At the next moment, the heavy armor began to move.

The dilapidated city walls trembled under the unbelievably orderly footsteps. The black-armored soldiers, like a river of dark iron, immersed in the undispersed white steam, advanced against the enemy’s onslaught like a tidal wave.

The first wave of heavy armor swept through like a mighty cleaver, swiftly mowing down everything in its path, pushing into the enemy ranks. Bodies were shattered, limbs severed, and the air filled with flying debris. However, the fierce flames couldn’t consume the dark iron. As long as the golden case remained intact, most of the fallen soldiers, their bodies dead but their mechanical gears still turning, stood upright as if their spirits hadn’t dissipated, continuing to charge forward.

When it became impossible to continue, the following soldiers would open the golden cases behind the armor and ignite the fuses hidden within them.

Underneath the iron masks, the soldiers were indistinguishable from one another. A thousand soldiers acted as one, and whether they brandished the Wind-Cutting Blade to sweep through enemy ranks or exploded into a purple firework in place, they were equally determined.

Li Feng stood with his hands behind his back on the Red Kite. Suddenly, he asked Tan Hongfei, who was standing by his side, “Where is Amin?”

Caught off guard by being called out, Tan Hongfei hesitated for a moment before replying, “The Prince has gone up to the city wall.”

The hot wind blew away the anger on Li Feng’s face. Amidst the devastation, he regained his composure and threw the Imperial Sword to Tan Hongfei on the black hawk. “Convey my decree. In times of national crisis, the young Crown Prince is unable to shoulder the burden. I, without virtue or talent, have trapped the people of this land in a difficult situation, failing to live up to the ancestors’ expectations. I intend to pass the throne to the Yanbei Prince. The edict hasn’t been written yet. Take this and give it to him, send him away.”

Tan Hongfei hesitated, “…”

He hastily caught the weighty sword and stole a glance at the Emperor’s countenance, his gaze sweeping over Li Feng’s slightly graying temples.

Li Feng waved his hand apathetically.

Chang Geng ascended to the city wall with his longbow, taking charge of the aerial battlefield.

Tan Hongfei landed beside Chang Geng amidst the roar of the black hawk, gripping the Imperial Sword like a hot potato. “Your Highness!”

A quick glance from Chang Geng made it clear what he wanted to say.

Tan Hongfei, “Your Highness, the Emperor said…”

A wounded soldier with only one leg left on the city wall ran over. “Your Highness, we’ve run out of fire arrows!”

“If we’ve run out of fire arrows, switch to iron arrows. If we’ve run out of iron arrows, use the unclaimed Wind-Cutting Blades. What’s the panic?” Chang Geng’s eyelids didn’t even flicker as he spoke harshly. “We will defend this city wall until it crumbles. Tan Commander, return that thing and tell Li Feng that I don’t owe him anything. I won’t serve as the king of a doomed country. And right now, he’s the root of the army, the two armies at a standoff. The flag mustn’t fall. The lives of our brothers depend on that flag. You take care of it and don’t let him die easily.”

At this moment, at least for Tan Commander, the words of ten Li Fengs were not as useful as one Chang Geng. Without a second thought, he discarded the Emperor’s decree as he had heard it, blew a long whistle, and stood guard by the Red Kite, alongside several black hawks.

The heavy armor below the city broke through, creating a path of flesh and blood. Once the heavy armor breached the enemy ranks, the resounding artillery and the mighty White Rainbow Arrows became ineffective. It would be a battle to the death on the ground. The Western military was temporarily at a loss and had no choice but to intensify their aerial attacks.

Numerous unclaimed Wind-Cutting Blades were placed on the White Rainbow Longbows. Upon Yanbei Prince’s command, those legendary divine weapons shot out like iron arrows, the rotating white blades transforming into blooming flowers that shattered the wind itself. They densely filled the sky, carrying the names of the fallen as they enveloped the Western eagle-armored troops.

Chang Geng wiped the dust off the Thousand-Mile Eye with his finger, resting it on his slender and prominent nose. He gave an order, “Deploy the second wave of Wind-Cutting Blades.”

A young soldier beside him spontaneously acted as a personal guard and attendant. Upon hearing the order, he used his unbroken voice to shout, “Fire the arrows—”

Then he turned to Chang Geng and asked in a low voice, “Your Highness, what do we do when we’ve run out of Wind-Cutting Blades? Shall we throw rocks down from the city walls?”

