Chapter 223: Drums of War
“We beasts are going to reclaim what is truly ours.” Hearing these words, Hui Yue was instantly taken aback, his mouth agape and his mind reeling. Magical beasts were spread all across the continent, but it was only in Shenyuan that Hui Yue found these humanoid beasts, beasts which lived in societies of their own. He was able to guess that this had something to do with the Dark Age, with the Great Sin.
When he was younger and attended the academy within Riluo City, he had first heard about the Dark Age and the Great Sin. As for what happened back then, he was informed that he would not be told until he became stronger. That is until he became an upper dantian expert. The truth about this world was one great secret.
Sitting within Wan Qiao’s chamber, the young man was breathlessly listening for an explanation. He waited to hear from the woman who seemed to have lived past this great change that occurred in the world.
Looking at the excitement and eagerness in Hui Yue’s eyes, Wan Qiao could not help but laugh, and after having laughed a little, she lifted her head and looked straight at Hui Yue.
“Long ago the great ancestors were still walking the continent, and the lands were filled with magical beasts and humans alike. Some villages were filled with humans; others were filled with beasts. Humans and beasts lived side by side, and some mated with each other. It was much more simple back then, Humans and beasts were the same just different species like a wolf and a cat.”
“When the great ancestors went to sleep, their sons took over, and although it changed things slightly, it did not matter for the masses of the kingdoms. Years came and years passed, millennia flew by and nothing changed, until one day the four sons vanished. Their castles were turned to rubble, and from the rubble a young man emerged. He was nothing but an emperor, yet his strength vastly outstripped even Saints. Anyone who went against him died or was defeated. If not killed they were sent to the prisons he created.”
“This young man is named An He. He is the strongest entity within our continent. When he started his ascent to power, he called himself the Saviour. The one who saved the human race. He said he grew up as a slave, that he was fighting against darkness and that the world was wretched.”
Pausing for a moment, the woman was standing still before she started singing a small song,
‘Behind the Dark Age was the Great Sin
A Sin so great, that Darkness would always win.
The Sin was embedded within the core of our souls.
The Darkness itself achieved its goals.
A hero was born within this life of slavery.
A hero who started a rebellion to be free.
As the rebellion rose, blood fell like rain.
The darkness was washed away, so freedom we could gain.
As a newborn world, the countries were laid to waste.
But even now, freedom is what we chase’.
Hearing the song made Hui Yue remember a book he once read back at the academy. Back then no one knew what the Great Sin was; however the Dark Age was known by all.
“This song was made by An He. He rose up in front of all the humans and promised them a world belonging to humans alone. At first, no one followed him, but as his strength was shown and it had become public that the four Saints, the sons of the great ancestors, had vanished hundreds of families followed behind this man. Together these hundred families and An He executed any creatures who dared to live like men. He executed all human-beasts, and had no mercy on the children either.”
“For An He, the only thing that mattered was to get rid of all the unclean people,” As she said the word unclean, it was spat out, and her eyes were as dark as a the moonless midnight sky. Her anger was clear for Hui Yue, and the young man was somewhat able to guess how the story ended.
And for the first time, Hui Yue knew the name of the opponent he had sworn to kill together with Lan Feng.
“Tell me more about An He,” Hui Yue requested as he looked at Wan Qiao. “Okay,” She agreed and cleared her throat, trying to get rid of her anger which still smoldered inside of her. “An He is a human cultivator. He was active in our world four thousand years ago; however, a thousand years ago he withdrew from worldly affairs. No one knows where he is now or what he is doing. Either way, he was a talented young boy, who even I would not wish to fight against. As for why he vanished, we can only guess.”
“He used to live within the central palace, but as to whether or not he is there now, no one knows.” Wan Qiao was silent. “There have been many things happening to the world during these thousand years, and now it is time for us beasts to try and return to the rest of the world. Our beast family has far outgrown Shenyuan. There are so many beasts that we have to hunt each other. I do not want us to do this any longer. I want us to go against the humans who caused us to be shut inside Shenyuan for this many years.”
“What will you do if An He appears?” Hui Yue asked curiously, and a sinister smile appeared on Wan Qiao’s face. “I have already lived a long life,” She said with a shrug. “We are betting on him not interfering. I think he is sitting somewhere and is amused to see all these humans fight for survival.”
