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Chapter 556: 556
Ling Zhang, after his talk with Yuwen Tong, said no more . During the first half of the night, all those supposed to be sleeping were fast asleep, and those still awake were sitting or lying in repose with their eyes closed .
Ji Yanlai had stopped gazing into the depths of the dark . Ji Yin, along with the couple of elders, were meditating, their eyes closed . For the moment there was no telling whether or not any of them was also being affected .
Most people were sound asleep, and in their dreams many of them forgot about the terrible things they had witnessed during the day .
However, as Zi Hour (23:00-00:59) neared, something in the dark seemed to be closing in on them . What with this weird, subdued atmosphere, all the unsleeping ones opened their eyes, and almost all of them sensed the approaching danger .
Ling Zhang sat up from Yuwen Tong’s embrace and looked off into the darkness .
At first it was just a perception of a looming crisis, but gradually they began to hear some strange sounds of breathing, which were shallow but very fast . Those people seemed to be in intense excitement . Some of them were leaping from rooftop to rooftop, others streaking along the streets, all of them threateningly advancing towards this camp .
“Form up!” yelled the couple of elders of the Millennium Pavilion . The guards immediately formed up into a defensive formation in front of the others .
The soldiers on night duty, whose hearing was not as good as the others’, were all unaware of what was going on, but they still promptly woke up their companions . Everybody was on the alert and combat-ready .
The first pair of eyes came into sight because of the reflection of firelight off them . Those eyes were crimson and bloodshot . And then a man leapt up high, fiercely coming at them like a beast at its prey, his eyes terrifying, the aura of murderousness around him almost palpable, his teeth bared .
The sudden appearance of the first man was closely followed by that of the second, the third …
All the others, like the first one, were crimson-eyed and weird-looking, their clothes bloodstained, baring their teeth, appearing more like wild beasts than humans .
“Holy s.h.i.t! What’s wrong with these people? Are they insane? They look much scarier than those pirates!” shouted Yuwen Jin in confusion, staring at those eccentric men and whipping out his saber after scrambling to his feet .
“They suffered Chi-Disorder,” said an officer standing beside him .
“Chi-Disorder my a.s.s! Did you not hear what the Clan Leader said during the day? They’re under some kind of encampment, which means they’re jinxed,” demurred Yuwen Jin .
“All these people are under a spell,” said Ji Yanlai, “one that’s very difficult to undo . They can be stopped by nothing but death . Even if we knew the countercurse, we wouldn’t have enough time to save all of them . Unlike those pirates, all these people have kung fu skills . ”
“Then we kill them,” said Yuwen Tong .
Given the strong smell of blood these people were giving off, they probably had taken a lot of lives .
The soldiers bent their bows, took aim and fired arrows at those peculiar-looking men approaching from the distance, while guards of the Millennium Pavilion had engaged the enemies at the front .
Ling Zhang and the others were not just watching either . Since the enemies were in large numbers and seemed to be pretty good at kung fu, the guards and soldiers wouldn’t be able to wipe them out anytime soon, so Ling Zhang and the others all made their move .
Ling Zhang and some others engaged the couple of odd-looking men that appeared to have the best kung fu skills .
It was after getting in a fight with them that Ling Zhang found that these people, though jinxed, indeed looked as if they were suffering from Chi-Disorder, for every one of them was shielded in his own Chi which was leaking out continuously, their clothes bulging, and they were attacking with no consideration of their own safety whatsoever . They were fighting purely out of instincts and were not afraid of getting hurt at all . Ling Zhang hit his target hard with a palm strike, causing the man to spit out several mouthfuls of blood . Were the man a normal person, he would have sunk to the ground already, but surprisingly, that weird-looking man was still charging at Ling Zhang, as though trying to get himself killed .
Ling Zhang, not inclined to waste any more time, directly finished the target off .
Although these queer men had kung fu skills and appeared rather creepy, it didn’t take long to wipe them out, because many of their opponents were kung fu masters .
It was after these people were exterminated that Mr . Mu found an opportunity to examine their bodies .
“Their symptoms are indeed like those pirates’,” said Mr . Mu after performing an examination .
Yuwen Jin took some soldiers to count the number of those maniacs’ bodies . Before long, he returned and informed the others, “Thirty-four . ”
“I wonder who these people were . It seems–”
Ling Zhang abruptly raised his hand, interrupting Yuwen Jin, the look on his face instantly becoming cold and grave .
Startled, Yuwen Jin immediately shut his mouth and then he saw Ling Zhang swoosh into the darkness without warning and disappear from view in a flicker of his figure .
“Brother Zhang?!” Yuwen Jin yelled involuntarily .
Yuwen Tong looked this way just in time to glimpse Ling Zhang’s back rapidly vanishing into the dark . His countenance changed and he streaked in that direction without a second thought .
Yuwen Jin was astounded . “Cousin?!”
All the others shifted their gaze to him . “What’s the matter?”
Yuwen Jin’s face was somewhat pale . “Brother Zhang and my cousin both went that way . I don’t know if they sensed anything . ”
Ji Yin and Ling Zhaowu both looked apprehensive . The former was just about to go that way to find out what it was about when Ling Zhang and Yuwen Tong walked out of the shadows shoulder to shoulder, Yuwen Tong carrying a half-dead man in his hand, who was pleading, “Mercy, Your Majesty! This is really just a misunderstanding! A misunderstanding!”
At the sight of them returning, all the others were relieved, but when their eyes fell on the man Yuwen Tong was carrying, they were all baffled . “Who’s that guy?”
