In the sky, Gu Yuexi held up her telescope and provided real-time guidance to her colleagues below: "There are three...four people hiding in a secret room near the southwest exit...yes, about two or three meters from the exit, with wooden boards? Okay, be careful of the ambush. Leader Wang, I may have spotted the hideout of the True Nature members. They worship a strange dragon-headed beast statue, right? It's on the road in the middle of the underground black market, on your right, second compartment from the south. Don't touch the door with an unknown spell formation. The people are all inside and may be fearless...Hua Hu is also there, I saw her."
Wang Ze and Xuan Ji pushed through the crowd and walked up to the small compartment.
Zhang Zhao shouted at the people inside, "Listen up, you lawless criminals! You are surrounded. Drop your weapons and don't resist. Confess and you may receive leniency. Oh, my voice isn't loud enough. I need to borrow a megaphone from the police station next door."
From a distance, Wang Ze could sense an uncomfortable aura emanating from the door of the room. Worried that Zhang Zhao might go too far, he quickly approached and grabbed him by the neck, throwing him back.
"You can forget about borrowing anything. Go away, you brat. Director Xuan, come take a look. What is this on the door? It looks like an ancient formation, at least from the Qingping Dividion's era."
"Necrotic Curse." Xuan Ji calmly opened the 'Thousand Demon Bestiary' in his left eye, which had a detailed record of this thing. "This door can only be opened from the inside, otherwise the opener will die. It's a 'rule-type magic array'. These spiders on the door are called 'marrow spiders', and their venomous webs are very toxic. If you touch them, you'll have to amputate your limbs. If you provoke them, they'll even spray venom... But it doesn't matter. It seems that these two rows of spiders guarding the door have already kicked the bucket."
As soon as he finished speaking, a coquettish laughter came from the next room: "Oh, the sound of a handsome guy. Men who are knowledgeable and experienced are the most charming - haha, listen up, the people surrounding us, we won't open the door even if you sing 'Little Bunny Foo Foo'. If you have the guts, come in."
Xuan Ji utilized his skills and tried to persuade them with a friendly tone, "Your code name is 'Hua Hu,' right? Miss Hua Hu, we can't get in, and you can't get out. Being locked up in this underground cell is no different from being in prison. Why don't you and your companions come with us to our branch office? The conditions there are much better, and you'll even get three free meals a day."
Gu Yuexi's voice came through the earpiece, "Director Xuan, there's a 'Spatial Teleportation Array' in their room."
The 'Spatial Teleportation Array' was a miraculous yet flawed existence that always appeared in pairs. One array was located in point A, and the other in point B. People and objects could travel between the two points through the array.
However, the downside is that this thing is completely different from the 'quantum transmission' in science fiction movies. The transmission process is extremely long, with a speed of about 20 kilometers per hour, and consumes huge amounts of energy - a trip to the suburbs could drain the person who activated the array.
If the person who activated the array doesn't have enough ability, the people inside may get stuck in the middle of the teleportation process.
In summary, whether from a safety or economic perspective, it is still more practical to use a shared bicycle on the roadside. Therefore, it is very niche and rarely used by people.
Only some fugitives who are ready to run away at any time will keep it on hand.
Gu Yuexi: "The spatial teleportation array has started to activate, and it will probably take five minutes to prepare. Everyone, they are delaying time."
Xuan Ji nodded lightly to show his understanding. Then, he spoke in a gentle tone, "Miss Hua Hu, I suggest you consider coming out. Don't think too long, as this damp place can cause eczema if you stay too long. How about this, I'll count down for you - ten..."
Hua Hu leaned against the door, watching her companions activate the formation, and laughed confidently, "Little brother, what do you want to do to us?"
Before she could finish her sentence, a bright white light suddenly flashed before her eyes, and the door, which was covered in the Necrotic Curse, was already on fire.
Although the door was clearly fireproof, the almost white flames seemed to have some kind of evil power, burning everything and ignoring everything. In an instant, the flames passed through the door and engulfed Hua Hu, and they couldn't be extinguished!
