251-254

251-254

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 11, 2021]
...

251: The Value of Flowers

“You did say it!” Feng Wu bit her lip at his refusal to admit it. Her eyes became red and her expression clearly said she was being horribly wronged.

Noel never thought of himself as a good guy, but he was gracious when dealing with the female gender. He immediately coaxed Feng Wu when he saw how aggrieved she was.

“Don’t cry, don’t cry. It was definitely my fault. I was wrong. You can beat me if you want, just don’t cry OK?”

“I’m not crying.” Master said warriors bled, but they never cried, so she never cried.

Eyes red, tears rolling down – if you don’t call that crying, then what is?!

Despite his thoughts, Noel was a veteran when it came to these things. Of course he wouldn’t speak his thoughts out loud. Experience told him women weren’t reasonable when they cried. The only thing he could do was offer an ear and listen.

Many pairs of eyes were on them, most of which held condemnation for him, as though he was a bad guy bullying a girl. Noel felt it would be better to find someplace more private and ask her about the situation there.

He was still rather confused. He didn’t know what had happened exactly. The only thing he got was that she had given Senior Ming Xi flowers. But what was this about chance encounters? Please don’t let it be what he thought it was.

“Feng Wu, how about we sit over there?” Noel asked her carefully.

Feng Wu shook her head. “No, Jier wants me to wait for him here.”

Feng Wu had always been obedient. She always did what she promised, and since she promised Jier she would wait for him, she would wait for him.

Noel didn’t know who Jier was, but it sounded like the guy was her friend. He lied a little in order to get them away from public eye.

“Your friend said not to leave training ground number 5, but we’re not going to leave, so don’t worry. As long as we’re in the area, your friend will be able to find us.” Noel told a little white lie in order to get Feng Wu away from the crowd. At worst it would just take the guy a bit more time to find them.

The academy had ten training grounds that students could use to practice their magic and martial arts. The ground was made of special material, so it wouldn’t get damaged no matter how strong an attack was. Students used one of the ten training grounds whenever they wanted to practice.

The grounds were immense and could accommodate 500 people training at once without any trouble. The challenges were always held there.

After thinking for a bit, Feng Wu nodded.

It wouldn’t be easy to find someone in such a big place, but Noel led Feng Wu away without feeling any guilt the moment she agreed. He didn’t dare waste a single minute. Once they found a more private place, he immediately asked her what she did.

When Noel heard about Feng Wu going to Ming Xi’s dorm, about her showing up at Ming Xi’s classroom, and finally at the men’s bathroom . . . he needed a moment of silence. Just a moment.

He looked at Feng Wu’s big innocent eyes. He felt weak-kneed. What was this? It was his fault!

He shouldn’t have said those things to her.

“Xiao Wu, you didn’t do all the things I said, did you?” Noel asked hopelessly.

“I said the things you taught me, but Senior Ming Xi was still unhappy.” Feng Wu didn’t understand why Ming Xi’s reaction was so different from the one Noel got.

What man would be happy to hear he’s a pretty as a flower?! Noel felt like he’d been shafted. He’d only given her two examples of how he chased girls. How’d it end up like this?

“Those kinds of things, you say them to girls. It would be weird to say it to a guy! How could he be happy?!” Noel couldn’t help but growl out in frustration.

“You did not say that!” Why didn’t he tell her these things were for women and not men? Noel was bad! And now she’d said them to Senior Ming Xi. He must be so unhappy. He might never marry her! The more Feng Wu thought about it, the sadder she became, and the redder her eyes got.

“Stop, don’t cry. I . . . I’ll figure something out. I’ll think of a way to get him to accept you.” Anything to make her tears stop. They could always talk it out.

“Really?” Her eyes shone with hope. The red tint entirely gone, instead her eyes were full of expectation.

Did she just learn the fake tears skill? Noel couldn’t help but wonder if he’d been duped by her. But upon thinking about it, he knew it was impossible. If she was so clever, she would have found her own means to chase after Ming Xi; she wouldn’t have needed him to help her.

“Let’s put the flowers down first. Such a big bouquet, it must be heavy.” He stepped forward to help her as he finished speaking.

But Feng Wu stepped back. “No, these 99-gold flowers are expensive. They can’t be put down. They might break.” Feng Wu was serious. The flowers had cost her 99 gold.

“Well you can’t hold onto them forever. Ming Xi didn’t accept them. Here, I’ll take them for you.”

Feng Wu shook her head. “No.”

This girl . . . she was too stubborn! “OK, how about you sell them to me, so 99 gold, OK?”

“OK,” agreed Feng Wu after a pause.

Noel took out his money bag and fished out 99 gold for her. Feng Wu promptly stuffed the roses into Noel’s arms.

“Xiao Wu, what are you doing here?” Ming Xi asked. He’d seen her walk off, but hadn’t thought much about it, assuming she was going with a friend. That was until Grace came over to tell him Noel was a playboy who changed girls as often as he changed clothes.

Unable to remain still, Ming Xi had found the teacher and chased after Noel. He witnessed Feng Wu giving the roses to Noel - the same flowers she had bought for him.

Ming Xi was really upset, so even though he walked up to them with a charming smile on his lips, the aura around him was quite black.

Feng Wu assumed he was still upset from earlier.

“Oh, if it isn’t Senior Ming Xi. Did Senior come to see Xiao Wu for something?” Noel’s playboy senses quickly picked up on the bad mood emanating from Ming Xi. He gave a chuckle. Turned out this dense girl wasn’t alone in a one-sided love.

“I know you. You’re Noel, fifth-seat, third year. Why aren’t you on stage for the competition?” In other words, why wasn’t this playboy gone already?

“Thank you for you concern Senior Ming Xi, but the third years don’t have their competition until later in the afternoon.” Noel smiled then took a deep whiff of the flowers in his arms.

252: A Pro At Selling Out a Teammate

Ming Xi’s eyes darkened. A touch of regret flitted across his heart, making him uncomfortable. He hadn’t accepted Feng Wu’s flowers, but that didn’t mean he wanted her to give them to another guy.

“Brother Noel, Xiao Wu is different from the other girlfriends you may have had. Please stay away from her. I don’t want you to hurt my friend.” Ming Xi thought about what Grace told him about Noel. It made him weary; he didn’t want Feng Wu to fall prey to a playboy.

“Brother Ming Xi, I also consider Xiao Wu a friend. How could I ever hurt her?” Noel shook his head quickly. Simple girls like Feng Wu were not his type. They were too pure to recognize danger. He didn’t want to be bound to such purity, so he would never shoot for someone like her.

“You think I’d believe the words of a playboy?” Ming Xi smiled, but his eyes were cold.

“Senior Ming Xi, that’s too much. I do have a lot of girlfriends, it’s true, but I am also a righteous person. If I were to chase Xiao Wu, I would do so openly. I would never sneak around.”

Noel could feel the ill-will coming from Ming Xi. He’d never forced anyone. All his girlfriends were together with him willingly. Why would Ming Xi suggest he wasn’t trustworthy?

“Noel is a friend.” Feng Wu unexpectedly came to Noel’s aid; probably because she could feel the tension between the two. She earnestly expressed her thoughts to Ming Xi.

In her heart, Noel wasn’t a bad person at all. Quite the opposite, he was a good person, and nice too. After all he had helped her come up with a plan to chase Ming Xi.

What would Ming Xi think if he knew Feng Wu’s criteria for judging whether a person was good or not? It was a good thing he couldn’t read her mind.

“He’s a friend. He’s not a bad person,” repeated Feng Wu sincerely.

This made Ming Xi unhappy. It was the first time she’d argued with him, and it was over another guy! She’d always been a good girl, so it was rare for her to go against other people.

She had to like the playboy more than he thought, if she was willing to defend the guy so strongly.

But didn’t she say she wanted to marry him? Yet here she was protecting another guy! Ming Xi didn’t know what was wrong with himself. He felt really upset. The more he looked at Noel, the more annoyed he got.

“Even if he’s not a bad guy, it doesn’t mean he’s a good person. This guy is the biggest playboy. His hobby is chasing girls. I don’t want him to hurt you. Do you understand?” Ming Xi knew how to talk to Feng Wu. It was best to be straightforward and to the point. Using subtlety wouldn’t work and probably just confuse her.

“Senior Ming Xi, that’s too much!” Noel yelled in defense. Untrue! When did he ever chase after girls for fun? The ladies chased after him OK?!

“I know.” Feng Wu nodded as she looked at Ming Xi. She knew this when she first saw Noel that day.

“You know?!” Ming Xi was surprised. He thought Feng Wu was naïve and didn’t understand these things, so he had been genuinely worried she would be deceived.

Feng Wu blinked in puzzled confusion at Ming Xi, as if to ask what was so strange about it.

“He was on a date with a girl on the beach when I met him. He said he chased girls too.” The implication of course was that she had always known Noel was a playboy.

In fact, Feng Wu only understood what a playboy was after all the romance stories she read over the recent break. They were all titles her mother recommended. Noel resembled a protagonist in one of the stories. He also changed girlfriends as often as he changed clothes. Noel reminded Feng Wu of the same character, so she felt he was also a playboy, like that character from the story.

“And you still want to be friends with him?”

“Why can’t I be friends with him? Noel taught me a lot.” Like pursuing Senior Ming Xi, but she wasn’t sure how to say it. Noel was so amazing. Feng Wu’s eyes were as big as grapes as she thought this.

“He taught you stuff? What did he teach you?” Ming Xi looked from Feng Wu to Noel. He couldn’t phantom what Noel could have taught her.

“He taught me how to pursue you.”

“Oph!” Noel blurted out unconsciously. Girl, are you trying to sell out your teammate?! Some things we can keep between us! You don’t have to share it!

“Pursuing . . .pardon?” Ming Xi asked in a long stretched out tone. His smile became increasingly bright.

“Xiao Wu, come tell me. The flowers, did Noel teach you this?” Ming Xi’s eyes glittered dangerously. Noel’s heart nearly stopped from fright. He was just a small third year. Fifth seat at best. How could he handle Ming Xi, who was first in the fifth years?

“Xiao Wu, why are you all the way over here? I’ve been looking all over for you. Look, here’s the breakfast I got you. Hurry and eat it while it’s still hot.” Jier had returned earlier after buying her breakfast, but she wasn’t where he left her. Knowing her, he immediately got worried.

She always did what she promised, so when she promised she would wait there, he expected her to be there. All kinds of thoughts flashed through his mind when he couldn’t find her.

Fortunately he kept his head and asked a few of the older senior sisters. It took him a while, but he was finally able to locate her thanks to her big bundle of roses. It was eye catching and memorable so it was easy to track her from eye witness accounts.

He knew she hadn’t left the 5th training ground, but he wasn’t sure what corner she hid in. He had to search all the corners and nooks until he finally found her. It wasn’t just Feng Wu, even Ming Xi was there. The guy suspected of kidnapping her was there too.

Feng Wu listened to Jier more than anyone else, but suddenly this guy appeared and convinced her to forget about him and run off? Jier was extremely resentful of the suspicious guy. This feeling . . . Jier felt like the daughter he’d so carefully raised was being stolen by some punk.

While Feng Wu grabbed the breakfast from Jier and happily ate it, Jier shifted his gaze to Noel and noticed the dazzling bouquet of 99 crystal roses.

253: Elena VS Shante

She refused to give him the flowers, but she was OK with giving it to this jerk? Had his place really dropped in Xiao Wu’s heart? Was this guy better than him? Jier was so angry.

“Xiao Wu, this is really interesting. You refused to give me the flowers, but you’re OK with giving it to this guy? Are we even friends?”

Feng Wu was busy eating. She didn’t reply until she finished swallowing her food. “I didn’t give them to him. I sold them.”

Not given?! Both Ming Xi and Jier were satisfied with her answer.

“Xiao Wu, let’s go watch the tournament. Senior Sister Elena is up next and we should cheer her on.” He needed to hurry and get Xiao Wu away from this jerk. Can’t let the innocent Xiao Wu be contaminated by someone like him.

Noel: What the hell kind of rascal is this guy?!

Feng Wu nodded. She wanted to go cheer Elena on.

Jier promptly pulled Feng Wu away, leaving Ming Xi and Noel alone.

Noel felt a strong chill at his back as he held the flowers. He put the flowers into his storage ring before turning around with a smile. He said, “Senior Ming Xi, I’m going to prepare for my challenge. I’ll be taking my leave now. Bye!”

He planned on escaping with those words, but Ming Xi had other plans.

“Fellow student Noel, can you explain to me why you wanted Xiao Wu to give me flowers?” Ming Xi’s smile was bright, but anyone who knew him knew the brighter the smile the scarier he was.

“Senior Ming Xi, it was all a misunderstanding. A genuine misunderstanding. I told her about my own experiences chasing girls to give her some ideas. I didn’t think she would duplicate them exactly!”

Was there anyone more misunderstood than him in the world? If he’d known, he would have stayed in the dorms instead of coming out to watch the fourth and fifth years. The whole disaster could have been avoided if he’d just stayed in.

“Really . . . come my brother, let’s have a chat.” Ming Xi neatly dragged Noel away. Then to make sure no sounds would escape, he soundproofed the area completely.

...

Feng Wu and Jier walked to where the fifth years were competing. Elena stood in the ring looking quite heroic with a long sword and fiery red outfit. Her and her opponent stood facing each other.

“Shante, it’s up to you to defeat Elena.”

“Shante you can do it! Shante you can do it!”

“Come on Senior Elena, you can’t lose to that scummy guy!”

“Sister Elena, we support you!”

“Goddess Elena, please strike down that toad, Shante!”

The enthusiasm in the audience was palpable. As a famous school beauty, Elena naturally had groupies who supported her. Men and women, they all supported her.

Of course there were some who disliked her, like Shante for example. He was a well-known pervert in the fifth year. Who knew how many girls he’d taken advantage of. He had never been successful the few times he tried to take advantage of Elena. This time he was lucky enough to survive the melee and challenge her.

He felt he could defeat her.

Elena looked at Shanta disdainfully, but she was careful. She never underestimated an opponent, even if the opponent’s abilities weren’t as good as hers.

“Elena, I’m not the same as I was before. Just obediently be my girlfriend and I’ll forget all your past rudeness.”

Though Shante was nowhere near as pleasing to the eye as Ming Xi, Jier or any of the other peerless men, he was definitely good looking. He and Noel were similar in many ways. Both loved women, but there the similarities ended. Noel never used force or coerced anyone to be with him. On the other hand, Shante used intimidation, force, and whatever means on hand to force girls he liked to be with him. Elena had saved several girls from Shante’s clutches in fact.

“Please, it’s still daylight and you’re already dreaming.” Elena sneered. Though she looked down on him, she wouldn’t underestimate him.

Shante was greedy and often did whatever it took to get what he wanted, but he was smart enough not to cross the school’s bottom line. In this way, he was able to keep from getting kicked out.

But villains like him didn’t scare Elena, even the ones who were smart. She didn’t give them a second thought.

Shante didn’t lose his cool, but his face did turn ugly upon hearing her words. “I’m not going to play around. Don’t think I can beat you? I will you know.”

Even if he never beat her before, Elena never underestimated him precisely because of his calm demeanor.

“You can do it Senior Sister Elena!” yelled Feng Wu.

Jier also called out his encouragement. He had used it as an excuse to whisk Feng Wu away from Noel earlier, but now that he was there, he wasn’t going to be lazy.

Elena looked over at Feng Wu’s voice and saw the two of them cheering her on. She smiled as though to say thank you.

“Challenger Shante vs Elena. Time: unlimited until knock out. The challenge starts now.” The teacher immediately left after ringing the bell to signal the start of the fight.

Elena and Shante simultaneously raised their swords to attack because they were sword users. Both of them were really strong, but Elena was more dexterous, so after a dozen strikes Shante was on the losing end.

Despite being at a disadvantage, Shante didn’t panic. Elena expected him to use some kind of trick, so she remained on guard.

Sure enough, Shante made a move. He switched to a sword technique, a new one he must have just obtained, that was one level higher than the one he just used.

254: Feng Yanran’s Story

Red light streaked with the sword as Shante attacked. Fire elemental force rushed at Elena. Her faced hardened and she raised her sword to block the blow. Though the fire elemental was split, there was still the physical attack from Shante to deal with. And now he was twice as fast as before.

He directed all his attacks at Elena’s womanly parts; she flushed; she hated people like Shante. He was purposefully being lewd.

But Elena wasn’t in the eighth seat for nothing. She also increased her speed. He was dreaming if he thought he could defeat her in sword skills. She made up her mind to teach Shante a lesson so her movements became ruthless, without a hint of hesitation.

Those watching felt suffocating pressure as strong aura filled the ring. The crowd suddenly understood the strength of the two who were battling it out.

Sure enough only the strong could stay in the ring. No one weak could have remained.

Shante’s eyes changed as Elena’s offensive became fiercer. His aura became intense, running to extremes. He was about to do something big.

Elena didn’t dare slow down, her sword became a blur as her speed also increased. She was also readying to release something big.

Everyone watching knew the fight would end soon.

Shante’s fire energy formed into a fire dragon ten meters long. It rushed at Elena thunderously.

Elena had also completed her move. A giant bird rose up. From a glance you could tell it wasn’t an ordinary bird, but was a sacred phoenix beast. It was a water-based qi formation, thus was full of water and qi.

They weren’t real, just coalesced qi, but they still clashed fiercely - dragon against bird.

But the conflict between the two elementals caused an explosion. Super strong attack power between the two rushed at each other mercilessly in the sky.

When the two forces collided a loud “Bang!” erupted and the two forces exploded. Both fighters wrapped themselves in a protective shield, but the shields were not strong enough to withstand the explosion, and ended up cracking before finally shattering altogether. Shante and Elena were knocked back by the explosion.

A burst of violent energy rushed out from the ring, surprising the audience. Although they instinctively wanted to hide, they knew there was no need. The fighting ring was designed in such a way that the audience would never be harmed from energy overflow.

The situation on stage was revealed once the smoke cleared. Both Elena and Shante were knocked off their feet by the explosion. Shante was seriously injured and had to cough out blood several times. He was completely knocked out of the boundary. Elena withstood the force in order to remain in the ring, so her injuries were much worse than Shante. Fortunately her clothes absorbed much of the impact, so her injuries weren’t fatal.

She stood up shakily after spitting out a mouthful of blood.

“Elena wins,” declared the referee emotionlessly.

Elena and Shante were immediately helped down from the ring and given two healing potions. A senior sister also used healing spells to help with their injuries. Their injuries weren’t fatal, so they would only need a few days rest to recuperate.

Two more challenges happened after that, both of which ended in failures. One was unfortunate. Had the boy been of higher birth and had better equipment, he would have been able to win, but his equipment was ordinary and he couldn’t defeat the tenth seat. Those watching felt sorry for the boy.

Ai Lin[notes] stood nearby watching the challengers fight. Elena being alive changed the outcome of the challenge.[notes]Shante’s fight, for example, was quite different.

Originally, he should have victoriously challenged the ninth seat, thus forcing the loser in to the tenth seat position. The former ninth seat suffered a drop in popularity and he became a joke in school.

The heroine[notes] became friendly with him, encouraging him along the way. This naturally added one more die-hard knight to her fan club.

The tenth seat was none other than Yifu’s brother, who would later die for Zi Cheng.

But now the plot was different. Shante was obsessed with defeating Elena, so he challenged her instead of the ninth seat, Yifu’s brother. So now Yifu’s brother remained seated in the ninth seat. Would this change the outcome of the story?

This reminded Ai Lin of something important; Yanran, should have arrived at the academy already.

Speaking of Yanran, she was the most important side character. This side character was magical. None of the female side characters would have a good ending, regardless if they were on good terms with Zi Cheng or not.

But Yanran was an exception. She became the ruler of the blood race, and even married a human man, managing to live well all the way to the end of the story.

Yanran had such a good ending because Zi Cheng didn’t interfere. Even after Zi Cheng discovered the Yanran’s identity, she didn’t reveal it to the school, even going so far as to help conceal it.

Ultimately though, Yanran’s identity came out. This brought a huge amount of public criticism against Feng house. Eventually Grandfather Feng went crazy and died while practicing. Hang,[notes] left alone and unsupported, eventually died as well. The only one who would manage to survive would be Feng Tian.[notes]

255: The End of the Top Ten Challenge

255: The End of the Top Ten Challenge

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 14, 2021]
...

Tian only survived because he became a star general. The asura blood race didn’t dare attack Star Marshall hall.

Ai Lin had felt the description about Yanran and the Feng family was fuzzy. For example, Yanran suffered from a serious genetic blood disorder because she was half human and half asura. Asuras looked human but they weren’t the same species. It would be difficult for two different species to conceive, and even if conception was possible, any offspring would be problematic and unlikely to survive long – much the same way interbreeding wolves and sheep or cats and mice would.

Yanran had so many health issues because of the defects in her genetics. She was often cold and lethargic. She would not live beyond twenty if her issues weren’t resolved before then.

But somehow Yanran returned cured after disappearing for a while. Her strength had also increased considerably – to emperor level, the highest rank for asuras.

The story didn’t explain how she was cured or what happened to her when she disappeared. Ai Lin thought it would be explained in an extra side story, but there was no side story about Yanran. She was a mystery.

Although Ai Lin didn’t want Zi Cheng to have an asura blood emperor as an ally, she couldn’t see a solution.

Asuras were not to be pushed around. Xing[notes] might not let her go if she didn’t deal with Yanran.

Xing would be hard to deal with. She didn’t care about anyone other than her husband and daughter. Any concern she expressed was just for show.

Ai Lin couldn’t figure out why Xing was so cold toward the rest of her family, or what happened to make her hate them so much.

She could try to befriend Yanran before Zi Cheng. But considering Yanran’s identity, the difficult would be high. Even Zi Cheng, once Yanran’s identity was revealed, was hunted for a time because of their friendship. Asuras were humanity’s natural enemy, so to befriend one was to betray humanity.

If Zi Cheng hadn’t brought the male lead and male love interest together to defeat the powerful force escaping the virtual world, no one would have forgiven her. Later she was hailed as a hero when, with Yanran’s cooperation, she facilitated a peace treaty between asuras and humanity.

Ai Lin decided not to approach Yanran after considering the consequences of such a friendship. She wasn’t Zi Cheng; she didn’t have a cheat system that gave invulnerability against Yanran and Xing. The affection system helped Zi Cheng maintain a good relationship with the two women.

Ai Lin wasn’t sure how she would fare if she switched roles with Zi Cheng. She was too weak to provoke Yanran, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have any options.

Secretly preventing Zi Cheng from getting cozy with Yanran and being friends was probably the safest bet.

Ai Lin spent over the half the competition thinking it over.

Those in the top ten understood each other’s strength. The 9th challenged the 8th, the 6th challenged the 5th, and the 3rd challenged the 2nd.

The 10th, 7th, and 4th did not participate. They watched the fight with Ming Xi.

Ai Lin smiled coldly as she watched the 9th seat challenge Elena[notes] As expected, it was Yifu’s brother. This poor sport intended to take advantage of Elena’s injuries to rise in the ranks.

Feng Wu and Jier looked at Yifu’s brother. “Challenging Senior Elena at this time, 80% is to take advantage of her injuries. This 9th seat guy is no good.”

“Bad guy.” Feng Wu agreed. Her cheeks puffed out like a pufferfish in anger.

“This guy thinks it’ll be easy to defeat Senior Elena because she’s still recovering from her injuries. He thinks it’s going to be an easy fight, but he’s going to leave crying.” Jier was sure.

It didn’t take long before Yifu’s brother surrendered, leaving the ring with an ugly face. He’d wanted to use the opportunity to go higher; he never expected Elena to be so merciless.

Seeing the 10th seat sneer at him only made him angrier, but he knew he couldn’t say anything. The more he said, the more people would ridicule.

After the three groups finished fighting each other, Grace, who was the 2nd seat, turned to Ming Xi to submit a challenge. Refusal could only be allowed if a higher seat challenged a lower seat. In this case, Ming Xi couldn’t refuse.

It was a simple and quick battle. Ming Xi easily proved he wasn’t just a pretty face.

Despite knowing a loss was inevitable, the 4th seat challenged Ming Xi next. The challenge was just a way for him to gauge the distance between them.

It turned out the gap was huge. He would need to work harder in the future.

Ming Xi easily won all the challenges directed his way. The challenge came to a close and in the end no one in the top ten shifted positions.

The 4th years ended before the 5th years so Tian Ya and the others had been watching Ming Xi fight in the audience.[notes]

...

“Hey, have you heard? There’s a beauty in school?”

“Beauty? Even more beautiful than Zi Cheng and Ai Lin from the Magic division?”

“Yes, I heard she’s more beautiful than the two of them put together. She’s like a goddess.”

“That’s an exaggeration. There are lots of beautiful girls at our school. Never mind the Magic division, the Sword division also has lots of beauties. Can you say this new girl is more beautiful than all of them?”

256: Let’s Go See the New Beauty!

256: Let’s Go See the New Beauty!

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 15, 2021]
...

The guy talking didn’t believe it. The continent was full of beauties, the school even more so. There were so many, one was practically inured to it.

“Well, whatever. I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful before. If you don’t believe me, then let’s go look together! There are a bunch of students at the gate entrance watching already,” shrugged the other boy, his expression clearly saying: If you don’t believe me then let’s go see.

“For real?”

“Yeah, if you don’t believe, just go see for yourself.”

“OK, sure.”

It wasn’t just the two boys who were curious about the new beauty. In a short period of time, several students from the Sword division also decided to go over and see for themselves.

“Xiao Wu, let’s go take a look too. I’m really curious what kind of beauty can get these animals so excited.” Ink touched his chin in thought as his eyes drifted to the school gate.

Xi joined in. “I’ll go too. I want to see how beautiful this beauty is.”

“Me too!”

“Yeah me too!”

Many of the others also quipped in. Interest wasn’t limited to just boys, plenty girls were also curious.

Feng Wu blinked and was dragged along by her classmates before she could express an opinion. Many of the students in Feng Wu’s class had come out to see.

The girl in question stood by the gate like an ethereal out of this world beauty. She exuded a strong independent aura even in a simple white dress. That body combined with that perfect face, all the beauties at school instantly dropped in rank.

In their hearts, the boys were howling: Beauty! Beauty! Peerless beauty!

“So beautiful! I’m in love!”

“She must be my future wife!”

“No way! A beauty of this caliber, this has to be an illusion!”

“Get out! With your attitude, there’s no way you’ll get her! Just take a picture and piss off!”

Such a lively scene. The beauty hadn’t even entered the school and the boys were already fighting over her.

How could the girls not have an opinion upon witnessing so much adoration, especially those with boyfriends – a boyfriend looking at another girl who is more beautiful than she is.

“What’s going on in your head?! If you think she’s prettier than I am, then we can just break up!”

“What are you ogling at? Stop that!”

“Hurry up and move on! What’s so good about that girl?!”

Some boys were dragged away while others were severely scolded.

Just as everyone was wondering who the beauty was, a teacher brought her in. There were so many people around. She ducked her head, her face slightly blushing. It was a shy gesture.

A shy, gentle beauty bowing her head. The boys recited poetry in their hearts at the sight.

Unfortunately the beauty was whisked away by the teacher and the boys were left bereft. They spent the rest of the day in a daze with stupid smirks on their faces. There wasn’t a single class that didn’t have at least one male student forced to stand outside the classroom door as punishment for not paying attention.

For her part, Feng Wu had only given the beauty a quick glance; she had recognized her immediately.

The girl was none other than Feng Yanran of course. Feng Wu's brother had told her a few days ago that Aunt Xing had been hired as a teacher by Xingguang Holy Academy. If she had any problems she couldn’t resolve on her own, she could go to their aunt for help.

Feng Wu had agreed, but didn’t think she would have anything to do with Aunt Xing.

Yanran and Xing’s arrival cast a dark cloud over the once calm academy. No one noticed though. The students were all innocent and only interested in gossiping about Yanran’s beauty and who she was.

It didn’t take long for people to discover she was from Feng house. Yanran wasn’t just beautiful and outstanding, she also came from an illustrious house.

Her immediate popularity came as no surprise. Zi Cheng and Ai Lin, who had been rather popular with the boys before, were now reduced to background noise.

Of course they weren’t the only ones to be ignored. Many of the other class beauties also paled in comparison.

Yanran was incredibly popular with the boys, but her popularity with the girls had sunk rock bottom – attracting all the boys’ attention as soon as she appeared, it would have been weird for any of the girls to like her.

Yanran had missed the enrollment window for the year, so was she the daughter of a teacher? Teachers were given preferential treatment and their children could enroll without taking the entrance exams, however if they performed poorly, they would be kicked out.

Yanran was a smart girl, plus Xing had always paid attention to her daughter’s education, thus the possibility of Yanran being kicked out for poor performance was nil.

Yanran didn’t go for the Magic or Sword division, instead she entered the Pharmacy division, probably due to her poor health.

Pharmacy required a lot of money and strong skills, so few were admitted. Those in Pharmacy didn’t have high combat abilities, but they befriended and formed alliances with those who were stronger. Because of this, Pharmacy students were the worse students to provoke.

That Yanran was able to enter Pharmacy meant her skills were definitely strong, otherwise those old coots in the division would never have let her in. They didn’t care about background or privilege, only if a person had the skills. They would never have allowed her into their division if she wasn’t qualified.

Yanran coming to school had nothing to do with Feng Wu, but by next morning Feng Wu was the center of attention again.

“Classmate, can you call Feng Wu for me?” Yanran asked the blushing male sword user in front of her. The smile she gave was as dazzling as the stars. She really was a fascinating character!

“O . . . OK, I’ll go now.” The boy turned around to do as bidden, but he smacked into the door frame in his rush.

257: Feng Yanran’s Visit

257: Feng Yanran’s Visit

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[May 16, 2021]
...

Those who’d been peeking laughed out loud. Being laughed at made the boy’s face even redder. He straightened up and rushed inside, not daring to look at Yanran again.

Feng Wu was reading a romance novel at her seat. Ink felt she was sorely lacking in information when it came to love, so he had lent her several books out of friendship. She had been nibbling through them all day.

“Feng . . . Feng Wu, go to the door. Yanran is waiting for you.” The boy looked at Feng Wu anxiously, as if expecting her to hurry and not keep Yanran waiting.

“Yanran?” Yanran was looking for her? Feng Wu blinked, not understanding why Yanran would want to see her.

“Yeah. Hurry and go. Don’t make her wait for you!” He reached out to grab Feng Wu’s hand to take her out, but before he even touched her, his hand was slapped hard.

Ink had done the slapping.

“What do you want?! Dare grab other people?” Ink glared at the other boy, as if daring him to try again. He wouldn’t be so polite to the boy next time.

The boy reddened, suddenly realizing he’d behaved inappropriately.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I was just anxious. It’s not good to keep Yanran waiting too long.”

“You’re really interested in her huh? It’s a pity your family is too far below hers.” A girl had noticed the interaction and was impressed by the boy’s desire to please Yanran.

“I know. Rushing out to suck up to her. The boys are a bunch of idiots who only know to judge someone by their looks.”

