Five years ago, a corrupt official manipulated the emperor into executing his sworn brothers, leaving their children to roam through the country, each seeking peace with their past. After a chance encounter in Chen Liu, Ban Chao and Zhu Cheng team up to topple the drug lord who seeks to take control of the city. Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaolong’s anger about the past leads her to bury her emotions even while her magical powers encourage the gods themselves to choose her as their paladin. She rescues a young noble named Liu Yang from a pair of vicious bandits and teaches him how to survive on the jiang hu. Their friendship is put to the test when Xiaolong discovers he is the emperor’s youngest son. She confronts and sets aside her yearning for revenge to help save the emperor from the same scheme who brought about the death of her parents.
Three months after her adopted brother Liu Yang is crowned emperor, Zhang Xiaolong leaves the capital for the city of Chen Liu to visit friends. There, she meets Ban Chao and Zhu Cheng, immediately recognizing them as other survivors of the political bloodbath during which her own family perished. Xiaolong is torn between staying in Chen Liu to help untangle the misunderstandings stemming from that tragedy and returning to the palace to help Liu Yang and his friend Ma Kelan deal with the enemy Xiong Nu who are preparing to invade. To add to her headaches, someone is committing crimes in her name, putting her reputation as a fighter for justice at risk.
With the misunderstandings originating with the politically wrought bloodbath five years ago finally resolved, Xiaolong and her friends can finally get down to the business of defending the Middle Kingdom from the Xiong Nu invaders at their borders. Through the device of a competition, Xiaolong, Zhu Cheng and Ban Chao have themselves named generals so they can lead the army north and drive the nomads back. The young generals have numerical and tactical advantages but the greatest danger may come from dissenters within their own ranks. Liu Yang, only recently crowned emperor, and his friend Ma Kelan do their best to support the war effort from the palace but face constant distraction by scholar officials more interested in currying royal favor than doing their jobs. As time passes, the war effort takes a surprising turn and Xiaolong’s magic may be the only thing that can save the kingdom.
Three years after the defeat of the Trickster God’s demon army, Liu Yang’s kingdom is largely peaceful. So peaceful he and his friends are bored. When rumors of unrest and a potential rebellion reach them, they decided to leave the palace and head to the scene to investigate. Determined to get as much out of this vacation as possible, Xiaolong and the others take a roundabout route to their destination. Along the way, they encounter old friends as well as new and stir up about as much trouble as they help solve. Finally though, they arrive in Linzi, only to discover that this rebellion is much more extensive than they imagined. Far from the capital, they have to rely on new allies and their own ingenuity to put a stop to this movement, which they soon realize is led by an old enemy.