Chang Geng cast him a glance, seeming to smile, and said, “Although we’re running out of ammunition this time, thanks to our Great Liang Emperor’s accumulation over the years, there are still some Zi Liu Jin in the capital. If we can’t hold on any longer, learn from General Han Qi and pour the Zi Liu Jin down from the city walls, burning the entire capital. The foreigners won’t get a single thing.”

The young soldier shivered at his nonchalant words.

Chang Geng asked, “How old are you?”

The young soldier hesitated for a moment, then stammered, “Ten… eighteen.”

Chang Geng laughed, “Don’t give me that. Enough with the pretense.”

“… Fifteen.”

In some poor families, when they have too many children to support, they would send half-grown children to the military to receive military rations. Afraid that the children were too young and wouldn’t be accepted, they would make some alterations and falsely report their age.

“Fifteen,” Chang Geng murmured, “When I was fifteen, I accompanied General Gu to investigate the Wei Prince’s rebellion in Jiangnan. I didn’t understand anything. You’re more promising than me.”

At that moment, under the Pope’s command, the Western eagle-armored troops in the distance also took flight. They were going all out.

Each Western eagle-armored soldier held a long cannon and bombarded the city walls. The recoil of the cannons, which should have been supported by the iron-armored chariots, was immense. When the cannon was fired, the person holding it would immediately be thrown back and killed upon impact.

This group of Western eagle-armored soldiers, like a daredevil squad, showered the city walls with long cannons, causing half of the walls to collapse.

The Red Kite was affected by the shockwaves and swayed unsteadily. Wang Guoji cried out for help as he clung to the mast. Zhang Fenghan, who climbed up breathlessly, pushed him aside.

“Your Majesty!” Zhang Fenghan, who had taken off his court attire, held a fish belly in his hands. Inside the fish belly, the dark purple Zi Liu Jin shimmered. The swaying Red Kite almost threw him off balance, and a nearby guard hurriedly caught the dangerous item.

Zhang Fenghan said, “Your Majesty, we have run out of ammunition. Acting on behalf of the Yanbei Prince’s request, I have transported all the remaining Zi Liu Jin in the city to the gate and started dividing it…”

“Your Majesty, be careful!”

“Protect the Emperor!”

The incoming artillery fire interrupted Zhang Fenghan’s words. It narrowly missed Li Feng’s Red Kite, immediately blowing off one corner. Groaning hoarsely, the Red Kite tilted to one side.

Another cannon relentlessly pursued and crashed into the Red Kite’s abdomen. The Red Kite, already severely damaged, lost control. Li Feng’s pupils shrank to the size of a needle amidst the clamor of the crowd.

Tan Hongfei roared and abruptly spread his wings, swooping down like a descending black-winged god.

In the instant he embraced the cannon, the eagle armor activated its highest speed. The high temperature and impact instantly sent this old comrade of the mysterious iron flying into the sky, along with the cannon. They turned into a vanishing monkey, never to return.

… Fortunately, he didn’t fail his mission.

The Wind-Cutting Blades, which had claimed countless foreign lives on the city walls, were finally depleted. Chang Geng turned his head to look at this unfamiliar capital, feeling a bit regretful - he couldn’t see the Marquis’s Mansion from here.

Then he waved his hand, raised his longbow, and dipped the iron arrowhead in a bit of oil. He shot it into the air, and the oil ignited, creating a meteor that streaked across the sky - it was a signal.

Zhang Fenghan rolled up his sleeve. “Prepare the Red Kites!”

Except for where Li Feng was, the last ten-plus Red Kites gracefully ascended the city walls. They were like a group of dancing girls adorned in splendid red attire, lightly stepping on the sea of knives and fire, carrying the Zi Liu Jin, colliding with the Western eagle-armored troops who came to meet their death.

The sky changed color.

Chang Geng, standing at the forefront of the city wall, was hit by a tremendous force that his makeshift light armor couldn’t withstand. He felt a powerful impact on his chest, his vision went black, and he coughed up blood, briefly losing consciousness.

The youth who had just conveyed his orders dashed forward, attempting to shield him with his own body.

The city wall finally collapsed completely.

