Chao Yun hadn’t expected the boss to speak up for an examinee. She looked at Zhuang Qing in astonishment, only to find a solemn expression on his face. She was struck by sudden understanding. It seemed the Boss regarded this Fu Li’s abilities highly.
After the third round of exams ended, only five out of the fifty people remained. At this moment, the moon was already shining brightly, accompanied by a gentle night breeze.
Apart from Fu Li, the remaining four people comprised of the fifth disciple Wei Cang of the Qing Xiao Sect, the second disciple Zhong Ze of the founder of the Fields Sect, Daoist priest Qing Xu of the Lin An Monastery, and a yellow pond turtle yao.
The Lin An Monastery had some connection to Chu Yu, as the monastery had been built on the former site of the Chang An monastery. Thus, Chu Yu could be considered an honorary elder of the Lin An Monastery. In addition, Wei Cang of the Qing Xia sect was Zhang Ke’s senior brother from the same sect. It was said that he had entered the sect based on his identity as a yao cultivator. The yellow pond turtle was also on friendly relations with Lin Gui and was an expert at divination.
If they were to really discuss background, Fu Li was probably the one with least background among them.
Those who could make it to this round were all well-known figures among the younger generation in the cultivation world. Seeing their faces filled with youthful energy, Fu Li’s old face couldn’t help reddening. Was this considered bullying children?
“All five of you performed very well, thank you for…” Chao Yun hadn’t finished her statement when a rumbling sound echoed from the horizons all of a sudden. It resembled thunder, yet also sounded like the roar of some creature. A sense of foreboding rose in her heart and she hurriedly turned to look at Zhuang Qing.
Zhuang Qing looked up. With a wave of his sleeves, the ceiling turned transparent, revealing the roiling black clouds in the sky to everyone at the competition venue. The entire sky seemed like it was about to collapse. Fortunately, it was already very late at night and many people had already gone to bed. Even if they heard the sound, the most they would do was assume that it was thunder.
The strangely monstrous appearance of a gigantic bird flashed within the clouds. Due to her exposure to a regent’s qi as well as her profound cultivation, Chao Yun could faintly make out this large bird’s strange appearance.
A snake’s tail, more than one pair of wings, and… three feet?
Could it be the Golden Crow?
Ever since she joined the management bureau, there had constantly been many yaoguai and human cultivators wreaking havoc, but their looks, cultivation, and skills were all commonplace. She had never once encountered this sort of ancient-looking yao cultivator.
Recalling the ancient fiend Zhuyan that her colleague had captured a few days ago, the unease in Chao Yun’s heart intensified even further. These ancient yaoguai hadn’t appeared in the human world for many years, yet they had appeared time after time this year. Was this a coincidence or an omen?
“This bird seems to have three feet. Could it be the legendary… three-legged Golden Crow?” Chu Yu swallowed a mouth of saliva, his throat feeling a little dry.
“It’s not the Golden Crow,” Fu Li looked up and meticulously scanned the strange creature in the sky. “The Golden Crow is as bright as the day. It would light up the entire earth as if it were daytime.”
“Boss, it’s a call from the national security department,” Lin Gui handed a phone to Zhuang Qing.
It would be strange if the national security department didn’t find out about such a large bird in the sky. Zhuang Qing took the phone, spoke a few words, and then hung up. Turning, he glanced at his colleagues. “Set up a barrier.”
The sloppy-looking bureau people were incomparably serious at this moment. They moved forward quickly and set up an enormous formation in accordance with their respective positions. At least for a short while, no country or ordinary citizen would realize that there was a large, strange, and extremely ugly bird flying in the sky.
In a certain house, a tiny child dazedly got up from the bed to go to the toilet. After returning, he glanced out the window and caught a glimpse of a strange bird circling within the clouds. This image shocked him awake. Upon plastering his face to the window to get a careful look, he realized that it wasn’t a bird at all, but just some odd-looking black clouds.
Had he seen wrongly because it was too dark?
The child picked up the blanket on the floor and went back to sleep. But for some reason, he dreamt of something extremely scary, making his sleep a very uneasy one.