“Hey! Stop slandering! The rest of us haven’t done anything!” proclaimed a boy loudly. He felt unjustly misaligned!

“Yeah, what does this have to do with us?”

A heated debate between the genders ensued, but neither Feng Wu nor Ink joined in.

“Xiao Wu, are you going to see Yanran?”

Feng Wu nodded. She disliked Yanran a little because she constantly made Little Bun cry, but other than that, Feng Wu didn’t feel any kind of way about her cousin.

“Well then go on! And remember to fill me in on the details later.” Ink whispered his encouragement to Feng Wu. He was also curious what Yanran was up to.

Feng Wu glanced at him then walked out of the classroom to see Yanran. This was the first time they were meeting outside of home.

“Xiao Wu? Oh it’s so good to see you,” breathed out Yanran. “Why didn’t you come to see me and Mother? Mother waited for two days, but you still hadn’t shown up, so I had to come and find you myself.”

Both Yanran and Xing thought Feng Wu would seek them out after finding out they were both at the academy.

Unexpectedly it didn’t happen, so at wit's end, Yanran had to find Feng Wu in person.

“Why would I go?” She didn’t need to ask them for help. Didn’t Brother only say to go to Aunt Xing if she was in trouble? Feng Wu blinked, her eyes clearly puzzled.

Yanran didn’t expect Feng Wu to say that. Embarrassment fleetingly crossed her face. “We’re relatives. Now that we’re not at home, we should watch out for each other and help one another.”

Luckily it wasn’t the first time Yanran met with the transmigrated Feng Wu, so she somewhat understood her cousin’s temperament.

Yanran’s opinion of Feng Wu had grown worse with the personality change. She saw Feng Wu as a bad tempered, impulsive person. She remembered how jealous Feng Wu got that year she visited. Just because people were paying her attention, Feng Wu got mad and shoved her into the pond. Yanran never got over it, and the grudge was still in her heart.

She had expected Feng Wu’s reaction to be just as big and atrocious this time around as well. She never expected her cousin to become an entirely different person. It was like nothing had ever happened between them. Feng Wu didn’t lose her temper or even have any snide comments. Was this the same Feng Wu? The change was too abrupt. Yanran didn't believe it.

She had so many doubts, but no one else in the house seemed to care. No one in Feng house thought it was strange. They believed Feng Wu's sudden change was because of her recent traumatic events. It never occurred to any of them that their Feng Wu was a different girl altogether.

Yanran didn't believe her cousin's change of heart was sincere.

“Big Brother said to go to Aunt Xing for help if there was a problem.” The implication was: I’ll go to her for help, but I’m fine right now, so there’s no reason to go visit.

Yanran’s mouth twitched. She understood the meaning, but she didn’t know how to respond. Feng Wu only needed to see her and her mother if there was a problem.

Yanran decided to switch topics. “Xiao Wu, how is Xiao Ye?[notes]I haven’t seen him in a while. I miss him. Can I visit after school today?”

Feng Wu pursed her lips as she looked at Yanran. “Xiao Ye doesn’t like you. He cries every time he sees you. You shouldn’t visit him.” This way Xiao Ye would be saved from over crying.

Yanran: Do you not know how to make conversation?!

Yanran didn’t talk long before leaving, because no matter how hard she tried to find a topic of conversation, Feng Wu would cut it short. It was like they weren’t even speaking the same language.

Yanran’s visit raised all kinds of speculations, after all both were surnamed Feng. Maybe they were related? But if Feng Wu was a member of Feng house, how come none of them had heard about it?

There was so much speculation. Some thought Feng Wu was a distant branch relation, others thought the two weren’t related at all. Maybe they just shared the same name.

Basically, Yanran’s visit reignited the gossip around Feng Wu.

Feng Wu was greeted warmly by her classmates when she returned from chatting with Yanran. Ink acted as Feng Wu’s guard while a the other students asked a bunch of questions. It took them awhile, but they finally pieced everything together. Turned out the girls were cousins.

This new revelation really frightened her fellow classmates. No one would have ever suspected Feng Wu was a direct descendent of Feng house. Not only that. She was the daughter of the patriarch! And Yanran was the cousin! Feng Wu was too low-key. If Yanran hadn’t sought her out, no one would have ever associated Feng Wu with the incredibly famous Feng house.

258: Feng Wu’s Identity is Revealed

258: Feng Wu’s Identity is Revealed

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[May 21, 2021]
...

The boys were stunned. She had such a powerful background. Why did she never talk about it earlier? Even if you wanted to keep a low profile, you didn’t have to pretend to be a commoner.

The academy emphasized talent, but that didn’t mean family prestige was unimportant. Outstanding talent from noble houses wouldn’t normally associate with commoners, unless of course that commoner was truly talented and had limitless potential. In which case the aristocratic young men and ladies may just deign to converse with them.

If the events hadn’t happened they way they did, no one would have known their class had such a powerhouse in their midst.

Had she not confessed, no one would have thought of it in a million years. There were reasons no one suspected Feng Wu was nobility. First her attitude wasn’t as proud as the other aristocrats. She greeted everyone the same way – with her paralyzed face. Second, she never showed contempt or treated commoners[notes] differently. It wasn’t because there weren’t any commoners in class; a third of the class were commoners.

The majority of students who enrolled every year were from the aristocracy. It wasn’t because the academy gave preference to them, it was because the odds were higher a child with talent would be born from a noble house. Nobility had more resources and could consume things like magical meat and energy rich fruits during pregnancy. This was very good for the growing fetus, so naturally any baby born would have better odds of being talented.

Commoners had no such resource and could only fight with their abilities and luck.

Nobles had a natural superiority over commoners. Yet here was this girl from an incredible house hiding amongst a group of commoners.

This was too incredible for the other nobles. It was already a stretch for one noble to pretend to b another noble. What noble would sink down to pretend to be a commoner?

No one in the aristocracy had over done this before, so no one suspected her origins.

That’s why everyone’s chin nearly dropped in shock when they found out. Feng Wu’s identity and her relationship to Yanran spread like wildfire through the school. Many students, Jasmine for example, were skeptical when they heard the gossip. Jasmine doubted the story more than anyone else.

She found it hard to believe that the commoner she’d looked down on was the daughter of Feng house. Moreover, she was the legitimate daughter of the main wife. Jasmine felt like the world was an illusion.

Jasmine wasn’t the only one surprised. Annika[notes] nearly squirted out the drink she had in her mouth when she heard the news.

“What are you talking about? Feng Wu is a daughter of Feng house? Which Feng?” Annika wiped her mouth and eagerly asked Xi, who was sitting next to her.

How could Xi remain silent after hearing about Feng Wu’s identity? Before Feng Wu’s background was revealed, Jasmine would try to make trouble for Feng Wu. All those scandals? As if Xi couldn’t figure out where they came from.

The scandals spread crazily and always started in the first year Magic division. Other than Jasmine, Xi couldn’t think of anyone else with motive.

Xi wanted to avenge Feng Wu so she had purposefully camped out at the dorm after school just to see Jasmine’s face when Jasmine found out.

Jasmine did not let her down. The look on her face was hilarious.

“Which Feng house? The one from the ancient eastern countries of course. Do you know of any other Feng houses?” Xi answered in a good mood.

Jasmine, sitting across from them, kept changing expressions. She could not believe her ears.

“How is that even possible? If Feng Wu had such an identity, then she should have said so a long time ago. Why deliberately conceal it?” Jasmine judged other people based on her own actions. If she was a daughter of Feng house, she would never hide it. She would have shared it with everyone and waited for them to flatter her. She would never have hidden her identity and pretended to be a commoner.

Thinking it over relieved her mind. She hoped Feng Wu’s identity wouldn’t change. It was no secret they didn't get along because of Feng Wu's status. If Feng Wu wasn’t a commoner, then she had offended someone from a powerful family. It wasn’t a mistake she could afford to make.

Xi gave Jasmine a hard stare. “You think everyone is like you. Putting on airs everyday because of status. Xiao Wu is a genuinely powerful young lady; she wouldn’t be like you!”

“What do you mean by that?!” Jasmine slapped the table; her face filled with anger. Her and Xi’s family backgrounds had been the best of the four roommates. Annika was a little below theirs. Feng Wu, as a commoner, was beneath her notice. Considering what happened last time,[notes] if it weren’t for Feng Wu’s relationship with Jier, she wouldn’t have even talked to Feng Wu.

But now Xi was telling her the person she looked down on was actually of such high noble birth that her own family was nothing in comparison. She couldn’t accept such a tremendous gap between them so fast. Even if she knew Xi had no reason to joke about something like this, she still tried to find reasons to discredit the story. She refused to believe. She had always looked down on Feng Wu’s behavior as that of an uncouth clown. She couldn't have been blind.

Jasmine was angry at Xi because she knew her roommate was speaking the truth.

“Didn’t you always look down on Xiao Wu because she was a commoner? Now all of a sudden she’s got higher status than you. Can you even stand in her presence?” Xi watched Jasmine. It wasn’t a big deal for a minor aristocratic like Jasmine to put on airs and act the way she did, but the issue was, she did it all the time. She constantly crowed about her status in front ofthe common people.

Xi hated people like Jasmine.

“Enough! You two, stop arguing.” Annika spoke out loudly. It wasn’t a yell, but coming from her, it may as well be. She was normally soft-spoken. Both Xi and Jasmine were surprised into submission.

By the time Feng Wu came back, the quarrel was over. Xi stopped sneering at Jasmine and Jasmine didn’t try to suck up to Feng Wu because of her revealed status. Instead Jasmine subconsciously avoided Feng Wu.

259: Top Ten (truncated title)

259: 嚴重偏科的十席生

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 22, 2021]
...

Feng Wu didn’t pay any attention. She had never considered Jasmine a friend, so she didn’t care about the new attitude.

Through the upheavals caused by Yanran’s appearance, another semester passed.

The freshman class were finally able to qualify for seats. It wasn’t ranked through competition but through a comprehensive analysis of their written test and combat results.

Feng Wu was placed in freshman year - 10th seat, not because her strength was lower than anyone else’s, but because her written was so bad.

She was first in Sword division for combat experience, but her results in noncombat areas were atrocious. Math, geography, and history were great, but her language tests were full of x’s. Some were even zeros. The gap was blindingly crazy.

“Student Feng Wu, please explain what is going on. Why are your ancient, dwarven, and dragon languages so bad? All zeros, even though 80% of these tests are multiple choice questions. Why did you leave them empty? Even if you randomly guess and fill in something, you wouldn’t get zero points!”

Take a four question multiple choice question. Just filling in any random choice would have meant a 25% chance of being correct.

Feng Wu didn’t even get the multiple-choice questions right.

The teacher was so angry she almost slapped the table. What was this? It was obvious this child was doing well in all her other subjects. Why did she become like this when it came to languages? Outstanding Feng Wu did well in all her other classes except for language. The teacher got a toothache just thinking about it. The other teachers looked at her like she didn’t care about her students.

Feng Wu kept her head down as she was dragged into the office for some education. She only raised her head at the question. She blinked, her pair of big black eyes puzzled. “Teacher said, ‘If you don’t understand, leave it empty. Do not guess. Guessing isn’t good for study.’ ”

The teacher didn’t know how to reply. It was a severe blow. She had said that to the class, but this was the first time a student actually followed her instructions. She felt like Feng Wu was using what she said in class to gag her. She was stuck, not sure what to say, so she dismissed Feng Wu after a few more customary words.

Feng Wu walked out and politely turned around to close the door. She was unhappy. It wasn't like she wanted to do poorly in languages, but her problem was, no matter how she tried, she just couldn’t understand them.

Jier and Ink tried to comfort her, telling her not to worry. Chances of her encountering a dragon clan of the ancient ruins were slim. Chances of her encountering a dwarf clan was even smaller. So what did it matter if she couldn’t master the languages?

Students had to chose three languages to study. There were more than a dozen languages and scripts to chose from, it was just that Feng Wu, even after a year of study, failed to understand the most basic aspects.

Even if she didn’t get first place, she placed high enough to earn a spot in the third-floor cafeteria. She could eat as much as she wanted for free. The thought of all that delicious food made her completely forget about the scolding from her language teacher.

Feng Wu went to pick up Little Bun, who had grown quite big, and together the two went to the cafeteria for dinner. Little Bun’s appearance in the cafeteria didn’t shock anyone. Feng Wu had taken to carrying him cradled against her body at the three and five o’clock position ever since he began eating more solid foods.

Little Bun was adorable and easily attracted girls. They just loved him to bits. Even the cafeteria auntie gave Feng Wu bigger portions when she saw Little Bun. She knew Little Bun loved custard so she always saved some for him.

“Xiao Ye, I gained weight again.” A girl, upon seeing Little Bun, immediately walked over and touched his adorable cheeks.

“Ah! So cute! Why is Xiao Ye so cute?!”

“If only my future child would be so cute.”

“Xiao Wu, are you going to the third floor?”

“Yes, the top ten list came out today and my name was on it, so I’m eligible to go. I’m going for dinner.”

“Congratulations Xiao Wu! Now you can eat delicious food!”

“Remember to tell us what the third floor looks like. We enrolled together, but I don’t know what the third floor looks like yet.”

More people crowded around Feng Wu. Some wanted to fuss over Little Bun, others wanted to congratulate Feng Wu. Feng Wu nodded to their comments.

Everyone had gotten used to Feng Wu’s mannerism so no one was offended at her unenthusiastic response.

Feng Wu was going to the third floor, so naturally Little Bun would follow, however the girls were reluctant to let him go. Xiao Ye was just an adorable baby. Something cute was always coming out of his mouth.

They were all disappointed about not seeing the little guy for dinner in the future. But even if they couldn’t eat together, they would still run into each other at school.

The cafeteria auntie reminded Feng Wu to pick up a custard for Xiao Ye before leaving later. Feng Wu nodded with bright eyes. The auntie was a good person.

The most elite students at Xingguang had always used the third floor as a gathering place, after all only the top ten of each grade were allowed entrance.[notes]

Suddenly today there was a strange combination of a dark haired lolli and a blond haired chubby little bun. The pair made an eye-catching combination. The uniform showed she was a first year. Being able to enter the third floor also meant she was one of the newly minted top ten in the freshman class.

Little Bun stared curiously at everyone around him. Though it was a big room, because of the entry requirement, there were few people about. Little Bun struggled in his mother’s arms. “Mom, down.”

260: Mido

260: Mido

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[May 28, 2021]
...

Little Bun was only one but he had already learned how to walk and speak coherently. Where did he trot over as soon as Feng Wu put him down? The serving station of course.

The auntie there was someone Feng Wu knew; Little Bun recognized her too.

“Auntie Tian Yue!”[notes]

Little Bun ran towards her.

Tian Yue hadn’t realized anyone was coming her way. Upon hearing the familiar voice, she looked up to find a familiar little dumpling running towards her.

“Xiao Ye!” Tian Yue hurriedly rushed out from behind the serving station and engulfed the little guy in a hug.

She looked up to find another familiar figure. Tian Yue greeted Feng Wu with a smile crinkling around her eyes. She was happy to see the two.

“Come come. It’s self-serve. Just buy whatever you like. The food here is tastier and cheaper than the lower floors. Perks for those in the top ten.”

Tian Yue knew Feng Wu had made it into the top ten some time ago. She had rubbed her eyes several times when she saw the list. Had she read wrong? She hadn't thought Feng Wu, who looked soft and weak, had the strength to break into the top ten. Even if she only placed tenth, it was still noteworthy for a freshman.

There were so many in the freshman class, so making it into the top ten was a remarkable feat.

Feng Wu walked to the serving area and grabbed a plate, then proceeded to pile it high with foods she liked, only stopping when she ran out of room on the plate.

Grace and her younger sister, Ann, were sitting together as they coolly watched the interaction between Tian Yue and Feng Wu. Ann was especially interested in Feng Ye. She couldn’t keep her beautiful and innocent eyes off of him. She really wanted to hug the cute little thing.

Grace’s attention was solely focused on Feng Wu. She was on guard against Feng Wu because it was obvious Ming Xi treated her differently. She turned her gaze to look affectionately at her little sister. No one was going to steal anyone Ann liked though.

Feng Wu got everything she wanted to eat. She found a table close to the serving area and sat down on a stool while Xiao Ye played with Tian Yue.

Tian Yue loved to feed Little Bun egg custard with minced meat.[notes] It was silky smooth and luscious. Little Bun slurped up an entire bowl.

“Darling, look at that. The girl actually brought her kid to the third floor. Just outrageous.” A delicate girl said as she leaned into the arms of the tall boy next to her. She fed him grapes with one hand while drawing circles on his chest with the other.

“Who cares. She’s probably just a relative of the auntie. Méi Luó, you spend all day staring at inferior people. No wonder you’re only a second year even after three years at school,” said Cecilia, another equally beautiful girl. She glanced coquettishly at Méi Luó as she moved forward pressing the tall boy’s arm firmly against her bosom.

Méi Luó smiled coldly. “Cecilia’s eyes seem to be bad. To say the illustrious Feng house’s main daughter is inferior. I wonder what kind of common woman you are.”

The boy raised a brow upon hearing the identity of the new girl with the baby.

“Baby Méi Luó, did you say she’s the daughter of Feng house?” The guy nestled between them was interested.

Méi Luó was secretly pleased. She knew he’d be interested. “Isn’t she? She’s Feng Yanran’s cousin. Aren’t the Feng ladies beautiful? Though this one isn’t as beauty as Yanran, she is a rare beauty nonetheless.”

“Feng Yanran’s cousin . . .” His eyes darkened as he thought.

Cecilia couldn’t help but comment. “Turns out she’s Yanran’s cousin. No wonder. I heard she had a baby at a young age. I never expected it to be true. I thought it was just slander when I first heard about it, apparently she doesn't seem to value herself much. Turns out she’s just like her cousin.”

-Smack!- Cecilia covered her cheek with one hand. He hit her! She couldn’t believe it.

“Bitch. You dare bad-mouth sweet Yanran?” He shook out his palm. Still unsatisfied, he further kicked her, knocking her to the ground.

Cecilia's eyes were scared as she bled from the mouth.

The guy was third seat, third year Mido. He came from an outstanding and powerful house. Because of this, he never lacked female companionship. It was a common sight to see him bringing women to the third floor for dinner. It was his way of showing off who he was and how powerful he was.[notes]

Mido wasn’t the only one who brought companions for dinner. Many others also habitually brought guests with them to the third floor. Two things men loved to show off were power and women. Being able to eat on the third floor showed their power and status. Having both, how could they lack for female companions?

Mido had lots of girls but he didn’t cherish any of them. To him, they were more like cats and dogs – pets. He teased them when he was happy, but he didn’t give them any consideration otherwise.

Méi Luó looked coldly at the scene. Cecilia was stupid if she thought she could open her mouth and say whatever she wanted just because she got a bit of Mido’s affection. Clearly, this girl didn’t understand the man at all.

No one cared about the fate of some random female companion, so the scene didn’t attract any attention. The girl should have known something like this would happen sooner or later. Mido wasn’t the kind and considerate type.

“Darling, I was wrong! I won’t dare say such things anymore.” Cecilia wasn’t stupid. She quickly figured out her mistake. She’d been unable to control herself and said those things earlier because she’d been jealous at how Mido looked at Yanran.

She never expected there would ever be a day Mido would like another girl so much. Though the discovery made her angry, there was nothing she could do.

“Dear, Cecilia knows she’s wrong. Do spare her this time,” said Méi Luó in a tender voice.

SANYE ISLAND ARC
261-262

261-262

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 29, 2021]
...
261: Excursion Missions

“Ha. Don’t dare spout nonsense again!” Mido gave Cecilia a cold glare before turning to Méi Luó. “Go and invite Miss Feng Wu for dinner.”

“Of course, I’ll leave now.” Méi Luó happily responded without expressing any kind of dissatisfaction.

Mido nodded. He liked obedient women. Méi Luó was much better than Cecilia in that regard.

Cecilia cursed in her heart, but outwardly presented an obedient image. She stood up and carefully sat back down at the table, not daring to say a word.

Mido was confident Feng Wu would come over immediately after hearing his name. Anyone with any sense would. Even if she was a top ten in her freshman class, it was impossible for her to challenge a third-year top ten.

The result was unexpected though.

“What do you mean she won’t come?!” It was the first time anyone had refused to give him face since he’d entered the academy. He was furious.

Méi Luó had a complicated expression. She didn’t believe anyone would dare refuse Mido either. “Yes, she was very firm. I tried to convince her, but she wouldn’t listen,” complained Méi Luó.

“Damn it!” Mido slammed the table angrily. “She thinks she's hot stuff just because she’s from Feng house? I wouldn’t care who she is if it weren’t for Yanran!” He’d wanted to use her to get close to Yanran, but he never expected Feng Wu to be such a bitch - so ignorant and full of herself.

Mido wanted to teach her a lesson, but considering their location, he decided against it. He glanced at her sinisterly before snorting and leaving with his two girls.

Feng Wu had no idea she had just offended a big shot; she was too busy eating the food on her plate. The food here was definitely better than what was served on the first floor. It was a bit more expensive, but the deliciousness was worth it.[notes]

After Feng Wu finished her dinner, she said farewell to Tian Yue and took Little Bun back to the dorm. She completely ignored Grace’s malicious glare.

...

A mission that involved excursions outside the school was offered at the end of each semester. The missions were drawn by team captains and whatever was drawn had to be completed.

Feng Wu and the others in her class were freshmen, so they weren’t qualified to participate last semester, but now they were required to participate, and would have to do so every semester going forward. They had to find a senior to lead their group. It would be a test of their social skills and popularity.

Not everyone in the senior class was rich, so there were those willing to do the job in exchange for a negotiated fee.

Any student who didn’t have enough money or popularity to snag a leader on their own would have to wait for the teacher to assign one to them.

Any senior arranged by the teacher would be of average strength, so the choice wouldn’t be as good or reassuring as if they picked one themselves.

Jier asked Ming Xi to be his team captain after he formed a team with Feng Wu and Ink. Ming Xi agreed, but they had a problem. Excluding the team captain, each team needed at least six members.

The school randomly added additional members to any team with less than six members. Jier’s team only had three, so they needed three more.

Feng Wu stood by the school gate with Little White,[notes] with Jier and Ink flanking her on either side. They were waiting for the rest of their team to show up.

Ming Xi was greeted by the sight of them waiting when he arrived. Feng Wu was rubbing her eyes like she was still sleep. Little Bun ws drinking from a bottle while Little White carried him in its pouch. Jier and Ink were stretching as they looked around.

Seeing all of them reminded Ming Xi what happened a few days ago.

“Ming Xi, are you sure you want to take these guys out?” Luis asked.

Ming Xi nodded with a small smile. “Yes.”

“Ming Xi, tell the truth. Have you finally been tempted by Little Sister Feng Wu? Otherwise why would you agree to by their team captain for the excursion?” This came from Elena.

“Yeah. It’s not easy you know, taking out the lower grades on an excursion. You’re responsible for ensuring their safety.” Gerasi added.

Ming Xi couldn’t help but laugh. “What are you guys talking about?!” His friends were too interested in gossiping!

“Ming Xi, you left us hanging so you could go out on a date with Little Sister Feng Wu. You’re not concerned about us at all. Girls before friends . . .” Luis sighed as he gave Ming Xi an ambiguous look.

Ming Xi helplessly rubbed his forehead. Honestly, these guys . . .

“Be careful. The place you’re going to is unusual.” Tian Ya interrupted.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t they going to Sanye island? The island is surrounded by strong undercurrents and some water monsters, but it isn’t dangerous otherwise.”

The school always kept the strength of the students in mind. New students wouldn’t be sent anywhere too dangerous or too far beyond their abilities, as it would put everyone at risk, even if they were accompanied by a senior student.

So then what was so dangerous about Sanye island?

“I heard the seas haven’t been peaceful lately. Many who have gone out failed to return. The temple even sent several people to investigate, but thus far they haven’t discovered any clues. Tian Ya, are you worried about them having bad luck and encountering some kind of danger?” After some consideration, Elena understood Tian Ya’s worry.

“It’s not just that. Something about Sanye island feels ominous,” replied Tian Ya. “Ming Xi, you have to be careful.” He frowned. He had a feeling Ming Xi’s trip wouldn’t be peaceful, but would instead be full of danger. His instincts were normally right.

Ming Xi’s eyes looked thoughtful. Then with a faint smile he said, “Don’t worry. I will be careful.” He had a foreboding feeling as well. The feeling had grown as the day for the excursion got closer. It seemed that something big would happen on this mission.

262: On-board Entertainment

Two boys and two girls arrived soon after Ming Xi. Both boys were second-year students; one was in the Magic division while the other was in the Sword division. Of the two girls, one was a second-year[notes] while the other was a first-year Pharmacy. The Pharmacy student was none other than recently enrolled Yanran. All four students failed to join a team on their own.

The boys were named Oleen and Leo; one was grave and stern while the other was calm and proper. Milty,[notes] was in a romantic relationship with Oleen, but it was obvious from his eyes that he wasn’t committed to her.

After introductions, everyone rushed to the dock to rent a boat. Their destination was on a small island in the sea, which could only be reached by boat. Travel between Zhongyong to Sanye island would take one full month. The group stayed on the beach overnight in order to prepare enough fresh water and food for the month-long journey.

Everything was prepared by next morning. The group boarded a boat and set out on their trip.

It was a small ship with a crew of four ordinary skilled swordsmen. Though they were only ordinary folk, they were quite competent with the sword. Yearlong exposure to the sea had made their bodies tan and strong.

Everyone went to rest after dividing the rooms up.

Life at sea was boring, but fortunately Jier and Ink came prepared, having brought games and cards.

Speaking of cards, the game they brought was a popular card game created by Zi Cheng. Another good game she created was called Mahjong. The game was so popular it even had clubs dedicated to it. Everyone from nobles to commoners enjoyed the game in Zhongyong.

This put Zi Cheng in the limelight and the number of suitors pursuing her increased dramatically.

“Ha! Matched sets!” Ink said excitedly as he pushed his tiles forward.

“Again?! Are you cheating?” Jier bitterly took out his coins and handed them to Ink.

Ming Xi didn’t say anything, just handed the money over.

“Ink is really lucky!” Leo was jealous. He’d played eight games but hadn’t won a single one. He wanted to try winning one!

“Good game, good game.” Ink smiled arrogantly. He was surprised he had been so lucky.

It was much quieter at the table nearby so the sounds of shuffling cards could be heard loudly.

“Four types! I win!” Milty declared proudly as she raised her eyebrows at her fiancé, Oleen.

Oleen and Yanran paid up good-naturedly without saying anything. The admiration in Oleen’s eyes became more apparently as he secretly watched Yanran.

What Feng Wu saw after coming out of her room from her nap was a friendly scene of two tables, one playing Mahjong and the other cards.

Jier stopped shuffling the tiles for a moment to wave at Feng Wu. “Xiao Wu, you’re awake. Do you want to play Mahjong? It’s pretty fun.”

Feng Wu blinked as she looked at the table of tiles. “Can’t play.”

“It’s OK. Sit down and I’ll teach you. It’s easy to pick up.” Jier was hoping his luck with turn around with Feng Wu in the game, so he immediately went and brought her over.

He sat her next to him so she could watch how the game was played.

“Xiao Wu, where’s Xiao Ye? Still sleeping?” Ming Xi was concerned when he didn’t see Little Bun with Feng Wu.

Ming Xi thought Little Bun was really cute. Not everyone at school believed the story about Little Bun coming from a fruit, so there were a lot of speculation about who his father was.

Sucessful pregnancy from the Motherhood fruit was exceptionally rare.[notes] How many people would mistake the Motherhood fruit for an ordinary fruit and eat it? Who would have that kind of luck?

Where could Feng Wu have come across the Motherhood fruit, never mind accidentally eat it? Some believed she had no luck because she got pregnant so young, some believed she had incredible luck because she encountered the fruit. It was a rare occurrence that happened once a century.

Those who didn’t believe the fruit story made up their own. The stories about Little Bun could have filled an entire book.

Feng Wu didn’t have a man’s scent on her so Ming Xi knew Little Bun wasn’t born from a physical male and female relationship. As a descendent of the gods, Ming Xi had the ability to detect virginity in that he could detect the breath of man in another person.

Feng Wu’s breath was very clean, without a trace of male breath in her. So her pregnancy had to be caused by something spiritual.

Ming Xi had liked Little Bun from the first moment they met. The feeling was mutual; Little Bun also liked him. In fact, it was a little embarassing because Little Bun would call him father.

“Sleeping still.” Feng Wu replied.

“It is OK to leave Xiao Ye alone in the room? He won’t be afraid when he wakes up?” Ming Xi was worried.

“Senior Ming Xi, Xiao Wu likes you so much. She’s asked you to marry so many times already. If you’re so worried about Xiao Ye, you can just be his daddy. Why not just marry Xiao Wu? You’ll have a cute, adorable son if you do!” Ink tried to help Feng Wu chase after Ming Xi whenever he could. They were good friends after all.

Ming Xi wasn’t going to answer the question. He’d gotten used to the teasing so the smile on his face didn’t budge.

But Feng Wu stared at him with her big eyes, as if really expecting him to answer the question. He couldn’t pretend that he didn’t see. She wouldn’t stop staring!

“Marriage isn’t about only about wanting to marry, it’s also about loving each other.” Ming Xi didn’t sense any feelings of love radiating from Feng Wu, so he knew she didn’t love him, either that or she didn’t understand what love was yet. He hoped that one day, she would understand what it was and realize a marriage without love was doomed to be an unhappy one.

“Love?” Feng Wu tilted her head in confusion. Why did you need love to get married? Master never said anything about love.

“Love is similar to liking someone a lot. So once you know you really like someone a lot, you can talk about marriage.”

263: Very Simple

263: Very Simple

[Host: justreads.net]
[May 30, 2021]
...

“I like Ming Xi a lot.” Feng Wu had always liked him. Although she didn’t understand why he said what he said, she spoke with certainty.

Ming Xi sighed. “Is there a difference between how you like me and how you like Jier or Ink?” Using the opportunity to teach her the difference between friendship and love would be good too.

Those playing cards stopped what they were doing and curiously looked at Feng Wu, waiting for her reply.

Ming Xi wasn’t the only one who noticed Feng Wu had this problem. Jier noticed it too. Feng Wu didn’t know what love was. The only reason she proposed to Ming Xi was because he was a good man, like her master. She hoped this good man would be her baby’s father.

Ming Xi was a good man, but he hoped Feng Wu would find someone she loved. He hoped she wouldn’t remain so ignorant.

If Ink didn’t understand Feng Wu’s feelings for Ming Xi before, he did now. There were so many incidents with this girl: the confession, the love letter, marriage proposal . . . And that was just the beginning.

Leo was interested in the drama; it seemed like something fun.

Ming Xi’s question made Feng Wu think deeply. After a while she said, “They’re the same.”

Jier and Ink nearly choked. Don’t be so honest girl. It would be weird for anyone to agree to marriage proposal after hearing something like that.

