301: Preparing to Leave Sanye Island
The most pig teammate of all was, obviously, Milty. She hadn’t done anything except stare at the sea waiting for her fiancé since they arrived on the island.
That left Leo and Ink with Little Bun and the nanny beast. Someone had to protect Little Bun, so they couldn’t both dive at the same time. The nanny beast was there, but with so many merchants on the island, neither Ink nor Leo felt good about leaving Little Bun alone with only the nanny beast for protection.
That meant one of them always stayed behind to watch over Little Bun, while the other dove to find the flowers. This was why they hadn’t completed the mission by the time Ming Xi’s group came over.
Leo blamed himself for poor leadership. He was incompetent and had failed to complete the task assigned by his senior. In order to make up for it, he worked extra hard on the dive.
The other three guys also worked hard, but despite this, the group only found two flowers after two hours.
Ming Xi was still fine, but the other three weren’t doing so good. Jier was fire, so he was bad in water and had to expend a lot more magic than usual. Because of this, even though his magic was stronger than Leo or Ink, he was basically on par with them in the water. He had to go and rest on shore.
No one would actually stay in the water until they exhausted all their magic at the three-hour limit.
The sea was a dangerous place. It was wise to save some should the situation arise where fighting was necessary. Not doing so was just courting death. . .
The four of them came out of the water to find Feng Wu taking care of Little Bun while the nanny beast was cooking on the grill. There was a lot of variety, with different fishes, crabs and lobsters.
“Little White’s abilities keep getting better and better,” declared Jier after taking a bite of fish. He sat beside the fire and had grabbed a delicious looking fish that was grilled to perfection.
Little White’s eyes crinkled, pleased with the compliment.
“Compared to her owner, this is indeed amazing.” Ink knew how horrific Feng Wu’s cooking was.
Feng Wu walked over holding a bunch of tri-color flowers in her hand.
“What?! Where did those come from?!” Leo was shocked. They had been searching for so long and only came up with two flowers, but here was Feng Wu with, what, seven or eight in her hand like it was nothing at all. It defied logic!
“These are from a friend.”
Just now, while Feng Wu was waiting by the shore with Little Bun in her arms, several small fish monsters showed up. They chatted for a bit and became friends.
The little fishes knew she was looking for the tri-colored flower so each one of them had brought her one.
Feng Wu solved the problem that had been plaguing them for so many days that simply.
Leo felt arrows pierce his knees. He had to bow down to Feng Wu.
After enjoying the wonderful seafood grill, the group agreed to rest for a few days before leaving the island.
Leo rushed into the caving yelling, “Bad news! Bad news! Milty took our boat!”
“What!? That woman dared?!” Jier was stunned.
Ming Xi had hired and paid for both the crew and the ship for the mission to Sanye island, but out of consideration for the crew’s safety, had taken a different boat to go to Demon Wind island. The original ship was left with Leo for his use.
The ship had everything, including all their provisions. The captain was also knowledgeable and an invaluable resource -- they needed him to sail them back.
For her fiancé, Milty had driven away their only boat. It was outrageous of her.
“That damn woman! She’s no good, way too selfish!” Ink was so angry he almost saw red.
“How did you discover the boat was missing?” Ming Xi asked.
Leo shook his head in embarrassment. “I wasn’t the one who discovered it; it was an uncle in the village. He knew we hadn’t left yet; so he came and reported it because he was worried someone had stolen it.
Once I found out, I went around and asked a few of the villagers if they had seen anything. That’s how I found out Milty took the boat out by herself.”
Ming Xi nodded. “It’s OK. It’s not a big deal. We’ll find another boat. She can use it if she wants to.”
“Milty and her fiancé are just plain bad news. One will do anything for a woman, even go to Demon Wind island. The other is even crazier, stupidly fearless for a man.” Jier was still amazed by the whole thing.
“Bad people.” Feng Wu nodded her head in agreement with Jier.
“Let’s rest for a bit, then tomorrow we’ll go to the trade islands and buy another ship. There should be a boat on Sanye that will go there.” Ming Xi said.
“That’s the thing, I’m not sure if there is one.” While it was true there were boats that sailed between the islands, they didn’t sail every day.
“We’ll ask the villagers tomorrow. It will be good if there is a boat tomorrow, but if not, then we’ll think about it then. We can play here for a few more days while we think of another way to get to the trade islands.”
Ink’s suggestion was unanimously approved. They all found individual spots to rest while they waited to see what tomorrow would bring.
The next morning, Ink went down to the village to ask about boats leaving for the trade islands. The answer was an unexpected five days. Ink returned to the cave after asking about the schedule.
They were quiet after Ink shared the news.
“What should we do? Wait for five days or find another way off the island?” Ink threw the question to Ming Xi since he was their captain.
“How about this, we try to find a merchant ship that’s passing through that’s willing to take us on board. If there aren’t any merchant ships, then we’ll wait the five days for the Sanye ship.”
No one disagreed. They had completed their mission, so when they returned wasn’t a big deal, as long as they got back to campus before classes resumed.
Fortunately they did find a passing merchant ship. The ship’s destination wasn’t Zhongyang or the trade islands, but a place called Biluo. It was a large and powerful archipelago composed of twelve islands. This, of course, meant there were twelve lords.
302: Merchant Ship
The island lords lived on their own islands. The main lord lived on the main island while the other lords lived on the smaller surrounding islands.
Of the twelve, three were from the Dabu sect, two were dual sword-magic art users, while the rest were either sword masters or master magicians.
The ship the group found was headed to Biluo, and Biluo happened to have regularly scheduled ships that sailed out to Zhongyang. It was welcome news for the group. Now they wouldn’t have to buy a boat or rent one out; they could just hitch a ride.
After deciding to go to Bilou, Ink and the boat captain finalized their agreement. The captain chose not to charge them for the ride once he found out they were students at Zhongyang Holy academy. Instead he asked they led a hand if the ship encountered any trouble.
Sailing on the sea was dangerous. There were water monsters and pirates to be careful of.
Large merchant ships were often targeted by pirates. In fact, most paid pirates a large quantity of goods every year to ensure they wouldn’t be attacked while at sea.
Medium sized and smaller ships didn’t have that kind of excess resource, so they had to rely on adventurers to guard their ships.
The owner of this particular ship was named Hart. Hart was your average business man whose family had been in the business for generations. He was luckier than most. Thanks to his acute business sense and hardworking ethics, he was able to move from being a small fisherman to the owner of a small ship.
Hart was a strong man in his fifties, but based on the low amount of inner power he radiated, he wasn’t a very powerful sword user. Considering his age, it was obvious he didn’t have the talent to train to become a sword master.
He was an easy-going, open-hearted person and his crew were kind people. Aside from Hart and his staff, there was also a hired mercenary group hired to them to protect the merchandise.
The mercenary group inevitably saw Ming Xi’s group board the ship. They were used to it. It was Hart’s habit to pick up passengers as long as they were headed the same direction.
Other than Ming Xi’s group, there was also a brother sister pair, and three other adventurers traveling on a mission.
Since everyone was going to Biluo and there were plenty of empty rooms on board, Hart did not refuse anyone entrance, nor did he charge a fare. He only asked for everyone’s help should the ship encounter danger on the seas.
It was a fair enough request, so everyone agreed.
Aside from the dozen crew members and about twenty hired mercenaries, there were also the adventurers, extra passengers and Ming Xi’s group. It was a lot of people on board.
Because Feng Wu was a girl and had a child with her, she was given a separate room, while the boys had to split up between two rooms. They were led to their respective rooms by the crew.
Their rooms were adjacent, so that was convenient.
The ship left port soon after everyone had settled in.
It wasn’t a long journey to get to Biluo from Sanye, just ten days.
That evening, Hart had the cook prepare a meal for everyone in the dining hall. Naturally Hart would be the host.
“Everyone, no need to be polite. Sit, sit. It’s our fate to meet at sea like this so let’s all enjoy a good meal together. Drink and dine.” Hart laughed heartily.
Everyone sat down.
The hired mercenary group’s team leader was a sword master of some repute. He had two assistants; one was a strong sword master as well, while the other was a strong magician. The remaining twenty odd people in the group were also strong in their own right. Only the three leaders of the mercenary group joined in the banquet though. The other members of the mercenary group were patrolling outside.
“Thanks to Boss Hart for the invitation.”
“Thank you, Boss Hart.”
“Indeed, I’m so embarrassed to have Boss Hart treat us.”
They all exchanged a few words with Hart before entering the dining cabin. Once inside, they sat down in their arranged seats and a maid poured the wine.
“Boss Hart is too polite. I will toast Boss first.” Ming Xi and everyone raised their glasses in a toast.
Boss Hart was a businessman so he was good at conversation. It was a congenial atmosphere as everyone chatted.
The banquet was primarily for the three mercenary leaders, so Hart mostly chatted with them, however that didn’t mean he ignored everyone else.
A clever-looking girl around sixteen or seventeen came up to Feng Wu and whispered. “Are you going to Biluo for the sea emperor’s tomb?”
The girl was the younger of the siblings who had boarded the ship earlier. They were pretty good. The girl was an intermediate magician while the boy, at twenty-five or so, was an advanced swordsman. He was a promising talent.
They introduced themselves as nobilities from the west. The siblings were traveling together for fun when they heard about the tomb. It sounded interesting so they got on Hart's ship and were looking forward to being part of the exploration team.
Feng Wu was sitting next to Jier, eating a piece of chicken thigh. Unexpectedly someone approached her and started chatting. She swallowed the mouthful of meat in her mouth before replying. “What sea emperor’s tomb?”
The girl was surprised and it showed in her wide eyes. She couldn’t believe there was someone who hadn’t heard the news.
“What?! You don’t know? Then what are you doing going to Biluo?”
“To get a boat back to Zhongyang,” replied Feng Wu with her stiff expressionless face.
303: The Sea Emperor’s Tomb
“Don’t you want to go the emperor’s tomb? He was an emperor you know. Won’t you regret not taking a look?” The girl didn’t expect to find someone who wouldn’t be tempted.
“Young Miss, can you tell us what’s going on with the tomb?” Jier asked with a friendly smile.
The girl didn’t expect the handsome boy to take the initative and talk to her.
“You don’t have to be so formal, just call me Margaret.” The girl pointed to herself while blushing a little.
The sip of wine Ink had in his mouth squirted out a little when he heard this. Girl, when did you get so familiar with Jier? I’ve been sitting here this whole time and didn’t notice.
Jier and the girl were oblivious to the slander coming from Ink’s heart. Jier easily called the girl by her given name.
“Well then Margaret, can you tell us a little about the tomb of the sea emperor?” Anyone who knew Jier, knew how short his temper was, so the fact that he was being so patient meant he was up to something. They just had to wait.
Ink knew Jier was interested in the tomb. He was interested too; he just hadn’t said anything out loud.
“Do you remember the sudden storm, the crazy thunder and lightning, we had a few days ago, the tsunami from the underwater volcano?” asked Margaret.
“Of course. I don’t think anyone who lived through it will ever forget.” Jier smiled charmingly at her.
“The place I’m talking about is where the sea emperor is buried. It was well hidden and protected by an enchantment circle. We ordinary humans would never have found it, but the crazy underwater activity broke the enchantment and exposed the tomb.
The masters of Biluo islands were the first to notice it. They had wanted to enter the moment they found it, but even though the circle enchantment hiding it was destroyed, the entrance itself is still sealed.
The masters had no choice but to advertise the tomb’s existence and hope they’d be able to attract enough talent who could open the tomb.
My brother and I heard about it, so that’s why we got on the boat with Boss Hart to go to Biluo. If you’re not busy, why not stay and explore the tomb together? Won’t it be interesting?!” Margaret said with a smile.
“Turns out we didn’t know something so big had happened.” Jier touched his chin in thought. Unexpectedly, it did have something to do with them.
The tomb appeared because of their fight with the demon lord commander. Being purified by Xiao Chun released the commander’s sealed emotions and things went out of control. The storm happened and the sea went crazy.
Although the storm died for some unknown reason, no one would have expected an emperor’s tomb would surface because of it.
Feng Wu continued to eat her meal quietly. She had no interest in the tomb.
The banquet ended a little later after their chat with Margaret and the group met up in Ming Xi’s room.
“How about it Senior Ming Xi, doesn't this tomb sound really interesting?” Ink spoke up excitedly.
A sea emperor’s tomb was the equivalent to a god’s tomb. Exploring one was a rare opportunity, so it would be a shame to miss out on it.
Leo was also super interested in it. They hadn’t encountered anything exciting on their mission (he didn’t get to be a part of the adventure on Demon Wind island), and now an emperor’s tomb was dangling in front of him. It would be a too much of a missed opportunity not to go.
“The emperor of the sea is a natural born god, so his tomb won’t be easy to enter. I’m afraid you won’t survive if you enter.” Ming Xi said after thinking for a moment.
“Senior Ming Xi, you can take us there, then everyone can take care of themselves once we’re inside. No one will blame anyone if they encounter misfortune.” Jier was always interested in excitement, so he tried to persuade Ming Xi.
“Jier is right. Once we go inside, whether it’s life or death, we won’t blame senior.” Leo and Ink both tried to persuade Ming Xi as well.
“No, this is dangerous. We’ve already completed our mission. There’s no reason to do anything extra. No one is allowed to bring this topic up again.” Ming Xi was firm.
Everyone had a crestfallen expression, except for Feng Wu.
Ming Xi didn’t care; he kept a benign expression on his face. Meanwhile changes were happening in the maritime world.
The tomb got a lot of interest as news of it spread all the way to the continent. The flight arrays and docks were a buzz with activity as masters made their way to Biluo. There was a huge boom in the transportation industry because of it.
Ming Xi and the others didn’t know as it took a full ten days to reach Biluo. They didn’t see Hart again after that first day. But that didn’t affect them and they went about their business.
Life on the boat was a bit boring though. Whenever Feng Wu was free, she would bring Little Bun out on the deck so he could practice walking.
Little Bun was getting better at walking. Now that he was no longer just a crawling baby, he loved to explore. Little White[notes] had to run around following him everywhere on the boat.
A shrill shriek erupted out on the fifth day at sea.
A twenty-something year old female mage in a red robe was chasing Little Bun. She had ruddy, blemished skin, probably from all her days spent at sea. Despite this, she was still a mid-tier beauty.
She was currently staring at Little Bun, her face pale and her eyes spitting fire, as though she was staring at her father’s murderer. She held a black staff as she chased after Little Bun while using a column of water to attack him relentlessly.
Little White grabbed Little Bun and ran away. The little guy was showing off his pearly whites as he laughed, thinking someone was playing with him, completely unaware he was in a life-or-death situation.
304: Little Bun Gets in Trouble
The crew on deck were frowning as they watched the scene in disgust. How could a woman be so heavy handed with a child?
They were watching out for Little Bun’s safety. It wasn’t like they were unwilling to step in, they just never expected someone would hurt such a small guy, so when it did happen and they moved to stop it, it was already too late.
Most on board had killed before and were accustomed to blood and death, but those they killed were all enemies. They were uncomfortable watching a small child die in front of them. How could they turn a blind eye and let it happen?
Just when the little guy looked like he was about to get hit, a white light flashed and surrounded both him and the kangaroo nanny. The water attack hit the shield harmlessly.
They were relieved the little guy managed to escape death. They were afraid the woman would physically grab him, so one by one, the surrounding observers stepped up and put Little Bun behind them.
“Hey. What’s the matter with you woman? Are you even human? How can you shoot at a child like that?” yelled out one guard.
“Yeah! I’ve never seen such a vicious woman. Woman are pure poison.”
“Hey! If you want to scold her fine. But don’t lump all of us together.” A female mercenary glared at the man angrily.
“Ah! Sorry girl. I was caught up in the mood.” The man scratched his head in embarrassment.
“Forget it! I’ll forgive you this time, but I won’t be so forgiving next time!” The female mercenary wasn’t an unforgiving kind of person.
The other people weren’t paying attention to their dispute. One by one they pointed fingers at the magician.
“That woman is too cruel!”
“To not let even a child off the hook. She’s just not human!”
“Yeah, I thought she looked like a bad sort when I saw her get on the boat,” said another guy trying to sound like he knew all along.
“Oh please, drop it. As if you knew. Only talking about it after the fact, hmph!” The others didn’t buy it. They quickly booed him.
Meanwhile, the magician’s face went from white, to red to green.
Two of the magician’s friend rushed forward. “Sorry, sorry, everyone. Our friend is a little short-tempered. She didn’t mean it. We apologize on her behalf.”
They had wanted to stop her, but they were too slow. They were only able to breathe a sigh of relief after they saw that the little guy was unharmed. With him unharmed, they were able to step in and quell everyone’s anger.
“What are you apologizing to us for? We weren’t the ones attacked and we're not this child’s relative.”
“In fact if you really want to apologize, I saw the child’s parent playing cards inside the cabin.”
“Is anyone going to call her over? Anyone?”
“Someone already did.”
The crew and mercenaries ignored the magician and her two friends as they talked with each other.
Just then, Feng Wu, Ming Xi and friends could be seen rushing out of the cabin. They ran very fast. Feng Wu was even faster with her air steps and she reached Little Bun in an instant.
“Mom! Mom!” Little Bun looked at his mother. He stretched out his arms demanding a hug.
Feng Wu picked up Little Bun and checked to make sure he had no injuries before handing him back to Little White.
“It was her, that woman over there. She was the one chasing after the child. If this magical beast hadn’t blocked it, I’m afraid the child would have suffered ill-fortune.”
The bystanders immediately started complaining about the magician’s black heart.
The magician had quite a reputation on the ship. Her name was Mofei and among the adventurers present, her strength was pretty good. She was only in her twenties so she could be considered a genius by all rights. But because of this, she was narrow minded, arrogant and full of self-importance.
She was unpopular and no one on the ship liked her.
And here she was doing such an outrageous thing in front of everyone, so other than her teammates, no one stepped up to defend her. The others on the ship were happy to see her suffer so complaints about her came one after the other.
Her reputation was turning as black as soot, but she didn’t think it was her fault. It was just inferior people being jealous and trying to make a fool of her.
“That’s enough from all of you!” yelled Mofei. Then she turned to look at Feng Wu.
“You weren’t watching your child! Do you know what that despicable pervert did, huh?! He went and peeped at me when I was bathing!” Just remembering the scene made Mofei want to kill the kid.
What did Little Bun do to be labelled a pervert? Well, since he graduated from all fours to two legs, he had been busy running around all over the ship, and indeed something finally happened one day.
He broke into the ladies’ bathroom.
It just so happened that Mofei was the only one in the bath. Of course, it would not have been an issue if a small child snuck in, but Mofei had a powerful shortcoming: she had a flat chest. Feng Wu had a little bump, but this girl was as flat as a board.
She usually wore robes that covered her figure in such a way that people couldn’t detect her flat chest. She picked her bath times according to when it wouldn’t be in use by anyone else, but this time Little Bun managed to sneak in.
After seeing her body, Little Bun squatted his little booty down and said, “Flat. . . flat. . . flat. . . ”
It was devastating.
Mofei saw red; she wanted to kill the little guy. She dressed as fast as she could and chased after Little Bun. When she got her hands on him. . .
Of course she couldn’t actually tell it like that, so she simplified it by saying Little Bun had peeked at her while she was bathing.
305: Humiliate Her
Peeked at her while she was taking a bath? Really?! She wanted to kill the little kid just for that?
The people there had stupefied expressions on their faces. Her reason was too ridiculous.
“You uneducated woman. Who are you calling perverted? Xiao Ye[notes] is just a baby. So what if he saw you bathe? He’s just one. You worried a one-year-old baby is going to molest you?” Ink had been a temporary dad for so many days, of course he would have special feelings for Little Bun. It was hard to stand anyone scolding the little guy.
Both Mofei’s friends couldn’t help but blush for this reason. Neither of them understood Mofei’s reason for going after the child so fiercely, nor did they have the time to investigate properly. But no matter the reason, Mofei’s reaction was overboard.
“Miss Mofei, you went too far. You not only shouted insults at a one year old, you even tried to kill him. No matter your reason, your actions are unforgiveable.” Not to mention the reason itself was nonsense.
Ming Xi looked at Mofei. His expression was mild yet grave at the same time. It was hard to look him in the eye.
“Don’t scold Xiao Ye.” Feng Wu was more to the point as she glared at Mofei.
She hated people who scolded Little Bun the most. Last time she had slapped Shui[notes] twice because she was scolding Little Bun.
If it hadn’t been for Ming Xi holding her hand, she would have already rushed over and beat Mofei.
“Who wants your forgiveness? That stinking boy peeped at a girl taking a bath. Why can’t I beat and scold him? You should have taught him better if you didn’t want him to get beaten and scolded. I don’t know how you’re even a parent. Can’t even control your own child.”
Mofei wasn’t a fool. If she hadn’t gotten so mad at the little boy, she wouldn’t have chased after him so publicly. She would have punished him where others wouldn’t see. It was just a shame she lost her cool and did it in front of so many people.
She was annoyed at her own impulsiveness, but the words had already been spoken and they couldn’t be taken back. So many had already seen her chasing after the little boy.
“It’s bad that Xiao Ye offended you, but he’s only a little kid. Do you really need to be so heavy handed with a one year old? You were even verbally abusive. Doesn’t Miss Mofei feel that is too much?” Leo joined the fray.
“What are you all doing milling around. Get back to work!” yelled Emoke, the head of the mercenary group. He was displeased to see the mercenaries just hanging around.
Even though the group wanted to see Mofei get what was coming, they had to leave.
Emoke waited until the group of people watching the show properly dispersed before walking over. He frowned in displeasure as he looked at Feng Wu and Mofei’s group.
“No matter who you are, please do not make trouble while on board. Resolve your personal vendettas after you disembark.” He turned around, giving them the cold shoulder, and promptly left without waiting for a reply.
Emoke’s attitude wasn’t great. It was obvious he considered the group outsiders and didn’t like having them on the boat.
His attitude was to be expected though. Under normal circumstances, merchant ships shouldn’t casually take in unidentified passengers. There was a possibility they were letting wolves into their midst, which would in turn making guarding the ship more difficult.
It was no wonder the head of the mercenary group didn’t like them.
After Emoke's departure, Mofei snorted then turned and left as well. The abruptness caught Jier and Ink off guard. Who would have thought such a powerful woman would just walk away?
Mofei’s two companions naturally followed her, but before leaving, they apologized repeatedly on her behalf. They were much more reasonable.
Jier and Ink found it hard to swallow that Mofei left without any kind of punishment. Jier wouldn’t feel better until he taught her a lesson. Even if they weren’t allowed to kill anyone on board, teaching someone a little lesson had to be permissible right?
Later that very night, Feng Wu carefully followed behind Jier. Jier and Ink had knocked on her door a little earlier and had invited her to join them in embarrassing Mofei.
Why would they want to embarrass Mofei? What was embarrassing? Feng Wu wasn’t sure. Understanding dawned on her after Ink explained what it was. They were going to teach Mofei a lesson for Xiao Ye!
Her eyes had lit up. “I’ll go,” was her immediate reply. She followed them to do bad things without hesitation. It was very exciting.
The night was a hot bed of criminal intent and the dark would be perfect cover.
The trio wasn’t going to commit anything serious like murder or arson. They were just going to use some illusion magic to teach Mofei a lesson, much like with Jasmine.[notes]
Jier could have done this kind of simple thing alone. He had only called them all out so they could enjoy the show.
Once his illusion worked, they could just watch the woman make a fool of herself in front of everyone.
The more he thought about it, the more excited he got, and the more wicked the plan became.
The three of them divided into two groups. Feng Wu and Ink would guard outside while Jier entered alone and cast the spell.
“Xiao Wu, just wait and see how unlucky that woman is going to get.” Ink gloated at the upcoming misfortune of another. He giggled twice before catching himself and covering his mouth with one hand. He didn’t want people to find them there.
“Yep.” Her eyes were bright with expectation.
She did not like people who scolded Little Bun, but Ming Xi said they couldn’t fight while on the ship. They had to wait until they docked, but that would take a long time – five whole days. . .
She couldn’t beat the bad person, but Jier said there was another way. Out of blind trust in Jier, Feng Wu followed him. She wanted to see the bad person be taught a lesson.
They had only waited for five minutes when Jier came back out looking confused.
“What’s the matter? Bad luck? Were you discovered?” Ink asked.
“No, no one was inside.” Jier was disappointed. He had been ready to go with his best illusion magic yet. It was one he got as a successor of the four seasons.
306: Mofei’s Death
“Not there? Where could she have gone off to so late at night?” Ink cursed their bad luck and his face showed his unwillingness to give up. He didn’t want to let her off scot free.
Feng Wu’s eyes filled with disappointment. She wouldn’t get to see Mofei suffer misfortune.
“I don’t know where she went. Let’s leave for now and come back tomorrow night.”
Ink was reluctant to leave, but they couldn’t find her, and they couldn’t very well just stand around her door all night. They had come in high spirits but returned to their respective rooms in disappointment. They went to sleep, unaware the night was destined to be a restless one.
A scream rang out early the next morning.
One by one, people ran toward the sound.
Ming Xi and Jier were eating breakfast when they heard the scream. Jier nearly sprayed fresh milk in Ink’s face.
Chaotic footsteps rang out on deck as many people rushed over. The core mercenary group shouted at everyone to return to their posts. Only a small number of people were sent over to investigate.
“What’s the matter?” Margaret had just sat down with her brother for their meal when the scream rang out.
“I don’t know.” Margaret’s brother stood up and looked outside the door.
Margaret nodded. She was a fan of excitement. Something had to have happened and she wanted to see if it would be interesting. “Xiao Wu, it looks like something is wrong outside. Do you want to take a look together?” There were only a few girls on board the ship, and she and Feng Wu were about the same age, so by default, Feng Wu was her favorite girl passenger.
There was also Mofei of course. They weren’t too far apart in age or grade, but unfortunately the girl had a personality that made it hard to get along with. Naturally, Margaret wouldn’t look for her as a companion.
Feng Wu shook her head to the invitation. She continued to eat the bread in her hand, obviously uninterested in the events outside.
Margaret was disappointed, but she didn’t force the issue, instead she invited Jier and Ink. This time her luck was better -- both of them were game; so together all three went outside to check things out.
The only ones left in the dining cabin now were Feng Wu, Ming Xi, and Leo. They ignored the noise outside and ate their meal quietly. They didn’t expect their leisurely meal to be interrupted when Jier and the siblings ran back in, not ten minutes later.
“Bad news! Bad news! Mofei is dead!” cried out Margaret while panting.
Ming Xi, Leo, and Feng Wu: . . .
“Who killed her?” Leo asked after getting over his surprise.
Jier and the siblings pulled up chairs and sat down around the table before pouring a glass of water.
Jier drank some then started. “I don’t know. They haven’t found the murderer yet. The whole thing is a mess. Boss Hart already ordered a full investigation.”
“We don’t know the murderer yet? Then who found the body?” Ming Xi frowned.
“The two guys who were with her. They said they were going to ask her to come to breakfast with them. Her door looked closed when they went over, so they pushed it open, only to find that it wasn't so much closed as just blocked. They pushed it open and there she was. . . dead."
“She died bad. Her body looked really strange. It was really scary. Good thing Xiao Wu didn’t go. Xiao Wu, if you’d seen it, you would have puked your breakfast out.” Margaret drank more water as the pressure sensation in her stomach rolled around. She had vomited her breakfast earlier and she didn’t want to vomit last night’s dinner as well.
“That scary? Is it because you’ve never seen a dead body before and you were scared because it was your first time.” Leo asked suspiciously. He didn’t believe a dead body could be that scary. Only those who’d never seen one before would be so affected that they would vomit.
Ink waved his hand. “No, I can vouch. The corpse was definitely scary and way too abnormal.”
“What do you mean?” Even Ming Xi was interested now.
“Her body was dried and withered. She didn’t have a single drop of blood left. Her clothes were a mess, all old and crumbly. It broke apart on contact, like it was hundreds of years old. There were large maggots crawling all over her body too. Basically, it didn’t look the body of someone who just died. It really looked like she’d been dead for a long time. You say, don’t you think that's strange?” Ink couldn’t help but feel a chill run up his spine just thinking about it.
“Ergh. Don’t remind me. I get the heebiegeebies whenever anyone talks about bugs. I think I’m gonna puke again. . . ” Margaret couldn’t take it. She covered her mouth and rushed outside.
“That is really strange.” Even if they hadn’t seen the body, it was obvious from Ink’s description that something was wrong with it. They didn’t know how Hart or Emoke would handle the matter though.
“Yeah it is really strange. Everyone, be careful. Don’t go anywhere alone. Xiao Wu, make sure you don’t go out by yourself at night. Remember to call us if you have any problems. . . ” Jier was a bit longwinded.
As a result of the murder, security on board was much tighter. Feng Wu and the others were pulled in for questioning by Emoke because of what happened earlier between them and Mofei.
They weren’t convicted of anything, but from the number of patrols around Feng Wu and her group, it was obvious Emoke suspected them.
They were on Hart’s ship and he was in charge. They couldn’t go to him to protest. What could they do other than keep their heads down and stay out of trouble?
They could only hope to reach Biluo soon. Once they got there, they would be able to buy a boat and sail back to Zhongyang themselves.
But things changed the next day. A black tornado, huge with powerful winds, appeared on the waters without any warning.
The air filled with the sounds of animal distress caught in the violent raging waves of the sea.
307: Black Tornado
“Black tornado! What do we do?! It’s a once in a century event! Why did we have to meet it?!”
“I don’t want to die! Oh god, help me!”
“No! No! Don’t come here!”
Panicked shouting erupted on deck because they knew there was no escape from a black tornado. There was only one ending.
The wind made the ship sway and it was difficult to even stand. They had to hold onto something to keep balance when the waves hit. People were toppling all over on deck.