Hui Yue sat still for a moment. He would never take such a risk, but he understood that he was far younger than these Saints who had lived thousands of years already. To someone who had tried everything there was in life, their last wish was to once more hold their heads high and be free not hide away in the territory which had been theirs for years on end. Although they were safe within Shenyuan, the beasts were feeling like it was more of a prison than it was a safe home. For Wan Qiao to take this step, one could understand the pressure that was put on her as the strongest within the Shenyuan Forest.
“Why are you telling me all this?” Hui Yue mused as he looked at Wan Qiao and as he asked the question, the face suddenly had a large smile appear.
“Back then the most talented young man who ever lived upon this plane was An He,” She said with a bit of expectation within her voice, “An He was strong. He reached the age of an Emperor when he was only thirty years old, however, you… You are different. You might reach the Emperor rank way before then due to special help from these strange phenomena.”
“You want me to become the new An He?” He asked curiously as he looked around within the room, unsure as to whether or not he had guessed right. He knew that he was not too keen on the look he was getting. He was not sure that he was willing to join a war.
“This war is in need of talent,” She said with a sigh, “If you cannot survive the war you have no chance against An He. Why don’t you take it as a learning experience? I swear we’ll keep your friends safe.”
Hearing the words, Hui Yue did not care much about the fight between the humans and the beasts, the only thing he truly cared about was his home village and his friends within the capital. Hearing that Wan Qiao guaranteed their safety, he was somewhat leaning towards assisting her. He, himself, had undergone a transformation, and he understood the urge to be free. He understood that as a beast, being locked within Shenyuan was not an easy way to live. The Saint ranked experts were capable of leaving as they saw fit, but the lower ranked beasts were not as fortunate.
All the magical beasts within the Shenyuan jungle had long since been devoured, and the beasts were now feasting on each other. Considering the enmity between beasts and humans, the beasts would rather eat humans.
That being said, the beasts were not shy of battling and eating one another, although they had human intellect they were beasts through and through. Beasts who fought for survival, beasts who ate what they killed, and beasts who lived on instincts. Even Wan Qiao, who looked completely human, was filled with killing intent whenever she thought about humans. Her beastly self would not mind gobbling up a couple of humans if she were in her beast form.
This was something Hui Yue could not see himself do. Although he felt like a magical beast, and although he knew that he could fully submerge himself to become a beast, he was still incapable of eating humans. He had grown up amongst humans and been one them the majority of his life.
Sighing deeply Hui Yue felt that he was sitting on a cliff, one wrong decision and he would plummet to the ground and shatter; however, if he got past this point then his strength would increase tenfold. Where did his allegiance lay? Was he going to support the beasts, or was he going to support the humans?
No matter what he decided, he did not have any other option than to befriend the beasts for now. He was in the capital of Shenyuan, the One-horned Eagle’s City, and he was surrounded by beasts. Returning to the capital of the Taiyang Kingdom also relied on the beast in front of him. Thinking like this, Hui Yue could not help but feel slightly worried.
Although Hui Yue felt like this, he was not willing to fight against his friends and family, nor was he interested in putting his friends in a bad position forcing them to chose to pick him or their friends and families. Although they were safe for now, was it possible to keep everyone who had a connection to Hui Yue safe? Where was the line and where was the limit.
Thinking like this, Hui Yue looked at Wan Qiao and remembered the first time he had met her here in Shenyuan. It was clear that she had been seriously angered by this young man and the phoenix within, but now she had completely changed, and actually considered him an important person for her future plans. Something which he wished he had not been offered.
“Honestly,” Hui Yue said with a tired expression on his face, “I need to know what exactly it is you beasts wish to achieve. Who do we fight and why do we fight them. What do we expect to gain from this fight? Do we want the entire continent, do we want one of the kingdoms? Do we want to mindlessly slaughter humans?”
“I really can’t give you an honest answer the way things are now. I know far too little about your plans.”
Hearing this Wan Qiao’s eyes narrowed slightly and she heaved a heavy sigh. “I understand,” She said, “I guess I was a little too rushed.”
Taking a deep breath and noticing that Hui Yue was fully focused on what she was about to say a sly smirk appeared on her face.
“We are not going to fight the entire continent. We are either going for one of the kingdoms, or we are going to intimidate the two neighboring kingdoms enough to allow for villages of magical beasts to start living within their borders. We want to make it illegal to hunt and enslave human-beasts. We just want freedom really, which kind of freedom is something we have not decided yet, perhaps you are ready to take a larger part of the responsibility and help us? You are after all someone who can see what is possible since you haven’t grown up within this land of Shenyuan.”
Every word that Hui Yue heard made his completion darken and his mood go sour. Was a war just playing games to this esteemed expert?