Ming Xi sighed. He thought as much, but hearing it was still disappointing.

“When your feelings of like are different, then let’s talk about it then. OK?”

Feng Wu nodded as if she actually understood.

Jier and Ink exchanged glances. Turns out something was in the air. It wasn’t like Ming Xi had no feelings for her.

The topic was tacitly dropped by everyone and the games resumed.

After two rounds of Mahjong, Jier gave way to Feng Wu.

“Xiao Wu, don’t be afraid. I’ll be merciful.” Ink was full of cheer.

“I’m not afraid.” She wasn’t afraid. The game wasn’t that scary.

After shuffling the tiles and throwing the dice, Ink drew is first sets of tiles. Except for a few minor mistakes in the beginning, Feng Wu didn’t miss any tiles. She had Jier to guide her. The more she played, the better she became. It only took three rounds before she started winning.

“Huh . . . all matches.”

“Huh . . . yeah.”

“Huh . . .”

“Huh . . .”

No one could stand it after she won seven games in a row. It was fun to play when there was a chance of winning and losing, but was she really a beginner? Was she just playing dumb?

“Stop, Xiao Wu, are you sure you’re a beginner? You really haven’t played this before?” Ink said weakly, his body nearly prone on the table, cheeks pressed flat and arms spread out.

“Yeah, Feng Wu is too good. She’s not like a beginner at all,” said an annoyed Leo. He had only won one hand all day.

Jier was distressed over his dwindling money pouch. Children cut off from their families for disobedience couldn’t afford to be poor.

Ming Xi smiled. Rich people never worried about money.

“I can prove she’s a beginner. I’ve taught her solitaire, but I’ve never taught her Mahjong before.” Even though he didn’t want to admit it, it was a sad fact that he was beaten by a beginner.

“Xiao Wu, come on spill it. Is there some kind of trick to how you’re winning?” Ink asked. If there was a trick, he might be able to use it and win in the future. His eyes sparkled as though envisioning gold coins before him.

Upon hearing the question, the other three immediately focused their attention on Feng Wu. There were very interested.

“There’s no trick.” Feng Wu shook her head.

“No way. Then you’re saying you won through luck every time?” Ink, who thought he would hear a good trick, was disappointed.

If there was a trick, then it would be fine, but if it was luck, then there was nothing he could do.

“It wasn’t luck.” Feng Wu shook her head again. “It was easy, just know the tiles already played. Then you’ll know the ones that haven’t been played yet. You know the cards you are holding so it’s easy to win.” Did there need to be a trick for something so simple?

The group fell silent. Was that how it worked? That was so simple. To make it a fair game, none of them used any magic or other extraordinary skills to peek at an opponent’s hand. They had to rely only on memory, but it wasn’t easy with so many cards.

They would have thought Feng Wu was cheating were it not for the fact they knew she couldn’t use magic to check on their hand.

Feng Wu was so good that every one lost interest in playing. They handed her over to the card table and Oleen gave up his seat so she could play.

Fortunately for everyone else, playing cards wasn’t just about having a good memory. Luck was also important. She didn’t win every game, but she didn’t do badly at all - three out of five wins. This was still enough to make Yanran and Milty cry.

They were rescued by the crew coming in to tell them it was time to eat. Milty and Yanran couldn’t run away fast enough.

Feng Wu blinked and walked out after them after putting the cards away.

The chef had prepared fresh fish and fluffy white rice.

Most people in the western countries didn’t like rice, but Feng Wu loved it, so Ming Xi had purchased a lot for the trip. There was enough for many more meals to come.

The crew was great at grilling fish. Feng Wu ate several large bowls of grilled fish and rice. It was hard to believe she could eat so much. She was so small; where did she put it all?!

Eating grilled fish while the sea breeze blew by, sea life wasn’t bad at all.

“What’s that up ahead? It looks like someone is in the water!” cried out a crew member on the bow.

Startled, Ming Xi and the others put down their bowls and walked to the bow of the boat. Sure enough, they saw several people in the water clinging to some wooden boards.

“Senior Ming Xi, what do we do? Should we save them?” Leo asked. He didn’t think they would, after all this was the sea. It was no peaceful than land. If the people were pirate decoys, then saving them would mean leading the wolf to their doors.

“They’re too pitiful. Senior Ming Xi, we have to save them.” Yanran couldn’t stand to watch them suffer.

264-265

264-265

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[June 5, 2021]
...

264: Rescue

Yanran looked toward Ming Xi hopefully.

“You can’t just say save them and we’ll save them. What if they’re pirates?” Milty rolled her eyes. Who was this holier-than-thou missy pretending for? Milty unconsciously glanced over at her fiancé. Her face went stiff when she saw the admiration in his eyes as he looked at Yanran. But she didn’t want to quarrel with him, so she remained silent.

“I . . . but you can’t be sure they’re bad people. What if they’re just ordinary people? If we don’t save them, they’ll die!” Yanran bit her lip as she stared at the people at sea with pity in her eyes.

“Senior, we have to save them. There aren’t any other ships nearby.” Oleen spoke up for Yanran without even thinking.

Ming Xi released his divine consciousness and did a 100 metre scan of the area. Oleen was right. There were no other ships in the vicinity.

“Sail the boat over; we’ll save them.” Ming Xi ordered. The captain nodded and turned the boat toward the three people floating in the water.

Having spent so many days together already, the crew knew who was in charge. They didn’t dare disobey Ming Xi’s order.

“That’s fantastic! Thank you, Senior Ming Xi!” Yanran was so happy she nearly cried with joy.

Ming Xi’s eyes didn’t reveal anything as he made a noncommittal sound in reply.

Oleen, on the other hand, seemed to really appreciate Yanran’s kindness. He was looking at her adoringly, completely ignoring the fact that his fiancé was standing right there.

The crew quickly pulled the three strangers aboard. Two of the three were unconscious. The other was barely hanging on.

There was one woman and two men. The woman barely looked eighteen and had on a mage robe. The men didn’t look much older, maybe five years more, probably in their twenties. Judging by their uniform, they were probably swordsmen.

“Save . . . save the princess.” The semi-conscious swordsman uttered the single sentence before joining the rest of his companions in slumber.

“Hurry up and help them into the cabin.” Yanran ordered.

This incredibly beautiful girl with slightly flushed cheeks gave some orders. A few of the crew took action and carried the strangers into the cabin.

“Seniors, I leave the men to you. I will help the girl change out of her wet clothes.” Yanran turned around and walked into the cabin as soon as she finished speaking her orders.

“Huh? What was that?” Milty grumbled as she looked at Yanran’s back.

Oleen looked at Milty in disgust before turning around and walking into the cabin.

“Oleen, wait for me!” Milty didn’t care about anything other than Oleen. She ran after him.

Ink shook his head as he looked at the farce playing out. “Didn’t expect a love triangle to form after just a few days.”

Jier didn’t make a comment, but he looked displeased as he stared after them. “Yanran doesn’t understand the rules and Senior Ming Xi didn’t say anything. She’s a freshman and she dared order us around. Don’t know if the men at her other school spoiled her too much, so her courage grew big.”

Jier had always been an arrogant and obstinate guy. Don’t let his usual behavior towards Feng Wu fool you; she was his favorite and it was a given he’d spoil her. Jier was actually a really unruly guy. Don’t even think about bossing him around if you weren’t strong enough to back up your words.

He would never be obedient to someone like Yanran, a pretty face who lacked any real strength.

Leo was a more steady and calm person. If the situation wasn’t as it was, Leo wouldn’t have allowed a first year to order him around either. But it was as it was. “Younger Sister Yanran is probably just concerned about the three strangers. She didn’t mean to speak in such a way so as to suggest she was above the rest of us.”

Leo couldn’t bear to see such a kind-hearted girl be hated by Jier. It wouldn’t bode well for her if she was hated by the freshman’s first seat.

He didn’t mind helping the girl out if it was within his ability to do so.

“Stop talking and go see about those three strangers. Xiao Wu, go help Yanran.” Ming Xi didn’t have to think about it. He knew Milty wouldn’t be able to help Yanran. The only one suitable was Feng Wu.

Feng Wu nodded and headed inside to the girl’s cabin.

Two crew members were already helping the two men change out of their clothes by the time Ming Xi and the others entered. None of the girls were in sight. They were in a separate room.

“How is it going?” Ming Xi asked Oleen.

“Their injuries aren’t serious, but they’ve been drifting at sea for many days without fresh water or food. Their bodies are extremely weak. The small wounds they have, though not serious, has become infected from prolonged exposure to the water. They need to be dealt with as soon as possible."

“I see.” Ming Xi replied calmly. He let the two crew members finish and leave before doing anything else.

A faint purple light appeared in his hand after the crew left. The light leapt from his hand and onto the two men. Their wounds quickly healed, leaving only a shallow scab behind.

“They should be fine now. Just have them drink a bottle of recovery potion later. Stay with them and ask them for information as soon as they wake up.”

After giving Oleen his task, Ming Xi left to the girls’ cabin.

Yanran and Feng Wu were helping the woman dress. Feng Wu’s clothes were too small for the woman’s bigger frame, so they were using Yanran’s clothes. Yanran pulled out an outfit she didn’t often wear.

Yanran hadn't used any magic to heal the woman's injuries. As a pharmacy student, she had lots of healing medicine on her, so before even dressing the woman, she had fed her some healing potions.

The woman’s condition was good.

Ming Xi didn’t stay in the room long; he just peeked inside to get a gauge of the situation. Before he left, he told Yanran the same thing he told Oleen.

265: A Carefully Arranged Plot

The three strangers didn’t awaken until dark. Their treatment was effective and they recovered quickly, so they were able to get up and walk around shortly after waking.

Ming Xi sat on the chair tapping his hand on the table. “Have they told us what happened?”

“Senior Ming Xi, they said they’re the personal body guards for the third princess, Princess Hailin of the Bohai nation state.”

Ink thought about the book he’d recently read about maritime countries. “Bohai? I read about that country recently. They’re a small island in the northern sea, rich in mineral resources. It’s a good place. The people there are well fed.”

The continent of Tianfeng was vast and rich in resources. In addition to the four major empires, there were many minor ones as well. Of course none of the minor ones dared think about expanding and becoming a major empire by invading any of the other four major ones. It would be suicidal.

The descendants of the gods came to Tianfeng to guard it. If any of the four major empires were attacked, the other empires would target the invader. The attacking invaders would also be wanted by Star Marshall hall.

“The personal guards for the third princess. Then was the girl we rescued was Princess Hailin?” Leo wondered.

Yanran shook her head. “The woman we rescued is named Ilis. Her mother is the sister of Bohai’s queen and her father is the General Dou. She and the princess are cousins.

Princess Hailin ran away from home because she was angry at the king. Her group never expected to encounter pirates as soon as they entered international waters. Princess Hailin was taken hostage and the reguluar guards and crew didn't fare any better. Her bodyguards eventually escaped in the hopes of returning to Bohai to report the princess’s capture.”

Turned out it was the case of a wayward princess running away from home. Jier and the others quickly sorted the story out.

Just to confirm, Jier asked, “So the cousin wants us to rescue the princess?”

Yanran nodded. “Yes, that’s what Ilis said. She hopes we can rescue Princess Hailin. Once the princess is saved, she will put in a request to the royal family for a reward on our behalf.”

The reward part left Yanran feeling a little helpless. As a young lady from Feng house, she wasn’t short on money or status. The seniors and her other classmates were also aristocrats. Though she didn’t know Ming Xi’s exact background, she was certain he wasn’t an ordinary nobleman.

People like them wouldn’t care about monetary rewards, so using money to gain their cooperation was a miscalculation on the part of the Bohai people.

“Reward? I’m not interested. We already did our best to save them, now they want us to risk our lives to save their princess too? She’s really got a lot of nerve to ask,” sneered Jier. He had no interest in the princess.

“What about the other two? What did they say?” Ming Xi asked Oleen.

Oleen was frank. “They hoped we would rescue Princess Hailin. They also wish for us to contact either the Bohai royal family or General Dou for assistance.”

Ink frowned, unhappy at the request. “They had so many people but they were still defeated and their princess captured. There’s only eight of us, how can they expect us to help? I’m afraid we’ll just be bringing trouble to ourselves if we go in.”

Milty agreed with Ink. “Ink has a point. This request, we can’t accept it.”

“No, if we don’t help them, what will become of Princess Hailin? Pirates are cruel. We don’t know what they will do to her. We can’t leave her to die.” Yanran disapproved of their opinion.

Milty lost her patience. “You know there’s nothing we can do, but you still persist in pushing us to act? Be stupid by yourself and leave the rest of us out of it.”

“There is one thing I haven’t mentioned. The two guards said they were taken out so easily because their water supply was drugged by a spy on the boat. That’s why the entire crew was captured so easily.

The three of them weren’t as affected because they drank less water. They were able to escape using a teleportation scroll and drifted at sea for several days after that. If they hadn’t run into us, they would never have survived.”

Yanran breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing this. “Turns out the pirates aren’t that strong. Why would they go to the trouble of using drugs otherwise? It would have been amazing if they did have the strength to attack directly though.” There shouldn’t be any objections to saving the princess now. She smiled lightly at Oleen.

Oleen was touched and it showed in the softening of his eyes.

Milty gritted her teeth as she watched Yanran make eyes at her fiancé. That shameless hussy! Seducing her fiancé right in front of her. Remembering where she was, she tamped her anger down, not wanting to fight with Oleen in public.

“We don’t know how strong the pirates are. They captured the princess without a single casualty. It means they’ve been planning this for a while. They didn’t want to come in with a big show of force in part because they didn’t want to risk outside interference.

Thinking about it logically, why would pirates take the initiative to provoke the royal family? The fact that these pirates planted spies in Princess Hailin’s retinue so easily means they’ve been planning it for some time.

The pirates must want to use the princess to make a deal with the royal Bohai family. The princess’s life shouldn’t be in danger for the time being.”

Ink explained his thoughts on the matter clearly. The pirates’ actions were unusual in that it wasn’t just a robbery, but rather a premediated attack. No matter how you looked at it, whatever scheme they were planning, it has to be something big.

Ming Xi nodded, agreeing with Ink’s analysis. The entire thing felt like a carefully laid out plan. Allowing the bodyguards to escape so they could contact Bohai and report the princess’s capture was probably a part of it too. It would have led to Bohai sending an intermediary to negotiate the princess’s release.

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Don't forget your read ahead chapters for Memorial day. Not sure if anyone as acessed them from Monday.
266: Secretly Leaving

266: Secretly Leaving

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[June 5, 2021]
...

Their group was composed of four freshmen and three sophomores, with Ming Xi as captain. How could they compete with unknown numbers of ferocious pirates?

As captain, Ming Xi was responsible for their safety. He wasn’t going to lead them into the tiger’s lair. “I think Ink has a point. We can give them a small boat to return to Bohai. We’re not far from there, so it won’t take them long to reach shore.”

Jier patted Ming Xi on the shoulder. He agreed with Ming Xi’s course of action.

Leo nodded in agreement. “Yeah, it’s better not to get involved.”

Seeing everyone abandoning the strangers, Yanran eagerly spoke up on their behalf. “It’s really OK for us not to care? Ilis said the pirates are very cruel. If the negotiations fail, the princess and the rest of her people will be killed.”

“Prepare a small boat for them. We will not intervene. Let Bohai settle their own affairs.” Ming Xi issued his order instead of bothering to reply to Yanran.

As the captain of the excursion, Ming Xi had the final say on all matters.

Feng Wu and the others stopped considering Bohai affairs. It was none of their business. They saved the strangers and was even giving them a boat to return home. They were already being incredibly generous.

Yanran knew Ming Xi was the captain and she wasn’t qualified to gainsay him, but she had insisted anyway.

The discussion ended and everyone returned to their respective cabins to rest. Tomorrow morning, the three strangers would be given a boat and sent on their way.

...

Milty rushed in with red-rimmed eyes as everyone was half way through an aromatic breakfast of grilled fish and porridge.

Little Bun had been enjoying the porridge being fed to him by Little White. Little White was a conscientious nanny and took great care of Little Bun. He might not have grown so big and healthy if Feng Wu was taking care of him by herself.

Milty looked around the cabin wildly as soon as she entered. Her face turned ugly when she didn’t find whoever she was looking for.

“What’s the matter?” Milty’s face was so ugly, it was obvious something was wrong.

She ignored Leo’s question and instead walked up to Ming Xi. “Captain, the Bohai people are gone. And so are Oleen and Yanran.”

“What?!” everyone was shocked.

“What happened?” Ming Xi asked. His smile turned cold.

Milty knew how serious it was so she shared everything she knew without hiding anything.

Milty had woken and washed up like she normally did every morning. Oddly enough, though Yanran’s bed was made, she was nowhere in sight. Milty never liked Yanran so she didn’t care where Yanran had run off to.

Unconcerned, Milty had gone down to have breakfast with her fiancé. But Oleen wasn’t in his room. He was gone. She grabbed a crew and asked where he went. That was how she found out Oleen had left with Yanran and the people from Bohai in the middle of the night yesterday.

The crew didn’t know they weren’t supposed to leave until morning, so no one asked Ming Xi about it. It was only when Milty[notes] asked about it that they realized the group had stolen the boat and left without permission in the middle of the night.

Milty couldn’t believe her fiancé would run off with another woman behind her back. She was certain the crew member was lying. Intent on proving him wrong, she went to the room the Bohai people had been staying. It was empty.

It wasn’t until she ran to the dining area and couldn’t find Oleen that she gave up. She had to face reality; her fiancé had run off with another woman.

“Damn it! Those two are nothing but trouble. They don’t understand what teamwork is at all!” Ink was furious. Did those two not have any brains? The captain already said there was nothing more they could do. Instead they ran off to play heroes.

“Call the crew. Ask them when they left.” Ming Xi’s eyes were cold.

Stubborn, pig teammates were the most annoying thing for a captain to deal with. As the one who had to clean up their mess, Ming Xi was not in a good mood.

Feng Wu could feel Ming Xi was in a bad mood. She tugged at his finger, unsure how to comfort him.

Ming Xi felt the warmth coming from her hand. He turned her hand up and told her he was fine.

The crew came up quickly. Though they were confused they weren’t anxious.

“Ā Dà, the guy and girl who came on the ship with us, did they leave the with three people we rescued?” Jier asked.

Ā Dà understood what happened when he heard the question. He spoke honestly. “Yes, in the middle of the night yesterday. Miss Feng Yanran and Master Oleen brought the three people to us asking for two boats. We only have two boats for emergency escape. How could we give them both? My father originally refused, but Master Oleen offered us one hundred gold; it was no small sum. In the end, my father agreed and gave them both of our boats.”

Six people could fit into each boat. Even including Yanran and Oleen, there was only five of them. There was no reason for them to take another boat. It looked like they wanted to split up – one group to rescue, the other to report.

267: Whether To Follow or Not

267: Whether To Follow or Not

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[June 6, 2021]
...

“That’s all Ā Dà. You can go back.”

The atmosphere in the cabin turned more serious after Leo sent Ā Dà away.

“Damn that Yanran! If she wanted to die, why did she have to drag Oleen with her?! That woman is a walking disaster. She only knows how to seduce men!” Milty was both angry and scared.

She was afraid her Oleen would be in danger and at the same she was sad he never treated her as a fiancé. If he’d given her any thought at all, he wouldn’t have left with another woman.

What would others think if this got out? Oleen wasn’t thinking at all!

“Your anger isn’t going to help anything. We should think about what to do now.” It wasn’t that Leo wasn’t also angry, he was, but he knew anger wouldn’t get them anywhere. They had to think about what to do.

“Don’t worry about them. If they want to die, just let them. The situation was settled yesterday. If they die out there, it’s got nothing to do with us.” Jier spat his words out mercilessly, not caring one whit about the other two.

Jier’s words weren’t good, but they were fair. The school wouldn’t blame anyone for team members who died on a mission as a result of disobeying orders.

“No . . . no. Yanran, we can ignore, but Oleen is just bewitched by her. We have to save him.” Milty really loved him. Even if she was sad he left her, she still cared about him.

Jier wasn’t having any of it. “Bewitched by Yanran? Why is it all the single men here aren’t, but the one guy who’s engaged is?”

Milty’s face blanched; she couldn’t rebut his words. Even if Oleen didn’t have a place for her in his heart, she still loved him. She could only hope he’d be moved by her dedication and love her back one day. She had loved him since they were little children.

She never expected his head would be turned by a woman he knew for only a few days. She couldn’t share her pain with outsiders. Although she was distressed by her fiancé’s abandonment, she was more concerned about his safety. She couldn’t bear to stand by and not do anything.

She stood in front of Ming Xi and bowed deeply. “Captain, I beg you, please save Oleen. I don’t want anything bad to befall him.”

“What does everyone else think?” Ming Xi didn’t reply to her question, instead he asked the rest of the team for their thoughts.

“Let’s go take a look. If those two do end up in danger, we’ll end up troubled.” It didn’t sit right with Leo to let his classmates die without doing anything.

“I don’t care either way.” This came from Ink.

“You chose.” Feng Wu said.

“You make the plans Senior Ming Xi.” Jier replied.

Ten minutes later, everyone came to an agreement. They would bring Yanran and Oleen back.

Yanran and Oleen had several hours head start. It would take the team more than a few hours to catch up, but that didn’t matter because they knew the destination.

“They have to be on their way to the pirate’s hideout.”

“Yeah, but where is it?”

“I don’t know, but I overhead the Bohai people say the pirates who kidnapped the princess were from the Red Skull group.”

It would be easy to find them now that they knew the name of the pirate group. Every pirate group had their own islands where they lived when not sailing. They also stored all their stolen loot there. In short, it was their lair.

To find where the pirates stayed, they would need a guide familiar with the nearby waters. They had several candidates on board. The captain alone had over fifty years of experience sailing the waters around the area.

The captain’s first reaction to the group’s desire to travel to Red Skull’s hideout wasn’t great. He thought they would die.

Red Skull members killed without blinking. So many had died at their hands. Who would want to voluntarily go to them? Wouldn’t it be equivalent to seeking death?!

“Masters and misses, it’s better not to go. Red Skull isn’t a group you should provoke. I heard their leader is a swordsman of a powerful sect. There are more than three hundred Red Skull members in total. Every one of them is skilled with the sword. You, with so few people, wouldn’t that just be walking to your deaths?!”

The old captain was worried about them, but he was most worried about his crew. He did not want to take his men to accompany these young masters and misses to death.

“Do not worry Captain. We just want to know where the pirates keep their lair. You won’t have to lead the way.” Ming Xi never expected the captain to bring them.

The team could escape if they offended the pirates, but the captain and his family lived in the area. He and his family wouldn’t have a future if they offended the pirates.

The captain wasn’t embarrassed by Ming Xi’s read of the situation, on the contrary, he was quite relived. As long as he didn’t have to take his crew to their deaths, he didn’t care.

There was no reason to die needlessly. The captain could tell the group was adamant about finding the pirates. He wouldn’t try to dissuade them, instead he opened a map chart and pointed to the islands the Red Skulls used as a lair.

“It’s here, called Demon Wind island. It’s named after their first leader. The current leader is the fifth generation – Demon Wind’s great, great, great, great, great grandson.

“Demon Wind island . . .”

It was a hand drawn map chart made by the old captain. It was relatively accurate even when considering the possible deviation errors. The information would be useful for finding Yanran and Oleen.

They knew where the lair was, but they couldn’t all go and chase after Yanran and Oleen. They still had their mission to complete on Sanye Island after all. The team needed to figure out how to split up.

Ultimately Ming Xi decided to bring Feng Wu and Jier with him for the rescue. Feng Wu and Jier were both masters of powerful artifacts, so their combat powers were off the scale. Why would anyone with access to weapons of mass destruction not bring them with?

Milty wasn’t strong enough so Ming Xi refused her request to go with the group.

268: Getting to the Island

268: Getting to the Island

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 11, 2021]
...

“Why can Feng Wu go? She’s a grade lower than me. Isn’t she weaker than me?” Milty pointed at Feng Wu, dissatisfied with the selection.

Feng Wu blinked without replying.

“If you can defeat Feng Wu, you can come.” Ming Xi stated simply.

Was he suggesting she couldn’t beat a freshman? Milty was angry at being looked down on upon so she called Feng Wu out.

Feng Wu readily responded. She knocked Milty out in two quick moves but it wasn’t surprising. Students in Milty’s division weren’t especially strong in physical combat.

Milty didn’t understand it but she realized how weak she was after losing to a freshman like Feng Wu. She practiced like crazy in the days afterwards. Her practice wasn’t wasted. She made it into the top ten the next year, but that’s not important right now.

She agreed to go to Sanye with Ink and Leo for the original mission.

Ming Xi tasked Leo with taking care of the group, then he got off with Feng Wu and Jier at the next trading port. He watched as the ship took the other three team members away, before turning around and leaving.

Devil Wind island was five days away from the trading post. The team rushed to the island on the boat Ming Xi bought.

In the meantime Yanran’s group had split up, with Ilis traveling back to Bohai to report. They had discussed the plan before they left the ship that night.

Yanran was sitting on the boat looking sadly around her. Oleen was distressed. “What’s wrong Yanran?”

“Nothing, I’m just worried the seniors will worry about us running off the way we did.” Yanran was feeling dispirited. She didn’t know where they were going or how strong the Red Skulls were.

The princess’s bodyguard weren’t stupid. How would anyone help them if they knew how strong the Red Skulls were? They’d purposefully left Yanran and Oleen in the dark the entire trip. The only thing they shared was that the Red Skulls were a relatively large pirate group.

A gentle smile appeared on Oleen’s stern face once he heard her reply. He confidently said, “Don’t worry, Senior Ming Xi is probably already on his way.”

“You mean Senior Ming Xi is coming?!” Previously Yanran didn’t think Ming Xi would follow them. They had purposefully disregarded his orders and acted on their own. No one would fault him if he left them behind.

“Silly girl, your mother is a teacher at Xingguang Holy Academy. Senior Ming Xi will have to come, even if it’s just to give her face. Besides . . .” He knew Milty wouldn’t leave him behind. Of course knew he couldn’t say the words out loud to the girl he liked, so he stopped talking.

Yanran was relieved after hearing his explanation and didn’t notice the strangeness in his voice.

Ming Xi wasn’t to be underestimated; he was the fifth-year class president after all. It would be easier to rescue everyone with him around.

“In that case, everything will be fine. Princess Hailin and the others who were kidnapped are just too pitiful. No matter what, I hope we can rescue them.”

“Yanran, you’re such a kind girl!” Oleen gazed at Yanran in a daze. In that brief moment, he felt like he could do anything for her.

Ming Xi didn’t know it, but Oleen had banked on Yanran from the beginning. According to his calculations, he fully expected Ming Xi to follow Yanran. He also understood his fiancé; she would never leave without him. Wonder if the others on the team would care if these two lived or die it they knew.

Oleen was clever. He had everything calculated from the start. What he didn’t consider was how strong the Red Skulls were. He wanted to make Yanran happy, so the pirates weren’t even a consideration. This would doome him to a tragic end.

...

Ming Xi and his team were nearing the end of their five-day journey and were closing in on Demon Wind island, but they hadn’t run into Yanran and Oleen. Out of desperation, Ming Xi had no choice to but find a way to get onto the island.

“We’ll be spotted if we sail the boat any closer.” Jier cautioned. He stopped the boat not daring to steer any closer to the island.

“That’s troublesome. Do you want to swim over?” Ming Xi asked.

Swimming from their current location to Demon Wind island wouldn’t be easy. It would take them several hours at least. Not to mention, they could be spotted the moment they got ashore. After swimming for so long, they would be exhausted and be at a disadvantage in a fight.

“If you have a teleportation spell, we could get to the island easily.” Jier said hopefully.

“No, teleportation spells are easy to use, but their destination is random. What if we land in a group of pirates?”

Ming Xi rejected the idea immediately. Before they knew it, a half hour had passed and they entered the waters surrounding Demon Wind island without a solution.

Feng Wu was sitting at the stern playing with the water while they were talking. If either Ming Xi or Jier were to walk over to her at that moment, they would see a school of fishes surrounding her feet. There were all kinds of large and small fishes.

Ming Xi and Jier failed to notice them because the fishes didn’t emanate killing intent. The two guys kept talking completely unaware of the trailing school.

Feng Wu was happy to make so many new friends in the water. After she had had enough, she walked over to the guys. She heard them talking as she approached.

“Or swim there.” Ming Xi said.

“I’m not good with water.” Jier was a fire mage, so he naturally disliked water. He did not want to spend several hours swimming.

“Can you put up with it?” Ming Xi understood Jier’s situation, but they couldn’t use a teleportation scroll unless they wanted to attract unwanted attention. They had no other recourse but to go with the most primitive solution.

269-270

269-270

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 13, 2021]
...

269: Concealment

The rejection came firmly, “No, I don’t want to.”

“What are you talking about?” Feng Wu asked as she walked over. She blinked her big eyes at them.

“We’re talking about how to enter Demon Wind island without attracting attention. Xiao Wu, you came at the right time. Let’s think of a way together. We can’t sail over, use magic, or any teleportation scrolls. Not to mention swimming isn’t the best idea.”

Ming Xi: Why don’t we just fly over?

“We can have my friend take us.” Feng Wu offered. Her friend was really good. Just now he had offered to take her to bottom of the sea to play. He would definitely be able to take them to the island.

“Friend?” Ming Xi and Jier didn’t understand.

“New friends. Come, I’ll show you.” She led them to the stern of the boat.

As they approached the stern, both boys realized they were surrounded by sea monsters. So many gathered around the boat but they didn't make a sound, nor did they project any hostility.

Beasts didn’t normally get along with each other, nor were they normally so docile. But here they were, beasts of all sizes and varieties, amiably floating beside the boat . . .

Never mind making noise, the water beasts hadn’t released a single strand of killing intent. They hadn’t released their minds to search the area either. No wonder so many were able to gather around the boat without the boys noticing. It was incredible.

“These are your friends?” Ming Xi knew Feng Wu had an affinity for plants, but he never expected her to have the same affinity for animals as well.

“Yes, they’re all new friends.” Feng Wu looked at her new friends happily.

“Xiao Wu, just now, what you meant by having your friend take us to the island, you meant these guys will let us ride on them?” Jier pointed at the congregation of beasts. They seemed friendly at the moment, but he’d be a fool to think he could treat them like harmless rabbits.

“No.” Feng Wu shook her head. She pointed to a huge gray water beast.

It was a very big beast . . . and looked powerful. Jier and Ming Xi recognized it instantly - it was a deep sea magic lion. It might look like an oversized regular sea lion, but it was an amazingly powerful attacker.

“This is my friend Lion Lion. He has a really big belly. If we hide in his belly, we won’t have to worry about being discovered.”

Feng Wu hooked her fingers in a come hither motion. The lion swam over and carefully rubbed its huge face against Feng Wu’s happily.

Ming Xi and Jier exchanged glances. It looked like a good idea. After agreeing, they found a spot to stop the boat. Then with the help of Feng Wu’s new friends, they entered Lion Lion and made their way to his belly.