“Everyone in the cabin!” Ming Xi yelled.
Even the siblings, pale faced as they were, went inside. Everyone’s expressions were serious. No one could have predicted something like this would happen so soon after Mofei's murder. Only a day had passed!
Two more people came in after them. They were Mofei’s companion: Myron and Tang. The waves had hit them hard and they were drenched.
“What do we do?! I knew we shouldn’t go to Biluo; now we’re dead!” One of the guys yelled while clutching his head. It was obvious he was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
“I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!” said the other.
“Can you two quit it already?! We aren’t ordinary people. Even if we get swept away, we won’t die, so stop your screaming and crying.” Jier did not appreciate their theatrics. He slammed the table, glaring at the two cowardly men.
The wind and waves were already annoyingly loud; having these two be so loud was only making his head hurt worse.
Xiao Wu touched the ring on her finger. Both Little Bun and Little White were inside the dimensional space. The black tornado outside made her frown. Why did she feel anxious, panicked, as though something was about to happen?
The two guys listened to Jier, but they looked over with a sneer. “Don’t you know? That’s a black tornado, a rare once-in-a-century thing. It nullifies internal energy.[notes] Basically, no matter how powerful you are, you’re just an ordinary person in front of a black tornado. Otherwise, why do you think those people outside are so frightened? It’s because they know they’re dead.”
Jier’s pupil’s shrank slightly. He had never heard of a black tornado before. It wasn’t just Jier. Ming Xi and the others had never heard of it either.
They were all citizens from the main continent, so their knowledge of maritime phenomenon was limited. Black tornado? They thought it was a black tornado because it was black. They never thought it was a special tornado that blocked inner energy.
“Are you serious?” Margaret tried to use her qi for magic, but found she couldn’t. She was like an ordinary person.
Jier and the others also tried, but found they had no luck either. It was useless, whether they tried qi for magic or martial arts; they were just ordinary people.
“It’s coming! It’s coming!”
“Oh help! I don’t want to die!”
“Please, someone save me! I don’t care who! Just save me!”
The crew and guards hired by Hart wailed in ragged voices filled with fear.
The black tornado was coming. They knew what to do.
“Everyone! Hold hands! Do not let go!” Ming Xi’s yell brought everyone back to their senses. They formed a circle as they held hands, even Myron and Tang joined in, after all no one wanted to die. As long as there was hope, they would hold on.
Soon enough the merchant ship was swept up in the tornado and everything began spinning all topsy turvy.
Everyone screamed. It felt like they had turned into spinning toy tops. It felt like the ship was being torn apart.
Feng Wu held tight onto Ming Xi and Jier. She couldn’t even open her eyes because the wind was so fierce. A sea creature suddenly smashed into the group. Ming Xi and them were OK, but Byron, Tang, and the siblings were hit hard enough that they involuntarily released their grip.
Ming Xi didn’t have the luxury to worry about them. He was still connected to Feng Wu, Jier, Leo and Ink, but things were still dangerous.
It wasn’t just one sea creature caught up in the tornado, but thousands. Not to mention there were all the bits and pieces of the broken ship. No matter how these things hit, it would be painful. They would be seriously injured even if they survived the impact.
They would have been fine if they still had their abilities because they could have created a shield, but as ordinary people, they couldn’t do anything other than pray to not to get hit.
There is a saying: What you most fear is what will come to you. They had, through luck, escaped the first catastrophe, however the second came quickly. This time it wasn’t a sea creature that smacked into them, but rather they were the ones who would hit the sea creature.
A huge fish was struggling in front of them. The wind picked the group up and tossed them in the direction of the fish. Who knew what impact would bring?
“Find a way to get to the middle!” Ming Xi yelled.
A pity the wind was too loud and his voice was lost.
“What did you say?!” The wind blew their voices away as soon as they spoke.
Ming Xi had no choice but to use his eyes to communicate. Fortunately, everyone understood and quickly cooperated.
Moving to the center wasn’t easy. There was also a problem. There was the immediate issue of their oncoming collision with the fish.
It was just an ordinary sea creature and not a magical beast, even still, it was big and had really thick skin. They weren’t sure if their thin arms and legs would break upon collision.
No matter how unwilling they were, they still bumped into each other. Luckily it was at the soft underbelly of the fish and not the harder back or head areas. It was painful, but they escaped without internal bleeding.
They weren’t sure what was worse – the fear or the pain.
The faster the wind turned, the more beasts and creatures were ensnared. There was so much marine life enmeshed in the tornado. Several other ships also got caught.
308: The Island
The tornado was still raging but the group couldn’t hold on. Their strength was fading and their grip was weakening. The wind was strong and they couldn’t withstand it for much longer.
Who knew how long it took, but eventually they lost their strength and their grip loosened until their hands eventually parted. The tornado did not relent and more maritime creatures and vegetation, not to mention ships, got pulled into its vortex.
Feng Wu staggered up off the sand. She was on an island she had never seen before. The carcasses of different sea beasts and creatures were piled all around the beach, but she didn’t see anyone else.
“Where is this place? Where is Senior Ming Xi? Where is Jier?” Feng Wu patted her still dizzy head.
She was on an island, but it wasn’t any old island. The sand was black and so were the soil and rocks.
Feng Wu decided to look for Ming Xi first. She stepped carefully around the animal carcasses, checking to make sure there wasn’t anyone underneath.
Luckily it didn’t take her long before she found another person. Feng Wu felt under the person’s nose. There was shallow breathing. What a relief.
“Uh. . . ” groaned the girl as she gradually regained consciousness.
The girl was beautiful, with porcelain skin and excellent clothes. From first glance, it looked like she was a pampered eldest young miss.
The girl slowly opened her eyes. “You! Who are you?!” she uttered as she scooted back and sat up in panic. But because she had been unconscious for so long, her body was stiff and the sudden action made her wobble. She nearly collapsed back onto the sand.
“Feng Wu,” reported Feng Wu when she heard the question.
“What kind of ominous place is this? Why am I here?” The girl was on guard as she looked at Feng Wu. She lowered it once she saw that Feng Wu wasn’t a malicious person. She slowly began looking around at her surroundings.
“You were also involved in the black tornado?” asked the girl. She was unaccustomed to conversing with people while sitting as she was. She was a noble after all.
“Yes. Have you seen my friends Ming Xi, Jier, Ink and Leo?” Feng Wu counted out their names on her fingers. She was in a bad mood because she couldn’t find anyone else.
The girl rolled her eyes. “I just woke up; how could I have seen any of your friends?”
“Oh. . . ” A disappointed Feng Wu didn’t bother saying anything else. She patted the sand off her skirt and turned around, intending to continue her search.
The girl became anxious at the sight. Who knew when she would meet another living person in this inauspicious place? No way was she losing the only other living person around.
“Wait. Let’s go together.” The girl ran after Feng Wu, not caring one bit whether Feng Wu agreed or not. They would just work together until they found more people.
Along the way she shared her name and where she came from. Her name was Liana and she was from the maritime country of Cloud Water, where her father was the left prime minister. It could be said his position was rather important.
Liana had gone to sea because of the sea emperor’s tomb. She had wanted to join in the fun, but she never expected to encounter such misfortune before even reaching the tomb.
She had come with several people in her house, but now she wasn’t sure if they were dead or alive. She had lost contact with all her guards.
The two girls walked along the beach for awhile before they came across one of Liana’s bodyguards and two other guards from Hart’s ship. They didn’t find anyone else though.
“This isn’t working. We should go farther inland,” said one of Hart’s crew. “Maybe the others have walked into the island.”
The other guard shook his head. “You sure you want to venture farther inland? Don’t you think this island is strange? Like a monster with a wide-open mouth just waiting for us to throw ourselves into its trap?” He seemed very frightened of the unknown.
Could you blame him? The island was strange and gave off spooky vibes. The beach was black, the air smelled of blood, yet none was in sight. Everything was black.
Just standing on the beach and looking inland, you could see how black everything was: the land, the plants, everything was washed in shades of black.
You could feel the bad aura just standing on the beach. Who knew how many had to have died for such an ominous atmosphere to be created?
The island was definitely dangerous.
Liana’s female bodyguard frowned. She slowly looked around. “We’ve been searching the beach for so many hours already, if there was anyone other than us here, we would have found them. If there is anyone else still alive, then they’re probably farther inland.”
The crew member shook his head desperately. “No way. You’ve seen it; this island is definitely bad. If we go in, we may not get back out.” He wasn’t willing to go in.
“Zha, don’t be like this. It’s more important to find other survivors.” The other Hart guard was for exploring farther. “Going in is the only way to find them.”
“I don’t want to go Oli. I really don’t want to go. I have a bad feeling about it. Let’s not go.” Zha shook his head. He didn’t change his mind at all.
“Don’t force him. Maybe he thinks it’s safer to stay on the beach. I don’t think so though. I pray everyone for everyone’s safety. Mia, let’s go.” Liana, this noble girl, was actually really calm. Once she got over her initial panic she’d been very calm through out the entire ordeal.
“Feng Wu, do you want to go and have a look?” Liana asked.
Feng Wu nodded. She had to find Ming Xi and the others.
“OK, let’s go together then. You guys,” Liana addressed the two Hart crew members, “can follow us farther inland, or you can stay here on the beach. No one will make you do anything you don’t want to do.” Liana turned around and stepped forward deeper into the island with Mia and Feng Wu.
Oli considered his options and ultimately decided to follow them and explore the island. Staying on the beach wasn’t an option. Besides, he had the feeling the beach wouldn’t be any safer.
He really wanted Zha to come with him, but Zha was certain there were monsters on the island and continued to refuse.
Oli had no choice to but catch up to Liana and her group on his own.
309: The Old Castle
Once Oli joined the group, the four of them marched carefully forward together.
It was a strange island. There was a large forest, but there wasn’t a single animal sound – no animal roars or insect chirps; the only sounds came from the ocean and waves. It felt dead.
Despite not encountering any danger as they climbed up the mountain path, they remained vigilant. They didn’t dare take the island lightly.
They came upon some human bones after climbing for half an hour.
Oli pointed to a large stone next to the bones. “Look! There are words on this.” A line of text was carved on the bottom part of the stone. It looked like it had been done a long time ago.
“What does it say?”
The girls immediately crowded around the stone.
“The writing is too old. It’s written in Common but only a few of the words are still legible.” Most of the text had been blurred with time, but Oli read the parts he could still recognize. “Look here. . . here is the enemy. . . kill. . . none will escape. . . ”
The words made everyone anxious. It really wasn’t a good place.
“Well, let’s keep going.” Liana said.
“That’s the only thing we can do.” They couldn’t retreat. They had no boat and their powers were sealed. There was no choice but to keep moving forward and hope to find a way out.
They had awoken on the beach to find their powers sealed and were now ordinary people without access to their cultivated abilities.
The discovery of the bones left everyone rattled, but they had to keep going. No one spoke, so the group moved silently onward.
They reached the highest point on the island an hour later. An obviously old, dilapidated castle sat at the top.
They stood outside, not sure if they should enter. Since it was the only building in sight, they ultimately decided to go in.
Besides, they needed a place to rest anyway.
The broken doors opened with a horrendous squeak. They looked around the interior and found a surprise.
There were four other figures in the castle!
“People!” exclaimed Mia. She automatically stepped in front of Liana in a protective pose.
“Senior Ming Xi! Jier! Ink! Leo!” Feng Wu ran over.
“Xiao Wu!” Ming Xi grabbed Feng Wu by the shoulders and hugged her. It was clear he was happy to see her.
Jier let him hug Feng Wu for a while before squeezing Ming Xi out and giving Feng Wu a huge hug. He inspected her from head to toe.
“Good, good, you’re OK. I was so worried when I couldn’t find you after I woke up. I’m so glad you’re OK. Now I can finally be at ease.” Jier had been worried something would happen to Feng Wu. He really did love the girl like a little numbskull sister.
Having been squeezed out of the picture, Ming Xi could only look on at the two of them interacting. For the first time in his life, Ming Xi felt the discomforting sensation of feeling sour.
“Xiao Wu, I knew you had to be on the island. If we hadn’t been trapped in this castle, we would have gone out looking for you!”
Ink and Leo both stepped forward.
Feng Wu’s teammates weren’t the only ones inside the castle. Two more of Liana’s guards were there as well. Liana had left with more than just three guards, but these three were the only ones to be found so far. The others, who knew if they were alive or dead.
There were others in the castle as well, including Boss Hart, who was the ship’s owner, Emoke, who was the head of his hired mercenary guard, and Meijei, who was Emoke’s second in command. Then there were Mofei’s two companions, Myron and Tang, as well as five more people Feng Wu didn’t recognize.
“What do you mean by that?” The wording had made Liana’s heart beat fast.
“Quite literally, you can enter but you can’t leave.” Ink replied.
Mia turned to look at the other two guards. Their expressions were heavy as they nodded. Ink wasn’t lying.
Liana was unwilling. She walked to the door and tried it, but despite its dilapidated appearance, it would not budge.
“Don’t bother little sister. We’ve all tried. We wouldn’t be trapped here if we could leave,” sneered a middle-aged woman. She looked unattractive and arrogant with a lady’s saber in her hand.
Liana ignored her. She tried a few more times before giving up and returning to her guards.
“Xiao Wu, where were you when you woke up?” Jier guided Feng Wu to a seat on an old sofa. Ming Xi and the others also gathered around and took a seat.
“The beach.” Feng Wu proceeded to retell exactly what happened after she woke up.
Jier shared his story. “We woke up in different places then. I woke up in a tree halfway up the mountain. I wanted to go to the top to survey the area but never expected to be trapped inside this castle. No matter what I did, I couldn’t leave. More people kept coming in, but none of them could leave either.”
Feng Wu learned that everyone woke up in different places. The only ones to land near each other were Leo and Ink, so they were relatively lucky.
Ink looked to Ming Xi expectantly. “Senior Ming Xi, can you tell where we are?”
“I can’t tell.” Ming Xi shook his head. The island didn’t fit the description for any place he had read about. He knew more about the island’s surroundings from what Feng Wu shared, but it didn’t make the island any easier to identify.
310: A Mysterious Man Appears
It was the strangest island. You couldn’t see the lay out of the island even when you stood on the highest point. Instead, all you saw was the sea; it obscured everything.
Feng Wu and her group had encountered the same thing. Back when they were on the beach, they hadn’t seen the castle, even though it was situated on the highest part of the mountain. All they had seen were the woods and nothing else.
The old castle appeared once they climbed to the top of the mountain. It appeared so suddenly, but yet looked like it had always been there.
“Everyone, this isn’t getting us anywhere. Maybe we can find a way out if we search for clues around the castle.” Boss Hart said after clapping to get everyone’s attention.
“Yeah, we can’t just sit here. We need to look for a way out.”
What Boss Hart said made sense, so everyone agreed to search for clues.
It was a big castle with dozens of rooms divided amongst three floors. Multiplied by three... there were over a hundred rooms to search.
They needed to split up. The group of twenty separated with a few going to each floor.
Feng Wu opened the door to one of the rooms. It looked like it had was cleaned every day, so it was in surprisingly good condition. There was a sofa, wardrobe, vanity table, and a bed with freshly made sheets.
Feng Wu only frowned a little at the condition of the room before she went about searching for clues.
The first thing they needed to figure out was where they were. They couldn’t allow even the smallest clue to escape.
Feng Wu diligently searched the room, looking in all the drawers, under the sheets, and even the carpet.
She went from one room to the next, occasionally seeing the others in the hallway. They would say hello and ask about each other’s progress before resuming their search.
The first floor had been assigned to Ming Xi’s group and one other male mage. No one knew him so they didn’t chat other than to ask about their progress. Despite spending all that time searching, they failed to find any clues.
“Thirty rooms and still nothing!”
Ming Xi’s group returned to the lobby in disappointment.
The group assigned to the second floor had returned before they did.
“Did you have any luck?” Jier asked the other group.
Liana shook her head. “We went through every room but found nothing.”
They could only pin their hope on the third floor. Maybe that group would have good news.
Hart and the others came down five minutes later. He didn’t seem surprised at finding the other group already there.
“Boss Hart, did you find anything?”
A dozen people looked to Hart’s group expectantly as they hoped for good news.
His words cut off their last strand of hope.
“How can this be?! Are we really trapped here?!” Someone groaned as he clutched his head.
No one talked. Since their abilities were sealed, they were just ordinary people. They would starve to death if they couldn’t leave.
“Everyone is aware there is no escape...”
The group’s expression changed drastically at the sound of the elderly voice. Ming Xi unconsciously moved to protect Feng Wu behind him. The others also shifted into a defensive stance despite being sealed.
“Who are you?! Are you the one keeping us all here?! What are your intentions?!” Emoke, head of the mercenary group, yelled out to the invisible man.
Boss Hart couldn’t help but roar out as well. “Yeah! Who are you and why have you locked us up in here?!”
“Yeah! What do you want! Out with it!”
While many people became excited and were asking questions, a few remained silent.
“OK, be quiet and listen to me.” The old voice resonated again after the noise died down. “Welcome everyone, this is my island. I call it Death island because of all the people who died here after being swept ashore by the black tornado. Those that died on the beach have stained the sand red, so red that it has turned black.”
“You killed them?” Liana clarified.
“No. No. I would never kill anyone. No. They killed themselves. If you’re lucky enough to complete something for me, I’ll let you leave. If you are unlucky, you’ll end up like the person over there still on the beach.”
A vision of a person appeared. It was the guy who refused to enter the island with Feng Wu and the group. Zha was standing on the beach with a dazed look on his face. Suddenly small red bugs burrowed up from the sand and began devouring the things on the beach.
It was impossible to tell where the bugs came from, but they easily devoured everything on the beach – including Zha. He screamed horrifically as he was eaten bit by bit.
The group watched as bugs devoured a live human being, bones and all. The cruel scene left everyone with a sense of pity for the poor guy.
“OK, you have all seen how that fellow ended. You will end up just like him if you fail.”
“What do you want us to do?” asked Jier.
This person, they didn’t know how strong he was, where he came from, or even his name, but they knew one thing with certainty – he was strong. While on the island, he was invincible. What could someone like that want from them? What could he want them to accomplish for him?
None of them could figure it out and their current situation didn’t allow them to think about it.
All the mysterious voice said before disappearing was, “It is simple. You will know soon enough.”
They couldn’t hear anything else from the old man nor could they feel his presence. Was he still in the castle somewhere or. . . ? Had he ever been in the castle? Had he projected his voice from somewhere else.?
“Is the person still there?”
“That’s it? He didn’t even say what we were supposed to do!”
Liana asked group in general, “What should we do now?”
Boss Hart thought about it before speaking. “Let’s rest for a while. Didn’t the guy say he wanted us to do something for him? We should be safe, at least until he tells us what it is.”
An old man in a magic robe agreed with Hart. “Yes, that’s true. There’s no use worrying about it for now. Everyone should relax and wait to see what this person is playing at.”
No one knew who the old magician was, but he had the aura of a master, so none of them thought he was a simple person.
The twenty of them sat in the middle of the lobby waiting until night fell, but the owner of the voice didn’t reappear.
“Why don’t we all choose individual rooms to rest in? It’s no use waiting like this.” Boss Hart suggested.
Since their abilities were sealed, their bodies were ordinary again. An entire day of worry and fear had been exhausting. They would have slept already if they weren’t afraid that the voice’s owner would kill them at any time.
A worried looking female magician disagreed. “Go into a room? No, let’s not. It’s better if we stay together. That mysterious person might come back and pick us off one by one. What’ll we do then?”
A lot of people agreed with her. It was too dangerous to rest separately. Better to stick together.
Feng Wu leaned against Ming Xi’s shoulder. Her eyes kept drooping. She wanted to sleep. She had a regularly scheduled naptime. She slept early too, so considering how late it was, she was quite sleepy.
“If you want to sleep, just lean on me for a while. I’ll wake you if anything happens.” Ming Xi saw how tired she looked so he felt her forehead. He was a bit worried about her.
“Hm.” Feng Wu nodded and immediately closed her eyes to sleep.
Ming Xi couldn’t help but silently laugh at how easily she slept, even in such a tense atmosphere. She had a strong, steady heart.
“If the rest of you are tired, go and sleep. I’ll take watch duty.” As their senior, of course Ming Xi would take care of his juniors.
“No, let’s stand on guard together. Jier and Ink can rest.” Leo was a second-year student and the only other senior in the group other than Ming Xi. He felt he should bear some of the burden as well. He didn’t want to leave the responsibility to Ming Xi alone.
There were twenty of them in the lobby, but they were all strangers to each other. Night watch was an important job, so each group assigned their own person. Once that was done everyone was finally at ease resting, but no one went to rest in any of the beds in the rooms.
The old castle was too strange. It was too dangerous to rest separately; no one was fool enough to do so.
“Hey Zhēn! Wake up! Wake up!”
Feng Wu opened her eyes to find a cute, freckled, baby-faced girl in front of her. She was probably no older than fifteen. “Who are you?” Feng Wu asked, dazed and confused.
Feng Wu found herself on a bed underneath a quilt in a room with simple but tasteful decorations. She had never seen the room or the girl before.
“Zhēn, are you still asleep? I’m Annai. Now hurry, the teacher just told us to assemble. We’re about to arrive at Songwei island. We have to pack up to leave.” The girl claiming to be Annai wrinkled her nose helplessly at her friend.
“I’m not Zhēn, I’m. . . ” Feng Wu wanted to correct the girl. Her name was Feng Wu. Before that it was Tian Lan. She had never been this Zhēn person before.
Feng Wu heard a voice that was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It wasn’t the old voice her teammates heard in the castle.
“Little girl, listen to my words. The game is beginning. Remember to stay alive. Stay alive until the end and find the truth.”
What did that mean? Feng Wu didn’t understand. Where was Senior Ming Xi and Jier? Where was everyone? She wanted to think about everything that had happened, but Annai wouldn’t give her time.
Annai lifted the quilt up and pulled Feng Wu out of bed. “Quickly wash. I’ll pack.”
Annai dragged Feng Wu up to the deck after Feng Wu washed and dressed. There were a lot of people on deck.
“We’re finally here. My body is so wobbly after staying on the boat for so long.
“I see it! There it is! Songwei island!”
“That’s great news. I don’t have to kill myself with sleep meds anymore!”
“Why did you need pills?”
“Don’t bother with that guy. He gets seasick every time he gets on a boat. Now he finally gets to get off.”
“Ha! Serves him right!”
“Yeah! Totally deserved it!”
Feng Wu stood to the side watching the group bicker. What was going on and why was she with them? Perhaps because the girl she played was like this normally, so no one thought it was odd.
“Zhēn, look. That’s Songwei island over there. Isn’t it pretty?” Annai asked as she looked at the island off in the distance. Her eyes were full of joy.
Feng Wu saw a pretty island when she followed Annai’s gaze. It was verdant and lush with overflowing green. It looked like a good place to play and vacation.
“Alright, we’ve arrived. Everyone, disembark.” There were two strong teachers, one male swordmaster and one female magician with the group.
They were greeted by a middle-aged, well-dressed man as they disembarked one at a time.
312: Jier is Now a Woman
“Miss, it must have been a hard voyage,” said the well-dressed gentleman.
“Send people to help everyone with their belongings after you greet them properly. Have the rooms been prepared?” The girl’s eyes were full of haughty, pride as she asked her butler the question.
“Please rest assured Miss; it has been arranged.”
“Lead the way then. Everyone is tired after such a long journey. It took over a month. The island Father purchased is too far,” complained the girl quietly.
The butler sent people to help with everyone’s luggage. Feng Wu and Annai trailed behind the group at the end, while everyone else clustered around the girl.
“Yanaimo’s family is so rich. Her father bought her such a beautiful island just so she could use it to celebrate her birthday. It’s a totally different life. When am I gonna have such a good island for my own personal use?” whispered a young girl not too far ahead of Feng Wu.
To that, an envious voice replied, “Keep dreaming. You’re forgetting who Yanaimo’s parents are. They have businesses in a bunch of countries. Plus her mom is the eldest Bohai princess. It’s not just about being rich, her pedigree is amazing too.”
Yanaimo had the most wealth and prestige in her class.
They were only on the island because she had invited them to play there for vacation.
Annai whispered into Feng Wu’s ear. “Zhēn, try not to be alone too often. Yanaimo inviting you here, she must have bad intentions. She’s never liked you, but you’re clever, so make sure you don’t give her the opportunity. OK?”
Did this message mean the enviable Yanaimo had a bad relationship with Zhēn?
“I will be careful.”
“Yanaimo is too much. She targeted you just because Airon said a few words to you. She’s been troubling you again and again. I heard that this vacation trip to Songwei island, the teacher knew you guys didn’t get along and weren’t going to let you come, but Yanaimo asked for you specifically by name, saying that she didn’t have any bad intentions toward you. . . I don’t believe it though.”
Annai had been whispering to Feng Wu for a while, but the only reaction she got was some eye widening. It made her wonder.
“Zhēn, are you OK? You’ve been really quiet.”
Normally Zhēn would have had a lot to say about it, so it was strange to Annai that Zhēn was so quiet.
“I’m OK. I don’t want to talk.”
Annai decided not to say anything else and just quietly enjoy the beautiful scenery with Feng Wu.
Yanaimo’s family had built the castle on the highest point of the island. It had to have cost a lot of money, considering how big and luxurious it was.
Feng Wu was stunned by the sight of the castle. Wasn’t it the same castle as the ancient castle on the island of death? Except for the appearance in age, both castles were exactly the same.
Once she entered the main lobby, she knew it was the same castle they were trapped in.
Why was this happening?
Feng Wu wasn’t smart enough to figure everything out. Were the two islands the same? What happened? Why did Songwei island turn out the way it did? Feng Wu had a lot of questions, but no one to answer the questions for her.
The butler sent people to help the party to their individual rooms. There were plenty of choices so each person would get their own private room.
The room assigned to Feng Wu was the most out of the way and obscure one, but she didn’t have any opinions about it and didn’t ask any questions.
The maid had been prepared to answer questions, so it threw her off to not be questioned.
Feng Wu entered the room and had planned on sorting out her thoughts when a knock sounded on her door. She opened the door suspiciously. Outside was the maid from earlier.
“Xiao Wu?” The maid asked tentatively in a pleasant voice.
“Who are you?” Feng Wu was taken aback. How did this maid know her real name?!
“It is you!” The little maid was excited as she tugged Feng Wu into the room by the hands. Then she closed the doors.
Feng Wu wasn’t sure so she asked, “Are you Jier?”
“How can you tell?!” Jier had transformed so much that even he couldn’t recognize himself. His eyes widened in disbelief. Feng Wu still recognized him! That was just incredible!
Feng Wu explained, “You pull my hand the same way. And your eyes widen the same.”
Jier’s appearance had changed, but his mannerisms were still the same. Feng Wu had had a good impression of the maid when the maid first approached her. It was an unconscious sense of affection, so she didn’t doubt the maid’s identity.
“Wow, we must be really good friends, that you can recognize me even in. . . this,” and with a loud thump, he sat down violently on Feng Wu’s bed. He kept touching his hair and his face, obviously still unused to his new identity.
Feng Wu looked in the mirror. “How did you recognize me?” Her appearance had completely changed. Zhēn was a silver-haired beauty; the two looked nothing alike.
“Your temperament is easy to recognize. I had my suspicions so I came to test it out. And it really is you.” Jier sighed in relief at his good luck at having found Feng Wu so soon.
He didn’t know what identities everyone else was assigned, so he was still searching. It would be fun to see if anyone else had also changed genders. It would be too unfair if he was the only one.
“Why are we here?” Feng Wu knew Jier was smart. Whenever she had a problem, she would ask someone smarter than she was.
Jier shrugged. “I don’t know. Later that night, I just suddenly felt really sleepy and fell asleep. When I woke up, I was like this.” Jier gestured to himself. “It took me half an hour to get used to it.”
313: The Murders Begin
“Xiao Wu, I can’t stay for long. I wanted to ask you, did that mysterious person say anything to you?” Jier was a maid with work to do, so he couldn’t disappear for too long. It would be over if he were to be discovered.
“He said it was my task to live to the end and find out the truth.”
“Yeah, he said the same thing to me, live as long as possible and find out the truth. It seems like something unexpected is going to happen.” Jier touched his chin. “I can’t stay any longer, but I’ll come by again later tonight.”
Feng Wu saw him to the door. He left after confirming the coast was clear.
The remoteness of the room worked out for them. Had it not been so remote, they may have been discovered.
That night, Yanaimo arranged a delicious meal for everyone.
Feng Wu had no resistance to food, so she ate in the dining room with everyone else. The dishes had been carefully prepared by the chef, so they were delicious. Feng Wu received a lot of eyerolls for her enthusiasm toward her food, but unfortunately for the people rolling their eyes, she didn’t notice them at all. She was only interested in eating.
The others knew Yanaimo didn’t like Zhēn, so they ignored Zhēn or mocked her. Had this been the real Zhēn, she would have been saddened by the entire charade, but this was Feng Wu, and Feng Wu wasn’t socially adept enough to understand such subtle hints. She returned to her room after dinner.
Thunder and lightning accompanied heavy rainfall that night. Feng Wu closed her windows and drew the curtains. When Jier returned later that night, they found they had no valuable information to share. He had failed to find anyone else in the group.
A scream sounded out the next morning, followed a few minutes later by a relentless banging on Feng Wu’s door.
When Feng Wu opened it, she found Annai with a horrified look on her face. “It’s not good Zhēn! Alunde is dead!”
“Dead?!” Feng Wu’s eyes widened in surprise. Both she and Jier had guessed something big would happen soon, but neither of them expected it to happen so soon. Someone was already dead and it was only the first day.
Feng Wu and Annai went to Alunde’s room.
