[tags: chinese, fantasy, children, slow romance, school life]
A heroine character transmigrates and gets busy expanding her golden halo of MC-ness.
A villainess character transmigrates and gets busy changing her cannon-fodder fate.
A side character transmigrates and gets busy stuffing her bottomless stomach. She holds a divine sword in one hand and a little bun in the other. She’s obedient, adorable, incredibly clueless, and frustratingly tightfisted with her words. So what does she do when she spies a cute blond?
Feng Wu: “Please marry me!”
Ming Xi: …
A hilarious story about an overpowered airhead in a world reminiscent of Coiling Dragon. This particular tale has an interesting mash of tropes.
Summary Source: Novel Updates
“OK. OK. You weren’t crying, I was wrong.” If she said she wasn’t crying, then Xiao Yue wasn’t going to argue.
“Actually, if you want to feed your cub, you don’t have to use beast milk. The fruit trees here have milk fruit. They're delicious and are a favorite. Plus they are slightly magical, very suitable for young cubs to eat. If you want, I can help you get some.”
“Really? Thanks Xiao Yue! You’re really nice.” Feng Wu’s face broke out in a smile as the dilemma about milk was resolved. She could stop worrying about her baby’s next meal.
“The little cubs like to play in the center of the forest where the trees are. They'll prey on humans that venture there, so stay here while I go pick some fruits for you.” Feng Wu had made a good impression on Xiao Yue so Xiao Yue was willing to help her.
“Great! Then I’ll wait here for you.” Back when she was on Yuehua mountain with Master, the creatures also had their own territories. The beasts there would take the initiative to invite her to play so she was never in any danger, but this was a different place and the animals here weren’t familiar with her. It would be dangerous for her to enter without permission. Therefore regarding the forest, Feng Wu was going to do exactly as Xiao Yue instructed - that was to sit and wait patiently.
She didn’t wait long before she heard a loud roar nearby. Immediately thereafter she spotted Xiao Yue walking over. She dropped a bundle of medium sized fruits in front of her. The fruits had milky white rind and a fruity fragrance. She could faintly smell a hint of magic coming from them.
Feng Wu looked at the fruits with bright eyes. “These are awesome! Xiao Yue you’re amazing!”
“Go on, let your cub try it.”
Feng Wu selected a fruit at the top of the pile and asked, “How do you eat it?”
“It’s easy. Just break the skin with your nails then suck the juice out.”
Feng Wu did so, piercing the skin with her nails before placing it in front of little bun’s mouth. Sure enough, little bun greedily sucked the milk out of the fruit. Contrary to its small size, the fruit actually contained a lot of milk. So much so in fact that despite little bun’s large appetite, he couldn’t finish it.
Once little bun was full, she sampled some of the milk herself and quickly slurped up the remaining liquid. Unfortunately there wasn’t much left, only two mouthfuls. After finishing the milk, she looked over at the remaining pile of fruit and saw a new problem in front of her. “How am I going to transport all this fruit back home?”
“That’s no problem. Just use this.” Xiao Yue tossed a black oblong metal ring to her.
“Humans call this a storage ring. We magical beasts are born with an innate dimensional space, so we don’t need it. Take it, you can have it. You’ll need to give it a bit of your blood to register it as yours though.” Xiao Yue generously said.
Xiao Yue's father had picked the ring up some time ago when it was left behind by a grievously injured man. Then later when Xiao Yue was born, her father gave it to her as a toy to play with. Xiao Yue felt she was too mature for such a juvenile plaything, so she didn’t mind giving it away. It was something only humans would care about anyway.
That sounded really interesting to Feng Wu. She had never seen such a novelty before so proceeded to immediately experiment with it. After registering it with her blood she loaded not only the milk fruit, but much of the surrounding stones and flowers as well.
Meanwhile Auntie Lian was anxiously waiting for Feng Wu at the base of the mountain. She nearly went to the village chief to organize a search party after reading the note the young miss left. Just when she couldn’t bear it any longer an unexpected arrival showed up at her doorstep.
“Why are you here Steward Roda?” His sudden appearance surprised Auntie Lian.
The prestige of the Feng family was beyond her comprehension. Roda was a foreign steward of the Feng family. He had many responsibilities, one of which included managing the family’s business overseas. That a Feng family servant of such rank would appear was really strange.
“It was the old master who asked me to come. You have done well taking care of the young miss for such a long time. Her physical condition should be much improved by now. The missus needs you so the old master wants you back at the house immediately.”
“But the young miss is not back yet. I’m worried…” - “We can not wait. Let us leave.” Both Auntie Lian and Steward Roda spoke at the same time.
“This is an order from the old master. As a servant you only need to follow them.” Roda waved his hand as he spoke, not intending to let Auntie Lian continue speaking.
“But...” What about the young miss? She just gave birth a month ago and her milk production was too low to satisfy the little master, not to mention the little master was a picky eater with highly refined tastes in milk preferences! How could her heart be at ease if she left now?
“No! You can not stay. Go and pack your things now. The old master is awaiting our return.” Roda was aware of the situation, however as a servant, he was not qualified to have an opinion regarding the exiled young miss.
Roda’s shout scared Auntie Lian back to her senses, reminding her that she was just a servant and should not dare to question the old master. “Let me go pack and tidy up. I’ll leave a note for the young miss. Afterwards we’ll leave.” Auntie Lian couldn’t help but offer a compromise.
Roda stood silently waiting for her.
Taking Roda’s silence as tacit approval, she sighed in relief. At the very least she’d be able to leave a note of explanation. She could only hope that the young miss would be able to take good care of both herself and the little master.
The Feng family had been very emotional and upset with the young miss. Originally Auntie Lian was only supposed to take care of her for a month after her delivery, so she hadn't packed much to begin with. As a result, she finished everything within minutes and was able to write a note for the young miss. Once satisfied, she followed Roda and the two left the village together.
Feng Wu returned home with a ring full of gifts only to find the place empty and a note waiting for her on the table. In it Auntie Lian not only explained her abrupt departure, she also took care to let Feng Wu know that the Madam left a crystal card with a monthly allowance of 20 gold coins for her to use in order to cover her monthly living expenses.
Feng Wu blinked several times with a vacant look in her eyes. Auntie Lian was never coming back? It took a few seconds for her to absorb the shock. A pity. Even if the portions were a little small, she really liked Auntie Lian’s cooking! Young girls needed to eat well. She looked around the kitchen. Good thing the rice was already cooked. After eating and feeding little bun some more of the milk fruit, she went to sleep with little bun on the cot.
It was destined to be a bad day.
Indeed later that evening screams filled the night as the entire village lit up in flames. Desperate cries for help could be heard despite the chaotic din. Even Feng Wu, who usually slept like a dead log, was roused from her slumber. Little bun likewise was also awake and expressing his displeasure with loud wails and an extremely uncute and distorted face.
Feng Wu grabbed a few articles of clothing and dressed as fast as she could before heading outside. She peeked over the wall surrounding the house. The view was shockingly red, with blood and flames all around. She could see that the villagers were no match for the attackers attacking the village, despite this the men still tried their best to defend their homes.
These were clearly bad people using kung fu to commit evil deeds! Feng Wu was very quick in classifying them based on her Master’s teachings.
Her Master said that those who practiced the sword had to do their best to fight evil if they encountered it, however, he also said it was important to take into account one’s own ability. If the disparity in strength was too great, then it was better not risk it.
Feng Wu quickly took inventory of her body and realized her cultivation level was pathetically low. Previously her focus had been on healing her damaged meridians during childbirth. As a result it was only in the last few days that she started practicing martial arts and rebuilding her internal force. Considering the difference in strength between her and them… she would definitely lose. This realization depressed her, but she decided to obey Master’s edicts, which could be boiled down to two points: if you can’t beat them then hide, and if you can’t hide then run. In short, value your life!
Feng Wu ran back into the house to get packing. Looking around she decided to just sweep everything into her storage ring. You never know when something will come in handy! She pulled little bun up into the sling behind her back and was about to leave when her front door was kicked open with a loud bang.
“Oh, just my luck! To think I’d find such a hot babe slumming in the countryside. Definitely top quality goods here!” From the strong stench of death rolling of his body it was obvious he had a lot of blood on his hands.
“Hey little beauty, my name is Hei Si. Why not come with me? As long as you serve me well I promise not to hurt you.” He would sell her once he got tired of her. He was drooling just thinking about it and in his heart he was already calculating just how much she would bring in.
Feng Wu had the distinct feeling she was a fish on a chopping board. She couldn’t run if she didn’t try. Wasn’t her life and death in her own hands? It seemed like he didn’t notice little bun behind her, so that was a plus.
Although Feng Wu didn’t completely understand what he said, she did know that his eyes were annoying. “No. I don’t like you.” She especially didn’t like the way he was staring at her. He was definitely a bad person, the kind Master had warned her about. Her master had told her that if a person like him tried to touch her she should just kill him and run away. Master would definitely cover for her!
Is there something wrong with this girl’s head? Shouldn’t she be screaming, or begging for mercy? You know, the regular rigamarole. Why so calm? And then to randomly say out loud that she doesn’t like me. Whatever! Just sell you for the money then! “Come on, little missy it’s time to go. I don’t have all day here.” With that said he reached over to grab her.
The moment he stepped forward, she stepped back and pulled out a small sword from her ring. Immediately after she thrust forward with several quick slashes. The sword was incredibly sharp and light, making it very easy to handle. Feng Wu had found the sword a few days after giving birth and had instantly taken a liking to it. The sword originally belonged in the Feng house, but she snuck it out with her when she left.
Although it was not a sword made for killing, it nonetheless cut very smoothly.
Hei Si was able to dodge the first fatal blow because of his combat experience, but he was not so fortunate with the second slash, which whipped directly at his neck leaving behind a large gash. He knew in his line of work that death lurked around the ever corner, however, he really didn’t expect to by knocked out by a skinny little girl like her. Regardless what he thought, death was death and he breathed his last breath moments later.
Feng Wu jumped up and immediately closed the door, blocked it off and exited the house through the back. She slowly and stealthily made her way to the outskirts of the village. Once at the outskirts she was forced to stop as there were several bandits loitering around the perimeter.
With her current abilities she would be able to take down one or two, maybe even five or six, but a dozen? Not likely. She opted to change course and backtracked.
Her destination was an abandoned house near the outskirts. The villagers were afraid to use it because rumor was it was was haunted by the previous owners. The children were told to stay away from the house and not play near it. Even beggars didn’t venture over.
If she couldn’t run, then she best hide. Those were Master‘s instructions. What better place to hide then a place no one wanted to go to?
“Kill, kill them all! Leave none alive!
“No please! I beg you!”
“Please let my child go!”
Although Feng Wu clearly heard the woman’s cries over the sounds of looting and violence, she chose not to interfere. Master was very clear. If you don’t have a chance of winning, then don’t butt in. She knew her own strength so she tuned out the cries and continued sneakily forward to her destination.
Sure enough she couldn’t see a single person once she reached the yard of the abandoned house. She quickly found an empty well near the house that was suitable for hiding in. It looked dry and dark so it was the perfect camouflage in the inky night. After making up her mind she quickly jumped in.
Once inside, Feng Wu was amazed to find another person sharing the well with her. Although she couldn’t see much in the dark, she could tell the other person was a small boy. As for his appearance, she really couldn’t tell.
“Who are you?” In the month since she moved in she had obediently stayed in bed recuperating, following Auntie Lian’s orders. As a result, she really didn’t know any of the villagers.
The boy stared at Feng Wu with big curious eyes.
“My name’s Tian Ke. My dad was the best hunter in the village until he died. When he died my uncle took over our house and I was forced to leave. So I came here and have been living in the house for the past few months, relying on the villagers for some things... I remember now! You moved to our village last month. I saw you moving in.”
“Uh, sorry. Don’t recognize you.”
Tian Ke was just about to speak again when a loud wail broke out, scaring the bejesus out of him. “Huh? Where? Where is that sound coming from? That’s a baby’s cry!” Tian Ke could feel his heart thumping. He knew the villagers said the house was haunted, but he had stayed for so long and nothing bad had happened. To think there was really a baby ghost! They were the worst kind!
“Ah! Little bun.” Feng Wu heard the baby wailing and immediately felt around behind her only to encounter a wet diaper. She brought little bun into her arms, but that was far as she got.
Through the faint moonlight shining from above Tian Ke was able to see the outline of the baby in Feng Wu’s arms. Ah, thank goodness it wasn’t a ghost!
“Your younger little brother? I don’t remember seeing a little baby when you moved in.” Tian Ke scratched his head thinking that maybe he remembered wrong.
“No. This kid is mine.” Feng Wu had no doubts. This little guy was definitely her son and not her brother.
“Eh?! He’s yours? For real?!” How old is she, and to actually have a kid? Tian Ke couldn’t understand.
“Yeah. Mine.” Feng Wu nodded emphatically.
Feng Wu stared at the diaper. She’d never actually changed a diaper before. It was Auntie Lian who managed everything, from the cooking, housekeeping, to taking care of both her and little bun.
“What are you doing? Hurry and change his diaper. Otherwise it’ll get really stinky.”
Yes, there was definitely a smell. Although the diaper wasn’t heavy, the smell certainly was.
“No.” Now that there was no more Auntie Lian to handle matters, Feng Wu was at a loss. She could only look to Tian Ke for help.
“Uh…” Tian Ke looked at her big shiny eyes. “Here let me give it a try.” This sister… this is her baby and she doesn’t even know how to change its diaper?
Fortunately, Tian Ke had experience changing diapers from back when he helped take care of his uncle’s children. Everything proceeded smoothly and Feng Wu only needed to dispose of the soiled diaper. She shrugged and quickly tossed it into her ring.
“You know magic?!” Now it was his eyes that sparkled like huge shining saucers. Tian Ke was amazed to see the diaper disappear.
There wasn’t a single person on the continent that didn’t want to learn magic. Especially so because magicians enjoyed a great deal of prestige. They were very rare as the number of people with the qualifications were just too few! On top of that, those with qualifications were further divided into categories, distinguishing between levels in quality. Although people had the potential, the potential wasn’t always good. Don’t they normally live in the big cities? Why is she here? Tian Ke couldn’t help but be really excited by this development. This was a real live magician in front of him!
“No, I’m not a magician.” Feng Wu was very frank. The current Feng Wu was definitely not a magician and neither was the original owner of the body. Feng Wu had heard from Auntie Lian that this body had no qualifications to practice magic or wield the sword. The best way to describe her would be: a waste of a human being. Of course Auntie Lian didn’t say it exactly like that. She was much more tactful. Everyone else was not quite so generous though.
“Then how’d you get rid of the diapers?” Although Tian Ke’s excitement had dimmed he was still very curious.
“Dimensional tool.” Feng Wu only answered with these two words. Xiao Yue had warned her to be careful about revealing the storage ring to other people since they could become envious and do her harm. Aside from the items she took before leaving the village, there were also all the things from the previous owner of the ring. Although she didn’t have the chance to properly look at everything yet, she knew there was a great deal of inventory to go through. Her storage ring not only had a much larger capacity, it also had a much longer material life expectancy than a dimensional tool, lasting anywhere from ten to twenty years. Because of this she wasn’t too concerned about it failing anytime soon.
Tian Ke saw people in town with dimensional tools before so he was aware of how they worked. These kinds of things could be found all over the continent. The cheapest ones could be had for about ten coins and usually had a space of about five cubic meters. They normally only lasted for a year and were easily created by magicians.
They stopped whispering afraid the sound would attract attention. After another half an hour it became quiet outside It sounded like the massacre was almost over. One robber did enter the house but left after finding it empty. They could tell the robber torched it on his way out because they could see the reflections of the flames in the surrounding sky. Other than that, they didn’t have any close encounters. Eventually they were unable to make out any sounds from outside the well at all. It was quiet, but they didn’t dare leave just yet. Over time the adrenaline in their bodies subsided and they both collapsed upon realizing they were safe. The sound of their stomach rumbling made a distinct sound in the well though. Feng Wu touched her tummy and drooled thinking about all the delicious food Auntie Lian used to cook for her.
Wait what about all that food from Xiao Yue? Feng Wu promptly brought her spiritual force into the ring and brought out several fruits. She wasn’t stingy so of course she shared some with her new companion. Tian Ke’s face was slightly red in embarrassment from the sounds his stomach was making, however he promptly broke out in a grin at the fruit offering. Although his hunger was mighty, he didn’t forget his manners. He only bit into the fruit after whispering a few words of thanks. The juice gushed into this mouth overflowing and dribbling down his chin nearly choking him a bit.
Ah! So juicy! There was a milky aftertaste that he couldn’t quite identify. This must be high grade stuff! Tian Ke didn’t hold back and slurped the juice out of the fruit enthusiastically. This must be the stuff the talented people in the city eat. Can’t waste any! Thinking up to here Tian Ke didn’t stop until there was only a husk of a fruit left in his hands.
Eventually the night passed and a new day dawned. At around late afternoon Feng Wu risked climbing out of the well to take a look. All around her were charred remains and rubble. Even the land looked as though it was dyed red. Feng Wu stood gazing at the once familiar village with a complicated feeling in her heart. She held little bun in her arms as she stood looking at the scene, amazed at how much changed in just one night.
Shortly after Tian Ke used the pail rope to climb up as well. His reaction was stronger and more emotional than Feng Wu. This was the place he grew up and it was all he’d ever known. Now all of it was gone! Although his six year old heart was in turmoil he was wise enough to know he needed to move on. Being only six he knew he needed to cling to someone, and since Feng Wu was the only adult figure he had left, he was going to definitely cling to her!
“Xiao Wu,[notes] what are you going to do?”
After thinking for a moment she shook her head. Her house had been burned down and she had nowhere to go. She didn’t know where Auntie Lian lived either, so it wasn’t like she could ask her for help. What to do?
“Xiao Wu, why not go with me. I have an aunt that lives in Zhongyang city. She’s kind and nice. Not like my horrible uncle at all.” Thinking about his loving aunt made him want to cry. He suffered so much injustice from his uncle’s family after his father passed. He originally persevered because he wanted to wrest back his birthright from his uncle. Who would have thought that before he could grow up to do so his uncle’s family would perish, not leaving a single soul for him to claim his vengeance against. After losing his goal in life, he didn’t know what to strive for in the future. The only person he could count on was his aunt. He firmly believed that his aunt wouldn’t treat him with the disregard his uncle’s family had.
Should she go with Tian Ke? It was as good an idea as any other to Feng Wu’s mind. She agreed, and with little bun in her arms and Tian Ke by her side, the trio decided to leave the desolate village.
“How do we get there?”
“...I don’t know either. I only know that it’s far away from here.” Tian Ke answered after some thought.
Although they agreed on a destination, neither she nor Tian Ke knew how to travel to the city, or even where it was. Tian Ke only knew that Zhongyang city was very far away and was a long journey even by carriage. As for Feng Wu, she had absolutely no idea. Her soul had only stayed in this world for a little over a month and the farthest she ventured was the nearby mountains.
Tian Ke watched Feng Wu carefully. Since their destination was so uncertain he was afraid that she would abandon him. He didn’t want to travel alone!
Fortunately Feng Wu didn’t have such complicated thoughts. She only asked, “What should we do?” Although she was clearly the elder in the relationship, she was still asking a child to decide. Feng Wu’s thoughts were straightforward indeed. If she didn’t know, then she would ask. If she didn’t ask, then she’d never understand.
Tian Ke was a very bright child and after some thought came up with a plan. “Ah it’s simple. We go to the nearest city and find a map. From there we can set out properly.” He also realized that this older sister may not be so reliable after all...
The situation was made very clear to Tian Ke as they walked forward on their journey. He was a realistic child and quickly adapted after accepting the truth, and the truth was indeed very simple: Feng Wu was incompetent. Hungry? Well then it was time to hunt. Can Feng Wu do it? Not so well. Prep the game? No. Cook the game? No. After experiencing Feng Wu’s nearly lethal dark cooking “skills” he decided to take matters into his own hands. As a result all these tasks (including diapering duties) fell onto Tian Ke’s shoulders. Feng Wu’s only responsibility was to feed little bun, which she did very well!
It took three days of walking before they finally reached a town. “Xiao Wu how much money do you have?” Upon hearing her reply he asked the townspeople directions for the best lodgings available. There they paid for a room and promptly made themselves comfortable.
After getting two barrels of hot water for bathing, Tian Ke took hold of little bun and proceeded to wash the grime from his body. Little bun was too small to wash safely in the rivers they passed on their journey. They also had a hard time finding a private spot to bath properly as there were many other travelers on the road. As a result they had accumulated many days worth of grime and crud. After bathing they ate a meal prepared by the lady innkeeper. After feeling cleaned and full they decided to take a nap to re-energize.
Feng Wu had a change of clothing since she packed everything before leaving that night, however, Tian Ke did not have any luggage. Fortunately the innkeeper had a son who was slightly bigger than Tian Ke. She was more than happy to give them several sets of boy's clothing. Tian Ke was really grateful to have clean clothes to wear and so blabbered his thanks with a red blushing face.
News of the robbery and massacre of the village had spread so most people around the area knew of it. The innkeeper knew the children had to be survivors of the ordeal and so treated them with extra care. She made sure their meals were tastier larger than usual. Feng Wu had a good impression of the innkeeper and felt that she was a very kind person so she took the opportunity to ask how to get to Zhongyang.
Surprised the innkeeper said, “It’ll take several years if you go by foot. Using a beast carriage would shorten the time, but it will be much more expensive.”
One to two years?! That was much too long. “Is there no other way, a short-cut?” Feng Wu knew she needed money if she wanted to buy food, so she couldn’t risk spending it on a beast carriage ride.
“You want a short-cut?” The innkeeper frowned at this. “Come with me.” She brought Feng Wu over to the open door and pointed to a distant mountain range in the horizon asking, “Do you see those mountains over there?” Feng Wu nodded.
“That mountain range is called Magical Beast Mountain. If you cut through it you’ll be able to get to An Luo city straightaway. Once you’re at An Luo city, rent a flying beast and head east. It’ll cost twenty coins per head for the ride, and you’ll be able to get to Zhongyang much quicker... But young miss, going through that mountain is dangerous. As the name states, there are a lot of wild magical beasts living there. It’s not a good idea. If you’re really set on going through the mountain then I’d recommend hiring a good mercenary group to escort you across. Don’t you and your brother be foolish. Many have perished on that range every year...”
Internally Feng Wu was already swayed by the innkeeper’s logic. She had such an excellent poker face it was hard to discern what she really thought though. Because of this the innkeeper felt the need to keep explaining in hopes of persuading the young miss. Feng Wu was very well behaved and listened quietly.
Originally she just wanted the cheapest way to get to Zhongyang, but after listening to the innkeeper’s reasoning she felt her previous actions were short-sighted. The cheapest way would take too long! She knew from Auntie Lian that she would get twenty gold coins every month for her living expenses. She hadn’t touched her allowance for the month yet, and Auntie Lian had been frugal and saved all her allowance from the previous months. So in total she currently had 60 gold coins on her card. It would be more than enough to purchase fares for two people once they reached An Lou.
Feng Wu waited another fifteen minutes before the parched innkeeper finally stopped talking. She learned that Tianfeng was a large continent with numerous countries throughout. Instead of getting a map of each country individually she preferred to deal with just one continental map. So at the pause she grabbed the chance to ask where she could buy a map of the mainland. She was given a tip for a good shop to visit and a bit of information about her destination as well.
Zhongyang was unusual in that it was a self governed independent city, home of the temple’s headquarters. Because the city was rumored to be established by God, it didn’t belong to any specific country or territory. Most people living there typically had dark eyes and jet-black hair, although occasionally those with different characteristics would appear. In general these were usually foreigners or citizens with mixed blood.
Legend had it that the people in the Sacred Temple were all chosen by God. The chosen few were given special powers to fight against the onslaught of monsters and to defend the people and maintain peace on the continent. With such an astounding job description, how could these warriors not be adored and venerated by the public?
Aside from the Sacred Temple one other place of note was Xingguang Academy. The academy was the largest dual discipline school in the entire continent, teaching both magical and martial arts. Only the most talented magicians and sword masters made the cut and attended the school. Those who graduated were allowed to take a special assessment. If successful they were invited to join and be a member of the Sacred Temple. For those able to gain membership, it was a glorious thing.
Feng Wu wanted to purchase a generic continental map so she could calculate the most money-saving route while still taking safety into consideration. Based on the innkeeper’s suggestion, she went to a store specializing in groceries and was able to purchase one with five gold coins. Feng Wu looked at the map in her hand and gave a sigh. One meat bun only cost two copper coins. With five gold coins I’d be able to buy enough meat buns to last a long time. This map is so expensive! Although she was distressed about the cost she eventually got over it. Feng Wu was an easy-going girl who never let troubles or worries drag her down for too long.
“When do we leave?” Tian Ke was so excited that he couldn’t help but dance around Feng Wu. He placed little bun on the bed and let the baby be. Except for a picky appetite, little bun was a surprisingly calm and easy to take care of child. He rarely cried or fussed at all.
“Tomorrow, we’ll buy provisions then set off right after.” According to Feng Wu’s calculations the shortest route would be through the mountain range, just as the innkeeper had said. However she was not willing to hire mercenaries, instead she was going to rely on her own abilities to stay safe. Feng Wu didn’t have that much money. If a map cost five gold coins then… who knew what other expenses they could incur along the way. Penniless children couldn't afford to get hurt!
“We’ll hire a beast carriage in the morning then.” Tian Ke had never ridden in a beast carriage before so he was really excited at the prospect.
“We’re not hiring a beast carriage. We’re going to pass through from behind the mountain.” Feng Fu took a big bite of one of her meat buns after saying so. Mm…so fragrant, this is really to my tastes! Feng Wu decided to stock up on the buns and store them in her ring to eat later.
Tian Ke froze. Then he began to seriously think about what he just heard. He really wanted to understand, but it was beyond him. “No… that mountain is full of wild magical beasts. Just the two of us alone won’t make it.” That’s as good as committing suicide! He might only be six, but he was still smart enough to know that this was a foolish plan.
“Not true. There’s little bun. He makes three.” Feng Wu pointed to little bun laying on the bed busy making spit bubbles and gurgling nonsensical baby sounds.
Tian Ke didn’t feel that the baby should be counted…
Little bun glanced over at them with his big eyes. He seemed be asking, “Huh? What about me?”
“Well! Even if you add the baby, do you really think you can rely on him?! Just us won’t be able to make it out of the mountains alive!” Tian Ke didn’t think she was thinking it through properly.
He acknowledged that he was pretty mature for his age, however these few days spent with her really opened his eyes. Even if he didn’t use himself as a yardstick, she was still rather slow-witted! Now after their conversation his opinion dropped even further. She wasn’t just slow, she was actually really stupid! Tian Ke made a bun face.[notes] This sister! He had thought she was mature when he first met her in the well that night, now it was clear he was completely fooled by her.
“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely be able to protect you and little bun.”
In desolation Tian Ke hung his head. After traveling with her for so long he already knew that although she considered his opinions, once she settled on a decision she would not budge. In a way, he kind of admired that type of tenacious stubbornness.
“OK let’s just do it as you say.” Tian Ke was too defeated to argue. If both mother and son didn’t care, then who was he to make a fuss? He was such a minor character in this charade called life, might as well just follow her to the end!
Thus the three began their journey.Notes: Did you all notice the little tool tip? I was quite proud of myself for getting it to work. I’ll be using it for footnotes and images like in this chapter. Another update are the comment boxes. I got those to work beautifully too and are inserted into all the chapters that are live. Will work on the styling later, for now I’m satisfied. If I mess with it any more... I’m afraid I might break it and I don’t have the stamina to fix it now. So cheerio! Wishing you all a good weekend.
The next morning Feng Wu took Tian Ke and little bun to stock up on supplies. They purchased meat buns, cooked corn, rice, various seasonings and spices, bags of water skins, kitchenware, a large tent, a quilt, and a few other miscellaneous items. Aside from the spice, all her food stuffs were in the hundreds in quantity. Everything together totalled less than five gold coins. Fortunately her storage ring was spacious and could fit everything.
Tian Ke followed behind Feng Wu in a daze watching her shopping spree. It was obvious that she was really stingy with her money, what with how careful she was with their accommodations. But this Feng Wu was a complete one-eighty, spending money like there was no tomorrow. He felt he didn’t know her at all, as though he was lost in an alternate dimension. Fortunately they were soon finished and he could relax his spinning head.
Looking at the map, they could see that Magical Beast Mountain was the biggest mountain in the mountain range. It would take a long time to pass through it and reach An Luo city. There were no routes marked inside the mountain range itself, only routes leading to it. Perhaps this was because few people had the ability to leave the mountain successfully. Those that were strong enough may not have had the ability or the time to sketch a complete route. This meant that once they entered they would create their own route.
“Look. Why are there two kids here?” There was a mercenary group hunting low level beasts on the outskirts of the mountain. Someone noticed Feng Wu and Tian Ke, so had pointed them out to the others. They had not noticed small bun on Feng Wu’s back. The warmth of the sun was very comfortable and made little bun yawn, lulling him to sleep.
“From the looks of it, it looks like they are going into the mountains. They must be seeking death. Don’t know whose family they are from. These days children act so recklessly!”
The female mercenaries who were mothers themselves, couldn’t bear to stand by and let the children walk to their graves. A chorus of, “Hey kids! Don’t go into the mountains! It’s very dangerous!” rang out from various people.
Unfortunately Feng Wu didn’t realize they were talking to her, so she didn’t stop. Tian Ke knew, but he also knew that it wouldn’t have changed Feng Wu’s mind. Plus it wasn’t like he knew the people that were calling, so he also didn’t stop. The mercenary group continued calling until Feng Wu and Tian Ke disappeared from sight.
“They’re going to die if we don’t stop them.” A female mercenary frowned.
“You can’t control what other people do. If they want to seek death, then that’s their business. Besides, it’s not like they’re your children.”
“But they-” The female mercenary wanted to say more but was interrupted by the leader of their group.
“Say no more. We tried our best to warn them. That’s all we can do.”
Since their team leader made his stance clear no one else in the group dared say anymore regarding the children, instead they began to seriously search for low-level magical beasts.
Three months later...
Tian Ke couldn’t believe he was really standing in front of An Lou city gates. They made it through the mountain safely. Along the journey he realized Feng Wu was incredibly unusual. Although they encountered many ferocious high level magical beasts along the way, none attacked them. In fact, when they needed it she would even search for them and ask for directions! Some gave them directions while those with free time even escorted them. It was clear Feng Wu could communicate with them.
The experience completely upturned his world-view. Since he was born, he had always held the belief that magical beasts could not coexist peacefully with people, that it was a mutual relationship of destruction. People hunted magical beasts because their magical core was an essential ingredient for enchanting weapons, while magical beasts hunted and devoured human flesh because it increased their strength. This naturally led to a strong animosity between the two races. The “Feng Wu” experience contradicted this view and left a deep impression on him.
Tian Ke began to wonder if Feng Wu was from the legendary Imperial Beast Master division. The fabled division was supposed to be comprised of magicians who had the ability to tame and command wild magical beasts. This was called contracting with a magical beast. There were two ways to this. The first way was a contract of equal footing that required a wild magical beast’s consent. The magician needed to prove his or her worth by using strength to defeat and suppress the beast. Only then would the beast willingly submit to the authority of the magician.
The second method involved using an Imperial Beast Master as an intermediary. The beast would first be defeated by the master then forced to submit to a different magician. The level of the tamed magical beast needed to be considered so it would not overwhelm the receiving magician. This usually meant that it would be weaker than the magician, which in turn limited the growth potential of the beast.
Of the two, the first method was the best because the magical beast’s growth was not restrained by the level of the magician.
Tian Ke wanted to confirm his guess so he asked Feng Wu if she was a Beastmaster.
He didn’t believe her at first, but upon further consideration he realized there was no reason for him not to believe her. He’d been with her long enough to know that she wouldn’t lie. No that girl is too stu… ah… simple-minded to lie. If she didn’t want to answer she'd just stay silent. So since she answered, then she must be speaking the truth. Tian Ke couldn’t think of any other reasons why she would be so popular with the wild magical beasts though. Ah whatever! He decided to not bother with it anymore.
An Lou city bordered the ancient eastern countries on one side and Zhongyang on the other, because of this An Lou was a very prosperous city with a constant stream of people coming and going. The two gazed left and right looking at one house here, another house there, a carriage passing by here, a fancy dress on sale there, food stalls everywhere… Their eyes grew bigger and rounder with each new sight. The city was quite astounding! They realized that the hometown they originally thought was big was in fact quite small...
“Wow! It’s such a big city!” Tian Ke sighed in amazement.
“Pretty.” Feng Wu felt the city was very beautiful. In her previous life the farthest she had gone was the town under Yuehua mountain. She didn’t know such a bustling town could exist.
“Hey country bumpkins don’t block the road. Honestly acting as though you’ve never seen the world before. How disgraceful.”
Feng Wu and Tian Ke turned around and found a blue haired girl. Her hands were on her chest and she had a look of disdain on her face. It was obvious she was the one scolding them just then.
“Ugly girl. You’re a bumpkin, your whole family are bumpkins!” Although Tian Ke was embarrassed he was also angry.
“Stupid kid! How dare you speak to me like that. Do you know who I am?!” Her agitation caused her chest to heave up and down, creating quite a spectacle for the men around. They ogled her with wide eyes and drooling mouths.justreads: Changing the world one
Feng Wu experienceat a time.
An Lou was known as the ancient city of the east, and like Zhongyang the people usually had dark hair and eyes. Based on the girl’s hair color and looks she was definitely not a native or a person of mixed descent, therefore she could only be a foreigner.
Her outfit and accessories screamed “rich girl” from a mile away. She had on a gorgeous dress accentuated with a lustrous string of pearls at her neck. While at her wrists lay bangles made from a mixture of golds and gems. Even her hair ornaments were bedazzled! So bright! So blinding! And as if that wasn’t enough, to further highlight how rich she was her belt wasn’t just an ordinary belt, but rather a dimensional belt. It was obvious nothing on her was ordinary. This left Feng Wu quite speechless. Onlookers who knew the girl’s mother felt sympathy for the two youths, however none made a move to intercede. They all knew that the girl’s mother was a local tyrant and messing with her would only bring trouble.
“Eh? You don’t know your own name?” Feng Wu asked confused. The people around here are really strange. They don’t even know who they are. If she didn’t know who she was, then as strangers she and Tian Ke were even less likely to know.
“Hahaha!” This question caused the onlookers to laugh out loud, even Tian Ke beside her couldn’t hold it in.
Feng Wu really was asking in all sincerity so she couldn’t understand why everyone was laughing.
“You! You’re courting death!” Ai Li couldn’t believe that these two country bumpkins would dare to actually verbally taunt her. This made her, who had always had a high opinion of herself, feel stifled in her heart. No one had dared give her sass before! She reached into her belt and pulled out a wand.
“A magician! That girl is a magician!” The crowd exclaimed in awe.
“Heavens! Those siblings offended a magician!” said another.
“Ay yi yi, they’re doomed!”
None thought the two had a chance.
“Do you want to fight?” Feng Wu looked at the girl and the wand confused.
“Tch! What nonsense! Get down on your hands and knees and beg for forgiveness. Then maybe this great lady will have mercy on you.” Ai Li haughtily waved her wand in Feng Wu’s direction. She felt a strong sense of superiority and that things were right with the world again. In her eyes the two siblings were but mere insects. The fact that she was even giving them this chance to admit their mistake and apologize was already incredibly generous of her.
Tian Ke was nervous. He wasn’t sure what Feng Wu’s skill level was, but since the opponent was a magician, it was better to play it safe. If he’d known earlier he would have just swallowed the insult and turned the other cheek.
Because magicians were so few and far in between, those who appeared garnered a lot of respect. Unlike normal people, some were even directly conferred titles simply for existing and were exempt from having to pay taxes. They were only required to stand by the empire and assist should the empire need them. Now such a magician was standing in front of Tian Ke. Although he didn’t know what her rank was, she was still a magician, and that was enough to make him nervous and scared. His temper not only created problems for him, it also brought trouble to Feng Wu and little bun. Tian Ke was full of regrets.
Feng Wu furrowed her brow at the girl’s words. “Do you mean to say that you want to fight?” Master had told her that she was not allowed to use her martial arts to bully ordinary people, however it was a different story if the other party picked a fight. In that case she was free to do as she wished. Now a girl she’d never met before had taken out a magical wand and was brandishing it like a weapon in front of her. Feng Wu wasn’t one hundred percent sure so she sought clarification.
“Fight?!” You dare to even make such a suggestion?” Ai Li sneered with disdain. Clearly this bumpkin didn’t even know the proper hierarchy, to act so recklessly in front of a noble magician, please. In the end Feng Wu just wasn’t sure! The people here talked a lot but their words were so unclear. “So… do you want to fight?”
“You’re courting death!” Ai Li had never seen such a stupid girl before, to not understand and appreciate her generosity but instead stubbornly persist in ignorance. She had truly underestimated the denseness of a country bumpkin’s mind! How dare this girl take her so lightly. It was tantamount to looking down on her. Ai Li opened her mouth and began to sing a song, intending to cast a fire spell. She would make this girl suffer and understand her insignificance.
Feng Wu felt the air fluctuate as soon as the song began. An energy wave was building up, ready to burst forth. Feng Wu was too lazy to bring out a weapon, instead she stepped right up to Ai Li and pressed a finger to an acupuncture point. Immediately the song stopped and Ai Li’s face flushed red.
She couldn’t believe it. “How is this possible?!” She barely started and she already lost? Although An Lou city didn’t prohibit fighting, it did prohibit grievously harming and straight out murdering others, so at least she didn’t have to worry about that.
“Let me go! My father is the head of the Ai Ma business association. Touch me and he’ll never let you go.” Having lost, the only thing she could think of to prevent further humiliation was to bring up her illustrious father.
Unfortunately for Ai Li Feng Wu had only recently come to this world. She was completely ignorant of the power structure and had no idea she was supposed to be intimidated.
“She’s the daughter of the headmaster of the Ai Ma business association. No wonder...” A middle aged woman standing in the crowd had an odd look on her face as she spoke.
“Hush! Do you want to die?! Remember where you are!” She was quickly shushed by the man beside her.
The woman came back to her senses and furtively looked around. She was relieved to see that no one had noticed her comment.
Ai Ma raked in huge profits every year from their various business ventures. In fact they were the largest international business association in many countries, including some in the east.
Everyone watching realized the seriousness of the trouble the siblings were in. Since the girl was the daughter of such an influential person there were bound to be repercussions.
“Let’s go.” Feng Wu grabbed Tian Ke’s hand and began to walk away. She didn’t get far before a scream sounded from behind.
“Hey! Come back here and release me this instant!” There was no mistaking it. The girl Ai Li engaged was not afraid at all. Never mind asking for forgiveness, she wasn’t even going to release Ai Li from her paralysis. It wasn’t only Ai Li that was confused, the crowd was also dumbfounded. What was this girl thinking just walking away?
Feng Wu spoke from over her shoulder saying, “The pressure point should release after half an hour.”She kept walking while behind her Ai Li kept screaming. It was no use though for no matter how hard Ai Li screamed, Feng Wu’s back just kept getting smaller and smaller as she walked farther and farther away with Tian Ke in hand and little bun on her back.
After leaving Ai Li behind they asked about flying beast transport. Some nice people gave them directions and they found the place easily. There they saw huge beasts with house like structures a top their backs. The houses were split into two floors with twenty rooms on each floor. There were different levels of accommodations ranging from singles, doubles, triples, quadruples, to the cheapest common rooms. The common rooms could sleep ten people and were the ones Feng Wu had her eye on. She went to the ticket counter and spent 40 coins to purchase two tickets to go to Zhongyang.
“Wow! This flying beast is huge! It can even carry a house on its back.” Tian Ke excitedly pointed to a flying beast standing in the terminal. He had heard about them before. In fact he had planned to play tourist and visit all the different countries on one after he became a great sword master. Unexpectedly, before he even grew up he was already flying in one! It felt like a dream. He pinched his arm hard. Nope definitely not a dream. He couldn’t stop giggling in joy, causing some onlookers to give him a wide berth.
“Zhongyang! Those going hand in your tickets to board!” Staff members already on top of the beast dropped down a ladder and shouted to the crowd. Feng Wu and Tian Ke headed over and climbed up the ladder when it was their turn. At the top they met the person who had made the announcement earlier. “Two to Zhongyang?” The staff member greeted them with a professional smile.
Feng Wu handed in her two tickets saying, “Yes. We want to go to Zhongyang. Here are our tickets.”
After verifying the ticket the staff member let them through, giving them directions to the common rooms. “The common rooms are mixed genders so the young miss may want to consider upgrading to a double room.”
Feng Wu thanked the staff for his consideration but continued towards the direction he had pointed. With a small bun on her back and a bigger bun by her side, Feng Wu entered the common room.
Inside were four men, three of whom were engaged in conversation. The moment they saw her walk in they stopped talking and looked at her. Were they seeing wrong? Why was a girl here? Because it was a mixed gender room few ladies ever bought tickets for these rooms, never mind a young girl like her.
“Did you mistake your room?” One of men asked her. He was careful to smile and gave a hearty laugh, trying his best to look friendly and not scare her. Because of the gruesome scar on his cheek people tended to be afraid of him.
“Stop laughing man! Your laughter is terrible. You’re gonna scare the kids,” came the voice of another. He was also laughing though.
“It’s not,” said the first man.
“No, there’s no mistake.” She showed them the tickets in her hand so they could see the room allocation.
After seeing that the kids had come to the right room, the men were at a lost. They glanced at each other with a puzzled expression. “It really is the right room. Hm. Well little girl you sleep over there in the corner. Your brother can sleep next to you. It’ll be more convenient that way.” It was the man with the scarred face that spoke up. This was a decent gesture on his part and clearly showed that the men didn’t have evil intentions towards the children.
“Yeah. You two sleep in the corner. Us three will sleep next to this other brother over here. That way it’ll be like a wall.”
“Well this arrangement is good,” spoke the third person.
Tian Ke nodded in agreement. These men don’t seem to be bad people. It’ll be best to have the stu… er silly Feng Wu sleep on the inside since she’s a girl. Feng Wu also thought it was a good idea. Although she didn’t know the three men, they seemed to be good people.
The other people who purchased tickets for the room slowly filtered in. It was unusual for kids to appear in the common room so they inevitably attracted attention. There were those with malicious intentions who wanted to bully them, but fortunately the beds near Feng Wu and Tian Ke were already taken by the good men from earlier. Those that wanted to cause them trouble were in the minority, most people there were good folks who were just curious about the children. A few even went over and struck up a conversation with them.
“So you’re Feng Wu and you’re Tian Ke. Are you siblings?”
“No we are friends.” Feng Wu didn’t think the question was intrusive so she answered frankly.
“Then are the two of you going to Zhongyang to apply for Xingguang Academy?” asked another passenger.
“No Tian Ke’s aunt lives in Zhongyang. We’re going to see her.” This was also another unimportant question so Feng Wu quickly answered it as well.
Questions like these she answered readily, however when it came to questions related to her family she remained silent. It was not that she didn’t want to answer, it was just that she didn’t know the answer herself. Since she hadn’t inherited the memories of the original Feng Wu and Auntie Lian wasn’t there to ask, she really couldn’t answer. The people were not put off however. She appeared to be a clever and cute child, plus her serious and earnest way of answering was very endearing. The group of men thought she was adorable and looked upon her kindly. There was however one person in the group that looked at her with barely veiled lewd eyes. He stared at her from head to toe without missing an inch.
In the midst of the lively conversation a foul smell drifted into the air.
“Eh?! Who farted?!” The crowd of people covered their noses trying not to breath in the stench.
“Man it stinks!”
“Mother! Who let it rip?”
“Wah! Wah!” a baby’s wail suddenly punctured the air.
“Where is that cry coming from?” someone asked, looking around trying to find the source of the sound.
“Did someone come here with a baby? I didn’t notice.”
“Did anyone see?”
“Ah! It’s the baby that stinks.” Feng Wu reached behind her back and slowly pulled little bun to the front.
The three men who were there first knew she had a bundle behind her back. But the later arrivals didn’t. By the time the other passengers entered the room she had already moved to the corner with her back to the wall. Because of this they were unable to see little bun behind her.
“Is that child your brother?” someone couldn’t help but ask.
Feng Wu handed a diaper over to Tian Ke fully expecting him to take over.
Feng Wu answered seriously, “No he’s my son.” Other than Auntie Lian, little bun was the closest relative she had so she didn’t like other people misunderstanding their relationship
“Son?!” The three men from earlier were shocked. This young miss was a mother? Their surprise nearly shook the roof.
“Hey it’s too noisy in here. Keep it down.” A red-haired teen promptly commanded as he entered the room. It wasn’t just his hair that was red, even his eyes were a crimson color. The red colored pants he wore only added to the image of a fireball disguised as a person. Oddly enough he still looked good with clean clear skin, fine features, and a respectable height of 1.7 meters (5.5'). Sometimes beauty can over power even the poorest of fashion choices.
Beautiful or not, the crowd was still angry that he crashed their room. Who was this kid? Didn’t he know it was impolite to casually enter someone else’s room? Someone finally asked him who he was.
“I’m a ticketed rider for this room obviously. Or do you all not believe me?” His brow wrinkled after sniffing the room. Ugh these people urinating everywhere. Disgusting! There's just no order here. Glancing around the room again he noticed a cute dark haired girl in the corner. The white dress she had on gave her a charming appearance and made others looking at her feel very nice.
Of course what she looked like wasn’t the important thing, the important thing was that she was here at all. He went through great pains to travel incognito, not even daring to book a single room. He knew those annoying women would find him out instantly if he did, thus the common room situation. If it weren’t for the fact that he was positive no one knew his route, he would have thought she lodged in the common room specifically to hinder him. If anyone found him, it would be over and he’d have to give up and admit defeat.
“Are you really a lodger here?” someone dubiously asked. He wasn’t the only one that felt this was hard to believe. Others also felt that with his temperament, he was not the type to travel cheaply.
“What? I can’t be here?” an unhappy Jier[notes] asked.
The crowd didn’t say anymore. However this kid wanted to live his life was none of their business. It was just that his attitude was really annoying and made them itch to hit him.
“Hey woman! What are you doing here?” Jier hollered. Females were a nuisance, trouble, and a hassle. He disliked them immensely!
Feng Wu was used to the surprise people had when they saw her in the room. She assumed he was just checking to see if she belonged in the room so she took out her ticket and displayed it in her hand.
This incensed Jier even more. What the hell!? She refuses to even speak? “You can’t talk or something? I ask you why you’re here and instead you show me your ticket?”
Feng Wu looked up at him. She thought the other person would just read the ticket and understand but it seemed like the poor boy couldn’t read.
“What’s with that look?” Jier was not mistaken. The look she gave him clearly said she thought he was was an idiot. This realization made him even angrier. He was not the kind of person to hold in his anger or the kind of person to differentiate between men and women - if he wanted to teach someone a lesson then he was going to do so regardless gender. The look he saw in her eyes was clearly a challenge, and although he wouldn’t kill her, he would definitely teach her a lesson. He chanted a spell and a fireball appeared in his hand. He aimed it right at Feng Wu.
The speed was so fast no one had time to react. The other passengers could only lament in their hearts that such a pretty girl’s life would be snuffed out by such an intense fireball. Everyone was shocked when they saw Feng Wu draw a sword from her palm. She raised it and blocked the fire with the blade. To their further shock they watched as the fireball completely dissipated! All this happened within the space of seconds. It turned out these two young people were masters!
No one could have imagined that such a cute and adorable girl would have such amazing fighting abilities, to even destroy a fireball in midair!
“You bully! You’re a bad person! How dare you bully Xiao Wu!” Tian Ke put little bun down on the bed and rushed at Jier. Even if the other person was twice his size Tian Ke was not about to back down. This person was clearly a bad person. That he would dare bully Xiao Wu was unforgivable. Since he was traveling with her, he had to do his best to protect her!
Jier saw that Tian Ke was just a munchkin so he really didn’t bother too much, only exerting a force field a meter away. No matter how hard Tian Ke tried, it felt like he was hitting soft fabric, no damage whatsoever.
“You are surprisingly strong. With that kind of strength do you intend to test into Xingguang Academy?” Jier touched his chin thoughtfully. This girl is slightly interesting.
In the meantime Tian Ke was still trying his best, rushing Jier several more times to no avail. He just couldn’t break through the other’s defense! He could only hate the other person in his heart. Finally after giving Jier a ferocious glare he returned to Feng Wu’s side.
“No we’re looking for someone.”
“You’re really not going to the Xingguang Holy Academy? You should be able to test in with your abilities.” He initially thought the other person was in the same freshman class as him. To think the person didn’t intend to test at all was a surprise. To think someone with such strength would so foolishly not utilize it was a mystery to him.
“Why should I go to this Xingguang Holy Academy?” Although she had heard this name before she didn’t know anything about it.
“Well to learn magic of course! Based on your skills and weapon, you must be a sword master. As long as you pass the entrance examination the academy will provide you with lots of learning opportunities and resources. You’ll be able to advance your sword skills for sure. Isn’t that good?” What rock has this girl been living under, to not know what the academy is…
The scene was surreal to the onlookers. They’d just witnessed what looked like a fight to the death between the two, and now within the space of minutes, they were chatting very politely to with each other. The politely part was what really amazed everyone.
Sword skills? Master already taught me those. “Don’t wanna go.” She shook her head. She had Master and Master had already taught her lots.
“Well whatever, your loss,” the teenage boy muttered to himself.
Feng Wu didn’t understand why he would say this.
“Xiao Wu, don’t bother with this guy. He just wants to pick a fight.” Tian Ke couldn’t stand it anymore. He couldn’t keep watching as this villain tried to deceive Feng Wu.
Feng Wu blinked. “Hm? I don’t understand.” Since the other party didn’t attack with murderous intentions Feng Wu didn’t feel a need to be hostile.
“Never mind, it’s too late now.” Tian Ke rolled his eyes upward. This girl could be too dense and honest at times.
An employee came in and told everyone to get ready for take-off, to brace themselves so they wouldn’t fall over. Everyone returned to their places and Feng Wu held onto little bun. There were no seat restraints so without proper care and balance it was easy for people to fall and injure themselves. The red-haired teenager didn’t bother since he was a martial artist. He went to a corner and stood to the side out of the way, staring at the little bun in Feng Wu’s arms.
