The few boxes of crystals, magical equipment and marvelous weapons were piled up like a glittering hill. Illuminated by the torches as thick as arms, they were shining like diamonds.
Such a hill of treasures would be divided evenly by two hundred barbarian Cultivators, who would be offered even higher rewards if they won a few competitions in the Hundred Victories Great Arena!
Li Yao already heard a lot of his fellows drooling.
Although they were adept at hiding what was on their mind, and they had been dominators of this rough land, they had never heard of, much less seen, most of the glamorous treasures and pure crystals from the central plateaus.
Li Yao observed coldly. Even Meng Duo and Gu Siduo, the two old foxes, were rolling their eyes and breathing heavily. Red stripes were crawling from their necks to their ears. It was obvious that they had been hooked by the treasures.
If there weren’t the solemn, strong Black Tiger Iron Guards holding their weapons in front of the hill of treasures, and Ling Lanyin, the female Cultivator, weren’t staring at them coldly in their back, Li Yao estimated that many barbarian Cultivators would have lunged at the treasures.
In the moment, all the barbarian Cultivators were bashing their chests, declaring that they were willing to fight. Their pets, namely the scorpions, snakes and other eccentric beasts, were also shrieking so loudly that even Huo Wujiu’s camp ten kilometers away might catch the sound.
Many barbarian Cultivators were asking to join the two hundred warriors right now.
Ling Shoujing, however, laughed and gestured everyone to calm down. “I’m new to the place, and I’m not familiar with the expertise of the southwest heroes yet. It will be unfair if I choose anyone right now!
“In the next three days starting from tomorrow, we will have a test in the camp. Everybody will show their techniques in public. So, it will be obvious who are qualified to go and who are not. What do you think, everybody?
“Come on. Today is all about partying but not fighting. Serve the ‘Empyrean Drunk Wine’ that we’ve brought from the capital. This is a gift from His Majesty. Let’s not return until we are drunk!”
While he was talking, the Black Tiger Iron Guards carried buckets of fragrant, delicious wine.
When it was poured into the unique cups in the Southland of Sorcerers, which were made of horns, the fluids were as thick as honey.
When a bucket of wine was almost emptied, the last bit of the wine would hang on the wall of the bucket and flow all the time, as if the wine would never be poured up. All the barbarians’ eyes were almost jumping out of their face, and they were about to jump into the buckets for a shower.
In the next moment, everybody roared and drank crazily like whales absorbing water.
Soon, all of them were wasted and snoring.
Li Yao devoured plenty of ‘Empyrean Drink Wine’, too.
However, a slight ominous feeling inside his head made him analyze the elements of the wine.
As I expected, there are intense narcotic drugs inside the wine. Otherwise, the barbarian Cultivators wouldn’t have been drunk so quickly.
However, although the narcotic drugs are quite effective, they are in fact very mild and will cause no harm to the body. They will wake up normally tomorrow morning.
Ling Shoujing, the Appeasing Ambassador of the Fifth Prefecture of the Southland of Sorcerers, is not a simple guy!
Li Yao did not sense any maliciousness from Ling Shoujing.
Moreover, all the barbarian Cultivators were on the court’s side. Unless Ling Shoujing was planning to defect and join the Ghost Qin’s side, it was highly unlikely that he would harm those barbarian Cultivators.
Therefore, Li Yao simply pretended that he was sound drunk, too, and collapsed to the ground like a heap of mud, while he observed what Ling Shoujing was going to do next.
The feast lasted more than five hours, and there was still no sign of stopping.
Li Yao couldn’t help but notice that, after the barbarian Cultivators were drunk, many ordinary barbarian soldiers under Huo Wuji’s command joined the feast and continue drinking, partying and clamoring in place of the barbarian Cultivators.
Many barbarian Cultivators, including himself, were carried into a seemingly plain tent deep inside the military camps by the Black Tiger Iron Guards.
Somebody opened his mouth and fed some sour, smelly and almost undrinkable liquids into it.
Li Yao absorbed part of the liquid with his tongue and analyzed, only to discover that they were drugs to stimulate the nerves and wake up people from anesthesia.
Therefore, he coughed and ‘woke up’, before he looked around in confusion.
The joyful ambience of a feast was entirely gone. He found himself in a cold tent filled with the stink of blood.
Every burning torch around the tent were emitting cold, bluish brilliance.
Under the bluish light, everyone’s face was as pale as that of a corpse.
Ling Shoujing, who was friendly if not riotous a moment ago, was now wearing a gold armor, with two enormous hammers crossed on his back. He sat at the center of the tent magnificently and gazed at them without any expression as if he were a statue made of steel.
He was surrounded by almost thirty Black Tiger Iron Guards. They were all the vanguards or captains in the army. Their sabers had all been unsheathed, and the aura of their weapons were glittering.
