Chapter 159: Azure Tower
While the captivating light being emitted from the silver ring pierced through the clouds and filled the dark night with its luminous glow, the ground beneath the fortress began to shake and rumble.
Soon curiosity and intrigue turned to fear and anxiety as the trembling of the ground became more evident.
Tents began to topple over while people fell onto the ground and chaos ensued.
Surprisingly enough the Azure Tower stood motionless as if it was built to withstand the movement of the ground. Much like the Azure Tower, the stone buildings that covered the mountain from top to bottom and walls of the fortress at the base of the mountain did not move at all.
As the light emitted from the silver ring began to get brighter and brighter and as the ground continued to shake, even more, the people of the Azure Rain Province all fell to the ground as they felt a shift in the force of gravity around then.
Although the Azure Tower was not moving at all, Zhang and everyone within it knew something was happening. While the Underworld Heart continued to send out pulses of essence, a countless number of runes appeared on the walls and floors of the tower.
As seconds turned to minutes the ground stopped trembling and another phenomenon occurred. Large cracks began to appear on the earth around the fortress forming what appeared to be a circle.
In a turn of unexpected events, the base of the mountain began to disconnect from the vast forest that encircled it.
“Wha-what is happening.” A few soldiers clad in azure colored armor yelled as the forest that they had vigilantly watched for weeks began to drift further and further away from them.
Within the five forts that Zhang’s forces were camped in, all of the soldiers and general were wide awake and watching the skies with intrigue and confusion.
“Princess…” Guan Yu muttered as he saw something unimaginable happen. The Azure Tower and the entire mountain it was built on top of could be seen slowly rising into the sky and above the clouds.
Flabbergasted by the turn of events, Zhang’s soldiers did not know what to think nor what to do as they gazed upward.
Once the mountain levitated above all of the tops of all of the other mountains in the area, thousands of beautiful azure colored buildings that had been hidden deep below the earth’s surface could be seen.
The legends were true! The legends were true!” Lord Tian Lan yelled joyfully as he stood out on a balcony on the Azure Tower while looking down at the mountains below.
“The Heart is resonating with something.” Zhang said as the Underworld Heart continued to send out pulses of essence.
After a few moments, Zhang was greeted by yet another surprise. The silver colored ring began to send out its own pulses of essence which traveled throughout what could now only be called a Sky Fortress.
With gleaming eyes, Zhang charged up the stairs of the Azure Tower to track down the originals of the pulse of energy that was just released.
“To resonate with the heart means that it has to be one of the legendary treasures!” Zhang screamed with excitement in his mind.
If simply possessing the Underworld Heart and the Abyssal Cape had granted him such unbelievable powers, if Zhang managed to obtain a third legendary treasure then his powers would obviously increase even further.
Minutes later after sprinting at full speed up the tower, Zhang laid eyes on the silver colored ring a hint of disappointment appeared on his face.
“There wasn't any rings apart of the set of seven heavenly treasures…” Zhang mumbled with a somewhat disappointed voice.
“Well, nothing to be unhappy about.” Zhang thought as a grin quickly appeared on his face once again. Sometimes when reality falls a bit short of one’s expectations, disappointment tends to overshadow something that should be celebrated, however if one simply let go of all previous expectations then there is nothing to be disappointed about.
“I should try to bind it with my blood.” He also thought as he withdrew a small dagger from his interspatial ring and pricked his finger.
Seconds later Zhang drop of blood shot through the air and splashed into the massive silver colored ring that was now levitating over the Azure Tower.
In an instant, the spot where the blood drop touched the silver ring, began to emote a blood red glow which seen spread to the rest of the ring. The now blood red ring began to shrink and soon was the same size as any other ring.
The moment the beauties and a few other people made it to the top of the Azure Tower they saw the blood red ring fly toward Zhang and slid onto his finger.
Unknown to them, once the ring slid onto Zhang’s finger, dozens of images flooded into his mind. These were not memories but rather they were instructions on how to move the Sky Fortress and information about all of its secrets.
There was even a map of the entire fortress also included in one of the dozen or so images that appeared in Zhang’s mind. It turns out that the part of the Azure Tower that was visible above ground was not all.
“So the tower extends underground and branches off like a tree.” Zhang mumbled with intrigue once he memorized the map of the entire Sky Fortress.
With a single thought, Zhang made the fortress levitate even higher into the air as he tried to figure out the extent of his control over the fortress.
“Alright how do I land this thing…” Zhang thought after manically laughing for a few moments.
Soon enough the Sky Fortress landed back in the huge crater that it had left when it rose to the sky, and only the cracks on the ground remained as proof that the fortress had moved.
“Let me try!” Ai yelled with sparkling eyes as she saw how Zhang was manipulating the Sky Fortress.
“Maybe tomorrow after all of our soldiers are on board.” Zhang said with a laugh as he walked over to where the beauties were.
“With a fortress that can fly into the sky, we can rain down poison from above and send all of those who stand in our way to the underworld.” Lingqi said with maddened eyes.
“Calm down! Lingqi!” Yuying said as she shook Lingqi a bit as Lingqi’s mind drifted to a bad place.
“Or we can fly across the land, raining down medicine and curing all those in need.” Lingqi said with a sigh.
Due to dealing with both poison and medicine, it is simple to say that Lingqi tended to be torn between two worlds.
Although the excitement that the Sky Fortress gave to everyone would not fade anytime soon, after meeting with Lord Tian Lan again to discuss what had occurred, Zhang and the beauties were once again led to their room to rest after a long eventful day.
