Chapter 448 – Ghost City
Hua Chenglu was about to strike, but she suddenly felt extreme pain in her belly. Her true qi dispersed as soon as she mobilised it. Her eyes widened. “There’s poison in the tea!”
The old man radiating with daemon qi lunged over with unbelievable speed.
In a single instant, life-threatening danger enveloped Hua Chenglu. Despite all the powerful talismans in her possession, it seemed to be too late to use any of them.
White light filled the clinic. Yu Zijian’s eyes narrowed as she flew out. The Nine Yang sword was like a white rainbow, penetrating numerous patients in the way and piercing the old man.
A black smoke spurted out from the wound, flying towards Hua Chenglu.
The jade tablet on Hua Chenglu’s waist produced a ring of verdant light, and the black smoke smacked into it. Unable to penetrate it, the smoke changed directions and turned towards the wall.
Although the protective jade had saved her life, Hua Chenglu still ended up collapsing. Yu Zijian caught her. At this moment, a series of shrill cries and groans suddenly rang out from behind. Yu Zijian looked over.
Blood splattered across the ground where the Nine Yang sword had passed by. The bright red colour was dazzling. The sick people who had been pierced seemed to awaken from their nightmares, crying out on the ground. Strands of black smoke surged out from their wide-open mouths, merging with the larger wisp of black smoke near the wall.
They were not zombies or puppets, but living people. Yu Zijian was dumbfounded. I was the one who killed them!
“Zijian, it hurts so much! There’s poison in the tea!”
Before Yu Zijian could accept the reality of what she had done, Hua Chenglu had already fallen into debilitating pain. Her temperature fluctuated, sometimes scorching hot and sometimes as cold as a corpse.
“Chenglu, use your cultivation to purge the poison!”
“It’s not poison, but my children.” The ball of black smoke produced a strange buzz.
Yu Zijian focused her true qi on her eyes and saw a startling sight. The black smoke was not actually smoke, but countless tiny black insects. She lowered her head to check on Hua Chenglu again, and she had already become soaked in cold sweat. She fed a healing pill to her in a hurry.
“It’s useless. Before long, all of her organs will be destroyed, and she’ll die. You’re next!” The smoke buzzed. With bulging eyes, all the people under the control of the black insects squeezed their way out of the clinic frantically, producing inhumane growls.
Yu Zijian was afraid to strike so carelessly again. She lifted up Hua Chenglu and flew towards the wall. Her sword whistled as she stabbed towards the smoke.
The smoke churned and scattered before reassembling further away. Standing on the wall, Yu Zijian’s expression changed drastically with what she saw. When she had first arrived, the entire city was deathly silent. There had been almost no one on the streets. Yet right now, countless men and women filled the various streets and alleyways, like they were taking part in some sort of grand ceremony. All of them raised their heads blankly and stared at her with their paling eyes, like puppets carved from wood or moulded from clay.
“I’ve already sent my children into every single well here. Originally, I wanted to enjoy this city full of blood and flesh slowly, but you’ve actually come to interfere. You can all die!”
The sea of people suddenly sprang alive and snarled together, and a terrifying sound wave rushed into the air with the buzzes of the black insects. The sea of people surged like the tide towards Yu Zijian.
With a rumble, dust filled the air as the walls directly collapsed under their weight.
Yu Zijian leapt up with Hua Chenglu in her arms, gazing over the black mass from above. She had no idea whether it were a few thousand or a few tens of thousand. Both her body and mind began to sink. Staring at the countless, hollow eyes, she became rather dazed.
Hua Chenglu whispered into her ear with difficulty, “Zijian, go!”
Yu Zijian immediately returned to her senses. Before she touched the ground, the Nine Yang sword let out a lengthy thrum and stopped three meters above the ground, brushing past the sea of people and flying out of the city with Yu Zijian on top.
Countless arms reached over, like a sight from the bottom of hell.
A middle-aged woman suddenly leapt up. Despite being under the daemon’s control, this was still beyond her physical capabilities. Her legs snapped with a crack, but her hands managed to touch the corner of Yu Zijian’s clothes. The other humans under control all leapt up too, throwing themselves at her.
Yu Zijian gazed ahead with pursed lips, pushing the sword control technique she had learned from the school of Daoism to the limit. The Nine Yang sword left behind a curved streak of white light, shooting over the sea of people. The daemon qi trailed closely behind her. Glancing backwards, she saw the black smoke composed of countless tiny insects surging in pursuit.
However, the Nine Yang sword was still a supreme grade spiritual artifact personally bestowed upon Yu Zijian by the leader of the school of Daoism. Although Yu Zijian was unable to unleash its full power, she still moved with startling speed. She gradually shook off the black smoke, shooting over the city walls.
The black smoke circled around above the city walls and let out a regretful hiss, but it was afraid to pursue any further. It understood its limitations. It was not skilled in open combat, and humans possessed some powerful techniques, so if it became heavily injured, it would be bad. Instead of that, it would be better off breeding and strengthening itself through the several tens of thousand prey in the city. Out of the two that had come, it had managed to kill one, so it was enough.
The daemon qi gradually grew further away, and Yu Zijian decelerated rapidly. The Nine Yang sword under her skid over thirty meters before coming to a screeching halt. Gazing back, she saw how the daemon did not come in pursuit. Deep, lingering fear immediately welled up inside her as her back became covered in cold sweat.
