The Divine Martial Stars

Chapter 955

Chapter 955 Personal Army

This was a twist that Li Mu never saw coming.

But he remembered the flash of light that streaked into the air and escaped. Perhaps there was credibility to the claims the Moon Monarch had just made.

“A thousand years ago, the armies of the Children of the Moon were slain during an ambush. Since that annihilation, our souls have been trapped on this ship, held under the control of the Fiend Emperor Xue Yan. Through the years, here we have been. With the treasures used as bait to lure any unsuspecting people or creatures, we have been the butchers of the Fiend Emperor to satiate his thirst for blood. Today, you have freed us from the fetters that have ensnared us for so long and returned us to what we really were.”

The Moon Monarch bowed and so did the army of Moon Sentinels behind him.

The night sky slowly receded back to its usual nocturnal placidity as the blood moon phenomenon was indeed no more.

It was all Li Mu could do to remain standing with his power spent. He returned the bow and smiled weakly, “Well, I was only just doing what I did to survive. So, I guess we’re square.” He deftly avoided bringing up the twenty crates of Lunar Gems that he had pilfered.

“With the Lunar Specter gone, so will we come sunrise. Alas, our deaths are not yet avenged… Pass on we shall, but what a bitter and woeful end…” the Moon Monarch said again, bowing once more. “If I may beg one more favor, young one.”

“Let’s hear it,” Li Mu responded.

“Unless I am very much mistaken, the rings you used to defeat the simulacrum of the Field Emperor Xue Yan are a set of magical relics of a very high order. Hence here’s my request, young one: you allow me and my army to reside inside the rings until the day when we could finally exact our vengeance arrives.”

“You wish to stay in my rings?” he responded.

“But since when the Rings of Heaven and Earth are Cosmic Relics? And what are Cosmic Relics anyway? Old Swindler told me nothing of the sort before?!”

“Yes, but as repayment, all one thousand of my Moon Sentinels shall serve your bidding. Give the word and we will see your orders done. The only thing is, as wraiths, we can only appear in the night and not the day,” said the Moon Monarch.

Amusement twinkled in Li Mu’s eyes.

“That’s interesting.”

Li Mu had tested firsthand the strength of the Moon Sentinels himself. There was no doubt of how deadly and strong they were. But would that mean that Li Mu needed only to say yes and he would have a personal army of more than one thousand men? That would be an extra ace hidden up his sleeve.

The offer was just too good for him to decline.

But there existed but only one conundrum: saying yes would also drag him into the mess surrounding the Children of the Moon’s quest for vengeance. But he already was waist-deep in enough troubles as it was. One extra problem won’t seem to make any difference anymore and he might as well recruit as much help as he could.

Especially since his power is fully depleted and the beasts and wraiths were still around. For all he knew, they could still be lurking around, waiting to sink their fangs, teeth, or claws into him.

“Very well,” Li Mu agreed to the terms, “But I’ll need an oath from you, that all of you will do nothing harmful to me.”

“So be it,” said the Moon Monarch, “We hereby pledge our loyalty and allegiance to you, good sir, in exchange for your permission to take refuge in your Cosmic Relic. By life or by death, we shall serve your bidding, and if we ever attempt anything deceitful or detrimental to your interest, may we decay and never live ever again. This we so swear.”

“Wait a minute,” Li Mu yelped, “That means you’re entrusting your lives into my hands.”

The Moon Monarch smiled.

His long silvery-blond hair and beard shone in the pale gossamer moon glow. His eyes gleamed deeply with a wise and circumspect look. “You’ve proven yourself enough tonight, my friend. I would take my chances with you than spend another wretched day in the clutches of the Fiend Emperor again.”

“So I gather,” Li Mu nodded, “Very well. Come on in then.”

“Thank you so much, sir,” the Moon Monarch said before he turned to face the rest of his kin. “Into the Cosmic Relic, you go. I’ll make sure of Mr. Li’s safety first.”

“Your Imperial Majesty,” the Moon Sentinels responded before they vanished, withdrawing into the Ring of Earth.

Li Mu studied the Ring and could find no changes to it. He did not know what it was like residing inside the Ring and using it as a sort of vessel; for all the time, he had thought that the Ring was made of some sort of solid substance.

“Are we setting a course for this Oststern village that you mentioned earlier, sir?” the Moon Monarch’s polite use of “sir” indicated that he acknowledged Li Mu as his liege.

But with the Moon Monarch’s presence, Li Mu conceived another idea. There was no need to hurry.

He went back to the wreckage of the Lunar Specter and found a quiet spot where he sat down and began meditating to replenish his power.

His Talismanic Power was back to fullness by the end of the second hour.

The fierce battle tonight has pushed him to the limits and for that, he could feel improved back to mid-King Realm levels. He could feel something swelling on his forehead, right between his eyes. A sense of heightened consciousness was ready to break open like a seed.

To his surprise, the Moon Monarch had been on a watchful vigil by his side all the time. That made him feel rather sorry.

“My gratitude, senior,” said Li Mu when he was emerging from the midst of the mounds of wreckages around him. Then he felt something under his feet. Something hard. He looked and saw a red dart-like bolt on the ground. Even in the soft and peaceful moonglow, he could feel the same evil aura that he felt from the Moon Monarch earlier emanating from this object. He picked it up, asking, “Do you know what is this, senior?”