Yuwen Jin walked up, c.o.c.ked an eye at the man and was amused . “Ha, you’re that captain of the guards working for the King of the South Ocean, aren’t you? What’s your name again? And why are you here?”
The man carried by Yuwen Tong was none other than the captain of the guards of the Fangcun monarch, otherwise known as the King of the South Ocean . He was of middle height and average-looking . n.o.body except for those who knew him could tell he was the captain of royal guards . However, this man was pretty good at kung fu and, because of his consummate lightness skills, was not a person to be trifled with . But at this moment, he was carried by Yuwen Tong and seemed to have been beaten within an inch of his life, his face severely swollen .
“Oh, you’re General Yuwen, aren’t you? Long time no see . I’m Wei Dong . We met before . You’re a n.o.ble and busy man, and I’m not surprised you forgot my name . ” Wei Dong let out a pained groan after Yuwen Tong tossed him to the ground, then pulled himself up and quickly started cottoning up to Yuwen Jin .
“Get your hands off me . You’re staining my clothes . ” Yuwen Jin stopped Wei Dong from holding his arm and then said, “What are you doing here? Have you been spying on us? When did you come to this island? And why didn’t you seek me out and say hi? One moment the King of the South Ocean was fawning on us, but the next, he was trying to distance himself from us . ”
With an apologetic smile on his face, Wei Dong said, “We’ve only just arrived, and I didn’t know it was you that entered the city . Had I known about it, I would definitely have come here to say hi some time ago . You may rest a.s.sured that our king will come here immediately after I return and inform him of it . Our countries have always been very close to each other . We’d never try to distance ourselves from you . ”
Yuwen Jin snorted and looked at Ling Zhang . “Brother Zhang, was it because you spotted this guy that you rushed out? You can do whatever you want with him . ”
Ling Zhang glanced at Yuwen Tong standing beside him, who had an ugly look on his face .
Ling Zhang, feeling somewhat guilty, said, “I’m letting you handle him . Ask him when the King of the South Ocean arrived here, where he’s hiding at the moment, and what he knows about all the oddities in this city . Let him go if he answers these questions with honesty; bury him with those bodies if he doesn’t . ”
“Oh, please don’t, Your Highness . I promise I’ll tell you everything you want to know . Please don’t be mad at me,” Wei Dong hastily said .
Yuwen Jin grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and took him away for interrogation .
After they went far away, Ling Zhang hastened to apologize to Yuwen Tong . “Just now I sensed that man’s Chi and immediately went to catch him for fear of him escaping . I didn’t have the time to tell you . Please stop sulking . ”
All the others were somewhat confused at these words, looking at the two of them in bewilderment, wondering why Ling Zhang was apologizing for such a trivial matter .
Beneath the others’ gaze, Ling Zhang was somewhat embarra.s.sed, but the sight of Yuwen Tong’s sulky look made him rather shamefaced .
He knew that it must be because Yuwen Tong had been affected by his previous words that Yuwen Tong had got alarmed and, mistakenly believing that he was heading for that palace, immediately followed in his wake .
But he was not that impulsive and still had his sanity . He would never do that kind of reckless thing .
“What’s going on? Something else happened?” asked Ling Zhaowu, looking from Ling Zhang to Yuwen Tong and back again .
Ling Zhang gave his father a simple explanation, saying that he had not had time to tell Yuwen Tong before leaving, which had caused Yuwen Tong to be worried .
Ling Zhaowu said, “Do not do that again . This place is quite spooky . Don’t worry us . ”
Ling Zhang hurriedly promised he wouldn’t do that again and then sneaked another glance at Yuwen Tong’s countenance .
There was no longer any anger on Yuwen Tong’s face, but Ling Zhang still couldn’t set his mind at ease .
“Let’s hear what Wei Dong has to say first . Just now he probably tailed those freaks and came here to check out the lay of the land, believing that his lightness skills were good enough for him not to be caught . I think those people from the Fangcun Kingdom are hiding somewhere nearby,” said Yuwen Tong .
Since he started talking about serious matters, the others took the hint and left to watch Yuwen Jin “interrogate” Wei Dong, paying no more attention to what was going on between him and Ling Zhang .
Ling Zhang, straggling behind the others with Yuwen Tong, secretly tugged at Yuwen Tong’s sleeve and said, “Stop being angry . I’ll give you a heads-up the next time I decide to make my move . ”
Yuwen Tong came to a halt and looked at him with a serious expression in his eyes . “Promise?”
Ling Zhang, knowing that Yuwen Tong was giving him an out, immediately replied, “I promise!”
It was only then that Yuwen Tong snorted and stopped being angry with him about his suddenly venturing into the darkness .
Wei Dong was honest and cooperative . Maybe because the King of the South Ocean had given him some kind of instruction, Wei Dong answered every question Yuwen Jin asked him .
“We arrived here last night, but it was on the other side of the island that we found our way in . We encountered some cannibals and got in a fight with them . Not until they were all driven away did we gain entry into this city . On entering this place, we got into another fight, this time with a band of pirates hiding there . We lost a lot of men . At that time none of us knew about the existence of these demented people in the city . Last night I nearly got torn apart by them . We fought for a whole night and finally managed to repel them . It was daybreak when I got to sleep, but before long I was woken up by some noises coming from this area . We didn’t know what was on this side and were afraid of encountering those freaks again, so we didn’t dare take any action and decided to stay put and see what would happen next . It was not until night fell that our king sent me here to take a look . As you know, my kung fu is just average, but my lightness skills are pretty good; I can make my escape when things go south … Ah, of course, I don’t dare flee when faced with His Majesty and His Highness . ”
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