Chapter 33: Another Zombie King
The most important thing to Lu Yin right now was gathering star crystals, followed by catching the criminal. Terence’s formcast model would allow his third transformation into the Melder Realm, but normal models stopped at that point. A rare few models could help with the fourth advancement, and students like Veron or even Parlie certainly didn’t qualify to possess them. The only one possible on earth would be on the criminal.
Even if the criminal was very strong, Lu Yin was unsure of what tricks the four students had up their sleeves. He realized that he might as well muddy the waters and draw the attention of all other students, making it chaotic enough to give the criminal a better chance to escape. No one in this first batch would be able to match him when he added the third star to his Cosmic Palm, so he had to push things until then.
Within a secluded courtyard in the capital, Lu Yin closed his windows and scattered fire crystals around before returning to his room and spreading his arms. The die slowly materialized, its surface still dim as it hadn’t yet recovered from the previous use. Without star crystals, it would take a long time to recover to usability. Lu Yin rubbed his hands together as he stared expectantly at the die, then crushed a cube of star crystals that he had gathered with much difficulty. The surging star energy entered the die and brightened it instantly, the stars sparkling all around.
Lu Yin licked his lips with anxiousness, feeling somewhat like a gambler, “Come on, I hope I have good luck. Let’s see what I get.”
The die spun quickly as he placed a finger on it, forming a beautiful image of twinkling stars. Lu Yin’s eyes remained glued upon it as it came to a halt, five surfaces blanking out until the one-pip side was left behind.
“Pilfer again,” Lu Yin was pleasantly surprised, as Pilfer could retrieve an item from a random person’s cosmic ring. The first roll of this number had given him the Cosmic Art. He watched as it shot a beam out into the void, opening a passageway that dropped something to the ground with a soft thump. He stared at the ground in disbelief; a snack?
On the ground before him was an exquisitely-packed snack bag, with what looked like advertising on the cover that he couldn’t understand. He picked it up with a stoic face, but that expression was his best attempt to not cough up blood; he’d spent an entire cube of star crystals to activate the die and all he’d gotten back was a snack! Even a broken dagger would have been better than that! The die’s surface dimmed before it gradually vanished, the room returning to its previous state with Lu Yin clutching that one snack bag. He felt his heart bleeding from the unfairness of it all.
Lu Yin remained in the capital for ten days; the city had calmed down significantly from the former excitement, and the zombies and beasts continued battling outside the city. Their reducing numbers gave more cultivators the courage to step out of the city.
But while Beijing was quelled, Europe erupted instead. No one had believed Jeraldine’s message that the criminal was near the Mediterranean Sea at first, but once it was discovered that Eddy and the others had departed China, many rushed to beat him. A massive battle three days ago had set the very sea aboil, the criminal revealing Melder-level power that killed several students and left Eddy’s team among the injured.
This wasn’t the only group of top students either; three teams from China, two from Russia, two already in Europe, and multiple others from across the other continents caused chaos across Europe, news that really pleased Lu Yin when he heard it from Jeraldine. All was good as long as the criminal remained free; he was close to finishing the third star of the Cosmic Palm, and estimated that he needed no more than half a month to go from the vague image he had now to the completed version. He would act then.
Countless zombies were aimlessly wandering outside the capital, beside the road and in and out of the abandoned buildings as they chewed on unknown substances. Gunshots rang out as a convoy of armored vehicles plowed through them, leaving the ground covered in blood and the air full of a putrid stench. They were driving along when a sudden explosion rang out, fierce winds flipping the vehicles over, sending out a rush of cultivators who were confused by the strange gust. A tall man dusted himself off and barked, “What happened?”
Someone reported, “Captain, a gale came out of nowhere and flipped us over.”
The tall man frowned as he looked around, seeing that there were no winds in all directions; where had the gale come from? It was then that a shop in the distance was split by an unseen attack, followed by the cultivators’ torsos flying off into the sky. They had all been massacred in an instant.
Cultivators dying in the field was nothing too strange, but more and more of them were killed by such invisible attacks over the next few days. Once someone in the Realm of Earth died, Zhang Dingtian personally left the capital to investigate; that man had been second only to the Seven Sages, so no weaker cultivators dared to act. Zombies from both sides of the road snarled and charged towards the Bladesage, and he noticed strange creatures wriggling underground, but he remained expressionless as an energy wave swept out and decimated the creatures.
Perhaps he was too intimidating, as both sides of the road fell silent. He met no sneak attacks even after traveling quite a distance, causing him to stop and consider his options. He pulled out Borise’s personal gadget that Bai Xue had given him, deciding that it was best to use it right now. A light tap set it off beeping, and his gaze immediately focused northeast as he slashed out with his sword. The attack sliced across the earth, a pathetic figure hurrying to escape as it nursed an injured left shoulder.
Zhang Dingtian pursued immediately, his blade sweeping out immediately. The fleeing figure turned around and showed a frightened face; it was a zombie! The creature crashed into the ground, its hands flailing as a cruel light flashed in its scarlet eyes. Formless blades of wind slashed out at the Bladesage, but a swipe of his hand rebounded the attack and sliced the creature’s head off in an instant. The head rolled a little ways away before being crushed by an aftershock.
Zhang Dingtian frowned at the zombie’s corpse. To his understanding, zombies were failed specimens of apocalyptic evolution; they simply shouldn’t have such strength. This thing had the sheer power of a Realm of Earth cultivator, and it could even control wind blades with its hands. He rushed back to the capital to report the event to President Lian.
“What? A Realm of Earth zombie that can control the wind? How is that possible, they are just failed evolutions.”
“I saw it with my own eyes,” Zhang Dingtian replied.
President Lian muttered darkly, his gaze solemn. The zombies outnumbered the human survivors many times over; if they could also evolve or cultivate, they would make for another powerful enemy. Even more alarming was the ability to control the wind; that was impossible through simple cultivation. Even Zhang Dingtian didn’t have such a capability; in fact, they only knew of two people who wielded such supernatural abilities. How could the zombie have come by it?
“If there was one, there will be another. Didn’t Lu Yin come from Jinlin? Check with him if he has met any similar zombies,” President Lian suggested.
Zhang Dingtian immediately summoned Lu Yin, and Bai Xue commented the moment she saw his face change upon hearing the information, “You know something.”
He nodded, telling them of his experience with the long-haired zombie king back near Jinlin. At the time, he’d thought the capital would have known already, but they were only learning of it now.
Bai Xue was incredulous, “Swallowing natural energy crystals can grant supernatural abilities? How is that possible? Even humans can’t do that.”
“It’s what I saw; I have no reason to lie to you.”
President Lian’s expression was solemn as he looked at the trio, “We’ve always assumed that zombies are a failed branch of human evolution, and facts indicate that this is largely true. Most zombies only pose a threat to the average human, but what if they aren’t failures but a divergent path? Wouldn’t that make sense?”
Zhang Dingtian’s gaze changed, “Humans can cultivate with the energy cores found inside the mutant beasts. Perhaps zombies can similarly absorb energy crystals and gain stronger abilities.”
President Lian replied, “No one has seen a zombie swallow a beast core. Mutant beasts can easily wipe out entire hordes, and even if injured they can still escape. No one would be willing to give a zombie a hard-won beast core either, so there’s no way for one to get a hold of any. But it is plausible that a rare few manage to find energy crystals through dumb luck; if our assumptions are true, Earth will see enormous change.”