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Doomsday Lord

Doomsday Lord Ch. 174 | Magma Wastes

Cheng Yang wasn’t the type to waste time, so he took the soldiers to sweep the area. They wouldn’t earn much from killing the monsters around here, only around three thousand Experience Fragments, but only in Cheng Yang’s eyes. To the soldiers, it was several days worth earnings.

When they returned to the cliff, the soldiers were shocked. The originally normal-looking cliff now had a cave entrance thirty meters wide. The inside was filled with a ghastly smog illuminated by a faint orange glow preventing them from seeing further inside. Above the opening, a few characters had been carved into the stone as if by a sword: Magma Wastes.

“What is this place?” Wang Yuan asked.

“Doesn’t it have a label?” Cheng Yang chuckled. “It’s the Magma Wastes.”

Wang Yuan gave Cheng Yang a dumbfounded look. Of course, she could read, but that didn’t mean she understood.

“There should be around a thousand monsters in there, so we should get started.”Cheng Yang said with a smile. “I brought you here to help me exterminate them.”

Cheng Yang stepped into the cave, closely followed by the others.

The cavern was incredibly wide, far more than the hill could contain. It was also sweltering and heavily smelled of sulfur and ash. It wasn’t surprising since the name implied as much.

The Magma Wastes were a dungeon, but not the same type as the Blood-Soaked Cathedral. The Magma Wastes was an open-world dungeon. Every month, a new one would appear in the vicinity of each safe zone as long as the previous one was conquered.

Unconquered dungeons had monsters a level higher than usual, which wouldn’t respawn naturally. To conquer it, all you had to do was kill every monster inside. After that, it would start spawning monsters at regular intervals.

In Cheng Yang’s previous life, the Magma Wastes weren’t cleared until the apocalypse’s sixth month, right before he died. This was considered slow since an open-world dungeon in Lagos was conquered during the apocalypse’s third month.

Losing out on a new dungeon spawning was a serious issue. It may not seem like it since there were plenty of monsters to kill in the wilderness, but that wasn’t the case. The spawn rate would continue to decrease over the next few months in every area except the open-world dungeons and monster Nests.

Unfortunately, Nests were an unreliable source of income. Most would be destroyed because they were a threat, and those that weren’t were too far away to be useful.

Nests were considered strategic resources, and only a strong enough force could benefit from one without being destroyed by it. As a result, national governments or military forces controlled all of the Nests in Cheng Yang’s previous life.

As a result, once the spawn rate decreased to a certain extent, and the hordes in the wilderness were too strong to challenge without a unified safe zone, open-world dungeons would become the only efficient way to gather Experience Fragments.

It was the same for the villages in the Phoenix Empire. The five battalions were exhausting themselves at the very edges of the wilderness for low returns while the new Adventurers and town guards had to be content with earning next to nothing in the areas near the walls.

Phoenix Village had seven hundred square kilometers of cleared wilderness surrounding it. Over such a vast area, around four hundred thousand monsters spawned a day.

It may sound like a significant number, but it averages out to around twenty-five monsters per square kilometer per hour.

Think about it. If every Professional spread across the available area, there would be more than ten per square kilometer. Hunting monsters would be pitifully inefficient, and even higher level people would only earn a handful of Experience Fragments a day.

Open world dungeons were different. Monsters’ respawn locations were fixed and respawned every ten minutes—moreover, the monsters in open-world dungeons respawning in groups instead of individually. Sometime respawn points created a dozen monsters, and others a hundred, making it perfect for group battle training.

So, Cheng Yang made it a priority to conquer the Magma Wastes.

Of course, open-world dungeons had downsides as well. The monsters inside were twice as powerful, making it difficult for anyone below the High-Grade level to hunt there.

The entrance sloped downwards for tens of meters before suddenly opening up into a vast cavern baking in the dull red glow of boiling stone.

“My Lord, the heat is-” Jiang Yang was cut off by Cheng Yang.

“Don’t worry. I’ve already prepared for that.” Cheng Yang took Undine’s Tear out of his ring, chilling the air around them.

A hundred meters later, the group encountered another obstacle. The path they were following, which was around thirty meters wide, had narrowed to just seven meters. Moreover, it was surrounded by endless seas of lava.

“My Lord, this…” Wang Yuan hesitated, “How are we supposed to cross that?”

“By walking.” Cheng Yang chuckled. “Don’t worry. As long as you don’t fall in, it will be perfectly safe. Also, make sure you kill the monsters in the lava before they get close to you.”

“Monsters in the lava? What level?” Jiang Yang asked.

“The weakest are High-Grade monsters, but they’re all as powerful as a Pinnacle-Grade monster from outside.”

“That…” Jiang Yang was at a loss for words. “How are we supposed to fight that? Is there something we need in here bad enough to face those kinds of monsters?”

“We might find a few things, but that’s not why we’re here.” Cheng Yang said, “The Magma Wastes are primarily a place to earn Experience Fragments.”

“My Lord, is this a good decision? The monsters are stronger, but won’t the Experience Fragments rewarded stay the same?” Wang Yuan argued. “Isn’t that too risky? Isn’t hunting normally better?”

Cheng Yang sighed. Since there wasn’t a better way to convince them to keep moving, Cheng Yang thoroughly explained the importance of open-world dungeons.

“So, that’s why we need to fight those monsters. Once the dungeon is conquered, the monsters will return to their normal strength, and the magma will recede enough to allow travel without Undine’s Tear. Do you understand now?”

The soldiers nodded.

“Good. I’ll lead the way. You follow and attack any monsters you see as soon as they appear.” Cheng Yang said while stepping onto the narrow path alongside Enlai, who acted like he owned the place. “Even with their strength, surviving more than two attacks will be difficult.”

The magma’s heat was so intense the air distorted, but even so, none of them felt a thing. It was an amazing experience.

It only took ten seconds for the first monster to appear. Twenty meters to their right, a living ball of fire rose from the lava sea’s bubbling depths.

“What’s that?” Jiang Yang asked, peering at the small ball of fire with curiosity.

“Dead!” Cheng Yang declared while charging up a spell.

At the same time, Enlai rushed in front of the group, positioning itself between them and the monster. He knew his only use in this kind of terrain was as a meat shield.

When they saw Cheng Yang begin to attack, the others prepared to fight as well. Then, in tandem, five streaks of light flew towards the fireball. They weren’t elite soldiers for nothing.

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 173 | Undine’s Tear

Cheng Yang took another look at the listing and noticed there were only four hours before the auction ended. In addition, no one had made a bid yet.

Maybe it was because an item like this wasn’t supposed to be on the market yet, so no one was willing to take a risk? Three hundred thousand was a price only a few people could afford, so it wasn’t a surprise. However, since the Statue Lifting Stone was here, that meant the future changed again. What if the item he wanted wasn’t here?

Although the cheap Statue Lifting Stone couldn’t beat the item Cheng Yang hoped to purchase, it would still be a good thing to have.

Putting that aside for now, since there was still time, Cheng Yang typed something into the Auction House search bar: Undine’s Tear.

In an instant, the sea of listing was reduced to just one. Thankfully, it was still here.