The sudden move stunned the Wind God agents on duty outside.
They all stepped back in unison, while Zhang Zhao stared at Xuan Ji in shock and asked, "You... didn't you say there were only ten seconds left?"
Xuan Ji casually tossed his cigarette butt into the fire and replied, "Yes, after ten seconds, they should have been roasted. That's why I urged them to come out quickly... Ah, they really came out. Good job."
The Wind God agents shuddered at his words.
In the blink of an eye, the door covered the Necrotic Curse was burned to pieces.
Hua Hu covered her face as she rolled out like a fireball, howling and writhing on the ground. The scorching heat was so intense that every Wind God agent within three steps felt a burning sensation.
However, they soon realized that the fire did not spread, but only targeted the small compartment and the people inside with precision.
Hua Hu screamed and rolled to Xuan Ji's feet, "Help! Help! Please..."
Xuan Ji snapped his fingers, and the flames on the cabin and the suspects disappeared instantly. If it weren't for the burns on their bodies, it would seem like the fire never existed.
Wang Ze's gaze slid over Xuan Ji without a word, and his suspicion deepened.
When they were being chased by Aluojin in the forest park, Xuan Ji's control over fire was not so effortless. He was afraid of setting the forest on fire and even took the time to empty the car's water tank!
It's only been a few days, even if he secretly took eight crash courses in proficiency, it wouldn't be this fast... So did Xuan Ji hide his abilities back then?
But... he hides his abilities when it's a matter of life and death, but shows off when there's no danger?
What's wrong with him?
The Wind God's field agents quickly moved forward and arrested the suspects. Gu Yuexi, who was monitoring the situation from above, didn't think too much about it. When she saw the main culprit being caught, she breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to retract her X-ray vision.
Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of a familiar figure. Her heart skipped a beat, and she quickly raised her telescope to look over there. Before she could see clearly, a ray of sunlight pierced through the clouds and dazzled her eyes. Gu Yuexi turned her head to avoid it, but when she looked again, she couldn't find the figure anymore.
"Team Leader Gu," a colleague next to her asked, "what's wrong?"
Gu Yuexi reluctantly held up her telescope and carefully scanned the surrounding area, even peering into mouse holes, until her eyes began to sting. "I think I just saw a metal-type ability user..."
Her colleague asked nervously, "A fish that got away?"
Gu Yuexi pursed her lips and after a moment, she put down the telescope: "No, it's probably just my eyes playing tricks on me."
Her colleague also picked up the telescope and looked in the direction she had just looked. They saw a complex maze of residential alleys, with only lazy residents shuffling by in their slippers and nothing else. The alley exuded a damp and mossy smell, with dead ends everywhere. It was easy for strangers to get lost.
Mr. Nian looked at the gray-white stone wall in front of him and stopped at the end of the dead end.
With one hand in his pocket, he said without looking back, "Friend, you've followed me all the way, let's meet face to face."
Sheng Lingyuan's gaze fell on the man's wrist - his watch had been flipped over at some point, with the face turned inward and the back compass facing outward. The ancient brass compass needle dared not point at him, but slyly spun in place, looking like a thief.
This reminded Sheng Lingyuan of an old acquaintance who was not very likable.
No wonder there was a familiar scent on that thing. He remembered - it was an old item made by the 'Mountain clan' of master craftsmen.
A black mist suddenly rose out of nowhere, and Mr. Nian heard a gentle male voice say, "You are a descendant of the Mountain people...?"
Sheng Lingyuan used a refined tone when saying "Mountain people," but Mr. Nian didn't understand. However, the moment he saw the black mist, his entire back involuntarily tensed up, and he suddenly felt a strong sense of danger.
Mr. Nian was familiar with the underground world and was quite a figure of importance. He knew exactly when not to be curious. Without waiting to see who or what was in the black mist, he made a decisive move and threw out the fully activated spatial teleportation array from his pocket, taking a step into it.
"Are you leaving just like that?" Sheng Lingyuan wouldn't let him go.
