Chapter 286: A Strange Encounter
Opening the door to the house, Lord Pan summoned all his mist energy and shrouded his body with it as he entered the house. The small house was filled with windows all around, and sunshine shone into the small house. A few tables and chairs were in the room and on one of the tables multiple maps had been placed together with small pins showing the various locations of the armies, but the house was abandoned.
There were no soldiers, no Saints, and no Grand Marshall. Looking at the empty building, Lord Pan felt rather awkward knowing that he, and the two Saints behind him, had barged in fully alert trying to capture the Grand Marshall, who wasn’t even here. Looking through the house, they found no other ways out than the way they entered. Rushing outside they found a few soldiers who were still alive, but asking about the Grand Marshall left them as confused as the beasts were.
“We need to move,” Lord Pan finally said while his eyes roamed across the city in front of him. Small fires had been lit here and there, and beasts could be seen flying above the city. Other places humans were seen fleeing through the gates which had been opened by either the beasts or soldiers who thought of escaping.
Honoring Hui Yue’s promise, no beast attacked any humans who fled, yet every human who fought back was killed without exception. Soon the humans noticed that as long as they did not fight back, they could flee without being stopped. This caused a flood of humans who were seen running towards the city gate; the only exit they knew about.
“The only place I can think of the Grand Marshall being, if not here, is the Imperial Palace,” Lord Pan said with a sigh. He and the two Saints who followed him left the house and headed for the closest set of stairs. All the steps were filled with dead humans and a dead beast here and there.
As they entered the city, they saw more and more dead beasts; beasts who had been far too sure of themselves and were killed in ambushes. Fortunately, fewer and fewer beast corpses were seen the further into the city they went, and Lord Pan decided to bring his forces towards the Imperial Castle. Every soldier they met on their way had long since forsaken their weapons and started fleeing the citizens they swore to defend.
Just as Lord Pan turned past a corner, he suddenly found himself looking at a whole street littered with dead beasts. In the distance, he even saw a dead Saint and between these dead beasts were two black cloaked men.
Both of them seemingly as dead as the Saints. Lord Pan instantly became hesitant as he slowly moved towards the two cloaked corpses. He knew that the Crusaders could not be far away, yet his curiosity about what the Crusaders looked like won out against his careful nature. Just as he reached the Crusader and lifted his hand to remove the clothing, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest. Looking down, the cloaked Crusader lifted its hand, a hand which seemed to have pierced his chest. A black bone-like hand extended from the covers of the cloak. The scent of death reached Lord Pan’s nose as his eyes slowly turned dim and his soul dissipated into nothing.
Standing behind were the two Saints who stayed back with the soldiers, and as they saw Lord Pan collapse to the ground, the soldiers who were loyal to Lord Pan instantly roared in grief. They rushed towards the two lonely figures who slowly rose from the ground. The Saints called their men back, but they could do nothing to stop the soldiers of the now deceased Lord Pan from rushing forward. The Saints were uncertain what to do.
Both of them felt uncomfortable about the fact that Lord Pan had been killed so simply. To kill him like that meant that they were obviously Saint ranked, but how many of them were Saints? When they had seen them earlier on the city wall they seemed far weaker yet here they had a sudden increase in strength.
“We have to tell Wan Qiao. We have to warn her!” The two said at the same time as they looked at each other. With a glance at the warriors they could not stop, they closed their eyes in shame. When they opened them, they were filled with a new strength as they took off, leaving while hearing the sound of the Crusaders fighting the beasts. One roar of anger after another slowly died out as they left while not looking back. All of them fearing that they would never again see any of the beasts who followed Lord Pan. They feared that they all followed him to the grave.
Turning around both Saints rushed towards the Imperial Castle. Their soldiers followed sharing their worried gaze. If more Crusaders like those two were hiding on their way then who was to say that they would survive. It also made sense to the two Saints that the Grand Marshall and the emperor were somewhere with a lot of protection. Most likely surrounded by the empire’s Saints alongside the extra Saints from the Crusaders.
Rushing as fast as they could, the two Saints soon heard the sounds of battle. This was not the kind of fighting between the soldiers and the armies; this was a battle with at least one Saint in it. The two Saints rushed forward, both incredibly grateful when they saw Wan Qiao and a transformed Hui Yue fighting side by side against two less powerful Saints from the Siban Empire.