Undine’s Tears are magical gems capable of granting someone immunity to fire and high temperatures within a five-meter area. Its blue surface is also cold enough to act as primitive climate control in the summer.

Right now, it had a flat price of one hundred thousand Experience Fragments. Truthfully, in five months, this would be considered overpriced. Undine’s Tears dropped in dungeons, and four months from now, a mine would be discovered in Peru. However, two months from now, they would sell for fifty times this price because they had an irreplaceable use.

But, what was the idiot that listed this thinking? Unlike items related to the territories, Undine’s Tear clearly stated its usage. The seller must really need money for them to do something like this.

Cheng Yang brushed those thoughts aside, then clicked the purchase button.

A few minutes later, the Tavern’s manager brought the Undine’s Tear out to him. Usually, this would be a job for the waitstaff, but Cheng Yang was a special customer. Ten percent of his profits went to the Tavern, so how could they treat him poorly?

When he held the gem, Cheng Yang felt a refreshing cold feeling wash over his body. With a smile, he stored it in his ring and left to prepare for his next move.

He had something planned that would require more storage space than he currently had, so he visited the Grocery.

He had two options, use ninety thousand Experience Fragments to upgrade his current Spatial Ring into a Standard-Grade on with ten cubic meters of space, or buy some new ones for ten thousand each.

As much as he wanted an upgraded ring, Cheng Yang chose to buy five new rings. After all, once he was done with them, his generals could use them.

Once he bought the new rings, he spent nearly ten thousand Experience Fragments filling them to the brim with potions.

Once everything was prepared, Cheng Yang visited Zhao Chuan to borrow some of his subordinates. He needed six in total, all at the Standard-Grade level, three Rangers, two Mages, and a Priest.

After getting the names of the people he needed, Cheng Yang gave Zhao Chuan half a million Experience Fragments and instructed him to purchase the Mage Statue Lifting Stone right before the auction ended. Although he only needed three hundred thousand, Cheng Yang gave him some extra just to be safe.

Then, Cheng Yang gathered the soldiers he needed and headed towards Cloud City.

Once they reached the Southern Bridge, Cheng Yang stopped and turned north. They continued walking, and after six kilometers, they entered unexplored wilderness.

Since there were only seven of them in uncharted lands, the soldiers were cautious and on guard. Cheng Yang, on the other hand, was quite relaxed.

Even if he were alone, Cheng Yang would be confident in keeping the group safe, but the meek white kitten in his arms guaranteed no harm would befall them.

Although he usually rode Enlai around, they recently learned that it was better for him to sleep when he had the time. That allowed him to grow faster than expending his energy. As such, Cheng Yang had become Enlai’s steed. Their roles had been completely reversed.

Once they walked another kilometer or so, Cheng Yang distributed the Spatial Rings he had, including his own, to the six soldiers. Then, he used his Sacrificial Blood Cloud skill on all but the Priest.

Even if they ran into a few hundred monsters, the team would instantly wipe them out. If the horde was on the larger side, all they had to do was kite the monsters with their superior speed. With their strength and experience, exploring new areas was similar to taking a stroll in the park.

This was also an excellent opportunity for the soldiers since they could earn quite a bit while under the effects of Sacrificial Blood Cloud.

The further they went, the stronger the monsters they encountered. It was similar to the first time Cheng Yang visited Yicheng. This time, however, there weren’t any problems, thanks to the elite soldiers. With Enlai’s help, nothing aside from a Pinnacle-Grade Mature monster could threaten them.

Half an hour later, Cheng Yang finally stopped.

“My Lord, have we reached our destination?” One of the Rangers, Jiang Yang, asked. He was a squadron leader with an A-Rank Innate Ability.

He wasn’t the only curious one. The others were just as confused. Even so, they trusted their Lord wholeheartedly and followed him without complaints.

“Almost, we’re headed over there.” Cheng Yang said while pointing towards the foot of a steep hill.

They kept walking and quickly reached the hill. It wasn’t very tall, but it was so steep a cliff had formed in the area they stopped.

To the soldiers, there was nothing out of the ordinary here. Even so, Cheng Yang was staring intently at the cliff face.

“My Lord, is there something special here?” Wang Yuan, a Mage, asked.

The cliff seemed quite ordinary, even to Cheng Yang. The only thing out of place was the lack of trees in the few dozen square meters surrounding it.

Cheng Yang checked his watch: 11:00.

“We’re just a little early.” He muttered anxiously. Too many things had been changing recently.

The soldiers all knew about Cheng Yang’s supposed precognitive abilities, so they decided to wait patiently for something to happen.

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 172 | High Price

To upgrade an Army to the Standard-Grade level required the members to learn all four Military Formations. Training its use to a useable level only took a dozen hours, but the cost to purchase each skill was enormous; each one costs a thousand Experience Fragments.

It wasn’t an individually high price, but every ten soldiers would need four thousand Experience Fragments in total. The cost was covered by deducting ten percent of the soldier’s income, so it took ten days to buy a single Military Formation.

Even if the amount deducted were doubled, it would take twenty days for an Army to level up.

“Take your time. There’s no need to rush this. So far, we’re the only people to have Armies at all, so don’t worry.” Cheng Yang said, “Just remember to plan ahead and avoid wasting resources.”

“Our current plan is to let a tenth of our Armies level up since a Standa-rd-Grade Army can control nine Low-Grade ones.” Liu Hau explained, “Then a tenth of those will level up and so on until one of our Armies reaches Pinnacle-Grade. At that point, we can incorporate everyone into a single unit.”

Cheng Yang nodded in agreement. Although it was necessary to learn all four basic formations before leveling up, you didn’t need to level up after learning them.

Military Formation bonuses were cumulative, which meant the buffs from the various Army level formations would stack. Considering that, an Army’s effectiveness was directly proportional to the number of ranks.

On the other hand, without a solid foundation, it wouldn’t matter. A Low-Grade Army with Pinnacle-Grade formations would be stronger than a Standard-Grade Army with Low-Grade formations.

“That sounds like a good plan.” Cheng Yang said.

They continued to chat until the soldiers finished cleaning the battlefield. Then, Cheng Yang returned to Phoenix Village with the battalions he brought.

When he got back, Cheng Yang took Chu Qiang and his daughter hunting. Before they left, he visited the Quest Hall to pick up some tasks to complete along the way.

He only chose auto-generated fetch quests since the ones produced by people didn’t involve killing monsters.

After becoming an E-Rank Adventurer, there were more quests available for him, allowing Cheng Yang to complete a few every day. Although this allowed him to obtain thirty to forty Advancement Tokens a day, he was still far from upgrading his rank.

Cheng Yang spent the rest of the day killing monsters and practicing his Sacrificial Blood Cloud skill.

It was a useful skill, but it was hard to train since his plans usually needed him at full strength or acting independently. It didn’t help that it could only be used once every fight. As a result, it was still at the Low-Grade level even though his Icicle Blast skill had reached the Pinnacle-Grade level.

The area where Cheng Yang was hunting was fifteen kilometers away from the village since the Phoenix Village soldiers already cleared the monsters closer than that.

