After the banquet that the Liu brothers held in honor of Zhang and the beauties, a few days of leisure followed before Zhang’s armies went on the move once more. This time, their numbers had subsequently doubled compared to the number of men that had come along with Zhang from Red Mist City.
With such a substantial force under their command, Zhang and his generals and strategists decided to split their army into two. One army under Zhuge Liang and Gan Ning’s command would continue heading down south while the other army under Zhang’s command headed toward the east to aid the other forces of Aurora.
Zhang had placed Zhuge Liang in command of one of the armies because Sima Yi was to stay in the Dark Sea Province, to ensure that Liu Biao does not try to plot anything. Since Zhang wished to see the extent of Zhuge Liang’s capabilities since Sima Yi had proven his ability many times over he was chosen to remain in the Dark Sea Province and oversee things.
To ensure Sima Yi’s safety, Zhang even assigned a group of a hundred of his personal guard, which he had formed from the man that was rescued from New Moon City, to protect and ensure Sima Yi’s safety. With these men to watch over him, Sima Yi wouldn’t have anything to worry about.
“My lord, another small enemy fort has been spotted up ahead but like the others there seem to be no signs of the people in it.” One of Zhang’s scouts reported.
“Have more scouts scour the area and have our forces move into their encampment and expand it to hold our forces for the night. If they were kind enough to build it for us we might as well use it, after checking for traps of course.” Zhang said from atop his fiery steed.
“Yes my lord, I’ll have the fort checked and the area surveyed.” The soldier said before clasping his hands and excusing himself.
Ever since Zhang’s forces across the borders of the Dark Sea Province into the borders of the Rainbow Rock Province, dozens of empty forts and encampments had been found with no signs of enemy troops lingering in the area.
At first, Zhang had ordered for all of the forts and encampments to be burned, after they were searched. But after the seventh or so empty fort they came upon, he decided to send his men the trouble of having to set up an entire camp every night and just add onto abandon forts.
“Darling if we do not encounter any enemy forces then we should be able to meet up with Uncle Guan’s army in a month or so.” Lingqi said with a smile.
Guan Yu has basically become the closest person she had to family so Lingqi was very much looking forward to seeing him after such a long time.
So after the fort was searched and nothing out of the ordinary was found, a fraction of Zhang’s army began moving in and occupying the fort. While their men were expanding the fort and setting up camp for the rest of the army, Zhang and the beauties decided to have a race to the fort.
Since there had been a severe lack of battle and things to do ever since they left the Dark Sea Province, they group tried to come up with a variety of things to do to pass the time.
“The losers have to follow one command from the winner unconditionally!” Lingqi laughed as she rode ahead of the group.
“I look forward to issuing if you all my unconditional command!” Zhang chuckled as he began feeding his Inferno Wind Walk with essence from the Underworld Heart, causing its flames to burn brighter and its legs to move faster.
“Cheater!” Ai yelled as her black whip sliced through the air and smashed into the ground in front of Zhang, causing debris and dust to dance in the air.
Moments later Zhang rode into the fort and looked back at his wives with a victorious smile on his face. Thanks to the power boost Zhang’s Wind Walker received it was able to make it to the fort before the beauties could even pass the half distance mark from where they started and the fort.
“I win.” He said with a grin.
However, Zhang’s grin would disappear almost instantly as the ground began to quake and six massive stone pillars pierced upward through the ground. With countless glowing runes on them, these pillars rose into the sky.
As the pillars came into view, Zhang’s first thought was to get as far away from the fort as possible so he whipped his horse and bolted toward the fortress gates that he had passed moments earlier.
“Damn it has to be an enemy ambush….” He cursed in his mind as creases appeared on his brow.
Although Zhang’s horse was moving as fast as the wind, before could make it out of the for a translucent blue membrane was emitted from the pillars and formed a dome over the fort. When a few of Zhang’s soldiers tried to exit the done, they found out that they could bypass.
