The immortals in Gourd Immortal Market had gathered together in a great hall.
It was an ordinary-looking building constructed with wood boards at the bottom of Gourd Immortal Market. All boards were cut from ordinary pine wood, and although the material was simple, the construction took a lot of effort and resources. Together, the lines of the boards made up a large image of dragons soaring in clouds. Some bored immortal had once estimated that in order to gather so many wood boards and create such a perfect image, the cost was ten times it took to build a hall entirely with immortal stones.
A large number of hassocks were arranged at random in the spacious hall. Lu Buwei, Patriarch Yuan Hua, and all the other immortals sat on these hassocks in groups of different sizes, according to their relationship. At the end of the hall was a three-feet-high wooden dais, on top of which sat a lean, pale-faced Daoist in a yellow robe. On his bun stood a gourd the size of a fist. He was none other than the person in charge of Gourd Immortal Market, Immortal Gourd.
Lu Buwei looked at Immortal Gourd curiously. After running his business here for several years, it was the first time he had seen this man in person.
After giving Immortal Gourd a casual glance, Patriarch Yuan Hua told Lu Buwei via voice transmission, "He's a Gold Immortal. Let's leave him alone for now. When I've gathered enough blood essence and souls to regain all of my cultivation base, I can kill him with one finger."
Lu Buwei's heart gave a violent jerk. Immortal Gourd was a Gold Immortal? So, what tier was he at now? And, who on earth was behind him, so that he could run his business here peacefully even when the war was raging across Pangu Continent now?
Gradually, more immortals arrived. When the immortal in charge of Myriad Immortal Palace arrived with several attendants, Immortal Gourd flicked his sleeve to place twenty iron boxes in front of everyone, each of which measured six feet in length, width, and height. The lids of the boxes lifted silently, revealing the neatly arranged immortal stones within. Glancing at the immortals in the hall, Immortal Gourd said in a flat tone, "If you can kill that Tan Lang, you'll be handsomely rewarded. These are only the deposits the client placed with me."
He paused for a moment, then went on, "The client has a high reputation at Gourd Immortal Market, so I can't disclose his identity. But, as long as any one of you can kill Tan Lang, I guarantee that you will get all the rewards that are promised."
With a flip of his palm, a purple strand of energy, about three feet in length and as thick as a thumb, appeared on Immortal Gourd's hand, twisting like a snake. Then, with a flick of his finger, the energy flew like a bolt of lighting through the crowd. The immortals studied the energy with their divine senses, and were shocked to find that it was actually a very pure immortal energy of excellent quality. The immortal energy contained in it was almost equal to the total immortal energy of an upper-grade immortal stone.
"This strand of energy was randomly extracted by the client from the cave abode he has promised as the reward." Waving his hand, Immortal Gourd recalled the streak of purple energy and put it away, then said with a smile, "The cave abode is situated in a secret place. The client will swear a mental demon oath that whoever can capture Tan Lang alive and deliver him to me, he will properly transfer the ownership of the cave abode and ensure that no third person knows of its exact location."
Lu Buwei and Patriarch Yuan Hua looked at each other, and the latter smiled and nodded in agreement. It looked like their best bet was to capture that fellow named Tan Lang alive and deliver him to Immortal Gourd. Although he was some King Yang Qiu's personal guard, it was worth the risk for the reward of a cave abode of excellent quality. If their target was a Great Yu's prince, the risks would certainly be high. But, what would be at stake in dealing with a small guard?
Mountains of immortal stones, countless rare treasures, and a cave abode…
There was a saying that 'if you have money, you can make the devil push the millstone for you', and that was exactly the case here. Almost at the same time, all the immortals from different powerhouses in Gourd Immortal Market had decided that they would employ their own strength and means to capture Tan Lang alive. One after another, they received a jade slip from Immortal Gourd, containing Tan Lang's current location — it was actually not his exact location, but where King Yang Qiu's army was stationed. As King Yang Qiu's personal guard, where else could he be?
In addition to the location, the jade slip included a clear portrait of Tan Lang, so clear that every hair on his face was drawn. Beside the portrait was some information about him, such as the divine abilities and magic he was good at, his cultivation of the True Body of Heaven and Earth Scripture having nearly reached the realm of Second Pangu Heaven, and his cultivation of the various magic and curses also reaching a very advanced level. However, it did not mention his exact cultivation level.
But, it was clear that he was a military officer who cultivated both magic and body. After reading this information, some immortals from weaker powerhouses immediately frowned. In general, military officers and Oracles in the Great Yu dynasty were relatively easy to deal with. But, once they encountered a freak who was cultivating both magic and body, they would have to send ten times as many immortals with the same level of cultivation base as him to kill him. And if they were to capture him alive, it would require a lot more effort and cunning strategies.
But, Lu Buwei and Patriarch Yuan Hua had already left the hall with a big smile on their faces, while those immortals from major powerhouses such as the one from Myriad Immortal Palace had also left confidently within beams of light. They must report this matter as soon as possible to the forces behind them, so that they could quickly send powerful immortals to capture Tan Lang. Any delay was likely to result in someone else taking away this substantial reward.
Great Yu's armies were now carrying out a devastating attack on Myriad Immortal Alliance, which had caused many innocent itinerant immortals and cultivators to suffer greatly. If the cave abode was truly situated in a location as secret as Immortal Gourd claimed and could evade the search of Great Yu's armies, it would be too valuable for any powerhouse to skip.
