“Ming Xi’s right. It is passing strange. Regardless who posted the mission, the day of the wedding will be eventful I’m sure. We should be on the lookout.” Tian Ya said.
In the end Ming Xi’s party had to forsake their plans to gain more experience in the realm battlegrounds and focus on the person trying to wreck their friends’ wedding. How could they justify abandoning their friends and walking away?
After the meal Feng Wu’s party went to find cheap lodgings. The got three rooms: one for the girls, one for Wind and Pei Qing, and a single for Jier. Like hell he was going to share a room with two stinky guys.
Well he was the captain so he could decide. Plus he was also footing the bill for the trio, so they had no right to complain. The more they spent, the less of the prize money they’d be able to keep. Jier would surely confiscate everything if they weren’t careful.
They rested for the night and the next morning gathered in Jier’s room to go over their plan.
Rain was the first to talk. “What should we do? Should we kidnap the bride or should we kidnap the groom on the wedding day?” Her speech was slow and lazy after sleeping so much.
“No. There’ll be guards that day. Plus I’m sure there’ll be other teams with the same plan. It’ll be difficult to kidnap the bride with so many strong parties in the picture.” Rain shook her head, vetoing her own plan.
“Stupid. Do you think I’d have us come here two months in advance just so we’d kidnap one of them on the wedding day?” Jier looked down on her for her low IQ. There was just no hope for some people.
“Captain, do you have an idea?” Pei Qing sidled over to Jier.
“Stop that. You’re making me sick.” Jier rudely swatted Pei Qing away.
Jier posited, “The mission was to sabotage the wedding. It didn’t say we had to kidnap anyone. Messing with the couple enough so the wedding has to be cancelled can also be considered a successful sabotage.”
“Mess with them? Wait, should we assassinate one of them then?” Wind offered a horrible idea.
“Stupid! You don’t have to kill anyone to force a wedding to be cancelled! You can just try to ruin their relationship. If they don’t like each other anymore, then they won’t go through with the wedding and it’ll be cancelled.” Pei Qing, this guy’s knowledge of harming people was more insidious than either of the twins.
“Oh, hey then what about using a honey trap?” Wind suggested as he eyed the two girls.
“That’s a great idea! Little Rain, you and Xiao Wu would work. One is adorable and cute; the other is pretty and vivacious! You’d definitely be able to attract Sir Germaine!” Pei Qing was keen on the idea.
There was a twinkle in Wind’s eyes as he thought about it.
Rain embraced Feng Wu. “What?! How heartless can you be to try to use two weak girls like us to lure Sir Germaine in. What if he’s a beast. What would we do?!”
Rain was opposed to the plan. (Use my body to entice some scumbag knight? I think not!)
Pei Qing, with eyes full of hope as though the two girls were his entire world, said “Rain, come on. Think about it. It’s two hundred thousand gold. Plus there’s the team debt we still owe. Xiao Wu please? Our happiness depends on you.”
“Shut up. Xiao Wu is out of the question. Rain can go.” Jier’s face was dark. The idea of using a pretty girl to entice Sir Germaine to bed was a good idea. All they’d have to do was catch him in the act.
Lady Minerva was a beauty with reputation, wealth , privilege, and pride. She would surely cancel the wedding and refuse to marry a man caught cheating on her before the wedding. Jier didn’t imagine these guys would offer up one of their own instead of just paying a lady at the bar. But then again Rain was pretty so maybe it would work?
“No! I don’t wanna! How can you even bear to have such a pretty, delicate girl like me walk into the tiger’s mouth like that?” Rain looked at the men in her group pitifully, hoping they’d have mercy on her.
“Why do we have to seduce Sir Germaine? Why can’t we seduce Lady Minerva?” Feng Wu was curious why they were focused on seducing the groom. Wasn’t it OK to seduce the bride as well?
“That’s right! That’s right! Xiao Wu I love you!” Rain pointed at the three guys in the room. “You three are also gorgeous. Your beauty meter, when you combine them, would be off the charts! This mission, it should be yours! If you act as the honey trap, it will definitely succeed!”
The more Rain talked the better she felt. In contrast, the more she talked the worse the boys felt! To think the day would come where they would have to rely on their attractiveness to complete a mission.
“You three look so good, Lady Minerva will definitely like you.” Feng Wu added completely without emotion. She had eyed them objectively and came to the same conclusion.
They didn’t want be liked by Lady Minerva, but they were no match for Feng Wu’s serious and simple eyes. Admitting defeat the plan was changed from a beauty trap for men to a honey trap for ladies.
“Well this ended well didn’t it?” Now that she was in the clear, Rain was relaxed and in the mood to joke around.
“How about the captain go? The captain is so beautiful, the ladies won’t be able to help but faint. The plan will be a total success!” Pei Qing looked at Jier with complete belief in the other’s abilities.
Bloody hell, Jier really wanted to beat the crap out of Pei Qing.
“I feel that Wind is better. I hear Lady Minerva is twenty; she’ll like them young. When she sees how tender and sweet looking Wind is, I’m sure she’ll just want to eat him right up.” Jier came up with this argument at the last minute. He didn’t mind losing face in this instance and letting Wind win.
“No that won’t do. That won’t do.” Wind shook his hands vigorously left and right. “If we’re talking about age, you guys are better suited. Lady Minerva is only twenty, she’s not that old. Wouldn’t Brother Pei Qing be a better match?”
The three tried foisting the task off on each other. They were all good and honest men in their teens. How could they let a lady they didn’t know defile their purity?
This went on into the night with no clear loser in sight.
The next day the five of them went around asking about Lady Minerva’s whereabouts. Fortunately she was the kind to keep a low profile. She rarely frequented expensive restaurants or went to exclusive clubs. Instead she tended to visit the library to read books.
The library wasn’t a place just anyone could go though. There was an entrance fee of two gold coins per hour. Other than the rich, who could afford such a leisure activity? Certainly not ordinary people.
“One hour for two gold. That’s too expensive. How much will it cost for all of us stay there all day? How about we just watch for her outside the library instead?” Wind thought about the debt they would accrue with their loan shark. It was best to limit it as much as possible.
“No, spending everyday outside the library would make us too conspicuous.” Jier vetoed the idea.
“I know the kind of person that can enter the library without paying.” Pei Qing said.
“Who?!” Everyone asked in unison.
“The disabled.” Pei said seriously.
“What?! Disabled? You’re disabled!” Wind yelled at Pei Qing.
Rain knocked her brother on the head for being so dense. “Ai-yo. Stupid! That’s not what Pei Qing meant. We just have to pretend to be disabled so we can get in.”
“What a good idea!” Everyone agreed.
Feng Wu tilted her head to the side and asked, “How do we pretend?”
Jier explained. “Xiao Wu, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. Just pretend to be dumb and mute.”
Feng Wu nodded.
After a few seconds Jier said, “As for the rest of you guys, maybe pretend to be lame. Like you’re paralyzed on one side.”
To complete their disguise and deceive the librarian they even acquired appropriate accessories. There were bandages, crutches, and even a wheelchair. They were very prepared.
They showed up at the library the next day, deaf, dumb and maimed. The library wasn’t busy so the librarian actually took quite a bit of notice of them.
It was true, laws did provide for the disabled to read for free at the library, but in reality it was only the rich who ever came to read. What kind of rich person would want to read with disabled people around?
The librarian was a middle-aged uncle who had worked at the library for a few months. In all the time he’d been there, he had never seen an actual disabled person visit the magnificent library. Jier’s group was the first encounter he had.
He got the impression the group weren’t there to learn and improve their self-knowledge. Regardless the rules were there and he was not going to kick them out just because they weren’t reading properly. He would just keep an eye on them in case they were up to no good.
Just because the librarian was OK with it didn’t mean some of the other young aristocrats were. They didn’t expect the uncle would take notice of the group but not do anything.
The group of gimps was polluting the air. It wasn’t right. These young aristocrats were unaware of the law that allowed disabled people to freely use the library. How could they respect a law they didn’t know? It was obvious to the young nobles the group were commoners. Why were they allowed to sit and breathe in the same air as nobility?
They went to the librarian and requested the group be kicked out. Of course the librarian wasn’t going to do that. He bluntly refused their request. What was to be done?
Well of course the young lords and ladies decided to take things into their own hands. The young ladies hatched a plan.
“Oh my goodness! Where is that stench coming from?! Those wretched beggars! Their stench is deathly. Quickly leave. You’re making the ambiance go down!” A gorgeously dressed noble youth walked over to Jier’s group.
Another dressed in school uniform piped up. “I know right? Tomorrow’s the college admissions test too. How are we supposed to study properly with such stench in the air?” said he as he walked over.
“We’re not leaving. We’re disabled. If you dare drive us out we’ll send a letter to the imperial palace about how you’re forcing disabled people out of the library so they can’t study. It’s a law that’s been in effect for generations. You dare question the wisdom of our ancestor rulers?” Pei Qing, on behalf of the group, severely rebuked the two youths who came over.
Good job Pei Qing! He had somehow managed to escalate the situation and shift the focus to something even more preposterous, suggesting the youths were questioning the wisdom of the kings and queens of bygone eras.
The two youths slunk away when they saw that the disabled group weren’t so easy to intimidate.
Upon seeing that the group was not easily bullied, the other young nobles gave up on the idea of harassing them.
Jier and Feng Wu found some books and brought them to a table to read.
The nobles all gave group a wide berth. None of them wanted to inadvertently catch anything contagious. Instead of reading in the library, they checked the books out, opting to read in the safety of their own homes.
Jier’s group spent the next ten days like that at the library: sleep then library, sleep then library.
They were bored stiff! If it weren’t for the two hundred thousand gold coins, they would not have been able to persevere.
Feng Wu was an exception; she looked like she was diligently studying every day. She read quietly, unlike the others in her group who either chatted or gossiped about Lady Minerva.
Wind and Rain reached their limits five days later. Any more and they would turn in actual bookworms!
“Xiao Wu, you read so seriously every day. Are you really into it?” Rain was feeling blue so she chatted with Feng Wu.
“Yes. I like it very much.”
“Wow. I really admire you. You can be interested in such boring books.”
“They’re not boring. They’re very good.” Feng Wu genuinely liked reading in the library. It reminded her of the old librarian’s library.
Very good? Really? Wind leaned in to get a better look at what Feng Wu was reading. The title was The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicine. This kind of book was “very good?”
Wind’s lip quirked a little. He and Feng Wu definitely did not live in the same world.
There were so many books. Wind and Rain felt like they were being buried alive. They got up and moved around.
Jier and Pei Qing were of the same mind. Reading occasionally was fine, but reading hour after endless hour… it was too much! They weren’t nerds. They couldn’t take this lifestyle!
They weren’t the only ones gloomy and depressed, the librarian was feeling it too. Since they showed up, foot traffic had dramatically decreased. The number of checkouts had also halved. He was quite eager for them to leave!
What was more, they were ruthless in their dedication in visiting every single day. But the thing of it was they weren’t even reading! It looked like they were just using the library as a hang out. They would sleep and chat, but rarely read. The only one who read was the cute one. She was genuinely diligent in her studies.
“Why don’t we use the time to discuss our plan. Which one of you will be seducing Lady Minerva?” Rain was bored to death; she needed some stimulation. She didn’t care that her topic made the boys glare at her.
Pei Qing had a romance novel in his hand when he heard the question. “Didn’t we decide on Wind?”
“What?! We never decided that! Stop talking rubbish! You’re the one obviously going!”
“Whatever! One of you needs to go because I’m not,” declared Jier.
“What - Why?!” The two turned to Jier, unwilling to be the sacrifice.
“Because I’m the captain.”
Such a good reason. They couldn’t argue.
Just then a commotion erupted at the entrance of the library and a beautifully dressed lady with four guards appeared.
“Motherfucker! Who is that?! Did he draw the wrong lot at birth?!” Wind cried out in alarm and fright as he pointed his bandaged finger at the figure by the entrance.
“I think that might be a man dressed as a… woman?” Jier guessed after examining the person some more.
Pei Qing propped his book in front of his face hiding his mouth. “No, can’t say for sure, but some girls just look like guys.”
Not far away were two other girls. They had also seen the new entrant and were pointing as well.
“It’s Lady Minerva. I heard she and Sir Germaine are getting married. I would have thought she’d be busy planning the wedding. How unexpected to see her here.”
“You forget what house she belongs to. Lady Minerva is the queen’s cousin. Stuff like planning the wedding, there are other people to do that. All she has to do is show up on the wedding day.”
The two girls were whispering softly to each other but Jier was a master, so of course he heard every word.
“No way! That’s not a man or a woman. It’s the famed beauty Lady Minerva?!” Rain was aghast. The other guys nearly peed in their pants; they were so shocked.
“No way! I don’t have the guts to seduce that!” Wind cried out, truly intimidated. He spread his arms out and grabbed the edge of the table, hugging his body tight to the top, unwilling to let go.
“Hey you scoundrels! You dare pretend to be disabled and read for free?! You must not want to live anymore! Come here so I can take care of you!”
“You big idiot! Your hand is supposed to be injured! How are you going to explain hugging the table like that?!” Rain grabbed a book and chucked it at Wind. The big book smacked into him like a brick.
Jier and Pei Qing were also angry; this fool just ruined their plan! Both of them threw a book at him.
While Wind was dodging the attacks, Jier grabbed Feng Wu and ran. Rain and Pei Qing were right behind them. Wind was a little slower.
Naturally the moment they made a move the guards gave chase.
“Hey! Stay still! Stop running!”
“You sons of a bitches! You think you can get away?!”
Even the librarian got in on the chase. He and the four imperial guards from Lady Minerva made a fierce team. They were catching up, getting closer and closer.
Jier and the guys weren’t stupid. After running around the library some, they made for the entrance. Who made a library with only one entrance?! Not even a single back door!
The only way out was the entrance, but Lady Minerva was blocking the door.
This wasn’t a problem for Jier. He unhesitatingly shoved her out of the way and ran straight through. Lady Minerva teetered left and right, clearly about to fall over. Pei Qing had no choice but to reach out and grab her so she wouldn’t fall.
“Be careful miss.” After uttering this sentence he immediately made to continue his escape. Unexpectedly, despite looking like she had no fighting abilities, she managed to grab Pei Qing’s hand and hold on to him.
“Hold on moment! Stay with this lady!” With a simple gaze, Lady Minerva directed a strong, powerfully built man to come forward.
He immediately stepped up and grabbed Pei Qing, who was now very frightened, and promptly tied him up. Any opening for escape vanished.
Jier and the others took advantage of Pei Qing’s sacrifice and escaped.
“Well that worked out. Lady Minerva saved us the trouble of deciding who’ll be the guy in the “male honey trap.” Wind spoke out from his hiding place behind the library doors. He patted his chest in relief. Lucky. Now his heart could relax.
“Pei Qing is truly amazing. Only just met and he managed to make her head over heels.” Jier phrased Pei Qing for his efficiency.
“We don’t have to save him?” Feng Wu had heard Pei Qing shout for help. She looked at everyone’s indifferent faces as she seriously pondered a rescue plan.
“There’s no need to save him. The mission still needs to be completed. He’ll understand. Let’s leave; we don’t want to interrupt their bonding.” The captain had made his decision.
Three days later a notice caught the attention of all the adventurers who were in Souya for the mission. It said Lady Minerva and Sir Germaine’s wedding was cancelled. She would be marrying Pei Qing.
The adventures who missed their chance complained to each other.
“Damn! Whoever they are, they’re badasses! We were all going to wait for the wedding day to kidnap the bride!”
“Right?! I was also going to make a scene at the wedding. I even brought my brothers. Can’t believe they cancelled it already! What do you think happened?”
Yifu had taken the notice and rushed to Zi Cheng’s room. “Xiao Cheng. Take a look. This is the task you refused. Look how fast it was completed.”
Zi Cheng and Yifu had of course seen the mission back at Zhongyang. But the premise made Zi Cheng uncomfortable so Yifu didn’t press her and they had left without registering for the mission.
“Someone completed it?” Zi Cheng stopped combing her hair and looked up at Yifu.
“So vicious! Destroying a relationship for money! What scoundrels!” Yifu had a low opinion of the adventurers who completed the mission.
“I heard Feng Wu took the mission. Do you suppose it was her?” Jasmine had entered the room while Yifu and Zi Cheng were talking.
Jasmine had nursed a deep grudge against Feng Wu ever since that day at the girls’ dorm. She hated Jier too, but he was too strong and out of her reach. When she snooped around she had discovered he was nobility from the kingdom of Yanai. As a result Jasmine had to shift all her hatred to Feng Wu. In her heart, Feng Wu was the culprit and the instigator of everything.
Yifu had been around Zi Cheng for so long she had picked up many of Zi Cheng’s personality traits. Yifu voiced her opinion. “No, does she really have the ability? I heard a lot of people took the mission. Those who accepted it really have no sense of decency or moral character.”
Jasmine sat down and sneered. “Feng Wu picked up the mission. Her and anyone else who picked it up are all absolute scum.”
“Let’s not talk about that anymore. We should go see Sir Germaine. He must be so broken-hearted right now. We are comrades who’ve shared fate.”
Zi Cheng had been on the road to Souya when a young master decided it would be a good idea to harass her. Sir Germaine happened to pass by and helped her. Although they were unlikely to cross paths again, they had forged a bond and parted as friends, in the short time.
Feng Wu had no idea Jasmine was in Souya. Her team rushed to the branch guild as soon as they saw the notice. While their registration was at the main branch in Zhongyang, they could check in at any branch location.
The clerk handed them the two hundred thousand reward once he verified their team was the one that completed the mission. The four people were very happy. They divided the gold amongst themselves. As for Pei Qing, well he was with Lady Minerva. He had to be very well loved and coddled by her. With that kind of wealth and attention, how could he begrudge them the measly ten thousand that was formerly his share?
An unexpected visitor arrived just as they were about to make their way back to Zhongyang.
“Were you guys going to leave your companion behind?” The voice was cold and bitter.
“No, no. We were going to go back and wait for you at Zhongyang. Rest assured we have your share right here.” Wind was quietly crying in his heart. Goodbye extra ten thousand. Seriously Pei Qing, why did you have to come back now? This Lady Minerva. How could she not have the ability to hang onto you properly?!
“Yeah we have it right here!”
“Yeah welcome back.”
Rain and Jier also welcomed him back without missing a beat. Their sadness at the lost ten thousand gold coins completely hidden.
Pei Qing knew them too well to be deceived though.
“Pei Qing, you’re back.” Feng Wu said with a faint smile on her face, genuinely welcoming him back. She hadn’t seen him in a few days.
“You lot, the only one happy to see me back is Xiao Wu.” It was clear from his face he wasn’t fooled for a minute.
Rain suddenly came up with a clever plan. “Brother Qing, sit down. You’re probably tired and hungry. Escaping must have been hard. I’ll go right now and have the kitchen whip up a few dishes for you.” She would use the excuse of getting food to go out and bring Lady Minerva. Pei Qing would surely be taken away and the ten thousand would be theirs again.
“If you dare rat me out to anyone, I will break your legs. So I’d recommend you sit down.” Pei Qing said with a completely straight face.
Motherfucker! This guy!
“Lady Minerva will be looking for me so we need to get out of here fast.” Pei Qing tapped his finger on the table trying to think.
“Alright. Let’s pack up and leave immediately.” Jier had a no-nonsense approach. No use in crying over lost money.
Pei Qing put on a disguise as everyone packed up. Shortly afterwards they left for the transportation array.
Unfortunately the array was heavily guarded. Everyone who tried to get in were closely examined before they were allowed to enter.
Wind stopped a random passerby and asked. “Big brother, how come there are so many guards for the array? Did something happen?”
“Oh you didn’t hear. Lady Minerva’s lover ran away. Don’t know what that guy is thinking. The beautiful Lady Minerva takes a liking to him and instead of rejoicing, he runs away. How can he even call himself a man? Running away, now that’s the kind of move a silly girl would pull. My wife does that once every year. To reject such a good marriage, what’s wrong with him? He even made Lady Minerva angry.
So they’re here to catch him. Lady Minerva will overlook the matter of him running away if he returns home. She is such a good woman! That abominable lover of hers, how dare he not properly treasure her!” said the man with obvious scorn towards Pei Qing.
“Right! I almost forgot. There’s a three hundred thousand gold reward for anyone who returns him. But he must not be harmed in anyway. I really want to catch that guy. I can make three hundred thousand gold!”
Little did he know; Pei Qing was standing right in front of him.
“Do you know what he looks like?” Wind asked.
“Who doesn’t?! There are posters of him all over town!”
The stranger resumed walking around after their chat. He, like everyone else, was intent on catching Pei Qing!
Pei Qing silently thanked his lucky stars that he put on a disguise before leaving the hotel. He even dyed his hair black like Feng Wu. With his already dark eyes and eastern dress it made him look like someone from the ancient eastern countries.
Unless Lady Minerva came in person, no one was likely to recognize him, at least not based on the posters.
They decided to go to a restaurant and regroup after this new information. The waiter left them alone in their private room after taking their orders.
Feng Wu looked around the restaurant while the other three, Wind, Rain and Jier, looked incredibly pleased with themselves.
“You want to turn me in for the reward huh?” Pei Qing didn’t beat around the bush. He hadn’t moved since they sat down and was unexpectedly calm about the whole affair.
“You know it. But don’t feel like we’re wronging you; it’s for the good of the team.” The gauntlet was thrown.
“That’s the thing though, I do feel wronged. You guys intend to turn me in for the reward. But you’re forgetting something. Lady Minerva likes me a great deal. What if I say something to her? You guys could easily become other people’s prey.” Pei Qing was a strategist and he knew what made his companions tick.
“You’re ruthless.” Jier and the others let the matter drop. There was no way they would convince Pei Qing to voluntarily turn himself in.
Though the atmosphere wasn’t good, the meal was delicious. They didn’t dare try the transportation array again because of all the guards there.
After talking it over, everyone agreed to go to the realm battlegrounds until things calmed down.
The realm battlegrounds, where ancient conflicts between gods and demons were waged, were formally known as Demonic Battlegrounds. There were many such battlegrounds throughout the world.
Back then the two races often warred with each other and used the human world as a stage for their battles. The human world would be thrown into chaos every time they fought.
Remnants of their battles remained even to this day. There were artifacts, beast eggs, and other mysterious items. It wasn’t just easy treasure however. There were also corpses of the fallen and the grievances they left behind. Though time dissipated their intensity, they still lingered enough to harm those who entered. In fact countless masters lost their lives in the realm battlegrounds every year.
This unique place full of opportunity and danger was perfect for building experience.
With her current strength, Feng Wu would only be able to move around the periphery.
“It’s been so many days already. How much farther is it?” Rain complained as she sat on a rock.
They had been travelling for the past week since they left the restaurant. The realm battlegrounds weren’t too far from the Souya Kingdom, so despite the danger many royals went there to find treasures and to gain experience.
Wind also complained. “How can people say this is nearby?!”
Pei Qing pulled out the map. “Let’s check where we are on the map.” After checking their location he said, “It looks like we’re still two days away. But there is a town up ahead. We can stop there and rest.”
“Alright. We’ll keep going. We’ll eat something good once we reach the town.” Jier took Feng Wu’s hand and gave everyone a meaningful glance that said: You guys better keep up.
Three hours later…
They still hadn’t reached the town but they did reach a hotel.
“Thank goodness! Captain, can we stop here?”
The trio looked to Jier with hope in their eyes. The hotel was a godsend.
“Dear customers, are you here to rest or have a meal?” A waiter greeted them the moment they stepped inside.
Those who stopped at the inn were either going to or returning from the realm battlegrounds, not the kind of people to be trifled with. They put the waiter on edge and he was always careful when serving them.
“Meals and lodgings. Two double rooms, one single room. For food, whatever your house specialties are. And make it fast; we’re starving.” Wind rubbed his belly as he considered what to order.
All they had had on the journey were steamed buns, steamed buns, and more steamed buns. He was sick and tired of them! He didn’t understand how Xiao Wu could eat them with such a happy expression on her face.
The waiter said, “I will prepare them right away,” as he brought them over to a table.
“I can finally eat a decent meal!” Rain said as she slumped into her seat weakly.
“Aren’t these our junior classmates? Didn’t expect to see you all here.”
Feng Wu’s team turned at the voice.
It was Ming Xi and his team! There were some new additions though. Sitting with them were Zi Cheng, Jasmine, and Yifu.
Zi Cheng and Ming Xi’s team were together because they had run into each other while visiting Sir Germaine. The two groups quickly realized everyone was a student at Xingguang Holy Academy. Somehow the conversation turned to the realm battlegrounds; Ming Xi explained they were heading there to gain experience. This interested Zi Cheng and she asked if they minded travelling together for a bit. Zi Cheng was charming and easily gave a good first impression, so of course Ming Xi and his group were fine with it. If she was coming along, so too would her group, thus the present situation.
It was an unhappy coincidence for both Ming Xi and Jier. Who would have guessed they would run into each other so soon after just parting at the restaurant?
On the other hand Feng Wu was quite happy, as evinced by the glow of happiness shining like sparkles from her eyes.
Ming Xi coughed awkwardly as he turned his head away. Although he experienced her gazes before, he was still uncomfortable. The pressure was too intense.
“Hey! What a surprise. It’s the seniors from captain and Xiao Wu’s school. Are you all going to the realm battlegrounds too?” Pei Qing exclaimed.
“Yeah we are. What a coincidence,” replied Luis.
“Come, come. Let’s put the two tables together.” Elena walked over to Feng Wu and enthusiastically pulled her along.
Wind and Pei Qing moved to obey and shifted the tables together.
Once everything was settled everyone sat down. Elena sat next to Feng Wu. She was like a molester, rubbing Feng Wu’s hair and pinching her cheeks.
“Sister Elena you’re being unsightly! Please stop bullying Xiao Wu!” Jier had to say something; he couldn’t take it anymore. She was clingy like this too when they first met. (Isn’t she supposed to be a vixen? Wait hold on… she’s never actually been linked to a guy romantically. Don’t tell me it’s all a lie and she’s actually into girls?!) Jier began to seriously wonder if perhaps Elena preferred girls.
The more he thought about it, the darker his face became.
“I say, for first-years you guys have a lot of guts going to the realm battlegrounds on your own.” Gerasi gulped down a large mouthful of drink. He sounded disapproving.
“No worries. We don’t intend to actually go inside. We’re going to just walk around the perimeter and pick up the things we find there.” Rain said as she laughed cutely while staring starstruck at them. (Wow. Every one of them is looks so amazing. Really worthy of being students at Xingguang Holy Academy.)
Gerasi was not soothed by Rain’s reply. “I don’t think you guys understand. Even if you are just walking the perimeter, it’s still very dangerous. You can lose your life there.” He thought the freshmen this year were too crazy and audacious. They clearly didn’t understand how dangerous the area was. Only first-years and they wanted to waltz around the realm battlegrounds.
Even Zi Cheng and her friends, his group had only allowed them to tag along because they were afraid for the girls’ safety. Otherwise they would never have willingly carried such a burden.
They had a gross overestimation of their own abilities. Gerasi deeply resented them, but at the same time he couldn’t abandon them and let them endanger themselves.
“Ah forget it. You guys are just like Zi Cheng. You can come with us but you have to follow our orders. OK?” Elena fiercely smushed Feng Wu’s cheeks with her palms, moving her head left and right, making Feng Wu’s lips purse like a fish. Her own plump melons jiggled back and forth with the effort. However it was wasted eye candy as present company didn’t know how to appreciate the view.
“We can really tag along with you guys?” Rain was excited. She turned to Feng Wu and Elena and enthusiastically commented. “This’ll be so great! Xiao Wu, now you and Senior Ming Xi can practice and gain experience together!”
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded happily. There was the faint thread of a smile on her usually expressionless face.
Yifu thought Feng Wu was a pretender who liked to act innocent and naïve. Her dislike for Feng Wu hadn’t changed since the school assessment weeks ago. If anything, Feng Wu had only risen to become her arch nemesis, so of course she immediately spoke out against the idea. “Senior Sister Elena, do you really want them to come with us? We don’t know how strong they are. What if they hold us back?”
Tian Yu, who had been silent the entire time, opened his mouth to cut Yifu’s argument down. “And you think you’re qualified?”
“Pfft!” Gerasi and Luis had to try really hard not to laugh out loud.
Zi Cheng was such a beautiful and charming, graceful junior who didn’t hesitate to help the poor people they bumped into along the way. Her two companions on the other hand…
Yifu always had something critical to say; she had no charm whatsoever. The other one, Jasmine, liked to act aloof and snooty. Even when she was helping Zi Cheng with the people they met, she managed to do so in a condescending way.
Gerasi and Luis couldn’t understand how Zi Cheng could be friends with Yifu and Jasmine. They could only admire her mental fortitude in being able to put up with the two girls.
“Please forgive Yifu, Senior Tian Ya. She didn’t mean any harm by it.” Zi Cheng pulled Yifu’s hand to stop her from saying any more.
Zi Cheng easily read the atmosphere and apologized on Yifu’s behalf. She had lived a lifetime and was skilled at reading people’s expressions. Things would turn sour if Yifu kept talking.
The seniors were kind enough to travel on the journey thus far with them. Zi Cheng had said at the start her group would part ways with them once they reached the realm battlegrounds, but secretly she knew it wouldn’t happen.
She was banking on the seniors’ kindness to not abandon them to roam on their own, and therefore bring them into the deeper parts of the realm battlegrounds. This was important. She needed to go deep into the realm battlegrounds.
A month ago she had found a strange metal sheet on the streets. She decided to investigate by dripping a drop of her blood on it. A map of the realm battlegrounds appeared when she did so. It marked the tomb of a fallen god from ancient times.
Originally Zi Cheng hadn’t intended to pursue it, but then she bumped into the seniors. If she could accompany them, then finding the treasure became possible. She kept the existence of the map and treasure a secret.
“Whether she meant harm or not doesn’t matter to me. I only wish she’d conduct herself with more awareness of her own abilities.”
Ming Xi always tried to be caring and gentle with girls. While Luis and Gerasi didn’t go out of their way to be as considerate as Ming Xi, they did try to always be patient. Tian Ya, on the other hand, had no such considerations. He spoke his mind, often cuttingly, to whomever regardless of gender.
Just then the server came with their order.
“Well food’s on the table. Everyone quickly eat before it gets cold!” Luis urged. Though he didn’t like Yifu she was still a young miss from a house somewhere. They needed to leave her some pride.
Everyone picked up their cutlery to eat but the mood had soured.
Luis couldn’t stand the silence and was thinking of saying something to break the mood when thunder rumbled in the sky. The hard pitter patter of rain hitting the roof quickly followed. The sky that was bright and sunny just a few seconds ago turned completely dark. It felt like night despite being three in the afternoon.
“How’d it turn to rain so fast? This can’t be good.” The sudden change made Elena edgy. Masters like her didn’t have sudden mood changes. Sudden mood changes usually signified that something was about to happen and whatever it was, would be related to them.
Ming Xi furrowed his brow. He suddenly felt stuffy and oppressed. It wasn’t a good omen.
Elena and Ming Xi weren’t the only ones who felt their mood suddenly shift. The others felt it as well. They had studied at Xingguang Holy Academy for years so their strength was naturally much higher than the freshmen they were with.
“Boss do you have a room?! I’d like to book one please.” A girl dressed in blue and carrying an enormous umbrella spoke out from the doorway. She was bedraggled, but her clothes were dry.
Ai Lin knew Zi Cheng would encounter something that would cement a part of her destiny at the realm battlegrounds. Ai Lin planned on stealing whatever it was, so she had travelled to the realm battlegrounds in order to lie in wait for Zi Cheng. She planned to infiltrate Zi Cheng’s team and have Zi Cheng lead her to the treasure.
Things didn’t go as planned though. She’d only been on the road for a bit when it started pouring. Fortunately she had an umbrella in her dimensional bag. She pulled it out just in time and managed to stay dry. Otherwise she would have been soaked to the bone.
“Yes, yes of course. I’ll book a room for you right now.” The clerk immediately booked Ai Lin a room and got the keys for her.
“Huh? Zi Cheng? Feng Wu? Why are you guys here?” Ai Lin walked over to them, looking surprised. No one would have suspected she knew Zi Cheng would be there, that she had in fact run over to the inn to lie in wait.
Her surprise wasn’t completely fake. Ai Lin knew the general time Zi Cheng would get to the inn based on her memory of the story, but she didn’t know the exact time. Because of this she planned on getting to the inn a few days ahead and wait for Zi Cheng to appear.
Zi Cheng should have still been in Souya for Sir Germaine’s wedding. Why was she here so many days earlier than expected? What happened?
In the novel, Sir Germaine was kidnapped before the wedding. Lady Minerva felt it was unmanly of him to be kidnapped so easily, and because of that had cancelled the wedding.
It all went according to Sir Germaine’s plan to avoid the marriage. He was, in fact, the anonymous person who sent the mission to the Adventurers’ Guild!
Originally Sir Germaine would have been kidnapped and it would have taken Ming Xi and his party two days to find and free him. Zi Cheng would choose to stay and help in the search. Afterwards the wedding would be cancelled and Zi Cheng would follow Ming Xi and his party to the realm battlegrounds.
But things unfolded differently. The wedding wasn't cancelled because of a kidnapping, it was cancelled because of the appearance of a pretty face seducing Lady Minerva.
Was it the butterfly effect? One change and everything else changed too? But even if it was, these changes were too drastic!
Details of the wedding cancellation and the people involved all changed. People that weren’t in the story were now in the story! Why were Feng Wu and her group in Souya? They were never mentioned in this segment of the story.
Ai Lin felt like her world was tilting but she didn’t let it show. Her smile was unshakeable.
“Ai Lin? What a surprise. What brings you here?” Zi Cheng saw that Ai Lin had a bit of a mishap outside.
“I came for a mission. It was supposed to be to sabotage a wedding, but by the time my team got here, the deed was already done! I was going to return to school, but then I thought since I was already here, I might as well visit the crystal veins and see if I could mine some magic ores.”
The Souya royal family owned a large magic crystal vein. It was a famous vein that attracted people from all over the world. The vein opened to the public after most of the precious ores had been mined. For an entrance fee of ten gold, anyone could dig and keep whatever ores they found. It was unlikely anyone would find a precious ore, most of what remained were just ordinary ones. Nevertheless it still attracted a great number of tourists.
As a freshman, it would have looked strange if Ai Lin said she was going to the realm battlegrounds, so she used the nearby vein as an excuse for being in the area.
Zi Cheng replied with, “Oh, so that’s why you’re here. Are your teammates also coming later?” She had noticed there was something odd about Ai Lin’s attitude towards her ever since they met in the virtual world. That, combined with her inability to raise Ai Lin's favorability rating no matter what she did, made her cautious. There had to be something strange about Ai Lin if she couldn't be influenced by the system.
Zi Cheng wanted to avoid Ai Lin if possible. At the same time she didn’t want to offend her either. Therefore she opted for a neutral approach: polite but reserved. As long as Ai Lin didn’t antagonize her, she didn’t mind maintaining a façade of cordiality.
“They were antsy to return to Zhongyang so they’re already gone. We only teamed up to do the mission so it wasn’t like I could make them come to the vein with me,” was Ai Lin’s near instant reply.
Speaking of the mission made Jier and his team feel guilty. Not only had they completed it in record time, there was also a huge prize for the capture of one of their members. Who knew what would happen if anyone found out.
Thankfully Ai Lin changed the topic.
“Are you seniors from school?” Although Ai Lin already knew who they were, she pretended not to know. This was technically their first meeting.
“Oh? Do you know us?” Luis raised his hand to his chin in thought. (Interesting, just met Juniors Jier and Feng Wu, now this new arrival is also a junior.)
“Oh you seniors are very popular. Many of the freshmen girls are secretly in love with you.” Ai Lin responded playfully.
