The woods in the front suddenly turned sparse, replaced by a valley and a plateau caused by a zigzagging, red river.
Right next to the valley was a crimson town built against the mountain. The wall of the town was piled by the ‘Red Steel Rocks’, from which red air seemed to be popping up. It could block the snakes, insects, rats and ants, and yet it couldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. Looked at from a long distance, the town was enshrouded in clouds and mists and appeared rather splendid.
It was the stronghold of the Fire Rude Clan, the largest tribe in the Southland of Sorcerers. It was also the economical, political and military center in the Southland of Sorcerers which had been influenced by the Great Qian Dynasty most.
Right now, on the two sides of the Fire Rude Clan’s village, approximately ten kilometers away from each other, camps had been established, and flags were fluttering. Two variously-colored, bizarre-looking armies of barbarians were stationed on the two sides respectively.
They were the battle formations of the two brothers Huo Wuji and Huo Wujiu.
The two of them had fought for half a year, and yet neither of them could beat the other one although they were both exhausted. Even they fought any longer, the entire Fire Rude Clan would’ve collapsed and be gone forever.
Also, Master Black Moon, the most respected sorcerer in the Southland of Sorcerers, showed up to facilitate the peace talks. Therefore, the two of them finally reached a temporary truce, not entirely willingly.
But in secret, they were asking for reinforcements from their reliance, namely Great Qian and Ghost Qin, respectively, ready to have another fight when the reinforcements arrived.
At this moment, although the barbarian soldiers were not fighting, a handful of barbarian Cultivators were actually engaged in a fierce battle in the sky.
Colorful, venomous fog was spreading out everywhere, and hideous animals which should’ve been kept in natural reserves were occasionally revealing themselves in the smoke. It was quite a view.
They were all the barbarian Cultivators invited by Huo Wuji and Huo Wujiu.
Barbarian Cultivators, bound by their homeland, generally did not have much communication with the Cultivators from central plateaus. They were often deeply linked with each other. In competition for the poor population, resources and natural paradises in the Southland of Sorcerers, they often ended up being sworn enemies.
If a pair of sworn enemies happened to be invited by Huo Wuji and Huo Wujiu respectively and belonged to different sides, naturally, it was a great opportunity for them to settle the scores. Their battle was purely about personal grudge but not about the conflict between Great Qian and Ghost Qin.
When Li Yao arrived with the army, he happened to run into a barbarian Cultivator, who was covered in a gold snake skin and looked like a giant serpent, falling down from the sky, with blood spurting out, after half of his arm was cut off by his opponent.
Immediately, dozens of soldiers rushed out of Huo Wuji’s camp and carried him back to their came together. Somebody was even booing inside the camp.
In Huo Wujiu’s camp on the other end, however, everybody was drumming and shouting. The cheers could be heard dozens of kilometers away.
“Huh? Even ‘Gold Ring Third Man’ has failed? He has even lost an arm? Hehehehe. It’s time that his good days ended!”
Both Meng Duo and Gu Siduo were gloating, not feeling any indignity that they should have because the injured guy was on the same side of theirs.
“Brother Snake Swallower, have you noticed the black rock over there? That’s the ‘Black Rock Great Arena’. For any barbarian Cultivator who wants to rise to fame, a Black Rock Great Arena is always necessary!”
Meng Duo and Gu Siduo grimaced, “It’s just child’s play and not a real game today. Wait until three days later, when the Black Rock Great Arena will officially begin. If you win ten games in a row up above, we guarantee that every tribe in the Southland of Sorcerers will know your name, dear brother!”
Li Yao slightly frowned, somewhat amused.
The so-called ‘Black Rock Great Arena’ was in fact an abrupt black rock next to the Fire Rude Clan’s town. It was as smooth as a desk and about eighty meters long and wide.
It was said that, when the tribes in the Southland of Sorcerers had irresolvable conflicts, they would go to the Black Rock Great Arena and settle the conflicts under relative fair conditions with their fists, blades and venomous fog.
As to the disagreement about the leadership of the Fire Rude Clan between Huo Wuji and Huo Wujiu, it would be decided by a magnificent ‘Hundred Victories Great Arena’.
The so-called ‘Hundred Victories Great Arena’ referred to a game where both parties would send out hundreds of warriors and experts who would fight each other in turns. The winner stayed in the arena, and the losers were thrown out of the arena. As the game went on, the side which secured a hundred victories first would be deemed to be the final winner.
In case that one party invited a super expert, say, one at the peak of the Core Formation Stage or in the Nascent Soul Stage, and the guy crushed a hundred enemies in a row easily, the rules of the ‘Hundred Victories Great Arena’ dictated that any expert could only win ten competitions at most before he was forced to leave the field.
Even a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator could only help his side secure ten victories. The other ninety victories still counted on his comrades.
However, there was another rule to the Hundred Victories Great Arena, which was that one may lose but may not surrender. Abstention wasn’t an option, either. If any party refused to fight, it would be considered to fail.
It meant that, if one side truly sent out a Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator as a champion, the other side would have to pay the lives of ten warriors even if they knew that they were no match for the enemy in order to ‘eliminate’ the Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator.
It was rather a cruel rule.
