The pillars of Phoenix Village were also strengthening at a rapid pace. Even without counting the Imperial Members, Phoenix Village probably had the strongest elite group in the world. There were six people at the High-Grade level with the new additions of Old Lee and Zhao Chuan.
Under the combined effects of multiple training speed buffs, it was far too easy for Cheng Yang’s chosen few to level up to become High-Grade Apprentices. They would only need another week at most.
Of course, the people who could enjoy those benefits were limited. Only the generals were capable of maximizing their training alongside a few high-level officers. Everyone else was at a much lower efficiency. However, that was on par with the elites of an ordinary safe zone.
The situation in the Cloud City safe zone was even worse than average. Thanks to Cheng Yang and his soldiers, the city was free from the threat of monster hordes, and the bridges were cleared. Unfortunately, this meant most soldiers wouldn’t have the chance to earn any Experience Fragments, a problem Yuan Jianzhe exacerbated by mandating that every citizen be allowed to obtain a class.
Yuan Jianzhe’s direct subordinates were still doing well since they hunted outside the city. Since ordinary people couldn’t bypass the hoard guarding the East bridge, most went full days without earning anything. As such, even if someone had enough Experience Fragments to unlock higher training speeds, they couldn’t afford to use them.
Although Yuan Jianzhe wanted to sift through the population for talented individuals rapidly, he wasn’t foolish enough to allow any new factions to establish a strong foundation. As a result, he fiercely guarded the border between the Eastern and Western halves of the city. Using his contract with Cheng Yang as a precedent, he protected both the secret that the other bridges were unguarded and the military monopoly on better hunting grounds.
Although it would be impossible to stop the conquest of theEast bridge, it would be several days before any attempts succeeded. For now, the situation in the safe zone was in equilibrium.
None of that mattered to Cheng Yang. His goal in signing a non-aggression pact with Yuan Jianzhe had been to buy time for the development of Phoenix Village, but he didn’t need to wait any longer.
With six generals at the High-Grade level and over a thousand Standard-Grade soldiers, Cheng Yang’s army had reached the bare minimum of what he needed to accomplish his plans.
Although he had no plans to become the Cloud City safe zone overlord, Cheng Yang needed unfettered access to the class change statues there. Without them, it was impossible to develop any further.
Take Copper Tomb Village, for example. If you used every class slot in the village, you could form a somewhat decent army, but it wouldn’t be enough to accommodate all of the survivors in Yicheng performing a class change ceremony.
So, Cheng Yang needed somewhere to mass-produce Adventurers. If the army was the backbone of society after the apocalypse, then Adventurers were the flesh. Without them, it would only be a skeleton.
Cheng Yang planned to absorb the various people under Yuan Jianzhe’s control eventually, but right now, he wanted to recruit all of the people that would teleport to the safe zone in three days. These would be the people saved by the gods from death in a backwater village or town.
They had no current affiliations, and their appearance proved their abilities since the gods wouldn’t save useless cowards.
As long as Cheng Yang could recruit those people, the population in the villages he controlled would skyrocket, allowing them to become self-sufficient.
Although the villages had been rapidly growing, that was only because Cheng Yang continually poured resources into them. He provided the Experience Fragments necessary to level up and bought hundreds of sets of tools to enable rapid growth in their lumber and stonecutting industry.
However, without a large population of combat capable individuals, the villages would collapse. Joyous River Village could afford to rely on the Phoenix Village army, but the other three were too far away to reach if there was an emergency.
The two villages near Yicheng were in particular danger, but until Cheng Yang completed his plans, they would have to rely on their walls to survive. There was too much to do, so Cheng Yang couldn’t stick around, forcing him to put the protection and development of those two villages on the backburner.
He had even less reason to stay since he’d taken every first clear reward for the Shattered Midnight Forest and couldn’t find the other instance dungeon. He’d searched daily while protecting Loggers from monsters, but he’d never had the chance to explore the area thoroughly.
In the end, he could only post a reward for finding the missing instance dungeon and be content with the rewards from the other one: a Mage skill and a pair of special items.
Using the Fireball spell as a baseline, Ancient Orcish mages developed a spell that when cast by archmages was capable of shattering the bodies of adult tarrasques.
Grade: Black Iron
Requirements: High-Grade Apprentice Mage
Cast Time: 2 seconds
Range: 60 meters
Effect: Deal 40% of the Magic Attack attribute to enemies within 4 meters
Effect: Knock back enemies near the impact point
Cost: 400 Experience Fragments
Among the various communication methods developed across the lifespan of the empire, the best were the Transmission Mirrors. Each on carried a unique imprint which allowed instantaneous communication across the vast reaches of the Empire so long as it was known.
Effect: Allows tele-video communication between any two Transmission Mirrors
Cost: 10 Experience Fragment per minute per kilometer
Both rewards were useful items, but since Cheng Yang only had two Transmission Mirrors, the Mage skill inheritance bead was better.
The Transmission Mirrors also had a prohibitive cost. If he wanted to use it as a phone, Cheng Yang would go broke in less than a week, but it was somewhat useful as a strategic item. When Cheng Yang spent more time traveling outside the village in the future, the Transmission Mirror would show its worth.
With that, Cheng Yang had claimed every first clear reward he could. He still had the missing instance dungeon to get rewards from, but after that, he wouldn’t get anything good unless he challenged one on Hell Difficulty.
Back in Phoenix Village, Cheng Yang was preparing to confront Yuan Jianzhe in the safe zone. Three days ago, Cheng Yang issued an ultimatum, and now was the time to follow up.