He tossed and turned on the bed yet didn’t wake up.
As the bureau people set up the barrier, the remaining five examinees looked at each other, momentarily unsure if they should help or wait for them to return.
“The cries of that thing sound a bit strange,” Zhong Ze from the Fields Sect broke the awkwardness between them. “It’s like a mocking sigh, who knows what that’s supposed to mean?”
Fu Li suddenly recalled something that the white ape yao on the mountain had told him – at a place called Jingshan, there lived an extremely disgusting-looking bird with a snake-like body, four wings, and six eyes. It seemed to be called… Suanyu?
The white ape had been most fond of telling him about the more frightening great yao outside. There were some that he could no longer recall, but he remembered the Suanyu because the description of its appearance had truly been too nauseating.
Terrible things would occur where the Suanyu appeared. If it was severe, the place would overflow with evil qi. If the effect was light, people would encounter frightening things in their nightmares.
“Boss!” Chu Yu flew in front of Zhuang Qing. He wore a grave expression on his pale face. “I remember the Zhuyan saying that the yao emperor has two pairs of wings and a body as large as a mountain. Could this strange bird… be the yao emperor?”
“How could that be possible!” Xu Yuan’s complexion wasn’t much better than Chu Yu’s. She looked down at the city ablaze with lights beneath the clouds. Cold sweat seeped out of her palms. If it was truly the yao emperor, how many people would be afflicted with suffering? It was unknown if she was trying to console herself, or if she truly felt that it wasn’t the yao emperor, but Xu Yuan’s voice was a bit sharp. “The Zhuyan said that the yao emperor has a body of golden fur, eyes as big as the moon, a nose like that of a divine ox, feet like red clouds, a body as huge as a mountain, and a hiss that can shake mountains and rivers. This yao has a snake-like body, where’s the golden fur?”
“The Zhuyan hasn’t seen the yao emperor, what if his description was riddled with errors?” Chu Yu spoke while increasing the pace at which he weaved the barrier. He smiled bitterly. “If this is really the yao emperor, I’m afraid we’ll have to fight to our deaths.”
The air seemed somewhat chilly. Xu Yuan’s face was as pale as snow. “We cannot lose…”
More than twenty million people lived in this city. They couldn’t afford to lose.
Chu Yu lowered his head and looked at the scene below his feet as well. This city’s night scene was very beautiful; the twinkling lights were as pretty as the milky way.
The barrier was very quickly formed, encompassing a vast stretch of the sky. All the various airlines received an emergency notification stating that nasty weather conditions had appeared in the sky above the capital, so airplanes were to temporarily avoid using the air routes into the capital.
Several commercial planes didn’t believe this and ended up circling the area in confusion after flying into the capital’s air space. They then flew back out. There were even pilots who felt that this situation was a little odd. Why was flying in so difficult but flying out so easy?
But there were no strange weather condition that pilots had never seen before, so this thought merely flashed across their minds before it was very quickly forgotten.
“Boss, the barrier has been completely set up. The country has also notified other relevant departments. What should we do now?” The weapon Chao Yun was holding in her hand was a lotus sword. It was rumored that the empress she had accompanied in those years was a believer of Buddhism. Therefore, she had let a craftsman engrave the image of a lotus flower on her Feng hairpin. Following the demise of the empress, the magic weapon Chao Yun carried in her human form was a sword with a lotus pattern.
“Don’t act rashly,” Zhuang Qing glanced at the strange bird flapping its wings in the clouds. “The intentions of this yao beast are not clear, I’ll scout it out first.” He took off his branded suit and prepared to change into his dragon form.
A fair hand pulled on the sleeve of his shirt, causing several deep wrinkles to form on his sleeve.
Zhuang Qing instantly looked back. It turned out Fu Li had approached him soundlessly.
“Mr Fu, what is the meaning of this?” Zhuang Qing pulled his sleeve back and turned his head, continuing to examine the strange bird. He was clearly ready to transform into his original form at any moment and engage the strange bird in a fight.
“This strange bird might be the Jingshan’s Suanyu bird. The number of years it has lived is more than ten times yours,” Fu Li sighed. As an old yaoguai who had even applied for special welfare, he had no choice but to stand forward.
