The slums in the Imperial Capital were the darkest corners of the empire. Seedy, good, devious, and all other kinds of people mixed in here, along with the downed shacks painted a perfectly wretched image. Any self-respecting man who had some money on the side would never choose to live here.
Only those living from one day to the next and the truly poor stayed here, waiting for the day that would rob them of their lives.
Yet in the worst corner of the slums was a courtyard the people feared to the point of being afraid to step through its doors. Even if the vilest and most sinister man was to wander by happenstance here, he would be warned to leave this house be.
This courtyard was unoccupied, but at night, there were eerie whispers coming from it. Some braved to investigate, but it was as if their traces in this world vanished the moment they stepped foot inside.
Recently, some Bone Tempering and even a Profound Heaven expert charged in, fearing no evil.
Afterwards, well, there was no news. They were gone all the same. From that moment, the courtyard became a taboo, avoided by the strong and weak alike.
On a full moon night, when the slums had turned unusually quiet. The people had gone home earlier and as far away from the demonic courtyard as possible.
But it was then that a faint lantern lit up in the courtyard. It was akin to ghost fire, flickering on and off.
In a ruined room of the courtyard, an elderly with white temples sat in a pleased manner on a tutor’s chair, waving a goose feathered fan. His half-lidded eyes flashed here and there, and his mouth was twisted at the corners. It was as if the world’s suffering and happiness were beneath him.
Two old men stood behind, one with black hair and the other with white hair. Their eyes were closed but their powerful auras identified them as experts, preventing any living creature from approaching a hundred meters around them.
Even a harmless beetle would find its tiny heart wreaked with fear.
A sound broke the silence and a black-clothed man suddenly appeared outside the room. He had a bamboo hat that hid his features.
The sitting old man stopped fanning and smiled, “Valley Lord You, how is it progressing?”
The bamboo wearing man was Hell Valley’s Valley Lord, You Wanshan!
Sighing, You Wanshan shook his head, “A dozen years of painstaking effort was ruined. The Emperor ordered for Hell Valley to stay away from Windgaze City. The same goes for the other houses. He must have sensed something.”
“Oh.” The old man raised an eyebrow with a smile, “The Emperor is planning on enacting the Secret Pearl Order?”
“My guess is yes.”
You Wanshan’s face grew angry, “They got luck on their side last time, but next time, it won’t be so simple. Emperor wants to raise the 8th house, but we shall see if the clan can live to see that day!”
“Ha-ha-ha, Valley Lord You, ease your anger. A loss is a loss. Why make excuses?” The old man was still calm, yet his words were sharp and filled with disdain, “Hell Valley is one of the Seven Noble Houses, yet it can’t even deal with three common clans. The time of its fall must be close at hand.”
You Wanshan snapped, his power exploding. Peak Profound Heaven cultivation smashed the windows to splinters. He unleashed all of it to pressure the old man.
“Zhuge Changfeng, you were the one who told me of the contents of the Secret Pearl Order. It was also you who said the Emperor wants to help in the rise of the 8th house. The dozen years plan also came from you. So how can you speak like this?”
You Wanshan bellowed, “Go to hell!”
The smile never left the old man’s face, still sitting calmly and fanning slowly.
Just when the pressure was drawing near Zhuge Changfeng, the black and white elders behind him opened their eyes.
At that moment, one’s eyes flashed black while the other’s flashed white. A ripple echoed outwards and clashed with You Wanshan’s display of power, creating a jarring sound.
The entire slums shook.
You Wanshan’s felt a sweetness in his throat and spat blood as his face paled.
The two elders closed their eyes again, while Zhuge Changfeng swayed the fan like nothing had happened, still sporting that ever-present smile.
You Wanshan watched the black and white elders incredulously, “Yin Yang Elders?”
Zhuge Changfeng nodded, “Valley Lord You sure is knowledgeable. These seniors haven’t shown up over the past century. I find it amazing that you still recognize them.”
Grinding his teeth in anger, You Wanshan panted while also spitting blood now and then, but the look he had when he turned to the elders was now one of fear.
“You are worthy of being Tianyu’s number one sage, Four Pillars’s Leader, Prime Minister Zhuge. To be able to make these monsters leave their mountain, not even that Fang Qiubai from the Divine Dragons can compare to you.”
“Ha-ha-ha, Valley Lord You is exaggerating. I am not worthy of such a title. I do not dare face the Imperial family in the open just yet.” Zhuge Changfeng let out a short laugh, but the confidence he exuded was unshakable.
You Wanshan snorted and muttered, “Prime Minister Zhuge is as modest as he is arrogant. Who in the Tianyu Empire can match your power? Not even the Imperial family can!”