Chang Geng didn’t know how long he had passed out. It took a long time for him to gradually regain consciousness. He discovered that one of his legs was caught between two broken gears, and the young soldier who had protected him was now only left with a pair of arms attached to his shoulders. He couldn’t find the rest of the soldier; instead, he became a pair of blood-soaked short capes on his body.

Chang Geng clenched his teeth, enduring the intense pain throughout his body, which was far less agonizing than the time when his Ulgar bones acted up.

His ears were probably bleeding, and the nearby sounds were unclear, a chaotic mess, extremely blurred.

Chang Geng thought, “Is it like this for Zixi when he doesn’t take his medicine… It’s so peaceful.”

Had the city walls collapsed? Had the city fallen?

Was Li Feng still alive?

Yes, and there was also Gu Yun…

Whenever Chang Geng thought of Gu Yun, he dared not continue, afraid that those two words would drain him of all his courage. He forcefully cut off his thoughts, curling up his body and reaching for the seams of his leg armor. He painstakingly unfastened each of the eight locks and dragged himself out.

There was still an iron arrow stuck in his back, and his longbow miraculously remained intact. He could still kill one more person.

As long as this breath remained…

Just as Chang Geng managed to pull his leg free and was about to stand up, a black figure suddenly flashed in front of him.

Chang Geng couldn’t dodge in time and instinctively tilted his head backward. He instinctively drew his iron bow from above.

A small wooden bird fell in front of him, split in half by the iron bow. From its ruptured belly, a bundle of marbled paper fell out.

Chang Geng froze in place.

Then, the previously calm Yanbei Prince began to tremble all over. That lightly floating marbled paper spread out on the ground, and he even attempted to pick it up twice but failed. His hand trembled so much that his five fingers could hardly close. Only then did he realize that the steel armor on his arm had already come off, and the joints of his two fingers were no longer obedient.

He faintly heard someone shouting, “Reinforcements have arrived,” which should have been the long-awaited good news for everyone.

However, instead of brewing much joy, Chang Geng felt an indescribable fear rising within him after the initial shock. It was because only when he was resolutely prepared to face death could he temporarily set aside the fact that Gu Yun might have turned into molten iron.

The carefully planned path to the underworld suddenly branched off, and it seemed determined to block him on this side. Chang Geng was momentarily stunned.

“Big Brother!” He vaguely heard a call, and the next moment, a fast horse galloped over. The person who arrived was none other than the long-absent and disheveled Ge Chen.

Ge Chen dismounted in a hurry, supporting the disheveled Chang Geng. He explained in a flustered manner, “Big Brother, when I received your letter, I happened to be at General Shen’s place, but at that time, in the southern border…”

Chang Geng didn’t catch a single word. In a daze, he interrupted Ge Chen like a demented person, “Where is Zixi?”

His words were barely understandable, and Ge Chen didn’t hear them clearly. “What?” he asked.

Chang Geng forcefully pushed his hand away, struggling to stand up. He disregarded everything and walked in the direction of the city gate. His back was injured, with a large patch of blood dripping down from his clothes, yet he seemed completely unaware of it.

Ge Chen said, “Big… Big Brother? Your Highness!”

Chang Geng turned a deaf ear. Ge Chen watched as an arrow flew towards Chang Geng, who didn’t even attempt to dodge. Ge Chen hurriedly stepped forward and pulled him away, just two steps away. Chang Geng’s eyes turned so red that they seemed as if they could drip blood.

Ge Chen took a deep breath, thinking, “Oh no, Marquis might be in trouble.”

Ge Chen, who had never lacked decisiveness, made a quick decision, raised his hand like a knife, and swung it diagonally across Chang Geng’s neck, causing him to lose consciousness.

On this day, the usually stable Imperial City experienced the bloodiest battle in its history. The Emperor took the lead, and the General died in the flames of war. Everyone was pushed to a desperate situation, and finally, when the city walls collapsed, the reinforcements arrived.

The experiences and composition of this reinforcement were too complex to describe in a few words. It was led by Southwest Commander Shen Yi, and the long-retired General Zhong personally joined in to support him. Mixed in were also a small group of Jiangnan naval forces - remnants gathered by Yao Zhen after the defeat in the East Sea War.

The Western army, seeing the situation was lost, was forced to retreat.

