The enormous square was crowded with people. All the teachers and students had assembled here.
Many of them had learnt that the federation had enter the first-degree state of war. Heated discussions were everywhere on the battleground.
A large giant beam unfolded, slowly enclosing the square, which started playing video clips from the frontline.
The flourishing and lively cities were now enveloped in smoke and explosions.
Black fog consumed the settlements, rising up like ferocious demon beasts and tearing the sky apart.
The 3D pictures made everyone feel as if they were at the scenes.
The noisy square soon went quiet. The only sound was the undying explosions inside the light beam which were thundering above their heads.
Everyone's teeth had pierced through their lips without them knowing.
Then, the light beam switched to the scenes inside the congress of the Star Glory Federation.
Representatives of Cultivators, ordinary people, and the military had passed a bill declaring that the Star Glory Federation would enter the first-degree state of war again after 500 years, with 722 votes in favor, 114 votes against, and 163 abstentions.
Then, Xu Haorao, the Speaker of Parliaments, stepped up and announced the declaration.
As a Cultivator, Li Yao had learnt more information on the Nexus with his telepathic thought.
The simultaneous beast tide outbreaks in seven towns in the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau were not a coincidence, but a long-prepared scheme of the Blood Demon Sector.
The seven cities, towns, and mining centers were located on the same mother lode which boasted abundant crystals.
The mother lode was also one of the largest mother lodes with the highest reserves in the Star Glory Federation.
Once they occupied the mother lode, not only would the resource collection of the Star Glory Federation be disrupted, they could also made best use of the tremendous crystals inside the mother lode to build up larger wormholes through which devil warships and super-large demon beasts would be able to invade the Heaven's Origin Sector.
The first-degree state of war differed with the peacetime in that battle credits mattered more than anything else.
Or rather, in the first-degree state of war, battle credits were everything!
By fighting bravely and accumulate more battle credits, one could redeem them through the federal government or the Nexus for magical equipment, martial arts, medications or even exploitation rights of mother lodes.
The military purchase, post-war reconstruction, and even the loans of the banks would be determined with consideration of the applicant's battle credits.
Since the Star Glory Federation had always valued valiancy and worshipped heroes, the sects and individuals who had extraordinary battle credits were popular everywhere. They could easily get the support and resources they needed.
In comparison, if some sects or individuals hid in their bases without getting any battle credits while other Cultivators were fighting bravely in the frontline, they would find it hard to hang around in society anymore. All their partners and clients would terminate their cooperation with them. They would also be lambasted by the media. One day, their disciples might feel too embarrassed to stay any longer and leave them for somewhere else.
This time, the three parliaments even came up with another incentive.
The battle credits could be redeemed for the resources and land in the Dark Desolate Domain and the Blood Demon Sector!
After five hundred years of profound construction, most of the land and resources of the Heaven's Origin Sector had been claimed, except for the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau and the Dark Desolate Domain which were still empty areas. The social strata had been becoming less flexible, too.
Ordinary people may find such an environment peaceful, comfortable, and enjoyable.
But for young, ambitious Cultivators without well-respected background, the reality was often terribly unsatisfactory.
Now was the time to change their fate!
Once the Heaven's Origin Sector and the Blood Demon Sector melded into one stable world, it would mean that there would be double the land and resources available.
At that time, the Dark Desolate Domain would no longer be torn by the two worlds, which meant that it would become an arable, habitable place.
After the demon clan was beaten, the land and resources would be unowned. They could be built into resorts, bases, or even personal towns.
And the property rights of them would have to be redeemed by battle credits.
Naturally, the encouragement of such an incentive was enormous.
Possessing a land of a thousand square kilometers where mother lodes of crystals prevailed and building up one's own town there. Even Li Yao found the idea so tempting that his blood was boiling.
With Ou Yezi's memories, he knew Ou Yezi's entire life. How could he not hope to establish his own sect to promote the ancient refining methodologies and be a star of the era with everyone's admiration?
But to achieve that, astronomical resources were required.
A crystal suit could be refined single-handedly, but it was impossible him to become a master refiner who could cruise in the sea of stars and refine magical equipment the size of a planet without the support of powerful sects behind him.
As for the accounting of battle credits
Li Yao devoured a huge amount of information with his telepathic thoughts.
He discovered that an instant interactive war mission system had been added to the Nexus.
It was an advanced system supported by countless admin-type Cultivators, which fixed once and for all the issues as to how Cultivators should be engaged in large-scale wars.
It had always been a tricky problem for Cultivators who had tremendous combat ability as individuals to participate in a war.
Most Cultivators found the federal army, which was full of military rules and entirely devoid of freedom, unacceptable.
Enlisting all Cultivators into the army and training them in the military standard was an approach that had proved to be a dead end back in the time of the Red Dragon Legion.
As a result, there were not many high-level Cultivators in the military.