Those serving as Adventurers were incredibly active even though no one was pushing them to hunt monsters, which contributed to the growing operational area. They didn’t have the power to kill large hordes, so they hunted down newly spawned monsters with a fanatical passion. This drove the official soldiers further out to find good hunting grounds.

Although these people still feared death, the area around Phoenix Village was perfect for beginners. The density of monsters was low, and if they were in danger, as long as they could reach the boundaries of the territory, an Imperial Guard member would save them. Phoenix Village was starting to seem like a tutorial village from an MMO.

Thanks to the appearance of Adventuring groups, the village had become more lively with civilians peddling their services and soldiers selling off potion and equipment stockpiles.

It was a shame there were so few Professionals in the village. Having a few thousand people cover hundreds of square kilometers of land was too pitiful.

However, Cheng Yang wasn’t worried. There would be an influx of new Adventurers soon.

This morning, Cheng Yang put forty potions up for auction for three thousand Experience Fragments a piece, and when he got back, all of them had been purchased.

Their sale brought Cheng Yang’s daily Auction House profits up to three hundred thousand compared to when he only sold Stones of Return. They were also more stable as compared to the fluctuating price of the Stones of Return.

The stable high returns made Cheng Yang passionate about brewing Magic Amplification Potions. So, when Cheng Yang returned to the village in the evening, he started refining potions.

Thankfully, focusing more on the Magic Amplification potions wasn’t negatively affecting his growth as an Alchemist. Although his success rate was much lower than the Recovery Potions, the Magic Amplification potion being of a higher level allowed Cheng Yang to obtain roughly the same amount of experience.

The night passed quickly, and after a few tasks the next morning, Cheng Yang visited the Tavern. Today was a day that left a sour taste in the mouths of hundreds of people. That’s because an outstanding item was sold on the rock bottom prices. In this life, Cheng Yang planned to snatch it up.

Once he arrived, Cheng Yang ordered a plate of Hellpig Ribs and started to peruse the Auction House listings. There were thousands, but it was rare to find something useful at an affordable price.

Suddenly, Cheng Yang noticed a Mage Statue Lifting Stone that had been put up for auction. It required a starting bid of three hundred thousand Experience Fragments or a one-time price of two million.

Cheng Yang almost bought it that instant by instinct. However, he only had one million on him, and the rest of his net worth was invested into the Bank, so it would be hard to retrieve it.

Although he already had five, it would be hard to find Statue Lifting Stones on the Auction House in the future, and if there were one, it would cost six million at least. They were an item that was relatively common since they dropped from instance dungeons regularly, but no one would be willing to sell them.

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 171 | Military Formation

If this were a war between humans, the attackers would never have made such a hasty and careless offensive. However, these were monsters. They weren’t intelligent beings.

The cube was irresistible to them, so there was only one thought in their minds, even if they couldn’t fulfill it: attack the area and kill everyone you meet.

The fighting was so intense that it only took a few minutes for twenty thousand monsters to lose their lives. It made the entire area stink of blood and death.

It was at that time that the last few Warriors climbed up onto the walls. There were tens of thousands of monsters on the Horizon, so even if they were confident in their strength, staying on the ground was suicidal. Simultaneously, the Summoners and Priests moved off the walls to make room for the Warriors.

When the dense wave of monsters was forty meters away, the battle started in earnest once more.

All of the Warriors had scaled the wall, but the summoned wolves were still guarding the wall from forty meters away.

When the two forces clashed, the wolves barely caused a ripple before they were torn into shreds of furry meat and returned to dust.

Compared to the previous loose gathering of monsters, this new wave was a real threat. Standard-Grade monsters were everywhere, and High-Grade monsters could be seen almost as commonly. There was even a Pinnacle-Grade monster towards the back.

Once the monsters were in range, the Mages and Rangers began firing. They attacked without even bothering to aim since it was impossible to miss with so many monsters present.

As the monsters charged across the last thirty meters before the wall, hundreds died.

Moments later, the wave crashed against the wall, and the fighting began in earnest, and the monsters that could scale the walls attacked the defenders.

The Priests were frantically rushing around, healing anyone the moment they saw an injury. The Summoners, on the other hand, conjured new wolves on the ground once their cooldowns were over. As a result, monsters were lured off the wall thanks to the wolves’ inherent aggro abilities.

The walls weren’t spacious enough for all the soldiers, even without the Summoners and Priests. So, the Warriors split themselves between the Walls and the ground on the village side. Those on the wall focused on defending the ranged Professionals while those on the ground killed the monsters drawn off the walls by the Summoners.

The most immediate threats to ordinary soldiers, the High-Grade monsters, were dealt with before they could attack anyone. Since their size made them stand out, it was easy for Cheng Yang, Enlai, or the generals to intercept and kill them.

Enlai circled the wall without staying in one place, but the others guarded a single wall area. Liu Hau protected the north while Old Lee protected the south. Both Cheng Yang and Zhao Chuan defended the east, and the west was left to the ordinary soldiers. With them around, the regular soldiers could fight without fear.

The defense was asymmetrically distributed due to the way the village’s soldiers had focused their hunting efforts. Since Cloud City was to the west, the area had been entirely cleared to make travel easier. As a result, there were hardly any monsters, must less High-Grade ones.

The east, on the other hand, was facing the endless wilderness. As a result, there was even a Pinnacle-Grade monster among the tens of thousands attacking the walls.

Thus, not only was Cheng Yang personally defending that area, Zhao Chuan had been deployed as well to suppress the monsters with his wolf’s aura.

Thanks to their efforts, no matter how many monsters attacked, they couldn’t break through. Even when some flying monsters appeared, they were slaughtered.

Although there were a few scattered casualties, they could be counted on one hand. The battle wasn’t a suspenseful one. No one doubted their victory.

Over time, the initial monster siege ended. The ground was covered in smashed corpses, making it hard to guess the exact number of monsters that died, but it was easily a hundred thousand. It was enough for every soldier to gain a few dozen Experience Fragments.

For them to have gained so much in just twenty minutes made everyone happy. Not to mention that if they continued to stand guard, they could earn twice that amount by this time tomorrow.

Unfortunately for them, Cheng Yang had no plans to let the soldiers stay. There was no need since the Joyous River Village soldiers were capable of handling the stragglers.

Since only a hundred or so monsters were attacking at a time, Cheng Yang ordered the soldiers under Liu Hau’s command to clean up the battlefield.

Their main task was to gather the materials they could from the monster’s corpses. The meat could be used as food, the skin processed into leather, the bones carved into weapons, and a rare few had parts that could be used for Alchemy.

The parts the village didn’t need were left to rot. Before the apocalypse, this would have been a horrible decision, but one of the few benefits of this new world was that disease wouldn’t spread through filth anymore. No matter how long a corpse was left out, it would never cause a pandemic.

“Koko,” After dealing with the monster siege, Cheng Yang needed to discuss something with Liu Hau, “When the effects of the cube wear off, put another twenty thousand Experience Fragments in. You can either use your funds or gather them from the soldiers. Either way, get the most out of this since I’m going to take it to the Yicheng area the next time I visit.”

“How many days will we get to keep it, my Lord?” Liu Hau asked with a smug grin. The training cube was a fantastic item, and he’d stolen it from under the nose of his rival.