It was a horrible death, and from the way his remains were found, it looked like he went unwillingly and with strong grievance in his heart. In fact, his heart lay gouged out along with his severed limbs while his swollen eyeballs protruded from their sockets.
The death was horrific and had happened on her island, so Yanaimo felt her reputation was at stake. She ordered a thorough investigation regarding the matter.
No one could have foreseen that it was just the beginning. From that day onwards, someone died every day, from students to servants. It didn’t matter their status. The shadow of death loomed over the entire island.
Four students and three maids were dead by the seventh day; however, they failed to make any headway into the investigation. Because of this, the teachers decided to leave Songwei island and return to school.
Yanaimo didn’t want to remain on the island either, so on the eight day everyone agreed to leave together.
But would they really be able to leave?
They found their boat destroyed when they returned to the beach. And it wasn’t just their boat either, all the boats on the island were destroyed. That wasn’t the worse of it. From that day onwards, everyone on the island lost their abilities and reverted to being ordinary people. They were about to go crazy.[notes]
Zhēn’s strength, though never strong to begin with, completely vanished. It was just like death island, none of them could keep their abilities.
The death tally increased every day, until eventually, there was only fifty people left alive, then just as suddenly the deaths stopped. Originally, including all the servants, there had been one hundred people.
The remaining fifty were like frightened kittens who were surrounded by death’s shadow.
Jier was finally reunited with Ink, Ming Xi, and Leo, however none of them had had their genders changed. [notes]
Ming Xi was a male guard on the island; Ink was an unremarkable and thin male classmate; while Leo was probably the oldest out of all the them – he was a middle-aged servant.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any one else from their boat. Were the others just really good at acting and hadn’t given themselves away?
“Zhēn, I want to bathe. Will you come with me?” Annai stood outside Feng Wu’s door with a change of clothes in her hand and a worried expression on her face.
“OK.” Feng Wu nodded easily.
The conditions on the island were very good. Every room had its own washroom with a toilet, so the only time anyone had to leave their rooms would be to bathe in the public bath.
Yanaimo’s family had a large hot spring bathing area built for her because they knew how much she liked to bathe. It was divided into two parts: one private bathing area for Yanaimo and another public area for everyone else.
Feng Wu and Annai held their clothes as they walked into the bathing area at the back of the castle. The girls relaxed as they soaked in the hot spring.
“Zhēn, I have to use the toilet. Wait for me.” Annai climbed out of the water and put her clothes on.
Feng Wu nodded, letting the other girl know she had heard. Her eyelids were getting heavy as she soaked in the water. Eventually they were so heavy, she couldn’t keep them open.
A rope appeared from behind and snaked around her neck.
Feng Wu instantly woke up, but there was no strength in her body, so although she wanted to resist, she was unable. Breathing became more and more difficult, until eventually she lost consciousness.
314: Feng Wu’s Incident
[notes]The person behind Feng Wu took out a knife and used it to cut Feng Wu’s wrists. Then he dropped her wrist down and let the blood flow into the water. The man watched with a sneer as the blood dyed the water red. Soon after, he left through another exit.
Annai returned a few minutes later. Trailing behind her were two other classmates who had also wanted to take a bath. The two girls had agreed to meet and had run into Annai on the way over, so they ended walking together as a group.
Annai was worried about leaving Feng Wu alone for too long, so she had rushed back with the two girls as soon as she could. The three of them walked into the bathing area and saw Feng Wu sitting completely still with her back to them inside the water.
Annai took her clothes off as she talked, not noticing anything was amiss. “Zhēn, I’m back. Sorry I took so long. I ran into Fila and Moqi, so I brought them back with me.”
“Zhēn, you are gutsy. We don’t know where the murderer is and here you are taking a bath by yourself.” Fila took off her skirt as she talked.
Moqi was also undressing. “Yeah, I wouldn’t have dared stay alone.
The three girls wrapped a towel around their bodies after undressing. They were thinking about the enjoyable soak, but as they got closer, they noticed the water was tinted red. Blood!
“Ah!” screams rent through the air. The girls were so scared their faces lost all color. Annai, who had a good relationship with Feng Wu, even collapsed to the ground.
“What’s the matter?”
“Was there another incident?”
“Has the killing started again? That damn devil!”
People cursed effusively as they rushed from the castle to the public bath.
“Who’s in trouble this time?!”
What the survivors saw were two girls hugging each other in fright and another on the ground looking just as frightened.
“Zhēn! Something happened to Zhēn!” Annai shouted through her tears.
The expression on Ming Xi and Jier’s faces dramatically changed when they heard this. Wanting to ascertain the situation with Feng Wu, they stepped forward and felt for her pulse. They exchanged relieved glances when they found the weak, but still discernible, beat.
“Miss Zhēn, Miss Zhēn is still alive. We can save her.” Jier hadn’t forgotten his identity as a low-ranking maid. He had attracted attention when he stepped forward, so he had to be careful to not stand out too much.
“Quickly! Pull Zhēn up!” Even if Yanaimo didn’t like Zhēn, this was a life and saving one was important. She immediately ordered two maids to pull Feng Wu out of the water.
“The men should go outside first.” Jier didn’t want all these guys staring at Feng Wu naked. She was in a bath, so naturally she would be naked. The water blocked their view of anything below the shoulders, but once out of the water, she would be completely bare. Even if it wasn’t Feng Wu’s actual body, he still didn’t want them to be staring.
The men were aware it was inappropriate for them to be there, so they left the area after Jier finished talking. It would be great if they could ask her who the murderer was. Once they caught the person, they could stop living in fear.
All the men left, including Ming Xi. Jier stayed behind but he shifted his eyes away from Feng Wu, so as not to take advantage of her.
After the maids pulled Feng Wu out of the water and dressed her, the guard, played by Ming Xi, came back to carry her back to her room. The butler then found medicine to treat her wounds. Because she had been discovered so quickly, her blood loss wasn’t serious and they were able to stabilize her, but had they been any later, the outcome could have been bad.
“What happened here?! The three of you, tell me what happened to Zhēn!”
The two teachers who came with the group made their appearance. At times like this it was important to have figures of authority preside over things.
“Teacher Ballard, we don’t know what happened either. Zhēn was already like this by the time we got there!” Fila's face was as white as a ghost and her eyes were puffy red from crying.
“Teacher, we really don’t know anything.” Moqi repeated what Fila said.
Judging from how distressed they were, the girls had to be very frightened, but probably because of all the deaths recently, no one was in the mood to be sympathetic. They were preoccupied with figuring out who the murderer was.
“How can Zhēn go to the spring alone?! You were all warned not to do anything by yourselves!”
“Teacher Del Leo, Zhēn didn’t go by herself. She and I went together, but I had to use the toilet, so I left for a little bit. I was only gone for a few minutes, I swear! I never thought something like this could happen in just a few minutes. It was my fault! If I hadn’t asked Zhēn to come with me to the bath, this would never have happened!”
Annai blamed herself. She and Zhēn had naturally gravitated towards each other because they were both open and honest individuals. How could she forgive herself if something happened to Zhēn?
“Don’t cry Annai. Zhēn wouldn’t blame you, so you shouldn’t be sad.” Teacher Ballard comforted Annai by patting her softly on the shoulders.
“All of you must take care in the future. If you want to bathe, be sure to go in the day. Don’t leave the castle at night and give the culprit opportunities to do you harm.” Del Leo sighed. The murderer’s reappearance put everyone on edge and it felt like they would all collapse soon.
They knew there was a dangerous person out there trying to kill all of them, and yet they dared to bathe in such a remote place in the middle of the night. Their vanity was going to be the death of them.
Annai whispered, “I know I was wrong teacher. I won’t do it again.”
“As long as you know your wrongs.” As long as they knew why they were wrong, Del Leo wasn’t going to embarrass the girls. He turned and asked the butler, “What is the current situation with Zhēn? When will she wake up?”
Everyone was interested in the question, after all more than half of them had been murdered. If they didn’t catch the killer soon, it was possible they would all die.
315: Margaret’s Question
“Miss Zhēn needs rest because of all the blood she lost. I’m afraid we can’t wake her up tonight.”
Everyone was disappointed but they couldn’t forcibly wake an injured person. They returned to the castle to rest.
Margaret[notes] opened her eyes to bright sunlight. She was inside a cabin in a large and unfamiliar ship. Her body felt limp and tired so she got up slowly and carefully. She saw Feng Wu lying next to her.
“Xiao Wu! Xiao Wu! Wake up!” Margaret patted Feng Wu’s face, but it was no use. Feng Wu refused to wake up.
“You’re awake! You’re lucky to have woken up!” A tall man in his twenties with blue hair walked in. His eyes were full curiosity.
“Did you save us?” Margaret wasn’t a fool. Considering the current situation, they had to have been rescued.
The last thing she remembered before losing consciousness was being whipped around by the tornado. It was amazing she was still alive.
“Yes, you guys were really lucky! You happened to float by near our ship. I had the crew pull all of you up.” The guy didn’t mind explaining at all.
“Other than me and Feng Wu here, did you see my older brother, Matheson?” Margaret asked nervously.
“Your older brother is also here. He woke up this morning but fell asleep after checking in on you.”
Margaret breathed a sigh of relief.
“We rescued four other males as well. They were youngish men. Don’t know if you know them or not.”
“Can I go and see them?” Margaret wasn’t sure if it was Ming Xi and the others. There had been so many people on the Hart’s ship.
“Of course, as long as you are up to it.” The young man didn’t intend to stop her. It was her body; if she wanted to go check instead of resting, then it was her business.
“I’m fine. Can I see them now?”
“Of course. I’ll lead the way. My name’s Basil by the way. My grandfather is the ship’s owner.”
“My name’s Margaret.”
Basil brought Margaret to the other people he had rescued. It turned out Margaret did know them. There were Ink and Leo and the deceased Moffei’s companion, Myron and Tang. Ming Xi and Jier weren’t there. She didn’t know if they had been rescued by other ships.
“I know them. All of us took the same ship to Biluo. We never expected to encounter a black tornado, ha a rare once-in-a-century event.” Margaret smiled bitterly. Were they lucky or unlucky? Good thing they managed to live through it.
“I know, your brother told us about the tornado when he woke up.” He pointed to the sleeping Matheson, who was lying next to the other four guys.
“Thank you. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have survived.” Margaret was genuinely grateful.
“There’s no need to thank me. It was due to your own fortunate luck that you awoke at all. These guys are not so lucky.” His voice held a trace of regret as he glanced at the others sleeping.
“What do you mean? Are Xiao Wu and the others seriously injured?”
Basil looked at the sleeping people as he spoke, “If it was just a normal injury, it wouldn’t be a problem. But these aren’t simple injuries.”
“What do you mean?! Did they suffer some kind of internal injury that’s difficult to heal?” Most injuries could be healed with magic and medicine. Only the most grievous injuries and incurable diseases couldn’t be handled.
“If it was just that, it wouldn’t be a problem. I can’t explain it properly. Go and see my grandfather. He is a great necromancer. He can explain the situation with your friends more clearly.”
Necromancer? What was he talking about? Margaret’s comprehension abilities were limited because she didn’t study. Shouldn’t a wood or light magician treat them if they were injured? Why was there a need for a necromancer?
Did he mean Xiao Wu and the others were dying? Why did Margaret have such a bad premonition about this? She felt like crying.
Feng Wu slept all night after being attacked by an unknown assailant. The butler had the kitchen make some healing tonics for Feng Wu and sent Jier to take care of her. Jier’s acting had been really good.
As a result, Jier was the first person Feng Wu saw when she woke up.
“En, it hurts though.” Feng Wu timidly touched her neck. Her throat felt uncomfortable when she talked. Swallowing hurt too. Her neck had been salved with medicine but a deep mark was still visible.
“Idiot! You know you almost died!” Jier lightly knocked her on the head. She had suffered such a serious injury. It was the first time he had ever seen her so injured. She nearly died!
“It hurts.” The pain in her wrist was the second most pained part of her body. She wanted to be spoiled for a bit.
“If the pain is too much, don’t talk. Just write instead.” Jier knew her throat hurt her. Seeing the healthy and hale her so weak made him uncomfortable.
“But first listen to me. All you have to do is nod or shake your head. First, did you see who attacked you?” This was something everyone wanted to know.
Feng Wu shook her head in the negative.
“Did you smell anything usual?”
Feng Wu remembered. She nodded her head.
“OK, write it down.” Jier gave her a pen and a stack of paper.
316: Can’t Understand It
Feng Wu obediently wrote down what she smelled and how she felt. Sha sha sha, the sound of the pen sounded across the paper. She handed the sheet to Jier after finishing.
“You smelled a floral scent, then you felt sleepy? Then someone strangled you. You tried to struggle but didn’t have any strength. You fainted after that. Correct?”
Feng Wu nodded. It made her uncomfortable that she couldn’t use her abilities to hear the plants and animals.
So in other words, Feng Wu hadn’t seen the person who attacked her. She didn’t even get a glimpse of what they were wearing. Jier left her to rest after getting her answers.
He asked the people who surrounded him the moment he closed the door to meet in the hall. Ming Xi hid in the dark, guarding Feng Wu’s door in case the perpetrator wanted to try anything, in case the culprit tried to kill Feng Wu again.
“How did it go? What did Zhēn say? Did she see the murderer? She must have right?” Yanaimo immediately asked. She was going to go mad; there had been so many recent deaths. They had to get useful information from Zhēn and capture the murderer.
Jier shook his head. “Miss Zhēn didn’t see anything. Because of the wound on her throat, I asked her to write down her replies instead.” Jier was acting as a maid, so he handed Yanaimo the sheet Feng Wu had written her answers on.
Yanaimo’s face looked horrible after reading the sheet.
The paper was passed around to everyone. Their expressions also fell after reading it. They had so hoped there would be some useful clues. They never expected there not to be a single one.
No one asked about Feng Wu’s injuries. The only ones who cared were the two teachers and Yanaimo. The others were focused on staying alive. What did someone else’s life or death matter to them?
Ink was cast as one of Feng Wu’s classmates. He didn’t dare act too concerned because he didn’t want anyone to get suspicious about his disguise. The relationship between the characters they were playing was actually a bad one. It would have been out of character if he suddenly changed his behavior.
The shroud of death hanging over their heads made them keenly aware how quickly the scythe could sever their necks.
The sky was clear, the air was calm and the sun sparkled brilliantly off the water. It was very peaceful.
Margaret followed Basil to his grandfather. The old man was a decent and kind-hearted, well-known necromancer named Sheldon. His eyes were kind. Margaret was positively inclined towards him the moment she saw him.
“Sit down child.” Sheldon wasn’t surprised to see Margaret. He welcomed her warmly.
“Hello. Thank you for saving me and my friends.” Margaret was reserved when she spoke.
“You are welcome my child. It was simply fate that we met.”
“Grandfather, can you tell me what happened to my friends? Young Master Basil said they won’t wake up. What did he mean by that? Are my friends seriously ill?” Margaret was really worried about Feng Wu’s injuries.
Although she had only met Feng Wu recently, she had developed a good impression of the cute and simple girl. They had become good friends. She didn’t want anything bad to happen to Feng Wu.
Sheldon sighed upon hearing Margaret’s question. “No child. Come with me.” Sheldon stood up and motioned for Margaret to follow him.
He led her to the bow of the boat. “Do you see that island?” He pointed to a green, lush looking island up ahead.
“I do. It’s beautiful.” Margaret didn’t understand why he asked, but she answered honestly.
“One hundred years ago it was called Songwei island, now it’s called Death island.”
“Death island. . . That grandpa. . . I just want to know what’s wrong with my friends. Does this island have anything to do with them?” Margaret didn’t understand.
“Of course. If I’m not mistaken, they should be on that island.”
“Wait?! What? Xiao Wu and the others are right here on the boat. How can you say they’re on that island? That doesn’t make any sense.” What she really wanted to question was the grandpa’s brain. Was he getting silly in old age?
Or course, no matter how stupid she was, Margaret would never say such a thing out loud. She would definitely get kicked off the boat and become food for the sea creatures.
“Their bodies are here, but their souls are on that island.” Sheldon could tell at a glance if a person’s soul was still attached to their bodies.
“Soul?! You mean they can’t wake up because their souls are trapped on that island?” Margaret was shocked. She had finally caught on to what the grandpa was saying. “How can this be? What can we do? We have to go to the island and get them back!”
If it had just been physical injuries, it would have been fine. They could be healed with medicine and magic and a good plan of action. But this. . . their souls were gone. What could she do?
Sheldon shook his head before sighing. “It is impossible. That island is no longer accessible to any living creature. Entering Death island will only result in death.”
“Then I’m really confused! How are the souls of Xiao Wu and the other guys on the island then?! What does it matter? I don’t understand!” She thought she understood, but now she wasn’t sure.
“The island is related to the tragedy that happened one hundred years ago. Since then, Songwei island has become known to all as Death island. None has been able to enter. None have left alive.” He sighed thinking about it.
Patreon draft at c328; Labor Day extras also up
317: Relying on Oneself
None left alive? Margaret was shocked; it felt like she was involved in something terrible.
“Grandpa, please tell it to me clearly. Can Xiao Wu be saved? I don’t understand everything you’re saying.” She just wanted to know if there was a way to help Xiao Wu and the others, but the grandpa kept talking about so many things she didn’t understand. Margaret was at her wits end.
Sheldon saw her eagerness to save her friends. “There is not. They must rely on themselves for their own salvation.”
“Say Grandpa, can you not speak so esoterically. I haven’t read a book since I was really little and I’ve never passed a cultural course. . . ”
Grandpa Sheldon:. . .
He coughed lightly. He was getting a headache dealing with this girl. Why was she so lousy?
“To put it plainly, their souls are trapped on the island. They must rely on themselves if they want to leave it. Outsiders can not interfere.” Sheldon spoke bluntly.
Finally. Margaret understood. She knew her cultural knowledge was lousy. She got drowsy every time she had a class on it. But it was her teacher’s fault. The old woman was so longwinded and opinionated when she talked. Maybe it was because she didn’t have a boyfriend, maybe because she’d lived a hermit life for so long, but her mentality was really skewed!
“So our only option is to wait? Is there really nothing we can do?” Margaret was unwilling.
Sheldon shook his head. “There is no other way. The one on the island will not allow the souls to leave so easily.” He seemed to be gazing at something from the past.
“What ‘one on the island’?” Margaret knew intuitively that the guy the old gramps mentioned had to be the same guy responsible for keeping everyone asleep.
“He is a pitiful person, a memory from long ago. Let us not speak of him anymore. Your body is still healing, so you should rest. Do not overexert yourself child.” Sheldon broke out of his reverie and waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal.
Though Margaret was concerned about the safety of her friends, she knew to exercise moderation. It wasn’t the right time to pressure the old gramps. He definitely knew something. She just had to wait for the right time to ask more questions.
Back at the room, Margaret looked at Feng Wu’s sleeping figure. She tried to wake her friend up again, but it was no use. “Xiao Wu, you have to wake up soon. . . ,” sighed a despondent Margaret.
A male student disappeared the day after Feng Wu’s incident. His body was found in a flower bed with the jaw arteries scraped open.
The days that followed were horrible. Every day someone was found dead in some novel, horrific way. The murders continued with no signs of stopping. The students, the servants, everyone felt demoralized. From time to time someone would start wailing and crying.
The two teachers organized a search party and looked all over the island; however they couldn’t find the murder or anyone suspicious. They were the only ones on the island, so therefore the murderer had to be one of them.
Whoever it was, hid very well and acted without leaving a single clue.
Feng Wu’s wounds had healed after several days of rest. She could now get up and walk around.
Ming Xi and the others had been studying the way the murderer operated. Their methods weren’t great, but they did come up with some insights.
While Ming Xi and the others were doing that, the teachers organized everyone into patrol parties. Each party consisted of five people who had to always stay together. No one was allowed to act independently. This way the perpetrator wouldn’t be able to make a move without someone witnessing something.
It worked really well. No one was killed for two days afterwards.
The teachers and Yanaimo called a meeting. Everyone, except for a small patrol party, joined.
“Everyone, let’s talk about this. What do you think of the murderer? Has anyone discovered anything new?” Teacher Del Leo asked the assembled group of survivors. Not counting the patrol party outside, there were about twenty of them.
There had been a hundred of them originally, so the dwindled number was shocking.
“I have something to say.” The boy who spoke was named Airon. The ladies were positively inclined towards him because he was handsome and carried himself with confidence.
Airon was something of a teacher’s pet. Teacher Del Leo really like Airon because the boy worked hard, wasn’t arrogant or impetuous. He was an easy student to have in class.
He was the guy Yanaimo had a crush on. In order to suppress the girls around him, she had done a lot of unsavory things, including a few things to Zhēn.
Talking ceased the moment Airon stood up. He was really popular in school, so with the exception of a few students, most were willing to listen to him.
“Just speak what’s on your mind Airon.” Del Leo nodded toward the boy.
Airon watched everyone calmly without a trace of stage fright, despite having all eyes on him.
318: Airon’s Thoughts
Yanaimo looked at Airon with an infatuated gaze. This man that she loved was the only suitable match for her.
“Teachers, fellow students, I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but there was a pattern to how every student died.”
“A pattern? Did you notice something Airon?” Teacher Ballard was interested.
Airon nodded. “Everyone, please take a look at these drawings.” He promptly produced a stack of papers filled with drawings.
Everyone knew Airon enjoyed drawing, so no one was surprised he happened to have a stack of paper on him.
Airon neatly arranged the drawings on the table. Each sheet vividly portrayed how someone died. The details were meticulously drawn and included everything from the decorations in a room if it was indoors, to the natural landscape if it was outdoors.
Ming Xi was on patrol so he did not get to see the drawings, but the maid (Jier) and skinny school boy (Ink) were present and able to see them. The drawings were so good that Ink couldn’t help but admire the talent and skill of the artist.
Leo, who had become a manservant, was standing on the outer perimeter of the group, so he couldn’t move forward to see the drawings. How disappointing. He really wanted to see them too. . .
“What are you trying to say with these drawings?” asked Teacher Del Leo.
The others were also confused. Were there some kind of major clue in the drawings?
“Everyone, please look. I have notated both the method and time of death. Do you see a pattern?”
What was it? Was there really something in the drawings?
Everyone studied the drawings, desperately trying to find some sort of clue. But try as they might, they couldn’t find anything other than the fact that everyone died a terrible death with their eyes open.
Seeing that no one noticed anything, Airon decided not to keep them in suspense and proceeded to sort the drawings into five categories. “Now do you see anything?”
Was there a difference? Most didn’t get it, but the two teachers did and their eyes widened in surprise at the realization.
Del Leo cried out as he slapped his forehead, “Why didn’t I think of it?!”
“I only now see it as well. How embarrassing that the students had to remind us of it.” Ballard smiled bitterly. To need one of their own students to point something as basic as this out to them, they really had shirked their duties as teachers.
“Teacher, what did you notice?”
Feng Wu was looking at the drawings along with everyone else. The more she looked at them, the stranger they became.
“There are gold, wood, water, fire and earth.” Feng Wu explained with these simple words.
“Gold, wood, water, fire, earth?! No way! So that’s how it is. The people in this stack all died in gold. The ones here all died in earth, and here – water. These are fire and these – wood!”
The others were able to understand after Feng Wu reminded them. It looked like everyone died in one of five surroundings.
“Zhēn! You’re so smart! You were able to tell just by looking.” Annai grabbed Feng Wu’s sleeve as she expressed her admiration.
“Yes, it is as Zhēn said. Everyone here died in either the woods, in water, in fire or in the earth. If the murderer just wanted to kill someone, why go through so much trouble to be this elaborate? I suspect the culprit is trying to perform an evil ritual.”
Yanaimo did not like Zhēn getting Airon’s attention, and it showed in her expression, which was looking rather bad.
“Evil ritual!” Both teachers had also thought of this. It was true, there was no reason to resort to such trickery if the intent was only to kill someone.
“There’s one more thing.” Airon continued after checking that everyone was paying attention. “I found out that the murderer isn’t a physically powerful person.”
“How did you come to that conclusion?” Yanaimo couldn’t help but ask.
“Do you remember the day Zhēn was attacked? She said she was bathing in the spring when she suddenly felt sleepy. She couldn’t fight back when she was attacked. I thought that was odd, so I went back to the scene to search for clues.”
“What did you find?” Everyone was curious.
“I found a sedative on the ground. The liquid would have evaporated had I gone any later.”
“You mean someone drugged Zhēn? That’s why she was so weak?” His classmates weren’t stupid. They caught on quickly.
“Exactly. I extracted the ingredients from the liquid and discovered it was some kind of medicinal liquid made from a specific type of herb. The liquid becomes breathable gas when mixed with oxygen. Anyone who breathes it in will become drowsy and eventually lose consciousness. That person would then be at the mercy of the perpetrator.”
“She really was drugged!” No one expected that. Zhēn had become an ordinary girl, so they had thought she was simply too frightened to fight back. It turned out she had been drugged.
“That’s why I say the murderer isn’t a physically strong person. If the person was strong, then why not use brute strength to overpower their victims? Why resort to using drugs?”
There was sense in Airon’s words. If the murderer was really strong, why go to all the trouble of using drugs?
“Then the murderer isn’t necessarily a man, but could be a woman!” Someone in the crowd whispered.
The words made other people realize this was true. Someone who had to rely on drugs to kill someone couldn’t be very strong. It didn’t have to be a man; it could be a woman.
They eyed each other with this new information in mind. Their faces changed. Any one of them could be the murderer and everyone was a possible suspect.
They created an image of the murderer based on the revelations. The investigation was progressing. . .
319: Ming Xi’s Reasoning
They met for two hours before everyone finally adjourned to their respective rooms to rest.
Feng Wu returned to her room. Soon after Jier and the other guys rushed over as well. The outside meeting was over, but now they needed their own meeting.
“What that Airon guy said was reasonable.” Jier rexplained Airon’s reasoning to the rest of the group.
Ming Xi thought for a moment before saying, “There is some good logic in it, but it’s not without flaws.”
“What’s wrong with his reasoning?” Leo, who had become a middle-aged manservant, asked.
Ink and Feng Wu sat on the stool waiting for Jier and Ming Xi to speak. They knew who the brains of the group were.
Ming Xi thought deeply while Jier thought in a more straightforward manner. For this kind of insidious, sneaky situation, Ming Xi was undoubtedly the better person for the job. If anyone could see through the subterfuge, it would be Ming Xi.
“Senior, please share. Did you figure something out?” Ink really wanted to know.
“I did.” Ming Xi smiled and nodded. His demeanor was still regal even if his new appearance was plain and unremarkable. “Airon said the culprit wasn’t strong, but I disagree. Everyone must have wondered this at least once. Why, when everyone else died, was Xiao Wu the only one who survived?”
“Yeah, why?” The inquisitive group asked eagerly.
“It’s because the person let Xiao Wu live. I don’t think it was calculation error. The person killed so many people without making a single mistake. Yet despite this, Xiao Wu lived. The only explanation is the culprit wanted Xiao Wu to live.”
“But why? Why would the person spare Xiao Wu after killing so many others?” Jier couldn’t help but guess. “Is there a connection between the body Xiao Wu is in and the culprit, so the person couldn’t bear to kill her?”
Ink and Leo nodded along. It made sense. Feng Wu blinked her big eyes in curiosity at Ming Xi.
Ming Xi shook his head. “It wasn’t for such a basic reason.”
“Then why? What other reason could there be?” Then Ink was inspired. “Could it because the culprit has a crush on the original Zhēn, so couldn’t bear to kill her?!”
Ming Xi gave Ink a look. It seemed to say: you think too much.
“He wanted Xiao Wu to live so there would be someone to give an eye witness account.” Ming Xi stopped stalling and gave it to them straight.
“A testimony!” Jier suddenly understood what Ming Xi was trying to say. “You mean the culprit made such a crude attempt on Xiao Wu’s life just so Xiao Wu would live to give an account of what happened. It would lead us to discover the drug.”
“What?! How scheming! Man!” Ink would never have thought of that. He was amazed at the trickery.
“Truly formidable.” Leo thought out loud.
“No, think about the people outside. That Airon guy has a bit of brains, but the rest, who knows how long it would have taken them to figure the medicine. And if Airon ignored the clues, wouldn’t the culprit’s plan have been wasted?” Ink had been around the people in the group for days. With the exception of the killer, who was hidden deep, he had everyone else figured out.
He didn’t think anyone in the group would have been clever enough to connect the clues together. Even that Airon guy was only clever about small things.
“It wouldn’t have been wasted effort. If Airon hadn’t thought of it on his own, the culprit would have reminded him at the right time.” Jier didn’t believe the murderer would let his efforts go to waste.
“Exactly.” Ming Xi agreed. “If anyone’s discovered anything, please share. We can discuss it together.”
Ink and Leo glanced at each other before shaking their heads no in embarrassment. They had tried their best, but came up with nothing. The castle was so big and they couldn’t use their abilities. You could imagine how difficult it was to find any clues.
They couldn’t risk asking any of the other people for help and inadvertently invite an enemy in.
“I found something.” Unexpectedly, it was Feng Wu who had discovered something. She looked at Ming Xi earnestly.
“Xiao Wu, what did you find?!”
They were all curious. How did she have the time to find any clues? She had been confined to bed for so many days. Even when she had healed, she mostly just stayed in her room. The times she did go out, it was always with a group of people. When did she find the opportunity to look for any clues?
Feng Wu stood up and went to the dresser. She opened one of the drawers and motioned for the others to come over.
They walked over and looked inside. There were some cosmetics for girls, but that was it. What was so unusual about the items?
Feng Wu reached inside and brought out a powder jar.
“Is there something special about that powder?” Jier took the jar from Feng Wu and inspected it. He turned it around a few times in his hand before opening and looking inside. He failed to find anything strange though.
“Look here. This mark.” Feng Wu pointed to a flower and butterfly logo on the bottom of the jar.