Nearly forty percent of the court’s appointed officials perished under the collapsed city walls. Li Feng’s Red Kite completely lost control. Shen Yi didn’t have eagles in his hands, so he sweated profusely as he used a steel cable to shoot a white rainbow onto the railing, deploying dozens of heavy armors. It wasn’t until midnight that they finally managed to lower Emperor Long’an, who had been suspended in mid-air.

The entire Beida camp, including its commander, was almost entirely wiped out in this battle.

Gu Yun was dug out from a Western war chariot. Several of his ribs were broken, and at first, almost no one dared to touch him as his wounds started to bleed.

Finally, General Zhong personally came over to take a look, saying, “He won’t die that easily. If he dies, I’ll compensate.” Then he sent a few military doctors to fix Gu Yun onto a wooden frame and carried him away.

The entire palace searched for a few thousand-year-old ginseng roots and intermittently used them to sustain his life for three days. Several times, it was almost over, but they finally awaited the return of Chen Qingxu, who rushed back from thousands of mountains and rivers outside the pass.

She ran several horses to death, and after arriving in the capital, she didn’t sleep for a whole night. She managed to snatch back a stable Marquis from the King of Hell.

When Gu Yun woke up for the first time, it was dusk. His eyelids could only faintly sense the light coming in through the window, but he didn’t have the strength to open his eyes. The intense pain had already struck.

He didn’t die, but Gu Yun wasn’t particularly relieved. Instead, he was inwardly alarmed first—had the capital fallen? Where was he now?

He struggled fiercely while still in a daze, and someone grabbed his hand.

That person leaned close to his ear, as if aware of his worries, and said, “The reinforcements have arrived. It’s okay… The capital is safe.”

The familiar scent of calming incense enveloped him, and Gu Yun’s consciousness only held on for a moment before falling into a coma again.

In this dazed and heavy state, it took several days for Gu Yun to truly wake up. The effects of the medicine had long worn off, and he was blind, unable to hear or see.

With some difficulty, Gu Yun blinked his eyes and saw a blurry figure by his bed. He identified it as Chang Geng through his sense of smell.

His mind was in chaos, and a pile of questions flooded in without any order: How many people were left in Beida camp? Where did the reinforcements come from? Whose troops were they? Where did the Western army retreat to? How is the Emperor?

Chang Geng carefully dipped some water and fed it to him. Gu Yun instinctively reached out to touch, unknowingly aggravating one of his wounds, causing intense pain throughout his body.

“Okay, okay,” Chang Geng said by his ear. “General Shen has returned, and Master is here. Don’t worry so much. Take a rest.”

Gu Yun: “…”

He took a deep breath and calmed down, feeling pain throughout his internal organs.

Anding Marquis used to complain about his own “woeful and sickly body” and lamented that there had been no long-lived individuals in the Gu family for three generations. He always believed he had a “short-lived beauty.” Unexpectedly, not only was his own life not short, but it was also remarkably tough—he hadn’t died even in such a state.

Gu Yun opened his mouth, wanting to call out “Chang Geng,” but after several days of unconsciousness due to his severe injuries, he couldn’t produce any sound.

Suddenly, his face was touched, and Gu Yun felt a hand holding his chin, the calloused fingertips gently brushing his lips, creating an indescribable ambiguity.

Chang Geng sat by the bedside. If Gu Yun could see clearly at this moment, he would have noticed that Chang Geng was only haphazardly wearing half of his clothes, his hair disheveled, and his shoulders, neck, arms, and even his head were filled with needles. He was like a refined hedgehog, sitting stiffly on the edge of the bed, every movement difficult, and his face devoid of any expression. His facial expressions of joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness were all sealed off by the needles, unable to cry or smile. He had to maintain a blank expression, resembling a handsome adult doll.

Despite this, there were still traces of redness in his eyes.

In the past few days, Chang Geng had experienced several episodes of his Wugou bone flaring up. Chen Qingxu had no choice but to forcefully seal the toxins with needles, turning him into a straw man.

The straw man spoke in a faint voice that only he could hear, “If something like this happens again, I’ll truly go mad, Zixi.”

Gu Yun: “…”

Although he hadn’t heard what Chang Geng had said earlier, the sensation on his lips reminded him of the unfortunate incident on the city wall. For a moment, Gu Yun felt like howling—who could have imagined that he would have to live and face this!

And so, General Gu turned into a towering human stick, frozen from the neck down.