Little bun looked adorable with his peachy skin, puffy cheeks, and red glistening lips. He was nestled in Feng Wu’s arms with small dribbles of spit bubbles coming out the side of his mouth.
People started to move about after the descent was complete and the ride smoothened. Jier went over and poked at the little guy teasingly. “Your brother?” Back at home he was the youngest child so this was his first time seeing someone so small.
“He is my son.” Feng Wu answered.
“Yours?!” Jier exclaimed in shock staring at the drooling baby in her arms. “You mean to say you gave birth to him?”
“Yea.” Feng Wu nodded.
Tian Ke nodded in commiseration. He too was shocked that day in the well when she told him.
The other passengers nearby overhead the conversation and remembered they were discussing this earlier before the red-head interrupted them with his entrance. They tilted their heads and paid attention to the conversation.
“So you’re married?!” What were her parents thinking forcing her to marry and have a child at her age? Jier complained against Feng Wu’s parents in his heart, thinking that they were very irresponsible parents.
“No.” Feng Wu shook her head.
“No?” Jier wanted to ask for clarification but upon noticing how the people around them were quiet and seemed to be listening in, he decided to stop instead. This was a personal matter after all. Whether or not she was abandoned as a result of misfortune was not something he could ask in public. It was most inappropriate of him to probe about her private matters with so many ears around.
He asked, “Are you hungry? Want some chicken?” and pulled a big roasted chicken leg out from thin air. His smile was so dazzling it temporarily made Feng Wu dumb.
When she came to she sniffed and sniffed. The chicken smelled delicious! “Thank you!” After saying that she promptly took the chicken and took a huge bite out of it.
Tian Ke was drooling. It looked delicious and he did want some as well, but he refused ask for some. He still remembered how this villain had attacked Feng Wu.
“Want some?” Jier held out another piece to Tian Ke.
Tian Ke looked… and looked some more. He swallowed a big mouthful of saliva. Fine! Forget it. Whatever. I’ll forgive you this one time! But if you dare mess with Xiao Wu again I’m gonna beat the crap out of you. Tian Ke had quickly forgotten the gap in strength between them. He reached over and grabbed the chicken greedily.
“Wah! Wah!” Little bun was hungry and wanted to be fed too!
“Hm? Hungry?” Feng Wu held the chicken leg in one hand and little bun in the other.
“Ah! Ah!” The little guy waved his chubby hands around.
Feng Wu knew this little guy really liked to eat. She looked at her hand and the chicken thigh that was in it, then she looked at Tian Ke’s hand and the chicken thigh that was there. It only took a second for her to decide. She turned resolutely to Jier, placed little bun in his arms and said, “Feed my baby.”
“What?” Jier reflexively gripped the baby tightly afraid he’d drop him, then fearing he’d squish the baby he loosened his grip, then afraid of dropping him he tightened his grip, then loosened then tightened. Finally at his wits end he asked, “You’re OK with giving your baby to a stranger!?” This girl, her sense of vigilance is just too low! How’d the little guy manage to stay alive till now?
“How are you considered a stranger?” The teenager in front of her gave her a warm feeling, like a tiny shining sun. It made her feel very nice.
Feng Wu lived a very simple childhood on Yuehua Mountain. It was basically her, Master, and a bunch of animal companions. There were no other people around, never mind other children her own age. She never felt lonely though, having Master was enough. However, this lack of human interaction meant she didn’t know how to interact and make friends with other people. She could only use her feelings as a compass to move forward.
Although she didn’t understand the finer points of human interactions she did interact a lot with the animals on the mountain. Because of this she was very sensitive and was able to intuitively know when someone meant her harm. When he threw the fireball at her earlier, although it was fierce, there was no killing intent behind it. It was similar to what the animals on the mountain did. They would attack one another in play, testing each other’s strength.
Jier was speechless. He nearly bowed down to her. It can’t be easy being so stupid. “At the very least you should know the other person’s name.” Jier felt he should teach her a little so she wouldn’t be deceived in the future.
“What’s your name?” Feng Wu was an adaptable and quick learner.
“My name is Jier.”
“My name is Feng Wu. Hmph. Now we’re not strangers.” As she said this she pulled a milk fruit out and held it out to him.
Jier immediately recognized it. Magical cubs love this stuff! He was really surprised that Feng Wu had such a valuable item. Because it was slightly magical it was easily absorbed by newborns, so feeding it to them was very beneficial. The taste was also very sweet and delicious. However because the fruit was so hard to get its market price was very high. It was hard to find and even harder to pick. Most grew in Magical Beast territory making it incredibly hard for normal mercenaries to enter and leave alive.
Jier took the fruit and together with Feng Wu managed to feed little bun. Little bun was bigger now so his appetite had grown. At this point he could finish half a medium fruit on his own. Before he was only able to eat most of a small one.
After that they moved the middle aged man’s bed out and pulled Jier’s bed over next to Tian Ke’s. The three men from before had originally put their beds around the kids to keep them safe, but it seemed they had made friends with the red-head. The men initially had a bad impression of him, but after watching the three interact they saw that he didn’t have malicious intentions towards Feng Wu. Their minds were at ease so they moved aside without raising a fuss.
The common rooms normally slept ten. Because most people were strangers it was important to be on alert and be vigilant about their surroundings. Feng Wu had no such concern. She fell asleep immediately with little bun in between her and Tian Ke. Changing diapers was Tian Ke’s responsibility. Fortunately, little bun was a very well behaved baby and slept through most of the night. Even when he peed and needed a diaper change he didn’t wail. Instead he would make small mewling noises like a cat and smack his chubby hands against Tian Ke’s face until the boy woke up.
Ha… even the baby knew his mother was unreliable.
That first night passed peacefully, there was only the occasional baby gurgles and quiet chatter.
The next morning everyone got up early as they were all too lazy to stay in bed. Feng Wu stretched out her arms and legs then packed her quilt up. This particular quilt was actually provided by the transport company. After every use it would be laundered before being returned to the passengers.
A light breakfast of black bread was also provided free of charge. Of course better fare was also available for purchase. Many people made their way down to the dining room to eat. The three men from before invited Feng Wu and her group to join them but were refused. Feng Wu still had a lot of food in her storage ring and Jier wasn’t interested in the food there. He took out several pieces of sausages from his own dimensional space item, spreading a roasted aroma throughout the room. He shared them with Feng Wu and Tian Ke. Feng Wu also took out her meat buns and the three had a lovely breakfast of sausages and meat buns together in the common room.
Little bun had been fed earlier by Tian Ke so he was not hungry. Instead he was looking around him with big wide eyes having a great time from the sounds of his giggling.
“I have to use the bathroom.” Tian Ke said with a red face.
“Do you know where it is?” Feng Wu asked Jier.
This was their first time on a flying transport and they didn’t know where the bathrooms were located.
“We can all go together.” Jier picked up little bun and went to the bathroom with Feng Wu and Tian Ke.
The bathrooms were in fact not that far from their room. Following the corridor led them directly there. Tian Ke saw the sign for the bathroom and immediately rushed in with a look of resolute restraint on his face.
Feng Wu told Jier, “You, go with my baby.”
Feng Wu nodded at little bun silently telling him to behave before going into the ladies’ bathroom herself.
After watching Feng Wu walk in Jier said, “OK it’s you and me little guy,” and together went into the men’s bathroom with little bun.
Four girls entered the ladies’ shortly after. They went to the sink and stood in front of the mirror washing their hair. “Alan Duo,[notes] for the entrance exams for Xingguang Holy Academy, how confident are you?” one of the girls name Mi Li asked.
One girl jumped in with, “That’s a stupid question. It’s Alan Duo we’re talking about here. Her genius ranks at the seventh level. If you want to worry about someone, you should worry about yourself.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Mi Li said in her own defense. “I’m not worried about her passing. It’s just that I heard Lan Mo from Loulan Academy will be taking the entrance exams this year too. Aren’t you worried?”
It was natural to compare the two girls. Both had the same type of family background, were considered beauties, had numerous pursuers at their respective schools, excelled academically, and shared the same stubborn temperament and competitive streak. This inevitably led to many battles between the two. Add to that the fact that the two schools, Loulan Academy and Baixing Academy were rivals, and the two almost always sparked when they met. Since both were taking the exams at the same time, naturally it would be a competition between the two.
Ai Lu immediately took the opportunity to speak out. “Sister Mi Li, why are you worried about Alan Duo losing? Do you have so little confidence in her?”
Although the three girls hung out with Alan Duo, they couldn’t be classified as friends. Her social level was far superior. Instead they were more like subordinates or cronies, with all three on about the same level. They were fiercely competitive with one another, constantly trying to vie for the top position and win Alan Duo’s favor. Thus they tried to snipe at each other whenever possible, which explained why the girls were so quick to deride Mi Li when she expressed doubts about the exam.
Mi Li knew it was too late when she heard Ai Lu speak. They all knew Alan Duo only presented an image of sophisticated aristocracy. In reality she was a ruthless and narrow minded person.
Sure enough Alan Duo turned on Mi Li with cold eyes.
“No… That’s not what I meant. I was worried Lan Mo would use underhanded means to interfere with you. I just wanted to remind everyone to be careful, that’s all. Other people might think Lan Mo is kind and gentle, but we know better. She pretends like she doesn’t have a care in the world when in reality she loves to fight with Alan Duo.
And you know she schemes. Remember that time when the strings on Alan Duo’s piano broke during the recital? I checked it out. Someone saw Lan Mo’s maid talking to the staff. I don’t know what was said, but Lan Mo was cleared of all suspicions. Of course you know I don’t believe it.” Mi Li had been with Alan Duo for a long time so she knew what to say to placate her.
Sure enough after listening to Mi Li’s explanation Alan Duo’s expression turned thoughtful. She looked like she was thinking it over. “Did someone really see Lan Mo’s maid make contact with the judge?” Although she phrased it as a question she already fully believed it in her heart. She didn’t expect Mi Li would find out something so useful.
She had felt that something was wrong when her piano strings broke, but since she had no proof she couldn’t accuse Lan Mo. Even now two months later she still didn’t have any evidence. That was OK though, the important thing was knowing the identity of the person involved. Lan Mo, just you wait.
Mi Li immediately nodded her head when she heard Alan Duo’s question. In actuality the real culprits were the three girls themselves. They had accidentally dropped the piano when they transported it from the carriage to the venue, damaging the strings in the process. They were too afraid to tell Alan Duo about it and so had unanimously kept quiet. Fortunately for them, Alan Duo had her own thoughts on the matter and had not suspected them at all.
As for the maid Mi Li mentioned, well she was indeed there. Whether or not she was there to influence the staff, she had no clue. No matter how you looked at it though, it still looked shady. Why let your personal maid talk to the staff unless you were up to something?
Ai Lu and Yali exchanged looks. They knew Mi Li was lying about the piano strings since they were the guilty ones. Although they wanted to expose her they weren’t so foolish as to shoot themselves in the foot over it. Just chalk it up as a lost opportunity.
They decided to go along with it adding their two cents in, saying how Lan Mo only looked innocent, but who knew what deviousness lay in her heart? They were just getting started with their spiel when the sound of a toilet flushing came from behind them.
All the toilets in the carriage were engraved with arrays making them flush automatically. No matter how heinous, the air would remain clean and unpolluted thanks to the specially made waste receptacles that grabbed the offensive odors before it floated away from the toilet bowl.
Feng Wu came out of the stall after the toilet finished flushing. She went straight to the sink to wash her hands. Then she dried them and was about to head out when a shout came from behind her.
“Hey! Come back here!” To think this girl was ignoring them. When Yali saw this she couldn’t help but fiercely shout out to her.
Feng Wu turned around. Did they need something?
“Who told you to eavesdrop on us? Are you Lan Mo’s subordinate?!” The girls surrounded Feng Wu intending to bully her into submission. This was something they often did at school so they were quick in getting into formation.
“I don’t know Lan Mo and I wasn’t eavesdropping on you.” Feng Wu watched the girls carefully as she explained.
“Oh, not eavesdropping? Then why did you secretly hide for so long not say anything? If that’s not eavesdropping, then what is?!” Mi Li smirked. Whether or not this girl knew Lan Mo didn’t matter, the fact that she overheard them was enough to seal the deal. Alan Duo wouldn’t let her leave alive.
“I wasn’t hiding. I was doing my business. Besides, I was here first.” She felt these people were being unreasonable.
“To dare talk back, you need to be taught a lesson!” Ai Lu pulled out her long sword and swung it at Feng Wu, not bothering to use any special techniques. She was top ten in her class for swordsmanship, why would she need to bother with a shrimp like her? Just striking the other party dead with brute strength would be enough.
Feng Wu felt the murderous intentions behind the strike and it surprised her. Why would the other party want to kill her? She ducked to the side and avoided the hit. Had it landed it would have struck her eyes, surely blinding her. This made her angry. She swiftly pulled out her own sword and parried the next strike. Then she kicked Ai Lu in the chest. She made sure to kick extra hard imbuing her strike with internal force.
The kick was so fierce it slammed Ai Lu into the wall making her cough up several mouthfuls of blood before slumping unconscious.
Feng Wu had been diligently practicing her lessons to rebuild her internal force. As a result she had successfully repaired up to the third level. She wasn’t sure what her fighting skills were compared to others in this world, but she was definitely stronger than the girl in front of her. This girl’s attack was like a child’s, slow and weak.
“Ai Lu!” Mi Li and Yali screamed while running over to Ai Lu.
“You, how barbaric!” Alan Duo, who had been silently watching the drama play out, finally spoke. Beating a dog without finding out it’s owner first was the same as slapping the owner’s face. This girl had better be prepared to pay the price.
“She wanted to kill me.” Feng Wu calmly spoke. To those that struck with killing intentions, she would never show any mercy. The only reason Feng Wu was unhurt was because the other party didn’t have the capabilities, otherwise she would surely have been killed.
Alan Duo thought such a simple matter could be handled by the other girls. Who knew the other party was stronger than expected? Now she had to step in. “If you apologize to Ai Lu I’ll consider letting you live. Otherwise I’ll have to take the place of your teacher and teach you some proper manners!” Immediately after saying so she pulled out a red colored staff. The staff was clearly special with bird feathers at the top and an embedded core from a magical beast in the center. Her father had given her the staff. He had paid a high price for it because it had special characteristics like amplifying fire attacks.
Without giving her a chance to reply Alan Duo threw a fireball at Feng Wu. Even if the staff was special, it was only as strong as the wielder, and Alan Duo was only a second tier fire magician. Her offensive power wasn’t even as strong as Jier’s, so Feng Wu was able to destroy the fireball easily using her sword.
Alan Duo didn’t give up though. Since she couldn’t kill Feng Wu with one big ball of fire then she would try several smaller ones. She immediately switched tactics and cast Firebolt, a lower level fire spell, in quick succession. A humming vibration echoed in the air and five balls of fire flew at Feng Wu.
As soon as they saw the fireballs, Mi Li and Yali dragged Ai Lu out of the bathroom. They knew Alan Duo’s attacks wouldn’t discriminate between friends or foes. If they didn’t want to get hurt they needed to withdraw immediately. Alan Duo had shot the girls a warning look earlier so they knew it was coming. Glancing back and seeing the flames, the girls were very excited, believing in their hearts that the other party would die. Although the spell depleted much of Alan Duo’s energy, she was confident she would win the fight with it. No matter how good she was with a sword, that person wouldn’t be able to dodge or destroy five flames at once.
Ah but they were destined to be disappointed. Earlier Feng Wu had infused her sword with internal force, so she was able to deflect each of the fireballs back at Alan Duo.
Alan Duo instinctively cast a shield spell. It was a basic defensive spell; as long as the caster had any energy left it could be cast. So even Alan Duo in her current state could cast it.The shield managed to block the fireballs but cracked and dissipated right after.
Alan Duo was just catching her breath when she heard footsteps approaching her, followed by a flash of lightning. Feng Wu’s palm appeared directly in front of her. In the next instant she was slammed against the wall with so much force that she vomited mouthfuls of blood.
Feng Wu didn’t hit hard enough to kill her, but she did hit hard enough to really hurt.
Magicians didn’t train for close hand to hand combat since they relied on spells to attack from a distance. This meant that most were physically weak because they neglected training their bodies. Earlier when Feng Wu closed the distance between them Alan Duo became nervous and wanted to flee, however with her weak physical strength she didn’t see any way to do so.
Alan Duo felt humiliated. This was the most shameful experience in her life. It was all thanks to the girl in front of her. With resentment in her eyes she said, “You… just you wait… Baixing Academy won’t let you off…” She made a vow to rip the girl in front of her to shreds. Her heart was full of angry fire despite not having the ability to back up her words.
“Alan Duo! Are you OK?” Mi Li and Yali dropped Ai Lu like a rock and rushed over to Alan Duo. They didn’t dare face Feng Wu or approach her, instead they looked at Alan Duo with worry on their faces. How could they stand a chance if even Alan Duo, who was the strongest in the group, lost? Wouldn’t they just be asking for a beating if they approached the other party?
Alan Duo didn’t bother with the girls, she just used them to pull herself up.
Feng Wu didn’t understand why the other party spoke like that after losing. Wasn’t it just losing? Back on Yuehua Mountain, when she competed against Master and the other wild beasts, she had lost so many times that her confidence dropped. But by thinking about her losses she was able to understand her weakness, and from there improve and become stronger.
The people here… instead of thinking things through… they just made a fuss. They’re really delicate. Shaking her head she went back to the sink and washed her hands, dried them, then walked out without giving the girls a single glance.
Outside Jier and Tian Ke had been waiting for sometime. When they saw her Tian Ke asked, “Why so slow?”
“Some girls inside wanted to fight.” Yes it was a fight, a fair fight.
“A fight? In the bathroom?!” Jier was surprised.
"Hm," Feng Wu nodded her head.
Tian Ke knew Feng Wu pretty well. If there was a fight then it must have been because the other party was trying to bully her, which meant she must have beat the crap out of them. “Are they OK in there?” Tian Ke could only offer thoughts and prayers for the fools who tried to bully her. He had seen with his own eyes how awesome she was when they travelled through the mountain and when they entered An Lou city.
“Mm. Still alive.”
Jier whistled. This was a bit much to digest. He had to think about it for a bit.
Standing next to him were several boys in uniform. They had a bad feeling when they heard Feng Wu’s reply.
Right then Mi Li and Yali walked out holding Ai Lu between them. Trailing behind was a deathly pale faced and bloodstained Alan Duo.
Mi Li addressed the seniors she saw waiting outside. “Fellow seniors! Quickly stop that woman. She secretly spied on us in the bathroom. We caught her, but she wouldn’t admit to it. Instead she injured Alan Duo and Ai Lu. She needs to be detained for punishment.” Ha! See if you can escape now. You’re dead for sure!
Because Xingguang Holy Academy only recruited the best students, the seniors Mi Li called over were all outstanding upperclassman of Baixing Academy.
The four upperclassman were indeed older than Alan Duo, so it was appropriate for Mi Li to address them as seniors. These seniors all had a good impression of Alan Duo so they looked at Feng Wu sharply when they heard what Mi Li said.
Where did this girl come from? And how dare she touch their school goddess? She must not want to live.
Alan Duo smirked when she noticed the look in their eyes. Tch, let’s see you escape from this.
Not all the male students at Baixing Academy were besotted with Alan Duo though. Two of the more level headed students exchanged glances mutually agreeing not to fight.
“Calm down. Let’s figure things out first.” The boy who spoke exuded an air of authority, like a natural leader. He appeared to be about fourteen or fifteen.
One of the boys that liked Alan Duo spoke up saying, “Luo Ge, what is there to figure out? Just look in front of you. Look at what that girl has done to Alan Duo and Ai Lu. No matter what the reason, she went too far.”
The other boy knew Luo Ge wasn’t the type to get involved in personal grudges so he phrased his comment differently. “Yeah they’re students of Baixing Academy. To let outsiders beat our students up like that, that would be like letting them look down on us.”
Since the matter involved the school Luo Ge decided to intervene. “Young miss, you heard what the others said. What can you say for yourself?” His tone was neutral and he didn’t express any hostility towards Feng Wu.
Feng Wu turned her face to look up at him. “They wanted to kill me.”
“Ha! I knew it! They made the first move.” Tian Ke knew there was no way Feng Wu would have attacked unless she was provoked first. It was definitely that these girls attacked her first. Trying to kill her even! Of course Xiao Wu had to defend herself.
“They wanted to kill you?!” Jier whipped his head towards the girls and looked at them with ice cold eyes. He had unconsciously gripped his hands into fists without realizing it.
“Wah! Wah!” Little bun was feeling squished. He wiggled his body and cried out in dissatisfaction.
It was only then that Mi Li noticed the red-haired boy was holding a baby.
Not wanting to be outdone by that cold gaze that got everyone’s attention Yali yelled in a loud voice. “Ah! I didn’t notice it but that’s your man isn’t he? Tch! To think you’d hook up with someone at your age. Even having a kid together. You’re really scum! No wonder you’d spy on people in the bathroom.”
“Oh my god, people like you should just die. If I were you, I’d kill myself. So shameful!” Mi Li also jumped in hoping to score some brownie points with Alan Duo.
“Hahaha! What stupid women. You’re all really disgusting.” Jier smirked in an ugly way. The hair on his head looked a little singed. In fact it was emitting a distinct burning smell. The formerly red color looked more intense and lifelike, as though he was wearing a head of flames. The temperature in the area also rose, making the place feel hotter than before.
Who is this guy? He can’t be normal! That the girls' stupidity could have offended a really strong person annoyed Luo Ge.
Jier made the temperature rise so much that people started to sweat. He was like a ball of fire. What kind of magical talent was he?
Alan Duo felt uneasy with the situation. Those two idiots! Why did they have to pull in someone so strong? Alright I’ll just use my charms and play the delicate damsel, then pull him over to my side.
“I’m sorry, I’ll hand them over to you-” Before Alan Duo could finish her sentence a big hand shaped flame grabbed her by the neck and raised her completely off the ground.
Little bun suddenly stopped crying. He wasn’t scared or hot. What he saw with his little peepers really caught his attention. It was such a curious sight! He was engrossed!
“Agh… sa… save… save me…,” Alan Duo couldn’t speak in a coherent manner and could only make vague sounds with her mouth. Breathe! Can’t breathe! Help! This was the first time Alan Duo felt so close to death.
“Let go of Alan Duo!” Screamed Mi Li and Yali. Neither knew how the guy managed to get around everyone and attack Alan Duo. She and Yali dropped Ai Lu to the ground and drew their swords intending to attack him.
Jier had little bun in one hand and Alan Duo’s neck in the other. He didn’t have a third with which to fend off the girls. So what was he going to do? Drop the baby? Release Alan Duo? To everyone’s surprise he did neither! Instead a magical shield appeared around him completely blocking the girls’ attacks.
It was a very unusual shield with an incredibly high amount of fire elemental magic. The strength was so great that the observers nearly dropped their jaws to the ground in astonishment.
The shield not only protected him, it even returned fire! Two fireballs emerged from the shield aimed at Mi Li and Yali. One was hit closer to her face while the other was hit closer to her chest. Both screamed in agony the moment the fireball hit. Their faces burned with a heated fury they couldn’t bear. The hair on their heads completely gone. The one hit on the chest had her clothes utterly destroyed and her skin burnt a crispy black.
Jier was immovable like a mountain. It seemed like the tragedy of the two girls had no effect on him.
Seeing that Alan Duo was gasping for air, the two boys that liked her rushed to her aid. They feared Jier’s strength but found the will to fight when they looked at the face of their beloved. They could not let their goddess come to further harm!
Luo Ge and his companion were more cool headed opting to observe Jier some more before taking action. Luo Ge thought, Looking at him, he’s probably around fourteen or fifteen. To have so much power at such an age… how is he not famous? Why haven’t we heard of him before? He’s seriously like a human flame, so much terrifying heat from head to toe. The area affected by Jier had spread so that even the corridor was affected. It made the passageway feel like a desert.
While Luo Ge tried to figure out Jier’s identity, Alan Duo’s two suitors rushed to her aid.
“Let Alan Duo go! To lay your hands on a woman. What kind of shameful man are you!?” one shouted.
“Put Alan Duo down! Or don’t blame us for being rude!” said the other as he brought out a wand.
It would have sounded more persuasive if they didn’t look so intimidated by Jier.
Meanwhile little bun kept his eyes wide open trying not to miss a single thing. What were these people doing? It looked really fun!
An attendant suddenly appeared in the hallway. He didn’t know how powerful Jier was, but the entire person seemed to be on the verge of igniting as the air around him was abnormally high. He decided to turn a blind eye to the fact that he was holding a girl up by her neck, and instead spoke in slow measured tones.
“Honored guests please stop. Fighting is prohibited on the flying beast. We ask that you observe the rules of carriage.”
Feng Wu didn’t notice he was there until he spoke. In addition there were many others observing at the end of the hallway. They had detected a strong magical fluctuation in the area and had come to find out what was going on.
“I’m sorry. It’s because we were rude. I’ll restrain my people better,” Lou Ge spoke politely. He was conveying his apologies and declaring that he could only control his people and did not have the ability to command anyone not related to him.
Jier frowned, trying to decide whether or not he should give the other party any face. Well I am trying to stay incognito. With that in mind he tossed Alan Duo against the wall, releasing her. So noisy! It made his tooth ache.
Alan Duo, already weak from her fight with Feng Wu vomited a few more mouthfuls of blood before losing consciousness entirely.
“Alan Duo!” the two infatuated boys yelled. They glared at Jier and ran to Alan Duo to check on her injuries.
Mi Li and Yali had also collapsed to the floor but no one had the time or inclination to see to them.
“Sorry.” Jier shrugged. “My hand slipped.” After giving a blatantly insincere apology he still didn’t explain himself.
The attendant instinctively knew that the young man in front of him was not a simple character. As long as he didn’t fall, he would definitely rise up to become someone of renown and of extraordinary status in Zhongyang. Obviously he wasn’t going to harass someone like that, opting instead to let the matter slide.
“If you have personal grudges to resolve, please do so outside of the carriage. The flying beast carriage does not allow the use of force while in the air. Please refrain from doing so again in the future.” After saying so the attendant turned around and left, refusing to investigate the matter any further.
Jier shrugged and held little bun out to Feng Wu. Tian Ke grinned and gave him a big thumbs up, but Jier didn’t take much notice of it.
Feng Wu was in such a good mood she gave little bun a smooch on the cheeks as soon as she got him in her arms. In turn little bun cuddled up to the soft familiar body he knew as his mommy, ensconcing himself in her scent. He happily gurgled, making spit bubbles in his enthusiasm to tell her all the wonderful things he’d witnessed. Unfortunately his words went unappreciated as no one there understand baby speak.
“Thank you,” Feng Wu said to Jier. She knew he had only fought because of her, so she wanted to thank him properly.
“You’re welcome. Although there’s no need to be so polite. Those women were really displeasing to the eyes.” He had never seen people be so rude in his life. He would have killed the girl if the staff member hadn't intervened.
“Yeah.” Feng Wu nodded but refused to say anything more about it.
Alan Duo’s two suitors didn’t bother with the other girls, only intent on taking care Alan Duo. It fell on Luo Ge and the rest to take care of the three other wounded girls. Because of this he didn’t get the chance to speak or bid farewell to Jier.
Although he wanted to build a friendly relationship with Jier, the current atmosphere was not right for it. He would wait for a better opportunity once they reached Xingguang Holy Academy. Since he didn’t think Jier viewed him as an enemy he didn’t feel too bad about the whole encounter, even if it was an embarrassing affair for Baixing Academy overall.
As for Alan Duo and her group of girls, their injuries were rather severe. Unfortunately there were no light or wood elemental magicians in their party who could heal them. As such they could only take medication for their external injuries. They would have to wait until they could find a master cleric in Zhongyong city to treat the more serious internal injuries.
Feng Wu and her party returned to the common room, and without Alan Duo and her group bothering them, had a pleasant time the rest of the trip. In just ten short days they reached Zhongyong - the legendary blessed city.
Zhongyong was full of interesting and important places. For example many guilds were headquartered there: the Adventure Guild, the Magician Guild, the Pharmacist Guild, the Mercenary Guild, and even the head Guild itself.
These guilds were very powerful and had a strong influence in the world. It would upset the power balance of the world if they were to show support for a particular country. So in order to remain neutral they chose to base their headquarters in Zhongyong. Other associations and organizations would normally base their headquarters in their home countries.
Once the flying beast carriage landed and they were allowed to disembark, Feng Wu and Tian Ke bade farewell to the group of mercenaries and adventurers they roomed with.
Tian Ke told Feng Wu that his aunt’s name was Tian Yue and that both she and her husband worked at Xingguang Holy Academy. She was an employee at the canteen while he was the head chef in the kitchen. Apparently his cooking skills were pretty good and he was of some renown there.
Xingguang Academy was set to open enrollment in three days. However few people ever passed the incredibly difficult entrance exams. Because it was the best dual discipline school on the continent and it was backed by the temple, the entrance criteria was quite strict.
You needed more than just talent to pass the assessments - you needed to have luck and the right character. These last two parts were very mysterious. The only ones who knew anything about it were the residents of Zhongyong and those who had already taken the test. The ones who failed the examination wouldn’t discuss it with anyone and flat out refused to answer any questions when asked. Thus there was a great deal of mystery surrounding the assessments on character and luck.
The school itself was very easy to find, being the biggest and tallest structure around. Architecturally it was also the second most beautiful in the city. Its iconic bell tower was majestic and stunning, pulling the eye irresistibly towards it.
The three older men from earlier were very helpful and gave Feng Wu and Tian Ke directions to the school. “See that clock tower? It’s a part of the school. If you keep walking towards it you’ll eventually reach the academy.”
Jier got off the flying beast carriage and followed Feng Wu and Tian Ke. When he found out their destination he was even more unwilling to lose them.
“Feng Wu, are you really not gonna take the entrance examinations for Xingguang Academy? They only open enrollment once every three years. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot of advanced sword techniques there. Maybe even God level ones.” Jier thought she was an interesting girl and that it would be nice to have a classmate like her.
Feng Wu bit her lip but didn’t reply. Instead she hugged little bun closer to her chest and just kept walking to the bell tower.
“You really don’t want to go? The cooks at the school are first class so the food there is delicious! There are lots of specialty dishes from all the countries on the continent. So if you become a student, all the way until you graduate, you get to eat till you’re stuffed!” He’d come to understand her nature from the time they spent on the flying carriage. Food was definitely her weak point.
Sure enough Feng Wu paused and turned around. Her eyes shone as bright as the stars in the sky. “It’s all delicious?! Really?!”
“Really really.” Jier nodded his head emphatically. “The food is super tasty. And you won’t even need to spend money. As long as you’re the top student in your grade, the school will comp your meals. They take really good care of all their top students. So how about it?”
“I want to go there.” Feng Wu stated in a daze. She was being told there would be delicious food to eat. Not only that, it could be free delicious food! She was very happy.
Tian Ke sighed. This girl… so simple. Where there is food she will follow. He shook his head looking at her. She’s going to be tricked and sold one day.
This was great. Jier felt a sense of accomplishment at having convinced her.
“Yeah and even if you’re not the top student, if you’re too poor to afford lunch, the school will give you free lunch. They’re prepackaged meals but they are filling and nutritious. It’s just that you can’t customize it and there isn't much variety.”
With her at the school he wouldn’t have to worry about not having anyone to hang out with. Jier didn’t want her to regret her decision so right then and there he made up his mind to accede the top student position to her. This way she would get lots of preferential treatment as the top student. Xingguang Academy was hard to get into, but once you were in, the school made sure to take good care of you.
Feng Wu had no resistance to free things. She was really interested in the free meal aspect. So if you’re poor you get free food? She really wanted to know how to apply as a poor student, so she asked how to go about doing so.
“What poor student? If you don’t have money just go with this brother. I’ll take you out to eat as much as you want.” Jier slapped his chest proudly. He hadn’t asked about her home situation, but he wondered if it was really bad.
“No. I want to apply as a free meal student. Also you’re not my brother. You’re a friend.”
That last part… Jier made a complicated face. Clearly they were referring to two different things. The brother she referred to was hundreds of thousands of miles away from the one he had in mind.
Feng Wu kept on insisting that she wanted to apply as a student under financial distress.
“Ugh! OK! Apply! Just apply. I’ll help you fill out the application!” Jier cried out in frustration. “Also you know the term ‘brother’, when I said it, I didn’t mean it literally. It’s a figure of speech, a joke.” Jier found it hard to believe this girl was real. It was the first time he had seen such a thing. What was wrong with being his sister? Do you know how many girls wanted to be his sister but had no shot in hell?!
“Joke? What’s that?” Feng Wu’s childhood had been very simple. The one she had most contact with was her Master, and Master had a very indifferent attitude. As a result she had grown up to this point without ever encountering a joke.
This question made Jier and Tian Ke want to vomit blood. What deep isolated forest did this girl come from?! both wondered.
“A joke is something that doesn’t have to be taken seriously. That is, it’s for playing around. You don’t have to take it to heart.” Jier tried to give her the simplest explanation he could think of.
Feng Wu listened intently. Jokes don’t need to be taken seriously. It’s just playing around and doesn’t need to be taken to heart. She repeated what Jier said in her head so as to memorize it well.
If Jier knew she was taking what he said so seriously and was studiously memorizing it, he would have surely wanted to vomit even more blood.
Because Zhongyong was such a big city, it would take them over an hour to walk all the way to the academy. Jier wasn’t into that. So he suggested taking a carriage, his treat of course.
The carriage he hired was large and comfortable. Within twenty minutes they reached the campus gates. The area was deserted though as most students were still on break and wouldn’t be returning until the next day. The only person in sight was an elderly guard.
“Hello old sir.[notes] We’re looking for Tian Ke’s aunt. Can you help us and have her to come out?” Feng Wu first politely greeted the old man before asking him for help. Master taught her to always greet others first before asking for things. It was only proper.
The old man looked at her and saw that her eyes were clear and clean. She was definitely a “What you see is what you get” kind of girl - very straightforward. He swept his gaze across Tian Ke. There was nothing much to see there, he was just a small child after all. The red-haired boy though… he was another matter altogether. The amount of magic emanating from him was very strong. The fact that he wasn’t purposefully projecting it outward was what made it so incredible. Is he one of the eight kids exempt from the test? Well whatever. Whether he is or not, we’ll find out in a few days. Finished checking them out he returned his gaze to Feng Wu. He appreciated simple children like her so his attitude when he spoke was very amenable.
“What is that aunt’s name? Is she faculty or staff?”
Tian Ke felt the old man’s eyes turn to him. It felt like he was seeing right into him. It made him really nervous! So much so that he moved and hid behind Feng Wu without even realizing it. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the gaze move away from him. Although he was afraid, he really wanted to meet again the only relative he had left, his beloved aunt. So he gathered his courage to answer the old man. He took a breath and said, “My aunt’s name is Tian Yue. She’s the wife of the head chef for the student dining hall. She told me that she also worked in the kitchen prepping.”
“Oh? Tian Yue? Yes I think there is a person by that name here. Hold on. Let me contact her first.” After saying this he took out a transparent crystal. Neither Feng Wu nor Tian Ke had ever seen such a thing before. Their curiosity was piqued and they looked on with bright inquisitive eyes.
“This is an image-transmission crystal. It uses the alignment of energy waves to facilitate communication between two parties.[notes] You can tell by the size, color and energy fluctuations of the crystal that it’s better than average. In fact it can hold several hundred connection signatures.”
Feng Wu and Tian Ke looked on with their mouths slightly agape. They shared the same feelings about the crystal - it was mysterious and fun! They paid close attention to the old man’s hand holding the crystal. Suddenly the crystal showed the image of a slim figure in white clothes.
Tian Ke immediately recognized the person. “Aunt!” There was no reply from the crystal though. The old man spoke a few words out loud and the image of his aunt appeared to become excited. Shortly after the image disappeared altogether.
Turning to Jier Tian Ke asked, “Brother Jier, how come we couldn’t hear anything.
“It looks like the crystal has three modes. Private only, which only allows the owner access to the crystal’s audio and visual content. Audio only, which allows outsiders to listen in on the audio. Visual only, which allows the visuals to be shared. Which mode to use depends on the owner.” It was obvious the old man had only allowed them to see the visuals but not hear the audio connection.
“Tian Yue will be out soon. You guys can wait here.” After saying this he closed his eyes and fell asleep, completely ignoring them.
Fifteen minutes later a slender white figure ran towards them. When this figure saw Tian Ke, she immediately went over and embraced him in a tight hug.
“Tian Ke! Why did you come to find auntie? Did something happen?” Tian Yue knew what a sensible child Tian Ke was, so he wouldn’t have come unless something big happened.
“Ah!... aunt...wooo wooo” Tian Ke had been holding back his tears for a long time. Upon seeing his aunt it was like a dam burst and he was overwhelmed. He cried unabashedly in her arms.
Tian Yue held her crying nephew certain that a major event had happened. “Don’t cry. Be a good boy and come home with your auntie first.” Tian Yue felt it improper to air out family grievances on the front steps of the school. So after thanking the old man she spoke to her nephew. “Let’s head back and you can tell me all about it.” She was about to lead Tian Ke away when he spoke up.
Tian Ke sniffled before saying, “Wait aunt, this is Feng Wu. It’s thanks to her that I was able to find you. Without her I don’t know where I’d be right now. And this is Big Brother Jier. He’s been very good to me and Feng Wu.”
Although Tian Ke was really happy to see his aunt again he didn’t forget about Feng Wu who had brought him to his aunt. She was the one who comforted him when he was afraid and protected him when he felt endangered. She also spent her own money to feed and transport him. All these things had left a strong impression of her in his little heart. She was like a sister to him, second in importance only to his aunt. Although he had yet to acknowledge all the things she did aloud, he would never forget her kindness. At this time he formally turned toward her and spoke with sincerity.
Xiao Wu thank you. Thank you for taking care of me and bringing me all the way here. Big Brother Jier, you too, thank you for taking care of me. The journey here was long and hard. Why don’t we go to my aunt’s house and rest for a bit?”
It was only after listening to Tian Ke speak that Tian Yue realized there were two other people beside him. Looking up she saw a girl with dark colored hair and eyes, reminiscent of someone from the ancient eastern countries. Next to her was a beautiful young man in a red magic robe. Judging from his red eyes and hair he was probably a fire magician.
Magicians tended to wear the colors associated with their elements because it gave them a closer connection to that element. For example ice magicians tended to favor white, water magicians favored blue, gold magicians favored gold, and so on and so forth. This boy who dressed entirely from head to toe in red could only be a fire magician.
The dormitories at Xingguang Academy were very strict. Only students and teachers were allowed to live on campus. Because of this Tian Yue and her husband lived off campus. Their house was only one street away from the school so the group made their way over there in short time.
Tian Yue’s home was a two-story western style house with a yard in the back. There were a profusion of flowers planted in the ground and a swing set for children to play on as well. She used her key and unlocked the door, letting the other three come in behind her.
Upon entering they could see that although the furnishings weren’t particularly high class, the place was clean and had a refined yet welcoming feel.
Tian Yue invited Feng Wu and the others to have a seat. Just then little bun started crying. He rarely ever cried, only making a fuss if he was hungry or if he had to do his business. Tian Ke turned to Feng Wu and reached out with his arms. She promptly handed little bun over. At this point it had become a conditioned reflex on his part and a habit on hers.
He took a look inside little bun’s diaper and after seeing some squished brown nuggets proceeded to take off the diaper, wipe clean little bun’s bottom, and smoothly packed him into a new diaper.
Tian Yue looked on her mouth opened in a small “o” surprised at the proficiency of the action.
Once dry and cleaned little bun happily stopped crying and Tian Ke handed him back to Feng Fu. She brought him to her chest and made little bubbles with her mouth to amuse him. He seemed to never tire of this simple game and could play at it for days.
“This child…” Tian Yue finally spoke up.
“This is Feng Wu’s baby. He doesn’t have a name yet but we call him little bun.” It was obvious that Tian Ke really liked this small baby by the way he replied.
“Eh! This is child is Feng Wu’s?!” Now Tian Yue was really shocked. Although she could see that the baby resembled Feng Wu, she couldn’t see any resemblance with the red-haired boy.
The baby had dark eyes and blond hair. Just from one glance she could tell the baby was of mixed blood. Feng Wu looked so young and tiny, she couldn’t be the mother of this child could she?
“How old will you be this year?” Maybe she’s just a very youthful girl in her twenties who just happens to be small? Tian Yue tried to find a reasonable explanation for the sight in front her.
“I’m fourteen.” Feng Wu answered.
“What?! You’re only fourteen!” Tian Yue’s voice was nearly a shout. She isn’t some youthful looking adult. She really is a child!
Jier was also surprised. Although he thought she looked young, he didn’t think she was that young. He’d expected her to be sixteen or at least fifteen, but definitely not fourteen. Shit that’s too young!
“Did you really give birth to this child?” Tian Yue asked, just to clarify and make sure they had the same definition in mind.
It wasn’t unexpected that Tian Yue would be doubtful, even Jier thought the whole thing was pretty dubious. Feng Wu was the kind of ignorant person who would declare herself a mother of a child without realizing the actual implication and true import of the word, at least when it came to the biological sense. Really, who would believe her?
“Yes.” Feng Wu wrinkled her brow remembering how painful it was when she went into labor.
The others stopped doubting her when they saw how serious her expression was.
“Where is the child’s father? Is he not with you?” Tian Yue asked.
“I don’t know.” Feng Wu shook her head.
Tian Yue looked at the girl with pity in her eyes, feeling very sympathetic towards her. This child must have been deceived by some unscrupulous man. To think there are such despicable people in the world.. In her heart she had already built up an elaborate back story about the drama and scams Feng Wu must have fallen prey to. Perhaps she was a neglected wife who was abandoned by her loathsome husband. Aye… poor child.
Although Jier didn’t go so far as to make up fanciful stories about Feng Wu, he was of the same mindset and didn’t think too well of the man that hurt her either. “Feng Wu, rest assured if you ever see that man again, just tell me. I’ll definitely help you teach him a lesson.” For sure. A scumbag like that, how can he deserve to live?
Feng Wu, “...” What’s going on? What should I do? I don’t understand.
Tian Yue turned to her nephew after satisfying her curiosity about Feng Wu. There were a lot of questions she wanted to ask him. “Tell me what happened.”
Thinking of all the things that happened after his father passed away made Tian Ke really sad, but he still retold the story.
When Tian Yue learned about her brother’s death she couldn’t contain the anguished sob that broke out. As the story unfolded she was more and more shocked - Tian Ke’s treatment, the village massacre, it was all shocking!
The room was filled with their cries. They cried and cried. They cried and consoled one another for nearly half an hour. Finally Tian Yue’s tears dried leaving behind just the streaks on her face. With red rimmed eyes she looked at Tian Ke and said, “You, stay with auntie. Auntie will take care of you OK.” She held him in her arms and kissed his forehead.
Tian Ke buried himself in his aunt’s embrace and cried his little heart out. He was only six you know. It had been really hard on him!
That night everyone had dinner together. Since two of them planned on taking the entrance exams for Xingguang Academy, it was decided they would all stay over for the next three days and wait for the results together.
Later that night they met Tian Yue’s husband, Lan Wei. He was a tiny plump man of about thirty with a peppy energetic almost imposing aura about him. He was a very good tempered man who pretty much left all family decisions up to Tian Yue. Having Tian Ke live with them and having guests over was not something he minded at all.
Tian Yue and Lan Wei had two children. A son named Lantian and a daughter named Lanyue. You could see how much he loved his wife just by looking at the name’s of the children.[notes]
For the next few days Feng Wu and crew stayed over, very much enjoying the hospitality. Lan Wei cooked many delicious dishes for them, and from the quality it wasn’t hard to see how talented he was. It was no wonder he was head chef at Xingguang Academy.
When the day of testing finally arrived everyone went to school to support Jier and Feng Wu.
Feng Wu went to line up in the queue for those interested in swordsmanship. She was surprised to find Jier standing in line with her instead of in the one for magicians. “Jier, why are you lining up here? Don’t you need to go to the one for magicians?”
“Don’t need to. I’m so awesome I’m exempt from it.”
Those around them easily overheard Jier’s words, inciting admiration and envy in some while others looked on with hate in their hearts. A few though glanced over at him with calculated resolution in their eyes.
Feng Wu didn’t have the same intense reaction as those around them. She simply complimented him with, “You must be very powerful then,” before returning her attention to the line.
Feng Wu had picked up a lot of information about the school from Tian Yue in the past few days. She knew that there were sometimes exceptional students who qualified to enter without having to go through the entrance examinations. These special cases were reviewed by the faculty on an individual bases. If they were deemed to possess the abilities, the strength of character and grace of luck, then they were allowed to bypass the entrance assessments. Without a doubt these students were all outstanding in their own ways. Feng Wu knew this so she gave Jier the praise he deserved.
Jier was quite pleased. He felt that Feng Wu was a woman with foresight and understanding, after all being exempt from the assessment was no small feat.
The test for the two classes were different. A magician’s talent level was determined by the speed he or she could cast a spell. The faster the speed the higher the innate talent. Magicians were roughly divided into twelve levels. As long as they kept striving forward and didn’t flounder, they would be able to reach the level of “god.” At Xingguang Holy Academy the minimum requirement was a seventh-level caster. Anyone below that was not considered.
Aside from innate talent, luck was another important factor to consider. Given the opportunity a magician could even defy the natural order of things and become a transcendent being, a “god” even. Luck played an important role in this unpredictable future.
In order to enter the magic class, prospective students had to pass two out of three tests. On top of this they also had to have the right mindset. If their mental state was not strong enough, then it would be useless even if they had the talent. Without the will to keep pushing forward they would never be able to reach for greatness. Therefore in order to enter the academy magicians needed both magical talent and strength of will or luck and the right mindset.
The sword master class was not as complicated and didn't have a ranking system. Sword users only needed to use their strongest strike to force a stone to light up. If they were unable to do so then they had to to take the second and third assessments, passing both would allow them entry, but failing either would mean automatic rejection.
Xingguang Academy only opened enrollment once every three years so the crowd of people gathered to take the assessment was an astoundingly big crowd that numbered in the thousands. People from all over the continent came, ranging in age from from ten to fifteen.
The school had an unusual rule: one person, one assessment. Which basically meant a person only had one chance at getting into the school. No one was allowed to retake the test.
Many dreamt of entering the school but few succeeded in doing so. The assessment was simply too hard for most people. Out of the thousands that came only several hundred passed. The average from prior enrollments was about 300, with 380 being the highest ever enrolled in a single session.
Feng Wu waited for nearly two hours before it was her turn. While waiting she had the chance to see how the test worked. Although the sword masters test was more straightforward it was unusual in that it increased in difficulty according to the age of the person taking the test. Participants were not allowed to use their own swords because of the obvious difference in quality between those with money and those without. Therefore everyone taking the test had to use a sword supplied by the school.
Of the five who took the test before her, only one had passed. Those who failed would need to take the secondary test and pass both if they hoped to enroll.
When her turn arrived Feng Wu stood in front of the stone and gathered her internal force. Unlike others before her she didn’t use any special skills or techniques. She had reached the seventh level of internal force refinement, so she didn’t need to do anything fancy. Master told her to always be prepared, to hold her cards close to her chest and to always keep a few aces up her sleeve. Keeping this in mind Feng Wu tempered her strength and only used a small portion to hit the stone.
Those behind her had strong opinions when they saw her movements.
What? No techniques? There’s only one chance to take the test. Isn’t this girl too casual?
Is she crazy? Look at everyone else, who here isn’t using their strongest sword skills?
All were surprised when Feng Wu tapped the stone and a strong white light flared up. It wasn’t a bright glaring one that suggested killing intent nor was it a domineering one that exerted pressure and made others uncomfortable.
Without exception everyone who passed the test before either used killing intent or domineering will to force the stone to shine. Feng Wu was the only one to make it shine simply by touching it. No one else could have done the same. This was an indicator that she was much more qualified than those who came before.
The teachers observing nodded their heads in appreciation. For her to be so reserved and polite at such a young age and yet have such talent, she had to be a genius.
Those who passed before could only be called regular geniuses when compared to Feng Wu. She was an unusual talent and the gap between them was obvious.
“Wow! That girl in front is amazing!”
“So low key yet so powerful. To be able to accomplish something like that she must be a genius!”
“What a good little sister!”
“That little sister is so awesome!”
Feng Wu, “……”
Many of the girls behind Feng Wu couldn’t help but exclaim in excitement. Suddenly cries of excitement rang out from the magician testing area. A dazzling ray of light shot straight up into the sky. It was hard for anyone to not notice it, even those taking the swordsmanship test couldn’t help but be amazed.
“It seems there is a master in that department. What a truly talented person. To be able to reach the twelfth level, a talent like that only comes once every hundred years.” A teacher in the Sword Division stroked his chin thoughtfully as he spoke.
“Yes but our Sword Division isn’t weak either. We have a small genius here as well.” The teacher who replied looked like she was in her twenties, however appearances were deceptive. The more powerful a person was the slower the rate of aging. Those who reached Holy level had the appearance of an eternally youthful twenty-something. Their real age would remain hidden as long as their longevity was maintained.
She turned toward Feng Wu and asked, “You’re Feng Wu correct? Congratulations you’ve passed the Stone test. As long as your heart is strong and your temperament is appropriate, you will be formally accepted as a student.”
The last judge was also another female teacher who physically resembled a twenty year old. She patted Feng Wu on the head sweetly and gave her a few words of encouragement before stamping a seal on the back of Feng Wu’s hand. This difficult to counterfeit stamp was an indicator that she passed the first part of the test and could return home for the time being. It also served to link her information into the school’s assessment list.
Feng Wu touched her hand. Other than a bit of heat where the stamp was, it didn’t feel odd at all. In fact the stamp became invisible after a few minutes. Feng Wu thought it was really neat.
Jier led Feng Wu over to Tian Yue and Tian Ke. He was not at all surprised that she passed. Anyone he considered a friend would certainly be an amazing person and easily pass the entrance assessment.
At the same time the teachers over at the magician testing area were also quite happy and incredibly excited. Standing in front of the testing crystal was a girl of about thirteen or fourteen with light purple hair. She looked very calm and appeared unphased by the audience’s reaction.