“Isn’t this just a normal design for girl cosmetics? Girls like flowers and butterflies.” Ink was indifferent to the logo design.
Even Ming Xi, who was very perceptive, didn’t notice anything strange.
“This flower/butterfly logo was used for a line of cosmetics from one hundred years ago. It hasn’t been around since. The people who make it are no longer around, so this powder hasn’t been made in a long time.” Feng Wu relayed the information with a blank face.
“You mean this brand hasn’t been sold since a hundred years ago?!” Ink was surprised to learn that.
“It’s possible someone from Yanaimo’s family had it specially made.” Leo explained.
There were cases like this before. Once there was a family of wine makers who were massacred. It was a complete bloodbath. No one thought it was possible to buy or taste the wine again since the method to make the wine was lost forever.
Turned out the heir escaped and was still making the wine. However, he didn’t sell it, but was making it exclusively for one person. The flower/butterfly brand may have survived in the same way.
“This belonged to Zhēn. A lot of the other girls have this kind of powder too. I asked them and they said the powder was a business the Yanaimo family owned. Yanaimo gave some to everyone.”
320: The Reappearance of the Mysterious Man
As the girl with most prestige in class, Yanaimo wasn’t just rich and powerful, she was also classy. As long as you didn’t get in her way, she was willing to share some of her wealth with you. The little crumbs she threw out was more than enough for most people.
Take the flower/butterfly line. A single jar cost one hundred gold. It wasn’t something ordinary people could afford, but Yanaimo willing to give it away for free.
“Considering her family’s business, it’s not surprising they were able to find the descendent of the flower/butterfly line.” Jier leaned in closer to sniff the powder. He didn’t like it.
“Yanaimo is from the Gaodon clan. I read it in a book. They were a direct-family line that owned the flower/butterfly brand. One hundred years ago the entire clan was wiped out. No one survived. It was a big tragedy in the maritime world.”
Feng Wu had read a lot of books and one of the books she read was called The Fantastical Stories of the Maritime World. It was a compilation of stories, one of which happened to be about the Gaodun clan.
How the Gaodun clan was completely wiped out was still a mystery even today. No one knew a thing.
“There may be something useful in The Fantastical Stories of the Maritime World. The book said the patriarch of the Gaodun family spent a lot of money to celebrate the birthday of his only child. He especially purchased a beautiful island and gave it to her as a birthday present.
The island was called Songwei. His daughter’s name was Yanaimo Gaodun.”
The others were reeling from the information dump. They understood what she was saying; it was just that it was unbelievable. The disbelief showed in their eyes.
Who could stay calm after hearing such a story? A hundred years ago. They were in the past. Only a god could do something like that – no way could another human do it.
So then, did a god trap them on the island? But that was impossible. They weren’t so stupid as to believe a god would be bored enough to do something like this.
Besides, gods didn’t generally come to the human world. The three realms had created the Three Realms Peace Treaty after the war ten thousand years ago. No god had set foot in human territory since then.
On the other hand, demons, for selfish and sinister reasons, did sneak into the human world. The Star Marshall division of the temple caught many of them.
“We’re really one hundred years in the past?” Ink found it hard to believe.
“Impossible. Only the god in charge of time, the God of Time, can do that. The other gods can’t reverse time.” Leo interjected.
The whole thing was incredible. No sensible person would believe it.
Ming Xi shared his guess. “I suspect we may have entered an illusion. Everything here is a reenactment of what happened one hundred years ago.”
“Illusion?!” Both Ink and Leo were surprised. Why hadn’t they thought of this? If it was an illusion, then everything made sense.
“I’ve known something was wrong with this place for a long time now. I can’t open my seal. Theoretically there isn’t a power in this world that can restrict a god seal, but my connection to the seal completely disappeared when we got here.” Jier knew something was wrong from the first morning they arrived on the island. The inability to connect with his power drove him up the wall.
“The same is true for me. I could not hear the voices of the flowers and plants or the voices of the small animals.” Feng Wu spoke sadly.
“The same is true for me as well. There’s no life in this place. Everything feels artificial – the sun, the moon. Even the people are fake. They should be memories created by someone.”
As the prince and future ruler of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom, Ming Xi’s strength was beyond doubt. Then there was his god bloodline. Logically speaking, even if his strength was somehow sealed, the power of his blood shouldn’t have disappeared. But on this island, it had. He would be a fool to not realize something was wrong.
Indeed, Ming Xi had known they were in an illusion, in a world shaped by memories, for quite some time. There were few people who had the ability to do something like this. He couldn’t phantom who it was or even what their intentions were.
Ming Xi was only able to figure it out after Feng Wu shared what she knew. Even though he didn’t know who the mysterious person was, he could guess what the other person wanted.
“Fuck! This mysterious person is that good at illusion creation?!” Ink almost bowed in respect to the person for their abilities. It was awesome. Compared to that, their own skills were crap.
“If we want to know what this person wants, we’ll have to ask.” Ming Xi raised his voice. “I know you’ve been watching us. Please show yourself.” A sudden smile appeared on Ming Xi’s face as he spun around.
The others got excited upon hearing his words. What?! The mysterious guy had been watching them the whole time?!
The three boys looked around the room, but they didn’t see anything.
Suddenly the elderly voice sounded out. “Sure enough, I didn’t choose wrong. Looks like I got the right people this time.”
“Who are you? Why did you trap us here? What is your relationship with the people on the island and the events from a hundred years ago?” Ming Xi asked the questions in quick succession.
The voice was strange. They couldn’t figure out where it was coming from because it felt like it was being spoken directly into their ears.
“Such capable youngsters. I don’t believe you will let me down. Go and find the truth. Only then will you be able to leave.”
“Not just us, but all of us.” Ming Xi’s smile was refreshing. Even if he was in a different body, his mannerism still shown through.
The mysterious voice was taken aback. He did not expect this young man to have already figured that part out.
“Indeed, I did not misjudge. Now that you have come to that revelation, I won’t hide it. There is something hidden on this island. If you can find it, all of us[notes]can leave. But if you can’t find it, then you will remain on this island forever. None of you will ever return to the real world again.”
And with that, the mysterious voice disappeared. There was no further response no matter what Jier and the others shouted.
“You can stop shouting. He’s gone.” Ming Xi walked to the table and poured himself a glass of water.
321: We’re All Spirits
“He just left? He didn’t clear anything up. Are we supposed to find the killer or that other thing he just said?” Ink muttered his complaint.
“Both. If I’m right, then the people outside aren’t hallucinations or illusions. The only way to truly save everyone is to figure out what is keeping all of us imprisoned here.” Ming Xi raised his glass to drink.
“What do you mean, not an illusion? Why did you change your mind?” Jier was puzzled. It went from illusion to not illusion?
Feng Wu interrupted. “They’re not illusions; they’re souls.”
“Souls?! Wait, Xiao Wu, you mean the people outside are souls? They’re the souls of people who are no longer living?!” Then weren’t everyone out there dead? This entire time, they’d been around dead people?! Ink did not feel good.
“Xiao Wu, you can tell they’re souls?” Ming Xi was surprised Feng Wu had figured it out. He’d only confirmed it for himself just a moment ago.
Earlier, he’d only said what he said in order to lure the mysterious man out. The results were good as he had gained some useful information.
Feng Wu hesitated before nodding. She could see what they were even though she was in a different body. Some of her innate abilities were still available, for example her vision. She could distinguish between the physical and spiritual, so she knew the people outside weren’t illusions, but were real entities.
They weren’t ordinary spirits though, but were spirits with deep running, powerful grievances.
Feng Wu didn’t understand why, despite being Zhēn, she was still able to see them.
Was it because she wasn’t possessing Zhēn but had directly become Zhēn, so her eyes could still see other people’s life force?
The flowers and trees outside were all fake, so she couldn’t hear them, but the spirits were real so she could see the difference between them and the surroundings.
“Then you knew about them this whole time?!” Jier was surprised.
Feng Wu shook her head. “No.”
Jier’s eyes widened in surprise. “But can’t you see ghosts?” Feng Wu should have been able to tell from the beginning, so how could she not know?
Even Ink and Leo were surprised.
“There is no malice or evil aura from them. They aren’t like other spirits. I only confirmed it today.” Feng Wu blinked her large eyes at them innocently.
The others were helpless in the face of such cuteness. It was criminal to be so cute!
Feng Wu wasn’t lying. As she said, the people outside weren’t like ordinary ghosts. Their bodies were very solid, unlike any spirit she had known. Because of this Feng Wu had been uncertain.
Her suspicions were only confirmed after their discussion and the chat with the mysterious person.
“I have one more thing to say. We are the same as them.”
“Same? What do you mean?” Ming Xi and the others were puzzled. They didn’t understand what she was trying to say.
Feng Wu bit her lip. “We are also spirits.”
Her words dropped like a brick hammer. What did she mean? They were also spirits? Weren’t they only in the illusion world through their subconsciousness?
“No way! How can we be ghosts too? We have real bodies!”
People from the continent knew there were two ways to enter an illusion: through physical form or through mental form. You had to have a comprehensive understanding of your body in order to enter an illusion physically. It was more dangerous as well. If you died in an illusion in your physical form, you died for real.
Using your subconscious to enter mentally was safer. To use this method, you would separate a strand from your spiritual consciousness, the strength of which would depend on how much you pulled out, and attach it to your spirit in order to experience the illusion.
Should there be any danger, that strand of subconsciousness could be eliminated without any major problems. At worse, some mental damage could occur, but there wouldn’t be any fatal injuries.
For safety reasons, most people would choose to use a sliver of subconsciousness to test out the situation before committing to entering the illusion. You had to be careful.
Most illusions weren’t dangerous, as they were meant to trap people, not kill them. Well that was, unless someone purposefully made an illusion for the sole purpose of killing others.
Those were the two main ways people from the continent knew to enter an illusion. Ming Xi and the others took it for granted that they must have entered the illusion using a strand of their subconsciousness tethered to their soul, but of course there were other ways to enter.
Only a fool would enter an illusion with their entire mind. No one would take the initiative to do so. If a subconsciousness was eliminated, the body left behind would be an empty husk without consciousness. It was the same as dying.
So for them, it was bad enough that they were forced into the illusion with their complete mind, but what Feng Wu said was even worse. It turned out they weren’t just using their mind, but were in the illusion physically with their spiritual form – their souls.
Were they already dead? Was that why they were in spirit form? Their complexions paled at this.
No! They couldn’t be dead! Ink sincerely hoped they weren’t dead!
Forcing a soul into an illusion had never been done before. It was an amazing feat no doubt.[notes] But if the soul was somehow eliminated, everything would end. There would be no chance at reincarnation.
It wouldn’t be as devastating if it had only been their full subconscious. They would die yes, but they would have had a chance to reincarnate.
Thinking of the seriousness of losing their souls made everyone sad.
322: Liana and the Others Appear
“We’ll disappear forever if we die here!” It was painful news.
Even the normally calm Ming Xi had to take a deep steadying breath. The Ancient Silver Moon kingdom had ways to reunite a destroyed consciousness to a body, but the soul. . . there was no away to reform a soul, no one in any of the four major kingdoms knew how.
Even a true god couldn’t reform a soul once it was destroyed, never mind mere mortals.
While Feng Wu and her group were having her discussion, seven other people were also meeting for their own discussion.
The group was made up of Liana and Hart’s people.
Hart had been lucky and was doing well. His commander and deputy commander were well too. Oli[notes] was still alive as well.
Liana only had Mia.[notes] The other two guards, who had reached the castle before them, were nowhere to be found. They had most likely met with misfortune.
The last member had no affiliation with either Hart or Liana. He was an old magician and could have been considered a master in his own right. If his magic wasn’t suppressed, he wouldn’t have bothered joining forces with a bunch of young people.
“Miss Liana, what did you find?” Hart was now a gardener who specialized in trimming flowers.
“Nothing.” Liana replied bitterly.
The seven of them had gradually found each other. They were trying to find the murderer, but the culprit was hidden too well for them to discover. It was difficult to investigate with their abilities sealed.
Liana was now a pretty school girl who was one of Yanaimo’s cronies. She felt like her morals were compromised from what she had to do to play the role well.
“We must find Miss Feng Wu and her group soon. There are many people in their group. Maybe they found some useful clues.” Oli was optimistic.
The others agreed. There were only seven of them in the group currently. The others were either dead or couldn’t be found. They had to find other people to see if they could gather more clues.
“Miss, what if Miss Feng Wu is already dead?” Mia asked hesitantly.
The others sighed. So many people had died recently. There was no way to know if any of the dead were one of their own.
“We keep looking. I hope Feng Wu is OK.” Liana’s eyes dimmed. She didn’t want anything bad to happen to Feng Wu.
“We should keep looking for clues while we are a looking for Miss Feng Wu and her group,” said the mercenary’s deputy commander.
“Yes, people wouldn’t murder without reason. There must be a motive. It must have something to do with Yanaimo’s family,” hypothesized the old magician.
The most important thing was the motive. It wasn’t easy to kill so many people. Whether it was a single culprit or a group, they had to investigate every lead.
Both Liana’s group and Ming Xi’s group finished their meeting at the same time. They came to the same conclusion: find the motive, then the culprit.
There were lots of motives: killing out of anger or feeling slighted, killing out of revenge, even killing to promote self-interest.
Feng Wu’s group decided to try and find out of Yanaimo’s family had any enemies.
There were plenty of classmates who could talk about how wealthy and powerful her family was, but none who knew about her family’s enemies.
They couldn’t ask her directly, so they had to find a way to get her to reveal it herself.
The survivors arranged night patrol. There were so few of them that even the girls were recruited to patrol. Feng Wu’s team was one of the two on patrol that night.
The castle was too big, and with so many already dead, the building felt incredibly empty. The teachers got permission from Yanaimo to move everyone, including the servants, to the first floor. Scattering everyone around the castle was too dangerous.
Decreasing their living space meant less to patrol, so patrolling was easier. They also locked up large parts of the castle in order to prevent the murderer from entering any of the empty rooms.
There were two teams of five on patrol. One team was responsible for patrolling inside the castle, while the other was responsible for patrolling the outside grounds.
Ink was among the people patrolling. Through some finessing, he was able to assign Feng Wu to his group. Aside from them, there was also Annai, another boy and girl. They were all classmates.
Though night patrol was boring it was also scary. There was a constant fear that the murderer would appear and try to kill them.
They inevitably started chatting. The other boy, Chamai, was talkative so having him around made things less boring and scary.
“The murderer is really amongst us?” Cassie, the other girl in the group, asked.
“It shouldn’t be the case. We’re all classmates. If the person had the intention to kill, shouldn’t they have done it a long time ago? Why wait so long?” Annai asked.
“Maybe they didn’t have the opportunity. Think about it. If it weren’t for this isolated island and the fact that we’ve all lost our abilities, do you think the person would dare? Who knows what method they used to seal our powers? I don’t believe it isn’t one of us,” said Chamai, the talkative boy.
“That’s true, but who is trying to kill us? It’s hard to believe one of our classmates is trying to kill us. We’ve been together for over a year. We’ve had our quarrels, but for the most part we get along well enough. How can someone just think of killing us and then act on it?”
Annai's heart felt heavy as she thought about the classmates who had died. They had all been on the boat playing together.
323: Ink’s Trick
“Do you guys think the person who’s trying to kill us is an enemy of Yanaimo’s family?” Ink was currently Pui, a boy who had no presence. He was in the middle to lower range of class and wasn’t tall, handsome, or even strong.
Chamai was surprised at Ink’s words.
The thought had crossed their minds, it was just that no one dared speak it out loud. He looked to the timid and useless Pui.
Cassie hadn’t thought much on the matter and hadn’t connected it to Yanaimo’s family. She only knew someone was killing them, so she was stunned upon hearing Pui’s words. She immediately started with questions.
After looking about to make sure there weren’t any servants around, she whispered, “Pui, why do you say this? Did you find out something?”
Ink shook his head. “No, it was just a guess. Think about it. We were fine until we came to this island, but after we arrived, things started happening, one after another. This island belongs to Yanaimo’s family. No matter how you look at it, it’s impossible for there to be no connection.”
“No, that’s not possible. Think about it. If this was because of Yanaimo’s family, why didn’t the murderer kill Yanaimo directly, but instead killed so many unrelated people instead?” Annai wasn’t buying it.
Feng Wu listened quietly without interrupting.
“Don’t talk nonsense if you don’t now. Like Annai said, if the murderer was after Yanaimo’s family, why wouldn’t she be murdered already? Instead so many of us are involved?” Chamai nodded his head.
Yanaimo was so beautiful; her beauty alone attracted a lot of suitors who vied for her attention. Chamai was one of Yanaimo’s admirers and he only said good things about her in public. It stood to reason he would stand up for her if anyone spoke poorly about her.
Although he had his own suspicions, he wouldn’t risk offending his goddess by speaking them out loud in front of other people.
“Think about it. Weren’t the people who were first killed, weren’t they the ones who had the best relationship with her? After that the victims were ordinary classmates and servants.” Ink spoke in a low voice.
His words reminded everyone about the people who were first killed. It was true. The ones who admired her most ardently were the ones who died first. Her close friends had also died. Following their deaths, other people began dying as well.
They hadn’t thought of it this way, but with Ink’s reminder, they realized it was true.
Annai was still on the fence. “Maybe it was a coincidence? You can’t assume the killer is associated with Yanaimo just because of this.”
“I think the person is toying with us. Whoever it is, wants Yanaimo experience the fear of being next, to watch as the people she cares about die one after another in front of her.
Sometimes it’s not about killing a person directly, but more about forcing them to feel as though they are living under death’s shadow. In fact, I think Airon is the most likely victim to be targeted next.” Ink wasn’t being an alarmist. This was a genuine hypothesis Ming Xi and Jier had come up with during their discussion.
They all felt the same way – that the murderer was there for Yanaimo. Ming Xi had already gone to protect Airon, while Ink’s job was to provoke everyone. Airon wasn’t dead yet, but if he did die, then people would start asking Yanaimo questions. This would make it easier for them to ask questions as well.
Even if Yanaimo was a beauty with money and power, it was meaningless in the face of death.
What Ink said was reasonable and was hard to argue against. But what made him think the next victim would be Airon? Who could really know what the murder’s thoughts were? Who knew? Maybe Airon would be the last to die?
Looking at the order of deaths, it was clear the murderer alternated victims, first killing those closest to Yanaimo and making her suffer the loss, before switching to ordinary classmates or servants who had nothing to do with her. The murderer repeated this pattern over and over again, leaving a few days space between each murder.
At this point, most of Yanaimo’s friends were dead. Of course she was sad to see her friends die, but the constant repetition had blunted her pain. A new type ain needed to be injected into her, such as the pain of losing a love. Losing a love would be a new unbearable pain for her.
Ink smoothly planted the seed in their hearts. It would slowly sprout and grow, and once ripe, would be quite a show to watch.
Setting people up like this wasn’t good, but it was beyond his control. If he wanted to leave alive, he had to fight with everything he had.
Dawn the next day brought good news. Feng Wu’s group had made contact with Liana’s group. Things would be easier with seven more people to share the work load. They wouldn’t be so afraid to go out now.
Liana had wondered about Feng Wu’s identity for a while, but she hadn’t had the chance to test her suspicions until dinner that night when she called Feng Wu out by her real name.
There were only ten people on each side. Once you subtracted outsiders like them, there were less than twenty.
324: Chamai, A Murderer?
The two groups exchanged information and designed a plan to catch the murderer. They were still planning when the rumor about the murderer being connected to Yanaimo’s family began spreading. Rumor was Yanaimo’s friends were all on the murderer’s hit list.
The rumor had some validity so it spread like wildfire. There were already people who thought along the same lines, but had been too afraid to offend her and her supporters, but things were different now.
Now Yanaimo wasn’t on her pedestal anymore.
Even if she was a goddess who could give them benefits, those benefits didn’t mean a thing in the face of life and death. They knew what was more important.
“This is all your fault! If you hadn’t brought us to this island, we wouldn’t have lost so many classmates.”
“We wouldn’t be in this situation if you weren’t so pretentious!”
“It’s just a birthday celebration. What was the big deal?! You called all of us out here to show off your island! What was so great about it huh?! Now so many people are dead because of you!”
“Who did she offend?! Why are we suffering because of her! I’ve never done anything excessively bad!”
Some of the female students were already crying as they talked. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was just a crazed murderer. But if the murderer was targeting Yanaimo, if they were just tools to punish her, then that was different. The feeling of being used was unbearable. It was only natural they would feel resentful and thoroughly wronged.
“How can you say that! My lady was so kind! Weren’t you all happy to be invited?!” Yanaimo’s personal maid defended her.
“If I had known she offended a crazy murderer, I wouldn’t have come even if she gave me more favors!”
“That’s right! I would regret dying more! Those classmates who already died, they’d regret it too!”
The hall was full of students arguing. Yanaimo came from a noble lineage; she was above arguing with those below her status. Though she didn’t want to quarrel with them, she hated the person responsible for the rumors. She would make their life a living hell if she ever caught them.
Even if the murderer didn’t get the person responsible for the rumors, Yanaimo would get rid of them. How dare they malign her reputation!
It didn’t matter what Yanaimo thought or felt, her classmates hated her. They didn’t look like they were interested in fawning over her anymore, instead they looked like they wanted to kill her.
Luckily the teachers came and shooed everyone back to their respective rooms. The teachers had originally wanted to speak to Yanaimo in private. If the whole thing was related to Yanaimo’s family, then it would be easier to figure out who the murderer was if they knew more about her family’s enemies.
Unfortunately, the young miss refused to cooperate. She immediately said this after everyone left, “I know what Teachers want to ask. I only have this to say. My family is upstanding and decent with no enemies. So it’s impossible for the murderer to be an enemy of my family.”
She didn’t wait for them to reply, but immediately turned around and left in a huff. Her maid called out to her, but Yanaimo refused to turn around.
Teachers Del Leo and Ballard smiled bitterly. What was this? She was throwing a temper tantrum? They wanted to find the murderer, but they couldn’t force or compel her to answer. All they could do was stare after her.
Yanaimo wasn’t the only having a hard time, Airon was also having a hard time. He was afraid of being the next victim and had holed up in his room ever since. He kept himself locked inside and wouldn’t open the door for anyone. He stepped outside for food, but that was it. He was completely isolated.
Another night arrived. This one was accompanied with windy seas, dark clouds, and rolling waves. A storm was coming.
That night, a shadowy figure entered a room and looked at the person in bed. The intruder held a knife and was about to stab the slumbering person but an unexpected figure appeared.
It was Jier!
Jier blocked the knife and the two began to fight. His hand-to-hand combat skills were good, despite being a fire magician.
The intruder was losing ground but he was clever. He tried to escape through the window once he saw he couldn’t win. But unfortunately for him, Ming Xi arrived and blocked his escape exit. His odds of winning were even worse now.
Soon enough he lay sprawled on the ground in defeat.
“Let’s see who you are!” Jier sliced away the mask covering the intruder’s face.
It was Chamai! Chamai was the murderer?! How shocking.
Chamai was such a big Yanaimo admirer. Who would have guessed such a garrulous person was the murderer?
Outside, the wind continued to rage as thunder boomed across the sky. Chamai was calm though.
“Why did you kill all those people?” Ming Xi asked.
“They deserved to die.” Chamai’s expression was different; gone was his usual cheerful smile. He looked at Jier and Ming Xi coldly.
“That’s not why you killed them. Tell me the real reason.” Jier, now a maid, demanded an answer.
“Humph!” snorted Chamai. He was on the ground, but he still managed to turn his head away from them.
“You’re still fronting!” Jier kicked Chamai a few times in the stomach. This guy had killed so many people, kicking him was nowhere near enough, but no matter how much Jier abused him, Chamai refused to answer. He refused to explain his motive.
They found the murderer but the mysterious person hadn’t reappeared. This meant they hadn’t completed their mission. So it looked like they wouldn’t get anywhere until they unearthed the truth.
325: What Was the Truth?
Airon, who had fainted from being drugged earlier, woke up just as Jier and Ming Xi were about to give up.
Airon was smart. He thought he might be the next victim, so he had taken precautions. Earlier, he had taken medicine to help fight off different kinds of anesthetics.
He had ultimately fallen asleep, but he was only unconscious for a short period of time. He had woken up as Ming Xi was questioning Chamai, so he guessed what had happened and that Chamai was the killer.
“Chamai! It was you?! Why would you do this?!” How would Airon be able to figure it out if even Ming Xi and Jier couldn’t?
“Do I have to remind you? Six months ago, Songwei island.”[notes] Chamai’s eyes were full of bitterness as he sneered.
“You’re a resident of Songwei island?!” Airon was shocked to discover that Chamai was an original inhabitant of the island.
“That’s right. You guessed it. Now you’re all going to die from the curse! Anyone who recklessly touched my clan’s treasure will die by god’s will!” Promptly after saying these words, Chamai bit into a pill and poisoned himself to death.
Even though he was dead, the illusion was still intact.
“Speak, what did Chamai mean just now?!” Ming Xi asked. The facts were more troublesome than they thought. Chamai’s last words were too ambiguous. They couldn’t understand it, but an insider like Airon would surely know. Didn’t his face pale at the mention of the island? There was definitely a secret here!
“I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’ll go and inform the teacher about Chamai’s death.” Airon didn’t want to talk about it, so he used a convenient excuse to exit.
Jier stopped him. “If you don’t want to die, you’ll talk about it. It’s best to cooperate. You avoided death today, but you may not be so lucky next time.”
Airon took two steps back. “The murderer, Chamai, is dead. How is there going to be a next time?”
Jier gave him a look. “Really? You really think so? Who said Chamai acted alone? If he didn’t have accomplices, do you think he’d be that quick to commit suicide?”
Chamai had died too easily, with total calmness in his eyes. He didn’t beg for mercy, or brag or explain anything. He just took the poison and died. That was it. There was no unwillingness at all.
He had to have accomplices. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise. He must have known his accomplices would see things through to the end. He knew that, and had died peacefully with his faith in them.
Airon stared out blankly for a moment. His face did not look good.
“Talk, what’s going on.” Ming Xi demanded again.
Airon took a deep breath. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to leave unless he told them the truth.
“Have a seat. This will take a while.” Airon motioned for Jier and Ming Xi to follow him to the sofa.
After sitting down, Airon sighed. He knew he wouldn’t be able to keep the secret hidden any longer. He would have to break his agreement with the others.
“It all started six months ago. . . ”
At that time Yanaimo had taken some friends on holiday to Songwei island. There were several villages, both large and small, on the island. The residents lived and worked peacefully in harmony with each other. The island didn’t have a strong protector, but it never suffered any disasters. It was like it was protected by a god.
The residents would never have thought a bunch of students on holiday would bring disaster.
Although Songwei island was beautiful, it didn’t have any minerals, so some people weren’t willing to stay. However the scenic island did attract a lot of tourists. Someone clever built a hotel, and as the only hotel on the island, business was very profitable for the owner.
The hotel was run by a kind uncle with the help of his wife and daughter. They lived a happy life.
Naturally Airon and the rest of the kids stayed at the hotel. One night, Yanaimo and another girl were heading to the bathroom when they overheard an amazing conversation.
The daughter was being naughty and had taken a map from the her dad’s secret hiding spot. The map showed the way to the key to Poseidon’s tomb, the god emperor of the sea.
The owner told his daughter never to take the map out again, lest it get lost.
The kids never expected Songwei island would have such a big mystery, that it was protecting a key to a tomb. The news made Yanaimo’s heart beat fast. She was the kind to always get what she wanted, so she asked the owner for the map.
She told him to name his price, but of course the owner refused. Upon his refusal, the two sides fought. The twelve students were the only ones in the hotel that day; there weren’t any other guests. The owner tried desperately to protect the map, but Yanaimo wasn’t allowing it. He and his family were ordinary people, so they didn’t stand a chance and Yanaimo easily took it.
She didn’t want the matter to spread, so she killed the owner and his family.
With the owner and his family dead, the girls excitedly took the map to find the key. They entered the cave where the key was hidden, but couldn’t go any farther after accidentally stepping on a restriction.
What they didn’t know was that the owner’s daughter was still alive. She managed to get herself out of the hotel and to a village. There she asked for help after explaining what had happened.
The villagers were furious. For generations, the people of Songwei island had protected the secret of the key. Not many people knew about it and the map changed hands every three years for safekeeping. Unexpectedly something happened to the hotel owner while the map was kept there.
The five villages joined forces and sent thousands of people after Yanaimo and her group. As a result, her group was ambushed as they left the cave. The villagers nearly succeeded in killing them.
But fortunately, Yanaimo’s father loved her dearly. He spent a fortune to invite two masters to protect her.
Between the two masters, one was good with using poison while the other was good with the sword. But they weren’t good people. After discovering the incident, they went in and massacred nearly all the villagers before escorting Yanaimo and her group out safely.
Yanaimo and her group kept silent about the map and the key. Even Yanaimo’s parents didn’t know about it.
In order to return to the island, Yanaimo acted spoiled and asked for the island as a birthday present. It was easy for her parents to get an unprotected island.
They didn’t understand why their precious daughter wanted such a small island, beautiful as it was. It had no minerals or other natural resources, but they loved their daughter and saw no reason to deny her, so they purchased the island for her.
Yanaimo remembered how the villagers had chased and tried to kill her, and she wasn’t one to let go of grudges. She bribed murderous criminals to massacre all the villagers partly for revenge and partly because she was afraid they would leak the information about the map and key.
Yanaimo didn’t leave anyone alive.
She came back to the island this time in order to pick up the map and the key. From there, she would get the inheritance and rank among the top powerhouses.
“So you were here to get the treasure, why did you bring so many other people with you?” Wouldn’t it make more sense to involve as few people as possible? What kind of trouble were they courting, bringing so many other people on the trip?
