
Dan Juseong told the truth just to be careful.
Of course, he knew that the Demonic Cult wouldn’t come to help, but they were in an emergency, so he decided to disclose this information just in case.
Kang Soah thought that only the Yulin were only being asked for help because of their agreement, but the mention of the Demonic Cult made Kang Soah feel troubled.
[This is totally unexpected.]
[Well, it wasn’t a formal request, so they won’t care. Except during wars of conquest, leaders usually ignore other requests.]
Moyong Kang of the Moyong family heard that and responded that the Demonic Cult would in no way help the north.
Even Jehal Sohi half-agreed.
[Leader Moyong’s words have some truth. Currently, the Demonic Cult is in a situation where they need to lay the groundwork for their new academy. In the meantime, if they were to distribute their men, they’d lose time and money. But.]
[That is a correct answer from a military point of view… but I can’t guarantee that Lord Chun Yeowun will do that.]
Jegal Sohi had gone as an envoy to the Demonic Cult, and she met with Chun Yeowun when he was still the crown prince.
And as a result of closely observing Chun Yeowun’s progress as a Lord, she realized that he wasn’t the type of person to move according to textbook strategies.
Therefore, she wasn’t sure about the Demonic Cult’s movements.
[Kang Soah. After all, we and the Demonic Cult are in alliance. Would it be so concerning just because they send a couple of men to the North Sea Ice Palace?]
[… I wonder how we would distribute the dragon’s blood and core after it’s killed.]
Kang Soah was more concerned about what would happen after the Dragon Turtle is killed.
Jegal Sohi was just as concerned as Dan Juseong, the envoy from North Sea Ice Palace but didn't speak about it.
[Leader Kang, I hope you take ownership of the core at that…]
[Even though Yeon Buso’s right arm got cut off by the Lord of the Demonic Cult, his fiancée seems to have a soft heart towards the Cult, seeing how you are talking about the alliance. Have you fallen for evil?]
[What did you say!]
[I have nothing to say to you.]
Jegal Sohi felt strongly insulted and tried to yell, but Kang Soah ignored her and accelerated the march.
Jegal Sohi suppressed her anger.
Wouldn’t she hate Chun Yeowun, who cut off her fiancée’s arm?
However, as a soldier in charge of the military strategy of the entire Yulin, she endured because she knew that there was nothing more foolish than involving personal matters in work.
‘Is he still worried about the Demonic Cult dispatching troops?’
With each passing day, the silence from Kang Soah grew.
Looking at his face, he seemed to be worried about the strategy.
‘Ah! We are entering the great plains!’
As she was riding her horse, she saw the northern plains.
She had no intention of talking to him either, but she shouted at Kang Soah because he led the group.
“We will arrive at the Great Plains. Leader Kang. The realm of barbarians.”
At those words, Moyong Kang’s face tensed.
Unlike the Jegal clan and Hwang Bo clans, which were located inside the Jianghu, the people of Moyong had settled in Liaoning, which was in the north, and they were well aware of the barbarians.
Although they weren’t martial artists, they were still capable of fighting wars throughout the four seasons.
Of course, it wasn't one-on-one, so he wasn’t afraid, but it would have been difficult if the barbarians wanted war and brought in their men.
‘I am glad that Kang Soah has been made the commander.’
Moyong Kang looked at Kang Soah, who was driving the march ahead.
He heard that Kang Soah and the Black Shadow group had been fighting the barbarians in the north of Shanxi for five straight years.
Therefore, even Yi Mok and other leaders agreed to him leading the troops.
‘Was it recently that he signed an agreement with them?’
He heard that two years ago, Kang Soah made an agreement with Asara, the war chief of Great Hung Clan, who was greatly known among the barbarians of the Great Plains.
There were several treasure chests next to the goods in the wagons behind the march, which must have been prepared if they ran into each other.
‘I hope nothing goes wrong.’
It would be disastrous if the Dragon Turtle mission doesn’t go as planned, yet, there was a reason why only one envoy was sent from the North Sea Ice Palace, and that was to avoid friction with the barbarians.