“Are we really that popular?” Luis excitedly sat up, even going so far as to pat his hair down to fix it.
“I can believe those girls having a secret crush on Ming Xi, but you guys…?” Elena bluntly broke in.
“Hey! Ming Xi isn’t the only male in the group that’s hot. I’m sure there are girls who like the rest of us!” Luis didn’t think it was only Ming Xi...
Ai Lin was cheerful and easy to get along with so she befriended the seniors in no time at all.
The trio didn’t just idly sit and listen to Ai Lin chatting with Ming Xi and his group. They took the opportunity to eat everything they could on the table, stuffing their mouths and swallowing as fast as they were able.
Feng Wu was behaving strangely. Jier watched on and off. Instead of stuffing herself silly like she always did, she kept glancing at the door and the window. Ming Xi also noticed. She wasn’t staring at him as intently as normal.
“Xiao Wu, what are you looking at? Is there something at the door?” Elena was sitting next to her, and she too noticed how Feng Wu kept glancing at the door.
Feng Wu bit her lip and spoke. “It’s so red outside.” She frowned.
“Red?” Pei Qing repeated.
“Xiao Wu, you mean to say it’s dark outside right?” Rain thought Feng Wu had misspoken.
“It’s not black, it’s definitely red." Of this, Feng Wu was positive.
The world Feng Wu saw had changed. The rain became blood and the sky turned red.
“Red?” Everyone repeated in confusion. They swiveled their heads to the door, then the window. It was pitch black. What red? Was there something wrong with Feng Wu’s eyes?
Suddenly an entourage of bodyguards entered. They accompanied a princess and several maids. One maid carried an umbrella shielding the princess from the rain. She herself was soaked, but the princess remained dry.
Though the princess was dry, the hem of her dress was filthy with mud and rain. She had a netted hat covering her face, so they couldn’t clearly see what she looked like.
The sudden arrival of the large group filled the inn to capacity.
“Princess Nai Nai has arrived. Those not working for the inn should leave immediately.” The maid dressed in red was soaked and sorry looking but she spoke snobbishly to Feng Wu and the group.
“Leave? Leave and go where? Do you see the rain outside?” Luis smirked at the maid trying to intimidate them just because of her connection to the princess.
“How audacious! The princess must shelter here temporarily because of the rain. She can’t share the space with unknown commoners, so you need to leave. The guards will escort you out if you won’t leave on your own.”
“First come, first serve. We were here first. Why should we leave?” What a bullshit princess, Gerasi thought.
“You -!” The maid wanted to say more but she was interrupted by a large man in armor.
“Enough! It’s storming so much outside and you want to drive these people out? The rulers of the country wouldn’t treat the common people so callously.” The commander reprimanded the maid.
“Stop arguing. This princess is exhausted. Prepare a room immediately.” Princess Nai Nai impatiently spoke from behind her hat.
The commander immediately obeyed and asked the clerk to get things ready.
The owner of the inn didn’t dare be slow. He immediately led the princess and her maid to the best room in the inn.
“That commander is a good man.”
“Yes.” Jasmine agreed with Rain. “But that princess is not so good.”
Jasmine was incredibly arrogant. She only liked those of the same social rank as her. She disdained any below and hated those above.
Ming Xi called a waiter over and in a low voice requested food, drinks and dry towels for the men that just came in.
The commander didn’t look their way again after nodding to Ming Xi. He sat down and commenced eating at his own table a distance away from them.
As for the princess, how could she dine with so many men. Her meal was brought and served to her in her room.
“Jier, there’s a problem with the princess.” Feng Wu abruptly spoke out.
“A problem with the princess? Do you mean to say she’s a fake?” Elena asked.
“She’s surrounded by female blood and spirits. All of them bear such powerful grudges against her. People will die.” Feng Wu said this more to herself than as an answer to Elena’s question.
Feng Wu could see things other people couldn’t. As soon as the princess came in, she had noticed the strange aura around the princess.
There were so many grudges around her. Every single one of them wanted her dead. They wailed incessantly and flew at her, trying to attack her. Their attacks were deflected, and in some cases the grudges themselves were even shattered and destroyed. There was something on the princess’s body protecting her.
No matter how vivid the images were, none of them could see what Feng Wu saw since they were not necromancers.
“Yeah we don’t see anything. Honestly, you think you’re a necromancer or something?” Jasmine and Yifu were quick to criticize Feng Wu.
Ming Xi and the others didn’t doubt their existence. No one in Ming Xi’s squad were ordinary. They knew better then to deny the existence of something just because they themselves couldn’t see it.
What Feng Wu said was really hard to believe though. The girls were right; she wasn’t a necromancer. Heck never mind being a necromancer, Feng Wu wasn’t even a magician. There wasn’t an ounce of magical talent in her body. If she had any she would have gone into the Magic Division, not the Sword Division.
A person with no magical talent was telling them she could see the dead. Ming Xi and his group didn’t think Feng Wu would lie, but they couldn’t help but be suspicious.
It was really hard to believe.
“You better listen to Feng Wu. Her sight is different from yours. She can see things ordinary people can’t see. If you don’t believe her, I have something here that you can use.” From his space ring, Jier took out a clear transparent bottle the old necromancer had given him.
It was a potion that allowed people to see the dead; junior necromancer apprentices often used it as a part of their education. It was a system the necromancers had set up as a teaching device. It was rarely sold. Sometimes a necromancer would gift a small amount to those they were on good term with.
“What?! A sensing potion. You actually carry this kind of stuff with you?” Elena was really surprised.
You could see the spirits of the dead if you sprayed yourself with it. Legend had it that the world’s first necromancer, a god-level necromancer, came up with the formula for it. He created it so that knowledge of necromancy would not fade away once he ascended. The potion helped apprentices become accustomed to interacting with the dead more quickly.
The formula was only ever passed on from one necromancer to another. Even though the relationship between necromancers, the dark and light, wasn’t always good, one thing they all adhered to was maintenance of the formula’s secrecy. They wouldn’t reveal it to outsiders.
In the end even if the formula was secret, the potion itself could still be found and purchased, however the price was high and not many people wanted to. Afterall, who would voluntarily want to afflict themselves with the sight of the dead? So ultimately even though the potion rarely showed up at auction houses, it was not that hard to get.
So though the sight of Jier having a potion surprised Elena, it didn’t shock the others as much.
“So? You dare use it?” Jier shook the bottle at them, a goading expression on his face.
“Like I’d be afraid!” Luis reached over and grabbed the bottle and promptly sprayed his eyes with it. He blinked several times trying to get used to having something in his eyes.
He was the center of attention.
“So? What do you see?” Ai Lin asked with anticipation.
Yifu and Jasmine had expressions of disbelief on their faces. Necromancy was the most noble and lucrative vocation of all the fields. If Feng Wu could see the dead, then didn’t mean she had the potential to be a necromancer? Strong and long-lived, it was rumored necromancers had ways to extend their lifespan.
Even if they were beaten to death, they would never believe it.
“So?” demanded both Elena and Gerasi.
Luis blinked several times. The world he saw and felt had changed dramatically when he was able to focus his eyes again. The originally dark night was dyed bloody red. The inside of the inn was filled with bloody mist. He heard the sounds of yelling and screaming from the second floor.
It was shocking that so many people were obliviously eating and drinking in such an atmosphere. Why weren’t they all trembling?!
The most outrageous thing was the rain. It was no longer water, but drops of blood. The metallic smell was so overpowering it made him want to vomit.
In those few seconds, the people around the table watched as the color drained from Luis’s face. What could he be seeing?
Gerasi called out to Luis a few times but got no reply. He grabbed the bottle and spritzed his own eyes to see what Luis was seeing.
Ming Xi and Tian Ya looked at each other. Even fools could tell there was something going on. They took turns spraying their eyes.
Their originally calm faces stiffened. Ming Xi retained his dignified expression, but it was obvious he was also affected.
“What? Is there something there? I don’t believe it. Here let me try.” Yifu had been waiting for a good show, for Feng Wu to be revealed as a big fat liar. Instead it looked like she was the one to get slapped in the face. She wasn’t going to believe it until she saw it herself.
She got up and walked over to Tian Ya as she spoke. She wanted to try the sensing potion. She didn’t expect Tian Ya to pull the bottle out of her reach.
“Senior Tian Ya!” Yifu was not convinced. She even began to believe the seniors were pretending to be scared so Feng Wu wouldn’t be humiliated and her lies exposed. Thinking this left her even more dissatisfied.
Why? Why did everyone take Feng Wu’s side? That time she got kicked out of the team during the virtual world assessment was also because of Feng Wu.
“Girls shouldn’t see this. I don’t want to hear your screams.” Tian Ya gave Yifu a cold look. He didn’t prevent her from spraying her eyes out of pity or consideration, he just didn’t want to deal the nuisance of the shrill screams of a hysterical girl.
Luis and Gerasi understood. They were both brave men, but even their hearts quaked. These young misses would surely lose their minds. They were just freshmen who hadn’t seen any horrors yet. Odds were their tolerance level would be low.
“Is it so terrible? Wind, you try it and tell me what you see.” Pei Qing had planned to try it himself, but reconsidered after seeing the expressions on their faces. He wasn’t sure he wanted to see anything so horrible.
“Why should I look?! Why don’t you look!” Wind had no interest in it.
“Captain, do you want to see…?” Rain cautiously probed her captain.
Jier glanced at the trio. He reached out to Tian Ya for the bottle and gave it two quick spritzes.
“So? What do you see?” The trio asked hurriedly.
“Red. Lots of red,” was Jier’s odd reply. He was shocked despite being prepared for it. It was just as Feng Wu said, not that he ever doubted her.
Luis looked at Feng Wu with admiration. “Junior Feng Wu, this senior really admires you. You can eat so calmly without vomiting; your ability is really strong!”
Gerasi fiercely nodded his head. Both Ming Xi and Tian Ya also had looks of agreement in their eyes.
“Why wouldn’t I be able to eat?” Feng Wu thought all the food was very tasty, especially the barbeque.
Gerasi moved closer to her. “Don’t you feel nauseous? Doesn’t it make you want to vomit?”
“I don’t think so.” Feng Wu shook her head. The environment had no effect on her.
“How can you not?! It’s so…” Luis regretted speaking so quickly before and being the first to try. He wished he could unsee it.
Feng Wu seriously considered it for a moment, wrinkling her delicate brows in thought before speaking, “If you eat with earnest you won’t feel anything else.”
(If you eat with earnest you won’t feel anything else.) Everyone repeated the line to themselves. (What is that?) Everyone was silent while they digested this statement. Why did it feel like it was too deep for them?
“Is it really so horrifying? Here, let me try.” Elena reached over for the bottle. Her curiosity and competitive spirit had been aroused. She’d always been one to challenge those things her male counterparts found difficult or were afraid of.
“Here! Take it.” Jier was more than happy to hand the bottle over to her.
Elena squirted it in her eyes. After blinking a few times to adjust, she eagerly looked around. The inn was red! The intense coppery smell of blood was enough to make her want to vomit everything she ate in the last two days.
“I see what you all mean.” She said slowly. She frowned before returning to her normal expression.
“Senior Sister Elena, did you see it too?” Yifu still didn’t believe it. She didn’t dare tangle with Tian Ya after his rejection, but junior loving Elena was different.
Elena was like a tomboy to the junior boys, but to the junior girls she was a wonderful older sister. If trouble weighed on their minds, they could always go to Elena and she would work with them to resolve it. She was never stingy with her time. As a result, she was super popular with the girls.
“Yes. I’d advise you junior sisters listen to Tian Ya. If you see what’s around you right now, you will surely scream, probably even faint. I doubt you’ll be able to eat for days.”
Although Elena didn’t have a good impression of Yifu, Yifu was still her junior, so she wanted give her some face.
“Yifu, let’s listen to the words of our seniors. Come, sit down and eat.” Zi Cheng tried to softly comfort Yifu. She didn’t want Yifu to do it. It wasn’t like it was part of a mission, so there was no benefit to it.
What she wanted to do was enter the tomb of the gods. For that she needed the support of the seniors. She couldn’t risk alienating them.
Ai Lin sat down and smiled as she looked at Zi Cheng trying to comfort Yifu. (You want to use the seniors to open the way for you so you can get the treasure from the tomb of the gods? They’re powerful masters so they can do it too. But I’m definitely not letting you get the treasure.)
Princess Nai Nai’s people were unaware of the changes in the inn. The commander positioned guards around the inn to protect the princess and secure the perimeter.
Upstairs the princess had changed into a light green striped skirt and swapped the netted hat for a crown. In the mirror was a beauty. She had limpid eyes framed by sharp eyebrows paired with the perfect set of pouty red lips. Her skin was smooth and unblemished. Her legs were long, her hips curvy, and her bottom perky. She had gorgeous shiny hair that belonged in an Herbal Essence commercial. It was easy to see why she was known as the beauty of Souya.
“Princess, do you want to eat anything?” The maid in red carried a tray of food prepared by the boss of the inn. He had used the ingredients her people brought because the princess couldn’t be expected to eat common ingredients.
“Leave it there. You and Meiren can go change.” Princess Nai Nai sat down and smoothed an errant strand of hair.
The maid in red, Xiao Na, and the other maid, Meiren, looked at the princess with gratitude. They thanked the princess and curtsied before leaving. They went next door and changed as quickly as they could.
It was summer and it was hot. Their clothes were sticky and clung to their bodies. It was an uncomfortable feeling, however without the princess’s permission they couldn’t leave her side to change. Luckily the princess was considerate.
They were maids to the princess so their status was higher than ordinary maids in the palace. Two other maids had already brought a change of clothes for them by the time they entered the room.
They changed out of their wet clothes and into clean, dry ones.
Meiren considered her question before taking a breath and asking. “Xiao Na, do you think the princess is wrong?”
Xiao Na stopped; her hands paused just above the clothes she was sorting. “The princess is the princess. We are her maids. Our priority is to take care of her. Do not worry about anything else.”
“But what if…” Meiren bit her lip still uncertain whether she should give voice to her thoughts or not.
“We’ve followed the princess this far. There’s no turning back. Don’t think too much about it. Just do your job.” Xiao Na fixed her skirt and walked out of the room.
All the words and worry in Meiren’s heart turned into a sigh. She followed Xiao Na out of the room.
Xiao Na was right. What use was there to worry now? They had reached a point of no return. They would surely be put to death if they tried to turn back now.
Downstairs Feng Wu was the only one with the mental fortitude to eat and drink her fill. Everyone else had long lost their appetites.
Those that saw the dead couldn’t bear to eat. They declared they would surely vomit, therefore it was better not to try.
“Xiao Wu, what should we do?” Rain’s heart had been beating irregularly ever since they discovered the inn was soaked in blood and that the air was dense with grudges.
“We need a necromancer for the situation. But we don’t have one.” Luis’s face looked bad. It was clear he was feeling depressed.
Ming Xi calmly agreed. “It’s too late anyway. There aren’t many necromancers around. The one situated in Souya would take days to get here.” He was able to keep his expression neutral but his eyes gave him away.
Ming Xi was an extraordinarily beautiful man, and right now his eyes were filled with worry. The sight made a heart ache. It made a person want to give him the world to ease the worry away.
“Xiao Wu, why don’t you call Lydia over? I remember before we left, the necromancer taught her some techniques. Maybe she can help with the matter.” Jier suddenly remembered the little spirit Feng Wu had contracted with. She had disappeared since they left Rime-Frost.
“OK, I’ll try.” Feng Wu nodded and tried to contact Lydia. Because they were contracted to each other, it didn’t matter where the two were, they could always communicate. However unlike a master/servant contract where the master could forcefully summon a spirit at will, the contract between Feng Wu and Lydia was an equal one, so Lydia didn’t have to appear unless she wanted to.
“Who is Lydia?” Elena asked the question on everyone’s mind.
“She’s Feng Wu’s contracted spirit. Even if she can’t help us, she should be able to explain what’s going on to us.” Jier answered.
She had a contracted spirit? Weren’t necromancers the only ones who could subjugate a spirit and contract with one? Everyone sighed. Really too unbelievable.
Those who sprayed their eyes with the potion saw white smoke coalesce behind Feng Wu. Gradually the shape of a cute girl in a white dress appeared. She was about eleven.
The girl looked curiously around. Ew. The mist of red blood gave her the creeps.
Complaints immediately came rolling off her tongue. “Yuck! Feng Wu, why would you summon me to such a place? It’s filthy with blood and grudges!”
“Whoa. So pretty. I thought all spirits were green with fangs and blood coming out of their orifices. Didn’t expect a spirit to be so cute and adorable!” Gerasi propped his chin on both his hands as he intently stared at her.
“Cute little sister, are you Lydia?” Elena excitedly asked. Elena’s favorite things were cute little girls. Had it not been for the fact that Lydia was a spirit, she would have suffered under Elena’s ministrations already and been smooshed against her generous bosom.
So many people seeing her surprised Lydia. “What? You can see me?” Her excitement disappeared after she looked at them more closely. “Oh. It’s the potion. No wonder you can see me.” To Feng Wu she said, “Alright already, tell me what you want. You didn’t call me over just to make fun of me did you?” Lydia stuck her lips out in a pout.
Except for a few of the girls, everyone in their group could see the blood all around. It was like they were in another world. Legend had it that the asura’s world was filled with blood, similar to the inn now. Everyone was distressed, their hearts uneasy, and they looked to Lydia in the hopes she would be able to explain.
Since Feng Wu was such a lousy storyteller, everyone nominated Jier to explain.
After he explained, Lydia gave a long run-on sentence recap. “OK, so what you’re telling me is that there’s a big sister upstairs and she’s got a bunch of grudges floating all around her and there is a lot of blood raining outside and the inside here is full of bloody mist. Did I get that right?”
Luis said, “Yes, that’s right. Little sister Lydia, do you know what’s going on? Why is it raining blood outside? How come we couldn’t detect it until we used the potion?”
Lydia rolled her eyes at them. She had not been idle. Since they left Rime-Frost she had spent her time studying and she working hard to practice the techniques from the book the old necromancer gave her. She was not the same confused, ignorant girl she was before.
“Of course you can see it. Do you really think the blood you’re seeing now is real?”
(It’s not real?) Everyone skeptically looked at Lydia floating above them.
“Of course not. What you’re seeing now are the grudges taking form. They are very powerful grudges with strong murderous intent. That’s why they’re able to form blood droplets like the rain and blood mist you have here.”
“So what you’re saying is the blood all around us is just an illusion formed by grudges with powerful killing intent?” Tian Ya raised his eyebrows.
“Yes. If it was real everyone would be able to see it. You wouldn’t need to use the potion.” Lydia said as she disdainfully looked down at them.
Being looked down by such a tiny dead spirit brought everyone down.
“Do you know why the grudge here is so powerful?” Ming Xi asked.
“There are lots of reasons grudges form. How would I know why this one is so powerful?” Lydia said before looking at the speaker. Once she did she turned a little shy. If a spirit could blush she would have been blushing. “I can’t see the reason behind the grudges here, but I can see something else.” She spoke with a lilt at the end of her sentence. She squinted at something behind Ming Xi.
Gerasi and the others twitched their lips. Sure enough their leader had a contract. Whatever he contracted with would surely be interesting.
It turned out Feng Wu wasn’t the only one that liked Ming Xi. Lydia liked him too. It was clear to her he wouldn’t create friction between her and Feng Wu. She was very much looking forward to the drama that would play out.
The princess, dressed all in green and wearing a new netted hat,[notes] stepped down the stairs. Her appearance silenced the first floor and made the pitter patter of the rain resound loudly. The only competing sound was the soft footfall of her steps.
Xiao Na, standing behind the princess addressed Liffman, the lead guard, in a neutral tone. “Liffman, tell your men the princess wishes to set out immediately. We will rest at the small town just ahead of here.”
“Princess, it’s raining so heavily, it will be dangerous to travel.” Liffman’s duty was to protect the princess, so of course he would speak up if he thought she wanted to do something dangerous.
“We don’t know when the rain will stop. It could go on for days. Do you want the princess to stay in this tiny lousy inn for that long?” Mieren was the princess’s personal maid so she tried to always maintain an air of superiority over others. Her rank put her above the guards. She smiled as she disdainfully looked down at Liffman.
“But.” Liffman wanted to say more.
“Silence. I have made my decision. We set out immediately.” Princess Nai Nai interrupted Liffman. Her voice was firm but charming at the same time.
Luis stared at Princess Nai Nai. “That princess must be a beautiful woman. It’s a shame she’s wearing a netted hat. I’d love to see what she looks like under it.”
Elena smiled coldly. She didn’t have a good impression of the princess. “You can’t handle that kind of beauty. Just look at the inn. I’m afraid this Princess Nai Nai has something to do with it.”
Because of the princess’s insistence, the only thing Liffman could do was gather his troops and get ready to leave.
The sky cleared up shortly after Princess Nai Nai’s entourage left and the ominous feeling in the air disappeared.
Elena gave Luis an I told you so look. “See? There’s definitely something wrong with Princess Nai Nai.”
Luis could only remain silent.
Ming Xi ignored the two of them and instead gestured for a waiter. “Waiter, ask your boss to come here.”
The waiter did as requested and the boss came over as soon as he heard.
The inn was not far from the realm battlegrounds and the boss had learned to discern the type of people who patronized his inn. When he saw Ming Xi’s group, he knew they weren’t ordinary. Their bearing and aura was unusual.
“Adventurers, you asked me to come over. Was there something you wanted to ask?” The boss was a sharp man. The group asked for him just after Princess Nai Nai left. Odds were whatever they wanted was related to her.
“Yes, we do have some questions regarding Princess Nai Nai. What can you tell us about her?” With his charming, peaceful appearance and manners, it was hard to find anyone who disliked Ming Xi.
“Yes, Princess Nai Nai is the youngest daughter of Souya’s current ruling king. The king has three children, one son and two girls. The girls are twins, Princess Qi Qi and Princess Nai Nai.
Princess Qi Qi has had a strong aptitude for magic since she was young. In fact she’s a second year at Xingguang Holy Academy. Princess Nai Nai, on the other hand, has never shown any talent in magic. It’s a publicly accepted fact that she is the least gifted of the royal children. Although His Royal Majesty and Her Royal Highness both dote on Princess Qi Qi, they haven’t ignored Princess Nai Nai,” finished the boss.
“To be a member of the royal family and not have any magical talent, I’m afraid her days ahead will be difficult.” There was a trace of pity in Zi Cheng’s eyes as she spoke.
“It must be the case. Otherwise why would she come to the realm battlegrounds to train every year?” The boss nodded his head, approving of Zi Cheng’s insight.
“Princess Nai Nai comes here every year?” Ai Lin asked.
“Yes, once every year, but this year she’s returned twice. Today was her second time.
“Her second time? When was her first time back this year?” Ming Xi’s brow furrowed. There was something about the air around Princess Nai Nai he found disagreeable. He was still trying to figure out what it was.
After thinking for a moment the boss replied with, “About four months ago.”
“Only four months and she’s already back. There must be something going on.” Pei Qing tapped his finger on the table.
Something flashed in the boss’s eyes when he heard this. The group didn’t miss it.
Ming Xi asked in a soft coaxing voice, “Boss, is something troubling you?”
The boss looked at the group and sighed before saying, “Yes! You people seem to be talented. This is only a guess on my part but I believe the town may need your help.”
“What do you mean? Speak clearly.” Jier had no patience for cryptic messages. He hated people who only spoke in halves. Why not just say everything in one go already? Stalling only worried people more!
“There is a small town not too far north of here. I and the people who work here are all from there. Lately, these past few months many young girls have become swollen with child. None of the girls will admit to having a relationship with a man, so it’s very strange! The whole thing is a big deal in town.”
“Originally the mayor thought the girls were having illicit relationships with men and that was why they were pregnant. Opinion on the matter changed, and everyone realized something wasn’t right when one of the girls tried to commit suicide. No matter how much she bled, she wouldn’t die.
The mayor and some of the older town heads thought the pregnancies were unnatural, that perhaps the pregnancies were demon spawns. It wasn’t a farfetched idea considering the town’s proximity to the realm battlegrounds. An escaped demon could have caused it.”
“No, that’s impossible,” interrupted Gerasi. “There are two incredibly powerful seals over the entire perimeter. Besides any demons inside are long dead. There’s none that could come out to cause trouble.”
The boss shot Gerasi a reprimanding look. “I know, don’t worry. Please let me finish speaking.”
“Anyways at this point everyone believed the pregnancies was supernatural, so we wanted to find out what was going on. The mayor went to a magician guild to request assistance, but the magician we hired was no help. All he did was circle the town a few times before declaring the pregnancies weren't related to the demons in the realm battlegrounds, that the girls were simply indiscrete and became pregnant in the normal way. He suggested the suicide failed because the girl either ate some kind of special fruit or she just had a strong constitution.
Basically he took our money and left. Now a lot of the people in town believe the girls were indiscrete and that the pregnancies were a result of their affairs.
The girls cried and shouted their innocence, but no one believed them. In the end, because of all the gossip, the affected families kept their daughters inside. Some even forcefully fed abortion drugs to the girls, but it was useless. The babies refused to be aborted.
Princess Nai Nai visited at this most difficult of times. The mayor was afraid the pregnant girls would make the town look bad so he deliberately hid the matter from the her.
After the princess left, there weren’t any new pregnancies. It was really strange so I visited my brother in town. His daughter, my niece, had had something similar happen to her.”
The boss sighed. The whole affair was just pitiful.
“So what was the problem?” Rain asked. The story had roused her curiosity.
Feng Wu was listening quietly as well. No one knew what Lydia was thinking, but she appeared mesmerized by the tale.
“It turned out all the girls had the same dream. Every one of them dreamt of being engaged to a beautiful prince who lived in a magnificent palace. On top of that they were all pregnant. My niece didn’t give it much thought, believing it was just a dream. It was only when her body began showing that she became afraid, and she wondered if wasn't just a dream after all.
My niece and a few other pregnant girls were able to meet up and they realized they had had very similiar dreams of the man. Sometimes the man would claim to be a prince, other times a nobleman. In one dream he even claimed to be the embodiment of a sword god from the ancient past. Whatever his identity, it was always a noble and attractive one.”
Luis tapped his chin in thought. “Interesting.” He asked, “Is it the same person that appears in everyone’s dreams then?”
“Yes, it’s the same person.” The boss sighed.
“How strange. Getting pregnant from a dream! Isn’t that crazy?” Elena had no problems stating her opinions. She had always been a tomboy so she wasn’t shy about sharing her views.
“Boss, what you’re saying is everything settled down after Princess Nai Nai left. That there were no new pregnancies correct?” Ming Xi knew there were many secrets in the world, in fact he even knew what a couple of them were. He thought about the ancient records in his family library but couldn’t remember anything that referenced conception from dreams.
“I realized something.” The boss hesitated but ultimately decided to share his opinion. “After Princess Nai Nai left there weren’t any new pregnancies in town. It really was strange. I wanted to know if the pregnancies were related to her so I hired a few mercenaries to investigate. I had them look into the capital to see if they could find any news regarding pregnancies out of wedlock. I didn’t expect them to find anything but they did! The city looked fine on the surface but there were problems underneath. The mercenaries discovered several pregnancies. The ladies were from noble houses so their families tried to keep it a secret. They even tried to abort the pregnancies, but everything they tried failed.
This only accounts for the nobility, I'm afraid if we consider the common people the casualty would be much higher...”
The boss was a clever man. He had noticed something was off about the princess’s body when she came the first time. After several months of investigation the mercenaries confirmed there was indeed something wrong with the princess. The boss didn’t know what sinister thing was happening, if the man in the dreams was a malevolent spirit. He didn’t know if the princess herself was aware of it. If she was aware of it then was she a part of it? If not then was she another victim?
“Boss, are you telling us this because you want us to help?” Zi Cheng admired him for not trying to sweep the problem under the rug. Instead he was actively trying to do something about it.
“Yes. If I’m not mistaken there’s a demon attached to the princess. You’ll be able to catch it if you follow her.”
He talked with them for a moment longer before taking his leave. After the boss left Jier turned to Lydia and asked, “What do you think?”
Everyone else followed suit and turned to her as well. It was clear the matter involved dead spirits, but unfortunately there wasn't a necromancer in their group.
They were ignorant about these matters, so they could only turn to Lydia for clarification.
Lydia’s eyes were dark. “This is very strange. If we don’t hurry to town, I’m afraid everyone there will die.”
“Is the situation that grave?!” Tian Ya raised his eyebrows in shock.
“Yeah it’s that grave. And yeah it’s that strange. If you want to deal with it then you should leave for town right now. If you don’t want to deal with it, then you should try to get as far away from here as you can.”
From Lydia’s serious face it was obvious she wasn’t joking. Their hearts sank at the enormity of the situation.
“There are so many lives at stake. As students of Xingguang Holy Academy, how can we ignore something like this? We have to take care of it.” Gerasi thumped the table so passionately it made the cups jump.
Ming Xi nodded, his mind made up. “Gerasi’s right. We can’t ignore this. It goes without saying that Xingguang Holy Academy would accept the request for help. We should do what we can to resolve the situation.”
Ordinary people went to the academy to request help if they were targeted or were suffering as a result of something demonic, magical or strange. They didn’t have the ability to resolve the problems themselves so they relied on the swordmasters and magicians in the school. The gatekeepers at Xingguang Holy Academy, aside from securing the entrance, were responsible for receiving these requests. They were an opportunity for the students to hone their skills so there was no charge if the request was accepted. The only times they rejected a request were when it was clear it was a private family matter.
What was happening in town was clearly not a private family matter. It was a request the school wouldn’t refuse, therefore as students of the academy it was their duty to accept.
“This’ll be dangerous. You girls should wait here.” Elena was the kind of good older sister who cared a great deal about her junior sisters. Naturally she didn’t think it was a good idea for the girls, who had just entered the academy, to come along with them.
“Sister Elena, allow me to go. I can protect myself and I won’t add to the confusion.” Ai Lin spoke with determination in her voice, her expression firm.
Zi Cheng promptly chimed in with just as much determination. “Senior Sister Elena, I’d like to go as well. I’m confident in my abilities and I won’t get in your way either.”
“If Xiao Cheng is going, then I’m going too.” The idea of being pregnant just from dreams sounded horrible and Yifu really didn’t want to go, but the thought of being separated from Zi Cheng was worse. Had Zi Cheng not been there she would have chosen to stay behind.
Jasmine spoke up. “I will stay here. My strength is far inferior to seniors. I do not wish to distract you.”
Elena thought Jasmine would react the same way as the other girls and persist in wanting to follow them, so her comment was a pleasant surprise. Jasmine was behaving much more reasonably than Yifu.
Yifu overestimated her own abilities and didn’t understand how lacking she was. If she was lucky, really lucky, maybe she could rank in the top 50 percentile of her class. Her insistence was a nuisance and it troubled Elena and the rest of the group. She was too single-mindedly focused on Zi Cheng. At best she would be cannon fodder, at worse she would hinder the group.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin, though not as powerful as Jier by any stretch of the imagination, were nonetheless outstanding in their own rights, easily ranking in the top ten of their class.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin claimed they could protect themselves and wouldn’t be a hinderance, but did they really have the ability? Elena wasn’t sure her and the boys would be able to handle it and protect themselves, nevermind take care of the girls.
Ai Lin secretly frowned at Yifu’s behavior and a thought suddenly occurred to her. The relationship between Yifu and Zi Cheng was an abnormal one, in fact it wasn’t just Yifu, many who liked and favored Zi Cheng behaved strangely. Once their favorability rating reached 100% they overlooked every bad thing about Zi Cheng and essentially worshipped her.
The favorability rating system was interesting too. Once it reached 100% it locked in place and wouldn’t drop no matter what happened afterwards.
Ai Lin hadn’t thought seriously about it before, but witnessing it in action now gave her pause and she realized what a problem it was. The favorability rating never dropped, so anyone Zi Cheng reached 100% with would always find a way to excuse Zi Cheng’s behavior. They would always take the blame, be the one at fault. Who knows, if she gave them a knife and told them to kill themselves, they may even feel it was their fortune and happily die for her.
It was a lot take in, especially considering how many people were willing to die for Zi Cheng in the novel. It would have been more believable if they were men. In that case it was conceivable they were willing to die for her love. But there were also many women who willingly died for Zi Cheng as well. Let's not forget those who willingly acted for her benefit, even against their own best interests.
Ai Lin remembered one roommate who snuck onto her family’s estate and stole a precious celestial ore that was a prized family treasure. She did it because she knew Zi Cheng could use it.
The celestial ore had a mysterious power and for generations had been the symbol of the family’s prestige. The girl was well aware of this. But for her good friend, she betrayed her family and stole the ore for Zi Cheng.
It was inconceivable when considering the girl’s background. Her family cherished her and doted on her since she was born. No normal, sane, noble girl with any kind of education would have done what she did to her family.
Perhaps if Zi Cheng’s life was in danger, and the ore was needed to save her, it would have been more understandable, however Zi Cheng only needed the ore to repair an artifact!
The girl’s family disowned her over the matter but she didn’t regret it one bit, instead she had declared she would do it all over again if she had to. She would do anything for her good friend Zi Cheng.
What happened afterwards was even stranger. Zi Cheng declared everything was done for her sake so she vowed in front of the girl that she, Zi Cheng, would make the girl’s family regret driving her out.
After Zi Cheng became powerful enough she took the artifact and went to the girl’s home. She showed up and accused them of being cold-hearted and ruthless, claiming they had lost their humanity when they kicked their own flesh and blood out and left her with no support. Zi Cheng was there to take revenge for her friend. She fought with them and seriously injured many of the family’s elders in the process.
Looking at it from Zi Cheng’s perspective it would appear that the family got what they deserved. However, things become different when the whole story is shared.
The girl had been driven out of her family because she betrayed them and committed a crime for which she refused to apologize or feel any sense of remorse. They didn’t even destroy her magical core before casting her out and disowning her. If it were anyone else, that person would have been executed immediately. Considering all this, they were in fact incredibly kind in how they dealt with her.
They would never have imagined she would lead such dangers back to their doorstep.
Zi Cheng gravely injured the family elders and left them vulnerable to external pressures. The men that loved Zi Cheng joined in and mercilessly attacked them. Killing off the family members one by one until everyone was dead. It was a miserable fate.
Originally the patriarch and elders of the family were rare, powerful masters, but the battle with Zi Cheng had injured their foundation cores so they couldn’t be relied on to defend the family. Otherwise the family would not have been annihilated so quickly by Zi Cheng’s admirers.
Zi Cheng didn’t hide what happened to the family from the girl.
The girl’s reaction had been tepid. She didn’t care about them so what did it matter to her if they died? She didn’t shed a single tear over her family’s demise. The fact that Zi Cheng spent so much effort and did all this for her only cemented Zi Cheng’s place in her heart. From that day forward the girl vowed to do everything in her power for her friend.
Was this reaction normal?
It would have been more understandable if the girl had been abused or treated unjustly by her family. But it wasn’t the case. She was loved by her family and cherished by her elders. They couldn’t bear to hurt her even after she stole the family’s treasure.
Instead of hating the person who encouraged the destruction of the family that loved her, she expressed gratitude and undying devotion.
A normal person wouldn’t do that.
Therefore it was safe to assume Zi Cheng could directly influence the emotional state of anyone she had a 100% favorability rating with. No matter what Zi Cheng did, they would see it as right and just.
The ability to play people in the palm of your hand was indeed fearsome and terrifying!
Geeze. Ai Lin’s heart turned cold at the realization. It was a good thing she read the book and knew about Zi Cheng’s cheat, otherwise she may have developed good feelings for her and fallen victim to her favorability system! Then she and Yifu would have spent their lives like fools stupidly circling around this godly MC.
By the time Ai Lin came out of her thoughts the group was discussing who would go into town.