“Not long.” Cheng Yang replied with a knowing laugh. “Joyous River village already has too many advantages, so the others will get mad if I let you monopolize the training cube as well.”

The road between Phoenix Village and Joyous River Village allowed Liu Hau’s soldiers to access the Bank as well as the upgraded shops. This allowed the soldiers from Joyous River Village to progress much faster than those from Silkworm Mountain.

“How is your battalion developing? Cheng Yang asked casually.

“Decently. Most people are close to reaching the Private Third Class rank, but it will be a while before we can consolidate the various Armies.”

Currently, the only way to organize groups of soldiers was into Armies officially. Until the requirements were met, there wouldn’t be a way to make larger groups than a Low-Grade Army.

One requirement was learning special group skills called Military Formations. There were four Military Formations available to Low-Grade Armies: the Square, which increased damage and defense by 5%. The Circle increased defense by 10%, the Spare Array, which increased Attack Speed by 10%, and the Series Matrix, which increased damage by 10%.

Compared to the passive buffs provided by class change statue research, Military Formations were rather lackluster since they required impeccable coordination. However, these were the lowest level of Military Formations. The ones for a Pinnacle-Grade Army were much more formidable.

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 170 | Use

The number of subclasses each Totem had wasn’t the same. The Warrior Totem had three, but the Mage Totem had four: Geomancer, Pyromancer, Hydromancer, and Anemancer. The Ranger Totem allowed a person to become either a Rogue, Hunter, or Scout, and the Summoner Totem had two subclasses: Druid and Necromancer.

Each subclass had its strength and weaknesses, but none were worse overall than the others. Instead, it was a person’s effort and compatibility that determined how far a subclass would go.

Although the four primary classes now had Totems, none of them had finished Totem level research yet since it took ten days. It would take nearly two months and a hundred thousand Experience Fragments to fulfill the research upgrade condition.

Ironically, this made research the bottleneck for leveling up the Totems since it would only take one month to amass five hundred High-Grade Apprentices in each class. For most territories, it would take three months just to accumulate the necessary Experience Fragments.

For Cheng Yang and his villages, if it could be solved with money, it wasn’t a problem. Cheng Yang ran a very profitable scalping business, a Bank, and an instance dungeon within the bounds of Pheonix Village. Just this would solve any money issues they had, but he recently acquired the Imitation Imperial Training Cube as well.

At the moment, Cheng Yang was marching towards Joyous River Village with all three battalions stationed in Phoenix Village. Cheng Yang also brought Chu Yiling and Chu Qiang since they were a part of his personal guard.

The defense of Pheonix Village was left to the absurdly overpowered Imperial Guard members and the dozens of newly formed Adventurers groups. Although the Adventurers were inexperienced, their stats were far higher than a typical Low-Grade Apprentice, so in an emergency, they’d be able to support the Imperial Guard.

Phoenix Village also had the three Elite Imperial Guards as a trump card. So long as they were there, Cheng Yang could walk around the Cloud City area without fear that Phoenix Village would be destroyed when he got back.

It only took an hour for Cheng Yang’s army to reach Joyous River Village thanks to their clean marching order.

While on their way there, Cheng Yang explained the goal of the journey to his Generals. He told them the usage of the training cube as well as the best strategy for dealing with the resulting monster siege.

When they heard about the benefits they could gain from just standing on the village’s walls, they were ecstatic. Although Old Lee was also excited for his soldiers’ sake, he was somewhat disappointed since he was a melee fighter and wouldn’t benefit as much.

The Joyous River Village walls were the same size as those surrounding Silkworm Mountain. Thus, monsters would have just as easy a time getting over. Although Cheng Yang had the chance to upgrade the walls before initiating a monster siege, he decided not to since it would inhibit the village’s growth afterward.

This time, even without taller, stronger walls, Cheng Yang refused to let his soldiers die in droves again. That’s why he brought over several thousand extra defenders and invested tens of thousands in supplying those soldiers with potions.

Once the soldiers were in position, Cheng Yang took out the training cube. After some reflection, he used forty-five thousand.

Why forty-five thousand? Because that would attract every monster within twelve kilometers. Since Joyous River Village was more developed than Silkworm Mountain, the extra couple kilometers should mean the resulting monster siege would have the same strength.

It might be a little stronger, but he was far better prepared this time.

Once the Experience Fragments entered the cube, it began to glow. Then, suddenly, a pulse rippled out from it. At the same time, a collection of low roars could be heard from the surrounding areas.

A few minutes later, the first few scattered groups of monsters appeared at the edge of the forest. Of the first wave, only one in a thousand weren’t Low-Grade monsters.

The first line of defense this time wasn’t the ranged Professionals, but the melee fighters. All of the Warriors were standing outside the walls with ropes ready to pull them back up. This was so that they could gain some Experience Fragments before the area outside the wall became too dangerous.

The Warriors fought in groups of three with one soldier blocking attacks while the other two attacked. The formation allowed them to kill Low-Grade monsters in a single round of combat.

The various battalions under Cheng Yang’s control usually didn’t interact much. So this was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their skills and show off. It was also an excellent opportunity for the Generals to show why they had the privileges granted by their position.

Liu Hau and Old Lee stood out on the battlefield of otherwise ordinary Warriors. Both were High-Grade Apprentices capable of instantly killing every monster that came their way.

Between the two of them, Liu Hau drew more attention. His fighting style was beautiful, thanks to immaculate dodging skills, incredible speed, and dual swords. For those who hadn’t seen him fight before, it was eye-opening. Most of them believed a Warrior could only rely on their defense and brute strength to win a fight, but Liu Hau proved they could focus on speed as well.

For the first fifteen minutes, the Warriors were able to kill everything that came their way easily. As time went on, however, the number of monsters started to increase rapidly. Additionally, monsters will long-range skills would appear occasionally.

“Begin retreat! Return to the walls!” Cheng Yang ordered. At the same time, dozens of messengers relayed his orders.

The Warriors made a quick retreat up the ropes while the Summoner’s wolves covered them. A retreat made easier by the fact that any new monsters had to stumble through the maze of corpses left behind by the earlier fighting.

The most eye-catching area of the battle was where Zhao Chuan’s dire wolf was tearing through every nearby monster. Thanks to his Special Innate Ability, both it and the other summoned creatures around it were strengthed while the monsters they fought were weakened.

“Ranged attackers! Shoot!” At the same moment, every Ranger and Mage on the walls fired an attack at the oncoming monsters. With their help, the Warriors were able to make a clean escape.

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 169 | Subclass

“How are you going to deal with the cube?” Yu Kai asked.

“I plan to take it to the villages near Yicheng.” Cheng Yang said, “They can’t benefit from the services Phoenix Village provides, so the cube will be beneficial for their development.”

“But their combat prowess is too low. Even if they used it on a small area, they would be overwhelmed! Even with both of us here, Silkworm Mountain was nearly destroyed, so what can they do?”

“That’s just a long term plan. I can’t visit the Yicheng area until I settle the issues here.” cheng Yang replied. “So, I’ll find a way for them to withstand the monsters later.”

