Chapter 265: The Oasis
Looking at the young man, Hui Yue could sense pride and a certain aloofness he had only previously seen in the noble families from Riluo City. There was a certain degree of arrogance and a self-confidence that one could only have if that person occupied a high ranking position. Looking at this young man, Hui Yue instantly knew that he had found the village elder.
“Greetings,” Hui Yue said with a nod of his head. A show of politeness that none of the beasts would have shown him. Just as the beasts were growling slightly, the village head was astonished to see such behavior, but he quickly replied to the sign of friendship with a nod of his own.
“Tell me, what do you require to allow us to leave?” He asked through clenched teeth. Although Hui Yue showed that he was polite, the horde behind him were beasts, and one could guess how savage they were.
“We will not touch you, nor your people, as long as none of you attack us. All we want is to hide in the shade until the sun sets so that we can move once more. We have our own water with us so you do not need to fear that we will steal yours.” Hui Yue said calmly and without waiting for a reply, he once more consolidated wings on his back and took to the skies. He flew back to the horde waiting for him.
“We will only attack if they attack us first. Find a peaceful place in the shadow and relax. We will continue our march when the sun has set. If you, by any chance, should lack water then go to your commander and request some. Do not agitate the humans; we do not want our war to start with a massacre.”
“You don’t want our war to start with a massacre?,” Someone mumbled, but just as Hui Yue heard the voice and was about to react to it, a figure by his side vanished in a flash. Moments after a shriek of pain could be heard. Looking towards the sound, an Emperor was lying on the floor, and his hand was cupping his face as blood fell from his lips in a steady stream. His eye was bloodshot, and his cheek was heavily swollen.
His appearance was all too familiar to Hui Yue and looking beside him he saw the Saints mostly were covering their face in disbelief, or they had an all too knowing smile on their face, though some had an expression of pity. It was clear that no matter what kind of Saint one was, all of them were familiar with the Queen’s slap.
“Stand up; the slap is not that bad,” Hui Yue said with a harsh voice. He was quite unhappy with the Emperor who spoke up. What he needed was an army who would follow his every command. If one beast was allowed to question the Grand Marshal then who could say that others would not do the same later on? Perhaps a whole regiment would start acting on their own rather than the on the orders given from Hui Yue.
The Emperor stood up, his eyes glistening with hate as he looked at Hui Yue. He felt as though it was the white-haired young man’s fault that he had lost face in front of the army.
Sighing deeply, Hui Yue stepped forward, closer to the expert in question. “When I give an order, all I want to hear is ‘Yes, sir!’ If I tell you to go on a date with a human, you will do just that!” Hui Yue started as he looked at the Emperor, in no way showing fear for a stronger individual.
“I am the Grand Marshall of this war, even your beloved lord is going to follow every order given to him by me; who do you think you are to not listen to an order given?” Hui Yue mocked, and the more he said, the paler the Emperor became, but his eyes still shone with hate and indignation.
“We are not even in a warzone yet, and you already want to fight? We could lose some of our comrades here. Although we will, without a doubt, win, we could suffer some casualties, and that is something I am in no way interested in seeing. I swore that I would make sure that as many of you as possible survive this war, but I can only do so if you stop being stupid and start listening to my orders!” Hui Yue was fuming with anger, and every word he said was like a slap to the already beaten expert. It did not take long before his face was lowered and he tried to make himself as small as possible, trying to avoid the many judgmental gazes that were aimed his way.
“That should suffice,” Hui Yue mumbled then once more raised his voice, “Anyone who starts a battle with the humans here will be rewarded with a slap from our Queen, Wan Qiao. You will also lose a third of your salary,” Hui Yue declared, and everyone instantly understood that this was no laughing matter.
The oasis was massive, so large, that the settlement of nomads only took up a fourth of the shoreline, and Hui Yue led his army to the opposite side. Although he gave his orders, he knew the nature of beasts and he also understood human nature. Thus to keep the two separate from each other, Hui Yue felt this was the most successful way for him to avoid any mistakes.
The shade from the large trees, which Hui Yue now knew were palm trees. These palm trees were so large that around a hundred trees were sufficient to cover the entire army.
Seeing that the beach and the lake were empty many of the beasts decided to take a swim for the sake of keeping cool. Within moments, beasts like Sharp-toothed Hippos, Black Nightmare Alligators, and Everdream Piranhas to Obscure Monkeys, Devilish Centipedes, and even Thunderbolt Panthers were swimming in the lake.