Without moving a muscle, the black mist around him turned into sharp claws and fiercely grabbed at the teleportation array. The edge of the array was immediately corroded, and a huge energy swelled up, shattering all the open windows in the surrounding area. At the end of the alley, an electric tricycle stumbled and rolled out.
But before the debris hit the ground, a bolt of lightning struck, breaking the black mist's claws in half. Sheng Lingyuan suddenly retreated half a step, and the teleportation array emitted a mournful buzz before disappearing, taking the gentleman with it.
There was commotion coming from a residential house that had just been damaged by the wind. After a moment, a grumbling head poked out and spotted the long-haired man at the end of the alley. As their eyes met, the head suddenly went mute and retreated back into the house, too scared to make a sound.
Sheng Lingyuan withdrew his gaze and glanced at his charred fingertips. He had sealed off Chiyuan himself, so he only had himself to blame for this mess.
However, with chaos brewing on all sides and someone secretly summoning demons, he was relieved that Aluojin was still under control. When it came to witchcraft, Sheng Lingyuan was far more knowledgeable than the incompetent legitimate clan leader.
After all, he was the one who had sealed Aluojin in the first place. Moreover, the shady summoner who had awakened him was a fake with no legitimate witch bloodline, so Aluojin's "demonic" power was greatly reduced.
If there were other heavenly demons summoned in the future, it would be much harder to deal with. The unfamiliar world often left Sheng Lingyuan at a loss, and being bound by the will of heaven made things even more inconvenient. He pondered for a moment before suddenly looking towards the southwest.
Ah yes, Chiyuan was sealed with thirty-six phoenix bones. When Chiyuan was in turmoil before, the phoenix bones shattered, so there should be some remnants that could be temporarily borrowed as a cover.
With a thought, Sheng Lingyuan transformed into a gentle breeze and merged into the oppressive thunder. The thundercloud rumbled for a while, but when it realized that the person it was about to strike had disappeared, it lost interest and dissipated.
In the meantime, it started raining in Dongchuan. As the tide rose, the stench in the underground black market became unbearable.
Wang Ze pinched his nose and waved his hand, "Let's go. We'll have to listen to the weather forecast in the opposite direction from now on. I..."
Before he could finish his sentence, Xuan Ji suddenly felt something and pushed him away. Wang Ze stumbled but managed to regain his balance, only to find a trail of blood where he had been standing.
"What..." Following the blood trail, Wang Ze saw Hua Hu's eyes wide open, staring straight ahead with a blank expression. Blood was oozing out of her burnt forehead like a leaking pipe.
"Get out of the way!" Xuan Ji acted decisively, raising his hand and summoning a handful of coins. The coins jingled in the air, transforming into shields of various sizes that blocked the Wind God agents from attack.
Before the shields had even fully formed, Hua Hu and the other cloaked figures exploded like overinflated balloons, their flesh and blood scattering everywhere. Even the stones beneath them were corroded and blackened by the carnage.
The Wind God agents were frozen in shock, unsure of how to react.
The dank and putrid underworld was now filled only with the sound of heavy breathing and the scattered remains of the fallen.
The suspects had been silenced.
Xuan Ji suddenly released his divine sense, like an invisible wind sweeping over all living creatures around him. For a moment, he captured the faint life reactions of the mice in the tunnel within several tens of meters nearby.
He heard the chaotic heartbeats and felt the slightly lower body temperature of a group of special abilities in a stressed state... but there was nothing unusual.
He looked up and saw an agent holding a beast god statue confiscated from the original sect's lair. The monster's face with a dragon head seemed to be wearing a mysterious smile, peering at him from the darkness.
This was like the mysterious phone call in Dongchuan Forest Park before...was the Wind God team really as clean as Old Xiao thought it was?
"Are you saying that the originator of the Yin Sacrifice ritual may be related to the True Nature sect?" Xiao Zheng asked Wang Ze on the phone while quickly scanning the list of people who had fainted from the curse. "What do we know about this True Nature sect?"
