They finally arrived at the Garrison West Royal Territory; the checkpoints everywhere had influenced their travelling schedule.
On this day, the four of them arrived at a County about a hundred miles away from the Purple Cloud Town. After stopping for a snack, they were about to leave the County to head to the Purple Cloud Town when they saw a giant checkpoint had been set up along the official road. They had blocked all the horses and carriages to the sides.
Each of the guards who were overseeing this checkpoint were elite warriors above Stage Six or Seven of the Genuine Force. The leader of the guards even had the strength of a Stage Nine!
In a Subordinate Country like the Ba Shu, such a figure had been sent here to guard the checkpoint?
Qin Wushuang and the other three people in his group were stopped outside the checkpoint. Two guards walked up and shouted: "Where did you four come from?"
Qin Wushuang answered without hurry: "We are people from the West Chu, here to collect some herbs."
"West Chu?" One of the guards revealed a suspicious look, "Recently, our Ba Shu has imposed martial law. It’s difficult to let foreign merchants enter. You four, do you have any identification papers?"
"Papers? We never heard about identification papers being required whilst coming here." Qin Wushuang knew that he was bluffing from his expression.
Zhou Fu felt somewhat impatient. She gave Qin Wushuang a look indicating that she did not want to tangle with these little characters. They were mighty representatives from the Stargaze Palace, naturally, they felt out of place when these little guards interrogated them.
However, Qin Wushuang did not care about Zhou Fu’s look as he said politely: "Brother, could you please ask your boss to come over?"
"It’s no use asking for our boss. To pass the checkpoint, you must have identification papers."
"Naturally, we have the proof we can show your boss." Qin Wushuang said lightly. As he spoke, he unleashed some of his power and intimidated that person with his spiritual pressure.
That person could not help but take a few steps back and called out: "Boss, a few of these people will only show their papers to you."
That Stage Nine elite warriors opened his bell-sized eyes and walked over in large strides: "Who are these people?"
When he walked over, he saw Qin Wushuang and the four others riding on the horses. Each of them revealed a light expression as if they did not put him, a Stage Nine warrior in their eyes. He could not help but feel some anger inwardly as he shouted: "Where did you lot come from? You are not going to step down from your horse before the checkpoint?"
If he hadn’t seen that Qin Wushuang and his people possessed some bearing, he most likely would have cursed at them.
Suddenly, Qin Wushuang twisted his body and stepped down from the horse. He flashed before the person and handed him an object. Next, he used his Spiritual Qi to carry the sound into his mind: "Look at this object, don’t speak out loud."
That person murmured with his lips and took it. As he looked at it, his bell-sized eyes almost exploded out of his eye sockets. Turning pale with fright, he covered that object and looked again carefully.
The National Scholar Command Plate of the Great Luo!
Even if he had no pupils, he still would have recognized this object!
The legendary National Scholar Command Plate!
Again, he raised his head to look at Qin Wushuang who still had an expressionless face. Inwardly, he drew a breath of cold air and knew that this person was not ordinary.
"No need to make a big deal, don’t feel surprised. Do what you are supposed to do. Don’t expose our identities. We have orders to investigate some matters."
That leader felt lightened and relieved. He handed back that National Scholar Command Plate respectfully a
nd cleared his throat: "Since you have all the necessary papers, you guys can go. Since you are good merchants, I will authorize you a travel pass. You can use it freely at all the checkpoints."
This leader had quick reactions. While he spoke, he had finished the business. In a moment, a travel pass with the stamp from the Zhen Wu Holy Place of the Ba Shu had been made.
Qin Wushuang smiled bitterly. As he looked at the stamp of the Zhen Wu Holy Place, he knew that among all the major Subordinate Countries, the Zhen Wu Holy Place had the absolute authority. They were similar to the Stargaze Palace in the Great Luo Empire.
With this travel pass, it would be useful everywhere.
When Qin Wushuang took that travel pass, he asked in a low voice: "Why are you guys setting up all these check points along the way?"
That captain said with surprises: "You don’t know about it?"
"We are only to investigate some missing persons, but we don’t know what has happened in the Ba Shu."
The muscle on the face of this leader trembled lightly. His lips quivered and in the end, he shook his head with a bitter smile: "Dear Scholar, this time, something big has happened to the Ba Shu. You will know when you get to the Purple Cloud Town. It’s hard to explain in a few words, please go and take a look."
Seeing him acting this way, Qin Wushuang did not force him and nodded: "Ok, we will find out at the Purple Cloud Town."
He called out to Zhou Fu and the others: "Let’s go."
After they were let go from the checkpoint, with the travel pass, they easily passed through the subsequent checkpoints. Whenever the leader of the checkpoint looked at the travel pass, they could not help but size Qin Wushuang up from head to toe with shock. In their expression, there were obvious respect and to some extent, fear.
Qin Wushuang looked at that travel pass and did not see any special traits. However, from their expression, they seemed to know his identity. Or else, they would not have all be looking at him with the same strange expression.
