"Fine almond wine brewed with mountain spring water! Money back if it's not fragrant!"
"Grilled fish skewers! Fragrant grilled fish skewers!"
"Would you like a sweet glutinous ball? Sir, a plate for you? Only nine coins. Nine coins for a plate!"
On the lively snack street, lanterns hung everywhere above the thronging crowd.
Li Shunxi followed slowly behind a white-haired man, his face a look of bitter helplessness.
The white-haired man walking in front of him had a scar that streaked across his forehead. His eyes were gentle and mild, without a trace of ferocity in them. He was dressed in a set of Confucian robes, which had been washed so many times it had become white. His sleeves billowed in the wind, giving him the look of a talented but poor scholar.
"Let's take a sit in front." The white-haired man smiled. He did not look oldthirty or forty at bestbut when he spoke, he sounded as if he had been through much, just like a seventy or eighty year old man.
What could Li Shunxi say? All his friends and bosom buddies' lives were in the man's hand. He could not say no.
If one looked only at appearances, nobody would ever guess that this white-haired mild-mannered middle-aged man was the present Grand Marshall of the Devil armyRoxim.
The two of them entered a winery called "Wine Without Whine". Many customers from all over the place were seated in it, and boasting and bragging erupted ceaselessly.
Roxim asked for a flask of ten year old aged wine and placed two small brown yellow wine cups in front of them.
Then he lifted up the flask deftly and poured Li Shunxi a cup.
"To be honest, I'm very impressed by you humans." Roxim poured a cup for himself, held it up and sipped.
"Clothing, eating, sleeping, walking, even entertainment and games... you've developed them really well." Roxim smiled. "My hometown is a dark swamp without the rays of the Devil Sun. From my birth till my 200th birthday, I had never seen sunlight. Every day was killing and struggling for the sake of survival. Compared to that, you're blessed indeed."
"Lord Grand Marshall, don't tell me that every member in the Devil race is so isolated and lonely?" Li Shunzi whispered. In actual fact, there was no need for him to do that.
As the Grand Marshall of the Devil army, Roxim was naturally surrounded by all sorts of concealing fields. Even if he were to shout loudly some keywords like "Devil race", it would be contained by the isolation field and nobody outside would hear him.
"Using a saying from the human race, it's lonely at the top. The stronger you are, the more alone you are." Roxim sighed. "At first, we had no such concept of a common race. Only later did we, with great effort, group those with thorns together, those with hair together, those who had the same shape and form together, etc... But in actual fact, we remain independent individuals. All intelligent beings are fighting for their own strength and survival."
"..." Li Shunxi was quiet before he spoke, "In that case, can Lord Grand Marshall tell me, why was Song Dynasty chosen as the point of invasion this time?"
"Of course it's not just Song Dynasty. There's a point of invasion in Ju Rong Nation as well. Greed and avarice are our basic instincts. Occupying and seizing every fine thing, devouring and killing every weak thing... such is the basic physical need of our race."
"In that case, may I ask Lord Grand Marshall again... you've kept me with you instead of killing me... why?" Li Shunxi asked again.
Roxim grinned instantly. He cupped his hand beside his ears.
"Listen... what do you hear in the wind?"
Li Shunxi paused in surprise. He was about to answer when Roxim extended his index finger towards him suddenly and pressed it on his forehead.
A shock wave rippled through his mind. Massive icy cold air gushed across his brain and his consciousness and vision blurred.
In that instant, a circle of white light erupted forth from the Jade of Secrets within Li Shunxi. The intense energy reaction caused him to black out and momentarily lose consciousness.
After an unknown length in time, Li Shunxi slowly woke up and regained consciousness.
"This place... where is this...?" His eyelids jumped and he slowly opened his eyes.
Blood was everywhere and filled his vision!
A chill gripped Li Shunxi. He pushed away the table and chair and stood up. The rotten table and chair collapsed on the ground into pieces.
The winery was completely empty. Only a carpet of congealed blood lay under his feet.
The sea of dark red covered the entire floor of the winery, its wall, ceiling, etc. Swarms of red-headed houseflies flew here and there, emitting disgusting buzzes.
"This... this place is...!?" Li Shunxi recalled that sensation earlier. It was the same sensation that he felt each time when he used the Jade of Secrets.
"This is the winery? And just a moment ago, I was drinking wine with the Grand Marshall of the Devil race, Roxim, in this winery?" he quickly recognized the setup before him.
Puzzled and confused, Li Shunxi stumbled out of the winery and lifted his eyes.
The world around him was covered in only three colors: the color of ruins, black, and dark red.
Broken and smashed houses and buildings... decomposed limbs and lumps of flesh... hills of corpses and dead bodies... everywhere within sight, no living being could be seen.
No human. No Devil.
In the skies above his head, a gigantic tetrahedron rotated in midair. It was a gigantic bizarre building composed of countless number of human heads.
The Jade of Secrets spun faster and faster in Li Shunxi's body. A sea of information gushed madly into his brain.
"This... this is White Bell City two hundred years later?" As the information entered his mind, he quickly understood that this was White Bell City in which he had been staying in for the past few days.
Blood Sacrifice, Gate of Flesh and Blood, Blood Pool of Ten Thousand Devils, the Third Devil Spirit... a series of information filled his mind till he felt as if his brain was about to explode.