Since there was nothing left for Yu Kai to say, he left. When he did, Cheng Yang went to clear the Sky God’s Island instance dungeon. He wanted Yu Kai to come with him, but the threat of another attack from Dong Shizou’s master stopped him. Although his luck was a little better, he only got a single piece of Green Bronze equipment.

Right before Cheng Yang left, he noticed a chest towards the back of the room. He ran over, trying to suppress the excitement in his heart, lest it was another shitty piece of equipment.

When he opened the chest, Cheng Yang found another Warrior Statue Lifting Stone, an item from the rare loot table! Maybe all that lousy luck before was paying off now since the chance of getting a reward like this was one in a million.

Although it was a great drop, Cheng Yang wasn’t sure what to do with it. If he could, he would increase the number of Warriors again, but he wasn’t sure if it was possible. He hadn’t heard about someone getting two Statue Lifting Stones for the same class, so there was no way to know.

Cheng Yang stored the Staute Lifting Stone in his ring, then left the instance. Then, he retrieved the training cube. Although he didn’t have a use for it at the moment, it was too dangerous to leave it since Silkworm Mountain had been compromised. Worse than having it stolen, if another hostile individual infiltrated the village and activated it, the tragedy from the day before would repeat itself.

There were three villages in the Cloud City area, all of which were compromised. Therefore, only Phoenix Village, which had the Imperial Guard was a safe place to store the training cube. However, it also needed it the least. So, Cheng Yang planned to send it to Joyous River Village.

It was the only village where a full-scale attack was improbable since any attacking force would have to walk through the East half of Cloud City first. It would also be easy to send soldiers from Phoenix Village to help withstand the monster siege caused by the cube’s use.

Back in Phoenix Village, Cheng Yang used the Statue Lifting Stone on the Warrior statue. When he did, the option to increase the number of slots was still available!

It was great news, but Cheng Yang still felt a little disappointed. Although you could enhance a statue’s attribute multiple times, what were the chances of getting another Statue Lifting Stone after this? Even if the result would be fantastic, it only hurt to know it was out of reach.

Since the Statue Lifting Stone had already been used, Cheng Yang needed to make a choice. Although he originally wanted to increase the number of slots, Cheng Yang chose to increase the Physical Defense of the Warriors instead.

The bonus immediately doubled. With this, Low-Grade Warriors had a Physical Defense so high most Low-Grade monsters would only be able to deal a single point of damage.

Cheng Yang took a moment to admire the statue’s system pane.


Warrior Totem
Phoenix Village
Low-Grade
2834/2834

Research

  • Spirit of the Undying (Low-Grade): Increase HP by 17% | Cost: 20,000 | Time: 10 days
  • Widened Mana Circuit (Low-Grade): Increase Mana by 17% | Cost: 20,000 | Time: 10 days
  • Steel Tendons (Low-Grade): Increase Magic Attack by 17% | Cost: 20,000 | Time: 10 days
  • Iron Flesh (Low-Grade): Increase Physical Defense by 34% | Cost: 20,000 | Time: 10 days
  • Mithril Mind (Low-Grade): Increase Magic Defense by 17% | Cost: 20,000 | Time: 10 days

Skills

  • Charge (Low-Grade): An attack skill that inflicts a stun effect | Cost: 200 | Requirements: Standard-Grade Apprentice
  • Stone Skin (Standard-Grade): A passive skill that increases Health, Magical Defense, and Physical Defense | Cost: 600 | Requirements: Pinnacle-Grade Apprentice

Subclasses

  • Battle Master (1/1)
  • Assassin
  • Knight
  • Sentinel

Upgrade Conditions

  • Fill all available slots
  • Finish all new research
  • Have 500 High-Grade Warriors

After leveling up a fifth time, the class change statue had become a Class Change Totem. The most significant difference between the two was the availability of subclasses.

Usually, a person wouldn’t get a subclass until they reached the Low-Grade Scholar level, and they couldn’t use the Meditation skill to train until they got one once they reached that level. However, it wouldn’t happen automatically. If the class change statue they used hadn’t become a Totem yet, it was impossible. Since the key to human evolutions were skills and classes, the gods would naturally restrict access to better ones.

This was because growth factors would come into play after obtaining a subclass. Each subclass had a different attribute distribution, which represented their specialization.

Thankfully, upgrading a Statue to a Totem was easy. It just needed money and time. Reaching the next stage was far more difficult since you needed to have a certain number of high-level individuals for each class.

The conditions were more lenient than the ones for leveling up the territory but not by much.

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Doomsday Lord

Doomsday Lord Ch. 168 | Divine Intention

Cheng Yang chuckled.

“Old Lee, you worry too much! Our actions are as infuriating as an ants’ to the gods, and even they can’t watch every inch of the world at the same time. There are millions of people that curse them every day, but has anyone experienced divine retribution yet?”

“Well, I’ll say what I was going to anyways.” Old Lee said with a relieved expression. “I’ve been wondering why the gods did this? Their messenger said it was to help us evolve, but what about after that? It would be odd if they needed us, but I can’t help but think this power comes with a catch.”

Old Lee’s concerns were shared by many in Cheng Yang’s previous life. Maybe he’d know the answer if he’d survived a few more years, but for now, the gods’ intentions were a mystery.

However, Cheng Yang held a similar view to Old Lee. There was no such thing as a free lunch, which meant the gods would eventually collect their debt. The only question was, what would they ask for? They were gods. What could they need from mere humans?

With his current strength and status, wanting to explore the ultimate purpose of the gods’ actions was too ambitious. For now, he could only walk forwards without knowing where the path led.

“That’s a difficult question to answer. There’s no way to know if the gods’ are hiding something from us.” Cheng Yang sighed. “Maybe one day we’ll find out.”

Old Lee wanted to offer a guess, but since he wasn’t sure if he was right, refrained.

Once they parted ways, Cheng Yang visited the Tavern. He needed to collect the money from selling his potions. It wasn’t a lot, but the profit margins were twice that of the Stones of Return.

Until the global market stabilized, Cheng Yang planned to extract as much from possible from the world’s wealthy. To do that, he needed as many Eight Treasures Flowers as possible, so he tripled the rewards for finding one.

Right now, about a hundred were turned in to the Quest Hall every day. However, that wasn’t enough to use up Cheng Yang’s Energy every day, so he hoped to entice some people to spend their day exclusively searching for the flowers.

For most people, the rewards would be equal to or greater than a day spent hunting, so Cheng Yang had high hopes.

If he reached maximum capacity, he would be able to earn roughly a hundred thousand Experience Fragments a day. Even for Cheng Yang, that was a lot of money.

The next morning, Cheng Yang cleared The Blood-Soaked Cathedral, then ran to Joyous River Village. He cleared The Abandoned Citadel then cleared The Forgotten Grave.

Cheng Yang’s luck was worse than it ever had been. After clearing three instance dungeons, all he got was a single piece of Green-Bronze equipment. Perhaps the gods actually were capable of watching the whole world at once and were punishing Cheng Yang for his comments the day before?

The chances of getting only a single item from three instance dungeons at the Difficulties he used were tiny. For that piece of equipment to also be the lowest quality was absurd.

With a melancholy heart, Cheng Yang visited Silkworm Mountain.

