This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
Time continued to pass, and the temperature of the northern end of the continent continued to plunge, the world becoming blanketed in snow.
With each passing day, the situations of the various countries grew worse.
At this moment, in the northwest, to the north of Beiting, the distant Western Turkic Khaganate had become the center of attention.
The mood had turned strange and bizarre.
At this moment, around the Western Turkic holy mountain of Mount Sanmi…
Bitter winds howled across a vast steppe that had been turned into a sheet of white. Shepherds wearing thick fur capes were driving snow-covered and ill livestock to the south.
This sort of scene could be found all over the steppe.
As the weather grew colder and colder, both the livestock and the Western Turks themselves faced dire situations with regards to food and cold!
Each day, numerous people froze to death.
The empire was in great peril.
“Fourth Prince, we don’t have much time left!”
At the base of the mountain a chubby man looked into the distance as he rubbed his hands.
The man, wearing thick wool clothes and sporting a thick beard, was none other than horse merchant Hulayeg.
In front of him was a young Hu of unusual bearing. He wore black robes, on the back of which had been woven a blazing sun and a howling wolf. He was looking in a daze at the peak of Mount Sanmi. This was none other than the Western Turkic Fourth Prince that Wang Chong had once taken hostage, and his name was Barshad!
Ever since Agudu Lan’s death, Fourth Prince Barshad’s and Hulayeg’s statuses in the Western Turkic Khaganate had grown worse and worse. And as they both fell out of favor, they gradually began to draw closer and closer.
By now, Hulayeg had become the Fourth Prince’s close confidant.
“With this great snow, the Khagan will probably make his decision in a few days.”
Hulayeg looked through the snow at the summit as he spoke.
“The Khagan is growing more favorable to the First Prince with each passing day. Once the Khagan decides to ally with that side, we will completely fall out of favor.”
Hulayeg glanced at the Fourth Prince.
In the past, the Fourth Prince enjoyed immense favor, but ever since about one year ago, when the Khatun died, everything had changed.
First Prince Irbis Shiyun obtained Great General Wunu Shibi’s support and rose into Ishbara Khagan’s good graces. Slowly, he came to replace the Fourth Prince as the next Khagan.
As for Fourth Prince Barshad, his past connection with Wang Chong caused him to be rejected by the court and come to be regarded as part of the pro-Tang faction.
This was not a big deal in the past, but now, the court was rife with hidden dangers. The Western Turks had divided into two factions, pro-Youzhou and pro-Tang, and the struggle for supremacy was extremely vicious.
Since ancient times, the War of the Princes had always been the cruelest of conflicts. This was true not just for the imperial households of the Central Plains, but also for foreign courts.
The current situation indicated that the moment the First Prince took the throne, Fourth Prince Barshad and his entire faction would probably be pulled up by the roots and completely exterminated.
“I do not believe that Khagan would treat me that way!”
The Fourth Prince clenched his teeth as he looked up at Mount Sanmi, but his tone of voice betrayed his lack of certitude.
Hulayeg could only deeply sigh.
A new sovereign brought with him new officials. The Khagan had favored Barshad only because of the Khatun. With the Khatun dead, how could Ishbara Khagan possibly treat him the same way?
Galloping came from the direction of the summit.
Hooves kicked up snow from the surface of the mountain, drawing the pair’s attention.
“Is that Fourth Prince Barshad?” a voice boomed out.
“The Khagan has ordered the Fourth Prince to immediately enter his tent for an audience!”
Barshad and Hulayeg trembled. They glanced at each other, both seeing the solemnity in each other’s eyes.
Without another word, the two of them began to push their way through the snowstorm toward the summit.
At this moment, atop Mount Sanmi, within a giant tent…
Red chunks of charcoal burned within a giant bronze fire basin, hissing and crackling as sparks leapt into the air.
Muscular figures brimming with energy were gathered around the basin, their expressions grave.
“What’s the situation?”
Ishbara Khagan was seated cross-legged on a fine Sassanid rug as he sternly spoke.
One of Jiudu Fuluo’s subordinate generals lowered his head and solemnly said, “Your Majesty, the situation is even worse than we imagined. Great General Jiudu Fuluo has sent word that the snowstorms have completely ravaged the north. He tried to go past Lake Baikal and venture farther north to investigate the source of this cold wave, but when he was still seven to eight hundred li from the arctic forests, he could advance no farther.