The teachers observing nodding their heads feeling that she would make an excellent student. Her heart was steady and she showed no signs of arrogance despite being such a talented individual. It made them look forward to guiding her in the future.
The girl’s name was Zi Cheng. She was conceived one night when her father bedded her mother while in a drunken stupor. Her mother was just a maid from a humble background so was not qualified to marry him. Shortly after giving birth to Zi Cheng she died leaving Zi Cheng to fend for herself in a house full of concubines and their respective children. Despite not having any status or position in the household she somehow managed to make it to her fourteenth birthday. In all this time no one had tested her to see if she had any talent or skills.
However that was as far as she got. She contracted a high fever and died leaving room for the current occupant, Lan Zicheng to enter her body. Lan Zicheng was in fact a soul from another world who had lived in the 21st century. She crossed over into the body of Zi Cheng when the other died from her fever. Because no one in the family noticed the death it was easy for the new Lan Zicheng to assimilate and integrate. In fact it was very convenient because the original Zi Cheng was not close to her family being someone with no status in the household. This meant no one was close enough to her to notice anything suspicious.
Lan Zi Cheng knew how amazing she was. Even in a host with such a disadvantageous background Lan Zicheng’s natural awesomeness couldn’t be hidden.[notes]
After Lan Zicheng crossed over to the world she discovered that the original Zi Cheng had an innate magical talent of around the fifth level. By using her natural ‘golden finger’[notes] she transformed Zi Cheng’s body and raised her talent all the way up to the twelfth level.
Taking advantage that no one would notice her absence, Lan Zicheng snuck out to take the test. The original Zi Cheng had given up control of her body to Lan Zicheng on the condition that Lan Zicheng get revenge for her. To do this she had to get stronger, so getting into the academy was the first step to achieving her goal.
A blue haired girl named Ai Lin watched silently as the crowd surrounded Lan Zicheng. It was obvious they were trying to gain her favor by heaping praise and admiration on her.
Like Zi Cheng, Ai Lin was also from another world. However the two were different in that the current world was a world from a novel that Ai Lin had read. She was actually inside the novel about Zi Cheng.
In her previous life Ai Lin had been a junior in college. Her favorite pastime was reading novels about transmigrations and rebirth. That all stopped when she got into a traffic accident. When she woke up she realized she had crossed over into another world. Not only that, she had crossed over as the female lead’s arch nemesis!
And wasn’t Zi Cheng the female protagonist of this world? Sure enough she had the beauty that befitted a female lead. Although Ai Lin herself wasn’t too bad either.
In the original story Ai Lin was the eldest daughter of an affluent family with a magical talent of the tenth level. The combination of her talent and family background gave her an inflated ego. In fact she was very optimistic about the entrance exams for Xingguang Holy Academy.
She never expected Zi Cheng to grab the limelight and steal her thunder. It was at this point that the two became deathly rivals.
Ai Lin created ridiculous rumors to smear Zi Cheng’s reputation and did all kinds of things to humiliate her. She always failed because the male lead in love with Zi Cheng always found a way to resolve the situation. Ultimately Ai Lin became so infuriated that she tried to kill Zi Cheng. Of course the male lead arrived in the nick of time and foiled the plan.
Her classmates knew about her involvement in the scheme and ultimately chose to write a formal letter to the administrators of the academy about it. This led to the school headmaster personally issuing a request to have Ai Lin expelled from Xingguang Holy Academy.
After her expulsion her family stopped pampering her and ignored her entirely. The boys who adored Zi Cheng sought vengeance against Ai Lin and ruthlessly harassed her making her life miserable. With this kind of zeal one of them inevitably went too far, resulting in Ai Lin’s death.
Ai Lin knew she had entered into the life of a tragic character the moment she entered the world. Not wanting the bad ending she immediately thought of ways to change her destiny. Although her cheat was nowhere near as formidable as the female protagonist’s it was still a strong one. It would be possible for her to avoid her fate and become cannon fodder if she was careful in her interactions with Zi Cheng.
Ai Lin knew it was not the right time to interact with Zi Cheng, so she spent her time observing instead. She was very interested in finding an opportunity to use to her advantage. She would follow Zi Cheng closely and watch her until the end of the first part of the assessment, being careful not to antagonize her. She believed there had to be a way to overcome the original text and defeat her cannon fodder role. She would plan her counterattack against Zi Cheng and fight her before her own destiny could be set in stone.
Meanwhile back at Tian Yue’s, Feng Wu was oblivious to the fact that the Magic Division had only accepted two students thus far. Even if she did know she would not have cared. Instead she was busy playing with little bun and having a nice meal with everyone. To celebrate her passing the first part of the assessment, Tian Yue threw a BBQ.
Tian Yue said “You have to eat more Feng Wu. The second part is tomorrow so you have to properly refuel your body.”
Everyone was thinking the same thing so they all promptly agreed as well.
“Feng Wu you must rest up for the second part of the assessment!” Tian Ke, who was sitting next to Feng Wu, was so excited he couldn’t help wiggling around and clapping his hands. He secretly decided he would also test into Xingguang Holy Academy and be a student there too.
Everyone patted Feng Wu on her tiny head expressing their support. That evening she was rushed to bed. No one would let her stay up late. Tian Yue even wanted to take little bun and keep him with her.
“But you and Lan Wei have to wake up early in the morning for work. Little bun should stay with me instead.” This argument won out and Jier managed to keep little bun with him in his room.
Everyone was pitching in and trying their best to ensure Feng Wu would be well rested and clear headed for her test tomorrow. The scene really comforted her and gave a sense of warmth inside so she agreed and went to bed early despite not really needing the rest.
That night she dreamt of a long silvery trail. She wrinkled her brow because it felt like something from the other side was summoning her. Although she didn’t know what was at the end of the trail her heart told her to follow it, so she put one foot in front of the other and walked down the trail.
She didn’t know how long she walked but eventually a door appeared. She felt the voice calling her was coming from behind that door so she pushed it open without a second thought. An intense white light shot out and before she knew it Feng Wu was falling through the air, fortunately her body reacted faster than her mind and she instinctively corrected herself and found her balance. All around her she could hear the screams of other people as they fell.
Underneath her was a wide expansive ocean, a beach, and some woods. Feng Wu and a few others fell on the edge of the beach. Because she had kept her balance she was able to stop just short of impact allowing her to land safely and silently. Others fell all around her, their bodies thudding against the sand as they crashed into it. They fell in all kinds of directions, some even had their heads completely stuck in the sand. They were the luckier ones though. Most had fallen into the ocean. Those that could swim swam ashore while those that couldn’t swim could only scream for help. Fortunately there were many friendly people about. Some helped pull those stuck in the sand out while others swam to rescue those floundering in the ocean. It took about half an hour to rescue everyone.
In all that time Feng Wu didn’t help anyone. Instead she stood off to the side by herself and observed the situation. It was strange. Why was everyone here all around the same age, the youngest of them was probably ten years old. She couldn’t help but think of the assessment from earlier that day.
“What’s going on?! Last I remember I was sleeping in my hotel room,” someone cried out.
“Yeah me too! I came to participate in the entrance assessment for Xingguang Academy so I was staying at my uncle’s house. I went to sleep early. I don’t know how I ended up falling like that. It totally woke me up!” The boy who spoke patted his chest with a scared expression on his face.
“What’s going on? Does anyone know?” whispered a girl.
“Isn’t this part of the assessment?” another whispered.
Zi Cheng helped a girl sit up. When she had fallen in the water earlier the girl next to her couldn’t swim so she had saved her. With that done she looked around studying her surroundings.
Ai Lin was a distance away from Zi Cheng. She sat next to several girls who were completely soaked. Most people were in fact wearing drenched clothes because they were not lucky enough to fall on the sand.
Fortunately most of those who fell in the water were sword masters with a straightforward personality. They easily saved those more delicate magicians from drowning. Had this not been the case those magicians would surely have been even more miserable.
As everyone was discussing the situation three virtual shadows appeared in the sky overhead. Even though they were only virtual shadows the aura each one projected was still very powerful, alerting everyone to the fact that these were very strong individuals.
“Everyone seems to have made it safely. I know you must be curious so I’ll get straight to the point. I am the supervisor for the second and third part of the assessment. The two standing beside me are supervisors as well. You will know our names if you pass the assessment and enroll as students at the academy.
Some of you have already correctly guessed that this is the site of the next phase of the assessment, indeed you are no longer on Tianfeng continent. The place you’re currently at is a special space that holds magical items such as books, swords, and staffs. There are also swords hidden away here as well. You will make many discoveries and encounter situations more dangerous than you can imagine. For example if you are found and killed by the indigenous people of the island you will fail. However do not worry. Only your spiritual body is here so even if you are killed you will not be in any real danger. You will wake up from the dream but your physical body will not be harmed.
There are several more ways to fail. You will fail if you do not find any items. It can be considered that your luck is poor. You will fail if you find items but they do not suit you, for example if a magician finds a sword or if a sword master finds a staff. Every item hidden in this space is categorized by their attributes. Only those who can find the items matching their own attributes will pass.
You have ten minutes to ask us questions. We will answer them as long as they don’t violate the rules. As for those questions we can’t answer, you’ll have to figure it out by exploring.”
The prospective students gazed up at the trio. Standing in the middle was a 27 year old woman wearing a magic robe. Beside her were two men of about the same age, both of them carried a sword. Together the three exuded an impressively intimidating aura.
No one seemed to have the courage to ask anything until a voice rang out.
“Excuse me, can I take items from someone else if they find what I need first?” This question came from a black-eyed teenager.
At the sound of his voice everyone turned their attention to look at him. They saw that he was a short teenager dressed in a black robe. Everyone assumed he was a magician based on this impression. The attention didn’t seem to fluster him at all. His face remained smooth without any hint of blush or nervousness. His composed demeanor left a good impression on the three supervisors.
Since the question came from a magician the female teacher in the center answered the question. “That is allowed however fighting each other for it is not.”
“Any other questions?”
The boys and girls below looked around at each other but no one replied. Seeing that no one had any more questions to ask, the female teacher spoke up again.
“There are a few things I forgot to mention. There is a neutral place where you will be safe from attacks. This place is a neutral city surrounded by a blue wall. Each of you will also get a dimensional bag with ten silver coins inside. You can get more coins by earning money in the city, which you can then use to buy various goods.
Hidden inside the city are also clues to the location of a treasure map. If you want to find your attribute item quickly, and your luck is good, then I suggest you go to the front of the city.
OK I have nothing more to say. The last two rounds start now and will end in one month. After a month we will come back and pick you up. Please work hard everyone.”
The three figures immediately disappeared leaving the children no time to ask any questions.
“What should we do?” asked a person looking around uneasily.
“How about going to the city first? Didn’t the teacher say there’s a treasure map there?” asked another.
With this everyone decided to go to the city together in order to find the map. However where was the city?! They were not told what direction it was in.
Some people decided to head out on their own while others formed teams. Feng Wu stood alone gazing at the sea and trees while listening to the world around her. She was concentrating on the sound of the trees and the waves.
“Look there are people coming. Just like last time. It’s strange they’re always falling from the sky.”
“Yeah yeah humans sure are weird. Don’t know where they came from.”
“Look over there! The girl with the blue dress. The air on around her body is really comfortable to be around.”
“She’s coming over! She’s coming over!”
The small trees along the beach were talking to each other and Feng Wu had heard their conversation. That was why she was walking over to them.
“Who are you? We like your smell!”
Feng Wu walked in front of the trees and greeted them. “Hello, you can call me Tian Lan[notes] or you can call me Feng Wu.”
“You can hear us?” The trees shook their leaves showing their interest [notes].
“Yes I can hear you. Can I ask you a question? Do you know the way to the city that’s neutral? It’s a city surrounded by blue walls.”
“We don’t know. We were born here and have never left since birth. We only know that people will fall from the sky every now and again.”
“Do you know if anyone knows how to get there?”
The little trees hung their branches down. It seemed like they didn’t know.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll go farther up and ask.” She absentmindedly stroked one of the nearby tree saplings.
The little tree was ecstatic. “She touched me!”
“Ah! Touch me too!”
“Me too! Me too!”
“I want to be touched too!”
The other trees who didn’t get touched exclaimed their desire to be petted as well. Feng Wu reached out to other trees near the first one she touched. After a round of petting they were finally satisfied. This made Feng Wu laugh.
To her side not far away was a group of people who had just formed a team. Their objective was to head to the city. Interestingly enough both Zi Cheng and Ai Lin were on the same team, however neither of them was the group leader. Instead the leader was a sword master who had actually reached out to them to join the team. He looked like he was around fourteen or fifteen, with a good build and a straightforward personality. He had a charming smile and it was obvious from a glance that he was the one that recruiting the team.
The group consisted of ten people, five boys and five girls. As groups went it wasn’t bad. The team leader saw Feng Wu standing by herself. How could he leave out such a pretty girl? He immediately ran over to her and asked if she was part of a team yet.
“Hello, would you like to join my team? We have ten people right now, including you would make eleven. How about it?” Pei smiled as he spoke.
Feng Wu heard his voice and turned her head in his direction. A little mistrustful she asked, “A small team?”
“Yeah. Don’t you want to go to that city that’s supposed to be neutral? It’ll be better if we look for it together as a team. Even if we are competing against each other we can still go there together. We can figure out what to do afterwards. As for finding the treasure map, well we can only rely on our own individual abilities.”
Feng Wu quietly watched him as he spoke. He didn’t seem to have bad intentions so she nodded in agreement.
“Great! Come on I’ll introduce you to the rest of the team.” After that Pei led Feng Wu over. The group wasn’t too far away so it only took them a couple of minutes to walk over.
Zi Cheng and a few of the girls were talking to each other. Among them was Yifu, the girl Zi Cheng saved previously. Ai Lin was also there chatting with the girls and from time to time she would glance up at Zi Cheng. Zi Cheng was completely unaware that the girl in front of her was planning a counterattack.
“Hey everyone. This girl here just joined our group her name is…” Pei’s voice trailed off in embarrassment as he could not recall her name. He turned to look at Feng Wu.
“My name is Feng Wu.” She didn’t understand the other party’s intentions but she knew that this was usually were she was supposed to say her name.
“Hi. Welcome to the group. You’re a sword master yeah? I’m one too. My name’s Xi.” The girl that spoke had a friendly smile.
“I’m Zi Cheng, magician.”
“I’m Ai Lin, also magician.”
“My name’s Gino, magician too.”
“My name’s Kyle, sword master.”
“My name’s Yifu, I’m a magician.”
“My name’s Melis. Welcome I’m a sword master like you.”
“Name’s Hans, sword master.”
“I’m Oman, a magician. I’m in your care.”
“I’m the team leader for now. My name’s Pei, sword master.”
All told it was a team of six sword masters and five magicians. After introductions the team discussed which way to go. They had seen some of the other teams leaving towards the forest while a few looked around the beach. There were some individuals who set off on their own without a team. Feng Wu quietly listened to her teammates discuss without interrupting or saying anything.
“Why don’t we go through the forest?” Although Ai Lin didn’t know their exact position, she had read the novel and already knew where the city was located.
In order to get to the city they would have to pass through the forest. The indigenous people lived in small villages on the outskirts of the forest so this would help the group avoid them. The indigenous people were in fact quite dangerous so bypassing them was for the best. No one voiced disagreement over the idea.
“Since everyone agrees with Ai Lin let’s all head through the forest. After we get out of it we’ll talk again about which way to go,” declared Pei.
Pei and his group weren’t the only ones who came to that decision. Many others also thought the same, feeling that it made sense for the city to be beyond the forest. If they wanted to find the location of the city then they had to leave the beach and rely on their abilities to go through the forest. This was because the forest was filled with wild magical beasts. It was inevitable they would encounter a few and engage in battle. This was very dangerous so Feng Wu’s group of eleven took it slow and easy, not daring to go too fast. The forest wasn’t big so as long as they moved carefully it wouldn’t be too difficult, however they soon came upon a difficult problem as the path diverged. Which one should they take?
Although Ai Lin knew the city was beyond the forest, she didn’t know the path to take as the book didn’t describe that part in detail.
“Ah! What do we do? Which way should we go?” Yifu looked on in confusion while holding onto Zi Cheng’s arm.
Ai Lin looked at Yifu’s clinginess. This girl would serve as an important canon fodder in the early days. Yifu would introduce her older brother, who was also a student at Xingguang Holy Academy, to Zi Cheng. It would be love at first sight and eventually he would die in order to save Zi Cheng from Ai Lin.
Yifu didn’t hate Zi Cheng over her brother’s death, in fact the two became even closer. Later Yifu would follow in her brother’s footsteps and block a fatal blow for Zi Cheng. Even as she lay dying, Yifu thanked Zi Cheng for letting her know what true friendship. Her last words were, “I hope we can be friends in the next life as well.”
Ai Lin watched the scene completely flabbergasted. Both brother and sister willingly gave up their live for this so called friend. Even at death’s door Yifu was still thanking Zi Cheng, letting her know how much she appreciated her friendship. Normal people didn’t do that! Ai Lin didn’t understand people like Yifu and so wanted nothing to do with her.
Back to the path…
Pei also hesitated unsure which way to go. Both paths looked the same. Which one was the way out?
Feng Wu stood behind the group listening carefully to the sounds around her. She used her internal force to communicate with the woodland creatures. Do you know the way out?
Feng Wu quickly discovered that the tiny flowers and grass were more than happy to give her directions and eventually a dandelion by a tree trunk told her the correct path to take. It had been blown into the forest by the wind so it remembered the way clearly.
Feng Wu headed to the front of the group after thanking the dandelion for the directions. She stood next to Pei and said, “This way out.”
When the others saw her walk to the front they thought she would do something, but they hadn’t expected her to directly say which path to take.
“That road is really the way out? How do you know?” asked Xi curiously.
Everyone in the group felt that she was an introverted girl - if you didn’t talk to her she wouldn’t say a word. If you talked to her she would answer, but she wouldn’t voluntarily say anything otherwise. The other girls found it boring to converse with her and gradually came to ignore her.
It wasn’t just Xi, the others were also very curious. Feng Wu didn’t look like she was just randomly guessing, what with her serious expression.
Feng Wu didn’t reply. Master told her she couldn’t just tell others that she could communicate with the plants and animals. It could make them fear her. Because of this she bit her lip and refused to say anything else.
The suffering expression on Feng Wu’s face made Xi really embarrassed. She didn’t understand why Feng Wu looked so wronged but it made her feel like she was bullying a little girl.
Pei quickly came to a decision and spoke his mind. “OK since Feng Wu says this is the right path we’ll take it. It’s not like we have any other clues anyway.”
No one else had any ideas either so might as well go for it and wish for the best.
The group of eleven walked the path Feng Wu pointed out for over two days but failed to exit the forest.
Yifu was the first one to complain. “Are you sure this is the way out? We’ve been on it for so long. Maybe it’s the wrong way.”
“The forest is so big it may just take a little longer to get out. Don’t worry Yifu.” Although Zi Cheng didn’t know the right way she could feel that the road they were on was the correct one. It was definitely the way.
“Yeah, I also think we shouldn’t give up so soon. The forest is big, we won’t make it out of it in just a day or two. Yifu you’re too anxious.” Ai Lin looked at the forest and she felt that as long as they kept going forward along the road they would get out. She couldn’t allow Yifu to ruin things.
“But what if this is the wrong road? Won’t we just be wasting time?” Melis was uncertain.
“Let’s go one more day. Then if we’re still in the forest we can think of something else.” Hans spoke out his thoughts after a moment of silence.
Oman agreed with a, “Yeah.”
“Kyle, Gino, what do you guys think?” Pei asked the other two male members of the group.
“Go for another day. I feel like we should be coming out of the forest soon.” Kyle and Gino both exchanged looks and agreed to go one more day.
“Xi, what about you?” Melis asked the only other female member of the group who had not declared her opinion.
“Since everyone thinks this is the right road, then we should just stick to it. I think what Zi Cheng and Ai Lin said were reasonable. The forest is so big, it would take more than a couple of days of walking to get through. It’s too early to say for sure that this is the wrong path.” Xi gave her opinion.
“But look at that face of hers! She says this is the right path and you all just believe it. You guys only look at her face. She never even talks. If you ask her one question she’ll answer with one sentence. Is there something wrong with her brain? You can’t trust this kind of person.” Yifu aired out her grievances against Feng Wu.
Yifu had grown up pampered and well loved since she was a child because her father was the headmaster of the chamber of commerce. She tried to talk to Feng Wu but didn’t get a good response. So from the very beginning she had been resentful of Feng Wu. The long walk only added to that resentment and she couldn’t hold her thoughts back any longer.
Feng Wu licked her lips and lowered her head not refuting anything Yifu said. She was not angry because the children would say mean things like this whenever she and Master went down the mountain.
Back then Master had said, “So what if they talk? What they say isn’t important and you shouldn’t take it to heart. Don’t bother with those people who look poorly upon you. And if they start getting overboard and hit you then you should just hit them right back. Keeping your feelings bottled up is not good for you.”
Feng Wu had always been an obedient child and so had always listened to everything Master said. She would ignore those children who said mean things to her and if they threw stones at her she would use her internal force to direct the stones right back at them. They suffered the consequences of their own actions. After the children had at taste of what being stoned felt like they stopped physically harassing her. They kept abusing her verbally though.
Feng Wu didn’t care what Yifu said, but the others felt differently. By not saying anything back and keeping her head down Feng Wu presented a pitiful image.
“Yifu you said you much! What has Feng Wu ever done to you? You, what are you bullying her for?” Xi was a straightforward girl and disliked bullies the most, so naturally she was the first one to speak up against Yifu.
“Everything I said was true. I just spoke the truth. I’m the not only one that thinks this. Many of you think the same way. Just admit it!” Yifu looked disdainfully at Xi. Because of her background, Yifu had always been on guard against two-faced people who hid their true intentions behind false words. She felt that Feng Wu was this type of person who used her attractive loveable outer appearance to attract people but hid what she really thought, not speaking her mind truthfully. This kind of person was just a sham and a hypocrite.
“Melis you said you don’t like Feng Wu either. Xiao Cheng,[notes] you think she’s annoying and disagreeable right?” Yifu didn’t hesitate to bring these two into the argument against Xi thinking that they would surely back her up. She and Zi Cheng were on good terms since the other had saved her from drowning and Melis had already expressed concerns about the path.
Melis felt her body temperature rising at being pulled into the argument. She tugged at the corner of her jacket nervously. She came from an ordinary family background with a father who was an ordinary hunter. If it weren’t for her innate talent earning her an exemption from school tuition and fees, she would surely have stayed in her tiny hamlet and married an ordinary man and had ordinary children.
Melis really valued the opportunity to test into Xingguang Academy. She didn’t want to make an enemy or arouse anyone’s dislike, but now she was forced into a hard situation. She was really annoyed.
“Yifu I don’t dislike or find anyone annoying. I was only speaking from conjecture a moment ago about the path.” Melis spoke the truth; she really didn’t have anything against Feng Wu. Aside from that, her reasoning was also based on the fact that both she and Feng Wu were both sword masters. If they got accepted it stood to reason they would see each other again. On the other hand Yifu was a magician so they wouldn’t have much overlap.
Melis’s denial made Yifu angry. “Why would you say that!? You obviously don’t like her! What are you afraid of?!” This Melis is really useless! So afraid to say what she really thinks!
“Good Yifu, we’re all on the same team. Don’t quarrel so much OK?” Zi Cheng wrinkled her brow. She felt hapless over the situation. She didn’t expect Yifu, who had seemed like such a loveable little sister, to become so unreasonable.
Ai Lin laughed secretly to herself from the sidelines. This author is really going out of the way to make Yifu’s role exaggerated.
Yifu deeply resented those who behaved like hypocrites and hid their true motives. In fact the author went out of the way to describe Yifu as a single-minded person who saw the world in black and white. She either loved completely or hated completely, it was similar to the innocence of a child. She became this way because of the actions of a childhood friend she had held dear. That friend spoke viciously about her behind her back resulting in her distrust.
After meeting her, Ai Lin felt that Yifu’s character was contradictory. Yifu didn’t like people who were intentionally good to her, while at the same time she also didn’t like people who didn’t pay attention to her. Ai Lin felt that Yifu was a mental case. How could she unironically declare her desire for the truth when she was only willing to accept her version of events? This kind of person would never be worthy of the protagonist’s attention.
“Xiao Cheng, you won’t help me either? I thought we were friends!” Yifu’s eyes turned red, filled with the pain of betrayal as she looked at Zi Cheng.
Aren’t you my friend?! Back in the ocean you saved me even though you didn’t know anything about me. You were incredibly kind. Zi Cheng held a big spot in Yifu’s heart because of this. She had expected Zi Cheng to back her up because she knew the other person was very kind. Who knew that her expectations would be completely shattered. Yifu was really unhappy!
Zi Cheng felt a headache coming on. Ugh. I thought you were a really cute little sister so I made sure to look out for you. It seems I didn’t know you well enough. “Yifu, what do you want me to do? Help you quarrel with everyone? The most important thing right now is to find a way to pass the assessment, not fight with each other.”
Zi Cheng was earnestly trying to persuade her. Yifu was the first friendly person she got to know when she arrived in the world, so she did think of Yifu as a friend.
With tears in her eyes Yifu yelled, “Whatever! You just don’t want to help me!” I was just trying to help the team! We’re going down the wrong path. But no one believes me! What’s so good about Feng Wu that everyone believes her?! Why is everyone so mean to me?! With that she turned around and ran into the woods.
“Yifu!” Zi Cheng called out to Yifu but Yifu ignored her and kept running.
“Is she crazy? Running around in a place like this? She’s gonna get killed!” Xi felt really annoyed. So dramatic over such a small matter. She must be some spoiled young miss from a rich family. Honestly, acting like the whole world’s against her.
“What should we do? Should we go after her?” Hans asked Pei. Although it was true they were a group, they were only together until they could get out of the forest and reach the city. Which of them would have the time to chase after such an insensible young miss?
Ai Lin walked over to Zi Cheng and asked, “Zi Cheng, do you want to go after her? Won’t she run into trouble if we leave it like this?’’
Zi Cheng was uncertain. She couldn’t let anything influence her performance but at the same time Yifu was her first friend in this world and her safety was important. In the end, was it more important to find Yifu or pass the examination? Zi Cheng was truly conflicted!
Ai Lin sneered. She wanted to see what was in this protagonist's heart. Which was more important to her: the assessment or Yifu? What I don’t get is Feng Wu. There wasn’t a Feng Wu in the novel. No wait… there was. But wasn’t it just a minor role?
Xi thought Feng Wu was a really kind hearted girl when she noticed the other was staring in the direction Yifu ran off in. “Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll come running back.”
Feng Wu turned to Xi and spoke with a serious expression on her face. “There’s something coming this way.” It was a message from the wind.
Kyle was next to them and overheard the exchange. He had on a confused expression as he asked, “What is it?”
Feng Wu didn’t have a chance to answer when an earth-shattering roar rang out.
“Help! Xiao Cheng save me!” Yifu really did come running back just like Xi said, only she didn’t come back alone. Chasing after her was an unidentified magical beast.
The beast’s body was completely engulfed in flames. Although it was huge, at least five meters long, it was not very tall.
Who knew what she did to make it so angry, but it was clearly chasing after her in rage.
“Damn! That’s an eighth level mutated fire crocodile!” Pei recognized the beast.
Originally the fire crocodile must have been a normal low level magical beast, but somewhere along the way it mutated, enabling it to break through its own limits and evolve beyond its set boundaries. Normally a crocodile magical beast would only be able to evolve up to the fifth level, that this one was able to break through to the eighth level was because of some kind of variation or mutation.
Zi Cheng was the highest ranked magician in their group. She was at the fifth level while Ai Lin was next at the fourth level. As for sword masters, the highest they had was maybe fourth or fifth level. For the group to try to fight an eighth level beast was just asking for death.
The huge crocodile screamed before shooting a stream of fire from its mouth. It set the surrounding woods on fire just from the heat alone. The flame itself was unbearably hot.
Yifu finally reached the group. Luckily Pei screamed a warning for the group to spread out and everyone was able to dodge in time.
Yifu had attached herself to Zi Cheng and was screaming, “Kill the beast!” to everyone.
“Abominable human! Return my child! Give me back my baby you thief!”[notes] The fire crocodile was screaming like an enraged madman, spraying fire everywhere. Some of the weaker animals in the forest scampered in fear for their lives. The crocodile was king of the forest so they were very afraid of its temper.
“Look! What’s happening over there?!” Some of the other groups nearby noticed the blazing flames and the frightened screams. It made them uneasy.
“It must be a wild magical beast! Quickly run!” Some people were able to correctly guess the situation and immediately directed their groups to go around. At this point Pei and the others in his group were in a difficult position. Although they tried their best to avoid the attack, the crocodile was really powerful and swift; several people were already injured.
Yifu was among the injured.
“What the hell did you do?! Why is the fire crocodile so angry?!” Xi yelled as she evaded yet another plume of fire.
“I didn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything!” Yifu cried. She had never cut such a sorry figure before in her life! Her arm was injured and her pretty hair was a burnt shamble, the style utterly ruined. Overall she looked a mess.
No one had the extra energy to call her out on it since they had their hands full just trying to evade the crocodile. Everyone knew death meant failure, which meant they would never be able to enroll in Xingguang Academy.
“Feng Wu what are you doing! You want to die?!” Xi screamed.
The others in the group noticed that Feng Wu wasn’t running and hiding but was instead walking directly toward the crocodile.
Does she want to fight the crocodile on her own?! You’ve got to be kidding me!
That’s an eighth level wild beast!
Argh! Instead of escaping you run up to it? Man you must really want to die!
Just when everyone thought the fire crocodile would smash Feng Wu with its claws something unexpected happened. The crocodile stopped attacking altogether and started screaming at Feng Wu. It spoke in a mournful voice, like it had been wronged. It almost sounded like it was crying to Feng Wu.
“Don’t be angry. It’ll be OK. I’ll help you.” Feng Wu touched the crocodile by its mouth and an invisible wind passed between them. The crocodile still wanted to find its child, but it had calmed down considerably and stopped trying to madly attack everyone.
“It’s OK. You guys can come out now.” Feng Wu yelled out.
The others gradually came out when they saw it was safe.
Xi patted Feng Wu on the shoulder and she excited asked, “Feng Wu are you a beast trainer? You’re so powerful!” Then it hit Xi. “But wait no... That couldn’t be. You’re a sword master. How can you be a beast master?!”
Instead of answering Xi’s questions Feng Wu walked over to Yifu who was hiding behind Zi Cheng.
“Hand it over.” She spoke in a soft but firm voice that brooked no room for refusal.
“Hand what over? I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Yifu screeched like someone had stepped on her tail. She held onto Zi Cheng’s clothes as though she was seeking comfort.
Ai Lin gave Yifu an odd look before asking, “Feng Wu, do you want Yifu to give you something?” I knew it. This girl did do something to make the fire crocodile go berserk. To think I was nearly ruined by her. Stupid to the end, so stupid she’ll definitely die.
“Egg. The mother crocodile says you stole it while she was away.” Feng Wu pointed to the crocodile before looking unhappily at Yifu. This person stole then lied. Bad person.
“What?! You took its egg? No wonder the fire crocodile went crazy!” Xi was so angry she wanted to slap Yifu. Dare to take something like that! How brainless can you be?!
Kyle yelled, “Hurry up and give it back! If you want to die then fine, but don’t go around dragging us with you!” Knowing that Yifu purposefully brought such danger to the group made him really angry so his tone wasn’t very nice.
“Yifu take out the egg. Give it back to the crocodile.” Even the mild tempered Pei was angry. If it weren’t for Feng Wu we’d all be dead right now, not even making it past the second day of assessment. The thought of failing and losing the only chance he would ever have of entering the academy was enough to turn his face ugly.
“I said I didn’t take it. The crocodile went crazy on its own and just started chasing me. You all gang up on me just because Feng Wu says so?! I didn’t do anything wrong! Don’t treat me like a criminal!” Yifu cried out tearfully. This combined with her injured appearance made her appear really pitiful.
“Maybe it’s a misunderstanding?” Zi Cheng felt uncertain looking at the crying Yifu.
“Yeah. Yifu isn’t a liar. We can’t just believe the words of a wild beast.” Oman couldn’t bear to see Yifu crying and his heart was moved.
The others also began to doubt. The other party was a wild beast...they couldn’t just take its words as truth.
“Whether you guys believe the wild beast or not, I believe in Feng Wu. She wouldn’t lie.” Xi’s instincts were telling her that Feng Wu was an honest girl, Yifu on the other hand… she didn’t like the girl at all.
“Hey! Hey!” The crocodile roared. It had quietly listened to the group talk the entire time. It didn’t understand everything that was said, but it knew enough to be angered by what it heard. Killing intentions reappeared in its eyes.
“Feng Wu! What’s it saying?!” Melis took a step back in fear at the roar.
“It says you have two choices. Either hand over the egg or hand over the person. If you don’t choose then it will just kill everyone along with her.” Feng Wu pointed at Yifu as she spoke.
All those who stood up for Yifu earlier didn’t dare saying anything more. Even Zi Cheng was silent.
In the silence Feng Wu said, “Return the baby egg to the mother. If you don’t you really will die.”
“We have so many people. I don’t believe we can’t take it down. It’s just one wild beast. If we work together we can definitely defeat it!” Yifu retorted back trying to rally everyone together to fight the crocodile.
No one was fooled though. They came here in hopes of a better future for themselves. Why would they risk life and limb for someone they barely knew? [notes]
“Beat it yourself! I’m not helping. The fire crocodile only wants you. Why should we all fight just because you say so? Who do you think you are?” Although Xi was harsh, what she said represented what everyone in the group thought.
“You… you...” Yifu pointed at Xi dumbstruck. She looked around at the others in the group. They were silent, not giving voice to their opinions. “Xiao Cheng, you’ll help me right? Right?” Yifu grabbed Zi Cheng’s hand as if it was a life-saving straw.
Zi Cheng pulled her hand back. “Yifu, look me in the eye and tell me you really didn’t take the crocodile’s egg.”
“I.. I didn’t take it. I really didn’t take it.” Yifu eagerly said.
Zi Cheng shook her head in disappointment. “Yifu, you took it. You still won’t admit it?”
“I...” Yifu couldn’t say anything.
“Take the egg out Yifu, otherwise we can’t save you.” Ai Lin looked at Yifu with a complete deadpan expression. Her time was precious and she didn’t want to waste it on this kind of thing.
“Roar!” The crocodile screamed again, clearly at the end of its patience.
“I’ll take it out! I’ll take it out!” The roar of the crocodile really scared Yifu. She understood no one in the group would help her. She might be willful but she wasn’t a fool. She knew if she didn’t take it out this time the group really would leave her behind. She pulled out a red egg after rummaging in her space bag. This egg was such a great find! How was I to know the mother crocodile would come out of nowhere and start chasing me?! I ran back here because I thought with so many people it would be easy to defeat the crocodile. How was I to know you’d all be so useless! Running and hiding. How pathetic.
Although Yifu felt bad about giving up the egg her mood improved after trash talking everyone in her mind. If I’d known how useless you all were I wouldn’t have bothered joining the team.
The fire crocodile finally got its egg back. After Feng Wu talked to it for a bit it agreed to leave Yifu alone. The crocodile gave her farewell to Feng Wu and ambled away with her egg.
Once everything was settled, everyone began looking around for places to sit and rest so they could deal with the wounded. The only ones uninjured were Feng Wu, Ai Lin and Zi Cheng. Everyone else had wounds of varying degrees. The most seriously wounded was Pei. He took his role of captain very seriously so when he saw Melis in danger he immediately pushed the other boy out of the way. As a result he bore the full brunt of the flames.
Fortunately Ai Lin’s magic was a wood elemental with strong healing powers. She could heal them but not completely. In order to fully recover they would have to spend some time to rest and heal.
“Captain, I suggest we kick Yifu out. She’s a selfish troublemaker and we can’t rely on her. I’m afraid she’ll only bring us more trouble in the future and we won’t be able to continue with the assessment.” Xi saw that Yifu was also injured along with everyone else and so had held back from saying anything earlier, waiting until Ai Lin finished healing everyone before speaking. She couldn’t hold back anymore and gave voice to her frustration.
“Xi! Why are you targeting me?! What did I do wrong?! Aren’t we all here because we’re looking for opportunities? That crocodile’s egg, if you’d seen it you would have snatched it too!” Yifu yelled and sneered at Xi.
Originally Yifu didn’t dare speak because of everything that happened with the crocodile, but when Xi attacked her she couldn’t hold her tongue back.
What would she do if she got kicked out? How would she face people? Thinking of the ridicule she could get made her heart itch like a cat got at it. It was unbearable!
“What did you do wrong?! You have the nerve to ask?! Just look around at all the people injured because of you. And then to top it off you try to make yourself look innocent? How shameless can you be?!” Watching as Yifu made herself out to be a victim really rubbed Xi the wrong way. She really wanted to just slap the girl.
“It’s not like I’m the one that hurt you! Why do you have to blame it all on me?!” I was wronged too you know! Such a good mutated crocodile egg… Gone! I’m so pitiful! Yifu was heartbroken she lost the egg.
“I’m not gonna bother arguing with you. Captain why don’t we put it to a vote? Those who agree to kicking her out can raise their hands. If more than half vote yes, then we kick her out. If not then she can stay and I won’t say anything more.” You’re such a weirdo, why would I bother arguing with you. Voting is faster and clearer.
“Xi wait! Don’t joke about something like this. Give Yifu another chance. I’ll keep an eye on her OK?” Zi Cheng didn’t mean to make things difficult for Xi, but Yifu wasn’t a bad person. Even though she hadn’t known Yifu long, Yifu was still the first friend she made. She couldn’t let Xi drive Yifu out.
“Xiao Cheng!” Yifu was quite moved that Zi Cheng stood up for her. Sure enough Zi Cheng is the only good person here!
“You don’t have to say that Zi Cheng. This time it’s because of Yifu that we suffered such losses. She should be held responsible. I agree with Xi. Captain? Your decision?” Ai Lin didn’t want to bother with Yifu any longer than necessary. She didn’t recall the original assessment being this dangerous. Regardless of why the difficulty level increased Yifu was like a time bomb waiting to go off. She was too dangerous to have on the team.
Pei had been raised and educated to be a chivalrous knight so the current situation was a real dilemma for him. Kicking a girl out of a group was a clear conflict of his values, but at the same time Yifu really was bad for the team. Pei muttered to himself pondering over the situation. Everyone here has a definite opinion about her. If she stays and something like this happens again… what are we going to do?
Thinking up to here he finally made up his mind. “Alright we’re going to vote. Everyone here who wants Yifu to stay raise your hand.”
After Pei finished speaking the only person with a hand up was Zi Cheng. Everyone else was either too busy tending to the wounded or pretending not to hear. Their meaning was obvious. No one wanted Yifu to stay.
Yifu’s eyes reddened when she saw everyone’s reaction. A strong sense of resentment rose up in her heart. Just wait! I’ll take my revenge against every single one of you!
“The results are pretty clear. No one wants you here. Leave already.” Xi couldn’t help but rejoice in Yifu’s misfortune.[notes]
“You… you. I’ll remember this!” Yifu indignantly sputtered out at Xi.
“Yifu stop that. I’ll go with you OK?” Zi Cheng had originally joined the group with Yifu, so everyone knew that she and Yifu were together. If Yifu was going to leave then it wouldn’t be good for her to stay on.
“Zi Cheng, you don’t have to go with her.” Hans spoke up as soon as he heard Zi Cheng’s words.
“Yeah you’re you and she’s her. We won’t think of you any differently because of your relationship with her.” Gino added in anxiously.
Both felt that Zi Cheng was a gentle and considerate girl and they were rather fond of her. She had a soothing personality that made those around her feel very relaxed.
“I’m sorry, but I won’t feel at ease if I let Yifu go on her own. She and I can take care of each other if we leave together.” Although Zi Cheng spoke softly it was clear from her voice that she was firm in her refusal to leave the group.
“Xiao Cheng…” Tears glistened in Yifu’s eyes as she looked at Zi Cheng.
She had endured so much hostility and alienation from the group, but Zi Cheng was still her friend. Although it filled her with happiness that Zi Cheng would be willing to leave the group with her, she felt a tiny bit of guilt as well. To think she had just cursed Zi Cheng out in her heart for not being a loyal friend.
“Zi Cheng, you sure you want to go with her? She’s a very troublesome person. You’ll have to make sure to take extra care to be safe.” Xi didn’t speak very well of Yifu, but it was obvious from her words that she was concerned about Zi Cheng. Just about everyone in the group felt that Zi Cheng was a wonderful and kind-hearted girl. How was it possible to not like her? Therefore just about everyone in the group was concerned about her well-being.
“Yeah Zi Cheng. Don’t leave. Everyone here likes you. Feng Wu, you say something too.” Ai Lin glanced at Zi Cheng with a worried expression on her face. She seemed to be genuinely concerned.
In fact Ai Lin was just trying to use Feng Wu to egg Yifu on. She knew Yifu hated Feng Wu the most out of anyone in the group. She was sure Yifu wouldn’t be able to keep her mouth shut if Feng Wu started talking. Ai Lin was looking forward to Yifu making a ruckus and possibly involving Zi Cheng in more drama. The more drama there was the more likely everyone would start to dislike Zi Cheng as well - guilty by association.
Ai Lin was determined to rob Zi Cheng of all her good cards. There was no way the two of them could ever become friends, so might as well. She had to make as much trouble for the female protagonist as she could.
A few of the people there looked at Ai Lin weirdly when they heard her, wondering if she was up to something. The ever quiet Feng Wu was obviously a poor choice to pick. To pick Feng Wu...did Ai Lin really want Zi Cheng to stay or did she actually want her to leave?
“Say what?” Feng Wu looked at Ai Lin. Was she supposed to say something?
“Say what? Well say something to convince Zi Cheng to stay of course!” Ai Lin had to fight really hard not to roll her eyes. Can this girl really be that dumb or was she just faking it? However Ai Lin had to endure it if she wanted her plan to work. She absolutely could not roll her eyes.
Say something to persuade Zi Cheng. But she couldn't think of anything… Feng Wu was really confused. Left with nothing to say she could only say the truth. “I have nothing to say.”
Huh? Was she doing this on purpose? Ai Lin was skeptical and even Zi Cheng began to wonder that perhaps she had misread Feng Wu. She thought Feng Wu was a pure-hearted girl, but her behavior now seemed to suggest that she wanted Zi Cheng to leave with Yifu. Was this Feng Wu’s true face?
The others in the group also wondered the same thing. They looked on with with a confused and fascinated expression. Was Feng Wu being deliberate or was she really that simple?
Melis finally spoke up voicing what everyone was thinking. “Zi Cheng, you should stay. Going with Yifu would be dangerous.”
Yifu had a nasty temper and no one liked her. She was just too troublesome to deal with. Melis didn’t want to see someone as beautiful, gentle, and tender as Zi Cheng be dragged down by someone as insensible as Yifu.
Zi Cheng just smiled at his words not paying it any mind. “I’ve made my decision. I will leave with Yifu. It shouldn’t take much more walking to get out of the woods. As long as we’re careful we should be able to get to the city.”
Left with no choice the group could only helplessly watch as Zi Cheng left with Yifu. Contrary to what everyone expected Yifu knew when to shut up. In silence she followed behind Zi Cheng trying not to cause any more trouble for the only person who supported her in the group.
“Zi Cheng is too kind. That Yifu just does whatever she wants, acting like some high and mighty young miss. To cause so much trouble for others like that. Zi Cheng even left with her.” Xi sighed sorrowfully deeply moved by Zi Cheng’s selflessness.
“I know! Zi Cheng is such a good girl! She’s in the middle of the assessment yet she’s still so concerned about Yifu’s safety.” Thinking about how incredibly kind-hearted Zi Cheng was made Hans even more upset with Yifu.
Although the others didn’t say anything they all felt that Zi Cheng was a really good and kind-hearted girl. She had only been friends with Yifu for two days but was already taking such good care of her.[notes](
There were only two people who didn’t feel this way. One was naturally Ai Lin. There was no way the two would ever get along since Zi Cheng was fated to be Ai Lin’s downfall.
Zi Cheng hadn’t walked very far with Yifu when several “bings” echoed in her ear.
*bing* Yifu’s favorability rating: plus 30 points
*bing* Gino’s favorability rating: plus 20 points
*bing* Xi’s favorability rating: plus 10 points
*bing* Han’s favorability rating: plus 20 points
*bing* Melis’ favorability rating: plus 10 points
*bing* Oman’s favorability rating: plus 10 points
*bing* Pei’s favorability rating: plus 10 points
*bing* Kyle’s favorability rating: plus 10 points
Each successive “bing” indicated her favorability rating with people in the world, it was essentially her cheat system if you will. The system allowed her to exchange her favorability points for items and other goods such as sacred level staves and spells. She could even purchase skill upgrades if she earned enough points.
Of course those amazing items were beyond her reach right now, but if she kept boosting her popularity she had no doubt she would eventually be able to do an exchange. As it was Zi Cheng was really pleased with the points she earned today.
Her innate talent was so high because she drank a magic potion. Just one dose of it was enough to raise her innate talent to the twelfth level. Zi Cheng was really glad that her former host was a small unimportant person who never had her skills tested. Otherwise such a large jump in skill would have made people suspicious of her and surely courted disaster.
Looking at the system’s panel interface she could see that everyone had a good impression of her. The only two unaffected by her were Ai Lin and Feng Wu.
Ai Lin was a mystery. Zi Cheng was sure she’d never offended the other party, yet somehow her favorability rating was barely above the fifty point baseline. Feng Wu’s was even more surprising. It was lower than Ai Lin’s at an incredibly low forty points! Could it be the incident with Yifu made Feng Wu angry? It didn’t make sense when she thought about it though.
Whether it was Feng Wu or Ai Lin, both girls gave a her a strange feeling. For example, although she’d never met Ai Lin before she kept getting faint hostile stares thrown her way all throughout the journey. It was still noticeable even though Ai Lin tried to hide it.
This was part of the reason Zi Cheng chose to leave with Yifu. She hoped to move the girl’s heart by presenting herself as a selfless and dedicated friend.
Pei’s team found their way out of the forest the next day. There were only nine people in the group after Yifu and Zi Cheng left. They lined up in single file and proceeded to follow the narrow path to exit the forest.
Once they left the forest they were able to make out a blue wall not too far in the distance. It had to be the neutral city. Unfortunately several villages were scattered between them and the city wall. From their vantage point they could see the villagers moving about dressed in their animal skins. They were fully aware they would be attacked on sight. In order to get to the city safely they needed to avoid the hostile indigenous people.
It took two days, but they successfully accomplished it. Taking so long was unavoidable as they were travelling by foot and had to go out of their way to avoid the villagers. Luckily no one was injured in the two days it took to reach the city.
The original agreement for the group was to stick together only until they reached the city, so once they passed the city walls everyone said their farewells and went their separate ways. Sticking together as a group would not have been optimal because it meant splitting the rewards from the treasure. Therefore it was better to go solo and search individually. They were all keen on passing the text as quickly as possible, and finding the treasure map was the way to do it.
Because the city was a neutral zone, they were safe from attacks and could therefore be at ease. Fighting with each other was forbidden so anyone caught doing so would immediately be disqualified. Any candidate caught harming a resident would not be disqualified but would be permanently banned from entering the city. Because of this, trouble was effectively curtailed.
Aside from resting, replenishing supplies was also a possibility as it was a lively city with a bustling commerce area. The people there were friendly, unlike the villagers in the surrounding area.
The first thing Feng Wu did after leaving the group was look for her favorite snack - meat buns and the shops that sold them. Because she didn’t have her storage ring, she couldn’t get at the buns she previously bought. She hadn’t eaten a single meat bun for the past three days. It had been three days of hunger! It had been three days of helping the boys fight the forest monsters on an empty stomach!
Once she found a shop, Feng Wu straightaway had the shop owner wrap up two silver coins worth of meat buns. At five copper coins, it didn’t deter Feng Wu that the meat buns here were more expensive than in the real world.
The currency exchange between the real world and the virtual space was the same:
1000 copper coins = 1 silver coin
100 silver coins = 1 gold coin
With 400 meat buns wrapped and stored away in her storage bag Feng Wu was a happy camper again. The image as she walked down the street was that of a girl happily stroking her storage bag with one hand while nibbling on a meat bun in the other. It was an image that couldn’t help but bring a smile to the passersby who saw her.
Ai Lin had a very good impression of the city after exploring around. It felt fantastical, like a holographic online game. The city was a neutral zone filled with NPCs while the outside was a combat zone filled with villagers and monsters - essentially enemies.
Could the person who created the examination dimension be a fellow transmigrator from her world? This kind of ability, it was at a godlike level, too over the top!
In fact Ai Lin’s guess was not far from the truth. A thousand years ago a transmigrator had indeed entered the world and gained godlike powers. The examination space was inspired from his memories of online games he played in his world. He left it in the care of the academy to be used as a testing and training space for the students and potential candidates for the school.
So it was that while Feng Wu was enjoying her meat buns, Ai Lin was using her memory of the story line to exploit the situation. She knew completing jobs set by NPCs would be the best way to get directional clues about the treasure. She began by making contact with NPCs on the streets. It was too bad things didn’t turn out the way she envisioned.
After leaving Feng Wu and the group behind, Ai Lin came upon a flower shop that was looking for help in obtaining a type of flower for one of their customers. After asking the shopkeeper for details Ai Lin promptly went to the mountains and picked the flower. Instead of getting the expected treasure map clues, she was given five silver coins. It was not what she wanted! She was sure the shopkeeper had a clue, but for some reason was withholding it from her. Ai Lin decided to switch tactics and just ask directly. However the response remained the same, the shopkeeper simply didn’t know anything about a treasure map. Because Ai Lin wouldn’t give up, the shopkeeper eventually became annoyed and tossed a bucket of dirty water at her. Luckily Ai Lin was quick and avoided it in time. In irritation she turned around and left the shop. Although she wanted to keep asking, it was clear this specific shopkeeper had a bad temper. It was better to leave before she offended her more.
Ai Lin wasn’t the only one asking around about the treasure map, many others were also doing the same thing. Zi Cheng and Yifu entered the city with another team just as Ai Lin left the flower shop.