It was almost noon.

By now, the last monster would have died while assaulting the walls of Silkworm Mountain. Now it would be almost impossible to find a group of monsters with more than a few individuals near Silkworm Mountain.

As such, Cheng Yang had nothing to do on his way there. Enlai killed every monster they encountered before Cheng Yang could finish casting any of his spells.

When he arrives, Cheng Yang visited Yu Kai. Despite the tragedy the day before, everyone was in high spirits. Thanks to the constant stream of monsters attacking the village, every soldier earned several dozen Experience Fragments.

Since the monsters were killed within the Silkworm Mountain’s boundaries, for every Experience Fragment the soldiers earned, the village received one as well. It was more than enough to supplement the development of every territory under Cheng Yang’s control.

Although Yu Kai was only the Governor in name, he was thrilled to see how quickly Silkworm Mountain was recovering. More importantly, once the village leveled up, he would be able to use Divine Blessing again.

“What has Dong Sizhou been up to?” Cheng Yang asked after some pleasantries.

“Nothing. Yet. That guy has outstanding psychological strength. Several times I caught him staring out through the windows, and there wasn’t a hint of fear in his eyes. He clearly doesn’t fear death, and I think that his family might be made up too.” Yu Kai said, “He’s too calm. It weirds me out.”

“Keep watching him. The fact that he hasn’t made a move yet makes him even more suspicious. We’re not lacking personnel, so make sure several people are guarding him at all times.”

“Don’t worry. I know what to do.”

While they were talking, Liu Chengen arrived with a salute.

“Hello, my Lord.” He said respectfully before addressing Yu Kai, “Now that the monsters have stopped attacking, should we start sending out hunting parties again?”

Yu Kai had no clue what to say, so he looked to Cheng Yang for help.

“You should if you want to keep earning Experience Fragments.” Cheng Yang said. “I’m taking the cube with me today, so you’ll need to make other arrangements.”

“The cube cleared the surrounding area so, take the opportunity to explore our out to twelve or fifteen kilometers.” Yu Kai said, “We need to make sure there aren’t any surprises waiting for us.”

“Yoko, when we find out who was behind the sabotage, what do you plan to do? Are we going to start a life or death battle with them immediately? Or are you going to be a little lenient with them?” Yu Kai asked after Liu Chengen left to handle the details.

“Why should we tolerate nearby enemies? Even if Yuan Jianzhe were the mastermind, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to war. A thousand people died, so even if the safe zone descends into total anarchy, I’ll never forgive the perpetrator. There’s no point in compromising with someone who wants you dead.”

“Thank you, my Lord.” Yu Kai said, happy that Cheng Yang shared his viewpoint on the matter. “But if we’re going to destroy the military anyways, why not take control of the safe zone while we’re at it?”

“Because the gods won’t allow it to happen.” Cheng Yang replied. “They want the safe zone to be relatively free from human influence, so if we tried to control it completely, the gods would sabotage us. If we can’t have total control, there’s no reason to try.”

“That’s fair.” Yu Kai said, “So, do you think Yuan Jianzhe had anything to do with this?”

“It’s unlikely.” Cheng Yang said, “This Ding Ming fellow probably was involved, but someone else should be the mastermind. Either way, Dong Shizhou will lead us right to them.”

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 167 | Trouble in the Territory

Cheng Yang was worried it was a one-time use item since it had the “Imitation” tag, but the description put his heart at ease.

He wondered how powerful the real Imperial Training Cube was? If the imitation harnessed the power of the heavens and the earth, what did the real one use? Since it had training in the name, maybe the actual one increased skill proficiency gains?

Either way, the imitation Training Cube was still a useful tool. As long as the affected area wasn’t too large, it could help his territories by bringing monsters into the Experience Fragment collection radius.

Cheng Yang estimated that Dong Shizhou must have used at least twenty thousand Experience Fragments. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been so many monsters. Since the area around Silkworm Mountain hadn’t been cleared as thoroughly as the other two villages, the cube must have attracted hordes formed on the first day of the apocalypse.

Cheng Yang felt blessed that Ding Ming didn’t have wealth like his. Otherwise, he might have been able to summon half a million monsters to attack the village.

Once he stored the cube in his ring, Cheng Yang returned to the Meditation Hall where Dong Shizhou was held.

“Since you were honest, and this is a nice item. I’ll let you live. For now.” Cheng Yang announced.

As he walked out, Cheng Yang winked at Yu Kai, who followed him. Since everyone else was leaving, Ye Tao also left.

“My Lord, is it safe to leave Dong Shizou like that?” Yu Kai asked, “The rope should hold, but-“

“Of course it’s not safe, but he’s still hiding something. I never threatened to kill him, so why did he bring up an execution? To take his secrets to the grave. Make sure you’re Demonic Watcher is keeping an eye on him. Once he makes his move, contact me.”

“Are you sure? What else could he be hiding?”

“How much do you think this would be worth on the Auction House?” Cheng Yang asked after handing Yu Kai the imitation Training Cube.

“A lot.” Yu Kai replied, “But not unless you controlled a village. But, where did Ding Ming get this?”

“Since they used something so valuable in this attack, do you think Dong Shizhou walked in here under everyone’s noses?”

“Why wouldn’t he ha-” The realization suddenly hit Yu Kai. “Fuck! Of course not! That guy almost fooled me. We know gate inspection is lax, but how would they know? If they were bringing something so valuable inside the village, they must have had a better plan than just walking in.”

The duo walked over to the outer walls to check on the situation.

When they returned to the walls, he saw a steady stream of monsters making their way to the village. Since the cube would attract them for twenty-four hours, he would need to leave it in Silkworm Mountain. If he tried to take it back to Phoniex Village, he would become a walking calamity.

After his walk, Cheng Yang met with Liu Chengen.

“Vice-Governor Liu, how’s the situation?”

“We seem to be out of danger, for now, My Lord. Although there are still a few hundred monsters surrounding the village at any given time, they won’t be a problem. They’re serving as stress relief for the surviving soldiers since there’s no danger in hunting them.”

It was good news, but the loss of a thousand soldiers weighed heavily in their hearts.

“The monsters will keep charging over like that until around this time tomorrow, so make the soldiers pace themselves. When it’s done, the territory should make around four hundred thousand Experience Fragments. Keep what you need to upgrade the village and wire the rest to Phoenix Village.”

Since Yu Kai was only the Governor in name, Cheng Yang explained his plans to Liu Chengen. He managed the territory and was a capable administrator.

Then, Cheng Yang made another trip around the wall and prepared to leave.

The monster siege was over, and the threat was eliminated, but Cheng Yang quell the anger in his heart! However, until he revealed all of Dong Shizhou’s secrets, he couldn’t act.

If he impulsively attacked the wrong person, he’d let his enemy play him like a fiddle.

Although most of the beast siege casualties had been from Silkworm Valley, a few were from the Fox Hunting Battalion. As a result, there were a few dozen spots to vacancies to fill, so Cheng Yang visited Old Lee when he returned to Phoenix Village.

Old Lee listened to Cheng Yang report, but when he was asked to take care of the vacancies, he didn’t leave immediately like he usually would. Instead, he stood awkwardly by the doorway.