While Xuan Ji and the others were investigating the black market in Dongchuan, Xiao Zheng secretly flew back to the headquarters in Yong'an. As soon as he landed, he received a call about the failed operation.
"Many of the wanted criminals are members of this cult. Wind God has been tracking them all over the country. I suspect this organization may have some advanced internal training. Many of the special abilities who don't meet the minimum requirements for field work can become mysterious experts once they enter. They are particularly difficult to catch. Today, we finally caught a few, but they self-destructed on the spot."
Wang Ze looked at Luo Cuicui, who was trimming excess greenery from himself, with a worried expression and sighed, "Old Xiao, do you think we need to reflect on this internal training issue?"
Xiao Zheng replied, "Get to the point!"
"Also," Wang Ze's expression turned serious, "The doctrine of the True Nature sect is that special abilities should form a separate clan, superior to ordinary people. You need to be careful about this, especially during internal investigations."
Surrounded by too many idle onlookers, Wang Ze didn't speak too clearly, but Xiao Zheng instantly understood - whether or not they joined this cult, many special ability users did indeed have the idea of "being superior to others", as evidenced by the cold treatment of Chief Huang at the Penglai Conference.
As the official organization for special ability users, the sign hanging outside the main entrance of the Bureau reads "Serving the People", and of course, such thinking is strictly prohibited.
The Bureau also suppresses special ability users to a certain extent in order to protect ordinary people, such as the cruel "Fifteen-People Red Line" and monitoring of special ability users...even though the vast majority of special ability users don't have the ability to fly or disappear, many of them may just have slightly more strength than ordinary people.
These users are human, not tools. Over time, who can remain without resentment?
Has the Penglai Conference, or even the Bureau, been infiltrated by the True Nature sect?
"Oh, by the way," Wang Ze added, "the True Nature sect worship a four-type beast with a dragon's head, baring its teeth and looking sinister..."
"The totem of the demon king who sparked the chaos in the Nine Provinces War is documented in the Ancient Studies' department's records," Yang Chao interjected from the side.
Seeing everyone looking at him, he rubbed his hands awkwardly, "Uh...well, I'm studying for a graduate degree in history, so I like to compare ordinary people's history with our internal records. It's quite interesting and helps deepen my understanding."
"Hopefully the criminals are not too cultured," sighed Wang Ze. "Alright, since we've hit a dead end with the clues, let's wrap things up and bring the suspects from the Yue De Sect back to headquarters."
The Wind God agents sprang into action, and Xuan Ji was feeling fine. Remembering his duty as the "aftermath department director" to take care of the agents, he bought a bunch of coffee drinks out of his own pocket to treat his hardworking colleagues who were putting in overtime.
Luo Cuicui was exhausted from all the work and went to rest, while Yang Chao and Ping Qianru, two young and responsible individuals, came forward to help. After a busy period, Xuan Ji invited them out for tea and a chat. Over tea, they gossiped about the key members of the Wind Gods and quickly got to know each other better.
From the gossip, Xuan Ji learned that Wang Ze was a rare gem born into an ordinary family, Zhang Zhao was the child of a martyr who worked as an agent for the bureau, and Gu Yuexi's background was a mystery, with no close relationships to anyone. During the selection process for special agents, not only were their personal qualities assessed, but their backgrounds were also strictly scrutinized. Anyone with a family member who had been involved in anti-human activities in the past three generations would definitely not be accepted.
"Child of a martyr, mysterious background..." Xuan Ji silently paid attention to the gossip, stirring sugar into his coffee while casually changing the subject and expressing concern for Yang Chao's progress in his studies.
"Director... Ah, ah-choo!" Yang Chao sneezed and nervously rubbed his nose, then smiled apologetically. "I don't think I'll have any problems with the written test. I've been trying to get in good with a mentor who specializes in studying the history of the Qi Dynasty these past few days. There aren't many people in China who study the Qi Dynasty, so the competition isn't that intense."
The Qi Dynasty...
