Chapter 526 - Zhang Yi and Bai Qi
The barren mountain where Wu Qi had bumped into Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die was inside the territory of Mu Province, one of Great Yu's ninth-grade provinces.
It was a fairly young province which was inaugurated less than one hundred years ago. It had a total population of fewer than ten million people, among which, about one million lived in its administrative center, while the rest in various cities and villages. The city with the greatest population was never more than one hundred thousand people, as most of them lived in villages. It was a typical lower level province which had a vast territory with a sparse population and low yields. However, its natural resources were as rich as all the other bigger provinces.
Just three hundred miles eastward of this barren mountain was a little city called Six Rivers City.
Six great rivers went passing around the little city and converged into a great lake right next to it, before pouring into one massive river which rushed straight eastward like an arrow. The Six Rivers City was built on a plain beside the great lake. It was a fertile land, and the city was occupied by nearly sixty thousand people. Nearly one hundred villages were scattered across the land outside the city, with over ninety percent of the villagers working in the farmlands.
Wu Qi was leading Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die to the Six Rivers City through the main road. He had told them that with their prestigious status and the beautiful features of Fairy Xuan Die, they should not be punished by staying in the wilderness. They should find a comfortable lodge in the city, having dozens of maidservants taking care of their needs.
Both Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die had been living a comfortable life. They could barely endure the life of the refugee that they went through over the past three months, roaming from place to place. Hence, they were tempted by Wu Qi's suggestion. On top of that, as both of them were severely wounded, they did need to stay in a better environment so they could heal. Therefore, they agreed to the suggestion, and followed him all the way to the Six Rivers City.
Wu Qi had also told them that it was almost impossible to encounter any Immortal cultivators in the wilderness of a ninth-grade province, so they would not be able to find a target to rob. So, instead of trying their luck and waiting there for some Immortal cultivator, it would be wise for them to just rob the local authority of Six Rivers City. Every couple of years, it was a custom for the provinces, counties, cities, and towns of Great Yu to gather a great deal of offerings and send them over to the Imperial Clan. There would certainly be many energy stones and immortal stones found in Six Rivers City's treasury.
Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die nodded and praised him for that idea. They believed they had Wu Qi's life in their hands, as he was only a Nascent Soul cultivator, and would not do something to harm them. And so, they let Wu Qi decided their next course.
Along the way to the Six Rivers City, Wu Qi was observing the surrounding sceneries with curiosity. Six great rivers had injected their water into the great lake next to the city at different spots. The city sat firmly beside the lake, with a distance of three miles between them. The land was fertile outside the city. Farmlands stretched thousands of miles into the distant horizon and beyond, among which, hundreds of villages were dotted sparsely. Uncountable farmers were working laboriously in their respective farms.
Wheat stood breast-high, rippling like waves when the winds blew, sending forth the fragrance of crops that caressed his face and swirled around him. He took a deep breath, feeling all freshened up. Off in a distance, several hundred Long Bo men were seen running across the farmlands with plows in their hands, digging deep into the soil and sending dirt flying in all directions. They were followed by many farmers who sprinkled seeds into the plowed soils. It was a busy scene.
Thousands of feathermen were wheeling above the sky happily. Some had flutes in hands, playing sharp tunes that scared the birds away. With them guarding in the sky, no birds dared to come pick away the seeds on the ground. It seemed that the City Lord of Six Rivers City had made the best possible use of men, as everything here appeared to be well organized.
But, there was something that puzzled Wu Qi. Apart from these people who were working in the farmlands, in the opening between the farms, he saw groups of young adults practicing martial arts in a serious manner. Their punches were as swift as wind, and so strong that each punch produced a loud pop in the air. And, when they stamped their feet on the ground, Wu Qi could clearly see that the earth underneath their feet raise a few inches tall waves. It told him that each of their steps came with a force of at least thousands of kilograms.
Quietly, he exercised the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture, injecting a wisp of purple energy into his Mystic Eyes of Universe and gave the youths a glance. What he saw startled him.
All the young adults, who were practicing in groups of at most twenty men and at least five to six men, each had wisps of purple energy rushing into their bodies. Obviously, they were practicing some cultivation technique specific to the human race, something similar to the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture. He counted at least ten thousand of them along the way to Six Rivers City. It was definitely not the size of a force which this little city was supposed to have.
Wu Qi had a rough understanding of Great Yu's military system. For a great province such as Zhong Province, the ratio of soldiers to ordinary civilians was roughly one to five hundred, and up to one thousand. And, for those low-grade provinces with a smaller population and lesser yields, the ratio was usually one to over one thousand. Sometimes, they only drew one soldier from among five to six thousand civilians.
After all, the soldiers who practiced the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture were not the same as ordinary people. They had a mighty strength that could allow them to carry a mountain on their shoulders. When they went into an advanced stage, toppling the mountains and overturning the seas was just a piece of cake for them. Therefore, the peace and order of a place could be easily maintained with just a few soldiers, who all had the strength required to handle the disasters caused by some savage beasts.
The total population of Six Rivers City, including all the people who lived in the hundreds of villages outside of it, was about two hundred thousand. Although it only had such a small population, it actually had nearly ten thousand soldiers who were practicing martial arts and absorbing the purple energy! The ratio was a shocking one to twenty! This could never be an official act carried out by the Great Yu's authority. Unless the City Lord of Six Rivers City was planning a revolt, he had no reason to recruit so many soldiers.
Then again, how could one revolt with only ten thousand soldiers? Was this just a jest or a fool's act?
Wu Qi stared at the soldiers with consternation. He sensed the entire Six Rivers City being shrouded in a bizarre air.