“Old Lee, we’ve gone through thick and thin together, so why are you hesitating over there? If you’ve got a problem, tell me.”

“It’s just a little thing, my Lord. I don’t want to bother you with it since you seem busy right now.”

“Tell me.” Cheng Yang repeated.

“Well, the village’s contains over a hundred thousand civilians and a few thousand soldiers. The soldiers live in the Inner Village with their families, but everyone else crowds together in the Outer Village. They are comfortable as they are, but as they feel safer, they want more as well, like housing. Since even housing is a problem, the rest of our infrastructure is naturally horrible. We’re starting to have issues with water use and waste disposal. It takes some people over an hour to get water, and the river is being polluted by those upstream. Some areas don’t even bother moving their waste and have created large pits of human excrement. If we don’t do something soon, the area will become unlivable.”

Old Lee paused when Cheng Yang signaled for him to stop. The problems he described were ones people need to face in his past life as well.

Water wasn’t a huge issue since it could be solved with labor incentives, but the sewage would be troublesome. In the past, villages had tried to build aqueducts to funnel out the waste, but there was one big problem. The territory would forcefully remove any unauthorized structures. Even if you tried to dig a ditch, it would fill itself in at midnight.

Thankfully, the gods would remedy this problem by creating bathrooms and water fountains in the safe zones. You needed to pay to use them, but it was better than nothing.

Territories were given a similar solution. They had the option to build their own facilities. A couple would be manageable, but the expenses scaled with population.

These changes would be implemented on the same day the gods rescued people living in rural areas.

“You don’t need to worry about that. I’ve foreseen that the gods will offer us a solution in a few days. Just keep the situation under control until then.”

Old Lee groaned.

“My Lord, I need to tell you something, but I don’t know how to phrase it.”

“Just spit it out.” Cheng Yang said with a worried tone.

“I’m worried I’ve offended the gods and brought a calamity down upon the territory.”

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 166 | Imitation Training Cube

“You don’t scare me!” The suspect roared. Since he had no way out, the man had resorted to bluffing. “What Skinning skill? Professions? Never heard of them. If a steel sword can’t pierce my skin, what makes you think that tiny knife will do anything?”

“It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe us.” Cheng Yang said with a dry smile. “Begin.”

Yu Kai nodded, trying to suppress the discomfort he felt. He pressed the knife into the back of the suspect’s hand and activated the skill.

“Ahhhh!” The man let out a piercing scream that was as surprised as it was in pain. He looked down to see his hand had been skinned in mere moments, not just the back but the fingers and the palm too. His skin was hanging from his wrist like a used glove, and the bright red flesh left behind had started bleeding profusely.

“Why does it work so well?” Yu Kai muttered. Just like when he skinned a monster, an invisible force had guided his hand like a puppeteer, allowing him to peel back the skin at inhuman speeds.

At Cheng Yang’s request, Yu Kai stopped. The goal wasn’t to skin the man completely, only to extract a confession.

At the same time, Te Yao used Healing Light. Ironically, the healing process was almost as excruciating. New skin grew out of the flesh at an alarming rate, forcing the skinned glove to fall to the ground.

“Well, are you ready to take this seriously?” Cheng Yang asked.

“You… What are you asking?” The man asked while looking at Cheng Yang with frightened eyes. He had undergone training to withstand torture, but this hyper-fast skinning technique transcended pain.

“What’s your name, and who sent you here?”

“My name is Dong Sizhou, and it was Commander Yuan that sent me.” The man said after Yu Kai raised his knife threateningly.

“IT seems you forgot who actually sent you.” Cheng Yang frowned. “Yu Kai, jog his memories.”

Yu Kai didn’t hesitate this time. Since it felt the same as when he skinned a monster, the revulsion he felt was disappearing.

With a gleam of the knife and a flash of light, the man’s hand had been skinned, then healed once more.

“Since I bothered to interrogate you, I naturally know a few things. Let’s try this again, or we’ll end up with enough skin to make a glove for every soldier you got killed.”

“Good… Well said.” Dong Sizhou huffed. “I didn’t lie when I told you my name, but… it was Colonel Ding that sent me, not Commander Yuan.”

“Colonel Ding? And it wasn’t on Yuan Jainzhe’s orders?”

Dong Sizhou nodded.

“The Colone’s full name is Ding Ming.”

Cheng Yang frowned. Many people committed treason against the military in his past life, but Ding Ming wasn’t one of them. Ding Ming had died in the Battle of the Southern Bridge, so maybe he just hadn’t enacted his plan in time?

“Why did Ding Ming send you here?” Cheng Yang asked.

“He wanted me to observe the village and find a way to take it for ourselves.”

“Wrong.” Cheng Yang said.

“Ahhhh!” Another glove was created using Dong Shizhou’s skin.

Dong Shizhou’s mind was racing. Why did he do that? The information I gave him was more than enough to make him believe that was the extent of our plans? Is he guessing, or does he know something?

“What…” Dong Shizhou panted. “Did I say wrong?”

“Someone artificially created a monster siege. Who was it?”

“That’s…” Dong Shizhou hesitated. Was that just a lucky guess? It couldn’t have been. Cheng Yang seemed so sure that someone had caused the incident.

“If you keep wasting time, I’ll have Yu Kai encourage you.” Cheng Yang warned Dong Shizhou, “If I’m not satisfied, I’ll lock you up and do this every day. Every moment will be worse than death!”

“I… I… What I meant was…” Dong Shizhou caved under the threat of endless pain. “In addition to that, I was also ordered to bury a cube in your territory. It’s a magic item that attracts monsters. Earlier today, I walked through the gates and buried it behind one of the buildings.”

Cheng Yang shot Yu Kai a dirty look. If the enemy could casually swagger into the village, Yu Kai would need to be held accountable.

“I warned you that this would happen.” Yu Kai said in an exasperated voice. “We don’t have any IDs, and since soldiers from the other villages sometimes visit, our gates are just for decoration. Our guards can’t memorize thousands of faces.”

Cheng Yang nodded in response. They would need to think of a better system since every village had this vulnerability. At least in Phoenix Village, if an infiltrator tried to harm anyone, the Imperial Guard would know instantly.

“Take us to where you buried the cube.” Cheng Yang said. It might have been a one-time use item, but if he was lucky, it was an artifact they could use to recoup their losses.

“I can show you, but you need to promise me something.” Dong Shizhou said. Now that he had divulged everything, he had nothing to lose. “It’s a small condition, so please.”

“Do you think you’re in a position to negotiate with me?” Cheng Yang’s eyes flashed with anger.

“What I did was wrong, but I was just following orders.” Dong Shizhou smiled sadly. “Now that I’ve betrayed Colonel Ding, my family will be implicated. So please, listen to my request.”

“What is it?”

“After you execute me, please, protect my family.” Dong Shizhou said, “If you request it, Commander Yuan will allow you to take them as prisoners.”

“I can’t do that.” Cheng Yang said, “At the very least, I’ll make sure to keep news of your capture a secret. I also wouldn’t if I could since you’ve caused too much damage to be forgiven.”

Dong Shizhou sighed.

