The man who stepped into the hall with a group of guards was King Yang Qiu, and he had himself tightly wrapped in a black cloak, showing only his face.
Wu Qi nearly burst out laughing when he saw who was coming. Perhaps frightened by the fact that someone was able to abduct and take him out of Yu Gu's Supreme Tower, King Yang Qiu was now surrounded by dozens of exceptionally strong warriors and Oracles.
Behind him stood thirty warriors in heavy armors of the same design: a dark full-body armor and a helmet shaped like a bell. The helmet had two long curved horns stretched out upward from its top, and a mask fashioned after the face of a ghost, which made it look extremely ferocious. The body armor was about half an inch thick, with a layer of dragon scales densely inlaid on its surface. Complex three-dimensional rune formations were engraved between the scales, giving the set of armor a very strong defensive strength.
The shoulders, elbows, chest, and knees of the armor were carved with grim faces of ghosts. They were not only decorative, but also lethal. The pupils of each ghost face were studded with thumb-sized black gems, and a tiny wisp of green flame was faintly visible in them. These black gems were actually lethal Yin thunders which could be unleashed at any time to deal great damage at the enemy.
In the mouths of these ghost faces were two rows of sharp teeth, which were actually tiny daggers made of bones. It would be a fatal mistake for someone to neglect these daggers, more than a hundred of them, when fighting these warriors.
Apart from that, all the warriors had black cloaks streaming down their shoulders. The cloak was sewn from human hair and trimmed with human tendons that had been hammered flat, while in its middle was a jagged mountain embroidered with blood-colored silk; inside it were two pesized characters, 'Yang Qiu'. It was also a magical artifact with a very strong defensive strength, capable of protecting the wearer against all sorts of magic that were targeted at the soul.
As Wu Qi glanced at the warriors from top to bottom, his gaze paused at their waists. Each of the thirty warriors had two jade medallions hanging from their belts. The first one was as large as a toddler's palm, on the surface of which were engraved the pattern of mountains, rivers, and clouds; between them was written 'Yang Qiu'. The second medallion was black, slighter bigger than the first; it had a carving of a strange creature which looked like a sheep with a pair of wings, and was soaring in the wind on a cloud tangled with nine spirit serpents.
The creature was a powerful legendary divine beast, 'Rain Master', who had the power to control the weather, such as generating clouds and rains.
In the complex military system of Great Yu, above the ranks of lieutenants, colonels, and generals were mighty military officials with titles of various legendary divine beasts, which was so complex that even the important military officers could hardly distinguish them at many times. According to the strength of these divine beasts, the military officers were divided into several levels, and the level of 'Rain Master' was most likely the lowest level.
Even so, the overall strength of these thirty warriors was at least as strong as that of eighteenth-tier Gold Immortals!
Of all the military officers within the ranks of lieutenants, colonels and generals, it was not their overall strength that determined their ranks, but their achievements. However, only those generals who had stepped into the realm of Second Pangu Heaven and had the overall strength equal to a Gold Immortal were eligible to receive the title of legendary divine beasts.
In addition to the thirty well-equipped and strong warriors, King Yang Qiu was followed by ten Oracles in black linen robes, with the pattern of suns embroidered on their sleeves. The weakest Oracle had three suns on his sleeve, while the strongest one had eight.
The aura emanated from the warriors was sharp like an unsheathed blade, and although Wu Qi had only briefly glanced at them, he felt as if he had been hacked a few times with a blade. As for the Oracles, Wu Qi could hardly detect their presence. They drifted into the hall like ten ghosts behind King Yang Qiu, and as soon as they entered, they split into two groups that took over the control of the hall.
Although they emanated no aura, the Oracles were constantly scanning the hall with their cloudy eyes; they were well-prepared. Wu Qi had no doubt that they had prepared dozens of vicious and powerful spells under their sleeves, which could be unleashed at any time and wipe out everything in this hall.
King Yang Qiu, his face a little pale, nodded slowly at Bo Zhongfu, who was greeting him with enthusiasm, and sat down on the black hassock where the host had been sitting. With a smile on his face, Bo Zhongfu lightly clapped his hands. A few maidservants silently entered the hall with extra hassocks and carefully placed them on the floor in front of King Yang Qiu.
King Yang Qiu gave Wu Qi a look, then pointed out a finger at one of the hassocks and said coolly, "So, you are General Tan Lang, the Military Minister of Hai Province? Sit down!"
Wu Qi bowed, then sat down cross-legged on the hassock with a straight back, hands on his knees. He was naturally portraying a dignified air with that posture. King Yang Qiu studied him for a while, nodding satisfyingly.
Sitting on the other hassock, Bo Zhongfu leaned over to King Yang Qiu and asked with a smile on his face, "What brings you here, Your Highness?"
King Yang Qiu gave a snort, then fished out a scroll from under his sleeve and unrolled it on the floor. A hazy sheet of light sprung out of it, presenting a vast expanse of landscape. Then, while pointing here and there on the landscape, he began to tell them how he had been running into stone walls during his missions of exterminating immortals in the recent months.