“Sigh, I can see why you failed in Windgaze City. In this world, strength and weakness aren’t obvious at a glance!” Zhuge Changfeng sighed as he looked at the sky, “Furthermore, I am not the number one sage in Tianyu.”
“If not you, then who?”
“That person above me!” Zhuge Changfeng pointed upward with a grave expression.
You Wanshan disdained, “You’re talking about that senile Emperor?”
Zhuge Changfeng chuckled, “I’ve been a Prime Minister in the Imperial court for forty years now, and I still can’t read him.”
“Valley Lord You, go back. Make sure to not cause any further trouble!”
Zhuge Changfeng swayed his fan as his countenance went back to normal, “Be careful to not give that old man the perfect chance to remove you for good!”
“Humph, the Imperial family’s power is hardly enough to deal with my Hell Valley.” You Wanshan grinned, but when he saw the cold look in Zhuge Changfeng’s eye, he didn’t continue. He just cupped his hands and vanished in the night.
After You Wanshan left, Zhuge Changfeng took a deep breath and looked to the heavens.
“Your Majesty, what is your plan? What is the Secret Pearl Order?”
Three months later, in the Misty Forest at the foot of Blackwind Mountain.
Zhuo Fan stood near a frigid blood pool, holding a gourd. His hands performed signs and red dots flew from the pool into the gourd.
A smile tugged at Zhuo Fan’s face as he watched the wiggling red dots.
This blood pond was something Zhuo Fan made to raise the Frigid Pool Snow Worm. Though, its name should more aptly be Frigid Pool Bloodworm.
Zhuo Fan used a secret art from the Nine Serenities Secret Records to train this particular demonic creature. So it not only retained the parasitic ability of the Frigid Pool Snow Worm but it also connected to Zhuo Fan through telepathy. It could now work in tandem with him in performing a secret and evil magic art from the Nine Serenities Secret Records, the Blood Curse.
The Blood Curse was a demonic cultivator’s way of controlling his men. Once he put the Blood Curse on someone, they had to obey him for life. If not, the Blood Curse would flare up and the victim would die of blood explosion, a cruel and savage ending.
But the Blood Curse had a fatal flaw. If the target was stronger than the caster, the later would be devoured. This wasn’t anything good for Zhuo Fan.
But now that Zhuo Fan had the Bloodworm, this flaw could be eliminated. Since the Bloodworm lived in the target’s body, they would never be able to remove the Blood Curse.
With this special demonic creature, Zhuo Fan would be in control of a large group of experts to assist him.
If anyone heard of this, they’d come to kill Zhuo Fan themselves, even Radiant Stage experts. This demonic creature was an abomination, an affront to Heaven.
Any listener would shiver hearing one could make any expert into a slave.
With a maniac grin on his face, Zhuo Fan took the gourd filled with Bloodworms and left Misty Forest. He performed a hand sign and the forest’s fog turned bloody, barring any entry.
This was his rearing grounds. Why would he ever let another find it?
Stashing the gourd in his ring, Zhuo Fan returned to Blackwind Mountain. On his way, he paid attention to every grass, every tree to make sure all was in order.
Over the past three months, besides the Imperial family sending thousands of spirit stones and hundreds of pills, the Veiled Dragon Pavilion also sent two thousand spirit stones.
He had enough spirit stones on hand that he could flaunt his array grandmaster’s skills. Plus with the natural array here, he could still set up some decent defensive array even without such an amount of spirit stones.
To the East of Blackwind Mountain was the Azure Dragon position under the wood attribute. It was a place filled with vitality. As such, Zhuo Fan set up a 5th-grade array, Poison Dragon Array. Poisonous thickets grew inside the array and the miasma above them would never scatter. Even a Profound Heaven expert would find it hard to escape with his life.
To the West was the White Tiger position under the metal attribute. It was a place filled with sharp and overgrown plants. Zhuo Fan set up a 5th-grade array, Dazzling Gold Array. Nine suns shined brightly within the array in every direction that no one could walk with their eyes open. Each ray of golden light was like a sharp sword, capable of robbing people of their lives, yet incorporeal.
To the South was the Vermilion Bird position of the fire attribute, filled with burning Qi. Zhuo Fan set the 5th-grade array, Blackflame Array. The fires within it were demonic flames that corroded bones. When it entered one’s body, it would be hard to remove, and it wouldn’t stop gnawing until the target was burned to ashes.
To the North was the Black Tortoise position of the water attribute, a place filled with piercing chills. Zhuo Fan set up the 5th-grade array, Ice Shadows Array. Howling winds blew within the array’s territory, forming endless illusions. Anyone who entered it would lose their way easily and freeze to death under the bone-piercing coldness that seeped into the victim’s body.
Zhuo Fan didn’t tell anyone about the four new arrays. But since today was the day of his departure, he had to give the arrays’ method of control to those he trusted…