The swarm of ghouls looked like an ocean covered in white lotuses.
Below the dim sky, at the front of the boundless army, stood countless translucent remaining souls that looked like a mist when observed from a distance.
The remaining souls mostly belonged to the folks who died miserably in the natural disasters.
When they died in hatred, their souls would haunt the world after their death. Without the timely appeasement of the experience monks such as Master Bitter Cicada, they would take shape under the instigation of Mother White Lotus. Driven by their remorse and hatred, they were the vanguards and cannon fodder of the greatest quantity in the army of ghouls.
They were different shades. Those with the feeblest waves looked like steam popping up from boiled kettles. Their color was so thin that they could barely be recognized as humans.
Some of them were deeper in color and more solid, and their appearances when they were alive could be made out. Most of them were slender disaster victims when pales faces. Having been soaked in the flood for too long, the victims were generally stinky and hideous, with their guts flowing out, before their death. Such features had been reflected vividly on their remaining souls, too!
A lot of the remaining souls were in a daze. Due to the loss of memories, they did not understand what was going on.
Some of the remaining souls did not know that they were dead. They were still looking at East Peace County earnestly.
There was no telling whether they were attacking East Peace County because they hated the Cultivators in East Peace County or because they intended to take shelter in East Peace County, motivated by their survival instincts.
The remaining souls of the ordinary people were highly unstable and susceptible to all kinds of interference. The lone ghosts were likely to vanish into nothingness after one moment of carelessness.
Therefore, many people stated that the real men in ancient times were never scared of lone ghosts because they could blow away the remaining souls with the vigor inside their body.
However, things would be different when the tiny remaining souls congregated into an overwhelming army where everybody was supporting each other. There would be a certain protective shield around all of them.
It could be compared to ice, which would melt very quickly if there was only a tiny cluster of it. However, if there was a whole warehouse of ice that was pressed together without the slightest gap, it would not thaw after ten days.
Moreover, Li Yao had also noticed that altars of dry bones had been established a fixed distance apart in the army of ghouls. Intense white smoke was popping up from the altars and turning into blossoming lotus flowers in the air, bathing all the remaining souls in the radiance of the white lotus.
The altars seemed to be some sort of magical equipment to stabilize the magnetic fields and to prevent the souls from dispersing.
The origins of the altars were probably a piece of military magical equipment of the Pangu civilization to protect souls!
The souls of thousands of ordinary people were already emitting suffocating intimidation under the protection of the white lotuses.
It was needless to mention the seasoned ghosts that were as vivid as living people behind the vanguards.
Although the seasoned ghosts were fewer in number, they were the main force of the army of ghouls. They originated from the particularly hateful homeless peasants, the folks whose souls were cleansed and polished by spiritual energy because they swallowed tremendous Jade Crystal Pellets before their death, or the lucky dogs among the regular remaining souls that were not battered during the previous battles but were fortunate enough to swallow the broken pieces of other remaining souls when they dispersed and grew stronger!
Some of the seasoned ghosts had even been transformed from Cultivators. They were authentic spectral Cultivators.
In the world of ancient Cultivators, there was neither a government nor law to organize everything. The Cultivators were certainly not an intact whole.
The conflicts among the Cultivators were much more severe than the conflicts between the Cultivators and the ordinary people. Too many Cultivators had been killed miserably in their bloody competitions. In the worse cases, some sects were even entirely wiped out by the evil forces such as the Black Devil Cult.
After such Cultivators died, their souls lingered in the world, but they were not tolerated by the other Cultivators, and they knew nothing about the techniques of the spectral Cultivators to preserve and strengthen themselves.
What choice did they have but to change sides and join Mother White Lotus?
It was also one of the most important reasons that the White Lotus Cult had never been uprooted in the past decades.
The seasoned ghosts looked much more daunting than the rookies. Their souls were highly condensed. At first glance, they were no different from living people except for their paleness and lack of vigor. Only through careful observation could one notice the black gas that was slowly spreading out from their body.
Most of the seasoned ghosts had mastered the techniques of remote control. They were wearing robes and armors.
The robes and armor were naturally enchanted by Mother White Lotus and carved with rune arrays to stabilize the magnetic field so that their souls would be steadier and less likely to crumble.
The recently deceased souls were the vanguards and cannon fodder, and the seasoned ghosts were the main force. On the two flanks of the army were hordes of skeleton soldiers.
Other than weird-shaped human skeletons, there were also the skeletons of pigs, dogs, bulls, and goats. There were even super skeleton monsters that were more than ten meters tall, piled up with all kinds of bones that were emitting a silver glow. They should be the large siege machines that the army of ghouls had prepared for the battle!
Sealing the soul into a skeleton and turning it into a skeleton soldier was also one method of ‘possession’. There were both advantages and disadvantages.
