Outside Tianming City, Ghoul King Si Ling simmered with rage. "Where's Fu You?!"
"Ghoul King Fu You gave chase when Li Tianming escaped north. When he returned, he heard that Li Tianming had gone to Fufeng City and rushed there. I am guessing that he should be there right now," said a third-origin tribulation elder.
"Was Li Tianming the only one who escaped from Tianming City?" she asked.
"And so many of you couldn't even stop a single person?"
"This...." The others didn't dare to say anything, but the unspoken implication was: wasn't Si Ling herself unable to chase him down?
"This brat's lifebound beast is shockingly fast. He's as slippery as a snake," Si Ling said with a sigh. She knew that Tianming was getting harder and harder to kill. Ever since the events in the Kilostar Domain, everyone was trying to kill Tianming and none had succeeded. The only time they’d had a real chance at killing him was when they caught him and brought him to the entrance of the domain. Now, he was causing them to vomit blood time and again.
"How many troops do we have gathered here?"
"Including those from Hexapath, we have over six million. More troops are still coming to join us."
"Have Fu You come back. Li Tianming is back at Tianming City, so the corpse puppets won't be of use any longer. When the other two ghoul kings get here, we'll start attacking the city! Our main priority is killing Li Tianming!"
"Have Ying Zi and Lan Yi come to see me too!"
When Si Ling passed Tianming as she chased Meow Meow down, Tianming poked his head out and saw Meow Meow return to the city safe and sound. Jian Wuyi and the rest had definitely prepared themselves for his return, so he knew it would be fine.
"If nothing goes wrong, Si Ling definitely thinks I'm back inside the city." He snuck away from where he was.
"Big Brother, with the corpse puppets now gone, they'll launch an attack on the city soon. Where are you going now?" Feiling asked.
"Back to Fufeng City."
"To save the six million captives?"
"Yes. As long as they’re in enemy hands, even if they won't get made into corpse puppets, the enemy will still use them as hostages to pressure us. Now that they think I'm back in the city, this is the perfect chance to save them." He flapped his wings and flew off toward Fufeng City as quickly as he could.
"There’s around a hundred thousand Nonahall troops there, but with Xian Xian, it won’t be that much of a problem."
"That's right. Most of them are only empyrean saints. While I can't take on too many of them in the short term, there’s six million people in the city. All they lack is a leader. With me there, they'll be able to work together to crush Nonahall's army. Right now, the enemy is focused on conquering Tianming City, so they only left a measly hundred thousand people to watch the captives."
That number was enough, if all they had to do was keep watch. Not to mention, according to their original plan, Ghoul King Si Ling was supposed to turn all twenty million captives of the four cities into corpse puppets.
"But where will they go after you lead the charge out of the city?" Feiling asked.
"We'll go north, I suppose. Maybe spread out a little. The enemy is too focused on Tianming City now, so they won't be able to spare men to chase them down. Once they break out of the city, they might as well be in the wilderness."
Most of the people of the south had gone north already. The ones who remained were those that loved their homes to death and couldn't bring themselves to leave.
"Now that they're occupied, and the nightmare soulworm is gone, this is the only way they'll survive." Tianming continued traveling toward Fufeng City at full speed.
"Wait, I see someone!" He hurriedly hid himself when he saw a large group approaching. "That's Ghoul King Fu You?"
The ghoul king was traveling with a group of personal attendants back toward Tianming City.
"Thank goodness I didn't run into him, or this chance would’ve been wasted." He breathed a sigh of relief and continued on, finally reaching his destination, and launched into a frenzy. The enemies would never think he would show up there again.
"Now that Meow Meow isn’t with us, I can't form a new samsara ring for a breakthrough, but that's fine. I'm powerful enough to take them on right now." He saw the six million captives, surrounded by the enemy soldiers and their lifebound beasts. Anyone that dared to run would be killed alongside hundreds of other innocents near them. It was a common sight to see cruel methods of crowd control like that; it wasn't that their captors were completely oblivious to the cruelty, but too many people had attempted to escape and they were already numb toward the prospect of killing them. The captives huddled together with fearful gazes, looking at their evil captors as they wondered what kind of horrible fate would befall them.