“Great General Jiudu Fuluo tried many times to penetrate the blizzards, but the moment he got close, the Stellar Energy around his body would freeze into shards and his physical and mental energy would be rapidly consumed. If he did not turn back at once, he would have died on the spot.
“From what the Great General has said, it seems that only those at the Dark Radiant Heaven realm or above can penetrate that storm!”
Everyone else in the tent paled at these words, even Ishbara Khagan.
This furious cold wave had placed the empire at risk of extinction. Thus, Jiudu Fuluo had been dispatched to see what was going on. No one had expected that someone of Jiudu Fuluo’s cultivation would fail to penetrate through the cold wave.
And the reason he had sent a messenger was most likely that he had been badly injured during his mission.
A peak Great General had been heavily injured in the cold wave?
How was that possible?
Just how extreme was this cold that would injure a Great General and make it difficult for him to promptly retreat?
This fact left everyone in disbelief.
For a moment, the tent was silent from the shock.
The fate of the empire was at stake, so Great General Jiudu Fuluo would not possibly lie!
A true calamity!
At this moment, everyone recalled the Western Turkic ‘prophecy’ of apocalypse that had been circulating around the Great Steppe for thousands of years. A normal winter would never reach such a terrifying level. This could only be explained by that prophesied calamity.
Everyone’s hearts turned heavy.
After a long daze, Ishbara Khagan finally spoke.
“How are Great General Jiudu Fuluo’s injuries?”
Putting aside the cold wave, Jiudu Fuluo’s situation was of utmost importance. Jiudu Fuluo wasn’t the strongest in the Western Turkic Khaganate, but he was the most loyal. This was why Ishbara Khagan had sent him to the north.
“The Great General’s injuries are not light, and he is still recovering in the north. It will be some time until he can return,” the general Jiudu Fuluo had dispatched respectfully said.
Ishbara Khagan let out a sigh of relief. Though he could not return to Mount Sanmi yet, at least his life was not in danger.
“Given the current situation, how long can we last?” Ishbara Khagan asked.
“The cold wave is continuing to move south. Based on the speed of the blizzard at Lake Baikal, it will take eight days at most until it reaches the northern edge of the Great Steppe, and then for Mount Sanmi… it won’t be much longer!” Jiudu Fuluo’s subordinate firmly said, his eyes scanning the crowd.
The faces in the tent turned even gloomier, and Ishbara Khagan’s eyes started to twitch.
The Western Turks had already suffered devastating losses to this extremely cold weather. Numerous livestock and shepherds had frozen to death, and his scouts were saying that the cold wave was continuing to move southward. If the cold weather over Lake Baikal descended on the Western Turkic Khaganate, their empire had a chance of being wiped off the face of the continent.
This cold wave was far more serious than he had imagined!
A Western Turkic general finally broke the silence and called out, “Your Majesty, we can wait no longer! If this continues, the very existence of the Western Turkic Khaganate will come into question!
“Our first priority should be to quickly ally with An Yaluoshan!
“All of the other countries are in dire straits. Only the Great Tang is calm and peaceful, barely suffering any impact from this cold wave. They’ve also stockpiled large amounts of food. This is the only chance for the rest of us.
“The Great Tang is simply too powerful, and at a time like this, they won’t be coming to help us. Only by joining with Youzhou and the other countries, combining our strength, and then attacking the Great Tang, can we avoid this calamity and preserve our Western Turkic Khaganate!
“This is the only solution!”
Even a Great General like Jiudu Fuluo had been wounded by the cold. Once the cold wave came in earnest, how many people in the Western Turkic Khaganate would survive?
“That’s right! Your Majesty, we can’t delay any longer. Speed is paramount in war, and allying with the other countries is the only way out!
“And think about that prophecy. The south is our only chance at survival!”
The other generals and governors voiced their agreement.
Besides calamity, the prophecy of the Great Steppe had also talked about ‘survival’.
No one knew when this prophecy began to circulate, but it truly did mention that the south was the only chance at survival.
At this moment, the flapping of wings came from outside. A few moments later, a large gyrfalcon flew through the snowstorm and into the tent.
Everyone immediately turned to the bird.
A general came forward to receive the gyrfalcon, removed the letter, and glanced at it.
“Your Majesty, a letter from Youzhou.”
The mood in the tent instantly turned strange.
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