One advantage was that the soul, protected by the skeleton, would be less likely to be crushed. Also, it was more convenient for the skeletons to hold heavy blades and attack the enemy’s body of flesh and blood. If the soul was particularly powerful, it could even control dozens of skeletons or melt into the enormous skeleton of a ferocious animal in order to produce a unique, super skeleton soldier, which would be even more overwhelming.
In the ancient times when there were no super alloys to create artificial bodies, the natural, unpolluted skeletons would be the most primitive artificial bodies.
But the disadvantages were obvious, too.
Without muscles, nerves, and veins, the movement of the skeleton soldiers was slow and rigid. One moment of carelessness, and their joints might slip off or break apart, resulting in the skeleton soldiers collapsing to the ground, unable to move anymore.
Except for the few tough soldiers who had carved rune arrays on the skeletons to increase their dexterity and damage, most of the skeleton soldiers were only one-time attritions.
Most importantly of all, skeletons could not fly. They had to creep over to the enemy on the ground dutifully, which meant that they would be deprived of agility, the greatest advantage of the ghosts.
Skeletons were both like armor or a shell, with apparent advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it was impossible to stuff all the ghosts into skeletons. They could only be regarded as an important unit but could not carry out all missions by themselves.
A trumpet was echoing in a mind-stirring way deep inside the army of ghouls.
Huala! Huala! Huala!
The thousands of coffins at the end of the battle formation suddenly broke apart at the same time, from which thousands of zombies, whose faces were blue and whose skin had grown tiny villus, jumped out.
Most of the zombies were glittering in the color of copper, but some of them were shimmering in silver brightness. A few of them were even glowing in dazzling golden brilliance, as if they were the high and mighty nobles in the army of ghouls.
Zombies were very interesting things. They were the few beings that were extremely rare in the modern Cultivation civilization but quite common in the world of ancient Cultivators.
The very existence of zombies was illogical. Since the breath and heartbeat of a person would stop after they died, and the mitochondria inside the cells would cease absorbing and releasing energy, why would the zombies not decay, and why were they so strong?
It was not until Li Yao investigated in the Ancient Sages Sector in person and compared the techniques to raise corpses in this world to theories among the modern Cultivators that Li Yao finally understood the mysteries.
By Li Yao’s estimation, the so-called ‘zombies’ should be caused by certain special microorganisms or parasites that crawled into the Cultivators’ bodies, which were as tough as iron because of their training.
The special microorganisms regard the corpses as their paradise. They conducted mysterious modifications on the corpses, which resulted in the incredible features on the outside.
Many tales stated that the zombies had different hair colors. Some were green, and some could be white. It was a very common phenomenon when microorganisms and bacteria were cultured.
Therefore, the practice of ‘raising corpses’ was just the ancient people’s skillful manipulation of special microorganisms. It was essentially the same as making yogurt with bacteria.
After a body was successfully refined, a ghost would be able to infiltrate and control it, turning it into a zombie that could move freely and exchange spiritual energy with the outside world. Their power, agility, and defense were a hundred times better than the ordinary skeleton soldiers’.
As for the microorganisms inside the zombies, they did not have any intelligence at all. Therefore, there would be no conflict between them and the ghosts that entered the bodies.
The recently deceased ghosts, the seasoned ghosts, the skeleton soldiers, and the zombie commanders, with their graveness, raised gloomy, ghastly auras that were soaring to the sky. The sky was occupied by dark clouds and looked like a black ocean. There was no sign of sunshine.
In the middle, toward the rear, of the army, there was also an enormous caravan piled up with countless bones that looked like a mobile palace of bones. Coldness that felt like the edge of a blade was emanating vaguely, and infinite desperation was spreading. It seemed to be where ‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu was commanding from.
Although they clearly knew that ‘Mother White Lotus’ Wan Mingzhu was there, it was impossible for Li Yao, Yan Liren, Qi Zhongdao, Ba Xiaoyu, and Master Bitter Cicada to charge forward and cut off her head in the middle of a million ghouls.
Besides, she did not have a head to be cut off at all. If anything went wrong, she could turn into smoke and run away easily.
Therefore, the hunting team led by Qi Zhongdao could only wait on the flying boat patiently for a better opportunity.
Standing next to the rail, Li Yao moved his eyes from the army of ghouls to East Peace County, the greatest city in the southeast, below his feet.
The prosperous city—described as a city without night—was mired in fear and desperation.
East Peace County was dozens of times larger than Roaring Tiger City. The city wall was thrice as high, too. It was bordered the ocean in two sides and with a mountain in one side. The one side that was open to the land had been fully packed with ditches, pits, and barricades. There were also hundreds of giant pillars dozens of meters tall that were engraved with golden, shining runes. Standing below the city towers silently, they constituted an indestructible defense array!