Although the Suanyu’s smooth snake body was goosebump-inducing, he couldn’t possibly let a minor challenge a great yao at such a moment. If he had known such a thing would occur this day, he wouldn’t have worn his new clothes. It would be a waste if they ended up damaged from the fight.
“Wait, what are you doing?” Zhuang Qing saw Fu Li preparing to put the strange bird in its place and hurriedly stopped him. “This is our management bureau’s issue…”
“Every person has a responsibility to care for minors,” Fu Li patted Zhuang Qing on the shoulder. “Little children shouldn’t interrupt when grownups do things.”
Zhuang Qing ordered with a straight face, “Nobody’s allowed to be absent-minded. Guard the barrier well. Make sure not to let anything from the Suanyu fall into the human world.”
The management bureau’s employees felt that they seemed to have heard something they shouldn’t have.
“Suanyu, Suanyu…” The Suanyu spun around in the clouds. He had merely slept for a few thousand years, so why had the whole world completely changed? The humans now had money to place night pearls everywhere. Who knew where all these strange light beams came from? The way they shook back and forth in the air made him dizzy. He had simply awakened from his sleep due to hunger and wanted to go to the sea to eat some sea creatures but ended up dizzy from all the strange lights.
If this were the past, all he had to do was emit a sound in the sky and little yao or humans would be automatically sent up as offerings. As long as he was willing to leave, the humans were willing to give him any kind of food. But he had been turning about in the air for a good half day now, and not only had no human come to kneel and worship him, there was not even a single yao in sight.
Could the humans and little yao become more daring during the time he was sleeping?
The Suanyu glanced towards the ground. The splendid lights on the ground irritated his six eyes till tears dripped from them. He used one pair of wings to hurriedly cover his eyes as he flew a distance towards the upper layers of the clouds. What kind of terrifying magic weapon was that to emit such bright light?
“Is this Jingshan’s King Suanyu?” As long as it was a yao with some fame, adding the title of ‘king’ would never be wrong.
The Suanyu released his front wings. He looked around for a very long time before finally finding a person behind a cloud. His six eyes blinked, and human speech came out of his mouth. “That’s me, who are you?”
“This humble one is a little yao from Weishui,” Fu Li replied courteously. “May I ask what the King is here for?”
“Weishui?” The Suanyu who had little sense of direction pondered over it for a while but was still at a loss as to where Weishui was. “You little yao are quite discreet. Quick, quick, hand this king the offerings.”
“The king might be unaware, but the humans of today no longer give offerings to yao cultivators. It would be best for you to leave quickly,” Fu Li looked at the Suanyu with hazy, teary eyes, and did a ‘please’ gesture.
“What?!” The Suanyu raged. “How hateful are the humans? It’s fine if they don’t give this king any offerings, but they even used magic weapons to blind this king’s eyes. I need to go down and give them a scare; I’ll let them know just how powerful I am.”
He refused to believe this. In the past, as long as he appeared, he didn’t have to do anything and the humans would kneel and bow to him in hopes that he would leave as soon as possible. No matter how daring the humans today had become, they were still human. There was no way they were more powerful than him.
“King,” Fu Li stood in front of the Suanyu. “You should go back.”
“I won’t,” The Suanyu’s eyes blinked again and again. “I want to scare them to death.”
Fu Li felt uncomfortable all over just from seeing his smooth body. Coupled with the Suanyu’s six simultaneously blinking eyes, Fu Li couldn’t help but turn his head to the side to avoid facing him directly. “King, you haven’t been in the human world for a very long time and may not be aware of the customs of the humans today. Nowadays, they promote the belief in science, and oppose feudalistic superstitions.”
“What are feudalistic superstitions?”
“Our existence is feudalistic superstition.”
“Preposterous!” The Suanyu was so furious that his tail nearly slammed into the barrier. “This king will give them something to look at.” He was about to shut his eyes and rush down, but he hadn’t even flown far when his wings were held back.
“Little yaoguai, release me, if not I’ll eat you!” The Suanyu opened its mouth, revealing sharp teeth. “This king has gone hungry for a few thousand years. Padding my stomach is my current concern.”
