So far, the Azureriver Faction hadn't engaged in any combat yet but was ranked first. It seemed they were having it rather easy.
"There’s eight factions ahead of them, yet we’re their targets. Let's just lay low and wait. As long as they can't find us, we can come out on the last day to settle who the winner is," Jian Xueyi said magnanimously.
"Deal. It'd be ideal if Dragonmight loses even more people in the coming days," Fang Bihan said. "Come to think of it, who’s the person that’s made them lose a tenth of their troops?"
"I don't know."
At that moment, a rumbling was heard. Scouts immediately came to make their report.
"Faction Lord, some eighty thousand members of Dragonmight are heading toward Silverriver Valley!"
"They're coming after us directly? How’d they know we were here?" Jian Xueyi asked.
"Let's not overthink it. Hold them back as best you can! Retreat!" Zhao Yijue said.
There were five days left and Dragonmight's ranking was far lower than expected. While Swordking had allied with Azureriver for now, it wouldn't last beyond a few days. They would have to fight all the same.
"Retreat!" Jian Xueyi ordered.
"Apologies, you won't be able to escape. We were the ones who gave your position to Dragonmight," Fang Hongxuan said with a sudden smirk.
"Are you insane? You don't want the chance to take first place?" Jian Xueyi was flabbergasted. They had been conspiring on this for so long that they had talked about all sorts of contingencies even before the faction battles had begun.
"You were too foolish. Last time, we got second place and this time we stand a good chance for second again. With Dragonmight being so powerful and Xuanyuan Yufeng promising us so many things, why would I side with you to fight him?" Fang Hongxuan said.
"Jian Xueyi, you were too foolish. So what if you defeat Dragonmight here? After the faction battles, you'll still be oppressed by them all the same. Since you're so naive, the Azureriver Faction shall teach you this valuable lesson. We never stood a chance to take first place, so we'll take second and make sure you remain beneath us. That's a far better alternative," Fang Bihan said.
"Who's the foolish one? Do you think you'll really be able to keep second place once we fall? How can someone with so little foresight as you become a faction lord? To think that I actually bothered to conspire with you.... Dammit, if anything, I'm the fool for siding with you!" Jian Xueyi was fuming.
"Say what you want. Either way, Xuanyuan Yufeng's offer was far better than yours. Jian Xueyi, I personally can't stand you. Just wait, the Swordking Faction will be taking last place!" Fang Bihan said with a laugh.
"Oh, the vice faction lord is jealous that I look better than her, I see," Jian Xueyi said mercilessly. If only she had known their true character, she wouldn't have worked with them and ended up caught up in a pincer attack.
As they were speaking, Azureriver had already begun attacking Silverriver Valley. Only Fang Hongxuan and Fang Bihan had come to negotiate, so it would be easier for them to leave later. As expected, they immediately ran away.
"Don't bother chasing them down. Let's head back!" Jian Xueyi said as she led her troops back to Silverriver Valley.
"Faction Lord, we can't leave. Azureriver is attacking from the north and Dragonmight is coming from the south. Since we can't use the north entrance, we must head south, and we'll inevitably run into Dragonmight."
"What if we go from the skies?"
"We can't easily fly there either. They prepared in advance and climbed up the mountains on both sides. Up there, there’s nothing to cover us. We'll lose even faster if we fly," Zhao Yijue said.
"Then we have no choice but to hide," she decided. She felt rather bad, for this was her mistake. However, she was thick-skinned and open-minded enough to put that aside and do what she needed to right now.
"Heed my orders. We shall withdraw into a small formation and take hold of the river. We'll hold off against their attacks by using the terrain to our advantage. This was my mistake. I overestimated the Azureriver traitors' integrity, and I’ll take responsibility for it after the faction battles. However, we can't give up now. We must hold on! Even if Swordking loses, we'll make sure to skin them first! Neither Azureriver nor Dragonmight can win!" she announced in a voice filled with agitation.
"Yeeeaaaah!" Everyone cheered as they pointed their swords at the sky.
"If we sink, they sink with us!"
The faction battles defined much of their future. None of them would be tricked like this and take it lying down. They would make sure that nobody could get what they wanted.
"Dragonmight is ranked at ninth place anyway. They'll lose even more if they fight! There's no way Azureriver will remain unscathed either! If we fight fiercely enough, we'll take all three of our factions off the ranking!"
Usually, Dragonmight had a huge advantage in faction battles. In past battles, they would have already wiped out most of the small and intermediate factions by now and been ranked number one before they confronted Swordking and Azureriver.
"If Azureriver retreats instead of holding us here, a few of us can slip out, but they'll still be firmly in first place!"
"I never would've thought that Azureriver would do something so traitorous. Fang Hongxuan and Fang Bihan really are trash!"
The rest of the Swordking disciples were trying to console their bitter faction lord. They knew her ambitions and motivations well. Swordking had only really managed to take off because of her charisma and charm. There were many male disciples in the faction that wouldn't really be able to find it in themselves to blame her. Instead, they would only fight more fiercely and recklessly now that their situation was dire.
"We'll fight for Sister Xueyi!"
"That's right! We'll skin them for tricking us!"
"Nobody will get first place!"
As long as they used their Scarletflame Tomes in time, the risk of death was pretty low. Now that they had little left to worry about, their fighting spirits soared.
The fighters of Azureriver flooded into the valley while the disciples of Dragonmight to the south finally spotted their prey. They knew that Azureriver would betray Swordking and work with them to destroy Swordking, and were mad with fervor.
"All hail the faction lord!"
"Xuanyuan Yufeng is ruthless indeed!"
"I was wondering why the faction lord didn't execute any plans. Turns out it was here all along! He dealt with Azureriver beforehand and entrapped Swordking!"
"Jian Xueyi is truly a stubborn fool! To think that she fell for it...."
"Brothers and sisters of Dragonmight, let’s crush Swordking so hard they won't be able to lift their heads for the rest of the decade!"
"They should've worked with us like Azureriver did, yet they came to provoke us instead."
Countless self-important and proud folk came flooding into the valley from the south entrance. Soon, a chaotic battle ensued.Previous Chapter Next Chapter