Once the beauties saw the stone pillar, they frantically tried to speed up their mounts and sped toward the fort. But by the time they were there the fort was already encased and there was no way in or out.
“Break the pillar!” Yuying yelled as she arrived in front of the translucent membrane.
An instant later Zhang could be seen with two swords in hand and dozens of sharp weapons floating by his side.
“Everyone! Attack the pillars!” Zhang’s voice reverberated throughout the enclosed space within the thin membrane and the area outside of it.
“Hopefully, this works.” He thought as he closed in on one of the pillars. Meanwhile, his men who were futilely pounding on the barrier were now swarming around the stone pillars.
With swords and spears in hand Zhang’s men began to frantically swing at the stone pillars but failed to do more than make scratches in it. Even a few men from Zhang’s personal guard who were also trapped inside the barrier couldn’t do very much damage to these stone pillars for some reason.
Considering that there were people who were level six or seven warriors in Zhang’s personal guard, smashing regular stone pillars could be considered child’s play. However, whenever a weapon was about to impact one of the stone pillars, a thin membrane of light would absorb a majority of the damage that was supposed to be inflicted on the pillar.
Much like his men, Zhang couldn’t inflict too much damage on the pillars either. Although his dragon talon throwing knives were able to cut into the pillar easily, they did not possess enough length to destroy the pillar. He even tried shooting lightning at the pillar but that did not seem to have any effects either.
“Damn it this isn’t working either…” Zhang cursed as he tried to destroy the runes on the pillar, thinking that if the inscription was broken then the spell itself with cancel out. However, whenever Zhang scratched out a part of the inscriptions the stone pillar would mend itself and appear brand new.
Outside of the barrier, the beauties were launching a barrage of attacks of their own. Vaporizing rays of condensed light left trails of scorched earth wherever they went but when they struck the barrier they would be reflected and scatter all about.
“I can’t do anything from the outside…” Yuying said as she examined the inscriptions on the pillars.
While the beauties were not successful in their attempts to free Zhang from the barrier, a thought popped up in his mind.
“I guess this could be counted as a life or death situation… “Zhang mumbled as the dragon heart necklace that hung around his neck began to glow. A second later black flames ignited all around Zhang and coiled around his body in the shape of a dragon.
Since the essence consumption of the black flames was massive, Zhang had been frugally storing away essence into the dragon heart necklace and promised to himself that he would only use the black flames when he was cornered and had no means of escape.
With a flick of the wrist, the flames that swirled around Zhang’s body shot into the air and soon a dragon comprised of black fire rammed into the barrier. The moment the black flames impacted the barrier a massive hole was formed.
“Yes!” Zhang yelled as a hint of hope of escape was presented before him.
Not too far away from where Zhang was, deep in a mountain range were a group of a few thousand men in black cloaks. These thousands of cloaked men were sitting within a large glow magic circle and chanting in unison when suddenly one after the other they began to spray mists of blood from their mouths.
“Ho-how were they able to damage the formation, that is being powered by three thousand members of the Black Legion, in multiple areas and to such a large degree…” One of the cloaked men said as he wiped the blood off the corners of his mouth.
“Men of the Dark Legion! Begin the transfer incantation! Send these bastards to their graves!” Someone yelled, prompting all of the black cloaked men to begin chanting once more.
As the black cloaked men chanted, the hole that Zhang had created in the barrier began to mend itself and in the blink of an eye the damage that was dealt was no longer visible. With furrowed brows, Zhang was one more enveloped in black flames.
However, before he could attack again, the barrier began to emit a blinding light causing disorientation and confusion to ensue.
Within a flash the barrier disappeared along with those enveloped within it, leaving only a large patch of barren earth behind and six stone pillars that once rose into the skies now laying in broken pieces on the ground.
“Wha-what!!! He was just here!” Ling cried as she ran to the pillar where Zhang has been just seconds ago.