However, it was also appropriate for the presentation of a top expert.
Therefore, what mattered most in the Hundred Victories Great Arena wasn’t personal combat ability but the overall personnel of the side, and whether or not dozens of fearless warriors could be deployed to eliminate the experts that were too invincible on the enemy’s side.
Meng Duo and Gu Siduo were flattering that Li Yao could secure ten victories because they thought that he was ignorant and were simply making fun of them.
But they didn’t know that Li Yao was secretly mocking them, too.
‘Vulture Li Yao’ had travelled in the sea of stars for decades. He’d had games of wisdom and bravery with the cunning experts such as Xiao Xuance, Bai Xinghe, Jin Tuyi and Lu Zui, and today, he had degraded himself to the point that he was playing in an arena against a bunch of barbarians?
Li Yao hated the long and dull arena games most. It might pass if the arena games were casual. But the national affairs and the lives of thousands of people were to be decided on the arena? What a joke!
It appears that I have to lower my estimation on the intelligence of the natives of the Ancient Sages Sector now.
It’s understandable that the barbarians like arenas. But even a notable Appeasing Ambassador is involved? How absurd!
Li Yao didn’t think much of it.
He made up his mind that he would not go to the arena and fight like a monkey. Whoever wanted to fight were welcome to try, but certainly not him. He would make other plans after he figured out the details of Master Black Moon.
Huo Wuji’s side had just lost a great warrior. Its morale was at rock bottom, when the news that the emperor’s army had arrived came over. Everybody was enlivened again.
Very soon, a few barbarians riding buffaloes as dark as ink rushed out. Hardly had the buffalo in the lead came to a still when a young man, in almost exactly the same appearance as the scholars in the central plateau except for his face that was slightly dark, quickly jumped off the saddle and said, “You have finally arrived, Lord Ling!”
The guy was, obviously, Huo Wuji, who was on the Great Qian Dynasty’s side.
Ling Shoujing, the Appeasing Ambassador of the Fifth Prefecture of the Southland of Sorcerers, went to the front to greet him. The two of them had a long talk and cheered each other up.
Li Yao had no time for their jibber-jabber. He maximized his eyesight and observed the camps on the other side ten kilometers away carefully.
He discovered that a young man, who looked similar to Huo Wuji but wore the local attire, was riding an eccentric beast, which looked like a horse and a wolf and had a certain demeanor of dragons, on the hill. The guy was watching at his direction with a few other knights.
The few knights were all tall and strong. Their skin was slightly yellow, and their cheekbone protruded high. Gold rings large and small occupied their ears. Their faces were brimming with wrinkles resulting from cold wind. They looked rather strange and definitely weren’t the same as the southwest barbarians.
The were wearing crude and yet practical light armor made of beast hide, and they had a deep black bow on their back. Although the bows were not stringed, scent of blood was vaguely spreading out. Li Yao could clearly smell it even though he was kilometers away.
It must be Huo Wujiu, and the Ghost Qin soldiers who endorse him.
Li Yao observed with great interest.
The seven guys next to Huo Wujiu were the Cultivators of Ghost Qin surrounded by spiritual energy.
The Cultivators of the Ancient Sages Cultivator did not seem to know much tricks about concealing their level. Generally speaking, they were blatantly revealing their Cultivation. They could consume the natural spiritual energy faster, but their capability would be exposed easily.
It was also a common disease for the ancient Cultivators.
The seven Ghost Qin Cultivators were not strong. They were between the Refinement Stage and the Building Foundation Stage.
However, Li Yao sensed the intense aura of battlefield killing from them.
They were like well-trained soldiers who considered death homecoming. The air around them was entirely different from that of the unorganized Cultivators who never received military training.
There are only seven of them scattered on the hill, and yet they seem to forming an unstoppable battle formation that can crush a thousand enemies!
The Ghost Qin warriors from the Dark Cloud Prairie truly know what they are doing. No wonder they are on par with the Great Qian Dynasty!
Li Yao secretly complimented.
At this moment, Ling Shoujing and Huo Wuji had mostly finished their small talk. From the town of the Fire Rude Clan that was surrounded by fiery mist, a magnificent cloud of spiritual energy flew out. On the top of the cloud was a middle-aged man in black robe who had a square face and looked rather handsome.
“It’s Master Black Moon!”
Meng Duo and Gu Siduo, two barbarian Cultivators, were shrieking next to Li Yao.
Master Black Moon, in the Nascent Soul Stage, was the strongest sorcerer in the Southland of Sorcerers. He was worshipped by many uneducated barbarians as deities.
After he appeared, the soldiers and Cultivators in both Huo Wuji’s camp and Huo Wujiu’s kneeled down and paid their respect, uttering blurred, zealous roars.
Li Yao narrowed his eyes and thought quickly. As Master Spiritual Vulture’s senior brother, Master Black Moon was perhaps the greatest obstacle for his fake identity. Naturally, he needed to observe the guy carefully.
Master Black Moon slowly descended in front of the army. His eyes were as deep as an ocean, and there was not any expression on his giant, pale face.
He was an honorable Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator. Even Ling Lanyin, the female Cultivator from the ‘Purple Pole Sword Sect’, had to crawl out of the wagon and meet him courteously.