Carrying with him many doubts, finally, Qin Wushuang and the others arrived at the legendary Purple Cloud Town.
The current Purple Cloud Town had none of the rumored prosperity and liveliness. On the contrary, as they walked through the streets, they only saw a scattered mess and wild plants.
"What is happening?" Zhou Fu said with an astonished tone, "Is this really the Purple Cloud? Didn’t people say this is a thousand-year-old ancient town with a size comparable to a County? How come it appears to have gotten looted by bandits, and more than once?"
As they kept walking forward and passed by several streets, everywhere appeared to be in a ruin. It seemed everyone had escaped from this place. Nothing was left in the shops. Not to mention human beings, there was not even a sign of a chicken or a dog.
"So weird." Even Lü Teng could not help but sigh.
Suddenly, Qin Wushuang stopped to look in the distance. About four or five miles away, a plume of thick smoke rose to the sky. Only a blazing fire could cause such thick smoke.
"Someone is there, let’s go look." Qin Wushuang rushed the horse toward the origin of the smoke.
When they approached, indeed, a conflagration had reached the heights of the sky in the far away wastelands. It carried a thick and rolling smoke. Around the blazing fire, groups of people were lying prone—dead people!
Each of these dead persons conveyed a spectacle too horrible to endure. Each of them seemed to have suffered a different type of death. They were either covered in festering wounds, blisters, were lacking an arm or leg or had their bodies torn apart. Some even had their five major organs being absorbed by something…
To someone in the Upper Sky like Zhou Fu, even she could not help but feel her blood run cold. Although those people who were burning the bodies appeared to be well-trained martial artists, the longer the burning continued, the more people ran the side to vomit. They seemed to be vomiting out all their internal organs.
Those who endured it were in grief and indignation. Their entire bodies could not help but tremble as they were shocked by this devastating scene.
Just as Qin Wushuang and the others started to approach, they were stopped by a group of martial artists dressed in the clothing of the Zhen Wu Holy Place. They shouted: "Those who have no business here, do not step any closer. It’s dangerous!"
Qin Wushuang could not help but ask: "Brave warriors, what happened to this Purple Cloud Town? Why are there so many corpses?"
"Go away, if you don’t want to catch the evil influences, just go back to wherever you are from. This is no place for ordinary people."
Those martial artists also started to drive other people away.
With this large number of deaths, for sure, there would be some evil influences to the extent of a plague. Naturally, they must stop everyone from coming closer. Or else, it would create a disastrous problem if they catch the evil influences and bring about the plague.
"Who is the person in charge?" Qin Wushuang frowned slightly.
"Person in charge? It’s Ba Liming, the second Martial Saint of our Ba Shu."
"Where is Ba Liming?" Qin Wushuang had dealt with the two martial saints from the Ba Shu Country. It was not so long ago that he had stopped them midway and sent them back to the Ba Shu Country. Since Ba Liming was here, it would be easy to talk to him.
However, that martial artist could not help but become angered when he heard Qin Wushuang called the name of the Martial Saint: "Where are you from, you arrogant kid? How could you deserve to speak the name of the Martial Saint?"
Qin Wushuang asked with a tightened brow: "He is called Ba Liming, why can I not speak his name? Is he here? Please ask him to come out, just tell him that an old friend is paying a visit."
Hearing the words from Qin Wushuang, that martial artist sized Qin Wushuang up carefully and became somewhat suspicious. However, when he saw Qin Wushuang’s temperament, he did not dare to act out of his way.
He answered: "The Martial Saint brought two Great Honored Warriors to investigate the Green Jade Mountain. He has been gone for three days. He ordered me to burn all the tens of thousands of corpses in an open space. I must also bury the bones deep into the ground. Thus, I have set up checkpoints to prevent bystanders from approaching. How did you guys make it here, didn’t people stop you?"
Qin Wushuang said lightly: "Since we are here, we had our ways of getting here. It would be easier to talk when Ba Liming returns. Why are there so many corpses at this Purple Cloud Town?"
With a ashen face, that martial artist said with grief: "Who knows? In a mere three days, the tens of thousands of native citizens of the Purple Cloud Town died. All their fortunes were gone too. Fortunately, it happened during the holiday. If it had happened during the usual times, with all the travelling merchants, most likely the death toll would increase by another sixty or seventy percent."
While he spoke, a miserable cry emerged from afar. A martial artist with dishevelled hair ran madly from the distance. He cried out as he ran: "The Martial Saint… Martial Saint is dead!"
This martial artist carried a person. To put it precisely, he was carrying the remains of a corpse. It was because this corpse seemed to have been chewed by a monster as it was in a state of devastation.
This corpse was dressed in the clothing of a Martial Saint. From his appearance, Qin Wushuang clearly recognized that this corpse belonged to the second Martial Saint of the Ba Shu Country. He had a deep impression of this short, yet plucky person.
A Martial Saint of a country, and an elite Upper Sky warrior, had died in this Green Jade Mountain? And his death had appeared to have been this tragic? Inwardly, traces of doubt started to emerged in Qin Wushuang’s mind.