Although not large, the barbarians were going to encounter 400 armed men willing to cross the Great Plains.
Nothing had happened during the half-day trip.
And it was late afternoon.
The advancing procession of Yulin forces stopped at once.
The commander’s orders weren’t given, but they all stopped and looked somewhere.
A vast force seemed to fill the horizon in the sunset.
Thousands of horse hooves were making the earth below tremble as if there was an earthquake.
“Will we end up meeting them on the first day?”
Moyong Kang shook his head.
The barbarians sat quietly on the saddles as the horses moved. They were all covered in fur coats and had weapons on them.
“Greyish brown wolf fur… they are the Great Hung Clan.”
Dan Juseong, the envoy from North Sea Ice Palace, who was next to Kang, spoke.
The sound of horns from the army could be heard.
Tension rose on the faces of the Yulin warriors, who had to advance.
It was then that Kang Soah sent a hand signal to raise the flag.
“Raise the flag!”
The warriors in the front row raised white flags at the cry of the lieutenant of the Blade Shadow group.
When the Blade Shadow flag was raised, dozens of horses at the forefront fell apart and came towards them.
‘Ah! Their chief?’
Although Yulin had so many troops, they only came with a small number of men showing their courage.
Among the dozens of horses, there was one which particularly stood out, a man wearing red fur, so big that even the horse he was riding on seemed covered.
The man knew no martial arts, yet, it was evident how strong and brave he was.
Moyong Kang’s and Dan Juseong’s eyes widened at the name which came out of Kang Soah’s mouth.
Asara was the name of the war chief of the Great Hung Clan.
Everyone had heard of his name and fame but had never actually seen his face.
‘I don’t get it. That big guy is the war chief of the Great Hung Clan?’
Looking at the colossal mace that he was holding, he seemed like someone with great power.
As the man called Asara arrived, Kang Soah politely greeted him.
“Намайг удаан хугацаанд уулзаарай (It has been long)”
Shockingly, the words which Kang Soah was speaking were in the language of the barbarians.
Everyone, who was leading the troops along with him, was surprised.
They knew that he was dealing with the barbarians for five years, but it was shocking to see how fluent his words were.
The war chief of the clan, called Asara, reached out to him.
The Kang Soah, as if used to it, grabbed it, and both tapped their chest.
Finishing it, Asara showed off his yellow teeth and smiled broadly.
‘Ah! So this is their greeting.’
Seeing the broad smile, there seemed to be no hostile feelings.
As Kang Soah raised his hand, the warriors of the Black Shadow, who were behind them, went to the carriage and brought out ten colorful boxes.
When the boxes were opened, it was filled with numerous objects and gold ingots.
Seeing that, Asara, the War Chief of the Great Hung Clan, nodded with satisfaction and said.
“Би дурта (I like it)”
It was prepared in a hurry, but it looked like Asara liked it.
Kang Soah explained in advance that they would have to cross the land to go to the North Sea.
Asara was glad that there was no damage to the clan and that they were being given a tribute.
“I think that the talks went well.”
At the quiet words of Dan Juseong, Jegal Sohi asked.
“Can you understand them?”
“Since the North Sea and Great Plains are close to each other, I know the difference between a conflict and an exchange.“
Most of the people in North Sea Ice Palace can speak that language.
According to Dan Juseong’s words, it seemed that they were permitted to move to North Sea Ice Palace without any problems.
However, the conversation was taking longer than expected.
“Та юу гэсэн үг вэ!”
Asara’s voice rose slightly.
‘What is it?’
Jegal Sohi felt like something was off about Asara’s reaction.
Kang Soah spoke with many hand gestures as if asking for something, but Asara and the man next to him, who looked like his lieutenant, were arguing about something.
However, even Dan Juseong, who heard their conversation, seemed troubled.
[Envoy Dan. If it is okay with you, can you tell me what they are talking about?]
Dan Juseong spoke back in a flustered tone.
[I, I don’t know that well…]
[Ah, Leader Kang is asking the Great Hung Clan to take care of those who try to cross the Great Plains other than the Yulin and to prevent them from passing.]
Sohi's expression hardened.
