However, Reynolds was still annoyed. Could those damned bastards be a little more professional? It was fine if they stole things all the time; that was just more exhausting for him. The key thing was, the resources that the desert thieves stole this morning would be returned back to them in the afternoon of the same day!
You shouldn't act as if your IQ was non-existent just because you look dumb!
Meanwhile, at the city wall construction site of Katchirda City in the oasis.
Barmi received his breakfast, which was the same as yesterday. It was still steamed bread made of white flour, but there was an extra bowl of pork porridge. According to the supervisor, Sergio, this was a special treat since it was a Sunday, some weird thing that people from the Federation came up with.
Barmi really hoped that the great Shakima would come and conquer this place as soon as possible. The people here were so rich and dumb. They could steal all of their money as well as the women here. Last night, Barmi caught a glimpse of the women from the Blissful Oasis from afar, causing him to have wet dreams the whole night. Perhaps after the great Shakima arrived, he would let him have the women as his reward for becoming an official member.
If that was the case, he would be more devoted to the great Shakima in the future.
Eating his breakfast merrily, Barmi laid on the city wall and looked at the sand dunes in the distance. Suddenly, he realized that it was too quiet today; no desert thieves came to stir up trouble.
Then, he saw an army of people at the furthest hill heading towards them.
It was the Shakima Desert Bandits! The person walking at the front of the army was Michael, the person who introduced Barmi into the desert thieves organization. Both of them came from the same village. Michael was the strongest warrior in the village and also the personal guard of the great Shakima.
Barmi had eagle vision, which was why he was planted there as a spy. Seeing Michael, Barmi's heart started beating rapidly. It was all thanks to the sumptuous breakfast Katchirda fed him that he was full of energy now. He knew where the weakest part of the half-built city wall was, and he also knew where the Federation people hid their best stuff. He was going to make a great contribution to his organization.
Hmm, why is a little bald guy with a coffin on his back leading the army? Is he a slave of the great Shakima?
Huh?! Why was the slave fine while the Great Shakima was tied up? To be more precise, why was everyone tied up together to form a line?
"Ahem. Since there's food for you here, why waste your effort on robbing others?"
Barmi turned to see Sergio, the old supervisor, standing behind him, seemingly mumbling to himself.
The news of the Shakima Desert Bandits being kidnapped into Katchirda City spread throughout the entire southwest region of the desert overnight.
Suddenly, the desert thieves of the southwest region of the desert had lost their leader, and they were no longer considered a threat to Katchirda…
However, Gong Yi wanted to cry in this situation. If there were no desert thieves in Katchirda, there would be no sources of cheap labor. Many things were waiting to be done, and there was no better source of labor than slaves.
Looking at Gong Yi's troubled face, Mu Zi felt that he was rather innocent in this matter too. He thought that this group of desert thieves was rather strong, so he defeated them on his way here to prevent them from causing trouble for Katchirda…
Meanwhile, as Katchirda's main enemy and once the most influential figure in this desert region, Caslort the feudal lord was filled with expectation and malicious thoughts upon seeing Katchirda becoming stronger as time passed.
Caslort definitely knew how valuable the Golden Stone Slab was. Honestly, he didn't have to give it up to Katchirda. The Golden Stone Slab was a useful tool for recruiting experts.
Originally, he had used it to bribe Moyus, but he had failed. After that, he delayed giving the Golden Stone Slab for a month as he wanted to entice Moyus's teacher to attack Katchirda. However, it was hard to track down the Desert Emperor, and Caslort didn't manage to do that before having to give the Golden Stone Slab to Katchirda. Nonetheless, it was fine, as Katchirda had 'stolen' the slab, and Katchirda would still have to face its doom.
Caslort would find the Desert Emperor at some point in time. Once the Desert Emperor knew that his disciple was killed and that the Golden Stone Slab was stolen, Caslort wondered how enraged this top expert would be.
Caslort was very pleased with himself. In the end, he would still be the ultimate ruler of this desert region.
"My Lord, the great Desert Emperor will be reaching here soon." A slave ran inside and said that, bowing to Caslort.
Caslort sprung up instantly and hurried outside. He wanted to see this legendary figure for himself.
The teacher of Moyus, the Scorpion King, was a Heavenly Soul Stage expert! He was Nayir Saalehkurt, the Desert Emperor!
Once Caslort reached the door, he saw the Desert Emperor who was riding on a camel. At first glance, he looked like an ordinary Tutankhamun citizen, with dark skin and no facial features that stood out; his hair was in the dreadlock style that Tutankhamun citizens liked. The only thing that was special about him was his eyes, which seemed to be able to devour your soul. Caslort didn't dare to stare at those eyes for long.
