Chapter 976 – Locust Plague
“Are you perhaps the lord of the Proud Sword manor of the past? I’ve heard very much about you!”
Liu Hong was surprised. Back then, the Proud Sword manor had quite the renown even in the jianghu, but it was rumored that their manor lord had vanished, and the Proud Sword manor declined as a result. He never expected the manor lord to become such a powerful Qi Practitioner.
“That’s all from many years ago. I didn’t think someone would still remember it!” Yu Shukuang laughed aloud, and his full beard trembled in the process. “Please hold on for a moment. We can’t leave these corpses for that wretched daemon!”
He swung his right hand about, and true qi surged out, gathering the corpses into a pile. The people who had still been alive a moment earlier had ended up in such horrible shape. The sight was so bloody that even Liu Hong felt a little nauseous.
A ball of fire flew out from Yu Shukuang’s hand, landing on the pile of corpses and reducing it to ashes in the blink of an eye.
Wang Lei suddenly burst into tears. As they were seeking shelter in Clear River city, he had brought his family along with him too. They had lasted until now after so much difficulty under his care, only to all die to the flying locust’s attacks. If Liu Hong had not pushed him aside, he would have been dead too.
Liu Hong let out a long sigh. He could not help but shed tears too.
Yu Shukuang had grown accustomed to these sights a long time ago. Ever since the locust plague began, who knew how many people had died in the mouths of the insects. It was already quite rare to have corpses remaining that could be cremated.
“This place was reduced to a barren land a year ago. You can’t even really find regular locusts here, yet two locust daemons have appeared. How strange!”
“The wretched daemon seems to know Li Qingshan…” Huang Binghu hesitated before describing his conversation with the nymph daemon.
“Li Qingshan!” Yu Shukuang was taken aback. The entire reason why he could embark on a path of cultivation was closely connected to Li Qingshan. He said seriously, “I do know a little about this matter. The Soaring Locust King was originally suppressed in the Demon Suppression hall of the Chan Monastery of Deva-Nāga. Afterwards, he enchanted an eminent monk and escaped somehow, though I haven’t heard anything about this being connected to Li Qingshan. But given the current situation, probably nothing good happened between them, which is troublesome.”
Huang Binghu’s face sank. Given the locust daemon’s growth rate, it alone was basically sufficient to deal with them, yet he still called another locust daemon over, only demonstrating his determination. He had not been in a hurry to kill them either, keeping them around to torture slowly instead. Their grievances ran deep no matter how he looked at this. Being remembered by a Daemon King was not a great feeling.
“Let’s leave it at that and board the boat first!”
Yu Shukuang led the survivors to the port. Sure enough, there was a dragon boat waiting there, enough to carry two to three hundred people, but there was less than a tenth of the capacity boarding the boat now.
The sun rose in the east, and the dragon boat sailed down along the current.
Yu Shukuang stood on the deck as he leaned on his blade. His scarlet clothes buffeted in the wind, and the scenery on the two banks rapidly pulled backwards.
“Fellow Yu, may I ask if there’s anyone else who’s come to receive us?” Huang Binghu made his way out of the cabin. His severed arm was already reconnected.
“Aren’t I enough?” Yu Shukuang smiled.
“That’s not what I meant,” Huang Binghu said in a hurry.
“I’m joking. There’s no need to be so nervous. I’m currently considering whether we need further support or not. In order to deal with the locust plague, there are no cultivators idling around right now. They’re only caught up in more troublesome business if their cultivations are higher. Otherwise, school leader Li would not have asked me to come. He would have come to receive you himself.”
“I understand that, but if the Soaring Locust King sends even stronger locusts, this entire boat of people will be at risk of perishing!”
Yu Shukuang nodded and touched the scarlet bronze tablet on his waist, secretly making his decision. He asked, “Is your arm alright?”
“It’s not a problem anymore, but I probably can’t use the bow for a very long time. Hopefully that doesn’t become the rest of my life.”
“Once we arrive at the prefectural city, you can ask a disciple of the school of Medicine to take a look. That’ll prevent any lingering side-effects!”
The boat sailed like the wind, travelling hundreds of kilometers in a day. When they passed by Jiaqing city, Ye Dachuan came out and took a look before hiding in the cabin again.
When the moon reached its zenith, the fragrance of flowers drifted over with the wind. Yu Shukuang gathered his focus and clasped his hands. “Greetings, commander Hua!”
“Spare the formalities.” A beautiful figure landed softly on the nose of the boat. She opened her vermillion lips and asked, “You said the Soaring Locust King attacked you because you all know Li Qingshan?”
“Yes.” Even Yu Shukuang felt like he was pushing it a little with that reason. He never expected commander Hua to immediately rush over to support them.
In the cabin, Huang Binghu and Liu Hong had been sitting on the edge of their seats the entire time. They immediately rushed over when they heard the disturbance, only to see Yu Shukuang reporting politely to a woman. The faint fragrance of flowers in the air did not disperse even under the wind.
The woman was picturesque in appearance with a graceful body and an elegant bearing, just like a flower immortal. However, she also had a dignified and imposing aura about her. She also happened to be dressed in the uniform of a Scarlet Hawk commander.
The woman glanced over, and Huang Binghu and Liu Hong both lowered their heads to greet her. They both felt at ease now, feeling like their lives were finally safe. She asked, “You all come from Qingyang city and know Li Qingshan?”
Liu Hong and Huang Binghu told her how they knew Li Qingshan.
“Then what a coincidence today.” The woman smiled elegantly. Suddenly, she gazed off into the depths of the night, and a golden flower bloomed between her fingers, suddenly producing a thin streak of golden light that vanished with a flash.
A regular-sized locust flew in the air, tailing behind the dragon boat from afar. It was too far away, so even Yu Shukuang failed to sense it, but exactly because of that reason, it only saw this to be a measly dragon boat. As such, it neglected the arrival of commander Hua in the process. It suddenly saw a flash of golden light, which pierced it before it could even respond. It fell out of the air.
Only now did Yu Shukuang and the others learn they had been tailed the entire time, which shook them up. He rejoiced over the fact that he had called for reinforcements as soon as possible, or once stronger locusts attacks, they really would be done for.
“Now let’s see how deep the Soaring Locust King’s hatred is!” Commander Hua said.
The Soaring Locust King had many clones, but there was only a small number that could threaten her. On top of that, he constantly lost clones everywhere, so he might not necessarily mobilise a powerful force for the sake of his grievances.
Flowing with the river, her feelings fluctuated a little. She gazed at the bright moon and muttered, “Big brother Li, are you still well?”
They did not encounter any more danger for the next part of the journey. The dragon boat successfully approached the prefectural city of Clear River.
Everyone arrived on the deck. The glorious shine of the city under the night sky reflected in the Clear river as the noisy sounds of activity drifted over with the night breeze, giving off a sense of liveliness they had not seen in a very long time. It finally was not a barren landscape anymore, which exhilarated everyone.
Before Yu Shukuang and the others could even celebrate, commander Hua suddenly looked back, only to see a black cloud rise up on the horizon. That was a swarm composed of millions of locusts, with countless daemon-qi-possessing clones of the Soaring Locust King in the mix. They approached the dragon boat like they could devour everything in their path, swarming towards the prefectural city!
This was the true locust plague. Before a crisis that seemed to be capable of destroying the world, Yu Shukuang and the others all became shocked.
Warning bells rang out in the prefectural city as drums thumped against everyone’s hearts!
“Hmm? What heavy daemon qi up ahead!”
Over fifty kilometers away, Li Qingshan stood on a cloud and shielded his eyes as he watched.