Nine months ago, he led an army of three hundred thousand troops to attack a cave abode built at the bottom of an abyss by the itinerant cultivators of the alliance, only to be forced to retreat by a windmill-shaped formation that, when activated, shot out billions of wind blades that killed many of his soldiers. Then seven months ago, during a mission of exterminating a clan of itinerant cultivators with his personal guards, just as he was about to kill all the three hundred cultivators, he was trapped by a formation which two Masters of Formation from the alliance had laid out using the surrounding landscape.
The next setback he encountered was three months ago. He had ordered one of his capable generals to attack a clan of itinerant cultivators with thirty thousand troops, but they were trapped by a Heaven Thunder and Earth Fire Formation, which killed all the soldiers; the general had the poison of the flame gone deep into his internal organs. King Yang Qiu had ordered the general to be sent back to Liangzhu so he could be treated. However, as the condition was severe, even if the general was properly healed, his cultivation base would drop by at least thirty percent. It was a serious loss.
Finally, ten days ago, during the mission of besieging an immortal square operated by the alliance, he accidentally fell into a formation laid out by the immortals when he was out for a walk in the night with a few of his personal guards. As a result, he was struck continuously in the back by a total of three hundred and sixty Starlight Blades formed from the power of a star, which ripped his armor into pieces and nearly took his life.
Fortunately, the base of that formation was unstable, allowing the army of Great Yu who received the distress call to destroy the area about tens of miles around with brute force and rescue him. If he were trapped in that formation for a few more hours, his life would have been in real danger.
As King Yang Qiu was recounting his months of bad luck, Bo Zhongfu winked desperately at Wu Qi. At that moment, Wu Qi felt the latter had turned into an old goat who was on heat and trying to tell a peerless beauty something obscene with winks.
The problem was that Bo Zhongfu was a man, and Wu Qi could not understand the meaning of the flickering gleam in his eyes. Obviously, Bo Zhongfu scarcely used his eyes to communicate with others, so despite his constant blinking, Wu Qi still looked at him confusedly.
After he was finished, King Yang Qiu said coolly, "It is apparent that the alliance's overall strength is greatly weakened by Great Yu's thunderous attack. They are no longer capable of confronting us head-on, and now, they can only defend their position against our forces by means of formations."
He snorted coldly before continuing in a deep voice, "Whatever the reason for their insistence is, whether they are waiting for reinforcements or plotting some other scheme, we must exterminate them as soon as possible!"
Bo Zhongfu nodded and said, "I totally agree with Your Highness. Now that we have declared war on them, we should wipe them out completely!"
King Yang Qiu gave Bo Zhongfu a look as the corner of his rigid mouth twitched a little into something that looked like a smile. "Yes. But, the biggest problem we're facing right now is the formations laid out by those immortals. I heard that General Tan Lang has recently destroyed a formation and landed Bo Yunting a tremendous merit, eh?"
Not allowing Bo Zhongfu to explain, he continued, "In Great Yu, the title of Marquis is divided into nine grades. According to Bo Yunting's achievement, he can be conferred as a ninth-grade Marquis at the most. I'll recommend him for a third-grade Marquis with a personal guarantee. How much effort and time can this save him, do you reckon? You just have to give me general Tan Lang."
Wu Qi kept his mouth shut. Sitting in front of him was the Prefecture Overseer of Zhong Province and King Yang Qiu, while he was only a lesser general from a ninth-grade province and the County Governor of a new county, with a population of no more than a million. He was not even qualified to bargain with them!
'Let them decide for themselves! If I follow King Yang Qiu, I should have more opportunities to make contributions and earn greater merits, which I suppose would bring me more benefits! And, someone like King Yang Qiu is going to be more generous in term of rewards, isn't he?'
With a half-smile on his face, Wu Qi continued to look at Bo Zhongfu.
Bo Zhongfu understood the meaning of that smile. He pondered for a moment, then told King Yang Qiu about the agreement he had just reached with Wu Qi.
King Yang Qiu pricked his brows and nodded indifferently. He pointed a finger at the scroll, and a great sheet of light immediately rushed out of it, showing them the landscape around Dong Hai County. After a brief discussion, King Yang Qiu drew a circle around Dong Hai County; a piece of land ten times the size of the current Dong Hai County was instantly demarcated and turned into the county's new territory.
The territory included large areas of Hai Province, as well as two adjacent provinces, Lin Province and Fang Province. As a result, the territory of Dong Hai County would span three provinces, and become, in effect, a land that none of the three provinces had the rights to govern, becoming Wu Qi's private fiefdom entirely. From now on, all taxes and tributes in Dong Hai County would be paid directly to Zhong Province.
In addition to the land, Bo Zhongfu gave Wu Qi a large sum of money enough for him to build a hundred new cities, and transferred tens of millions of people from several nearby provinces to Hai Province.
Contented, Wu Qi bowed respectfully to King Yang Qiu and immediately became a member of his personal guards!
In Great Yu, the personal guard of a King like King Yang Qiu had great privileges, and Wu Qi had figured out how to use them to surprise Yu Miao!