Most Cultivators still preferred to join a sect, or simply became an unaffiliated Cultivator, because they would be bound by fewer restrictions and they could Cultivate or fight the way they wanted.
However, for such Cultivators who were not neatly organized, they could solve problems with their formidable combat ability when the scale of the battle was small, say, a battle of a few hundred people.
When the war grew in size, the free Cultivators would not be able to collaborate with each other effectively in battles when thousands of, or even millions of, people were involved. They often collapsed in quarrels before they were engaged with the enemy.
Hence, the war mission system was established.
It was based on the collective work of countless admin-type Cultivators and the most advanced super-large crystal processors of the Star Glory Federation, which would analyze the purpose of a battle with its unparalleled computational ability and break down the battle from top to bottom into step-by-step strategical missions with clear targets.
All the files of Cultivators would be analyzed by the crystal processor, so that every Cultivator would be recommended with one mission that was most suitable and had highest success rate for them through the Nexus.
For example, a culture-type Cultivator would be assigned to boost the morale of the soldiers in the frontline, or to soothe the patients in a field hospital.
A body practitioner who was adept at close combat would be assigned to battlegrounds of limited space where their specialties would be most useful.
Every Cultivator was allowed to update their files in the mission system to improve the matching ratio of missions.
Every mission had a reward of some battle credits, which would be balanced to the mission-taker after the mission was completed.
Cultivators could trade the battle credits for other things, or simply deposit them in order to redeem the land and resources of the Blood Demon Sector when the war was over.
Through such an approach, the free Cultivators would be able to be organized and fight like a regular army.
There was only one rule.
Cultivators could reject the missions recommended to them. They were also allowed to pick up missions that were not recommended to them. But they had to finish a mission to the best of their ability once they accepted one.
Deserters would be sent to the Court of Cultivators and despised by all Cultivators.
In the light beam, Xu Haoran's vehement war declaration had almost come to an end.
He pressed the desk hard with his two hands. He was talking slowly with a low voice, which did not sound passionate at all, but touching and ineffaceable.
"If the Blood Demon Sector wants a war, then we'll give them one. Until the skull of the last demon beast is stomped into the ground by the boots of our soldiers, the war will not be over!"
"Speaker Xu Haoran's only son joined the army last year and was sent to the northernmost defense line as an ordinary officer," Yuan Manqiu said softly.
"Their station is beside Riverstone City. It was the first town to be swallowed by the beast tides."
Half a day later, a crystal airship painted with 'Fist of Fury', the emblem of the Grand Desolate War Institution, was on its way to the battleground in the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau.
This was the first batch of warriors that the Grand Desolate War Institution sent for the war. They were strong Cultivators at the high level of the Refinement Stage or even higher. Most of them were teachers of the Combat Department and the Medical Department. Li Yao was one of the few students on the crystal airship.
The crystal airship was rushing in the sky. Its power rune arrays had been fully activated, to the extent that the shell of the airship was shivering.
After half a day's journey, Li Yao finally saw a burning city on the horizon.
It was their destination, Red Lotus City.
Right now, Red Lotus City had truly turned into a blossoming bloody lotus.
The intense smoke, blending with the blood-dyed sunset, seemed to be becoming a giant beast whose feet were on the ground while its head was craning to the sky with its bloody mouth wide open, roaring to the crystal warship silently. It was indeed an awe-inspiring demonstration of horror.
Although they were still dozens of kilometers away, Li Yao was already able to clearly sense the pricking of his skin and the pungent scent of sulfur.
The ever-expanding smoke had covered all the fifty square kilometers nearby in vague dust-grey.
Countless pieces of ash were flying in the air, like billions of dancing black butterflies.
The doomsday-like scenes rendered everyone speechless.
On the ground, almost a hundred black lines were crawling slowly to the south.
They were the refugees of Red Lotus City.
Most of them had been blackened by the smoke. Their clothes were ragged, their bodies covered in bruises. Dragging one another and holding their last belongings in their arms tight, they were retreating to the south in a trance under the protection of the federal army.
Against the crowds who were marching south, one crystal airship after another, carrying countless Cultivators, were on their way to the center of doom with colorful exhaust flames.
The world seemed to have turned monochrome, which made the exhaust flames from the crystal airship all the more dazzling.
Many citizens and soldiers who were walking with their heads down noticed the crystal warships coming from the south nonstop.
They soon learnt that those who were charging at the fire against the current of crowds were Cultivators.
Cultivators would help them take back their homes and avenge their deceased family and friends.
A silent horn seemed to be blown up in the hot air. Everyone stopped walking.
Amidst the pieces of dancing ash, in the mud that was sometimes deep and sometimes shallow, people who had just lost their home gritted their teeth and held back their tears, while they lifted their fists up and waved at the crystal airships in the sky with their full strength.
They were paying homage to the Cultivators in their own way.
The soldiers that were protecting the refugees were refreshed, too. They stood straight and saluted to the burning sky solemnly.