Soon a saddening wail echoed into the ears of everyone present.
Ling’s wailing was soon joined by Lingqi once she and Yuying also made their way to the stone pillar.
“Calm down, he’s not dead!” Yuying said as she calmly traded her hand against a piece of the stone pillar that was laying on its side.
“He’s not?” Ling and Lingqi said in unison.
“This is a teleportation array, it simply sent everything within its boundaries somewhere else. Although this one is defective and can only work once, if I’m given enough time then I might be able to find out where it sent him.” Yuying said as she continued to examine the pillar.
After hearing Yuying’s words, Lingqi and Ling were no longer shedding tears and their eyes were no longer dull and filled with despair but were now filled with hope and resolution.
“The lot of you stop standing there like dead fish and set up camp! I want all of the inscriptions on these pillars recorded and given to me as soon as possible!” Yuying said in a domineering tone.
Had she not known that this was a teleportation array and had she not possessed an unshakeable belief in her husband’s power then Yuying would have been exactly like the other beauties. But since she knew Zhang was alive, she had no time for tears because it was better spent figuring a way to find him.
“Wait… Where’s Ai!!” Yuying yelled once she realized that Ai was nowhere in sight.
While Zhang’s wives and the majority of the army that accompanied him were frantically trying to figure out where he was sent and where the heck Ai is.
Zhang found himself and everyone within the fort in a place with an entirely different terrain than the area they had been in before he was teleported away.
“What the heck just happened.” Zhang mumbled as he surveyed the area around him after jumping off his horse.
“Brother!!!” Ai’s voice could be heard as Zhang felt a familiar scent enter his nostrils while something jumped into him.
“Ai! How are you here!?” Zhang asked with a perplexed look on his face, since Ai has been on the outside of the barrier when it was erected.
“It wouldn’t let me in so I punched it with all my strength, next thing I know there was a bright flash and I couldn’t see.” Ai said would rubbing her right fist.
“We’re surrounded! We’re surrounded!” Someone within the fort screamed before Zhang could comment on how Ai miraculous got into the barrier.
Looking out through the fort gates Zhang could see countless blood red eyes that were filled with murderous intent.
“Cactus Dragons!” Zhang said in a loud startled voice as he gazed out into the army of green colored dragon like demonic beasts that were covered in thorns.
“Cactus Dragons?” Ai said as her head tile fed to the side.
“It seems we ended up in the middle of their territory and they aren’t too happy about it…” Zhang said with a sigh.
“All forces gather up! We are surrounded by a hoard of level six Cactus Dragons!” Zhang roared, trying to rally together his soldiers.
The area outside of the fort was completely packed with hundreds of massive Cactus Dragons, luckily for Zhang, despite being called Cactus Dragons, these beasts are not really dragons at all.
They are simply demonic plants who mimic the appears of dragons to scare away predators. However, despite not being dragons, these beasts are extremely territorial and since they grew to great sizes and lived in large groups, they are still very formidable enemies. There was also a very unique and overpowered ability that Cactus Dragon’s possessed that made them very dangerous, upon death, their bodies will spawn more Cactus Dragons.
“My lord we have roughly five thousand men and enough provisions for a few days.” One of Zhang’s lieutenants reported hurriedly.
“Dismantle every building and tent and gather anything that is flammable. We’ll be needing them if we plan to hold out against these monsters.” Zhang said as he grasped Ai’s hand tightly.
For now, she was the only one who he can completely depend on and the only one that he was truly worried about.
While Zhang’s men were gathering flammables, a set or preying eyes were keeping watch of the fort from afar.
“Congratulations general on successfully sending the prince of Aurora to meet his demise. Now that his army is like a dragon without a head, a dragon that can be slain without much effort.” A man in a black cloak said with a laugh.
“Hahaha, once those Cactus Dragons do our work for us, we will take out his army and be greatly reward by his lordship.” Another man who was in a white cloak said with a laugh.