Lion Lion happily flicked his tail before swimming toward the island.

...

While the three were rushing toward Demon Wind island breezily, Oleen and Yanran’s group were having a much harder time. They wanted to sneak on the island, but as soon as they docked their boat at a hidden reef, they were spotted and captured by a large gang of pirates.

In that moment, Oleen realized he’d made a mistake. These weren’t ordinary pirates, but were the infamous Red Skulls. The bodyguards had deceived them.

...

With a “bang!” Oleen punched one of the princess’s bodyguards hard in the face. The guard spat out a mouthful of blood after slamming into the wall.

“What the hell?! That was uncalled for! Why’d you hit Ogg?” He glared at Oleen angrily. He was itching for a fight, to get justice for Ogg, but the bodyguard named Ogg stopped him.

“Don’t Bancrofth. It won’t do us any good. We shouldn’t have hidden it was the Red Skulls.” Ogg smiled wryly. He wasn’t a fool; he understood why he got punched.

But there was nothing they could have done. They would have faced severe punishment if they returned to Bohai without the princess. On the other hand, if they rescued the princess, not only would they not be punished, they would most likely be promoted.

They had originally wanted to return to Bohai and report the kidnapping. Going to rescue the princess alone, without Bohai aid, wasn’t a possibility before, but they never expected to be rescued by such an outstanding group of youngsters. The kids were all top students from Xingguang Holy Academy. The possibility of rescuing the princess before the royal family got involved suddenly became a viable possibility. Students from Xingguang were not to be underestimated!

The idea of a rescue refused to budge once they discovered their saviors’ identities. That was why they requested the kids save their princess.

They never expected the one in charge of the group would refuse. Instead they were promised nothing more than a boat and sufficient food and water to return to Bohai.

Though their plan was ruined, all was not lost. Amongst the group was a kind girl who wanted to help them. They hadn’t wanted to drag her down with them, but they had no choice. Losing the princess . . . their punishment could be as harsh as death.

They weren’t going to refuse help, even if it was just from one person.

After the girl agreed, another boy also joined in.

It was obvious the boy only cared about the girl’s safety, otherwise there was no way he would have agreed to help them.

Regardless of the boy’s reason, he had agreed to help, and that was good enough.

They knew Oleen wasn’t like Yanran. If he knew they were facing the Red Skulls, he would have immediately taken Yanran back. So in order to save the princess and the rest of their people, they decided to conceal the identity of the pirates.

Unfortunately their rescue ended before it even started.

“Oleen, don’t fight! How can you be so impulsive!” Yanran shouted. She looked at Oleen incredulously.

270: Entering Demon Wind Island

Oleen had followed her to rescue these people so she had thought he was a kind-hearted person. She would never have been able to bear Ming Xi’s laissez-faire attitude towards the life and death of other people otherwise.

“Yanran, do you not understand what they did? They deliberately concealed the identity of the Red Skulls and deliberately brought us here with them to die!” Oleen’s originally handsome face distorted. He was uncomfortable Yanran was still protecting them despite what had happened.

The words startled Yanran. “What?! No! That’s impossible. Why would they do that?”

They had no quarrel, so in her mind there was no reason for them to do something like that. What good would it do them to harm her and Oleen?

“Yanran, you are too kind. You don’t understand how sinister a heart can be.” Oleen smiled coldly. “Isn’t it obvious? They did this because they wanted free help to rescue the princess in order to atone for their mistakes.”

Oleen grew up in a big family, so he had experience with plenty of intrigue. He hadn’t thought much about the bodyguards because he had been more worried about Yanran, but with the appearance of the Red Skulls, he had no choice but to consider it.

The two bodyguards flushed in embarrassment now that their plan was revealed.

Yanran turned around in disbelief and saw the embarrassed faces of the two men behind her. As stupid as she was, even she realized she’d been manipulated.

“You . . . you guys went too far!” Yanran yelled. She’d lived in a simple environment all her life, so she never thought there could be such bad people in the world.

Her mother, Xing, had protected from such things. Apart from teaching Yanran swords skills to improve her health, she never allowed Yanran to come into contact with anything foul. As a result, Yanran was a very simple-minded girl. It never crossed her mind that there could be people who would purposefully harm others without reason.

Yanran’s eyes turned red at being deceived for the first time.

The two bodyguards bowed their heads at Yanran’s sad face. They genuinely liked Yanran. She was as beautiful as a goddess and incredibly kind-hearted. They had never wanted to cause such a sad expression to come to her face.

“Yanran, don’t worry about them anymore. Senior Ming Xi should be coming to rescue us soon. We’ll leave with him, and these guys can solve their own problems. They can rescue the princess on their own.”

Oleen wasn’t so virtuous that he would answer a wrong with forgiveness. He was calculating. The only reason he didn’t punish the two bodyguards for what they had done was because he didn’t want to kill them in front of Yanran. If not for her presence, they would have been dead ages ago.

“But . . .but Princess Hailin is innocent. We can’t leave her to die.” Yanran shook her head. She just couldn’t convince herself to leave when she thought about the poor princess.

Oleen felt helpless. “Yanran! You’re too kind. They schemed against you like this and you still want to help them?!”

Experiencing Yanran’s kindness only reminded him of Milty. Milty was too jealous and narrowminded. She violently warned off any girl who showed the slightest sign of interest in him. Her brutality and unruliness repulsed him. He had never loved her, in fact he hated her. If she had half the gentle, kindness Yanran had, perhaps he wouldn’t have hated her so much.

“I’m sorry Miss Yanran. We should not have deceived you for our own selfish gains. We are indeed bad men. That you would still consider saving the princess despite everything, we are truly ashamed of ourselves.”

The two men looked at Yanran with shame in their eyes, but it wasn’t just shame. There was a tint of infatuation and admiration as well.

Yanran replied with a soft and gentle smile. “Don’t do this sort of thing again. No matter your reason, it’s wrong to deceive people.”

Oleen stood to the side gazing at Yanran with admiration and pride as she completely forgave the two men. This was the woman he fell in love with. She was so special, so kind, so utterly fascinating . . .

It was impossible for them to know what was going in the central prison on the island. Ming Xi, Jier and Feng Wu didn’t know that Yanran and Oleen were waiting for rescue. Had they known, they may have just turned around and left the two ridiculous people behind.

With Lion Lion's help, they were able to reach shore without disturbing anyone.

Night fell quietly on the island as three watchmen were peeing into the bushes.

“Old A, what do you think the captain wants to do? He actually kidnapped a princess of Bohai. Was the princess that good? If a master from Bohai were to come for her, we’d be cannon fodder for sure.”

“Who said that? Old B? The captain . . .we don’t know what he’s thinking. Things have gotten strange since he came back from his last trip. He was really clear about us not hitting any royal ships, so how come he personally made an exception to this one?”

“Do you think Captain encountered something outside? Otherwise how could there be such a drastic change?” Old C wondered.

“Well one thing’s for sure, if Captain did encounter something outside, he’s not going to tell us grunts.”

“I heard four more people came in today.”

“Yeah, it’s true. I was there when we captured them. There was this one incredibly beautiful girl with them, way more beautiful than the princesses of Bohai. Say, do you think the captain will let us play with her once he’s done with her?”

“Dream on. The captain’s going to keep that kind of beauty exclusively for himself. Us grunts aren’t going to get any of it.”

“Yeah, that kind of beauty isn’t for us. Now the maids around the princess . . . they aren’t sky shatteringly beautiful, but they are elegant and pretty in their own way. Why can’t Captain let us have the maids?”

“Don’t think about it too much. But listening to you talk just reminded me of something,” Old B said as he raised his pants back up.

“What is it?” Old A and C asked. They also hurriedly yanked their pants up and belted their waists properly.

“The captain didn’t have the stunning beauty brought to him. Isn’t that strange? If this was before, catching someone this excellent, the captain would have already had his way with her. But the beauty has been in custody for a while now, and he still hasn’t called for her. Don’t you think that’s weird?”

“Could it be Captain suffered some unspeakable injury the last time he went outside?”

The three exchanged meaningful glances all men understood.

271: Disguise and Infiltration

271: Disguise and Infiltration

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 14, 2021]
...

“It’s possible, otherwise how could the captain turn into a monk?”

The three were chatting so animatedly that they didn’t notice danger approaching. By the time they realized something was wrong, it was too late. They saw a brief flash of light, but otherwise felt no pain, before slumping into an eternal slumber.

Ming Xi looked at the three corpses on the ground. “Put on their clothes.” He spoke as he put his sword away.

Jier and Feng Wu nodded. They pulled off the clothes from the dead men before walking behind a bush to change.

Upon coming out of the bushes, Ming Xi and Jier could pass as pirates, but Feng Wu . . . was an exceedingly amusing sight. She looked like a child who’d stolen some adult clothes.

“Xiao Wu, you can’t go like that. One look at you and they’ll know something’s wrong.” Jier snickered at her comical image.

“Ahem.” Ming Xi cleared his throat. “Jier is right. Xiao Wu, please wait here and think of another way to get inside. If you can’t find a way in, just circle back and wait for us in the cave.” He was trying very hard to not laugh at her.

Feng Wu glanced at them unhappily. These were the smallest clothes of the bunch. What was so funny? These guys were being bad.

The pirates on Demon Wind island were all tall men. Even the shortest was a full head taller than Feng Wu. It was a joke for her to disguise herself as a pirate by wearing their clothes, what with her tiny physique. It was too much of a difference, even illusion magic couldn’t fix it.

While Feng Wu was stymied by her size, Jier and Ming Xi successfully used simple illusion to alter their appearance to look exactly like the men they were impersonating.

Jier and Ming Xi walked into the luxurious castle built by the pirates.

“Old A, Old C, you guys went with Old C to pee. How come only the two of you are back?”

How unlucky, they were caught by the originals’ colleagues as soon as they entered the castle.

Jier turned to look at the guy asking them the question. He was a rough looking sort, with a scar across his face. Worse yet, he seemed to be familiar with the original pirates.

They would have to take on the persona of the people they were impersonating. If they couldn’t do it, then they would have to run like the wind.

“Old B said he had a stomach ache. He went to do some business behind a bush. We didn’t want to be smelling it so we came back first.” Jier tried his best to imitate the original’s voice, hoping the guy in front of him wasn’t too perceptive.

“Old B deserves it. Who told him to eat extra meat so late in the evening? It’d be a wonder if he didn’t have diarrhea.” The man gloated as soon as he heard the reason. “Alright, if you two got nothing to do, you can come with me. Captain needs some help. Two of you together should be enough.”

Captain? Ming Xi and Jier exchanged a helpless look. They couldn’t kill the guy and escape; there were too many people around. They had no choice but to follow and see this captain person. Hopefully their captain wasn’t some powerful big shot with the ability to see through their disguise.

They followed behind through a corridor until they reached an inconspicuous room. Once inside, the guy turned a torch. One of the large slates on the floor slowly shifted to reveal a secret staircase.

Ming Xi and Jier carefully hid their surprise. The guy went down the stairs first while Ming Xi and Jier followed behind. Neither boys ever suspected there would be a secret underground on the island. Each had their own thoughts about where it would lead.

Ming Xi and Jier: Is this the way to the dungeon? Did we luck out and find the place already?

They kept their guesses in their hearts and kept walking. The passage was wide enough to allow three people to walk abreast. They occasionally stopped to greet people they knew who were also walking through the tunnel. Fortunately, the disguise fooled them and no one suspected.

They walked for more than ten minutes, meeting many people along the way. They knew there were more people gathered in front of them because they could hear snippets of conversation and the sounds of movement.

It seemed like the island was more mysterious than expected. The public perception was that there were three hundred pirates on the island, but it seemed like those three hundred people were only there for show, as a display for the outside world.

As for how many people were actually on Demon Wind island, who actually knew?

They finally stopped at a stone room after walking around some more. The guy told Jier and Ming Xi to wait outside for a bit while he went in to brief those inside. They agreed.

Shortly afterwards, the guy returned and brought them inside with him.

“Captain, these are the two I was talking about. This is Old A and C. They came to the island ten years ago. Their strength is average but their abilities are good. It shouldn’t be a problem leaving it to them.”

The guy signaled Jier and Ming Xi with his eyes. They immediately went over and copied his attitude, nodding and bowing to the captain.

“Hello Captain, I am Old A and this is Old C. Whatever you need, we can do it for you.” Jier acted like a sycophant in front of the captain.

“Yes.” Ming Xi let Jier take the lead. He wasn’t good with these kinds of situations.

“It’ll just be the two of them then? Ibak, tell them about the situation. Remember to take good care of the captain’s affairs. You’ll be rewarded handsomely once everything is settled.”

The somewhat overweight captain waved his hand like he was shooing at some flies. They were dismissed.

Jier and Ming Xi finally learned the name of the guy they were following – Ibak.

After they left the stone room, Ibak took them aside to start getting things in order. “Alright you two. This is your chance to get in. You’ll definitely benefit if you do things well.”

The two of them acted appropriately humble and thanked Ibak for helping them. After being properly praised, Ibak finally told them what their task was.

The task itself wasn’t hard per se, nor was it easy. Turned out the captain was just a lusting slimeball who’d taken a fancy to one of the maids serving the princess.

She was a high-ranking maid who served in the palace as one of Princess Hailin’s personal attendants. Of course she was very beautiful. The captain liked her at first sight, but he couldn’t do anything because the leader gave orders not to harass any of the ladies.

272: Something Big is About to Happen

272: Something Big is About to Happen

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 18, 2021]
...

The captain was bold. He planned to secretly get the maid out then sneak her back in after playing with her.

The skilled ones who worked under the captains would be easy to recognize. Using them would be like advertising the person behind it. You needed unfamiliar new faces to make it work.

So Ibak came up with the idea of using two relatively inconspicuous guys to do it. This way even if the plan was discovered, they could just push the blame on the two guys while they, themselves, would be in the clear.

The captain thought it was a good idea, so he agreed and had Ibak get some people for it.

Ibak thought about it and came up with Old A, B, and C. Weren’t the three of them super forgettable? They were perfect.

They were sons of fishermen on the islands with average looks and strength, so they were never recruited by any of the captains for missions. Instead, they were left to do patrols and other odd jobs. They had so little presence, they were practically invisible.

It wasn’t possible for Ibak say his thoughts of course. How could he tell them their job was to be cannon fodder?

Ibak didn’t know his cannon fodders weren’t who he thought they were. They’d been replaced by Ming Xi and Jier, who of course, weren’t simple people. They could guess the real motive and plan, but they had to play along and pretend to be appreciative. They didn’t dare point out the plan’s flaw.

Though they tried hard to play simple men, they weren’t very good. Fortunately, because Ibak didn’t know the original men well, he didn’t detect anything suspicious.

“Here are the keys and here is the map. I’ve already drawn a circle around the maid’s room. You won’t go wrong as long as you follow the map. Once you reach it, tell the guards you’re there to relieve them.

No one should disturb you once they leave. Use that time to get the maid out of there. There’ll be someone outside to bring the maid back to the captain. Once the captain is done, someone else will bring the maid back. You just have to keep an eye on the door. If anyone comes by and ask questions, just say nothing’s wrong.”

Ibak explained what Jier and Ming Xi were expected to do. It sounded simple, but it was actually risky. If someone came by in that time, they would bear the brunt of it and be sacrificed.

Though Jier and Ming Xi were unconcerned, they had to wonder at their luck for picking cannon fodder identities. After taking the keys and map, they proceeded to head in the direction of the marked room. They could explore the other areas in their own time.

The underground space was built like a maze, but fortunately they had the map. Without it, they would have had a hard time finding the room.

They walked through the underground passages, passing one stone room after another, one pirate after another. It wasn't easy finding a deserted area. The moment they did, they ducked inside a stone room willed with junk.

“Senior Ming Xi, what should we do?” Jier didn’t expect things would turn out the way they did; after all, they had disguised themselves as small minions.

It was a secret rescue mission, so the more low-key and inconspicuous they were, the better. And yet they had already met with the captain and Ibak. Even if they were in disguise, it was still bad.

“Ming Xi thought about it. “We follow the map and find the maid. Then see if we can get any information out of her.”

“Aren’t we only here to find Oleen and Yanran?! How would a maid know anything about them?” Unless they were locked in the same room? But that wasn’t likely.

“Who said anything about asking her about those two? I just want to find out what the pirates are up to. The Red Skulls have always been clever enough to pirate within proper boundaries. They rob passing merchant ships and fishing boats, but they know better than to provoke a party they can’t afford to offend.

That they would take the initiative to kidnap Princess Hailin is unusual. Remember what those three people in the bushes said? If I’m not wrong, the leader of the Red Skulls is going to be a problem.”

Jier recalled the conversation between the three guys in the bushes. Clarity flashed in his eyes. He’d been anxious about changing identities so he hadn’t thought about it too much. But now he realized something was a foot. There was the contents of the conversation and the unusual kidnapping.

“You’re right, but what does it have to do with us? We just need to find those two and leave right? I’m not interested in anything else.” Jier had no interest in the Red Skulls. What he wanted to do was vent his anger on Yanran and Oleen. Those two assholes made him chase after them so many days. Now he had to pretend to be a pirate a save them. He wouldn’t be Jier if he didn’t give them a piece of his mind.

Jier thought about how he’d teach them a lesson. Should he burn them with fire or make them suffer through some illusion magic? It was such a hard choice.

“I’m afraid we must take care of this matter. I’ve been uncomfortable since we docked. I sense strong demon aura in the base of this island – powerfully hidden demon aura.”

Demon aura?! Jier’s expression changed. He possessed powers beyond the ordinary person because he was an heir to one of the four season seals. His sensitivity to demonic aura was also stronger.

But if the demon energy was well hidden and the demon master was higher level, then he wouldn’t be able to sense it. Well that was unless he released the seal of Summer.

But how could he release it here, under such conditions? Wouldn’t it be the same as advertising their presence?

Ming Xi was a descendent of the gods so his body was filled with their blood. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call him the son of heaven. With that blood coursing through his veins, it wasn’t surprising he could detect the demon aura.

273: The Story’s Protagonist Has to Fight Harder

273: The Story’s Protagonist Has to Fight Harder

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 19, 2021]
...

“We can’t be sure yet. There is a possibility the leader of the Red Skulls is under its influence.” Ming Xi shook his head but didn’t continue.

Turns out they wouldn’t be able to ignore the problem with the pirates. Both Ming Xi and Jier had serious expressions on their faces. Neither wanted to wade such muddy waters, but it couldn’t be helped.

Inheriting great power meant bearing burdens ordinary people could never imagine. Whether it was a seal or the blood of gods, there was only one mission – protect the human world from invaders.

They couldn’t ignore the situation now that there was a possibility of demons appearing.

Unsure of what to do, they decided to go to speak with the imprisoned maids, then figure things out from there.

...

A group of slaves, who had just been escorted into the castle, were leaning against a wall in panic. They were kidnapped daughters of fishermen on the various islands nearby. Their future was uncertain.

They would either become convenient venting objects for the pirates, be turned into demons, become like the walking dead, or be raped to death without with a chance to live at all.

The sound of girls crying was the first thing Zi Cheng noticed when she woke up. Most of the girls were tanned, only a few were light-skinned. But compared to Zi Cheng, even the light-skinned ones were shades darker than she was.

Zi Cheng carefully thought back to what had happened. Her mission had been to get thirty magic cores from unique monsters in the northern ice countries. Including herself and the captain, there were seven people in their team. They encountered a storm along the way and she was knocked overboard by a huge wave.

She used a special function in her system to access a recording of what had happened since she passed out. Many pictures appeared in her mind from when a big wave tossed her overboard to when she washed ashore. The local fisherman rescued her, but shortly after, she was kidnapped by pirates.

The pirates demanded ten girls from the village. The fisherman who had rescued her was the poorest with the least prestige, but that didn’t mean he was willing to hand over his daughter. The same went for many of the other families. The only ones who didn’t mind were the ones who had so many daughters that losing one or two didn't bother them.

In order to protect his daughter, the fisherman gave them the still unconscious Zi Cheng. After having taken her away, the pirates gave her a healing potion in order to keep her alive.

Zi Cheng smiled bitterly. Should she thank the pirates? She wouldn’t have been able to wake up in just three days if it hadn’t been for the potion; her injuries had been severe.

And the fisherman’s family, to be saved by them, she should be grateful. A pity though that they sacrificed her for their own good. She was an innocent person. It was a good thing the pirates hadn’t raped her, otherwise she would have made sure every single person in that fisherman’s family paid the price.

Now that she understood her situation, she had to figure a way out.

“Master! Master! You're finally awake!” A joyous voice echoed in Zi Cheng’s mind. It was her contracted spirit mouse pet, Treasure Hunter. She had gotten it by exchanging points with her system. It had minimal attack power and no advantages, but it could hunt for treasure. It was a useful function, so she had redeemed a lot of points for it.

“Baby.” Zi Cheng responded gently in her heart.

“Master! I sense treasure underground. Let’s go hunt for it!” The mouse spoke excitedly in Zi Cheng’s mind.

Treasure? Her eyes lit up. She already had a system, but treasure from the outside world was also useful. If she didn’t need it, she could exchange it for favorability points. She could then use those points to buy the things she actually wanted.

“Baby, don’t fret. It’s not the time for it yet. Wait a bit...”

At the same time, Ai Lin, who was on a mission in the Kingdom of Sand, suddenly felt uneasy. Could something have happened to the heroine of the story?

Her eyes lit up after she thought about the story a bit. This was around the time the heroine would have reached Demon Wind island, if the plot followed its original trajectory.

The heroine would chance upon one of her biggest opportunities there. She would encounter the Demon Suppression sword, an ancient divine sword that originally belonged to Longzi. When the Demon Ancestor attacked the human world, Longzi used the sword to attack his chief demon general, General Zimo.

The Demon Suppression sword forever sealed the general in the deep sea, that was until Zi Cheng selfishly pulled out the sword and thus released the general.

General Zimo went on a rampage, killing major powers and ordinary humans alike. The rivers flowed with blood and many island nations were obliterated.

Zi Cheng stepped forward, and with the help of a messenger from the temple, defeated Zimo. No one knew she was the murderer who had released the demon. The Red Skulls were blamed for it and were used as a scapegoat by the heroine.

Zi Cheng became the embodiment of kindness and justice, the people showered her with praise and the temple appreciated her. There were even countless legends about her.

It hadn’t occurred to Ai Lin back when she read the book originally, but now upon thinking it over, she realized Zi Cheng was like a walking disaster who brought misfortune everywhere she went. Every single catastrophe on the continent was caused by her. So many died as a result. She used all their deaths like stepping stones to ascend to the godly realm, all the while being lavishly praised for her virtue.

Ai Lin sighed. She had gone to a different location from the heroine because they were on different teams. She couldn’t very well leave her mission and run after Zi Cheng, nor could she remind everyone to be careful. The horrible heroine was about to release a horrible demon.

She hoped the plot line was strong enough to handle it. The more events veered from the original, the better it would be. It had happened so many times before, this time was probably no exception . . .

274: The Maid

274: The Maid

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 20, 2021]
...

Feng Wu was wearing a skirt made of course fabric. Her face looked small and ordinary while her hair was a soft golden-brown color. In front of her were a dozen other girls dressed just like her, cautiously carrying trays of food and wine.

“Try to be quick-witted. Be nimble and don’t dare spill anything once you get inside. I’ll flay anyone who makes a careless mistake.”

A beautiful, young woman eyed the identically dressed girls with clear warning in her eyes as she gracefully walked by. Her words were harsh and threatening.

The entrance to the underground passage opened and the girls obediently walked in one by one, not daring to speak or look around, but their hands were steady as they carried their trays.

The woman, who had spoken earlier, was obviously of higher rank. She led the girls in, leading them through different passageways until they reached a large stone room.

There were at least a dozen people inside the room. Some were cursing and drinking while they played cards. Sitting in the main seat was a beefy looking forty-year-old man. He had a bearded face and a powerful aura that left one feeling oppressed.

“Captain, these dishes were freshly made in the kitchen just now. They’re all made according to your preferences.” The lead woman smiled and walked suggestively toward the captain. One of the pirates reached out and groped her butt. Instead of being annoyed, she turned and flirtatiously winked at the fella. That look, the guy turned beet red, unable to keep up. In this battle, he completely lost.

“You’ve worked hard, Na’er. Come have a drink with me.” The captain glanced at her chest as he hooked his finger in a come-hither motion, giving her permission to approach.

She couldn’t do it. She gave a delightful squeal before squeezing one of the girls out of her position in line and taking her spot. The girl who was squeezed out gave Na a look, but she didn’t dare say anything in front of the captain.

The other girls appeared unaffected; it looked like this kind of scene happened a lot. Their expressions didn’t change at all as they took turns serving the dishes.

Fortunately, Feng Wu was a girl with a stiff expression to begin with, so it was easy for her to fit in with the other girls. She would have been outed if she had shown any emotion at the scene.

Speaking of, there was a reason Feng Wu was dressed as a maid. She had to think of a way to get in, but with her simple mind, not much came to her. She simply switched from disguising as a pirate to disguising as a maid.

She knocked out one of the girls as they were passing by. Then she quickly swapped clothes and mixed in with the group. She was so fast, no one suspected anything was wrong.

The maids were all girls taken from local fishermen families. They had been properly trained and broken in, so they weren’t rebellious.

Na had been taken from her family ten years ago as well. Her charm and looks made her popular with some of the big bosses on the island, not to mention, she was also clever. She quickly became one of the captain’s regular companions. Because of this, she had a much better life than some of the girls who were taken at the same time as her. Grab a strong thigh and life would be set.

Of course, there were those who chose death over surrendering. After being ruined by the men, their bodies were tossed into the sea to be turned into food for the fishes.

There were several other girls who were as clever as Na. These girls were in charge of other less important places on the island.

Na’s job was to manage the kitchen. It was an important job; one she was assigned after ten years of excellent service.

Na sat to the side, waiting on the group of senior men, feeding them meat and serving them drink. If one of them fondled her she would smile cheerfully and fondle them back.

The serving girls left one by one as they finished serving their trays. Two stayed behind to be enjoyed by the pirates. Fortunately Feng Wu wasn’t one of them. She had disguised herself as an ordinary girl. Had she been pretty, she wouldn’t have been the last girl in line.She wouldn't have been the last girl in line if she was pretty.

The maids weren’t like the pirates; their movements were much more restricted and there were many places they weren’t allowed.

Feng Wu had wanted to look around and find Ming Xi and Jier, but unfortunately, since she was a maid, she couldn’t walk around as she pleased.

After she returned to the kitchen, the maids were given orders to deliver food to other locations. One of those locations was the cell block where the prisoners were being held. Unfortunately, Feng Wu was not given that assignment. Instead she was told to deliver food to the princess.

Princess Hailin was certainly worthy of being a princess. She was detained in the basement level, like everyone else, however her quarters were much better. She had all her furniture, even her clothes and jewels with her.

On top of that, she got wonderful meals delivered right into her room. The pirates didn’t know what to make of the situation.

A pirate took Feng Wu to the princess’s door, unlocked it and let her inside.

Immediately Feng Wu was greeted with, “Get out! You hateful pirates! Dare imprison this princess?! When my father and his men arrive, you won’t even have a corpse for burial!” The princess followed the words with a vase aimed at Feng Wu.

But Feng Wu was faster. Had she been slower, she would have been hit on the head and suffered some cuts.

All the maids who had delivered meals in the past had been tortured by the princess. The pirates didn’t care about whether a minor maid lived or died, so it was not a big deal if the princess ended up killing them. Their only concern was to keep the princess from making trouble.

The vase slammed into the wall and broke into pieces.

Feng Wu had a good grip on the tray in her hand so the food was safe.

The princess was surprised. The pirates didn’t seem to care how much she beat or scolded the maids. The maids before were all honest and simple women who hadn’t dared evade her attacks. There would be new porcelain sets sent up for every piece she shattered. It was like they sent things especially for her to break and vent her anger on.

“You dare!? You dare evade?! You don’t want to live?!” The princess had been drugged and couldn’t use her magic abilities, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t use brute force. She lifted another vase and smashed it toward Feng Wu again, but it was no use.

Feng Wu easily avoided it and approached with the food tray. “Eat.”

The food was aromatic and delicious looking. Had the food not been cooked specifically for the prisoner, Feng Wu would have already eaten the entire tray.

275: I’ll Help You Eat It

275: I’ll Help You Eat It

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 21, 2021]
...

“This princess refuses to eat anything you pirates send! Take it away!” The princess yelled crazily, her eyes red.

The anger in her heart had steadily risen from so many days of detainment and magic suppression. She was Princess Hailin. She had never feared anything. But going out to sea out of anger, she did regret that. She would never have been captured by the pirates if she hadn’t run away that day.

What she hated most were her guards. They had failed to protect her and allowed her to be captured and humiliated by the pirates. If they were still alive after she returned, she would have them all executed. Since they couldn’t protect her, there was no reason for them to stay alive. Executing them would ease some of her anger.

Feng Wu stood there holding the tray. “You don’t want to eat it?”

“Don’t you understand what I just said? You disgusting thing! This princess has said she won’t eat it! You still won’t take your pig food away?!” If the princess’s abilities weren’t sealed, she would have already used her water magic.

Princess Hailin was a water magician, probably because she lived by the sea. Most children born with abilities developed water-based abilities. Other types of abilities existed but were rare.

Water magicians in Bohai developed their abilities quickly, probably because their island was surrounded by water and had a strong connection to a water system. Magicians from other elements progressed at a much slower rate. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the sea and water systems were a paradise for water magicians.

Princess Hailin was a favored royal princess. She never had trouble getting whatever resources she wanted for developing her abilities. As a result, even though she was only a teenager, her water magic was quite formidable.

She became more arrogant and willful as she became stronger. She didn’t hesitate to have the servants whipped or executed if they displeased her. She had a horrible reputation in the kingdom.

Her attitude didn’t change even after arriving at the pirates’ hideout. She managed to kill two maids in just a few days. Another maid was severely wounded.

Feng Wu wasn’t aware of Princess Hailin’s achievements. She just stood there looking at the princess with her big eyes, giving the impression she was thinking deeply.

“Well since you don’t want to eat it, I’ll help you eat it.” Feng Wu had been eyeing the princess’s dinner for a while. She hadn’t eaten anything yet. If the princess wasn’t going to eat it, then it should be OK for her to eat it right?

Everything on the tray looked delicious. Only a strange person wouldn’t want to have some.

Princess Hailin, who was now regarded as a strange person by Feng Wu, was confused by the reply. Who was this maid, that she would be so bold?! To dare consider eating the master’s meal!

It turned out she didn’t just dare consider it, she even dared speak it out loud – in front of the princess no less!

Princess Hailin watched Feng Wu walk to the table with the tray, then lift the dome lid up. Feng Wu’s mouth became greasy as she dug in.

“You dare eat my dinner?!”

She did!

Princess Hailin couldn’t help but curse out loud. It was the first time she had seen such a bold maid. She dared treat her master like this, to eat her food right in front of her face!