Jasmine sat quietly at the table and didn’t say anything else after expressing her desire to stay behind. Unlike Yifu, she didn’t disregard her own safety just to be with Zi Cheng. She thought Zi Cheng was a kind, considerate, and gentle girl, but she didn’t think highly of Yifu at all.
Rain wrinkled her nose cutely. “My strength isn’t high so I won’t go either. I’ll stay and wait for news here.” Though she wanted to go and see the action first hand, she didn’t want to get in their way.
“Yifu, you should stay here too. It’ll be dangerous to go with the strength you have.” Elena chose her words nicely because Yifu was a girl. Had she been a guy Elena would have just used her fists to knock sense into her.
“No! I have to go. I won’t be at ease if Xiao Cheng goes alone.” Yifu’s face was stubborn as she tugged at Zi Cheng.
Damn this girl… she was treating them like they didn’t exist. Elena suddenly had the urge to beat her up…
“Sister Elena, please let Yifu come with us. I’m sure I can keep her safe.” Zi Cheng couldn’t bear to reject Yifu, not after seeing how concerned Yifu was for her.
Wind and Pei Qing exchanged glances. What kind of stupidity was this? Do you have a hole in your brain or something? You think you can protect this idiot? When the time comes, are you sure you can even protect yourself?
“Senior Sister Elena, if she wants to go, just let her go. When the time comes and it gets dangerous she has no one to blame but herself.” Pei Qing laughed slyly.
Yifu glared hatefully at Pei Qing. She was at a point where she hated anything positively associated with Feng Wu, ergo she hated Pei Qing. “Please do not worry Sister Elena. I can take care of myself.”
As for Feng Wu, there was no doubt she would go since she was Lydia’s master. Everyone knew they would likely need Lydia’s help. In the end the only ones to stay behind were Rain and Jasmine.
The boss decided to throw his luck in with them, and leave with the group. He brought them to the carriage he used whenever he was in a hurry. From what Feng Wu said, it sounded like there was going to be a river of blood and much danger. Although his inn was on the road, all his family members lived in town. He wanted to get them out of there as fast as he could.
They drove hard and fast. Throughout the ride there wasn’t a single animal or insect sound. It was eerily silent.
They hoped they would make it in time, but their hopes were grim.
The scene they encountered an hour later once they reached town was not what they expected. The streets were bustling with merchants doing business and mothers shopping while children played and ate snacks. It wasn’t the scene of a disaster at all.
How could this be? Princess Nai Nai’s carriage was certain to be faster than theirs, so how could they have arrived before her?
“Boss, quickly go home and get your family and friends out of town,” Ming Xi said.
The boss nodded and hurried out of the carriage.
This was the course of action everyone had agreed to while in the carriage. The boss would take care of those he knew.
“Wait. It’s OK for you to take whoever you want, but the girls who are pregnant can’t leave with you. If you take them with you, everyone will die.” Feng Wu let out an unusually long stream of words right as they got out of the carriage.
Feng Wu was only so verbose because she was repeating Lydia’s words. On her own she wouldn’t have been so wordy.
The boss agreed before quickly turning around and steering the carriage home. He soon disappeared out of sight.[notes]
After the boss left Lydia said, somewhat rudely, “Spray them with the potion. They won’t be of help to anybody if they can’t see.” The event was clearly a supernatural spiritual event. It was right up her alley so if the guys wanted to help, they had no choice but to listen to her. The whole thing was just music to her ears.
It was a pity; it was unlikely she would get away with being this bossy again in the future.
Lydia thought it was silly that the freshmen girls were trying to keep up with the seniors. Zi Cheng and Ai Lin, maybe. They had a good foundation, but Yifu? Tch. That girl was just a brainless idiot.
As the only senior girl, it fell on Elena to tell the girls the bad news, that they would need to use the potion. Ai Lin and Zi Cheng were good sports and agreed to do so without preamble. Yifu on the other hand had an ugly expression, and it was clear to everyone she was unwilling. Their opinion of her dropped even more. It really was hard to like her! It took a full minute of Zi Cheng’s persuasion to get her to do it, but ultimately she did.
The potion barely dried in their eyes before their world changed. The sun was shining in a wonderful blue sky just a second ago, but now it was a depressing red. Aside from the red, there was also a sinister dark miasma flowing from the road into town.
Though all three girls turned pale, Ai Lin and Zi Cheng seemed to handle it better than Yifu. Both Ai Lin and Zi Cheng were determined, Zi Cheng because she was fated to be the MC, and Ai Lin because she wanted to reverse her villainess fate. It would have been a joke if they fainted at something like this.
Yifu didn’t have their determination. The longer she looked around the more frightened she became. She couldn’t take it anymore! Her legs crumbled under her and she fell to the ground screaming. This quickly attracted a large crowd.
“What’s going on? Is that girl sick?”
“You shouldn’t delay if your illness is bad.”
“What in the world is going on over there in front of the shops?”
“I don’t know. I came over to ask the same thing.”
A girl screaming in the middle of the road, of course it would attract attention. The passersby stopped to stare, wondering what was going on. They gathered in a circle around Feng Wu and the group.
Yifu kept screaming, mindless of the growing crowd around her.
Zi Cheng looked around in embarrassment. She was a clever girl and she could see the seniors were upset and getting annoyed at the situation. They would surely become angry if it continued. Feng Wu’s group were smirking like it was a huge joke. Ai Lin was as unreadable as ever, but it was clear she didn’t intend to interfere.
Zi Cheng knew it was up to her to calm Yifu. She hurriedly knelt down beside Yifu to soothe her, but instead of being comforted, Yifu shrieked like a madwoman and gave Zi Cheng a vicious, hard shove.
Zi Cheng was completely unguarded; she didn’t think Yifu would ever shove her like that. The shove was so fierce she lost her footing and tumbled to the ground, making a complete role before stopping. Dirty smudges smeared all over her once clean, pretty clothes.
The fair-skinned beauty became a bedraggled mess.
“Yifu!” Zi Cheng was unhappy and felt at a loss. She’d never suffered any kind of humiliation since coming to the world. How vexing that Yifu, her good friend, would be the first one to make her lose face!
But Zi Cheng was an MC, a godly MC at that, how could she let others read her thoughts so easily? Please. She was angry at Yifu, but all she let show in her eyes was appropriate confusion and worry for her friend.
The display was a success.
(So kind-hearted! What a good girl! Only that purple-haired lass was willing to help her friend. Unlike those others just watching. How inhumane! Just heartless!) were the thoughts of the passersby who didn’t know the truth of the situation.
Everyone in the Ming Xi’s group had something to say with their body language.
Ming Xi’s eyes said: Now what?
Elena’s facial reply was: How should I know?
Tian Ya had his arms crossed in front of his chest. He didn’t know these people.
Luis and Gerasi had checked out and were whistling as they looked everywhere but at Yifu.
Wind, Pei Qing, and Jier’s faces all said the same thing: You’re the seniors; you take care of it.
Feng Wu: So noisy.
After a round of everyone eyeing each other, it was clear no one knew how to handle the situation. Finally it got too noisy. Feng Wu stepped up to the screaming Yifu and tapped her. The screaming immediately stopped. That is to say the horrible heaven rending screeching stopped, but it was clear from Yifu’s open mouth she was still trying to scream, only no sound came out. She opened her eyes and glared with mindless hatred at Feng Wu.
“You should take your medicine!” Feng Wu remembered her masters words: If you’re sick, you should take your medicine. This girl was clearly sick and in a lot of pain. Why else would she scream so much? Feng Wu nodded earnestly as she spoke.
Everyone shared the same thought: Ah… finally peace and quiet.
The crowd was quick to disperse once the drama died out. In just two short minutes everyone had gone back to minding their own business, but every few minutes someone would turn to stare at the group.
But compared to earlier this was quite good! This was tolerable, much better than the stink eyes they were getting earlier.
They quickly pulled Yifu into an alleyway, relieved they were no longer the center of attention. They really regretted bringing her along!
“Feng Wu, what did you do to Yifu? How come she can’t talk now?”
After losing her voice, Yifu lost her steam and regained her senses. She had turned into a mute! Her eyes were full of poison as she glared at Feng Wu. A desire to kill her hated adversary flitted through her heart and showed in her eyes.
Yifu wanted to know what Feng Wu did to her but she couldn’t utter a single word. The only thing she could do was stare imploringly at Zi Cheng.
Zi Cheng still resented Yifu for shoving her but that didn’t mean she was going to let someone bully her friend. After getting the silent message from Yifu, she asked Feng Wu what she did. Her tone was filled with concern and not aggressive at all.
The others in the group were also curious. What kind of magic was this? Press a point on someone’s body and they became mute?
“I pushed her pressure point. It will release in two hours.” Yifu’s bitter face had no effect on Feng Wu.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin were shocked at Feng Wu’s answer; both had the same thoughts buzz through their minds.
It was a pressure point! But disabling someone through their pressure point was something you only found in wuxia novels. It wasn’t something you actually did in real life! Was it possible she wasn’t from this world either?
Though they suspected Feng Wu also transmigrated, they weren’t 100% certain. Both would look for a way to test their theory later.
“Can you release it now?” Zi Cheng asked. She kept a firm lid on her emotions, not betraying her feelings about Feng Wu to the group. In their eyes all they saw was her dedication and concern for Yifu.
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded, quickly added, “But I’m afraid she will start screaming again.” (So noisy.)
“Wait, don’t release it yet. What if she damages her throat from screaming too much? With her courage, you know she’s going to scream. I suggest we keep her mute until we reach our destination inside the city,” Wind said. He didn’t like Yifu, especially the expression on her face. She looked like she wanted to kill Feng Wu so if they let her speak she would definitely say something. A chance to keep her quiet didn’t come often, so they may as well take advantage of it.
“Yeah… regarding that, I have thin nerves. It will negatively impact my fighting abilities if I hear her high-pitched shrieking in the middle of battle. That would affect my own personal safety. I second Wind’s suggestion.” Pei Qing raised his hand as he spoke and in good order those behind him also raised their hands in agreement.
Elena didn’t mind agreeing if it meant keeping Yifu quiet. “Cough, cough… Junior Sister Yifu, you may feel wronged, but since everyone agrees, we will not unmute you. You’ll be able to talk again in two hours, so it’s not a big deal really.” Yifu’s personality was so bad that even the junior-sister-loving Elena didn’t like her. Indeed, though Elena was patient and kind to the girls, Yifu had so many shortcomings, it tested even Elena’s goodwill.
“Senior Sister Elena!” Zi Cheng wanted to change their minds but she didn’t get a chance before the group moved to another topic. As a result Yifu was left muted and smoldering with her impotent thoughts about her nemesis. She hated Feng Wu to death!
Why? Why?! Twice now the group shunned her because of Feng Wu. What was so good about that girl, why go so far to protect Feng Wu? The girl was just a commoner!
But no matter how hard Yifu hated Feng Wu, nothing changed. Zi Cheng was the only one who even looked her way. Everyone was intent on discussing what to do next.
Ai Lin noticed Lydia was actually only about twelve and an absolute cutie: ten out of ten! It really was pitiful she died so young. Ai Lin eventually joined in the group’s discussion about what to do next.
“Let’s go and find the girls who are pregnant. There are a few things I need to confirm.” Ultimately it was Lydia who decided their next steps.
Ming Xi wanted to notify the mayor and start moving the people out of town, but Lydia vetoed it.
“It won’t work. The lives of people in this world are fated, fixed in place. Most here are fated to die today, so even if you helped them escape from town they will still encounter the princess and her party later somewhere along the way and they’ll ultimately meet their end even faster.” All her studying had given Lydia some understanding of life and death.
Fate was unchangeable. The boss and his family were blessed and would not die easily, but this small town was already encircled by blood. The odds of any of the citizens leaving the town were slim. Even if any of them could leave, they would inevitably find themselves in another situation just as hopeless.
With so many lives at stake Ming Xi and his group refused to give up hope. Who would stand by and not try to save anyone? They couldn’t watch and let so many people perish. Because of this Ming Xi and his group split into two groups.
Ming Xi and Elena would find the mayor and prepare an evacuation of the town while the everyone else would search for the pregnant girls and investigate the situation.
Zi Cheng agreed with what Lydia said because she herself had transmigrated. This made her believe there was such a thing as fate in this world.
Ai Lin didn’t fully believe in the idea of fate or Zi Cheng’s role as the destined female lead.
Ai Lin was optimistic. She wanted to see if the town could escape its fate with the help of Ming Xi’s group. If so, then wasn’t it further proof her counterattack of Zi Cheng would work?
It was a small town so it didn’t take more than ten minutes to reach the first house. It was obvious from the dilapidated condition of the place that the family wasn’t doing well.
The mother, upon learning Feng Wu and her classmates were adventurers, immediately set about welcoming them with open arms. Perhaps they would be able to save her daughter.
Her daughter was about eighteen with an incredibly swollen belly. She was only five months into her pregnancy but had the look of someone long overdue. The size was distressing to look at.
Her eyes were dull and hopeless. It was obvious she was just waiting for death to come and claim her.
“Hello. We were sent from the Adventurers’ guild to help you. Can you tell us about what happened? We may be able to help your daughter,” Zi Cheng said to the mother after they were welcomed inside.
Zi Cheng, with her favorability rating system, was easily nominated to be the group speaker. She exuded warmth and was approachable. Add to that her smooth social skills and she was a natural choice to conduct the questioning. She had played the role in the original story as well, and normally Ai Lin would try to compete with her, but in this instance she had no interest. It was an awkward role and wouldn’t gain her anything.
The mother wiped tears from her eyes before systematically telling them everything that had happened to her daughter.
“My daughter became pregnant five months ago. Her disposition completely changed for the worse. She insisted she’d met the devil in her dreams. At first neither I nor her father believed it.
But this was to be expected. What normal person would? It was just a dream after all; how could anyone get pregnant from such a thing? But then… several incidents occurred. A few of the girls tried to harm themselves.
Many of the family heads got together and we soon realized the girls were telling the truth. If only one or two of them had the same story, then you could say it was a lie, but when all of them had the same story with the same details…? They couldn’t have done it, not without contradicting each other.
There were more than a dozen households affected. We all tried different things to help the girls, but nothing worked. Even the very expensive magician we hired was no help. “
The mother cried piteously after finishing. She looked at them with frightened eyes. She was pinning her hopes on them. She would likely die from heartache if they failed.
“What are you doing?” The daughter had become a skittish colt, frightened of every breeze, and alarmed at every sound, ever since she became pregnant. At the moment Feng Wu was tugging at her hand. The action scared her and she tried to pull away.
Zi Cheng and the others had been preoccupied with comforting the mother, so they hadn’t noticed when Feng Wu and Lydia approached the daughter.
She was an emaciated thing, with barely any flesh, just skin and bones, and a protruding belly. It was clear her mental state was unstable. Even her struggle with Feng Wu was weak and half-hearted.
“Xiao Wu, what are you doing?” Luis stared in surprise at Feng Wu. This normally well-behaved girl was actually putting her hands on a pregnant girl…
Jier and Pei Qing didn’t feel the same way. In fact they went over to help Feng Wu.
“Ad- adventurers, why are you holding down my daughter? She…” The mother spoke up despite her fear.
Feng Wu said, “We can still save her.”
“What?!” The mother looked at Feng Wu, eyes wide with hope. Her next words came out in a mad rush. “Oh honorable adventurer please save my daughter! Please save my daughter!”
A dim light sparked in the girl’s eyes. “Can you really save me?”
“Stay still.” Inside her dantian, beyond everyone’s sight, Feng Wu was helping Xiao Chun guide a small part of his essence into the girl’s belly.
Not a single question was uttered when a faint white light passed from Feng Wu’s hand into the girl. What was most important right now was saving her, questions could come later.
The girl felt comfortable. Ever since she became pregnant, she had been unable to keep warm, but now for the first time in a long time, her whole body was warm. It was so wonderful she nearly cried. She marveled at how something so minor could make her feel so happy.
A twinge in her lower abdomen made her look down. Her stomach was deflating while farther down blood soaked into her skirt.
“Dear god! What, what is going on?” cried the mother.
It was a terrifying image to behold. A girl, of just skin and bones, was bleeding so much the blood soaked through her skirt. It was like a horror show.
“Mom! I’m OK! I’m OK! Whatever was in my stomach, it’s finally gone!” Her body returned to normal after shedding the black blood. The girl rushed to embrace her mother as soon as Feng Wu released her hand. The two cried in each other’s arms for a full ten minutes, as though finally releasing all the fear and anxiety they felt in the last few months. Both mother and daughter invited the group to stay and share a meal, but the group had to decline their goodwill; there were many other homes they had to visit.
“Something big will happen today. Make sure you stay indoors and close and lock all your windows and doors. Do not touch the rain if it rains, otherwise you may put your lives at risk.” Feng Wu repeated Lydia’s words, word for word like an automated voice machine.
It didn’t matter though. She had just saved the girl, so in their eyes, she was as good as a god.
After asking about the location of all the pregnant girls, the group left for the nearest one.
Upon reaching the house they saw that the next family was in a similar situation as the previous family they visited. They went through the same routine and gave them the same warning before moving on to the next family.
Unfortunately they arrived at the third family too late. The girl was screaming as she went through labor with her family by her side, but they were unable to give her any strength. Her cries were desperate and pitiful but no one could save her.
Her belly split open like a cracked watermelon and a black smog shaped baby erupted through the slit. Everyone watched as it flew up. Those who had not used the potion should not have been able to see it, but perhaps it became visible because its grievance or grudge was so strong.
“What is that?!” Wind cried out.
“Aye Yo! Don’t frighten me like that! I scare easily!” Pei Qing hid behind Jier. For such a tiny thing it, had a truly intimidating and terrifying aura. Its eyes were blood-shot and full of resentment. It looked like it wanted to kill everything in sight!
Yifu collapsed to the ground clutching Zi Cheng’s skirt in tight fists. If it weren’t for the fact her vocal pressure points were still locked she would have been shrieking in fright.
Luis’s face blanched and he yelled at Gerasi, “Get them out of here!”
Gerasi tore his gaze away from the baby and grabbed the parents, intending to flee the room with them, but the baby was not having it. It flew to the entrance and blocked their path. From the murderous look in its eyes, it was clear it wasn’t going to let anyone escape.
The mother screamed out, “Monster! It really is a monster!” before passing out.
“Damn!” Gerasi cursed. It looked like it would be impossible to escape with two ordinary people. He handed the unconscious woman to her husband and had him step aside. This gave Gerasi enough space to pull out his wand. He quickly assumed a battle posture.
The father had kept his wits. He held his wife against him and hid behind the group, not daring to expose even an inch of their bodies.
Feng Wu realized the couple misunderstood. They saw the newly born grudge as some kind of monster. Now wasn’t the time to explain though. They had to take care of the grudge first.
Everyone but Feng Wu and the couple took out weapons in preparation for a battle.
“Come at me!” Tian Ya yelled as he pulled out a sword. Once unsheathed the sword shone a brilliant white.
Sword intent? Of those present only Feng Wu recognized the light for what it was. The blade cut a white arc through the air creating a cold chill in the room. It really was an icy sword intent.
Manifesting sword intent was a natural part of a swordmaster's growth. Once one reached a certain level in swordsmanship, the sword intent would manifest on its own. However to get there the wielder needed to have a certain level of focus and cognition in order to make that breakthrough.
That Tian Ya overcame that hurdle and manifested his sword intent at such a young age, he truly was a genius among geniuses!
The others,[notes] present could not have comprehended the magnitude of this achievement. The only ones who could recognize it were Feng Wu and Tian Ya, and to a certain extent possibly Wind. Everyone else were either ordinary people or magicians. They didn’t understand the way of the sword.
In Wind’s case, with his level of mastery, it was impossible for him to call forth his sword intent, so even if he had heard of the concept, which he hadn’t, there was no way for him to recognize it even if the real thing was standing in front of him.
Feng Wu easily recognized it because she was a swordmaster in her previous life and had already achieved her own sword intent, thus had a strong understanding of it already.
Although the others in the group didn’t know what sword intent was, they could feel the chill from the blade and the sense of oppressive aura emanating from it. They knew his sword was not ordinary in that moment.
Under everyone’s gaze Tian Ya swung out with his sword. The blade made a white arc and snow and ice filled the room. It was extremely beautiful, but deadly as each crystalline snowflake was infused with killing intent.[notes]
To everyone’s surprise, when Tian Ya attacked with the sword the little baby did not dodge. Instead it screamed twice and took the assault head on.
Just as everyone thought it was over for the little baby spirit something unexpected happened. Instead of making impact, Tian Ya’s sword passed through the little baby’s body! It stuck it out its tiny palm and slapped Tian Ya.
Coming from something like that, there was no way the slap wouldn’t be dangerous. Even if it wasn’t lethal it would surely result in serious injury.
“What’s going on?! Why isn’t the attack working?!” Ai Lin yelled out. She didn’t expect such a powerful sword would do no damage to such a tiny monster.
Ai Lin had no idea what was going on. What was happening now wasn’t in the story. The town itself was mentioned but the author had left out the details.
Now here was this ghost thing in front of them. Her first thoughts were to get a Daoist priest and use their talisman papers. But this wasn’t that kind of world so that wasn’t going to happen.
In this world only necromancers could handle the dead. It wasn’t the same as on Earth but it worked just as well. She would have studied more about necromancers if she had known they would play such a big roll!
She wasn’t the only one who regretted not learning more about the dead. Zi Cheng was also super regretful! Had she known, she would have exchanged some of her points for a spell book on the dead.
“Of course it’d be useless. It’s a ghost. Ordinary attacks won’t work on it. You need weapons or spells that hurt the soul directly. The spells and weapons we have now deal with living entities. They’re fine for people and other races, but they won’t work on spirits. Obviously.” Lydia said as she flew to Feng Wu’s side. Her tone was dripping with disappointment. She couldn’t believe they were so stupid. Why would there be a need for necromancers if ordinary weapons and spells worked on the dead? Seriously, it was like they thought necromancers were just there for decoration.
After that talk down from Lydia, everyone was quiet.
The idea had honestly not crossed their minds. If Lydia hadn’t said anything, they would have kept attacking futilely.
“So, we have to stand here and take its attacks?” Zi Cheng asked wrinkling her delicate brows.
The baby didn’t just stand there and wait quietly while they talked. It rushed at them.
Since their attacks were ineffective the only thing they could do was hide, but hiding was useless. It attacked the weakest of the group: Zi Cheng, Ai Lin, Yifu and Wind.
The slap it gave them was tremendous. All four were knocked unconscious and black marks appeared on their skin. The couple hiding behind them was also hit with the reverberations. It looked like they were poisoned.
“Lydia, think of something!” Luis shouted while trying to dodge the baby’s kick. It was proving to be difficult.
Perhaps it had something to do with the relationship between people and spirits, but it didn’t attack Lydia at all. She stood to the side relaxed and smirking at the scene.
Feng Wu was also just as relaxed. It had attacked her, but not as much as everyone else. It was strange. It only attacked her once in the entire time, while everyone else had been attacked four or times each.
“Xiao Wu, be careful. See if there’s a way to destroy the spirit.” Though Jier’s flames couldn’t hurt the spirit, it did act as a deterrent. The second least attacked person was Jier.
“I know.” Feng Wu nodded before asking Lydia a few questions. The girls had a good relationship so after answering Feng Wu’s questions, she obediently flew to the air and stayed out of the way. She would watch but not help.
After a moment more of thought Feng Wu yelled out to those trying to evade the baby, “Everyone, get out of the way!”
They had no idea what she wanted to do, but they obediently scrambled out of the way, leaving a large open space between Feng Wu and the baby.
Feng Wu did not disappoint. Everyone watched as a sword with an incredibly ancient aura emerged from her hand. Yes it was Xiao Chun. He chirped cheerfully, not trying to disguise his body in the least. It had been a long time since he came out to play so he was really happy.
Jier’s expression changed for a moment when he saw the sword, but he quickly covered it up. The others knew the sword was of extraordinary origins, but they didn’t know what it was. Tian Ya had a guess but he kept it to himself. He didn’t care about other people’s secrets.
Xiao Chun’s appearance made the little baby spirit tremble. It had been arrogantly flying around and messing with everyone but now it looked like it was actually afraid.
With Xiao Chun in hand, Feng Wu stepped closer to the little baby spirit. Surprisingly, though it was scared to the point of trembling uncontrollably, it did not try to run. It was really strange! The group was puzzled but they refrained from asking questions.
Feng Wu stabbed the little spirit with Xiao Chun. It instantly let out a high-pitched miserable sound. The sound was sharp enough to break a person’s eardrums.
It befuddled their minds, but fortunately it didn’t last long. They thought the little baby spirit was finally defeated. Unexpectedly it was replaced by a normal baby spirit.
This one was white. He seemed confused. Then he turned to Feng Wu and a look of gratitude filled his eyes. He looked like a contrite child who knew he had misbehaved and was now waiting to be scolded.
“It’s OK. Be careful next time and don’t make the same mistake again.” Feng Wu spoke seriously to the little spirit.
The little spirit nodded and winked away in a flash of light.
With the baby spirit gone, Xiao Chun returned to Feng Wu’s dantian.
The six people, Ai Lin, Zi Cheng, Yifu, Wind, and the couple woke up. They were cursed by the little spirit’s touch and fell into a coma, so they naturally woke up once the baby spirit was purified.
“Thank you adventurers! Thank you so much!” The poor couple had just watched their daughter die in front of their eyes, then they themselves were nearly eaten by an evil spirit. They had aged greatly in those few minutes. They were worn out.
“You’re welcome. There might be a big commotion outside later. No matter what you hear, remain indoors. Do not go outside. And if it rains, make sure you don’t touch any of the rain. Something bad will happen to you if you do.” Luis warned the couple. They didn’t have a lot of time so they needed to hurry to the next family as fast as they could.
“What happened just now? Did you guys kill the spirit?” Wind asked Pei Qing. He couldn’t remember anything after being hit by the spirit. By the time he woke up the battle was won and everything was settled. He didn’t get to see anything, so of course he grabbed Pei Qing and immediately asked.
“No not destroyed. It was put back into the wheel of reincarnation. You’ll have to ask Lydia if you want to know the specifics. I’m not too clear on the whole thing myself.” Pei Qing glanced coldly at Wind before briskly walking away.
It wasn’t just Wind who was curious. Even those who were conscious throughout the battle were confused. How was the evil baby spirit purified? How did it even end up in the girl’s belly to begin with?
They were all interested in hearing Lydia’s explanation.
“Actually the baby spirit was an ordinary spirit. We, all of us, take spiritual form after we die so we can reincarnate afterwards. The when and where will take care of itself. We won’t be able to resist the pull even if we want to. Contracted spirits like me are an exception.
There is a requirement though. The spiritual form can’t have any grudges or resentment attached to it. Those with resentment can’t reincarnate.
Some babies die shortly after birth, others die in the womb. The spirit we saw was the spirit of a baby in that situation.”
The group listened to Lydia’s explanation as they walked. Apparently people reincarnated after death. It was the first time they heard such a thing. After all, what wandering necromancer would ever divulge trade secrets like that?
“Their spirits are full of grievances, but as long as the grievances aren’t deep, they’ll eventually dissolve on their own. Once gone the spirits will be able to reincarnate. These baby spirits had bad luck though. They met these girls before their grievances dissolved.
The girls weren’t pregnant but they had a magic aura around them that made it seem like they were. This attracted the baby spirits. They entered the girls’ bodies and patiently waited to be reborn. But after waiting and waiting they realized they’d been cheated. These girls weren’t pregnant; they weren’t going to be reborn at all.
On top of failing to reincarnate, they were contaminated by some kind of magic because of the girls. The baby spirits grew resentful. It would have been a wonder if their aura didn’t turn black. They would take revenge on the fake mothers who cheated them out of their chance to reincarnate. The babies would infect the mothers and destroy their chances of reincarnation too.”
“Wait. What about the one who planted the magic in the girls? ” Luis interrupted Lydia. “Was there some kind of benefit for this person?”
“Of course there’s benefit. Do you know where demons come from? They form from human emotion and desires. I was suspicious before, but now I’m certain. There’s definitely a powerful demon nearby, one that’s probably very hurt. He’s creating the grudges in order to harvest them as a tonic for his wounds. The stronger the resentment the better the tonic. His strength will replenish as he devours them. There will be a wave of monsters as he does.” Lydia explained.
“Wait, hold on! I thought demons were created from the gods. An impure god turns into a demon. How can a demon be formed from human emotions? That’s not right!” Gerasi shook his head, clearly disagreeing with Lydia’s statements.
“You swine! You son of a hog! Those are the ancient demon gods! These are mortal demons, inferior demons. How can they be from the gods? You might as well say gods come from cabbages!” Lydia vented out her aggravation.
“I’m sorry Lydia! This guy’s IQ is too low. He barely scraped by in classes. Don’t mind what he says. Please continue.” Luis hurriedly grab Gerasi and pulled him back.
What? It wasn’t even something you learned in class OK? It was commonsense. Gerasi knew Luis was just making fun of him to ease the situation so he obediently backed down.
“Lydia, so what you’re saying is that the babies in the girls’ bellies were just food for the demon, and that he would eventually come for them?” Zi Cheng summarized the main points for everyone.
Yifu was scared silent. She hunched her shoulders up to her neck and tried to hide behind Zi Cheng.
“After all that time for the grievances to incubate? Of course it will come for them.” Lydia said casually.
The group was even more anxious after learning the truth about the pregnancies. Demons! Based on what Lydia said, the demon was also a powerful one. This really complicated matters.
They continued around the town doing what they could with heavy hearts. From time to time residents would rush out to greet them or give them a gift before hurrying back inside to lock their doors and windows.
Elena and Ming Xi reunited with the team after successfully convincing the mayor. Both sides filled the other in on what happened. Luis did most of the talking, sharing what had happened with the vengeful little baby spirit.
In this manner, they continued visiting the people one house at a time, saving those they could. One of the houses they visited was the house of the boss’s close friend. The daughter there was fortunate to have parents who loved her dearly.
Her parents knew something big was going to happen and their lives could be forfeit, but they chose to stay when they found out their daughter couldn’t come with them, neither wanted to leave their daughter to die alone.
Fortunately Feng Wu’s group arrived in time and saved her by purifying the baby spirit. The family cried in joy.
The kids left after leaving the family the same admonishment they left everyone else: stay indoors and don’t let the rain hit you.
Feng Wu abruptly stopped and said, “Wait. It’s going to rain soon.”
“Is Princess Nai Nai almost here?” Jier asked. He understood Feng Wu well. With just that short sentence he knew what she meant.
“So slow. What took her so long to get here?” Wind wrinkled his nose.
“Don’t talk, just look for a place to shelter from the rain,” Ming Xi ordered.
Because it was so close to the realm battlegrounds, the town had a lot of adventurer visiting it every year. There were many small inns all over town catering to this clientele. So Ming Xi and his group quickly found an inn to shelter in.
It was a good thing. The rain came crashing down shortly after they went inside.
It was clearly day, but the sky was so dark it felt more like the middle of the night. The kids had sprayed their eyes so for them the rain wasn’t clear liquid, but red bloody droplets. Everything was tainted red. The only respite came from the black fog that rolled through.
Screams, filled with mourning, drifted into town.
“Princess Nai Nai is coming.” Elena clenched her hand tightly around her sword.
Those residents who planned to leave quickly ran back home. They were soaked but they didn’t mind since they were so close to home still. It was easy enough to change into dry clothes. They would try to leave again once the rain let up. Once inside they shuttered their windows and locked their doors.
Unfortunately most of them wouldn’t get that chance. For most this would be the last rain they’d live to see.
When the princess finally arrived the mayor went out to greet her and lend her the use of his personal manor. He left with a big umbrella afterwards.
The sky cleared up and the rain stopped half an hour later. People returned to packing so they could leave.
The mayor had sent out several runners to tell everyone several adventurers had warned him something big was going to happen in town, that it would not be safe to remain. He advised everyone to leave for a few days until things settled down.
Most of the town’s residents were normal people. They didn’t know any magic or how to cultivate so they were very respectful to powerful adventurers. Most of the residents decided to leave after listening to what the mayor’s message. Only a minority opted not to seek refuge in the city. Instead they chose to stay behind and mind their homes.
None of them would have thought it was too late to leave, that the blood bath would start soon.
“What do we do now?” Yifu asked as she clutched at Zi Cheng’s clothes. She was uneasy and deeply regretted coming. If she knew it was so dangerous, she would have stayed behind at the inn with Jasmine.
A voice roared in her heart when she thought this. The voice said Zi Cheng was her best friend; how could she leave her alone? She had to protect Zi Cheng no matter what, even if it meant dying; her life’s purpose was to protect Zi Cheng.
The firm voice erased the uneasiness in her heart.
“The demon has to be with Princess Nai Nai, so we’ll go to where she is,” Jier stated.
Ming Xi made his decision quickly. “We’ll divide into two groups. My group will guard Princess Nai Nai, and Feng Wu, you and your group continue helping the girls.”
Everyone agreed to the plan so Feng Wu and her team[notes] left to help more girls, while Ming Xi and his group went to guard the princess.
Lydia told them time was running out, so they rushed, trying to help as many people as they could.
The next house on their list wasn’t far so they reached it quickly. They could hear loud argument as they stood at the front gates.
“Let me go mom! The princess is in danger! I have to go find her!” The speaker sounded like a young woman, around twenty or so. Her voice was nasally and hoarse, like she’d been crying for some time.
“Where are you going to go looking like that?! Everyone in town look at us like we’re monsters. The spit from all their gossip will drown you! And you still want to take care of some princess?!” A middle-aged woman screamed from near the doorway.
“How can I not care about the princess?! She treated me so well! I have to talk to her and explain things properly!” The young woman’s voice was firm.
“No! I won’t allow it! Out of the question! You think the princess is going to let us off? You think she’s going to let our family off?!” The older woman sounded even more alarmed than before.
Feng Wu and the group looked at each other before knocking. No one came to open the gates, probably because the shouting was so loud. Jier had to bang on it a few more times before someone came out.
“Who are you?” the middle-aged woman asked when she saw them. She was older but her clothes looked nicer than those of the previous families they visited. She looked at Feng Wu and the group with eyes full of suspicion and unease.
No one in the group thought anything of her gaze. Everyone they visited had given them the same distrustful and nervous looks at first.
The affected families were living under a great deal of pressure from the townspeople ever since the pregnancies appeared. Some more venomous people even smeared animal blood and feces on their doors. Naturally this made the families on guard against any visitors.
“Hello, we were sent by the Adventurers’ guild to help you.” Pei Qing smiled politely taking on the task of speaking for the group.
The woman replied in disbelief. “Adventurers? You’re from the Adventurers’ guild? The mayor didn’t say anything about asking the Adventurers’ guild for help.”
The mayor was a good person, but he wasn’t so selfless he would pay out of his own pocket. Maybe if his own family was affected, yes, but otherwise… never. The magician from last time was only invited because everyone in town pitched in, with a majority of the funds coming from families with daughters. After all no one knew who the next victim could be. The families with already pregnant daughters paid the most.
The woman hadn’t seen the mayor come around asking for donations, and she certainly hadn’t heard anything about it.
“It was not a request from the mayor. The boss from the inn near town asked us to help. We’ve already visited several of the families affected and resolved the problem of the babies for them. Allow us to see your daughter. The longer we wait the more dangerous it will be. The sooner we resolve the issue the better.”
“Oh, him!” the woman exclaimed in relief. If it was the inn owner, then she could believe it. He was a good man. He looked after the more destitute children by giving them jobs at his inn. “Everyone please, come in. I will bring my daughter out shortly.”
Feng Wu and the group followed the woman. The yard looked well maintained and the house decent. They were definitely well-off, probably middle to upper-middle class, and much wealthier than any of the previous families the group visited. If not for their daughter’s situation they would have been a respectable house.
