Dimming the nine dragons chariot, which was dazzling and noisy, Ji Hao and tens of thousands of elite warriors quietly landed in Yao Mountain City.
The Yao Mountain City was preparing for a war at full stretch. But once Ji Hao returned, the tense atmosphere was eased instantly. Ji Xia walked over with a large group of clansmen while laughing out loud, then punched Ji Hao’s chest a few times with his wine-pot-sized fist.
"Ji Hao’s back! Hah! You lost weight, but your skin is not darkened though. Well, these years have been dark without sunshine. You can’t tan your skin even if you want to!" Grabbing Ji Hao’s shoulders with both hands, Ji Xia carefully looked at his face, then quickly glimpsed at the lower bellies of Man Man and Shaosi. He gave a long sigh and continued, "Eh, did you come back by yourselves? I don’t see new faces!"
What new faces? Ji Hao dropped his face. Grabbing Shermie’s neck, he threw him into Ji Xia’s arms.
"Ouch!" Shermie involuntarily coiled his long and slim arms around Ji Xia’s neck, with his eyeballs almost bulging out of his eye sockets, as the two stared at each other.
"New faces? Don’t we have new faces? This is Shermie, my disciple…Hmm, he’s special. Perhaps, he is the strongest crayfish in the world. Don’t underestimate him. Among water-kind creatures which used to be under Gong Gong’s command, over ninety percent of all shrimp warriors are led by him now. From now on, he is the chief commander of the water-kind force in our Yao Mountain territory. "
With a few words, Ji Hao introduced Shermie to Ji Xia. Hearing that Shermie was a crayfish, Ji Xia immediately began rubbing Shermie’s bald head in curiosity while murmuring, "Hah, crayfish, a crayfish…Like those in the corners of streams? Interesting, interesting! A tiny crayfish like that became a tall boy like this. You much have gone through a lot, haven’t you?"
Ji Xia was truly concerned about Shermie. For an unknown reason, Shermie sniffed with a pair of misty eyes. He kneeled on the ground sincerely and kowtowed to Ji Xia. It had been so many years, had anyone ever said something so warm and caring to Shermie, and treated him like a young kid?
Ji Hao was his Shifu, but in Ji Hao’s eyes, Shermie was only a talented, potential spirit creature who could have a bright future. But from Ji Xia, Shermie sensed a father’s love. Ji Xia loved Ji Hao and his other kids, but, he also gave some of his love to Shermie.
Watching this, Ji Hao quivered in speechless. Throwing Ji Xia a sideways glance, he led his people and walked back to the main hall of Marquis Yao’s mansion. In the hall, a group of Yao Mountain territory minister and commander sat on the ground, and some maids had been serving tea.
In the crowd, Ji Hao suddenly saw his old friends.
Heng Luo’s tender cheeks were slightly blushed. She leaned against Stone’s lower leg, giggling to Ji Hao. She was almost drunk. Stone was lying in a corner of the hall, with his limbs spread, and was in a deep sleep. A strong aroma of blood could be sensed from his entire body. Outside the hall, in the yard, Treeman had comfortably put down his roots, and was enjoying the sunshine.
"Oi, you’re all here!" Ji Hao waved his hands to Heng Luo happily. With a drunken face, Heng Luo chuckled, then straightened her beautiful and slim middle finger at Ji Hao.
"You can never lean something good, can you?" Ji Hao rubbed his nose and murmured.
Sitting beside Ji Hao, Ji Xia waved his hand and laughed, "The flood was so annoying these years. So, we raised an army in Yao Mountain City and made tens of trips to Southern Wasteland, bringing many of our clansmen and people from our brother clans here."
Pointing at Heng Luo and Stone, he continued, "I knew they’re all your old friends. They were going moldy in the flood too. So, they and some of their friends came to Yao Mountain territory with us."
"The strange things is that before, a round-trip to Southern Wasteland would cost at least a year. But in recent years, this time span is getting shorter and shorter. The most recent troop we sent out returned in less than three months! It seems that Southern Wasteland and Midland are getting closer and closer to each other." Scratching his head, Ji Xia said in confusion.
Ji Hao smiled and told Ji Xia and the others in the hall about Si Wen Ming’s ‘All Streams to the Final Land’ great formation in detail. Hearing that the four wastelands had been approaching Midland fast because of the great formation, people in the hall all exclaimed out.
Many Gold Crow Clan people in the hall clearly understood that the living condition in Yao Mountain territory would be a hundred times better than in Gold Crow Clan. But after all, their ancestral temple was still in the Gold Black Mountain. The temple was the root of the clan. Therefore, these people missed their hometown all the time.
Now, the four wastelands and Midland were going to merge together, which was wonderful. In the future, clansmen living in Yao Mountain territory could easily take trips back to the Gold Black Mountain, right?
Ji Hao released his spirit power. Heng Luo, Stone, Treeman and the others all came with their friends, didn’t they? Scanning across Yao Mountain City with his spirit power, Ji Hao found hundreds of jungle spirits like Heng Luo, thousands of stone men, and tens of thousands of treemen.
Most of those stone men were drunk, and had now been comfortably sleeping in corners. The treemen were stretching their branches by streets and alleys, happily showering under the sunshine. On the other hand, the jungle spirits had all dressed up, hanging in markets with their accompanying spirit creatures, bargaining with the owners of stalls and buying small things which were completely useless in Ji Hao’s eyes.
"Hah, the nature of women never changes! Jungle spirits, are they women?" Spending one-millionth of a second on this unsolvable question, Ji Hao took a deep breath, then his face turned serious.
Glancing at the thousands of ministers and commanders in the hall, he said with a deep voice, "In a not so long while, we, Yao Mountain territory, will fight a fierce battle. We should be preparing for it, as if it’s a hundred times more serious than the flood. The non-humankind army outside the city is only a spearhead of the enemy. Have you found out who they are yet?"
The army outside was guided by human warriors, but obviously, it was a non-humankind force. Judging by the number of commanders on a flying fort outside, this army was an allied force of over a thousand differently scaled forces, and among them, nearly a hundred were the leading ones.
Ji Hao was curious though. Where did Gong Sun Bo and the other elders find these non-humankind beings? And this non-humankind army was pretty strong!
"It’s a slave-hunting army." A Gold Crow Clan elder named Ji Que stood up. He was slim and nimble, best at hiding and tracking. When he was young, he was the best hunter in Gold Crow Clan, and the leader of all hunters. Now, he was the commander of scouts in Yao Mountain territory.
"One thousand, four hundred and thirty-seven slave-hunting troops, hired by someone with high prices to attack our Yao Mountain territory." Ji Que said with a dark face, "That is not a regular non-humankind army, but those non-humankind beings that are especially good at hiding, ambush, and squad-fighting. These days, our scouts fought a few battles against them. Over three-thousand of our warriors have already been injured or killed."
Ji Hao’s eye corners twitched. In mere battles that happened between scouts, over three Yao Mountain warriors had fallen?
This army of slave-hunting troops did come with evil intents.