"I wonder if the imperial son is doing well...."
"He killed that worm and saved us. Pray the heavens will watch over him."
Their tears fell like rain.
"Daddy, will the imperial son come to save us?" the children asked.
"He will! Definitely!" Though, even he knew that the imperial son was in deep trouble. Despite knowing that the enraged Si Ling might take out her anger on them, the father still persisted and smiled to give his children hope. Many of them tightly hugged their wives and children in the corpse-filled city that was tainted with the scent of blood. The stench coming from the remains of the nightmare soulworm only made the smell worse.
"Behave yourselves! Anyone that dares take a single step will be roasted alive alongside those around them!"
"Huh, and they call themselves an Archaic House that has a history of over two hundred thousand years. What a joke. They're all weaklings."
To control the group of captives that was more than ten times their number, they chose the cruelest method. There were those that cut off limbs from belligerent captives and kicked their limbless torso around like balls. After the victim died, they tossed the body back into the crowd to sow terror among them.
"You’re lucky you don't have to become corpse puppets any longer! Now, your lives depend on the higher ups. If you’re lucky, you’ll be given a chance to change your ways to become peasants of the Nonahall Divine Realm. If not, you'll all be roast pigs!"
Sinister laughter spread throughout the hundred thousand troops.
All of a sudden, a red chain rampaged among the troops, piercing through beastmaster and lifebound beast alike. With a great swing, a large number of people collapsed.
"Who is this?!" they cried, shocked. Soon, some began to recognize Archfiend.
"It's Li Tianming's weapon!"
The captives were delighted to hear that and immediately turned to look at the white-haired youth descending from the sky. When he landed on the pile of corpses, they cheered as tears of joy flowed.
It had only taken a single person to give the entire city hope. The fervent gazes of all six million captives were cast on the youth, and the gigantic dragon, tree, and small bird next to him. The tree was rooted on the dragon's back, spreading its vines all across the area.
"People of Fufeng City!" Tianming yelled, "Join me and pave a path of blood out of here! A debt of blood can only be repaid with blood!"
Standing on Lan Huang's head, he charged toward the hundred thousand terrified troops. Wherever Archfiend flew, blood flowed! Lan Huang was like a huge killing machine, crushing the empyrean saints and their beasts like tofu, and Xian Xian's vines were able to whip and easily kill. The sight was like a shining beacon of hope for the citizens in their darkest moment.
"Quick! Follow the imperial son!"
"Everyone, join in!"
A riot ensued. There wasn't much Tianming needed to do, either. His might alone was enough to terrify the enemies into completely losing their fighting spirit. All it took was a path to be made for their captives to escape. The momentum of the six million stampeding people was terrifying indeed; Tianming marveled at the sight.
"They aren't even aware they could've escaped without my help. The combined power of the ten million folks in Tianming City was even able to crush the Hexapath Swordfiend. This just shows how important it is to have a leader!"
Under his leadership, the despairing citizens of Fufeng City all charged out of the north gate, only to be greeted with an endless plain. They were finally free.
"Goodbye, everyone! Head north!" he said while standing atop the gate.
"Imperial Son, aren’t you going to travel with us?" they asked.
"No, I have to return to Tianming City."
Now that he had done his deed, he felt much better. Captives were rather troublesome in war, as keeping watch on them required manpower. As such, crueler folks would just choose to massacre all of them and be done with it. But now, thanks to Tianming City's perseverance, the captives of the four fallen cities had a chance at life.
"Imperial Son, you will definitely succeed!"
Tianming could see how they worshipped him like a deity after he restored their human dignity. "I suppose being able to rescue millions of lives is a kind of good karma too."
But he didn't really care if he actually got good karma from it. He was doing what his heart commanded. Protecting the weak was the burden and responsibility of the strong, and he didn't stop there.
"Word of what happened here will no doubt reach Si Ling's ears. They'll definitely react to it, so I don't have much time left."
He immediately charged toward Liuyun City as quickly as he could.Previous Chapter Next Chapter