The mother came back with her daughter, Xiao Lan, a beautiful girl with dispirited eyes and considerably pregnant belly. Had they arrived a day or two later it would have been impossible to save her. She would have died the same way the other girl had.
Xiao Chun forced the baby out and quickly purified it.
With the baby gone, Xiao Lan’s body returned to normal. She looked down at her flat belly and cried. Then she flung herself onto Feng Wu as she pleaded, “Oh honorable adventurer, please, please save the princess! Princess Nai Nai is in danger. Please save her!” She dropped onto her knees and kowtowed to Feng Wu desperately begging for help.
Jier and Pei Qing exchanged glances. It looked like Xiao Lan knew something.
“Ms. Xiao Lan, please get up first before saying more. We saw the princess today. She seemed fine. How is it she’s in danger?” Pei Qing asked as he gently helped Xiao Lan to her feet. He intentionally pitched his voice so it would be soothing; when paired with his good looks, it was a powerful combination.
Xiao Lan blushed. Even if she didn’t want to get up she would still be pulled up.
“Xiao Lan take your time and talk to these honorable adventurers. Mother will get everyone something to drink.” Her mother was relieved to see her daughter better. It put her in an excellent mood. She realized she still had not offered her guests anything to drink, so she quickly walked away to get some refreshments.
Everyone was focused on Xiao Lan so no one minded the older woman leaving.
“Miss Xiao Lan, what do you know?” Wind knew she had a story to tell and he couldn’t wait to hear it.
Xiao Lan blushed. “Please don’t call me Miss Xiao Lan. I’m not a young miss anymore. Honorable adventurers can call me Xiao Lan.”
Jier was also eager to learn more, so when he spoke he also considerably softened his voice. “OK, Xiao Lan, can you tell us what you know? We overheard the conversation between you and your mother. Is there something wrong with Princess Nai Nai? Is something big going to happen?” He was the epitome of a warm, patient person.
“Honorable adventurers, please have a seat,” Xiao Lan said.
Xiao Lan’s mother returned with a tray of cups and a pot of flower tea. She poured everyone a cup before sitting down to join the conversation.
Xiao Lan began. “I was born and raised in this tiny town. Back then we could barely survive because my family was so poor. Things became even more strained when my brother was born. There was no way we could feed an additional mouth. I decided to sell myself into indentured servitude to lighten our burden.
I was six and very tiny for my age. Not many rich people wanted such a scrawny girl for a servant. But I had really good luck because the palace was recruiting new maids at the time. I and a bunch of other girls my age were picked to go and serve in the imperial palace.
Living in the palace was heavenly. We had to learn a lot of rules, but we got to eat our fill every day, so we were all really happy.
I and another girl named Xiao Na became Princess Nai Nai’s maids a year later.
The princess cared about our well-being and was good to us. She would give us small rewards from time to time. The rewards improved my family’s condition greatly. Over time my family and I saved enough to buy a nice house and open a shop. My younger brother was able to go school and learn whatever he wanted.
If my brother hadn’t been bitten by a poisonous viper six months ago, maybe none of this would have happened. You see, it was when I returned home to give him the antidote that all the bad things started.”
Xiao Lan began crying as she talked. And like a domino effect, her mother began crying as well. The atmosphere suddenly turned gloomy.
“Six months ago a poisonous snake bit my brother. The doctor here could barely control the venom, never mind heal him. At her wits end, my mother sent me a letter. After reading it I asked the princess for an antidote. The princess was very good to me. Not only did she give me the antidote, she also gave me a leave of absence so I could deliver it to my brother.
My brother healed quickly after getting the antidote. I don’t see my brother much but we have a good relationship nonetheless. He wanted me to stay a little longer so I did.
On the third day of my visit a mercenary group returned from the realm battlegrounds. They had a lot of merchandise to sell. One of the things they had was a dagger. I wanted to buy it for my brother so he could protect himself. The dagger was depleted of energy but it was welded from fine material. I spent thirty gold coins and bought it for him.
It was after I bought the dagger that my dreams of that man started. He was a beautiful man; I’ve never met anyone more beautiful. He was the prince of an ancient kingdom. He said he fell in love with me when he saw me and he wanted to make me his queen.
I’d grown up in the palace and met all three princes. So I knew how princes behaved. This one was far too casual to be a prince, so I took it as a joke.
A few days later I dreamt about him again. In the dream, he accompanied me in conversation then we played chess. Later he showed me how to use a sword. He was knowledgeable in so many things. My attraction to him grew over time. One night he said he wanted to us to… to...” Xiao Lan bit her lip unable to continue.
“I didn’t agree at first. I’m not a loose girl. How could I do that with a man I’m not married to? But he became more forceful each night. One night after another of my refusals, he completely disappeared. I didn’t see him for a full month.
I was afraid he would never come back. When he did show up again, I gave in and we... Afterwards he never showed up again. I thought it was just a fantasy dream - until I became pregnant!
It came out of the blue! It was only a fanciful dream, so how did I end up pregnant?! It was unbelievable.” Xiao Lan cried even harder. It was clear remembering it was hard for her.
“The rules in the palace are very strict. I was pregnant, so I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to wait on the princess. My unwed pregnancy would stain the princess’s reputation.
I returned to the palace and told the princess my mother found a good match for me. I asked her to release me from her service so I could get married.
She was always good to me so of course she said yes. On top of that she even presented me with a box of jewels as a wedding present. She really believed I was leaving to get married!
I didn’t want the princess to be involved in the scandal so I left as soon as I could.
I went to so many doctors hoping to find out what was wrong with my body. Every one of them said I was pregnant. But how was that possible?! I didn’t do anything! The only thing I did was in a dream.
I returned home in a daze. Soon news of several other girls in town being pregnant broke out. My own situation became public knowledge as well. People assumed we were promiscuous and having babies out of wedlock.
There were so many scandals! We were shut in our rooms. The mayor demanded we tell him the name of the father, but how could we tell him when there wasn’t one?!”
“We told the mayor and everyone else what happened, but no one believed us. I talked to the other girls and our experiences were the same. It was the same man, same pregnancy, same kind of dream.
Over time more and more girls became pregnant. Eventually, unable to bear the shame, one of the girls took a dagger and tried to commit suicide. Everyone thought she’d die, but she didn’t! Instead her wound healed and she was fine.
It turned out we didn’t even have the luxury of death. The town finally realized what was happening to us wasn’t normal. We pooled our money and hired a magician to investigate. But that magician was useless! He couldn’t see what was wrong with us at all!
The princess came later. She didn’t stay long, but went straight to the realm battlegrounds. In order to avoid a scandal, us pregnant girls were shut back inside our homes.
I really wanted to see the princess, but how could I show my face looking like this?!
The interesting thing was there weren’t any new pregnancies after the princess left. So I think the man in the dream had to have followed her.
I remembered I talked to him about Princess Nai Nai once. He was interested and asked a lot of questions about the princess. I shouldn’t have told him about her. Now he’s entrapped the princess too!” Xiao Lan spoke regretfully.
If only she hadn’t bought that dagger none of this would be happening! She felt horrible for bringing harm to her benefactor.
Jier spoke up. “You mean all this started because of the dagger you purchased? Can you show it to us?”
“Yes! I’ve kept it with me. I thought it would come in handy one day. Please wait. I’ll get it right away!” Xiao Lan wiped her tears and rushed up to get the dagger.
She came back a few minutes later carrying a locked wooden box. She unlocked it to reveal a small black dagger. It didn’t emit any discernable energy. At first glance it appeared to be a depleted weapon – nothing unusual. Other than the fine material it was made out of, it was just a normal dagger. It was exactly as Xiao Lan described it.
Just as everyone was thinking it was an ordinary dagger, Feng Wu spoke up. “This is a special dagger. The hilt is made out of the rare soul-raising wood. A soul can stay in this kind of wood while the physical body recovers. It is a very special wood.
Feng Wu recognized the wood because of her master back on Yuehue mountain. Her master had many hobbies but his favorite was to collect rare swords. That was why she knew about the soul-raising wood. Her master had one in his collection.
“Soul-raising wood? Is there such a thing in this world? I’ve never heard of it.” Wind racked his brain but couldn’t recall any references to it.
Jier guessed. “So then the demon has been living inside the wood?”
Feng Wu shook her head seriously. “No, only souls can enter. Doesn’t matter if it’s human or demon, if it has a body it can’t enter.”
“So then this demon isn't physical and it’s using this method to become corporeal again. So that’s why. This asshole doesn’t even have a body.” Pei Qing sneered.
“May I have the dagger?” Feng Wu asked Xiao Lan.
“Honorable adventurer saved me. I don’t know how I could even repay that debt. If you want the dagger I’m more than happy to give it. Please take it,” Xiao Lan replied as she handed the dagger to Feng Wu. She further pleaded, “Regarding this matter, I have one more request to ask of honorable adventurers. Please say you’ll accept it.”
“Speak.” Jier wasn’t going to agree to a request before hearing what it was first.
“I wrote a letter to the princess, but I can’t leave home to give it to her. Please, honorable adventurers, will you deliver this letter directly into the princess’s hands for me?” Xiao Lan couldn’t do it herself, so she could only inconvenience others to do it for her. She was no longer a high-ranking maid serving the princess, so their relationship had cooled. The princess had someone else by her side serving her now. She and the other maid, Xiao Na, weren’t on good terms. They got along in front of the princess, but it was just and act.
So seeing the princess was easier said than done. Xiao Na blocked her every route to the princess. It was only through luck that she encountered these people. Her only wish was for them the help the princess.
Jier didn’t expect her to ask for something so simple. He nodded his head, accepting her request.
Before leaving they told the family the same thing they told everyone else: lock the doors, bar the windows, don’t let anyone in, and don’t go outside.
They learned a lot during the visit. Who would have guessed someone from such a small village would know so much.
The group wanted to go to more homes and save more people but were interrupted when several screams broke out around them.
“Oh my god!”
“These people are crazy!”
“Son, son, what are you doing? I’m your mother! Why are you trying to hurt me?!”
“Darling what are you doing! I’m your wife!”
The town erupted in violence. Cries for help and screams of pain shattered the peace. The coppery smell of blood filled the air. Some people ran away, some covered their eyes while others slashed and hacked indiscriminately at anyone nearby. There was no mercy, even for their own kin. It was like they’d lost their minds to the violence.
“What’s going on?” Wind cried out in fright. Everything was so sudden!
“They’re the people who were soaked in the rain. Their hatred controls them and they can’t break free.” Lydia explained.
“Can we save them?” Pei Qing asked.
Lydia’s reply was blunt. “Other than Xiao Wu, none of you guys have the ability.”
Pei Qing thought that was harsh. Couldn’t she say the truth more tactfully?
Jier and the others closely watched Feng Wu as she pulled out Xiao Chun. She held him out in front of her, letting his aura spread outward. The people who had lost their minds crumbled to the ground unconscious. Those who had been trying to escape gratefully thanked Feng Wu before running home as fast as they could. They barricaded themselves inside away from the massacre, but were unable to let their guards down. They were safe now, but it wasn’t guaranteed to last. They wouldn’t truly be safe unless they could get out of town.
“Come on, let’s find Ming Xi and the others.” Jier looked grimly at the dead bodies that littered the streets.
The once peaceful town was now a living hell, filled with the aggressive roars of those trying to kill and the panicked and frightened screams of those being attacked. Even children weren’t spared. Their tiny shrill wails filled the air.
Those who had lost their minds were on a rampage with an insatiable urge to kill. The people who were killed eventually rose and murdered those around them as well. It was a constant cycle of death. Not until everyone was killed would the massacre end.
Many had already died by the time Feng Wu and her group reached the manor where the princess was staying. The air, just like in town, was filled with the stench of blood. It crept out and wrapped around them.
Those affected by the rain had bloodshot eyes and were themselves stained red from the blood of others. Many of the guards with Princess Nai Nai had lost their minds and self-control. The only urge they had was the urge to kill. In fact most of the people in the manor were slain by them.
Feng Wu’s group arrived to find the princess hiding behind Commander Liffman. Her two maids, Xiao Na and Meier, flanked her sides. The maids were pale and scared but they knew their duty. Commander Liffman, together with Ming Xi and his group were acting as a buffer wall, protecting them.
It was the first time they saw her face fully exposed. She really was a beauty, with sexy pouty lips, deep dark brows, and unblemished, smooth porcelain skin. Unfortunately at the moment, no one had the time to admire her beauty.
Tian Ya was freezing some of the attackers into human popsicles with his sword intent, Luis was using his wood magic and commanding vines to tie them up, while Gerasi had stuck his staff directly into the ground and was calling up a boulder. It rose up and surrounded some of the crazed attackers.
Ai Lin was using a combination of fire and wood magic to deal a considerable amount of damage to the attackers. Yifu was skillfully using her wind magic to fight as well. Unexpectedly in a moment of crises she displayed commonsense levelheadedness. She gripped Zi Cheng’s staff and continued pouring out wind magic. Even if her magic wasn’t powerful, it was enough to fend off the swarm trying to grab her.
Elena was having a harder time with the battle. Although she was an excellent swordmaster in the fifth year, she hadn’t yet achieved sword intent. Using a physical weapon to fight against an opponent who was unafraid of pain or dying was truly difficult, so although she was skilled, she couldn’t make much headway.
Ming Xi was the most relaxed of the group. He didn’t let the fifth-year reputation down. He was clearly a student from the Sword division, but he hadn’t even pulled out his sword. Instead he was using magic, stretching out his hand and waving his fingers. The people he pointed at became stiff and stopped moving. All they could do was roar in rage.
It was because Ming Xi’s group was there that the group in the manor was still safe.
“Help me! Help me please! I don’t want to die!” A woman with a swollen belly stumbled through the manor gate behind them. Her stomach was pulsating like there was something inside trying to get out. The woman was crying desperately. It looked like she knew she was going to die.
Feng Wu looked at the woman. She walked over slowly as she spoke. “It’s too late. I can’t save you.”
The woman gave one last scream before the skin on her stomach tore. A small black baby gnawed its way out of her belly. Another grudge was born. The baby didn’t rush to attack everyone. The first thing it did was to eat its mother’s flesh one small mouthful at a time.
Its eyes became redder as it ate. Its body became more substantial and solid. Honestly who would believe such a thing unless they saw it with their own eyes?!
Other similar screams rent the air as more girls died giving birth to the baby grievances in their belly. The newly born grudges flew to the sky in a dark cloud, rushing to the manor where Princess Nai Nai was staying.
The souls of the dead girls also rose up, following the babies. They died too horribly so they wanted revenge.
The manor was quickly surrounded by souls of the dead and baby grievances. They screamed. Their screams were filled with sorrow and hate for what had been done to them. They wanted to tear the princess apart.
“Why do they hate the princess so much? If they want to hate somebody, why not hate the demon that did this to them?” Wind wondered out loud. He thought the girls would seek the demon for revenge, so why target the princess?
“Princess Nai Nai is hiding the demon. They can’t find him so they came to her.” Lydia explained. Seeing all the resentful souls reminded her of the cave. She was uncomfortable. Not wanting to stay she said, “Xiao Wu, this place smells bad. I’m leaving.”
Lydia didn’t wait for Feng Wu to reply before directly returning to her contract space inside Feng Wu. Fortunately for Lydia, Feng Wu didn’t have time to talk. With so many baby grudges around them, if they didn’t settle the matter soon, a lot more people were going to die; they might not even be able to return alive.
“Hahahah! At last my strength has returned!” A harsh, violent laughter rang out.
A man clad entirely in black appeared before them. He was a sight to behold. With his dark mesmerizing eyes and clear swarthy skin, he was a beautiful specimen of a man, but underlying that beauty was a thread of something sinister.
Everyone guessed his identity. He had to be the man from the dreams. Sure enough, once he appeared all the dead girls pounced on him.
The man ignored them. His focus was on the recently born baby grudges.
“Finally! The moment I’ve been waiting for is here. As soon as I devour all of you, I will regain my full power! Even the Demon lord will not be able to stop me! Hahaha!” He looked at the small baby grudges floating above with a greedy stare.
“Thunder! You’re finally here!” Princess Nai Nai disregarded her two maids and ran to him as soon as she saw him. He opened his arms and held her in an embrace.
“Darling, now that you’re here, will it finally be safe for our child to be born?” the princess asked as she snuggled in his arms.
“Of course dear.” Thunder caressed Nai Nai’s back. Though his gesture appeared gentle, his eyes shone with bloodthirst and greed for power.
Princess Nai Nai had her head buried in his chest so she didn’t see it.
“Little Nai Nai be an obedient child and stand aside while I deal with the trash.” He kissed her on the forehead then released her from his embrace.
Princess Nai Nai stepped to the side with a shy but haughty smile on her lips.
“Princess! How could you-“ Commander Liffman was dumbfounded. He never suspected the princess was a part of it all.
“Could I what? This is the man I love. He’s incomparable in every way. He and I are a perfect match. She ignored Liffman’s look of shock and disapproval. She was very proud of her lover.
Liffman looked at the princess in front of him. She’d become a stranger to him; he couldn’t understand her. He turned to Xiao Na and Meiren. From the way they dodged his eyes, he realized they had purposefully kept what was going on with the princess a secret.
He understood they were the princess’s maids; their loyalty lay with her, but such a big secret, the princess being pregnant with some strange unknown man, they should have said something! Keeping something like this wouldn’t help the princess; it would only harm her!
While Liffman was lost in thought, Ming Xi and his group were assessing the man Princess Nai Nai called Thunder.
Thunder, on the other hand, was not paying attention to Ming Xi’s group; his attention was focused on the baby grudges in the air. He was catching them and eating them.
“As if!” Jier yelled. “Season Gods, release my seal!”
Jier held his hand to the sky and a red light split through the horizon. It amplified and filled the air, seemingly never-ending. It glowed awesomely around Jier, making him look solemn and otherworldly. A fiery flame imprinted on his forehead. The red light disappeared but the mark remained, vivid and realistic, like a flame living on his skin. A mysterious aura completely enveloped his body.
Jier looked up again and shouted, “Blue Flame!” A fiery red magic staff responded to his call. It flew from the distant horizon and sped directly into Jier’s grasp.
“What a surprise. A successor to one of the gods of seasons. With that mark, you must be Summer’s heir. Only the chosen bearing the mark can call their weapon to the lower realms.” As Thunder mused out loud his face changed. But then something occurred to him and his face changed again.
Perhaps he was looking down at Jier because of Jier’s youth, after all the guy wasn’t even twenty yet.
The mark of the gods?! Listening to Thunder speak, those around realized Jier was not a simple person, to succeed one of the season gods… Even if he was weak now, he was destined to be an incomparable force with a brilliant future ahead!
Pei Qing and Wind: Phew! How lucky. Captain’s the successor to one of the season gods. Life’ll be easy-going and wonderful as long as we follow him!
Jier would have laughed at them if he heard their thoughts.
Ai Lin, Zi Cheng, and Yifu were all surprised at the revelation. To think Feng Wu was friends with a someone like that.
Legend had it, long ago humanity was very weak. Formidable forces used the human world as a stage for their battles. This inevitably resulted in the loss of many innocent human lives.
Two of the gods from the upper realms were originally from the human world: they were humans who surpassed the limits of humanity and ascended. They were deeply affected as they watched the destruction of the places they once called home.
The human gods begged the High Heavenly Lord to allow them to descend and live mortal lives again. The High Heavenly Lord granted their request and dropped four children with heavenly blood to the world so the two gods could be born into the human realm.
The season gods reminisced about the two human gods the day after they descended back to the human world. Earlier the two had asked them to help humanity. Survival was difficult for humanity because there were only two seasons: rain and drought. The season gods were natural born gods created to serve the High Heavenly Lord so they were compassionate beings. The season gods decided to drop four divine seals down to the human world. The four seals held powers and characteristics related to each specific season god. Only those humans who were compatible with the seals would be able to fuse with and wield the power within. Each seal bearer had the ability to call across the boundary for their related god’s weapon.[notes]
And that’s the legend of the four gods of the seasons. It’s also the legend of the two gods who returned to establish and head Xingguang Holy Academy and Star Marshal Hall.
Ai Lin and Zi Cheng made up their minds to befriend Jier. Ai Lin was especially firm in her resolve. She recalled Jier only appeared in one or two scenes but he was mentioned. So why not?
Ai Lin was relieved to know Jier wasn’t a male love interest in the story. She couldn’t allow friendship to develop between him and Zi Cheng. If at any time Zi Cheng’s favorability rating with him reached 100%, she’d have control of an artifact wielder. Her counterattack plans would be ruined!
Yifu was the most affected by the news. She couldn’t best Feng Wu so her hatred kept festering like rotten mold.
Summer’s heir… he was destined to enter Star Marshal Hall in the future. To know the person she hated most was friends with someone that powerful was disheartening.
Feng Wu had a hazy understanding of the season gods. They were mentioned in the books she read in the virtual world, so she had a general idea about what was going on, but she didn’t dwell too much on it. It didn’t have anything to do with her. Jier was her friend; that was all.
The kids in the upper grades weren’t surprised. Being friends with Ming Xi numbed them to most things already. To a certain extent, they’d already guessed Jier’s identity.
The one most surprised was Princess Nai Nai. The person who she thought was just an ordinary adventurer was actually a big shot. It was like meeting a beggar on the street only to find out later that the person was actually a king touring his country while in disguise.
“Even if you are a successor of the gods, you’re too young, too weak. You only recently gained ownership of your weapon. Given a few more years, you could pose a threat to me, but as you are currently, you’re not a problem. I can run away easily.” Thunder was confident.
“You’re wrong. You think you can escape from this master in front of you now? You can’t.” Jier licked his lips, a cruel smile played on the corner of his mouth.
“Arrogant and conceited!” Thunder disdainfully snorted. He raised his hands up and two black spheres of light appeared. The spheres attacked Jier with a ferocious dark magic.
The only one Thunder cared about, saw as a true opponent, was Jier. Everyone else faded into the background.
Jier didn’t evade the black spheres. He stood firm and chanted a spell. “Glass of fire, burn all life.”
A dazzling red light erupted from his staff when he finished. It charged at Thunder.
The light hit the black spheres on its way, causing the spheres to dim before disappearing altogether. The red light didn’t slow down but continued toward Thunder, only stopping when it crashed squarely into him. Thunder fell to the ground cursing. His aura fluctuated as the injury he was healing from reopened. He was in even worse shape than before!
“Spell of seals, seal this curse!” Ming Xi had opened what looked like an ordinary book. It floated in the air. While Jier was attacking he had flipped through it and found a spell.
The demon named Thunder was immediately sealed inside the book.
“That’s the Divine Seal book isn’t it? Specifically used for sealing away magical entities? My god! The cost for one of those is enough to scare a person to death!” Pei Qing ogled the book as it floated in the air.
“Stop drooling. You couldn’t buy it even if you saved for a lifetime.” Wind said as he shook his head. It was impossible for the likes of them.
Feng Wu watched the whole thing with big, sparkling eyes. Jier was amazing! How did he make a weapon drop from the sky? She couldn’t do that![notes]
“No impossible! How can Thunder be defeated?! You! How dare you imprison the son of the gods! You stupid fool! How dare you sin so greatly!” Princess Nai Nai raged at them. She threw herself at them but Liffman caught her before she could reach anyone. She was screaming and flailing crazily.
“Son of the gods? Are you out of your mind? He’s obviously a demon! His body wasn’t even whole!” Elena glared coldly at Princess Nai Nai.
Princess Nai Nai shook her head at their ignorance. “What nonsense! It’s clear he’s the son of the gods. He was injured in the ancient war; the demons destroyed his body, so he could only exist in spiritual form. Once he recovered his full strength he would become the master of this world, I would take my rightful place as his wife, and our children would inherit everything!” She finished telling them the glorious future she saw for herself.
In Nai Nai’s bright future where she and Thunder ruled the world, her high and mighty elder sister wouldn’t even have the right to look at her face. She would only be allowed to kneel at Nai Nai’s feet.
Their parents would regret all those years they favored her sister. She herself would become the nation’s pride. She and Thunder would live a blissful happy life, traveling and sightseeing the world together. Her son would grow up and become the new king after inheriting the throne. It was all so clear in her mind’s eye.
But these peasants were saying Thunder was a demon. How dare they?! Thunder was the son of the gods - a prince from the higher realm!
They wouldn’t be able to convince her otherwise. She refused to believe anything else. He was a prince meant to rule the human realm. Her son would definitely inherit the throne and rule the world!
“This is Xiao Lan’s. She wanted you to read it carefully,” Feng Wu said as she handed a letter to the princess.
Princess Nai Nai reacted when she heard Xiao Lan’s name, after all Xiao Lan had served her for many years. With shaking fingers, the princess opened the letter and read the content, then promptly tore the letter to shreds after reading it.
“No. Lies. Xiao Lan is scheming. What does she know? Nothing! My man is not a demon but a prince, a son of the gods!”
Princess Nai Nai kept getting louder and louder, as though increasing her volume would buttress her shaking confidence. She squared her shoulders and stuck her chin out defiantly, her resolve firm.
Neither Meiren nor Xiao Na dared to approach the princess. They despaired knowing it was the end for her and for them.
“It’s impossible for humans and spirits to conceive together. The baby was deceived by the faint demonic aura coming from your belly.” Feng Wu corrected Nai Nai.
How could someone not believe when the facts where so clear?
“Lies! Lies! Blasphemy!” Princess Nai Nai had gone crazy and her face contorted into an ugly mask. She was so emotional that veins popped out on her hands and forehead. She looked like she was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
She stubbornly refused to believe them, perhaps knowing that if she did, then everything would be over.
Feng Wu was inflexible in some ways. If someone didn’t believe her, she would do what she could in order to prove her words, otherwise she wouldn’t be happy. She’d never encountered this kind of stubbornness before and so wasn’t sure how to react. Her brows furrowed as she thought. At last she came upon a solution. “You don’t believe? If you see the child with your own eyes will be believe then?”
If Princess Nai Nai insisted the child was a child of god, then if she saw that the child wasn’t, then the truth should be clear.
Feng Wu’s idea was simple and she described it simply.
Princess Nai Nai stared blankly at her. She was only four months along. It was too early for her to go into labor. What was this talk about letting her see her child? Was this girl trying to do something to her baby? Nai Nai instinctively wrapped her arms around her belly in a protective gesture.
By the time she came out of her own thoughts and paid attention to her surroundings again, Feng Wu was already in front of her and holding her hand. A light passed between them and into her belly.
The princess felt something warm trickle down her legs. Looking down she saw her skirt soaking in blood.
“Ah! You- you- what have you done to my child?! Let go of me you wicked person!” Princess Nai Nai screeched and flailed like a wild woman. She reached up with her free hand to tear at Feng Wu.
Her nails were long and would have certainly done damage, but before her hand could land on Feng Wu, Wind and Pei Qing grabbed her.
“Wow! Such long nails. They’d definitely leave a scar. Xiao Wu’s face would have been disfigured,” Wind said as he stared at the lethal nails in shock.
Princess Nai Nai screamed even louder. Commander Liffman watched but didn’t interfere. The princess’s fall from power was a foregone conclusion. He thought about the loss of the brave brothers who followed under his command in serving her. Her role in their deaths left a conflicted feeling in his heart. He felt regret and a strong sense of helplessness.
As for Meiren and Xiao Na, they were in shock. They had helped the princess conceal her marriage and pregnancy from everyone. Something this big… the king would definitely execute them. Their lives were forfeit. They didn’t have the mind to care about the princess right then. They even hated her a little in their hearts. Why couldn’t she be content with just being a princess? Why create all this trouble?
The princess was both proud and insecure. She was insecure in front of her family, but in front of everyone else, she was haughty and prideful. Even if she was very close to her maids, she never showed her insecurity around them. She was generous, but also cruel.
There was a maid who once compared Princess Nai Nai’s abilities to the elder princess’s. It was just talk, but Princess Nai Nai had her executed. She put people to death even for minor offenses like gossip, regardless if it was truth, lies, or exaggerations. No one was exempt. Her personal maids knew just how cruel and merciless she could be.
Maybe it was because of this cruelty, but those who served her didn’t dared betray her. However loyalty born from fear wasn’t reliable. It was inevitable they would betray her if she ever lost power.
Princess Nai Nai screamed one more time before a white light flew out of her belly. There was no resentment in this tiny guy, probably because the magic and the demon that created the resentment were gone.
“Wah! Wah!” the tiny infant cried once he was freed from Nai Nai’s stomach. He waved his curled fist at her with an indignant expression, looking for all the world like he wanted to give her a beating.
Feng Wu rubbed the tiny guy’s hand and spoke in a conciliatory tone. “Don’t be angry. Be careful next time so you won’t be fooled again.”
The baby turned to look at Feng Wu. There was something really comforting about the girl that held his hand. The tiny guy fluttered down closer to Feng Wu and gave her a peck on the cheeks, as if to say thank you.
“What happened?!” Princess Nai Nai collapsed to the ground. Her stomach was flat and the only evidence of her pregnancy now was the stained skirt. She stared hard at the entity that flew out of her belly.
It didn’t bear a resemblance to a human child what with its light shrouded, transparent body. It looked hatefully at her. She was sure if the girl wasn’t holding its hand, it would have rushed at her with its fists.
“The baby was from your stomach, but it’s not your child. Like I said, humans and spirits can’t have babies together. This little guy was fooled by the magic in your stomach. It was trapped inside and couldn’t escape until we caught the demon. Now the baby spirit can be free.”
The two shared a moment together as Feng Wu touched the outline of his face. He didn’t have physical form so she couldn’t touch him directly. Originally the little guy wanted to get revenge on the bad woman that trapped him, but the girl holding his hand kept shaking her head at him. He was unwilling but since she was his savior, he yielded to her request.
He flew away after giving his farewell to Feng Wu.
“Xiao Chun!” Feng Wu called out. She stopped paying attention to the princess after the baby spirit left. The princess’s disbelief didn’t matter anymore. Feng Wu had tried her best, and laid out all the facts in front of her, yet she still chose not to believe. Master told her there were people like that. The facts didn’t matter, they believed what they wanted to believe. These kinds of people made no sense; it would be a waste of time to try to convince them.
So after ignoring Princess Nai Nai, Feng Wu had Xiao Chun fly around the town and purify any lingering grievances or grudges. If they weren’t cleared up the people who died wouldn’t be able to reincarnate.
The princess broke down. She clutched her head with both hands, muttering to herself. “No! How is that even possible!? It’s not possible.”
“Poor thing. She ended up like this because the demon deceived her.” Zi Cheng quickly offered her pity.
Ai Lin wasn’t having any of that. “I don’t think she’s pitiful. Other girls didn’t get the chance to escape the demon, but she did. She had a chance; she even chose help to him. She knew what he looked like. He was clearly a demon, but she didn’t stop him. For his sake and the baby that wasn’t even hers, she chose to help him.
I asked the boss at the inn about the noble girls that got pregnant. Every single one of them were noble girls Princess Nai Nai didn’t like. It’s suspicious that only the girls she didn’t like were afflicted. I think she had a hand in their situation.” Ai Lin looked at the princess disdainfully. This woman didn’t deserve pity; she got exactly what she deserved.
“Regardless, she’s still pitiful. If the demon hadn’t deceived her, she probably wouldn’t have ended like this. It’s a tragedy.” Zi Cheng didn’t approve of Ai Lin’s opinion one bit.
“How can you be such a heartless, vicious person? Poor Princess Nai Nai is pitiful. She is a victim too! Why must you say such mean things?” Yifu piped up.
Ai Lin was about to snap back when Ming Xi and the others shouted in horror. It made other people turn and look in the princess’s direction. She had a sword in hand and was about to stab herself.
Liffman was too late to stop her. A fresh pool of blood quickly formed around her. Then she closed her eyes for the last time.
The princess’s abrupt suicide startled both Commander Liffman and Ming Xi.
With her death, those who served under her and accompanied her on the trip would be made into scapegoats for her crimes and her death.
“I’m done for…” Liffman muttered. Liffman had a wife, children, and parents who relied on him. Even after everything that happened, if he could have brought the princess safely back to the palace and explained everything, though he would have been punished, it would have been bearable. But now…there was no way he would be able to keep his head.
He failed to protect the princess, allowed her to be tempted by a demon, and failed to stop her suicide - high crimes indeed. He would be executed as soon as he returned, he was sure.
“Commander Liffman need not worry. When we return to the capital I and Meiren will admit fault. It’s unlikely commander will be implicated. Xiao Na and Meiren had expected this so they were surprisingly cool-headed in the aftermath.
“In exchange for…?” He and the girls had a good relationship, but he knew it wasn’t that good. They wouldn’t make the offer for free.
“We have one condition. We ask that commander take care of our families, help them find route out of the capital and give them the savings we’ve saved up over the years. This is our request. If commander agrees, then Meiren and I will plead guilty and we will not implicate commander.”
Since they couldn’t escape death, they would use their deaths to help their families.
Liffman stared hard at the two girls. In the end he nodded his head in assent. It was the best course of action for everyone involved. It wasn’t complicated and he guessed their motives. But it was because he knew their motives that his heart was heavy.
At that moment, far away in the capital, the stomach of many pregnant girls deflated. They cried tears of joy. The pregnant bellies they had tried so hard to get rid of were finally gone.
The pregnancies had taken away their future and their freedom. They felt like monsters, were treated like monsters. They couldn’t even die if they wanted to, but now they could live again.
More than half the people in town perished, but the families Feng Wu saved did not suffer any harm because they listened to her warning and stayed inside. They locked their windows and doors and refused to open them for anyone. Fortunately the mayor was still alive so there was someone to manage the town.
Early the next morning, at the first light of dawn, Feng Wu and the group left the town and returned to the small inn.
Liffman had to return to the capital to report. The princess’s death needed to be cleared, confessions made, and punishment meted. There was no way to escape completely unscathed; he would still be punished but at least now the punishment wouldn’t be as severe – just a demotion, which could be considered a fortunate thing out of an unfortunate event. He took the surviving members of the entourage and the bodies of the dead back to the capital.
Before the commander left, Ming Xi asked him to contact the arbitration hall and have them sentence the demon. Ming Xi tore out the page sealing the demon out of the book and gave it to the commander.
It was only yesterday that Feng Wu and the others left the inn, but it felt so much more time had passed. They were weary and tired but were happy to see the familiar faces of Rain and Jasmine.
“I never thought I’d be happy to see you,” Wind exclaimed. They were the first words out of his mouth when he saw her.
Not surprisingly the next ten minutes were filled with Rain chasing after her brother for a beating.
The boss knew a lot of people lost their lives in town, but knowing the situation was resolved alleviated some of his sadness. As thanks he covered the group’s meals and lodgings.
No one rejected his offer, especially not Feng Wu who was particularly weak to free food. As a result the group stayed at the inn for the night and left for the realm battlegrounds the next morning.
The bodies of fallen gods and demons lay buried throughout the region. Alongside their bodies were also the weapons they used.
Maybe it was because the land was soaked with their blood, but many rare fruits, like the fruit for elemental affinity and body enhancement, grew there. Unfortunately, they were often in difficult to reach places.
It wasn’t all good treasures though. There were contaminated plants that grew there as well. The plants weren’t obviously magical to the naked eye, but once consumed their magic would seep into the body and enchant the person in a matter of minutes. If it was just demonic possession, then it wouldn’t be so bad. At worst the newly transformed demon would go to the demon world and mix with the people there. What was bad was if the person was internally influenced by the fruit in such a way so as to not transform completely, becoming neither human nor demon.
That foolish person will have no home, being unwelcome in the demon world and unwanted in the human.
Those with the worse luck were the ones who succumbed to the fruit without even a chance to transform. Their contaminated spirits turned them into mindless killing machines intent on killing anyone that entered the realm battlegrounds. These kinds of resurrected spirits were known as zombies.