Xuan Ji's hand paused as he stirred the coffee, and he suddenly asked, "Do you know anything about Emperor Wu?"
"I wouldn't say I know much, but from records of the Qi Dynasty, more than half of the topics revolve around Sheng Xiao. No one can avoid him," Yang Chao said, his interest piqued.
He wasn't bothered by his allergies anymore and excitedly rubbed his hands together like a raccoon. "Emperor Wu left behind many mysteries in his life, but he was a super treasure trove of an emperor."
Xuan Ji forcefully pushed down the image of a person that flashed through his mind.
"What do you mean?"
"You see, the biggest controversy surrounding this person is the drastic contrast between his early and later life, as if they were two different people. Do you remember that TV drama based on a folk legend about an emperor who was switched with a double?"
"In what way is there a contrast?" Xuan Ji didn't understand. "Wasn't he involved in military affairs in both his early and later life, and also a dictator?"
"No, no, no, he wasn't the kind of emperor who just conquered the world in the traditional sense. The role of the Martial Emperor in war was not that simple. You see, he was born in a particularly dark era. When he was born, the human court... that is, the government, had already disbanded - or rather, the human race had disbanded. Because the enemy was too powerful, there was no possibility of victory.
"To give an inappropriate analogy - people back then were like wild animals today. Their habitats were invaded, they were slaughtered, they became slaves, and even food. At least now we have wildlife protection laws, but back then there was no 'human protection law'." As Yang Chao spoke, he picked up a pencil and a napkin from the small table in the teahouse.
With just a few simple strokes, he sketched out the map of the Great Qi Dynasty, showcasing his solid foundation in the basics of drawing. It was clear that he wasn't just boasting about his preparation for the written exam.
Pointing to the map, Yang Chao continued, "During that era, those unfortunate enough to be born into it had only two options: either head north or head south. Those who went north fled to the 'Northern Wilderness Region'. To the west of this place is a vast desert, to the south is the Barren Mountains, and to the east is the North Glacier, a natural barrier that is difficult to breach. It's a tough nut to crack. The 'tough nut' is bitterly cold, lacking in resources, and not worth the effort for the enemy, so they didn't bother with it. As a result, the Northern Wilderness became the largest settlement area for humans.
"Another group of people headed south and crossed the sea to the 'Gaoling' Island - oh, that's now Yuzhou Island and the South China Sea Islands. These southerners were ostracized by a non-human tribe in the area and had to rely on hard labor to survive, living in misery.
"As for those who couldn't escape and stayed in the Central Plains, they were like stray cats and dogs wandering in the wilderness. Hiding and fleeing, dying one after another without a proper burial ground. Can you imagine the situation? In such circumstances, the Martial Emperor who had united the human race in just over twenty years must have possessed considerable charisma. He must have been able to give people hope and make them willingly believe that following him would allow them to live with dignity on the earth."
Xuan Ji lowered his gaze and looked at the vast map and scattered settlements of the human race. Suddenly, something stirred in his heart, but before he could figure it out, the strange feeling disappeared.
Collecting himself, he said, "When the Martial Emperor restored the country, he was only in his twenties. What kind of charisma could a wandering teenager have? I heard that the leading theory of the historical circle is that he was just a puppet controlled by the flow of people in the early days, and the real mastermind behind the unification of the human race was standing behind him."
"Are you talking about Dan Li, the Emperor's teacher?" Yang Chao asked. "Yes, Dan Li was the man behind the restoration of Da Qi. This theory is quite popular and it also explains why the Martial Emperor's governing style changed so drastically before and after, and why Sheng Xiao's temperament changed so dramatically, almost immediately after killing Dan Li."
Xuan Li had clearly brought up Dan Li himself, but when Yang Chao chimed in, a sudden anger flared up in him. If it weren't for him remaining rational, she would have blurted out a "bullshit" right then and there.
Yang Chao was lost in his own world, completely oblivious to the his expression, still chattering away. "Dan Li is quite interesting, but I feel like Sheng Xiao is definitely more than just a 'puppet' - after all, according to the customary inheritance rules at the time, he wasn't the first heir of the human race."