Zi Cheng also noticed the similarities between the virtual space and online games she remembered from Earth. She wasn’t a player but she had read one or two novels about them. So although her knowledge was limited she did understand the basics; in order to progress she had to find and complete missions for the clues.
She said farewell to the group she travelled with, fully expecting to go forward alone, but to her dismay Yifu followed behind her. Despite her annoyance she endured Yifu’s presence when she thought of the 95 points she had with the girl. It was a large amount and she didn’t want to lose any.
The two walked around the city trying to find tasks to complete. Unfortunately to their dismay they weren’t given any tasks despite talking to all the residents they came across. Zi Cheng began to doubt her initial conjecture. Maybe this wasn’t like an online game from Earth?
They stopped at a bulletin board and a notice caught her eye. The posting, from a weapon shop, was looking for an enchanted sword with a third rank magical beast core. The reward was gold. What caught Zi Cheng’s eye was the bonus. On top of the monetary reward there was an additional thank you gift for anyone who caught a large third rank magical ape beast for the core. There were many other similar notices on the board from shops that required running errands.
Many clever children also saw and guessed they could gain clues to the treasure map this way as well; as a result many requests were handed out in a short period of time. Not everyone opted for this route though. Some preferred to try their luck by looking for the treasure maps directly instead of relying on reward clues.
Feng Wu was the only one who didn’t do either things. She was busy chomping away on her tenth meat bun while going around purchasing supplies. So far she had purchased a tent, a fire starter, and a water bag; they were all things that would be useful for traveling through the wilderness outside. After filling her water bag with water from the river she found a cheap hotel to spend the night.
All the student candidates had a calm first day in the city.
The feeling of waking up in a strange bed the next morning left Feng Wu disoriented. After several seconds she remembered where she was and the reason. She washed up, left the room and exited the hotel but was unsure about what to do next. Something about a treasure map… But what is a treasure map? She had never heard of it in all the years she lived in the mountain with Master. The teachers, taking it for granted that everyone knew what it was, hadn’t explained. How could there be someone in the world who didn’t know what a treasure map was?
She suddenly remembered what Jier said about libraries and how the books there contained a lot of information. With that in mind she decided she would find a library and use the books inside to get information about treasure maps.
Since the start of the test Feng Wu had purposefully not asked anyone for help. This was all because of Jier, who had undertaken the responsibility of educating her. He had given her a lecture before she started the exams saying things like: don’t talk to strangers unnecessarily, don’t listen to strangers, don’t eat random food... lots of things like that. She wasn’t too capable when it came to dealing with people but her memory was fantastic. She knew he was doing it for her own good so she took everything he said to heart and obeyed them to the letter.
As a result she had not casually talked to anyone other than Pei that first day, and that was only so they could form a team. She kept to herself and only replied if someone asked her a direct question, but now she was in a dilemma.
She wanted to go to the library, but she didn’t know where it was. Blinking her eyes she looked at the people moving around her. There was no helping it, she had to ask for directions. After carefully observing the people around her she headed towards the meat bun vendor from earlier.
The shopkeeper smiled when he saw her heading over. “Little girl, do you want to buy more buns?” Her spending ability really impressed him. If only everyone spent like her his family would be rich.
Once Feng Wu reached the stall she looked at the shopkeeper and seriously spoke. “Uncle do you know how to get to the library?”
“Library?” The shopkeeper wiped his oily hands on his apron twice before answering. “We have a library in the city but it’s not free. One silver coin per hour. If you want to read books, just go to the bookstores instead. It would be cheaper. The library is expensive.”
“Thank you but I want the library.” Feng Wu was adamant.
It seemed she wasn’t willing to listen to his suggestion. Since she was set on it he called his seven year old son over. This son was a plump mischievous boy.
“Here, take this girl to the library.”
The boy didn’t want to do it for free so he tried to haggle with his father. “What do I get out of it? I want chicken a leg.”
The shopkeeper wanted to slap his son for being so greedy, but before he could Feng Wu pulled out a chicken drumstick from her storage bag and handed it to the boy. Since it was already done he couldn’t say anything about it and just told them to get going.
The boy was very happy with Feng Wu’s straightforward personality. He led her through several alley ways before entering a beautiful building. The building itself was a shop that sold an assortment of magic weapons and items. He brought her inside and led her to the rear of the shop. Everything they passed looked unusual and rare with an appropriate price tag attached. The boy didn’t bring Feng Wu to the store to shop though. The library was located in a secret basement so finding it without a guide would have been difficult, probably impossible without a good amount of luck. He led her to the rear of the building toward a staircase.
Under the stairway was an enormously thick door with images of magical beasts carved into the wood. The images filled the entire door, hundreds and thousands of magical beasts were engraved, from the common ones to legendary heavenly ones.
Feng Wu didn’t know much about magical beasts on Tianfeng continent so the import of the images didn’t register; in fact she had no idea that the beasts on the door were god level magical beasts at all. To her they just looked powerful and amazing.
Above the door was a sign that read “The Neutral City Library.” It was written in the common language so even Feng Wu, who never studied the language and didn’t have the memories of the original host, could read it.
“This is the library, I’m gonna go back home now. As thanks for the chicken leg I’ll give you some good info. If you take the job of tidying up the books you won’t be charged for using the library to study. The librarian is willing to waive the fees in place of a salary, you just have to clean the place up and you can study for free. Most people don’t want the job because they’d rather have a salary. If it suits you and you’re interested, why not go in for an interview? If the librarian likes you, you can start right away and use the library for free.” He didn’t mind sharing some good info with her since she gave him such a big chicken leg without haggling.
“Tell the librarian that the stuffed steamed bun vendor Li sent you. The old man is my dad. Yeah and my name’s Jie. I’m supposed to help watch the shop today so I have to get back before the old man gets mad and scolds me.” After saying so he hurriedly ran off. Throughout the entire walk he’d been thinking about the chicken leg, its juicy fragrance teasing him to no end. After delivering Feng Wu to the library he immediately chowed down on it.
Feng Wu stared at the door for a full three minutes after he left before finally pushing it open. Despite its appearance it was actually easy to push and she had no trouble opening it at all. The library wasn’t damp or gloomy despite being situated in a basement. In fact it was very nicely lit inside with plenty of sunlight streaming through the small windows at the top.
The door closed behind her automatically. It wasn’t a heavy thud, but the sudden silence felt heavy after the bustle of the world outside. Anyone in this kind of situation would feel the urge to run and escape. Feng Wu wasn’t like most people though. She only glanced back at the firmly closed door before walking towards the only other person in the room. This person had his head resting on top of a big desk.
Judging from the pool of drool on the book under his face he had been asleep for some time. Feng Wu stood to the side of the desk and quietly waited for him to wake up. She stood like that for three hours...
Three people were gathered around a mirror. In it were images of student candidates taking the exam; as one scene faded away another would take its place. The scenes shifted between the children and showed them in different places doing different things as they went about trying to find their items. One scene showed a boy on a mountain killing a magic beast while in a different part of the mountain a girl was picking medicinal plants. Another scene showed a candidate freeing a tangled kite from a tree. The one after that was of a girl joyfully heading out to find her treasure after getting a treasure map. The last scene showed a young sword master. There was nothing exceptional about him. It showed him finishing a task for an old man and receiving copper payment. Expecting a treasure map he got angry and threatened the old man with his sword. Before he could do anything else the city guards appeared. They immediately hauled him away and a notice appeared in the sky:
An examinee threatened a city resident. He will be held for disciplinary action. Other examinees should take note and not cause any more trouble for the residents.
“Youngsters nowadays are so impatient.” This came from James, the stern looking sword master. He stood in front of the viewing mirror with the other two teachers overseeing the second part of the exam.
The second male teacher spoke up saying, “They’re quite young though. When we took the exams weren’t we all like that?” He thought about the past and couldn’t help but break out in laughter, his face that of someone recalling fond memories.
The only female teacher in the group also added her thoughts. “Hopefully there are some good prospects in this batch. Those of the Demon race have been using the cracks to slip into our world and devouring people. There are so few of us who can stand against the Demon and Asura races. It’s been a thousand years since someone like Longze-Jiamoer appeared.”
Longze-Jiamoer was known as the magician who created miracles. Although he was just an ordinary boy from a peasant family, he had an innate magic skill of the seventh level. Over time and with great effort he broke through and reached God level for both magic and medicine. As the only person to achieve God levels in two fields, his name was known across the entire continent. On top of that he also united humanity and defeated both the Demon and Asura races. Then together with the monarchs of the three kingdoms he created an international agreement that stabilized the world and brought peace for a thousand years.
He was a godlike existence that ascended to godhood.
“Although I hope there is another like Longze-Jiamoer, it’s unlikely that another talent like him will appear again. He was a singular existence.”
Longze-Jiamoer’s greatest talent was not in magic, but in the medical field and the creation of medicine. Of the prescription drug recipes in the world today, most were created by him.
Since the formation of Tianfeng continent there had only been ten others who achieved the rank of God in medicine. The most influential of them was of course Longze-Jiamoer. All of the Gods were gone now.
As they were speaking the image in the mirror changed and focused on Zi Cheng and Yifu. The scene showed Zi Cheng handing out food to the beggars in the alley while Yifu stood off to the side with a blank look on her face.
“This child is not only gifted, she is also kind hearted.” The female teacher looked at Zi Cheng with admiration.
“Indeed she is good. But that one next to her… she is lacking.” James wrinkled his brow as he stated the obvious.
“We have so few children with an affinity for magic. Those that do show up are inevitably spoiled. With this kind of pampering, even those with a good temperament will change and become obnoxious.” The gentle male teacher sighed. Exceptionally gifted children, especially if they came from well-to-do families, tended to be the most spoiled. Ironically this kind of pampering ended up being bad for the child’s development.
Children from normal families were in fact the ones with the strongest will and determination, their hearts flexible and adaptable.
“Huh? Look at this child. Didn’t she display the strongest most restrained power. She was the only one to pass the first test with any subtlety. Everyone else had to display overt aggression or killing intent. She’s been motionless for so long. What’s she up to?” The scene that caught their attention was of Feng Wu in the library. She had come into view several times before, each time showed her in the same pose standing in the same spot.
All three observed Feng Wu in earnest.
After three hours the old man finally opened his drowsy eyes to find a cute dark haired girl staring at him from across the desk. Her eyes were practically shining with curiosity.
He was so shocked he nearly fell out of his chair. After getting his balance he pushed his chair out and stood up. “Little girl you want to read? Do you know the cost is one silver coin per hour?” He wiped away at the stains on his cheeks then wiped his hand on his robe as he spoke, utterly destroying his image in the process.
Feng Wu saw it all but didn’t comment and instead said, “I came here for work. I heard reading is free for people who work here.”
What a direct child. The old man drew out the corners of his mouth before saying, “Yes there is such a thing, but I don’t hire just any random person.” He stopped there and critically looked at Feng Wu’s tiny body.
“Li told me about it.” Feng Wu spoke seriously as she looked at him.
“Eh? Li? His buns are delicious. I haven’t had them in a long time.” The old man commented after swallowing down some saliva that pooled in his mouth at the mention of the name. “Well out of consideration for Li I’ll let you stay and tidy up some of the books. But know that I won’t pay you for it, so you better be mentally prepared.”
Feng Wu nodded, happy to earn free library privileges. “I understand. I only want to read.”
After Feng Wu’s matter was settled the old man went right back to napping on top of his book.
As for Feng Wu, she went ahead and sorted the books by their classification. She had gone through half the library’s inventory when the door was pushed open and a blue haired girl walked in. She looked all around in curiosity but didn’t notice Feng Wu who was hidden behind a pile of books.
After she finished surveying the room the girl walked over to the table with the sleeping old man and knocked on it a few times. Instead of waking up, the old man just turned his head to the other side. She was not deterred. She likewise also moved to the other side and continued knocking near his head. Finally unable to ignore it any longer the old man woke up.
“Hello. I’m an adventurer from the outside world. I need to check for some information. May I read the books here?” Ai Lin asked.
He looked at Ai Lin and once again had to wipe the drool off his face. “One silver coin per hour. How many hours do you need?”
“Two should be all I need. If I haven’t found what I want in that time I’ll add in more money.” She smiled and handed over two silver coins to him.
“Come and see me again when your time is up.” He ignored Ai Lin after that and went back to sleep.
Ai Lin turned to look at the library. It was big and she wasn’t sure if she could find what she needed. She found out about the library from the parents of a lost boy who she had helped. After reuniting them she grabbed the opportunity to ask if they knew anything about the hidden treasure maps spread throughout the city. They didn’t, but they were able to give her a hint. If she was looking for information then the library was probably the best place to go. Ai Lin was overjoyed and asked for the location. In the end it had taken her over forty minutes of searching to find the library.
Ai Lin knew Zi Cheng would get a treasure map after helping a group of beggars. Originally she had planned on swooping in and grabbing the treasure map before Zi Cheng, however things didn’t turn out as she had hoped. She knew the location the beggars would appear, but she didn’t know when and so was forced to walk in circles while waiting for them. Unfortunately Zi Cheng still managed to beat her to them.
Out of gratitude one of the old beggars gave her a treasure map. It was an incredibly valuable map because it led to the location of a holy spell book left behind by Longzi-Jiamoer. This in turn would have a domino effect resulting in Zi Cheng’s elevated status at school; in fact she was only below eight others when it came to prestige and importance.
The resolve in Ai Lin’s eyes grew firmer when she remembered them. All eight people possessed were bearers of a godly artifact and were remarkable in their own ways. Each and everyone of them had the ability to destroy the heavens and thus were given the heavy responsibility of protecting the land. Ultimately three of the eight would die for Zi Cheng. Of the rest two had good relations with her while the others had no interactions with her at all.
Ai Lin couldn’t believe the other girl’s luck. She shook her head to clear her mind, she had other things to think about, wasting time complaining was not one of them. She had to focus on trying to find another magical item.
Now that she was at the library Ai Lin wasn’t sure how to find the clues she needed. The library had so many books. After some thought she decided to look at the books on local customs and geography. Her experience from playing games told her that important clues were often found in books that appeared unimportant. She sat down at a table to read after gathering a few.
Feng Wu only gave Ai Lin a quick glance before returning her attention to the task at hand - organizing.
Ai Lin read for over an hour before getting tired. She got up and stretched; it was then that she saw Feng Wu on a ladder. It was obvious the other girl was sorting the books. Ai Lin gathered her wits after a few seconds and raised her voice to ask, “Feng Wu, how long have you been here?”
Feng Wu heard the question and turned around to find Ai Lin staring at her in amazement. “I came here two hours ago.” After saying so she continued with her chores, meticulously wiping clean the book in her hand before putting it back on the shelf.
“Then you were here before me!” Ai Lin thought she was the only visitor in the library. She’s been here for so long yet she didn’t say anything? What does she mean to do? I don’t understand.
“Yes, I was here before you.” Feng Wu nodded honestly.
Ai Lin made a constipated face at the simple and apparent unsarcastic answer. What the hell is with your repeated answer?! Ai Lin laughed and said, “Why didn’t you call out to me? The city is so big and yet we still ran into each other. Our meeting must be fated.”
“Why would I call out to you?” Feng Wu stopped wiping the book in her hand and looked at Ai Lin curiously.
Huh? What...what is this girl’s problem? Is she doing it on purpose? Ai Lin suspected Feng Wu was pretending to be stupid, but her serious look confused Ai Lin. She seems serious… not like she’s lying… but maybe she’s just... a really good actress? She deserves an Emmy. Whatever. When in doubt just laugh.
“Haha... “ Ai Lin didn’t answer Feng Wu’s question but alternated her gaze between the rag in Feng Wu’s hand and Feng Wu herself. “Why are you cleaning the books?” Ai Lin asked, not because she was trying to change the topic but because she was genuinely curious.
“I have to. I work here.” Feng Wu put one book down and focused on the next one in line.
“You work here?” Ai Lin’s voice went up in pitch out of surprise. Feng Wu works here? Really? Shouldn’t she be out trying to find her treasure? Wait, maybe it’s a secret mission. And as long as she completes it she’ll get a treasure map. Yeah. That must be it.
Feng Wu nodded in answer. Was it really that strange to work here? Blinking blinking, Feng Wu could only blink in incomprehension.
Ai Lin decided to test Feng Wu by asking her directly. “Feng Wu, did you get a side quest to help out in the library? Will you be rewarded with a treasure map?”
Her only reply was another series of blinks from Feng Wu. Feng Wu didn’t know how to reply because she didn’t understand the words in Ai Lin’s question.
Originally Ai Lin wanted to see if Feng Wu was another transmigrator or reincarnated person so she had specifically used the term “side quest.” If Feng Wu was a fellow transmigrator then she would likely react to the term, but if she wasn’t, if she was only a native person of the world, then she wouldn’t understand. Did I guess wrong? Maybe she’s not a transmigrator or reincarnated person.
“I don’t know what a “side quest” is. I only know that I can read books for free if I work here.” Feng Wu wondered if it was some kind of mythical beast.
“You can read books for free?” Ai Lin didn’t believe Feng Wu at all, sure that the other party had to be lying. She understood though. It would be foolish to share that kind of information with other people, certainly if she encountered a side quest she wouldn’t volunteer information either.
Feng Wu nodded her head again.
Ai Lin definitely did not believe Feng Wu, but what could she do? It would be awkward for her to ask again. The conversation died after that as each was immersed in their own work - Feng Wu cleaned up the books while Ai Lin busied herself reading.
Two hours passed by like this. Eventually Ai Lin hit jackpot and found a promising clue. A travel note made mention of a cave near a mountain that had an unusual luminescent light. The author of the note suspected that there was some kind of treasure hidden inside. He was regretful he couldn’t find it himself.
This was it, exactly what she was looking for. Ai Lin hurriedly left after finding her clue.
Meanwhile Feng Wu continued to tidy up the library, helping the old man organize the books. Although the position didn’t offer a wage it did come with lodgings in the form of a small utility room to sleep in. After Feng Wu finished tidying up for the day she gathered some books and read by candlelight before finally turning in for the night. This process of cleaning by day and reading by night soon became her routine.
After several days of this the old man became curious. He checked her out before giving her the job and concluded she wasn’t that strong, yet here she was day after day moving the books around. He knew how heavy some of the books were, yet she never complained or slowed down. What really shocked him was her reading speed. During his nighttime patrols he would see her sitting next to a candle going through the books, swapping one title for another after only a few minutes. Because she flipped through them so fast, he thought she was just skimming through them and not really reading.
He decided to test her one sleepless night. He looked through the book she finished and asked her a question about it. The result was shocking. She not only answered the question correctly, she even gave him the page number the answer was on! This kind of formidable memory left the librarian speechless.
Feng Wu read everything she could about swordsmanship even though she didn’t have innate magical talent. Her interest was piqued after meeting Jier and witnessing how he was able to engulf his body in flames. Her interest only grew when saw how how Ai Lin used magic to heal her former teammates.
She wanted to find out what magic was and with so many books at her disposal, it was easy for her to do. She spent half a month entrenched in the library just reading books, not leaving for a single day. She was completely immersed in an ocean of books.
Her reading speed and comprehension was truly astounding. In addition to the old man the three proctors were also amazed and continually surprised at her ability.
“This child’s memory is truly terrifying! She is destined to do great things. It’s a shame she doesn’t any affinity for magic.” The female magician spoke aloud.
“Even if she has no innate magical talent, she is an extraordinary sword master. Don’t you think so James?”
The ever serious James glanced at his colleague but didn’t answer.
It had been half a month since the assessment started. In that time the mood of the children went up and down like a roller coaster. The joy of finding a treasure lifted them high, but the realization they were incompatible with their treasure left them depressed. Ultimately they were right back where they started.
Those who were clever tried to trade their mismatched treasures with each other in the city. Those with no treasures to trade could only scowl in envy and hatred as the resolution to do better burned in their hearts.
It took Feng Wu half a month to finish organizing the library for the old man. Once she completed the work she couldn’t stay and read for free. After all her reading, the conclusion she came to was that a treasure map... was basically a map, a map drawn as a reminder to show where a treasured item was kept.
She also made another interesting discovery while reading. She found a map drawn on a sheet of old parchment wedged in one of the books. Anyone else who found such a thing would have kept it and used it to try to find the treasure. Feng Wu didn’t hide it in her storage bag, instead she brought it over to the librarian.
It took the old man some time to recall where he had seen the map before. “Oh! This is a map the third librarian found when he went out on one of his travels. He painstakingly studied the map and managed to find the location. But alas, in the end he couldn’t find the treasure. Several generations of librarians after that also tried to find the treasure but they too had no luck. In the end it was the consensus that the map was a prank and it was tossed in a corner somewhere. I’m surprised you found it.” He gave the map to Feng Wu since she seemed to be interested in it.
Feng Wu put the map in her storage bag after thanking him. Before leaving the library she asked the old man, “Can you tell me the place where the treasure in this map is?”
After getting her answer she thanked him again and bade him goodbye. Feng Wu left the library and walked around the city thinking about what to do next. Ultimately she decided to go to the mountain and the location the librarian said the treasure was supposed to be, but first she had to visit the meat bun seller.
Because of her fierce bulk buying power, Li gave her a free red bean bun.
“Mmm!” Feng Wu bit into one and found the flavor to be really sweet. She liked it quite a bit. “One hundred of these please!”
Li was so happy he couldn’t keep the smile off his face. When Feng Wu asked for directions to get to the mountain he gave it right away. “You can take a transport over for cheap, it’s only two silver coins.”
Feng Wu still had five coins left so the cost was no problem for her.
Because he was so fond of her, Li told Jie to take her to the transport station. This time the boy didn’t haggle, probably because he was properly straightened out by his father when he got home last time.
Jie easily led her to the station and after depositing her at the entrance waved goodbye. Feng Wu found a beast car heading to the mountains the librarian mentioned. She handed over two silver coins and boarded the carriage. As she did so a shrill scream burst out.
Feng Wu wasn’t the only passenger. Aside from her there were also several other people in the carriage, most notable were Ai Li[notes] from An Lou city, Alan Duo with her three cronies,[notes] and Alan Duo’s two admirers.[notes]
All seven people in the carriage had a large amount of animosity towards Feng Wu. At the scream, she glanced up. They were people she’d seen before… but who were they? She couldn’t remember. She could clearly feel their hostility though. Not being a talkative person she only said a short greeting before moving around and settling in a spot farthest from them. However it was a small carriage so she couldn’t get far.
“Ai Li, you know this girl too?” Alan Duo asked her cousin in surprise.
Although Ai Li’s father was a businessman, he still had a certain amount of prestige because of his position as headmaster of Ai Ma, the biggest business association in the country.
Ai Li wasn’t part of the aristocracy like Alan Duo, but her family’s wealth was on par with those from an aristocratic family. Alan Duo was friendly with Ai Li for one reason, and that was to benefit from Ai Li’s wealth. Her younger cousin was very generous with her money and often sent her presents, which she enjoyed. She recognized Ai Li’s usefulness so didn’t mind treating the other as though they were equals.
“Of course I know her. Remember when I told you about the girl that embarrassed me in An Lou city? That’s her!” Hatred was evident in her eyes. Ai Li was pampered and coddled since she was a baby, so encountering someone dared defeat and embarrass her was unbearable, a feeling she had no experience in handling. It was fortunate her bodyguards came shortly after and freed her before any of men on the streets took advantage of her. The thought of being touched by those pigs filled her heart with explosive anger. All those people… they had stood and laughed at her!
Alan Duo’s mood improved. It turned out they had the same enemy. She put a sound barrier up around them before speaking. “The one I told you that eavesdropped on us… it was her too. Not only that, but she injured all of us. She’s really vicious.”
To Ai Lin, Alan Duo was a sweet tempered and dear friend. It pained her to know that her friend was abused and injured. Both of them had suffered under the hands of the same person.
Alan Duo’s two admirers glared at Feng Wu with undisguised hatred. Both shared the same thoughts: Now that the fire guy isn’t here we’ll punish her for hurting Alan Duo!
“Alan Duo, this girl hurt you and your friends before. Why don’t we take this chance to teach her a lesson!” Their heart pounded with excitement, however it was quickly dashed by Alan Duo, who stopped them from attacking.
Seeing that they were reluctant to give up the opportunity she explained, “We’re in the middle of the assessment right now. We’ll be disqualified if it’s discovered we attacked another student candidate.” Alan Duo wasn’t an impulsive person and had already considered the repercussions. Although she was also reluctant to lose such a good opportunity, she wasn’t willing to jeopardize her assessment. The girl in front of her had made her eat such a big slice of humiliation, of course she wanted revenge! She had to think of a way to ruin the other party.
After the reminder the two boys came back to their senses. In the half month since their arrival they only found a sword and two sword skills. That left four people unaccounted for. In fact they were heading towards the mountain in hopes of either finding more magical items or more sword skills.
Instead of finding what they needed, they ran into Feng Wu. It made them so excited that they forgot their original goal. It was fortunate Alan Duo reminded them, else they would have killed her and been disqualified.
The two boys looked at Alan Duo with gratitude. She smiled shyly at them before dropping her eyes. You two are so stupid. Such a simple matter and you couldn’t even figure it out yourselves? If it weren’t for the two of you being useful to me I wouldn’t have bothered with the reminder.
“Then what should we do? Let her go?” Ai Li was also reluctant.
Alan Duo thought for a moment before speaking. “Of course not. We’ll follow and wait for our chance.”
She was the leader of the group so everyone agreed. Because of the sound barrier, she wasn’t worried about Feng Wu overhearing.
As for Feng Wu, even if she heard she wouldn’t have cared. Her focus was on the meat bun in her hand. It was really delicious.
The carriage reached the mountain range marked on the old parchment map several hours later. Noticing this, Feng Wu called out to the driver to have him stop. She jumped out of carriage and pulled out the map to orient herself in the right direction before setting out.
Behind her Ai Li screamed. “You saw that!? She had a treasure map!”
“Yeah. Yeah. It has to be a treasure map. Why else would she come all the way out here?” One of the boys spoke as a fire burned in his heart at the thought of the treasure map.
Ai Li and the other three girls were also similarly excited. In total they needed four magic items. If they could steal one or two from Feng Wu… they would surely all pass.
The driver looked at the lot of them standing by the door. They looked like they wanted to get off, yet they hadn’t moved. “You all, if you want to get off then get off. I have to keep moving.”
The appearance of the treasure map made them forget where they were. With the driver’s reminder all seven rushed out of the car, moving in the same direction as Feng Wu.
“Hey! I said you all--” He didn’t think they would jump out and run away so fast. He didn’t get to finish his sentence. “Ah… I was going to warn them about the Ice Birds. Why’d they run out so fast?” The driver sighed before driving off. He would have reminded Feng Wu too but she was also too fast.
Alan Duo and her group chased after Feng Wu, intent on their goal, while the missed reminder destined them for tragedy.
Alan Duo and her group chased after Feng Wu but were unable to catch a single glimpse of her back even after several minutes. They couldn’t help but scowl at her speed. How was she so fast?
It didn’t matter if they lost sight of her because they had Ai Lu[notes] in their group. Although she wasn’t a magician, she had a pseudo innate magic ability that allowed her to smell much more strongly than normal people. It wasn’t something to brag about, in fact Alan Duo was embarrassed her subordinate had such a gross sounding skill, but it was this skill that allowed them to track Feng Wu as far as they had despite not being able to see her.
These kinds of abilities were congenital. It was like a sensory bonus that some people were born with, like power or speed. For example taste, the ability to discern the composition of foodstuffs and medicinal plants just by eating, was a rare ability often found in pharmacists or their apprentices. Another ability commonly found in pharmacists was the ability to increase hand sensitivity. Touch was important for distinguishing different plants and in preparing prescriptions. Someone with this ability would be able to sense an imbalance in a mixture while mixing it, allowing the mixture to be calibrated before completion. This kind of ability was even more important than taste.
As abilities went, smell wasn’t very important. Apart from being able to find things, it didn’t have a use for any of the professions. There was nothing great to be gained from such a lame ability, so although Ai Lu’s ability was incredibly strong, she did not receive praise or recognition for it.
Several hours later the group still couldn’t caught up to Feng Wu. Suddenly Ai Lu made a face and stopped.
“What’s wrong? Why’d you stop?” Alan Duo asked while secretly blaming Ai Lu for being too slow. The blame was partly fueled by her embarrassment about Ai Lu’s ability. Even though it was a tacky ability it was still an innate magic power. Alan Duo, though she was superior to Ai Lu, didn’t have one. This made her feel uncomfortable every time she saw Ai Lu using hers.
The expression on Ai Lu’s face also made the group feel uncomfortable. She was making such an ugly face. Of course it wasn’t because she was angry with Alan Duo, it was just that something in the air made her uneasy.
“Wild magical beasts. I think we’re in their territory.”
It wasn’t unusual to encounter a beast or two in a forest. Because of this, Alan Duo and the others weren’t worried about her comment, instead they looked at her in annoyance.
“Ai Lu, you act as though you haven’t seen a wild magical beast before. You’re so useless!” Mi Li didn’t hesitate to scold Ai Lu, snorting at how timid the other girl was being.
This time Ai Lu didn’t snap back at Mi Li like she normally would, instead she looked at the group with a grave face as she said, “I didn’t say it was just one. It’s a group! And they’re coming this way. Their scent is getting stronger every second. There’s a hint of ice magic in it too. I think they’re beasts that wield ice magic. I’m not a hundred percent sure.”
Ai Lu’s face lost all color. It was obvious she was afraid. The others weren’t able to tell but she could. The beasts coming weren’t ordinary beasts. They were at least third level magical beasts.
“What? A group?!”
One they could handle, but a group… If it was as Ai Lu said, then they were in trouble. They definitely walked into magical beast territory. The thought of a group of wild magical beasts coming their way caused everyone’s face to change.
“Come on! Let’s get out of here first!” Alan Duo didn’t like Ai Lu’s ability but she knew how accurate it was. “We’ll have to chase that hateful girl some other time.”
Their hatred for Feng Wu had to take a backseat. It was more important to maintain their lives and pass the assessment. They couldn’t let a group of wild magical beasts kill them.
Feng Wu was following a small bird as it led her out of the forest. Her natural affinity for plants and animals allowed her to communicate easily with the birds in the area. They had no desire to harm her, so for Feng Wu the trek was not dangerous at all. The same could not be said of other humans though.
“Little Knight thank you for leading me. Goodbye!” Feng Wu waved goodbye to the cute bird that led her out of the Ice Bird’s territory.
Little Knight had recently learned to fly, because of this his father had tasked him with leading Feng Wu out of their territory. This kind of hospitality had never been enjoyed by another human before; it was uniquely given to Feng Wu.
Earlier when she entered their territory they rushed menacingly at her, but had immediately calmed down once they got closer and smelled her. It was incredibly comfortable to breathe around her, the air was suffused with vitality and their desire to harm her completely disappeared.
Feng Wu’s body smelled really good and the little bird couldn’t bear to leave her. He flew two circles around her in his reluctance to part. “The fathers finished chasing away the humans that broke into our territory so I have to go back, but I don’t want to leave you. You smell so nice!” He cuddled her neck a little before flying away.
Feng Wu waved goodbye to the bird as he flew away. Then she used her internal force to leap through the forest.
It was because of this that Alan Duo and her group couldn’t catch up to Feng Wu. While they were running on the ground, she was leaping through the air - of course they couldn’t catch up.
After several leaps and bounds Feng Wu successfully reached the location marked on the map. The location was an incredibly high cliff. Feng Wu couldn’t tell how high exactly because the area she stood was shrouded in fog.
There were depressions in the ground that looked like remnants of a battle. Looking closely Feng Wu guessed they were created with some kind strong acid. She wrinkled her brow as she balanced herself on the uneven ground and pulled out her map. Little did she know something extraordinary was happening in the outside world.
Zhongyang was a beautiful prosperous city. The skies were clear with cloudy days a rarity. However on this day the clouds rolled in black and dense, swirling ominously with lightning flashing through the layers. It was as though Judgement Day was approaching, leaving people feeling frightened and hopeless.
“What’s going on? Don’t tell me the Demon race is going to appear again!” A resident stood looking at the sky when suddenly the swirling clouds formed into a dark whirlpool, almost like a tornado. The residents became even more restless as they talked with each other.
“No, that’s unlikely. The convention between the three kingdoms have restrictions against that. The Demon race can’t enter without permission from the Demon Lord. There’s no other way for demons to enter the human world.”
“Oh you don’t know. I heard there are a lot of cracks in the spaces between the kingdoms. And a lot of lesser demons are sneaking in through there. This vortex in the sky is so weird. It’s definitely a precursor to an incursion.” Someone muttered as he patted his chest.
“You think too much. Even if there are demons trying to sneak in through the cracks, which demon would be stupid enough to do it in Zhongyang? Wouldn’t that just be committing suicide?” This person disagreed with the second man.
Many people nodded their heads listening in on the conversation, after all the most powerful people gathered in Zhongyong. With the exception of the Demon King, no demon would dare enter, and that included those of the demon nobility.
Their fears calmed down and only curiosity remained. Such a huge amount of energy coalescing...who or what could it be?
The residents weren’t the only ones wondering. Other major forces in the city had already taken appropriate measures out of caution.
The atmosphere in the Sacred Temple was a lot less tense. Two young men were watching the sky as the energy continued to surge. From a casual glance they appeared to simply be two beautiful men in their twenties. Their beauty was unparalleled and beyond compare.
The golden-haired one spoke. “This kind of energy… something is about to cross over.” His gaze toward the sky was warm and gentle.
“What could create such a strong energy reaction?” The dark-haired man smiled slightly. His smile made the air around him sparkle. Had there been unopened flowers in the background they would have surely unfurled their petals, casting their morning dew away and bent their heads toward him. His beautiful gaze clearly showed his interest in the sky.
“It has the scent of a magical artifact. Could another heavenly artifact be sent down by one of the gods? I haven’t heard news of one doing so.” His face held a hint of doubt.
A heavenly magical artifact from the Heavenly Realm could descend if a seal and powerful force were released at the same time. Each object was indescribably powerful with the ability to destroy the heavens and shatter the earth.
Ten thousand years ago when the world was in chaos and about to collapse, the high gods had sent down eight divinities to protect peace in the mortal realm.
Once the cataclysm was averted, the eight divinities wanted to find a way to maintain the peace everyone had fought so hard to gain. Eventually they came upon the idea of conferring their powers to eight individuals in the human world. These eight would bear the burden of protecting all of humanity. They earnestly asked the Heavenly Lord for help. Touched by their sincerity the Heavenly Lord allowed the human world to keep the eight divinities.
The eight divinities were themselves seals representing the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Additionally there were also four more seals representing the heavens: heaven, earth, sun and moon. Each seal had control over their attributes, the seals of the seasons for the seasons, while the seals of the heavens controlled the heavens.
The eight divinities would each chose the person who was most compatible with them and confer their spirit and powers to that person. Another person would be chosen for each successive generation as the current generation passed on.
Because of their incredible powers, only eight seals were allowed on Earth. A new seal would not descend without good reason. This was why the two men were so surprised.
“The aura is getting more powerful. Should we stop it?” asked the dark-haired man, the sky reflecting in his eyes created an unusual luminescence. A flicker of something flashed in those beautiful crystal-like eyes before disappearing as quickly as it came.
After a moment of thought, the golden-haired man lightly shook his head. “No. We do not need to. It seems to be a heavenly artifact and not a seal. Since it has already come to this world then it surely has its own desires. It will find the one most suitable to be its master.”
“True.” The dark-haired one nodded his head in agreement. With the decision made the two sipped their fragrant tea while watching the changes in the sky.
The density of the clouds kept increasing until finally a thick bolt of lightning flashed and cut through the vortex of clouds. After breaking through the clouds the light seemed to hover with uncertainty in the air. Finally it seemed to make a decision, choosing a direction and suddenly disappearing.
“That aura, it was definitely an artifact!” one man exclaimed.
“Yes! I saw it too! Based on its aura, it has to be an artifact,” spoke the person next to him.
“I couldn’t tell if it was a staff or a sword. I’m a sword master. If it’s a sword, I hope the sword will recognize me. I would definitely become a peerless sword master, my future bright!” A young sword master dreamily looked after the streak of silvery light.
His words broke the spell of awe everyone was under and an immediate uproar swelled up from the crowd outside. Everyone gave chase with hope in their heart.
Everyone’s thoughts ran along the same lines: First find the artifact, worry about getting its recognition later. With it, surely even godhood was possible!
These thoughts swirling around made everyone restless; the entire city was humming with energy.
The three teachers watching the entrance to the virtual world were completely unaware of recent events. They were preoccupied with watching the examinees through the viewing mirror.
This year’s candidates weren’t the best quality, but they weren’t bad either. There were even a few promising talents in the batch who, given training, would surely become a force to be reckoned with.
The teachers were watching Alan Duo and her group be chased by the Ice Birds while in pursuit of Feng Wu. They looked at each other shaking their respective heads.
“What is wrong with the minds of these candidates? They’re in the middle of the assessment yet they’re willing to spend time on personal vendettas. Do they think the assessment is too easy?” James scowled.
The other two silently agreed. These student candidates had poor mental and emotional intelligence. It didn’t bode well for their achievements in the future.
“The girl in white strikes me as the most interesting, to actually be able to communicate with wild magical beasts… With that kind of ability, I wonder why she tested as a sword master. Wouldn’t beast master be more fitting?” wondered the teacher of the Magic Division.
“Hey hey. Lou Shali, we at the Sword Division are no worse than those guys at the Beast Division.” The smiling sword master smirked in protest.
“Aier Rogge, that’s not what I meant. I wasn’t saying the Sword Division is inferior, I just thought the girl would be more suited to be in the Beast Division because of her abilities.” Lou Shali responded with a side glance at him.
He was about so say something more when a streak of light caught everyone’s attention. No one expected it to crash into the mirror so forcefully; it was like a meteor blazing its way to its destination. Even though they wanted to stop it, by the time the thought crossed their minds it was already too late, and they they were thrown back by the concussive air pressure that was released.
The three had to stabilize themselves and get their bearings again before they could even think about what to do. By the time they did so the silvery light was gone.
“What should we do?” Lou Shali looked anxiously at the viewing mirror which was now blurred and distorted.
The powerful impact of the energy made the virtual world unstable. They wouldn’t be able to ascertain the children’s condition. The odds of the children being harmed was minimal; should something happen they would get yanked out of the virtual world and wake up in their beds.
However it was not 100% guaranteed now that an unknown variable entered the picture. None of them knew how the disturbance would impact the children’s state of mind.
“Let’s ask the headmaster if we need to suspend the assessment.” James had a grim look on his face as he spoke.
“You do not need to stop. The mirror should stabilize after a moment. Continue with the assessment as planned,” came a lovingly gentle voice. It appeared in the mind’s of all three teachers and soothed their worries away.
The three immediately turned toward the sky, their complexions smoothed and relaxed. “headmaster,” spoke the three in unison.
This was the legendary head of Xingguang Holy Academy, the headmaster few could set eyes on, but whose presence everyone was aware of. Their headmaster was even more amazing and powerful than they’d imagine. He was indeed fit to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Master of the Sacred Temple.
Regardless if the legends surrounding him were true or exaggerated, in the eyes of the teachers and students of Xingguang Holy Academy, he was a mysterious, powerful, devoted and formidable person worthy of their reverence.
“But Headmaster, just now something rushed into the mirror…” Lou Shali nervously bit her lip as she spoke aloud her reservations.
“Worry not. What entered the mirror was a heavenly artifact with the ability to cross boundaries. It seems to have taken a liking to one of the candidates.” The soothing voice reappeared at Lou Shali’s comment, calming their anxiety and chasing the darkness away from their hearts.
The three were relieved knowing the children would be safe. All bowed their heads in the direction of the sky, knowing in their hearts the headmaster had left.
“It seems like one of our candidates is very lucky.” Aier Rogge chuckled, happy for the child, certain he or she would have an interesting future. He was looking forward to the new batch of students with great anticipation.
While the world outside returned to normal, the virtual world inside the mirror was suffering an upheaval. When the artifact crossed over into the virtual space a strong shock wave reverberated everywhere.
“Heavens! What’s going on?! Earthquake?” Some candidates were frightened by the sudden shock and looked around uneasily.
Everyone in the city and the surrounding forest were upset. The indigenous people fell to the ground their mouths moving as though in prayer.
Those examinees without weapons could only try their best to stay vigilant and be on guard. None knew if it was part of the assessment or not.
“Look there in the sky! What is that?” A silvery light streaked by cutting through the clouds.
“Don’t tell me that’s part of the assessment. Are we supposed to track it or something?”
“What the hell was that? Are we supposed to go after it?”
“Yeah it has to be the case. It must be something important. Maybe extra credit! Let’s look for it!” Someone excitedly shared the news. The air filled with excitement as the children thought of the potential.
“I have to find it before everyone else. Doesn’t matter what it is.” A candidate not part of a group thought to herself.
As the children shared guesses about the silvery streaking object, the object in question had already disappeared into the mountains rushing towards its goal.
The quaking made the magical beasts in the area restless and those that fed on carrion wiggled about and made their way up out of the earth. These kinds of beasts normally lived underground and only came out at night, but the quaking had alarmed them so much that they crawled their way up despite the daylight. They were most active around this time of the year so there was a lot of them. In fact the depressions in the ground were made from their digestion acids. Carrion eating beasts were generally lower life forms that lacked intelligence, so unlike other magical beasts they were not affected by Feng Wu’s aura.
Feng Wu looked down at the huge bugs crawling around, her face sour. She took out a small sword from her storage bag. Her love for animals did not extend to the ugly crawly magical worm kind.
The bugs were assailed by the intense sunlight the moment they broke through the ground. Being nocturnal, this made them very uncomfortable and they wiggled and fidgeted about, their mood exceptionally bad.
They sprayed acid at Feng Wu the moment they sensed her in the area. She evaded and the acid hit the ground with a sizzling sound, eating away at the dirt and leaving a depression much like those that dotted the area. The depressions made it seem like she was on the moon or an asteroid.
The bugs didn’t give up; they continued to bombard Feng Wu with a constant stream of acid. She nimbly evaded the sprays while launching her own counterattacks. Alighting on the wind she wove around the bugs before striking with her sword. Sparks flew as her blade scraped against the shell. It failed to pierce through and slid harmlessly across their bodies every time she tried. The sword just wasn’t strong enough, but it was easy to use and the only sword she had on hand, so she continued to try stab the bugs with it.
Her brow wrinkled. Just as the thought of retreating entered her mind an immense pressure came from the sky. The pressure pressed down on the bugs so fiercely it cracked their shells and ruptured their bodies. Accompanying the pressure was a silver sword. It radiated white light and gave off an ancient feeling. The sword was clearly extraordinary.
Feng Wu’s eyes lit up with excitement at the sight. “Xiao Chun!”
Upon hearing its name, the ancient sword flew to Feng Wu only to abruptly stop in front of her as though confused. It “looked” at her not knowing what to make of the situation. This person had its master’s aura but why was the appearance not right? *sniff sniff* The sword knew this was definitely its master after sniffing some more. There was no one else with such a comfortable aura and unique scent. Certain now that the girl was its master, the sword flew closer and rubbed her gently on the cheeks and let out a cheerful and happy sound.
James, Lou Shali, and Jier Rogge looked at the blank mirror in consternation. Although the headmaster said the images in the viewing mirror would be restored, they still couldn’t see anything. Without a visual there was no way for them to check or score the children properly.
Suddenly the images were restored, and the children reappeared in the mirror. Now to find out who the heavenly artifact chose! However, they came away empty handed even after checking all the candidates twice. How could this be? They definitely saw the silvery light of the sword fly into the mirror. Yet no matter how meticulously they looked, they couldn’t find it anywhere. Who had it? What was going on?
The teachers weren’t the only ones wondering. Ai Lin also had no luck finding the sword. She had a feeling it was something precious. If she could get her hands on it she was sure she could successfully attack Zi Cheng. On the bright side she did find a magic book while searching for the sword. The book, which she found hidden inside a hole in a tree, was of a modest tier level. She knew it would be enough to let her enter Xingguang Holy Academy. Even though she couldn’t find the sword from earlier, the fact that she would be admitted to the school made her happy.
She was 100% certain the sword wasn’t in the original story, nor the earthquake for that matter. It was a pity she couldn’t get the sword. She could only hope that whoever got it, it wasn’t Zi Cheng. Zi Cheng already had an insane advantage with her cheat abilities as the female protagonist! She didn’t need anymore.
It’s overwhelming! That girl already has so many advantages. Any more and I can kiss my chance of beating her goodbye. I must keep an eye out. Ai Lin refused to allow the original tragedy for her character to happen.
Zi Cheng cemented her original destiny when she found the holy level magic book. It was an incredibly powerful item and would aid her greatly. Unsure if she would have to hand it over at the end of the assessments, she read through the entire thing, trying to cram as much of it into her brain as she could. Even if she couldn’t understand it now, there was no harm in remembering it for the future. The idea of handing it over was unbearable though. It was a holy level spell book that could shake the heavens! She really wanted to hold on to it.
While she was studying it, magic energy filled the air, and something streaked across the sky. Zi Cheng’s intuition was excellent, and her intuition was telling her that whatever it was that passed by was important. Although her cheat system couldn’t analyze it, it told her the object had the potential to be an artifact.
An artifact was an extraordinary find. In the end she couldn’t find it despite all her efforts. Though disappointed she didn’t dwell too much on it. Both her and Yifu found magical items so they were set.
She was curious about the owner of the artifact but wasn’t as hung up on it as Ai Lin. There were so many people taking the assessments, finding out who claimed the artifact would be impossible unless the one who found it chose to share.
Ai Lin and Zi Cheng weren’t the only ones curious about the artifact’s master. Others looking for it cursed over and over again their poor luck.
“Who actually ran faster than me?! I was at the foot of the mountain! I saw it fall and went over to look for it, but still couldn’t find it. Who was so lucky that they got there faster than me? Who is?! Who is it?! Stand and say. I promise not to kill you!” A person dressed as a sword master shouted loudly as he held his sword in the air.
The children were still rushing to where the object should have fallen. Although they didn’t know what it was exactly, they knew it had to be something important. To miss such an opportunity was vexing enough, had they known it was an actual artifact they would have surely coughed blood.
Feng Wu had already made her way off the mountain by the time the other children arrived. She and Xiao Chen easily took down the bugs together. Unexpectedly a treasure box lay inside one of the bugs. The bug had mistaken the box for food and swallowed it but was unable to digest it because of the special quality of the wood. As a result, the box lay in its belly undigested until Feng Wu came along.
It was no wonder none of the previous librarians could find it. By the time they reached the location, the treasure was already swallowed by the worm. That explained why the treasure couldn’t be found.
It didn’t explain why no one could locate Xiao Chun though.
Xiao Chun was an unusually pure sword. It had accepted Feng Wu, because of her simple mind, as its wielder. The two were connected and bound together by a soul contract. Because of this Xiao Chun was able to hide inside Feng Wu’s body in her spiritual sea, thus avoiding detection by everyone.
Xiao Chun wasn’t its real name, but a nickname Feng Wu gave it. Its original name was the Pure Sword. The sword and her master coexisted as neighbors since before Feng Wu was even born. Her master told her the sword embedded in stone behind the waterfall was an exceptional magical sword. Indeed, there was not a single sliver of rust or imperfection on it despite all the years it lay exposed to the elements. No one was able to pull it out in all the time it was there, but if she could pull it out it would be hers.
When she was ten her master brought her over and asked her to try. She easily pulled it out. At the time her master looked at her with a mixture of relief and concern in his eyes.
Since that day Xiao Chun never left her side. They slept together, played together, practiced together - they were inseparable. In time she learned to understand Xiao Chun. Although it couldn’t talk to her, she could sense its thoughts.
She had happily told her master about this discovery.
“That sword in your hand is the purest sword in the world. The person who forged it used the purest of intentions to create it. Only those with the same pure heart is qualified to wield it. Since the ancient days it has lain in the minds of many in the world. The more intelligent ones desired it strongly. However, despite all their resources, none have been able to obtain it. Then one day it disappeared. With the passage of time people it slipped from people's memory.”
When the Pure Sword disappeared, it had flown to her master’s mountaintop. That was how the two became neighbors.
The Pure Sword was a sentient sword with the will to choose its own master. In the millennium it existed it had accepted only two masters, its maker and Feng Wu. Feng Wu was an incredibly pure and simple person with an uncomplicated mind, the perfect person to wield a sword as pure as it was.
Feng Wu thought she would never see Xiao Chun again. To think Xiao Chun cut through time and space to find her. Did that mean her master would be coming soon as well? The expectation took root in her heart and made her incredibly happy. She really missed Master!
Feng Wu made her way back to the library with the treasure box and showed it to the Librarian. That the treasure was finally found made the librarian incredibly happy, overwhelming him with emotion. It didn’t matter who found it. Its existence validated all the effort made by the previous generations of librarians. That Feng Wu would wait to open it in front of him only served to raise his opinion of her a little more. He was grinning hugely as she lifted the lid, but the sight that greeted him caused his face to drop.
The librarian gingerly picked up the worn-out book from the box. “Girl you are blessed. This is a god level sword art.” Never did he expect Feng Wu’s luck would be so great, to find a god level art... it was amazing.
Feng Wu’s eyes glittered brightly, satisfied she had found exactly what she needed to enter Xingguang Academy. She really wanted to get into the school, so the book discovery made her really happy. A huge grin broke out on her face.
“Girl, you’d better go find another skill book. One that is more ordinary. Even in the outside world, god level sword arts are rare. If you use it, I’m afraid you will have hard days ahead.” The old librarian thought Feng Wu was a good child and he wanted to look out for her. He didn’t want to see her troubled because of an item.
“Why?” Feng Wu blinked, not understanding.
“You- this child. Think about it. Once you go outside, you’ll definitely be asked to hand over a sword skill for entry into the academy. Even if the people in the academy treat you well, those outside won’t. Once word gets out that you have a god level sword art people will be after you for it. These kinds of people will do anything for power, absolutely despicable things, even threaten your loved ones.”
When the old librarian said that the light in his eyes darkened. Zi Cheng or Ai Lin would have been suspicious had they been there, however it was only Feng Wu, and she didn’t notice anything amiss. As an NPC character he should not have had any knowledge of the outside world.
The old librarian’s words made Feng Wu think. The thought of the bad guys kidnapping either her baby or Tian Ke for the sword art made her furrow her brow. She decided to listen to the old man’s advice and not hand over the sword art for her admission.