The first few maids were normal. Why was this one so weird?!

Feng Wu, now branded the strange maid, successfully polished off a piece of fine mutton. It was a low-level magic beast that was often farmed for its tender and succulent flesh.

Feng Wu was happy to eat it. It left her quite satisfied. The princess, on the other hand, didn’t feel so good. Her entire dinner was just eaten by a maid!

Outrageous! Where did this maid even come from, to dare have the audacity to eat her dinner?

Princess Hailin’s mind was a mess. She did this charade every day. She would reject the food and injure the first maid that came. Then she would wait for the next maid to come with the replacement meal. She would injure that maid too. She kept doing it until she got tired. Once tired, she would replenish her energy with the next replacement meal.

The princess wasn’t a fool. How could she not eat? The reason why she dared lash out at the maids and trash their food was because she knew the pirates wouldn’t dare let her starve so she wasn’t worried about going hungry.

Her plan for the day had been to abuse the first maid, then accept the second meal replacement. She would make up for it by abusing the maids extra hard the next day.

But the maid this time didn’t follow the plan. The other maids didn’t dare hide or evade, even if they were beaten. This one not only dared evade, she also dared eat her dinner!

Princess Hailin almost saw stars, she was so angry. When did she ever let a maid take advantage of her like this?

“You disgusting thing! Who gave you permission to eat that?! Put it down! You’re not allowed to eat anymore!” The princess rushed forward angrily, if for nothing else, she wanted to overturn the tray of food. Just because she didn’t want to eat it, didn’t mean she would allow other people to enjoy it.

But her knocking food out of the hands of a girl like Feng Wu? That would be an impossible task.

Feng Wu had used qi to draw up a shield the moment the crazy princess stepped forward. The princess couldn’t take a another step forward. Her entire body bounced back after slamming into the shield.

“You . . . you dare attack this princess?!” Her eyes were filled with disbelief as she pointed her trembling fingers at Feng Wu. This kind of treatment from a maid, it was the greatest humiliation!

Feng Wu wiped her hands, content. “I didn’t hit you.” The girl obviously fell on her own. “Lying is bad. You shouldn’t lie anymore in the future.” Master never let her lie.

Feng Wu’s “you are not behaving expression” made the princess nearly vomit in anger.

The princess wondered where the girl come from. Was it because she had killed two maids earlier, so now the pirates were deliberately sending her a sick person?

276: The Princess’s Maid

276: The Princess’s Maid

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 25, 2021]
...

Feng Wu didn’t care what the princess thought. After she finished dinner, that was meant for the princess, she dusted off her butt, gathered the tray and left.

The princess’s room needed a key to both enter and exit. The guards had told Feng Wu to knock three times on the door when she was ready and they would unlock it from the other side.

The door slowly opened after she knocked. Feng Wu squeezed out through the half opened door before closing it behind her, effectively shutting the princess’s crazy screams inside.

“Done eating?” asked the two brawny guards. They thought it had to be hard to serve the princess. It normally took seven or eight tray deliveries before she ate anything. She liked to abuse the maids who made the deliveries too.

If it weren’t for her being useful, no one would have put up with her attitude. She was a prisoner but she acted like she was still in Bohai.

“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded. She had just finished and was full.

This girl . . . they weren’t asking about her, but about the princess.

The two guards breathed a sigh of relief. “That was really fast this time. She didn’t get all crazy like usual.” How could the guys not know the princess? She normally wouldn’t let the maids delivering the food out until she had abused them for at least an hour – if the they were lucky enough to be alive.

“She fell and sprained her ankle.” Feng Wu said after a moment. Before leaving, she had looked at the princess and saw that the princess’s foot was red and swollen.

Feng Wu had been wondering how the princess failed to notice her own foot was injured, why she was so focused on scolding others. Was she not in pain?

The two guards understood after hearing Feng Wu’s explanation. So that’s how it was. Wanted to abuse people, but somehow ended up twisting her own ankle. Ha. This princess had some talent.

“You’re pretty lucky. The maids before you always came out with swollen faces and bruised noses. A couple had cuts from embedded broken vase shards in their faces. Some even killed themselves just to escape her torture.”

The guards told Feng Wu how Princess Hailin had abused all the other maids. They thought Feng Wu was really lucky. Like all the other girls, she had gone in to deliver food, but unlike them, she managed to come out without any injuries. Soon though time was up, so they had someone escort Feng Wu back to Na in the kitchen.

Na had just returned from dinner with the captains when she heard a maid had been sent to deliver the princess her meal. She fully expected to see an injured maid being carried back, well if the maid managed to stay alive that was.

Unexpectedly no one was carried back. In fact, the maid even returned on her own two feet. Na waited for the pirate who escorted Feng Wu to leave before asking for details.

Feng Wu wasn’t stupid. She only said the princess had wanted to beat her, but ended up falling down instead.

People with imagination were everywhere. After listening to Feng Wu’s explanation, Na misunderstood and reached the same conclusion as the two guards.

“Not bad. You did good. From now on it’ll be your job to deliver the princess her meals. Do it well and you’ll surely be rewarded.” Na looked at Feng Wu fondly.

Other girls got beaten to death when they went to deliver food, but this girl ended up making the princess hurt her own foot. How did this girl give other people such bad luck?

But how it happened didn’t matter because losing another maid wasn’t a big deal for Na.

Feng Wu didn’t know she was labelled a person who brought bad luck and that Na was sending her over on purpose to torture the princess, but even if she did, she wouldn’t have cared.

While Feng Wu had successfully joined the maids, Ming Xi and Jier were heading to the room where the princess’s maids were held. Because Ibak and the captain had already set things up, Ming Xi and Jier easily switched shifts with the guards on door duty. They were the only pirates there after the shift switched.

Ming Xi opened the door and stepped inside. It was a simple room without any ornamentation except for a stone bed and table. It was completely different from the one the princess stayed in, but of course Ming Xi and Jier didn’t know this yet.

There were four maids in the room. One maid was dressed in a higher standard than the others. Her clothes were more delicate with vibrant colors.

“You . . . what do you want!” The fours maids jumped back huddling in a corner upon seeing Ming Xi enter.

Princess Hailin’s personal maid was a smart girl. She knew what awaited in a pirates’ den. The girls huddled together every night in fright, fearing what the men planned for them.

“You . . ,” Ming Xi said pointing towards the maid that had spoken, “come here.”

She was startled. A touch of despair crept onto her face. No! She refused to be violated by these pirates! She shook her head violently left and right.

“Come here. I either take one of you or I take all of you. Choose,” said Ming Xi as he played the role of a cold-blooded pirate.

The other three girls looked at each other with clear despair in their eyes. And although it wasn’t obvious, the spark of hesitation was there as well. Human nature was what it was. When things weren’t so bad, they could huddle and comfort each other, but once forced to chose between themselves or someone else, they would inevitably think of themselves first.

Ayla didn’t want to go with the pirate, but if she refused, then all the girls would suffer the same fate as her. Since it had come down to this, why not just suffer alone, and save the other girls?

277-279

277-279

[Host: justreads.net]
[June 29, 2021]
...

277: Who Snuck in Here?

“Ayla . . .” moaned the other maids. They didn’t know what to do. Ayla was the highest-ranking maid amongst them and yet she had always taken cared of them, despite their lower status. Plus she was the princess’s personal attendant.

If Ayla refused to go, then all four of them would suffer, but at the same time, they couldn’t open their mouths to convince her to follow him either . . .

The three maids hesitated in silence.

A jab of pain pricked Ayla’s heart when she saw their hesitation. She silently walked over.

“I’ll go with you, but don’t hurt these three.”

Ming Xi nodded.

He didn’t trust any of the maids, so he wasn’t going to give them an advantage by doing something foolish like reveal his identity to them.

“Come with me obediently and wait for the Bohai king to deliver the item our leader needs, and maybe you’ll leave the island alive.” Ming Xi’s smile was bloodthirsty and there was a cruel light in his eyes.

Ayla sneered. “Doesn’t your leader just want a water crystal? The king will give you the crystal for the princess, but the question is whether or not your people can hold on to it.” It was like she was laughing at the pirates’ audacity at trying to get the crystal.

A water crystal was an aquatic treasure only created in places with a strong water system. It hundreds of years for a single drop to condense. A water magician could increase their level greatly by ingesting it. On top of that, it also had purifying powers, they could never be taken over by demonic energy.

Ming Xi was surprised. He’d wondered why the Skulls kidnapped the princess. The crystal that many water magician’s coveted, was this really what the pirates wanted?

His question couldn’t be answered by just anyone. It seemed like things were getting more confusing.

“Your little mouth is really good at talking. Wonder if you’ll be as talkative after seeing our captain.” Ming Xi sneered right back.

Ayla’s faced paled. She knew what was waiting for her.

Ming Xi was about to take her away when the door opened again and several people walked through. In front was a big guy wearing fancy oriental clothes that were obviously stolen.

“Why aren’t you guarding outside?” The big guy frowned when he saw Ming Xi inside.

Who was this guy? He was throwing Ming Xi off.

“This guy, don’t you see Captain Obate is here? Why aren’t you saluting?”

Fortunately Ming Xi didn’t wait too long for the answer. The stooge by his side stepped up and announced it. “It turns out to be Captain Obate. I didn’t expect Captain Obate to come to this kind of place in person. I was a little scared. I didn’t greet captain immediately; please forgive this insignificant guard!”

Ming Xi switched from being a scoundrel pirate to a spineless subordinate instantly.

The bootlicking was sufficient to appease Obate. He liked being flattered. That was why he had an entourage of lap dogs everywhere he went.

Though Ayla wondered how Ming Xi’s expression changed so fast, she didn’t ask.

“Captain Obate came here personally. Was there something captain wanted this insignificant one to do?”

“The captain is here to check on the security for the hostages. A female magician got on the island and the captain suspects she’s here for the princess and the other prisoners. Make sure you watch them carefully; he'll be sending guys over every hour to check that they’re not missing.”

“Yes sir! I will make sure to give it my best! These prisoners won’t escape!”

“Hmm, yes, guard well. If the prisoners go missing, your life will be in danger.” Obate threatened before swaggering away with his lap dogs.

Ming Xi didn’t care about Ayla and the other maids. He exited the stone room right after Obate and his men left. Jier locked the door behind him before exhale a breath of relief.

“Lucky! I was really worried just now.” Worried about the disguise failing.

“Me too. Fortunately, it was them that came in. If it was anyone else, our disguises may have been revealed.” The other captains wouldn’t be so easy to fool.

“You heard, someone got on the island. Do you think...” Feng Wu? Jier had been worried about her since he heard the news.

Ming Xi shook his head. “It’s not Feng Wu; she’s not a magician.” That girl had no magic talent whatsoever.

“Could it be someone from Bohai? Maybe the daughter of the general. I forgot, what’s her name?”

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter who she is, we have to be careful about being discovered.”

Both boys blamed the magician in their hearts. Why did she have to come at a time like this? They would be discovered if the pirates made a thorough investigation.

A figure ran sneakily over to them. It was none other than Ibak. “What’s the matter with you two?” He got tired of waiting for them send the maid over so he came in person to see what was going on.

“Big Brother Ibak, we’re sorry, but we can’t complete the mission for Captain.” Ming Xi and Jier confessed.

“What’s wrong?” Ibak’s face changed. He secretly wondered if people knew about the plan.

“Captain Obate was here just now. He said someone entered the island, so security is stricter. The captain is sending someone to check in every hour! There's nothing we can do!”

“What?!” exclaimed Ibak. “Well he’s not mistaken. If someone came and rescued the princess, then the maids will probably be rescued too. But coming by every hour, that’s just putting on airs!”

He would have to go and inform the captain right away. Who knew how angry the captain would be if he found out from someone else? Ibak left the two guards without saying anything else.

278: People from Bohai

The island was in a state of alert because of the intruder. An entire night passed and they still hadn’t found her. The three big shots couldn’t sit still. No one had time to go seeking pleasure from the ladies.

Three bosses sat together in a luxuriously decorated room inside the castle. It was almost as expensive as any a room in nobleman’s house.

“Big Boss, did you say the people of Bohai are mixed in the island?”

“So what? It’s just one person, not a boatful. We have a formation on the island, so trying to use teleportation scrolls to escape won’t work. There’s no way she can escape, never mind rescue the prisoners,” said Demon Wind, leader of the Red Skulls and ruler of the island.

Everyone who inherited the position of leader was conferred the name Demon Wind, regardless what they were called before.

“The Big Boss is right. She’s just a minor magician; she’s no threat!” agreed Deputy Commander Jack.

“The question isn’t whether the woman can escape, it’s where she’s hiding. Our people have searched all over the island, but we still haven’t found her. That’s strange.” This was what confused Badock.

They had searched everywhere, but they still couldn’t find her.

“We’ve checked the visible places, but we haven’t checked the hidden areas yet. She could be mixed in with the maids.” Demon Wind’s smile was cold as he unsheathed his blade. A powerful, murderous aura enveloped the room when he did.

The other two bosses frowned, but didn’t tell him to put the knife away.

The blade was a symbolic token of leadership on the island. Only the one who could wield it was qualified to lead the Red Skulls and rule Demon Wind island.

Big Boss Badock hadn’t thought of that. His eyes lit up at the suggestion. “I know what to do. Let that woman come; she won’t be able to leave afterwards.” His voice was full of murderous intent.

Jack’s eyes were full of disdain as he spoke. “Don’t worry about the magician. The Bohai royal family sent someone to negotiate. They’ve agreed to exchange one water crystal for Princess Hailin.

I had hoped for three, so all three of us would have one, but the royal family apparently doesn’t care whether Princess Hailin lives or dies. It’s either one water crystal or nothing. If we don’t want to exchange, then we can just keep the princess, they said.”

Jack knew the royal family only cared about their own self-interests. Princess Hailin was just a princess, not an immediate heir. If it weren’t for the king, they may not have even traded one crystal for her.

Demon Wind was dissatisfied, but he sheathed his demon blade and agreed. “All right. Let’s get the water crystal first. We’ll be at a disadvantage if someone else finds that place.”

“OK, I’ll contact the Bohai people and have them prepare the trade,” said Jack.

...

The pirates turned their focus on the maids as they made a more thorough search for the magician who infiltrated the island.

Fortunately, Feng Wu had never been alone, so she always had an alibi. The other maids, who had moments when they were alone, became suspects. They were locked up, and had to wait for verification of their identity.

The magician’s luck finally ran out and she was found by the pirates. A great battle ensued.

The magician was none other than Zi Cheng. She knew there was treasure somewhere on the island, so of course she didn’t want to leave. She killed a maid then disguised herself as the girl. Afterwards she escaped her cell and searched for the treasure.

She had no choice but to fight after being discovered. She fought against a hundred pirates and managed to wound over fifty of them, but she was eventually overtaken when Badock appeared.

She was like an ordinary person once they immobilized her magic with a magic binding bracelet.

Badock’s smile was cold as he squeezed Zi Cheng’s chin. “Take her away and lock her up.”

No one dared hesitate. They dragged her away immediately.

Her body would have fully healed if she had had more time. The most abominable thing was the fact that her methods couldn’t be used unless she could kill everyone with a single action. Of course this was impossible.

Despite being arrested, she wasn’t afraid. She could exchange whatever she needed with her system, so she was confident she could escape.

They dragged her into an empty stone room.

...

Above ground, in the main hall of the castle, Jack stood accompanying General Duo and his daughter Ilis.

The princess and her people were brought out after the general handed over the water crystal. Princess Hailin breathed a sigh of relief at finally being able to return home. She didn’t want to stay a second longer.

“You actually abused the princess?!” Illis yelled out upon seeing the princess’s red eyes and lame foot.

The general looked to Jack for an explanation.

Jack had never seen the princess, so how could he know what happened to her? He turned to the pirates who escorted her out. “What happened?”

If the princess had been injured, then the person in charge of guarding her cell would be responsible. The two guards didn’t dare hide anything. They spoke up immediately.

“Deputy Commander, no one abused her! She fell on her own.” The two pirates shouted the explanation.

279: That’s Not Good

What a joke! The woman’s heart was more venomous than theirs. As if they could actually hurt her! Thank goodness they weren’t abused by her.

“You’re vicious pirates! You must be lying!” Ilis yelled.

Neither Ilis nor the general believed it. They were sure the guards had shirked their duties somehow.

“What lie?! We aren’t lying! Besides, who says we’re vicious and that your princess is a good person?! Please! Just a few days after being imprisoned, she tortured several maids to death, left a bunch disabled, and gave a few severe injuries!

She fell on her own when she tried to hurt one of the maids. Abused her indeed! From the beginning, we only served her delicious foods! The injuries she got, she got herself!”

The two guards were not having it. They were being accused of hurting her, when in reality, they hadn’t laid a single finger on her! Even if they weren’t good people, this was the pot calling the kettle black!

“You two disgusting things, those maids did not serve me well. They deserved to be killed. But that maid who dared let this princess hurt herself by falling, that maid should atone for her sins by having her head cut off!”

Princess Hailin didn’t hide what she’d done, but she didn’t reveal her feelings about being robbed of food by a maid. To expose the fact that she had been bullied by a maid, she would surely become a laughingstock.

She didn’t reveal what Feng Wu did, but she didn’t intend to let her Feng Wu off either. She wouldn’t let anyone who treated her that way live.

Ilis and the general looked at each other. The princess admitted she hadn’t been abused.

“The princess is right. Hand the negligent maid over for execution. An atonement for her crime.” Ilis nodded in agreement with the princess.

A lowly maid, who would dare allow the princess to be hurt, deserved to be executed.

“Well it looks like everything is settled. You can all leave. Hopefully we can keep trading in the future.” Jack didn’t say anything about handing the maid over.

“I have disturbed Deputy Commander Jack.” General Duo said. He knew it was impossible to make them hand the maid over. Even if the person was just a minor maid, she was still a person of Demon Wind island. The Red Skulls would never show weakness and express subservient on their own home turf.

Duo said, “Princess, His Royal Highness had been waiting for you. Let us leave.”

“But the maid . . .” Hailin was unwilling to let the maid go.

“Princess, we should leave.” Duo emphasized again.

“Princess, please listen to my father. This is the Red Skulls’s island. Do you really want to remain any longer here?” Ilis asked, trying to persuade the princess.

Princess Hailin thought it over. She really didn’t want to remain on the island. There would be other opportunities to kill the maid. She reluctantly nodded and agreed to leave.

The group were about to leave when Jack called out to them. “Please wait a moment.”

They looked back, afraid the evil pirates would not let them go.

“Is Deputy Commander trying to back out of the deal?” General Duo had considered it since they were trading with pirates. He hadn’t brought a lot of people to the island because the pirates didn’t allow it. The only ones with him were two guards; everyone else was waiting on the ship, so if Jack had a problem with them, Duo was afraid they wouldn’t leave the island alive.

“General Duo misunderstands. Us Red Skulls always keep our word. We said we would release the prisoners in exchange for the water crystal. We will certainly honor the agreement. I called out to you because I remembered we still have a few other guests. Please identify if they belong with your group.

They entered the island two days ago. If they are from Bohai, then you can take them away. If not, then us Red Skulls will deal with them.”

They breathed a sigh of relief at the explanation.

Ilis suddenly realized she had forgotten something, or rather someones. She had forgotten Ogg and the others!

Soon everyone was brought out, including Zi Cheng, who had been held in isolation.

Yanran hadn’t been aware Zi Cheng was on the island so she called “Zi Cheng! Why are you here?”

Oleen had heard Zi Cheng’s name before, but had never met her.

All grades at Xingguang were out doing missions. Tianfeng was a large continent, so getting a mission in the same location was unheard of. Surprise at seeing Zi Cheng was a normal reaction.

“Yanran!” Zi Cheng wondered why Yanran was there. It looked like Yanran had also been captured.

“Princess! General!” Ogg and Bancroth cried out.

“Are these Princess’s people?” Though he asked, Jack already knew they had to be, just based on the cries of surprise everyone was giving.

“These two are,” Princess Hailin pointed to her men, “but the others are not.” She looked at Yanran with jealous eyes.

No beauty would want to see another more beautiful than herself and Yanran’s beauty easily outshined most.

“Princess, Miss Yanran and Master Oleen are both people we invited to save you.” Ogg hurriedly explained. It was obvious General Duo was there to rescue them; how could Ogg ignore Yanran and Oleen?

Princess Hailin sneered when she heard him. “They came to save me? Did they save me then? These two are probably only here to take advantage of this princess. This princess has seen plenty like them. There’s no need to pay them any attention.”

The implication was of course, there was no need to save Yanran or Oleen.

“Princess Hailin! How can you say that?! If it weren’t because we were trying to save you, Senior Oleen and I would never have been captured by the pirates.” Yanran’s eyes were wide with disbelief. She never imagined the princess would say such things.

Oleen was even more furious. He once again regretted disobeying Ming Xi and putting himself and Yanran in such a dangerous situation.

Their eyes, one disbelieving, the other angry, refreshed the princess. “Save me?! Did I ever ask you to come and save me? Two such useless people, save me? I’m the princess of Bohai, I don’t need to ask anyone to save me.” Princess Hailin’s eyes grew even more disdainful.

280, 281, 282

280, 281, 282

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 4, 2021]
...

280: Being Left Behind

“Princess Hailin . . . that’s not so good . . .” Ilis was uneasy.

She felt sorry for Yanran because Yanran had been so quick to help them, but now that they had a chance to help her, they weren’t able to do so.

“What’s wrong? It’s not like I asked them to save me. Even if they hadn’t come, I would have found a way out myself.” The princess was completely unmoved. “Uncle Duo, let’s go. Father will be anxious.”

General Duo nodded. “Let’s go.” The group turned and left without a backward glance, leaving Yanran, Oleen, and Zi Cheng standing in the main hall.

“Lock them all together. I’ll take a good look at the two girls later. Once everything is settled, the leader and I will be sure to enjoy them.” Jack eyed the girls wolfishly. Both girls were first-class beauties; but Yanran especially so.

Had it not been the wrong time, he would have done both of them right there.

“Shameless!” Oleen was so agitated that he rushed out at Jack, intent on killing him.

But unfortunately, equipped with the magic-binding bracelet as he was, he couldn’t even touch a strand of Jack’s hair.

Jack didn’t even have to do a thing; his subordinates easily subdued Oleen.

“Stop it! Please, for me, stop!” Yanran screamed out in shock, but it was no use, the pirates refused to let Oleen go.

“OK, that’s enough.” Jack finally spoke up after he felt Oleen had been punished sufficiently.

The pirates immediately retreated to the side.

Yanran and Zi Cheng rushed over to check on Oleen’s injuries.

“Take them away.”

...

Ming Xi and Jier had heard the news about Princess Hailin being rescued, but they did not know Zi Cheng was also on the island. The room they had been guarding was now empty, so they abandoned guard duty and went in searching for Yanran and Oleen.

As for Feng Wu, she was busy eating. There was nothing wrong with being a maid; she got plenty to eat. Na was a tyrant but she was generous when it came to feeding her maids. As a result, the maids always ate well.

Na had also been the daughter of a fisherman. She was the eldest of four daughters and three sons. She wasn’t the favorite though, otherwise how could she have been sacrificed?

After ten years living on Demon Wind island, Na wasn’t the same ignorant, naïve girl anymore, but despite this, she didn’t mind treating her maids well as long as they behaved appropriately.

Feng Wu was assigned to the prisoners. Even for prisoners, the food was very good: lobster, fish, and other meats.

“It’s just three prisoners! Do you have to prepare such extravagant items?” Na said disapprovingly after she saw the dishes on the tray.

“Sister Na, you don’t understand. Deputy Commander Jack came in person and told us what dishes to make. We have to pamper them a little with good food. There are two petite beauties the commander wants to enjoy. But before he can enjoy them, their bodies have to be well nourished!” said the cook with a smile on her face.

“Oh, so that’s why . . .” Na shook out her handkerchief. “The deputy commander’s eye is very discerning. How beautiful are these women to be able to catch his attention?”

Jack was different from Badock, who Na was attached to. Jack had high standards; if you weren’t an incredible beauty, he wouldn’t look at you. That two girls caught his eye, well now even Na was curious.

“I heard the men outside say both of them are lookers. One of them will even make you drool, a goddess that one is.” High compliment indeed.

“That pretty?” Na couldn’t believe it.

“Sister Na-er! Who’s going to deliver the meals?! I’m still waiting to escort them!”

Na thought of Feng Wu, probably because she had made Princess Hailin suffer. So that was how Feng Wu ended up with delivery duty.

After organizing the tray properly, Feng Wu was escorted to the prisoners’ cell. It was a winding path that went down the basement, through several hallways, and passages.

The two guards at the door opened it to let Feng Wu enter. Yanran was using a cloth soaked in water to clean Oleen’s wounds, while Zi Cheng sat beside them. At the sound of footsteps, they turned around to find an ordinary maid had entered their cell.

“Dinner.” Feng Wu out the tray of dishes down.

“Let’s eat. Even if these pirates have no humanity, they won’t stoop to poisoning our food.” Zi Cheng smiled as she walked over to lift the lid for the dishes.

The tray was filled with hearty dishes of lamb, lobster, and other fish.

“Let’s go over and eat.” Yanran helped Oleen up to the table.

“Oleen is wounded. These kinds of foods aren’t appropriate for him. Don’t you have anything lighter?” Zi Cheng asked Feng Wu.

They hadn’t seen through Feng Wu’s disguise. To them, she just looked like an ordinary maid.

“These foods were personally ordered by Deputy Commander Jack for the young ladies.”

Oleen was just incidental.

Yanran angrily glared at Feng Wu. “But Oleen is injured! How can he eat these things?!”

“What does that have to do with me? I can take it away if you don’t want to eat it.” It just so happened Feng Wu was very interested in the dishes.

“You!” Yanran’s face flushed in anger, but there wasn’t anything she could say.

“Yanran, she’s just a maid. Don’t make things hard for her.” Zi Cheng was familiar with the maids’ situation. She had experienced it before, so she was sympathetic to their plight at having to serve the monstrous pirates.

281: Rendevous

Zi Cheng felt a trace of guilt when she thought about the maids she killed earlier when her identity was nearly revealed. She hadn’t wanted to hurt them, but she couldn’t risk it.

Besides letting them live as though they were zombies, that wasn’t great either. Letting them pass onto the next life was better. Zi Cheng felt better when she thought about it that way.

“But Oleen is injured and we have no medicine. What should we do?” Yanran was worried.

It wasn’t that Yanran felt differently towards Oleen, she just felt guilty. After all Oleen was only like this because of her.

On the other hand, Oleen’s heart warmed at the sight of his goddess being so worried over him. He didn’t feel any pain from the wounds.

“It’s OK, don’t worry. I’ve checked his injuries already. They’re just superficial wounds, nothing serious. He’ll recover as long as he rests for a few days.”

Zi Cheng wasn’t lying. Oleen’s wounds looked bad, but they weren’t deep or life-threatening, just broken skin and lots of bruising.

Even if the foods sent weren’t appropriate for injured people, it was still food. They had to accept it.

“Yanran, don’t worry. My wounds will heal fine in a few days.” Oleen couldn’t bear to see his goddess worried. A trace of gentleness appeared on his face as he tried to soothe her.

“I’m sorry Oleen. This is all my fault. If it hadn’t been for me pitying the princess and her people, you wouldn’t have come with me to save them. My willfulness didn’t just hurt me, it hurt you too!” Yanran felt horrible.

Her beautiful face looked like she’d been thoroughly wronged. Tears threatened to cascade down her cheeks. With such a sight, how could Oleen bear to blame her?

Zi Cheng sighed. “Stop talking and start eating. The dishes will get cold.”

The three of them began to eat the meal. Oleen refrained from the seafood and stuck with the barbequed meats. Once they finished, Feng Wu took away the empty plates, and left the room.

[notes] “Wait. Let’s keep her here with us for a while. We can play with her for a bit,” said one of the pirates. “We’ll help you send her back later.”

Luck was with Feng Wu though. Their way was blocked by two pirates before they made it halfway through the corridor. She gave the two pirates a mysterious wink.

“You dare try this on such an important day? You’re not afraid of being reprimanded by the captains?!”

“What’s there to be afraid of? The leader isn’t going to care about us unimportant people,” said the pirate dismissively.

The maids were basically considered slave girls and expected to service the men on the island. It didn’t matter if they wanted to or not.

“If you’re not afraid, then that’s good. Remember to send the person back when you’re done. But you aren’t picky at all are you? This girl isn’t that great looking . . .” The man said as he glanced at Feng Wu’s super ordinary face.

“Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. Besides those other pretty girls wouldn’t give us brothers the time of day,” sighed out the two pirates.

“Fine, fine. I’m leaving her to you then. Make sure you send her back properly, otherwise Sister Na will scold you out in front of the higher ups.” He waved his hand and left after saying that.

The two pirates took Feng Wu’s hand and led her to an isolated room, shutting the door tightly behind them afterwards.

“Xiao Wu, is it you?” It turned out the two pirates were actually Jier and Ming Xi. They had returned to their original team after leaving guard duty.

Many pirates had been killed because of the fight with the female magician. Old B, who had not been seen since, was considered a casualty. No one had discovered Ming Xi and Jier’s disguise as Old A and C. As minor characters, most of their encounters were with other minor characters, so they had been safe and didn’t have to worry about being discovered. They used it to their advantage to move around the island, trying to familiarize themselves with the terrain.

They had heard about what happened to Yanran and Oleen and knew Princess Hailin had refused to help those two. The appearance of the Bohai people did nothing to lighten their workload. In fact, it only increased their chances of being discovered. Now, not only did they have to deal with the rescue on their own, they had to investigate the island as well.

Ming Xi and Jier had been investigating the island when they came upon a maid in the corridor. The wink she gave them made them wonder who she was, thus the scene where they whisked Feng Wu away.

“Jier, Senior Ming Xi.” Feng Wu hadn’t expected to meet them either. She winked at Jier and Ming Xi secretly when the person leading her wasn’t paying attention. They had understood.

She mentally praised Jier and Ming Xi for being smart.

“Xiao Wu, how did you end up being a maid? How long have you been a maid? No one suspects?” Jier looked worriedly at the face of the maid in front of him. She didn’t look like Feng Wu at all.

Feng Wu was so dumb. Was she really able to stay in disguise without anyone suspecting?

Feng Wu shook her head. “I’ve been a maid for three days and no one has suspected.”

“Xiao Wu, have you noticed anything?” Ming Xi asked.

They had walked the basement floor and checked all the unrestricted areas, but still failed to find Yanran or Oleen.

Feng Wu nodded. A the gesture, Ming Xi and Jier’s eyes lit up. They hadn’t found them after searching for so long, so they were surprised Feng Wu had discovered the two people already.

“I just delivered their food. Zi Cheng is also with them.” She had been a little surprised to see Zi Cheng earlier, but she was stone faced, so none of the three noticed.

282: The Hole

“Zi Cheng is here too?! But her assignment isn’t on this route. She’s here by herself, the other people on her team aren’t with her?” Ming Xi asked.