They did not cover their spiritual energy at all, which was spreading out and blowing the tent made of thick bull hide like a balloon.
Li Yao turned around and noticed another seventy or so barbarian Cultivators who also just woke up from a hangover in confusion. They were blinking their eyes, not having the slightest clue what was going on.
Some of the quick-minded barbarian Cultivators thought that the emperor’s army was going to attack them and exclaimed in shock. Yet, they did not know how to react and simply shuddered in fear.
Although they had the advantage in number, they were drafted from different villages and had not been familiar with each other. Some of them even had minor conflicts before. They were just a bunch of mobs that did not stand in solidary like the emperor’s army.
“Please don’t be anxious, everybody. I mean you no harm. I have to invite you for a conversation in such a way because there are too many spies outside!”
Ling Shoujing’s tone was entirely different from his tone during the feast. It was filled with the graveness and toughness of an iron saber. He seemed even more determined than during the day.
He coughed slightly. Several Black Tiger Iron Guards brought the hill of treasures outside back into the tent again.
Right now, the crystals, blades and magical equipment were all mixed up, making them even more dazzling than before.
“Right now, there are altogether sixty-eight heroes from the Southland of Sorcerers in my tent, and you will split the treasures!”
Ling Shoujing’s words were such a shock that all the barbarian Cultivators who were still in confusion jumped to their feet.
Everybody found it hard to believe their eyes. They were so greedy that their tongues were often dangling.
Didn’t he just say that a three-day test would be held and only those who proved themselves to be the strongest were entitled to 1/200 of the treasures?
Although the barbarian Cultivators were not good at arithmetic, they did know that the personal gains would be much higher if it were sixty-eight people who split the treasures instead of two hundred!
Li Yao was the only one who vaguely guessed Ling Shoujing’s plan. He couldn’t help but cheer for the Appeasing Ambassador’s wisdom and resolution.
The sixty-eight barbarian Cultivators next to Li Yao were not the most experienced or the strongest ones, but the most dogged and the most loyal ones from the most remote villages.
Also, the Cultivators who volunteered to join the battle during the day, no matter what their performance was, had been summoned here, too, even if they failed.
On the other side, none of the famous barbarian Cultivators, whose capabilities were well acknowledged, as long as they were wavering and not meaning to make actual contributions, such as ‘Meng Duo’ and ‘Gu Siduo’, showed up here!
In such a case, wasn’t it obvious what Ling Shoujing was up to?
The Black Tiger Iron Guards were quite fast to divide the crystals, blades and magical equipment into two hundred fractions.
Then, they carried out almost twenty bronze boxes and smashed them.
Inside the first box was coldly-shining sabers and flying swords, which were brimming with spiritual energy and already roaring while they were still inside the box.
Those weapons were even more advanced that those presented to the public just now!
The second box contained iron balls the size of fists which were covered in straw, cotton and silk. Their surface was written with complicated spiritual stripes, too, that congregated into the words ‘Taiyi Heart Stabbing Grenades’.
The next few boxes included finely-made armors embedded with rune arrays and night cloaks which could hide one’s traces.
The last box, however, was packed with gold, glittering scrolls.
Several Black Tiger Iron Guards opened the scrolls and invited the barbarian Cultivators to read them.
Many barbarian Cultivators were illiterate. They learnt only after other people’s interpretation that the scrolls were the Great Qian Dynasty’s royal degrees of appointment.
What were listed on the scrolls were the most important and promising posts in the Southland of Sorcerers. The seal of the Appeasing Ambassador of the Fifth Prefecture of the Southland of Sorcerers had been stamped on them, too. But the column of name was still empty.
“The sabers and flying swords are of different models. You can choose whatever blades you find suitable for you. Everybody will be given four Taiyi Heart Stabbing Grenades, one Green Cloud Spiritual Armor, and one Night Stalker Cloak. As for the names on the royal degrees…”
Ling Shoujing smiled, with intense killing intent beaming out of his face, “They will depend on your performance later!”
The barbarian Cultivators looked at each other in bewilderment.
With such a weird vibe and such bountiful rewards, even the most inert barbarians should’ve sensed something wrong.
One of the barbarian Cultivators, who was rather fat and had a pair of huge ears, emboldened himself to ask, “If I may ask your lordship… What is going to be our performance later?”
Ling Shoujing sneered and declared, one word after another, “Two hours later, before dawn, we are going to assault the enemy’s camps and kill Huo Wujiu as well as his Ghost Qin accomplices! In the battle during the day, you have all distinguished yourselves and proved your loyalty to the court. I am very satisfied!
“You are the real heroes in the Southland of Sorcerers. Is there any need to hold another test?
“Before our night assault, we have also prepared such fine gears for all of you. They will certainly be a great help. I hope that you will try your best and do not disappoint me, the court, and His Majesty!”