"Lord Caslort, I heard that you've been looking for me about something urgent. I hope you're not lying. Otherwise, you know the price you'll have to pay," Nayir Saalehkurt said in an indifferent tone.
"My noble Desert Emperor, how could I waste your precious time? I have prepared something as a token of my sincerity. You can take a look first. And feel free to add on to it if you need anything else."
Caslort took a scroll made of sheepskin out of his coat. It was a list of gifts.
The reason why Nayir Saalehkurt was called the 'Desert Emperor' was because he was the ruler of the desert thieves. Even the emperor of the Tutankhamun Empire couldn't command the desert thieves, but Nayir Saalehkurt was able to do so with his bloody methods. He was the emperor that ruled over all the desert thieves.
Like all desert thieves, Nayir Saalehkurt didn't become less greedy just because he had reached a higher state, the Heavenly Soul Stage. On the contrary, cultivation in the Heavenly Soul Stage required a large amount of resources. In the barren Tutankhamun, plundering was the best way to gain resources.
The Desert Emperor looked at the gift list and nodded his head slightly. "What do you want from me?"
"Moyus, your disciple, has been killed by a Federation citizen in Katchirda."
"Moyus is dead?" The Desert Emperor frowned. He wasn't angry like Caslort imagined him to be but, rather, just shocked.
Caslort nodded. He expected the Desert Emperor to be callous, so he spilled the big scoop which he had been saving for over a month. "Yes, Moyus died in a heroic fight. He wanted to protect the Golden Stone Slab that I was saving for Your Excellency, and he refused to back down in that deadly battle, but…"
Before Caslort could finish his rehearsed speech, a powerful force lifted him off the ground, suspending him in mid-air. He was forced to look at the Desert Emperor's fiery eyes. "What did you say? A Golden Stone Slab? Where is it?"
"Yes, that was a gift meant for Your Excellency, but now, the Golden Stone Slab is at Katchirda!" Caslort exclaimed, seemingly scared. A faint glint of satisfaction flashed in his eyes. Making use of another person to get rid of an adversary was not a novel approach, but it was fine as long the job was done.
"Hehe, you want to make use of me to eliminate your enemy?"
The Desert Emperor's greedy eyes glinted dangerously. Caslort wasn't too shocked and was able to respond accordingly since he was a feudal lord after all. "My noble Desert Emperor, Katchirda is our common enemy!"
Suddenly, a faint smile could be seen on Nayir Saalehkurt's face. "Very good. Since you respect me, I'll give you what you want. Give me the stuff on this list and find me ten beauties first," He said while pointing at the sheepskin scroll.
Caslort heaved a long sigh of relief. He knew that his feudal lord aristocrat identity saved him again. Even if Nayir Saalehkurt was the Desert Emperor, he didn't really want to fall out completely with the powerful Tutankhamun royal family. Nonetheless, Katchirda was done for. No one could withstand the Desert Emperor's attacks, not even that weird little baldy!
Meanwhile, back in the Holy Land, some applause came from the spectator stands when Solomon and the others took their places, but more whispers and murmurs could be heard too.
Scarlet had been gone for half a year. The fascination that everyone felt when she first entered the Holy City had gradually faded, so the limelight had recently focused on Solomon instead.
He was the first to be promoted to Dimensional Predator among the newcomers, and he had depended on his own power to change the Holy City higher-ups' impression of the Empire, convincing them to change their strategy. He had managed to fight for an impromptu arrangement for more than a hundred Empire citizens to gain entry into the Holy City, doing this in under two months during his novice period. Perhaps the ordinary Holy Apprentices or Holy Disciples didn't understand what this meant, but anyone who was following the policy-making decisions of the higher-ups closely knew that this was a brilliant feat which could only be achieved by a talented ruler.
You could say that he was lucky or that things were already headed that way, but the undeniable fact was that Solomon accomplished the aim that numerous rulers of the Empire on Earth had failed to achieve. Furthermore, he managed to do this silently and with such efficiency that most people didn't even realize his achievements. That was such a terrifying ability!
It had to be said that Solomon was definitely the number one newcomer now, and even Carolyn, who was also in the limelight, couldn't compete against him. This wasn't just an evaluation made by others, and even the Federation people couldn't gainsay it. Otherwise, they wouldn't have gotten Gui Hao, a temporary substitute, to share the limelight with Carolyn. No one knew whether Stuart City regretted their decision. Without Solomon, Carolyn would definitely have been second to none among the newcomers in the Holy Land, and this would have greatly increased Stuart City's influence. However, it was pointless to talk about it now.