“Yes, she is by herself.” Feng Wu confirmed.

“Don’t worry about how she got here. The important thing is that they’re all locked up together. Our task just changed from saving two people to three people.” Jier was very dissatisfied with the workload increase. He cursed Yanran out in his heart.

They would never have fallen in a den of pirates if it weren’t for that witch woman. He would have slapped her and cussed her out for it if she’d been in front of him just then.

“Xiao Wu, do you remember how to get there?” Ming Xi asked.

“I do. I’ll draw it for you.” Feng Wu had a good memory, so it wasn’t an issue for her to draw a map for them. She immediately drew it out on a piece of cloth.

Jier wanted to make sure Feng Wu was kept out of danger so he said, “Great, we finally have a map. You can go up first. We’ll send you a signal once we’ve rescued everyone. Go to the cave and wait when you get the signal. We’ll all leave together.”

Feng Wu nodded obediently and didn’t clamor to follow them.

Very good. Both Ming Xi and Jier were satisfied. Ming Xi patted her head before sending her back to the kitchen.

Ming Xi and Jier immediately set out with the map to find Yanran and the others. Little did they know a situation was brewing.

...

Zi Cheng’s pet mouse had dug a hole in the floor of their cell.

The mouse treasure hunter was a rare animal, so though she had heard of it, it was the first time Yanran had seen it in person. She observed it curiously.

“Zi Cheng, why did the little guy dig a hole here? Is it because you want to use it as an escape hole?”

Once a treasure hunter locked onto a treasure, it automatically dug a path to it. The mouse was unmatched in its ability to dig holes.

“I don’t know. The little guy probably found something.” Zi Cheng wasn’t going to tell Yanran her baby had found a treasure underground, and that it was digging holes because he was hunting for treasure.

“Let’s follow it and have a look. Anything a treasure hunter finds won’t be ordinary.” Oleen was interested.

A treasure hunter was discerning. Nothing less than a fantastic treasure would catch its eye.

The three of them crawled into the freshly dug hole. They were surprised the treasure hunter had made such a deep hole in such a short period of time. It was so deep, they couldn’t make out the end at all.

The room was empty by the time Ming Xi and Jier took cared of the guards and got the keys half an hour later.

“They dug a hole and ran away!” Jier was shocked. He had to say he was impressed they managed to dig a hole without using magic.

“No, you’re giving them too much credit. They didn’t dig this. There’s magical aura beast in that hole. Turns out they still had a trick up their sleeve.” Ming Xi shook his head.

“Magical beast?! The three of the had a magical beast?!” And here he thought they were so strong.

The two exchanged glances. “Let’s go in.”

Jier took the lead while Ming Xi took the rear and used magic to restore the opening to its original appearance. No one would be able to tell a hole had been there.

The treasure hunter was small, so naturally his hole would also be small. At best it could accommodate a single crawling person. There was no way anyone could stand up.

Yanran, Oleen, and Zi Cheng crawled on their elbows and knees for an hour.

Meanwhile, the pirates were arguing above ground. The guards outside were killed; the room was empty; and the captives were assumed rescued. The three big bosses were naturally angry.

“What’s going on? How’d the island get invaded again? What am I keeping you all for?!” cried out a furious Demon Wind.

How could he not be angry? Three people disappeared and no one knew how.

“Big Brother calm down. The people earlier didn’t do a good job. Me and Jack will personally catch the intruders who dared rescue the prisoners.” Deputy Commander Badock said.[notes]

“Yeah Big Brother, we’ll definitely catch the three prisoners.”

The captains kneeling on the ground were silent. None of them dared say a word, lest they become venting victims of the big bosses.

“Any news? Have we got any identification on them? How many, what gender, what class, who sent them? Did you find out anything?!” Jack stared coldly at the thirty captains kneeling on the ground.

In addition to the three big bosses (the leader and two deputy commanders) there were also thirty captains and vice captains who managed the hundreds of pirates. The thirty captains were the strongest under the big three bosses.

“Reporting in sir! We have some news. Two minor pirates went missing after the three prisoners disappeared. They weren’t anything exceptional so their disappearance wasn’t noticed until now.

Had Ming Xi and Jier been there, they would have recognized the captain speaking was the same one they first met.

Re: Patreon extras
justreads:
I'll do some extra chapters for the 4th. Will post them later tonight and tomorrow. They'll be in the link under Patreon Bonus 5 and in Patreon itself. If you have draft access, you can read them as I get them done.
283, 284

283, 284

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 10, 2021]
...

283: The Maiden in the Underground Temple

“So, there are two men involved in it.” Jack surmised as he nodded his head.

Badock yelled out impatiently, “Did anyone find out anything else? Speak up!”

The thirty captains looked at each other. Everyone shook their heads.

“Forget it! All of you get out of here. And find those two!” Demon Wind dismissed all the captains with a wave of his hand.

The atmosphere in the room didn’t get any better after the captains left.

“Big Brother, have you really decided?” Jack was worried.

“Yeah, Big Brother, we only have one water crystal so only one us can go. You going by yourself is too dangerous. The seal is there. Let’s wait until we can get more water crystals from some other places.” Badock was just as worried as Jack.

Demon Wind waved his hand. “We have no time. Our actions already attracted unwanted attention. If we don’t act now, I’m afraid inevitable things will happen soon, so you can stop trying to convince me otherwise. I’ve made my decision.

Make sure to pay attention to the brothers on the island for the next two days. The Bohai family will definitely act.”

...

Jier and Ming Xi had been crawling for a while but they still hadn’t reached the end. Both wondered where the tunnel led to. The sea? Despite not knowing, they focused on crawling forward, while on the other end of the tunnel, Yanran and her group had finally come out.

The tunnel led to an underground temple. Who could have imagined such an opulent temple was underneath Demon Wind island? Large magical ores covered the walls and pillars.

“Is this the Red Skulls’ treasure hold?!” It was such a magnificent building. If not the Red Skulls, then he didn’t know who could have built it under Demon Wind island.

Yanran looked at the building with a complex expression. She was worried. “Are we going in? If it’s really the Red Skulls’ treasure hold, then there’s probably a master guarding it.”

“Don’t worry. I don’t think this place has anything to do with the Red Skulls.” Zi Cheng was certain.

“Why do you say that?”

It was impossible for Zi Cheng to tell them it was a function of her system. “Do you think the Red Skulls would resort to kidnapping Princess Hailin and bother being pirates if they were so rich?”

Yanran and Oleen thought it over. With this much in riches, the Red Skulls could have retired and lived comfortably for several lifetimes.

“Who are you? Get out of here!” A girl in a multicolored dress flew out of the temple. She had red hair. When combined with the six on her dress made seven colors total.

So many colors on a single person would be crazy, or if not crazy then at least not normal. But the colors actually looked good on her.

“Sorry, we didn’t mean to come here.” Yanran thought she was talking to the master of the temple.

Raising her head arrogantly the girl said, “Leave immediately or die.”

Zi Cheng smiled at that. “I’m sorry little girl, but we are not leaving. My little mousy is interested in something here.” Zi Cheng pointed to the treasure hunter.

The treasure hunter had turned humble the moment the girl appeared. It had its paws turned down on the ground. It was behaving this way because of bloodline suppression. Beasts from an inferior bloodline always bowed down to a superior one.

It only worked with magical beasts so Zi Cheng was unaffected.

“A mere treasure hunting mouse is delusional if it thinks it can the get treasures inside. I don’t know who gave you the courage.” The girl glanced down at the treasure hunter disdainfully.

The treasure hunter laid there obediently and didn’t dare say anything.

Zi Cheng mentally connected with her mouse.

“Baby mouse, what’s wrong with you?” She was worried about its condition.

“Master, there is powerful blood suppression coming from her. She may even be from a holy beast bloodline!”

“Holy beast?!” Zi Cheng hadn’t expected she would be so lucky. She only had one holy beast and a few regular beasts under her command. Now in front of her was another holy beast. Her power would increase tremendously if she could capture this one too.

Just thinking about it made her hot. If the beast was useless, she could just sell it to her system. Then she would use the points to buy whatever she wanted.

The girl ignored Zi Cheng’s conversation with the treasure hunter. They were just trivial bugs who couldn’t pose a threat to her.

“Aren’t you leaving? Do you want me to send you out?” The girl smiled. Her attitude was cold and aloof.

“Little girl, whatever treasure is back there, was meant to be shared with everyone.” Zi Cheng opted to persuade the girl. Now that she knew the girl’s identity, she wasn’t afraid at all. On the contrary, Zi Cheng really wanted to own her.

Neither Yanran nor Oleen said anything. It was clear Zi Cheng had made up her mind to fight the girl.

“Since you want to die, I will be happy to oblige. You stupid humans will pay for your ignorance.” The girl flipped her wrist over and a huge phoenix emerged from her hand. The bird flew fiercely toward Zi Cheng.

This only made Zi Cheng shout out, “Good! Come on then!” An elaborate staff appeared in her hand. She had systematically exchanged items that could be used to break the magic-binding bracelet the pirates put on her. Sure enough, it worked.

The girl was surprised at the sight of the staff.

284: The God-Level-Seven-Colored Auspicious Magical Beast

“That’s a sub-divine staff, the Staff of Life! It was used by the elf king before his fall. It’s not nourished by his divine energy anymore so it fell from being a divine weapon to a sub-divine one. Such a treasure shouldn’t be in the hands of a human like you!” The colorfully dressed girl cried out.

The Staff of Life was indeed worthy of being wielded by the elf king. It easily blocked her attack and made the phoenix cry out before slowly dissipating completely.

Zi Cheng had blocked the attack, but that didn’t mean she didn’t suffer. Wielding the staff took a tremendous amount of energy, so her magic reserves were now half empty.

The girl sneered at Zi Cheng. “Stupid human! Do you think a sub-divine item can be used by just anyone?! How foolish!” The girl had seen how awkwardly Zi Cheng had used the staff and how much physical and magical energy it required.

The girl summoned a huge flame with a wave of her flawless hand. That one flame split and turned into hundreds of phoenixes that all flew toward Zi Cheng.

Zi Cheng’s face changed. She muttered a spell quickly under her breath. An aura came out of the Staff of Life and surrounded her, nullifying the birds’ attack, but more birds circled above her. The progressive attacks gradually weakened her shield until it eventually cracked with a loud bang. The pieces of the shield disappeared after shattering. The Staff of Life dimmed as it loss its magical support from Zi Cheng.

Without the staff’s protection, Zi Cheng was open to the attacks from the birds. They rushed at her hard, knocking her several feet in the air. Huge mouthfuls of blood gushed out of her mouth after she landed. Her entire complexion paled.

“A mere human dared to provoke me.” The girl slowly flew over to Zi Cheng and landed by her feet. The look on her face hadn’t changed; it was still as condescending as before. Zi Cheng, on the other hand, looked very embarrassed.

Yanran wanted to go to Zi Cheng and see to her injuries, but Oleen held her back. He thought the girl would target Yanran if she rushed out.

The girl had really strong attack abilities. Defeating Zi Cheng was child’s play for her. If the two of them went out there, wouldn’t they just be asking for death?!

Oleen mentally complained about Zi Cheng. The girl said they could leave, but Zi Cheng rushed toward death instead. Even if she wanted to die, she could have done it without involving him and Yanran.

He mentally labelled her a selfish person. He had to keep Yanran away from her so she wouldn’t take advantage of Yanran.

Ai Lin would have nodded her head in agreement with his assessment. The protagonist of the story looked like a soft-spoken and kind-hearted person, but she was a cold-blooded schemer in reality.

Both Zi Cheng and Yanran gave off the same kind of feeling: feminine and sweet. But they came from fundamentally different motives. Zi Cheng was only kind to those who she could use, such as those who had reached 100% favorability with her.

On the other hand, Yanran was a genuinely good person. She was a schemer, but she only schemed to teach people who she felt needed to be taught a lesson. In general, her objective was to be kind. It didn’t matter if she was right or wrong, only that she was kind.

From Ai Lin’s perspective, neither of these types of women were good people: the type that was kind without regard to situation and the type who was kind only for selfish reasons. She rejoiced when other people disliked them.

Anyways, let’s get back to the story.

Zi Cheng lay feebly on the ground with blood flowing out of her mouth. Her face was deathly pale. It was clear her injury was serious.

The girl looked at Yanran and Oleen. “The two of you over there, take this insolent human and leave this place. You do not belong here.” She wasn’t interested in killing anyone, but the moment she had turned her head to speak to Yanran and Oleen, something happened.

Zi Cheng, who had looked like she was seriously wounded, suddenly moved. Black smoke surrounded her. Some of it stained the girl’s multicolored outfit, but her expression didn’t change. She waved her sleeve up only to realize she couldn’t move very well. Her strength waned and she became weaker until she eventually she lost her human form.

“Despicable human! What have you done to me?!” Though she screamed bitterly, she couldn’t stop the change. Finally she transformed into a seven-colored bird the size of a pheasant. If it weren’t for the multitude of colors, she would have easily been confused with a regular bird, but her colors were so vibrant and magnificent she was anything but ordinary.

“A mythical-seven-colored phoenix!” Zi Cheng was beyond pleased. She changed points for an extreme healing potion and recovered quickly after drinking it.

She jumped to a standing position and looked down condescendingly at the girl now reverted to her original form.

The magical beast was so tall! No. It wasn’t just a magical beast, it was the seven-colored phoenix!

“A seven-colored phoenix! The most auspicious amongst legendary magical beasts!” Both Yanran and Oleen were confused. How did this girl turn into the seven-colored phoenix all of a sudden?!

“How incredible! How was she able to transform? Is it because of the power of her bloodline? But now that ability has been taken away from her!” Oleen stared at the girl, no the mythical magical beast. If this beast wasn’t the exact duplicate of the image he had seen in the books, then his eyes were blind.

Zi Cheng didn’t pay any attention to them. Her focus was on the bird. She had exchanged points with her system for the black smoke earlier. It was a secret medicine that could be safely used on all types of magical beasts. It worked by sapping their strength.

Once caught in the smoke, all beasts, no matter how powerful, would be completely at the mercy of others.

285, 286

285, 286

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 12, 2021]
...

285: Isn’t This Just Asking Everyone To Die Together?!

It was only usable once and lasted ten minutes though. After which time the target would regain its strength, so you had to subdue the beast in that time or face its wrath afterwards.

The item was effective against all beasts, including holy ones, so it was incredibly expensive. Zi Cheng nearly emptied out her entire cache of points for the purchase. But the thought of having a holy beast under her command more than made up for it.

She took out a high-level contract scroll from her storage ring. With it, she was sure to succeed, but nothing happened after the scroll turned into a purple light and entered the phoenix.

The girl had reverted to her true form because of the black smoke. She was so weak she didn’t even have the strength to speak. She hated the situation. If she had known the human was this insidious and vile, she wouldn’t have been so merciful.

Who was she? She was a beast of the greatest auspiciousness. Any master of hers had to be beautiful, with the strongest blood and the best lineage. And yet here was this damn human daring to try and contract with her. She would rather die than be bound to anyone not meeting her criteria. She glanced at Zi Cheng disdainfully.

Zi Cheng looked at the smirk. She would be successful and contract with the beast. The scroll wasn’t just any old scroll after all.

“It’s no use Junior Sister Zi Cheng. This seven-colored phoenix has the freedom to choose its master. If it was just a regular holy beast, then you might have been able forcefully contract with it. But you can’t force this phoenix. Even if it dies, it would rather not submit to someone it doesn’t like.” Oleen spoke up. He understood what Zi Cheng was trying to do, but he didn’t want them to waste time on a hopeless attempt.

Zi Cheng was too focused to reply.

The phoenix screamed in pain when Zi Cheng touched it with a drop of the blood fallen from her lips. A blood contract was far more binding and oppressive than a slave contract. Once fully executed, the master could siphon the contracted beast’s life energy. On top of that, the master could also force any damage he or she suffered onto the beast to bear. The master fully controlled whether the beast lived or died, so life and death was all within the whim of its master. This was the nature of a blood contract.

A slave contract was not as restrictive because it allowed a beast to regain its freedom once its master died. On the other hand, a blood bound beast could never be free. Their death was tied to their master’s. Blood contracts were a living nightmare for magical beasts.

“A blood contract! Zi Cheng, you dare?!” Oleen couldn’t believe his eyes. Blood contracts had been banned on the continent because they were too tyrannical. The magical beast population viewed any sword master or magician who used one as public enemy number one. They chased and killed anyone who used it– and the temple would turn a blind eye to the murder.

Zi Cheng was willing to offend every magical beast on the continent for this one holy beast in front of her.

Yanran covered her mouth in surprise. She couldn’t believe Zi Cheng, who had always treated people so kindly, would use such a cruel method.

A blood contract was an offensive thing to any beast, never mind one as dignified as a holy beast. It wasn’t going to succumb. Yanran had a bad premonition.

Sure enough, a desire for destruction emanated from the phoenix. The bird was going to blow up any second.

Zi Cheng didn’t expect the bird to choose self-destruction. She had used the contract because she was certain it was too weak to do anything. It was surprising the holy beast preferred dying over submitting to a blood contract with her.

A holy beast exploding, it was something that could be felt thousands of miles around. Nothing within the perimeter would survive. Wasn’t this just asking to all die together?!

“Zi Cheng! Stop it!” Oleen was frantic.

“Don’t! Xiao Cheng!” Yanran screamed in horror.

Zi Cheng wanted to stop, but once the contract was initiated, it wouldn’t stop unless it failed. She had to gamble on it working. If it worked, she would get a contracted beast, but if it failed, she would just hide in her dimensional space. She wouldn’t die here.

Zi Cheng approached the task more energetically after making up her mind.

A chaotic atmosphere enveloped Demon Wind island and the surrounding waters. The water monsters fled in panic, swimming as fast as they could away from the vicinity.

Some ships with experienced helmsmen, upon seeing this, turned their helms around and also followed the flow of monster traffic, changing their original course.

It wasn’t just the water monsters that fled, aerial monsters also took flight. They took to the sky and flew at breakneck speed away from the island.

It was quite a wonderous scene to behold.

Pirates on the island had lived there for generations. Such a strange occurrence, they reported it up the line immediately. Up the chain it went until it reached Demon Wind and his deputy commanders.

Demon Wind was just about to leave for the secret location when news reached him of the strange events around the island. The big three gathered and conferred with one another. Had there ever been an event like this before? And how would it affect Demon Wind island?

Feng Wu was sitting amongst the maids as they chatted with each other. The maids didn’t work 24/7; they had ample time to idle, such as now.

“Hey now, did something happen out at sea? Why are all the monsters running away like mad?”

“How would I know? It can’t be anything good.”

“It doesn’t matter. Even if the sky falls down, the guys outside will take care of it. It doesn’t have anything to do with us.”

Feng Wu silently stared out the window as she listened to the girls talk.

286: A Person’s Character

Feng Wu looked at the sea. There was so little life in it. Who was begging for death?

The changes made many above ground nervous. Meanwhile the two closest to Zi Cheng nearly had a heart attack. Yanran and Oleen thought Zi Cheng was crazy to choose death instead of giving up a contract with a holy beast.

Madman! Lunatic!

She’s crazy!

But was Zi Cheng really out of her mind? Of course not. She had a means of escape so she had no reason to be concerned.

Just when Yanran and Oleen were going to declare they wanted to leave, two figures appeared.

Ming Xi and Jier had finally managed to crawl to the end of the tunnel. They felt an incredibly destructive force coming from ahead of them

The force was so strong, Ming Xi reacted immediately. It was the kind of force created when a holy magical beast was in the midst of self-destruction.

Ming Xi and Jier were dumbfounded. They had been chasing after Yanran and the others; they never thought they’d encounter a beast self-destructing!

How powerful was the explosion from a holy beast? Neither had experienced it before, but they didn’t need to experience to know it would be powerful! A single explosion could destroy an entire country!

Even if both of them were extraordinary, with their own means to survive, neither of them wanted to experience a holy magical beast going through self-destruction!

Needless to say, by the time they pulled themselves out of the tunnel, neither of them were of a frame of mind to marvel at the temple’s architecture.

Jier shot a fireball at Zi Cheng while Ming Xi scooped up the phoenix. He used his internal aura to keep the explosion from bursting forth.

“Ah!” screamed out Zi Cheng. She spat out a mouthful of blood after being hit with the fireball.

While Yanran and Oleen were shocked at the turn of events, they were also very happy!

“Senior Ming Xi!” The had never been happier to see their senior.

“The two of you, I will report your actions to the vice principal once we get back. I hope this is the last time you act without proper authorization on this trip.” Ming Xi’s mouth curved in a smile when he said this, but you couldn’t classify it as a smile.

Where would they have the guts to have an opinion on the matter? They thought they were goners just a second ago. They nodded their heads like a floating bob, ready to agree to the blame.

It wasn’t like they hadn’t wanted to break Zi Cheng’s contract, but they knew they didn’t have enough power. They didn’t know how Zi Cheng was able to use her magic; their own magic was still sealed by the bracelet. They would have escaped long ago if they could use their abilities. Who would stand there and wait for death?

“Senior Ming Xi, I’m sorry. This is my fault. I proposed helping Princess Hailin to the others. It had nothing to do with Yanran.” Oleen didn’t want Yanran to be punished for it.

“No, no! It was me! It was all my fault! I shouldn’t have been so capricious. Oleen only came because of me.”

“Yanran, it’s not your fault. You don’t have to take the blame for me.” Oleen would rather take the fall than let the girl he liked be hurt.

Yanran shook her head desperately while tears streamed down her face. “No! It’s my fault. You don’t have to cover for me Oleen.”

Ming Xi and Jier didn’t bother watching them confess their guilt. It didn’t matter who confessed, the matter still stood. Both of them left against the explicit orders of their team captain. It wasn’t like one of them wouldn’t be punished just because the other confessed.

The seven-colored phoenix had had no plans to live; she fully expected to die. Her dignity and pride as a holy beast wouldn’t allow her to be contracted against her will, never mind through such a vile contract like a blood one.

Her consciousness had blurred but she could feel the culminating power inside her body become increasingly violent. The tendrils of the blood contract swiped at her. She barely had any power to resist it. She was only free from sheer willpower.

But all of a sudden, she felt more comfortable as another power coursed through her. Her own powers began to return.

Surprised, she opened her eyes. A stunningly beautiful face came into view. The face’s owner had a body that radiated the blood of gods.

“Little One, are you OK?” Ming Xi asked when he saw her open her eyes. He gently placed her on the ground, a real smile on his lips.

He knew holy beasts were born with a consciousness and spiritual intelligence. He was certain the seven-colored phoenix was a high-level magical beast.

“Of course, of course.” She yelled twice in excitement before flying up. She stared at Ming Xi, completely forgetting about Zi Cheng.

“Come here.” Ming Xi said as he raised an arm out to her.

“Of course.” After a moment the bird flew to Ming Xi’s upraised arm.

“You have seven colors. I will call you Little Seven from now on.” Ming Xi said as he softly touched her head.

“Of course.” Little Seven was content. At last, she finally found a human worthy to be her master. This human was gentle, had noble blood, and had a divine physical appearance. He was positively ideal!

Little Seven drew a contract array with her wing. It was the strongest mutually symbiotic contract a beast could form.

Symbiotic contracts were contracts signed under a magical beast’s own initiative. Once formed, both parties could share each other’s life energy. So if a magical beast had a natural life span of one hundred thousand years, then the master would have the same life span. Both parties could also tap into each other’s powers. This meant Ming Xi could tap into Little Seven’s beast abilities while Little Seven could tap into the power in Ming Xi’s god bloodline.

The benefits don’t stop there. Each party could tap into the contract to heal each other. It wasn’t possible to heal injuries one hundred percent, but it was possible to heal about fifty percent.

Oleen and Yanran stopped rushing to assume blame, stunned as they were by the change.

Was this the same phoenix that would rather die than surrender and form a contract? It had preferred suicide over contracting with Zi Cheng just a moment ago, but now it was voluntarily forming a contract with Senior Ming Xi. And he hadn’t coerced it at all. It was a most enviable contract too!

Was this because Zi Cheng’s character was bad or was Senior Ming Xi’s character good? This was a serious question; they would have to think about it

287: Zi Cheng Is Missing?

287: Zi Cheng Is Missing?

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 16, 2021]
...

The successful contract stopped the self-destruction. The monsters in the sea calmed down. They didn’t know what happened, but they were glad calm had returned. They were safe!

Hu, don’t have to swim so hard anymore. The beasts in the area wiped a figurative tear away.

Feng Wu looked at the sea suspiciously. The strong will to die had faded away and so had the powerful destructive force. What happened?

“Senior Ming Xi! Congratulations on getting the seven-colored phoenix!” Jier sincerely congratulated Ming Xi.

After recovering from the shock, Yanran and Oleen also rushed over to congratulate Ming Xi on his successful contract. There was a trace of jealousy and envy in their eyes as they spoke. It was obvious they had had huge shock.

“Jier, help get the bracelet off them.”

“OK,” Jier agreed without hesitation. Everyone needed to be at full strength if they wanted to leave the island.

It was easy for him to destroy the bracelet. All he did was continually infuse magical energy into it until it overwhelmed the bracelet’s capacity. This could only be done externally by someone not shackled by the bracelet. Anyone doing it had to have sufficient energy, otherwise their energy would be exhausted before the bracelet broke.

Jier wasn’t your ordinary freshman. His strength couldn’t be calculated the same way as the others in his class. Besides that, he was also a successor to the seals, so he naturally had an exceptionally high reserve of energy.

Jier reached out and infused the bracelet with energy. It broke off into scraps after turning bright red.

“Thank you Jier!”

“Thank you, Brother Jier!”

Both Yanran and Oleen could feel their magical energy returning.

Jier ignored them and stood with Ming Xi, making it clear he wasn’t interested in their gratitude.

Jier was petty. It was their fault he had to suffer so much the past few days, not to mention all that time on the small boat! He was going to make sure they paid back with interest!

“That’s weird! Where’s Zi Cheng? Why isn’t she here?!” Yanran exclaimed in surprise. The spot Zi Cheng had been laying was now empty.

Yanran was a little angry that Zi Cheng had persisted in pushing for the contract and ignoring her and Oleen’s safety. It was obvious Zi Cheng had recovered her magic abilities, but she had not considered helping her or Oleen. It made her uncomfortable, she didn’t think about making trouble for Zi Cheng because of it.

“What’s going on? Are there still other dangers here?” Oleen asked.

“You’re overthinking. There’s no danger here. She just ran off inside the temple. Why is she in such a hurry anyway?” Jier had watched as Zi Cheng snuck away. He didn’t care that she was running away because she wasn't in his group. Why would he bother with her?

“No! Don’t let her get any farther inside.” Little Seven urgently communicated to Ming Xi.

“Are you saying entrance is not permitted? Is there some kind of danger there?” Ming Xi didn’t bother speaking telepathically but asked directly.

“There is an important seal inside. My father’s friend said the seal can not be broken or a great demon will be released!”

To everyone else it just sounded like Little Seven was chirping like a bird. Ming Xi was the only one who understood her.

“That’s strange. It talked to us in human form earlier. Why isn’t it speaking now?” Yanran wondered.

“Don’t trouble yourself with it. Now that I think about it, holy beasts can’t transform. The girl we saw earlier wasn’t the actual phoenix, but an illusion. The seven-colored phoenix created it to speak with us.” Oleen quickly explained to Yanran in a low voice.

“So then how come we can’t understand her now? We did before . . ”

Oleen thought for a bit. “Probably because she recognized a master, so unless she wants to, no one else will be able to understand her speech.”

The seven-colored phoenix looked down on everyone except for her master. She probably only talked to them before because they had invaded her territory, so she had taken female form to chase them away.

Now that she had a master, she wouldn’t bother communicating with them, since she viewed them as inferiors. If they wanted to understand her words, they would have to wait until she was willing to humor them.

Oleen had read all of it in a book, but he kept the latter part to himself because he didn’t want Yanran to feel bad about the bird looking down on them.

“Jier, take them and find Xiao Wu. I’ll go and find Zi Cheng.” Ming Xi’s face became grave after finding out what was sealed inside. He didn’t wait for Jier to reply, but took off immediately, soaring into the sky with Little Seven.

Jier wanted to go with Ming Xi, but he didn’t even get a chance to speak. He was supposed to take these two out of here? But how was he supposed to do that? He looked around and couldn’t find an exit. The only way out was the same way in. Would they have to crawl all the way back?

Ming Xi didn’t know what they were thinking. He was busy following Little Seven’s directions and flying as fast as could in order to intercept Zi Cheng before she made an irreversible mistake. It would be catastrophic if the seal broke.

Zi Cheng flew as fast she could with a flying scroll in her hand as she followed the treasure hunter. She’d already missed her opportunity with the seven-colored phoenix. She did not want to miss another. She never expected Jier and Ming Xi to appear, worst yet, they interfered with her. But that was fine. She had a premonition her contract with the bird would have failed anyway.

288: The Demon Suppression Sword and the Black Hell Lotuses

288: Demon Suppression Sword and Black Hell Lotus

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 17, 2021]
...

If it failed, the bird would have exploded and everything within a hundred, maybe even a thousand meters, would have been affected. She had been too impulsive just then. There were other useful treasures she could get in the temple.

The seven-colored phoenix was responsible for guarding it so it would have been impossible for her to get inside to the treasure if the bird couldn’t be contracted or killed.

Zi Cheng regretted not killing it right away when it had lost its abilities, instead she had wanted to form a contract with it. Knowing how stubborn it was, she shouldn’t have wasted time on a contract.

She lost her chance when Ming Xi and Jier appeared so she had to get to the treasure before they caught up with her.

She made haste thinking about it, flying faster and faster, urging the treasure hunter harder and harder.

Oleen and Yanran weren’t a problem, but Ming Xi and Jier were. Ming Xi’s background was a mystery, but there were rumors he was part of one of the four ruling royal families on the continent and most likely a descendant of a god.

Jier was a seal successor. She couldn’t begin to guess at his strength, but she was sure he was stronger than she was.

Snatching the treasure under the noses of such powerful masters would be difficult, so that was why she had to get to it before they caught up.

Ming Xi chased after Zi Cheng with the help of Little Seven, while Zi Cheng chased after the treasure with the help of her treasure hunter mouse. Neither would have known the path themselves.

Half an hour later, Zi Cheng finally came upon a room filled with black lotus flowers. The strange room had a single pool in the center with several black lotuses floating in the black water. The lotuses were fragrant but the sinister aura they released made Zi Cheng leery and her heart was on guard.

A highly cherished rarity in the demon realm, they were called Black Hell lotuses and were rumored to only grow in places with strong demon energy. Few demons ever got the chance to lay eyes on one so who would have thought they would grow in the human realm? No one would believe it unless they saw it with their own eyes.

Though the flowers were precious, they were only precious to those in the Demon realm. For humans, the lotus was not only unwanted, it was poisonous. Anyone contaminated by the flower would be demonized and transformed into a monster. Obviously Zi Cheng didn’t want this. No, her goal was the sword in the middle of the pond.