Just as thousands of powerhouses in Gourd Immortal Market were preparing to tackle Wu Qi, he was provoking Yu Qingcheng with a slightly mocking tone at King Yang Qiu's field headquarter. His rhetorical question made Yu Qingcheng's face turn purple at once. Judging by that, Wu Qi knew that this old fellow must have suffered in that formation, and he had no way to crack it.
As Yu Qingcheng's face turned purple with anger, standing next to him, a group of clearly well-chosen handsome men and beautiful girls in silk robes, who seemed to portray impeccable demeanor, stepped up at the same time. They then pointed their fingers at Wu Qi and began to refute him. One of them, the most handsome youth with an athletic figure and the most gorgeous clothes, even walked up to Wu Qi; he pointed his finger at his nose and began to lecture him.
"How dare you! Who do you think you are? How could you have no respect for Master Yu? What makes you think that an unruly fool like you are qualified to study the formation that even Master Yu can't crack?" The youth's spittle was almost on Wu Qi's face. He continued, shaking his head, "I can tell by the way you look that you must be lowly born, and I even doubt if you can read or not. Is it a joke that someone like you is trying to crack the formation?"
Wu Qi uttered not a single word. He just crossed his arms over his chest and stared coldly at the group of young men and women who were being aggressive and presumptuous in front of him. A sneer of derision hung on the corners of his mouth and his eyes were full of disdain. His attitude angered the well-dressed men and women even more. They all accused him of being rude, incompetent, arrogant, and deserving of death for all the wrongdoings.
King Yang Qiu stared at them from across the map, his face expressionless. It was only after a full quarter of an hour, when the group of young men and women almost depleted their spittle that he gave a cold snort. Just then, the young man who pointed a finger at Wu Qi's nose suddenly cried out, "For a rascal like you, I reckon even your parents are not..."
Wu Qi could accept them abusing him with words, and he simply took them as a bunch of barking mad dogs. He was not even motivated to be angry. But, the youth had insulted his parents, and that was not something he could accept. A cold gleam flashed in his eyes as he kicked the young man in the face.
A dark shadow pierced through the air, and in the blink of an eye, Wu Qi's leg smashed forcefully down. Apart from his sharp tongue, the youth's cultivation base was, in fact, very poor. The air rang with bone cracking sounds as his tibia, vertebrae, sternum, ribs, and scapula were shattered at the same time. Blood sprayed out of his body as he was thrown tumbling backward, without even have the chance to howl.
The group of men and women screamed in unison and immediately jumped back like frightened rabbits.
Wu Qi gave them a cold glance before saying coolly, "You can abuse me with words, and I won't be bothered at all. But when you insult my parents, you deserve to be killed by me!"
Yu Qingcheng was so angry that his face turned blue. He jumped up from his four-wheeled wooden chair, pointing a finger at Wu Qi as he growled, "What an unruly junior! How could you assault someone right in front of His Excellency? Y-yo-you... Do you still have any respect for His Excellency?"
A faint smile appeared on Wu Qi's face as he lowered his arms, cupped his fist, and bowed to King Yang Qiu. Then, he turned to Yu Qingcheng and said, "May I make bold to ask you this, old mister Yu, even before His Excellency asked me the question, these ridiculous men and women had begun to shout at me. So, tell me, do they have any respect for his Excellency?"
With a cold snort, Wu Qi looked up and said proudly, "And, how could I be considered disrespectful to His Excellency when I let the dozens of them insult me for a quarter of an hour without even saying a word?"
Yu Qingcheng growled furiously and turned to King Yang Qiu. "Your Excellency," he said while pointing at Wu Qi, "this old subject request you to issue a military order to kill this impudent fellow immediately!"
King Yang Qiu looked at him coldly and asked in a flat tone, "Can Master Yu crack the formation in that chasm?"
"T-This old sub-sub-subject..." he stammered, then went on embarrassingly, "this old subject is trying very hard to crack it!"
Paying no more heed to Yu Qingcheng, King Yang Qiu beckoned at Wu Qi and said, "Come over here, Tan Lang. Study this formation map for me. See if you can crack it. I have received intelligence that the chief of the alliance's Wandering Immortal Hall is hiding in this chasm. If you can crack the formation, I'll record it as a meritorious service in your book of service!"
Wu Qi smiled quietly, then cupped his fist and bowed to King Yang Qiu. He strode over to his side and began to concentrate on what was on the map.
Yu Qingcheng's face turned unsightly. Pointing at the youth whom Wu Qi had killed with a powerful kick, he said coldly, "Your Excellency, he's the eldest son of You Province's Prefecture Overseer!"
King Yang Qiu stared at Yu Qingcheng coldly and did not say anything until ten minutes later. "You Province's Prefecture Overseer failure to teach his children and grandchildren has resulted in his eldest grandson insulting one of my capable military officers' parents. For fairness' sake, I now punish You Province's Prefecture Overseer to stay in seclusion and go through his wrongdoings for three months. Master Yu, do you think this is a good way to handle this matter?"
Yu Qingcheng opened his mouth and looked as if he still had something to say, but could not get those words out of his mouth for a long time.
Seeing this, Wu Qi, who was studying the map, smiled. But, just as he was about to report his analysis of the formation to King Yang Qiu, his heart suddenly jerked violently forty-nine times. A great deal of blood rushed through his body with every jerk, and he felt a tingling sensation creep over his scalp, as if a dark cloud was pressing down on him.
Somewhere, Wu Qi sensed a terrible murderous intent approaching him.