Chapter 97: A Way Home
Welp here's a chapter o,,,o
feel free to proof kana >:D muahahahaha
After being denied entry to Red Star City and causing a huge commotion, Zhang and his wives decided to leisurely travel through the countryside on their way to New Moon City inside. Although they would miss out on the essentials that a city offers, they were able to enjoy gorgeous views and avoid annoying incidents from occurring.
Currently Zhang and the beauties were casually laying atop a hay cart that they had bought off someone. The man in question who sold them the cart broke into tears once Zhang casually handed him a few silver coins for the cart. Those few silver coins would most likely be able to keep his entire family fed for an entire year.
Zhang had bought the hay cart because staying in the magical carriage the entire trip was rather dull and riding on horses was not something that should be done when one is taking a leisure trip. Atop the hay cart Zhang and his beloved wives watched the clouds floating peacefully in the sky. For now, they did not have a care in the world, there was no war to fight, no one in need of saving, no cities to conquer. Just each other and a bottle of wine and a plate of fruit.
One could say that the current scene was rather dull while others may call it ideal. A man and four of the world’s most beautiful women, simply enjoying each other’s presence atop a fluffy hay cart with their pet spider. What more can one ask for?
The wind blows gently brushing against Ling’s hair as she sat atop the hay cart beside her husband. Gazing into the distance there was nothing but nature’s beauty in sight, the ancient trees, the gently streams, the dignified mountains, and the peaceful denizens of the forest.
“I guess waiting all of that time proved to be worth it.” Ling thought as her delicate hands cupped Zhang’s while a smile crept onto her alluring face.
Sadly, this pristine atmosphere was shattered when something floating atop the river’s surface caught Cheng Yu’s attention.
“My lord there's a corpse in the river!” He yelled.
Not long after the corpse was fished up from the river. The body of a young man in his thirties with his eyes sunken in and black colored veins running throughout his body was laid by the side of the river by Zhang’s men.
“This man died due to essence exhaustion.” Lingqi said as she examined the corpse and found that it did not have a single wound on it.
Before Zhang or anyone else could say anything, something else caught their attention. Dozens of other corpses could be spotted floating down the river. Soon these corpses were fished up and laid beside the first corpse. Upon further examination by Lingqi it was revealed that every single one of these corpses had died from essence exhaustion.
“Lingqi what do you think could have caused this?” Zhang asked.
“Well there are no sign of struggle or fighting and it does not appear like they were robbed or anything because many of them still have their valuables intact.” Lingqi replied with no definitive answer.
“Odd.” Yuying said while looking down at the dozens of corpses in front of her.
“Maybe someone harvested their essence.” She said while still looking down.
“Harvest?” Ai asked.
“Their essence was forced out of their bodies and once they were drained, their bodies couldn't function anymore and died.” Yuying hypothesized.
“Eh this matter doesn’t concern us, let’s continue to New Moon City. No point in worry about something like this.” Zhang said as he put his arms around Ai and Yuying and gestured for his men to ready their horses so they could leave.
“Almost forgot…” Zhang muttered as he let go of the two beauties in his arms and ignited every single one of the corpses, turning them into ash. “May you find your way home to your loved ones with the help of the wind.” Zhang said as the ashes was picked up by the wind and scattered throughout the lane.
If someone appeared in front of Zhang and needed help, he would aid them in an instant without hesitation. But how could he possibly help when all that laid in front of him were corpses besides what he had just done.
Thus after the ashes were scattered, Zhang and the four beauties along with their men continued their journey. Once in a while they would encounter corpses just like those previously found ones and Zhang would offer them the same service he had done to the others.
Although some would argue that it would have been better for him to offer them a proper burial, with a grave and tombstone. But the way Zhang saw it, he did not know the names of these deceased people and burying them out here in the wilderness with an unmarked grave was night right. Rather he felt he was giving them a chance of returning home.
“A way home, a way back to your loved ones…” Zhang sighed as he turned yet another corpse to ashes and watched it scatter to the wind.
“Cheng Yu, how many more day until we reach New Moon City?” Zhang asked.
“My lord if we travel nonstop, we should arrive after sundown.” Cheng Yu replied.
“Okay, once we arrive at the city have everyone be vigilant. I don’t want anyone ending up like those corpses we’ve been finding.”
“I’ll make sure to tell the others, my lord.”
“Brother are you done yet? The foods ready, big sister Ling sure knows how to cook.” Ai yelled from a short distance away as she sat by a warm campfire, eating a delicious looking chicken leg.
“You’re eating without me?” Zhang yelled out as he ran to join the others by the campfire. Also when he got to where everyone was he grabbed the delicious looking chicken leg that Ai had been nibbling on and bit into it.
“Give it back!” Ai yelled as her eyes became misty and clear droplets of water began forming. Like a child who had their candy stolen, Ai began chasing her husband around the campfire.
Seeing this the other beauties couldn’t help but break into laughter. The sight of a husband and wife fighting over a single chicken leg would surely put a smile on anyone’s face.
It did not take long for Zhang to eat the entire chicken leg while Ai was chasing him around the campfire, once all of the delicious meat was gone, Zhang tossed the bone into the campfire.
“Nooooo!” Ai cried as she remembered how great that chicken leg had been. Hilariously because she was so caught up in chasing Zhang, she totally forgot about the entire tray of chicken legs that were piping hot and just a few paces to her left.
So Zhang being who he was, grabbed one off the tray and stood in front of Ai eating it with a silly grin on his face.
“Where did you get that!” Ai asked as a sliver of hope shone in her eyes.
“Don’t remember, but maybe a kiss will jog my memory.” Zhang said jokingly.