Jier didn’t believe Yanaimo and her group would do something so stupid. The more people they had, the higher the odds of information leaking.
“This...” Airon looked between Jier and Ming Xi awkwardly.
“Was there a reason you brought so many people with you to the island?” Ming Xi saw the look and immediately guessed things were more complicated.
“Spit it out!” Jier was losing his patience. He hated these kinds of half-baked revelations. Just get to the point already.
“OK, I’ll talk, but keep it secret. If it gets out, things will get really complicated.” Airon still had the audacity to threaten them.
“Yanaimo was the one who proposed bringing everyone here. In fact we’ve been to this island twice more since the first time, so this is technically our third time, but the restrictions were too hard for us to break through. Yanaimo looked up several books on the matter and finally settled on a blood-sacrifice ritual.”
“Blood sacrifice! Oh a woman’s heart is vicious!” Jier and Ming Xi exchanged glances. Neither had expected this. It turned out their earlier hypotheses were wrong.
A blood sacrifice was a demonic ritual that allowed a person to borrow a demon’s power temporarily and forcefully break a seal. However, it was a cruel ritual that killed those sacrificed by draining them completely of blood.
To be able to do this to her own classmates, Yanaimo was something else.
“So you guys were the ones who committed all the murders? Don’t bother denying it. There’s no way Yanaimo would let you off the hook and let you do nothing while enjoying the benefits of the treasure!”
The woman was too vicious to let anyone take advantage of her.
Airon smiled. “The twelve of us promised we would work together, but we didn’t kill the others directly. We knocked them unconscious with drugs and then we dragged them to the forbidden place so we could perform the blood sacrifice. But something happened before we could act. . . ”
“You mean, before you did it, someone else beat you to it. Then this person continued to kill the sacrifices, thus ruining your plan.” Ming Xi’s eyes were dark.
Airon nodded. “Yes.” He could see that the maid and guard in front of him were not ordinary people.
Yanaimo wouldn’t have sacrificed a master, so she would not have chosen any masters to come to the island. He didn’t know why these two had mixed in with them, so he had to proceed one step at a time.
“I understand.” Ming Xi’s eyes were now clear. All the dots were finally connected. Now they just needed the answers to a few more questions.
“Let me ask you. Of the twelve people who know the secret of Songwei island, how many are still alive?” They would definitely be on the list to be killed.
“All dead, except for myself and Yanaimo. At first, I thought she was the one doing the killing, so I went and had a fight with her.
She denied it and I believed her, but we still parted on bad terms. It wasn’t until I saw Chamai today that I knew for certain she didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Honestly, he would have preferred it if Yanaimo had been the culprit. Dealing with a known enemy was easier than dealing with an unknown one. The latter was the worse kind to deal with as it wore on, not just the mind, but the heart as well.
Only two out of twelve people survived?
It looked like the murderers wanted to save Yanaimo for last. Her sweetheart would definitely go before her. Otherwise she would miss out on the torture of losing her beloved.
Jier and Ming Xi helped call people over after they got all their questions answered.
The others were in an uproar upon finding out Chamai had tried to kill Airon. None of them could imagine the warm and talkative boy as a killer. They carried his body to the center of the lobby.
Everyone was called over in part because they wanted to observe everyone’s expressions. Chamai’s accomplices had to be in the crowd.
“It’s Chamai! I can’t believe it! Doesn’t he admire Yanaimo? Why would he do such a thing?!”
“Great! Now that we’ve got the murderer, we don’t have to be worried anymore!”
“That guy is horrible! What kind of vendetta did he have with us that he would treat us like this?!”
“Man! I always knew he wasn’t a good person!”
“Yeah! Yeah! He was a hateful jerk! Why couldn't I kill him? Two of my sisters died because of him!”
Those still living talked as they glared at Chamai’s corpse. They were full of hate and vitriol, wishing they could take his body out and whip it.
327: The Accomplice Appears
Airon got the credit for killing the murderer so his reputation rose in everyone’s hearts. It had been hard having a knife hanging over their heads, but now with the pressure gone, they were able to think about how to get off the island.
They had no boats and their communication was cut off, but fortunately, Yanaimo’s parents loved her deeply. The lack of communication from her would make them worry and as soon as they became worried, they would send someone to investigate.
Ming Xi had kept Airon from revealing the fact that there were potentially other suspects on the island. The illusion was still intact, so there had to be more to the matter. They had to keep investigating.
However, instead of trying to find the murderer, Ming Xi decided to find the key to the tomb first.
Everyone on the island had lost their abilities. It wasn’t something easily done by ordinary means. And they were definitely not poisoned, so the only possibility was a magic item.
The first thing that came to mind, was of course, the key.
They needed to confirm if the key was gone or not. If it was gone, then they knew the accomplices were still hidden deep on the island.
Airon secretly took Ming Xi and Jier to the cave he and Yanimo’s group had initially fled from. Back then they hadn’t been able to go inside because of the restriction array and were forced back after suffering minor injuries.
The entrance was well hidden and obscured by rocks and plants. It would have been impossible to find without a map.
Luckily Airon’s memory was good. Even without the map, he was able to navigate successfully. The group entered the shallow cave and quickly found the switch to open the room with the key.
They were able to enter because the restriction had lost most of its effect. The effect’s diminished powers meant the key was probably gone. Sure enough the key was gone and the room was empty.
Their suspicions were confirmed; there were accomplices. With that, their faces turned grim and they returned to the castle.
Airon couldn’t keep calm knowing there was someone intent on killing him.
That night Ming Xi had Liana chose two people to guard Airon while the rest met in Feng Wu’s room to discuss what to do next.
That night, a scream cut through the air. Airon was dead, along with the two people sent to guard him. The two guards had been the commander and deputy commander from Hart’s group. Both of them had been stabbed to death, but Airon was chopped to pieces. He died quite miserably.
Yanaimo couldn’t withstand the shock of seeing the boy she loved dead. She screamed before collapsing to the ground. Her maid had to help her back to her room to rest, then left quietly after tucking her in.
No one noticed the closet door slowly opening before a petite figure stepped out. The girl wasn’t beautiful, but she had a gentle appearance that made others naturally like her. The sword in her hand flashed with murderous intentions. Her eyes were filled with hatred so palpable it was almost solid enough to pierce Yanaimo.
She laid the sword down then proceeded to tie up Yanaimo. Yanaimo was completely at her mercy; it was like Yanaimo was unconscious.
Yanaimo’s limbs were tied and her mouth gagged.
It was only after all this was complete that Yanaimo woke up. She broke out in a cold sweat.
The more someone possessed, the more reluctant they were to die, and Yanaimo possessed many things, so how could she willingly die so young?
She struggled desperately in an attempt to escape. But it was useless; she couldn’t break free from her restraints. She wept in despair as her heart cried out for help, but sadly no one could hear.
“It’s useless. Originally, I wanted to keep you for a few more days, but that won’t work out. There are already some who are suspicious, so I have to kill you before they find me.” The girl touched the sword. She looked like an angel but the words coming out of her mouth were demonic.
Don’t worry about me not playing with you anymore, I’ll send everyone on the island to accompany you. You were thinking of killing everyone from the start anyways right?” The girl’s smile was creepy as she giggled.
Yanaimo shook her head, unable to accept that this girl, her maid, knew her plan. Only the twelve of them knew. There was no way anyone else could have known.
“Are you wondering how I know?”
“Woo. . . ” Yanaimo could only make a whining sound through the gag.
“There are secret passageways all around the castle. What secrets do I not know? Are you wondering why there are so many secret passageways? Did you forget? You designed this castle but I made changes before submitting it.”
The moon shone on the maid’s face. She wasn’t a close servant, but she wasn’t a nameless lackey either. She was in a good mood when she saw the myriad array of emotions play across Yanaimo’s face: sadness, fear, and despair. She was in such a good mood, she decided to play with her sword.
With a whoosh, and without warning, she severed Yanaimo’s arm.
Yanaimo wanted to scream, but she was gagged. She could only endure the pain as blood squirted from the stump of her arm. The blood dyed the bed red. It slowly dripped to the floor after the bed soaked through and could no longer act as a sponge.
“Does it hurt? Did you ever think about how painful it was for all the villagers you killed on this island?” The girl seemed to remember something as a flicker of madness danced in her eyes.
328: The Truth from a Hundred Years Ago
“Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt for too much longer. I’ll cut off your other limbs then I’ll cut off your head. You’ll be able to see your love soon. Aren’t you happy? Don’t you love him a lot? I don’t think you’ll you mind going to hell with him. . . ”
No! No I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die! Yanaimo raged in her heart, but no one could hear her. Yanaimo loved herself more than anyone else. Sure she was sad Airon died, but she never thought about following him in death. She wasn’t like that. She wasn’t the kind of girl who would die for a guy.
As long as there was a ray of hope, she would grab it and try to live. This was who Yanaimo was – she was selfish to the core.
The maid slowly cut off more limbs. Just as she was about to decapitate Yanaimo, a small hand appeared and grabbed the maid’s hand that was holding the hilt.
“It’s over! I caught you!” Feng Wu joyfully said.
As soon as the group knew Airon was a target, they had separated. Some had gone to keep tabs on Airon, while others went to watch over Yanaimo.
Feng Wu and Liana were tasked with Yanaimo, but Liana left earlier to call for backup.
“How can you be here?!” The maid was shocked. Shouldn’t everyone be congregated around Airon discussing the murder? She knew the teachers had gathered everyone for a meeting. Otherwise she would not have picked this time to go after Yanaimo.
“I was here the whole time, but you didn’t see me.” Feng Wu’s eyes crinkled in a smile.
Ming Xi had said that the game would end if they caught the murderer. Feng Wu didn’t like staying in the castle and had wanted to leave a long time ago, so she had worked hard to try and catch the murderer.
She had been working hard and hiding in the dark to watch over Yanaimo. Her mission wasn’t to protect Yanaimo, it was only to watch her in order to find the murderer. Liana had gone to get help when the murderer showed up, so Feng Wu was alone. She wasn’t afraid though; on the contrary, she was a little excited.
In fact, Feng Wu could have made a move the moment the murderer came in, but Liana had said Yanaimo was a bad person and needed to be taught a lesson, as long as it wasn’t fatal. Feng Wu had nodded and obediently waited while Liana went to get help. She would stay behind and make sure Yanaimo didn’t die.
“Stay out of this!” The maid swatted at Feng Wu’s hand, trying to get Feng Wu to release her grip, but Feng Wu swatted her right back.
The two girls stepped back from each other.
“You must want to die!” The maid stabbed at Feng Wu with the sword. Anyone who got in her way had to die.
Feng Wu also had a sword in her hand, but it wasn’t the small sword she normally used. This was one she found in the castle.
Feng Wu raised her sword to block, and soon enough the clang of steel on steel erupted as the two battled.
The maid knew the girl’s name was Zhēn, but she didn’t expect her opponent to be so powerful. She was average and didn’t stand out in class so how was she so fast with a sword?!
Though the maid’s heart trembled, she was careful not to let it show and remained vigilant. Without qi, the outcome would be decided based on strength, endurance, and skillful movements.
Unfortunately for the maid, Feng Wu outclassed her in all three categories.
It only took a few more moves for Feng Wu to knock the sword out of the maid’s grasp. In that moment, Ming Xi and the others arrived. They surrounded the maid, leaving her no escape.
“You? Aren’t you Yanaimo’s maid? Why would you want to kill her?”
They saw the murderer on the ground and Yanaimo’s inhuman form bleeding away on the bed. Who would have thought, the incomparable Yanaimo would fall so low.
Slowly more people trickled into the room.
“My god! Yanaimo! How did this happen?!”
“How cruel! How can someone do something so vicious?!”
“If you’re talking about vicious, no one is more vicious than Miss Yanaimo.” Jier stood up and pointed at Yanaimo.
What happened? What was going on with Yanaimo’s maids? They either turned against her and accused her of wrongdoings or tried to assassinate her. What did she do to be hated so much?
“How bold! You dare talk about the master this way?!” shouted the butler.
The others wondered how such an honest, hardworking maid[notes] could be so impertinent.
Jier rolled his eyes. Your whole family is impertinent and stupid! Are you sure you don’t want to go see to your lady’s injuries first? Aren’t you worried she’ll die from blood loss? After Jier mentally roasted the butler, he went on to explain Yanaimo’s plan to kill everyone on the island as a blood sacrifice.
At the end of Jier’s explanation, the people began to fade. Before they fully disappeared, they said, “Thank you. Thank you for letting us know.” Their eyes were filled with relief as everyone expressed their gratitude.
The only ones who remained were Ming Xi and those from the boat as well as the maid.
The maid stood up from the ground. The hatred in her eyes had diminished a great deal. “One hundred years, and someone finally solved the mystery. I have nothing to give you but this key. This key has the power of the sea god, so you do not have to be afraid of the sea. His tomb is not a place for humans, so I won’t give you the map. . . ”
A key, surrounded by blue light, flew at the group. It circled them several times before landing in Ming Xi’s hand.
Everyone from the island disappeared and the castle became empty. Soon after, the mysterious old voice appeared.
“Congratulations. You have completed the task I set for you. The truth from a hundred years ago is finally revealed.”
“Who are you?”
Jier and the others changed back to their original appearances. They were more confident dealing with the mysterious person now that their full abilities were restored.
329: Separate Spaces
“I’m just a grievance, a grievance that is about to disappear. . . ” The mysterious voice replied.
Grievance? Feng Wu and the others were confused and it showed on their faces.
“If that’s too hard to understand, you can think of me as someone’s obsession. A hundred years ago, a tragedy happened on this island. It was a great tragedy that shocked the world and left everyone dead.
At that time, the only heir to the Gaodun family, Yanaimo Gaodun, invited her entire class to this island for a vacation. Two months passed without any communication from the group.
Mr. and Mrs. Gaodun became worried, so they sent several masters to investigate. Updates from the masters immediately stopped once they reached the island. They would never be heard from again.
At this, the Gaodun’s travelled to the island to personally look for their daughter. They did this against the advice of all their servants. Naturally they were never heard from again either.
With all three Gaodun’s gone, the Gaodun empire, including the industries run by Mrs. Gaodun’s mother in the royal family, fell apart.
It became widespread knowledge that no one who entered the island ever left alive. And so it eventually became known as Death island, a forbidden place no human should set foot on.”
“How did those who came before die? You didn’t kill them, did you?” Jier was curious.
“Of course not. They died under the influence of the strong grievance here.” The voice sounded a little angry at the question. “Yanaimo slaughtered the native inhabitants of the island for her own selfish greed. The grievance from the villagers were originally sealed by the masters sent by Mr. and Mrs. Gaodun.
But later, in order to take revenge, the surviving villager used the sea god’s key to seal everyone’s abilities and turn them into ordinary people. Then she used the secret tunnels in the castle to kill everyone.
After accomplishing that, she tried to use the sea god’s key to rescue the souls of the villagers. Little did she know, they had become fully corrupted by all their resentment and were now evil souls who’s only desire was to destroy.
So when the girl opened the seal, they swarmed out and immediately killed her. The corrupted spirits went on to kill every single living thing on this island.”
“Why have we never seen any of the evil village spirits?” They had been on the island for so long, but the only spirits they saw were the servants and Yanaimo’s school group. If things were as the mysterious voice said, then the island should have been full of evil spirits.
Ink was really curious where all the evil spirits went and why they hadn’t seen any.
“You are not in the same space. Of course you wouldn’t see them,” replied the voice.
“Not in the same space?” Ming Xi raised his eyebrows. That explained it.
“Correct. The Bohai nation invited three powerful magicians shortly after the incident with the Gaodun couple. One was a powerful dual magician specializing in space and necromancy. The other two magicians died upon entering the island because they lost all their abilities. He was the only one who survived.
Through great effort, he was able to separate the island into two parts: one outer part with the evil spirits and one inner part with the castle. He tried to enter the castle, to find out the truth. Little did he know, the castle had become a dangerous place.
Although the souls in the castle weren’t evil, they weren’t much better. They were trapped in a loop, destined to repeat the events before they died, over and over and over again.
The magician was dragged along with them and forced to play one of their roles and was killed later. He has remained trapped on this island ever since. . .
After he died, his soul tried to enter the castle again but failed to do so. His desire to know what happened created me. From the moment my consciousness formed, I knew my mission was to unravel the mystery of this island, why there so many resentful evil spirits on the outer perimeter and why had everyone in the castle been killed.
I’m just a mass of grievance and obsession, not a real soul, so I couldn’t very well investigate it myself. There was no way for me to interact and understand what happened.
I have encountered many who have landed on this island over the past one hundred years. They all wanted to find out the truth, but every one of them died and turned into the evil spirits you see on the outer part of the island.
You guys though. . . don’t know if you’d call it good luck or not, but you encountered the black tornado. The tornado has a special field around it that circumvents the energy field of all living things, so your souls ended up here. It was a very weak field because of the sea god’s key, but you ended up here nonetheless. You could be considered lucky because of that, having landed on the island instead of like those unfortunate creatures who perished from the black tornado.
But you can also be considered unlucky because you did end up on the island.
Now that the truth has finally been revealed, all the poor souls trapped here are no longer forced to repeat the tragedy of a hundred years ago. They can reincarnate. No wonder the girl gave you the sea god’s key. If you hadn’t solved the mystery, she would have had to keep reliving the events forever.”
Many masters had died on the island over the past one hundred years. Some died mere steps away from solving the mystery. Ming Xi and his group had entered as souls, but were able to solve the mystery. They really did have exceptionally good luck.
“Now that my mission is complete, I will disappear soon. The island is no longer blanketed by the power of the sea god’s key. You should be able to return to your physical bodies if you close your eyes and imagine returning. But before you do, I hope you can promise me one thing. When you go back, please find a necromancer to purify the grievances of the villagers. Unlike those in the castle, they are confused and are unable to reincarnate.” The sigh that came from the voice was full of melancholy.
“Don’t worry. We’ll find a way to purify the souls.” Jier glanced at Feng Wu. It wouldn’t take her more than a few minutes to do it.
330: Sailing to Bilou Island Again
Though Jier was ruthless when it came to killing people, he had a good side and knew the souls of the villagers deserved to be saved.
“Then I can rest easy. Go now. Try not to be so unlucky in the future.” The voice disappeared completely after speaking and the only sounds left were the faint crash of the waves against the shore.
“Goodbye everyone. We will go first.” Lianna smiled slightly as she waved her hand in farewell to everyone. Her body disappeared in the blink of an eye. Lianna’s bodyguard, Mia, disappeared next.
“Goodbye.” Ming Xi turned to Feng Wu and his other group members. He nodded his head, and just like Lianna and Mia, he disappeared as well.
Loud cheers erupted on Sheldon’s boat.
“Xiao Wu! You’re awake!” Margaret nearly burst out in tears of happiness. She had been worried sick the last few days and had even considered contacting Xingguang Holy Academy to resolve the situation, but fortunately, Feng Wu woke up.
A cry of surprise also burst out in another room. MathesonMargaret’s brother. never expected to see Ming Xi and the others wake up again either.This contradicts c315 about Ming Xi not being in the group, but it is what the raws say.
“You guys woke up! Margaret and I were going to contact your school teachers.” Matheson was both happy and distressed at the same time.
Sheldon[notes] was incredulous after hearing the news. He had never heard of anyone surviving Death island. And these guys even entered with their souls – the most dangerous form of entry! It really was incredible. He had never expected them to return alive.
Matheson introduced Ming Xi and the others to Sheldon. Sheldon couldn’t wait to ask them what happened on Death island.
The guys told him everything that happened; Sheldon had saved them after all. If he hadn’t kept their physical bodies safe, they would have had nothing to return to even if they had survived the island. However, they kept the part about the sea god’s key to themselves.
Sheldon could never have imagined the truth from a hundred years ago was like this.
Mofei’s two companions lost their souls on the island, so they did not awaken. When they died, their physical bodies also stopped functioning; their hearts stopped beating and their lungs stopped breathing. That was two days ago.
Sheldon knew their souls must have shattered on the island. He ordered their relatives be notified after they bodies were moved.
The first thing Feng Wu did when she awoke was to contact Xiao Chun[notes]
Xiao Chun’s cute voice immediately replied with, “What is it Master?”
“Xiao Chun, go purify the resentful spirits on the island.” Her face was still frozen like a block of ice, but her voice was as sweet as candy.
“Really Master?! That’s great. I get to eat!” Xiao Chun cheered excitedly before flying out of her dantian in a flash of white light heading toward the island.
Xiao Chun’s spiritual intelligence had risen since his upgrade[notes] He could talk to Feng Wu normally, although realistically his intelligence was only at four or five year old level.
He returned shortly after with an even brighter white body. He flew around Feng Wu excitedly before diving back into her dantian to continue his digestion.
Sheldon noticed the disappearance of the grievances. He was a necromancer, so it was only natural. Though he was curious who had done it, he didn’t ask around. Surely it was another necromancer like himself. It was good to cleanse the spirit and not let the dead suffer from their resentment.
Ming Xi and the others recuperated for another two days after getting their souls back into their bodies.
Sheldon’s ship had remained in the vicinity of the island the entire time. Sheldon liked to stand at the helm of the ship and reminisce as he gazed at the island. Maragret had thought it was because of Ming Xi and the others, but after considering it some more, she realized it was because he was remembering an old friend.
Basil said his grandfather’s friend never returned from the island a hundred years ago. His grandfather liked to sail by the island around this time to remember his old friend.
Ming Xi and the others were just lucky they met at the same time his grandfather decided to do this.
There had been recent news about trouble with the sea emperor’s tomb near Bilou. Who knew how many masters were already rushing over there?
Sheldon’s ship was also heading to Bilou, but they weren’t in a hurry. They had spent several days anchored near Death island.
Ming Xi was looking at the key in his hand when a thought flashed across his mind.
“Senior Ming Xi, now we have to go to the tomb of the sea god.” Ink smiled. He was quite happy to get to go.
Originally, Ming Xi had not allowed them to go, but now they had the key, so if they didn’t go, the tomb would never get opened.
Ming Xi glanced at Ink indifferently but didn’t argue the matter. They really could not not go. He had not wanted them to get involved with the tomb, but being in possession of one of the keys meant they were now obligated. It was so difficult; it felt like they were being pushed into doing something beyond their abilities.
Jier and Leo didn’t mind too much, especially Jier, which was surprising considering Jier was a naturally belligerent rascal who liked a good fight any day of the week.
“Ya, ya, ya. . . ” Little Bun was quite a chatter box since being released from his mother’s dimensional ring. He liked reminding people he was there. It didn’t matter what anyone said, he would follow up with, “ya, ya, ya”.
The little guy was quite aggrieved at being locked away for so long; he had unleashed howls of tears and snot the moment he was let out. The crying lasted for hours. If you didn’t know better, you would have though he was being abused.
331: Ming Xi is Being Watched
He didn’t like being locked away in such a small dark place for so long. He was super resentful about it. Now that he was out, he liked to make sure no one forgot about him.
“Does Little Yeye[notes] also want to break into the god’s tomb?” Jier had a smile on his face as he pinched the child’s cheek affectionately.
“Go. . . go break.” Little Bun didn’t know what tomb of god was, but he felt like Jier was playing with him, so he happily played along too.
He drooled a bit as he talked, so Ming Xi took out a handkerchief and wiped it away.
“Hug. . . father. . . hug.” The little guy didn’t understand what “father” meant, but he knew his mother said this person was his “father” so he called him “father” whenever he saw Ming Xi. It didn’t matter if the other party was pleased to hear it or not.
Feng Wu, who was holding her son, reacted in a direct manner. She plopped Little Bun into Ming Xi’s arms. Little Bun had clung tenaciously to her since he was released from her ring. He wouldn’t let anyone hold him, not even Little White.[notes]
Ming Xi got a lot of ambiguous looks from the others. He was helpless and had to wonder if the little guy got the idea he wanted him as a father from his mother.
Margaret had made Little Bun her specialty custard dishes to nibble on. He was so adorable that even the fat kitchen chef didn't mind the intrusion in this kitchen. So right now, Little Bun was being fed.
Little Bun sat in a chair while Ming Xi held the pudding in one hand and a spoon in the other. “I’m afraid this trip to the god’s tomb won’t be peaceful. Everyone, be careful.” Ming Xi, the picture of a good father, talked as he fed Little Bun.
It was an unavoidable trip. Several people already knew they had the key. These people would spare no efforts to track the group down if they didn’t show up.
Ming Xi was annoyed; the key was troublesome. He wouldn’t have accepted it if he had known.
“Senior Ming Xi, you’re so serious. We haven’t had fun on the ocean in so long. It just so happens Bilou is famous for their luxurious products. Why don’t we stroll around the islands after we land and take a look at the shops? Maybe Xiao Wu wants to get some new clothes? We can go shopping together.” Jier said, trying to help Feng Wu.
Feng Wu tilted her head. “ I have lots of clothes.” Most had been purchased by Jier, with a few by Mrs. Lan[notes] when she’d gone home for the holiday. Even if she switched outfits every day, she could conceivable go for three months before having to re-wear anything. With so many clothes in her inventory, she had no interest in Jier’s suggestion.
“Then how about I take you to eat some delicious food? There are a lot of famous ocean delicacies on the islands of Bilou. I’m sure there’ll be something you’ll like.”
Delicious food! Feng Wu’s eyes lit up. “Let’s go to Biluo.”
Everyone was silent as they thought: Girl you are too easy to kidnap.
They went to rest after they finished discussing the tomb.
None of them knew a merchant ship had just docked on Bilou island. Two men got off the boat. One was a slightly overweight merchant and the other was a guard. They were none other than Hart and Oli.[notes]A team of servants and guards followed behind them. They were all people who Hart had recruited after the black tornado. He had no idea if any of his original crew had survived, or if they did, where they were. It was a good idea to buff up his personnel just in case.
Even though Hart lost his ship in the tornado, he had managed to save all his cargo by moving everything into his dimensional ring. Earlier, before the tornado hit, he had emptied it out in order to have enough space for the cargo.
The two men went to a nice hotel. Oli walked behind Hart and closed the hotel door respectfully once both were inside.
“Send someone to the port and have them observe when Ming Xi gets off the boat.” Hart poured some wine for himself. He swirled it around the glass before taking a deep whiff of the aroma.
“Understood,” replied Oli.
“Make sure they do a good job, don’t get discovered.” Hart warned.
Oli nodded resolutely before turning to do as commanded. Not long after, a knock sounded on the door.
Hart opened it to see a woman in a cloak. She wore a wide-brimmed hat with front privacy gauze that fell all the way to her hips. It did a good job of concealing her identity.
Hart invited her in, unphased by her outfit, then checked to make sure the hall was clear before closing the door again. He walked to the windows and pulled all the draperies closed, turning the originally bright room dark. Once that was done, he lit a candle.
Only after this did the woman remove her hat. The movement revealed a delicately refined face that could easily stir feelings of desire in anyone who saw her.
“How are you only here now? You’re too slow.” Her voice was alluring. Under the cloak, she wore a long blue gown that showed off her bosom and she exuded a sense of noble elegance. It was an enticing image when taken all together.
“I was late because I encountered a black tornado on the on the way over.” Hart sat across from her, utterly unphased her by her sexy body.
She toyed with her hair. “Then you must have been really lucky to still be alive.”
“I’m fine, but Emoke and Major are both dead.”[notes] His tone was flat, as though he was talking about a neighbor’s dog.
The indifferent and ruthless attitude was contrary to the image he cultivated in front of others.
“Those two guys are dead?!” The woman was at first surprised, but then she shrugged her shoulders indifferently.
“The third key has appeared. It is in the hands of a young man named Ming Xi. At best it should take him two days to get here, provided he doesn’t dilly dally along the way.”
“It’s finally here then. The day the tomb will open is coming closer. Take this key.” The woman casually tossed a key at Hart. “Take it out when it’s time to open the tomb.”
If Ming Xi was there, he would have recognized the key as an exact duplicate of the one he had.
332: Both the Asura and Lianye Are Back
Hart toyed with the key for a bit before putting it in his dimensional ring. “The inheritance is useless to your clan; why are you so interested in it?”
She looked at him coldly as she spoke. “You don’t need to know, just do as you are told.”
Hart stopped asking and turned his head away at her words. It was impossible to tell what he was really thinking.
Two days later Sheldon’s ship docked at Bilou. Ming Xi had no idea someone was watching for him even before he arrived.
Unlike Sanye island, which boasted beautiful scenery but no minerals, Bilou was rich in mineral resources and even had a big city. There were many businessmen from other islands who came specifically to the Bilou islands to buy property and open businesses.
Sheldon and his grandson had been personally invited by the lord of Bilou island, so they would most likely stay with him while on the island.
Ming Xi and the others didn’t intend to meet the lord of the island, instead his group, plus Margaret and her brother, went into the city to find an inn to rest.
The sea god’s tomb had brought a lot of people to the island, so many of the hotels were full. After some time they eventually found three rooms in a tiny run-down hotel.
There weren’t many rooms, so everyone had to squeeze in and make do.
There were even more people who came after them. Those people had to spend the night camped outside in tents. Compared to them, Ming Xi’s group were really lucky.
There were seven of them. Since Feng Wu and Margaret were the only girls, they got their own room to share. The guys had to split between the two other rooms.
Margaret didn’t care how the guys divided the rooms. She was more interested in shopping with Feng Wu. She had always wanted to visit the shops at Bilou, but now that there were so many people on the island, she was afraid all the good stuff would be taken before she would get a chance to look at them.
Ming Xi and the others didn’t stop them, just told them to be careful and to stay out of trouble.
Margaret pulled Feng Wu along with her out the hotel. There was a constant stream of people on the streets and the air was filled with vendors hawking their wares loudly.
There were a few booths that sold minerals only found on Bilou.
“Take a look! Take a look! Bilou’s specialty, yellow spring stones. They're the best materials for practicing magic. Don’t miss out!”
