Song Ci wiped his nose in a fluster. The blood did not drip down but ended up smeared on his hand. He clenched his fist to hide the blood as he walked off the stage.
However, the instant the stench of blood permeated the air, it caused a commotion among the crowd. Song Ci was still on the stage when a sudden wave of sound washed over him and caught him off-guard. All he could see was a black mass of demons simultaneously kneeling before him.
“Greetings to the Demon King—”
The middle-aged man with the whip on the stage trembled with fear and kowtowed repeatedly to him. “This humble one is blind. Your Majesty, please spare my life! Please spare my life, Your Majesty!”
Song Ci froze. He suddenly recalled that the blood of the Demon King ran in his body. That was a symbol of unrestricted access and ultimate authority in the Demon Realm.
This was the first time he had been kowtowed to. Having such a supreme honor bestowed upon him left him at a loss. He swept his gaze across the audience below. Only a few scattering of people were still standing.
Qinyu’s nose twitched, and her expression changed. “Isn’t that the aura of a deity?”
“Are you from the Tu Shan Clan?” The young man in the cage asked in a low voice.
Song Ci turned his head and responded, “Is that very obvious?”
“The blood of the Tu Shan Fox clan harbors a formidable power. Although it has changed a lot after being passed down generations after generations over the years, it’s still detectable.” He replied.
Song Ci felt something off upon hearing this. He asked, “You are also of the Divine Clan, am I right?”
An enigmatic smile appeared on the man’s muddied face. “I suppose you can see it that way. But all those aren’t important. I just want to remind you that there are also three others from Tu Shan below. I don’t know if you are acquainted with them.”
Song Ci raised his eyebrows doubtfully and looked down at the audience again. He glanced at the group of kneeling demons, then looked towards Rong Bai for help. This time, he was really too reckless. He feared Rong Bai would detest him for stirring up trouble.
Rong Bai looked at him silently, then turned his head and shifted his gaze elsewhere.
Song Ci followed Rong Bai’s line of sight and saw two conspicuous people standing among the crowd. Why did he say conspicuous?
Both of them were maidens, but one of them resembled Rong Bai, especially those eyes. Just a glance at her, and he was certain that she was related to Rong Bai by blood.
The other maiden was dressed in a yellow skirt with her long hair all tied up. Put her among the mob of demons, and she could be considered a ravishing beauty.
Both maidens were furiously glaring at Song Ci.
Their eyes met. But even before the maidens could react, they heard a loud bellow from the bottom of the stage. “Thieving bastard!”
Caught off guard by the shout, Song Ci trembled. He saw a man jumped up from the crowd and leaped into mid-air. His extended right hand grabbed a half-an-arm long red stick that he had conjured out, while his left hand carried a yellow, double-sided drum adorned with tassels.
This man looked to be about thirty of age. He was clearly a man, but he looked even more delicate than a woman.
Song Ci’s eyes followed him and came to a stop mid-air. Eight swaying azure tails materialized behind him.
“Oh. It’s the Maitreya Drum. “He heard the man behind him muttered.
Song Ci raised his head to lock gaze with the eight-tailed man. Even before he could ask what the Maitreya Drum was or who that man was, a powerful force pressed down on him from above and clutched hold of his chest.
A fleeting figure flashed through his mind.
Then, the man brandished the stick1 to pound the drum. A clear, crisp sound rang out. Layers of red light spread out from the drum surface and enveloped everyone at the scene.
“Kill him!” The man raised his voice.
Like a battle drum on the battlefield spurring on hordes of soldiers and horses, masses of demons sprang into the air, almost blocking off the light from the Light-Bearing Pearls. Song Ci retreated in a panic until his back hit the iron cage. It was then he realized he had no escape route left. He instinctively squatted down, holding his head.
During his panic, the man behind him grasped the iron cage, and blue light burst out around him like a pop-up shield. A semi-circle pulsating with a faint blue light enveloped them and firmly kept all the demons pouncing on them outside of it.
Not feeling any attack on him, Song Ci hurriedly opened his eyes and saw the layer of blue barrier before him. He rose to his feet and looked back to see a pair of horns growing out of the young man’s head. Strangely enough, the one on the right was broken in half.
The man smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”
The drum sounded for the second time, and the demons barred outside the barrier let out ear-piercing howls as they struck the barrier at the same time. Their eyes turned red as if they had been provoked.
Qinyu formed a seal with her hands as her eyes reddened. She said through gritted teeth, “I didn’t expect someone from the Qingqiu Clan to bring the Maitreya Drum here!”
Rings of red light from the surface of the drum swept over in waves. Qinyu stood within it. The drumming rang in her ears over and over again. Every strike caused her divine consciousness to waver a fraction. Once she lost her mind, she would be in complete control of the Maitreya Drum, just like those charging and attacking demons.
Just as she was gnashing her teeth to push herself to hang in there, a warm power that seemed to come from that red thread flowed into her wrist and stabilized her mind. Qinyu was astonished for a moment, but this was not the time and the place to dwell on it, so she yelled at the top of her voice to Song Ci, “Song Ci, run!”
An eight-tailed fox plus the Maitreya Drum. If Song Ci faced them head-on, he would surely lose his life.
Song Ci heard Qinyu’s voice among all the roaring and howling and panicked. He looked left and right, but he was boxed in by the demons around him. Anxious, he yelled back, “Where can I run to?!”
“Where can you run to?” The man in the cage was calmer than him. “You might as well think about how to save me first.”
Song Ci glanced at those iron bars as thick as wrists. “I’d better just think about how to escape.”
While they were talking, there was a flash of white light outside the barrier. A piece of white silk cloth came flying towards them and instantly swept away a mob of demons beyond the barrier. The maiden who resembled Rong Bai commanded the silk with her right hand and charged towards the eight-tailed man.