Hui Yue was not doing much apart from sending one thread of blue energy after another onto the two Saints causing them great annoyance. But the transformed wolf was hiding behind a transformed Wan Qiao, who, with her great shape, was impossible for them to slip past. This let her holding them at bay with her own attacks.
Seeing this, the two Saints instantly transformed. One turned into a great Velociraptor while the other turned into a massive snake. The two Saints joined the battle instantly, and just as the two Siban Saints saw the incoming beasts, both of them were thrown off their game for a moment, but no more was needed. Their sudden change in their focus was all Wan Qiao needed to descend from above and attack with her beak which broke the neck of one Saints as her talons ripped the other Saint’s chest open. Moments later both their souls dissipated into nothing. Wan Qiao and Hui Yue returned to their human forms and turned towards the two Saints who too had turned human. They looked eager to announce what they had seen.
“Lord Zhu, Lady Sun, I was not expecting to see the two of you here,” Hui Yue said politely as he looked at the beasts. “I thought you were together with Lord Pan and were going to find the Grand Marshall? How come you are here suddenly?”
Although Hui Yue was as polite as possible, the two Saints both hung their heads dejectedly. None of them knew how to talk about what they had seen, but after a few moments the one whom Hui Yue called Lady Sun, stepped forward. “Lord Pan is dead.” Saying this she already knew that Lord Pan was incredibly close to both Wan Qiao and Hui Yue, yet she had no other idea how to phrase it, “It was not the Grand Marshall who killed him,” She continued and with a deep sigh, she went told her story. Her face turned sour as she remembered how she and Lord Zhu left behind a whole army, but Hui Yue nodded seriously. “This is important information,” He agreed. Although he felt sad that Lord Pan was dead, he also understood that his death had been his own fault and that he very likely dragged his whole army with him. This was a great loss, and even more so when he understood that the Crusaders were still out there, waiting and luring in one Saint after another.
“Wan Qiao!” Hui Yue called out, and the woman by his side finally looked at the young man, her eyes blank, but deep down determination could be seen. “Send a One-Horned Eagle to each army in the city and warn them. None of them are to go close to any Crusaders whatsoever. If they see a Crusader, then they are to retreat instantly!” Hui Yue ordered, and moments after forty One-Horned Eagles took to the sky flying towards the many armies to warn them and pass on the information about the Crusaders.
Having been told about the Crusaders, Hui Yue welcomed the two extra Saints with gratitude. He too expected that the emperor and the Grand Marshall would have quite a few Saints protecting them. Most likely some Crusaders as well. He knew he would need as much power he could get. He even hoping to run into more Saints on the way so they could join them.
Just as they were about to move, Hui Yue’s eyes were drawn to a small valley where there should have been no humans nor beasts. He had previously felt no presence there at all, yet when he looked over his eyes were caught by a young man. He was leaning against a house with a mocking smile evident on his lips. He seemed incredibly arrogant, but it was the kind of arrogance that one could back up with strength. It was the kind of arrogance which one had to fight hard to achieve.
His eyes were golden like the sun itself, and his hair was a beautiful golden color. His skin seemed white, and his clothes were of a high quality fabric. He seemed very out of place, like a creature from another world. His beautiful golden eyes were staring straight at Hui Yue. Deep within his eyes shone curiosity like two small suns. He seemed to have a great interest in Hui Yue, yet he showed no signs of coming closer. Strangely enough, Hui Yue found that no one else seemed to notice him. Even if they looked in his direction, it was as if they saw nothing, as if they could not see him. Thinking things through, Hui Yue felt no hostility from the golden young man, so he decided to nod politely to the man before he once more turned his focus to the road in front of him. He knew that he was still at war, and it seemed that the most dangerous time of the entire war started now. Now that they were in the territory of the Saints and the Crusaders.
Surprise was evident in the eyes of the golden man, but he too nodded in reply before he slowly stood up and walked down the road. Looking closely, Hui Yue found that the person was not touching the ground. His feet were hovering a few centimeters above the road itself, and no marks were left as he moved away.
Shaking his head, Hui Yue once more focused on the task at hand. They needed to get the emperor and the Grand Marshall before they could breathe a heavy sigh of relief and finish this war.