“Heaven grass! Ocean mushrooms! Water ginseng! The best quality materials right here! It would be a pity to not snatch some up!”
“Pearl powder! Pearl powder! Use it daily for beautiful, youthful skin!”
“Clothes, right here! Bilou’s unique styles! Don’t buy just one, be sure to buy them all. Otherwise you’ll kick yourself once you get home!”
It was dizzying, the number of vendors that were hawking their wares.
Margaret looked left and right, from one stall to another. She already purchased a bunch of things. Luckily she had a space ring to put everything in, otherwise she would have had to lug a bunch of bags around.
Feng Wu stayed with Margaret the entire time but didn’t buy anything.
Unbeknownst to the girls, a group of people were gnashing their teeth as they glared at the girls from a second-floor hotel room across the street.
“Big Brother, it was the blond-haired kid with that girl that killed Elder Shaya!”[notes]
“We must kill that girl to let him know the might of our Lianye clan! We’ll get that guy and take care of him too!”
“Yes! Yes! Just killing her won’t be enough!”
It was a group of young men and woman, with the oldest being around thirty and the youngest being around Feng Wu’s age. The group belonged to the Lianye clan. The clan wanted to get a piece of the tomb treasure, so they had sent a master over to the island. None of these people in the room was that master; they were just juniors there to gain experience. The real master wasn’t with them currently.
Tian Ya[notes] had killed Shaya outside the god’s tomb in the realm battlegrounds. In doing so, he managed to forge a life and death feud with the Lianye clan. It was obvious Tian Ya and Feng Wu were from the same group. Since they couldn’t find Tian Ya, they would use Feng Wu to lure him out.
In fact both the Lianye and Yiduo clan[notes] had issued huge rewards in all the big guilds.
Though many took the mission, no one succeeded in injuring Tian Ya, never mind killing him. In fact just the opposite, anyone who tried were either killed or maimed themselves. Low-level adventurers who took the mission may as well just ask for a death wish.
The major guilds listed it above an S class task. Maybe if higher-level adventurers tried, there would be a chance of success, but it was impossible for low-level adventurers.
Members of the Lianye clan hadn’t made an appearance since Shaya’s death. Had it not been for the mission posted at the major guilds, Ming Xi and the others would have forgotten about them entirely.
Feng Wu was following Margaret obediently and didn’t know any of this. The two girls were currently eating snacks as they navigated the streets.
Feng Wu had a grilled fish in one hand and a grilled squid in the other. The grilled seafood was a must try and many adventurers took the opportunity to try the local specialty dish.
Once they were done eating, the girls decided to go to a local clothing store to buy an outfit to commemorate their trip. The shop they walked into was bustling with a dozen shoppers who were keeping all the clerks busy.
“Young ladies, please, these are the latest styles for the island. We just got them last night. Just tell me which ones you want to try and I’ll be happy to get them down for you.” Even though the clerk was busy, he still took a moment to greet the girls.
“OK. We’ll look around on our own. You can go ahead and do what you need to do.” Margaret nodded to the clerk.
The clerk left relieved. He wouldn’t refuse a customer who could take care of things themselves. Honestly, he didn’t think he could keep up even if he sprouted two more arms.
Feng Wu and Margaret paid for the two outfits they had settled on. They stored them in their dimension rings before leaving the shop.
Just as they did so, Feng Wu collided into another woman and the woman’s recently purchased clothes fell to the floor. The woman took a couple steps back. Her expression changed and her eyes looked bad when she noticed her clothes had fallen.
“I’m sorry.” Feng Wu was a good girl and admitted her mistake when she saw she had knocked into someone. She immediately bent down to pick up the dropped clothes for the other party.
“Sorry?! Those are new. I just bought them. How do you intend to pay for them if they’re dirty huh?” The woman said loudly.
“Help you wash them.” Feng Wu replied seriously.
“Wash?! I haven’t even worn the clothes even once yet, and you want to wash them already?!”
“How much did you pay for the clothes? We’ll just pay you for them.” Margaret couldn’t take the woman any longer.
“Good, let’s get to the point. The clothes aren’t expensive, but they should be at least this much.” The woman held up five fingers.
“Fifty gold coins?” That was acceptable.
“What fifty? Five thousand!” The woman curled her lips in disdain.
“Five thousand?! That’s highway robbery!” Margaret was furious. The woman was the one who ran into Feng Wu just now. She had definitely done it on purpose. Wanting five thousand gold, dream on! She’d rather use five thousand gold to help the poor instead of giving it to the woman.
The chubby maid next to Barit made a face when she heard Margaret’s words. Her eyes widened and her lips curled. As expected, if there was a master, there would be a servant.
“You ruined my clothes and now you refuse to pay?!”
Other residents began crowding around from all the shouting.
“Aye, her again? Isn’t this the third time this month? Every time, she uses the same trick to swindle money from people.”
“I bet that woman is a habitual swindler.”
“Right? Who on this street doesn’t know about her? She specializes in scamming tourists. She gets money every time she does it.”
“Those girls are really unlucky, running into that woman.”
“What are you guys talking about? Who is that woman? This brother wants to know. I don’t want to run into her in the future.” A guy, who’d been listening to them gossip, spoke up. He wanted to know who this scammer was so he wouldn’t get scammed himself. He didn’t want to get scammed before even getting inside the tomb.
“You don’t know? She’s big shot with family connections through her sister.[notes] The girl’s a tyrant and a bully. And it’s not just toward tourists either, even us locals have suffered a few times.”
“Oh, is that it? Now I know. I’ll definitely keep a distance from her.” The guy patted his chest. He was a no name guy who wanted to take advantage of the situation, but he wasn’t going to mess with any bigshots.
The woman didn’t care one whit about the whispering crowd. They were all insignificant anyway. Her name was Barit and as they said, her sister was that type of woman and was the vice lord’s favorite girl.
Because of her connections, even if she got in trouble, people would always give her face. Eventually her head got big and she started scamming people for money. She always targeted tourists who came to the island.
“You’re not going to pay up? Do you want to know who I am?! You won’t leave here peacefully if you give me trouble.”
“Oh? Is this young lady the daughter of the lord of this island? Why have I not heard that he had a daughter?” Margaret covered her mouth mock surprise.
It made Barit blush. The crowd wished they had some popcorn to eat as they watched the drama. Of course, the maid immediately spoke up on her lady’s behalf.
“My young miss is the sister of the vice lord’s fiancé. So unless you want to offend Lord Sabuden, the vice lord of this island, you better hand over the money right now!” retorted the maid.
Feng Wu thought for a moment. “I’ve never heard of this person.” While they were disembarking earlier, Sheldon had given them some advice and told them who they needed to pay attention to. This Lord Sabuden was not mentioned, so Feng Wu answered back honestly.
“You dare look down on Lord Sabuden?! You two cheap tarts are looking for trouble!” Barit bit out. She was determined to teach them a lesson for looking down on Lord Sabuden. She had never suffered such a loss in face since her sister had successfully become the vice lord’s fiancé. To suffer such a big loss today in front of these two girls was unbearable for her.
“Are you even listening? We don’t even know who this Sabuden guy is. How can we possible look down on him?!” Margaret rolled her eyes.
“You won’t repent until you see your end. Come! Come then!” Barit screamed. She wouldn’t bother talking to them. Since they weren’t giving her any face, she wouldn’t give them any mercy.
Two wimpy looking adventurers dared insult her? The future sister-in-law to Lord Sabuden? They wouldn’t understand what strength was until they got squished underneath.
She already saw herself as Lord Sabuden’s sister-in-law. It never occurred to her that he could possibly change his mind and not marry her sister.
At her yell, five sturdy swordsmen rushed out. Her sister had assigned them to her and she had gotten into the habit of bringing them along with her wherever she went, to be used as a show of brute force when she felt like displaying some.
A pity, today would be the day she would bite off more than she could chew.
Five big men with swords rushed out, but before they could do anything, Feng Wu stepped forward with feather steps and tapped each of them. They froze in place and were unable to move anything except for their eyes.
“You! What did you do to them?!” The display shocked and scared Barit. She dared intimidate and bully those she considered small fries, but she knew better than to provoke a master or any big shots.
“Did you see how that girl moved?” The people eating popcorn asked.
“No, she was moving too fast. Low-level ordinary adventurers wouldn’t be able to move that fast. She has to be at least intermediate or above!”
“It’s over. This time Barit picked on someone bigger than her. That little girl looks so frail, completely didn’t expect she’d be a master.” This came from a gloating voice.
“Yeah, finally someone who can teach that woman a lesson. Last time, she came into my shop and ordered a table full of dishes, then refused to pay. She refuses to pay for meals even though she gets so much money from the tourists she scams. How’s that for rich?” This came from the owner of the restaurant across the street. He was tired of Barit eating like a king and not paying.
334: The Ever Quick on Her Feet Barit
Don’t be fooled by Barit’s tyrannical attitude. Although she enjoyed taking advantage of others, she wasn't stupid. She had enough self-awareness to only bully the small shops and restaurants of people who had no backgrounds. She wouldn’t dare dine and dash at the bigger more upscale hotels. Those kinds of places had big backers; people she wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of.
It was this self-awareness that allowed her to run rampant on the island, doing as she pleased for the last two years, without repercussions.
“That’s nothing. Do you know what happened the last time she went to my noodle shop? She said there weren’t enough side dishes, so she insisted I add more to her order. In the end, her bowl had more sides than noodles! Who eats noodles like that?! The worse of it is, she left right after finishing. It’s been over a month and I still haven’t seen a penny.”
The noodle shop owner was also bitter. It was rare to see a woman so stingy, but Barit took the cake.
“That’s not bad. You just lost a bit of food. I came back with a sea beast from a trip two months ago. I was going to sell it for a bit of a profit. But that damn woman forced me to sell it to her for half the going rate!
I mean, I didn’t agree at first, but she sat outside my shop and drove all my customers away. She even had someone harass me. I ended up selling it to her at a huge discount just so I wouldn’t offend Lord Sabuden. I lost so much money on the deal!”
The guy became more excited as he talked. He was so excited that spittle came out of his mouth and hit the guy in front of him.
“Yeah, it’s been hard on everyone. I hope Lord Sabuden dumps her sister soon. She won’t be so intolerable once she loses her backer,” said an innkeeper.
“Never mind that right now. We should enjoy the show. See how those fellows can’t move? Why is that?” Someone on the side stared curiously at the five men who were now effectively turned into statues.
“Could the girl be a magician?” speculated another who was unfamiliar with magicians and the abilities magicians possessed.
“No! She definitely used sword mastery skills.”
The ever growing number of people guessing Feng Wu’s class didn’t affect Feng Wu at all. She had her head tilted slightly to the side as she stared at Barit. What was Feng Wu she thinking?
“You’re real pleased with yourself huh? Trying to scam money out of us using some bits of cloth? You really are a reckless person!” Margaret said triumphantly.
Barit was miserable. Why was she so unlucky? She picked on these two because she thought they were loners without any abilities or backing. She was going to just take a bit of coin from them; that was all, but instead, she was losing both money and face!
“Ah, actually this is all just a misunderstanding. My clothes are barely dirty at all. I’ll just wash them at home. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I must have lost my head for a moment.” Typical. The instant she knew she was outgunned, Barit backed a hasty retreat.
Margaret looked at Barit. She had not expected the other woman to flip at the drop of a hat. Such a fast and believable attitude change was impressive! This was talent. It wasn’t something just anyone could do.
“Alright. You said it yourself. Don’t come looking for us later for compensation.” Margaret lazily waved her hand. She wasn’t interested in giving the woman a hard time over it.
Barit was a great actress. “Of course, of course. It was my fault for not paying attention to where I was walking. How could I ask the two of you for money?!”
“Xiao Wu, let’s go keep shopping.” As long as Barit wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, Margaret didn’t care. She took Feng Wu’s hand and walked through the crowd side by side.
“Wait! What about them?” Barit pointed to the frozen men. It wasn’t like she personally cared what happened to them, but they were men her sister had assigned to her, plus they were useful muscle. Without them, how was she going to keep bullying other people?
Margaret didn’t know so she looked to Feng Wu.
Feng Wu turned to look at Barit before speaking. “They will be able to move again in an hour.”
Margaret immediately took Feng Wu away, leaving a disappointed crowd behind.
What was that? You guys didn’t even fight!
All that anticipation and this is all we get?!
We just wanted to see you teach that stinking woman a lesson. But all you did was take care of her minions!
This woman’s fortune is too good. There really is no limit to how shameless she can be. That shamelessness really is like her invincible shield.
It didn’t matter what the crowd thought because Barit survived unscathed. The crowd of pointing onlookers were getting on her nerves though. So what if she couldn’t take care of the two masters, she could certainly take care of these small-fry shop owners!
“What are you looking at?! You better be careful with those eyes!”
None of them wanted to be her next target so they quickly dispersed.
The chubby maid asked, “Miss, what about them?” as she looked at the frozen men. Don’t have her carry them. With her small frame, there was no way she could carry them.
Oh you are too humble dear maid; your body is not that small.
Barit thought about it for a moment. “I’m going home first. You’ll stay here and wait for them to recover.”
So with her mind at ease, Barit left to go home while the five men stood frozen in front of the clothes shop and her maid waited beside them.
The owner of the shop bit his knuckles as he lamented. Five fierce guys standing in front of his shop and blocking the entryway; this was bad for business. Who would dare come in to shop?! He wished they would hurry and leave!
His employees were also uncomfortable with it, but they whispered comfortingly to him, saying it would only be an hour. One hour! Things would be OK!
335: Hearing About the Auction
The incident in front of the clothing store didn’t hamper Margaret’s enthusiasm for shopping at all. She and Feng Wu spent all day shopping and eating snacks. After stuffing themselves with food, they found a shop selling cold drinks.
There is a saying: Don’t underestimate the wisdom of the ancients.
Even though those on the continent couldn’t be considered ancient, their wisdom couldn’t be underestimated either.
Drink shops, like those in modern times, were available here as well. It was easy to make the drinks cold – just find an ice magician to make a bunch of ice cubes.
The flavor varieties were more limited than in modern times, but they did have flower and tea flavors as well as juice and milk, so the cold drink business was pretty good.
The inexpensive drinks attracted lots of lady customers and made for good business. Of course they didn’t just sell drinks, they sold common snacks as well.
People often got together there with friends to enjoy good conversation whilst sipping drinks and nibbling on snacks.
Feng Wu and Margaret each ordered a drink, one black plum and one grape. From time to time, snippets of conversation would float over as they sipped on their drinks at their seats.
A young woman’s voice could be heard asking, “Are you going to the auction tomorrow?”
The word “auction” got Margaret’s attention. She pricked her ears to hear more while Feng Wu enjoyed the snack that was just delivered to them. It was delicious.
“Of course. It took a lot for my father to get the admission tickets. I heard it’s the biggest auction in fifty years! There will be countless treasures up for sale. Even if we don’t buy anything, it’ll be worth it just to see what’s available.” Another girl excitedly interjected.
“Me too. I agreed to go with my brother to the auction. I really want to get a picture of a powerful magic beast cub.”
“If you want a picture of one, why not just go to any old store that sells magic beasts? Why wait for the auction?”
The reply was disdainful. “Rare goods can only be purchased at auction. How are you going to get such high-end things at a regular store?!”
Margaret wasn’t interested in the change in topic. She was only interested in the auction. The biggest auction in fifty years? She had to go experience it. . .
Ming Xi and the group were in fact discussing that very topic – whether they should go or not.
Ink was excited. “Definitely go! I haven’t gone to an auction house since I was little.”
“I second that. Let’s go and see. Maybe we’ll find something good or rare.” Jier was no longer short on money since his return home last time.
“I agree. I heard the auction is really fancy. Plus we’ll get to see what big shots are on the island.” Getting to see which families were trying to enter the tomb would be useful intel.
They weren’t interested in entering the tomb to get the inheritance, after all the inheritance wouldn’t be useful to any of them since it was likely something related to water. But if they were lucky, they could find some useful treasures or weapons.
Too bad not everyone thought like they did. For most people, their first thought was how best to eliminate their opponent.
“So I have to ask, even though we’re seriously discussing whether to go or not, but you know, do we even have tickets?” Matheson quietly interrupted their excitement.
They hadn’t even seen what the admission tickets looked like, but they were already talking about going. Why bother talking about it when they didn’t even have tickets?
The bitter glare Jier, Ink and Leo directed at him made his scalp tingle.
“What do you think, Ming Xi?” Matheson wiped the sweat from his forehead as he turned to ask Ming Xi, who was looking at the scenery outside the window, adamantly ignoring their glances.
As expected, the ploy worked. The other three turned their gazes from Matheson and focused on Ming Xi. As their team captain, he had the final say.
“Senior Ming Xiiiiii~.” The three of them pleaded.
Ming Xi tapped the top of the table with his fingers. The choppy sound was crystal clear in the now silent room.
“I’ll get the admission tickets.” Ming Xi said the words they were hoping for!
“Yea! That’s awesome!” The three of them were exuberant.
Even Matheson cracked a smile. The biggest auction in fifty years? He’d be lying if he said he didn’t want to go.
Feng Wu and Margaret immediately went to Ming Xi and the others once they got back to the hotel. Before Margaret could even tell them about the auction, Jier and the others were already excitedly telling the girls they were going.
What?! Going to the auction tomorrow?! Margaret had made up her mind to pester Matheson to get tickets so they could go. She didn’t get to even open her mouth and she was already greeted with the awesome news they were all going. She had a huge, happy smile that stretched from ear to ear.
The auction would start at 2pm. It was the largest auction in fifty years, so the hype and advertisement had been going on for a month. The proprietor of the auction house was really excited and wanted it to be successful.
Margaret became uneasy as she watched the crowd in front of the auction house, “Brother, can Ming Xi really get tickets for all of us?”
Matheson thought about that then said, “He should be able to. We wouldn’t be standing here otherwise.”
In reality Matheson wasn’t so sure. Since their discussion yesterday, he hadn’t seen Ming Xi contact anyone or go outside to do anything. Ming Xi had remained resting in their room the entire time. When would Ming Xi have had the time to get tickets? But he didn’t dare speak his anxiety out loud with Ming Xi there beside him.
“Senior Ming Xi, are the tickets really good to go?” The siblings weren’t the only ones concerned. Ink and Leo were worried as well.
The only ones with confidence in Ming Xi were Jier and Feng Wu. They knew their senior. Jier didn’t think a small auction house would be a problem for the prince of one of the four major kingdoms.
Feng Wu didn’t know anything about a prince of the Ancient Silver Moon Kingdom, but she had an unshakeable confidence in Ming Xi.
“Don’t worry. Just follow me inside.” Ming Xi had his trademark smile on, but this one was unmistakably full of confidence.
Maybe his confidence was contagious, but the others felt buoyed and followed behind him confidently as well.
Ming Xi was in the lead as they walked to the entry area.
The staff respectfully waited for Ming Xi to show his admission ticket.
“I would like to see the manager.” Ming Xi spoke to the service staff with his trademark smile.
The request from the beautiful man surprised the staff member. “Perhaps there is something I could help you with. Today is a big day for the house, and everything must go smoothly.” Although the clerk, Wogh, refused Ming Xi’s request, there was no ill-will in his rejection.
You couldn’t help but admire the professionalism. Even the gatekeeper was well trained in customer service.
Ming Xi wasn’t annoyed with the reply. He simply withdrew a silver token and said, “Take this to your manager. He will see me.”
The token itself was unremarkable, but Wogh saw how confident Ming Xi was. He didn’t want to accidentally offend an influential person, so he agreed. He immediately left to find the manager after handing over door responsibilities to the clerk behind him.
The manager, a thin man in his forties with shrewd eyes who exuded competency, was currently giving a report to two men, one tubby middle-aged and one who was much younger.
“The auction will start in another half an hour. We already have people entering the venue. Aside from the twelve island lords, there are also the aristocracy from the islands here and abroad, as well as many adventurers. I believe this will be a very successful auction.”
“Good, good. Later on, make sure to have people keep an eye out. I don’t want any issues today,” said the older man. He sipped his tea after speaking.
“Yes, I will be sure to have everyone on alert.”
All three men frowned when a knock suddenly sounded at the door. The plump man hesitated a moment before getting up to open it.
“Let them in.” He wasn’t happy to be interrupted in the middle of a report, but he suppressed his annoyance. Whatever it was might be important.
“Yes.” The person at the door turned to summon Wogh.
Wogh did not expect the boss to be in the manager’s room. The auction house was very strict. You didn’t disturb the boss unless it was something extremely important, otherwise you better be prepared to deal with the consequences.
He was worried he’d be reprimanded for interrupting. He sincerely hoped the beautiful man was someone of status. If he wasn’t, then the boss would not likely forgive the intrusion.
“Is there something important you wanted to report?” The boss asked, emphasizing the word important.
Wogh’s heart tightened. That Tang, no wonder the smile on his face was so big when he told Tang he had something to report to the manager.
The auction wasn’t a good place to work. The benefits were good, but the competition between personnel was fierce. He and Tang had never gotten along. They were always doing things to get the attention of the manager. The better the attention, the better their prospects for future promotions would be.
He hadn’t expected the kid to be so malicious. That kid hadn’t said a word even though he knew the manager was in a meeting with the boss. He was going to make sure he returned the favor to Tang once he escaped.
The clerk quickly pulled out the silver token, all the while his heart was beating madly.
He never expected both the boss and the manager to change their expressions so dramatically. Their faces turned red and their breathing quickened. He had hoped the token was good enough to get him off the hook with the two men; he never expected their reaction. They were obviously excited.
“Where is the person who gave this to you?” The boss wanted to know! He stood up from the side of the table so fast, it was hard to believe he was as girthy as he was!
“At. . . at the entrance!” Poor Wogh was stunned by the explosive reaction.
The boss came around the table and disappeared like lightning.
The young man next to the boss was dumbstruck. What in the world! His father moved like he was ten years younger!
The manager’s response wasn’t any slower. Before Wogh could even react, he had grabbed the token and pulled the clerk out with him. “Hurry! We need you to identify the person!”
They quickly walked downstairs, trying to catch up to the boss in as fast a dignified a pace as they could. The young man quickly followed behind, wanting to see what could have elicited such a strong reaction from his father.
Tang had seen the boss enter the manager’s office earlier. Then Wogh came in asking to see the manager, which of course he would be reprimanded for. There was no way Wogh would be eligible for promotions after that. He’d be stuck as a clerk for sure.
Tang was in a good mood after putting his competition in a bad position. It had been hard to get one over on Wogh, so he grabbed the opportunity. Both of them had been vying for the manager’s attention for ages now.
Tang hummed a tune out of happiness.
Suddenly a plump figure came barreling toward him. Wasn’t that the boss? Could Wogh have been so bad he actually angered the boss? Hahaha!
“Hello Boss!” The boss didn’t normally come to the ground floor so Tang took the opportunity to greet him.
But the boss didn’t even bother to return the greeting. Instead Tang got shoved aside with a brusque, “Move aside!”
337: The Overly Enthusiastic Boss
This was because he was in the way!
Tang had a dazed expression after being shoved out of the way. The staff who saw the scene were gloating as they pointed at him.
Yeah, that’ll teach him, they thought. Always making trouble for others instead of being a good example. This time the bad karma returned to him.
Tang had wanted to witness Wogh suffer, but instead he was the one suffering! What bad luck!
This was work, so he didn’t dare give voice to the curses in his heart. There were plenty of people who wanted to take his position. Besides, the boss was way too high of a figure for him to dare complain about.
Tang got up and wondered at the cause for the boss’s behavior, but before he could figure it out, the manager and Wogh came rushing out, following the same path as the boss.
The manager didn’t even bother looking at him. Wogh, though, gave him a fierce glare. Tang was even more confused. Why were both the boss and the manager in such an obvious hurry, running so crazily in the building?
Wait, wasn’t that also Master Henry? The boss’s son?
What was going on?! This was highly out of character for a place as highly regarded as theirs.
All kinds of possibilities ran through the minds of the staff present, but the auction house was strict, so although they were shocked by the boss’s mad sprint, they didn’t dare ask, never mind go over and see.
The boss was out of breath, but he finally reached the entrance. It was when he was craning his head looking around the crowd that he realized he didn’t know what his target looked like!
Dang it! Why didn’t he bring the clerk with him? Now how was he going to recognize the guest? At the same time, he blamed the clerk for not being insightful enough to follow behind.
He didn’t have to worry long though. The manager had brought the clerk with him. The boss immediately grabbed the clerk by the collar and asked him to be taken over to the person. He didn’t even let Wogh catch his breath.
Where would Wogh have the courage to say no? He immediately brought the boss over to Ming Xi, but before he could even make introductions, the boss beat him to it and was already greeting Ming Xi.
Master Henry found it hard to believe his eyes. Was this the same wise and calm father he knew? He was even more curious about the identity of this person with the token.
“Greetings! Greetings!” The chub on the boss’s face was practically shaking; he was that excited. He had wanted to kneel and properly pay respects to Ming Xi the moment he saw him.
Where was this place? Who owned it?
Ancient Moon Auction House was the only auction house in all of Bilou. It was one of the most famous on the continent! There were branches in every corner of the world!
Rumor had it, Ancient Moon Auction was owned by royalty. It was such a big company and yet it was rare anyone dared cause trouble in any of the facilities.
Now the boss of one such branch was so enthusiastic about a young man, so much so he was bowing and certainly on his way to kowtowing.
Ming Xi saw where it was going, so he stepped forward and grabbed onto the boss before he knelt down. It stopped the boss, but he was still so flustered and respectful.
Who was that young man?
All the aristocrats there had the same question. Those with connections had already sent out inquiries, while those without connections were already planning on secretly asking the boss. Everyone wanted to know if there was any possibility of buttering up and earning favors from the young man.
To have such an enthusiastic and respectful reception from the boss of the branch, his identity had to be special. Why would the boss, who never bothered to flatter anyone, personally meet this young man?
But it didn’t matter what the audience thought. The boss could tell Ming Xi was trying to keep a low profile, so he quickly ushered the group into the auction house. He immediately took them to a VIP box after Ming Xi expressed interest in participating in the auction.
Did the clerk dare ask the group for admission tickets? Obviously not!
An auction house like Ancient Moon would certainly have a couple VIP boxes reserved for special guests only, however guests who fit the admission criteria were rare. The Bilou branch had been open for several hundred years and yet had never had a guest who fit the criteria for use. Ming Xi was the first person to use it.
“Young Master, is this box satisfactory?” The boss, Claude, was smiling so hard, his eyes were practically tiny slits. Master Henry, watching the scene, was scared by how much his father was smiling.
The boss wisely referred to Ming Xi as Young Master and not Your Royal Highness, because Ming Xi had said he wanted to keep a low profile. The people behind him were curious, so clearly they didn’t know Ming Xi’s identity. What if the prince wanted his identity kept secret to the end? He was being too low-key!
“It is not bad; I am satisfied.” Ming Xi nodded. The boss’s excessive enthusiasm didn’t seem to faze him.
It was contrary to what Margaret, Matheson, Leo and Ink felt though. Who was Ming Xi exactly? Why did the boss of the venue come to greet them in person? Weren’t people not allowed to enter without tickets? All Ming Xi did was show a small token and their attitudes completely changed. It wasn’t just a personal greeting either, the boss even gave them use of such a luxurious box!
It’s important to remember, to get a box seat, you had to have status. Just money alone wouldn’t cut it.
But Ming Xi got them in so easily, and their treatment was so good. It felt like a dream.
It was only yesterday that they were trying to figure out if they should steal tickets or buy floor tickets from scalpers. Even if they were floor tickets only, they were still better than nothing.
That was yesterday. Suddenly today, they were honored guests with the best seats! It was like buying something for cheap and having it multiply insanely in value overnight.
The boss’s smile was so big, you couldn’t even see his eyes.
“This is fine. I’m sure you must be busy since it’s the big auction day.”
The boss could see Ming Xi didn’t want them to stay, so he immediately excused himself and led all the staff out, but before he left, he told Ming Xi he could purchase anything he liked. The funds from the house were at his discretion.
This, of course, shocked Henry. His own spending accounts were strictly monitored by his father. His father wasn’t a scrooge, but he wasn’t a generous person either. But here his father was telling this beautiful young man that he was free to buy whatever he wanted. It was unheard of!
Understand, none of the goods up for auction in the house were cheap. His father had wanted to capitalize on the sea emperor’s tomb, so he’d spent over two months preparing for the auction. Extra was even spent on advertising; so you can imagine how high the turn out would be. They stood to make a fortune, but his dad was throwing money away! Henry wanted to yell at his crazy father.
Henry could barely wait to ask who the young man was as they walked back to the office.
“Father! Who was that person just now?! You were so respectful toward him. Is he some super rich young master? But no, that can’t be. With our reputation, even a super rich young master wouldn’t make you get like this. Is he. . . a royal family member of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom?”
Henry excitedly started speculating out loud. He had had so many guesses through out the day. The most likely was that the person was a high-ranking member in the kingdom, possibly even someone in the royal family.
Boss looked at his son with satisfaction. This boy’s IQ was not bad.
“You’re not stupid. The young man just now was the prince.”
“A son of the Moon emperor? What is his rank? Is it high up? Is he favored?”
Henry was very curious. He had returned to the kingdom only a few times in his life. He was the son of the boss of one of the kingdom’s auction houses, but he wasn’t a person of any consequence in the kingdom, so the few times he returned, he didn’t really get on with the aristocratic ladies. He never mentioned wanting to visit again after that.
He rarely ever went back and instead remained on Bilou island and would occasionally help his father with the business. He never imagined he would ever be able to meet a prince, so this whole situation was a shocker to him.
“You ask so many questions. How am I supposed to answer them? All I know is that he is the youngest prince of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom and his father is the current king. As long as there are no accidents, the prince should be next in line to rule.”
