The safe zone of Cloud City looked like a refugee camp. Aside from the shops surrounding the class change statues, rubble and ruins dominated the area. Countless tents were the only shelter for the thousands living in destitution here. Some civilians didn’t even have that; they were forced to sleep outside.
Without anything else to do, several hundred refugees could be seen doing nothing but staring at the sky. Motionlessly, they awaited their next meal while stewing in their despair.
Those people were the most pitiful people in the entire world; they no longer had the desire to live. An earthquake destroyed their whole world and monsters killed their loved ones. The only reason they hadn’t died out in the ruins was their fear of being eaten alive.
As the two slowly navigated through the crowds, a man rushed towards them and kowtowed. “Brave and mighty warriors, do you happen to be in need of a servant? This humble one is willing to serve you for the low cost of a full meal!”
“You…” Ma Tao tried to drive the man away but Cheng Yang stopped him.
The man was less than forty and seemed to be in good health when Cheng Yang took a quick look at him. Seeing that, Cheng Yang snorted. What a contemptible person. With his body, he could easily gather food from the ruins if he followed behind a group of soldiers. Instead, fearing for his life, this man had forsaken his dignity and begged him for help.
“Get out of our way. I don’t intend to hire a servant and even if I did, I wouldn’t hire a coward like you. Unless you want me to hurt you, walk away now.” Cheng Yang said coldly.
The man looked up at Cheng Yang and his mouth twitched. Even if he wanted to continue begging, Cheng Yang’s vicious gaze put fear in his heart. As the lowest caste in Cloud City, this man was clear that to people like Cheng Yang, he was like an ant. If a civilian were to offend one of the soldiers with some authority, it was likely they would be barred from collecting food that day.
As the man turned to leave, Cheng Yang could clearly see the resentment that flashed in his eyes. Even so, he didn’t pay any attention to the man after he left. This was a new world. Even if that man hated Cheng Yang, he was unable to get his revenge. Even if he hated Cheng Yang enough to seek him out when he performed a class change ceremony, that wouldn’t change. Not only was Cheng Yang a High-Grade Apprentice Cryomancer, but he was the Lord of Phoenix Village. An ordinary person stuck hiding inside a barrier was powerless before him.
“How could that man be willing to do that?” Ma Tao asked in shock.
“The world has already ended; in order to survive people will do all sorts of acts that would be unimaginable before. People with dignity will be hard to find and very few actions will be too taboo to take. Right now it’s just him but if we visit again in a month, every single civilian would fight for the chance to become our servants.” Cheng Yang said with a hint of melancholy.
Ma Tao wanted to refute Cheng Yang’s words but the scenes outside the city had clearly shown him that the era of peace and prosperity was long gone.
At present, there were eight thousand military personnel in the safe zone, of which about a thousand were Professionals. With about two hundred soldiers a day being added, and that rate increasing every day, it was a given that all eight thousand would be Professionals someday. As for the civilians, there were only about two hundred Professionals split into three militia groups. Moreover, the army selected less than twenty civilians each day to perform a class change ceremony.
For civilians, being able to perform a class change ceremony and gain the power needed to thrive was their biggest dream. However, since the army vetting process was incredibly strict, most people could only dream of joining one of the militias.
This made the three militia captains incredibly influential among the civilians. Almost more so than Yuan Jianzhe.
The captain of the Citizen’s Defense Militia was the former deputy mayor of Cloud City. With both the party committee secretary and the mayor dead, the deputy mayor had become the highest ranked person from the municipal government. His militia was composed entirely of individuals that held government positions in the past.
The former president of the local chamber of commerce was the acting captain of the Red Cloud Militia. Using the vast web of connections he had made as the chamber president, he was able to personally petition Yuan Jianzhe to make him a team captain. With the support of some previously influential individuals, he became the logical choice for the position.
The captain of the Bloodhound Militia Cheng Yang had pretended to be a part of was a person no one could have expected. An ordinary salesperson had become the last militia captain through skillful use of his eloquence to rally both the ordinary citizens and the wealthy businessmen that had been excluded by the captains of the other two groups. Together, they pressured the military into making him a militia captain.