Watching all the beasts around him, Hui Yue could not help but chuckle as some of them were playing with each other, some were sleeping, and others were cultivating. The majority of the beasts were in their original shapes making their surroundings seem like a zoo. There was a multitude of beasts gathered at this oasis, beasts who usually would never be at the same place together like they were now.
On the opposite shore of the oasis, the nomads were all standing with their feet in the shallow water. All the warriors who previously rode out to fight with their lives on the line to let the villagers flee were now all stationed as guards. Their eyes were sharply watching the beasts, their faces filled with doubt.
Everyone within the empire knew that they were preparing for war as one draft after another for the imperial army was issued to the many tribes and villages in the empire. They requested every male above fifteen years of age with a minimum rank of Disciple to sign up for the army. It had been the first nationwide draft ever issued, and many young men had taken the chance to enter the imperial army wishing to make a name for themselves.
The nomads were different, however. They did not answer the draft as they felt no responsibility to the crown. However, they were the first people to meet this beast horde.
“Elder,” One of the women called out as she saw a young man standing still in the middle of their temporary village. His frown furrowed and his eyes deep in thought as he looked towards the opposite shore.
“Elder,” The woman called once again, and finally, the young man wrested himself from the thoughts in his mind; a calming smile appeared on his lips, and he gently turned around to face the woman who called for him.
“What can I help you with?” He asked gently as he looked warmly at the woman in front of him. “Great Elder, these beasts, will they truly not attack us?” She asked while fidgeting with a bracelet on her arm. Her eyes were downcast and a slight tremor ran through her body.
“Don’t worry,” He said with a smile on his face. He placed an arm on her shoulders and turned to watch the many beasts visible in the distance. “The beasts seem to have a pride of their own. If they wanted us dead, we would have been dead long ago. Just hurry up and help the others pack down the village. We will leave the Siban Empire as soon as we can. Staying here would be as silly as kicking a hornet’s nest.” He continued, and the woman nodded her head as she rushed back to fulfill her duties. The smile on the Elder’s face froze for a moment, and his eyes once more turned vigilant. Although the beasts had not attacked yet, they were after all beasts. No one could say if or when they would attack. Standing close to the water, the elder’s eyes constantly rested upon the beasts on the opposite side of the lake.
All women were wrapping up their temporary home. Though this was something which happened fairly often, this time, there was no joyful laughter nor a playful atmosphere; everyone was tense. The feeling of danger pressed down upon them, and the guards all vigilantly stood guard.
On the opposite shore Hui Yue was close to the water as well, but unlike the elder, his face was filled with a smile. Looking at the many beasts enjoying themselves, he felt relaxed as well. Although he was relaxed, he never stopped keeping a keen eye on all the beasts. Just one moment of inattentiveness was enough for the beasts to ignore the orders they were given and swim towards the nomads starting a slaughter. They were beasts after all. The humans on the other shore were the first fresh meat they had seen for some time, and a few of the beasts were having more difficulty holding back than others. Fortunately, Hui Yue was not the only one looking after them; the many Saints were also eagerly observing everyone around them not allowing for even the smallest beast to get through their sharp eyes.
The day went by quickly and before long the sun vanished into the horizon leaving the moon to rise. The heat which had dominated the area quickly vanished leaving a chill behind; a bone-chilling cold which would have been uncomfortable, had the army not consisted of beasts. As soon as the temperature dropped, Hui Yue once more gathered the troops and slowly the beast started moving. They left behind the oasis where they had rested during the day.
Hui Yue sped up this time as he wished to leave the desert area as soon as possible. The heat during the day was not very good for his beast horde, and although the cold was better, there were still beasts who suffered under extreme weather. Although these beasts were all Kings and Emperors, they needed to rely on their inner strength to ignore the harsh weather conditions. They would be fine, but it was definitely more annoying than traveling through normal climates.
Hui Yue and his troops vanished from the oasis before long, and they spent hour after hour traversing many sandy hills. Just before dawn, the end of the desert was visible, and Hui Yue, followed by the many beasts, left the desert without too much trouble.
The guide who had led them out of Shenyuan was now nothing more than a common soldier. The one leading the army now was Wan Qiao, the woman who remembered which direction she flew to reach the capital.