Of course, that was just Solomon's individual ability, and there were many other factors. Only some people from the spectator stands supported him. Other than the few people from the Phantom Squadron that he joined, as well as some dimensional humans and alien races who weren't involved in the Empire and Federation feud, the rest of the audience didn't respect him much as most of the spectators were Federation citizens.
Napier had been observing everything carefully. If Mo Wen was as tough as a mountain, then Wang Zhong was like the deep sea, and Solomon was like the unpredictable wind.
"Senior, what do you think of him?" Grai seemed to be rather interested in Solomon too, which was surprising since he was rarely interested in other people.
"What?" Wang Zhong was not focusing on his current situation at all. He had just received a Skylink message, and surprisingly, it was actually from Lan Daier. She warned Wang Zhong to take the competition seriously as she had brought a mysterious beauty along to watch the competition. She had already boasted about his ability, so if he performed poorly, she would prepare five bug feasts for him.
Bug Feast x 5… Wang Zhong couldn't help but shudder at the thought of it. Who was the mysterious beauty? Wang Zhong was busy searching for that beautiful figure in the sea of spectators and didn't take notice of Solomon at all.
"I wanted to know what Senior thought of Solomon." Grai chuckled. Wang Zhong was probably the only person who would be so casual about the upcoming challenge.
"It's not good to have such a big audience." Wang Zhong sighed and scratched his head. He decided to give up on finding Lan Daier. "Oh right, you mentioned Solomon? No comments. Mmm, he's rather handsome?"
"…Huh, okay then." Grai didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "They're calling my name…"
"Yeah! Good luck!" Wang Zhong punched the air.
At this point in time, most of the defending champions were already in their respective positions — Solomon, Carolyn, Hyde Alexander, Vladimir… The cheers from the spectator stands had never stopped ever since Carolyn took her place. Compared to Carolyn or Hyde, who was a dimensional human, Solomon could never receive the same amount of support in the Holy City due to the differences in geography. This was also what the 10 Great Families relied on when dealing with the Empire's strong 'invasion' into the Holy City. Even Vladimir, Grai, and Napier, who weren't as famous as Solomon, received a large round of applause from the audience. However, the next person…
The crowd grew silent in an instant. Honestly, when such a noisy crowd quieted down suddenly, it had quite an impact; even the applause that Carolyn received from the entire spectator stand didn't have this effect.
Right after, some cursing came from the spectator stands. "Wang Zhong, you should just f*cking kill yourself!"
"Pay me money! You pig!"
"Big, dumb pig!"
You could tell that it was from the alien races because of the 'accents'; they couldn't pronounce words accurately, and the range of their vocabulary was quite small. Although the alien races had been interacting with humans in the Holy City for a long time, they still couldn't fully grasp the essence of human languages. To them, speaking human languages was much harder than cultivation.
Although their cursing had no impact on the challenge, it reflected badly on Wang Zhong. This caused Sharmie, Mo Ling, and the others on the spectator stands to sigh silently. They were so useless; they couldn't even pass the rank-advancement competition.
Marie Ji was dumbfounded by this sight. What kind of person was Wang Zhong? How could a newcomer be able to cause such a reaction? This definitely wasn't solely because of the experimental accident. What atrocity had this dude committed to cause this reaction? Not only Marie Ji, even Lan Daier, who roughly knew what kind of reputation Wang Zhong had in the Holy City, was sweating furiously at this sight.
On the other hand, Wang Zhong looked unfazed and unbothered by this sight. He even looked like he wanted to munch on a bun while listening to all the jeering. He took his place comfortably and waved towards the spectator stands solemnly as if he was thanking everyone for their support and effort for screaming at him.
What the hell was he waving for? Was this what someone who was being ridiculed should be doing?
Many uncultured people who jumped on the bandwagon of putting Wang Zhong down continued their taunting from the spectator stands, but those who knew better felt a little depressed. With all this professional mocking and jeering, Wang Zhong wasn't fazed at all. Instead, all this jeering was causing the opposite effect…
"This Wang Zhong…" Divian couldn't help but laugh. Wang Zhong was big-hearted as usual. In essence, Wang Zhong became a target for newcomers to vent their negative emotions, such as anxiety, fear of the unknown, and confusion. It was only through putting down Wang Zhong that gave everyone the feeling of being alive.
Divian's Dharma Idol wasn't very strong. Many thought that she would blend into the crowd once she entered the Holy City, but this was still the legitimate successor of the Seer Family. Her dragon bloodline opened up another path for her in the Holy City. People with special bloodlines cultivated in a different way as compared to ordinary soldiers who took the soul cultivation route. Although both ways of cultivation required them to reach the Peak Heroic Soul Stage before they could uncover the secrets of the heavens and earth, people with special bloodlines didn't have to rely much on their Dharma Idol. Rather, they were their own Dharma Idol; such was the case with Grai.