“The Cursed Quarrel of Horror,” the Moon Monarch spoke, his face creasing with undisguised hatred and disgust. “An instrument of evil belonging to that thrice-be-damned Fiend Emperor. It is on account of this instrument that I was under his control for almost a thousand years. He must have escaped so quickly in his panic and left this one here. It was said that he has three such Quarrels.”

“Right, that reminds me,” Li Mu bobbed his head in contemplative thought. “What about this Fiend Emperor? How dangerous he is? That he could control you and all of your Moon Sentinels?”

“That monster?” answered the Moon Monarch, “Unfathomable. What he used to place me and my people under his control was only just a sliver of his true self; an image of himself. But all thanks to that, this had enabled you to undo his magic when you used that Cosmic Relic of yours, sir, prompting that part of him to escape. If it were he himself, I daresay none of us will be able to do anything against him.”

That was enough to send a spine-chilling sensation up Li Mu’s back.

Nevertheless, that would connect all the dots surrounding the enigma of the Lunar Specter.

“So this Fiend Emperor, is he the one behind the massacre of your whole race?” Li Mu asked.

The Moon Monarch looked troubled as if he was wrestling with something. At length, he shook his head, “Maybe. Or maybe not. Whatever happened one thousand years ago, I am certain that the truth would never be simple. In fact, it has been my suspicion that the other races, including the human race, have— Anyway, what does it matter? I don’t even know the real truth myself. Only time will tell. At any rate, this is not the time and place to discuss the grotesqueries that teemed the whole affair.”

That was obvious enough for Lu Ye. The Moon Monarch clearly wished to change the subject and Li Mu has no intention to pry.

“Very well. Let’s go.”

Li Mu ascertained a bearing, and they began making their way back to Oststern.

Two more hours and they would be seeing the first light of day.

All around them, in the hours of the unlit morning, was a fanfare of cacophonous bestial howls and shrieks. Even the air was fraught with tension and the stench of blood. It was the beasts and the wraiths; they were hunting each other down, killing each other.

The substance of the Deluge of Illumination needed time to be fully assimilated. That gave the chance for beasts and wraiths to kill one another to rob as much of the substance as possible. None of them could wait another sixty years for the next Deluge of Illumination and driven by this thirst and craving for more power, the peace that usually prevailed over all creatures of the wilderness is no more, replaced by a widespread battle royale where only one rule mattered: the survival of the fittest.

Even the four Beast Kings have begun attacking each other.

The Beast Kings have been the biggest beneficiaries of this time’s Deluge of Illumination. It was hardly a wonder that they would attack each other to steal each other’s substance. Come the next Deluge sixty years later, they could grow even more powerful.

With the first glimmer of the sun rising on the horizon, the Moon Monarch retreated into the Rings of Heaven and Earth.

As powerful as he might be, even he could not appear in the day.

In the meantime, Li Mu had finally reached the outside of Oststern.

The Trailblazer keeping watch saw him from afar.

“He’s back! The Chosen One is back!”

The call brought to life the entire village of Oststern.

Ye Ying, Lin Jingxin, Xiao Jianfei, and every single person who heard the call came bursting out at once. Everyone was relieved to see Li Mu safe and sound.

“Thank the gods that you’re all right!” cried Xiao Jianfei. The first thing he did was give Li Mu a friendly bear hug followed by pats on his shoulder.

Lin Jingxin tossed Li Mu a flask of wine. “Good man! Here! This is a fine vintage that I have ever offered to few men: the Draught of Vivid Eyelashes.”

Li Mu tore off the cork and emptied the entire flask.

“Oy, oy oy oy…” Lin Jingxin gasped with disbelief and consternation. At length, he grumbled glumly, “I was only offering a gulp! How could you! Damned… Well, I owed you one… So I guess that’s fair…”

Ye Ying sidled close. She observed Li Mu, sizing him from top to bottom and finding him completely fine. Surprise flashed in her stare before she nodded approvingly, “I owe you one too.”

Li Mu beamed broadly, nodding.

The two captains and Lieutenant Xiao all felt indebted to him.

“Praised be on high, Mu! You’re safe! You don’t know how worried we were! Are you all right?” Feng and the rest of the villagers were just so proud and happy to see him.

“Don’t worry, I like my life so I won’t be doing anything suicidal yet,” Li Mu answered heartily, giving everyone hugs. “So, how is it? Do we have enough food for everyone?”

Feng and the others betrayed hints of gloomy looks for one second before they forced a smile. “All that matters is that you’re safe, Li Mu. It’s not the first time we have had to endure starvation. We’re worried about you most of all.”

“Don’t worry about that score,” interjected Xiao Jianfei suddenly. “Leave the food to us. We’ll go out there and hunt for something if it’s the last thing we’d do. No one in Oststern shall go hungry this winter!”

“Leave it to me,” Li Mu chuckled, “I’ve got that covered.”

From inside his storage, Li Mu retrieved mounds of foodstuff and laid them on the ground.

“Wait! That’s! That’s the food that we were forced to leave behind!” Feng gasped with surprise and delight. “You’ve been collecting them for us, Li Mu!”

“I thought that I might give everyone a surprise at first,” said Li Mu. “As it turned out, this became a long and eventful night. Well, everyone’s safe and that’s all that matters.”

“And we have you to thank for that, my friend. Or we would have been dead too,” Xiao Jianfei uttered pensively.

“But what about that Moon Monarch and his Moon Sentinel army? How did you escape from them?” Ye Ying dropped a bombshell by asking the most important question.

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