How could Fu Li really let it rush out? If he really allowed him to rush out of the barrier, everyone in the city would probably have nightmares tonight. The supernatural newspaper would then have content to write about tomorrow.
Seeing that Fu Li was still unwilling to let go, the Suanyu bit at Fu Li with snake-like flexibility. With its overly large body, the image of it opening its mouth resembled a gigantic shark wanting to swallow a tiny fish; biting Fu Li to death should be a matter of ease.
Fu Li hadn’t expected the Suanyu to want to eat him the moment they disagreed. Fortunately, he reacted quickly. He did a backflip instantly, both feet landing heavily on the Suanyu’s back.
The Suanyu released an anguished howl, scattering the clouds nearby. The Suanyu might not be an expert at combat, but as an ancient great yao, he still had a survival trick. He opened his mouth and spat out green smoke, which flew straight towards Fu Li.
If yaoguai were struck by this sort of confusion smoke, they would lose their rationality and obediently become the Suanyu’s prey. During those years, the Suanyu had eaten many great yao by relying on this method.
But he had underestimated Fu Li’s abilities. Watching Fu Li fly directly towards him without evading the smoke, the Suanyu inwardly mocked this little yao for being too green and not being aware of the might of the skill he was adept at.
However, Fu Li passed through the green smoke without fainting, not did he reveal any signs of confusion. On the contrary, he fished out a fan and fiercely swatted the Suanyu’s face with it, immediately putting the Suanyu in such pain that tears overflowed from his eyes.
The Suanyu gave a shrill cry, the sound piercing through the clouds. With a flip of his body, his three claws widened, and he attacked Fu Li ruthlessly.
“B-Boss!” Chu Yu listened nervously to the movements in the clouds. “Has the f-fight started up there?”
Zhuang Qing’s face was calm. He took out an ornament, changed it into a divine sword, and flew into the depths of the clouds. Chu Yu watched the clouds with alarm. After less than three seconds of hesitation, he took out his own weapon and rushed ahead as well.
Fu Li had saved him from the claws of the painted skin ghost. Now that his benefactor was facing difficulties, he could not remain still despite his fear of death.
“Ning Xuan, let’s assist them in the fight,” Chao Yun flew up, sword in hand. Ning Xuan, Zhang Ke, and Lin Gui were slightly closer to the area. They glanced at one another and rushed up.
“Suanyu, Suanyu…” The Suanyu’s piercing cries were dripping with yao qi. Its killing intent brought with it a slight breeze that blew straight into everyone’s hearts.
The closer they got, the louder and more resounding the strange bird’s cries were, while the fear in everyone’s hearts grew even heavier. Zhuang Qing puffed out a breath and the layers of clouds blocking everyone gradually dispersed. The Suanyu’s enormously ugly body was revealed to everyone.
Before everyone could react, they saw this Suanyu bird shrieking mournfully as its entire body was thrown out by something before it was mercilessly dragged back. Its immense head slammed against its snake tail, producing a loud thumping sound.
Chu Yu looked over with rapt attention and saw Fu Li lifting one of the toes on the Suanyu’s claws, tossing it back and forth.
This Suanyu… was actually an inflatable toy, right? Or was their understanding of certain things flawed?
Fu Li realized that Zhuang Qing and the rest had come over. Thus, he flung the Suanyu towards the clouds and smiled guilelessly. “Fortunately, the Suanyu wasn’t very good at fighting. I’ll be in trouble otherwise.” He kicked the Suanyu’s tail. “What matter can’t be discussed nicely? Eating people and yao at the drop of a hat, wanting offerings the moment you open your mouth – this kind of behavior is not good. Which person doesn’t put in effort for their food?”
Everyone looked at the feathers fluttering everywhere and silently put away their favorite magic weapons they had been holding in their hands.
T/N: I’ve changed the term of address ‘Dragon King’ to ‘Dragon Lord’. This change should be reflected in the earlier chapters. Sorry for the change, I have no idea why I thought it made sense for them to be casually throwing the title of king around >.<