Without hesitation Ai stood up and leaned in. But before her lips could touch his lips, something appeared in between them. Zhang was holding another chicken leg in his hand the entire time and with that Ai received another chicken leg.
“The shenanigans.” Cheng Yu said, trying to keep himself from bursting into laughter. It could be said that there is never a dull moment when one is around Zhang and the four beauties. Besides their engaging nightlife, this group of five acted more like children most of the time then adults, always joking, always messing with each other.
After a hearty meal the group continued on their trip. Like before the scenery around them was vastly beautiful and strangely they did not encounter any more corpses along the way. So for the remainder of the trip Zhang and the four beauties were able to once more solely enjoy their trip and immerse themselves in each other’s company.
The sky was clear, the sun’s rays were warm, and in Zhang’s embrace the four beauties laid atop the hay cart.
“Hey darling don’t you think that looks like a rabbit?” Lingqi asked as she pointed into a cloud far up in the sky.
“No that's a cat, right honey?” Ling said while pointing at the same cloud.
“You're both wrong it’s a cabbit.” Zhang said as he received weird looks from the two women lying beside him.
This was how the group spent most of the rest of the day, gazing into the sky and looking at the scenery around them. With the occasional playful joking that they usually engaged in.
While the five were caught up in a world of their own the skies soon became dark and the moon’s rays showered the weary travelers. With a wave of his hand Zhang made a warm cotton blanket appear and blanket himself and his wives from the cold night’s breeze.
Once the sun descended it did not take long for the party to arrive at the outskirts of New Moon City. Cheng Yu was the first to notice that something odd was happening, the city gates were wide open and there was only a single man standing guard.
This was obviously very strange because even in times of peace there would always be at least a squad of soldiers standing guard at every city’s gate to prevent criminals and people of their kind from entering. Upon closer inspection when the party arrives at the city gate, they noticed that this guard seemed especially skittish and fearful.
“Milord, we’ve come to partake in this year’s New Moon Festival.” Cheng Yu said to the skittish guard after dismounting from his horse.
“Le-leave right away before it’s late.” The guard squeezed out from his lips.
“Too late?” Cheng Yu repeated while raising one of his brows.
“Milord it’s very late and we couldn't possibly find any lodging out in the forest can we?” Cheng Yu asked in a respectful tone.
“Th-that’s true… But it’s unsafe in the city, I swear I’m not trying to scare you, I only wish to prevent unnecessary deaths.” The skittish guard said with resolute eyes.
“Yuying please help calm the man down. We won’t get anywhere at this pace.” Zhang’s voice rang out from behind Cheng Yu.
That was when Yuying appeared with dozens of black runes swirling on her hand. Without needing Zhang’s instruction Cheng Yu grabbed the guard and held him in place.
“Wh-what are you doing?!” The guard tried to yell out but with Cheng Yu’s hand covering his mouth, only muffled sounds were audible.
Moments later Yuying’s finger tapped the man’s forehead and the runes from her hand transferred themselves onto him. Once the runes had spread throughout his body the guard stood erect and in a daze.
“What is your name?” Yuying asked while keeping her finger in touch with the man’s forehead.
“Zhen Xiang.” The skittish guard stated while looking at Yuying.
“How old are you this year?”
“I am twenty-five years old this year.”
“Okay now tell us why we should not enter the city.” Yuying asked.
“Roughly twenty days ago corpses began turning up around the city, mainly of lowlifes who lived in the slums so no one paid any attention. With the festival nearing everyone was too busy to care about some lowlifes. But a few days later the bodies of even more bodies turned up, to the point that they could no longer be ignored. Men and women started disappearing every night, at first it was only commoners but eventually even the city guard began turning up dead. Now no one dares to go out at night, had I not needed to make money to pay for my mother’s medicine then I wouldn’t be caught dead out here.” Zhen Xiang said.
Once Zhen Xiang told them what they wanted to know, Yuying released him of her control and the black runes that were on his body faded and were no longer visible.
“Wh-what happened?” Zhen Xiang asked as he was brought out of his dazed state of mind.
“You were just going to quit your job as a city guard and go home with your ill mother.” Zhang said as he grabbed hold of Zhen Xiang’s hand and placed a pouch filled with gold coins in it.
Upon realizing what he was just given Zhen Xiang did not know what to say. Although he felt he could not take this pouch, a part of him knew he needed to because of how dangerous his job had become. There was a chance he might not get to come home tonight if whatever killed the other guards got to him.
“Take it and go.” Zhang said in a stern voice and gently nudged Zhen Xiang.
“Many thanks your master! Many thanks!” Zhen Xiang finally accepted the pouch as he broke into tears and ran off into the city.
“Alright let’s go find somewhere to stay for the night.” Zhang said to the rest of his party as he watched Zhen Xiang leave.
“Wait… Fuck! I forgot to ask him what’s a good hotel to room at…” Zhang thought as he remembered the this was his first time in this city.
“My lord we will go find a hotel to room in.” Cheng Yu said as if being able to guess what Zhang was thinking, then directed his men to try to find lodgings.
But despite their efforts, every door in the city was tightly shut and not a single soul was out on the streets. Every door they knocked only resulted in silence or yells for them to leave.
“We would like to rent some rooms night, please open up.” One of Zhang
s men said as he banged on the door of a fancy looking hotel that was four stories tall.
“Go away! No more customers after sundown!” A voice rang out from inside the hotel. This was basically the same response that all of Zhang’s men had received.
“Enough! Everyone, follow me…” Zhang said to his guards. With the four beauties by his side Zhang walked toward the fancy looking four story hotel that had just turned one of his men down. With a flash, a sword appeared in his hand and once he was in front of the hotel’s entrance Zhang slashed downward cutting through the door’s lock. Then with a kick the twin doors that led into the hotel swung open.