Chapter 236: Conclave of the Lords
Moving through the castle, Hui Yue was taken aback by the sheer amount of guards standing in the hallways. Just near the library where the conclave was to take place, Hui Yue went past at least a thousand guards, and all of them were either Emperors or late stage Kings.
Seeing this many guards in the castle, and all the guards wearing various uniforms, Hui Yue understood just how important this conclave was. For so many guards to be protecting the castle, not even Zhong Fai would personally enter the castle as it was now. Sixty-four Saints and countless Emperors and Kings were walking these halls making it the safest place on the entire continent right now.
Astonished by the vast number of guards, Hui Yue quietly followed behind the two experts picked him up, and they slowly made their way to the library. Standing outside, Hui Yue felt how his palms were moist from sweat and his heart was beating erratically as the door in front of him opened incredibly slowly.
The library no longer looked the way it had before. There were not just a few chairs in the middle, instead a long table was placed there with sixty-five chairs, sixty-four of which were filled with beasts.
As soon as the door opened, everyone around the table turned their gaze towards him. At that moment, his heart almost stood still as he saw the various eyes staring at him. There were snake eyes, cat eyes, human eyes, eyes which seemed to belong to bears, horses, and some lions. Some eyes were red, others green. The only thing all of them possessed was curiosity and some held slight admiration.
In the hands of all the Saints was sheet after sheet of paper, on which the Art of War had been written. During the last few days, Wan Qiao ensured that there was a copy of the Art of War for each and every one of the experts. By the time Hui Yue arrived, they had already received a copy and had read through it.
To see that the writer was such a young man, a young man who was clearly only a Duke was something which astonished all these Saints.
“Come closer,” Wan Qiao finally said and with automatic steps, Hui Yue moved towards the One-Horned Jasmine Eagle. His reaction showed no hesitation, but his eyes slowly roamed past each and every beast in front of him. Out of all these beasts, Hui Yue had only seen two of them before, Wan Qiao and Lord Pan.
Lord Pan was seated right next to Wan Qiao, and as Hui Yue’s eyes roamed across the man, he gave a slight nod of greeting. Looking at the rest, Hui Yue was astonished to see that some of the lords were more beastly while others looked completely human. Everyone within the library was staring at Hui Yue as he slowly sat down at the table in the empty chair by Wan Qiao’s side. Not a sound could be heard. Everything was completely quiet, so quiet that the sound of a needle hitting the floor would be clearly heard.
Hui Yue, feeling slightly odd having all these eyes focused upon him, sat down. His calm eyes answering all the stares, and everyone saw that he had a peaceful demeanor and that there was nothing arrogant about him. Silence prevailed within the room as no one spoke a word, and while everyone was looking at one another a smile was growing on Wan Qiao’s face. Seeing that none of the lords instantly started saying that Hui Yue had no place amongst them, she felt a great sense of relief. If she had to fight for everything, including his right to sit down, then it would be much harder to get her thoughts shared with the others.
Clearing her throat, Wan Qiao stood up. In her hands were the papers on which the Art of War was written down. The paper everyone within the room had a copy of and had read through.
“My fellow lords!” Her voice boomed, disrupting the silence in the room, and cutting to the bone. Every lord changed their gaze from Hui Yue to the woman who stood up and made her introduction. “We have lived within Shenyuan for years on end. Thousands of years have passed since the time where we could roam the outside world without fear for our safety, without having to masquerade as humans. Thousands of years have passed while our species has been locked inside Shenyuan, forced to feed off other magical beasts, daring not to venture outside our borders.”
“Year after year I have been sitting within this castle, waiting for the sign, waiting for the thing which would make it possible for us to seize back what belonged to us in the first place. The key that would let us leave these wretched forests and see flat land amongst other beasts.”
“This happened earlier this year when this young man appeared! Hui Yue is one of my friends. He is both human and beast; a person caught between two worlds. He saw how we beasts have suffered within Shenyuan’s borders, and he provided me with the Art of War.”
“This Art of War was created by Master Sun, a deity which appeared in our plane some years back. He took a liking to this young man and passed on some of his knowledge. This book is a masterpiece when it comes to warfare; it includes the strategies which is a subject we beasts are weak in!”
“This Master Sun also left tactics and other things with Hui Yue. This young man is well-versed in the art of warfare; he is someone who can lead our troops of Shenyuan into another kingdom. We do not need to return to the world as it was before, we will be satisfied with one more kingdom where our descendants can spread their legs. Where they can see a different view and eat something other than magical beasts!”