“It’s buried behind the fifth building on the east side of the southern gate. It should be easy to see where the soil was disturbed. Please make my death painless.”

“Yu Kai, stay here while I take a look.”

A few minutes later, Cheng Yang found the location where the cube was buried. When he started digging, he uncovered a black cube covered in intricate carving.

When he picked it up, a system pane opened.


Imperial Training Cube (Imitation)
Modeled after the training cubes made by the Empire, this item harnessed the powers of the heavens and the earth to attract monsters in a wide radius towards itself. Its the perfect tool for training either yourself or a large army.

Cost: 100 Experience Fragments per square kilometer affected
Duration: 24 Hours

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Doomsday Lord Ch. 165 | Skinning

Yu Kai’s Demonic Watcher reported that their suspect was on the move, so Cheng Yang left before hearing any after-action analysis.

After everything that had happened, how could Cheng Yang let that bastard escape? Although there was no proof that the person was related, cheng Yang couldn’t believe the Monster Siege was natural.

To make sure he wouldn’t lose the suspect, Cheng Yang carried Yu Kai with him. This way, he could get constant updates from the Demonic Watcher.

A few minutes later, they found their target. It was a man in his thirties sprinting towards Cloud City.

He was moving erratically in an attempt to throw off anyone chasing him. Little did he know, the Demonic Watcher was right behind him the entire time.

“Halt!” Yu Kai shouted once they were close.

The man jumped in fright, then dove into a thicket.

He took two steps and then felt a horrible chill invading his body, stopping him in his tracks. Then, Cheng Yang put Yu Kai down and lifted the man with a single hand. With the other, he grabbed the man’s chin and twisted it violently, dislocated the jaw.

“My Lord, why are you acting so violently?” Yu Kai couldn’t help but ask.

“I needed to make sure he couldn’t bite his tongue.” cheng Yang replied, “Lest he dies before we can interrogate him.”

Although it would be much harder to commit suicide by biting one’s tongue now, it was considered an attack by the gods’ system, so it was possible.

After that, Cheng Yang picked up the suspect and carried him back to Silkworm Mountain.

Back in the village, Liu Chengen had finished compiling the death statistics. When cheng Yang heard the results, he was livid.

Around a third of the soldiers that participated in the battle died. That amounted to over a thousand people. Most of the casualties were in the Silkworm Mountain army rather than the Fox Hunting battalion, but it was a heavy blow nonetheless.

Losing the investment put into the soldiers alone was horrific, but each death pierced Cheng Yang’s soul, signifying a personal failure. It filled him with rage, at the gods, and this damned world. But mostly, he was angry with himself.

“Bury the dead in the Outer Village. They’re heroes and deserve a real cemetery, not a mass grave. Hand out the pension according to the standard. Contact me if you need Experience Fragments to make up the cost.” Cheng Yang said.

Liu Chengen nodded with a heavy heart, then left to complete the tasks.

Cheng Yang turned to Yu Kai.

“I’m going to find an empty Meditation Hall to interrogate him in.” Cheng Yang gestured to the captured suspect. “I need you to find me a Priest to keep him alive and someone with a Profession that gives them the Skinning skill.”

Once he found an appropriate location, Cheng Yang threw the suspect on the ground and bound him with rope after disarming him.

“Your Excellency should prepare to jog his memory.” Cheng Yang mocked the man as he realigned his jaw.

“How dare you attack me?” the suspect shouted in a righteous tone. “This is a restriction of my personal freedom and an illegal act.”

Cheng Yang sighed.

“Don’t you think acting like that at this point is a little silly? Have some self-respect. If you aren’t willing to talk this out between professionals, I can force it out of you with a knife.”

“Do you think I’m stupid, you’re not allowed to do that.” the man said with false bravado. “Although monsters walk the earth, the state is alive and well. If you dare to violate my civil liberties like this, Commander Yuan won’t stand idly by!”

“The commander can’t afford to offend me right now, so there isn’t a person in the world that can stop me from doing whatever I want to you.” Cheng Yang sneered. “If you don’t stop babbling nonsense, I don’t mind using torture to remind you how to speak to your betters.”

The man scoffed when he heard Cheng Yang mention torture. Since he was a Professional, torture was useless. No matter how small, every action would count as an attack, so the pain would last a few minutes at most before he ran out of Health. Even if he was force-fed a potion, they could only torture him for a few minutes at a time.

At this point, Yu Kai returned with a middle-aged Priest.

“I’ve returned, my Lord. Let’s find out if this bastard is responsible for all this death!”

“Just you two? I needed someone with the Skinning skill.”

“You must have forgotten that I have that skill, and I would like to brag and say mine is definitely at a higher level than anyone else.” Tu Kai said. “But why did you need that? I can understand the Priest, but how is the Skinning skill going to help us interrogate him?”

“You should have realized by now that the gods’ rules make torturing someone unfeasible since anything we do to harm someone would be considered an attack. How do you think we can get around that?”

Yu Kai nodded. Attacking someone had mixed results, and sometimes a surefire hit wouldn’t pierce the skin even if it did damage. So, he’d been wondering what Cheng Yang planned to do.

“To get around those rules, we’ll use your Skinning skill.” Cheng Yang continued. “Since its a Profession skill, it doesn’t count as an attack, creating a loophole where it can be used to torture people.”

“Are you asking me to skin him?” Yu Kai shuddered. “Doesn’t the skill only work on dead monsters?”

“Of course not. As long as something has skin, the Skinning skill can peel it off.” Cheng Yang said, “The reason you think it only works on corpses is that a monster won’t sit still long enough to let you skin it if it’s alive.”

Yu Kai understood, but he was shocked. Why would the gods allow that? He’d skinned dozens of monsters, but the thought of skinning a human was disgusting.

Yu Kai wasn’t the only person who felt sick. The Priest also looked pale. Regular torture was one thing, but skinning someone felt inhumane.

Cheng Yang sighed. He knew what they were thinking and was disappointed. Did they not expect to have to hurt other humans under these circumstances? If they weren’t prepared to hurt others, they would only find themselves repeatedly backstabbed.

“Do you think I’m cruel?” Cheng Yang asked while looking down at the suspect with hate-filled eyes.

“I don’t think you’re cruel.” Yu Kai replied with a wry smile, “I just can’t stomach the idea of doing such a thing to another human.”

The Priest stayed silent but was contemplating the question.

“You can’t stomach it even if he’s responsible for this disaster? For the deaths of your subordinates?” Cheng Yang asked. “He refuses even to deny that he’s involved, so how else are we supposed to figure out whos behind the attack? If we let them get away with it this time, Silkworm Mountain might face another crisis.”

“I think we should do it.” The Priest spat with disgust. As a Priest, he witnessed more deaths than any other class today even though he wasn’t on the frontlines.

“Ye Tao, you don’t have to agree. You aren’t going to be the one that has to do it.” Yu Kai said bitterly.

“I’m an Alchemist.” Ye Tao replied. “What do you want me to do? Harvest his nose hairs?”

Yu Kai sighed, then pulled out his skinning knife.

“Don’t think too badly of me.” Yu Kai told the suspect. “If you were willing to talk, I wouldn’t need to do this.”

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