Numerous flying ships wheeled in the sky. Hundreds of miles away, a city standing above a lofty mountain was engulfed by a raging flame. The cities in Great Yu were built of boulders, but the flame blanketing the city was the True Flame of the Immortals that was capable of even burning through the void, not to mention ordinary boulders.
The pale golden flame covered everything silently, melting down the boulders, reducing the volume of magma, and eventually turning them into wisps of smoke that dissipated in the air. Countless dead bodies in the city were burned off along with the city itself, and the mountain where the city had once stood was burned into a large pit, about a hundred miles in diameter and several miles deep. Some of the remaining magma filled the pit, with bubbles the size of human heads constantly raising and popping on the surface.
Groups of expressionless people were walking like corpses along several roads from the direction of the city into the distance. They tottered across the field; from time to time, some people looked up and cried into the sky, but they did not even any tears to shed. The great fire had evaporated most of the fluid in these survivors' bodies, so they had no tears at all.
And, ever so frequently, people fell silently to the ground, with a pale golden flame emerging on their bodies and burning them to ashes. Others took no heed of that and walked past the burning corpses, and even their families did not respond. There was only one thought in everyone's mind—to stay away from this city, away from this hell that had swallowed up countless innocent lives.
Wu Qi was on one knee in the bow of a flying ship that was wheeling in the sky, gasping for air. There was a gash in his right breast, with a gleam of lightning in it. This was the damage caused by a peak first-tier Heaven Immortal who had pierced Wu Qi's defensive barrier and bone armor by burning his own soul and fusing himself with the sword. Had it not been for Wu Qi's quick reflexes which forced his body into the void and moved ten feet or so, the sword would have pierced his heart.
Straining every nerve, he absorbed the dense purple mist released from Pangu Continent to heal his body. The dozens of wounds spread across his body had quickly healed, and only the gash on his chest was still healing slowly. He grunted as a stabbing pain was constantly washing through him.
The battle was too bitter and difficult to fight.
A total of eighteen peak first-tier Heaven Immortals had led two hundred Heaven Immortals and three thousand itinerant cultivators to attack Jianfeng City, the capital city of Minghe Province, one of the fourth-grade provinces under Zhong Province. All the forces in Jianfeng City had been previously dispatched, following Bo Yunting to destroy the gathering points of itinerant cultivators all over Zhong Province. After receiving the distress call, Wu Qi, who was besieging a gathering point some tens of thousands of miles away, immediately led three thousand soldiers to the rescue.
In the form of a sneak attack, Wu Qi preemptively killed eleven peak first-tier Heaven Immortals in the midst of chaos. Even so, with the other seven of them ganged up on him, he was seriously beaten and almost forced to flee several times. Unable to use any of his divine abilities, he was too passive while using only a strong body and some unfamiliar curse spells against the enemies.
If it were not for his profound attainment of the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture, as well as the dragon body which he had cultivated with the Dragon Transformation Script, Wu Qi would have been smashed into a meat pie by those Heaven Immortals with similar overall strength as him. Even so, he was almost killed by the desperate blow unleashed by the Heaven Immortal who had burned his immortal soul.
Fortunately, there were four large armies in the vicinity of Jianfeng City. A total of twenty thousand soldiers rushed back to the rescue, allowing Wu Qi, who was nearly beaten to death, to escape. But, after the battle, most of the three thousand private soldiers of Yu Clan, whom he had brought to the battlefield, were either killed or wounded, and only slightly more than three hundred soldiers managed to survive. Most of them were badly mutilated though, and some even had their heads severely damaged. Even if they did survive in the end, they would have to retire from the army.
The twenty thousand soldiers who came to the rescue in time had also suffered a massive loss—more than seventeen thousand were killed, and fewer than three thousand survived. The four generals of the armies were also attacked by the enemies' self-explosions; some were killed and others were seriously injured. At the moment, among all the military officers of the five armies, Wu Qi was the only one who could still move.
Even though the five armies had fought desperately against the Immortals, Jianfeng City was still burned by a Heaven Immortal who practiced fire elemental cultivation techniques. Of the more than two million civilians in the city, fewer than twenty thousand managed to escape. On top of that, more than one hundred towns and villages near the city had been completely destroyed by the natural disasters such as strong winds and thunders caused by the battle, resulting in more than a million deaths.
"Damn it!" Wu Qi spat a mouthful of blood as he rose to his feet ponderously, then beckoned at Huang Liang, who had been stabbed three times in the chest, abdomen, and thigh. "Gather the brothers who still have the strength to walk and let them go down there to save the people. There must be survivors in the collapsed houses in the villages. Save them!"
Huang Liang had reached one hand in his pants and was fumbling with something. When he heard Wu Qi's command, he quickly gave his little brother a squeeze, then jumped to his feet and put his pants on. With a pale face and a wry smile, he said, "The ancestors are protecting me! That sword had only brushed past my testicles before stabbing into the tendon of my thigh. It did not hurt my precious! How lucky is that!"