The man took a look at the white silk but made little of it. He sneered, “Great timing. I’ll kill all the Tu Shan who comes here today to avenge Sheng-er!”
With that, he let out a long howl. The shrill voice of a fox was jarring on the ears. The red light swelled, and the walls all around began to crack until the entire Baihua Yao building exploded apart, throwing the pedestrians on the streets into chaos.
The man flew up into the sky. The stick in his right hand glowed brighter and brighter with the red light. All the demons congregating together retreated at the same time.
Qinyu hurried over to Song Ci and grabbed his wrist. “Let’s go!”
“Where to?” Song Ci staggered as she dragged him away.
“That’s the current second-in-command of the Qingqiu Clan, Qingqiu Yu.” Qinyu said, “The Maitreya Drum in his hand is enough to mobilize all the demons in this Bodhi capital. If you don’t leave now, you will die here!”
“I can’t! Master Rong is still here! “Song Ci engaged in a tug-of-war with her. But when he looked towards Rong Bai’s spot, he found it empty.
He glanced around in a panic, looking for a trace of Rong Bai. But it was chaos all around him. He could not find Rong Bai at all.
Qinyu had also realized that Rong Bai was missing. She urged him on. “Perhaps he left first. Qingqiu Yu wants to kill you. Don’t worry about others.”
This time, Song Ci did not answer her but continued to look for Rong Bai among the sea of people. His intuition told him that Rong Bai would not abandon him to flee on his own, even if he had to come up against an eight-tailed Qingqiu fox.
Qinyu was in a state of anxiety.
What did eight tails represent?
It represented absolute power. Furthermore, he had the fear-inducing Maitreya Drum in his hands. The way Qinyu saw it, Song Ci going up against him was equivalent to a rabbit going up against a wild wolf.
The maiden who resembled Rong Bai stepped across the white silk and moved up towards the man. She lifted her palm to congeal light before launching a sudden attack at Qingqiu Yu. However, Qingqiu Yu warded off her attacks in two or three blows. He turned around the stick in his hand and struck out at her right in the heart, sending her toppling over to the ground.
“Ah Lian!” The other maiden who was with her earlier flew into the air to catch hold of her. Both of them landed at the side.
Qingqiu Yu raised the stick with red light revolving around it, threw the Maitreya Drum up into the air, and struck the first blow.
Layers of light spread far and wide from the drum surface again. All the demons who had been on the street watching the commotion froze as the color red crept into their eyes.
Qinyu’s expression changed dramatically. “Five strikes of the drum, and all demons will be one with Buddha.”
She shouted to Song Ci, “It will be too late if you don’t leave now!”
Song Ci was still standing still as if his feet had grown roots and nailed him to the ground. No matter how Qinyu pulled him, he would not budge. He swiftly swept his gaze over the crowd.
Rong Bai. He wanted to see Rong Bai. Even if it was just a corner of his outfit.
Then the second beat rang out and spread throughout the capital, jolting the entire capital of demons awake. The sky filled up with demons as they all moved in one direction to congregate.
No one knew how many demons there were in this huge Bodhi Demon Capital. All they could see was a tightly packed mass of demons like an army of ants.
Red light shot up the sky and broke through the clouds, revealing a bright moon that shone silvery light upon them and cast overlapping shadows on the ground. More and more demons gathered in the sky until it reached a frightening number.
Qinyu was so frightened that her legs went weak. Still, she continued to persuade Song Ci. “A wise man does not fight when the odds are against him. Can’t we flee now and join up with your Master Rong again later?”
But Song Ci said, “If Rong Bai doesn’t leave, then I won’t.”
“How do you know he hasn’t left? Maybe he has long fled!” Qinyu could bear it no longer. She broke down and yelled, “I’m begging you, leave now. You are a fox with four legs. With my wings, we might really be able to make our escape!”
It was not that Qinyu was simply too much of a loyal friend and could not bear to leave Song Ci behind. That was only a small part of the reason. The thing was that even if she left by herself, she might not necessarily be able to break through the barrier Qingqiu Yu had set up. But if she took along Song Ci, who was of the Tu Shan Clan, then she might still have a fighting chance.
“I’m not leaving.” Song Ci said once again, resolutely.
Qinyu was almost pissed to death. She opened her mouth and was about to rebuke him when the man in the cage said, “While you guys are discussing it, can you rescue me in passing? I don’t really want to die either.”
On hearing him, Qinyu took the time to look at the iron cage with bars as thick as wrists. Her answer was even blunter than Song Ci’s. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
“Lass, if you asked the Immortal Realm for help now, we might be able to hold on until reinforcements arrive.” The man said. “I should be able to protect you for a while.”
“I’ve already asked for help, but the hope of that happening is slim.” Qinyu pursed her lips. Her voice trembled slightly.
The man chuckled. “Don’t be afraid.”
During the time they were speaking, Qingqiu Yu had already struck the drum for the fourth time. The red light on the drum stick grew even more dazzling, like a red sun completely illuminating every scene around them. It was even a little glaring on the eyes. A tremendous pressure came assaulting them. Qinyu could not bear it and was the first to be pushed down on one knee.
Song Ci rubbed his pressured chest and calmed his breathing. With a movement of his finger, he conjured out a black blade and said in a heavy voice. “Let’s fight him head-on.”
Qinyu raised her head abruptly upon hearing him, only to see the black blade in his hand. A look of disbelief appeared on her face. “You…”
The demons gathering in the air and on the ground stirred. Exposing their fangs as they roared and howled, they waited for the last drumbeat.
Qingqiu Yu utilized his magical power. He raised his hand, wanting to strike the drum for the fifth time, but the stick failed to hit the surface of the drum as anticipated—instead, it landed on a fair and slender hand.