Anyone with an understanding of the battlegrounds knew the two most dangerous things were zombies and magical plants. They were adventurers’ worse nightmare. If they weren’t careful, they would become the next zombies themselves.
Elena explained the situation to the juniors in the group.
“Ai Lin, weren’t you going to dig for crystal ores? Why are you coming with us?” Yifu asked Ai Lin.
Ai Lin replied with a deadpan expression. “I think it’s safer to stick together. Besides, it’s all the same to me whether I go to the realm battlegrounds or go digging for magical ore.”
“Ai Lin, make sure not to wander around once we get inside,” warned Elena. She was fond of Ai Lin. Ai Lin was definitely not as stupid as Yifu.
“OK,” answered Ai Lin clearly and obediently.
“Senior Sister Elena, you guys can go on in and train. Don’t mind us. We can take care of ourselves.” Jier didn’t want them to be hampered because of him and the other freshmen in the group.
“Forget about it. Everyone can just stick together, otherwise we’ll worry about you guys becoming zombies.” Tian Ya said in a cold voice. He gave a particularly cold glance at Yifu.
They entered the valley entrance to the battleground in silence. There was so much magic that it saturated everything, causing all the plants to mutate. There were absolutely no ordinary plants here; in fact some were even aggressive and able to attack.
They were all abnormal and gigantic. You couldn’t find a tree shorter than 32’ (10 meters) tall.
There were unsubstantiated rumors of mythical beast sightings, but in reality beasts were a rare occurrence. They couldn’t survive for long in the battlegrounds so the group didn’t have to worry about attacks on that front.
And since zombies only appeared farther up the mouth of the valley, they didn’t have to worry about that either.
Since it was the freshmen’s first time, Ming Xi and his group travelled slowly, taking care to explain the characteristics of the plants they passed, such as which ones were likely to attack, and which ones to watch out for.
Aside from a few mutated plants attacking them, it was an uneventful walk. They found a concealed place to camp for the night as dusk fell. After securing the perimeter with some deterrent powder everyone settled in for the night.
Zi Cheng took a deep breath to firm her resolve. “Seniors, fellow classmates, I have something to say.” Her original plan was safe, but simply too time consuming. She decided to tell them about the tomb. After everything that happened, she knew the seniors weren’t the kind of people to kill someone over treasure.
Jier was even a successor to the gods. Any successor would have to have an honest heart right? It was impossible for an evil person to gain the recognition of the gods. Zi Cheng wasn’t as anxious about divulging information about the tomb because of Jier’s presence.
Her original plan was to keep the tomb a secret and just have Elena lead her to the general area on the map, but telling the group about everything would make the journey more manageable. Besides, with the system’s help she would be able to find the treasure before anyone else. And with Jier in the picture, she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone backstabbing her.
That Zi Cheng was willing to share the story about the tomb disturbed Ai Lin.
This didn’t happen in the original story. In the original one, Zi Cheng led the group to the tomb without revealing her intentions, and upon finding it, feigned surprise. No one ever suspected she planned the entire thing.
But now Zi Cheng was going off-script, saying things that were never in the story. Ai Lin wasn’t sure how this bode for her.
Everyone was interested in the tomb after listening to Zi Cheng talk about it. They all agreed to set out early in the morning and follow the map and see what destiny awaited them.
Zi Cheng knew she was stronger than her peers in class, even the current money-making assignment wasn’t a challenge. However she was not qualified to talk when compared to Ming Xi’s group. Fortunately those in Ming Xi’s group were good people. They saw no problem with Zi Cheng getting more of the share, it was her map after all. Zi Cheng didn’t demand a larger share of the treasure just because she found the map either, instead all she asked for was a chance to search of it.
Regardless what she thought or felt about the situation, this was in fact the best course of action.
Their first night was so quiet it felt like the quiet before the storm, and everyone was uneasy because of it.
There weren’t any large beasts, but there were plenty of reptiles. They were nocturnal creatures so they loved to come out at night. They hunted and played then burrowed back into the ground to eat. They weren’t particular about what they ate either, as long as they could get it, they ate it, even humans were OK.
They were a pain for adventurers because of the speed with which they burrowed in and out of the ground, so it was hard to predict where an attack would come from. It was a simple and effective attack when combined with their thick, nearly impenetrable skin.
Fortunately they were timid creatures with a preference for running away when scared. So they would chomp you down to the bones if you played dead, but if you scared them, they’d happily toss you away in order to make a fast retreat.
“It’s too quiet,” muttered Elena. It wasn’t her first time in the realm battlegrounds, but it was the first time she felt uneasy.
Ming Xi agreed. “It is too quiet, you’re right. Those on watch duty, be extra careful.” He stared hard into the night and squashed the uneasiness in his heart.
Feng Wu gazed off into the distance with a strange look in her eyes. Jier didn’t miss it. He went over and tugged at her sleeve asking, “What’s wrong?”
“Something terrible is about to wake up.”
“Something terrible? Xiao Wu, are you seeing something again. Talk!” Wind exclaimed.
The others turned to stare at Feng Wu. Anything she said would be taken seriously. They knew she wasn’t an ordinary girl after everything that happened in town. If she hadn’t mentioned something was wrong with Princess Nai Nai, they would never have been able to locate the demon, and many more people would have died.
Feng Wu shook her head and only said, “I didn’t see it. I heard it.”
“What did you hear? Can you tell us?” Rain sidled over and sat down next to Feng Wu.
“There’s someone very powerful in the valley. When he wakes up a lot of people will die.” Feng Wu turned to look at Rain’s cute face that was nearly touching her.
“Can’t you be more clear? What's waking up?” Gerasi asked.
“I don’t know because they don’t know either. All they can say is a lot of people die every time this guy wakes up.” Feng Wu was getting her information from the plants. The demonized plants liked to talk and Feng Wu liked to listen so. . .
Ming Xi and Tian Ya looked at each other. Both of them felt something big was going to happen soon. Whatever it was would be even more terrifying than what happened in town.
“Should we leave?” Pei Qing asked. He had complete confidence in Feng Wu’s abilities. Leaving was the first thought that came to mind.
“Out of the question! Didn’t everyone agree we’d go find the tomb together?!” Yifu butted in.
“What does everyone else think?” Ming Xi smiled slightly. There was a faint, peaceful light in his eyes that put everyone at ease.
In the end the only ones who wanted to leave were Wind, Rain and Pei Qing. Zi Cheng wanted to find the treasure so she didn’t want to leave. Yifu would follow whatever Zi Cheng went regardless of the danger. The more reluctant Zi Cheng was to leave, the more reluctant Ai Lin was to leave as well. Jasmine never said much; she would go with popular opinion.
Since the majority wanted to stay, everyone would stay.
Elena wanted to have the freshmen leave, but since they were adamant about staying, she held her tongue. Besides she had the feeling Feng Wu was probably awesome in her own right, Jier was a successor, and they were all students from the school, so they were capable.
Her worries were eased when she thought about it that way. Besides having Feng Wu around would be useful.
Everyone, other than those on watch duty, turned in for the night.
It was quiet the next morning as well. There wasn’t even a single bird chirping. Though early morning light shone golden and bright outside the valley, it was dim inside. The gigantic trees had such luscious leaves that much of the sunlight was filtered out before it reached the ground.
No one had a restful sleep that night, probably because they were so anxious. They got up early and doused the fire. Zi Cheng pulled out the iron sheet with the map, and after confirming the direction, the group set out.
There wasn’t a single animal or insect sound, so it was eerily quiet as they walked through the woods. Their foot falls were the only sounds that broke the oppressive quiet.
What was up with this calmness? Nothing attacked them. Even the fearsome zombies were absent. They walked in this dead atmosphere for several hours, only breaking it up with snippets of conversation.
“What’s wrong with this place? Isn’t it legendary for being dangerous?” Rain deliberately stepped on a twig just to make some noise.
They all nodded their heads, feeling the same way. It was just too quiet! If they didn’t know better, they would never have believed they were in the realm battlegrounds - the battlegrounds of gods and demons! The place was too peaceful!
“The calmer the present is, the more dangerous it will be in the future. Everyone, be on guard.” The unease Ming Xi had tamped down last night returned even stronger than before.
They continued their journey without interruption.
Finally they heard a burst of sound. There was a battle nearby!
Fighting broke out for all kinds of reasons in the realm battlegrounds: from those fighting because of greed to those fighting to protect themselves. It was best not to meddle and just detour around such a scene, otherwise you might find yourself embroiled in a mess.
Ming Xi’s group weren’t inexperienced and they knew people murdered each other every day in the realm battlegrounds. This wouldn’t be the first time they made a detour around such a scene.
They intervened in town earlier because it involved a demon and normal everyday people. It was different with the realm battlegrounds. No normal person would enter unless they wanted to commit suicide. Those who entered were almost always seeking treasure. And if you were a treasure seeker than you had to accept the fact that death lurked around every corner. No one was obligated to help you.
Ming Xi and the others only took a few steps before a group of seven, two women and five men, came into view. The two good looking women cut a sorry figure with their obvious injuries. The men were no better; they had open wounds all over their bodies. It looked like a life and death type of situation.
“You’re finally here!” The women’s eyes lit up when they saw Feng Wu’s party. She purposefully shouted as loud as she could. Her group immediately ran over intending to use the kids as cannon fodder.
Ming Xi and the others frowned. They didn’t expect to encounter such a situation.
Behind the fleeing group of seven was another group of thirty. There were ten magicians and twenty swordmasters all wearing the same uniform. They weren’t the kind of people you wanted to make angry.
Tian Ya pulled out his sword and aimed it at the group of seven before they reached Feng Wu and everyone else. Ice moved menacingly across the blade and the surrounding air chilled instantly.
The seven people had felt a deep chill around their legs from the moment he drew his sword. Looking down they saw ice encasing their feet.
“What did you do?! Release us right now!” Their faces turned ugly, especially the woman dressed in blue. She didn’t expect her plan to use the kids would backfire. These guys were powerful and not the pushovers she expected! It only took a single swordmaster to freeze them on the spot.
“Friends, thank you for your help.” A middle aged swordmaster from the pursuing party stepped out and nodded toward Ming Xi and the others.
It was obvious from their appearances the group of seven weren’t part of Ming Xi’s group. No one who entered the battlegrounds would be that stupid. Any fool could see through the woman’s plan to drag the kids in.
“Sure. They obviously overestimated their abilities.” Tian Ya gave the group of thirty a cold glance before ignoring them and walking away.
He was rude, but making an enemy of someone who’s strength you couldn’t gauge was stupid. So, although some in the group gave him mean looks, they didn’t remark on Tian Ya’s actions.
“I’m Cohen, commander of the third squadron for the mercenary company, Inferno. Who are you my friends?” Cohen asked Ming Xi and company. He wasn’t put off by Tian Ya’s abrupt manners, instead it only made him smile more broadly.
“We’re students from Xingguang Holy Academy. Our names are not worth mentioning.” Ming Xi smiled.
It was a radiant smile, and it glowed with the beauty of the moon in the dark forest.
This guy is too beautiful! thought Cohen to himself. In comparison his group were like a bunch of ugly butchers! He didn’t doubt they were students from Xingguang Holy Academy. He’d been a mercenary long enough to tell when someone was being truthful.
“Let us go! Do you know who we are?! We’re from the Yiduo clan! The Yiduo won’t let you guys off if you hurt us!” This came from the woman in green. She stood next to the woman in blue.
Ming Xi had no interest in them at all. He and his group gave their farewells to Cohen and turned to leave.
“Students, wait! There’s something big about to happen. If your only reason for being here is to gain experience, then I recommend leaving soon.”
Ming Xi and his group weren’t the only ones who felt uneasy, other experienced people exploring the area also felt it.
Cohen had good intentions when he told Ming Xi and his group to leave. They had a bright future ahead of them and he didn’t want their lives to be cut short by misfortune in the battlegrounds.
“Thank you for your concern. We will be careful.” Ming Xi thanked the man sincerely. He and his group were already aware of the situation but he appreciated the warning.
Cohen could see Ming Xi’s group weren’t going to leave. They were strangers who met in passing so he wasn’t going to go out of his way to convince them. He warned them. What they chose to do with that warning was their business.
Neither groups thought about the other after parting ways.
The kids found a good place to set up camp for the night.
Feng Wu and her team[notes] had the habit of carrying dried foods with them. Ming Xi’s team[notes] went out on expeditions to train often, so they were accustomed to carrying various ingredients and spices on their bodies at all times. This way they would be able to cook something when they didn’t want to eat the prepared rations they brought along with them.
“We’ll help.” Zi Cheng volunteered as she took the pot from Elena and positioned it over the fire. Meanwhile Yifu helped wash the vegetables with water supplied by Zi Cheng’s water magic.
Potatoes in this world were much larger than the ones back on Earth but they were just as popular. Ai Lin used a small knife to peel and dice them.
Elena saw Feng Wu standing nearby looking awkward so she called out, “Feng Wu, come and help cut the vegetables." She held the knife out to Feng Wu wanting to include her.
Light positively beamed out of Feng Wu’s eyes - she was so excited. It was the first time anyone voluntarily let her help in the kitchen.
Jier was helping the other boys pitch the tents, so wasn’t aware of what was happening. When he turned around and saw Feng Wu holding a knife and cutting some vegetables his stomach did a somersault.
Vegetables? Cutting? As long as she didn’t cook anything, it would be fine right? Uncertainty ate at Jier, but one thing he was certain about was the quality of Feng Wu’s cooking. It was lethal and to be avoided at all costs! He remembered the first time he tasted something she made. It knocked him out for a solid twenty minutes. Then when he woke up he couldn’t eat anything – for three days! He lost over five pounds. Anyone else would have surely died!
It was a sad past. Just thinking about it made him lose his appetite, better to stop, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to eat dinner.
It would be over for anyone who passed out in the battlegrounds. Just give up, turn into a zombie, or be food for the reptiles.
No, it was too dangerous to let Feng Wu cook. Jier had to check. “Xiao Wu,” he asked his voice laced with care, “are you cooking?”
“Xiao Cheng is cooking. She’s an amazing cook. In fact many of the recent popular dishes were her creations.” Yifu immediately piped up, not wanting Feng Wu to get any credit.
“Oh, well then carry on. I’ll stay out of the way.” Xiao Wu wasn’t cooking! Jier’s entire body relaxed now that the danger had passed. He waved to Feng Wu before running into the woods to collect more sticks and twigs.
Feng Wu wondered why Jier had come over at all.
The smell of cooked stew floated around camp as everyone ate. Both Luis and Gerasi complimented Zi Cheng on her cooking; it was a savory and filling meal.
Gerasi sighed in contentment. “Junior Zi Cheng is so skilled. If Elena was half as good we wouldn’t have to worry about eating crappy food on expeditions.”
Luis edged away from Gerasi as he thought: stuuuupid!
“Oh, is Little Brother Gerasi dissatisfied with my cooking?”
The tone made Gerasi’s back crawl. He thought: ah my god what a stupid mistake! Do I not want to live anymore? Why the hell did I say that?
“Ahm. . . Ahm. . . Big Sister Elena, I was confused. Confused! I misspoke – I used the wrong words! Oh honorable, wonderful, forgiving, Big Sister Elena, can we just pretend I didn’t say anything?” Gerasi looked up at Elena with large moist eyes filled with unshed tears. Sitting there with his bowl of stew and that pitiful expression on his face, he looked like a battered and abused housewife.It was too beautiful! The others were sitting back to enjoy the show.
“No . . . can . . . do.” Elena laid her bowl down gently before stepping toward Gerasi in a very ladylike manner. She reached for his bowl and pulled it out of his hands. Once it was safely out of the way . . . *whack!* she clobbered him. Then she hauled him away into the grass to be properly educated.
“No! Wait! Please, I won’t dare talk nonsense anymore! Help!” Gerasi pleaded. It was useless, Elena was merciless and his companions were enjoying the show too much to help.
Don’t know where he got it from, but Luis found a white handkerchief to wave for Gerasi.
“Will Senior Gerasi be all right?” Zi Cheng’s voice was full of worry.
“Don’t worry about him. He’ll be fine.” Luis assured her.
Zi Cheng felt better. It turned out she was being overly worried.
The potato stew was devoured quickly by the group and another night passed by peacefully. Somehow or other, news of the god’s tomb spread, and before long everyone in the battlegrounds knew of it.
By the time the kids reached the tomb, there was already a massive crowd of people milling about.
Zi Cheng didn’t understand why so many people were there.
Ai Lin didn’t know either – there were too many plot changes! The only ones who should have been at the tomb were the members of the Yiduo clan. Zi Cheng would arrive later and the two would fight to gain entrance. Ultimately, as the female MC, Zi Cheng would win, enter the tomb, and get the divine artifact. The fact that the structure was a tomb wasn’t something anyone else should have known. Ai Lin was really confused.
No one else in the group knew the tomb was supposed to be a big secret or just how important it was.
The battlegrounds were a huge, expansive region. Many people entered to get hands on training and gain experience. They were all confident in their abilities, but they knew not to underestimate anyone they met.
News about the tomb spread fast. There were so many factions gathered around that no one would have been able to sneak inside the tomb unnoticed. Ming Xi’s group joined the growing number of people milling about without attracting any attention. They could tell there was something wrong so they looked for an inconspicuous place to wait. But some people shine brightly no matter where they are. People will inexorably turn to them even if they’re just standing still minding their own business.
Unfortunately Ming Xi’s party was full of people like that: there was the gentle, charming and charismatic Zi Cheng, there was the incredibly sexy Elena with her curvaceous body, there was the beautiful and sassy looking Ai Lin with her bright smile, there was the exotic, dark, mysterious beauty of Feng Wu, and then there was Yifu and Jasmine, who were pretty in their own right. That was the ladies, the boys were amazing too.
Jier was like a fire in the night with his flaming red hair and heated atmosphere. Tian Ya exuded a chilly beauty with his cold eyes and murderous aura. Ming Xi stood like a serene beauty, charm glowing from every pore. He was like the moon god incarnate. Men, women, it didn’t matter the gender, eyes gravitated towards him. The ladies were staring quite lasciviously as a matter of fact. The other males in the group may as well just blend into the background.
Those undistinguishable men.[notes]: . . .
“Hey, are you guys also looking for treasure in the god’s tomb?” The question came from a sloppily dressed young man in a nearby group composed of both men and women. It was obvious they were interested in Ming Xi’s team.
“You guys too?” Luis took on the role of ambassador.
What god’s tomb? Wasn’t this just an ordinary tomb? Both Jier and Gerasi discretely glanced at Zi Cheng. Had she known all along it wasn’t just an ordinary tomb but actually a god’s tomb?
Suspicion bloomed in Jier’s heart. He decided Zi Cheng wasn’t as honest as she appeared. If he did go into the tomb he needed to watch out for her.
Gerasi had some doubts but he wasn’t certain. The others in the group felt the same way. It was possible she didn’t know. But even if she did, she was the one who discovered it, so her keeping it a secret was fair. After all it was a god’s tomb. It was appropriate to be on guard and be cautious.
Their opinion of Zi Cheng was unchanged.
Feng Wu was confused. “It’s not just an old tomb?” There was no hidden motive in her question; she only asked because she wanted clarification.
Other’s hearing the question took it the wrong way.
Zi Cheng bit her lip, an aggrieved look in her eyes. “Sorry Xiao Wu, I didn’t know this was a god’s tomb. I really thought it was just some ancient tomb.” Zi Cheng pulled the innocent, misunderstood card.
Ai Lin wanted to applaud. It was damn good acting.
Yifu immediately jumped in, her tone filled with anger. “What are you saying?! Are you blaming Xiao Cheng?!”
“Ladies, ladies. This is a god’s tomb. News of it spread like wildfire yesterday. Not only that, even the exact location was disclosed. No one knows who started it, but the entire battleground knows about it. So we all came to check it out,” broke in the young man from earlier, totally missing the nasty undertone floating between the girls.
“Oh,” Luis smoothly added, “so that’s how it is. We also heard about the tomb; that’s why we’re here. We just didn’t expect it was a god’s tomb.”
“The people who told you about it must have not known either. Anyways, it’s a god’s tomb, so it’s a huge affair. Who knows how many bigshots are going to show up? There are a bunch of large groups camping out in front of the entrance already. But it’ll only open with a key, so no one’s getting in until the one with the key shows up.”
“What?! A key? The tomb needs key?” Luis was surprised. The group had no idea there was a key.
“Of course there’s a key.” The young man answered. “It’s a god’s tomb my man. Otherwise don’t you think everyone would have gone in already?”
Pei Qing had to ask. “Who has the key then?”
The young man turned to look at Pei Qing in the eyes. “The Inferno company. They’re legendary.”
“The Inferno company?” Wasn’t that the group they met earlier in the woods? Luis thought the name was familiar. The news about the tomb was spread yesterday, and yesterday was when they encountered the company and the seven people. Was there a connection? It was only a hypothesis but the entire thing made Luis wonder.
Yesterday a member of the Inferno company had stumbled upon a corpse that had been decaying for several years. On the body was a sheet of iron. The Yiduo clan saw it as well, but didn’t know what it was at the time.
Operating under the principle of never letting go of something once they saw it, in order to keep the prize and split it evenly amongst themselves, the group of seven didn’t hesitate to stab the Inferno member in the back. The mercenary company was huge with well over three hundred members, so they weren’t to be trifled with. Killing the guy was the best way to cover their tracks.
But just as they were in the process of killing him -seven on one- Cohen’s squad appeared. There were many veterans in his squad so, in the end they were the ones outnumbered. While they were fleeing, some of the Inferno member’s blood dripped onto the sheet and revealed the map. They saw tomb’s location and realized what the iron sheet was for.
The Inferno company didn’t know what the iron was for; had they known they would not have let the seven people from the Yiduo clan off with just a beating.
This veered from the original plot. Originally the group of seven were not captured by the mercenary company and had instead met up with their own Yiduo clan. The clan would find the god’s tomb and eventually lose the key to Zi Cheng.
Unfortunately for them the script changed with Feng Wu’s appearance. The Inferno company were able to take back the iron sheet, thus changing everything that happened afterwards.
As a matter of fact, if the seven people had successfully killed the guy from the Inferno company, the tomb would never have been made public. But since the plot changed and the Yiduo clan lost the iron sheet, the clan purposefully circulated the rumors about the tomb.
They were angry at having to eat the loss from the Inferno company. If they couldn’t get it, then they would try their best to make it difficult for their rival.
By the time the Inferno company finished preparations to raid the tomb, news of it had spread throughout the battlegrounds.
Feng Wu’s group didn’t know any of this insider information. Luis was gathering information from the youth that had approached them.
“Both the matter of the keys being in the Inferno company’s possession and the tomb’s location were spread at the same time?” Ai Lin thought the whole thing was suspect.
“We wondered if the rumors were circulating because the Inferno group offended someone. It’s exactly the kind of rumor that would band adventurers together to oppose them. But after further observations, we surmised that the key may truly be held by the Inferno group after all.
The person who spread the rumor initially may have been telling the truth. After we verified it, many large mercenary groups began making, or tried to make, connections with the Inferno company. Currently, there are a few around the general area and a few more around the entrance of the tomb.
It’s definitely because they worked out an agreement of some type.”
Luis smiled and thanked the brother for the information. “If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t know the situation.”
“You don’t have to be so polite. It’s common knowledge and not a secret at all.” The young man waved his hand dismissively.
Feng Wu tugged at Jier’s shirt. Uncertain and a bit distressed she asked, “Jier, should we go in?”
Jier turned down to look at her. “Do you want to go?”
“It’s just that the tomb is very dangerous.” Feng Wu read a lot of books so she knew what a god’s tomb was. It was something gods built as their final resting place. There would be treasure, but there would also be danger.
Feng Wu puckered her lips thoughtfully as she looked over at Ming Xi.
Feeling her gaze, Ming Xi turned to her and gave her a slight, gentle nod.
“Don’t go in if you’re so afraid of dying. No one asked you to go.” Yifu hated Feng Wu the most. The two had clashed early on and the divide between them only deepened with time. It was at a point where it was impossible for them to get along.
Feng Wu’s suspicion of Zi Cheng earlier only added fuel to the fire. Yifu's anger was off the charts.
“Shut up or die.” Jier glanced at her disdainfully as he spoke. He didn’t bother trying to hide the maliciousness in his eyes.
“You’re a successor to one of the four season gods! How can you threaten a girl like that?!” Yifu didn’t believe him.
It was a good thing Jier was fast. He activated a silence spell the moment she opened her mouth. Otherwise she would have spilled his identity to everyone.
“Yifu! How irresponsible of you. How could you reveal Jier’s identity like that?” Ai Lin wanted to get into Jier’s good graces so she jumped right in.
“I didn’t say anything wrong! Why should his identity by a secret?! Why can’t I say it?” Yifu countered. She didn’t appreciate Ai Lin’s nosiness.
“Ah! Could it be Jier is afraid if his identity is exposed, people will know he used his powers to embarrass a classmate?” Jasmine joined in. She still had a grudge against Jier for using illusion magic to humiliate her so she naturally sided with Yifu.
Zi Cheng immediately realized they were teaming up to embarrass Jier. It made her anxious. Every single god successor was a powerhouse in his own right. She really didn’t want to offend one of them. She was about to speak to alleviate the tension, unfortunately Jier wasn't the type to be patient.
“Haven’t had enough? Want try again?” Jier’s voice was full of provocation and malice.
“You-!” Jasmine was practically hyperventilating; her chest heaved up and down, but unfortunately the men were not in the mood to appreciate the show. She never expected Jier would have the audacity to threaten her in front of so many people. However, after the humiliation she suffered under his hands before,[notes] she knew how crazy he could get.
She wouldn’t put it past him to make her perform in front of so many people.
“Stop, Jasmine, Yifu. The situation is already confusing enough as it is. We shouldn’t fight amongst ourselves.” Zi Cheng grabbed a girl in each hand. She made up her mind to keep an eye on them so they’d stay out of trouble.
The girls were pulled away before either Elena or Gerasi could intercede.
After talking some more to the outgoing guy from the other group, Luis understood what was happening with the tomb.
“Oh look. The Yiduo clan are here. They even brought one of their elders. Our odds of getting an artifact just got slimmer.”
“Ha. You were shooting for an artifact? I would have been happy with just a spell or a fruit.”
“There are so many people here already but it looks like more are still showing up.”
“I wonder what the Inferno guys are thinking. They still haven't opened the tomb. The longer they wait the more people are going to show up. It’s going to be a madhouse then.”
“Yeah, why haven’t they opened the tomb yet?”
Other people were also gossiping. In their hearts, they were worried. Big shots kept arriving. The longer they waited the smaller the pot was going to be.
As everyone was talking, a high ranking elder from the Yiduo clan walked forward. He was a middle aged man clad entirely in a black magic robe. The air around him was filled with powerful magic.
There were several people around him. Some were obviously magicians with staffs and wands in hand, while others were swordmasters with their long swords. All of them exuded a powerful air.
The group of about thirty walked into the crowd. They were an influential clan in Souya, so although there weren’t many of them, none of the adventurers dared underestimate them.The clan was protected by a magical art warrior and not many in Souya dared oppose them.
“Big brother, look over there! Aren’t those the guys who blocked us so we couldn’t escape from the Inferno company?” This came from a dainty looking girl in blue with a staff one hand.
“It is them! Brother Yabo, we can’t let them get away! If we don’t kill them, I’ll never resolve this suffocation in my chest!” Another girl glared at Feng Wu. Her big eyes were full of resentment. Indeed if looks could kill, Feng Wu and the others would have died half a dozen times already.
“Anji, Banji, don’t worry. We’ll definitely kill those guys.” Yabo glanced with a sinister eye towards Ming Xi’s group. Then he walked to their group elder.
Their elder was the seventh of twelve elders in the Yiduo family. He had been leading a small group in training when they ran into several juniors in the clan. He never expected to encounter a god’s tomb on the trip. He was incredibly resentful of the Inferno company for stealing the key from them. Regarding the small adventure group that made it happen, there was no way he was going to let them get away.
Dealing with the Inferno group required discussion with the other elders in the clan, but dealing with a group of young adventurers did not. He wasn’t pressured in the least, so when Yabo pointed out they were nearby, he decided he would settle the matter himself. The people of the Yiduo clan were not nobodies anyone could just bully!
The kids were sensitive and felt the venomous stares. They turned around and found the Yiduo clan staring at them.
“Aren’t those the guys who tried to drag us down with them yesterday?” Ai Lin asked.
Luis agreed. “Yeah, they are. I heard someone mention they’re people from the Yiduo clan.”
“Well apparently they want to kill us.” Tian Ya said.
“Everyone be careful once we enter the tomb. I suspect they will try something once we’re all inside.” Ming Xi frowned. He didn’t expect the earlier encounter to cause so much trouble.
“Definitely.” Wind and Rain both agreed.
Yabo wanted the Seventh Elder to kill the group then and there, but the elder refrained. He didn’t want any witnesses around when he killed them. They were students from Xingguang Holy Academy, and though it was only a school, it had a lot of influence. Everyone knew how good the relationship between the school and Star Marshall Hall was. Not to mention the special identities of the school’s principal and the lord of the hall. They were akin to gods. The Seventh Elder did not want to provoke the school.
But just because he didn’t want to provoke the school didn’t mean he was willing to let the group go. The clan needed to get revenge for the stolen key. The best course was to hide their actions and set a trap inside the tomb. This way, when the time came, the school wouldn’t know it was the Yiduo clan.
It was a good idea, but would it really go so smoothly?
“Why do they want to kill us?” Feng Wu didn’t know them so she didn’t understand why the group was emitting such a strong killing intent.
Jier quickly educated Feng Wu. “Some people are just unreasonable. They don’t need a reason to kill. In the future, if you encounter people with this kind of mental illness, don’t be polite towards them.”
Feng Wu nodded. She understood now. Those who wanted to kill without reason were mentally unwell.
Ming Xi secretly agreed with Jier’s education. He’d only been with Feng Wu a few days, but he could see how incredibly simple and pure she was. If someone didn’t properly and carefully educate her, who knew what unscrupulous person would try to take advantage of her?
“Oh, Elder Falay, is this your team?” The question came from a middle aged man wearing a swordmaster’s outfit and a mercenary group’s badge on one arm. He was smiling as he walked over.
A cold light flashed in Seventh Elder’s eyes at the voice. “Captain Anduo, you’re also here. Indeed, you arrived here pretty fast!”
“The news of the god’s tomb spread so quickly. I heard about it and came right away. Speaking of which, I must thank Elder Falay for spreading the news.” The smile on Captain Anduo’s face was sincere.
“There is no need. I simply didn’t want the Inferno company to monopolize the god’s tomb. The tomb should be shared with everyone. How can one company be allowed to keep it to themselves?” Seventh Elder Falay laughed. His real thoughts were quite different. He thought if it weren’t for the Yiduo clan, how could any of you even know about the tomb? Without us, you mercenaries wouldn’t even know what you were missing.
Anduo sneered in his heart as he thought how obvious it was that Falay was using the crowd to pressure the Inferno company to open the tomb. To cause harm with such nice words, then laugh so naturally afterwards, Falay really wasn’t easy to deal with.
The two old foxes mentally scolded each other but nothing showed on their faces.
Another voice floated over. “Falay, you’re on your own? None of the other twelve elders are with you? Are you going to be able to handle all those kids on your own?” The owner of the voice, a sinister man with deep undereye circles, walked up. He held a long staff in one hand and was emitting a powerful aura, clearly not someone to be trifled with.
“You just worry about your own family clan Shaya.” Falay snorted and began to lead his group somewhere else to wait.
“Well unlike your Yiduo clan that haven’t had any distinguishing talent lately, my Lianye clan is full of talented recruits.” Shaya sneered.
This made the group of juniors behind Falay glare; their disbelief obvious. Shaya barely even registered their presence. The magic around him hummed and suddenly struck out at the juniors.
They were just juniors so how could they detect the attack? Why would a master even attack a group of juniors?
“Attacking juniors. Shaya, you’re shameless.” Falay struck his staff to the ground and instantly neutralized the attack.
“Humph!” Shaya walked away without even bothering to give the group a second glance.
None of the other groups in the area intervened. It was important to conserve their strength, so why meddle in someone else’s business? The people who came weren’t stupid. They came to find treasure inside the tomb. They wouldn’t expend precious energy to battle in front of the gates.
Fortunately Falay’s group found a spot to wait without saying much in retaliation. Many more people showed up but the hour passed by without incident. The Inferno company finally appeared after an endless amount of calls from the crowd.
They were of course welcome by everyone the moment they appeared. The crowd was excited and wanted to get inside the tomb as fast as possible.
“Captain Cohen, it’s been awhile. We’ll have to ask your help in exploring the tomb.”
“Yes, yes. It must have been incredible luck that Captain Cohen found the key. We’re all so envious!”
“Brother Cohen, don’t forget to take care of the Mad Lion group. We don’t know the terrain inside the tomb.”
The captains of the different mercenary groups along with the elders of various clans surrounded him in an instant. Their words were short, but their meaning was clear: It’s high time to open the tomb. You have a map, so share it with the rest of us.
He knew the crowd wouldn’t hesitate to kill for the key if he didn’t open the tomb voluntarily.
The more Cohen listened to them, the more he wanted to kick them. His company was ecstatic at the opportunity to enter the god’ tomb, but the group he was with weren’t that strong. He had only been taking them around to train a bit in the battlegrounds when the whole thing with the map happened. They needed more than the few powerful experts that gathered in front of the tomb to make the expedition work. How much exploring could they possibly do with the mishmash of talents they had now? Would they be able to exit alive if the entered?
He had sent his fastest guy to headquarters to notify the leaders of the company about the tomb. But it would take time for them to reorder everything and rendezvous with him and his squad. He hoped they were making haste and not wasting time fantasizing about the treasure.
Others, like Cohen, had also sent message back to their respective organizations. The real masters and big shot leaders hadn’t arrived yet. To access the tomb and get as much treasure as possible would require additional rear support. Just the congregation gathered wasn’t enough.
“Let’s go to the other side,” Zi Cheng said as soon as she saw Cohen appear.
“Huh? Why?” Luis asked suspiciously. The others shot her suspicious glances as well.
No one gathered around the entrance of the tomb noticed the small group of school children shift away from the crowd. Zi Cheng led Ming Xi and the others to a side location surrounded by poisonous shrubs. The mutant plants were no match for the kids.
“A side entrance?” Ai Lin asked pointing to a smooth stone wall in the tomb.
“Yes. There were two maps on the iron sheet I found. It showed two different entrances: a safe one and a random one. The random entrance will teleport you to a random location inside the tomb. There’s a chance you could land in a dangerous location.
I didn’t want to use it, but there are too many people in front of the main entrance; Plus it’s obvious the people from the Yiduo clan don’t like us. It would be dangerous to go the same way as them, so I thought we could try this route instead.”
Zi Cheng wasn’t lying. She had wanted to take the safer path initially, but walking the safe path with so many people would turn dangerous quickly. There was so much treasure, people would definitely fight. They were at a disadvantage since they were such a small group. So why not take a chance and gamble on the random entrance?
“Junior Zi Cheng has a point. Even a safe road will become dangerous when you squeeze so many people together. Let’s try this one.” Elena was a risk-taker at heart so she wasn’t concerned about the random transport.
“Yes, let’s take this entrance. Just be careful after you enter. Remember, it is a god’s tomb.” As the class senior in the group, Ming Xi felt it was his duty to warn everyone. While he didn’t have the same relationship with Pei Qing, Wind and Rain, they had travelled together, so technically they could be considered friends.
The trio obediently nodded their heads. Feng Wu gazed at him with big, bright eyes. Ming Xi ignored her. At this point he was used to her blatant, molesting stares.
The ground suddenly shook. Ming Xi and the others guessed Cohen had opened the entrance.
Zi Cheng took out the small piece of iron and aimed it at the smooth section of wall. When she did so a white light appeared above the area. An energy filled black hole quickly replaced the light.
