Chapter 264: Dead City
After hearing Lingqi’s statement and seeing the jade bracelets crumble, Lord Tian Xuan and Mister Lao Cao both let out breaths of relief as cheerful smiles began to resurface on their faces.
“Now that this matter has been settled, I would like to have a word with you Lord Tian Xuan about another matter. As I entered the city, a few of your subordinates had the gall to charge me hundreds of gold coins.” Zhang said with a frown and creases on his brow as his hand slammed down upon the table in front of him, causing its sturdy legs to snap and an array of cups and dishes to spill onto the ground.
“Lord Lee, pl-please le-let me look into this matter! I will have those guards punished and your gold coins returned to you.” Lord Tian Xuan said as he quickly got into his knees. Under normal circumstances such a sight wouldn't have occurred, however Lord Tian Xuan had felt an overbearing pressure envelop his body as Zhang’s hand slammed into the table, a pressure that sent shivers creeping down his spine causing every ounce of confidence in his being to instantly escape him.
“Good… To think a few petty guards had dared to demand five million gold coins from me…” Zhang said, adding a few more zeroes to the sum that the city guards had demanded from him.
“Fi-five million?” Lord Tian Xuan stuttered in disbelief.
“I'll make sure your pockets and your coffers are empty by the time I'm through.” Zhang thought with a snicker.
“They even had the gall to charge the common folk one hundred gold coins each… I expect, all of those poor commoners will have their money returned as well?” Zhang added as he saw the color drain from Lord Tian Xuan’s face.
“Lord Lee, I believe you're mistaken, I think it was only fifty gold coins per a person.” Lord Tian Xuan said as he completely lost his cool.
“Lord Tian Xuan, you couldn't possibly be implying that you knew what was going on and turned a blind eye to it all. If that's the cause then I'll have to act according to the book…” Zhang said with one raised brow as Lord Tian Xuan felt the temperature around him raise, causing a profuse amount of sweat to accumulate on his forehead.
“Of of, course not! If I had caught wind of such a thing, not only would I have instantly put a stop to it, I would have severely punished the people orchestrating it.” Lord Tian Xuan said as he inwardly cursed Zhang for pushing him into a corner.
“Good, if needed I have permission from his Majesty to personally assume command of the bulk of the Northern Armies and have them oversee Sky Cliff City’s security.” Zhang said, hinting to Lord Tian Xuan that if needed he could call upon Aurora’s Northern Armies to take over Sky Cliff City.
“No need to do such a thing, Lord Lee. I will personally go and make sure that every commoner, who had their money taken by the city guards, be compensated.” Lord Tian Xuan said while gritting his teeth as he concluded that his pockets would soon be bled dry.
Despite having to cough up an astronomical sum of gold, due to Zhang, Lord Tian Xuan had bit his lip and acted very courteously toward his unexpected guests. Hoping to at least to bridge connections with a high-ranking official within the inner imperial court.
Besides crashing Lord Tian Xuan’s wedding and profiting ten thousand times the number of gold coins he had given the city guards, Zhang also took command of a small number of soldiers and had them scatter a few of Yuying’s specially made talismans across the city.
In the dead of night as Zhang and the beauties retired to the inner sanctums of Lord Tian Xuan’s city lord manor, under the gaze of a mesmerizing moon and the rays of the countless stars that loomed up above, thousands of silhouettes could be seen speeding across the land. Accompanying these thousands of silhouettes was the rhythmic clanging of metal that rung through the night without end.
Unbeknownst to Zhang, a sinister plot was underway as thousands of silhouettes positioned themselves around the walls of a sleeping city.
Like ghosts, phantoms and spirits, the silhouettes glided up onto the city ramparts without anyone taking notice, despite the constant ringing of metal that accompanied them.
“Master, everyone is in position and are ready to begin the ritual whenever you wish.” A masked person whose voice seemed to belong to neither a woman or a man said as they kneeled in front of a figure hoisting a large coffin.
This figure with a large coffin of course was the master of the Order of the Blue Moon, the same person who had unleashed the Reaper’s Coffin’s might and eradicated a group of unsuspecting saints and half-deities.
“Quickly, erect the barrier and activate the soul stone array.” The master of the Order of the Blue Moon said a beam of moonlight shone onto his face, revealing a frightening smile and hungering eyes.
In the following moments, the clanging of metal intensified, slowly awakening the populace housed within the city. Before long a thin semitransparent membrane enveloped the city.
“Residents of Twin Star City, I congratulate you and thank you for offering up your lives in order for I, Reverend Dark Moon, to regain what I had once lost.” The figure carrying the Reaper’s Coffin laughed as he performed a series of hand signs which caused the air itself to shiver while softly uttering a mysterious incantation.
Responding to Reverend Dark Moon’s incantation, the Reaper’s Coffin shot into the sky before it’s lid slid open. Rising out from the sturdy metallic coffin, a deformed looking corpse could be seen, without skin and covered in only a measly amount of flesh, this corpse could cause fear to overtake even the bravest of men.
