Three months had passed since Wu Qi joined An He City's Military Court.
During these three months, he slept and ate with the new recruits, waking up at the same time and going through the toughest training with them. It had allowed him to smoothly become a part of the new recruits. And because of the strong overall strength he had shown, as well as his near-demonic charisma, he had become the chief of the Military Court!
At a word, his will was faithfully carried out by these honest and simple soldiers. Even the elite Scouting Officers who Yan Bugui had planted in the Military Court could not confront his commands. Therefore, after three months of time, Yan Bugui had simply called all his men back to the Punishment Court. He had decided to stop wasting his time in the Military Court, which now had become Wu Qi's territory, and just focused all his attention on managing his own affairs.
Meanwhile, Wu Qi had brought Zhu Linggong and his loyal subordinates under control using the most straightforward method, controlling their souls. At the same time, in order to keep an eye on them, he had openly planted many spies around them. The so-called County Governor of An Le County and the City Lord of An He City had completely become one of his puppets.
He would not give any chance to those with ill intentions to act. Although his methods were rather violent, they were straightforward and effective. When he had finally planted a wicked restrictive spell in Zhu Linggong's soul, as well as the people who worked for him, it was when he truly controlled the entire An Le County.
One morning, when Wu Qi had finished his routine training of kicking and rolling in the drilling ground with three thousand new recruits, he took a bath and changed into fresh, clean clothes. After that, he made six celestial fiend puppets transform into six ordinary soldiers and brought them to the Directorate of Celestials, which had been reconstructed in An He City. Just yesterday, the Master of An He City's Directorate of Celestials had sent someone to invite him for a meeting.
In the hierarchy of Great Yu Imperial Court, the Directorate of Celestials of a county city ranked the lowest among the others. Despite that, it still occupied a big piece of land in An He City, and the size of its building was just slightly smaller than that of the City Lord Mansion.
The building was a colossal palace constructed with large, black boulders, which gave it a touch of heaviness and ancientness. Four tall rock pillars were erected before the entrance. A big bowl rested atop each of the pillars, where green flame danced and soared tens of feet high, casting a faint green light that smeared half of the city. On both sides of the main door that measured sixty feet in height and twenty feet in width, there stood two rows of lower-grade Oracles, a dozen of them, who were clad in a long black robe made of burlap and a white, wooden crown.
This was the first time Wu Qi studied Great Yu's Oracles from such a close distance.
Their faces were deathly pale like that of a corpse, their bodies were thin and weak as if a puff of wind would have blown them away, and they had deep eyes that gleamed with a faint green and blue glow. Using fine white threads, images of a few stars were embroidered on their long burlap sleeves.
The common Oracles of Great Yu were classified into three ranks: Sun, Moon, and Star, while each rank was further divided into nine tiers. An Oracle's rank was identified by the pattern embroidered on his sleeve. And not only did the pattern represent his status, it was also a representation of his overall strength. Star Oracles were the weakest existences in the hierarchy of the Directorate of Celestials, who could be considered as apprentices. Their overall strength was roughly equal to that of a Gold Core to Nascent Divinity cultivator.
Moon Oracles were as strong as Heaven Immortals. When they exercised various mystic arts and used various talismans, they would possess an overall strength that allowed them to fight head-on against Heaven Immortals. Sun Oracles were as formidable as Gold Immortals. Yu Mu, the Master of Directorate of Celestials in Zhong Province, was a Sun Oracle.
As for those Oracles who were stronger than Sun Oracles, they often existed only in the headquarter of the Directorate of Celestials, right in the capital city of Great Yu. They rarely showed themselves in public, and were equivalent to the strategic power of the entire Great Yu Dynasty. Unless necessary, they would never leave You Xiong Plain.
The Oracles standing before him had only two to three little stars embroidered on their sleeves. It meant their overall strength was roughly at the level of peak-stage Gold Core realm to early-stage Nascent Soul realm. They were too weak to make a difference. Before they activated any bone talismans or exercised various mystic arts secretly taught among the human race, these Oracles weren't any better than an ordinary mortal.
Wu Qi gave them a cold glance as he ascended the flight of thirty-six steps that stretched out of the palace's entrance.
It was only when Wu Qi had ascended to the top of the steps that a youth came slowly out of the palace to greet him, whose sleeve was embroidered with six little stars. Without uttering a single word, the youth tucked his hands up his sleeves and brought them before his face as he bent forward slightly to offer Wu Qi a rather mysterious half-bow. Returning the gesture, Wu Qi cupped his fist toward the youth, then stared at him and did not speak a word either.
"Welcome, Your Excellency Tan Lang. Please follow me." The youth squeezed out a faint smile on his pale face, then spun and walked back into the palace through the massive stone door.
Wu Qi followed the youth with six soldiers behind him, whose true form were his celestial fiend puppets, as they marched into the Directorate of Celestials together.
They walked along a deep, long-drawn-out tunnel, made of huge rocks. There were only a few small oil lamps hung on the walls left and right, which cast a dull light to light up the tunnel. The visibility was very low, such that if an ordinary human were here, he would be unable to see further than thirty feet ahead. Also, the air in the tunnel was heavy and suffocating. It felt as if some sticky spider webs were drifting across the void around them. The place seemed like an ancient mausoleum.
After walking hundreds of feet down the tunnel, they came to an opening. A square hall that measured nearly one hundred feet in both width and length, and about three hundred feet in height, emerged before Wu Qi's eyes. A huge stone fire bowl was placed right in the center of the hall, inside of which, a pillar of green, cold flame was dancing wildly and nearly licking the ceiling. Countless figures could be vaguely seen flickering amidst this tens of feet wide flame pillar. Suddenly, whispers began to ring in Wu Qi's ears - the souls of the deceased people in the flame were trying to tell him something.