The couple had given those young adults a brief glance, and they could not help but smile scornfully. The strongest among them were merely as strong as a Nascent Soul cultivator, weaker than an ant and could never trouble them. So, they did not think further beyond what they saw, and did not discover the unusualness hidden behind the high ratio of soldiers.
Wu Qi led the way with long strides, bowing his head slightly as he pondered over the reason behind the strange discovery. But, despite what the Six Rivers City was trying to achieve, he had Fairy Xuan Die following behind him, a Gold Immortal who had the strength to strike a deadly blow. On top of that, he was very confident in his ability to flee for his life, so he did not worry that he would run into a life-threatening situation in the city.
Without exchanging any words, Wu Qi brought the couple into Six Rivers City.
It was a small city enclosed in a wall measuring five miles in both width and length, standing less than twenty-five feet tall. The buildings in the city were mainly constructed with dirt and woods, and only the City Lord Mansion built in the center of the city was entirely made of huge rocks. The mansion was a black stone building which Wu Qi was familiar with, square, tall, and ancient, with a row of six stone pillars erected loftily before the main door. Huge bowls filled with fuel and flame sat atop the pillars, radiating a flickering green light that smeared half of the city green.
Right after stepping into the city, Wu Qi perceived something unusual immediately.
Almost at the same time, there were people giving him and his company a quick glance from inside the taverns, inns, shops, and different buildings along the streets. Their glances were fairly discernible, moving away as quickly as they came. No ill or killing intentions could be sensed from the glances, as if they were just casual glances from the pedestrians on the streets.
As mighty and prestigious as they were, Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die did not feel anything unusual from the glances. These people were too weak to raise the alertness in their heart.
But, Wu Qi found these glances very familiar. Back in those years when he was living on earth, the scouts who the Underhand Sect had sent out to gather information acted in the same exact manner!. He glanced back at where the glances had come from, and saw all the ordinary faces that one could easily skip. They looked honest and simple, just like the people around them!
Wu Qi laughed in his heart. 'How interesting! What is happening in this Six Rivers City?'
Outside the city, young adults recruited beyond the allowed ratio were going through military training, while the city was filled with secretly planted scouts. Why did the Six Rivers City look like this?
Wu Qi brought Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die further into the city along the main street, wondering where he could find a better inn or just stay in some civilian's residence, and how could he find gold, silver, and jewelry to cover the expenses. Suddenly, he saw a troop of men riding towards him.
The troop consisted of over thirty men, and the leader was a middle-aged man whose face was pale as if he had just recovered from a serious illness. He had a commanding appearance and a gallant face, but he looked extremely weary and spiritless.
He was followed closely by over thirty burly and strong, armored soldiers.
While Wu Qi found a few of the soldiers seemed familiar to him, the same few soldiers roared furiously, drew their swords, and swung off their mounts, striding towards Wu Qi with towering rage. "Since you are here, don't even thinking of going back!" One of them bellowed.
The roars had made Wu Qi come to a sudden realization. Back when he was fighting against the Qin Army in the depths of Meng Mountains, these few burly men were the captains who followed Bai Qi, the Prince of Wu'an of Great Qin. They were the captains from Great Qin! After forming his innate Chaotic Spirit Body, Wu Qi had forgotten to change his features, allowing them to recognize him now!
Wu Qi's eyes flickered, pondering how he was going to handle the situation. Suddenly, a few figures came dashing out from a tavern along the street.
An old man with an elegant bearing, clad in a long robe and a tall crown on his head, came forward while smiling as he said, "Back off! How surprised to see an old friend here! I'm pleasantly pleased!"
Wu Qi gave the old man a glance. Sure enough, he was an old friend, as he was none other than Su Qin's fellow disciple, the Prime Minister of Great Qin, Zhang Yi!
A man that stood next to Zhang Yi gave a cold snort as he waved his hand at the few armored soldiers. The soldiers drew back, standing respectfully off to the side. Wu Qi gave the man a quick look, who was clad in a black long robe and had a lion crown on his head. Bai Qi, the Prince of Wu'an of Great Qin... Apparently, he had met all the old friends here, the wise minister and ferocious general who wished nothing but to cut him a thousand times when they were in Meng Mountains!
Bai Qi came standing before Wu Qi, staring coldly at him as he said with a grin, "You do have an acute sense of smell, don't you? How did you find us here? Have you been following us all the while?"
Wu Qi knew what Bai Qi was asking. He wished to know if Great Yan's intelligence agency had been tracking Great Qin's activities. Wu Qi winked at Bai Qi and Zhang Yi, then cupped his fist and bowed respectfully to them while saying, "My name is Daoist Black Dragon. Seniors, I know you are generous. What happened in those years is just a misunderstanding. Why don't we just forget it? Haha, I see that Seniors have seized this Six Rivers City. Are you planning to establish a sect here?"
Both Zhang Yi and Bai Qi were taken aback, and they turned to look at Reverend Li Yang and Fairy Xuan Die at the same time.
Zhang Yi smiled. Elegantly, he took a step forward, cupped his fist, and bowed to the couple. "Fellow Daoists, may I ask where do you come from?"
The couple exchanged a glance. Then, Fairy Xuan Die walked smilingly forward, bowed gently to Zhang Yi and Bai Qi, and said, "My name is Xuan Die. My husband and I have met with a misfortune and are forced to seek refuge here. Please excuse our sudden visit!"
Before her words could fade, the middle-aged man sat atop his horse roared, "You evils from the outer heavenly realms! How dare you invade and occupy Great Yu's property? You will be punished by a thousand cuts and die in your boots!"
Fairy Xuan Die's beautiful face flickered.