“That can’t be right. You said he was the youngest prince, then isn’t there an older prince ahead of him? Would that older brother really give up his position to the youngest?” Henry didn’t believe the princes of the kingdom would be that friendly toward each other. No way would the older brother have nothing to say about a younger sibling stepping in front of him for the throne. Never mind the throne, even on the small islands of Bilou, there were siblings who gladly betrayed each other to snatch family position. For something as grand as the throne for the kingdom, the princes would definitely use troops to fight each other.
“Stupid child. What did I have you study the kingdom’s history for? Look at you. You don’t even know something as basic as this. Successors for our kingdom aren’t chosen by birth order, they’re chosen by the blood strength.
Whoever has the most potent blood is the chosen king. This is how our kingdom has chosen our rulers for generations. Don’t ask such foolish questions again. I won’t be so inclined to answer next time.”
The boss rolled his eyes at his son. Kids these days, they didn’t study. All they did was think about business.
Henry gave a goofy smile and scratched his head. He wanted to know more about the silver token, but he was afraid the answer would be something commonsense, thereby exposing his own ignorance on the matter. His father was obviously dissatisfied and would likely cuss him out a blue streak, so he didn’t dare ask anything else.
Forget it. He’d just wait until the auction was over then ask the manager about the token.
Ming Xi’s group were oblivious about the conversations going on about them. They felt a lot more comfortable after the boss and the rest of the staff left.
“Big Brother Xi, I had no idea. You really are a bigshot. Even the boss of the Moon Auction House will give you face.” Margaret never dreamed she had a local bigshot next to her.
“Senior Ming Xi, did you get your item back?” Ink’s thigh holding was smooth as silk.
Ming Xi’s mouth twitched. He could feel a headache coming on. “Stop making trouble.”
“Senior Ming Xi, what was that token? Was it a family crest?” Leo was also interested. There were so many rumors about Ming Xi at school. Some said he was an ordinary citizen, others said he was a nobleman, while others suggested he was a prince. There were so many rumors though, it was impossible to tell which ones were actually true.
The girls who adored Ming Xi declared he was a prince and anyone who disagreed would be in their bad graces.
The boys who looked down on Ming Xi for being a pretty boy said he was of low birth, an illegitimate child of some untouchable aristocrat. These guys were unbearable.
Leo had heard all the rumors, but had never participated in any gossip spreading. They had nothing to do with him, so he had always ignored them. But after seeing Ming Xi in action, he had to admit that he was curious.
“This is a gift from an elder in my family. All us brothers have one. With this token, we can go to any Ancient Moon Auction house and enjoy the best treatment with a thirty percent discount on all items.”
339: The Auction Begins
The one who gave Ming Xi the token was none other than the prince who founded the Ancient Moon Auction Houses. Despite being royalty, the prince had enjoyed participating in commerce since he was a child. There were many other businesses in many other industries under his name.
He was generous and was willing to give a token to every member of his family. To date, aside from other royal family members, elders of the temple also had one.
“The elder in your family must be amazing, to be able to give thirty percent off. That will save a lot!” Margaret said enviously.
Jier tried to get everyone to sit down. “Enough talking. There are so many delicious foods on the table. Sit down and eat. The catalog is there too. Look through and see if there are any things you like. Senior Ming Xi has a thirty percent discount you know.”
It was obvious Jier wanted them to stop asking, so they stopped. After all, everyone had their secrets.
They did note, from his actions, that Jier knew Ming Xi’s identity, and because he knew, he had wanted them to stop.
Ming Xi could see what Jier was trying to do. The truth was, Ming Xi didn’t want his identity revealed. Even if Jier hadn’t interfered, Ming Xi would have shifted the conversation to another topic, but it was easier to have someone else lead it. Looked like he would have to be nicer to this kid. Maybe take him along on a mission or two in the virtual world later?
Jier would have been in a good mood if he knew Ming Xi’s thoughts.
Feng Wu was eating cakes as she flipped through the catalog. There were many uncommon monster cores, herbs, potions, weapons, minerals, holy books and even monster eggs. They were all precious items, but Feng Wu was only interested in eating. The treasures, others would spend a family fortune on, weren’t of interest to her.
Feng Wu was more interested in the food items than the auction items. The food provided by the auction house was exquisite and delicious, and most importantly, all you can eat. It was a benefit limited to the special boxes.
To get refills, she only needed to let the maids outside the door know. It was very convenient. Ming Xi let her do as she pleased. As long as she wanted to eat more, he would keep having the maids bring more.
At some point, Jier couldn’t stand to watch it any longer. He told the maids the small plates were too stingy and to use larger family sized plates.
The maids outside nearly got angry at this. Clearly the guests were the ones eating too much. Just look at the other guests. Which one of them were as focused on the food? These guys were the only wierdos engrossed in eating!
The maids didn’t let their thoughts show in their expressions though. Their smiles were as graceful as ever. You would never know they were just bad mouthing the customers mentally.
The auction house had given them careful training, so they were gentle and considerate. They could also be purchased if a guest took a fancy to them. Their lives would have been hell as orphans if the boss hadn’t rescued them, so they didn’t hold any resentment against him for his policy. After all, wasn’t it better to serve nobility than be trampled on by ordinary men? It was just common sense to prefer the high over the low.
The women certainly had ideas about Ming Xi’s group, Ming Xi in particular. They hoped to catch his eye, but unfortunately, he had absolutely no interest in them.
The maids were trained exceptionally well and weren’t like those girls who clung needlessly. They wouldn’t get entangled with a man who showed no interest in them. Their demeanors were so graceful that patrons would never take offense. They would try their best to satisfy their clients, no matter how strange the request.
Soon enough an extra-large plate of food was delivered.
“Eat,” Ming Xi pushed a plate of appetizers toward Feng Wu. He gazed at her with a smile that was as refreshing as a spring breeze.
It looked like she was smiling back. It was hard to tell with her poker face, but her eyes were crinkled as she tilted her head toward the plate.
The plate was demolished in short order.
The maid who delivered the snack wondered: So the young master likes young girls with expressionless faces?
The snacks were just a draw, the main event was, of course, the auction. Three hundred admission tickets and ten VIP tickets had been issued.
Those VIP ticket holders could enter VIP boxes for the auction.[notes]
“Everyone! Welcome to our Ancient Moon Auction House.” All the lights focused on a gorgeous dark-haired girl on stage. She glowed radiantly in the spotlight.
“Wow! It’s Miss LeXue!”
“Who is that beauty?” Someone who didn’t know who LeXue asked.
“You don’t know LeXue? She's the youngest daughter of the lord, Miss LeXue Bilou!” The man gave his buddy an eye roll.
“How come the daughter of the lord is the master of ceremony?” The friend was even more confused upon finding out her identity.
“Seriously? You don’t know this? Miss LeXue is Young Master Henry’s fiancé. This is the biggest auction in over fifty years, of course she would help out!”
“Oh! So that’s why.”
“Wow, even Miss LeXue came to help out. That old Claude, he’s not pulling any punches.” A certain middle-aged man sneered as he sipped a glass of red wine.
“Looks like Claude is spending a lot on this,” came another voice from a box nearby.
Ming Xi’s group stayed quiet as they watched LeXue with interest on stage.
“There will be three hundred lots up for bid today. One final special item will be auctioned off at the end... But for now, allow me to present the first lot. Please take a look.”
Another beauty walked up with a long box and placed it in the center of the table.
340: Ai Lin’s Back
LeXue opened it with a big smile. “The first lot is a magic sword crafted by Master X. It is made with fifteen high-grade ores and has a ninth-level demon core embedded in the hilt. It is an extremely swift sword that high-level users won’t be able to resist. The master has named it Wind Chaser.
The reserve price for this sword is five hundred gold, at minimum increases of fifty gold increments. There is no upper limit. Let’s start bidding!”
“A thousand gold!”
“One thousand one hundred!”
“One thousand two hundred!”
“One thousand five hundred gold!”
The bidding went on like that. Ming Xi’s group could see the auction clearly but were themselves shielded from outside eyes.
“That’s a really good sword. It’s just the first lot and it’s already priced in the thousands. I had wanted to do some bidding, but didn’t expect it to get so expensive so fast,” lamented Margaret. She felt poor.
“That kind of sword would go for up to five thousand gold in the open market, but it may not do so here. That’s the allure of an auction.” Ming Xi said before taking a sip of fruity tea.
“That’s true. I always feel like if I’m not the final bid, then I’m missing something.” Ink nodded in agreement.
Feng Wu: These dishes are delicious.
“Six thousand five hundred gold, going once... going twice... going three times – sold!” LeXue knocked her gavel three times and officially ended the bidding for the first lot. “Wind Chaser is sold to customer number 117 at six thousand five hundred gold. Let’s all congratulate customer number 117 for his winning bid!”
A wave of enthusiastic applause followed. The thin middle-aged man, who greatly resembled a bean pole, blushed at the attention. It was probably the first time in his life he was noticed.
The second lot, a magic wand, was brought out and auctioned off at about the same price as the sword before it.
At the same time in another box, a girl in an indigo robe with waist length indigo hair was looking through the auction catalog.
“Ai Lin,[notes] is there anything you want? Let me know if there is. I’ll help you get it if you don’t have enough funds for it,” said a girl playfully. She was dressed all in white.
The girl offering was not your ordinary person. Her name was Eliza and she was a young princess of Water Cloud. she was a cute little thing.
Ai Lin had heard the news about the sea emperor’s tomb after completing the mission with her team. She knew the tomb opening was a big opportunity for the heroine.
It was inside the tomb that Zi Cheng would get what every water magician dreamed of – the Heart of Water – the physical embodiment of the magical elements of a water system. It was extremely rare as it took tens of thousands of years to form a single drop, so rare that only one ever formed on any continent.
Anyone who obtained it would have their cultivation level soar without suffering any side effects.
Zi Cheng was originally a five-elemental magician, so the Heart of Water was very useful to her. It was because she obtained the Heart of Water that she came to see how useful the hearts were. She eventually went on to look for all the other elemental hearts as well.
By the end of the novel, she ascended to the god realm after collecting all the hearts – gold, wood, fire and earth.
A favorability system was already too good. Ai Lin couldn’t let Zi Cheng have any more advantages, so she knew she couldn’t let Zi Cheng get the Heart of Water.
But that wasn’t why Ai Lin was at the auction house; she was there to keep Zi Cheng from realizing a different opportunity, and that was the ancient rui beast egg.
The auction house would auction it off and Zi Cheng would be the winning bid. Of course, the auction house had no idea the egg was that of an ancient beast. It had been up for auction thirty-six times before.
Rui beasts liked to attach themselves to other more powerful attackers, like sacred beasts and humans. They used their abilities to seek the protection of the strong because their own offensive abilities were so weak.
Ruis were strong, smart, and had wonderful support capabilities. This one in particular had the peculiar ability to predict.
Zi Cheng contracted with it after spotting it at the auction. From then on, its prescient abilities helped her to avoid all kinds of catastrophes.
Seeing into the future. It was such a powerful ability, even Ai Lin’s heart was moved. This time, her goal was to snatch the egg from Zi Cheng.
She met her companion, Princess Eliza, on the way to the Bilou islands. The princess had a kind heart. She had allowed Ai Lin to ride with her on her boat when she saw that Ai Lin was looking for passage to Bilou. The two had chatted and became good friends on the trip.
The tomb was a dangerous expedition, so Ai Lin’s team captain had decided against bringing the newbies to explore it. She had rushed over on her own after the team had handed in their mission assignment.
It didn’t matter how dangerous it was, Ai Lin wasn’t going to let Zi Cheng get any more advantages. But just thinking about the maritime world gave her a headache. It was practically dedicated to giving Zi Cheng all kinds of overpowered equipment. The demon suppression sword,[notes] the rui egg, the Heart of Water, all three items were obtained from the maritime world.
The worse of it was the harm she did there. Despite victimizing all the different nations of the maritime world, she was idolized and showered with gratitude. The adoration they gave her was intoxicating.
Zi Cheng met her love interest here as well. The man wasn’t an ordinary person either. The young master, who was engaged to Princess Eliza, was from a powerful and illustrious family.
According to the original story line, Zi Cheng should have met him in the virtual world. At the meeting both parties developed a mutual appreciation and admiration for one another.
Eventually they would meet in real life inside the sea emperor’s tomb and Zi Cheng would have a lock on his heart. From then on, there was no space for Eliza. She became cannon fodder for their love story.
Originally, Zi Cheng wasn’t aware her male lead was engaged. She only found out about it when Eliza tracked her down and confronted her, asking her to leave her fiancé alone.
Zi Cheng realized she unintentionally became the other woman in a relationship. To be put in such a role, she was angry and resentful, so of course she promised to leave the male lead alone.
But when the male lead found out about it, about how Eliza was the one responsible for destroying his relationship with Zi Cheng, he broke all contact with Eliza and dissolved their engagement contract.
341: Reborn Back into the Past
The male lead was so enthralled with Zi Cheng, he would have given up the world for her.
Eliza’s original role in the story was minor. She was portrayed as a fool in love who willingly suffered any kind of humiliation for her man. Her mother couldn’t bear to see her baby be humiliated, so she sent a master to assassinate Zi Cheng. It didn’t work out though. The master only served to increase Zi Cheng’s experience.
Ultimately, the male lead’s family clashed against the Water Cloud country. It was a horrendously costly feud for both sides. Despite this neither the male lead nor Zi Cheng suffered at all.
The development later on in the story was just too godly to even bother mentioning.
What Ai Lin had to focus on was getting the egg away from Zi Cheng. Zi Cheng had purchased the egg for a song because it hadn’t been sold despite being offered so many time already.
“Hey, Ai Lin! What are you thinking?” Eliza pouted cutely at her new friend’s dazed expression.
Ai Lin quickly replied after snapping out of it. “I still have a lot of gold, but if I’m short, I’ll be sure to find you.”
Eliza nodded with satisfaction. “That’s good. If you don’t have enough, be sure to tell me OK?”
Ai Lin sighed in her heart. This little princess was so simple and kind, not to mention absolutely adorable. How was the male lead led astray by the likes of Zi Cheng?
The male lead was completely smitten from the first moment the two met. Zi Cheng had effortlessly led him by the nose. She was either completely intoxicating or he was just too easy.
A thin man sat inside another box. From all perspectives, he was an ordinary looking guy, not particularly handsome, but not particularly ugly either. He looked clean cut, fresh and young. But his clear, pure eyes made him special. The look gave him a laid-back persona that would have slain many men.
“Master, have some fruit.” A plump, cute maid reached over to feed her young master fruit from her hand.
He blocked the fruit before it reached his mouth. With a gentle smile he said, “Plum, eat it by yourself.”
“Yes, Young Master.” The little maid named Plum wasn’t shy about it. She promptly popped it into her mouth and ate it with relish.
This made the butler’s mouth twitch. The young master was too generous. “Young Master, it will be a while until the item you are waiting for comes up for auction. Did you want to look at anything else until then?”
Young Master Zo was a direct descendent of the Blackstrom family and he had a secret.
Reborn into the past just a few months ago, he had retained all the memories of the future he came from.
Caesar, his older brother, was the pride and joy of the family. He was a handsome and talented youth who was promising enough to reach the god realm. To top it off, he was engaged to Eliza, someone Zo had secretly loved. It was like his brother was born with a golden halo above his head.
On the other hand, Zo was born with a weak constitution so he couldn’t cultivate, however he was graced with self-awareness. Both his father and brother protected him as best they could, so no one dared slight him.
He wasn’t a hothead either. As long as his family and the girl he loved were happy, then he was happy.
What he never expected was that his brother would personally kill Eliza.
Caesar claimed Eliza had sent someone to try to assassinate his beloved Zi Cheng. But it was impossible to believe. Eliza was a kind and innocent girl. Even if Caesar didn’t love her, she would never think of killing her rival.
Zo was heartbroken over Eliza’s death.
His family and the Cloud Water nation became mortal enemies after that. Both sides suffered tremendous losses after fighting for half a year. His beloved brother even abandoned the family for a woman.
His family tried to bring Caesar back home to account for his actions, but instead of returning, he killed all the uncles and brothers sent after him. He killed so many relatives, all just to protect his beloved Zi Cheng.
Zo had wanted to go and find his brother, to bring him back, to ask why. But all he could do was stand and watch as his family fell apart.
Caesar and Zi Cheng were later idolized as saviors. Their popularity went off the charts.
Someone in the family had wanted to bring Caesar back, to lead the family to glory, but his father disagreed. Zo remembered what his father had said at the time. He had said anyone who was willing to do anything for a woman wasn’t fit to lead the family. A son like that, no matter who great he became later in life, would never be welcomed back into the family.
Zo knew how heartbroken his father must have been. Caesar had always been the family’s pride and joy, but he had done so many terrible things for a woman. Betraying the family, murdering Eliza – his actions were unforgiveable.
Then later his brother and that woman ascended to the god realm.
Not more than thirty years after their ascension, things began to go wrong. The magic particles in the atmosphere became unstable and couldn’t be absorbed. Forcefully absorbing any caused people to explode and die.
But if this was a catastrophe, then what happened next was hell.
Water resources dried up and caused all the plants to wither and the land to shrivel and turn into deserts. Living conditions for both animals and humans became unbearable.
A hundred years later, energy from the five elements faded from the world entirely.
Soon dimensional cracks in space began to appear, limiting where people could live. People became more restricted as more and more cracks appeared. Though the temple and the four empires could protect the people, they couldn’t change the actual living environment.
It was only after much investigation that they discovered the heart of the five elements on the continent were missing. Without the hearts, the elemental magic couldn’t form and remain stable. The world would lose its balance and turn into a wasteland.
The cracks were a symptom of the missing elemental hearts. Without the hearts, the world was cut off from the elements and the law that governed the world fragmented and became incomplete. The world’s destruction would be inevitable from there on out.
342: The World a Hundred Years in the Future
Where did the heart of the elements go? Who took them?
The question was finally answered by a woman who knew Zi Cheng before the latter ascended. This woman was actually a good person before meeting Zi Cheng, however she quickly changed after their meeting. She gave Zi Cheng access to her family compound and allowed Zi Cheng to kill her family, who she thought were bullies.
Everyone thought she and Zi Cheng had to be on exceptionally good terms, so there was great deal of shock and surprise when this woman stepped forward and accused Zi Cheng.
The woman in question was a holy sage named Nellie. Zo remembered he had been standing beside his father when Nellie talked about it. Her voice had been filled with hatred.
“I don’t know what was going on, but from the day I met her, the desire to stay by her side intensified day after day. I just had this urge to be friends with her. I couldn’t recognize who I was anymore. I couldn’t argue against her. I felt like I was doing an unforgiveable thing whenever I tried.
She was the only person in my world. She was my god, my savior. . . she was everything to me. No one else was important. If it was for her, I would have done anything. I didn’t even feel a shred of sadness when she killed my father and my relatives. Instead, what I felt was an overwhelming sense of awe and gratitude that she was willing to do all this. . . for me!
It was terrible! What had I become?! It wasn’t me! I loved my family! I loved them! How could I have betrayed them and stole the family sacred treasures for a friend? Then to team up with that outsider and kill them all, the family I loved so much?!”
Nellie’s sobs were so heartbreaking that the four empires each had their respective physicians check her for any traces of manipulation. Though they couldn’t find anything, it was clear from Nellie’s reaction that she had been controlled and had somehow become Zi Cheng’s puppet.
Nellie’s experience wasn’t unique. The men who were hypnotized by her also came back to their senses. It felt like they were remembering a dream when they recalled their fanatical obsession with Zi Cheng, of how happy they were for her when she ascended.
They wanted to die when they thought about all the brain dead-things they did for her.
Everyone agreed Zi Cheng had the ability to make people like her. The more they liked her, the more devoted and fanatical they became. She controlled them like a puppeteer, forcing their obedience in all things. If it weren’t for the chaos from the world collapsing, it was doubtful anyone would have discovered Zi Cheng’s ability. Those under her manipulation would never have regained their senses.
The truth came rushing out as people began talking. It was Zi Cheng who took all the elemental hearts! It was Zi Cheng who was destroying the world!
In an instant, the goddess praised by millions became vilified. All the statues and books idolizing her were destroyed by angry mobs.
Fortunately the kings who were masters of heaven, earth, sun and moon[notes] used all their powers to activate heaven’s secret treasure, the wheel of time.
The divine tool could only be activated by a descendant of the gods, however the process required using all their life energy.
Because the magic of five elementals couldn’t be replenished, the more powerful a soul was, the lower the success rate would be. Whoever they sent had to be an ordinary person if they wanted the best odds.
Even if there was a chance his soul could be completely destroyed, Zo took the initiative to volunteer to go back to the past and try to change the course of history.
Going back in time through the time tunnel would be dangerous. The force inside could tear a soul apart.
Zo lived as an ordinary person, under the protection of his father and family for his entire life. They had even used a precious treasure to prolong his lifespan. Now it was his turn to protect them.
His relationship with Caesar was good before Zi Cheng became involved. Both factors together meant he was the most suitable person to attempt the journey.
Before he returned to the past, his father had told him to protect the family by killing Caesar if Caesar was still intoxicated by Zi Cheng.
Zo memorized the locations of all the hearts, which Zi Cheng had gained from her former friends and suitors. Because there were no more magical elements in the world, the four celestial seal holders used their blood to activate the wheel of time. The four kings perished, but Zo was successfully sent back.
Zo’s body was destroyed in the crossing so he thought he had failed to live up to everyone’s expectations. But when he opened his eyes, he found he had returned to the time line, one month before the sea emperor’s tomb would be opened. It wasn’t too late. . . He could still bear humanity’s weight on his shoulders.
Zi Cheng didn’t know the number of enemies against her had increased. First there was Ai Lin, who was constantly watching her and trying to steal things from her. Now another person from a future was also after her. How would she feel if she knew?
The novel Ai Lin read only stated that Zi Cheng became a god. There was nothing about what came after, so Ai Lin didn’t know the survival of the world was tied to the five hearts.
New hearts could form, but they only did so if the old ones were destroyed. Zi Cheng took the hearts when she ascended, so they weren’t destroyed. As long as the old hearts existed somewhere, new ones wouldn’t form, and the world’s law would remain fragmented.
So Zi Cheng’s actions doomed all of them. Ai Lin didn’t know this, but she was inadvertently helping to prevent the world's destruction by stealing Zi Cheng’s advantages.
Where was Zi Cheng currently? Why she was at the auction with Caesar.
She went to find her original team after escaping from the demon commander[notes] She was normally successful, so of course she found them. Not only that, they had already finished the mission by the time she did. Even better still, no one blamed her for being absent since it wasn't her fault the got swept away from them by the waves that day.
343: Fighting for the Ancient Rui Beast
Her team members knew what kind of person she was so they didn’t hold it against her for not completing the task with them. On the contrary, they even tried to comfort her with words of encouragement.
They heard about the sea emperor’s tomb opening later on. Naturally, Zi Cheng and her friends wanted to go and see it. The senior who led the group had not wanted to go initially, but he changed his mind after Zi Cheng expressed her desire to go. He had a good impression of her, so he agreed to take the group to see the tomb.
Zi Cheng didn’t think her luck would be so good. She met Caesar right after getting off the boat. Her favorability rating with him had reached eighty percent. Wouldn't she be able to get it to one hundred with just a bit more effort?
Yifu and Jasmine were sitting next to her.[notes] It was only natural for Zi Cheng to bring her friends with her. Jasmine’s favorability rating had been stuck at ninety percent for a while. Zi Cheng thought it was strange that she couldn’t nudge it any higher. Jasmine’s favorability was just too hard to increase.
Zi Cheng had invited her to be on the same team for the team mission in the hopes of getting it to one hundred percent. She never expected to be swept overboard and get separated from the team.
Caesar looked at the woman next to him. Zi Cheng was kind and gentle, and yet so strong. She wasn’t dependent on a man, but instead worked hard to win respect using her own abilities. He admired such qualities in a woman.
“Zi Cheng, if you see something you like, just get it. Consider it a present from me.” Caesar wasn’t in love with Zi Cheng, but he did like her a lot. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with gifting a present to a girl he liked.
However Yifu and Jasmine turned and looked at them with calculating eyes. A strong and wealthy man like Caesar was irresistible!
They had heard of him before. He was known to be a genius magician and a member of the Blackstrom family. It was a given he would be the next family head.
If Zi Cheng could marry Caesar, she would gain a lot! Of course they would be happy to see something like that happen.
Minor aristocrats like Yifu and Jasmine recognized the difference between ordinary nobles and established powerful families.
“No, I can’t accept something like that. You’ll have to forgive me for rejecting your kindness.” Zi Cheng said softly after biting her lip.
“This is our first meeting in real life. You helped me when we first met. Think of it as a gift from me to you.” Caesar refused to be rejected.
“Yes, but that was just something I wanted to do. I didn’t do it because I wanted a gift from you.” Zi Cheng looked at Caesar earnestly. She was speaking the truth.
Though Caesar was disappointed, he didn’t want to press the issue, however his opinion of her rise.
Zi Cheng checked her favorability rating with him and saw that it had increased by five points. She kept her face neutral despite being happy over the news.
A soft cry came from below their box, “Why is that thing up again? How many times has it been already?” It was obvious the person was a regular to the auction house.
“Yeah, how many times have you guys pulled it out for auction? Why is it out again?”
“You won’t be able to sell it OK?” someone shouted from the audience.
Some shouted back, “Why not take a look?”
LeXue didn’t reply to the comments. She just went ahead with the auction. “The lot in my hand is Lot #70. It is an unknown ore that no one has seen before. It is incredibly hard, so hard that our refinery could not melt it. That is how hard it is folks...”
LeXue did her best to describe the lot in a complimentary way. Despite this, no one was interested in bidding. Even those who had initially been interested lost interest when they learned how many times it had been rejected.
“The reserve price for unknown ore Lot #70 starts at one hundred gold. The auction starts now!”
There were two first time attendees who were interested in finding out what it was so they casually bid on it.
Suddenly someone shouted out, “One hundred gold!”
LeXue shouted from the stage, “Is there anyone interested in bidding over one hundred gold? Going once!”
“Three hundred two!”
The last shout came from Zi Cheng. She hadn’t wanted to bid earlier, but something about the stone tugged at her. It felt like the stone belonged to her. While she was dazed, someone else had nearly taken the stone from her.
“Four hundred gold! Box Number Two bid four hundred gold! Anyone else?!”
Zi Cheng clenched her teeth. “Six hundred!”
Ai Lin sneered. She shouted out, “A thousand gold!” She remembered how in the book it had said Zi Cheng spent three hundred gold for the ancient rui egg. It had given her countless opportunities. Now Zi Cheng wanted to get it again for three hundred gold? Dream on!
“One thousand two hundred!” Zi Cheng frowned. Why was that voice so familiar?
“One thousand five hundred!” Ai Lin continued to hike up the price.
“One thousand eight hundred!”
The two went back and forth until the price rose to ten thousand. It made everyone else wonder about the stone. Was it actually something precious? If it was, then they couldn’t allow it to fall into someone else’s hands!
“Twelve thousand gold!” The bid came from someone in box Five.
Not to be outdone, box Four shouted out, “Twenty thousand gold!”
This confused Ai Lin and Zi Cheng. Were these guys just bidding for fun?
“One hundred thousand gold.” An elegant and refined voice spoke up.
“Third brother!” Caesar was taken aback at the sound of the familiar voice. His third brother didn’t like to go out so Caesar was surprised to find him at Bilou, especially considering how chaotic and dangerous the island would be with the impending opening of the god’s tomb.
Caesar was worried about his brother being there.
Before Caesar was completely drunk on Zi Cheng, he was a very good brother and genuinely cared about Zo’s well-being.
Indeed the shout did come from Zo. He hadn’t expected so many people to bid on the stone. He clearly remembered being told that Zi Cheng got the egg without any competition!
344: Box Zero
Zo was confused. Had the person who told him about it remembered wrong, or had the past changed because of his presence? Regardless, he would not let Zi Cheng get the egg.
“One hundred twenty thousand!” Ai Lin kept increasing the price. Why did things get so difficult just as she planned to rob the heroine of an advantage? When the heroine wanted to bid, no one opposed her, but as soon as the female villain joined in, all of a sudden there was an outpouring of competition. Was this the treatment difference between the heroine and the female villain?
Ai Lin shook her head. It didn’t matter, she had to get the egg. It was one of the heroine’s strongest advantages.
“One hundred ten thousand gold!”
“One hundred twenty!”
“One hundred fifty thousand gold!”
Once Zo joined in, other boxes also bid. It forced Zi Cheng to make the one hundred fifty thousand gold bid.
The other guests who were curious before thought about it for a few seconds before deciding to not join the fray. They were rich, but that didn’t mean money was free.
It would be foolish to spend so much on an unknown ore. They could investigate it later. Guests in box Number Four and Five bowed out, so only Zi Cheng, Zo and Ai Lin were left.
“Senior Ming Xi, do you think there’s something special about that stone? The other boxes are even bidding.” Ink was curious. What was that egg-shaped stone?
A lot of other people were also wondering the same thing. It had to be something good right?
Ming Xi carefully looked at the stone on stage, but he couldn’t tell anything. He shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Feng Wu heard a faint voice.
...Help... Help me... Help... what is this place? Why are there so many around me?
The stone! Feng Wu’s eyes got big. It was the first time she could hear from a stone! What a strange feeling!
She turned and tugged at the corner of Ming Xi’s coat.
At the tug, Ming Xi turned to Feng Wu and asked, “What’s the matter?”
“That, I want it.”
Ming Xi was surprised, but then he smiled and nodded. “OK.”
It was just a stone. If Feng Wu wanted it, he would be happy to get it for her. As the prince of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom and the next king in line, Ming Xi was never short on funds. He had a whole kingdom behind him. Enough said.