Wu Qi was so angry with Huang Liang that he almost coughed up blood. "Bring the brothers to save the people now! Or, I will castrate you!"
Huang Liang gave a strange cry, jumped up in a hurry, and limped off with more than two thousand soldiers, who were still able to move, towards the villages around Jianfeng City. With the physical prowess of the human warriors, it would take no more than ten soldiers to remove all the collapsed houses in a village within two hours, and rescue the civilians buried there. With more than two thousand soldiers, it was enough to provide emergency aid to more than one hundred towns and villages.
Sitting on the bow of the flying ship in anger, Wu Qi frowned and cursed Liu Bang and his companions over and over again.
As the Celestial Ambassador, Liu Bang did not carry out his duties at all. It had been more than three months since Wu Qi first met him. Over the course of ninety days, Liu Bang had visited eighteen provinces with his men, all of which had their capital cities destroyed by Myriad Immortal Alliance.
Almost as he had been in Zhong Province, Liu Bang had forcibly abducted female Immortals along the way as his concubines. From ninety-seven gathering places of itinerant cultivators, he had captured a total of one hundred and ninety-eight beautiful female Immortals. But, his negotiations with the military commanders of the provinces had never come to fruition, though every time he had presented the so-called evidence provided by Myriad Immortal Alliance, trying to persuade them to withdraw their armies.
But, the evidence never stood up to scrutiny. Like Wu Qi, those military commanders retorted Liu Bang, and when they scolded him, he would always swagger off with his subordinates in a fit of rage, never again making any conciliation or explanation.
Therefore, for more than three months, although Liu Bang had visited eighteen provinces, the flames of war were still raging everywhere. On the contrary, with his 'mediation effort', the Immortals of various provinces had begun large-scale counterattacks in droves, as if they had taken a stimulant.
The war of Jianfeng City was a perfect example. More than two hundred Heaven Immortals and thousands of itinerant cultivators had participated in the war, including twenty peak-tier Heaven Immortals. This scale was first seen since the war began. And, these Immortals and itinerant cultivators seemed to be desperate, for as soon as they showed signs of being unable to continue fighting, they exploded themselves immediately.
At least half of Wu Qi's soldiers were killed by the unexpected explosions of their opponents. In the face of such crazy enemies, Wu Qi could only sigh in despair. And, when his opponent, the top-tier Heaven Immortal, found that neither his immortal arts nor magical treasures could defeat Wu Qi, he burned his soul and gave a fatal blow. Eventually, the Immortal died from the burning of his soul, but Wu Qi was almost killed by him as well.
The other provinces were facing a similar situation. The Immortals and itinerant cultivators in various provinces were fighting Great Yu's armies with all their desperation, as if they had gone crazy. In just a few months of time, as far as Wu Qi knew, the military of Zhong Province had lost more than half a million soldiers! Having no alternatives, Bo Zhongfu had ordered the retired veterans back into the army, and even soldiers who formerly served Feng Lingling were called back and dispersed into different regiments.
"Liu Bang, are you here to put out the fire or to set everything on fire?"
Wu Qi frowned at the clouds in the sky. He increasingly felt that the recent change in the situation had something to do with Liu Bang.
"Is it that you deliberately instigated Myriad Immortal Alliance to fight with us in order to facilitate your search for concubines?"
Wu Qi really thought it was something that Liu Bang would have done. As long as he kept provoking and made the war more intense, the clans that dwelt in seclusions would have to come out and fight. As a result, those beautiful female Immortals who were hiding in those clans would be exposed!
While he was criticizing Liu Bang's actions in his heart, Wu Qi suddenly heard a crisp sound of metal hitting on metal.
The sound was crisp and melodious, with a strong and strange force capable of penetrating one's heart. Upon hearing it, Wu Qi felt his soul tremble, as if a force was about to be poured into him from the top of his head. Hastily, he performed a hand incantation gesture, unleashing a gray mist to cover his body which blocked off the invasion of the force.
Then, he stood up and looked into the distance. Hundreds of miles away, a few monks clad in kasayas and holding staffs appeared to be hovering in the sky above those who were fleeing Jianfeng City. They looked tall and stately, and there was a Buddhist light radiating out from the back of their heads.
"The world of mortals is full of hardships, and all the living things are suffering. You shall be free from the pain once you join the Buddhist League!"
The monks kept muttering words to persuade people to join the Buddhist League, and gradually, some people who had escaped the calamity began to kneel and bow down to them.
Wu Qi's heart gave a violent jerk. In just the time to finish a pot of tea, hundreds of thousands of people had actually fallen to their knees on the field! An enormous power of faith emerged from these people and rose into the sky, then was continuously injected into those monks' bodies.