“What do we have to fear? I know, there is a chance that An He could appear, but he vanished more than a thousand years ago. Why would he care about the rise or fall of a kingdom! He has anything he could want. Zhong Fai? No need to fear him, he already sent a messenger to announce that as long as our friend Hui Yue visits him eventually, then he will stay out of this war. With Zhong Fai gone and a promise that his Frozen Brigade will not make a move, should we really fear An He’s wrath?!”
“Yes, our troops are no soldiers, but we have Hui Yue! Let him train these cultivators until they become soldiers. Let them follow his tactics! We have both the Art of War and strength on our side. We will be undefeatable!”
“However, for this to occur we need to concede to something. Hui Yue is a half human, and his wish is for us to meet the troops of the Siban Empire. For us to fight their army and their army alone. He does not want us to massacre the human villages we come across. Humans and beasts are to live side by side! That some humans will be eaten, this cannot be helped. But to exterminate all humans in the empire? Hui Yue is against this. Let humans and beasts live side by side, or let the humans migrate should they choose. Should they run into wild magical beasts on the way, then Hui Yue understands that he cannot save them.”
“Wait!” One of the lords finally interrupted Wan Qiao, and he stood up. This man was at least three meters tall. His entire body looked awkward as it was pressed into one of the small chairs but now when he stood up, his full size was displayed. His body was strong, and a tail was visible behind him. His eyes were cat-like and red, fierce and powerful.
“You say we are not to hunt the humans, how are we to take over a kingdom if we do not hunt humans? Young one, I understand your ideals, but this is warfare; we cannot be kind!”
Looking at Hui Yue, Wan Qiao made no gesture to answer on the white-haired young man’s behalf. With a sigh, Hui Yue stood up ready to answer the man in front of him.
“I am aware that we cannot take over the country without spilling the blood of humans. I just wish that after we have taken over the kingdom, there will not be mass hunts on humans. Should humans try to enslave the beasts, should they try to kill them, or should they not be willing to concede their land to the beasts, to live with them side by side, then, at least, I gave them a chance. Should they do any of those things then so be it. I will not stand against you while you take revenge. But slaughtering of innocents I will not condone.”
Hearing this, a murmur could be heard within the room as the lords were speaking with one another, considering if this one condition was one they could accept.
“Why do we need you now that we already have the Art of War?” One of the lords asked. A woman who was fairly short with eyes like a snake. Her demeanor was arrogant, and she looked at Hui Yue with eyes of curiosity, but also disdain. For her, Hui Yue had already given his worth. He was no longer of any use in the eyes of this snake-woman.
“That may not be the case,” Hui Yue said, his voice clear and his eyes bright. Although he was talking to a Saint, he never flinched nor did he show any sign of discomfort or fear, “I have gifted you all the Art of War, that is true; however, this is only one part of leading an army, of fighting the war. Currently, you have an amazing amount of guards however they are just that guards, not soldiers. I am the one who can change them into soldiers, ready for war. I am the one who has the tactics needed for warfare. You may consider my potential limited, but I am the one you are going to want, should you wish to win this war with the least amount of casualties.”
Hearing the self-confidence within Hui Yue’s voice, all of the lords were taken aback, especially the one who first questioned him. She never expected that a mere Duke, and even more a half human half beast would be capable of standing against her like this. A smile appeared on her face, and she nodded her head as a sign of having accepted the answer he gave to her.
“Let us take a short break to discuss the information and its consequences,” Wan Qiao’s voice once more sounded throughout the room. She waved her arms, showing that within the library many small places had been placed with chairs, tables, and refreshments. This allowed for the lords to mingle and move from one corner to another, discussing what they wished to discuss with whom they needed to.
Seeing this, all the lords stood up and slowly arranged themselves in the small cozy places set up for them to chat at. Some places had two or three lords seated while other places had ten or more lords sitting together, conversing about the news.
Everyone knew that Wan Qiao wished to talk about the subject of war, but none of them had known that she had this many things prepared. However, although they had known that Wan Qiao was planning on speaking about a war, none of them expected that she had the Art of War or a deal with the Frozen General.
However, the Frozen General and their plans and tactics were not their biggest worry. What the lords truly worried about was An He. No one knew if he planned on participating in the war. If he was to fight against them, then it was likely that he alone could remove their entire army of Saint ranked experts.