Daemons like that were extremely rare. It was actually composed of countless black insects, and it was so clever. If this continued, the entire city of people would be slaughtered. Yu Zijian had always been a kind-hearted person, so she was immediately overcome with sorrow after witnessing something so tragic. She had even forgotten about fear. She was tempted to cut down the daemon right then and there.
However, she gritted her teeth instead and lowered her head. “Chenglu, we’ve escaped. We’ll go back right now. You have to hold on!”
Hua Chenglu forced out a smile. Just when she wanted to open her mouth to say something, a mouthful of blood gushed out. She became completely sheet-white as she said feebly, “Zijian, I can’t hold on for much longer.”
Her cultivation as a Qi Practitioner was already rather impressive, but the organs were still the weakest part of a human’s body. Countless tiny black insects were currently wreaking havoc in there. If her control over true qi was as intricate as Li Qingshan’s, then she would have been able to kill the black insects, but it was completely impossible for the current her.
Yu Zijian’s heart became filled with pain with that. Tears rolled down her face. “Chenglu, don’t be so foolish. You won’t…”
“I never thought I’d die on my first mission. How… embarrassing. Tell my elder brother that I…”
“Stop, I don’t want to hear it!” Yu Zijian covered her ears.
The black smoke let out a sharp buzz as it sneered. “Children, eat her organs!”
Hua Chenglu said, “It hurts! It hurts so much!”
Yu Zijian was filled with despair. She raised her head instinctively, wanting to look for someone to help her, no matter who it was. A stalwart figure appeared in her mind naturally, but there was nothing in the wilderness around her at all. There was only her best friend moaning in pain in her arms, on the brink of death.
Faced with a situation like this, some people would break into tears, while others would become frantic. However, her gaze gradually became determined under this unbearably great pressure.
“Chenglu, hold on. I won’t let you die. I’ll definitely kill the daemon. I’ll save you and everyone else!” Yu Zijian placed Hua Chenglu on the ground and took her hundred treasures pouch, taking off on the Nine Yang sword and flying back towards the city with determination.
Hua Chenglu extended her hand, but she was unable to say anything at all. All she could do was watch as the violet figure vanished from her vision. Afterwards, she completely fainted from the pain.
After who knew how long, the dim sky began to rain. Droplets of rain fell from the hanging clouds, stretching out into drizzle and falling onto Hua Chenglu’s face. Her face that had become twisted from pain eased up before she knew it.
Hua Chenglu felt the coldness on her face and opened her eyes slowly. The pain had already vanished from her body. For some reason, the black insects she had ingested settled down, no longer gnawing and ripping away at her body crazily. Instead, it lurked within her silently, like regular insects. Even their daemon qi had become extremely faint, almost gone entirely.
“Did Zijian succeed?”
Hua Chenglu was filled with joy from surviving. She immediately mobilised her true qi to purge these tiny insects that had lost their intelligence and only moved according to their instincts from her body. Gazing in the direction of the city gates, she frowned again before propping herself up and making her way towards the small city.
The rain grew heavier, forming a curtain before the city walls. Hua Chengzan entered through the curtain, passing through the gloomy gates and returning to the city that had almost taken her life.
The state of the city left her shocked. A large swathe of structures before her had been razed to the ground with traces of fire. This was the power of a protective supreme grade talisman Hua Chengzan had handed to her. She could vaguely make out countless charred figures on the ground, which had been washed by the rain.
Travelling further ahead, corpses appeared before her one by one. They had either been burnt to a crisp by Lightning Summoning talismans, or they had shattered into pieces after being frozen by Frigid Ice talismans. However, most of them had been pierced or cut apart. They had been slain by a sword.
“Zijian! Zijian!” Hua Chenglu became worried and called out her name. Her voice imbued with true qi boomed through the silent city, but she did not receive a single reply.
The sky grew darker, probably because it was already dusk. Finally, Hua Chenglu found her before a destroyed ancestral hall.
She hugged the Nine Yang sword, sitting with her head lowered on the grey stone steps. The rain moistened her hair, which made it stick to her face. Then, the rain dripped down along her clean cheeks and suddenly turned red. She was covered in blood. Under the rain, blood permeated her surroundings. Only the Nine Yang sword shone like snow.
She stared at the grey tiles before her. Suddenly, a pair of feet appeared on the tiles and a gentle call rang out from above, “Zijian. Zijian, are you fine?”
“Chenglu, I won… But I only saved you…” Yu Zijian seemed to return to her senses. She raised her head slowly and smiled with difficulty. Her face was completely moist, perhaps from the rain or perhaps from tears.
Hua Chenglu saw her smile, and her heart ached. She felt even greater pain than when the black insects gnawed at her. There was nothing she could say.
A few streaks of light shot across the air. One of them was Hua Chengzan.
Afterwards, Hua Chenglu heard from her knowledgeable elder brother that the daemon they had run into was extremely rare. It was known as a “miasma daemon”.
Among the carapace daemonic beasts, some were overly simple and small, without a shred of intelligence. They even paled in comparison to ants, making it basically impossible for them to become actual daemons. However, if they gathered near spiritual veins or spiritual grounds, there was an extremely slim chance that they would develop intelligence over countless years, turning into an existence akin to miasma. Destroying them was very easy. All they had to do was kill most of them.
If Yu Zijian had been a moment slower, Hua Chenglu would have died. Fortunately, Yu Zijian found the method in time, which was why she had saved her. However, at certain times, Hua Chenglu would rather not be saved, such as right now.