There was a theory that people with special bloodlines couldn't become extraordinarily strong experts as their combat style and the manifestation of their talent would set the upper limit of their strength. However, at the same time, this set a lower limit for their strength too. Every true bloodline successor had always been stronger than the people at the same level of power. They were guaranteed experts and had always maintained their top-tier status.
In the past six months since Divian entered the Holy City, she had always been in closed-door cultivation, not even attending lessons in the Sparta Clan. In the Holy City, an elder from her family had been helping her in the process of altering her bloodline, but of course, she hadn't reached the altering stage yet. Her bloodline was only further stimulated, but her aura now was vastly different from before.
"Wang Zhong still receives a lot of mockery and taunting, just like when we were in the CHF." Divian smiled, recalling a memory from not too long ago.
"He has a good mindset, but this is a challenge that depends on your level of power."
"You think so?" Carolyn, the only one sitting down, grinned. Although she didn't say anything else, this made others feel like she was hinting at something.
Currently, her Skylink was switched on, and her account was linked to a small discussion group. There weren't many people inside, only Gui Hao and Vladimir. The three of them were from the 10 Great Families and represented the Federation. Their aim in this challenge was crystal clear — to protect the reputation of the Federation. They definitely wouldn't let Solomon have a chance to glorify himself! During this period of time, everyone could sense that Solomon was like a poisonous viper, making his moves silently. Who knew what other antics he would come up with in this challenge?
They had to guard against him!
"Gui Hao, pay attention to me and Vladimir's situations. If we are consecutively challenged by people, arrange your subordinates to challenge us and give us a break, depending on the situation. Your people are less conspicuous."
"Are you telling me how to do things?" In the Skylink, Gui Hao laughed.
"Wang Zhong is mine." Gui Hao's voice was cold and straightforward. "As for the others, you guys do as you deem fit. I don't care."
"You're intending to ignore your family's instructions?"
"Shut up, you have no right to command me." Gui Hao laughed coldly. "What instructions? Whoever wins makes the rules. Those old things in the family will understand. Even if I ignore their instructions, do you think they will do anything to me?"
Carolyn merely smiled before kicking Gui Hao out of the discussion group. She couldn't stand this guy anymore. He didn't have any regard for the big picture.
"After half a year here, your temper is still the same." It was only then that Vladimir started to speak, a jolly tone to his voice.
"It has improved a lot since I didn't smash the Skylink on the ground," Carolyn replied with a smile.
Opposite her, Gui Hao merely laughed coldly. They had nothing in common at all.
"He might get himself into trouble if he wants to pick on Wang Zhong."
"You also think there's something weird about Wang Zhong?" Carolyn asked.
"Hehe, interesting that you added also. You also think the same, huh?" Vladimir laughed heartily but quickly returned to the topic at hand. Wang Zhong wasn't their target today. "Enough about him. Since Gui Hao doesn't want to cooperate, he can play by himself. It's none of our business. Let's just help each other if the need arises. Our main priority is to stay in this position. We might have to play some dirty tricks, but that's still better than being defeated. Or maybe we get some people to challenge Solomon too? Although the chance of defeating him is almost zero, it'll serve as a good distraction."
Solomon was now publicly recognized as the number one expert among the newcomers. Putting his status and the fact that he was a valued Successor Disciple aside, he was the only Dimensional Predator among the newcomers, which spoke volumes.
"So unconfident? Doesn't seem like your style."
"Do you see Enoch?" Vladimir's gaze was on a figure beside Solomon.
It was a teenager with an innocent face, munching on the shank of an unknown Dimensional lifeform. He had a lazy smile on his face as if he was a spectator who wasn't involved in this exciting challenge. He had no fighting intent at all.
However, Carolyn sighed silently. She didn't need Vladimir's reminder. She had already noticed him when Solomon and Enoch walked out just now.
She had seen Enoch's ability before. When they were still at the Casted Soul Stage in the Federation, that guy had instantly defeated her Heroic Soul Stage guard captain with a sword attack. Enoch had revealed his talent for the first time then, brimming with killing intent. His killing intent was built on both innate talent and killing experience. It was the most overwhelming killing intent that Carolyn had ever sensed in someone. To a soldier, this was a very extreme personal manner that normally couldn't be changed. However, he managed to completely hide that overpowering killing intent now, and no one could sense it at all…
In the past six months, Enoch was practically invisible to the average Federation practitioner, just like the other people from the Empire. Compared to the Federation's high profile, the Empire citizens were rather low-key.
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