Feng Wu spoke firmly. “I will listen to your words.”
Her conviction satisfied the old librarian. He touched his beard thinking that Feng Wu was a really sincere child.
“Girl, if you wish to enter the school, you’ll have to find a weapon or a skill book that suits your attributes. I’m afraid most of the sword arts have already been found. Weapons... finding one will be your best bet. Go out and roam around the streets OK? It’ll be to your advantage to go out and help those who need help.”
The old librarian was being very kind to her. He couldn’t reveal too much because of the relationship between the virtual world and the outside world, but he could give her some hints.
Feng Wu nodded her head obediently and put the book away. She stood up and bade him goodbye before leaving the library.
By the time Feng Wu left to wander the city, more than half the allotted time for the assessment had already passed. The odds of finding anything in the city were slim. Those who refused to give up and were diligently searching for clues left the city recently, only doing so after making sure there were no more leads. Even though there were many NPCs around, none had any more missions to give out. The student candidates figured that if they wanted to get into Xingguang Holy Academy, they would have to search somewhere else for their items.
As a result of the exodus, the only student candidates Feng Wu ran into were the ones who already found their items. They were carefree and relaxed as their admission was set.
None of them recognized Feng Wu as she walked around the city, but because the native inhabitants of the virtual world were so distinctive, they could tell she was a fellow student candidate from her appearance.
Feng Wu was the only one in the city that still needed to find an appropriate item. Despite this she was not in a hurry and was walking around leisurely while eating a meat bun. Since the old librarian didn’t tell her where to look, she didn’t have a destination in mind and could only wander aimlessly.
The buns from Li’s shop were really delicious. She was fishing out another after finishing the first when a burst of noise erupted nearby.
A horse was running rampant in the city streets. In the chaos a pregnant woman got jostled in front of the horse’s path. Those on the side could only scream in terror at the sight, unable to rush to her aid in time.
The screams made some of the children look up. They lost interest after a short glance showed them the scene. This was a simulated world, so why bother with the city people? They had already found their items. It didn’t matter if the people here lived or died.
On top of that, they suffered so much under the hands of the residents. It was demeaning to be forced to cook and clean and act subserviently to simulated people. They suffered so much loss just for a few measly clues. How dare the simulated people treat them so poorly!
In fact, some of the children were relishing the moment when the pregnant woman would get hit.
Feng Wu didn’t have such complicated feelings on the matter. The moment the scene registered in her mind, she moved like the wind using her internal force. She pushed the woman away towards the crowd of residents. The woman was unharmed as many good people in the crowd were able to catch her and break her fall.
Everyone turned their gazes toward Feng Wu as she stood in front of the rampaging horse. When it came within reach, she grabbed onto its neck with both hands and held on tight.
Strangely enough the horse calmed down, then proceeded to lick Feng Wu’s hands.
The crowd broke out in thunderous applause at the sight.
“Wow! That little girl is really valiant!”
“What a fierce girl. Even in my younger days I was never that amazing,” spoke an old grandma with a face full of wrinkles.
A young man came to the front and effusively spoke,“Young girl, thank you! Thank you so much for saving my wife! Thank you so much.” His face full of gratitude. His wife was still in shock as he embraced her. Had it not been for the young girl’s appearance, his wife and unborn child would have died.
Feng Wu blinked her big eyes silently as she watched the group of people congregate around her, exclaiming about how heroic she was.
The pregnant woman’s father-in-law was a blacksmith. When he found out how he nearly lost his daughter-in-law and his unborn grandson, he was in tears. He rushed over and repeatedly gave his thanks to Feng Wu as well. To show his gratitude he gave her a sword, a quest item, that had been in his family for generations.
As Feng Wu’s eyes lit up at the sight of the sword a well-dressed man ran over out of breath. He thanked her as well. “Thank you so much young lady. I was eating in a restaurant when a snake scared me. I ran out and ended up scaring my horse. He went berserk and kicked me before galloping away.”
The owner of the restaurant was a good man and took responsibility for the events. He apologized and compensated both the pregnant woman and the horse’s owner. To Feng Wu he said, “Young lady, please allow me to treat you to a meal at my restaurant. If it weren’t for your intervention, I would have had to bear the burden of two lives on my shoulders!”
Feng Wu was really happy! She not only found an item for the assessments, she was also getting fed!
Those student candidates who witnessed the scene from beginning to end were incredibly shocked. This girl got an item right after completing a mission. Wasn’t that too simple and easy! Why couldn’t they have such luck? They were jealous of her good luck, but they didn’t dwell on it long. They already had their own items so what did it really matter?
Feng Wu was surprised that she was now famous amongst the student candidates in the city. Those that witnessed the event told it to everyone else, really making everyone sigh at her good luck. Those who left to find their items would surely die if they found out how easily Feng Wu found her sword!
To the dismay of the restaurant owner and the blacksmith’s family, Feng Wu left immediately after the meal and returned to the library.
Her prompt return shocked the old librarian quite a bit. He was once again amazed at her luck. She managed to find a mission, saving three people at once by just wandering around randomly.
The old librarian knew he should say something about of the relationship between the items and the virtual world. “Girl, if you take the book out of here the people in charge will know immediately. It’s better to memorize as much as you can and leave the book behind in this space.” He advised Feng Wu try the best she could in the remaining few days of the assessment.
Although the god level sword art was beyond Feng Wu’s current abilities, what proved to be most difficult were the symbols themselves. She didn’t understand them. There was no way for her to memorize the entire book without help. Fortunately she had Xiao Chun, the purest of swords to help her. Her sword had no difficulties understanding and memorizing the book at all.
The old librarian didn’t know about Xiao Chun. He was only hoping that Feng Wu could memorize some of the book. That way, when she returned to the virtual world, she would be able to slowly recall it and understand the contents.
Feng Wu gave the book back to the old librarian after Xiao Chun finished it. He had been very kind to her. Since she couldn’t take the book out of the virtual space, she might as well give it to him.
The old librarian accepted the book saying, “Next time you come to this space, just drop by. You can look at it anytime."
It was a pity Feng Wu didn’t understand the meaning behind his words. She didn’t think she would ever see him again. She knew that the virtual space was a special place used for the assessment. It was unlikely she would be able to return once she left.
Feng Wu’s days after finding the sword were easy breezy. She spent them all in the library looking at books. When the last day of the assessment finally arrived, she said goodbye to the old librarian and left for the beach.
Feng Wu felt the oppressive atmosphere with just a quick glance around. The children separated themselves into two distinct groups, those who made it and those who didn’t. Some were excitedly chatting with each other, while others were sobbing dejectedly. Although they chatted with each other, the chatting was restricted to those within their groups, those that passed didn’t speak to those that failed.
Feng Wu didn’t walk forward to join either groups, but chose to remain where she was alone. She placed the sword from the blacksmith she would use for admission into her space bag.
In no time at all the three proctors appeared. Although their silhouette’s were vague and fuzzy, each were discernible from the general shape of their figures.
Lou Shali, Aier Rogge and James looked down at the student candidates below.
“This is the end of the entrance examinations for Xingguang Holy Academy. For those unable to complete the task, even if you’re unable to enter Xingguang Holy Academy, you must not lose faith and give up on yourself. This is only one defeat. Remember to continue moving forward, practice your with well with your swords and spells.” Lou Shali tried to encourage the children.
Her heartfelt words touched those who were depressed, and they raised their heads up responding in the affirmative. Although they were sad they couldn’t get into Xingguang Holy Academy, it wasn’t the end. They had the rest of their lives to be amazing.
Seeing their response Lou Shali was satisfied and promptly sent them out of the virtual space. She looked down at the excited faces of those left behind and continued.
“Congratulations on successfully passing Xingguang Holy Academy’s entrance assessment and on the bright future ahead of you. At the academy you will learn all kinds of magic and sword skills. Those who enter the academy are destined to be the best of the best, with both abilities and luck.
There is no shortage of capable individuals at the academy. To maintain your student status you must not be prideful and rest on your laurels, otherwise you will fall behind. You will be dismissed if you do.
Just because you’ve gained entrance to the academy does not mean you will always be a student. There are two types of exams every year. You will repeat your year if you fail. Should you fail a second time you will be dismissed from the academy.
Xingguang Holy Academy has dismissed students before. If you don’t want to be dismissed, just work hard.”
The children’s jubilation dropped instantly. It sobered them greatly to hear that they could be dismissed after all they went through to get in. Their heads cooled and a properly somber expression showed on their faces.
The three teachers discretely nodded their heads at the reaction. Lou Shali dropped a completely black thin disk screen from the sky.
The students were instantly curious about the object.
She didn’t keep them in suspense for long. “You should all be aware that the scores for your assessment will be based on the level of the object you found. This is the scoreboard. Look below and you will see a platform. Put your hand and the object on the platform side by side. Your score will be transmitted to the head of your division automatically.”
The students were amazed this kind of thing could be used to score. A girl stepped forward and placed a spell book on the platform before placing her hand on the side. The originally blank screen displayed the results immediately.
Result: low-level magic spell book
Total Score: 70
The girl was disappointed to see such a low score. The book on the platform disappeared in a flash of light.
The things in the virtual world weren’t real, so of course it was impossible to bring them out of the space. Since they couldn’t take physical objects out, whatever skills or spells the students picked up would only be useful if they were able to memorize them.
The students were told they could take what they found with them. This wasn't technically a lie. The school allowed the children to take away the things inside. They had to use their own abilities to do so though.
Those that thought they could bring their spell books out with them could only cry. Fortunately, there were many smart students. After finding their items, if it was a spell book or a book of sword arts, they had scrupulously tried their best to memorize as much as they could. Placing knowledge in their brains was the best way to keep it.
Although the first girl was sad to see her book disappear, she didn’t mind too much. She was one of the clever ones and had memorized what she could already. She moved aside for others to try their luck.
The rest of the freshman class went up one by one to score their items. Feng Wu was in the middle of the line. This was where she initially stood so the crowd couldn’t push her around to the back.
Feng Wu was a sword user, but the sword was a magic sword so the conflict in attribution caused her score to be low. However, her strength was very high, so it helped to balance things out giving her an average score of eighty-five.
This was honestly very good as no one had scored a ninety or higher yet. Feng Wu’s eighty-five placed her in the top ten, however they were only halfway through the scoring; it was possible someone else could get a ninety or higher.
One of the people who came after Feng Wu was Ai Lin. Although she couldn’t compare to a female protagonist like Zi Cheng, she was by no means shoddy. In fact, the magic book she found was a high level one, giving her an overall score of ninety-five points, the highest one so far. The teachers looked on kindly at her.
This score made many people admire Ai Lin. Ai Lin wasn’t blown over though. She knew her score wouldn’t be the best, not with Zi Cheng’s ownership of a holy level magic book.
Perhaps it was for dramatic effect but Zi Cheng and Yifu were last to be scored. Yifu scored an eighty-five. Although it wasn’t a bad score, after having seen others with nineties and above, it wasn’t as impressive anymore. She didn’t say anything but gave a high squeal of delight. She moved aside and made space for Zi Cheng.
Zi Cheng placed her book and her hand on the platform. The sight of a holy level book shocked the teachers. None of them thought any of the year’s candidates would have such strong luck. Zi Cheng’s strength was already strong to begin with, so her score rose to a ninety-eight when combined with the holy book.
It wasn’t a one hundred, but it was dang close. No one thought the score for magicians would go any higher than the ninety-five from earlier; ninety-eight was already a genius level.
“Holy crap! I thought the ninety-six from the guy with the sword was high! This is even more amazing.”
“Why couldn’t I have found a holy level book?! Or even a high level one?!”
“There are so few people with ninety points as is. Only ten so far. Five in the Magic Division and five in the Sword Division. Our Magic Division still has the highest score though,” someone bragged.
Although it was natural for the students to envy scores higher than their own, it was also natural for them to have a sense of group pride. The two divisions were very competitive and often made bets with each other. Although the administration didn’t condone such behavior, as long as it didn’t interfere with study, they turned a blind eye to it.
Once the scoring was finished, the teachers announced class would start in three days. Students should take care to show up on time. Immediately afterwards Feng Wu felt her world go black. When she opened her eyes again, she found herself in bed in the guest room. Were it not for Xiao Chun’s presence in her dantian and the knowledge of the god level sword book in her mind, she would have thought it was all a dream.
She got out of bed, changed her clothes and went downstairs. Her stomach was so empty!
Jier was downstairs getting ready to eat a steak when he saw Feng Wu walking down the stairs. He exclaimed, “No way! The assessment is over? I thought it would be a few more hours still!”
Tian Ke immediately ran over and asked, “How was the test?! Did you pass?!” He was very excited.
“Mm. I passed.” Feng Wu nodded at the delicious lunch in front of Jier. She was hungry.
It was lunch time and she was hungry, very hungry. Although it felt she stayed in the virtual space for a month, in reality she was only asleep taking the test for a few days. The academy maintained the children’s body through the use of a chemical compound, otherwise they would have surely suffered physically for having slept so many days.
“Feng Wu, the second part of the exam happened in your dreams right? Big Brother Jier says it’s very magical. Can you tell me about it?” Tian Ke sat down next to her with little bun, Feng Ye.[notes]
Little bun hadn’t seen his mother in days. He cooed and reached his arms out to her.
Feng Wu reached over and hugged little bun to her chest. She gave him kisses and made small whooshing sounds with her lips at him. He was adorable with his white hair that made him look like a mini grandpa.
“Hey don’t waste your breath. Don’t you know the second and third part of Xingguang Holy Academy’s assessment are confidential? Feng Wu will get blacklisted and barred from the school if she tells you.” Jier picked up his glass of milk and took a big gulp.
Tian Ke’s excited face dropped. Although he was really curious about the entrance examinations, he didn’t want to harm his good friend. She was stupid but she was a good person.
“That’s such a pity!” Tian Ke let out a disappointed sigh, but he was a sensible child and knew not to pursue the matter. “Aunt knew you would wake up today so she prepared a huge feast. Tonight you’re gonna have some good food!” Tian Ke’s eyes shone brightly with expectation at the thought.
His eyes perfectly mirrored Feng Wu’s. She had spent a month there subsisting only on meat buns. They were delicious, but meat buns all the time got boring. She craved some variety. Were it not for the fact she spent all her money, she would have bought something new to eat every day.
“Xiao Wu, school will start soon and you’ll be living on campus. It’s a good idea to use the next few days to purchase some things. Although the school will give you good housing, you still need to bring your own supplies.
This little guy too. You’ll want to take a few days to find a good magic beast for him. One like a shengmu would be good. Many nobles use them to safeguard their children because human nannies can be spies,” said Jier.
Shengmu magical beasts loved babies. They were fifth level beasts with incredible defense, perfect for protecting children. Jier knew Feng Wu’s brain would never think of such things so he brought it up.
Although Tian Yue and her family were good people, it wouldn’t do to inconvenience and rely on them for everything. Feng Wu wouldn’t understand these subtleties, so he just straight out told her how to handle the situation instead. Besides trying to explain to her would take too long and likely be a waste of breath.
Jier had a very good understanding of Feng Wu’s brain. This little sister of his was not worldly at all. And it was true; no one had taught her about such things back at Yuehua mountain. She only had her Master, who himself was a very pure unworldly person. How could a person like him teach someone else about the ways of the world? As a result, Feng Wu was not well-versed in everyday social niceties at all.
Jier thought of her as a friend so of course he wanted to help her. He was quick to act once his mind was made up. After lunch he took her and Tian Ke out around the city to shop.
The enrollment examinations just ended so the city was bustling with crowds of people taking their children here and there. Jier had already familiarized himself with the shops in the area while Feng Wu was in the virtual world.
He made a beeline for a shop specializing in magical beasts. The shop was a well-established one and had a wide range of products. They even sold dragon eggs. Most people couldn’t afford the high price, so few purchased any, settling for window shopping instead.
“New guests! Please come in. I am the owner of this shop. May I ask what your needs are? I can make some recommendations for you, if you can tell me what kind of magical beasts you are looking for.” A thirty-year-old man came over to them with a professional smile plastered on his face.
“She’s the one who’ll be buying. She needs a shengmu beast,” Jier said as he pointed to Feng Wu.
“Oh. So that’s the case. I happen to have a new group of shengmu beasts in. Though they are still young, they grow quickly. It will be good for the baby and the shengmu to grow up together,” said the owner with a smile.
“Take us to see them then.” Jier didn’t express his intentions to purchase one immediately, just that he was interested in seeing one. Though the shengmu beasts were well suited for child care, they were still beasts. What if the baby didn’t like it? Both sides had to get along, otherwise it would not work out. The most important thing was to find a beast that was compatible with the baby.
Like a second and third shadow, Feng Wu and Tian Ke followed behind Jier.
The shopkeeper led them over and opened the door to one of the rooms. Inside was a small basket with three basketball sized lumps. The shengmu beasts had snow white fur, eyes the size of walnuts, and long hands and feet. In the middle of their stomach was something that resembled a kangaroo’s pouch. Not only was it perfect for holding and keeping a baby warm, it also had magical properties that nourished the baby’s body, staving off illness and keeping the baby healthy.
The three beasts looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps. Their big eyes shone with intelligence. They knew a friend would be leaving today. Shengmus were social magical beasts, so they were naturally reluctant to part with each other.
One of them became excited when Feng Wu brought little bun closer to the basket. It waved its hands happily towards little bun. Jier raised his eyebrows at the sight and pointed at it. “That one, how much?”
The shopkeeper smiled even wider at the question. “That shengmu is 50,000 gold coins.” The customer didn’t look like he lacked money.
“Put it on the card,” Jier said as he pulled out an obsidian card and handed it over to the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper’s smile became respectful at the sight. This was no ordinary customer. Only those from powerful aristocratic families had this kind of card.
In the meantime, Tian Ke nearly had a heart attack. Seriously?! 50,000 gold coins?! Not 5, not 500, but FIFTY-THOUSAND! It was inconceivable that someone could just whip out that much money. Tian Ke’s brain was in shock. He wasn’t the only one surprised at the cost.
“That’s so expensive.” I can buy a lot of food with that. Feng Wu wrinkled her brow at the transaction.
“I’m giving it to you. We’re friends so you don’t have to repay it. This young master is not short on funds,” so spoke the rich guy.
“Mm.” Feng Wu nodded her head cutely.
She wouldn’t understand the concept of borrowing and lending anyways. But this kind of Feng Wu is good too. She doesn’t need to know all that stuff. Jier came to this conclusion after thinking about a former friend who was poor. At the time his generosity had been interpreted wrongly and his friend thought Jier was looking down on him. Henceforth that friend broke off all contact with him. Not wanting to repeat mistakes of the past, Jier decided not to teach Feng Wu about matters regarding money, lest he lose another friend over it.
Jier held the shengmu in front of little bun. This way it would recognize him as its master and understand its role as protector and servant. It could bring little bun into its dimensional space and hide there as well. Although it was small now, the shengmu would grow quickly if they bought a magic stone for it to absorb.
Feng Wu put little bun inside the shengmu’s pouch. After that she and Tian Ke walked around the shop looking at all the available magic beasts and magic beast eggs.
He just made a really big sale so the shopkeeper didn’t mind them casually strolling around the store at all. The obsidian card was a very powerful card! It was only to his benefit if during their stroll they found something they liked. He might make another sale!
“Wow Brother Jier look! There’s actually a dragon egg for sale here!” Dragons were the stuff of legends to ordinary people. They were mysterious and powerful. Tian Ke never thought he’d ever see an egg for sale in a store.
“Tsk, that’s nothing to fuss over. While dragons are massive powerful creatures, their eggs are not difficult to get. Dragons are the kind of creatures that lay their eggs in hidden places then abandon them right after.
[notes]That’s why most dragon eggs are duds. People who find them try to sell them, but the eggs never incubate well and usually fail to hatch. Even if one does hatch, the amount of food a dragon needs is astronomical. Ordinary people can’t raise a dragon because it’s so expensive. On top of the cost it’s also hard to do in general. Only a fool unaware of the ramifications would buy an egg to hatch at home.”
Tian Ke was disappointed but not as disappointed as the shopkeeper, whose smile faltered at Jier’s words. It wasn’t easy for people to do business OK. Dragon eggs were normally used to cheat those with more money than sense. The shopkeeper was naturally unhappy that Jier revealed the truth of the dragon egg out loud. His smile was barely hanging on by the time the three decided to leave the shop.
Jier took them to buy some general supplies after leaving the magic beast shop. He also bought Feng Wu, Tian Ke, and little bun all new clothes. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt like splurging today.
Since Tian Ke didn’t have to carry little bun around anymore he was free to buy large boxes of candy, filling his arms up with sweets. He shared some with Jier, who took two pieces before just giving the whole box to Feng Wu. They returned to Tian Yue’s house only after buying everything they needed.
That night they had a huge feast to celebrate Feng Wu passing and making it into Xingguang Holy Academy.
Three days passed by in a flash and before anyone knew it, it was time for Feng Wu to go to school. She put little bun in her storage ring so she could go through the school’s entrance procedures. Most students lived in the dorms because Xingguang Holy Academy provided housing for all admitted students. As a result, only those students who lived in
Central Zhongyang city bothered to live off-campus.
“Magic Division report here!”
“Sword Division over here!”
“Pharmacy over here! Don’t get lost!”
Medical Physician Division over here!”[notes]
“Those in the Alchemy Division report here!”
The senior students on campus held up signs with their divisions written on it. It was so crowded the front of the school looked like a busy market.
Feng Wu and Jier were in different divisions. Jier was a magician while Feng Wu was a sword user. Although they came together, they had no choice but to separate and go to their respective check-in lines.
The Sword and Magic Divisions were the two largest departments in the school, so their lines were the longest, because of this they had more than one check-in table. Instead there were five and six tables respectively. Each table had a line queued up in front with a teacher staffing the table. Feng Wu picked one of the shorter ones and waited as she watched those ahead of her go through the process.
“OK stick your hand out.”
The student placed a fat hand on the crystal plate and immediately four symbols showed up, confirming his identity. It showed his name, entrance exam results, class division and his dorm allocation.
Finally it was Feng Wu’s turn. She went through the same process as everyone else and was given her school id, school uniform and room keys. She put her uniform away in her storage ring and followed her senior to the dorm she would be staying for the next few years.
Living conditions were exceptionally good. It was Xingguang Holy Academy, so the dorms were more like mini townhouses that came fully furnished and exquisitely decorated. Anyone who made it into the academy had to be a genius, so it was only natural to treat them well.
Students were assigned four to a townhouse. Each townhouse had a number and Feng Wu’s was 302. She took her key out, opened the door and promptly went inside. She was the first one in so it was empty and quiet. Feng Wu blinked her eyes and walked upstairs. There were four rooms, each with a name plate affixed to the door. Feng Wu used her key and opened hers.
It was a spacious room with its own bathroom and walk-in closet. There was even a balcony.
Feng Wu took out her new clothes from a few days ago and hung them up along with her school uniform. The quilt was pulled out and laid on the bed. Then she took out the baby crib and placed it to the side.
Like the clothes, the crib was also a new purchase. The school didn’t provide cribs so Jier made sure to buy her one. It was not only pretty but also had defensive qualities like the ability to repel minor insect beasts. It was a very high-quality crib.
Feng Wu had no opinions about Jier’s spending habits, but Tian Ke felt differently. She didn’t understand why he was so anxious. Tian Ke, on his part, was thinking ahead. What if one day she and Jier stopped being friends? How would Feng Wu be able to pay back for everything? She was so unaware of how the world worked. He really worried about her!
Feng Wu got a lot of things on their shopping spree. They were all things Jier and Tian Yue told her to buy. On her own she would have had no idea what to get. Fortunately, even though she was clueless about shopping, she was still perfectly able to take care of herself. If not, she would never have been able to live alone.
Feng Wu wasn’t totally incompetent. She didn’t have the social skills to interact with people, but she did have the survival skills to stay alive. Back on Yuehua Mountain her master did all the shopping and cooking but she did everything else like the cleaning and housekeeping.
After she finished organizing everything Feng Wu brought little bun out of her storage ring. Although her ring could store living things little bun didn’t like being inside it for too long. The dark scared him.
She put him inside her ring earlier to get through registration. The shengmu beast from two days ago had grown. As long as there was energy left in the beast magical core, then its growth would continue. As a result, the shengmu grew several steps in a short period of time.
It was only the size of a basketball when she got it. Now, after three days it was as tall as her waist. The shengmu beast recognized little bun as its master and constantly held him in its pouch. Because of this, Tian Ke was finally able to hang up his babysitting hat up and retire.
“Ooo.” The hungry little bun waved his arms around, his large grape-like dark eyes followed her around from the inside of the shengmu’s pouch. Feng Wu had decided to name it Xiao Bai.
Xiao Bai adapted to little bun quickly and was attuned to his needs, pulling out a bottle from its pouch whenever it sensed little bun’s hunger.
The shengmu pouch, in addition to being warm, cozy and fantastic at coaxing a baby to sleep, was also great for storing miscellaneous things. Little bun’s bottle, diaper, and clothes were inside there as well. Feng Wu didn’t have to use her storage ring for any of little bun’s things.
Little bun had just finished drinking his milk when Feng Wu began to feel hungry herself. Fortunately her storage ring was full of goodies from the last two days. She pulled out a delicious chicken leg filling the room with a delicious aroma.
She leisurely nibbled at the leg with one hand while holding the bottle for little bun in the other. It was a tranquil and warm scene. This gentle ambiance was interrupted by a knock at the door. Feng Wu held the chicken leg in one hand as she got up to answer it.
Annika waited behind the door after knocking. When it opened, she saw a girl with a chicken leg in one hand. The sight made her smile. “Hello, you’re Feng Wu right? I’m Annika, a freshman like you. I’m a magician. What about you?”
In front of Feng Wu was a girl with long blonde silky hair and light-colored eyes. She was about 5'5" with skin as fair as snow. She was very pretty with a curvaceous body, except for her boobs. The two lumps on her chest were unfortunately very flat. She was often bullied because of her figure. Seeing another girl who resembled her in that way made her happy and want to be friends with her.
“I’m Feng Wu, a sword master.” Tian Ke told her it was polite to introduce herself to other people after they introduced themselves to her.
“Everyone else is here. Why don’t we all eat out together at the Holy Academy dining hall. I hear the quality there is above average. Let’s test it out.”
Annika wasn’t bothered by Feng Wu’s lackluster reply. Even though Feng Wu didn’t say much, Annika could tell from Feng Wu’s eyes that she was a good person, albeit a bit simple.
Feng Wu blinked and nodded her head. She turned around and said, “Xiao Bai, take good care of Xiao Ye.”
Xiao Bai waved its hand at her signaling that it had heard her orders and would take good care of the little master.
This surprised Annika. She saw a baby sitting in the crib as cute as can be, like a little angel. She was distracted earlier, so hadn’t noticed the situation inside the bedroom. It wasn’t until Feng Wu turned to speak to the shengmu beast inside that she noticed.
“How is a baby here?!” Annika exclaimed in shock. She found it hard to believe her eyes. Who would raise a baby in the dorms? The average person raised pets OK? However, that was beside the point. The point was that even pets weren’t allowed in the dorms; who would dare raise a baby?!
“He’s mine.” Feng Wu calmly explained. She tilted her head not understanding the reaction she always got. Little bun was obviously very adorable. So why the weird faces all the time?
Annika was confused and startled at the reply. Did Feng Wu truly not understand the question?
“Did you adopt him?” Yeah... it has to be something like that. Feng Wu must have picked the child up out of kindness.
In reality Annika was just over thinking it.
“He’s mine.” Feng Wu bit her lip. She wondered why people found it so hard to believe her.
What? As in… she gave birth to him…? Annika felt like she was in a dream. This girl in front of her, who was smaller than she was, was already a mother? Annika only came back to her senses at the sound of Feng Wu closing her bedroom door.
Although Annika had a lot of questions for Feng Wu, like who was the father of her baby, she knew better than to ask. They weren’t close enough to ask such personal questions yet. Maybe if they got to know each other better...
Feng Wu went downstairs to the living room. Two very sexy put-together looking girls were sitting on the comfortable sofa. One had the adornments of a sword master; her hair tied up in a neat high pony tail, while the other had mesmerizing beautiful blue hair and a gentle air about her.
“Feng Wu! What luck! To actually be assigned to the same dorm!” Xi exclaimed happily. Although their time together was short, Feng Wu left a deep impression on her. It was nice to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar place. Xi hadn’t expected to see Feng Wu again after the team split up, so this was a happy surprise.
The girl in blue beside Xi frowned. She didn’t say anything.
“Xi, do you know Feng Wu?” Annika asked, her mind still on the baby upstairs. Unexpectedly Feng Wu and Xi knew each other.
“We were in the same team back in the virtual world assessment. I didn’t expect we’d be roommates,” Xi said as she smiled.
“Looks like you two have fate together. Oh right! Jasmine, you still haven’t met Feng Wu right? She’s also a sword master like Xi. Eh? How aboooout that.” Annika drawled out winking at the group.
Jasmine spoke in a sweet voice as she said, “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.”
Without smiling back, Feng Wu just replied with a short, “Hello.”
This curt response rubbed Jasmine the wrong way. She wasn’t happy at all, but since it was the first day, she decided not to make a fuss over it.
“Well now that everyone’s met, let’s go eat! I’m starving!” Annika rubbed her stomach as it made a slight gurgle seemingly to emphasize her point.
Xi looked over at Annika and patted her on the shoulder saying, “OK, let’s all go together. I heard the academy's dining hall is pretty good and the prices are reasonable. Let’s see how it tastes.”
The four girls locked up and walked over to the dining hall. On the way over Annika chatted merrily with Jasmine and Xi. Feng Wu was quiet the entire trip. The others, realizing she was a naturally reserved person, simply let her be and didn’t pressure her to join in on the conversation.
For her part, Feng Wu really didn’t care. She was supposed to meet with Jier in the dining hall, but wasn’t sure if he had made it there yet.
The dining hall wasn’t too far from the dorms so it didn’t take them long to walk over. The building was three stories high. Grades 1-3 dined on the first floor, 4-7 on the second floor, and grade 10 on the third floor. Because of this the best food was found on the third floor. The higher the grade the better the food privileges became.[notes]
Feng Wu and Xi got in line to choose and pay for their food. There were three types of meals: “A,” “B,” and “C.” Because they included meat, vegetables, soup and a fruit, “A” type meals were the most delicious. They were also the most expensive at two silver coins each. Considering the value and quality, it was a great deal, especially for those students from well-off families. For the commoner though, two silver coins was still too expensive.
“B” type meals cost one silver coin and was comparable to “A” type meals when it came to quantity. Though the meats were of lower quality, the amount of variety more than made up for it.
By far the most popular meal type among the students were “C” type meals. They were the first choice for students from ordinary families. Although it couldn’t compare to “A” or “B,” it won by virtue of being the cheapest.
Taking into consideration some of their students came from poor families, the school gave all students with disadvantaged backgrounds a stipend of two gold coins every month, ensuring they would always have enough for food. The amount was enough for a month of “C” meals.
Although the menu for the first and second floor changed daily, meals came in predetermined sets. The third floor was different; it was set up in a buffet style.
Students didn’t have to eat at the dining hall if they didn’t want to either. They could buy ingredients and cook something in the dorms instead. This was an important option since the dining hall only offered lunch and dinner, breakfast had to be found somewhere else. Conveniently many vendors were located just outside the school gates, so it was no trouble to grab something to eat before class.
It was the first time the girls ate together so everyone ordered an “A” meal. Of the four girls, Feng Wu was the only one not a noble. She was originally a member of the aristocracy, but because of her unwed mother status she was disowned, which made her presence in the family genealogy records an uncertainty.
After everyone picked up their plates, the girls found a table. There weren’t many other freshmen in the dining hall since most of the students eating there were returning students. This made those students not in uniform stand out in the crowd. Few paid them any attention though.
“Hey did you hear, the freshmen are responsible for covering their own living expenses. The school’s only going to give a stipend big enough to cover meals, two gold coins I think. For the rest we’ll have to find a job in the city, working at a shop or something. The bosses there are going to score us. We have to keep working the second year if we score too low. I don’t get why the academy would do such a thing. We came to learn, not earn.”
Annika felt bad just thinking about it.
“I heard it’s a tradition. Every incoming freshman has to do it. But the thing is, you don’t have to work for the whole year, you just have to make enough to cover your living expenses for a year. If you make it all in a month, you can do whatever you want afterwards as long as your grades are good.”
Xi wasn’t concerned about it. As a sword master she planned on making money by picking up assignments at the Sword Master Association.
Jasmine was also unconcerned. “It’s just a year’s living expense. I can get that easily.”
Don’t blame the three girls for thinking this. They were all from rich aristocratic families and their family’s darling. Pocket money came easily to them. They wouldn’t even have to ask before an elder would take the initiative to give them spending money. Growing up this way, they had no idea the kind of effort involved in earning money.
Feng Wu was never one to talk and eat at the same time. While the girls were chatting, she was busy stuffing her mouth with food, her movements were fast and efficient, catching the attention of the other girls.
Xi wasn’t put off by it. As a sword master she had always been a straightforward even-tempered person. Annika had already seen Feng Wu eating the chicken leg earlier, so of course she wasn’t bothered by Feng Wu’s eating. The only one to take offense was Jasmine. She scornfully looked at Feng Wu’s table manners. Commoners are so uncivilized. They don’t know how to behave at all. As Jasmine thought about how hard it would be to live with Feng Wu, an idea crossed her mind. She shelved it for now since the timing wasn’t right.
“Feng Wu, you eat fast,” Xi said. She was amazed watching how speedily Feng Wu cleared her plate. How does she have room in that small stomach?
“I’m hungry.” Feng Wu licked her lips as she looked at Xi, a somewhat foolish expression on her face.
Annika was about to say something when someone plopped a tray on their table then proceeded to sit down, completely annoying Jasmine.
Who is this person? There are so many other empty spots and he choses to sit here?! She was very unhappy but stayed silent in order to maintain her image. The magician profession was a noble one, so she needed to behave accordingly. She couldn’t let a herself be riled up by a rude person.
“Xiao Wu, you’re too slow. I’ve been looking all over for you.” Jier didn’t bother with the other girls at the table; they had nothing to do with him. Feng Wu was the one he came for.
Feng Wu blinked her pair of large dark eyes happily at him when she saw the good mood he was in. Her gesture made him smile.
Originally the girls were seated two to a side: Annika and Jasmine on one and Xi and Feng Wu on the other. Jier naturally sat down next to Feng Wu.
“I didn’t see you.” Feng Wu’s eyes flashed with grievance like a cute bunny.
Jier ruffled the top of her head with one hand. She reminded him of the pet his older cousin raised.
After tapping her head twice more he said, “Here, food I got from the third floor. You can have half. Your stomach is so enormous, how can just a single meal satisfy you?” He proceeded to divide the food up, giving her the larger share. Even though it hurt his pride as a man, he had to admit Feng Wu could out eat him any day of the week.
“You can go to the third floor? Are you senior?” Annika couldn’t help but ask. She originally thought he was Feng Wu’s friend and a freshman like them. She hadn’t expected him to be able to go to the third floor. Only those in the top ten of their respective grades were allowed up there. Those in the freshmen class didn’t have an average yet so they couldn’t be graded, thus they weren’t allowed up.
Jasmine originally felt the newcomer was beneath her notice, but the mention of the third floor got her attention. She looked up and saw a teenager in a red magic robe sitting next to Feng Wu. His facial features were exquisite and incredibly beautiful. He had a head of blazing red hair and eyes that exuded vitality and power. Clearly, he was an unusual person.
“Freshman, same as you.” He didn’t want to interact with them, but since they were Feng Wu’s roommates he felt the need to put in some effort. He didn’t want them to use him as a reason to give her a hard time.
“Then how’d you get to the third floor?” Even Xi was curious enough to ask.
“I proved my abilities by defeating one of the second-year representatives, so starting today I’m one of the first-year’s representatives. Naturally I can go to the third floor to eat whenever I want.” He wasn’t interested in the BBQ they had on the third floor, but he thought about Feng Wu’s bottomless stomach and decided to fight for the right to eat at the all you can eat buffet. Why else would he fight for something as bothersome as being a class representative?
“Wow! You must be really strong!” Annika and Xi both exclaimed while Jasmine’s eyes flickered with emotion.
“Yeah.” Jier wasn’t modest and accepted their praise easily.
Annika was a talkative person, so when faced with a person as interesting as Feng Wu’s friend, she naturally started a conversation. “Right. You still don’t know who we are do you? We’re Feng Wu’s roommates. This is Xi, this is Jasmine, and I’m Annika. What’s your name?”
Xi asked if he was a magician or a sword master.
“Magician of course.” Jier didn’t know how to react to something so obvious.
Had he not wanted to come to the school to learn how to control his powers better, he would never have been subjected to these kinds of interactions with these kinds of people.
“You’re a magician? Me and Jasmine are also magicians! Maybe we’ll be in the same class!” Annika was happy to make the acquaintance of such a strong person. She relished the idea of bragging about it in her class.
“That’s right. We’re all in the same division. Please take care of us.” Jasmine smiled full of confidence.
Jier didn’t care much for them, in fact the opposite gender annoyed him greatly. His fondness for Feng Wu didn’t change that fact. He was only nice to them for Feng Wu’s sake. As long as they didn’t treat her poorly, he didn’t mind sparing a few words. “If we end up in the same class, sure I’ll take care of you.” The same class as you lot? I’d be annoyed to death! With my abilities though, I doubt that’ll happen. Jier was so powerful he was exempt from the entrance examinations. From the moment he entered the academy he was destined to rank in the top thirty, obviously he wouldn’t be in the same class as ordinary students like Feng Wu’s roommates.
Feng Wu was too busy to chat. The food from the third floor was definitely tastier than that on the first floor. She was quite satisfied.
After eating the group split up and went back to their respective dorms. Jier went back to his room alone while Feng Wu and the girls returned to 302 together.
The school held a welcome assembly for the freshmen class later that afternoon. It was the boring kind full of speeches from school officials and class representatives, even Zi Cheng spoke. She was one of the appointed class representatives for having found a holy magic spell book.
Feng Wu returned to her dorm after the welcome assembly. She easily fell asleep after kissing little bun goodnight. Tomorrow would be the start of class.
Eventually the morning sun rose and little bun began to cry. Almost immediately the shengmu was on top of it, cradling him to its chest while changing his diaper. Afterwards it even fed little bun his morning milk. Little bun liked its milk and it seemed to have an inexhaustible amount. It was a great combination. Feng Wu didn’t have to do anything at all because the shengmu so diligently cared for little bun.
Feng Wu washed up, put on her uniform, and combed her hair. Aside from pinning a pretty pink crystal barrette in her hair, she left it alone to flow freely to her waist. A cute brunette lolli stared back at her from the mirror. She was properly dressed and ready for school after putting on her school ID. Then she made the bed and took Xiao Bai and little bun downstairs.
In the kitchen was porridge with meat, fried pancakes, noodles, and dough sticks. There was even spiritually infused milk at the table. She wasn’t sure if it was the same type that little bun drank or not, but everything had been prepped by Xiao Bai.
Her other roommates were still upstairs, probably still asleep. Getting up early was a habit she had from back when she lived on Yuehua mountain. Even when she crossed to the current world, she had to wake up early in order to feed little bun, so her internal clock hadn’t change.
Xiao Bai served her a bowl of porridge while she sat down. Then it carried little bun over to the sofa to play with him while Feng Wu ate.
Feng Wu was really pleased with the way Xiao Bai took cared of little bun and the way it got things ready for her. She was happy with Xiao Bai’s competency. It reminded Feng Wu of Auntie Lian Yi.
“Ha! I must get up so early. It doesn’t feel like I got enough sleep.” Yawning Xi came downstairs dressed in her uniform. She had her hair tied up in a ponytail and her sword by her side. The expression on her face showed how groggy she was.
“Wow. How sweet! Who made breakfast?” Annika had also just woken up, but unlike Xi she was much more alert and fresh looking with her hair tied in a long braid behind her.
Jasmine was the last one to come downstairs. The girls had class at around the same time, so it was natural for them to wake up at the same time. Feng Wu only woke up earlier out of habit.
“Feng Wu, did you do this?” Jasmine asked. She wasn’t surprised. She expected commoners to have these kinds of skills. If she makes breakfast every day, then I can accept her staying.
“Xiao Bai.” Feng Wu replied in between slurping her porridge.
“Who is Xiao Bai?” Annika asked doubtfully. Why didn’t she remember a person by that name living here?
Feng Wu pointed to Xiao Bai sitting on the sofa playing with little bun. “That’s Xiao Bai.”
“Eh?! How is there a baby in the dorms? Why is there a shengmu beast here?” Xi wondered if she was still dreaming. There was actually a baby and a shengmu beast in the dorm.
“The little baby is Feng Wu’s baby and the shengmu helps take care of him for her.” Annika awkwardly explained. She wasn’t entirely sure if Feng Wu bore the baby...
“Feng Wu, is what Annika said really true? You’d actually dare have a baby at your age?!” Jasmine didn’t like commoners, so this revelation made her lose her temper. She was uncomfortable with the idea of living with a girl who would get pregnant.
Feng Wu wasn’t very a talkative child to begin with, so when Jasmine confronted her she could only bite her lip and be silent.
“Jasmine, you don’t know anything. What you said is too much.” Xi knew how quiet Feng Wu could be from their time together as a team in the virtual world.
“Ha!” Jasmine’s face didn’t look good but she refrained from saying more.
Feng Wu didn’t understand why Jasmine asked her questions so angrily. Well since she didn’t understand it she was going to just keep eating her breakfast.
Xiao Bai only made enough breakfast for Feng Wu, after all Feng Wu was its master’s mother, and its master loved his mother very much, so of course it gave Feng Wu consideration. The others in the dorms though... it didn’t care about at all.
Annika was going to ask Feng Wu if she could join in on her breakfast, but Jasmine made things too awkward. Instead she said, “I’m so hungry. Let’s go out for breakfast.”
Jasmine and Annika left together but Xi stayed behind to say a few words to Feng Wu.
Feng Wu had left a strong impression on Xi. Xi knew how simple Feng Wu was so she said, “Feng Wu, just now, why didn’t you talk back to Jasmine? What she said was out of line. How can you take it?! This academy isn’t a paradise. There’ll be conflict between people. You have to learn to protect yourself against them.”
Xi’s good intentions were clear so Feng Wu replied with, “Hm. I will remember,” while nodding her head. Then she went right back to her breakfast.
Xi sighed and said, “Don’t be late for class,” before heading out to get some breakfast herself.
After Xi left the whole dorm was quiet. It didn’t bother Feng Wu whether she ate alone or with others. The only thing this gluttonous chowhound cared about was having food to eat. That didn’t mean she was blind to Jasmine’s hostility. She knew the girl didn’t like her. She didn’t know the reason, but then again, she didn’t care either. After she finished breakfast, she told Xiao Bai to take care of little bun before leaving for class.
Feng Wu was a new student in the Sword Division. The Sword Division and the Magic Division are in different areas. She had to ask for directions but eventually found her class.
Feng Wu was conspicuously empty-handed as she stepped inside and found a seat. You must understand, sword masters rarely went anywhere without their weapon. No one would have been surprised if she was in the Magician Division, however she was wearing the uniform of those in the Sword Division. She was so cute it attracted a bit of attention. A few boys even whistled at her.
It didn’t affect Feng Wu one bit. Her face didn’t change and she kept her gaze on the blackboard, motionless. She sat like this for several minutes.
Many of the boys surreptitiously watched her wondering what was so great about the board.
Being a sword master required physical strength, so most girls in the division were strong and toned. It was unusual to find a delicate looking young miss in the division. If a girl like that couldn’t get into the Magic Division, she would opt for either the
Medical Physician Division or the Pharmacy Division.
There were many more students in the Physician Division than in the Pharmacy Division. Physician’s made a lot of money, so unless a student couldn’t afford the division fees, then she would definitely go for the Physician Division.
Such an adorable cutie in a division full of buff girls was extremely eye catching. It was very rare sight!
Feng Wu ignored the glances directed her way and maintained her stare of the blackboard. What was on her mind was a mystery.
Xi finished breakfast and walked into class a bit after Feng Wu. Although she didn’t know anyone, she walked in confidently and gave a simple greeting. To her surprise she saw Pei and Hans, her former teammates from the virtual world test.
Upon seeing Xi, they stepped forward to greet her. They were classmates so it would be good to maintain good relationships with each other.
“Wow, I didn’t expect to see everyone again. It’s unusual to have three acquaintances in the same class.” Xi couldn’t believe their luck, to have three members from their team in the same class.
“Not three, four.” Hans pointed over to Feng Wu.
Pei and Hans had noticed Feng Wu earlier, but chose not to call out to her. She seemed deep in thought and they didn’t want to disturb her.
Xi’s lips twitched. “What happened to her?” Did someone bully her? If someone did, then she was going to step in. Feng Wu was her roommate after all.
“We don’t know what’s going on, but her eyes haven’t moved from the board the entire time since she sat down.” Pei shrugged.
“Phew. I was scared. I thought someone was bullying her.” Xi sighed upon hearing her fears were unfounded. Then she thought of something. “Hey, let me tell you. Me and Feng Wu are in the same dorm. Whoever bullies her, let me know, this sister will protect her.” Xi waved her sword and patted her chest.
Pei and Hans were surprised Xi and Feng Wu had such entwined fates, to even be assigned to the same dorm. The din of chatter around them covered up their conversation, not allowing anyone to overhear.
Feng Wu was a lot more eye catching when compared to the three of them. The students in class looked at her curiously wondering how long she’d be able to stare at the board. Twenty minutes later a male teacher in black carrying a sword walked in.
The instructor was no stranger. He was one of three who oversaw them in the virtual world; they just didn’t know his name. Everyone quieted down as soon as he walked in.
“Welcome to Xingguang Holy Academy. I am your teacher, James.”
James was not one to talk excessively. He began by appointing Pei to be the class monitor and another girl to be the assistant class monitor. Then he passed out the textbook for class.
“Remember to bring your textbook with you when you leave class. Do not leave it behind.” James spoke in a solemnly clear and cold voice. Everyone listening felt a deep sense of respect for him and didn’t dare fool around in class.
“What I have to say next is very important, so listen carefully as it is related to your future ability to take classes. I believe many of you have already heard. It is compulsory for all first years to work in Zhongyang City. You must earn enough to cover your living expenses for a year. This was enacted to give students an opportunity to experience new things.
Fill out the form in front of your and hand it in to me. Write down how much you think you can earn; remember to keep your abilities in mind. What you write down will be a promise you must strive to keep. This is a money making assignment. You must complete the task in order to graduate to the next grade level. Those who make the most money will also get a special prize.
Bear in mind, you are not allowed to carry any kind of space equipment or crystal card on your person while working. Family and friends are also not allowed to help. Poor sportsmanship will not be allowed. If you’re caught cheating,” he paused and looked at the class imperiously, “you will not be let off easily. The consequences will be severe, repeating a grade will be the least of it. So don’t even think about it.”
Class load the first year is light, only two classes a day. You can use your free time to practice in the practice rooms or ask your teacher to explain things you don’t understand.
With your free time, I hope you will find a good job and earn enough for your living expenses. You should be able to do so easily.”
Earn a year’s worth of living expenses?! Some students hearing this were not prepared and became distressed at the prospect. They were very anxious.
Those children from common backgrounds weren’t as affected. They were accustomed to helping their families at home, so it was no big deal finding a job on the streets. Those children from nobility didn’t have the same advantage. Everything around them had been handled by someone else, in this way they were able to focus solely on practicing their swordsmanship. It was a way of life since they were very young. Because of this, the prospect of earning their own money was a bit difficult to swallow.
The whole class was in an uproar. Feng Wu blinked. Look for a job?
Everyone filed out after class ended. They headed out, not to play, but to find work!
“What should we do?”
“We can’t ask our family or friends for help.”
They had to achieve their goal solely on their own efforts. It made those pampered young misses unhappy.
Because it was a school requirement, Feng Wu followed along with everyone else. The large group of students spilled out of the school gate. The sight was a familiar one for the merchants outside.
Some of the shops there were in fact looking for help, making it easy for the common students to find jobs. Aristocratic children were more aloof and reserved, milling about unsure what to do.
Later the students realized they could register at the Adventurers’ Guild as adventurers and earn money that way. Unfortunately that idea didn’t pan out, because in order to register, they needed to pay a registration fee of two gold coins.
They were only given two silver coins as a stipend. Their space equipment and crystal cards were all confiscated. Who among them would have two gold coins to spare?
Feng Wu did not know what to do; she hadn’t followed the crowd to the Adventurers’ Guild. Fortunately, she bumped into Jier.
“Xiao Wu, I found you! Ways to make money... unexpectedly I can’t think of any.” Jier shook his head as he continued. “I’ll get filthy if I take a job as a shop assistant or as a servant. I don’t want that. I wonder if I can just rob someone, although robbing is probably against the rules.” Jier talked nonstop the moment he found Feng Wu. She hadn’t said a word. This was fine because Jier was talkative enough for both of them.
They passed an interesting drama being played out in front of a jewelry shop.
“Darling dear, this ring~” a sexy blonde snaked her hand out toward a ring as she turned her slender body towards a chubby man. He was obviously a rich sugar daddy. Beside them was another redhead with another older man.
The people this year seemed more mature and worldlier, desiring material things. It seemed the two ladies were acquaintances, both vying to outdo the other, jostling and brazenly grabbing at whatever items caught their eye. The din finally settled down as the group completed their purchase. They left leaving behind a very happy shop owner; he had made a great deal of profit!
Jier’s eyes had lit up as a brilliant idea popped to mind.
“Xiao Wu, be good and wait here. I just thought of a good way to make money.” Once he made sure Feng Wu wouldn’t wander off, he walked into the jewelry shop. He said something to the boss inside that made the other person smile. He came out and directly went to the clothing shop nearby, staying there only for short time before coming out again and patronizing a magic equipment shop.
When he was finally done, Jier ran back and took Feng Wu out to eat. Over the meal he told her about his plan. He never intended to go it alone, so he naturally brought Feng Wu into it.
Three bowls of noodles later Feng Wu nodded her head agreeing to partner with him. As long as it didn’t involve murder or arson, she had no problems. These were the two things Master prohibited.
They found a hotel to rest for the night after eating. Both had changed out of their school uniforms before leaving campus earlier as it would have been bad if their identities as students were revealed.