Since the ring had already been bounded by Zhang’s blood and there was no way anyone present in the fortress could take it from him, Lord Tian Lan did not develop any insidious ideas.
Even if Lord Tian Lan had developed ill intentions and wished to steal the Sky Fortress, while possessing enough power it to overpower Zhang, he still wouldn't be able to take the fortress away from Zhang.
This was because the entire Sky Fortress was under Zhang’s control, and it was obvious that a fortress that was the size of a mountain and could magically fly would of course have hidden defense mechanisms.
“To think that there would be a Sky Fortress in the warring states region.” Yuying said as she laid beside Zhang and the other beauties atop a large bed prepared for them.
“So this isn't the only one?” Ling asked, somewhat intrigued.
“Of course, the world is vast and there are plenty of things out there. Although this Sky Fortress may seem mystical and awe-inspiring to some, to others it may appear simple and boring.” Yuying said.
“Although I have to admit I have only seen a small number of these things in the Underworld and none of them could be compared to this one, I'm sure that in the world of the living where they would be more practical, there are bound to be ones that we couldn't even compare this one to. If not within the Wulin continent, then perhaps elsewhere.” She also said.
“Also since essence cores are more abundant in the world of the living, more sky forts could be built.” Yuying added.
“Essence cores?” Ai asked.
“Essence cores are basically essence stones, however, they are thousands of times larger and over time have developed the ability to produce essence and replenish themselves.” Yuying explained.
“If not for essence cores and the various inscriptions inscribed in the tower then the amount of essence m needed to make this entire mountain fly would be way out of our league. Then there's powering the water in the underground water springs that are also probably generated thanks to the essence cores.”
Since the Underworld under the complete control of the Yama and did not have any large bodies of water, there was plenty of land and no real need for Sky Fortresses.
On the other hand, the world of the living was mostly covered in water and littered with countless opposing forces so a Sky Fortress would certainly have more uses.
After some more talking and some quality time within the bedchamber, Zhang and the beauties went to sleep so they could wake up early in the morning to relocate their soldiers.
With the Sky Fortress within their control, the need to travel by foot was thus eliminated and their armies would be able to travel many times faster.
Thus the following day, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were picked up by the Sky Fortress. Using magically powered platforms that descended down from the Sky Fortress all of Zhang’s soldiers were lifted into dozens of hangers.
These hangers lined the bottom area of the Sky Fortress that had been hidden deep beneath the earth's surface.
Although the fact that the mountain that the Azure Tower was built on was a part of the Sky Fortress meant that all of the work Zhang’s men placed into constructing the five forts were in vain, there was not a hint of complaint as everyone made their way on board.
Once the Sky Fortress was activated a second time by Zhang, ten smaller azure colored towers rose upward from the ground while five towers pierced out from the underside of the fortress.
Simply said the Sky Fortress resembled a massive island covered with stone buildings that levitated in the air with eleven dazzling azure colored towers in a circular formation rising toward the sky while five inverted towers gazed down at the ground.
Of course depending on Zhang’s will, the architecture of the Sky Fortress can be rearranged.
“Have our ballistae units’ position at the hangers.” Zhang said as he told one of his soldiers to relay his commands. With the ballistae currently being the strongest weapons available to Zhang’s army, if they are positioned in the Sky Fortress’s hanger along with thousands of archers, then Zhang’s forces could rain down death from above onto their enemies.
“Now should we continue south or head northward to help out allies?” Ling asked her husband since their army is now extremely mobile so turning back and helping ally forces was now possible.
“We should continue south, if we manage to occupy the provinces at the southern tip then we can sandwich the other provinces from two sides.” Zhang replied to Ling.
With a goal in mind and their soldiers all aboard the Sky Fortress, Zhang began to navigate southward once more, at faster speeds than before.
As the Sky Fortress flew for two days and two nights it exited the borders of the Azure Rain Province and entered into the Twisted Bog Province.
What would have normally taken months If Zhang’s forces had traveled by foot due to being forced to cross through a vast swamp filled with obstacles only took two days thanks to the Sky Fortress.
Normally crossing through swamps would have caused an army the size of Zhang’s to suffer countless casualties. But thankfully they were blessed with the gift of air travel and did not have to overcome the swamp full of dangers that had awaited them.
As the Sky Fortress flew through the Twisted Bog Province, countless black flags with the image of a golden dragon fluttered in the wind.
Ignoring the various villages and cities to save the strength of his soldiers, Zhang had the Sky Fortress head directly toward Twisted Bog City.
Since the Sky Fortress was traveling through the sky, no messengers who traveled by foot were able to reach Twisted Bog City before Zhang arrived. That is to say that they saw the Sky Fortress at all, if the sky was covered by clouds then there was no way for those on the ground to even spot the Sky Fortress due to how high it flew above the ground.
“We have arrived at our destination! All forces prepare to attack or disembark!” Zhang’s voice echoed throughout the Sky Fortress it began to descend upon Twisted Bog City.
“Citizens of Twisted Bog City, in the name of his highness, Prince Zhou Zhang, surrender or prepare for battle.” A voice sounded out from the sky and echoed down throughout the city below.
As the fortress came into view the soldiers of Twisted Bog City scrambled to assemble while the civilians fell into panic. There were even some who fell to their knees and began to kowtow as they thought the heavens were punishing them.
Since walls were no longer an issue and a siege was not needed, with the number of soldiers at Zhang’s command it was only a matter of time before the city fell.
Without the need to use their ballistae or arrows, Zhang’s soldiers were lowered directly into the provincial lord’s mansion where they were able to quickly overwhelm the defending soldiers and capture the province's lord.