The three militias needed to compete against each other for the few class change ceremonies permitted for civilians each day and needed to surrender all of the Experience Fragments they gathered to the military. In addition, the military provided a set number of activities they needed to complete each day that included resource gathering and rescue operation.
Even so, with their ability to select people to perform class change ceremonies, they became the most popular figures in the safe zone. The civilians were proud to see some of their own fighting back against monsters. Of course, if they were chosen to become a militia member, then it would be perfect.
In order to become a militia member, many civilians resorted to selling their bodies to current members, either as laborers or as prostitutes. With only so many spots open for class change ceremonies, the competition was a fierce race to the bottom. Even if you had to humiliate yourself ten thousand times, being able to join a militia was worth it.
The only alternative was to live in squalor.
The scent of decay swept through the city from outside the barrier and the stench of human excrement wafted up from the ground. Unless you were like Cheng Yang who had experienced such a horrid environment before, you would vomit from the stench, even if you were an experience soldier.
“My Lord, how are we going to find my family?” Ma Tao looked at the massive crowd of people and scrunched his brows.
“Don’t be anxious, let’s take a look at the situation first.” Cheng Yang said.
In reality, Cheng Yang already knew the exact situation of Cloud City safe zone. Having been lucky enough to become a founding member of the Bloodhound Militia in his past life, his true goal was to find people with rare Innate Abilities using the knowledge he gained as a member.
At this point, various groups should have recaptured all of the safe zones set up by god. As the number of Professionals increases, powerful Innate Abilities will be what separates the leaders from the followers.
Of course, Cheng Yang wasn’t looking for people with high rank Innate Abilities. In his last life there were four people with S-Rank Innate Abilities from Cloud City, which should still be the case. Of the four, one was Liu Hau, two were from the military and the last one was both a founding member and backbone of the Bloodhound Militia. He already had Liu Hau with him and it would be difficult to persuade any of the others to join him.
What Cheng Yang really wanted were people with Management Innate Abilities like Old Lee’s. Phoenix Village was a powerhouse when it came to powerful combat oriented Innate Abilities but only himself and Old Lee with non-combat ones. The only way he could easily find more was to rely on his past life.
The Cloud City safe zone currently housed nearly a hundred thousand people so finding a few from his memories would be hard. Still, it was a better option that picking people from his territory at random and hoping they had an Innate Ability he was looking for.
After two hours, Cheng Yang realized just how futile such a search really was.
“I have a better idea for finding your family.” Cheng Yang stopped and whispered to Ma Tao.
“Thank you, my Lord.” Ma Tao rejoiced. To be honest, after spending two hours wandering aimlessly he had grown anxious. If not for the respect he felt for Cheng Yang, Ma Tao would have already raised an objection to the current method he was using.
The duo soon entered the central area of the safe zone. At the center were the four class change statues and the six shops formed a ring about twenty meters away.
At present, the ruler of the safe zone, Yuan Jianzhe, fiercely guarded the class change statues. They represented power in this new world as well as the right to rule the safe zone. Only military personnel were able to approach the statues, anyone else was driven away.
As for the shops, why would Yuan Jianzhe waste his resources trying to guard them? Ordinary people would be thrown out if they entered and most Professionals would be too since the military confiscated the Experience Fragments they earned to buy food for the civilians.
This allowed Cheng Yang to slip into the Alchemy Tower with Ma Tao unnoticed.
The manage greeted Cheng Yang when he entered. “Welcome foreign Lord, how can I help your esteemed self?”
Cheng Yang wasn’t actually here to buy anything, why would he when he got the equivalent of a 5% discount in Phoenix Village? Besides, the selection of potions was just as sparse here. However, if he didn’t buy anything it would be hard to pull off his plan.
“I want to buy ten Low Grade Mana Regeneration Potions.” Cheng Yang said with a respectful smile, “I was also hoping you would let me stay here for a short time afterwards to take care of some business.”
Buying ten potions made Cheng Yang a rare big spender so the manager generously let Cheng Yang stay in the shop for as long as he wanted.
Cheng Yang knew that his big order wasn’t the only reason. He was also rich and a Lord. If anyone else had asked for the same treatment, the manager would have thrown them out with their purchases.