"What did you see?" Without warning, a voice as loud as a massive gong penetrated his mind, suppressing everything immediately. It shook Li Shunxi thoroughly and enabled him to wrestle his way out of that helpless state of agony.
He opened his eyes again. Everything in front of him had been restored to its original state. The winery "Wine Without Whine" was still filled with chatter and conversation. Grand Marshall Roxim was still seated in front of him, gazing intently at him with a smile.
"What did you see?" Roxim asked again.
Li Shunxi opened his mouth but no words came out. He understood that Roxim had supplied a large amount of energy to the Jade of Secrets earlier so that he was given a glimpse of the scene two hundred years later in that split second.
His silence made Roxim's smile even wider.
"Fine. I don't need you to say anything to guess that we won in the end. Am I right?"
Li Shunxi remained silent.
White Bell City and all nearby cities would fall and become dead zones. The Third Devil Spirit would hatch, the Hundred Lineages would be destroyed, Shangyang Family would be destroyed and Song Dynasty would suffer cataclysmic losses.
This prosperous land was destined to become a land of destruction in the next two hundred years. Beginning from the treason of West Infinity Court, this entire land would descend into destruction step by step.
"Come, drink up." Roxim smiled as he held up the wine cup.
Li Shunxi stared at the other party's smile, but did not feel like touching an ounce of wine. He wanted to go alert West Infinity Court to prevent all these from happening. But he was clear that the other party would never allow him to leave.
"Listen to your surroundings. What are they talking about?" Roxim pointed at the other tables around them.
Li Shunxi could not help but look around him. Streams of conversations entered his ears. They were all about bizarre events that had been happening recently.
People missing, more turning insane, shadows that moved on their own, people getting more and more antsy, and constables and soldiers investigating cases everywhere.
At least one out of every three tables in the winery would be discussing such topics. It was as if the air in the city had been trapped by some invisible barrier; it was suffocating.
Every now and then, some patrolling soldiers would enter the winery for inspection and checks. No one dared to criticize and mock the government openly now. Nor were any of those mercenaries and drunkards who used to tease the waitresses seen. Even those wealthy young masters who used to frequent such places were nowhere to be seen.
Li Shunxi sat at his table quietly, finding it hard to believe that this prosperous and rich White Bell City would fall and become a dead zone two hundred years latera paradise of despair, the cradle of Devils.
Shangyang Family would become history in this calamity. So would the Hundred Lineages. And all these was about to begin with the imminent treason of West Infinity Court...
"Drink up." Roxim smiled.
Zhan Hongsheng limped out of the cave. When she sensed the tail which had retracted into her body, she would find it weird.
Lu Sheng had used the leg of the table to channel a thread-like force through her clothes to massage her perineum and chest muscles. Then he had imparted her the bone shrinking technique successfully.
As a result, this mutant tail had been successfully retracted into her body. But at the thought of her impulsive gesture earlier, Zhan Hongsheng's cheeks turned red with embarrassment. She wished she could dig a hole in the ground and vanish into it.
Lu Sheng followed her out of the cave.
"When you go back, continue practicing it. As time passes, it'll be natural to you and there'll be nothing to fear. If you're still afraid, you can go look for umbrella girl Yingying and the rest. They've all encountered similar situations."
He told Zhan Hongsheng the means to contact umbrella girl and the rest, then instructed her not to leak it to anyone else, and sent her off.
After discovering that there were others like her, she could not wait to look for umbrella girl and the rest. She had come to terms with reality by now. She understood that there was no way she could break free from Lu Sheng's control, hence she might as well see herself as his subordinate. Anyway, he was not a difficult man to work for.
Having arrived at such a thought, she felt much greater peace of mind.
Below, the sounds of many disciples training and sparring rang out incessantly. Zhan Hongsheng's gaze swept across them and quickly located umbrella girl Yingying and the others.
No matter what, she was a sect disciple in the Hundred Lineages with a cultivation above Double-Vein Level. She could sense a similar aura emanating from Xu Chui and Ning San as well.
Having found her target, she quickly rushed down the steps to the square.
Lu Sheng sent Zhan Hongsheng away and glanced at the Prime Devil Sect disciples practicing and sparring on the square.
To be honest, he was keenly aware of the fact that the present scene looked as if the Prime Devil Sect had good days ahead of it, but it was merely an empty mirage without any foundations. After all, secret arts were difficult to cultivate and needed a long time to accumulate power and train. Without a few decades' work, these disciples would not have much to show for their effort.
He surveyed the square and saw He Xiangzi training a groups of boys and girls with two other junior apprentice sisters.
These orphans from broken families, produced by the war, would grow to become the true core strength of the future Prime Devil Sect.
"In this world, Divine Weapons and Devil Blades continue to appear via some mysterious means. Likewise, they continue to shatter and be destroyed through fights." Lu Sheng read in the records that some people in the past had encountered extraordinary strokes of fortune, finding a Divine Weapon or Devil Blade and turning into a Noble Family instantly. Many others had suffered from broken families because they could not recognize the treasure in their hands and did not know how to use it. The possession of treasure made them guilty and targets of destruction.
He Xiangzi had explained to him during a conversation that these few children whom they had taken in had come from such backgrounds.