The kids exchanged glances then proceeded to walk into the hole one by one.
After much endless spinning, Feng Wu appeared above what looked like beast territory. Yes it was a large expanse of land inhabited by beasts.[notes] She recognized the beasts, having read about them in one of the books in the library. They were called Four-Winged sheeps; high level fire type beasts. They spewed fire from their mouths and bodies all year round. Even their feathers were made of flames. The feathers were especially useful in attacking their enemies.
It was rare to see such high level beasts unless one went to their natural habitat. This was difficult given the great danger involved.
Feng Wu looked around. She couldn’t see anyone else. Was she lost? She blinked, feeling a little uncomfortable. Fortunately she grew up on Yuehua mountain, so quickly adapted to being alone.
The Four-Winged beasts were aware of the recent human incursion into their territory. They were quick to finish off any humans they found, but Feng Wu smelled different. These originally vicious beasts changed their minds.
“She had a wonderful scent! They wanted to be friends with her!”
“Me! Me! I want to be friends with her! The air around her feels so good…”
“Who is this human? Why don’t I want to bash her in?”
Dozens of Four-Winged sheeps, young and old, big and small, gathered around her and gazed curiously at her. The older ones had more resistance to Feng Wu; they didn’t immediately rush over to sniff her. The younger ones had no such ability. They rushed forward with wagging tails as they ran around her legs begging to be hugged and petted. Some nipped at her skirt trying to get her attention.
Feng Wu squinted and smiled. She was great with animals, and she loved getting along with them. Although the animals in this world were strange with awesomely destructive powers, it didn’t stop her from liking them.
She wasn’t afraid of the flames from the little ones. She bent down to pat them on the backs and play with their wings. It made the little ones shriek with joy.
The adult beasts were nervous she would hurt the little ones, but they relaxed upon seeing the Feng Wu’s lack of fear toward their flames.
Their flames weren’t physical, but spiritual ones. If they weren’t actively attacking you, then as long as you had good intentions in your heart, the flames wouldn’t hurt. Conversely, if you had evil intentions, then you would suffer painfully engulfed in the flames.
Feng Wu wasn’t afraid of their flames. It proved she didn’t have wicked thoughts toward them and that her heart was pure. It would have been impossible for her to be uninjured if she did.
Even if the baby beasts were weak, their flames were still effective against humans.
Feng Wu’s friendliness and her complete lack of fear toward their flames soon won the adult beasts over. The fact that she understood what they were saying made them even happier. They brought her to their cave and gave her some spiritual fruit as a welcoming present. It was the kind that increased bone strength.
She took a teeny tiny small mouthful of the fruit, completely unaware how precious it was. For her it was just a nice present from her new friends.
While Feng Wu was leisurely eating fruit, her travel companions were suffering.
Jier fell headfirst into a swamp and nearly drowned.
Wind and Rain were luckier, having landed in a forest, however it was a huge forest and they didn’t know where they were.
Pei Qing fell into a beast lair. Fortunately the beast wasn’t home and Pei Qing was able to run away before it returned.
Elena and Yifu teleported to the same location and nearly fell into a pool. If not for Elena’s quick reaction they, would have turned into dinner for a magical water beast.
Tian Ya may have just had a strong affinity for ice because he fell into a cold region surrounded by ice and snow. He was a master who understood the ice sword intent so it was an easy location for him.
Zi Cheng fell into an abandoned ruin surrounded by fallen buildings, so she was relatively safe.
Ai Lin fell into a field filled with rare medicinal plants. Of everyone, she was the luckiest. She harvested as much as she could and stored them in her dimensional bag.
Jasmine landed in a snake pit. Luckily she landed with Gerasi and they were able to escape after a hard battle.
Luis had somewhat worse luck. He landed in a desert where scorpions occasionally burrowed out of the ground and chased after him.
As for Ming Xi, his luck was incredible. He landed near a crater, nearly falling into a volcano and burning to a crisp.
Because of the random teleportation, except for a few people who ended up together, most of them were scattered around the tomb. Each of them began moving in search of treasure.
Feng Wu was enjoying a banquet of spiritual fruits while being entertained enthusiastically by the sheep. The sheep were native to the tomb so they knew where all the fruits grew.
Feng Wu ate with one hand and petted with the other; she was having a great time.
“Xiao Wu, you have to be careful. This is a dangerous tomb. It’s a deadly legacy left by a god. Us Four-Winged sheep have lived here for generations, but even for us, there are places we haven’t explored or dared go. It’s dangerous, so you can’t walk around willy nilly.” A mother sheep looked at Feng Wu lovingly as she delivered her warning.
“Yes, yes, please be careful. We feel that many humans entered recently. Humans are very baaaad. Of course Xiao Wu is not bad. Xiao Wu is good. Xiao Wu must be skeptical and not believe those other humans too easily,” warned another sheep.
They liked Feng Wu and were worried she would die in the tomb, so they told her about all the safe places they knew. But the tomb was made by a god and it was really too big. Despite living there for generations, their knowledge only extended as far as the grasslands. They didn’t know anything beyond those boundaries.
The sheep sent her off with lots of fruits. Feng Wu waved goodbye to the cute herd of sheep and continued on her journey alone.
Jier told her not to worry if she got separated from everyone. She should first explore the area around her. Be careful of the people she met while exploring. She needed to remember to protect herself and only trust the senior sister and brothers of Ming Xi’s team. As for anyone else, she needed to be careful and not trust them too quickly, or believe their words too easily, this included Zi Cheng and Ai Lin.
Feng Wu didn’t understand why she shouldn’t believe Zi Cheng, but she wasn’t a curious person so she didn’t ask. She was good at being obedient and following directions.
She walked forward in the grasslands. The sky was filled with fluffy clouds that moved with the wind and the sun shone warmly on her head. From time to time a beast would walk by.
Feng Wu’s approachable aura was powerful. Even a fierce beast, as long as it was an intelligent creature, wouldn’t be malicious toward her. At worse, if it was in a particularly foul mood, it would just ignore her.
In another direction, hundreds of people entering the tomb faced a difficult decision.
“Cohen, which way should we go?” A squad captain from another mercenary group came over trying to get some information.
Everyone had entered the tomb once the entrance was opened. They walked into an enormous hall with several doors. Each door was engraved with mysterious images and text. They knew the doors represented a choice. Choosing the wrong one meant failing or even dying.
So which door should they take? No one dared make the first move. Everyone was curious what the Inferno company would do since they had the key. They wondered if the company had intelligence on the tomb.
How could Cohen not know what they were thinking? He smiled bitterly. “You guys, you don’t have to wait. We don’t know which door to choose either. The only thing that appeared on the iron was the map to the tomb and the key. We don’t know anything else.”
Members of the Inferno company squad had, on more than one occasion, wanted to curse out loud. The key was theirs to begin with, but someone snatched it, and it was only with great difficulty that they managed to get it back. Once they got it back, the fact that they had it was leaked to the public. They were a small squad and everyone was watching them to see what they were hiding. They had to be careful what came out of their mouths.
But what could they possibly hide? If they really knew the pathways inside the tomb, would they really hang around so unprepared?
The crowd believed most of what Cohen said. It was obvious when they thought about it. It was a god’s tomb. Finding a key and an external map was already pretty good. To also find an internal map? Wasn’t that just too good to be true?
Generally speaking, exploring a tomb should involve adventure and work. There would be many levels, trials, and tests of fortune. How you fared depended on your ability and luck. If there was an internal map, wouldn’t that be too easy? By then, could it even be called it test?
The more logical members in the crowd were inclined to believe Cohen.
Of course there were those who didn’t believe him as well. What if he was lying? Then they would be losing out on a really good lead. They decided to follow him and pick up whatever advantages they could get.
Those who believed Cohen didn’t have a map stood by the door they wanted to go through. Those who didn’t believe continued to stare at him and his team, intent on following whichever door the team chose. It took a long time before someone finally mustered the courage to walk through one of the doors.
“What?! How is this possible? How’d I end up in a desert?!” A person exclaimed after walking through a door. He had been teleported to a desert.
CHAPTER 139: Inheritance
“Grasslands? To have a dimensional space, truly deserving to be called a god’s tomb!” A boundless field of grass spread in front.
“Whoa! What is this place? So cold! It’s freezing!” It was a white world with snow above and ice below.
“Damn it! There’s too much water! Are we at sea?!” It was like an endless ocean.
“Hot! Hot! A freaking volcano? Really?!” A volcanic crater lay nearby.
A different world lay behind each door. Which one it led to all depended on luck.
A majestic voice resounded from the sky after everyone entered. It sounded like it came from the heavens, powerful and imposing.
It said, “Congratulations adventurers. Congratulations on finding this place. It is my tomb, the god Calven. I don’t know how many millennia has passed, but you are the first humans to enter this place.
I was an ordinary, weak human ten millennia ago. After working hard and training diligently, I broke through the barrier and ascended to the heavens, becoming a self-made god.[notes]
I thought I would have eternal life after becoming a god. I never expected the battle between the gods and demons would erupt. So many of us gods fell here.
During my lifetime, I, Calven was devoted to practicing the magical arts. I never accepted a disciple and did not leave a legacy behind. Before I died, I used my final strength to create this tomb. Whoever can pass my test will become my successor and inherit my legacy.”
“A legacy! A real bonafide legacy!”
“I never expected this. I have to try my luck!”
“This is useless to a swordmaster. I wouldn’t have come if I knew.”
“Stupid. Even if you can’t get the legacy as a swordmaster, you can still loot for treasure! Just a little here and you’ll be set for a few decades at least!”
“True! True! I wasn’t thinking.”
The magicians were boiling with passion at God Calven’s words. The swordmasters did not retreat either. Even if they couldn’t get the inheritance, they could still get some amazing treasures.
“It seems everyone is ready. The first part of the test will begin. Everyone made their choices from the doors in the hall. Every door represents a miniature world. You will encounter various dangers in these worlds.
Face these dangers with your weapons and remove the obstacles in your way. Escape the world with your intelligence and wit. The first one hundred to do so will earn a spot on the second floor. So come adventurers! I await your arrival on the second floor!”
And just like that, ambitious individuals tried to take the lead to pass the first test.
In the bowels of the tomb, where no one could see, a black figure widened his blood, red eyes in anticipation. “Come! Come! Come to me! I waited so long for this day! Now it’s finally here! Hahaha!”
None of the adventurers knew there was a monster underground waiting for them. They were blinded by the possible legacy and countless treasure in the tomb. No one thought about what lay in wait for them.
Feng Wu stared blankly at the sky. She blinked when her eyes began to sting. “Find the exit?” Feng Wu mumbled to herself. She took a step and moved forward.
Feng Wu was a courteous and well-behaved child. She made many friends on the grasslands. Whenever she met a beast, she would take the initiative to greet it and offer it a spiritual fruit. The beasts didn’t take advantage of her, quickly returning the favor and giving her an even better fruit back in exchange.
Her path was easy without danger.
Other adventurers who entered the grassland weren’t so fortunate. It was a wide expansive region, home to thousands of beasts, most of which lived in herds and packs, so provoking one meant provoking the entire group.
The adventurers suffered greatly. In a short period of time the once peaceful grasslands became chaotic, thick with the smell of blood. It was a slaughterhouse.
Drew was only eighteen. He had tried to test into Xingguang Holy Academy earlier, but had failed. He had been practicing the sword at this father’s house since then. His father was an average adventurer – not particularly weak or particularly strong. Drew had followed his father and practiced daily for many years.
Recently his father had to rely on medicinal potions to stay alive. He had been poisoned by a beast while out on a mission to collect some rare herbs.
Legend had it, a spiritual fruit that could cure all types of poison grew in the Realm Battlegrounds. The market value was exorbitant though. There was no way Drew could buy it even if he saved for a hundred years.
This was why he was in the battlegrounds: in order to find the fruit for his father.
He met several other adventurers when he entered the battlegrounds. They were all about the same age so they hit it off really well, and before long ended up as a team.
They were only in the battlegrounds for two days when news of the god’s tomb reached them. Drew had no interest in the tomb; he knew he wouldn’t be able to enter a dangerous place like that with his strength, but his newfound companions wanted to go. They persuaded him that the god’s tomb would be the best place to find the spiritual fruit he was seeking, thus he agreed to enter the tomb with them.
The door they chose led them to the grasslands. It was so big, they couldn’t see the end of it.
The arrival of a god named Calven made his companions even more crazy. They wholeheartedly wanted to take the test and get the inheritance. The magicians in the team were especially determined.
Currently he and his companions were in a hard fight.
“Damn! Why are there so many wolves?!” a handsome, young fire magician gritted his teeth as he shot fireballs at the attacking wolves.
“Lee, what should we do?” Asia asked as he severed the head of a wolf. He was covered in sweat and blood. His face was full of anxiety as he looked to the strongest one in their group hoping there was a plan.
“Lee! Think of something!” Katerina yelled. She had lost her usual poise and grace sometime ago, and was now looking worn and bedraggled in her white magic robe.
The group of six was split evenly with three magicians and three swordmasters. They hadn’t suffered any casualties yet, but they were exhausted from the continuous fighting.
“Drew! Block! I have a scroll my teacher gave me for just this kind of situation, but we need time to activate it!” Lee ordered. He didn’t let them down and immediately came up with a plan.
“Okay.” Drew nodded his head determinedly. He was a beefy guy, honest and straightforward. He fought even more fiercely, trying to gain as much time as he could for them to get the scroll ready.
He was fighting so hard for the people he thought were his companions that he didn’t notice the pitying looks they shot him. All of them thought he was a fool.
Lee’s last resort wasn’t an attack scroll but a random teleportation scroll. It was a high caliber scroll, capable of transporting up to ten people at a time, however it required some time to activate, which was why it was important to have someone act as a decoy to attract the wolves.
Drew was the last to join the team, so he was the natural choice to leave behind. They had let him join because he seemed honest and had good swordsmanship. He would be able to buy them time if things ever got dangerous. They would not have added an unknown person to their team otherwise.
It was fortunate Lee had the scroll. It was fortunate Drew joined the team. Who else would have agreed to stay behind as a sacrifice?
A white light enveloped Lee’s original team of five. Drew, who had been fiercely fighting, thought the scroll was finally ready when he heard the movement. He turned around only to find Lee’s team smirking gleefully at him before disappearing with the light.
Drew was naïve, but even he realized they had deceived him. The wolves surrounded him and he knew he wouldn’t survive.
His arms and legs were trembling from fatigue but he stood his ground and continued fighting for another ten minutes. He was covered in bloody bite marks and the loss of blood was taking its toll. He inevitably collapsed.
As his consciousness faded he thought he saw a shadow heading his way.
Feng Wu had walked aimlessly for several hours before coming upon the sounds of fighting in wolf territory. She wanted to ask if anyone had seen Jier so she had jogged over. Unexpectedly a man collapsed just as she reached them. The wolves decided not to kill him after talking to Feng Wu.
Drew woke up on a rock, his wounds fully bandaged. He struggled into a seated position and saw a beautiful, dark haired girl sitting not too far away. She was staring blankly at the sky, but turned to look at him at the sound of movement. The two of them stared at each other in silence.
Drew caved first. Unable to handle her disturbingly, expressionless stare he finally asked, “Did you save me?”
“Have you seen Jier or Ming Xi?” she asked.
Her friends? he wondered. Drew shook his head. “No I haven’t seen them.”
“Oh.” Feng Wu responded quietly. She took out a spiritual fruit from her space ring[notes] and handed it to Drew.
“Thank you.” Drew bit into the fruit. “By the way, my name is Drew. Thank you for saving me.” He smiled. His body still hurt, but the pain was tolerable. It reminded him everything he’d just experienced was real. If not for the pain he would have thought everything, being abandoned by his companions and nearly eaten by wolves, was a nightmare.
“My name is Feng Wu. You don’t have to thank me.” Her face was still a frozen, unreadable mask as she spoke.
Drew was curious. How did she manage to save him from the claws of so many wolves? He wanted to ask but one look at her frozen face made him decide he should build some good will with his benefactor first.
Drew bit into the fruit some more as he thought about it. The flesh was sweet and melted like butter in his mouth. He felt the wounds on his body tingling soon after swallowing the first bite. Curious, he opened his bandage. Pale, tender, pink flesh greeted him. New skin had actually grown over the wound!
This… this was too amazing! Was she a divine benefactor?! To share such a precious, spiritual fruit so freely!
While Drew was surprised, he was also touched. Her kindness was all the more meaningful after having experienced his companions’ betrayal. He vowed he would repay her somehow.
Drew’s injury healed rapidly after eating the fruit. He was fit to travel not too long after.
On the journey, Feng Wu stopped many times to ask the beasts she encountered how to leave the grasslands.
Drew’s former teammates had good luck and managed to teleport to a relatively quiet location. There were a few random beasts, but there were no large herds. They had no doubts Drew died battling the wolves. His death didn’t leave in impression on them; he had always been an expendable recruit.
None of them ever thought he would be so lucky as to meet Feng Wu, a girl with amazing abilities.
Drew had followed Feng Wu ever since she had rescued him. He didn’t seem like a bad person, and she didn’t dislike him, so she hadn’t chased him away.
Why is this? Well let’s start from the beginning shall we?
Within the first hour of their trip together, they managed to run into Flame hawks, middle tier beasts with fire magic. They were fast breeders who lived in the sky and tended to fight in groups. And as a group, they were an ornery bunch – stingy and vengeful. If you offended one, then the whole group would go after you. What they lacked in strength, they made up in numbers.
Drew’s legs turned to jelly as soon as they entered Flame hawk territory. If dealing with dozens of wolves was a life-threatening situation, then wouldn’t hundreds of Flame hawks mean they’d be torn to pieces?! Even with trembling legs, Drew still managed to pull himself up in front of Feng Wu. This girl was his savior. He would have already died if it weren’t for her. The least he could do now was to fight and stall so she’d have time to escape.
Drew gritted his teeth and tightened his sword grip. The hawks already had them surrounded. They looked at him and Feng Wu with eyes that gleamed with hunger. Drew readied himself to make the final sacrifice.
Feng Wu reached forward and pulled him back. She sensed his fear so she tried to comfort him. “Don’t be afraid. The little birdies are friends. They won’t hurt you.” She didn’t understand why he was so afraid of the cute birds.
“Little… little birdies?” Drew stuttered. He was aware he wasn’t smart. In fact, his dad often lectured him on how he shouldn’t trust people too easily, that he could end up dead if he did. What happened with Lee’s group only served to prove his old man’s words.
The attack hadn’t begun, and yet Feng Wu was telling him to withdraw. Her words didn’t make sense. What little birdies were she talking about? Why were his savior’s words so difficult to understand? Was it him?
Feng Wu continued to awkwardly comfort Drew, whose limbs were still shaking and not being cooperative. She didn’t want him to misunderstand and think her cute friends were bad beasts. “Don’t be afraid. They’re my friends. They won’t hurt you.”
But was it truly a misunderstanding though? Or was it just Feng Wu? Unfortunately Feng Wu didn’t understand the normal reaction between humans and beasts. She followed the Flame hawks back to their lair.
Drew stared blankly at Feng Wu as he trailed behind her. At the lair, they ate magical fruit and drank magical infused spring water. They also received rare magical fruits and plants shared in the name of friendship.
What could Drew say regarding this kind of treatment? Nothing. He had no words. None. Unfortunately for him, it was just the beginning.
The next day Drew witnessed Feng Wu’s illogical ability to make friends. No matter how fierce the beasts, she always had them eating out of the palm of her hand. Rare fruits and plants were gifted as though they mere common cabbages.
In fact beasts used their bodies to fight, so magical material was of no use to them. But they knew humans loved these magical things so they eagerly gifted them to Feng Wu.
Feng Wu knew what they were, having read about in the library, so she happily accepted the gifts from her new friends. In exchange she shared her own favorite foods with them. Since she loved to eat, her dimensional ring was crammed full of food of various types, but even her supply ran out when faced with so many mouths.
Feng Wu and Drew eventually found their way to the second level after following the directions from the various beasts they encountered.
There was a crowd of about fifty adventurers gathered. The exit point was actually underwater in a pond guarded by a powerful water beast. It was not a beast just a few people could defeat, so people were waiting around to increase their numbers in order to better their odds of success.
Originally there were many more people who entered, however most fell victim to the dangerous savannah and died on the way.
A familiar voice called out to Feng Wu almost immediately. A sexy girl ran over to her. The girl was no stranger – it was Elena[notes]. Behind her, cutting a rather sorry figure, was Yifu. She didn’t look pleased to see Feng Wu. It was obvious she didn’t want to go over.
“Senior Sister Elena.” Feng Wu replied in a cute voice. She liked Elena, even if the older girl tended to grope her a lot. Jier had told her to be careful countless times of Elena taking advantage of her. But how was Elena taking advantage of Feng Wu? Feng Wu couldn’t see it.
“Xiao Wu, finally! Someone I know. I fell in the pool with Yifu after walking through the door and nearly got eaten by a monster. I’m so pitiful!” Elena rushed toward Feng Wu, hugging the other girl tightly as she cried about how unhappy she was.
“Senior Brother Luis said Senior Sister Elena is a tomboy with super strength, so I believe in senior sister,” said Feng Wu. He had also said all the boys at school had to give way to Elena or risk being crushed. So naturally in Feng Wu’s eyes, Elena was a powerful tomboy with indomitable strength under the heavens – even if she didn’t know what tomboy meant.
Elena had no idea her image had been so utterly destroyed by her pig teammate. She cursed Luis out in her head after hearing Feng Wu’s words. She would beat that scoundrel to bits later.
In another world Luis sneezed as he wondered why it felt so cold all of a sudden.
“Xiao Wu, don’t listen to that guy’s nonsense. This older senior sister is a very respectable young lady. How can I possibly be a tomboy?” There was no way she was going to admit that she was a tomboy in front of Feng Wu.
Feng Wu looked up confused, unsure who to believe.
“Who is this kid? Why are you with Xiao Wu?” Elena asked looking at the oafish boy standing next to Feng Wu.
Drew gave a big, silly smile, completely unaware he’d been viewed as an oaf. He didn’t know who the woman was, but it was obvious she had a good relationship with Feng Wu, so he tried to put his best foot forward. He went with a straightforward account. “Hello ladies, my name is Drew. Feng Wu is my savior.” He commenced to tell them about how Feng Wu ended up saving him.
Elena listened with a smile but Yifu didn’t seem to care. She was a young miss from nobility who had no interest in a poor swordmaster from the lower class, never mind any actual sympathy.
“So that’s what happened? Next time you see those guys that deserted you, you show them what’s what!” Elena said fiercely. She hated those who abandoned their comrades. Worse yet they even deceived him to do it. She really hated these kinds of people!
“How stupid to be tricked so easily.” Yifu was rather disdainful.
Drew rubbed his head in embarrassment. He knew he wasn’t clever or smart, in fact his father had called him stupid before. He was used to people talking to him this way.
Elena frowned. “We haven’t done introductions. I’m Xiao Wu’s senior sister and this is Yifu. The two of them are from the same freshman class, and we’re all students from Xingguang Holy Academy.” She was a properly educated young lady, so she wasn’t used to Yifu’s arrogant manner of speech. She was a carefree person normally, but even she didn’t like Yifu’s attitude. Hopefully she wouldn’t have to see Yifu again once they returned to campus.
“Are you all students from Xingguang Holy Academy? That’s awesome. I wanted to go there, but the admission rates were low and my abilities were too poor, so I couldn’t pass the exams.” It turned out the three were from the top school. He admired them even more after learning their identities.
He wasn’t the kind of person to waste time being jealous of other people, instead he admired them and tried to work harder to improve himself.
Drew was a kind and easy to understand person. It was probably because he was like this that Feng Wu let him follow her. Otherwise she would have left him after asking her questions.
Drew’s lack of jealousy also raised Elena’s opinion of him.
“Senior Sister Elena, why are so many people gathered here?” Feng Wu looked around puzzled. They were at the entrance to the second floor, but no one was moving. They were just standing around and chatting.
“We’re waiting for someone to make the first move. The entrance to the second floor is at the bottom of the pool but a powerful water beast is guarding it. Unless all of us work together, it’ll be impossible to fight it.
But even if we join forces, many people will still die, so no one wants to take the initiative. The first one to act is going to be unlucky and will undoubtedly draw the attention of the beast.” Elena furrowed her brows. She didn’t want to be the first either.
Everyone was thinking the same thing – none of them wanted to die. It was better to wait and examine the situation first.
“Oh.” Feng Wu nodded, understanding.
“We’ve been trapped here for a while. We should work together and break out of here. It’s useless to wait any longer. Let’s just all fight the monster and leave this level,” said a middle-aged man wearing a cape and carrying a long sword. He stood elegantly on a big rock as he spoke.
“Isn’t that Wolf’s fourth captain, Captain Ando? Man so distinguished looking, really worthy of being a high-ranking sword master. He can give off such an imposing air just by standing.”
“Right? I worked hard for twenty years and I’m only at the intermediate level.”
“Yeah, that’s him all right. With the excellent Ando taking charge, we’ll definitely be able to make it.”
No one was going to argue against such a high-ranking sword master leading. There were almost a hundred people gathered, but no one had been willing to take the lead other than Ando.
Although the Realm Battlegrounds was famous for being dangerous, it wasn’t an appropriate place for higher division sword masters to train. So there were few great sword masters there. The only ones present were the ones leading their juniors for combat experience.
Because of this many people were pleased at Ando’s appearance.
He wasn’t the only great sword master in the crowd though. There were others, however they didn’t have the same backing and reputation. Many were from small families or were in the tomb as solo adventurers. Ando was a better choice.
Everyone was united with him there. Those from the sword division would mount close combat attack while those in the magic division would mount a long-range attack, with light and wood magicians responsible for healing.
Once their positions were arranged, the magicians attacked the water surface to draw out the beast.
It succeeded and a huge python-like beast erupted out of the water. The strong stench of fish coming from the beast was overwhelming enough to make the adventurers uncomfortable.
When Feng Wu saw the beast, she immediately pulled up information about it in her mind. It was the Blackwater python, a powerful water type beast that liked to live in cold water. The water it used to attack was non-toxic black, but was the most frigid water known.
Those attacked by the water felt soul freezing cold. If it were to hit a man, he would have to rely on an intense heat from the sun to alleviate the effects of the water.
A woman, because her body lacked yang energy, would immediately freeze to death upon contact with the water.
This made the battle difficult for the women. Feng Wu wasn’t the only one familiar with the Blackwater python. Ando gave a warning to the female members to be careful, to not to be hit by the black water, because no one would be able to save them if they were.
Most of the women adventurers were not delicate ladies, so though the information made them worried, they calmly accepted it. They would be careful.
The young ladies who were coddled at home were another story. They were quite afraid of dying. They lost the courage to fight and wanted to stay out of battle once they learned about the Blackwater python.
Yifu was of this camp. There were so many people already fighting so why should she fight in such a dangerous battle? She didn’t want to fight, after all it would be all over for her if she was hit by the black water.
Elena was a tomboy and a high ranking fifth year student so she had no qualms about fighting. On the other hand, Feng Wu had no intentions of fighting. In her heart, all animals were cute. The python was no exception, even if it was enormous.
The python turned to look at Feng Wu once it noticed her. There were so many people around that no one knew who the python was eyeing.
Feng Wu smiled as she saw the python approach. She nodded her head kindly at it.
This made the python narrow its eyes in a good mood as it gazed at Feng Wu. It didn’t look like it had any bad intentions towards her.
Feng Wu had a strong aura/scent around her body that magical beasts liked. As long as it was not a cruel beast, it would be defenseless against her.
“It came over! It must want to attack us. Quickly everyone ready yourselves.” A young sword master couldn’t endure the stare. The thing looked like it was in a good mood.
Why would it be in a good mood?! Was it because it had a large meal delivered to its doorsteps?!
This guy’s imagination was too overactive. In his head he was even imagining being eaten by the python.
But he wasn’t the only one who thought about attacking, others thought it was time to attack as well.
The adventurers readied themselves with Ando taking the lead. Magicians attacked the water while sword masters went up close for melee attacks.
Females who were afraid of the black water hung back, while the others rushed forward. Elena and Drew did not hesitate to join the attack.
No one gave the unmoving Feng Wu much thought. She was simply too young, not even in the 5th year for sword masters. Having her join against such a giant python, wouldn’t that be like asking her to run to her death?
The Blackwater python wasn't aware how long it had lived in the tomb, but it was born with a naturally high level and currently it was at level thirty. The adventurers would have a difficult time defeating such a powerful opponent.
Swords glinted and magic flew all over the sky. The sword masters had to be careful to avoid friendly fire.
At first the Blackwater python stood still and allowed the bugs in front of it to do as they pleased. But it soon became impatient. It narrowed its eyes and let out a big fishy breath full of black water. The adventurers shivered from the sudden cold.
“The black water is coming!” Ando yelled out a warning as he leapt away to a safe distance.
At the warning the adventurers dropped the attack and retreated.
Elena and Drew returned to Feng Wu’s side.
“Xiao Wu, be careful. Don’t let the black water touch your body. Yifu, you be careful too.” Elena spoke without taking her eyes off the python.
“Yes.” Feng Wu answered but she didn’t think the Blackwater python would attack her.
Yifu nodded with tears in her eyes; she was already scared to tears by the black water.
Yifu was a magician so she stood back with the other magicians who were doing range attacks. She wasn’t strong; just a level five. She was rather weak when compared to most others in the group. While she was in the back, sword masters who were at the same weak level had been placed in the front as cannon fodder.
Yifu wanted to retreat even further but she couldn’t because those behind her were even more junior than she was. She remained in the first row with tears in her eyes. She was afraid the Blackwater python would come her way.
“Magicians, attack!” Magicians had to step up their attack once the sword masters retreated. They were going resume close combat soon. But the python wasn’t going to give them the chance. Its entire body suddenly burst out of the water and attacked the magicians with a strong torrent of water.
Magicians were weak physically. Some in the front row hit by the water coughed up blood and turned as pale as paper. Others died on impact. Those in the back rows immediately ran away.
The situation was too dangerous to spend time counting the dead. The most important thing was to defeat the python, survive and go to the next floor.
Yifu thought she was dead. She only had the chance to let out a single scream before she found herself flung into the air. Worry not, she wasn’t actually killed. Feng Wu saved her by flinging her out of the way.
Elena wanted to save them but the python was too fast for her. By the time she reacted it was too late and she needed to move out of danger herself.
Yifu was annoying but she was a female junior; Elena didn’t want to watch her die, so she breathed a sigh of relief knowing Yifu was safe.
Yifu was rescued. She regained her senses once she returned to solid ground. She sat down, her skirt damp from a yellow stain. The smell of urine wafted from her body; she had been so scared that she peed herself.
Feng Wu wrinkled her nose. How could someone so big pee on themselves? She remembered smelling the same thing when she went down the mountain with her master.
Her master had said it was because people were old and sick and couldn’t control their bodies.
Yifu was still so young; was she sick? Feng Wu crooked her head wondering.
Yifu’s face turned red. Luckily everyone was too busy with the python to notice her situation, otherwise she would never have been able to live it down.
A cleaning spell was attached to all magician clothing and Yifu’s were no exception. Her clothes were soon clean of urine.
By the time Elena came over to help, Yifu’s clothes were cleaned, however the smell of urine still lingered in the air. Elena made a face when she detected it, but she didn’t say anything. Instead she made sure to keep Drew away to save Yifu some face.
Once Yifu was properly cleaned up, Elena went back to helping the others with the attack.
“Don’t worry. Just take medicine if you’re sick and you’ll be fine soon.” Feng Wu thought that was why Yifu couldn’t control her bodily functions. She never imagined people peed on themselves out of fright.
This made Yifu turn red and purple. She couldn’t wait to kill the girl in front of her. She hated Feng Wu with a vengeance. Not for a second did she think Feng Wu was trying to comfort her. In fact, to her eyes it seemed like Feng Wu was mocking her.
Yifu wondered how Elena could think Feng Wu was a kind and pure hearted girl. No one like that would speak the way she did to someone already embarrassed. Sure enough, Zi Cheng was the only good person in the world. Everyone else were hypocrites.
Hatred blinded her to everything and she forgot Feng Wu saved her life. The only thing on her mind was: Feng Wu had to die. She was so scared earlier, she peed herself. She had to make sure no one else learned of it, otherwise she would be the laughingstock of the entire school.
“You hypocritical woman! Don’t think you can threaten me with this!” Yifu yelled at Feng Wu just before running away to the other magicians.
Feng Wu blinked. What just happened?
Meanwhile the battle continued with many more people dying. The pond developed a faint red tint from the bloodshed. Throughout the battle the Blackwater python had skillfully avoided getting any kind of injury. If this continued the adventurers might never be able to leave. They didn’t want to stay there forever!
The black water came again; this time the it had a wider range. Men, women, it didn’t matter their gender, everyone retreated.
Feng Wu stood to the side watching the fight. She didn’t have a grudge against the python so had no reason to attack it. The python had a good opinion of Feng Wu, so it didn’t attack her either. It completely avoided her in its second attack.
The python left the water for a land attack. While most were trying to avoid the attack, some clever adventurers rushed to the pond trying to use the opportunity to swim to the exit.
The first group that rushed in was Ando’s Wolf mercenary team of five. There were originally many more in the Wolf group, but they had split up at the entrance and entered different worlds. No one knew which gate the inheritance lay behind, so splitting up increased their odds of finding it.
Ando never expected the entrance doors would lead to such harsh floor tribulations. It was just the first round of eliminations, not the highest floor treasure dudgeon!
The other adventurers reacted after Ando’s group disappeared under the water.
“Assholes! Those guys from the Wolf mercenary group are really not good guys! They used us to draw the python’s attention while they escaped by themselves!” A sword master who had just dodged an attack by the python yelled out.
“Damn those guys! I hope they die on the second floor!”
Those still fighting the python were furious upon realizing they were just cannon fodder. The one who spoke hated Ando and his group so much he could have vomited three liters of blood.
Ando played his hand well. Who would have thought someone from such a prestigious, well-known group would behave so dishonorably, taking his people and running away while leaving everyone else to die.
The crowd was angry, but there was nothing they could do. Unless they could give chase and follow him to the second floor, there was no way to settle the account. As it was, they were all stuck on the first floor, so they could do nothing but curse in their hearts.
So they all cursed Ando, but his actions made them realize something. This wasn’t about killing the python, this was about making it to the second floor.
Several more people entered the water, and miraculously a few were able to make it through. The python wasn’t stupid though. It turned around and returned to the water to block the entrance.
How could the adventurers allow that to happen? Magicians and sword masters attacked with renewed vigor, but their efforts didn’t pay off.
The python slid back into the water and looked at them disdainfully. Did these bugs really think they could get through its territory that easily?
“Let’s go! We won’t be able to progress if we don’t kill it!” Someone gave voice to the thought going through everyone’s minds. One by one, they used the most lethal attacks they knew, hoping to kill the python as soon as possible.
Elena avoided another water attack and retreated to Feng Wu and Yifu’s side. She whispered, “The Blackwater python is too strong for us to kill, so we’ll go for the bottom of the pond at the first opportunity.”
Based on her fighting experience, Elena could tell the python was not an ordinary beast. In order to kill it, they would need people much stronger than those around. With the current situation, they may as well just hand themselves on a platter to the python to eat.
This point can’t be stressed enough. They were too weak to take out the python. They were only alive because the python was toying with them. These people thought they could kill the python then leave? Dream on!
Drew happened to also retreat to the Feng Wu’s side, and so he heard Elena’s words. He agreed with her. They had to find a way to dive to the bottom of the pond, or they would be stuck on the floor forever.
Elena wasn’t the only person who realized this. Anyone with half a brain would be able to figure it out. They were thinking the same thing: find a way to dive and escape.