The words “Demon Suppression” were boldly engraved in an ancient language on the hilt of the sword, so based on this, the sword had to be very old. The blade itself was black but didn’t emit demonic aura, which meant it was probably not enchanted.

Zi Cheng whispered the words out loud, “Demon Suppression sword?” Then she asked her system, “System, will I be affected by the sword if I pull it out?”

Zi Cheng wasn’t a fool. With such an ominous name, it was obviously there to seal something away. She didn’t want to release something she couldn’t deal with, so she was worried what would happen if she pulled the sword out.

“Host, this sword is a holy sword called Demon Suppression. The monster being suppressed is quite powerful. If Host pulls the sword out, the entire nearby waters and island nations will be affected and blood will likely flow continuously, however Host should not be affected because Host has System as a backup.”

So, then it would harm other people, but she would be completely safe. Zi Cheng smiled faintly. She didn’t care what the consequences were as long as she was unaffected.

She would just avenge those innocents who died after she got stronger. She was much calmer after making her decision, but she didn’t have much time, so she had to draw the sword quickly. If either Ming Xi or Jier caught up, they would stop her.

She strode to the edge of the pond and used a magic scroll to leap over to the sword. The scroll would protect her from falling into the water so she wasn’t worried about falling.

“Stop!” shouted an unfamiliar male voice just as she was attacked by an invisible energy.

The terrifying energy forced Zi Cheng to back away from the pond.

“You’re gutsy. Dare break the seal. Even if you want to die, don’t go dragging the rest of us on Demon Wind island with you!”

This, of course, was Demon Wind. He had come down to gather two Black Hell lotuses, and in coming down he ending up seeing Zi Cheng try to pull the sword out. It scared him to no end.

The first-generation Demon Wind was a follower of Longze. After Longze left, that Demon Wind was ordered to stay behind and guard the seal. Every succeeding Demon Wind knew this secret. Their sole purpose for staying on the island was to keep guard over the seal. Of course, they also enjoyed pirating; it was a lucrative career after all.

In addition, another friend also stayed behind. This friend was a formidable multi-colored phoenix.

According to legend, Longze had wanted to contract with the phoenix, but unfortunately his bloodline and appearance did not meet the bird’s stringent requirements. Despite this, the two became good friends and the phoenix left a member of his family to guard the seal.

In fact, Little Seven’s father, a five-colored phoenix was Longze’s friend. Little Seven’s blood was even stronger than her father’s as she evolved directly from a five-colored to a seven-colored phoenix, becoming a mythically auspicious beast.

Little Seven was very young when her father decided to leave the underground temple and accompany her mother in her travels around the spiritual world. He hadn’t told Little Seven much other than to be careful of humans. He probably forgot he left her to guard the seal...

289, 290

289, 290

[Host: justreads.net]
[July 24, 2021]
...

289: Are You a Demon Wind?

Demon Wind knew the temple was guarded by a powerful phoenix clan, but he had never seen the phoenix, nor did he know that the phoenix guarding it now was a different phoenix.

Some time ago, while in the deep sea, he had found a tianwai ore. He wanted to use it to create a holy item. Since then, he had collected thousands of precious metals, hoping to use them to supplement the tianwai ore.

The three brothers had invited a master forger to the island to forge the holy item. It was not difficult to create a holy item with the tianwai ore. The difficult part was the payment. The master had wanted a Hell Black lotus.

Demon Wind could tell the master didn’t want to actually help them and was only using it as an excuse to get out of forging.

It would have been impossible for a normal person to get the flower, but this was Demon Wind and Demon Wind had the island. His predecessor had been to the underground temple and had seen the lotuses. Demon Wind already knew what to do in order to convince the master forger to come to the island.

He wanted to get the flowers, but he didn’t intend to break the seal, well not unless he had a death wish. He knew perfectly well how powerful the entity under containment was.

He was finally able to go down to the underground temple and not fear being contaminated by the flowers’ poison after merging with the drop of water essence. He never expected to find an intruder in the sealed underground. Not only that, the woman planned to destroy the seal. He was pissed! There was no way he could let her off the hook. It surely lead to disaster for the island.

“If I’m not wrong, you are the master of Demon Wind island... Demon Wind.” Zi Cheng quickly guessed the man’s identity despite never meeting him before. In part this was because of his weapon.

He was a swordsman and yet he used a knife. The knife was a demon weapon made of bones which threw strong wind attack.

There were monsters in the world, so naturally there would also be demons. Most were bloodthirsty and cruel, used to living with ongoing war, so they were naturally warlike. They lived in the demon world and rarely forayed into the human world.

The knife in Demon Wind’s hand was made by the first Demon Wind out of the bones of a holy level demon. It was a powerful weapon because of this.

“You’ve got good eyes. Yeah, I'm Demon Wind, but I don’t care who you are. You’re dead if you dare break that seal.”

Demon Wind instantly harbored murderous intentions toward Zi Cheng. He loved beautiful women, and Zi Cheng was indeed a beauty, but that didn’t matter if she dared break the seal. Even if she was a goddess, it was life over beauty!

Zi Cheng took out the sub-divine staff and preemptively attacked him with the five elements.

Demon Wind was from a great sword sect, so even if he was only a junior, his weapon’s aura barreled toward Zi Cheng and broke her attacks like an unstoppable flood.

Demon Wind had mastered intent. His was water and wind so his techniques surged like a flood and moved as quick as the wind. But he didn’t have to use his weapon’s intent to deal with a character as minor as Zi Cheng. He only needed to press her with the aura of his knife to make her sweat.

Even if the sub-divine Staff of Life was an amazing item, it was impossible for Zi Cheng to use its maximum potential. Zi Cheng was only an intermediate magician. It was like giving a small child a handful of god artifacts and expecting wielding expertise.

The only reason she wasn’t killed in the battle against Little Seven was because Little Seven didn’t have the heart to kill. She had only wanted to chase Zi Cheng away. Otherwise, with Little Seven’s strength, Zi Cheng would have been burned to a fiery cinder.

Zi Cheng's level was several realms below Demon Wind’s, so unless she could redeem an instant win item from her system, winning would be next to impossible. An item to overcome that many levels wasn’t too expensive though. However, she had used nearly all her points to deal Little Seven, so although it would have been inexpensive, she didn’t have enough.

She carefully avoided a strike. But though she avoided one, she couldn’t avoid them all. Demon Wind’s knife attacks were as swift as the wind, so soon she was cut. A slash on her shoulder made her fall into the black pond water.

Had she been at full strength, considering all the good items she had, it wouldn’t have been hard for her to defeat him, or at least escape. Unfortunately, she was suffering from severe internal injuries from the backlash of the failed blood contract that Jier interrupted with his fireball.

The healing and recovery potions she took earlier were working, but they weren’t instantaneous. Considering all this, it would have been understandable if Zi Cheng were to be horribly defeated, after all even the heroine of a story is not invincible from the get go.

Ming Xi arrived after Zi Cheng had sunk into the pond. The water was calm, without a ripple.

Demon Wind was about to engage the new intruder when he saw the entity next to Ming Xi. His eyes lit up and widened in disbelief. Was he dreaming?

“Master Phoenix! This isn’t a dream, right? I’m seeing Master Phoenix for real?!” Neither his father or grandfather before him had ever laid eyes on the phoenix said to be guarding the temple. Demon Wind was so excited, it was like his eyes were twinkling stars.

“Your friend?” Ming Xi asked Little Seven after glancing nervously at the overly enthusiastic beefy man in front of him.

Little Seven tilted her head to one side as she thought it over. “I don’t know him personally, but I think I know who he is.” She had internally transmitted her thoughts to Ming Xi.

“Are you the Demon Wind of this generation?” What came out weren’t bird chirps but the common language of the continent. Sure enough, people only understood her if she wanted them to understand her.

“Yes, yes, that’s me! I didn’t expect to ever see the true face of Master Phoenix. My father and grandfather would be so jealous!” Demon Wind said as he wiped tears of excitement from his face.

If it weren’t for the fact that the guy admitted to being Demon Wind, the leader of the Red Skull, Ming Xi would never have associated this guy, who was wiping tears away as he gazed adoringly at his contracted beast, with a murderous pirate.

290: Ming Xi’s Suspicions

Demon Wind had his reasons for being so excited to see Little Seven. When he was young, his father had told him all kinds of bedtime stories about the first-generation Demon Wind's adventures with Longze.

There were several characters who appeared over and over again, one of which was the multicolored phoenix. The phoenix was a friend who fought against the demons with them. After the battles were waged and won, the phoenix even promised to stay on the island and help guard it. Demon Wind admired this kind of self-sacrificing loyalty the most.

It was one of his favorite stories about the island. How could he not be excited to see the legendary Master Phoenix in the flesh?

It was just that Demon Wind hadn’t thought that maybe the phoenix of his stories had taken a mate and gone out to play, unscrupulously leaving his offspring behind to guard things in his place.

Little Seven understood the misunderstanding but she was too lazy to correct him.

“Demon Wind, let me ask you. Just now, did you see a loathsome woman cut through here?” Little Seven still remembered how Zi Cheng had tried to force a blood contract on her. Her dignity as a holy beast wasn’t something to be trampled on by a mere human. If she didn’t let that hateful woman pay, then her name wasn’t Little Seven!

“Loathsome woman?” Demon Wind was confused only for a moment before understanding who Master Phoenix was referring to.

“There was a woman here. She had wanted to pull out the Demon Suppression sword that Master Longze personally placed here and release the demon commander. She must have been a spy who managed to infiltrate our world,” said Demon Wind with certainty. Why else would she try to pull out the sword unless she was a traitor?

The sword was precious, but removing it would turn the seas into a blood bath.

It wasn’t like they had another Master Longze to come and seal the demon away again. If the seal broke, the first to suffer would be the population on Demon Wind island. From how resolutely the woman had tried to pull out the sword, it was safe to assume she must have felt she was immune to any after effects. Otherwise, as the person closest to the seal, she would have been attacked by the demon immediately.

There was no way she’d be that certain unless she was in cahoots with the Demon realm, otherwise why would the imprisoned ancient demon general spare her?

That man, for him it would be considered merciful if he didn’t kill all of humanity.

“Where is that woman? I have to personally teach her a lesson!” Little Seven didn’t bother paying attention to the rest of what Demon Wind said. She was only interested in dragging the wretched woman out and beating her up.

Demon Wind pointed to the black pond. “I shot at her too hard and killed her. She’s in the pond.” Had he known Master Phoenix wanted to personally teach her a lesson, he wouldn’t have tried so hard. He ended up killing her so now the master probably hated him.

Demon Wind was upset over this. He wasn’t sure how Master Phoenix would react.

“This is where the ancient demon commander is sealed?” Ming Xi pointed to the pond. Little Seven had already told him about the secret behind the island and the temple.

He would never have thought a pirate den would have anything to do with the deified Longze-Jiamoer. There was even an ancient demon commander, the number one demon master, sealed underneath the island. He would never have believed it if Little Seven hadn’t told him.

“Yes, he was sealed by Lord Longze long ago. You can tell by looking at the water that there is an ancient demon commander under there. His demonic spiritual energy has suffused into the pond and made it magical. That’s why there are so many Hell Black lotuses growing.”

Such pure demonic miasma could only come from the first demons.

“Did the woman surface?” Ming Xi had his doubts.

“No, she didn’t even flop over, just sank straight down.” Demon Wind replied to Ming Xi because he knew Ming Xi came together with Master Phoenix.

Ming Xi narrowed his eyes and thought about that. He didn’t believe Zi Cheng would die that easily. He hadn’t spent much time with her, but he knew there was something unusual about her. She always had unusual items in her possession – like that strange poison she used on Little Seven . . .

There were certainly all kinds of unusual items that could be used on all monsters and beasts, but a girl like her, someone from such a minor family, they weren’t things she should have been able to obtain.

He had sent someone to investigate her background so he knew everything about her life experiences from infancy to now. The most unusual thing he discovered was the strange charm Zi Cheng had on her body that attracted all manner of people to her. It made them ignore their own personal and family interests for her best interests.

Aristocratic children were given all kinds of benefits, but the most important was education. That they would disregard their family for a woman, was highly unusual. That there were multiple aristocratic children under her spell was a problem.

No matter how he looked at it, Zi Cheng would be difficult to deal with.

Another problematic woman was Ai Lin. She had come out the victor in the tomb[notes] despite competing against the odds. She defeated so many masters to get the treasure, evaded the final holy beast, and evaded all those who hunted her after escaping the tomb. All these things made her a person of interest.

The past few years had seen an influx of other realms coming into the human world. The four major empires along with Star Marshall hall had been sending people to investigate yearly.

Zi Cheng and Ai Lin didn’t know it, but Ming Xi had been suspicious of them for some time.

His investigations failed to show any signs they were influenced by outside forces, Ming Xi couldn’t relax and kept them under constant surveillance. In particular, Zi Cheng’s ability to influence people’s hearts made him very nervous. Because of all these factors, he doubted Demon Wind had managed to kill Zi Cheng. He wouldn’t believe it without a corpse. There was no way she would die so easily.

In fact, Ming Xi was correct. Zi Cheng had used a magic orb the moment she fell into the pond.

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[July 27, 2021]
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291: Demon Aura Increasing

The orb was a treasure that protected the wielder by dissolving the power from every kind of magical attack.

Zi Cheng had used her system to exchange a reward from a previous mission for it. She hadn’t expected it to come in handy so soon – she only survived because she had the orb.

She had spent her points too quickly earlier, so now she was feeling insecure about the amount left in her bank. She had to use the Demon Suppression sword to refill her points.

That’s correct – points. Zi Cheng had been unsure whether or not to keep the sword or exchange it for points. After seeing how low her bank was, she no longer hesitated. Besides she was a magician, not a sword user. Carrying the sword around would have been useless. It was better to exchange it for points, which she could then use to buy items she could actually use.

She was completely confident of the system’s inventory.

She moved toward where she thought the sword was and reached up to grab the blade before yanking it partially out of its anchor.

Zi Cheng didn’t care about the unimaginable consequences of the sword coming free. It was survival of the fittest with the strongest ruling, so it was impossible to climb to the top without stepping on a pile of bones. She would just avenge those who died after she got stronger in the future. Her actions were correct.

The entire island shook and a roaring demonic miasma erupted from the pond when she loosened the sword. This little bit of loosening caused so much demonic miasma to swirl, truly worthy of an ancient demon commander that even Longze had trouble containing.

“This! That woman didn’t die!” Demon Wind immediately understood what had happened the moment he saw the water rolling in the pond.

“Zi Cheng!” Ming Xi’s eyes sank. That woman. . . 

The sword Ming Xi normally used appeared in his hand. It was an extraordinary sword that gleamed as he held it. Though it was only a legendary magic sword, which ranked lower than a holy level item, it was good enough to be wielded by the prince of the Silver Moon kingdom.

Ming Xi waved the sword slightly and a powerful force hit the pond, forcing a figure out of the water.

“Ah!” Zi Cheng screamed out. Her injuries. Which hadn’t fully healed, became even more serious. She vomited several mouthfuls of blood, her facing turning as pale as a ghost.

“Ming... Senior Ming Xi.” Zi Cheng never thought Ming Xi would be the one who had hurt her. He had always been friendly, respectful and polite to everyone -- always gentle and courteous, even to those he didn’t like. He maintained a faint smile and never talked poorly about anyone. But this kind gentle man was now staring at her as if he was looking at a dead person.

Ming Xi ignored her. Even if the perpetrator was brought up, the sword had still been partially drawn up and the seal loosened. The demonic miasma that soared into the sky increased and surrounded the entire island.

Demon Wind was protected from the demonic aura because the water crystal created a transparent barrier around his body.

Ming Xi’s blood was strong so he was not afraid of the miasma in the air. Little Seven didn’t have a reaction at all. As a beast that represented the auspiciousness of both heaven and earth, it was impossible for her to be contaminated.

Zi Cheng had the elimination orb, so she was unaffected as well.

The four of them were fine, but the same couldn’t be said of everyone else on the island.

The underground temple was completely saturated with demonic miasma. Jier, Yanran and Oleen had agreed to leave together, but because they didn’t know how to get out, they had been waiting for Ming Xi.

When the demonic miasma spread through the underground area, Jier had to unlock his summer seal and call his staff, Blue Flame, in order to access some of his powers. He used his fire to burn away the demonic miasma and purify the area around them.

Blue Flame kept the demonic miasma away, but what Jier really wanted to do was use Karmic Fire to burn all the demonic miasma away. However, this wasn’t feasible as it indiscriminately attacked anyone surrounded by demonic miasma, which meant it wouldn’t just attack the pirates, but all the fishermen and maids as well. Everyone would probably die if he released his spell.

So, out of desperation Jier had resorted to using Blue Flame to keep the three of them safe for the time being. He couldn’t think of any other alternatives. His power was mainly destruction and more destruction. If Xiao Wu was with him, he was sure she would have been able to take care of things. Her powers focused on purification.

Meanwhile, Feng Wu was frowning at the chaos around her. Xiao Chun[notes] had left her dantian and was eager to swallow all the demonic miasma rolling in the sky, but he had to stay put because his master hadn’t said he could run free yet.

Loud screams could be heard everywhere as demonic miasma infected the people on the island. Anyone contaminated by too much miasma turned into an inhuman monster and lost their sense of reasoning. The only thing left behind was an overpowering urge to kill.

Monsters on the island fled away as fast as they could. Even the water monster that had helped carry Feng Wu and her friends ran away. What bad luck. They had just returned after sensing that Little Seven’s self-destruction had passed but now they had to flee again because of all the demonic energy.

Was it so easy for them to swim like crazy?

“Bring me to Senior Ming Xi!” Feng Wu ordered Xiao Chun. She had a hunch he and the others were at the source of the demonic energy.

Xiao Chun happily took the lead, purifying the miasma in his way. Because of this, the path he cleared was a rare space free of demonic energy. As though they sensed a glimmer of hope, people began to gather around Feng Wu and Xiao Chun.

292:

Unfortunately, demonic miasma was difficult to deal with. People desperately wailed in agony as miasma seeped back in quickly after Feng Wu and Xiao Chun left the space.

The hole dug by Zi Cheng’s treasure hunter wasn’t the only path to the underground temple. There was another secret passage only the Demon Wind of each generation knew. The path created by the treasure hunter had been blocked by Ming Xi, but the secret path was still available.

It would have been hard to get the information from Demon Wind, but Xiao Chun didn’t need Demon Wind to find it. He just had to follow the trail where demonic miasma was leaking from.

Feng Wu and Xiao Chun reached the first floor of the underground easily enough, but it was difficult to see because the place was filled with so much magical energy.

Pirates in the passageway were groaning in pain because of the damage done by the miasma seeping into their bodies. There was no way for them to escape the torture because of the restrictive nature of the passageway. Of those on the island, they were suffering the most.

Feng Wu followed Xiao Chun into a hidden room. The room was empty save for a few empty sarcophagi. Each sarcophagus had the same name engraved on it, the only difference was the prefix: The First-Generation Demon Wind, The Second-Generation Demon Wind, and so on all the way to the fifth. All the previous generations of Demon Wind were buried here.

The sarcophagus of the first generation had been moved, exposing a long ladder under where it had lain. The only one who could have moved it was Demon Wind.

The room itself was in a forbidden area that even the deputy commanders weren’t allowed, but the guard had been disabled by the miasma so it was easy for Feng Wu to enter.

The miasma seeping up from below made Feng Wu pause for only a very short moment. She and Xiao Chun proceeded down the ladder without further hesitation.

While Feng Wu was moving farther toward Ming Xi, Ming Xi was busy trying his best to repair the seal. His bloodline was best at sealing and enchantment so it was well suited to the current situation.

Ming Xi stepped on the water and approached the half-drawn sword. He created a double seal and forcibly pressed it into the sword. The sword shook visibly before slowly sinking back down. The action decreased the miasma in the air.

Ming Xi’s hand was in constant motion repairing the seal, but just as the seal was nearly complete, the sword trembled violently and began inching upwards again.

Ming Xi’s expression changed and he increased his magic output. There was only one thought in his mind: he had to prevent the demon commander from rising, otherwise the world would suffer catastrophically.

Hs hands shook as cold sweat dripped from his forehead, but try as he might, he couldn’t prevent the sword’s upward rise. He was only able to slow it down.

Demon Wind hated Zi Cheng. The woman was so troublesome!

Little Seven didn’t have time to care about her enemy; she was too worried about her master.

Zi Cheng’s complexion had finally returned to normal after continuous use of several healing potions. Her body stopped hurting as well. She didn’t expect to feel so much pain, in fact she expected the Demon Suppression sword was supposed to belong to her, so how did things turn out this way?

The battle between Ming Xi and the demon commander was coming to an end. No matter how hard Ming Xi tried, it was only a matter of time before the demon commander broke free.

The suppression sword soared straight upwards out of the black pond and a beautiful man, all in black, rose up.

Ming Xi, Little Seven, and Demon Wind immediately retreated several steps. This man was dangerous – very dangerous. He was an ancient demon, one of the first born in the demon realm, so he was perfectly formed – a stunningly beautiful man. His hair was black and his eyes were red. Looking at them made you feel like you were gazing into an infernal hell, a sea of endless blood.

A darling of the Heavenly Way, entities like him could destroy the heavens. They were as strong as innate gods.

“Humans! Die!” With a slight wave of one hand, he sent a powerful wave of magic toward Ming xi and Little Seven.

It was just a minor movement but the effect was tremendous. Ming Xi tried to block with his sword but he was still knocked out of the room along with Little Seven and Demon Wind.

“Ah!” was all Demon Wind could scream out before blood gushed from his mouth His face was turned ashen.

Ming Xi had used a lot of energy in trying to restore the seal and just now he used everything he had to block the commander’s blow. He sustained even more damage than Demon Wind.

“Chirp! Chirp!” Little Seven yelled as she spread her wings to encompassing Ming Xi in a ball of light. Ming Xi slowly recovered, his body healing and his magic restoring.

It was one of the benefits of a symbiotic contract, master and beast could heal each other, even if not fully, then at least fifty percent.

Zi Cheng laid on the ground in a daze. She had no idea whatever was sealed away was this crazy. Perhaps it was because of her heroine halo, but the commander allowed her to watch peacefully and didn’t attack her at all.

Ming Xi and the others were not so fortunate. The commander looked at them as they were lowly ants.

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[July 31, 2021]
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293: Jier Arrives

The demon commander stretched his porcelain hand toward Ming Xi and the others. A melon sized black sphere rushed toward them, streaking red lightning in its wake.

The sphere contained a shocking amount of destructive energy. Had it been in its heyday, Ming Xi knew he would never have been able to block it.

Despite just breaking free from his confinement, the commander already had so much power. He truly was an ancient demon.

Ming Xi knew it was useless to hide, but he refused to give up. He stared at the incoming sphere as he raised his sword.

“Chirp! Chirp!” Little Seven flew to Ming Xi and blew out a small, colorful flame from her mouth. The flame, which was a life flame, was unique to the seven-colored phoenix and was incredibly powerful despite its small size. Little Seven’s flame was as young as she was and wouldn’t be able to stand up against the power of an ancient demon, but that didn’t mean it was worthless.

In order to protect her master, Little Seven used the strongest attack she had, which was the flame.

The flame and the black sphere collided in mid-air, creating a huge explosion. Ming Xi tried to protect everyone with his sword as the ground shook.

Unfortunately, he had used up too much energy from the earlier clash. If he had been outside, he could have used the power of the moon to restore his energy and heal his wounds, but it was a pity he was underground and blocked from the moon’s light.

They couldn’t escape the explosion but they were spared a direct hit from the black sphere, so they survived with non-fatal injuries.

“Cough! Cough!” Demon Wind coughed out a dirty mouthful of blood. He felt like his innards were going to erupt. He hadn’t expected to survive that last attack. Thankfully Master Phoenix blocked a large part of it, otherwise the he would have died instantly.

Ming Xi used the sword to prop himself up. He stared vigilantly at the commander.

...

Jier had already guessed something was going on inside based on the amount of demonic energy flowing out of the temple. He knew how strong Ming Xi was, plus there was Little Seven, so there was no way Zi Cheng could have pulled anything off. Nevertheless, an uneasy feeling niggled at Jier. The feeling only grew as demonic energy flowed out.

Yanran and Oleen didn’t matter; he had to go in and see what was going on.

A shiver of horror ran up Yanran’s back. Whatever was inside the temple was dangerous and she knew she didn’t want to go in. She didn’t want to watch Jier go in either. Between the three of them, he was the only one who could stand against the demon, so she was worried what would happen to her and Oleen if he left them. It wouldn’t be good, that was certain.

Luckily for her, Jier wasn’t thinking about abandoning them entirely. He took out two red lotuses. They were the size of a baby’s palm and had traces of Blue Flame’s energy. It would protect them even if Jier was a thousand miles away.

After getting rid of the two deadweights, Jier rushed into the temple. A huge explosion scared him and he stopped momentarily, but quickly rushed forward again. He increased his speed, not daring to stop.

Finally, he reached the interior room where Ming Xi and the others were. He stood staring at Demon Wind and the commander guardedly.

“There’s no time to talk. Help me keep him here. I need some time to recover.” Ming Xi didn’t bother asking why Jier was still in the underground, he simply accepted the reinforcement. With Jier there, he could recover a bit.

Jier didn’t know what was going on, but what Ming Xi said made sense. Now wasn’t the time to ask questions.

The energy around the man clad in black was incredibly powerful and murderous.

“Alright.” Jier agreed.

“Breath of the Four Seals,” muttered the commander. Something flashed across his eyes, but whatever it was, was quickly replaced by killing intent.

“Who are you?” Jier didn’t dare take the guy lightly.

“Heir of the Four Seals, die.”

Jier couldn’t beat him, but he could stall and give Ming Xi enough time to recover.

The demon lord commander’s attention was fully on Jier. He showed no mercy and immediately sent out two dragons to attack. The dragons looked just like their master, with jet black skin and crimson eyes.

Jier used air magic to defend against one while Little Seven turned into a giant ten-meter-long phoenix to fight the other.

Although the dragon was only formed out of demonic miasma, the killing intent it possessed made it difficult to deal with.

Little Seven was only able to tie with the dragon despite trying her best. Their roars rang through the air as neither she nor the dragon backed down. Jier stayed in one piece only because of the strength of Summer’s staff, otherwise just relying on his own abilities, he would have already been torn to pieces.

The commander stood and watched as they fought. The murderous aura around him hadn’t diminished but he didn’t make a move. It was like he was watching a fight between rats.

Ming Xi’s injuries had healed and his energy reserves had almost fully replenished after drinking a healing potion and eating the spiritual fruit he’d gotten from Feng Wu.

294: Feng Wu Arrives

The commander mercilessly released another ball of energy towards Ming Xi after taking a hard look at the prince.

Ming Xi imbued magic into his sword and swung it with the most powerful sword intent he knew. An explosion sounded as the two energies collided. The quake that resulted spread beyond the temple and shook the entire Demon Wind Island. Needless to say, it only served to heighten the fear and anger of those on the island.

The demon commander’s voice came out cold and stiff, like a machine. “Not bad for a descendent of the gods. Pity though, you’ll be dying here.”

The only thing rippling from his body was savage killing intent. His hair changed after he spoke. The long hair that flowed down beyond his waist broke off in the middle. New growth quickly replaced the loss length, while the broken pieces grew to the same length.

The strands of broken hair swarmed around Ming Xi. Each hair fiber, much like its owner, was filled with killing intent. Ming Xi readied his sword as he watched the millions of hair strands closely. He swung his sword and chopped at the dense hair forest.

The strands were not so easy to dispatch however. The cut strands regrew in midair and attacked again. Ming Xi kept slashing, but it was as though the strands were immortal, they kept regenerating and attacking. Ming Xi even resorted to using two holy level skills to no avail.

Ming Xi’s eyes darkened. He lowered the sword and summoned a cluster of egg-sized flames. The colorful flames were Little Seven’s life fire. He was able to summon them because of the symbiotic contract he shared with Little Seven.

The flames exerted enough pressure on the hair to prevent their regeneration, so Ming Xi was finally able to deal permanent damage.

He sighed in relief. He had feared the flames would have no effect.

In the meantime Feng Wu had climbed the long stairs, following Demon Wind’s trail, and entered a specific room that was separated from the sealed demon lord commander’s room. She noticed the battle immediately. It only took a few steps for Feng Wu and Xiao Chun to reach the exterior yard where the fighting was happening and she was finally able to see the person she was looking for. She entered the space while they were fighting.

Her eyes lit up. “Senior Ming Xi!”

“Xiao Wu!” Ming Xi turned distractedly to the source of the voice. Unexpectedly, he saw someone who wasn’t supposed to be there.

“Xiao Wu!” Jier was also surprised, but he was happy to see her. He was just thinking how things would work out so much better if Feng Wu was there. Now here she was. “Quick! Hurry and use your powers to purify the demon guy!”

Jier’s powers weren’t the right match for the situation. He was all about destruction. If he let loose and fought hard, then odds were high that the island would be destroyed.

Ming Xi was in the same situation as well. He was strong, but to really shine he needed a place with moonlight. An underground tunnel was the worse place for him to fight in. If it weren’t for the lack of natural moonlight, there was no way he would have been beaten back as hard as he had been.

They could only fight at fifty percent their normal strength because their positions were so disadvantageous. Naturally Jier was excited to see Feng Wu, whose ability was purification.

Feng Wu nodded before turning to Xiao Chun and saying, “Xiao Chun, go.”

Finally! Upon hearing the words, Xiao Chun knew he’d gotten permission to play and eat to his heart’s content. He happily circled around Feng Wu before emitting silvery light from this body and chasing off after the demonic energy floating in the air.

Three minutes later the demonic miasma in the underground temple was almost eradicated. The only place with any lingering miasma was the dark pond and whatever came from the commander.

Xiao Chun flew into the room with the demon lord commander. He ignored Zi Cheng and instead flew directly into the black pond. Bubbles immediately rose and burst from the surface as more magic energy came out of it.

The color lightened until it was no longer black and had returned to being a spiritual pond again. Xiao Chun flew out, satisfied.

Feng Wu looked at the demon lord commander closely as she stood in front of him. She did not like his aura.

“Xiao Wu! Get away from him! He’s a demon lord commander!” Ming Xi had watched as Feng Wu, clearly unafraid of death, stood in front of the commander, bold as brass. Ming Xi was so scared for her that he nearly dropped his defense and allowed the strands of hair to hit him.

Feng Wu tilted her head up at the commander. After three minutes of staring she finally asked, “Are you sick?”

Ming Xi and Jier nearly collapsed. Even Demon Wind, who had been ignored by the commander and was watching the play of events from the side, was so shocked that he coughed up another mouthful of blood in surprise. He wondered where this dense sister came from, talking nonsense in front of a demon commander.

The commander was probably ignoring Demon Wind because of the other three. One was a god descendent, another was an heir to one of the four seasons, and the other was a seven-colored phoenix touched by the gods.