Few students found satisfactory jobs the first day. They were under pressure because their school allowance was suspended for the time being. Some didn’t want to work and were instead looking for another way to make money. There had to be a way to make money without working.
Feng Wu returned to the dorm and wrapped little bun up to take him downstairs to play. Since Xi found a job and was out working, it was only Annika and Jasmine in the dorms with Feng Wu.
“Xiao Wu, did you find a job?” Annika asked when she saw Feng Wu come down with little bun in her arms. Jasmine didn’t bother to look up, completely ignoring Feng Wu.
“No.” Feng Wu shook her head.
“I heard there’s someone at the end of the street whose job is to help us find work. If you want to find a job, you can try there. There are a lot of students in our class who went to register, but in order to register you have to pay five hundred copper coins.” Annika shared her information enthusiastically.
Feng Wu’s reply was short. She only nodded and said that she knew.
This left an awkward silence in the room, but Annika being Annika didn’t mind too much. She knew people had different personalities; not everyone could be the warm and cheerful type, so this type of Feng Wu was acceptable too.
Annika tried talking to Feng Wu a bit more before leaving the dorms together with Jasmine to go to class. Annika and Jasmine got along better because they were both in the Magic Division.
Feng Wu stayed behind and played with little bun a bit before eating the lunch Xiao Bai made for her. It was a combination of fried and roasted meat with a side of lettuce salad. She inhaled her lunch in typical Feng Wu fashion. Once finished she handed little bun to Xiao Bai and left to go find Jier. They were supposed to meet to talk about his plan to make money. Feng Wu had no opinions about it; she was just there to be good and cooperate with him.
While Feng Wu and Jier were meeting, Zi Cheng and Yifu were trying to sell some recipes to a big hotel, the kind that had its own dining establishment. Zi Cheng dressed in normal clothes and was behaving deferentially to the man in front of her.
“Little girl, these dishes you made were very good. Our boss likes them and wants to buy them. What do you intend to sell them for?” The person talking was a middle-aged plump man who worked for the restaurant. He eyes were sharp and shifting and he waited to bargain.
Yifu sat to the side with an excited look on her face. Zi Cheng’s dishes really amazed and startled the restaurant manager to high heaven. Who knew her good friend had such a wonderful skill? She smiled large, incredibly proud of Zi Cheng.
“How much is your boss offering?” Zi Cheng didn’t answer but smiled and asked another question instead.
“How about fifty gold per dish. Ten dishes for five hundred gold.”
“OK, deal.” Being able to sell recipes for that price was pretty good. What she really wanted was a percentage of the proceeds, but her current task was to make money in an allotted time, so despite her heart’s desire, she accepted.
Although she had enough to satisfactorily complete the mission, she chose not to finalize her report to her teacher, remembering that James had said there was a prize for the highest earner. She intended to fight for that prize.
Zi Cheng went to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to prepare the dishes once she finished negotiating with the restaurant manager. The day was almost over by the time she was done. At the end of it all the manager gave her a pink crystal card with five hundred gold on it; thus placing her first on the ranking list. She went back to school in a great mood.
Hers was the only name on the list so it grabbed a lot of attention. The seniors were amazed at her ability to earn so much in just two days. Zi Cheng was oblivious to her new-found fame though.
After she left the manager went to the top floor of the hotel and walked over to a man in gray. “Master, she has left.”
The man addressed as Master first noticed Zi Cheng when she entered the restaurant. He had given his permission to allow her into the kitchen. It was because of this that she had such an easy time selling her recipes. The restaurant manager would never have dared allow a random stranger to enter the kitchen otherwise.
The manager was truly surprised at how tasty the Zi Cheng’s dishes were. They were not something available on the continent. This discovery made him admire the Master’s foresight even more.
“Notify me when she comes again.” The man in gray picked up a book after speaking, not bothering to even dismiss the manager.
The manager bowed his head and left the room, only wiping the sweat off his brow after he closed the door. The Master’s presence was too powerful!
Zi Cheng earned a lot, but Jier and Feng Wu were not idle either. The two didn’t look for work but were in fact looking for targets. Their targets were impulsive people who spent money frivolously. This was a problem shared by the wealthy and the nobility. Feng Wu and Jier found plenty of people who fit that description in the city.
The two of them followed their targets and checked what jewelry shops they frequented and who their sweethearts were. Just these two things took a huge amount of time.
Fortunately Feng Wu was not the type to complain. Even if her work was just to follow Jier around, she did it faithfully and honestly.
They learned to not stay at the small hotels in the area. They were convenient and cheap at twenty copper coins, but were still too expensive for school children who were trying to save money and budget for food.
They went to the woods outside the city to hunt game and gather some wild vegetables. Feng Wu was a poisonous cook but that didn’t mean she was ignorant when it came to wild edibles. She was very clear about what plants were edible and which ones weren’t. Even if she didn’t know, the plants themselves could tell her.
Because of Feng Wu, they harvested a bunch of wild plants in no time at all. Their space rings were confiscated so they had to haul everything back by hand. It was hard at first but they quickly got used to it.
Although Feng Wu and Jier were getting used to it, it was still troublesome. Students had to be in uniform while on campus, so each time they returned they had to change out of their ordinary clothes before passing through the gates. They had to do this several times because their haul of vegetables and wild beasts were so big. The beasts were a particularly good catch, being the kind often served at restaurants. The low price point and tastiness made it very popular.
They were the first students to try such a thing, and the sight of them carrying so many things back and forth caught everyone’s attention. The other students looked on curiously, having never seen such a sight before.
“Ha! Back when I was a freshman I never thought about going out to the woods to hunt. Those days were so hard!” so said a boy from the Magic Division. He wanted to beat his chest and stomp his feet when he realized the possibility.
“You’re stupid,” laughed a girl from the same division. “Those two are smart. They’ll save a lot of money this way. Then when they find their way to make money, they’ll be able to pass the mission.”
“Hey you. You shouldn’t be talking. I remember in our first year you said you would complete the task in a month. In the end it took you over three months,” said another.
One by one the onlookers began insulting one another. Eventually everyone’s feelings were hurt and they each ran back to their respective dorms.
Jier whispered, “Ignore them.”
Feng Wu, “…” Huh?
By the time they reached Feng Wu’s dorm the sky was already dark. Xi, Annika, and Jasmine were all back from the cafeteria.
Feng Wu and Jier made it inside and slammed the door shut behind them, surprising the girls. The girls turned around and were stunned to find Feng Wu and Jier.
“Xiao Wu, you and Jier aren’t planning on hunting to make money, are you?” Annika spoke because she didn’t think it was a good idea. Such small game wouldn’t sell for much.
If they wanted to rely on hunting to make money, then they should at least try for magic beasts. Magic beasts had a much higher value than ordinary beasts.
Feng Wu looked directly at Annika and replied with, “No.”
Annika: Wow… so serious.
“Then do you want to cook it here?” Xi asked as she helped Feng Wu put the basket on the ground.
Jier put his bundles down and poured himself a drink of water after settling down on the sofa.
“Mm. I’m low on money. I have to do for myself.” She had spent almost all of her two silver coins, so she wasn’t averse to resorting to manual labor.
“Definitely two silver coins aren’t enough to last for more than few days. I was thinking of going into the mountains to pick some goodies too, but I totally can’t tell which ones are edible,” said Annika as she cutely stuck out her tongue in annoyance.
“I know a few,” Xi said, “but I made some cash today so I don’t have to go out and dig or hunt for food.” Xi smugly smiled to herself thinking of the ten gold coins she made. It was more than enough to cover the month’s living expenses.
This piqued Jasmine’s curiosity so she asked, “What kind of work did you do to get so much money so quickly?”
“I teamed up with a few people I know and we went hunting for some low-level magical beasts. Magical beasts can sell for money, but honestly, what’s 100-200 gold per beast going to get you? When divided up among a group of five, it’s only about twenty gold per person.”
“Wow! You sword masters are amazing, even though class only just started you can do so much. In the Magic Division we can’t even think about hunting magical beasts to earn money.” If only the freshman Magic Division class were as strong, they’d be able to hunt magical beasts too, but they were so much more delicate. As it is, the students of the Magic Division could only stand on par with sword masters once they reached the tenth rank.
“Yeah but your magic is good for making money, right? I heard those specializing in water magic can even do a full body heal for nobles. You can earn 100 gold coins just from one session.” Xi felt it was too easy when she thought about how quickly water magicians could earn money.
Jasmine’s expression took a turn for the worse at Xi’s suggestion. She thought it was really a bad idea so said, “Not likely,” as she shook her head. “There are too many esteemed healers in Zhongyang already. I dare not offer my unworthy abilities.”
Jasmine’s attitude made Xi’s lips twitch. The words gave Annika an idea though.
“Hey! How about selling enchanted water? Water treated by water magicians have healing abilities. One bottle can go for two gold yeah?”
“I’ll think about it,” was Jasmine’s unenthusiastic reply. Annika’s suggestion wasn’t bad per se… but as a young lady of noble breeding, Jasmine had an image to maintain. How could she sell enchanted water at some random street corner? It would be so mortifying if someone recognized her. Were Xi and Annika seriously brainstorming? Were they giving her any consideration when they threw out the suggestion?!
Feng Wu and Jier hadn’t eaten anything all day so they were starving. They’d gone to the kitchen and were preparing something to eat, not caring at all about Jasmine’s dilemma.
At first it didn’t seem like they would have any vegetable dishes as Feng Wu’s cooking was poisonous and Jier only knew how to barbeque. Fortunately Feng Wu was good at giving direction. So although Jier didn’t know how to cook, he was able to follow her instructions. They limped along together and made a decently nutritious meal thanks to Jier’s awesome cooking abilities. Not only was it nutritious, the aroma was mouthwatering.
Xi and Annika looked towards the kitchen with hungry eyes thinking of ways to sneak a few bites. Jasmine wasn’t as affected. She didn’t like commoners and wasn’t interested in anything a commoner like Feng Wu would have made. She didn’t eat food from commoners. She forgot one thing though: it was impossible for every chef in the world to be a person of the peerage. By this simple fact she would have already eaten plenty of foods cooked by master chef commoners.
Ignoring Feng Wu and Jier Jasmine turned to Annika. “Have you found a job yet?”
“I did. I got hired to use wood magic to help the crops grow at one of the local manor houses. I get paid according to how much yield they get. The pay’s not bad.”
Of the five elemental magic systems, wood and water were the two weakest in terms of offensive abilities, however when it came to earning potential, they were the best. Despite this, magicians from the aristocracy rarely used it to make money, finding it distasteful. They were a noble lot who didn’t like abasing themselves to others in order to make money, so few engaged in it unless they were in dire straits.
The students in the Magic Division at Xingguang Holy Academy were no exception. They had an innate sense of superiority and refused to consider using their magic abilities to make money – at least for the first couple of days. Most caved in as time passed and no viable options appeared; no one wanted to fail the mission and repeat the grade.// Chapter so short, but so troublesome.
Annika had felt the same discomfort over it as Jasmine did, however she didn’t want to fail the assignment. That was why she settled for an easy job that paid well.
Feng Wu and Jier sat down to eat at the dining table after they finished cooking. Neither asked the girls to join. The thought never crossed Feng Wu’s mind. As for Jier, he and Feng Wu worked hard to cook everything. Why would he invite those who hadn’t helped to have some?
Xi and Annika waited expectantly, thinking that the two would be polite and invite them to partake in the meal. But alas no invitation came. They could only watch as Feng Wu and Jier dug into the fragrant and delicious looking dishes.
Unable to take it any longer, one of them plaintively uttered Feng Wu’s name. “Xiao Wu…”
“Hm?” Feng Wu answered the sad cry.
“Can you share a bite with us?” Xi asked pitifully.
“Okay,” said Feng Wu. She picked up two plates and put a bite of food in each before handing both over.
A surprised sound of, “Eh –,” escaped from the girls. They looked at the spread on the table before looking back down at the measly portion on their plate, a helpless questioning look in their eyes. Good sister, you didn’t have to take it so literally!
Jasmine looked disdainfully at the scene, shaking her head. What was there to say about it? She decided to retire for the night and went upstairs to sleep.
The incoming freshmen were all busy with classes and various tasks; none of them had free time to play around anymore. It was quite a contrast to the upperclassmen who leisurely went about their business.
La Wei’s father owned two large incredibly profitable hotels in Zhongyang so her family was very well-off. Although she was rich, she was not happy. This was because Ma Xiu, her childhood sweetheart, was lukewarm towards her.
La Wei was just an ordinary rich young lady; she wasn’t a student at Xingguang so her chances of seeing Ma Xiu were few and far in-between. He was amazingly talented, placing tenth out of all the fifth years at Xingguang Holy Academy. It was laudable, but at the same time it made her feel anxious, as though their destinies were drifting farther apart. If she didn’t keep reminding him of her presence, he might forget all about her! At the rate they were going, she was afraid some rotten woman would steal him away.
Today she was lucky. She had heard that Ma Xiu would visit a magic shop in the city. It was the perfect chance for her to talk to him. She went out, taking care to look her best. She presented a very pretty picture dressed in a long dress, with a slight blush on her cheeks, and a jeweled hair piece in her hair. The maid by her side, holding a parasol to shield her from the sun, completed the image of a quintessential rich young lady.
Upon seeing Ma Xiu the maid whispered, “Miss. young master Ma Xiu is over there.”
La Wei’s face blushed crimson at the sight of her handsome sweetheart. She picked up her skirt intending to walk over to him. Before she could, a cute looking brown-eyed girl beat her to the punch. She couldn’t hear what was said to her sweetheart, but afterwards the two left the magic shop together. La Wei wanted to follow but a young man dressed entirely in red and reeking of alcohol stumbled into them.
“Get away from us you drunk!” the maid screamed as she shoved the drunk to the ground.
La Wei walked over and looked for Ma Xiu as soon as the drunk was out of the way, but her sweetheart was nowhere in sight. She was so furious! If it hadn’t been for the delay… Now her entire trip was wasted.
La Wei looked for the cheap seductress who had tried to fool her darling Ma Xiu. There she was walking into a jewelry shop. An angry La Wei followed behind. Once inside she saw that the clerk was pulling out a bracelet for the brunette to try on.
La Wei was in an extremely foul mood. She thought about the scene from earlier and easily guessed what had happened. You horrid person! How dare you seduce my Brother Ma Xiu! Now you’re trying on all this jewelry. Don’t tell me! You… you..! That’s why you were talking to Brother Ma Xiu earlier! She was an angry woman with an unrequited love and her imagination ran wild; truly fearsome indeed.
She signaled her maid with her eyes.
Her maid immediately got the message. “Hold on. My House’s young miss would like that. Wrap it up.” After saying this maid gave the brunette a haughty glance.
The brunette blinked, looking at the maid puzzled.
La Wei eyed her rival, noting her expression. This girl is so devious. Look at her pretending to be confused. She must be scheming something.
The clerk, placed in an awkward situation, spoke up. “But this young lady here was looking at it first…”
The maid made a face, unhappy that she had to explain. “She was looking at it, but she didn’t pay for it. Technically it’s still up for sale. Gift wrap it for my house’s young miss.”
“But...” unhappy at the presumption the clerk stole a glance at the girl he was waiting on. Since she didn’t say anything he did as he was told by the newcomers.
La Wei accepted the bracelet after it was wrapped up. She was just thinking of something appropriately snippy to say to the scheming seductress when she saw the other party looking at another piece of jewelry, this time a necklace.
La Wei harrumphed. You think you can get away with buying something today? La Wei snatched up everything the brunette showed an interest in.
After the last item, a gemstone ring, was snatched from her, the brunette turned around as though to leave.
“Hold it right there!” La Wei shouted. This seductress wanted to leave? Like she’d allow that. “You. Listen well. Brother Ma Xiu is mine. These jewels are mine as well. You can’t take them and you certainly can’t take Brother Ma Xiu!” La Wei turned away with her head held high. She and her maid walked out like proud peacocks having won a duel.
It took less than five minutes before the young man in red stepped into the shop.
A tall and beautiful woman walked out from the rear of the shop. The clerk deferentially addressed her as “boss” the moment he saw her. She said, “The young miss from earlier purchased 20,000 gold worth of jewels. This is your cut – 500.”
Jier took the proffered crystal card. With a smile he said, “Thank you. If there’s another chance in the future, let’s work together again.” After he finished speaking, he pulled the distracted brunette girl next to him out of the shop.
The boss smiled at that before returning to her office so the clerks could continue greeting customers.
Once Jier exited the shop with Feng Wu a pleased smile replaced his staid business-like countenance from earlier.
“Didn’t I say this was a good plan? There are so many fools in the city, if you just look, it’s easy to find them.”
“Jier is amazing,” Feng Wu agreeably praised him in all earnestness.
“I know. I am. Come on, let’s go register with the Adventurers’ Guild. We can battle to earn more money once we do.”
Swindling fools for money was just a short-term solution for Jier. It was fine to do it occasionally, but it wasn’t a sustainable way to earn money; sooner or later the fools would catch on and he would be caught.
They unexpectedly ran into Xi and a few others at the guild.
“No way! Didn’t expect to see you here Xiao Wu,” exclaimed Xi. She was there with her team of five to pick up a mission as well.
“Oh, it’s that girl.” Yifu spoke from the entry way, disgust clearly evident in her voice. Her volume was loud enough to carry across the entire area. She wore a black magic robe and held a magic staff in her hand. She arrogantly looked at Feng Wu as though the other girl was an insignificant ant.
Feng Wu blinked. The girl speaking looked familiar…
“What a coincidence. We’re also here to register. How about we all form a party?” said Zi Cheng. The smile she gave after saying this was soft and tender, like a ray of warm sunshine. Everyone immediately liked her.
“No, we already have a full team,” Xi’s rejection was forthright. It didn’t matter to her if Hans or Pei thought otherwise. There was no way she was willing to get on the same team as Yifu. The girl was a walking catastrophe and dead weight to boot. Forgive Xi for her bluntness, but she wanted to keep living.
“Is that so? That’s too bad.” Anyone looking at Zi Cheng at that moment would have been charmed by her amethyst eyes and swayed by the disappointment in them, so much so they would have granted her any request.
It was a good thing few looked at her right then. Zi Cheng didn’t ask Feng Wu since putting her and Yifu together would only be asking for trouble.
Feng Wu and Jier were in a hurry and didn’t have time to pay attention to Zi Cheng. In fact, while everyone was chatting, they were busy registering.
Zi Cheng didn’t think too much about Feng Wu and wasn’t interested in causing any trouble.
Yifu hated Feng Wu’s guts and had other ideas. Now that the girl was in front of her, how could Yifu ignore her? Yifu chanted a malevolent spell and directed it at Feng Wu. It was too bad she forgot where she was in her eagerness to harm.
The Adventurers’ guild had an array that nullified low level spells precisely for events like these. It considerably decreased the display of bad behavior by budding magicians intoxicated by their newfound powers. Yifu’s spell sputtered out and a force pushed her out of the guild hall.
The other adventures turned at the movement and looked at her standing dumbstruck at the doorway. The expression everyone wore clearly said, “idiot.” To be so stupid as to attack someone inside the guild… they hadn’t seen such a rookie mistake like that in years.
Yifu stood outside the hall confused. How did she get pushed out here? She was clearly inside when she cast her spell.
One look at her and it was obvious she was a rookie. Two sword masters took pity on her and explained the situation.
“The use of force is prohibited inside the guild. You’ll be ejected by the array if you try.”
Yifu finally understood. Her face turned black and blue from embarrassment. Why was she always put in such awkward situations every time she ran into Feng Wu?
Feng Wu noticed the movement along with everyone else; but by the time she turned around, all she saw was a flash of light.
Jier snorted. If it weren’t for the array I would have already burned your ugly self to a crisp.
Jier and Feng Wu were free to choose their missions after registering, however they were restricted to “D” and “C” ranked ones. Higher missions were locked until they leveled up.
Jier knew better than to ask Feng Wu for her opinion on the missions. It would have been hopeful thinking to expect her to research any of it beforehand. With this in mind, he went ahead and just picked the “C” level mission with the highest reward.
The mission was to investigate the death of Mrs. Malin, and apprehend the murderer. It wouldn’t take too long and was worth 500 gold.
They weren’t the first to go for it; quite a few had tried before, but all resulted in failure. Charges weren’t filed against any of the suspects found since the evidence was lacking.
The deceased victim was survived by her husband, Mr. Wenda, and her daughter, Clara Wenda. Mr. Wenda was an incredibly handsome young man in his youth. He was also very shrewd in business. It was this combination that caught the attention of the then single Mrs. Malin. The two married and two years later gave birth to their only daughter, Clara , now eighteen years old. Clara wasn’t very good with business so she stayed with her mother at home and helped around the house. They had been a happy family of three, but three years ago everything changed.
Mr. Wenda met and fell head over heels for another woman. She was ravishingly beautiful and her name was Dusha. Deliriously in love, Wenda neglected his wife and stopped his conjugal visits to her entirely. He eventually dropped all pretense and demanded a divorce.
Mrs. Malin didn’t want to divorce so she refused. The two had terrible arguments over it. Things came to a head when Mrs. Malin discovered Mr. Wenda had cheated on her and slept with Dusha. She agreed to the divorce, but on her terms.
Since he cheated on her, she was entitled to two thirds of their assets upon separation. Although Mr. Wenda was extremely unwilling, he saw no other way around it.
The night before the divorce, Mrs. Malin and her daughter stayed at the villa she had inherited from her parents. The servants were all dismissed so it was just the two of them together.
Shockingly, Mrs. Malin was murdered sometime in the night. Clara had no evidence, but she suspected her father and his mistress were the ones who killed her mother.
The murder happened a few months ago in a city near Zhongyang. Investigators found the murder weapon in Clara ’s room, and in a dramatic turn of events, Clara became a suspect in her own mother’s murder. Her father even formally accused her.
She refused to plead guilty, instead asking a friend to issue a mission on her behalf at the Adventurers’ Guild. She wanted to find her mother’s real murderer and have that person brought to justice.
Jier looked at the mission sheet again. They just had to find the culprit; it was certainly doable.
It looked like a cut and dried case. The culprit was clearly Clara ’s father and his mistress Dusha. However, if it was that simple, why had no one already solved it? The mission couldn’t be as simple as it initially appeared. Jier enjoyed challenges and looked forward to solving the difficult case.
The clerk was surprised he’d taken the mission. “Are you sure you want to take that “C” mission?”
Jier impatiently gave his reply in a curt biting tone. “Yeah, this one.”
Many far more experienced adventurers had unsuccessfully tried the mission. The clerk wanted to warn them and suggest they take something else, especially since the trial was set to begin soon. Time was not on their side.
Suddenly a sweet female voice cut into their conversation. “Wait! We want that mission!”
Jier and Feng Wu turned around to find a group of four, two males and two females, approach.
The two girls in the group noticed Feng Wu right away. Alan Duo and Ai Li[notes] could never forget Feng Wu. Both hated her bitterly.
There was never a shortage of people looking for trouble. The clerk had been working at the guild long enough to recognize troublemakers when they came. She kept her face neutral as she clearly stated the policy. “My apologies, but I must regretfully inform you that the Adventurers’ Guild only allow one team per mission. Should the engaged team fail, then the mission will be reposted. Multiple teams per mission is only permissible if it is the express wish of the requestor, however it is not the case in this instance.”
“They haven’t paid the fee yet!” Ai Li shouted as she glared at Feng Wu. She hated Feng Wu with a passion. She still had a grudge to settle. Feng Wu had used some strange trick to freeze her in their duel. She had nearly been molested by the lechers and perverts in the streets that day! She had suffered through so much because of it. There was no way she was going to let a bully as bad as Feng Wu get away unpunished.
“Here. The fee.” Jier said as he put several coins on the table.
The clerk counted out the amount and accepted the payment in full. Under guild rules, missions could be picked up by individuals or teams. To qualify as a team a group needed at least three members though. Since it was only Feng Wu and Jier, the clerk logged it as an individual request pick up under Jier’s name. The mission was officially his after she counted the money and logged it in. She handed him back his school ID.
“Ai Li, don’t worry about it.” Alan Duo tried to soothe her cousin. She wanted Feng Wu dead as well but she was aware of where they stood. Making trouble in the guild was not wise. She didn’t want to alienate the staff so she grabbed Ai Li and brought her to the desk when she saw her cousin about to open her mouth again.
To the clerk she said, “Our team would like to register for this mission please.” She handed over ten gold coins.
The clerk accepted the request and fee before logging it into the system. She didn’t utter a single word of pleasantry the entire time, focused solely on entering the data.
Alan Duo’s team of four were quickly registered. They also took a level “C” mission, only theirs dealt with strength, it didn’t involve any kind of investigation. Their mission was to go outside the city and deal with some magical beasts.
Ai Li stood to the side with her male squad members fuming as she glared daggers at Feng Wu. The guys were both sword masters from the Sword division. This was a common combination as a group consisting of only magicians[notes] or sword masters was rare. The only reason they teamed up with Alan Duo and Ai Li was to complete the mission. They had no interest in the drama.
“Your registration is complete. Good luck with your mission,” said the clerk once she finished. Now that the task was complete, the clerk finally smiled as she handed Alan Duo her school ID back.
Alan Duo didn’t behave in a haughty manner simply because the other person was a receptionist. Instead she said “Thank you,” and returned the smile.
Once they received their mission, the group of four left without further interactions with Feng Wu.
Jier frowned as he said, “Don’t let them get to you. Go and pick out a mission we can do together.” He reached over and ruffled her hair as he spoke. It was a pleasant feeling, ruffling her hair.
Feng Wu had gotten used to him messing her hair so she didn’t mind. She obediently went over and looked at the mission board. She randomly picked a “C” level assignment from a mountain village in the small nation-state of Frosted Hills and Knolls.[notes] Despite its proximity to Zhongyang, it was independent and didn’t fall under Zhongyang’s governance.
The request was issued by the village chief; the note read:
Young girls from all over the village have disappeared. We have canvased the area but haven’t found a single trace of the missing girls or the deviant who kidnapped them. We don’t know if the girls are alive or dead. This uncertainty has weighed heavily on all of us, especially the parents of those missing. They have been wailing lamentation day and night since.
The villagers had pooled their money together and issued the request, with a reward of 200 gold, in the hopes that an adventurer would help them. It was a recent request so no one had picked it up yet. However even if it was an older request, the odds of it being picked up were slim. Two hundred gold for a “C” level mission was simply too low. Adventurers could get far more gold for easier tasks.
For Feng Wu, the reward didn’t matter. What appealed to her was the convenience. It was in the same place as Jier’s mission.
Since both missions were outside Zhongyang’s city limits, there was no way for them to investigate and still make it to class on time. This meant they needed a leave of absence. Fortunately the teacher they requested the leave from was supportive, readily excusing them from class.
Jier and Feng Wu immediately went to their respective dorms to pack for the trip.
Feng Wu decided to bring Xiao Bai and little bun along since the missions would take some time to complete. She couldn’t leave them alone in the dorms for so long. To save time and space, she put Xiao Bai in little bun’s spiritual aura, then put little bun inside her dimensional storage ring.
Jier and Feng Wu opted to use a transportation array to travel to their mission site. It was an uncommon method to travel for two reasons: cost and size limitations. It cost 200 gold per head. Additionally, each array transport required ten passengers, with all ten being present at the array before operators would be willing to start it.
They stood out quite a bit as they waited for more passengers to show, Feng Wu in her long white dress and Jier, clearly a magician, in his red robe. Fortunately it only took half an hour before enough people queued up for the array. Feng Wu and Jier were the youngest of the group. Because of their age, the other passengers wondered if they were rich aristocratic children sneaking out to play. They would glance over at Feng Wu and Jier every once in awhile in their curiosity. The kids didn’t pay it any mind and continued ignoring everyone there.
After everyone paid, the conductor inserted a crystal into a port, creating a flash of light. By the time the light died down, all ten had already landed at their destination. They felt the biting cold as soon as they landed.
The array brought them to Rime-Frost, a border town just on the outskirts of Frosted Hills and Knolls. It was a cold place where people bundled up in heavy layers to stay warm. The streets were lined with snow, piled high and fluffy, creating a majestic winter scene. It was the kind of place ice magicians loved. Indeed, many chose to reside here for the cold. The city also hosted many tourists as well.
The passengers went their respective ways without exchanging any pleasantries. Since Clara was imprisoned and they wouldn’t be able to meet with her, Jier told Feng Wu their first step would be to find the person who made the request on her behalf.
The name listed as a contact was Pierre. Just Pierre, no surname. Who was he exactly? In a world where her own father condemned her for her mother’s murder, he was the only one willing to stand by her.
Jier reached for Feng Wu’s hand and held it in a firm grip as they walked. He did so partly because he didn’t want her to fall, but mostly because he didn’t want her to get cold. The change in temperature was very sudden and he didn’t want her to get sick because of it. The easiest way to keep her warm was to impart some of his fire energy to her through her hand.
Jier was a fire elemental magician so the cold didn’t bother him. Although Feng Wu was weaker than she was in her original body, she wasn’t entirely helpless; her strength was improving. She faithfully did the exercises her Master taught her for healing internal injuries. She wasn’t sure if it was because there was a relationship between her old world and this one, but whatever it was, it converted the energy from her martial aura into qi, which was the internal energy form in the current world. The two different types of energy were compatible enough to be interchangeable, allowing her to use her converted martial aura to shield her from the cold.
Jier didn’t know this since he had never asked Feng Wu’s rank. Combined this with Feng Wu’s reticent to talk meant Jier remained in the dark.
Hand in hand the two of them walked until they reached the address on the request. They stood in front of what appeared to be a family-run inn located in the middle of the residential area of the city.
Jier and Feng Wu walked inside together. The interior looked worn and slightly dilapidated from years of service.
“Welcome! Are you here for lodgings or a meal?” cried an enthusiastic plump older woman as soon as she noticed them.
“We’re from the Adventurers’ Guild and we’re here to see Pierre.” Although Jier was normally short-tempered, he always managed to present the image of a courteous well-bred young man to those who saw him for the first time.
This stunned the older woman. Though she was worried, she maintained a professional smile. She got up as she said, “Please wait a moment. I’ll call young master Pierre down.”
The sound of hurried footsteps sounded down the hall. Almost immediately following the sound, a teenager dressed in blue appeared before them. It was obvious he ran over as fast as he could, yet he was breathing normally, not panting at all. Clearly he was a sword master who practiced control of internal force. However considering his youth, his rank as a sword master was probably low.
Pierre had been excited when he heard about the visiting adventurers. However, the expression in his eyes quickly changed from hopefulness to disappointment when he caught sight of Jier and Feng Wu. The two of them couldn’t be more than fifteen, so young and inexperienced. How could they be capable of finding Mrs. Malin’s murderer?
Pierre sighed. “This mission is too difficult for adventures as new as you to take on. You should look for an easier mission OK?” After saying so he proceeded to ignore them. They were just inexperienced adventurers who let greed distract them from the dangers of a mission.
What? Jier was the one who criticized others, not the other way around. “Don’t you know the saying: don’t judge a book based on its cover? We aren’t the first adventurers to come here. Just because those before us failed doesn’t mean we will as well.” A strong oppressive force pervaded the air immediately after he finished speaking.
The pressure was so intense Pierre lost his breath, fortunately it only lasted a few seconds. The short moment was enough to convince him though.
“You…” Pierre was shocked that someone so young could release so much pressure. He instantly revised his opinion of the young man in front of him. He faced the two of them and properly apologized. The girl next to the boy had not demonstrated her strength, but Pierre was sure she wasn’t weak, otherwise how could the two of them team up?
“Apology accepted. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jier and I’m the adventurer working on your request. This is my friend Feng Wu. She is here working on a separate request.” Jier succinctly explained who they were and why they were there.
Pierre was an interesting fellow. He didn’t nurse any hard feelings against Jier for oppressing him despite their age difference. This satisfied Jier. Had the other man behaved differently, Jier would have given him a rude awakening.
“I’m glad you’re both here. My name is Pierre. I’m Miss Clara Wenda’s good friend. She is the one who issued the request; but, because she is currently imprisoned, she asked that I post it on her behalf,” explained an embarrassed Pierre.
“Master Pierre, why don’t you take our guests inside while I get something from the kitchen?” said the Matron La, the cherubic faced woman from earlier.
“Ah! I’ve troubled you Matron La!” Pierre smote his forehead as he spoke. Here he was blabbing away and he hadn’t even offered his guests a seat.
Matron La left for the kitchen as the three of them walked farther inside. Jier and Feng Wu sat down on a sofa and Pierre personally poured them each a cup of black tea before explaining.
“Both my mother and Miss Clara Wenda’s mother were good friends, close even before their respective marriages. After marriage they maintained their friendship. In fact their husbands, my father and her father, are related to each other. Our family ties remained strong even when my family faced a financial crisis.
I was twelve at the time. A hostile takeover was waged against my family’s business and we lost nearly everything. In fact, the only thing we managed to keep is this inn here. It has seen better days I’m afraid,” said Pierre. The inn was small and shabby but it still had a steady stream of repeat customers, which allowed them to stay in business. It helped that Matron La was very good at drumming up business.
Pierre continued to tell them how despite the disparity in wealth, the two families still maintained close ties, so close in fact that Clara’s family even helped them financially. However everything changed when Ms. Dusha entered the scene. Her appearance strained the relationship between Mr. Wenda and Mrs. Malin, eventually resulting in the couple splitting and Mrs. Malin moving out. Sometime afterwards Clara had a fall out with her father and she too moved out, leaving to live with Mrs. Malin, at her maternal grandparents’ villa.
It was at the villa that Mrs. Malin mysteriously died. The murder three months ago was a sensational case in part because Clara was the primary suspect.
“Of course most people don’t believe Miss Clara Wenda did it. The likely culprit are Mr. Wenda and his mistress.” Pierre shook his head. “But there’s no evidence. All anyone has are suspicions. On top of that, the knife found in Miss Clara Wenda’s room matched the type of weapon used to murder Mrs. Malin. Add to that, Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha’s maid will vouch for their whereabouts at the time of the murder, so they have an alibi. They aren’t even considered suspects.”
Pierre continued to tell them how the investigation failed to find any evidence to support Clara’s innocence. This led the two of them to put a request in at the Adventurers’ Guild in hopes of finding someone who would be able to apprehend the real murderer. Unfortunately the adventurer that accepted their request couldn’t solve the case. It was at this moment of hopelessness that Jier walked in.
They were still talking when the lady from earlier brought over several delicious looking dishes.
Feng Wu sat quietly eating the snacks as everyone else chatted.
Jier had a better understanding of the situation after Pierre’s explanation. He asked, “Pierre can you show us the room Mrs. Malin was found?”
Pierre had anticipated the request. “Of course. The villa has been empty and cordoned off since Mrs. Malin’s death but there is still a way we can sneak inside.”
Jier nodded his head without asking any further.
They rested a bit after the meal before walking to Mrs. Malin’s villa. Pierre had wanted to call for a carriage but Jier refused, citing the need to for a constitutional walk.
The temperature in Rime-Frost was much colder than Zhongyong and there were piles of snow all around. The shops were mostly empty with few if any customers inside. The streets were quiet with few locals around, those they encountered were mostly adventurers on missions. It gave the place a deserted feel.
Jier wondered aloud, “How do you guys stay in business? The place seems really dead.”
The blunt comment made Pierre smile. “The town is actually pretty lively. It’s quiet right now because everyone is out watching the event.”
“What event? Is it fun? Are there a lot of people there?” Jier asked in rapid fire succession. He was always interested in having a good time, and something attracting a crowd had to be fun.
“It has to do with an egg. The way I heard it a master from the spiritual world stole the egg of a holy beast. He stored it in his pocket dimensional ring, but he lost it sometime while traveling from the spiritual realm. A lot of people are in there right now trying to find it. It may not seem like it, but there are actually quite a lot of people in Rime-Frost right now.”
Jier’s eyes lit up. “Holy beast egg?” He questioned his hearing for a moment. To hear news of a holy beast egg in place like this was unexpected. They only forayed into the mortal realm if they were bound by a strong contract, because of this it was nearly impossible to see one.
Magical beasts were divided into three tiers: ordinary magical beasts, holy level magical beasts, and god level magical beasts. Ordinary magical beasts weren’t exactly common but compared to the other two, they were much easier to find. Holy and god beasts lived in the spiritual realm, a paradise for noble beasts of all kinds. Although they lived together, god beasts, because they were so powerful, held a higher rank than holy beasts. Higher level magical beasts even had the ability to take on human form.
A person had to be very powerful to force or convince a magical beast from the spiritual realm to form a contract. Any contract between a human and a beast from the spiritual realm was essentially a life-long companionship. Contracted beasts were only freed to return to the spiritual realm and resume their lives after the death of their contracted human.
If you wanted a holy or god beast you had to go to the spiritual realm and subjugate one, however in order to enter the spiritual realm, you had to be a master. If you were too weak then you had to settle for contracting with a low level magical beast. No one wanted that. Fortunately there was one other method open to those ambitious enough but without the strength, and that was to get their hands on an egg. Any child worth his salt would give up an arm to get one; Jier was no exception.
“If an egg was stolen then the elders of the clan the egg came from should be trying to negotiate right?”
The relationship between humans and god beasts in the spiritual world was a good one. If the spiritual world decided to intervene and request assistance on behalf of the holy beast, then the people of Frosted Hills and Knolls would have no choice to but assist in finding the stolen egg, lest they be shamed the next time anyone from their nation visited the spiritual realm.
“Its strange though. It’s been a while since the egg fell near Rime-Frost, but no one from the spiritual world has stepped forward to negotiate for our aid. Everyone is wondering if its an orphan egg.” If the egg was from a dead line, then it made sense, as there wouldn’t be an elder to step forward. Beasts from other families wouldn’t interfere.
“So it’s like that,” Jier nodded as the finally reached the Mrs. Malin’s villa.
It was a small two-story building, the kind commonly found in the city. It had a nice view with a yard and a flower bed.
“We have to go in through the side. Technically no one’s allowed inside until the case is resolved.” Pierre was more than willing to defy the Department of Justice’s orders in order to save his childhood friend.
The streets were practically deserted so they were able to sneak in through the side door without anyone noticing. Pierre led them to Mrs. Malin’s room.
It was a large room, and because it hadn’t been aired out in some time, it was very dusty. Jier noticed the large bloodstain on the bed right away. That had to be where Mrs. Malin died.
Look! There are people. No one’s been here for so long, will Clara be back soon?” A small childish voice floated to Feng Wu’s ear.
“No, those people think Clara is a murderer; they’ll definitely kill her for it,” said another voice, the tone unmistakably angry.
“Those people are bad. No one watered me properly after Clara left. I want her back.”
A bunch of new voices joined in, making a din like a market.
The sounds didn’t surprise Feng Wu. It was just the plants nearby chatting. If she paid attention, she could make out what they were saying. She had always been able to hear the plants and animals, even the wind and the fire, back when she was on Yuehua Mountain. Her ability to hear them was even stronger since she crossed over. She’d learn to control her improved hearing earlier so had no problems tuning them out.
She paid attention to them now because she had a plan. It was simple. If they couldn’t find evidence then she’d just ask the plants nearby what happened. They were in a rush and she wanted to help Jier. She’d been listening since they stepped into the villa.
While Pierre and Jier looked around the room trying to find any evidence missed by the investigators, Feng Wu went to the courtyard to ask the flowers if they knew who murdered Mrs. Malin. The boys didn’t think much about her walking around, assuming she just wanted to enjoy the air outside.
Pierre hadn’t heard Feng Wu say a thing the entire time he’d known her, nor had she shown any special abilities of strength. This made him revise his opinion of her. She had to be Jier’s girlfriend and was tagging along with him.
To be fair, he had to admit they didn’t act like a couple. He was focused on saving his childhood friend so didn’t give it any more thought.
Feng Wu, for her part, had gone directly to the garden. It wasn’t a big garden, but despite the cold it was still full of blooming flowers. Aside from the flowers there was also a big tree in the yard. It had to be at least a hundred years old.
She walked over and stroked its bark. “Hello.” She made specially effort to make her voice clear.
“Hello little girl. What a surprise to find a human that can communicate with us plants. You must be special.” The voice of the tree sounded was that of a kindly old man.
The reply encouraged Feng Wu. Her eyes sparked a little in her expressionless face.
“I used to be called Tian Lan but now I’m called Feng Wu. I came with Jier to investigate Mrs. Malin’s death. Did anyone else come into the villa the night Mrs. Malin died? She hadn’t joined in the discussion with Pierre earlier at the hotel, but she was paying attention. She knew their biggest obstacle was a lack of witnesses.
Since this was the case, she figured asking the tree was the best course of action. She liked communicating with the plants because their emotions were clear and easy to understand. There was no guessing or hard thinking involved. She liked this easy breezy way of communicating. Talking with people was so much more complicated.
“That day, there was a non-human person in human skin. A really strange one that one.” The old tree had seen many days come and go, most were not memorable, but that day stuck out in its head.
“A non-human in human skin?” This was too much for Feng Wu. She didn’t understand.
“Yes, wearing female skin. More beautiful than Mrs. Malin.” The tree, being a rooted plant, hadn’t seen many women, so it’s idea of beauty was based on Mrs. Malin. Mrs. Malin could only be considered average looking when compared to a real beauty.
Feng Wu thanked the tree and went back inside.
Pierre and Jier searched all over the room but didn’t find any clues. It was not surprising. The investigation party had searched the room multiples times before them so everything of value was already found and taken away.
They were just about to go to Clara’s room when Feng Wu walked in.
“Xiao Wu, you’re back.” Jier didn’t mind that she ran off on her own while he was searching. He had full confidence in his own abilities. He would definitely be able to complete the mission.
Feng Wu stared at him, her face expressionless and her eyes clear. “When Mrs. Malin died someone in human skin came here. What does that mean?”
Human skin? Both boys had question marks in their eyes. Fortunately Jier quickly understood.
“Oh. You mean the one that killed Mrs. Malin wasn’t a person but a creature disguised as a human?” They lived in a magical world and using a magical art to disguise was not unheard of. Jier knew it was possible.
Feng Wu didn’t understand it at all when the old tree explained it to her, but at Jier’s words it finally clicked.
“Jier is so smart.” She looked at him with adoring puppy dog eyes.
Pierre’s fog of confusion also lifted at Jier’s simple explanation. But now he had another question.
“Miss Feng Wu, how do you know this?” How did this young girl discover something the investigation team missed?
Feng Wu bit her lip and tucked her head down, not saying a word.
This reaction made Pierre want to shout at the sky. Hey now, don’t look like that. This kind of good girl being bullied image. That boyfriend of yours is going to beat the crap out of me!
Feng Wu kept her head down. She didn’t know what to say. Master told her not to tell anyone she could talk to the plants and animals, that it could result in trouble if she did. She could only silently keep her head down, feeling incredibly troubled.
Just then she felt a gentle warm hand stroking her head, the same way Master used to stroke her head. She looked up and saw Jier. His smile felt as bright as the Sun.
“If you don’t want to say then you don’t have to Xiao Wu.” The Jier now was completely different from the usual fiery Jier. This Jier was like a gentle older brother.
Feng Wu’s heart warmed at the sight making her unconsciously smile.
How adorable! Jier couldn’t help rubbing her head even more at the shy smile.
“Ah yes please don’t be sad. Please just ignore my question.” If Pierre had known she was like this he would not have asked.
“I’m not sad.” People only cried when they were sad. Feng Wu had always been a strong child who listened to her Master. He had said tears were for the weak, that the strong didn’t cry.
She was never sad. She was always strong and brave.
Pierre wasn’t going to argue with her. If she said she wasn’t sad then she wasn’t sad.
“We’ve made some headway. Let’s leave here and figure things out,” Jier called out to Pierre as he pulled Feng Wu’s hand.
The three left the villa, their minds full of questions.
Pierre arranged a room for them while Matron La prepared several delicious dishes for everyone.
“Matron La, we seem to have more customers than usual lately.” As the owner of the hotel Pierre knew how many customers they normally had. The sudden increase didn’t escape his notice. The other inns in the area were also busier recently.
“Yes. It should be because of the holy beast egg,” Matron La said not missing a beat and as she continued setting up the tableware.
“A lot of people are in Rime-Frost right now?” Jier was surprised because there had been so few people on the streets when they were out earlier.
“Yes! Many people. Especially in the last two days. They don’t seem to know what to do, but they are here nonetheless. Adventurers from all over Frosted Hills and Knolls are here.” Pierre suspected Jier knew about it and was playing dumb earlier. Turned out the fellow really didn’t know.
Feng Wu tucked into the soup, a happy expression clearly showing on her face. Matron La’s oxtail soup was delicious and she liked it a lot.
Although Feng Wu hadn’t said anything, based on her face, Jier knew the soup had to be tasty.
“Boss, bring some wine over.” A tall man with a sword behind him came downstairs. It was obvious from his clothes that he wasn’t rich.
“OK, I’ll bring some over right away,” Pierre smiled.
Matron La had gone to the kitchen for some food so the only person left was Pierre. The inn was small and they made just enough to get by so they didn’t have money to hire extra help. The two of them were usually enough to run the place, it was just that the past two days had been exceptionally busy with more guests than normal. Nearly all their rooms were booked.
Instead of accompanying Jier and Feng Wu for their meal, he stayed behind and staffed the counter. He didn’t like to leave it unattended. It was dinnertime so it was very busy. The number of guests dining downstairs kept increasing. Luckily Matron La was a fast cook and no one had to wait too long for their orders.
Pierre was working, Feng Wu was busy eating, and Jier was taking the opportunity to ask the people at the inn about their reason for visiting Rime-Frost. Everyone was very forthcoming with their responses, not regarding as a secret.
The three of them gathered in Pierre’s study later that night. Jier shared what he learned from the guests at the inn earlier.
“A few days ago a mysterious streak of light arced over the town. People think it’s because an ancient tomb opened up. There’s surely treasure in it, and they’re here to find it.”
“An ancient magician’s tomb?” Pierre was shocked. A reason like that had never crossed his mind. That explained why the town was full of adventurers.
“First a holy beast egg, now an ancient tomb. It’s hard to believe they’re both happening here.”
Pierre nodded at Jier’s words. It was odd that two events as significant as these would happen near a border town as small as theirs. That an ancient tomb surfaced was also incredibly exciting news. But this was inconsequential compared to saving Clara. They needed to focus on what was important. “Whether it’s a coincidence or not, our priority is to find the murderer and clear Miss Clara Wenda’s name.”
Jier nodded. They came for a mission, and that mission was to find Mrs. Malin’s murderer.
“Getting back on topic, we found some really good leads at Mrs. Malin’s villa. It should give us some direction.” Jier had already started forming a plan based on the what Feng Wu said.
“From what Miss Feng Wu told us… the only thing we know is that the murderer is wearing female human skin. We don’t know that person’s identity. I do not know if it could have been Ms. Dusha or not.” Perhaps it was Ms. Dusha. Who else would have an agenda against Mrs. Malin other than Ms. Dusha. She did to take over as the new wife. thought Pierre.
In fact, Mr. Wenda didn’t waste time making his mistress the new lady of the house, ceremonially carrying her over the threshold while Clara was detained by investigators. With his first wife dead and the daughter from that marriage jailed, there was nothing in his way.
At first Pierre was just annoyed at Mr. Wenda’s disregard of Clara’s plight, but the ceremony made him ashamed to even know the other man. Pierre sighed. He was conflicted and unsure what to think. Before meeting Dusha, Wenda had been a fine man. It was only after meeting her that he began behaving abominably. How could people be so fickle? It made Pierre’s faith in humanity waver.
“To take a new wife so soon?” Jier’s opinion of Mr. Wenda was very low. “What kind of person is this Ms. Dusha?”
“She seemed like a gentle and kind-hearted lady the two times I met her. But then again, she can’t be very kind if she was scheming to take someone else’s husband.”
“Is there a way for us to meet her?”
“Yes. There will be a birthday party for the mayor’s daughter in two days. Anyone with connections will be there. You and Miss Feng Wu can come as my guests.”
Feng Wu stood very quietly to the side not engaging in the conversation. It was only because Jier knew it was her habit to be silent that he knew she was indeed paying close attention to their conversation, anyone else would have looked at her blank stare and thought she was spacing out.
They talked about the party a little more before finally calling it for the night and retiring to their respective rooms.
Feng Wu pulled Xiao Bai and little bun out from her dimensional ring once she got inside her room. Little bun had been unhappy to have to go inside, so to be shut in it for the entire day… he was very grouchy! He came out in a flood of tears, the anger at being neglected clear in his eyes. He cried and cried for an hour before Feng Wu was finally able to coax him silent again.
He eventually tired himself out and dozed off to sleep thinking about Feng Wu: Mama bad! Always locking me up…wuuu wuuu…
Xiao Bai took over and carried little bun around the room, rocking him gently up and down.
Feng Wu watched them as she thought about her own mission: find the bad people who kidnapped the girls and bring the girls back home. It seemed simple. She thought about it some more before taking a shower and going to bed.
The next morning Feng Wu woke up earlier than usual. She went downstairs with Xiao Bai and little bun trailing behind her. This was because yesterday was too much for little bun. He would rather die than go back inside the ring. As a result, Feng Wu could only have Xiao Bai carry him along as she went downstairs.
Like everyone else, Pierre and Matron La were both shocked to discover that Feng Wu was the baby’s mother. Both had the same thoughts: what was this world coming to, that a girl so young was already a mother?
Since the birthday party was not for another two days, Feng Wu and Jier decided to work on the mission with the missing girls. They both thought it would be quick and simple, a nice break for their brains from the current mission about Clara.
It wouldn’t work to bring little bun along, so they left him and Xiao Bai under Pierre and Matron La’s care while they headed north to Ice-Rime, the village with the missing girls.
Ice-Rime was small village of about a thousand people whose main livelihood depended on growing a type of winterberry fruit indigenous to the region. The winterberry variant they grew was commonly used in cooking and winemaking; in fact, many wine merchants visited the country specifically to purchase the berries. The demand allowed the people of Ice-Rime to make a comfortable living. It was a good life that turned hellish when the girls began disappearing.
The village chief increased security by gathering a troop of strong young men to patrol the area. It was no use though as the girls continued to go missing. The chief was so anxious his hair turned prematurely white.
Every single person in the village was at their wits end, so they pooled their money together to request the help of a strong adventurer.