Sweeping its sinister gaze across the awakening city, the deformed corpse unleashed a shattering screech that caused blood to ooze out from the ears of all of whom were unlucky enough to be nearby.
“Devour!” The deformed corpse cried in an ancient voice that caused one’s hairs to stand on end.
“Wha-what is happening!?” A few confused city folk cried as they ran out from their homes and looked upward into the starry night sky.
Sadly, without ever receiving an answer to their questions, nor ever being graced with the opportunity to the view the sight of the rising sun again, the people of Twin Star City were soon embroiled within slaughter and death.
Resonating with the deformed corpse’s will, the shadows cast by the moon’s rays began to dance as if they were alive. Squirming about countless shadows crept across the land as the unsuspecting were dragged into the endless abyss.
Inch by inch, all of Twin Star City was soon enveloped within shadows and its citizens at the mercy of the dark. At first, the shadows solely target the weak and elderly, but as the number of victims increased, the shadows began to slowly but surely descend upon those of able body, growing in strength with each life it consumed.
Due to the massive barrier that encased the city, none of the people residing within Twin Star City’s walls were able to flee, despite numerous attempts to do so. As the air filled with horrified screams and the streets with people, skeletal hands could be seen shooting out from the darkness. Like serpents, these skeletal hands entangled and trapped countless people before dragging them into the abyss. While chances of escaping were already slim to none, even if these people were somehow able to bypass the barrier erected around the city, there were thousands of malevolent figures closely keeping watch atop the ramparts.
Surprisingly enough, despite standing within the barrier, none of the people that had arrived with Reverend Dark Moon were being attacked by the shadows that had so far been indiscriminately slaughtering everyone and everything that contained a heartbeat within Twin Star City.
Rather whenever the creeping shadows neared one of Reverend Dark Moon’s subordinates, a series of strange glowing runes could be seen appearing on their shoes. Upon closer inspection, one would come to realize that every single one of Reverend Dark Moon’s subordinates were clad completely in metallic suits of armor that were covered in mysterious runes, the same mysterious runes that covered the Reaper’s Coffin.
While it is unclear if they had been able to truly understand and familiarize themselves with these mysterious runes, all of Reverend Dark Moon’s subordinates were safe from the shadows. Another occurrence to take note of was the fact that large quantities of essence could be seen flowing upward from the sea of shadows and into fist-sized stones being held by Reverend Dark Moon’s men.
Unlike the first time when Reverend Dark Moon unleashed the Reaper’s Coffin’s horrors upon the group of saints, this time he had actually found a way to extract the bulk of the essence being harvested by the deformed corpse. Although there weren’t any saints in sight and not even the tiniest trace of heavenly energy within Twin Star City, an astronomical amount of essence was currently being gathered by Reverend Dark Moon’s subordinates, perhaps enough essence to possibly open the path for someone to ascend into sainthood.
Roughly an hour passed before Twin Star City was completely cloaked underneath a cloak of utter silence, as every single one of its residents were regurgitated from within the shadows and left on the ground as lifeless husks of their former self.
Like this, a city that had once been brimming with life, a flourishing city that contained tens if not hundreds of thousands of citizens was decimated, left empty and desolate.
“Return!” Reverend Dark Moon’s voice echoed through the lifeless city as he performed a series of hand signs, which caused the Reaper’s Coffin to vibrate violently.
Suddenly as the Reaper’s Coffin shook, the deformed corpse roared angrily as it sensed what was going to occur.
Attempting to do what it had tried to do many times before, the deformed corpse sped toward the barrier that enveloped the city, ramming itself into the thin membrane and causing countless cracks to appear on it.
Despite the numerous branching cracks that were visible on the barrier, the deformed corpse was unable to break free. Having been sealed away for countless millennia and not allowed to completely replenish its powers, the deformed corpse was in a weakened state where it couldn’t even muster up a fraction of its full strength. Had Reverend Dark Moon not used any trickery nor the element of surprise to his advantage, then victory would not have been assured against the group of saints and half-deities that he had encountered. Rather a bitter fight would have most likely ensued and defeat would have occurred.
Lacking enough strength to break free, the deformed corpse was soon captured and sealed away within the Reaper’s Coffin once again.
Without a single shred of remorse plaguing their hearts, the members Order of the Blue Moon and Reverend Dark Moon gathered within Twin Star City’s largest square, each with a glowing crystal in hand.
“Master, shall we begin preparations to bestow the citizens of Sky Cliff City the same fate as those who had lived within the walls of Twin Star City?” A man whose face was hidden by a jade mask said as he stood in front of Reverend Dark Moon.
“First, we will return to the order, now that I have an adequate amount of highly concentrated essence at my disposal, it is time to complete my experiment.” Reverend Dark Moon said.
As quickly as they came, Reverend Dark Moon and his followers soon disappeared into the night like ghostly apparitions, they left not a single trace of where they came from nor where they were headed.
Seeing as Twin Star City was actually located within the borders of the Blue Moon Kingdom, Zhang wouldn’t likely hear of what had occurred until after encountering the Order of the Blue Moon himself.