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[August 3, 2021]
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295: The Blocked Seven Emotional States

The commander probably lost interest in ordinary humans, given the bloodline of the three guys he was engaging. Compared to them, Demon Wind and Zi Cheng may as well just disappear into the background.

They wouldn’t have to worry about their lives unless both Jier and Ming Xi lost.

Feng Wu didn’t attract the commander’s attention either, but Xiao Chun did. Although the sword’s aura wasn’t strong, it somehow still made the commander leery.

The commander didn’t move when Xiao Chun purified the miasma around the area. Instead he was observing and reminiscing something in the past. He remembered the sword in a distant memory. But where? When?

He grasped his head in pain. It was like he’d forgotten something very important, something related to the sword, but what was it?! How was the sword in his memories?

His face contorted and the redness of his eyes seemed to fade a little.

“What’s going on?” Demon Wind didn’t understand how the demon commander, who had seemed so majestic just a moment ago, now looked so pained.

Ming Xi and Jier were also confused by the sudden change.

It seemed like he became like this after Xiao Wu asked him if he was sick. Was the question that hard to answer?

After Xiao Chun finished with the pond, he ate the miasma forming the two black dragons and the hairs attacking Ming Xi, then promptly proceeded to burp out pure energy.

With the black dragons and strands of hair gone, Jier and Ming Xi rushed to guard the silly girl who seemed unaware of the danger.

“Senior Ming Xi, what’s wrong with him?” Jier couldn’t figure it out so he did the next best thing: ask his senior. As a senior, Ming Xi was obligated to solve the puzzle for his juniors.

Too bad for Jier, Ming Xi didn’t understand why either. “I don’t know. Everyone, be careful. He doesn’t look right.” Ming Xi stared at the commander cautiously.

“I thought it was weird. This demon is a little off. I can’t explain the feeling. He just feels off somehow.” Jier scratched his head, unable to put his own feelings in words. He had been too busy fighting to think about it earlier, but now that he had time to think, he was positive there was something wrong with the demon.

“His emotions and desires are sealed. The only thing left is the need to kill. Of course you would find it strange.” Ming Xi said.

Both Jier and Demon Wind were shocked to hear this. “Could Lord Longze have done this?!”

Demon Wind didn’t understand why Longze, his idol, would do something like this, but for him, Longze was the strongest person and therefore could do no wrong.

Ming Xi shook his head at what Demon Wind said. “It wouldn’t be Lord Longze. He has no reason to do so.”

Longze sealed the demon to protect the world so there was no reason for him to seal the demon’s emotions but leave behind the desire to kill. No matter how you looked at it, it was an impossible thing for Longze to do.

Anyone with a brain would have figured it out.

“Could the Demon Ancestor[notes] have done it?” speculated Jier. He knew it couldn’t be Longze so he considered other possible candidates. The only other entity strong enough to seal a demon lord commander was the Demon Ancestor.

“The Demon Ancestor must have done it to control his subordinates. He sealed their emotions and desires so they’d fight for him!” Demon Wind suddenly realized.

Ming Xi couldn’t figure out who would do such a thing, but there weren’t many who had the ability. He didn’t think there were any human masters in the world at that time who could.

“Can you unlock his seal?” Jier asked.

“You want to release his seven emotions?! What if he becomes even more powerful?!” Demon Wind shook his head in fright; he was against the idea.

Ming Xi shook his head. “Maybe my father can do it, but I can’t. The person who did it is too strong.”

Once Xiao Chun finished eating all the miasma around the area, his attention turned to the big guy holding his head in his hands. The guy emanated danger, but he was also very delicious looking! Should he try to eat him? If he ate the guy, his powers would definitely increase. . . 

In the end, Xiao Chun couldn’t resist such a delicious temptation, and so rushed toward the demon commander. His master had prepared all this food, how could he not eat it? If worse came to worse and things got too dangerous, he could always fly back to his master. Until then he was duty bound to not turn back! Forward!

Xiao Chun, with his pure white power, zipped straight toward the demon commander’s head.

The commander, perhaps sensing the impending danger, raised his head coldly and easily blocked Xiao Chun with one hand.

Xiao Chun was stopped a meter away. He couldn’t move forward but that didn’t mean he couldn’t nibble on the demonic miasma pouring out of the demon commander. It was his instinct to purify. If it weren’t for the fact that he had Feng Wu as a master, he would have already gone to the demon realm and become a glutton.

Xiao Chun’s light became purer as the seconds progressed. The battle between the commander and Xiao Chun was much more fierce than the combined one between Ming Xi and Jier.

The demonic aura around the commander was chaotic as his aura kept being purified by Xiao Chun. The red tint in his eyes gradually faded away as well.

Meanwhile, Xiao Chun was getting more and more uncomfortable as he purified the demon commander’s aura. The guy was too strong. Xiao Chun had to use a lot of energy to forcefully purify. Xiao Chun’s own body was getting darker and darker. It looked like he was suffering from damage. Feng Wu sensed Xiao Chun’s weakening so she forcibly called him back. He flew weakly back to her side, looking a little embarrassed.

296: The Heavens Are Falling and the Earth is Breaking

“That sword’s way too powerful!” Demon Wind looked at Feng Wu and Xiao Chun enviously. When would he be able to wield such an awesome weapon?

Luckily he already had a Black lotus flower. With that, the master would forge him something, and Demon Wind island would also have an amazing weapon of destruction!

His current demon blade was pretty good, but having another holy level item was always welcome. Who would reject having an extra?

No one was in the mood to pay attention to Demon Wind.

Even after Xiao Chun returned, the redness in the demon commander’s eyes kept fading, until it disappeared altogether. It was probably because some of his aura had purified so the intense killing desire faded away.

An image appeared in the commander’s mind.

“Miè, promise this sister that you will always guard the king, stay by his side, and be the sword in his hand, eliminate his enemies.”

“Elder Sister, the king does not sincerely love you. Why do you do so much for him?”

“Miè, you don’t understand. I would betray the whole world for him. If you still recognize me as your sister, then promise me!”

“Elder Sister, aren’t you aware what he wants to do? He wants to take over the human world and turn it into a new demon realm. Have you ever thought what would happen if it works?! We finally have peace in the three realms. I don’t want to see the tragedy of ten thousand years ago repeat itself!”

“When did you get so softhearted Miè? It’s an honor for humans to sacrifice for our new demon world.”

“Elder Sister, I am sorry, but I can not promise this. I just want to live in seclusion. You can rest assured, I will not side with either the new Demon Emperor against the Demon Ancestor.”

“No! There are only twelve of us commanders. Everyone else has defected to that person’s side. You are the strongest of the twelve. If you leave, what will the king do?! Miè, you’re not allowed to leave! -cough cough- ”

“Elder Sister, you’re hurt. Please stop talking and rest so you can heal your injuries.”

“No, I don’t have much time. You have to promise to protect the king and be his sword!”

“No, Elder Sister, you will be fine. I will find a potion to heal you.”

“It’s useless. There’s no way to save me. I beg you with my final breath, promise me, your elder sister, that you will protect the king forever.”

“I. . . I promise. I will protect the king.”

“Thank you. You really are a good brother.”

“Elder Sister, what did you just do?”

“I didn’t do anything. It’s just that you’re too softhearted. In order to make you the strongest sword in the king’s hands, all that excess kindness and gentleness has to go. . .  Miè, be at ease. You will be the king’s sword.”

“Ah! Ah!” The commander cried out in a voice laced with sorrow and pain. He remembered. He regained the memories lost from thousands of years ago.

“Destroyed?! Why would you do this to me?! I’m your brother! Why?! Why?! Why?!” He looked up to the sky with eyes filled with pain and despair.

To be conspired against by the sister he grew up with just so she would have her love return to the throne. She didn’t have any considerations for him as her brother at all!

The roar shook the entire underground and the temple began to collapse as a tsunami blew up from the sea.

The clouds rolled in and darkened the sky, while lightning and thunder appeared.

The waves rolled and surged hundreds of feet high as they clashed against the sky before slamming into Demon Wind island. The people on the island had just escaped from the miasma danger, but now the sea threatened them.

“Ah! Help, I don’t want to die!”

“Help! I’m being washed away!”

“Please give me a hand!”

“Why is this happening?! What’s going on?!”

Their heads had just cleared from the miasma that Xiao Chun purified, so they were still getting their bearings, when waves inundated the island. Many were unprepared and were washed out to sea.

Heavy rain pummeled the island, forcing it to slowly sink from all the pressure. Thunder and lightning created a cacophony of light and sound in the air. The fierce combination of the lambasting wind and rain drowned out the cries of the people and roar of the creatures.

Underground, water rushed into the tunnels as the earth cracked. The entire underground temple was filling up with water.

“Quickly, let’s get out of here!” yelled out Ming Xi.

“It’s too late!” was Jier’s reply.

Yes it was too late. The entire underground was nearly submerged in water and soon the entire place would be flooded.

The demon lord commander calmed down after his initial roar. He didn’t stop the flooding though, he just coldly watched as it happened. What was going on in his mind?

Demon Wind was fine, protected as he was by the water crystal. It didn’t matter if he was on dry land or underwater.

Little Seven was not a water creature so floods were not her thing. The clever girl had returned to the spirit world the moment water started entering the underground.

The spirit world was home to all manner of magical beasts: precious ones from antiquity, ancient ones, powerful ones, holy ones, mythical ones, all kinds.

Magical beasts stayed in the spirit world until their masters summoned them to fight. Little Seven was a divine beast who originally lived in the spirit realm. She could go back anytime she wanted. A divine beast like her wouldn’t live in the human realm.

It was easy for Little Seven to escape by returning to the spirit realm, but it wasn’t as easy for everyone else. In the current situation, it wasn’t possible to use a teleportation scroll to leave.

Feng Wu created a water barrier around herself with qi.

The rapid waters broke many of the stone walls and pillars, so half the temple had collapsed already. They were all pushed out to sea through a crack in the temple wall.

The open sea wasn’t any calmer. The fishes and monsters were swimming and screaming madly. In the distance a volcano erupted. Other islanders were also affected by the heavy rain.

In the midst of all the chaos, a black-haired man stood on a cliff looking at the raging sea. His eyes were full of love and gentleness, but there was also a trace of helplessness in them as well. He raised an arm and flicked a finger. A golden ball of holy light flew out to the sea. It kept flying until it disappeared from sight.

297, 298

297, 298

[Host: justreads.net]
[August 6, 2021]
...

297: Little Bun Saves the World

“If you don’t want to see people suffer, why don’t you stop the demon commander from coming out?” A man in white appeared next to the black-haired man. The newcomer was as handsome as an immortal, with long dark hair that contrasted strikingly against his white robe. He looked like he had just stepped out of a painting. If you looked closely though you would see that his figure was vague, as though he wasn’t corporeal.

“This was the world consciousness’s decision. The only ones who can change it are those who are a part of this world’s consciousness.” An Shengyuan[notes] was calm.

White[notes] shook his head. “As the head of Xingguang Holy Academy, are you sure you don’t want to stop this? If you don’t interfere, I’m afraid the whole maritime world will shatter and many will die.”

Though the expression on his face was still compassionate, An Shengyuan shook his head. “Their fates can not be changed by me. You should know the reason I was able to stay in the human world back then was because I promised the upper boundaries I wouldn’t interfere and break the fixed trajectory of the human world.”

“But this time it’s the head of the twelve demon commanders, Mei the Exterminator. Are you sure the guys from your school can handle this?” White was confident in his little apprentice,[notes] but he wasn’t at all confident in the other guys.

“Are you forgetting your precious disciple is amongst them?” An Shengyuan said with a smile.

“Yes, but they are all your students and you are the head of the academy.” White also smiled.

...

Meanwhile on Sanye island, Ink was holding Little Bun in his arms as he looked out to sea. Sanye island wasn’t as affected as Demon Wind island, but things were still rough. The sea had already claimed the houses by the shore and the fisherman had all taken refuge in the mountains. A cloud of mist clung to the island.

“What should we do? Senior Ming Xi and the others are safe right? Such heavy winds. The rain is dangerous too.” Ink walked around the cave uneasily.

Originally the group had stayed at a fisherman’s house, but the sudden heavy rain brought on by the thunder and lightning forced them to evacuate. They had been sheltering in the cave since.

The other fishermen and their families had also scattered and found shelter in various caves in the mountains as well. The only thing they could do was hide and wait for the storm to pass.

“Oleen, I hope nothing happens to my Oleen.” Milty moaned. “That bitch Yanran, if anything happens to my Oleen, I’ll kill her!” Milty gritted her teeth, her face bitter.

“I hope everyone is OK.” Leo silently prayed to the gods for everyone’s wellbeing.

Watching Milty only care about her fiancé, while everyone else was in danger, made Ink mad. He needed to vent. “What the hell is this?! You can only think of your Oleen?! If it weren’t for your begging, Senior Ming Xi, Jier and Xiao Wu wouldn’t have gone out in all that. If something happens to them, trust me, I won’t let you off the hook. You guys are nothing but trouble!”

Ink was fed up with Milty. She lamented about her fiancé’s safety every friggin day, but not a single word about the others passed through her lips. It was beyond selfish.

Milty blushed but she was unwilling to concede the point. “How can you blame Oleen and me? You should blame Yanran. If she hadn’t seduced my poor Oleen and forced him into helping, he wouldn’t have left the team without permission.”

Leaving the team without permission wasn’t a trivial matter. Once Ming Xi reported Yanran and Oleen’s unauthorized departure from the group, it would be difficult for the two to join another team in the future. No team would want pigheaded, undisciplined team members in their midst.

Milty wanted to beg Ming Xi not to report Oleen. That bitch Yanran should be the one responsible for all the blame. She wouldn’t let anyone pin the blame on her Oleen.

“You’re ridiculous. Yanran never pointed a sword at him and forced him into helping. He decided to leave of his own free will. If he hadn’t wanted to go with Yanran, do you think she could have forced him?”

Ink didn’t like Yanran, but he didn’t like Milty either. The woman was impossible to deal with whenever it had anything to do with her fiancé. It didn’t matter what Oleen did, it was always someone else’s fault. Her fiancé was never in the wrong.

Milty had gotten on Ink’s nerve for some time, and the bad weather only made his temper worse.

“You’re defending Yanran so much, you’re seduced by her too aren’t you?!” Milty yelled out. She couldn’t bear to listen to anyone defending Yanran.

“Unreasonable,” was all Ink said. He hugged Little Bun, too lazy to bother talking to the mad woman.

None of the three guys noticed the odd expression on Little Bun’s face.

Mom! Mom! Want Mom!

He was feeling annoyed with the outside world and he wanted his mother to hug and kiss. Don’t like it! Stinky! Loud!

The little guy waved his hands, struggling in Ink’s embrace. No one noticed a powerful energy force in his hand as he did so.

Don’t like the dark!

Don’t like water from sky!

Don’t like water splash!

Don’t like noisy outside! Rain too loud! Waves too loud! Wind, lightning, thunder, too much!

Little Bun angrily threw out the energy in his hand.

Ink and Milty were throwing glares at each other, while Leo was just standing off to the side. None of them noticed Little Bun’s movement, so unbeknownst to them, the little ball of energy flew all the way to Demon Wind island.

The ball of light kept getting brighter until it finally turned into a beam of light that penetrated the clouds and the sea. The volcano in the ocean floor calmed down, the tsunamis stopped and the rain gradually slowed until it finally dissipated entirely. The dark sky disappeared and the sun peeked out from the clouds again.

Calmness settled over everything. If it hadn’t been for Demon Wind island sinking a little, it would have felt like a dream -- or rather a nightmare.

“Strange. Why did it suddenly clear up?” Ink stared in surprise at the rainbow in the sky.

“Yeah, what happened?” Milty was just as confused.

“The rain finally stopped.” Leo breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe now his teammates would finally settle down and stop fighting so much.

Little Bun opened his mouth in a yawn. He kept blinking as his eyes kept drooping. So tired. . .  Eventually his eyes refused to open and he fell asleep.

No one knew the story of how Little Bun saved the world.

After the storm passed, the fishermen prepared to move back to their homes, while most of the pirates, who were floating at sea, narrowly escaped with their lives.

298: The Arrival of the Demon World People

The deputy commanders[notes] took out several ships of different sizes from their dimensional space for the pirates and slaves that were swept out to sea. They would need to settle on another island for the time being.

As for Feng Wu and her group, things were a little bizarre. Less than a minute after the storm subsided, a large passageway appeared in the sky and a group of demon soldiers in armor stepped through.

Demon Wind, upon seeing this, thought the new group was there to provide back up for the demon lord commander.

Ming Xi and Jier came to a different conclusion. They were relived and no longer tense.

Demon Wind didn’t understand. Weren’t humans and demons hostile toward each other? Why did they look so relieved at seeing a group of demons in the human world? Did these guys get stupid in the head?

But the silly one, was of course, Demon Wind.

“Master Miè, the king requested we pick you up and return to the demon realm.”

Two soldiers, dressed differently than the rest, stepped forward. It was clear they were in charge of the platoon.

“King? He really won’t let me go huh?” Miè glanced at the group.

The two demons glanced at each other. “My Lord misunderstands. The king has always held the view that you were involuntarily conscripted in the past. My Lord was one of the first demons. Sins of the past are forgiven. My Lord will be restored to your former glory.”

Miè smiled indifferently when he heard this. All he said was, “Let’s return to the demon realm. But before we depart, tell me, who is the current king?”

Both soldiers understood that the king Miè was thinking of was not the current ruling king, but the former demon king, also known as the Demon Ancestor by most demons. Regarding the former king, the Demon Ancestor, the soldiers didn’t harbor any particular scorn or contempt.

“Replying to My Lord, the former king has been defeated, his physical body was destroyed and his soul sealed.” The soldiers replied truthfully.

Miè nodded. Better than expected. At least his king still existed.

“Little girl, come here.” Miè turned to Feng Wu. There was surprise in his eyes.

Feng Wu didn’t feel any malicious intent from him, so she obediently walked over.

Neither Ming Xi nor Jier stopped her. If the commander wanted to harm her, he would have just done so. There was no need for him to resort to trickery.

“Where did your sword come from?” He knew the sword’s origins after his memories returned, but what he didn’t know was how it ended up in the hands of this girl in front of him.

“Are you talking about Xiao Chun? Xiao Chun is my friend. He lived in the mountain behind my house. Master said Xiao Chun would be mine if I could pull him out.” Feng Wu replied with complete honesty. It was just that the home in her mind was Mount Yuehua and not the Feng family estate.

“So that’s how it is. I didn’t expect there’d by another human who could wield that sword.” Miè nodded without saying anything more. He knew a lot of things the little girl in front of him would never know.

“Let us return to the demon realm.” Miè addressed the two lead soldiers. He extended both his hands out to them. “The binding.”

“The king's orders were that as long as My Lord was willing to return of your own free will, there would be no need for the binding encirclement.”

“Let’s go then.”

Miè entered the passageway. He was quickly followed by the rest of the demon soldiers. The passageway disappeared once everyone had stepped through.

“I was scared to death! I’ve never seen so many demon soldiers in my life.” Demon Wind declared.

The others didn’t say much. Feng Wu was never a curious child so she didn’t ask questions.

“You guys, can you tell me what happened? How’d demon soldiers show up here? And how come they didn’t attack us?” Demon Wind scratched his head; unlike Feng Wu, he had a lot of questions.

“Those demon soldiers were under the demon king’s command. They would have been alerted as soon as the seal was broken. They were sent to pick him up.” Ming Xi answered.

“But wasn’t that guy the former king’s man? Why would the current king send people to pick him up instead of just killing him immediately?” Demon Wind was still confused.

The same logic applied in the human world as well. All the supporters of a forcefully deposed king would be killed.

“Miè is very special. He was one of the first twelve demon commanders to be born in the demon realm. He’s also the most powerful. The demon realm needs to maintain its strength, so the king would never kill him.”

“The king isn’t afraid this Miè guy is going to betray him?”

Ming Xi gave Demon Wind a faint smile. “Do you think the current demon king, who defeated the former demon king, would be afraid of a demon commander?”

Ah, true, Demon Wind had asked a silly question. He had to wonder if his brain got flooded in the water, otherwise why would he have asked such a question.

“Oh!” Jier suddenly exclaimed.

“What is it?” Ming Xi asked.

“Those other two troublemakers are missing again.”

“Are you talking about Yanran and Oleen?” Ming Xi raised a brow. They'd finally found them after a lot of trouble, but now they’d lost them again. What rotten luck.

“Who else but those two stupids.”

Feng Wu rubbed her belly pitifully. So hungry...

“We’ll look for them, but if we can’t find them, then we can’t find them.” Ming Xi said. However way things ended, they had tried their best. They would have an explanation for the teacher when they returned to campus.

Demon Wind decided to help out of courtesy to Little Seven, but despite their efforts, they couldn’t find Yanran or Oleen. The two of them could have been washed out to sea and eaten by sea monsters for all anyone knew.

Ming Xi and the others weren’t going to wait around forever. They decided to leave for Sanye island and continue their mission. Yanran and Oleen would just have to fend for themselves. If they were lucky, they’d be fine.

Demon Wind wasn’t going to follow them to Sanye. For generations his family had guarded the seal, but now that the seal was broken and the demon gone, there was no reason to do so anymore.

His brothers had just sent him a message saying they had settled on another island. He would meet them there. He bade Ming Xi and the others farewell and embarked on his journey alone.

Ming Xi and his group went back to their boat so they could head back to Sanye island. They used magic to fly to where they left the boat, but there was nothing there once they arrived. Perhaps it was blown away by the wind, or someone took it, or worse yet, it could have sunk.

299, 300

299, 300

[Host: justreads.net]
[August 9, 2021]
...

299: Arriving at Sanye Island

The team was in a predicament without a boat. Luckily it wasn’t for too long, after all there was Feng Wu.

Feng Wu’s circle of friends had always included plants and beasts. With her help, they were able to find a turtle monster nearby that was willing to take them to Sanye island.

With Feng Wu on their team, their problems were easily solved. Yanran, Oleen and Zi Cheng weren’t as fortunate.

First Yanran and Oleen. After being washed out to sea, they were sucked in by a whirl pool that spontaneously erupted from the sea floor. Who knows where they ended up after that.

Zi Cheng was luckier, she had a system after all. She had walked into her system space when no one was looking and had completely escaped the disaster. She used a lot of potions to restore her magic and heal her injuries.

“System, what is the situation outside?” Zi Cheng hadn’t left her space since entering it initially. She never expected the demon commander to be so terrifyingly powerful.

“Host, it is calm,” came the robotic reply.

Zi Cheng breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing this. The scene of the ground splitting, the tsunami, and the violent wind, was terrible. It had made her scalp tingle.

The encounter could be chalked up to a loss – a heavy one. She failed to get either of the things she wanted. The phoenix was taken by Ming Xi while the sword was taken by the demon commander. Her points, that were so hard to earn, were nearly depleted. It was painful to think about.

Well forget it, she needed to reunite with the people on her team and complete her mission. What was important was to pay attention to the feelings of those around her while doing the mission so that her points would increase.

...

Ming Xi and the others sat on top of the turtle as they sailed on the calm sea. There was a rainbow in the sky and seabirds flew overhead. Everything seemed incredibly peaceful now that the storm had passed.

The gentle breeze and calm waves were very soothing and sleep inducing. Feng Wu was soon asleep with her head against Ming Xi’s arm.

Ming Xi sat motionless as he let Feng Wu use him as a pillow. He would gently adjust her head back into a comfortable position whenever she slipped off.

Jier was humming lazily to himself was completely at ease.

They finally spotted the clover shaped Sanye island after sailing for seven days.

There was no official ruler of Sanye island. There was a castle in the middle of the island that was built by an old sword master. Although the master was the strongest on the island, he did not rule it. He was not responsible for the welfare of the inhabitants, nor did they pay him any taxes.

The two parties had always minded their own business and kept to themselves.

The island had a speical product called the tri-colored pearl, which could be found inside the tri-colored clam. As the name suggested the clam and pearl had three colors.

Many aristocrat ladies enjoyed jewelry made from the pearl, so jewelers were willing to pay divers to harvest the pearls. The rarity of the clams made the pearls hard to find. On top of that, the clams attacked, so divers could be injured if they weren’t careful.

It was hard work, so divers could sell a single pearl for a few dozen gold coins. The jewelers who processed the pearls then turned around and sold each pearl for hundreds, or even thousands, of gold coins. The price was high so the business was lucrative.

Ming Xi’s group wasn’t assigned to gather the tri-colored pearls though. Their assignment was to gather ten tri-colored flowers, which only grew on Sanye island near tri-colored clams. The tri-colored flower was an underwater flower you see.

The group hadn’t wanted to delay their mission so they had split up with Ink, Leo, and Milty responsible for finding the flowers, while Ming Xi, Jier, and Feng Wu would rescue Yanran and Oleen.

Unfortunately, neither group had accomplished their goals. Yanran and Oleen were still lost and the flowers had not been harvested.

It wasn’t a difficult task, as long as they wanted to find the flower, they’d find it. However, they only managed to pick three flowers after several hours searching.

The flowers were used to dye fabric. Any fabric dyed in the flower would produce three colors. These types of fabrics were rare and had to be seen to truly be appreciated, however those on the continent preferred monochromatic colors. They accented their clothes, such as the collar or cuff, in different colors, but the main outfit itself was generally a solid color.

Because of this the tri-colored flowers weren’t as prized as the tri-colored clams were for their pearls. The flowers weren’t of interest; even the locals didn’t bother to pick them when they came upon them. This meant the flowers weren’t hard to find. Yet despite this, the group had found only three in ten days. It was too inefficient!

Ming Xi was asking about the flowers, but Milty was unhappy when she heard Oleen hadn’t returned.

“Senior Ming Xi, you didn’t bring Oleen back with you? Didn’t you go to get him?” she asked.

300: Tri-colored Flower

Her eyes were filled with hatred as she spoke to Ming Xi. It was like she hated him more than anything else.

“That’s nonsense. We spent so much time trying to sneak onto the island to find your damn fiancé and that stinking Yanran girl. After all the risks we took, who the hell are you to talk to Senior Ming Xi like that?!” Jier glared at Milty. This girl was incredibly annoying. Granted he was also a little spoiled himself, but at least he knew right from wrong.

With this woman though, as soon as anything had to do with her fiancé, her IQ plummeted and she became a complete lunatic.

“You’re all in it together. You deliberately left Oleen behind. Otherwise how could the three of you come back while Oleen has disappeared? Why was there an accident at all? As the team captain, shouldn’t Senior Ming Xi have protected him?!”

Milty wasn’t listening. She couldn’t breathe when she thought about Oleen drifting out there lost in such strong waves. She had loved him since she was a child and had fully intended to marry him.

Ming Xi only gave Milty a glance. “If you believe I am at fault, then feel free to report me to the teachers when we return to campus. If you are correct, then I am willing to accept the punishment.”

“Bad person.” Feng Wu stared at Milty while holding Little bun in her arms. She could feel the malice directed at Ming Xi. It was obvious it wasn’t Ming Xi’s fault, but this crazy woman was still blaming him for it. What a bad person. . . 

Due to her limited vocabulary, “bad person” was the harshest denouncement Feng Wu could give someone.

“Bad. . . bad person,” repeated Little Bun. He loved his mother the most. Upon feeling the anger emanating from her, he turned his head and cursed at Milty, despite not know what the words meant.

Feng Wu kissed her son in admiration and praise. He was such a smart boy!

Jier, Ink, Ming Xi: Is it really OK to teach him this way?

Milty was like a mad dog, ready to bite at any provocation. “What right do you have to accuse me of anything? If it weren’t for you, my Oleen would never have had an accident!”

“What’s Xiao Wu got to do with this?” Ink couldn’t remain silent. Xiao Wu was his friend. He wasn’t going to just stand there and let this madwoman spout nonsense.

Milty was blunt. “She was too weak. Senior Ming Xi must have been distracted with having to protect her, so it was impossible for him to rescue Oleen.”

The more she thought about it, the more she felt that this was what happened. She shot Feng Wu a hate filled glare.

“Can’t reason with her.” Jier said. “If it weren’t for Xiao Wu, we would have all died in that underground temple. Your precious Oleen wouldn’t just be missing; he’d be dead.”

“Humph!” Milty didn’t believe it.

Ming Xi stopped bothering with Milty. The girl was obviously delirious. He was more concerned about completing the task than engaging in a verbal fight with her. “Let’s go to the beach and look for the tri-colored flowers.”

“No! No! None of you are leaving!” yelled Milty madly as she ran to the entrance of the cave. She blocked the entrance, refusing to let them leave unless they found her fiancé.

Fortunately they were the only ones in the cave. The villagers who lived in the nearby caves had already returned to their homes, so it didn’t matter how loud they were.

“What the hell do you want us to do?” Jier had already lost his patience with the crazy woman.

“I want you to find Oleen. I don’t think he’s dead. He must be somewhere, just waiting for us to save him. You have to go and bring him back!”

“The sea is vast. Where do you want us to look?” Ming Xi frowned. Jier wasn’t the only one getting impatient.

“I don’t know! Just find him! If you can’t find him, then don’t bother coming back!”

She acted like it was a given they would do anything for her fiancé.

Ink couldn’t take it anymore. This girl was usually normal, but she got crazy whenever it came to her fiancé. You really couldn’t judge people by appearances. “If you want to find him that badly, go and find him yourself. We won’t stop you.”

“Oleen was in the wrong for leaving the team without permission. As captain, I have done enough for him. I won’t let him influence the outcome of the team.” They had gone and tried to rescue him once already, there wasn’t going to be a second time.

No one mentioned Yanran. They knew Milty only cared about Oleen.

Milty didn’t get sympathy no matter how much she ranted or begged. They ignored her and went looking for the tri-colored flower. Milty could go and do whatever she liked for all they cared.

The group walked to the beach, heading toward a large village. Ink and the others had already become acquainted with the people, so they exchanged greetings amiably.

The tri-colored flower bloomed in the sea. They would have to go diving if they wanted to find any. Everyone created a water barrier, but because it was made out of magic, they were under a time limit. Their magic would only last three hours, tops.

Since there was Little Bun to think about, Feng Wu stayed behind to take care of him. They could have left him with the nanny beast, Little White, but it made the group uneasy to leave Little Bun and Little White alone.

So, while Feng Wu stayed behind, Ming Xi, Jier, Ink and Leo jumped into the sea to search for the flower. There weren’t any large sea monsters in the area around the island, but there were many types of peculiar fishes. These fishes swam around them happily.

Before Ming Xi’s group came to the island, Ink and Leo and taken turns diving. This method was inefficient. That was why they had only found three flowers in all that time.

But now with everyone back together, they were able split up and dive at the same time.

Leo finally felt some optimism about completing the mission. He had been the most stressed in the group. Ming Xi had asked him to take care of the mission and the other team members. He took his responsibilities seriously and he hadn’t wanted to disappoint Ming Xi, but his teammates were pig members and it made the mission really difficult to complete.






News
(Mon) September 6, 2021
Labor Day extras up.
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ATP: hiatus, want to finish OASNG first
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