After the Yulin finished the exchange, they headed north. After they left, Sorachu, the left arm of Asara and the second strongest man in the clan, spoke.
“Chief. Are you really going to accept Kang Soah’s offer?”
“Why are you so concerned about that? It’s shocking that he even asked something like that.”
Asara asked Sorachu, who was a brave warrior who fought countless wars alongside him.
Sorachu shook his head and said.
“The Wulin is dangerous, but haven’t you heard the news from Buchoi who recently visited the Jianghu?”
Buchoi is one of War Chief Asara’s escort warriors.
Although the barbarians were thought to be completely cut off from the Jianghu, they would send people to Jianghu to collect information and sometimes exchange information too.
At Asara’s call, from the horses waiting behind, a man with a large scar on his face answered.
“Yes! War Chief!”
“Did You say that the ones fighting for supremacy in the Jianghu are the Demonic Cult and the Blade God Six Martial clan?”
“Yes. Among them, I heard that the one named Chun Yeowun, the Lord of Demonic Cult, is a monster and is being called the Demon God.”
Demon God, Chun Yeowun, his actions were heard through the people of Jianghu.
A power that was beyond human ability.
The rumors were that he floated up in the sky and brought down a lightning bolt in the castle. No one could believe it when they heard it.
“Demon God, huh… that is one crazy name indeed. But how dare they call a human a God.”
Surprisingly, they knew about the news in Jianghu.
The reason was martial arts.
Asara’s escort warrior, the one called Buchoi, was a warrior who mastered martial arts.
Every time they went to the south for war, the War Chief of the Great Hung Clan, who had conflicts with the Wulin people, in addition to the Imperial army, got interested in martial arts.
This was why he sent people to Jianghu and invested three generations worth of time just to create an invincible army made of warriors who mastered martial arts.
And with that, the Great Hung Clan was able to claim hegemony of the Great Plains.
“By the way, didn’t he say that the dangerous thing was that Demon God?”
Even before Kang Soah made an offer and tried to advise Asara to stop the demonic cult from proceeding, the War Chief had no intention of letting the Demon God pass.
But Kang Soah kept on persuading him, not knowing that.
[You don’t have to worry about the Demonic Cult. The Great Leader of the Forces of Justice would never come here for such a task. Do you really think that the Lord of Demonic Cult, who holds such power, will appear here, in person?]
Kang Soah kept saying that the Lord of Demonic Cult would never cross the land.
However, if members of the cult come, Asara accepted the proposal of helping the Yulin clan.
“I know, but…”
“Don’t worry. We won’t have any direct encounters with them.”
At that, Sorachu looked puzzled as he asked.
“Do you have anything in mind?”
“Huhu, didn’t they ask us to not let anyone other than the people of Yulin go through?”
“That is true.”
“The courageous warriors of the Great Hung Clan are standing here, even if they are martial artists, will they try to fight us in our land?”
Thousands of troops.
It was not something that could be taken lightly.
Didn’t the Yulin troops, which just passed them, become anxious because of that number?
Just by shooting arrows, the barbarians could cover the sky in black.
“Are you going to push them into fear?”
“Yes, a moderate threat. Only if we bump into them, even if he is called the Demon God, would he come all the way here to the Great Plains just to fight us?”
That was the real plan of War Chief Asara.
Sorachu spoke with a wide smile after hearing the War Chief’s words.
“That is amazing! If we do as you said, we will get 3,000 sheep without even taking any damage to our tribe.”
In exchange for granting Kang Soah’s request, he promised to give the Great Hung Clan 3,000 sheep.
Gold and silver were good, but sheep held real value to the nomadic barbarians of the Great Plains.
“Hahahahaha! Isn’t this called one stone for two birds⁽¹⁾?”
While laughing loudly, they saw that a messenger with yellow feather fur was approaching them.
Without even properly getting down the horse, the messenger bowed his head and reported.
“War Chief. Right now, about 20 miles to the southwest, an armed force of about six hundred men are moving to the north.”
“People from other tribes?”
“No. Judging from their attire, they seem to be from the Jianghu.”
Hearing that, the War Chief Asara and his men’s eyes gleamed.