Many people were hit after the last attack. The men were nearly frozen, but alive. The women were unlucky; they were completely frozen.
“Now!” Elena yelled. Feng Wu and Drew sprang forward, following behind her. Yifu, though afraid, gritted her teeth and chased after them with her wand in hand.
The world was full of sounds: weapons hitting the python, magic in the air, magical energy explosions. It was chaotic as battle grew more fierce.
Elena was surprised the python completely ignored them. She thought she and Feng Wu would have to fight to clear a pathway, so this was good. Hopefully it wouldn’t remember them partway.
Though it ignored Elena and her group, the python did not neglect the other adventurers. It gave everyone else a horrible time and more people fell. Screams filled the air, yet they failed to leave even a single scratch on the python. It was a tremendous failure for the adventurers.
Elena’s nerves nearly gave way as she reached closer to the python and the shore of the pond. They were so close. At this distance there would be no place to hide. Fortunately the python didn’t seem like it had any interest in them. It hadn’t even given Feng Wu a single glance.
The python was merciless against everyone else, releasing its water attack indiscriminately. It felt good about Feng Wu and had wanted to leave her alone. Unexpectedly a few ants followed close to her, so it decided to leave them alone as well. The python didn’t really mind since there were so many other little bugs for it to play with.
Elena managed to pass the Blackwater python. She turned around to hurry the others along when the python turned its gaze to Feng Wu. This scared Elena half to death. She was afraid it would attack.
Yifu and Drew were also shocked, but Drew remained levelheaded. He pulled out his sword ready to attack to buy time for the two girls. They were so close; they couldn’t give up now.
Feng Wu was the calmest of the bunch because she knew the python wouldn’t hurt them. She could feel the python’s goodwill. A pity no one else could see it but Feng Wu. At this point the python was directly in front of her.
Yifu flashbacked to the entrance exams. Back then she had been disgusted by Feng Wu and the other candidates. Although she hated all of them, Feng Wu was the only one she couldn’t bear. Thus far Feng Wu had seen her at her worse, peeing on herself. If she shoved Feng Wu now, she wouldn’t have to be afraid of her humiliation coming out. She wouldn’t have to be scared of Feng Wu anymore.
As long as there was no Feng Wu, no one would target her anymore. If there was no Feng Wu…
These thoughts kept revolving in her mind. Soon enough her eyes flashed with resolve and determination.
Drew could tell the atmosphere was bad between the two girls, but he didn’t think it was so bad Yifu would try to kill Feng Wu.
Elena never thought Yifu would be so bold. Those who entered Xingguang Holy Academy were told, in no uncertain terms by the teachers, that killing each other was strictly forbidden. There was no way Yifu didn’t know this, and yet here she was trying to killing Feng Wu – right in front of them.
Yifu shoved Feng Wu as hard as she could into the path of the Blackwater python. Then she ran away to the second-floor entrance. She didn’t stick around to watch, after all wasn’t the end result obvious?
It took Drew a few seconds to respond. He wanted to save Feng Wu but it was too late. He watched as her body fell towards the python.
He didn’t run to the entrance, instead he rushed toward the python, hoping to block it with his sword, and perhaps, just maybe, he’d be able to save Feng Wu.
Yifu looked at the entrance; it was only a few steps away. She smiled in relief. She was about to escape.
But could she really escape? Reality would prove otherwise. Here is what happened directly after the shove.
Yifu was just crossing over to Elena’s side when a long tentacle tail snatched her up. She was completely wrapped up in the tail and only managed to squeak out a single cry for help before turning into a human shaped ice cube.
The python had no interest in Yifu, so it flung her away after freezing her. Luckily the ice formed by the python was sturdy and Yifu didn’t crack.
Elena watched as Yifu tried to kill her classmate. It made her so angry she wanted to kill Yifu, but she refrained because it was against school rules. Who knew Yifu’s retribution would come so swiftly. Elena didn’t have to lift a single finger.
Feng Wu hadn’t fallen into the python like Yifu planned. Instead Feng Wu righted her balance after nearly stumbling. She didn’t realize the import of Yifu’s actions. From her perspective, it felt like Yifu shoved her, but it wasn’t a big deal.
Drew had rushed over to her side, afraid for her. The python ignored them and focused on the fleeing Yifu. Then suddenly Yifu was caught and frozen by the python. It happened in a matter of seconds.
Though it struck Drew as strange, he figured it was because Yifu was so vicious that even the python wanted to kill her.
Many people saw the Blackwater python freezing Yifu, but they didn’t know why it happened. It was so abrupt. Other than Elena, no one had paid attention to Feng Wu and the other guys.
After the Blackwater python froze Yifu it went back to ignoring Elena and returned to attacking the adventurers.
Elena too wondered why the python ignored them and only attacked Yifu. She didn’t dwell on it too long though. She quickly grabbed the frozen Yifu and stored the girl in her dimensional ring, then grabbed Feng Wu and Drew and jumped into the pond.
Those left on the shore wanted to vomit blood when they saw more people jump into the pond. The harder they attacked the worse it became. Why were they fighting so hard while all these other cheap bastards were running off and escaping! It wasn’t fair!
The adventurers on the shore stampeded toward the python.
Feng Wu, Drew and Elena felt a chill the moment they entered the water. The temperature was so low it had to be below freezing. The Blackwater python had lived in the pond for so long, no wonder it could spit out freezing attacks so easily.
The three blocked the effects of the cold with their internal energy. Without the python obstructing them, they were able to reach the bottom of the pond easily. There really was a black hole opening! They would have to go through the hole to reach the next floor.
Feng Wu lingered at the entrance. She didn’t get to say goodbye to the python. Who knew if she would ever see it again. She was a little sad.
She saw the Blackwater python attack Yifu to avenge her. It really was a good friend. They had just met but she regretted not being able to say goodbye.
They emerged in a hall after swimming through the hole. There was nothing inside the hall. The few people that were there either sat or were lying down resting. No one talked.
Feng Wu, Drew and Elena entering the hall caused some raised eyebrows, but no one said anything. Everyone pretty much minded their own business, either maintaining their swords or mediating. No one looked at them beyond that first glance.
Their clothes were completely dried the moment they entered the hall. There wasn’t even a water stain to show how soaked they had been earlier from swimming in the pond.
“Xiao Wu! You’re here!” Jier’s voice suddenly rang out in the hall. Feng Wu perked up the moment she heard him and her normally deadpan face broke out in a smile. Seated beside him were Tian Ya and Ming Xi. Not too far away were Zi Cheng and Ai Lin.
“Xiao Wu, are you OK?” As soon as he saw her, Jier grabbed her hand and pulled her down to sit next to him. Next to Jier was of course Ming Xi. She gazed at him with bright eyes.
“I’m OK. I made lots of friends on the savannah. It was fun. They gave me gifts too. Oh, this is Drew. He is a friend.” Feng Wu was of course talking about the animals she met. And of course there was also Drew.
Feng Wu thought Drew was a good person so she naturally thought of him as a friend. Drew hadn't run away when Yifu pushed her, but had instead run to help her. She wasn’t actually in any danger but she appreciated the gesture. His kind intentions had reached her.
“Hi, I’m Drew. Feng Wu is my savior.” Drew scratched his head. All of Feng Wu’s friends gave off such strong auras: there was the boy with the golden hair, the boy with the silver hair, and then there was the boy with the red hair she was talking to now.
To Drew all three were formidable. The red-head was like an inferno; Drew could feel heat elemental fluctuating in the air just by standing next to him. The silver-haired boy was as cold as ice; his eyes were like icicles. The golden-haired boy, how should he say it? The golden-haired boy was smiling benignly. He was honestly the most beautiful person Drew ever met. None of the girls he knew could compare to that face.
The weird thing was the boy in front of him looked soft and gentle like the moonlight. Drew was confused and rather conflicted. Nevertheless his gut was telling him the boy in front of him was definitely strong and not to be messed with.
Drew’s intuition was spot on. If Elena could read his mind, she would have patted him on the shoulders. The boy had good eyes. Even Ming Xi’s friends took a while to realize he wasn’t as he seemed. That Drew figured it out on their first meeting was impressive.
“Hello, I’m Ming Xi, Feng Wu’s senior at school. Won’t you have a seat?” Ming Xi smiled at Drew. He thought Drew looked like an honest, straightforward person so he didn’t mind having him sit with them.
Drew obediently sat down. He had wanted to sit next to Feng Wu, but both spots were already taken. On her left was Jier and on her right was Ming Xi. There was no way he’d be able to sit next to her.
“You were teleported to a savannah? That’s better than me. I was teleported to a swamp. I nearly didn’t make it out.” Jier nearly chucked his meal when he thought about the swamp. It was so disgusting; he got out of there as fast as he could.
“Ming Xi, Tian Ya where did you guys get teleported to?” Elena sat between Zi Cheng and Ai Lin.
“I was teleported to a volcanic crater.” Ming Xi smiled bitterly. He wasn’t sure if his luck was really good or really bad to have been transported to such a place.
“I teleported to an ice field.” Tian Ya said breezily.
“Ice field? That’s like a fish to water. Your luck is so good. No one could have beat you there.” Let an ice affinity person go to an ice world? So unfair. Elena felt like both he and Ming Xi cheated.
Elena didn’t know Feng Wu being teleported to a savannah was also a gigantic cheat. Otherwise if she did she would have surely screamed.
Tian Ya raised his eyebrows but declined to comment.
“Sister Elena, were you and Feng Wu sent to the savannah together?” Ai Lin asked.
“Yes, but not the same spot.”
“Sister Elena, have you seen Yifu or Jasmine?” Zi Cheng was worried about her two friends, especially about Yifu. It wasn’t easy to raise someone to a 100% favorability rating. She didn’t want anything to happen to Yifu.
Elena’s face turned cold when she heard Yifu’s name. She had planned on telling everyone about it later after they left the tomb, but it seemed like there was no helping it now.
“Yifu was hit by the Blackwater python at the last floor. She’s frozen so I put her in my dimensional ring. We’ll wait until we can find a way to save her.” Elena had only been a little displeased with Yifu before, but now, after everything that happened, that little bit of displeasure had grown to enormous proportions. Why would anyone like someone who attacked their own fellow classmates?
Elena saw how much Zi Cheng cared for Yifu so she wanted to tell her about what happened, however it wasn’t the right place. There were too many people around who didn’t need to know.
Elena didn’t know it but her own appearance set off alarm bells in Ai Lin’s heart. According to the original plot, Elena should not have made it to the second floor. She should have been turned into an ice statue after taking the hit to save Yifu on the first floor. Her body should have remained in the tomb forever.
But now Elena was standing and talking just fine. Yifu, the person that should have survived, was the one frozen.
Originally Elena, Zi Cheng, and Yifu entered the tomb together. When explaining to Ming Xi and his team, Zi Cheng had said the three of them fell into the tomb and Elena died protecting Yifu from the Blackwater python.
Ming Xi and his team didn’t say anything about the incident, but they never spoke to Zi Cheng’s team again after they returned to school. Ming Xi and his team were the few not attracted to Zi Cheng’s protagonist halo.
Ming Xi definitely had suspicions about Elena’s death, but he had no evidence. Zi Cheng proved Elena died protecting Yifu, so he didn’t have a logical reason to pursue Zi Cheng.
This new ending was flipped. Ai Lin wasn’t sure if it was changing because of the interaction between so many new players, who were not in the play originally, or if it was because Feng Wu and Elena were teleported to the same place.
Ai Lin had suspected Feng Wu was a fellow transmigrator, but now she was positive it wasn’t the case. Feng Wu was definitely not a transmigrator. After all how could such a simple girl be a transmigrator?
Ai Lin’s thinking was flawed though. She was only thinking about Earth; she failed to consider the possibility of Feng Wu originating from a world other than Earth.
“Sister Elena, please take Yifu out. I would like to take a look.” Upon hearing how serious Yifu was injured, Zi Cheng immediately wanted to check. You could say a thousand uncomplimentary things about Yifu and her bad character, but you couldn’t deny her devotion to Zi Cheng.
Elena sighed and waved her hand. A frozen human form appeared on the ground.
The people glanced over at Elena’s movement, but they quickly turned away. It was hopeless for anyone turned into ice by the black water. No woman had ever survived.
And just like that a human shaped ice statue appeared in the hall. Yifu’s eyes were red and her expression was frozen at the moment she was hit; it was an odd mix of resentment, pride, and joy.
It may have been confusing to everyone else, but Elena and Drew knew why she had such an expression. She was resentful of Feng Wu, proud that she managed to scheme against her, and joyful that she was about to escape.
Yifu never thought at the time she would be the one to get hurt.
“Zi Cheng, listen OK? The python’s water attack, as long as it’s a woman, that person won’t recover. It’s impossible to save Yifu.” Elena couldn’t bear to see Zi Cheng so sad so she tried to explain.
“No, I might be able to save her. I have to try.” Zi Cheng seriously looked at Yifu’s frozen form.
“Well if you can’t save her, don’t feel bad about it. You tried your best.” Elena spoke with a heavy heart as she patted Zi Cheng on the shoulders. From her perspective it was a useless endeavor to try. No one had ever been thawed once frozen. The yin in a woman’s body was what caused the ice to solidify, so it was impossible to reverse it once it formed.
Ming Xi and the others were also just as pessimistic. Only Ai Lin, because she knew about Zi Cheng’s cheat ability, felt it might be possible. The lead’s favorability system was truly formidable, capable of creating priceless artifacts of god-like stature in exchange for points.
Didn't the female lead become something of a demi-god at the end of the original novel? The male lead also became godlike, and together they soared through the skies unfettered.
It wasn’t just fanciful speech; there was a possibility Zi Cheng could do it if she tried.
The female lead wasn’t the female lead for nothing. In Zi Cheng’s hand, a bright, purple flame suddenly appeared. It was a tiny flame that elicited a strange sense of emotion from those who saw it. It was definitely not an ordinary flame.
“That’s the Purple Yang flame! It’s the fifth highest ranking flame!” exclaimed an onlooker when he saw the flame in Zi Cheng’s hand.
Those who heard looked at the flame with interest. There were ten famous heavenly flames and the Purple Yang flame, with its pure yang attribute, ranked fifth. Aside from using it for attack, the flame could also be used for medicinal purposes. As an ingredient, it had the ability to increase compounding success. It was a highly coveted flame.
There wasn’t a single pharmacist who wouldn’t want the Purple Yang flame. Other professions were also interested in it since it offered another avenue of attack and a boost in the wielder’s strength. It was akin to a secret weapon.
However such large advantages came with risks. To get the flame, a person had to subdue and fuse with it. Failure meant instant incineration. Success meant a gigantic boost in combat capabilities and entrance into the upper echelon ranks.
The number of people who successfully tamed any heavenly flame could be counted on two hands. The most important thing to note was how rare the flames were. There were ten in all and the other nine were scattered around the world.
Heavenly flames were spiritual flames. Even if you were to encounter one, if you tried to force a merger, the odds of success were only one in ten. To top it off, even if the fusion was successful, you wouldn’t emerge unscathed; your body would suffer heavily.
Now suddenly, here was a person who successfully merged with a heavenly flame. She didn’t appear injured in anyway. Not only that she was so young!
All kinds of eyes stared at Zi Cheng: jealous, envious, and resentful. Some were incredibly narrowminded and unable to stomach such a young girl being so lucky. They were already thinking of ways to kill her.
This is the mentality of people who can’t become geniuses themselves. They strive to destroy those that are and in this way many geniuses were snuffed out before they had a chance to properly bloom.
Feng Wu looked at the tiny purple flame and recalled there was a similar flame on Yuehua mountain. Her master had said it was the purest fire flame in the world and that an impure mind would not be able to hold it. It was the flame used to create Xiao Chun.
She had gone to see it often back when she was on Yuehua mountain. It was a cute and interesting flame despite its tiny size. The small flame, like the other animals, were her good friends.
Pure[notes] flame, who had been inside Xiao Chun the entire time, sensed something. A pure, white, super plump and adorably cute baby girl with wings flew out of Xiao Chun. She flew in a circle around Feng Wu a few times, then stared off into the distance at Purple Yang.
The chubby girl twisted her lips in scorn. She flew back into Xiao Chun. Other than Feng Wu, no one saw a thing. Naturally this was because of Feng Wu's relationship with Xiao Chun.
Initially when it was first released by Zi Cheng, the purple flame had been very stable, but it trembled fiercely when the baby girl appeared. The purple flame was nearly suppressed by its superior.
Fortunately the pressure disappeared soon after appearing. The purple flame was relieved. What kind of flame was it that it could exert so much pressure? Was it the second or the third?
In fact it was the first. The first was a legend even in the heavens. They knew the first existed, but none of them knew its name or even what kind of flame it was.
The heavenly flames were a special existence in heaven and on earth. They knew of each other’s existence, and could to a certain extent sense one another, even if they couldn’t tell their exact locations. This was how humanity knew a flame more superior to all the other flames existed.
As Purple Yang’s master, Zi Cheng could sense something was odd. She only recently merged with the purple flame and her connection with it was still tenuous, so although she could tell something was wrong, she couldn’t tell what it was.
Zi Cheng approached Yifu once Purple Yang stabilized itself. The flame’s power warmed Yifu and soon melted the ice.
Yifu's breathing was weak, but she was alive. Because she had been sealed in ice for so long, her body was stiff and her muscles uncooperative.
Zi Cheng was relieved to see this. She took out a red medicinal pellet from her dimensional ring and held it close to Yifu’s body. The big pellet transformed into water and flowed directly into Yifu.
Naturally the pellet was something Zi Cheng got by exchanging points with her system. The medicine was called Revival and as long as there was breath in a body, it could, no matter the severity of the injury, heal it and restore the body to its uninjured state. How could something this amazing not have any side effects? Of course it did. Anyone who took it lost twenty years of their life.
Essentially you were exchanging years later for a healthy body now. Zi Cheng could have purchased better medicine, the kind that didn’t cost any life, but it would have cost more points. As it was, this pellet cost more than half her savings.
Earning points was hard. She didn’t want to spend any more than necessary. At the same time, she didn’t want to lose Yifu, so this was the compromise she settled on.
Fortunately it was a world of swords and magic. As long as you practiced magic, extending your life and gaining twenty years wasn’t a problem.
The pellet was effective. Yifu’s skin turned rosy and glowed with vitality.
Yifu slowly opened her eyes. Her mind was still stuck at the moment when the black water hit her. She remembered shoving Feng Wu and immediately running towards the entrance for the next level.
“It’s great you’re awake Yifu!” Zi Cheng happily knelt down to help Yifu up.
Yifu looked around. She saw Elena, Feng Wu, Drew, and even Ming Xi and the rest of the seniors. What was going on? Could she have really left the first floor? But how was that possible?
And Feng Wu! She clearly remembered shoving her in front of the Blackwater python. How could the girl be alive? She had to be dreaming. She had to be dreaming.
She desperately shook her head as she looked at Feng Wu. Then she reached up and slapped her own face.
To everyone watching, it looked like she was smacking herself for no reason.
Because the black water shot out so fast, Yifu froze before she was even aware she was hit. She expected to still be on the savannah by the water, so the current situation was confusing to her.
Feng Wu didn’t care that Yifu was focused on her right after thawing. She would never be so foolish as to be lenient with someone who wanted to kill her, but Yifu’s killing intent was too weak for her to notice. Feng Wu barely even registered Yifu’s existence.
Her friend, the Blackwater python, got revenge for her already. Zi Cheng saving Yifu, though surprising, could be chalked up to her having strong luck.
Since the debt was paid, there was no reason for Feng Wu to hold a grudge. As far as she was concerned, things were squared between the two of them. Besides Feng Wu didn’t have the mind power to hold onto such trivial offenses.
Therefore, as long as Yifu herself didn’t court disaster, Feng Wu would never take the initiative to deal with her. A pity Yifu didn’t know this. She expected other people to behave like she did. Her thinking was, if someone targeted her, she would try to get rid of that person as soon as she could, otherwise she’d have a hard time sleeping at night.
“Yifu! Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. You’ve only just recovered from your injuries.” Zi Cheng’s eyes widened in shock at the sight of Yifu hitting her own head. She only thought to stop her friend after watching for a few seconds.
The others didn’t know why Yifu was acting so strangely, but Drew and Elena knew. It was because she couldn’t believe her eyes that’s why. That and she was afraid.
She couldn't believe she’d failed to kill Feng Wu. Now she was afraid of Feng Wu’s revenge and was probably hoping she was dreaming. That way she could fool herself into thinking she successfully killed Feng Wu.
“You can stop hitting yourself. It’s no use. I’ll tell you right now, everything you see is real. Feng Wu is alive and we’re safe.” Yifu lost any goodwill Elena had for her. Someone who tried to kill their fellow classmate behind their back, it would be a wonder if Elena didn’t like that person.
Elena was a stereotypical sword master with a straight forward personality. She was blunt in speech and upright in manner. She looked down on any villain who acted underhandedly.
Other people may not have picked up on Elena’s odd manner of speech, but those in her team were attuned enough to notice how strange her voice was.
What was going on?
Elena was normally very good to the underclassman. She never hesitated to help.
But now she was behaving so indifferently to First-year Yifu. Something must have happened in the savannah, something Elena couldn’t tolerate.
Tian Ya and Ming Xi exchanged glances. They could guess each other’s thoughts without speaking.
Jier sat impatiently on the side. He took out a pig’s foot from his space ring and munched on it, not caring one whit about Yifu.
Compared to Ming Xi and his team, the other occupants in the hall were shocked. Their jaws nearly dropped to the floor.
How could a woman hit by the black water of the Blackwater python survive?!
What was that pellet?! Fire alone wouldn’t have saved her. Yes she would have thawed, but she would have thawed at death’s door. The thing that saved her was definitely that pellet!
Immediately after taking the medicine, the girl improved and woke up. Who wouldn't be excited over something as miraculous as that?! Especially if they saw it with their own eyes – of course they’d be interested!
Of the adventurers around them, some were honorable sorts who were discreetly sizing up Yifu and Zi Cheng. Zi Cheng in particular got a lot of attention; she was the one with the medicine after all.
It was a world of swords and magic, so naturally there were different types of medicines that could improve strength and treat injuries; it was just that most people were familiar with chemical medicinal compounds made by pharmacists, but not with alchemical transformative ones made in the ancient countries of the east.
Only the dark-eyed people in the region practiced it. Unlike the study of pharmacy, where anyone with ability could learn by attending school, alchemy was a secretive art that only those in the east knew.
Alchemy practitioners rarely accepted students, with most only accepting one or two throughout the course of their lives. Therefore there were far fewer alchemists than pharmacists. They were so rare they were practically a myth.
This rarity meant it was possible for those on the Big Six[notes] to go their entire lives without ever see alchemical medicine.
But just a moment ago a young girl using the fabled medicine appeared. Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
Mother! They just saw something unexpectedly incredible today. It turned out the myth was true! It had to be a legendary medicine to have such an amazing effect! Local lore had it the medicine the ancient people practiced were magical – and it was magical!
The girl used such an amazing medicine to save her friend. No way she would use something so precious if she only had one, so she had to have a more on her somewhere.
Ming Xi and his team didn’t notice the intense stares. They sat and continued with their business. Jier pulled out some more meat while Feng Wu pulled out some magical fruits to share with everyone.
Ming Xi took the fruit Feng Wu handed to him. He was surprised. Most trees that bore them were guarded by powerful beasts. It was impossible for a person without abilities to get them.
But this girl, Feng Wu did it. He didn’t know how she did it, but that didn’t matter, the important thing was she succeeded. It made him look at her in a different light. Without a doubt, she had proven her strength.
Two rosy spots popped up on Feng Wu’s face when Ming Xi accepted the fruit she handed.
An unexpected thought hit Ming Xi: how adorable! Now he understood why Elena went on and on about how cute Feng Wu’s face was and why she constantly wanted to press that face against her chest.
Wait. What was he thinking?! He coughed and looked away trying to cool his hot head.
More people filtered into the hall as the hours passed. Wind, Rain, Luis, and Gerasi eventually entered the hall and everyone’s heart lightened, happy that no one fell in the tomb.
They hadn’t reached the quota yet so many people hung around in pairs. Some stood alone leaning against pillars or sitting on the floor. The sound of chatter filled the hall.
And in this way, the people who arrived later were quickly filled in on how Zi Cheng saved her friend with an alchemical pellet. Some were ambitious and coveted the medicine. Who told her to flash her treasure like that? Now she was going to be targeted on the second floor.
Few weaklings entered the battlegrounds, so most there now were adventurers who had cut their teeth in battle and gained experience through bloody combat in search for treasure. Killing one girl for her medicine, none of them felt any grief over it.
A sinister atmosphere permeated the hall. They were there for the inheritance, but there was only one of it. Who knew how difficult it would be to get? The pellet though… everyone saw. It was definitely something they could steal.
In a recessed corner of the hall was an old man. He looked down on his luck and was accompanied by a cute teenage girl of about fifteen or sixteen.
She was a lovely girl with beautiful eyes. Her figure, though not as alluring as Elena’s, was certainly memorable. One glance and you’d be charmed.
An old man, a beautiful girl, this unusual duo sat unobtrusively in the corner.
“Grandpapa, is it really here?” The girl spoke softly despite knowing there was a silence array around them.
“Yes.” His old eyes suddenly lit up and he appeared much younger than his years. The youthful spark disappeared as quickly as it came and he returned to his inconspicuous self before anyone noticed.
The 100th person entering the hall triggered the second floor to open. At the same time God Calven’s voice boomed from above.
“Congratulations on reaching the second floor! The first ten to complete this floor will be teleported to my inheritance. Do not make me wait too long adventurers! Now go forth!” His voice faded away with the last words.
A gate appeared but no one made a move toward it. It was tall and reached the ceiling. Then with a sudden jarring clang, it opened to reveal white light. It was blinding and made it impossible to see inside.
Was the light hiding something dangerous? There were those who hoped someone else would explore first. Fortunately for them there were those who believed the early bird caught the worm. There were only ten spots and they didn’t intend to lag behind. The faster they moved, the better their odds of getting the inheritance.
In fact many people thought this way. They rushed forward the moment the gate opened completely. Their plan was to separate from the crowd and become the first ten.
Feng Wu and the rest entered after the rush.
What kind of world lay beyond?
The gate disappeared after all 100 entered. The brightness dimmed and a cave took shape. Five corridors lay in front. One was lit red, cold rushed out of another, another was so dark you couldn’t see your fingers in front of you and so on and so forth. They were all different basically.
The sign in front said there was a limit of twenty per channel. It looked like they would have to split into five groups.
The ones who entered first already made their choices, so the ones following behind had to take the leftovers.
The cave was lit by luminescent pearls, so although there was no sun or moon, there was still light to navigate by. The pearls themselves weren’t rare, but the light they emitted in the dark had an ethereal beauty. Because of this, many noble ladies were willing to pay handsomely for them.
The walls were inlaid with these pearls. Truly was a god’s tomb! It’d be safe to say that if it weren’t for the lure of the god’s inheritance, the walls would have been picked clean.
Counting Drew, the kids had fifteen in their group. Fifteen… it was hard to make a single team with the remaining corridor slots.
As they were discussing what to do, one of the corridors disappeared, then another… A corridor would disappear after twenty people went in. This meant forty had already entered. Now there were only three paths to pick from.
One of the paths that disappeared left a lingering glow like the shine of gold. The other was dim like an ordinary path.
Could it be one had the inheritance? The other three remaining paths were partially filled. Since there was no way for them to stay together as a group, each of them chose the path that suited them best.
Tian Ya chose the cold path. Jier had an affinity for red so he chose the red path. He wanted to take the path with Feng Wu, but by the time Wind, Rain, Elena, and Gerasi joined, there were no more slots.
It didn’t matter which path Feng Wu took; they were all the same to her. She picked the dark path after waving goodbye to Jier.
At first Ming Xi wanted to go the cold path with Tian Ya, but he frowned when he saw Feng Wu take the dark path. He was uneasy. Instead of the cold path, he moved to the dark path with Feng Wu.
Drew and Pei Qing chose the dark path with Feng Wu. The others picked the cold path with Tian Ya.
The dark path was the least favored. It was creepy looking. Those that picked it, only picked it because they were slow and it was the only one with available slots. Just glancing at it and you could tell it was dangerous – with a capital D. Only those with complete confidence in themselves would choose it voluntarily.
All the corridors filled up and disappeared and a wall stood in their place. The lit cave dimmed and turned dark.
In the dark path.
In the absence of any light, people in the corridor instinctively tried to use their magic to hold the darkness at bay. But nothing came out. Their magic was gone! They were like ordinary people.
“What’s going on?!” the panic-stricken voice of a young man, probably around thirty, rang out. He was used to relying on his abilities. To suddenly lose them was distressing and he couldn’t adapt.
Without sight, they could only guess each others’ age, gender, and location by sound.
“Damn! There is something wrong with this path!” This came from a woman, middle-aged, most likely a magician.
“My qi’s also disappeared. What’s going on? Is this part of the test for the second floor?” Even though no one could see her face, it was clear from her voice she was a young female sword master.
What a strange place. “Xiao Wu, where are you?” Ming Xi called out. His qi was also gone. It was discomfiting to be an ordinary person without any power; however he was more worried about the naïve girl he was with.
“I’m here,” came a soft reply. Her voice was calm and smooth, without a hint of worry or fear.
A pair of soft, smooth hands unerring reached out and held his. The palms were so small and different from his own.
Just to be sure. “Xiao Wu?” he asked. He squeezed the hand in his grip testing the strength.
“Mm.” A returning squeeze came with the reply. That squeeze… he was sure it was her.
“Xiao Wu, this is Brother Pei Qing!” He pinpointed Xiao Wu’s location after hearing her voice. He was close by, so it was easy for him to find her once he had the vocal clue.
“Xiao Wu!” The voice belonged to Drew.
The four firmly held hands to keep from getting separated.
Others in the cave also did the same thing with those they knew. Those who didn’t know anyone could only rely on themselves, trailing their hands on the wall so as not to get turned around.
It was too dark in the cave to see anything. The sound of dripping water added to the eerie atmosphere and made the place more scary.
“Hey everyone. Let’s consider it fate that we took this path together. Since we’re together why not talk? It’s better than the silence.”
A young female voice replied enthusiastically. “Yeah that’s true. Let’s talk. The quiet is too creepy.”
“What’s this level supposed to test anyway? There’s nothing but darkness. I don’t understand what we’re supposed to do.” Another male voice replied.
The enthusiastic girl jumped in again. “It might be testing our resilience. In any case as long as we follow the wall we should reach the end sooner or later.”
“What?! Woman, this is a god’s tomb with a god’s legacy. It’s not going to be that easy.” The speaker was a middle-aged man for sure.
What he said made sense. Just darkness wouldn’t scare them, so there had to be more.
Even if no one had qi with which to sense their surroundings, they could tell there was nothing dangerous in the corridor they were in. Thus far, the only bad thing was the corridor’s effect on their qi.
It may have been a bigger issue for budding adventurers, but aside from slight disconcertment, it wasn’t a problem for veterans. The road ahead would get easier.
Feng Wu pulled on Ming Xi’s[notes] hand. The small group stayed silent. After all, in the pitch darkness the biggest threat wasn't the location but something else.
Ming Xi was gentle and kind to all the females at school, however it was always a cool warmth. His identity was special and girls often targeted him, throwing themselves at him, because of it. As a result he couldn’t bear to be touched by anyone of the opposite gender, and so avoided them as best he could. Only a few close friends knew about his dislike of physical closeness to the female gender.
As a result, this was his first time holding a girl’s hand. He gripped Feng Wu’s hand tightly. The redness that swelled on his cheeks were well hidden by the dark.
Ming Xi smiled sardonically to himself. Luis would have been so surprised if he knew. The softness in his grip was strange, but he didn’t dislike it. He couldn’t stop his smile. He looked in the direction of the girl that kept persistently proposing to him. He wasn’t annoyed by it - not at all.
Feng Wu felt happy. Ink[notes] told her the first step to becoming a couple was to hug and hold hands. The first step -holding hands- was accomplished. So were they a couple now? Feng Wu was a little excited.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud scream. A heavy object thudded against something immediately after.
“What happened? Did someone get attacked?!”
“Fuck! I knew it was too good to be true. This place couldn’t be that peaceful. No way it would only test our lack of qi in the dark!”
“Who made the first move?”
“Wait! What - what happened?”
Fear became a palpable thing that surrounded them as more voices crowded in the dark. The line between life and death was a scary place to traverse. Right now they were in the dark, without access to their qi.
The panic only made the situation worse. Everyone went on alert. What was attacking them?
“Ah!” Another scream. It sounded even more harsh and jarring in the dark.
As though stimulated by the scream, many people rushed forward. Even without sight and qi, sword masters had strong bodies that were still well-honed machines. Even the physically weaker magicians did their best to run forward.
Feng Wu and her group also ran. They ran before the last scream died away.
There were two reasons for the current situation. One: something unknown was attacking them. Two: someone within the group of twenty was making a move.
A culprit within the group was the most likely possibility. There was only one inheritance, and only one person could enter the final floor. To get there, you had to either be the best and beat out all other opponents, or eliminate as many as you could to increase your own odds.
Wasn’t a place with limited sight the best place to do that?
Not everyone thought of this, but the experienced adventurers certainly did.
“Don’t say anything,” Ming Xi wrote on the palm of Feng Wu’s hand.
Feng Wu cleverly followed his example and wrote the word “OK” onto his palm in reply.
He nodded. As long as they stayed quiet, whoever was attacking would have a harder time targeting them. But the most important thing was to lose the crowd of people around them. It was dangerous to stay with strangers.
The corridor was silent. Even footsteps were barely discernible. It looked like everyone was keeping quiet, breathing lightly and stepping softly, so as not to be the next victim.
Ming Xi’s group of four kept moving forward while holding hands. They needed to move quickly to get out of the darkness.
Light peeked through a hole ahead of them, seemingly like an exit. The thought of finally leaving lifted everyone’s spirits.
Pei Qing and Drew were particularly excited. Neither of them enjoyed holding hands with each other. They could finally leave! Thank goodness!
The light was like a beacon. Those around Feng Wu, who had been walking, increased their pace. There were only ten spots, so if they didn’t hurry the quota would get filled and they’d be out of luck.
“Xiao Wu, let’s hurry too. Don’t let those guys steal all the spots.” Pei Qing was about to release Feng Wu’s hand and rush forward.
She was walking sandwiched between him and Ming Xi, one on either side. The boys had been consciously trying to protect her.
Those behind them rushed forward as he said this.
“Don’t go, it’s dangerous.” Feng Wu kept a hold of Pei Qing’s hand. Her voice was serious.
Even if Pei Qing couldn’t see her face, he could tell she was serious from the tone of her voice. He took her advice and didn’t rush off.
As for Drew, well Feng Wu was his savior. This combined with his experience trailing after her on the savannah, and he completely trusted her words. He decided not to rush off either.
“Xiao Wu, how do you know it’s dangerous up ahead?” Pei Qing asked.
“I’m not sure, but up ahead gives me a bad feeling.” Most likely because Feng Wu was so flawless and pure, she was more sensitive to foul auras.
“Xiao Wu, do you know if there’s an exit up ahead?” Drew wondered out loud. It was a rhetorical question and he didn’t expect her to answer, after all she had never been here before, so how could she know?
Ming Xi answered for her. “There’s no exit. Only a beast – a very powerful one.”
Pei Qing was surprised. “You know?” Feng Wu only knew the hole ahead was dangerous but Ming Xi knew what was inside it. Incredible.
“Well, I can smell the beast. The closer we are the stronger the scent is.” Ming Xi frowned as he looked at the hole. He was getting a bad vibe from it. Whatever was beyond the hole wasn’t your average ordinary beast…
He didn’t let his fears on. The guys would likely be disturbed if they knew it wasn’t an ordinary beast but a “terrible beast.” Beasts with violent tendencies that craved bloodshed were called “terrible beasts.” They loved to kill.