Jier and Feng Wu rushed to the village, but they were met with hostility when they arrived.
“Who are you and what you want here?” asked a woman. She was clearly tense and leery of them. The other villagers surrounding the kids were equally unwelcoming, some even pulling out their weapons.
This was normal since the villagers were on edge over the disappearances. The appearance of any stranger would make them nervous.
Jier knew how to play this. He easily adopted the image of a gentle and refined young man. “Your village issued a mission at the guild headquarters. We are the adventurers who accepted that request.”
“You’re the adventurers?!” exclaimed the first lady in disbelief.
“How can such young children handle our mission?”
“Yeah. I expected a strong sword master!”
“What's to be done now? What should we do with these two kiddies?”
“We can have them go back. Even if the girls can't be saved, at least these two kids won’t get hurt.”
The villagers continued discussing with each other. They had pinned all their hopes on the adventurer who would accept their mission, but they never expected it would be accepted by two small children. The gap between their expectation and reality was simply too great!
“The chief is coming! The chief is coming!” cried out several children as they ran over to the crowd.
A white-haired man in a white coat appeared as the crowd parted a path for him. He was thin and walked with the help of a wooden walking stick. One look and it was obvious he was a respected elder of the village.
“Young guests, welcome. Please allow me to receive you in my home.” The village chief spoke politely to Jier and Feng Wu.
The chief’s house was bigger and of a better build quality than the other houses in the village. Upon entering he had his daughters-in-law prepare a meal for Jier and Feng Wu. They were clever and obedient and did so without asking any questions.
The chief’s wife passed away some time ago so the housekeeping was managed by his sons’ two wives. The two ladies were the only ones at home since both their husbands were out.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bulu and I am the chief of this village.” His eyes were thick with grief and it was obvious the situation with the girls had left him haggard.
“Greetings chief. I’m Jier, a D-level registered adventurer at the Adventurers’ Guild. The one who accepted the mission is my friend, Feng Wu.” At this Jier gestured to Feng Wu beside him.
Feng Wu was bad with social interactions so Jier handled the usual courtesies. He was used to it and automatically introduced Feng Wu after introducing himself.
The old man’s face stiffened when he heard Feng Wu was the one who accepted the mission. Such a delicate girl for such a dangerous mission filled him with unease.
“Young adventurers, what happened in the village is very unusual. You’re still young, I’m afraid the fiends will be beyond your ability to handle.” They really were just too young to take on such a risk.
The chief felt the same way the other villagers did, however he had been chief for many years and was more diplomatic.
“Chief doesn’t believe in us?” Jier broke out in laughter as he spoke.
The chief looked at Jier confused at the sudden change in temperament. The gentle refined air Jier had on earlier was completely gone, now replaced with a brash arrogance.
The chief believed they were too weak to take on the task, however he was far too tactful to voice such a thought aloud and hurt their feelings, so instead he said, “You are simply too young.”
Feng Wu looked at the old chief and in very somber voice said, “I will complete the mission.”
The old chief found it hard to reject such sincerity. He tried one more time to dissuade them. “It is very dangerous.”
“I am very strong,” replied Feng Wu.
Jier was not going to be rejected. “I am not an ordinary adventurer. Please do not worry chief. We will be able to help your village.”
The chief’s heart was in the right place. He tried his best to dissuade the children but in the end their persistence won out. Although they refused to listen to him, he felt they were good children, however it would be a pity if they were to get injured. He decided to have some of the younger villagers follow them around as they ‘investigated.’ In this way the villagers wouldn’t be put out, but the children’s safety would still be ensured.
The ladies finished cooking and brought the meal over. Matron La’s cooking was better, but considering Matron La was a professional cook, it was to be expected. The two sons, both in their forties, returned as everyone finished eating. They came directly from the field and still carried their farm tools as they walked in.
Both sons and their wives also doubted the children’s strength, however they were well raised and kept their opinions to themselves, not wanting to insult Jier or Feng Wu.
Aside from the sons and their wives, the chief also had three grandsons and two granddaughters. Because of all the disappearances, they had been sent away to stay with their maternal families outside the village to keep them safe.
After eating Feng Wu asked permission to look around the village. The chief allowed her to do so after assigning a clever, cute ten-year-old boy from a small family to be her guide. He was a sensible boy who, despite being very curious about Jier and Feng Wu, refrained from asking a lot of questions.
There was a variety of plants in and around the village. Aside from the one cultivar of winterberries used for export, there were also other winterberry trees grown for domestic use. These berries were delicious and filling, and were usually found cooked in different dishes at mealtimes. The none bearing fruit trees looked depressing with their bare branches devoid of any greenery. In contrast the flowers that poked out of the snow enlivened the air with their fragrance.
Feng Wu and Jier followed the child as he guided them around the village. Feng Wu purposefully touched the all the trees they passed, going from one tree trunk to another. Every now and again she also bent down to graze her hand on the flowers that grew around the trees. Neither Jier nor the child guiding them understood why she was doing it. They returned to the village chief’s house after Feng Wu was satisfied.
The chief didn’t have much hope in Feng Wu, so when she returned he didn’t ask how the investigation went. If the identity of the perpetuator could be found just by walking around the village, then the villagers would have already done so. They wouldn’t have had to spend so much money hiring an adventurer.
“It’s strange, but the person who took the girls brought them into the mountain forest.” Feng Wu shared what she found out.
“The mountain forest?!” cried out the chief wide-eyed. “That’s impossible. We’ve searched all around the base of the forest and haven’t found a thing. Not to mention the polar bears that live in the forest of the mountains are very ferocious! No one could possibly get all the way inside alive.”
Feng Wu bit her lip. “Jier, let’s go into the forest together.” The chief didn’t believe her so she had to go and find the missing girls to prove she wasn’t lying.
Jier knew she wouldn’t budge from the clear stubbornness in her eyes. He wasn’t going to turn down a young lady’s request for help, so naturally he was going to help her.
“You can’t go. It’s too dangerous!” The chief grew very agitated at the prospect and he tried his best to convince the children not to go.
“Chief, be at ease.” Jier smiled benignly, the confidence clear on his face.
Although Feng Wu didn’t say anything more, her eyes spoke volumes.
Unable to stop them, the chief looked at them as though they were as good as dead. In his eyes, they were. No one had stepped into the forest and made it back alive. It wasn’t just the chief who felt this way, the villagers also agreed. None believed the children would come back alive.
Feng Wu and Jier headed towards the forest despite the villagers attempts to dissuade them.
Aside from a few tenacious weeds and wildflowers poking out of the snow, the forest was just a vast field of snowy white. The trees standing were bare with only a few scraggly leaves hanging from their branches. With such a tenuous grip, it was obvious a strong wind would easily blow them away.
That’s not to say there weren’t living things that thrived there. In fact many wild magical beasts adapted well to the cold climate in Frosted Hills and Knolls. There were a wide variety of ice birds, snow tigers, snow leopards and of course the well-known ferocious polar bears. They were difficult to deal with, but not impossible to handle since they lacked a natural affinity for the ice element. This prevented them from reaching their awesome, fearsome potential.
Feng Wu walked ahead of Jier, occasionally touching a tree here and there to get directions. Jier wasn’t stupid. Upon seeing her behavior, he surmised she had some kind of ability that allowed her to communicate with the plants around her.
“Xiao Wu, can you talk to the plants?” Though he asked, he was sure he knew the answer already.
Feng Wu lowered her head, her thoughts troubled. If Jier finds out I can talk to plants then he’ll hate me. Jier is a good friend and I don’t want him to hate me.
The sight left Jier feeling awkward so he patted her on the head.
She looked up, her face clearly aggrieved.
“What’s going on in that head of yours? How is it bad to be able to communicate with the plants around you? There are tons of people who’d love to have that kind of ability. They’d be loved by the world for sure.” Jier didn’t know why she tried so hard to hide such a good thing. How could her family not know what a wonderfully precious gift it was?
“Really?” Feng Wu said. His comment made Feng Wu’s eyes shine brilliantly with hope. Underneath it however was a hint of caution.
Jier sighed. Where did such a silly girl come from? To raise a girl this sincere… he really wanted to meet her parents. “Of course. Your ability is unique but it’s not strange. People aren’t going to dislike you because of it. Just look at our school. There are people there who can fly, create shields with the earth, and some even have an inexhaustible source of energy. There are all kinds of talents. Yours is just a very special one. It may not be powerful in combat, but it is powerful in other ways.”
An ablity could be considered useful even if it couldn’t be used in combat. It was easy for him to see the value of her ability in everyday use, such as in a investigation… Its practical application was obvious and was much more useful than those of other students in their school. For those other abilities, unless they were of a divine level, then they really weren’t worth mentioning.
Feng Wu’s eyes sparkled at his words. What he said blew her mind. She knew very little about the world she currently lived in. She knew fire could come out of thin air, that magic spells could be used to attack. She thought the world was really strange, but had never considered the possibility that others like her existed, that there could be other people with special abilities.
Back on Yuehua mountain she was the only one. Master had cautioned her about keeping her abilities hidden because of this.
The children below the mountain were terrible, constantly throwing stones at her or calling her names. She had no desire to befriend any of them. As a result, the only friends she had were the plants and animals on the mountain. She’d never made friends with another child before…
But now Jier was telling her she wasn’t strange or unique, that others had special abilities too. It felt like a stone had been lifted from her shoulders; her body felt lighter and refreshed, so much so that her mood actually showed on her usually blank face.
This girl… her future husband can’t be too clever. Otherwise with that IQ of hers, she’ll surely be taken advantage of. Jier suddenly understood what it felt like to give a daughter away…
Feng Wu’s new-found freedom was marvelous. She easily led them through the heart of the forest and up the mountain, only occasionally encountering a polar bear or two.
Jier prepared for battle only to be struck dumb by Feng Wu. The bears, known for their ferocity, were as gentle as mewling kittens in her hand. Jier was shocked. So shocked he nearly lost his footing and fell down. What he’d expected to be a slog through a mountainous forest of beasts turned into a leisurely walk.
With Feng Wu as their guide, not only did they pass through unimpeded, they were received warmly by the
ferocious polar bears. They even went out and picked a couple of rare fruits for them as welcome gifts!
The fruits helped improved ice compatibility traits, perfect for ice-type magicians. Naturally Jier recognized them instantly, after all they were the kinds of fruits one dreamt about, but lacked ability to get, as they only grew in the fiercely guarded forests in Frosted Hills and Knolls. A person would have to navigate their way through the forest, fight against the magical beasts that lived in the area, find the fruits - and very importantly - make it back out alive. It was a difficult task few managed to complete because magical beasts guarded the fruits so fiercely. For anyone to be able to get their hands on any would have been a stroke of amazing luck, either that or be a very powerful magician.
Jier never expected to get his hands on one just by accompanying Feng Wu up the mountain. It was useless to him, but he knew someone who would be very interested in it. Hahaha! With this I can strike a blow to that guy. I’m going to overcharge like crazy. Just thinking about it made Jier incredibly happy.
To Feng Wu it looked like Jier was just stupidly staring at the fruit. She decided to put hers in her dimensional ring.
The two continued walking until they reached a cave. The entrance was tiny and obscured by dried up weeds and branches. Anyone other than Feng Wu would have had a terrible time finding it.
It took some effort but eventually they were able to clear a path through the underbrush. Jier decided it would be best to be cautious since they didn’t know if the perpetuator was inside. They swapped places and he walked ahead of Feng Wu.
The smell of blood smacked them in the faces as soon as they got inside. It was thick and the taste of iron was almost palpable. It was suffocating. Jier covered his face with his sleeve, trying to breathe shallowly through the fabric. Feng Wu took out her own handkerchief as well. It was lightly scented with jasmine and immediately made her feel better.
The light from the opening wasn’t strong enough to see by so Jier summoned a fire ball. The cave was larger on the inside with a passageway leading farther in. The smell was coming from there.
“So much blood. It’s got to be the right place.”
Feng Wu spoke through her handkerchief, “Yeah.”
“OK. We’ll take a look inside. Be careful though. If anything crazy happens, just run.” Jier felt more and more like a mother. If he didn’t say it, he was afraid that Feng Wu would be too foolish when the time came. She probably wouldn’t know to run away. So he made sure to say it clearly first.
Feng Wu nodded, not saying anything, but Jier knew she heard. He was satisfied she’d be able to follow through so he sent his fire ball out ahead of them. They walked carefully deeper into the cave following the passageway with Jier in the lead.
They walked forward for several minutes. They assumed there would be more passageways, but to their surprise, they didn’t encounter any. The farther in they went, the more oppressive the smell became.
Finally after ten minutes of walking they reached the end of the passageway. It opened up to a larger cavern, one much bigger than the antechamber they first entered.
A pool of blood lay in the center of the room. Stacked to the side, packed tightly together, were the mummified bodies of many girls. It was a grotesque blood chilling sight.
The voices of the dead were like a gale wind in the room. Jier knew they were weeping because their spirits were not at rest. Unfortunately he was a fire magician, not a necromancer. He was completely incapable of cleansing their resentment and purifying their souls.
Necromancers on the main continent had the ability to battle evil spirits. Necromancers were divided into two groups: light and dark. Light necromancers communicated with the dead, working to purify their souls in order to help them reincarnate. They were respected by people because of their respectfulness towards the dead.
Dark necromancers on the other hand were abhorred throughout the continent. They were reviled and considered public enemy number one because they strove to increase their power by subjugating the dead and utilizing the strength of the resentments left behind.
“Wait here. I’ll go in first.” The murderer handled the bodies so there had to be some clues around the area. Jier didn’t realize the scene he saw was different from the vision in front of Feng Wu.
Jier saw a pool of blood and a pile of dead bodies, but Feng Wu saw differently. The pool of blood was there, but a group of women blocked everything else from her view.
Their wails filled her ears.
“I want to go home!”
“Revenge! I want vengeance!”
“Kill! Kill that demon!”
“Mama! I want my mama!”
“Why has no one come to rescue me?! ”
“I’m so scared…”
Their eyes were vacant and their bodies transparent. They kept repeating themselves over and over again, their screams a crescendo of waves. Anyone suddenly confronted with such an experience would have peed their pants. Feng Wu was also scared. Her heart thumped hard in her ears, at times skipping a beat.
Her distress built up, without a release, until a girl of eleven or twelve appeared. She was transparent like the others, but her eyes were focused and her face had expression. She wasn’t screaming like the others either.
She walked up to Feng Wu and, out of curiosity, extended her hand in front of Feng Wu’s eyes. “You can see me?” She spoke in an excited voice. A surprised smile broke out on her face.
Feng Wu stared at her. Of course. I’m not blind…
Feng Wu’s lack of expression made the girl doubt herself. “You can see me, right?” She had waited so long for someone who could see her. She couldn’t have imagined it because she wanted to leave so badly could she? No… she was sure this older sister could feel her presence.
“Who are you?” asked Feng Wu. She had never seen such a strange person. Her body was completely transparent and her face was as white as chalk. Her voice too, it was not normal, but fluttery like a breeze. Feng Wu didn’t understand that the girl standing in front of her was a ghost.
“You can see me?! Oh! That’s great! I can finally leave!” in her excitement she flew around the room, dashing all around. The smile on her face was impossible to hide.
“Xiao Wu, who are you talking to?” Jier hadn’t found any clues around the pool. He was just about to give it a second look when he heard Feng Wu’s voice. Thinking that there was someone else in the room with them, he turned around surprised to see only Feng Wu.
Feng Wu turned to look at Jier, then she turned back to the girl. She pointed a finger at the girl flying around the room.
Her who? The air? Jier could tell this was going to be confusing… “There’s nothing there.”
“A girl.” Feng Wu nodded her very seriously and she once again pointed her finger at the flying figure.
When the girl’s ghost saw what was happening, she said, “You don’t have to tell him. Ordinary magicians can’t see me. I don’t know why they can’t but you can.”
Feng Wu turned to Jier again, “She said ordinary magicians can’t see her.”
Good thing Jier was a clever child. He understood the situation immediately. The person Feng Wu was talking to wasn’t a person but a ghost.
“Xiao Wu… you can see this kind of thing?” Jier felt goose pimples break out all over his body. Even if he was a powerful magician, fear of the dead was just a natural instinct humans had, OK?
Feng Wu didn’t understand Jier so she turned to ask him, “Hm? Kind of thing?” the confusion clear in her eyes.
“Nevermind. Forget it.” Jier went over and pulled Feng Wu along with him as he strode out the way they came in. He wasn’t going to stay for another second.
The girl’s ghost chased after Feng Wu. “Wait! Wait! Take me with you! I can’t leave here on my own!” Her voice was full of pleading plaintive. Who knew when her next opportunity would come? She had waited so long already for this one chance.
“How do I take you away?” Feng Wu saw the girl’s eyes. The glimmering hope in them made her decide to help.
“You just have to ask if I’m willing to go with you.”
“Are you willing to go with me?” Feng Wu replied.
“Willing! Willing!” The thought of freedom filled the girl’s voice with eagerness. She spoke out enthusiastically with all her heart.
The moment she did, Feng Wu felt her connection to the girl strengthen.
Jier gripped Feng Wu’s hand tighter and moved forward even faster than before. He heard what she said… to whoever she was saying it to. Earlier he was fine. Although ghosts were fearsome, they were weak entities on their own.
When he heard Feng Wu ask if the spirit wanted to come with her, he completely lost his cool. He did NOT want that kind of trouble. Girl! You’re not a magician. You’re a sword master. What the hell are you going to do with a spirit?!
The opening finally came into view. Jier, Feng Wu, and the spirit of the girl came out together. They sped down the mountain, through polar bear territory towards the base of the forest. When they neared the bottom, he pulled Feng Wu to a nearby tree. He had to ask her before they properly reached the bottom where more ears would be around. This was something better asked in private.
Before the two were even at a full stop he asked, “She came out with you?”
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded, while blinking her eyes at him.
Next question. The number of corpses in the cave was a lot. He breathed in. “Just her?”
Jier let out a sigh of relief. “That’s good.” One dead spirit was vastly different from a hundred.
“Ask her if she was caught by the same killer that killed the other girls in the cave.” Jier couldn’t speak to the girl’s spirit directly so he could only go through Feng Wu.
Feng Wu obediently asked.
The spirit rolled her eyes. “I can hear him just fine.”
Feng Wu listened to the rest of her answer before relaying it to Jier. “She said she can hear you fine. She said she was killed by the same demonic person that killed the other girls in the cave.”
Jier’s face stiffened. If he could see her, he’d make her eat a fireball. “There were a lot of others dead in the cave. Why was she the only one that wanted to leave?”
The spirit’s eyes darkened when she thought about the question.
Feng Wu said, “She said the other girls’ all lost their sense of selves, their consciousness. If we’d shown up any later, she would have turned out like them too.”
Jier wasn’t a necromancer. He didn’t know anything about the dead, so he couldn’t know that the place girls died overflowed with hatred and resentment. The amount was so great it fouled the air and was capable of creating disruptions in the mind. The foulness caused the girls’ consciousness and sense of self to erode far faster than normal, emptying them out and turning them into vessels of resentment. Without a sense of consciousness or self, the idea of leaving never occurred to them.
This explained why she was the only one to appear before Feng Wu, but it raised another question.
“Wait. Then why are you OK?” asked Jier. The place was so rotten everyone else went crazy. Why was this girl the only one still frisky and sane?
“I don’t know either!” She wasn’t the first one brought into the cave. She wasn’t the last one either. Dozens of other girls had come in before her. All the other girls before her changed. The ones that came after changed too. If Feng Wu hadn’t come, she was sure she would have gone mad and lost her sanity too.
It was a rhetorical question and he hadn’t actually expected her to answer. He didn’t dwell on it; there were other more important things to think about.
“Do you know who killed you?” he asked.
The girl thought about it before answering.
“She said it was a horiible person. A terrible demonic person,” Feng Wu relayed.
Demon? Seriously? What kind of answer is that? Might as well not even answer. Jier continued asking a few more questions but the answers were all disappointing and they were unable to get any new clues.
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After talking they walked to the chief’s house.
Dinner in the small village was normally served early, so by the time they got there, everyone had already finished eating. Everyone was shocked at the sight of them. No one had made it back out of the mountain forest filled with polar bears alive before.
Their return created a huge wave of excitement. People kept coming by the chief’s house to see them.
“They’re back?! Someone actually survived the polar bears?!”
“Yes! It’s incredible!”
“Don’t tell me… those two little guys are genuinely strong?”
The villagers weren’t whispering at all. It was clear they didn’t have any faith in either Jier or Feng Wu. The two just seemed too young and inexperienced to take on the mission. But when the villagers saw the two return, though they still doubted the children’s strength, they began to believe in the children a little.
“Stop being so loud! Go home already!” The chief’s son came out and reprimanded everyone. With no choice left, they all scattered.
Earlier the chief’s daughters-in-law made dishes for both Jier and Feng Wu, keeping them warm when they saw the children hadn’t returned from the mountain. It was a gesture of good will and hope on their parts. When they did return, though everyone else had already eaten, their dishes were still warm and ready to serve.
Feng Wu and Jier had been roaming around the mountain forest all day and were starving. They gobbled down their meal in no time at all.
Once they were finished, the chief immediately spoke out the words weighing on his mind. “Adventurers, you’ve found the whereabouts of the missing girls?”
Jier couldn’t help but frown when he heard the question. “We found them, but...”
Jier didn’t finish but the chief knew what was left unspoken.
“Those poor children! The inhumanity!” The village chief sighed heavily, a deep sadness etched on his face. Though he was clearly sad, he wasn’t overly emotional. He had already mentally braced for the worse.
“We didn’t find the murderer, but we did find the location of the bodies. They’re hidden in a cave in the mountains. I counted at least a hundred bodies there.”
“A hundred?! How is that possible?! Our village only lost a dozen girls. How can there be so many bodies?!” The chief cried out in horror.
“Not all the girls may be from this village. They may be from other villages near here.” Jier suspected this when he first saw the bodies. It was likely this wasn’t the only village with girls missing. That many bodies didn’t just appear overnight either, so it had to be from several villages.
“Other villages?” The chief frowned as he thought about it. Finally, he shook his head. “Our village is remote. We don’t normally have dealings with other villages so I don’t know if girls have gone missing anywhere else.”
The villagers kept to themselves, only rarely interacting with outsiders. The most consistent interaction they had were with the businessmen who came for the snow berries.
“Chief, this situation with the missing girls isn’t a simple matter. It’s best to inform Rime-Frost about this. They should be able to send a necromancer over to put the spirits to rest.” Jier wasn’t able to see them the same way Feng Wu did, but he could imagine the suffering they were in. He wasn’t a sentimental or softhearted person, but he didn't mind helping if it wasn't troublesome.
“I understand. I will go tomorrow.” The chief sighed, mourning for the dead girls.
“I marked the cave so anyone the capital sends over should be able to find it easily. This is a complicated case. Chief, how far is it to the nearest village from here?” Jier already had plan.
“The closest village…” The chief continued to tell them about the nearest village. Jier nodded along and listened closely.
It was dangerous to travel at night so the chief had Jier and Feng Wu rest for the night. They could head out in the morning.
They had had a long day and fell asleep right away.
While they were sleeping the village chief and his sons were debating how to break the news to the rest of the villagers. They couldn’t hide the news from the rest of the villagers.
It was a dilemma. How were they going to break the news to those heartbroken parents who were clinging to the slim hope their children were alive? With the bodies discovered… there was no way to pretend, all their hopes would be stripped away.
The villagers saw Feng Wu and Jier off early the next morning. The village chief also left, taking a carriage to the capital to report about the missing girls.
Jier and Feng Wu didn’t travel to the nearby villages to investigate the murder, instead they went straight back to Pierre’s. The case didn’t have to be investigated by them in person. A girl missing in a small village was big news within the village itself. Jier would hire someone to go to the villages around the area and inquire.
Once they reached Rime-Frost, Jier had Pierre refer him to some of the poorer people in the area. He hired several of and promised to pay each person twenty silver coins for news about any disappearances. Those he hired lived on the bottom rungs of society, so twenty coins was a great amount of money and they were quite happy with the payment.
“I had Matron La prepare some clothes for you for the party. When you have time later please go upstairs and try them on.” It was natural for Pierre to handle the issue of proper attire since he was the one that hired them. He had had Matron La prepare clothes for them earlier.
“OK.” Jier nodded. It was good that Pierre had the foresight to arrange their clothes. Jier didn’t bring anything formal with him when he left campus. Who would have thought that he’d need to attend a fancy dinner party as part of a murder investigation?
Feng Wu sat to the side holding little bun in her arms, only listening half-heartedly to them talk. She was worried about little bun. He was quiet and lackluster, grouchy at being abandoned all day yesterday, so Feng Wu was coaxing him out of his bad humor.
Little bun was her only family, so his happiness was important to her. Fortunately, little bun was a good child, so he came around and returned to his lively self again after Feng Wu coddled him for a bit. He was back to laughing and making spit bubbles in no time.
The spirit told them her story later that night. Her name was Lydia and she was an orphan. Her parents had died abruptly in an accident leaving her on her own. She was able to maintain her standard of living because of the money and real estate her parents left behind.
She was an ordinary girl living in an ordinary village, however the people around her grew covetous of her wealth. The village chief was a good man and had been protecting her from their shenanigans, at times reprimanding them for their actions.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. She took a nap one day and woke up in the cave. She woke up to find a man in a black robe draining the blood out of her body. Unable to escape, she eventually died of blood loss and turned into a spirit. That was six months ago. Trapped in the cave with no way out, she watched as the man came and went, bringing other girls with him and draining their blood into the pool.
This pattern repeated itself on and on. As each girl died, another spirit joined the cave and another grudge was added. Because the man couldn’t see their spirits and harm them further, they were able to preserve their souls. However, over time their resentment grew and they loss their reason.
Lydia hated the demonic man with a vengeance. Her greatest wish was to kill him and avenge all the girls.
[Back at the Rime-Frost]
“Girls from remote villages have gone missing?” The mayor repeated. A mayor had a lot of responsibilities. Things like missing village girls were usually dealt with by the lower ranked administrators. The missing reports began with two missing girls from a nearby village. Since it was just the disappearance of common girls, the case wasn’t a high priority. Had it been noble girls, then the matter would have been more urgent.
Class divisions were normal and order of importance would always be nobles over commoners, thus the disappearance of a few commoners wasn’t considered that important. However, in this case the numbers were too high to be ignored.
The mayor had noticed the number of missing girls increasing in recent years. To date, over two hundred girls had gone missing. That many in such a short period of time was worrisome. Even if the missing was just a small village aunty, if the issue spread far enough, as mayor of the closest town, he would surely be reprimanded.
He had ambitions. He wanted to transfer to a larger city, but in order to do so he needed to gather enough political achievements.
He knew the Younger Prince and Princess would be visiting Rime-Frost in a couple of days. The timing was horrible; to have such a troubling case be active while members of the royal family were in town was problematic.
“Where did you say some of the bodies were discovered?” The mayor stood up from his chair as he spoke.
They hadn’t found the murderer, but the fact that they knew the whereabouts of the bodies was good. It showed progress. They couldn’t justifiably say he was slacking off.
It was the first time the village chief had been in such a grand place, standing in front of such an important official. His legs were shaky and he was very nervous. “In the mountain forest near our village. They’re in a cave, all of them dead. Without the aid of the adventurers, we would never have found them.”
The chief became sorrowful as he remembered.
The mayor became morose as he listened. What do you mean? Are you suggesting the city’s officials weren’t good enough to find them? Although the mayor was unhappy with the village chief, he maintained a kindly expression on his face.
“So, it turns out you had adventurers come to help. I was not aware of that. As the mayor, I’ll have to properly thank them for helping the very busy people of Rime-Frost.
The mayor was aware of his image so he spoke in a way to suggest it was only because the officials under him were extremely busy that they had not solved the case themselves. To be able to tread up the mountain and deal with the ferocious polar bears, these adventurers had to be very powerful. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make connections with strong adventurers.
“The two adventurers have left our village, but they accepted our mission so they should return.”
“Is that so.” The mayor nodded his head. That meant he would have more time to consider. “You made an appointment to see me because...” The mayor realized he hadn’t asked why the village chief wanted to see him.
The old village chief immediately made his request. “This humble one came to see your Honor to ask for a necromancer. The adventurer said the deceased girls’ souls were suffering, trapped in the cave. This humble one came to ask for this assistance.”
This surprised the mayor. “A necromancer?” He nodded his head and said, “I see. Return first. A necromancer will arrive there in about two days time.”
The overjoyed chief bowed, kowtowing to the mayor many times.
The mayor dropped his mask of benevolence after the chief left. He called out to an assistant. “Come. Make sure there aren’t any suspicious people around tomorrow. The celebrations must go off without any problems.”
“Yes.” The assistant immediately replied.
Jier and Feng Wu got up early the next morning. The spirit flew around excitedly around Feng Wu. She was very lively.
At this time, one of the dispatchers Jier sent out returned. The boy was around fourteen or fifteen and clearly poor with tattered clothing that barely hung onto his emaciated frame. He had been sent to one of the closer villages, which was why he was able to come back so quickly.
“Adventurers, I have news. The village I went said they were several girls missing. They were too poor to hire an adventurer so they had to rely on city authorities in Rime-Frost to resolve the case. It’s been over a year but the culprit hasn’t been found and the authorities haven’t given them any updates on the case at all.”
The teen shared what he learned. He was very lucky yesterday. Jier picked him to gather information the village. If he returned with information, he would pay twenty silver coins. Twenty silver coins! Ordinary people only earned two silver coins a month, so twenty silvers was ten months worth of work! It was a big deal.
He agreed to the job right way because of the high pay. It was enough to pay his family expenses for the rest of the year.
“Good.” Jier gave the teen twenty silver coins. “Do the same thing at another village. Make sure the information is accurate and I’ll pay another twenty silver coins for it. Don’t even consider deceiving me. You won’t like the consequences.” Jier didn’t care about the money but he didn’t want the boy to think him a foolish spendthrift who was easy to deceive. He wanted it to be clear he wanted good information.
The teen gripped the edge of his shirt and resolutely nodded his head before running out to complete his task.
After he left, two others came in to report their findings. Other girls in the nearby villages were also missing. The earliest disappearance was from the year before last. It was a small village of about seven hundred; it wasn’t far from Rime-Frost at all.
Having heard all this Jier felt the reward for the mission was too low. The perpetuator harmed so many people! The reward amount wasn’t proportionate to the work involved at all!
If it was possible to drop the mission he would have done so and took taken Feng Wu with him back to school. But they couldn’t abort the mission. Once they accepted it they were responsible for completing it. Even though he knew this he couldn’t shake how unfair it was. The work wasn’t worth the payout.
Originally he thought it was a simple task; he never expected it to involve so many lives. He was in a lousy mood all day thinking about the crappy pay.
Later that night three well-dressed people, with invitations in their hands, sat in a nice carriage on their way to a fancy birthday party.
The party was a birthday celebration for the mayor’s daughter, Angel. The mayor’s house was lit with bright, festive lights for the occasion. The traffic was bustling as well.
Suitable smiles appeared on everyone’s faces as they stepped out of their carriages. They were beautifully dressed and pleased to be attending the festivities.
The musicians were playing as people arrived but no one was dancing yet, as people were still filing in.
Many people attended in hopes of ingratiating themselves to the mayor. Aside from the rich lords and nobles of the town, there were also out of town merchants and adventurers. Every single one of them either had money, connections, or status. No one was ordinary.
Pierre was on the list because he was a native of Rime-Frost and his family had done business in the town for generations.
Feng Wu entered the ballroom looking stylishly adorable in a pink dress and a simple accessory in her hair. Jier was a beautiful teen with a natural aristocracratic air of authority so he attracted attention the moment he stepped inside.
Compared to the two, Pierre was quite plain. His family didn’t have much cache, any they had kept dropping every year, so no one greeted him when he entered. He went straight to the wall and proceeded to be a wallflower.
Feng Wu zoomed in on the buffet table. She picked up a big plate and piled it high to nearly overflowing with food. Then she walked carefully to the nook Jier ensconced himself in and proceeded to eat everything on her plate.
Seeing this Pierre followed suit. He did a quick walk around, stopping at the buffet table to fill a plate, before hiding with Jier and Feng Wu in the corner.
“The two people over there are Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha.” Pierre pointed out.
Jier and Feng Wu looked to where Pierre was pointing. The man looked refined with a scholarly air to him. The woman on his arm was a gentle beauty. They appeared mild mannered, not at all like people capable of plotting murder.
Jier discretely observed them for a moment. He didn’t see anything strange. They seemed like two ordinary people.
“I don’t like that person,” Feng Wu suddenly said.
“Who? Ms. Dusha? Yes, she is indeed a bad woman.” Pierre said.
Feng Wu shook her head. “No, the man.”
“The man? You mean Mr. Wenda? It’s true, he has changed. He used to be a good man before he met Ms. Dusha. Now he’s terrible.” Pierre thought about the change in Mr. Wenda’s personality and how he had turned into a scoundrel after falling for a pretty woman’s charms.
“The demon! The demon is here!” Lydia’s fear-filled voice frantically sounded by Feng Wu’s ear. Feng Wu dutifully repeated her words.
Jier’s heart constricted. He knew Feng Wu had to be speaking for Lydia. Both he and Pierre asked, “Who?”
Lydia shouted louder, pointing in the couple’s direction, but the only one who could hear her was Feng Wu.
Pierre knew Feng Wu was working on another mission. Was it possible both crimes were committed by the same person?
“It’s Mr. Wenda,” Feng Wu confirmed.
Jier’s mouth twitched in surprised. If anyone, he thought it would be Ms. Dusha. Interesting. Interesting.
“Mr. Wenda is the one who killed all the girls?” Pierre wanted to scream, but because of their situation he had to hold it in.
Lydia flew to Wenda and stared daggers at him, screaming her lungs out. Her glares were useless as he couldn’t see her.
“If the murderer is Mr. Wenda, then Ms. Dusha has to be the mastermind behind it!” Pierre was certain of this.
“What you say is possible,” Jier said. He had investigated Mr. Wenda and talked to the servants in the house. They all said he was a kind and courteous man, one who never took his temper out on others. “A person’s personality wouldn’t change so dramatically without someone else pushing.”
Feng Wu remained munching away at the side. She was far more interested in her food than in their conversation.
“The mayor is here!”
“His wife and Miss Angel are here as well!”
Those chatting stopped, while those eating put down their plates. Everyone stood up to greet the mayor.
The mayor walked in with his family. Behind them were two teenagers: a boy and a girl. The boy was like the embodiment of winter with blonde hair and veiled ice-blue eyes that left one wondering what he thought.
The girl opposite him shared the same distinguishing characteristics; it was obvious the two were related. She Unlike him however, she had a beautiful smile on her face. The dress she wore accentuated her body and made her even more lovely looking.
“Everyone, welcome to my daughter’s birthday celebration. Please allow her to start of the dancing.” Thunderous applause sounded after he spoke.
Angel held her hand to the blond-haired boy. He hesitated very briefly before taking her hand and leading her to the dance floor where they gracefully danced to the music.
“Fuck! Why’s that guy here?” Jier had an awkward expression on his face as he looked at the blond from across the room. Although to be fair, I guess it’s not that unexpected. This is his turf.
The awkward expression didn’t remain long. Jier wiped it off his face before either Pierre or Feng Wu noticed anything amiss.
“Strange. Should those two be in Rime-Frost? I’ve never seen them at these kinds of events before.” Pierre was born and raised in Rime-Frost. He knew everyone who was anyone in the city. To suddenly see two unknown people of obvious rank appear made him very curious.
“Those two aren’t important. Don’t worry about them. Just keep an eye out for an opportunity to introduce me and Feng Wu to Wenda and Dusha. Just introduce us as the ones who are investigating the case.
“But if Mr. Wenda is the one who killed all those girls, it’ll be dangerous for you!” He wanted to save Clara but he didn’t want innocent people hurt.
“Don’t worry. We’re not ordinary people. Think he can injure us? Tch. Let’s see if he has the strength.” Jier spoke confidently.
Pierre looked to Feng Wu. Her face was a complete blank; it was obvious her focus was on the food in front of her. Why did he think she would have an opinion?
After she finished eating, he led her and Jier over to Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha.
“Uncle Wenda, it’s been while.” Pierre greeted Mr. Wenda.
“Pierre. It has been a while. How are you?” The return greeting was smooth and pleasant. No one hearing it would ever think the man behind it was a murderer.
It was hard for him to miss the two striking teens behind Pierre. They looked like well-bred children, especially the boy; he held himself like an aristocrat. Wenda knew all the noble families in Rime-Frost, and he was certain he’d never seen him before. That in itself struck him as strange.
Noticing Mr. Wenda’s gaze, Pierre took the opportunity to introduce them. “These are the two adventurers investigating Miss Clara Wenda’s case.”
Other than slight surprise, Mr. Wenda showed little change in his expression.
In contrast, Ms. Dusha’s reaction was more interesting. She had been smiling lightly as she stood next to Mr. Wenda. At the mention of Jier and Feng Wu taking the case, an odd expression flitted across her face.
Though fleeting, both Pierre and Jier noticed. They were more certain than ever there was something suspicious about Ms. Dusha.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Wenda, Ms. Dusha.” Jier greeted them politely, his usual arrogance completely hidden.
This kind of polite and formal Jier didn’t surprise Pierre as he’d never seen the fully arrogant Jier. Feng Wu had, but she never gave it much thought. Because of this she didn’t comment about his unusually polite behavior.
Jier was very good at presenting himself as a gentle well-bred young man. He was a master at hiding his true colors.
“What an outstanding and courteous child. It’s no wonder you’re an adventure despite being so young. Truly amazing,” said Wenda as he smiled indulgently at the young man in front of him.
“You’re too kind,” Jier said, looking slightly embarrassed. “Please rest assured, I will clear Miss Clara Wenda’s name and reunite your family.”
Mr. Wenda’s face stiffened for a moment. “Please. I will have to rely on you youngsters. Mrs. Malin’s death caused me great grief. I don’t know how to face Clara.”
Jier exchanged a few more pleasantries with Mr. Wenda before taking his leave with Pierre and Feng Wu. They went to a corner and discussed what just happened. That is to say Pierre and Jier talked while Feng Wu worked through her plate.
Pierre looked around making sure no one was within earshot before whispering, “Don’t you think Ms. Dusha’s reaction was strange?”
“Both of them were strange. Ms. Dusha had a weird expression on her face when she heard our names. Mr. Wenda was calm, too calm. He didn’t look worried about his daughter at all. It was like he was talking about an acquaintance, not his own flesh and blood.” Their reactions, both of them, weren’t natural.
“I think so too. Before Ms. Dusha appeared Ms. Clara Wenda was Mr. Wenda’s most treasured person. But now that he has Ms. Dusha, it’s like he doesn’t care about Miss Clara Wenda at all. I’ve always thought it was too dramatic of a change. It has to be Ms. Dusha’s doing.”
“Is it possible Ms. Dusha used some kind of enchantment spell to make Mr. Wenda forget his family?” Jier rubbed his chin as he voiced out his thoughts.
“Yes, I think so. How can someone change so much so quickly otherwise?” Pierre had suspected the possibility but he didn’t have the ability to confirm it.
“It’s possible. But the thing is I’ve been watching him, and he doesn’t look like a man under a spell.” This was a point Jier couldn’t figure out.
“No? Couldn’t it that Ms. Dusha is simply too powerful and you can't see through her spell?” Pierre couldn’t overlook the fact that Jier was very young. A boy so young, his vision for discernment couldn’t be that strong.
Jier wasn’t offended by the Pierre’s voiced lack of confidence in him, after all he himself was also doubtful. The two people were just too strange. Their reactions were excessive. Mr. Wenda was too calm while Ms. Dusha was too surprised. What did their completely contradictory reactions mean...?
Feng Wu finished her plate while the two were talking so she walked back to the buffet table to get a refill.
Feng Wu was pleased; the chef was skilled so the food was delicious. With a buffet of unlimited quantity in front of her, of course she was going to take advantage! There were so many combinations to make! The table was filled with so many kinds of meats, fermented sausages, boiled, baked and roasted vegetables, cakes, sweets, savories, so many things! Feng Wu’s eyes glittered at the possibilities.
There was a constant stream of people filling up. Feng Wu was one, only instead of taking her plate and leaving she stationed herself at the table, refilling as needed. She ate fast, but it was still bad manners to eat standing at the table.
‘My god! You act as though you’ve never had anything to eat in your life!”
An incredulous voice sounded beside Feng Wu. She glanced up quickly but didn’t notice anyone, so returned her focus to the food on her plate.
The girl that spoke was none other than the one who accompanied the blond. She was standing slightly behind Feng Wu, looking at her with eyes full of contempt.
The fact that Feng Wu continued to eat, completely ignoring her, made her blood boil. She was nobility. How dare this girl ignore her?!
What a hateful commoner! “What are you doing? Stop ignoring me. Don’t you have any manners? Why did Angel even invite you to her party?”
“Yue-er! Don’t make a scene.” A cold voice came from behind the girl.
Both girls turned at the sound. Approaching was the blue-eyed blond from earlier. With a body that exuded an unapproachable aura and grace, his was the kind of beauty that transcended genders, the kind that attracted swooning admirers.
The girl addressed as “Yue-er” was stunned. The expression on her face clearly showed she felt wronged. She gave Feng Wu a glare before walking over to the blond.
After the initial surprise, Feng Wu completely ignored the two of them. She went back to quietly eating her food, thinking that the place wasn’t bad. There was so much food and it was all so tasty. Next time she had to bring Tian Ke along so they could eat together.
The conflict between Feng Wu and Yue-er was minor. The music continued playing and people continued dancing. It should not have been a big deal, but because of Yue-er’s identity, it was.
Yue-er felt Feng Wu didn’t belong at the party. She recruited the guest of honor, Angel, as her ally. After sharing her opinion of Feng Wu, Angel too felt that Feng Wu didn’t belong, and was in fact dragging the prestige of the whole party down.
Angel ordered some servants to humiliate Feng Wu.
Feng Wu had no idea she had accumulated another enemy. After they finished eating, the three of them, Pierre, Feng Wu, and Jier returned to the inn.
The mayor was good on his word. A necromancer, accompanied by several high-level guards, appeared at Ice-Rime to lay the dead spirits to rest. He was an old man dressed in a white robe with a beard that trailed all the way to his stomach.
The village chief welcomed them warmly when they arrived. Jier and Feng Wu had told him where the cave was, so he knew he would be able to lead them there. He called several of the stronger young men over and together they went into the mountain forest.
The polar bears lived in the deepest part, but fortunately for them, the cave wasn’t that far in. They took a circuitous path around the forest and reached the cave without mishap.
They smelled blood the moment they entered the cave. The chief’s eyes filled with sadness while the young men from the village became grim and angry.
The necromancer and his guards took the lead. The chief and the other villagers followed behind. They exited the passageway ten minutes later. In front of them was the pool of blood and the pile of dead bodies mentioned.
“Oh dear heavens!” The chief nearly fainted at the grisly sight. Luckily the villagers behind where there to hold him up. It was the first time they’d seen such an atrocity.
“Those poor girls.” Being a necromancer, the old man could see every one of their spirits. He was shocked by the sight. He had been a necromancer for a long time, but even he had never seen a place with so much resentment and so many spirits.
“Spirits... rest your heart. Clear your souls.” The old necromancer chanted a verse and waved his staff. An intense white light suddenly filled the entire cave. This caused the spirits to shriek madly, making the scalps of those inside prickle with trepidation.
The old chief was so scared his face lost all color. “Master... this... the screams...” He couldn’t see the dead spirits but he could hear them, and their screeching was intensely alarming. Their voices were fierce, filled with fury, hatred, and despair.
“Do not fear. This is just their resentments being purified. Their suffering will not last long. Soon they will be able to rejoin the wheel of reincarnation and be reborn,” explained the old necromancer.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” cried the old chief. The other villagers also gave their gratitude to the old necromancer.
It took fifteen minutes to clear the lingering resentment out of the cave and to purify the spirits enough to allow them to reincarnate.
“Later, find people to deal with the bodies. There are so many here. The girls who disappeared from the nearby villages must also be here.”
The guards returned to the capital and found people to deal with the bodies.
It created a huge uproar. The way they died was too horrible! The victims’ families beseeched the mayor to find the murderer so justice would be served.
“Mayor, I’m afraid this is a more complicated crime than we expected.” The old magician’s brow had remained furrowed all the way back.
“What do you mean?” From the expression on the old magician’s face, the mayor knew it had to be serious.
“An ordinary murderer wouldn’t need to collect the victim’s blood. To make a pool like that, the one that did this is probably an asura, an evil spirit.”
His words were shocking. It wasn't just a perverted murderer, but an asura then? This was bad. Asuras were bloodthirsty entities born from blood.
Asuras left the Human world when the convention was drawn up between the three kingdoms. They moved to a new world created by their king and weren’t allowed back in the Human world without special permission.
Despite this there were always a few asuras who craved blood strongly enough to defy the convention, exploiting the cracks created by distortions in space to sneak in. That’s where the Sacred Temple came in. They were tasked with capturing these stowaways and bringing them to trial.
“To think there would be an asura in Rime-Frost. It’s unbelievable!” The mayor felt uneasy just thinking about the cruel and maliciousness of the race. “Contact the Sacred Temple immediately.” His voice rose an octave in obvious alarm as he spoke.
While the mayor was busying handling the asura’s role in the murders, Jier and Feng Wu were also handling their own missions. Jier felt it necessary to see Clara after having met Wenda and Dusha.
“You want to see Miss Clara Wenda?” Pierre was put in an awkward position. It wouldn’t be easy to see her since she was in custody.
“Yes. I have some questions I want to ask her personally.”
Pierre wanted to help his childhood friend in any way he could. “If it can help Miss Clara Wenda then I’ll definitely try to find a way.”
Jier and Feng Wu stayed at the inn all day listening to the news gathered by those Jier hired earlier. Based on the information they gathered, he found out there were twenty villages in total with missing girls. Every village had at least five disappearances, so with over twenty villages, that added up to about two hundred girls.
So many girls died. If the mayor had handled the case properly from the start, there wouldn’t have been so many deaths, but instead of investigating he was preoccupied with throwing a birthday party for his daughter. Jier had a very low opinion of the mayor because of this.
Don’t know how Pierre did it, but Jier and Feng Wu got permission to see Clara three days later. Since they weren’t relatives, it should have taken at least half month to approve their visit. Fortunately the Warden was sympathetic to Clara’s plight and approved the visit quickly.
Although they got permission to see Clara, they weren’t allowed to see her alone. Two guards were present when she came into the visiting room.
Clara was a beautiful girl with brown hair and brown eyes; but perhaps being a murder suspect weighed heavily on her mind because she looked incredibly fragile with her pale face and spiritless demeanor.
“Clara! Are you OK?!” Pierre immediately scooted forward in his chair and reached for her hand, his eyes full of distress at her appearance.
“I’m fine.” Clara tried to put on a smile, but couldn’t quite force it.
“Don’t be afraid! The adventurers will surely find the murderer who killed Mrs. Malin. You’ll surely be free and safe soon!”
“Pierre. Stop wasting time. We only have an hour.” Jier didn’t feel like sitting here and watching them get all lovey dovey.
“Ah! Sorry, sorry! Clara, these are the two adventures, Jier and Feng Wu. They’re very good adventurers. They’ve already found some clues about the murder. They have some questions they want to ask you.” He rubbed his head not really willing to let go of Clara’s hand.
“Hello Miss Clara Wenda. I’m Jier. Like Pierre said, I have some questions I want to ask. I would appreciate your cooperation.” Jier got straight to the point.
Clara nodded. It was about clearing her name, of course she would cooperate. She briefly wondered about their abilities, but realized she was in no position to be picky. The fact that Pierre brought them, in and of itself, spoke about their abilities.
“Please ask. I won’t conceal anything. I’ll try my best to answer your questions.”
“Then please excuse my intrusion. On the day your mother died, did she leave the villa at all?”
Clara thought for a second before speaking, “Yes. She left early in the morning to speak to my father. She came back about two hours later. I remember her face was really strange when she returned.” Clara was quick to answer because the investigators had asked the same question.
“When she came back, did she say anything to you?”
Clara shook her head. “No, she didn’t say anything to me at all. She seemed really frightened of something. She went to her room and stayed there the entire night, not coming out even for meals.”
“Interesting.” Jier rubbed his chin. “Do you think your father could have killed your mother?”
Clara blanked out at the question. She had been imprisoned for so long. That same question had crossed her mind more than once. Could the father she adored since childhood have killed her mother? She didn’t know the answer, but she did know she would never be able to trust him again.
She didn’t know how to answer. She could only put an empty smile on her face. “I don’t know how to answer that. The father in my memories was a gentle father. He loved me and my mother very much. If it was this man you asked me about I would definitively say no. But.. now. I don’t know. He’s different. There’s no love in his eyes, just indifference. I don’t know if it’s him, but I hope it’s not.”
Clara had repeatedly clenched and unclenched her hands as she spoke. The sight of her struggling so hard made Pierre’s heart break.
Jier coughed lightly. “That’s fine. We’ll leave that question alone then.” He decided to drop the current line of questioning and move on to something else. “Did you see or hear anything on the night of Mrs. Malin’s death?”
The room was silent, save for the sounds of their questions and answers. Jier knew the guards were staring at him closely but he didn’t care.
“No I didn’t hear anything. It was raining that night. I couldn’t hear anything over the sounds of the thunder and rain. I went to my mother’s room the next morning to invite her down for breakfast. That’s when I found her body.
Clara couldn’t help but tremble when she recalled the monstrous scene. It was such a horrible way to die. Who would have wanted to kill her mother like that? Her mother was a good woman! She cried as she remembered her mother, the tears dripping one by one onto the back of her hand.
They continued like that with one question followed by an answer for a an hour. Clara was taken back to her cell while Jier and the rest left the facilities.
Jier, Feng Wu and Pierre returned to the inn. They gathered in the study to talk.
“So? Have you figured anything out after talking to Miss Clara Wenda?” Pierre asked right away.
“Indeed. I did discover some things,” Jier said as he rubbed his chin.
Feng Wu ate the snacks Matron La made for them. Having so many things to eat was wonderful. Neither Jier nor Pierre touched the plates though.
“The likeliest culprits are Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha, but there’s something not right about it.” Jier wrinkled his brow trying to think it through.