“You like it, I’ll get it for you.” He patted her head. Indeed, patting her head felt great.
“Hm!” Feng Wu smiled brightly.
“Five hundred thousand!” was Ming Xi’s bid.
The other three competitors looked toward the sound of the shout. The sign under it said “ZERO”, but it was written in a different font and style than all the other boxes. It was an indication that whoever was in that box was higher in status than anyone in any of the other boxes.
Box ZERO was occupied?! Zo knew about the existence of the box. It was a reserved box that the boss refused to open no matter the emergency. Whoever was in the box had to be someone the Ancient Moon Auction house acknowledged, otherwise the person would not have been able to get into the box no matter how much wealth the person had.
Who was it? Had this happened in the past?
Zo racked his brain but couldn’t figure it out. He was too much of a recluse in his previous life. He knew he was unwanted, so he always stayed home. His knowledge of the world was limited because of this.
He only knew what he knew now because his father and Zi Cheng’s former friends and suitors took great pains to share what they remembered. Had they not done so, he would be powerless to stop Zi Cheng from getting the elemental hearts. On his own, he didn’t know anything!
So the identity of box ZERO, he had no idea. He was just too much of a homebody to know.
He wasn’t sure if box ZERO had been involved before, or if things changed because he was present, but in either case, he couldn’t risk letting the egg fall into Zi Cheng’s possession.
Zo wasn’t the only one who couldn’t figure it out, Ai Lin was also stumped. She was certain no one had occupied box ZERO in the original novel. So who was in it now?
Grr! Couldn’t her counter attacks be easier please?!
Zi Cheng didn’t know what would happen in the future; she had never read the novel, so she had no idea she was the heroine. She was only mildly curious about box ZERO. Her bigger priority was the egg. She wanted it badly.
After using her system to scan it, she learned it was a rare ancient beast egg, called a rui. Ruis were wise and lived longer than most other beasts. Being darlings of heaven and earth, they had a special ability that, when combined with their wisdom, allowed them to live better than all other beasts. So even though they couldn’t fight well, they were precious treasures.
It nearly made Zi Cheng cry when she saw what the exchange price for one was in her system.
In fact, although ruis were grouped with other divine beasts in the past, they were unusual even for divine beasts. They were a mystery even for divine beasts.
She refused to give it up now that she knew what it was. It didn’t matter how much it cost; she had to get it. She had a gut feeling the egg belonged to her.
345: The Lot Gets Taken Down
The fact that someone was in box ZERO and bidding from there alarmed many of the bigger families in attendance.
Those in other boxes were undoubtedly from big families but none of them were eligible to enter box ZERO, even the lord of the island, Wuji, wasn’t qualified. So it begged the question, who was in the box and were they visiting for the because of the tomb?
Speculations flew left and right, and for a while, none of the big shots paid attention to the stage. They were busy trying figure out who was in box ZERO. Only someone incredibly important would have made Branch Boss Claude open the box.
“Come here, go and find out who is in box ZERO,” was a repeated refrain from the other boxes.
Those in the boxes made their move by sending out their servants to investigate. They had no information whatsoever on the identity of the person in the box. They didn’t have a name, appearance description, family lineage – really anything at all.
It didn’t matter what these nobles thought; the auction continued.
The stone reached eight hundred thousand gold and showed no signs of stopping.
“Eight hundred fifty thousand!”
“Nine hundred thousand!”
“One point one million gold!”
No one was willing to give up.
“Wow! What is going on today? No one wanted that stone after dozens of auction attempts. All of a sudden it’s going for over a million?!”
“Am I dreaming?”
“I feel like I’m dreaming.”
“Those people are too rich for their own good. Spending so much on such a useless thing.”
“Rich people, they make no sense.”
“How tyrannical! Throwing around millions for a useless stone!”
Those on the floor looked up at the box seats with some amount of jealousy in their eyes. Most of them were adventurers or children of lesser houses so they could only sit and watch.
Floor attendees couldn’t help but holler out at the wasted expenditure. Millions of gold for a broken piece of stone?
“That’s too expensive! Over a million for a bit of stone?” Margaret tried to wrap her mind around the price tag. Yes the ore was incredibly hard, but what use was it if it couldn’t be melted down? Maybe if they could find a heaven and earth fire... But using a divine fire for an ore? Unless it was some kind of life-saving stone, what fool would waste a divine fire on it?
“It’s reached one and a half million; those other three are really stubborn. Senior Ming Xi has been increasing by two hundred thousand increments too.” Ink touched his chin. He didn’t understand rich people.
Ming Xi increased the price to two million. Two million was by no means a small sum, but still it wasn’t a big deal for those in box seats.
Both Zi Cheng and Ai Lin were wealthy people. Zi Cheng, because she used modern world knowledge, had opened a lot of shops and created many specialty dishes. She had branches all over the continent, so of course she wouldn’t be short on funds.
Ai Lin was trying to keep a low profile, so she didn’t use any other world knowledge to open businesses like Zi Cheng, but she did have lots of rare magical items in her space storage, such as elixirs. Besides that, she was a high-level pharmacist, and pharmacists were the best at making money fast.
Zo was a young master of the Blackstrom family, so even though he was useless, he had his father’s blessing and protection. Therefore, he was never short on money either.
Ming Xi was the prince of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom. How could he lose to them in regards to wealth?
As a result, the price of the stone kept going up. No one was willing to give up.
Claude, seated in another room, was frowning. He waved the steward over and whispered a few words to the man. The steward immediately left to do as ordered.
Before long, a maid rushed on stage toward LeXue. Whatever was whispered to her made her smile stiffen. It looked like something unexpected had happened.
After the maid left, LeXue awkwardly coughed into her hand and with an apologetic smile said, “My apologies. The owner of the item has requested the that the lot be removed. Because of this, the auction for it will not be counted. I, LeXue, would like to give my deepest apologies to our distinguished guests.”
Her words lit a fire in the audience and grumblings immediately erupted from the floor attendees.
“What the hell?! Things being actively auctioned can’t be pulled like that!”
“When did Ancient Moon house have this kind of allowance?!"
“Isn’t the broken bit of stone owned by the house?”
Those in box seats were no less riled.
The owner of the item wanted to pull it? They all knew what the house rules were. Once an item was on the list, it couldn’t be withdrawn, never mind items already actively being auctioned on stage.
The house gave such a flimsy excuse; did they think the people were fools?! The attendees were outraged, but mingled with that outrage was also amazement. Box Zero was really something else. Otherwise, how could Claude, a guy known to eat people up and not even spit out their bones, would risk making such a controversial move?
They suspected the stone was pulled because box Zero had it be pulled.
In truth, Ming Xi and his group were being unjustly accused. They didn’t know they could do something like that. Had they known, they wouldn’t have bothered wasting their breath bidding!
Jier smiled knowingly. “Don’t worry. Someone will bring it over to us soon.”
Ming Xi knew this as well. He frowned a little but didn’t say anything.
346: Everyone’s Reactions
A faint light flashed in Matheson’s eyes. He understood now. Ink and Leo stared at the door as they waited for the delivery. Sure enough, within minutes a beautiful maid was at the entrance holding a box.
“This is a gift from the boss to Master Ming Xi. Boss says Master Ming Xi must accept it.” She respectfully placed it on the table, and upon not seeing a rejection from Ming Xi, breathed a sigh of relief before leaving.
Ink rushed to the table the moment the maid left. “Let’s see if it’s the stone!” He opened the beautiful packed wooden box and revealed the stone inside.
People in the other three boxes were flustered. They'd been sporting dumbfounded expressions since the announcement the stone was being pulled from auction came out. Zo was the most disbelieving.
He could swear nothing like this happened in his previous life! Zi Cheng definitely got the egg without any trouble. But this life was so different. He had been ready to fight with Zi Cheng for the egg to the bitter end, but somehow, though he knew how things would start, the ending completely eluded him.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin’s mood were complicated as well. Zi Cheng really felt the egg belonged to her. That she couldn’t get it distressed her a lot, so much so, her face paled.
Caesar thought she was unwell, so he poured a cup of tea for her, which Yifu then served her.
Zi Cheng pulled a smile to her face and barely sipped from the cup. “I’m fine. I just felt dizzy for a moment.”
“In that case, let’s go back and rest. I’ll go look for a doctor for you.” Jasmine volunteered out of concern.
“No, no need for a doctor. I’m fine. I just need to rest here for a bit.” Zi Cheng shook her head, not wanting to leave.
Her gut was never wrong. The egg definitely belonged to her, so how did it end up with someone else? Who was it that stole it from her?
It felt like a piece of her heart had been dug out. The pain was terrible for a moment.
“Are you still thinking about that bit of stone? If you want, I can find out who the owner is and offer to buy it from them if they are willing to sell it.”
Caesar wasn’t familiar with the island and had only visited because of the tomb. If he knew the history of box Zero he would have understood the motivation behind Boss Claude’s move to withdraw the item.
Zi Cheng had to appear reserved so she couldn’t agree right away.
“No, I wanted to gift you something. Since you like that ore stone so much, I’ll help you get it."
Caesar’s serious face and domineering attitude reassured Zi Cheng that it wasn’t hopeless. As long as she could find the seller, she would be able to get the egg.
“A pity it was pulled.” Eliza could see how much Ai Lin wanted the stone. But the competition had been fierce and, in the end, it was even pulled from the auction mysteriously.
Ai Lin took a deep breath. The only thing she could be happy about was Zi Cheng’s failure to get the egg. With its predictive abilities, her own identity as a transmigrator could have been revealed.
“Eliza, can you find out who the stone went to?” She couldn’t give up just yet.
Eliza tilted her head cutely then she blinked her big innocent eyes at Ai Lin. “Asking around won’t work, but if I’m not mistaken, that stone should be on a table in box ZERO as we speak.”
“Box ZERO?!” Ai Lin was surprised the lot was withdrawn for personal reasons. Sure enough, there were privileged classes everywhere. She hated the privileged class!
“Eliza, can you guess the identity of the person in the box?” Whoever in the box was trying to conceal their identity. The person had to have disguised their voice during the bidding earlier.
“I can’t, but it should not be anyone from the islands. None of the families around here have enough reputation to be invited, so it’s likely someone from the main continent here for the tomb’s opening.”
Though Ai Lin was disappointed in the answer, she refused to give up. She was the only one who knew how to incubate the egg.
The egg was a hard stone that would be useless to anyone else. If she could find whoever owned it, she would definitely be able to buy it from them.
As long as it wasn’t in Zi Cheng’s possession, she wasn’t afraid.
Meanwhile, the auction continued at a quick clip below them. Lots of items had been brought out and each had sold at a good price.
Those in private boxes had not made a move on the any of the items. What they wanted hadn’t come out yet.
“Is this really a stone? Doesn’t it feel more like an egg?” Margaret tapped the shell.
“Yeah, I agree. But it shouldn’t be a beast egg. How can it be so small?” Jier picked the egg up and used his spiritual energy to check it.
There was no reaction, that is to say, would you think the auction house couldn’t tell the difference between a rock and an egg?
“Little stupid human, you think you can detect this young master with that skill level? Dream on!”
Feng Wu blinked at the voice. Doubtful for a moment. The cute child-like voice was so endearing.
“This stone ore, I’ve never seen anything like it written in any book before.” Leo thought about all the books on minerals he had read, but he couldn’t recall any mentioning a stone like the one in front of them.
“Why does Xiao Wu like this kind of stone? It’s not interesting at all.” Margaret didn’t see the appeal. She turned her attention back to the auction.
347: Affinity Increasing Pill
Over two thirds of the lots had been auctioned off so only a few items were left. Those familiar with auctions knew the best items were saved for last. The really rich and powerful hadn’t made a move yet.
Items auctioned early on looked good but weren’t great and only appealed to the middle-tiered families and adventurers. Bigger families had no interest in these minor things.
At this point an affinity increasing potion for magic was brought on stage.
A person’s ability to train directly correlated to their elemental affinity. The higher a person’s affinity for an element, the easier and faster they could absorb the element and thus get stronger.
The opposite was true as well. Those with lower affinity would progress slowly so days of practice for someone with low affinity equated to hours of practice for someone with higher affinity.
Obviously, a drug capable of increasing affinity would gather tremendous interest. Only powerful families with resources could get their hands on any.
The potions at auction could increase elemental affinity by as much as two levels, however those geniuses already at ninety or above would not be able to benefit from it. That’s because potions could not increase a person’s level beyond ninety. Those at seventy would benefit the most from the increase in elemental affinity.
Geniuses reached ninety points.
So, don’t scoff at it just because it’s only two levels. This potion was better than many others that appeared before.
The announcement from LeXue had an effect on both floor attendees and VIP box guests. Their eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
“Wow! Two levels of affinity?! That’s not bad!”[notes]
“Which master was so powerful to refine such a heaven-defying potion?”
“A pill like that would raise my level up like mad!”
“My son is saved! He’ll be able to enter Xingguang Holy Academy if he takes that potion!”
“I have to buy that potion!”
“Ms. LeXue! What are you waiting for?! Hurry up and announce the reserve price!”
“Yes! Announce it please!”
LeXue remained smiling professionally on stage, utterly unaffected by the raucous crowd.
“Affinity increasing potion, reserve price set at one hundred thousand gold, with increases set at ten thousand gold minimum. The auction starts now.”
People started bidding as soon as she finished announcing.
“One hundred thousand right here!”
“You chumps who are raising it by increments can get lost. I’m bidding one hundred fifty thousand!”
“Please. Only one fifty? I bid two hundred!”
“Three hundred fifty!”
“Five hundred thousand gold!”
The bids went up crazily, but no one in the box Seats joined in. The families in the box Seats were biding their time.
The scene made Ai Lin smile. It wasn’t the first time she sold her potions to the public, but it was the first time she sold such a high-valued one.
The affinity increasing potion was a recipe she had found in the ancient magician’s tomb[notes] It was originally supposed to go to Zi Cheng, but Ai Lin had gotten to it first. The book it was in had many other ancient recipes as well.
Unfortunately, many of the ingredients that used to grow abundantly in ancient times no longer existed in the modern era, so the recipes were of limited use. Zi Cheng had sold the recipe book to the system for a bunch of points.
The book had many interesting recipes for potions with strange and surprising effects. Zi Cheng had an accelerated dimensional space so she was able to grow plenty of herbs to try out the different recipes. She didn’t have to worry about inventory at all.
With so much raw materials to use for practice, she eventually was able to craft the affinity increasing potion.
It was a powerful potion that could only be taken once, so effects couldn’t be stacked. She had crafted over a dozen bottles of the potion while practicing. Unfortunately, the potion had no effect on her, so she sold them for a profit.
“One million!” came a voice from the box Seats. The bidder set of a chain of other box bidders.
“One million two hundred thousand!”
Those on the ground level immediately stopped bidding once the box Seat attendees began bidding. None of them dared mess with any of the powerful families. Besides, they were just small to medium sized families. Some of them were ordinary adventurers. They didn’t have the kind of money or power to compete with the bigger families in the VIP boxes.
“Wow! One million! Ai Lin, that’s fantastic!” Eliza looked at Ai Lin with stars in her eyes. Her new friend was really amazing!
Ai Lin smiled but she didn’t say anything. The bidding between the VIP boxes was fierce, with increments going up by tens of millions each time.
“The affinity increasing potion sounds awesome. Too bad it’s too expensive for me.” Margaret said wistfully.
Most of the guys were sword users. Even Ming Xi, who was a dual magician martial arts user, had such powerful blood that he didn’t need to use a potion to increase his affinity. Jier was the heir to Summer, so his natural affinity to fire was filled to the brim. This kind of potion was worthless to him.
The only magician left was Margaret. Though they didn’t know what her affinity level was, it wasn’t possible for her to be more than eighty. Therefore she was the only one in their group who could actually use the potion.
She was unwilling to ask the group for help even though it meant missing out on the potion.
They were just a temporary team. She and her brother had tagged along with the group, and though they had become friends, it wasn’t the kind of friendship that allowed one to ask for millions in gold.
Ming Xi and the others were fine with that. He would have helped her if she asked, but he was pleased she didn’t. It showed she wasn’t the kind of person to take advantage of her friends.
Superficial friendships never lasted long. Who knew how long their friendship now would last?
Feng Wu kept a hold of the egg as everyone else paid attention to the stage.
348: Baby Rui Beast
She was very curious about it as it was the first time a stone talked to her. She needed to study it.
“Stop tapping me! Let me sleep woman! Don't think you can do whatever you want with me. I’m not some random beast!”
The sweet voice sounded in Feng Wu’s ears. It was most definitely talking to her. Her eyes shone brightly as she tried to connect with the stone in the same way she would connect with the trees and flowers.
“Who are you?”
The little guy moved his ears in disbelief when the sound of her puzzled voice reached him. This human could hear him!
“You - you can hear me talking?” He was shocked. His big shining eyes stared out in disbelief.
“You can hear me!” Feng Wu was excited. “Are you a rock? How are you able to talk?”
When the little guy inside the egg heard this, he nearly exploded. “You’re blind! You’re a stone! Your whole family is a stone! I'm a rui beast. How dare you say I’m a stone!”
“Rui beast? You’re a legendary ancient rui beast?!” Feng Wu continued to transmit her voice to the stone. She had read about them in the books from the library.
The books said ancient rui beasts were the darlings of heaven and earth. They didn’t have any offensive skills, but they had long life spans and amazing support abilities, which could be categorized into three types: time, improvement, and resurrection.
Then there were those who were born all-knowing. It didn’t matter if it was the ancient past or the present, these kinds of ruis knew everything. This of course included all those god-level books on magic and swordsmanship, books on medicine and everything else that existed. If it happened, then the rui knew it. It was basically a living encyclopedia of world knowledge.
There were also those ruis that could predict the future. If it wanted to, it could look at all the different paths in time.
In short, ruis had many amazing abilities, but they were all supporting ones. Humans who coveted their abilities rushed into the spirit realm and captured many ruis.
The beasts in the spirit realm weren’t particularly united, but they were in agreement on one thing. Any human who wanted to fight ruis were the enemies of all beasts.
Humans who tried to capture ruis were few and far in between. Most people were sane and weren’t like that. Only a small number of extremists would rely on the power of ruis to get them to the top.
Humans weren’t the only ones interested in the ruis though. Others interested in them included the Blood clan from the Asura race, people from the demon race, and various other small and large races.
It was a divine beast with no combat abilities, but because of its wisdom and extraordinary support abilities, it was a highly praised and sought after beast.
The fact that all the other beasts loved and took such great care of ruis left all the other races in awe.
Normally it was strength that garnered respect. So why did the other beasts so willingly protect the weak ruis? This matter ranked among the top ten mysteries of the world.
There was a rumor that ruis had something to do with the birth of beasts, so that was why beasts were so protective of them. But when it came down to it, no one really knew. The truth had never been recorded in any book.
Despite being protected by all the beasts in the world, ruis were hunted to near extinction. Most refused to submit to their captures when caught. The remaining rui beasts went into hiding over the years. They had hidden so deep, no one had found them. That was why Feng Wu was so surprised.
“Ancient? What year is this?” The little guy’s brain had been whirring away from the moment he opened his eyes.
The beast looked dazed after Feng Wu told him the time. It had only been a bit since he had returned to his original state. How did so many millennia pass in such a short period of time?
“It’s over! It’s been so many thousands of years? I don’t know if Xiao Momo is still waiting for me. And my adorable Feifei and Lili. You must not marry another! Oh! Wait for me my dears!” The little rui was very sad when he thought about his cute little plums.
There were few rui beasts left in the world, so mating was a constant issue. Unlike other beasts, they could not interbreed. Possession of such unique abilities meant they could only breed within their species. The restriction was pressed on them by the world consciousness in order to limit other races from inheriting their abilities.
Think of the chaos that would envelop the world, if through their interbreeding, they created offspring with powerful offensive capabilities. How could the world consciousness allow such a thing to happen?
“Why did you turn into a stone?” Feng Wu asked as she touched the stone, which now resembled a white eggshell to her.
“I’m not a rock; I just returned to my nascent state.” A sense of powerlessness came over the baby rui when he thought about it. “I was tricked by a hateful demon. The abominable guy tried to capture and enchant me with magic orbs so he could use me for own schemes. But his thinking was way too much. I’m amazing. Did he really think it would be so easy to catch me?
I retreated to my nascent stage to escape his dark trickery. In this state, behind this molded shape, nothing can hurt me.” The baby rui was quick to boast about his layered gem like shell.
“Then can you come out now?”
The baby rui became frustrated upon hearing the question. “I can't! That mean guy hurt me with his magic orbs. I have to wait for the demonic residual energy to dissipate first.
349: The Last Auction Item
As for when it will dissipate, I don’t know. It’ll take time, but I’m a rui beast; I have lots of time.”
“Remove the demonic miasma? That’s easy.”
“Easy? Do you think this is some generic demonic miasma? This is the demonic energy from the king of the demon realm! It can’t be removed that easily!” The baby rui rolled his eyes. Humans, so ignorant!
“The one who hurt you was the king of the demon realm?”
“Yes, but I think those guys in the demon realm call him the Demon Ancestor these days. He was one sinister and cunning guy. Super annoying!” The baby rui rolled his eyes again.
Demon Ancestor! This was a name Feng Wu had heard of.
“Wait, I’ll help you get rid of the miasma.” Feng Wu liked the cute little guy, so she thought about helping him escape by having Xiao Chun purify the miasma.
Little baby rui’s tone was hopeless when he spoke. “I just said you can’t. This is the power from the previous demon king. How can an ordinary human purify it?”
Feng Wu’s face was serious. “Let me try. I can do it.”
“Well whatever, do whatever you want, but can you keep my existence a secret? There are a lot of bad jerks out there. And they all want to catch me and use me. It’ll be troublesome if they find out about me.”
Feng Wu thought about it, then nodded her head. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Thus one human and one beast came to an agreement. They continued talking telepathically, completely oblivious that the auction was nearing its end.
The affinity increasing potion from Ai Lin finally sold at eight and half million gold to Zo. Zo held the potion bottle in his hand. His face was full of expectation and puzzlement, expectation because of the obvious effect, and puzzlement because the potion didn’t exist in the original timeline.
Well it didn’t matter what the change variable was, the item would be good for him.
It wasn’t that Zo had zero talent. He did have talent for attack water magic; it was just that his ability was so weak, it was barely discernible. His affinity for water elemental was a measly thirty points, far too low!
The bare minimum to be a magician was fifty points.
With the bottle, he would be able to reach that and become a magician. It was fortunate he had enough money, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to snake the potion from under all those other families in their VIP boxes.
Zi Cheng had seen the potion, but she wasn't interested since it had no effect on her. She could get the same kind of potion easily anytime she wanted by exchanging points in her system store. So unlike Jasmine and Yifu, she did not participate in the bidding. Jasmine and Yifu didn’t get far; they didn't have the resources to fight against the other bigger families.
Zi Cheng was willing to offer financial assistance, but when Zo joined in on the bidding, Caesar stopped the girls from bidding. He understood why his brother would be interested in the potion.
Although the girls weren’t happy about it, they didn’t dare argue against him. He was the eldest of a highly influential family. They couldn’t afford to not give him face.
Zi Cheng was more than happy to accede to his request. She even helped talk Yifu and Jasmine into agreeing.
Caesar was impressed by her righteousness, and this, of course, immediately earned her three favorability points with him.
Caesar had been worried things wouldn’t go well for Zo. He wasn’t sure if Zo had enough money on him. He decided to buy the potion for his brother should his brother have to drop out of the bidding form lack of funds. Then he’d just give the potion to Zo later.
His concern wasn’t needed though as Zo was able to buy the potion himself.
“This is the last item in the auction -- the Sea emperor’s key!” announced a visibly excited LeXue. A beautiful jade box holding the key appeared on stage. It overflowed with golden light, looking as gorgeous and mysterious as its name implied. The audience turned to it with halted breath.
“I believe all of you are aware of the tomb that appeared not too far Bilou. The Sea emperor’s bones are buried in this tomb. There are countless treasures inside. My father thought of opening the tomb, but unfortunately he needed two more keys.
A total of three keys are required to open the tomb. Without all three, the tomb will not open. This auction is for one of the keys required.”
This was what most of the VIPs in the box seats came for. They wanted the key so they could get more advantages when the tomb opened.
Had it not been for the key, Zo would never have been able to get the potion. The VIPs had to save money for it you see.
“Sea god’s key, the reserve price is one million gold at increments of no less than ten thousand gold. The auction starts now!”
“One point one million gold!”
“One point five million!”
“Five million!” One of the VIP boxes cut to the chase and immediately raised the price.
The minor players immediately pulled out. They didn’t have money to compete. If even by some crazy chance they did get it, there was a very high chance they would be killed for it. So why buy it just so someone else could take it?
Only a foolish person would fight for the key in front of all these big shots. Even if it was a key to the Sea god’s tomb, it wasn’t as precious as their own lives.
Someone even more ruthless shouted out, “Ten million!”
Zo knew his brother would get the key, so he didn’t intervene.
“That key is exactly like the key we got from Death island.” Jier noted.
Ink shrugged indifferently. “They’re all the emperor’s key; of course they’re all the same.”
350: The End of the Auction
The price quickly rose to one hundred million.
The tomb of the Sea emperor, an innate god, was something everyone wanted access to. It would be full of treasures, the most precious one being his godhead. With it, you could become a god with the powers of the Sea emperor himself.
There was no shortage of water magicians in the maritime world who would want to get their hands on it. The opportunity to become a god, even if it was dangerous, of course there would be magicians willing to risk the danger.
Those with the key would definitely have an advantage inside the tomb. Legend had it that the three keys were in fact weapons that had been transformed. So those who possessed the key not only got to go in first but also got to hold onto a powerful weapon.
Ming Xi and his group had first-hand experience with the Sea emperor’s key and its power. Had they not found out the truth about the island, they would never have made it out alive.
The other two keys were worth the price if they had similar abilities.
“Two hundred million!” Caesar increased the price dramatically. The Blackstrom family wasn’t going to give up the key to anyone else.
Caesar had come to the island for the Sea emperor’s tomb. The three keys were treasures his family wanted to get as well. Legend had it that, combining all three keys would create an artifact – the Sea emperor’s scepter.
Any family that possessed an artifact could reach impossible heights. They may not be able to surpass the four leading empires, but they would certainly become one of the major powers in the top families.
The Blackstrom family ranked 7th among the top ten big families only because they didn’t have an artifact to back up their power base.
If they got one of the three keys now, it wasn’t impossible to get the other two keys with a bit of effort. Caesar wasn’t too worried about the three keys.
The last time the three keys were in the same location was during the great war between gods and demons when the Sea emperor was still alive.
Two of the three had been found at times in different places in the world, but the third remained elusive and had never been seen.
That was what worried Caesar. But then again, even if the third key never appeared, the other two keys were still sacred rare items.
No one could have imagined the third key would be in an ordinary mortal fishing village. If it hadn’t been for Yanaimo having heard about it accidentally and the maliciousness of her heart, the third key would have remained unknown. How long would it have stayed in that fishing village?
“Five hundred million!” The bid increased by many more millions.
Many families from the VIP section had been bidding one by one, only boxes ZERO and one remained out of the fray. It was anyone’s guess whether the two boxes were truly uninterested in the keys, or if they intended to buy it out from the winner later.
A handsome middled-aged man was sipping tea with a smile on his face as he watched the fierce bidding outside. Beside him was a beautiful woman who had the same physique as LeXue. The woman however had a coquettish demeanor and confidence in her movement.
“Father, why aren’t you taking the key? We’ll have two keys in our possession if you do. Once we get the third one, we’ll be able to complete the artifact.” LeFie was disappointed.
“Fei-er, do you remember what father said to you siblings, how there are some things you can do, and some things you can not?” LeWuji,[notes] the lord of the big island of Biluo said.
Biluo was composed of twelve islands of various sizes. LeWuji was in charge of the biggest island, while the remaining eleven were allocated to the other eleven lords.
The twelve of them had a strong friendship and were like brothers. In fact, they had been in the same mercenary group where they had made a name for themselves.
How could they have laid the foundation for Bilou island together without that bond?
“Does Father mean to say, taking the Sea emperor’s key isn’t something we should do? But why?” LeFei blinked her eyes, unclear about her father’s reason.
“I don’t know how many other big powerful families are vying for the key. Our lives can’t be guaranteed so there’s no room for us to intervene.”
Theirs was a world where the strong were respected. If you wanted to live a long life, you needed to know what you could do and what you could not do.
Without that sense of measure, it would be easy to die.
“It is that serious?” LeFei never doubted her father. They didn’t have people coming to the island to make trouble because he was a smart man and had run the island wisely over the years. The idea for the key itself was her father’s.
Everyone agreed LeWuji was a talented man.
“The the Sea emperor’s key that’s in our hands now...” LeFei was a little worried. She hadn’t thought about it before. She stopped coveting the key immediately once she saw what kind of trouble it could bring to her and her family.
LeWuji shook his head. “Do not worry. For now, no one will attack the island.”
LeWuji already had a plan, so he wasn’t worried about anyone attacking them for the key they held. No one knew about the private conversation between father and daughter.
Under LeXue’s guidance, the key reached one billion gold. At this point, the increases stopped being so dramatic and slowed to one million increments. Eventually the key was sold for a remarkable 1.57 billion gold.
This was about the range for most better sacred artifacts. The previous record holder had sold for 1.1 billion. This one surpassed that at the very high price of around 1.5 billion. It was hundreds of millions more than an ordinary sacred artifact.
But the key was different as it wasn’t just a sacred artifact. It was an integral piece of the Sea emperor’s scepter and would be instrumental for unlocking his tomb. This was why Caesar was there and willing to pay such a high price for it.
The auction for the key was the finale, so once it was over, everyone began filing out.