"Do you know about Prince Ning? He is the older brother of Emperor Wu, born to the same father and mother, three years his senior. It is said that in the later years of Emperor Wu's reign, he disowned all his relatives, even imprisoning his own mother until her death. Yet, he maintained a good relationship with his elder brother, and even passed on the throne to Prince Ning's son.
"Isn't it strange, Director? Prince Ning and Emperor Wu were equals in terms of blood relation, having the same father and mother with no distinction as legitimate or illegitimate children. According to the rules of seniority, Prince Ning should have been the one chosen over his younger brother. So why did they choose the younger brother instead of the elder one?"
"It is said that Prince Ning was 'weak and sickly'..."
"Hmph, living to adulthood and even getting married and having children, how weak could he be? In ancient times, children were like unvaccinated chicks. They may look strong today, but a little breeze tomorrow could kill them. Being one year older increases the chances of survival. Historical records even say that Emperor Wu suffered from migraines his whole life, so he may not have been that healthy. So, I think there is a possibility that this Emperor Wu had some special talent."
Xuan Ji thought for a moment and pulled out a cigarette.
His migraines are real, and not only did he suffer from them during his lifetime, but even after death.
"What do you mean by 'special talent'?"
"I mean some kind of unique ability," Yang Chao said. "I have a professor who is a die-hard fan of Emperor Wu. He firmly believes that the Emperor's personality changes in his later years were caused by some rare injury sustained during the war."
Xuan Ji blurted out, "Nonsense."
"From the perspective of an ordinary person," Yang Chao explained, "I think his later mental problems were not caused by injuries, but by some special cultivation method."
Xuan Ji looked at this unreliable graduate reserve in shock, thinking to himself: he guessed it right. Becoming a demon after death, the demonic energy never dissipates. This 'special cultivation method' usually has a formal name in literary works, called 'losing oneself in cultivation.'
"I haven't read enough historical records," Yang Chao mistakenly thought that the leader's shocked expression was due to him talking nonsense, so he quickly tried to make up for it by saying, "When I speak, you know... it's all just my own wild thoughts... cough. Um... first of all, in history, it is said that the 'minority tribe leader' who caused chaos in the Central Plains was killed by Emperor Wu himself, right? We all know that this so-called 'minority thribe leader' is not human, but belongs to a true non-human race - the demon race. According to ancient research, this 'demon king' lived for at least a few hundred years and conquered all the monsters that flew in the sky and ran on the ground.
"Just think about it, even if a young man in his twenties is extremely talented and trains like a devil without eating or sleeping since birth, it would still be a huge challenge to defeat such a big boss barehanded. Isn't it a bit unbelievable? But if the historical records are correct, then his combat power is truly heaven-defying. The so-called 'heaven-defying' combat power cannot be obtained through conventional means.
"Secondly, as we all know, Sheng Xiao has no biological children and has adopted his nephew as his heir. The tomb of Emperor Wu is an empty tomb, and even if his own body cannot be found, can't he be buried with his wife after her death? However, there is no record of Emperor Wu's empress in historical documents, and it is inferred that he did not have a high-ranking concubine during his lifetime.
"But for an important member of the royal family, marriage and producing an heir are considered 'national affairs' and political tasks. How could such a glorious and arduous task not be completed, and why didn't a group of ministers urge him to get married? There is no record of anyone urging him to get married, as if everyone had forgotten about it. This is not reasonable, is it? In conclusion, I believe that Sheng Xiao's body was likely transformed by a special power, preventing him from having biological children. And this transformation may have started from a young age."
Legend has it that the emperor was a monster.
Xuan Ji was lost in thought, forgetting to light the cigarette between his fingers...
It was likely that he was destined for this from a young age, chosen by the human race.
As he delved deeper into his thoughts, he couldn't help but shiver.
What kind of life was this?
Would this be the reason for his madness and brutality during the rest of his life?
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