Those people were coming sooner than expected.
The sun had set, and darkness began to come.
About six hundred men, with torches lit, marched towards the north in five rows.
They were the demonic cult, who had the word ‘Demon’ written proudly on their flags.
Seeing how they were advancing, it looked like they were all high in morale. Instead of dispatched troops, it looked like they were out on campaign.
Those who dignifiedly rode horses at the head of each group of hundred warriors were the Six Swords.
They were full of determination as this was their first proper mission.
Despite their journey to the north and not resting for the past three days, their eyes were more than alive.
At that time, the Demonic Cult troops, which were moving north, came to a halt.
“What is that?”
“What’s going on?”
The reason they stopped was simple.
The sound of horse hooves rumbled the ground.
Countless torches filled the night sky horizon from the north where they were supposed to be heading, and the torches were only coming closer.
At first glance, it looked like a large army of ten thousand people.
They were the armies of the Great Hung Clan, the hegemon of the Northern Plains.
A smile spread across the lips of War Chief Asara, his left arm Sorachu and the other leaders of the tribe, who were moving at the forefront of the Great Hung clan.
“They came right in the same day, saved us a lot of trouble. Hahaha.”
“Unfortunate. Those Yulin men had gone through before them, if only they came ahead, the cult would have passed by after giving us a tribute.”
“Hahaa, those bastards need to be sent back to their place. Buchoi!”
“Yes! War Chief!”
At the call of War Chief Asara, the escort Buchoi stepped ahead.
And he was ordered to.
“Let them know that they can’t get through and tell them to go back to their land. If they don’t go back, tell them that they will lose their lives under the swords of the Great Hung Clan.”
“Yes, War Chief!”
He was one of the few warriors in the barbarians who could speak the language of Jianghu.
Buchoi, who received the order, rode forward and shouted at the 600 troops of the Demonic Cult who were visible.
“Listen to me!!!”
The voice of Buchoi, which held power, resounded in the Great Plains.
As if to give it momentum, the warriors of the Great Hung Clan slammed the ground with their spears and shouted.
Thud!!! Thud!!! Thud!!!
Their army shouted, and the roars spread all over the place.
Buchoi, who thought that he had sufficiently lowered the enemies’ morale, delivered the words of War Chief.
“Men from the Jianghu! We are the Great Hung Clan, the great warriors who rule the Great Plains! I am a warrior, Buchoi who is directly under the Great Chief, our War Chief Asara!”
After introducing himself, Buchoi went straight to the main topic.
“This land is ours! This isn’t the place where foreigners can wander. Go back to where you live right away! This is the only warning that you’ll be given. If you don’t go back, you will be killed by the swords and spears of our great warriors!”
Even though the barbarians didn’t understand what Buchoi was saying, they still shouted and helped in relay their power.
The shouts were so loud that their ear drums were pounding.
It was the moment when Buchoi, convinced that he had managed to scare them, turned back his horse and looked at the War Chief with a satisfied expression.
“Listen, Great Hung Clan!!!”
The very moment Buchoi turned, he had to look back at the Cult as the voice resounded strongly in the open land.
It wasn’t the voice that shocked him.
It was because the one who spoke up was speaking their language.
Even the warriors of the Great Hung Clan heard it.
There was no way that they couldn’t have heard that.
‘Did those people learn to speak our tongue?’
The pronunciation was a lot clearer than they expected.
Then followed the voice again.
“I am Chun Yeowun, the Lord of Sky Demon Order!”
Buchoi, Asara and even Sorachu were shocked at the accurate wording and precise voice, which could fool anyone into thinking he was a native speaker.
The name which was introduced was something they heard just an hour ago. There was no way they could forget the name.
“Chun Yeowun?... No, no way, Demon God?”
At Sorachu’s muttering, War Chief Asara pointed his mace at the troops of the Demonic cult and shouted with a bewildered expression.
“What kind of bullshit is this?! We were told that he wouldn’t be here!”
⁽¹⁾ The correct saying is “To kill two birds with one stone”, but since Asara is a barbarian, and isn’t well educated, he says it wrong.
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