“Mm, Senior Ming Xi is right.” Feng Wu thought the beast also smelled bad. She loved animals, but she didn’t like this one. She didn’t think it would like her either.
Drew asked what they should do if they weren’t going in.
“Let’s go this way.” Ming Xi took the lead and led them to another path.
Apparently there was a fork in the road. It was so dark there was no way to see it, that Ming Xi could find it, he really was a fifth year at Xingguang Holy Academy.
Pei Qing and Drew were impressed. They wondered if they would ever get to the point where they could navigate even in the dark.
“How did you know the path was there?” Pei Qing was curious.
“The wind. There were sounds of it blowing from this direction. So there had to be an opening.” Ming Xi explained.
Pei Qing understood and didn’t ask anymore. Please forgive him, when he lost his sight he apparently lost his sense of hearing too.
The four walked hand in hand.
Meanwhile beyond the hole everyone else flocked to…
It was obvious from sounds alone that a fierce battle was raging. The first people who walked through the hole were either killed or severely injured. Of the twenty people who took the dark path, only twelve were left – eight having died already.
No one could have known that waiting in the light inside the cave was one of the four great “terrible beasts,” the Sky Devouring wolf, born with a desire to devour all things.
A Sky Devouring wolf could destroy a small country. No one Star Marshall hall sent to deal with it every came back alive. It was a top tier “terrible beast.” Aside from god and holy beasts, none of the other beasts could compare.[notes]
“Damn! We have to get out of here!” a middle-aged sword master yelled out.
The Sky Devouring wolf wasn’t stupid. How could it let its prey escape so easily? If it entered the cave, then it was food!
The hunger glittering in its eyes was unmistakable. It hadn’t had a filling meal in ages since it was shut up in the cave. Now out of nowhere a bunch of humans walked in to fill its belly. There was no way it was going to let them get away!
The adventurers regained their strength after entering the cave and they were able to use their qi and magic to battle the wolf. Had it not been for that, they would have already died.
Right now there were eight still alive in the cave. They were still breathing because they were working together. Despite working together though, they couldn’t figure out how to deal with the wolf.
The Sky Devouring wolf was an awesome beast, and you had to admit its fierce reputation was well earned.
“The wolf is restricted to the cave, so if we can get out, we should be safe,” said a female magician.
Everyone else nodded in agreement. Suddenly someone shoved her toward the beast. There was only a short distance between the adventurers and the beast so she fell forward easily and served as a distraction while the others fled.
The one who did the shoving was of course the dark magician, Sixth Elder Shaya[notes] of the Lianye clan. He was a naturally-born dark magician. Supposedly dark magicians were even more rare than light magicians.
He had a strong affinity for the dark so it was natural for him to choose the dark path. He never expected to lose his ability after entering and nearly be killed. It was shameful. Heading into what appeared to be an exit was also the wrong decision. Instead of an exit he walked into the lair of a carnivorous beast. His luck was so bad.
He had no advantages over the wolf, despite being a powerful magician. Fortunately he thought of the good idea of pushing the female in front of him toward the beast. As long as someone served as a distraction for the beast, then he could escape.
He never expected the others around him to be so quick. Their movements almost slowed him down.
The Sky Devouring wolf was a unique beast on earth. It had the intelligence of man so naturally it wasn’t going to let Shaya have his way. Its fur took on a red sheen as it condensed magic and shot out a ball of energy toward the entrance.
Those running for the exit had to dodge out of the way. They would have lost half their lives had they been hit, assuming of course they survived at all.
“Damn!” A male sword master cursed out as he took something out of his dimensional ring. It was a short-range teleportation scroll. Using it would send him somewhere else not too far away on the corridor path.
He tried to activate the scroll, but who knew it wouldn’t start?!
“It’s not activating!” he yelled out.
Their faces turned ugly as their hope faded away. No one wanted to die, but if they couldn’t teleport out, what could they do?
The female magician Shaya pushed out didn’t die. The wolf wasn’t so foolish as to swap one piece of meat in place of seven. It had ignored her in favor of stopping the others from reaching the entrance.
That’s right. Everything in front of it was food and not a single piece was going to escape.
The wolf was confident in its strength. Even if it was captured and imprisoned by that guy for the past tens of thousands of years, its strength remained the same as the day it entered.
Along the red road…
The path was curvy and bumpy with magma heat and fire on all sides. It was like they were on top of a volcano. The people that were too weak to walk and had to stop incinerated into ash.
Of the twenty that first entered, only ten were left. These included Jier, Elena, Luis, Wind and Rain. The siblings were the weakest, but since they were part Jier’s team, he as the captain shielded them from the brunt of it.
On the snowy, icy road…
The entire pathway was frozen, made worse by the intermittent freezing wind that cut through. From time to time the cold condensed and formed beasts that attacked them. The frequency increased the farther they walked. Jasmine and Yifu received minor injuries but were otherwise fine.
Meanwhile on the dark path.
Feng Wu and her friends continued to walk along the path. The farther they went, the more mysterious it was. They couldn’t see - that was a constant - but gradually they lost their other senses as well.
Though they knew they were holding hands, they couldn’t feel it. How terrible was that? The only way to return to normal was to leave, so they kept moving forward on the path that continued endlessly in front of them.
Fortunately for Feng Wu, she was a simple-minded person. Plus there was Xiao Chun[notes], who she could always chat with since he was inside her dantian.
Xiao Chun had contacted her after she lost her other senses. Xiao Chun told her if she continued forward her strength would increase, but she would lose her mind and be stuck in the dark forever if she stopped.
Those who have never been locked in the dark without their senses wouldn’t know how terrible it is. It’s like you’re the last person in the world. Staying sane in a situation like that would be remarkable.
She didn’t know how long she’d been walking, but eventually Feng Wu saw light peeking through a hole on the path ahead. She instinctively walked toward it. She couldn’t feel the others, so she didn’t know if they were still with her, but she knew they would meet if everyone walked to the end.
Ming Xi’s face was pale as he reached the end point of the corridor and entered a cave. Despite his exceptionally strong mind, the dark had nearly shattered his ego and entrapped him forever.
The others might not know the origins of the path they were on, but he did. He realized what it was after losing all his other senses.
The path was basically a corridor meant to strengthen humanity.
No one knew who first came up with the idea, but according to legend, it existed since ancient times. Back then people were able to attain godhood through cultivation. Those that became gods sometimes built these dark corridors inside the legacies they left behind, hoping people would use it to strengthen themselves, and thus move humanity forward.
They were called Nightmare corridors because they truly were nightmarish.
The corridor was a sensory deprivation area that fed on your fears. Once you reached the center, whatever fears or emotions you had would be magnified. They would continue to magnify neverendingly. The weak-willed would collapse immediately from the pressure; indeed many perished inside.
Ming Xi was certain the corridor they were in was a Nightmare corridor. Going through it was a huge risk, but that risk came with tremendous rewards. Anyone who successfully came out of it gained mental clarity.
That clarity would come in handy when it came time to advance. In fact many of the most powerful people in the past went through the corridor. As long as they didn’t suffer unusual bad luck, they would definitely become the most powerful amongst their peers. Plenty rose to godhood.
But that was many thousands of years ago, and since then Nightmare corridors had been relegated to the annals of history; especially since the heirs of the gods no longer descended.[notes] He never expected to encounter one.
He was alone in the cave, so he knew he was the only one who completed it so far. There was nothing around him other than a small opening, which he guessed was the exit. He stared at it but didn’t move to leave yet. Instead he sat down, closed his eyes and meditated, gathering his qi focus.
Few knew he was a dual wielder, that because of his lineage, he was both a powerful magician and sword master. In fact, regarding magical arts, there were only two people in all of Xingguang Holy Academy who were qualified to teach him.
It was because of this that he chose the Sword Master division when he entered school. He rarely used magic in battle, preferring to use a sword instead.
Time ticked by. Ming Xi didn’t move until he heard the sound of soft footsteps. He slowly opened his eyes. For a brief moment they had a mysterious golden glow.
“Senior Ming Xi!” Feng Wu saw Ming Xi meditating as soon as she entered the cave. She happily walked toward him.
Ming Xi stood up and looked at her. Her face and expression were normal, but it was because they were normal that it seemed odd. Nightmare corridors didn’t physically attack you, but they did attack your mind by overwhelming you emotionally and mentally. And in such an endless and solitary darkness, something like that was just as dangerous. Most people couldn't handle it.
As tough as he was, he had nearly succumbed, so it was incredible such a dainty girl went through it utterly unaffected.
“Xiao Wu, are you OK?” Although she looked a lot better than he did when he completed the Nightmare corridor, he couldn’t help but double check.
She nodded her head. “Yes.”
“Sit down and rest a bit while we wait for Pei Qing and Drew.” He patted her head gently as he said this.
Feng Wu nodded and obediently sat down. Ming Xi sat down next to her and quietly watched her as she meditated.
He didn’t know what level she was, but he sensed she was strong. Now watching her, that sense only grew.
Using his own qi he was able to see a formidable power gathering around Feng Wu. It was a simple qi too. She had a unique method for focusing and replenishing her qi.
Everyone absorbed qi the same way on the Big Six, but not everyone used the same method to gather it. Sword masters had a few tricks and clan secrets that influenced the speed and strength they absorbed qi. Each method had its own advantages and disadvantages. He could tell a little bit about Feng Wu’s method by watching her. The method she practiced was very powerful, one with few rivals even among his own peers.
Her method surprised him. What kind of method was this? Why was the qi cultivated from her method so different from the qi cultivated from the normal method.
He was curious but he wasn’t going to ask. Everyone had their secrets. Lord knew he had plenty himself – enough to last a lifetime. There was no reason for him to pry more from others.
Feng Wu stopped meditating after fifteen minutes. She opened her eyes to find Ming Xi staring intently at her. Any other girl would have blushed out of nervousness.
But Feng Wu wasn’t your average girl. No this girl didn’t know the definition of shyness. When she saw Ming Xi staring at her, she stared right back with her pair of large unblinking eyes. Ming Xi was the one to turn away embarrassed.
He spoke a little uneasily. “Xiao Wu, in the future, don’t use your cultivation method in front of other people.”
It was obvious she didn’t understand why he wanted her not to do so but she didn’t ask. Instead she nodded her cute head obediently and said, “Mm.”
This simple, yet lovely, appearance sent a twitch through Ming Xi’s heart. To be honest, he’d met lots of women in his life: there were the sexy and vivacious types, the lovely and tender types, the gentle and kind types and of course the lustful types as well. The last type had poisonous stingers so Ming Xi made sure to keep a respectful distance from them.
So Ming Xi had a lot of experience dealing with girls, but he’d never met a girl as simple as Feng Wu before. Something had been subtly changing since their first meeting at the hot spring.
It wasn’t like he loved her or anything, but he did feel inclined towards her. Would he grow to love her in the future? Time will tell.
Even though she proposed to him multiple times, he was sure she didn’t love him. He couldn’t detect any love in those big eyes of hers when she looked at him. Did this simple girl know what love was? He had serious doubts.
Ming Xi sighed and rubbed her head one last time. He took out a handkerchief, and after biting hard enough to draw blood from his finger, wrote out two sentences. The gist of it was: He and Feng Wu left, so Pei Qing and Drew didn’t need to wait for them.
He left the cloth in a conspicuous spot and led Feng Wu farther into the cave where the hole was.
Feng Wu had watched as he wrote the note and obediently followed him to the hole without saying a word. They walked through the hole side by side.
The hole led into another cave. Inside was a strange little tree bearing a brilliant, rainbow fruit. The entire tree only bore this one fruit. How unusual.
There was a pool beside the tree. The water from it was full of so much vitality that it shocked the senses just by proximity.
Those were the only things in the cave. There was no way out, a dead end!
Ming Xi frowned. He looked around thinking there had to be a way out, but he didn’t know where. After carefully looking at every nook and cranny the most suspicious thing to him was still the tree and the pool, so he looked closer at it.
The more he studied it the more it resembled the trees depicted in the ancient texts.
The “fruit” wasn’t actually a fruit but an elemental fairy that took on the shape of a fruit. A fairy need places with dense magical energy to be born.
If this thing was a fairy, he wouldn't be able to use it, but Feng Wu would. But if they wanted it, they’d have to fight for it, and the battle for it would be terribly fierce. What to do?
Ming Xi grabbed Feng Wu’s hand to step back together. His thoughts were simple: First get Feng Wu out of danger, then fight it solo. The only way to get the legendary fairy was to defeat it and erase its consciousness.
But Feng Wu refused to be pulled back. Since entering the cave, her attention remained entirely focused on the tree.
The fruit was a strange thing. It was as if it was trying to hide behind the branches and leaves of the tree. In fact it had shied away the moment they entered the cave. Unfortunately, it was too big and the tree didn't give it much coverage.
Because the tree didn’t give it much cover, Feng Wu could tell the fruit was secretly looking at them from behind the leaves.
“Xiao Wu?” Ming Xi turned to her confused.
Feng Wu pulled her hand out of his. She wanted to go to the fruit, but the little guy was so shy.
“Xiao Wu! Stop! It’s dangerous!” Ming Xi’s heart leapt to his throat and he hurried to pull Feng Wu back. Did she know what it was? That thing was a terrible, evil in ancient times. The only reason he dared to challenge it before coming to his full powers was because of his unique lineage.
Feng Wu looked at Ming Xi. “Not dangerous.”
“But that thing is...” While Ming Xi was trying to explain what it was to her something strange happened.
An ancient sword emerged from Feng Wu’s dantian. He watched as it flew to the fruit and floated before it. It sparked, radiating an incredibly domineering aura. Then a hole opened in the sword and the fruit obediently went inside its belly.
The sword was bloated, drunk, and fully satiated. It flew back to Feng Wu and went into her dantian.
Ming Xi was dumbstruck. This was the vicious, blood sucking full-elemental fairy! It should have been a bloody and hard fight.
Fairies were exceptionally fierce with powerful attacks. They killed anything that entered their territory. Afterwards they absorbed the energy from their kill and used it as nourishment.
Despite being terrible things, fairies were a boon for humans. Anyone with a matching elemental fairy could rely on that fairy’s power and become exponentially stronger, even if their own personal abilities were rubbish. So even if they couldn’t become a god, they could be peerless.
Most fairies only had a single elemental attribute, but by absorbing the blood of god beasts they could potentially evolve into full-elemental fairies. The evolution process was long and slow. If the process was disturbed, or if the fairy was unlucky, the evolution could fail completely.
From that we can see how rare full-elemental fairies were. In fact only one had ever been sighted in the last 100,000 years. The magician who subdued it was Longzi, the human who became a god and ascended to the higher realm.
But Ming Xi faced that elusive fairy just now. It was surreal. The legendary fairy, not just a single-elemental fairy, but a full one, had been in front of him. And it was just eaten by a sword…
Can someone please explain how a sword could even eat a fairy?! If Ming Xi was living in modern-day Earth he would have said it made no sense.
However facts tell us even illogical things can happen, so just be calm.
Feng Wu’s mood was much more stable compared to Ming Xi. She was only a little worried about the shy fruit. Xiao Chun hadn’t really eaten it had he?
She relaxed after she communicated with Xiao Chun and was reassured the fruit was alive and well.
The small tree and spring existed for the fairy, so once the fairy was gone both dried and withered away. A long staircase appeared in the pond bed. It looked like the path to the next level.
Those who entered a Nightmare corridor had to complete the journey on their own. No one could lead them out. Feng Wu and Ming Xi didn’t know how long their friends would take.
The only way for people in the corridor to safely exit, if they couldn’t do so on their own, was if someone claimed the god’s inheritance. Once claimed, the tomb would forcefully teleport out anyone still inside. Only the inheritor had the right to remain.
So it didn’t make sense to wait. If Drew and Pei Qing could get out, they would. If they couldn’t, then their only hope was for someone to claim the inheritance as soon as possible. The best option was to keep moving and try to claim the inheritance. Waiting around wouldn’t do anyone any good.
They stepped onto the dark staircase one after the other. Both their abilities were restored when they did. Ming Xi was a rare magic arts sword master so he easily created a ball of light.
Ming Xi held onto Feng Wu’s hand and kept her behind him while he took the lead. The stairs kept going with no end in sight.
The steps were littered with the remains of humans, gods, and beasts caught in the long-ago war.
He understood corpses frightened girls. Elena was the only girl he knew who wasn’t scared of such things. He was worried Feng Wu would be afraid as well, so he was relieved to see her usual expression when he looked back. Honestly he had been worried for nothing.
The staircase was surprisingly long. They walked for twenty minutes before finally reaching a door. It was metal and completely black with no decorations. A sinister aura came from it.
Feng Wu intuitively disliked whatever was behind the door.
Ming Xi frowned. A faint glow quickly flashed in his eyes. He tentatively pushed on the door. What looked heavy opened easily under his touch.
Feng Wu’s eyes were bright with admiration. “Senior Ming Xi is so amazing!” she said in an exuberant voice.
That was an exaggeration. Ming Xi was embarrassed as he looked back at her. “I'm really not that great. The door just looks heavy, but it’s not.”
He wasn’t being humble; the door’s appearance was truly misleading.
His expression turned worse. Behind the door was another hall. He grabbed Feng Wu’s hand and pulled her behind him as they walked through.
There were five people already inside the hall: Jier, Zi Cheng, Ai Lin, Yiduo clan’s Seventh Elder Falay, and Raging Inferno’s Cohen. Falay ignored them and looked away. Cohen looked away too but he greeted them with a nod before doing so.
Jier ran over to Feng Wu when he saw her. He rubbed her head and asked, “Xiao Wu, are you uninjured?” She didn’t look injured so she was probably fine.
“I’m OK. How about you?” It felt like she hadn’t seen him in ages. Her eyes curved in a smile.
“What could happen to me? I’m so strong. How could I get hurt?” His voice was loud and arrogant, not caring who was around.
“Senior Ming Xi, Senior Tian Ya said he wasn’t interested in the inheritance. Senior Luis won’t be coming either.” Ai Lin delivered the message after walking up to them.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin understood why Tian Ya wasn’t interested. It was impossible for him to inherit a magical inheritance since he was a sword master, so it was useless for him to go farther.
Luis though, they didn’t understand. He was a magician so this was a huge opportunity. Why wasn't he fighting for it?! Don’t be mistaken, they were happy he dropped out. The fewer opponents there were, the better their odds of getting the inheritance.
Ming Xi knew why Luis dropped out. That guy, already had a god inheritance from his family clan, so he didn’t need this one. As the eldest, he had already gone to his ancestral home to claim it, so he had no interest in this one aside from some general curiosity.
Of course Ming Xi wasn’t going to share this with them. Let them figure it out on their own. All he said was, “I see.”
Ai Lin was shaken. What a heartthrob! She’d seen her share of gorgeous men from her previous life, but Ming Xi was in a league of his own.
Zi Cheng was also dazed, but she was a practical person so she got over it quickly with only a lingering flush on her cheeks as a reminder.
Jier didn’t even notice the girls’ reactions. He looked at Ming Xi and said, “Senior Sister Elena was injured on the last floor so Gerasi stayed behind to take care of her. Wind and Rain are sword masters so they stayed behind too.”
“Elena's hurt? Is it serious?” Elena was like a sister to all the boys so it was natural for Ming Xi to be worried.
“It’s not serious. Just half her body is burned.” Jier replied indifferently.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin looked at Jier incredulous. Burns over 50% of the body wasn’t serious? What the heck do you consider serious then?!
Feng Wu was worried. Elena’s injury wasn’t serious, but she was still hurt. “Senior Sister Elena is really OK?” She bit her lip in worry. She liked Elena and didn’t want her to be hurt.
“Don’t worry. Even if she’s so burned she doesn’t look like a person anymore, as long as she sees a light magician or gets proper medicine once we get out of here, she should be fine. Her burns will heal and there won't even be any scarring. I guarantee it.” Jier said with confidence as he patted Feng Wu’s head.
Feng Wu didn’t think Jier would lie to her so she was relieved and her whole body relaxed. She took out a meat bun from her dimensional ring.
Her abilities had been restricted inside the Nightmare corridor so she hadn’t been able to access her ring. Now that she could, it was time to eat well. She popped a few tiny buns into her mouth and the smell of delicious steamed meat wafted in the air.
It was such a wonderful smell that it made everyone’s tummies rumble. Even Ming Xi was hungry.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin had even better food in their rings. They had dishes like roasted chicken, sliced duck breast, pork cutlets, potato cakes, and yam soup.
Feng Wu stared at their food intently as soon as they came out. Her expression said: I want to eat that!
“Everyone, come on over. Let’s eat together. We don’t know what tests await us. This way we’ll have energy for it.” Zi Cheng smiled beautifully as she said this.
“Yes, let’s all eat together. I made roast chicken and tonkatsu.[notes] My cooking skills aren’t as good as Zi Cheng’s so if there’s anything about it you don’t like please speak up; I can handle the critique.” Ai Lin adorably stuck out her tongue after saying so.
It was a cute and playful pose, but unfortunately neither of the two guys in front of her were interested in girls. One had seen so many beauties he was immune, the other, well...
Zi Cheng praised Ai Lin with, “Ai Lin, you’re too modest. The dishes you make smell wonderful. I’m sure they’ll be delicious," making herself appear modest in the process.
There were so many wonderful looking dishes in front of her. Feng Wu was not going to be polite.
Jier was hungry too. He’d already ate some of the store in his ring. They weren’t as fancy as Ai Lin’s and Zi Cheng’s, just chicken legs, and barbeque.
Ming Xi wasn’t going to stand on ceremony either. Everyone was famished after all the time in the tomb and all the fighting they had to do. They sat down and began to eat.
Sixth Elder Falay and Captain Cohen were close to the group so the smells easily wafted over to them. Falay was focused on the inheritance so he had no interest in the food. Cohen on the other hand was more pragmatic. He took a bottle of ale and some chicken out of his ring and found a corner to sit and eat. The dishes weren’t as fancy as the kids’ but he ate well enough.
As they were eating, a copper gate appeared in the center of the hall and an old man and young girl stepped through. The girl looked like a clever child. She was very cute with beautiful eyes that you could get lost in. She was about the same age as Feng Wu.
In contrast, the old man looked ancient. Despite this he gave off an air of vigor and energy. No one dared look down on them. The fact that they made it into the top ten was a testament to their abilities.
The new arrivals gave everyone a glance; their gazes lingered on Feng Wu for a moment, before moving on. The girl helped the old man to a corner, and sat down quietly.
The last arrival showed up fifteen minutes later. It was Inferno’s third squad vice-captain, Milien. He was a powerful gold magician who easily rivalled Sixth Elder Falay. In fact he was so strong he could probably beat Captain Cohen, but few knew of him because he preferred to keep a low profile and rarely made public appearances.
Falay’s expression changed when he saw Milien. He had thought Cohen was his only obstacle, so he hadn’t been too concerned since Cohen was a sword master, therefore wouldn’t be interested in the inheritance. He only needed to watch out in case Cohen wanted to be a bastard and make things difficult for him.
But things were different with Milien in the picture. He wasn’t sure how strong Milien was, but he knew Milien was a magician and the vice-captain of the third squad. Falay was a powerful magician, but he would have a hard time if Cohen and Milien worked together.
Milien could get the inheritance if Cohen distracted him.
Everyone who passed the second floor was now accounted for: Feng Wu, Ming Xi, Ai Lin, Zi Cheng, Cohen, Milien, Falay, and the old grandfather with his young companion.
Milien’s arrival triggered the start of the inheritance test. It happened so fast Cohen didn’t even get a chance to greet his vice-captain.
A metal door, much like the one Feng Wu and everyone else walked through, popped up in the center of the hall. The door’s appearance meant it was the end of their peaceful comradery. Everyone knew it was the entrance to the final floor and the last one standing would get the coveted inheritance. It was possible they would fight each other to the death.
Like the other doors, this one looked heavy, but was in fact very light and opened easily.
Falay was obsessed with strength and was the first to rush through. He was followed by Cohen and Milien. It was natural for them to stay together since they were both high ranking members of Inferno. Following them was the old gramps and his young charge. Feng Wu and everyone entered after.
The door disappeared after everyone went through.
They found themselves in front of what must have been a magnificent palace at one time, but was now a shadow of its former self – the ceiling was shattered, the walls precariously stood pockmarked with holes, while the floor was littered with broken pillars.
The dark sky showed through the broken ceiling like a beast waiting with its mouth wide open. The exterior was destroyed but the gates were intact with some red paint still visible.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin were about to walk in when a hand reached out and stopped them.
“Senior Ming Xi?” Confusion flashed in Zi Cheng’s eyes.
Ai Lin looked to him with the same confusion.
Jier took up a defensive posture after pulling Feng Wu behind him.
“Don’t go. There’s something wrong with this place.” Ming Xi’s mild voice was cold.
Zi Cheng bit her lip and turned her head to look at the entrance, clearly unwilling. She would get a chance to inherit once she walked in. It was only a few more steps. She struggled internally debating if she should listen to him or not.
Ai Lin was more determined. “Don’t worry Senior Ming Xi. There’s nothing wrong. If there was, how could we have not heard or seen anything?” She smiled slightly and spoke in a calm voice.
With her knowledge, she was not worried at all. It was strange Calven’s consciousness hadn’t disappeared like in the original novel. In that one the only two who reached the final floor were Zi Cheng and the Yiduo clan member. But perhaps things changed because there were more people now.
From what she remembered, though the process of Zi Cheng getting the artifact was suspenseful, it wasn’t dangerous. In fact it was very simple. The inheritance crystal was on the final floor. Once you reached it all you had to do was pick it up and all of God Calven’s training would flow into your mind.
How could Ai Lin let go of this godly opportunity knowing there was no danger? Unlike the heroine, she had no system to rely on for support. The inheritance was a strong temptation.
Ming Xi shook his head, not wanting his juniors to take the risk. “It’s dangerous. The atmosphere inside is dark.” Whatever it was, it couldn’t be normal if it gave him such a sense of foreboding. Hopefully it wasn’t what he suspected, otherwise they’d all be in danger.
“Senior is overthinking it. We’re in the realm battlegrounds, of course the atmosphere’d be dark. No need to worry. I can protect myself.” Ai Lin flashed out of his grasp as she spoke her last sentence. She gave them all one last reassuring look before waving goodbye and walking to the gate.
Zi Cheng’s hesitation disappeared. There was something inside that belonged to her. She could feel it. She had to get it even if she needed to disregard Ming Xi’s good intentions.
Ming Xi knew what she wanted to say, so he waved helplessly. “Go. I know you won’t be willing to leave without taking a look.”
Ming Xi wasn’t some kind of saint. They were juniors from his school and he wanted to protect them, but if they weren’t interested in that protection, then he wasn’t going to force them, and he certainly wasn’t going to be troubled over it.
“Senior, I’m sorry.” Zi Cheng gave him an apologetic nod before promptly following Ai Lin into the palace.
Of the ten who reached the final floor, only three chose not to enter.
Ming Xi and Jier protected Feng Wu between them. Both of them knew something big was about to happen.
Feng Wu obediently stayed in the middle. She frowned. The air reeked of blood.
She pulled at Ming Xi’s sleeve. “There’s blood. A lot of blood.”
“Blood?” Ming Xi knew Feng Wu wouldn’t make stuff up. She only said what she observed, like in the inn when she saw what only necromancers could see. “In the palace?” Ming Xi clarified.
Feng Wu nodded confirming his guess.
“What should we do? Should we go in?” Jier asked hesitantly.
A voice suddenly came from the sky. Obviously it was God Calven. “Hey you three guys, why aren’t you going inside to fight for the inheritance? Go on, quickly, quickly. Ten people is needed. Everyone is waiting.”
It was a hypnotic voice that demanded obedience. Jier’s eyes flashed oddly and he raised his foot to go toward the palace, but as he did Feng Wu grabbed his hand.
She didn’t know why she did, but her intuition told her that if she didn’t then Jier would be in danger.
Her tug immediately brought him back to his senses. He shook his head, a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead. Damn! He nearly fell for it.
He was an heir to the gods, but he nearly fell victim to some guy’s voice. That he had to be saved by Feng Wu made him feel even worse. He’d wanted to protect Feng Wu, but she was the one saving him! So sour!
“Who are you?” Ming Xi’s eyes were clear and his face was calm. Like Feng Wu, he hadn’t been affected by the voice.
“An ancient god, the God Calven,” was the persuasive reply.
“No you’re not. A god wouldn’t use this kind of trickery, only demons would.” Ming Xi’s voice was confident.
Jier and Feng Wu weren’t surprised at Ming Xi’s words.
Regarding Feng Wu, she didn’t care about gods or demons, so she didn’t think much about the declaration.
Regarding Jier, because his body was melded with a god, he was sensitive to auras from the higher realms. He sensed demon aura before the door had even disappeared behind them. In fact the aura he sensed was that of a high-ranking demon.
He was still learning how to use the Summer seal he inherited, so he knew he wouldn’t have the strength to challenge such a high-ranking demon.
As for Ming Xi, Jier had some guesses about his how strong he was. He could probably challenge an upper-level demon, but the tomb would definitely limit his abilities, so he wouldn’t be fighting at full strength. It would be a difficult battle.
“Wow. Hahaha! Imagine that. Someone was able to guess my identity so quickly. Pity you guessed it only after arriving here. Do you think you can leave now that you’ve reached this floor? Really naïve. So stupid.”
The voice that claimed to be God Calven changed from one full of divine aura to one reeking of demon aura.
“Really was a demon,” whispered Ming Xi softly.
“Didn’t you already guess?” The voice sounded a little doubtful.
“I had lots of guesses. The one I said just now was the most probable one.” Earlier, Ming Xi had only been sounding the other party out.
Didn’t expect this so-called god to confess so quickly.
Ming Xi hadn’t been sure if the other party was a demon. The strange situation left him with two guesses.
One: the master of the tomb had been a god and that the spirit he left behind gradually became corrupted from spending so long in the battlegrounds.
Or two: there never was a God Calven. The tomb was just a trap set up by a demon to lure magicians and sword masters. It wasn’t impossible.
With everything just revealed, his second guess had to be correct. This guy had to be one of the demons that survived the ancient war. But he was injured, so injured that he had to sleep for tens of thousands of years. The opening of the tomb must have awakened him.
Ming Xi figured out all that, but he couldn’t figure out the demon’s location.
“Vile things! You dare play this Great One for a fool?!” The angry voice was filled with killing intent, but within a few short breaths it returned to normal. “Whatever. Let me tell you, you little rascals, as long as this Great One here remains alive, none of you are leaving! So come on. Stop making this Great One wait. Hahaha!”
He cackled madly and soon after his voice disappeared.
“What should we do?” Jier asked again looking at Ming Xi. It was only at a time like this that he recognized Ming Xi as a senior.
“He wants us to go in, so let’s go in.” Ming Xi’s smile was like a spring blossom.
Feng Wu looked at Ming Xi’s smile and once again thought how much he looked like Master. And Master said she should find someone like him to marry, so therefore, being obedient, she had to marry Ming Xi!
Master would definitely praise her if he saw Ming Xi. The thought put her in a good mood and her eyes curved up in a smile. She wasn’t troubled by the dangerous situation they were in the least.
The three of them walked in with Feng Wu in the middle.
The palace was huge and entirely colored red.
An old man they had never seen before stood in the center of the hall in front of an inheritance crystal. The guys who entered before them were standing in front of him.
An inheritance crystal was a common way to pass on an inheritance. It was a one-time consumable method that only worked for one person. The crystal disappeared once its internal energy was spent. An inheritance crystal wasn’t the only way to pass on an inheritance though.
An inheritance could also be passed on through the bloodline or through written means. A bloodline inheritance triggered when a person’s bloodline awoke. Written transmission was recorded in the form of words and pictures on a magic scroll. The magic in the scroll could preserve it for tens of thousands of years.
Clans and major colleges used the last method, only those who chose a solitary path would use an inheritance crystal.
The seven people stared intently at the crystal in front of the old man. The god’s inheritance was in front of them. They could also one day be gods if they could get the inheritance.
Some of them stared at the crystal with red-rimmed eyes scheming of ways to get their hands on it.
Of the seven, only Ai Lin thought it was strange. There was nothing about an old man in the original story, so why was he here now? Why didn’t the man appear from the start?
Ai Lin felt uneasy. Was it her fault the story changed so dramatically? Was the old man in front of them really God Calven? Doubts grew in her heart the more she thought about it.
God Calven was a training fanatic and a shut-in when he was human. He lived an inconspicuous life and was average looking.
Totally different from the old man in front of her now. There was no way this man could have been a shut-in. Despite the wrinkles it was obvious from his bone structure that he had been handsome in his youth and undoubtedly popular with the ladies.
Ai Lin went on alert. Until she could figure out if the old man was an enemy or not, she needed to be careful.
The old man spoke just as Ai Lin thought this.
“Finally, it looks like everyone is here.” Obvious excitement colored his face and bloodthirst filled his eyes. “So many have entered the tomb. I’ve waited so long, now the day is finally here.”
He looked at the ten gathered in front like they were delicious morsels he couldn’t wait to savor.
Cohen yanked Milien to him before quickly retreating to Ming Xi. Falay, Zi Cheng and Ai Lin also retreated.
“You’re not God Calven. Who are you?” asked the old gramps. He stood his ground and remained with the young girl when everyone else retreated. His eyes were calm and he wasn’t paying attention to the crystal. The girl gave the crystal a cursory glance but was also uninterested in it. She stood quietly holding onto the old grandpa’s hand.
“Who am I? I am a great demon god of course! And you little humans are all sacrifices!” The old man didn’t even bother pretending. In his mind, the humans were already as good as dead. There was no way they could escape his trap.
“I see. I understand.” The old gramps nodded. “This is God Calven’s tomb. Never expected a demon god would occupy his tomb after his death and use it to recover.”
The old gramp’s words created an uproar. How unbelievable! The person in front of them wasn’t a normal demon but a demon god?!
Regular demons did not have the blood of gods in their veins. To be called a true demon god, one had to be a natural born god who chose the dark. A demon from a demon clan couldn’t hold a candle to a demon god.
Demon gods were the stuff of legends. They were born back in the early days when the High Heavenly Lord created the world. Chaos swirled and gods were born.
The High Heavenly Lord had two sons: one ruled the light and the other ruled the dark. These twins were innately incompatible with one another and thus were in constant conflict. Light or dark, only one could exist.
The High Heavenly Lord couldn’t bear to see his children in conflict, so he used his mighty powers to open the heavens and turn the princes into celestial beings. And so the Light prince become the Sun while the Dark prince become the Moon.
Because the two princes could no longer meet, they stopped fighting. Each lived in his own world happily.
Unfortunately things didn’t end there. The gods were of two factions: those that favored the Light prince and those that favored the Dark prince.
Those originally gold colored gods who revered the Dark prince turned dark. They called themselves demon gods and even created their own world which they called Demon world.
Legend had it the master of Demon world was an incredibly powerful demon god who ranked in the top three.
The thought that the other party was a demon god never crossed Ming Xi’s mind. He had only thought the other party was a high-ranking demon. The others didn’t know how terrifying demon gods were, but Ming Xi did. Because of his family background, there was no way he couldn’t know.
His expression turned grave. No matter how powerful humans became, they could never defeat a god. He unconsciously pulled Feng Wu closer behind him in an attempt to protect her.
Feng Wu was confused but she obediently stayed behind him.
“How unexpected. This kid was able to see through my facade.” The demon god looked at the old grandpa in surprise. To call the old grandpa a kid even though they looked like they were the same age…
“Unfortunately you are seriously injured. Your strength right now, is at most, holy level. You do not have godly strength,” said the grandpa.
The grandpa was fully aware of the situation, but he wasn’t panicked, instead he was thinking logically and clearly.