A strange force filled the hall like waves. It did not put pressure on anybody; instead, it came with a power to comfort one's mood, relax one's body and spirit, and fill one's mind with a temptation of sinking into a deep slumber and never wake up again. Wu Qi briefly studied the force and realized that it was the 'Dark Returning Force', which was the most mysterious, unfathomable force found within the Dao of Ghost and Deity he had learned from Princess Zhang Le. It was the force only the deceased Ghosts and Deities could have mastered, a force that belonged to the Hell.
He had long known that the Oracles of the human race could communicate with the Ghosts and Deities, and borrow their power. But, he was shocked to find that this grand hall managed to accumulate such a copious amount of the Dark Returning Force, and amazed by the various unimaginably queer mystic arts which these Oracles had mastered. The Dark Returning force was a force that even a Gold Immortal would not be able to get in touch with, yet these Oracles were able to master it easily.
The hall was strangely fashioned, with ancient images carved on its four walls. The images were of ancient people fighting various fierce beasts and foul Ghosts and Deities on Pangu Continent. Without exception, it was the human race who obtained the final victory in all of the images. A bloody, primeval, and violent pressure was being emanated from all the ancient carvings.
Upon hearing Wu Qi's footsteps, a handsome and elegant-looking youth walked out from behind the huge stone fire bowl. He was clad in a long dark robe made of fine burlap, and had a black jade crown sitting atop his head. With a warm smile on his face, the youth tucked his hands up his sleeve, brought them up before his face, and bent his body slightly to offer Wu Qi a half-bow.
Wu Qi cupped his fist to return the gesture. "Are you the Great Oracle of An Le County's Directorate of Celestials, Yu He?" he asked in a deep voice.
As he asked that, Wu Qi glanced at the youth's sleeve and saw three crescent moons. Clearly, the youth's overall strength had passed a lower-grade Heaven Immortal, and must have attained the power of a Twenty-seventh Tier Heaven Immortal at the least, or perhaps even higher. Unlike Star Oracles, as Moon Oracles indulged themselves in the force of Ghost and Deities for many, many years, their bodies had already been thoroughly soaked by the force. It allowed their bodies to possess some divine abilities, and were no longer weak and fragile like that of a mortal.
Any Gold Core cultivator could instantly kill a Nine-Stars Oracle with a sneak attack. But, it was impossible for a Heaven Immortal to assassinate a Moon Oracle. The power possessed by Moon Oracles went beyond the imagination of ordinary people. Also, when compared to the power possessed by Heaven Immortals, the power Moon Oracles possessed was even more mysterious and unpredictable, and was tougher to defend against.
The youth was a Three-Moons Oracle, and it was more than enough for Wu Qi to be on guard against him.
With a faint smile on his face, Yu He stood before the fire bowl and said softly, "Yes, I am Yu He, the Master of An Le County's Directorate of Celestials."
His eyes gleamed with a faint, green-colored ghost flame as he continued in a deep voice, "Since Great Yu has returned to rule An Le County, and I am appointed to take charge of An Le County's Directorate of Celestials, I've begun to observe everything here. Now, I've chosen you, General Tan Lang!"
"I am just an insignificant Lieutenant, not a General!"
Yu He smiled and shook his head. "You will soon be one if you will. The latent power Yu Clan has in Zhong Province is not something you can ever imagine. With a word, I can make you the General of An He City's Military Court!"
After a brief moment of silence, Wu Qi stared at Yu He and asked, "The wild beasts in the wilderness will never use fresh meat to make friends. What do you want from me, Yu He?"
Yu He gave him an approving smile and said, "Your latent talent is excellent. I heard that you have gained enlightenment of Pangu Power even before practicing any cultivation technique, eh? I need someone like you to be my ally. Perhaps, it will not take you a long time to possess a power that allows you to be on equal terms with me. It is not something rare on Pangu Continent."
He took two steps forward and said, "It is always easier to hunt down the prey when two wild beasts work together. Be my ally and take control of everything in An He City. I will support you in becoming the General of An He City, and I will continue to support you as you climb higher in the future. All I ask is that you can support me with the force you can control, and allow me to keep getting benefits!"
"Why me but not the Punishment Officer, Hu Bugui?" Wu Qi asked while frowning.
After some moment of silence, Yu He answered hesitatingly, "I can sense danger from him. But, you do not give me that feeling!"
Wu Qi's heart twitched slightly. 'This Yu He has such a strong sense? And he can actually sense danger from Yan Bugui? If I hadn't already formed the innate chaotic body and transcended the restriction of some natural laws and principles, could this guy also sense anything unusual on me?'
Sure enough, he should never underestimate these Oracles!
After a long moment of silence, Wu Qi nodded and said, "Fine. If you put benefits in my hand, I will put benefits back into yours. It is a deal then!"
All of Wu Qi's words and actions were in accordance with the identity that he had forged for Tan Lang. He was a hunter who lived in the wilderness, and that was how he should act.
Yu He smiled as he nodded satisfyingly. "Since you have agreed to form an alliance with me, I will certainly take care of you when the great calamity befalls. Your Excellency Tan Lang, you may leave now."
Great calamity? What did Yu He mean?
Wu Qi remained standing where he was, staring at Yu He with a frown as he rudely yelled out, "Since we are allies, you should tell me everything. What great calamity? Don't be bashful like a woman!"
The loud yell petrified Yu He, but he soon broke out in laughter.