“What’s wrong?” Pierre believed in Jier’s deductive abilities. At least with Jier, he was able to find some clues, unlike the previous adventurers who only knew to follow Wenda and Dusha around but found nothing useful.
“Don’t you think it’s strange? Why would Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha wait three years to murder Mrs. Malin? If either of them is the murderer or if one or other is an accomplice, why not get rid of Mrs. Malin earlier, when Mr. Wenda first met Ms. Dusha. Why wait until the day before the divorce?” This was what Jier couldn’t figure out.
Pierre nodded after listening to Jier. “You’re right. Why would they wait so long? Could they not be the murderers? Could it be someone else?” He was so frustrated. If they were on the wrong track, then all the work they put in was worthless. They would have to restart from square one.
Clara didn’t have that much time. If they couldn’t find the murderer, then she would be convicted and sentenced.
Jier shook his head. “No. I’m positive the murder is one or both of them.”
“But you just questioned why they waited so long…”
“Under normal circumstances, but these aren’t normal circumstances. Think about it. Miss Clara Wenda said her mother left that morning to talk to Mr. Wenda. Maybe she discovered something when she went. Maybe Mrs. Malin was killed to keep it secret and Miss Clara Wenda was used as a scapegoat.”
“What could Mrs. Malin have found out?” Pierre had to admit Jier’s reasoning made sense, but he couldn’t think of anything so secretive that would have justified the way Mrs. Malin was killed.
“A secret of the Asura people,” replied Jier.
“Asura?!” Pierre cried out.
Feng Wu’s didn’t understand.
When Jier saw the blank look of confusion in Feng Wu’s eyes he explained, “An asura is not ordinary. They’re from the Asura race, known for their bewitching beauty and malevolent, bloodthirsty nature. They’re born from a sea of blood, and constantly hunger for it. They’re naturally inclined towards conflict and bloodshed. In fact their love for bloodshed surpasses any bonds or kinship.
Feng Wu nodded her head in understanding after listening. She understood the term “blood race.” She had read a lot of books when she stayed at the library with the Head Librarian.[notes] One of them was an introduction on Blood Kindred races but the book didn’t call them Asura, it called them Shura. It was this difference in terms that left her confused. Jier called them the Asura while the book called them Shura.
“You mean to say Ms. Dusha is an asura and Mr. Wenda was tricked by her?!” The information was explosive and Pierre needed some time to wrap his head around it.
After thinking about it a bit Pierre had to agree with Jier. It made sense. Wenda had to be tricked by Dusha; that was the only sensible explanation for Wenda’s ruthlessness.
“The magic in the Human world is too strong. The Asura race can’t survive here unless…” Feng Wu tried to remember what she read in the book. "Unless they wear the flayed skin of a human being. The skin helps the asura resist the corrosive magical energy of our world.”
Jier immediately comprehended the situation from her explanation.
“Ms. Dusha isn’t human, but an asura in human disguise. That’s incredible! Who would have imagined such a thing?!” Pierre was beyond shocked. He had imagined all kinds of scenarios, like Ms. Dusha was an evil magician who befuddled Mr. Wenda with a spell, but he never even once imagined the possibility of an asura.
“Indeed. Who would have?” Jier shrugged. He took Feng Wu and left the study, leaving Pierre alone. He and Feng Wu went to their rooms to sleep for the night.
The next day Rime-Frost received a very important visitor. The visit was a secret and only the Mayor and a few select high ranked officials were in the know.
The visitor was the dispatch sent from the legendary Star Marshal Hall of the Sacred Temple: the 28th generation Greedy Wolf Star.
Stars, each and every one of them, were outstanding in their own right, with incredible power and authority, an existence beyond the reach of normal humans.
Having never met a Star before, the mayor and his people were expecting someone amazing with an overbearing aura and strength, however they were quickly disillusioned with the reality. It would have been better if they’d never met…This star… it was like meeting your idol on the streets only to realize he was a used car salesman in real life. The ridiculous disconnect made one want to faint.
Wolf was young but he was a professional. After the appropriate greetings he got right to work, not even bothering with the welcoming meal they prepared for him. He went to the cave where the girls were murdered, and after surmising it was the work of an asura, returned to town.
He strolled the streets once he came back, looking for all the world like he was just window shopping. One had to question if he was actually looking for the asura or being a tourist. Occasionally he would even take out a mirror and gaze at it.
Feng Wu and Jier had made a lot of headway with Mrs. Malin’s murder and were now currently waiting for someone. Jier didn’t say who and Feng Wu didn’t ask. This meant Feng Wu didn’t have anything to do other than idle around the inn.
Feng Wu developed a good relationship with Matron La from having lived in the inn and interacting with the older woman. Matron La even sewed the pretty purple skirt Feng Wu was wearing.
Because Feng Wu was being idle, Matron La pulled her along and pushed her out of the inn saying, “Go. Shop. There are a lot of specialty vendors around Rime-Frost. So many pretty clothes and accessories. You’re a girl, you’ll love them.”
Feng Wu was confused. Why did being a girl mean she had to like them? Still she did as told and went shopping. She walked around the streets with no destination in mind. There weren’t many people out, but those walking around left heavy footprints in the snow. Her martial arts were strong so her footsteps were light, barely leaving a mark in the snow.
“Hey did you hear? XX shop has a new line of clothing out. They’re made of special material that repel magical attacks. And they look really stylish too! Wanna go see?” asked Lu.
“Oh my god yeah. They’re gorgeous. I’m going to make sure my dad gets me one,” replied Lucy.
“Me too! I asked my mom to get me one. They’re a limited edition so they’re in high demand. They’ll run out if you don’t get them soon.”
“Oh hey Lucielle!”[notes] yelled out Lu and Lucy to another girl across the street.
Feng Wu was close enough to overhear their conversation. They went on and on about clothes…
Feng Wu was told to go shop for clothes and accessories but she didn’t know where the shops were. The girls in front seemed like they were going to buy some, so she decided to follow them.
“Lucy… you get the feeling someone’s following us?” asked Lucielle.
“Yes...oh I my god… I hope it’s not the serial killer that’s been murdering pretty girls!” Lucy cried out in alarm. Her pretty face puckered up in fright.
“Honestly what are you two so afraid of! If you’re not sure, then just turn around and look!” Although Lu was scared as well, she was the most daring of the three girls so it was only natural she would be the one to turn around and check.
She was stunned by the sight: an adorably cute brunette! The brunette wore a flower pin in her waist length hair. The skirt she had on was a light purple voluminous one, and her eyes, her eyes were like black pearls. She was simply too adorable!
“Who is that?! She’s way too cute! I’ve never seen her before.”
The others turned to look at Lu’s cry.
“Yeah, yeah, crazy cute. But why is she following us?” Both Lucy and Lucielle cried out in alarm. They were just ordinary school girls, why would anyone want to follow them?
“Maybe she’s just headed in the same direction. Let’s not worry about it and just keep walking.” Despite this the other two still occasionally looked back every few seconds. They finally reached the store they were talking about earlier. Lucielle quickly pulled her two friends inside, trying to shake the brunette off.
Feng Wu had tuned the girls’ conversation out some time ago, but she followed behind when she saw them go into the shop.
The three friends were quite surprised that the brunette followed them inside, however they quickly relaxed once they saw her browsing somewhere else in the shop.
They scolded themselves for being silly gooses. It only looked like the brunette was behind them the entire time because she was headed in the same direction! The shop was very popular after all. All three thought: we’d be a laughingstock if anyone knew about this...
In fact, they were correct! Feng Wu had been following them.
A clerk, seeing Feng Wu browse through the clothes, immediately approached with a wide smile on her face. “Greetings young lady! These are the new styles that came in recently. They’re made of special material that conform to the wearers body, guaranteed to be a perfect fit! The material also resists magical attacks. It’s truly wonderful! Very cost-effective!” said the clerk, extolling on the benefits of the new clothes.
“What do you mean, resists magical damage?” Now Feng Wu was curious. She looked at the clothes on the rack more seriously.
The question didn’t faze the clerk one bit. She replied, “Yes if provides a minor layer of protection,” without skipping a beat.
“Just a minor layer of protection?” Feng Wu frowned, thinking that the item wasn’t as good as expected.
“Eh! Well... what you say is true...” This was the first time the clerk was at a loss for words.
Most of the middle schoolers that came came to buy clothes. The damage mitigation part of it was just a gimmick; no one really took it seriously. Honestly, what were the odds of them encountering a magic battle?
“Would you like to try it on?” The clerk wasn’t sure if the girl in front of her was there to cause trouble or there to actually buy something, but regardless she was a clerk and she was required to smile as long as the customer was in front of her.
“OK.” Feng Wu nodded her head and took a couple of items to the changing room.
The clerk was relieved. Standing and smiling in front of a girl with such a deadpan expression was intense! The pressure was too much!
Feng Wu tried on the clothes. They fit well and looked good even if the defense was low.
“How much?” This was the first time Feng Wu bought her own clothes. Before this Aunty Lian prepared everything for her. After Aunty Lian it was Jier and the shopping spree. The excitement she felt over shopping on her own for the first time didn’t show on her blank face at all.
“It’s fifty gold! Very inexpensive!” The clerk wasn’t exaggerating, fifty gold was relatively inexpensive for a garment woven out of magic material. Given how precious and rare magic material was, the amount in the garment was severely watered down, thus the low cost.
So expensive! She and Jier made 500 gold from swindling the girl at the jewelry shop but they had to spend 200 gold for the transport circle to Rime-Frost. That left them with 300 to split between them, so Feng Wu right now only had 150 gold on her.
Hey World. A few updates. I’m closing the fundraiser for OASNG now instead of on May 30th. I will also be posting all the chapters for the month this week as I finish editing. So expect a bunch of releases then silence for the rest of the month. For more details click here.
@Trasna: The timestamp for the comments should be from my server but the one under [justreads.net] should be when the file was uploaded. It shows up correctly in my feed readers but I have noticed sometimes it’s slow on NU. It might be how I coded my RSS feed and how NU is parsing out its own reader. Not sure. In any case the updates will show up sooner or later on NU. I may go back to manually entering in the updates if it continues to lag.
Someone pm’ed me about how the notes are a distraction when they’re on top. Since it wasn’t a problem to move them, I will leave them down here in the future.
“That’s too much. I don’t want it.” Feng Wu hung her head, her good mood gone. Turned out she was really poor! She couldn’t afford more than three outfits!
“Then please take care! You are welcome to come again!” The clerk had seen this scene hundreds of times before. Girls came in the shop but would leave empty-handed, having to abandon that coveted article of clothing they wanted because they failed to bring enough money.
The clerk knew better than to cross them out as potential customers though! Like the other day there was a girl in exactly this same situation. She left but came back later and purchased two outfits in one visit! It was foolish to dismiss someone just because they didn’t have enough money on the spot.
The clerk escorted Feng Wu to the door then went back to sorting out the clothes she had tried on before greeting more customers.
“Wait! Those in your hands, wrap them up for me.”
The clerk looked up to see a drop-dead gorgeous guy standing at the counter. Too beautiful! Too beautiful! This guy was definitely swoon-worthy!
“Yes.. Yes... of course.” The clerk’s face was beet red as she took payment from him. He exited the shop after paying, leaving the clerk to stare at his retreating figure in a daze. She was thinking: Why did you appear you gorgeous hunk of meat you! Now my sense of aesthetics is completely ruined! How am I going to get married now?!
Wolf walked out of the shop and immediately looked left and right, trying to find the girl in the purple skirt. It wasn’t long before he saw her dispirited form looking down with her head hung low.
Strangely enough, despite the thick layer of snow she didn’t leave much of a footprint. He had to look really closely to even see the faint outlines of her shoe in the snow.
Feng Wu had inadvertently caught his attention earlier when she was following the girls. He’d never seen someone walk so lightly in the snow. It could certainly be done with magic, but it was obvious she wasn’t using magic.
He had bought the clothes expecting to give them to her as a present in an effort to create a good impression. He hoped she would accept them and they could become friends.
“Wow, I didn’t expect to see such a beautiful girl in a small town like Rime-Frost. Come, let’s be friends.” Wolf laughed offering his sweetest smile. He knew he was gorgeous and just how to play up his charm. There was no way she’d be able to resist.
Feng Wu looked at the stranger laughing in front of her.
Look at that dazed blank expression. She’s lost her mind from my charm, Wolf smugly thought.
“Ah-! A vulgar smile! Is this the vulgar smile Aunty Lian talked about?” She’d heard the word from Aunty Lian when she lived in the village. Back then there had been an uncle who looked at Aunty Lian that way. She asked Aunty Lian what he was laughing at and Aunty Lian had said, “If you see someone laughing like that, just run far away. That person has a vulgar smile.”
Aunty Lian never said what vulgar was so Feng Wu was still confused about it.
Vulgar?! Me?! The magnificent Star General Greedy Wolf?! What’s wrong with this girl’s eyes? She needs to get them checked!
“Little sister, you are using the word vulgar incorrectly. You shouldn’t use it to describe me. Instead you should say I’m unusually handsome, magnificent beyond compare, devastatingly beautiful!” The praises came flowing out of his mouth easily without any effort.
Feng Wu stared at him blankly. Another word Tian Ke used came to mind. It was a word he used to describe Jier: narcissistic. Tian Ke said narcissistic was a word used to describe an overly confident person, someone with a big head. Feng Wu felt this stranger in front of her represented the word well.
“What, no! Confidence! Call it confidence!” Wolf felt like banging his head on something. “Forget it. Never mind. Today this big brother will treat you to some cake. There’s a cake shop right nearby, so come on let’s go.” Wolf felt like his brain would bleed if he let her talk anymore.
“No. Jier said not to go with strangers.” Normally Feng Wu had a hard time understanding people’s words, but if their hearts were in the right place their meaning came through to her. She knew Jier said what he said out of kindness, that he was worried about people deceiving her, so she obediently followed his directions.
This man was a stranger so she wouldn’t go with him even if he offered cake.
“Well then, my name is Greedy Wolf. I’m young, beautiful, and am twenty five this year. I have a legitimate job, a steady career, and am strong and honest.” Wolf, hearing himself speak, realized how amazing he was.
“And you? What’s your name?” Wolf smiled like the Big Bad Wolf trying to tempt Little Red Riding Hood. What house is this girl from? How did they raise her? Is she one of those children who are mentally challenged?
That big wolf-like smile of his dwindled when he remembered how she had called it vulgar. Can’t have her disliking me already! Must stop smiling!
Feng Wu thought for a moment before replying. “My name is Feng Wu. I’m a student at Xingguang Holy Academy. I’m a sword master.”
“OK then. We’re not strangers anymore. You know my name and I know your name. Now let’s go eat cake!” Wolf went behind Feng Wu and nudged her forward directly into the patisserie nearby. Luckily there was one nearby.
The shop had good business with lots of young girls and couples inside. Wolf and Feng Wu walked in and immediately became the center of attention.
What an eye-catching combination: a handsome young man and a super cute lolli.
“What can I get for you two? The cake of the day is gooseberry cake. It’s very good. There’s a special too. Buy any five cake slices and get a free drink.” The pretty waitress eyed Wolf greedily while giving her spiel, all the while wondering how such a delicious looking man could exist.
“Xiao Wu, order whatever you want. Don’t hold back.” Wolf spoke like a rich young master.
“Miss, please. Here’s the menu,” offered the waitress. The waitress remembered to offer the menu just in time. Phew! Can’t let beauty distract me! Nearly forgot I was working!
What should she do? Everything on the menu looked delicious. After looking at it for a while, Feng Wu still couldn’t decide.
Wolf looked at the pain on Feng Wu’s face. Guessing she was having a hard time deciding what to eat he said, “Can’t decide? Then don’t.” To the waitress he said, “Bring your best cakes and a pot of herbal tea.”
“One moment.” With a huge smile on her face the waitress left to get their order.
A few minutes later a tray of cakes and a pot of tea was brought over. There were so many delicious plates, their order nearly didn’t fit on the table.
Wolf realized he may have ordered too much. Just looking at all the sweets made his tooth ache. He had to pay extra attention to his diet in order to maintain his physique, so he didn’t plan on eating any of it. The cakes were all for Feng Wu. But looking at that waifish body in front of him he doubted she’d be able to eat more than a slice or two of cake.
He considered calling the waitress over and canceling some of the order when he saw Feng Wu’s eyes. They were shining like bright orbs. Ah forget it! I’m a dashing wolf! I can’t let a girl down! I’ll just have the leftovers boxed!
“Don’t rush. Just eat what you can. We’ll have the leftovers boxed…” His words trailed off as he watched Feng Wu eat. He was shocked. She was really fast. In the space of that one sentence she had gobbled down, not one, but two slices of cake! They were each the size of a fist! He stared as she attacked a third.
What was he about to say just now?
Feng Wu demolished the cakes in less than fifteen minutes. The plates were clean as a whistle without a single crumb or frosting in sight.
Wolf cautiously asked, “Are you… full? Do you want more?”
“No. I have to eat dinner when I get back. I can’t eat too much now.”
Wolf thought: Girl, are you for real?! You just had a dozen cakes! You’re going to eat dinner after this?!
In all earnestness he said, “Xiao Wu, when you get married, make sure you marry a rich man. An ordinary man won’t be able to afford you.“ Please see the sincerity in my eyes. I am serious. This is for your own good.
“Huh? Jier said so too.” Feng Wu nodded her head. Jier had told her the same thing before.
Ha! So he wasn’t the only one. Wolf nodded his head, agreeing with Jier.
“Here. Look. I’ve got something for you.” Wolf pulled up a luxurious bag full of clothes.
Feng Wu looked inside and found it was full of the clothes she tried on at the store. This surprised her so she asked, somewhat doubtfully, “For me?”
“I saw you trying them on at the store. They looked really good on you but for some reason you didn’t buy them, so I bought them for you. As a friend. Take it. You can’t say no.” Wolf looked at her with his big blinking eyes after he finished talking.
Feng Wu looked down at the clothes, then back at the blinky-eyed puppy-like Wolf. Jier said not to accept things from strangers, but Wolf had invited her to eat cake, and they had chatted. Didn’t that make them friends? Could friends accept gifts from each other? Feng Wu wasn’t sure, but the expectant look on Wolf’s face suggested it was OK…
“I don’t have any gifts for you.” Feng Wu said sadly.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll wait for you to find something suitable,” Wolf generously offered.
Feng Wu looked at him and with complete sincerity said, “Wolf, you’re a good person.” He had bought her delicious cakes and even given her gifts.
Wait. Did you really consider rejecting a guy as nice as me? Wolf shook his head thinking that Feng Wu was really peculiar.
“Come on, I’ll walk you back.”
“You’ll walk me back?” Feng looked adorable holding the bag of clothes in one hand.
“Yes, that way I can see your friend Jier. We know each other you know.” He patted her head lightly, quite enjoying the soft fluffy texture.
“You know Jier?” Feng Wu’s big eyes show surprised. Was Wolf Jier’s friend too?
“You’ll know if we go and see him.” So saying Wolf took a hold of Feng Wu’s arm and led her forward after paying for the sweets at the cashier.
Feng Wu stopped moving after a few steps. Wolf couldn’t budge her.
“Xiao Wu. I’m not lying. I am a friend of Jier’s.” Wolf assumed Feng Wu was reconsidering and thinking the worst of him, so he tried to get her to trust him again.
“No. You’re going in the wrong direction. This way.” Feng Wu pulled her arm out of his grasp and looked in the opposite direction.
“Oh, well let’s go then.”
The recent events had led to an increase in traffic at Pierre’s inn, so business was booming. It was dinnertime and the first floor dining area was full of patrons drinking and eating. Matron La’s BBQ was delicious and popular with everyone.
Pierre and Jier were enjoying a drink of ginger ale with their meal while Xiao Bai was upstairs with little bun.
The door opened in on this bustling scene. The incredibly beautiful Wolf stepped in.
Matron La immediately greeted him with a robust, “Welcome!” while in her heart she was thinking how dangerous it was for such a beauty to walk around outside. Poor thing. People must want to molest him left and right.
Behind him was a very familiar purple clad female.
Matron La recognized Feng Wu right away.
“Xiao Wu. How is it that you came back with Wolf?” Jier asked as soon as he saw her. He knew the necromancer sent by the mayor would have suggested notifying the Sacred Temple, and that the Sacred Temple would send someone from the Star Marshall Hall over, but he never expected it to be Wolf.
Wolf was one of the hall’s 28th generation Stars. He was a fearsome opponent with outstanding sword skills despite being a magician. He wasn’t low on the totem pole either. In fact his position was quite important. [notes]
It was just that he was too vain! It would take him two hours just to get ready in the morning. Even after he finished, he needed to check his appearance every hour.
Each successive generation chose a new weapon based on their personal preference. Each weapon had its own characteristics, thus different powers and abilities. Weapons could be anything. If the holder of the seal wanted it to be a staff, then it would be a staff. If the holder of the seal wanted it to be a sword, then it would be a sword. Once finalized, the seals would confer their respective powers to the chosen weapons.
Wolf's weapon was a mirror... No one else but him...
He was unique in his choice; however it was an appropriate one for the current situation as it had the ability to expose illusions, perfect for combating those good at transformations such as the Asura Race.
Jier guessed this was the reason Wolf got the task.
“Little Flame, it's been ages.” Wolf walked over and sat down next to Jier. He looked around and saw that the only female presence in the room was Feng Wu and Matron La. On top of that there were also quite a few good-looking people around. This was good. They would help him blend in. Although he enjoyed his good looks, the most important thing to him, hard as it was to believe, was being strong.
No one looking at such a delicately beautiful man would think he was a master, what with his haughty noble demeanor and complete lack of a traditional weapon. The only one who knew was Jier.
Jier didn’t feel like dealing with Wolf however. He completely ignored the greeting and addressed Feng Wu instead. “Xiao Wu you’re back.”
“Mm.” Feng Wu nodded her head then held out the bag in front of her hesitatingly saying, “These... are gifts from Wolf.” She wasn’t sure if it was OK to accept or not.
Jier waved his hand saying, “Don’t worry about it. Feel free to take whatever he gives. The only thing he’s good at is spending money anyways.”
What?! Jier was just a tiny mite the last time Wolf saw him, but apparently his attitude hadn’t changed one bit. He was still an asshole. Wolf really wanted to beat him up!
Pierre thought Feng Wu would be hungry from having been out all day so he said, “Feng Wu, come over. You must be hungry.”
“Mmm.” Feng Wu nodded as she handed the clothes to Matron La. Since the seat next to Jier was already taken by Wolf, she sat next to Pierre instead.
Jier took a big gulp of ale before looking askance at Wolf and saying, “I’m surprised the Temple sent you. I would have thought they’d send Martial Wu or Honorable Chaste.”
“They’re on other assignments right now. I was the only one Zi Wei could send over,” Wolf said offhandedly.
“Big brother Wolf is from the Sacred Temple?” This revelation both surprised and delighted Pierre. Never in a million years did he think he’d get the chance to share a table with someone so esteemed.
Jier laughed at that. “This guy just swept the Temple’s courtyard. You don’t have to take him so seriously.”
“S...sweep...?” Wolf sputtered. He really really REALLY wanted to kill this kid. How dare this shorty lump him with those aunties and uncles who swept the yard?! Waving his hand Wolf said, “Jier is right. Don’t mind me. Don’t mind me. Come now. Eat up.”
Although he said this, Wolf couldn’t bring himself to have any of the roasted meats and ale brought over by Matron La, having completely lost his appetite because of Jier.
Wolf was already eye-catching on his own so when paired with Jier’s flaming beauty, it was impossible not to turn heads. Even in a roomful of men, calculating gazes still turned their way.
Clearly the dining room was not the place to talk.
All four went to Pierre’s study.
“You’ve been here for several days now. You should have already discovered some clues, right?” Wolf asked. He sat down on the sofa. It was a simple action but still full of elegance and grace.
“Yes. The most likely suspects are Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha. You should use your mirror to reveal their true colors.”
Wolf nodded at the advice. It sounded good.
“I accepted the mission with Xiao Wu to find the murderer, so before you take the Asura people away, remember to let us report the assignment first.” Jier wasn’t about to do so much work for free.
Wolf agreed since he saw no issue with it.
Jier hadn’t moved further with the investigation because the case involved the Asura race. Anything to do with them would be complicated, so he had decided to wait for the envoy, after all apprehending trespassers who violated the convention was the Temple’s responsibility. It was only natural to wait for a representative to arrive and make the arrest.
The moon was high and the night chilly when the three made their way to Mr. Wenda’s estate. The place was as silent as a tomb and the air stagnant and stifling. Had it not been for the single candle burning in the darkness, it would have been easy to mistakenly believe the place was deserted.
“Did they retire already? It’s so early,” wondered Jier.
Wolf wasn’t a rookie and could tell there was something wrong with the manor. Even if Rime-Frost had shorter days and people retired earlier, there should have been servants still on duty. That there was no one moving about was a red flag. “There’s something not right about this place.”
At that Jier said, “Xiao Wu, be careful. Immediately run away if it gets too dangerous OK?” Jier was worried about Feng Wu, afraid she would be killed before her brain caught up with the situation and she thought to run away.
Her reply made him feel better. He knew if she said she would do something then she would do it.
“I’m very strong,” she continued very seriously. She was sure she could protect herself with Xiao Chun.[notes]
Wolf patted Feng Wu lightly on the head. Yes. Of course you are. Neither he nor Jier believed her.
They carefully snuck into the yard with only the faint glow of the moon to guide them.
Feng Wu abruptly stopped at a flower garden.
“What’s wrong?” Jier asked. He was keenly aware of her presence, so he turned around when he felt she wasn’t following behind.
“There’s someone buried here. The flowers are very sad because the person was very kind.”
“Buried?!” If she said someone was buried there, then someone was buried there. Jier believed her without a doubt. He was all too familiar with her ability to communicate with plants.
“Let’s not focus on that right now. First we have to find Mr. Wenda and Ms. Dusha.” Wolf was a professional and he knew his priorities.
The three of them kept moving. First they would try to find Ms. Dusha. A great number of strange things had happened since her arrival at Rime-Frost, yet they knew next to nothing about her background. Jier felt she was the most suspicious person.
Just as they were about to open the gate, it was pulled open from the other side by a girl. It looked like she was a maid based on her uniform.
Her first instinct, faced with three strangers in the middle of the night clearly sneaking around the manor, was to scream.
Fortunately Wolf covered her mouth in time. “Don’t scream. We’re not bad people. Take us someplace private. We have to ask you something.” Wolf had one hand clamped over her mouth and his other hand wrapped around her body, immobilizing her.
The maid nodded and led them to a storage room filled with odds and ends. It was unlikely anyone would interrupt them there.
“We won’t hurt you. We just have some questions we want to ask. I’m going to let you go now. OK?”
After being released the first thing the maid did was take a deep breath in, then she looked at the three people surrounding her.
“You, you people are investigating Master Wenda and Mistress Dusha right?” Her voice was excited and she was clearly expecting them to reply in the affirmative.
This took them by surprise. Who knew a simple maid would be so clever? Wouldn’t the normal reaction be to think they were burglars?
Jier asked, “How did you know?”
A little embarrassed she admitted it was a guess.
“Tell us everything you know.” Wolf could tell from a glance there was something she wanted to say.
“I’ll tell you what I know, but please, you must promise to save Mistress Dusha from Master Wenda! As long as you promise I’ll tell you everything I know.”
She reached out wanting to grab onto Wolf’s sleeve for reassurance, but Wolf was not obliging. He didn’t like strangers touching him. He’d only touched her earlier to keep her from screaming.
She dropped her hand and stopped trying to reach out. Instead she grabbed her own skirt with an overwhelmed expression on her face.
“Who are you and why do you want to save Ms. Dusha?” Jier reevaluated the maid, thinking that her identity was more important now after her comment. Maybe she was Ms. Dusha’s confidante?
Jier was spot on. She was Dusha’s personal maid.
She hesitated a moment before saying, “My name is Sheila. I’m Mistress Dusha’s personal maid.”
Jier and Wolf exchanged glances. What luck, to pick up such a good lead.
“As far as I know, Mr. Wenda is very fond of Ms. Dusha. Why would she need saving?”
“If it was Master Wenda then I wouldn’t be so worried, but this man... this man hasn’t been Master Wenda in a long time.” Sheila burst into tears after speaking. They were hearty sobs and clearly not faked.
Jier was confused. “What the hell is going on? Can you start from the beginning? How did the two of them meet?” He thought Ms. Dusha was the instigator; everything, the disappearances and murders, started when she appeared. But now this maid was saying it had nothing to do with her, that it was in fact Mr. Wenda! That Mr. Wenda was not himself was the biggest shocker. An imposter Wenda was not something any of them had considered.
Although the news shocked both Jier and Wolf, Feng Wu was completely unaffected. Her face had the same blank expression she normally wore.
“Actually Mistress Dusha and Master Wenda have known each other for a long time. Her sister was Master Wenda’s first love. He proposed to her sister, but at the time my mistress’s family situation was not good. The old master and old mistress rejected the suit and had her sister marry another rich young aristocrat instead.
Unfortunately that young nobleman fell into some trouble and brought his entire family down with him. Even my mistress’s family was affected by the fall out. She was only ten, a mere child at the time, but she had to watch as the members of her family succumbed one by one. In the end she was the only one left. She was so desolate she was thinking about ending it all. That’s when Master Wenda appeared. He’d heard something had happened to the family so he came to check in on us.
He was happily married to Mrs. Malin. Miss Clara was three I think. Anyways by the time Master Wenda arrived, the only person left was my mistress. Everyone else had passed on already.
Master Wenda was very kind. He wanted to help, but because of my mistress’s identity, he couldn’t very well bring her home with him. So instead he bought her a house outside the city and left several servants to help take care of things. He would stop by every now and again to check in on us and make sure everything was OK.
My mistress is a very virtuous lady. Most of the servants in the house were wretched people my lady took in. I’m one of them! She saved me! Eventually she even made me her personal maid.
When I became her personal maid I realized she was in love with Master Wenda. But she was too young. Plus Master Wenda was happily married to Mrs. Malin. My mistress tried to keep her feelings for Mr. Wenda a secret, but I could tell! She’s been keeping it secret for the past twelve years now! My poor mistress!
Anyways when my mistress was twenty-two she came upon a young man with a grievous head injury. He was bleeding something awful! She had never seen him around the city before but nevertheless, she still saved him. It turned out he was an orphan with no family or home. Since this was the case, my mistress, as virtuous as she is, offered to have him stay on at the house!
He was pleasant and a diligent worker. Everyone liked him. Some of the maids were even in love with him. Me included. We were all trying to get his favor, trying to win the position of his missus and raise a family together.
I was confident I could win him over. After all I was in the best position of all the other maids. But but…”
“Wait! Stop! We want to hear about Ms. Dusha and Mr. Wenda. Not about your love life.” Jier was getting impatient.
“This is about my mistress. Please listen. You’ll understand once we reach the ending.” Sheila was embarrassed but stood her ground.
“Jier, let her finish the story. It should be relevant.” Wolf was far more patient than Jier.
Jier nodded, agreeing to let her continue.
That was all the encouragement Sheila needed. She took a deep breath and continued. “His name was Marlon. The one I liked. I was sure I could make him my husband, but the more I watched him the more I realized something. Whenever he looked at the mistress, his gaze would stay on her for too long. One time I even caught him hiding away one of the mistress’s handkerchief. I realized the one he liked wasn’t any of us maids, but the mistress.
That realization was like a bolt of lightning for me! He was in love with the mistress! Inappropriate! There was no way things would end well. I tried to discourage him. I even suggested the mistress had someone in her heart.
Even though I made a lot obvious comments about it, I knew better than to reveal Master Wenda’s name. The love my mistress had for him had to be kept secret. I knew that! I never once mentioned Master Wenda’s name. I just didn’t expect Marlon would be so clever as to figure it out himself.
One day Master Wenda visited to see how everything was going. After he left Marlon noticed right way how happy and perky the mistress was. I thought this would have forced Marlon to give up. If he gave up on the mistress, then I would have a chance. I loved him so much!
But he left the next day without saying a word to anyone. I thought he just went out to cool his head, that he’d be back. Even if he was suffering he’d come back…
So just a bit after Marlon left, Master Wenda comes back. After he leaves my mistress is all perky. Like a little chirpy bird. She said that Master Wenda came back to declare his love for her, that he was going to make her his wife, that he was going to divorce Mrs. Malin.
I mean… it was pretty incredible! Master Wenda spoke to everyone when he visited. All of us could see how much he loved his wife. Why would he just abandon her and marry the mistress? It made no sense.
But the mistress was so happy, she refused to listen to reason. She wanted to be a married couple together with Master Wenda, for them to always be together.
Later my mistress took me with her when she left to go to Master Wenda’s estate. It was the first time we met Mrs. Malin and Miss Clara. It was horrible. Master Wenda had a huge row with Mrs. Malin right there in front of everyone because Mrs. Malin refused to divorce. It was horrible! My mistress was sandwiched between the two of them, unable to do anything. She was forced to bear the cold eyes of all the servants in the house. She was so sad… It was just horrible, horrible!”
Had she known this was how things would turn out, she would never have let her mistress go to the estate.
“It took three years, but Mrs. Malin finally gave in and agreed to the divorce. Actually she had resolved to end it even earlier, but it was just that she wanted to resolve some financial things before approaching Master Wenda about it.
After so many years the mistress and Master Wenda were finally going to have their happy ending. He would divorce his wife and marry the mistress and they would start a family together.
Mrs. Malin officially moved out of the estate and Master Wenda dismissed all the old servants and settled my mistress in the house. But something felt wrong. Master Wenda was still the same gentle person he always was, but sometimes his eyes would remind me of Marlon.
Was it because I missed him so dearly that I began to see him in other people?”
Thinking about Marlon made Sheila sigh. “Everything is related to that man. If my mistress hadn’t saved him would things be different now?”
Jier, Feng Wu and Wolf remained silent, not interrupting Sheila. All three had a feeling the she was about to get to the heart of the matter.
“One night I couldn’t sleep so I got up to get a glass of water. I passed by Master Wenda’s study. The door was slightly ajar so I could see inside the room a bit. There was Marlon standing in the middle of the room in wearing a long black robe of some type. I was shocked you know. I thought that maybe he’d heard about the mistress’s marriage to Master Wenda and was there to cause trouble. So I snuck closer to see more clearly.
Who would have… What I saw… it… it was the most unforgettable thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ll never forget it. Marlon peeled his face off… then the rest of his skin, from head to toe. He peeled everything off. The person underneath was incredibly beautiful, but there was this sense of danger too. Just… powerfully dangerous.
Afterwards he put on a different layer of skin. This time he looked just like Master Wenda. I was shocked. The only think I wanted to do was retreat to my room. There was a sound and he turned toward the door. I immediately ducked into a side room. He walked right past me. I was so scared.
The sound had come from the kitchen, from one of the new maids. He must have thought she was spying at him so he killed her, sucked the blood right out of her. Then he took her body and buried it under the garden.
I didn’t stay to watch the whole thing. I ran back to my room when he started fillig the grave. That day I knew, the man the mistress would marry was not the real Master Wenda.
My mistress is too sincere and honest; she shows her emptions too easily on her face. I was afraid telling her about Master Wenda would put her in danger, so I’ve hidden it from her ever since.”
“Could Mrs. Malin have been killed because she also found out about the imposter Wenda?” asked Jier. His instincts told him the two were related somehow.
Sheila’s face stiffened while remorse filled her eyes. “Mrs. Malin’s death was an accident. She came over the day before the divorce to talk to Master Wenda about custody of Miss Clara.
I tried to hint to her that something was wrong with Master Wenda. I was hoping she’d report it to the authorities and they would take care of the demon pretending to be Master Wenda, then my mistress would be safe.”
Wolf snickered at that. “You knew there was a problem with your master, yet you didn’t go to the mayor and report it yourself. Instead you wanted someone else to take the risk, so you thought you’d be clever and have Mrs. Malin do it. If it hadn’t been for you, Mrs. Malin would have divorced Mr. Wenda the next day and lived the rest of life peacefully with her daughter. You truly are a selfish woman.”
“I… I’m just a maid! How can I see the mayor?! Master Wenda would surely kill me if he found out!”
Sheila felt her guilt sweep away the more she spoke. She was just an unimportant person, a maid. What could she have done? That was why she suggested it to Mrs. Malin. She was just trying to protect herself and her mistress. She hadn’t done anything wrong! She hadn’t done anything wrong!
“Ha? Can’t see the mayor? Then you should have gone to the Sacred Temple for help. If you couldn’t go in person then you could have sent an anonymous letter. Even if you are just a maid, the empire ensures that every citizen has a certain amount of education, so don’t even try to say you can’t read or write.”
“I… I… I couldn’t! I couldn’t risk exposing myself. It would have put my mistress in danger!” Sheila was pale and obviously frightened, but it was also just as obvious she used other people for her own selfish ends.
Jier interrupted her before she could say anything more. “You deliberately egged Mrs. Malin into a confrontation with Mr. Wenda by telling her he was an imposter didn’t you?”
“No! No!” Shelia shook her head furiously. “Mrs. Malin didn’t confront him about anything. She only came to speak to Mr. Wenda about Miss Clara. Maybe she discovered something while she was talking to him. All I know is that Master Wenda went out that night. Then the next day, news of Mrs. Malin’s murder made the headlines.
Mr. Wenda accused Miss Clara of the murder because he was afraid she would recognize he was a fake. He had to get rid of her somehow. Mrs. Malin’s death gave him the chance to strike first!”
“So that’s why he dismissed all the original servants. He didn’t want any of them becoming suspicious,” murmured Jier. “In order to maintain his disguise the imposter Wenda had to get rid of those familiar with the original Mr. Wenda. He used marital discord to drive Mrs. Malin away, but it was more complicated with Miss Clara. The only way to push her out of the estate and out of his life was to marry her off. But he found another option when he murdered Mrs. Malin. If Miss Clara was charged with the crime and sentenced to prison, then he wouldn’t have to interact with her anymore. The chances of her discovering he was an imposter would have dropped to practically zero.”
Sheila didn’t deny anything Jier said. All she said was, “Please don’t hurt Mistress Dusha. She is innocent in all this. She has no idea Master Wenda is an imposter. She really doesn’t know anything!”
Wolf looked at Sheila as she spoke. He didn’t want to admit it, but even though she was incredibly selfish, he couldn’t deny her dedication to her mistress.
It was just that her methods were horrible. So many people suffered because of her. If she hadn’t suggested Ms. Dusha was in love with someone to Marlon, then Wenda would not have been murdered. If she hadn’t meddled with Mrs. Malin’s visit, Mrs. Malin would still be alive and Miss Clara wouldn’t be accused of murder. Not to mention there was that maid that died in her place.
There was no denying her blind loyalty played a role in everyone’s tragedy. This kind of person, the kind who courted disaster and pushed others to take the fall disgusted him.
“You really believe your mistress doesn’t know anything? She’s been in love with Mr. Wenda for twelve years but she couldn’t tell there was something off about him?” Jier doubted Dusha was as innocent as her maid claimed.
His words stunned Sheila. The point never occurred to her. How was it possible that she could detect something off about Mr. Wenda but the person in love with him for twelve years couldn’t? Was her mistress really as clueless as she believed? Did her mistress know about Mr. Wenda? Had she been an accomplice to Mr. Wenda this entire time?
Sheila was shocked. She had thought she was the only one who knew, but it sounded like her mistress knew about it too!
“Take us to the imposter. It’s time he paid for the pain he’s caused.” A vengeful light flashed through Wolf’s eyes as he spoke.
Sheila led the way. She knew this was it; there was no turning back. If they failed to defeat the imposter, then he would know she knew his secret and he would kill her the same way he killed the other maid: sucking her body dry of blood.
They finally reached Wenda’s study. He was ostensibly reading inside, but who knew if he was just pretending.
Sheila ran away the moment they reached the door. She planned to escape with her mistress while they distracted the imposter Wenda.
It wasn’t like her departure escaped Jier’s notice. He knew, but he didn’t care. They were there to capture the asura.
Before opening the door Jier exchanged a glance with Feng Wu. The message was clear: run away if it’s too dangerous. Feng Wu nodded so he knew she understand his message.
When Wolf opened the door, they saw Wenda sitting at the desk with a book in one hand. Wenda’s face turned cold and mean at the sight of them.
“Who are you? How dare you break into my estate!”
Wolf laughed. “Your estate? I didn’t know the asura could own property in the human world.”
“What?!” Wenda was shocked. He’d successfully hid among humans for so long, how was his identity discovered?
“You haven’t gone to your cave in a while so you don’t know this, but your blood pool was discovered. You need to bathe in blood at regular intervals if you want to stay in the human world. The blood of virgins is particularly potent. It goes a long way in extending your stay.”
Wenda knew he was exposed when they mentioned the cave. He’d been so careful of the municipal authorities by only hunting girls from rural villages. Now in retrospect he should have hunted farther away from Rime-Frost.
It was a good thing Wolf didn’t know what Wenda was thinking otherwise he would have dispensed with talking and gotten down to business.
Wenda’s face paled. “I know you’re investigators investigating Clara’s case. How much did Clara give you? I’ll give you ten times as much. Money is not a problem.”
The imposter Wenda recognized Jier and Feng Wu from the party. It was a recent meeting so he still remembered them clearly.
“You’re trying to bribe us in front of a Star general?” Jier spoke without thinking.
“Star?! You’re from Star Marshall Hall?!” Wenda thought they were just nosy adventurers. He didn’t expect one of them to be a Star from the hall. Anyone from the 28th generation would be difficult to deal with.
“You finally realize the situation you’re in huh?” Jier gloated.
“Damn! Why is someone from the temple here?!” Wenda paled; he knew he was in trouble.
Wenda was thinking of how to get rid of them when Wolf took out a mirror and chanted the words, “Reflect and illuminate, show your true self.”
It was the mirror Wolf always carried with him. The mirror was framed in silver with delicate carvings on the handle. A few gems were embedded around the frame as well, giving it a beautiful luster.
When Wolf aimed the mirror at Wenda, the imposter screamed in pain and panic. The golden light from the mirror made Wenda’s skin smoke.
“Ahhhhh!” Wenda screamed as his disguise was forcefully burned away. His true face was revealed when the smoke cleared.
“The asura really are a beautiful race.” It was Jier’s first time seeing the legendary beauty of an asura in person. Their beauty was only comparable to their thirst for blood.
“I don’t know who you are, but the human world is no place for an asura. Come with me.” Wolf let his guard down as he spoke.
“Go with you? Dream on! Let’s see if you have to ability to catch me!” Unbound from his human disguise, the asura released all his power, filling the air with droplets of blood.
The blood in the center of the room grew so thick none of them could see through it. Everything became a red haze.
“Blood spirits! I summon you! Kill them! Kill them all!” The blood haze in the room suddenly coalesced into human shaped blobs. One rushed toward Wolf as it formed a sword out of blood.
“Bahahaha! Let’s see you defeat my blood spirits!” Blood spirits didn’t feel fear or pain, only the desire to slaughter what was in front of them. This made the asura smug, confident in his victory.
“Blood spirit summons? Well it’s a pity for you I’m your opponent!” Wolf laughed coldly while easily dodging the sword aimed at him. Feng Wu and Jier were also attacked by the spirits. She used her small sword to cut down the spirit in front of her. Unfortunately summoned spirits were intangible. They simply reformed and commenced attacking again.
Jier’s magical attacks had some effect, but not much. It took several direct hits from his spells before one dissipated completely.
“Holy Light of Purification!” A silvery light erupted from the mirror, shrouding the entire room, dispelling the blood and destroying the spirits.
“What?! That mirror can purify?!” The asura was in disbelief. He wanted to grab the mirror and smash it to pieces.
Wolf yelled, “Bind and imprison!” Immediately the asura was imprisoned in a cage of red light.
The asura kicked and slapped at the cage. Though he couldn’t break through, the cage rattled horrendously and appeared on the verge on collapsing.
Wolf formed a symbol with his hands and the cage became more stable as it shrank. The smaller the cage shrank the more feeble the asura’s attempts to break free became.
“No! Let him go!” A horrified voice sounded from the back of the room right before Wolf got stabbed in the back, causing the spell to break.
Freed, the asura looked to his lover and yelled her name. “Dusha!”
“Go! Don’t let them catch you!” she yelled right before slamming her body against Feng Wu and Jier so her beloved could flee.
The asura yelled, “I’ll come back for you Dusha!” before flying out the window.
“Don’t think you can escape!” Wolf, who was stabbed in the back so close to his heart, was glad Dusha was an ordinary person with ordinary strength. Had she practiced any of the arts, it was unlikely he would have survived such a wound. As it was, the wound was a minor one that only penetrated skin and flesh, but not muscle or bone.
Wolf wasn’t about to let a superficial wound stop him. He was a professional! With a roar he flew after the asura.
“Xiao Wu, watch this woman!” Jier kicked Dusha in the stomach to get her off of him. He turned into a flash of red light and followed the other two out the window.
“No! Don’t hurt him! Don’t hurt him!” Dusha ran to the window and screamed after Jier before collapsing into a ball of pain on the floor.
Sheila ran in and helped her mistress up. “Mistress! Don’t be like this! That person’s a monster! He’s not Master Wenda!” She had been trailing behind Dusha but stopped dead in her tracks when her mistress pulled a sword and stabbed the pretty man. She only dared approach now that things had settled down.
“No! He’s not a monster! He loves me very much! For me… for me he did so many things. How can I abandon him?!” She shoved Sheila’s outstretched hand away as she yelled in anguish.
“Mistress! Don’t tell me you… you already knew?” Sheila couldn’t believe it. Protecting her mistress was topmost in her heart, but it was apparently a joke because the whole time she had been trying to save her mistress and escape from the demon, her mistress already knew! Knew and chose to stay together with him!
Sheila had always thought of her mistress as a delicate and weak lady, someone who couldn’t harm a single bug or animal. So it was disconcerting for her to hear her sweet and gentle mistress defend a monstrous murderer with such conviction. But the facts in front of her were irrefutable. Perhaps she never knew her mistress.
“Yes, I didn’t know at first he was not the real Wenda, but gradually as we spent more time together I came to realize the truth. He knew I knew, but he didn’t hurt me. He loves me very much, but to be with me he had to kill many people, even the real Wenda. Where else in the world will I find someone who loves me as much as that?”
“But he’s a murderer!” Sheila shouted. It was the first time she had ever shouted at her mistress.
“So? What does that matter? He loves me. I love him. Everything he’s done, he’s done for me. What’s wrong with doing things for the one you love?! Being in love is not a crime!” Dusha was like a crazed woman in love. She was willing to sacrifice everything.
“You’re wrong. Your love is incredibly selfish. It makes a mockery of true love.” Pierre walked in with many soldiers behind him. Dusha and Sheila were easily surrounded.
Wolf had reported his intentions to the mayor before setting out to the manor, so many soldiers and magicians were dispatched as backup to help him.
He used a special means of communication to talk to those outside and had filled them in on what had happened before chasing after the asura. The moment he left they charged into the manor to arrest Dusha for harboring an asura and for injuring Wolf.
“Xiao Wu, sorry I’m so late.” Pierre coldly looked at the two women on the ground. His gaze only warmed when it turned to Feng Wu.
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded. Turning to Dusha she said, “Mr. Wenda told me to tell you that the thing he regrets most in life was saving you.”
“What? Stop making stuff up. Wenda is dead!” Dusha was startled by the new entrants in the room but she quickly came to her senses, certain Feng Wu was just trying to scare her.
Why would Feng Wu bother scaring her? She only spoke the truth. Wenda’s ghost had always been in the manor.
Seeing that the other woman didn’t believe her, Feng Wu felt the need to prove her words. “Do you want to see him?”
Naturally the best way to prove it was to let Dusha see Wenda’s spirit with her own eyes. But Feng Wu didn’t know how to show him to someone who couldn’t see him.
“If the lady wishes to see, I have a way.” The old necromancer appeared behind the soldiers. He took out a bottle from his space ring and sprayed both Dusha and Sheila’s eyes with it.
The two were just ordinary woman, how could they have avoided it?
Once sprayed they saw a different world. Not far away was a lingering blood spirit. It was Wenda’s soul. They could see how miserably he died just by looking at his spirit form. His clothes were drenched in so much blood they crinkled and puffed. His eyes were blank and tired.
“Ghosts! Ghosts!” Both Dusha and Sheila shouted in fright. They paled terribly.
“Mr. Wenda, is that you?” Pierre had willingly let the old necromancer spray his eyes as well. He wanted to see his elder, the one from his memories.
“Pierre, I haven’t seen in you so long. How is my Clara?” Wenda was a gentle man and his biggest concern was his daughter. He knew she was in detention but there was nothing he could do. As a spirit he was bound to the manor and could only roam its grounds.
Pierre looked at the elder who had always been kind to him. His heart broke. “Clara is fine. Now that the asura is found she should be released soon.” He tried his best to hide his sadness.
“You’re really Big Brother Wenda?” Dusha didn’t dare believe it. She had known Wenda died but never dreamed after death his spirit was so tragic. That his spirit was still around surprised her.
“Dusha, if I could do it all over again, I would have nothing to do with you. To think my family’s tragedy was single-handedly caused by you.” Wenda laughed bitterly. It was a sad sorrowful sound that made one’s heart ache.
“No. No! No! It had nothing to do with me.” Dusha shook her head in fear.
Sheila had been hiding behind Dusha but she hadn’t said a word. She was frozen stiff from fright.
“Nothing to do with you? You still won’t own up to it? If it weren’t for you saying those things to the asura, after Malin’s visit, would the asura have done anything? You were afraid my daughter would find out the truth and ruin everything for you so you constantly complained to the asura about how you didn’t want to live with her. That’s why he developed those murderous intentions. He would not have used Malin’s death to frame her otherwise. You are a grave disappointment Dusha. I caused Malin and Clara grave harm by saving you. It was like leading wolf to my own door!”
Wenda’s face contorted into an ugly image as he harshly shouted at Dusha.
“No! I didn’t ask him to kill anyone. My wish was simple. I just wanted to live happily with those that loved me. Why?! Why won’t people let me be happy?!” Dusha’s voice was full of grievance at the unfair world.
Those around saw first hand how selfish and weak Dusha was. She was wailing about her poor fate to the very man who saved her from destitution, to the very man whose family she destroyed, that she didn’t understand why no one wanted her to be happy.