401: You Have a Hole in Your Brain
“That’s right! We barely have anything left to eat! If we don’t find food soon, we’re going to starve!”
A group of seven or so people had formed a temporary team to search for the ancient city after being transported into the desert together.
Between the low rations and constant moving, the group looked quite haggard.
“Stop talking! There’s a group of people over there. Let’s go ask if they have any food. If they do, let’s buy some from them. That should help with our emergency.” Someone in the group became excited upon noticing people in the distance.
“Stop joking! Buy food?! In this desert? You think there’d be someone foolish enough to sell us food they’d need themselves. I think it’ll be better if we just take it from them. The seven of us are all masters. Their party has a bunch of women with low strength. It should be easy for us to grab something.” The guy sneered, speaking his thoughts out loud.
The other guys in the group thought about it. The odds of someone willing to sell them anything was low, might as well just take what they could instead of wasting time talking about buying.
And so the group of seven big men plotted how to go about it. Who would have thought what they wanted to steal wasn’t some rare artifact or amazing equipment, but ordinary everyday food?
Ming Xi and the others were unaware they were turning into big fat sheep in the eyes of some. Whether it was Zi Cheng of Feng Wu, both were used to carry lots of food on them, so although they had not found any clues about the city, no one in their group were worried about going hungry.
Zi Cheng was in the food business, so it was no surprise. Feng Wu was a glutton and used to being fed; in regards to food stores, she was even more flush than Zi Cheng.
The group of people who weren’t worried about food finally came upon the group of people who were starving.
“Stop! Hand over your food!” A big man with a sword nearly half the size of an adult person appeared near Ming Xi. He stood majestically, until a gust of wind blew by and lifted his long hair up to reveal a haggard face full of stubble.
“Yeah! Hand all your food over to us!”
“Hand everything over! Or else we’ll kill all of you!”
One by one, seven men in nontraditional clothes lined up in front of Ming’s Xi’s group. They appeared with various weapons in hand, some carried swords, some carried whips, while others wielded magic wands. They were an unwashed group with oily hair and sour bodies. Their stomachs were empty and growling. Really, they looked a mess.
Ming Xi and company: . . .
Were these guys joking? Who were they trying to rob looking as emaciated and hungry as they were?
Although Ailuna sympathized with them, she never thought about giving them her food. They were in a desert. Without food, she would starve, and she did not want to starve.
Many of the others had the same thoughts. There were so many in the group, and yet no one spoke up; no one was willing to help a bunch of funny looking strangers.
“One hundred gold for a bag of food, two hundred gold for a bag of water, if you are interested in trading.”
Feng Wu hadn’t felt any killing intent from the funny-looking guys, so she decided she would sell to them if they wanted to buy. Of course she was charging a hundred times more than outside.
“Buy, buy, buy! We have money, we’re wealthy!” The seven goofballs were so excited they tossed their weapons down. They only had a packet of food left per person. Two more days and they would have starved to death!
Feng Wu, the girl who was willing to sell food was like a goddess to them. Although this goddess charged a lot, they were willing to pay. They had originally planned on stealing food in order to survive, but they weren’t actually going to kill anyone.
They never expected to be so lucky. They hadn’t even begun their robbery proper and these well-meaning people were already offering to sell them food. There were many good people in the world. Their faith was restored.
They were afraid Feng Wu would change her mind, so they hurriedly took out their money to trade for the food.
Feng Wu had a lot of food and water, after all her biggest hobby was collecting food.
“No! I don’t agree with you selling food to them! The food is for our team. If you sell them, what about the rest of us?!” Mayleen glared at Feng Wu. The accusation in her eyes seemed to say Feng Wu was doing something incredibly wrong.
The seven hungry men glared at Mayleen. Where did this annoying woman come from? Don’t you know tigers will teach you a lesson if you snatch food from their mouths?
“This is mine.” Feng Wu looked back at Mayleen seriously. She refused to say her things were now communal team property.
“You are a member of the team! The things in your possession belong to the team! You have no right to sell them!”
Feng Wu blinked at the strange theory.
Ailuna and the others behind Mayleen felt really uncomfortable. They didn’t agree with Feng Wu selling her food, but they certainly didn’t have the audacity to mouth off with such a bizarre theory.
Feng Wu stared seriously at Mayleen for a while before solemnly declaring, “There’s a hole in your head.”
“Pfft!” The others couldn’t contain their laughter, especially the seven hungry men who had been interrupted by Mayleen and nearly had their food taken away. They had a lot of resentment toward her.
“Ahahaha. . . this is the first time I’ve ever heard such a bizarre theory.”
“I just realized a team is supposed to share all their belongings’ with each other.”
“Why doesn’t she take her man out and share him?”
“With her virtues and that face, what kind of man could she possibly have?”
“Yeah, ugly people are strange.”
“Haha! Sure enough there is a hole in her brain!”
The seven guys laughed freely and didn’t care to give Mayleen any face. Everyone else were more considerate and tried not to laugh out loud. “
You. . . ” Mayleen glared at the seven guys with resentment clear on her face. She really wanted to just rush over and kill all of them. If she weren’t so sensible, she would have.
“What about us, woman with a hole in the brain?”
“That’s right. There are holes in your brain. Hahaha!” That girl really did have pits for brains.
“Feng Wu, Mayleen shouldn’t stop you from making transactions with other people, but she is saying it for the good of the group. Without food, we’ll all starve. Before selling your food, think about what’s good for the group. Think about it!”
Though Ailuna’s voice was gentle and even held a pleading tone, what Feng Wu heard was that she was on Mayleen’s side.
Feng Wu blinked her eyes, aggrieved. “These are my things. Why should I consider any of you? We’re not friends.” Feng Wu didn’t think about offending anyone; she only spoke the truth, but then she remembered Ming Xi was there, so she amended her statement. “Senior Ming Xi is a good friend.”
She looked at him flatteringly, as though afraid he would be offended.
But Ming Xi was in a good mood; he kneaded her head to signal he wasn’t mad at her.
At this, Feng Wu’s mood improved greatly as she breathed a sigh of relief. Ming Xi was the only person in the group she cared about. All the others were just strangers. Oh yes, Zi Cheng and Yifu weren’t strangers – they were classmates, but that was not much different from being strangers.
Though her words weren’t pretty to hear, they were the truth. They’d all met by chance and were in no way good friends. Everyone knew this, but Feng Wu was the only one who would say it out loud.
Ailuna was speechless and she didn’t dare say anything more about the food. She dragged Mayleen, who was about to have an apoplexy, away to be back of the group.
Zi Cheng wanted to speak up for Ailuna and earn some bonus points, but she was afraid of the nonsense that would spout out of Feng Wu’s mouth if the girl got angry. Things could turn bad if that happened.
It was one of those rare moments she remained silent. She even stopped Yifu from butting in.
The seven unusual guys were ecstatic after their successful food trade. They were practically hugging Feng Wu’s thigh and calling her a goddess.
Ailuna and her group were unhappy about it, but they kept quiet so as not be to attacked by Feng Wu’s impolite, blunt mouth.
The seven guys were a lot more confident after getting food and water. They volunteered to join with Feng Wu and be a part of her group.
And thus did Feng Wu’s entourage grow.
It was good that the team overall grew, but they were still lost as to where the ancient city was located.
“Baby, what should we do? We can’t find it.” A dispirited Feng Wu asked Rui Baby.
It was too sunny during the day and too cold at night, so Feng Wu, who had grown up on Yuehua mountain, was feeling uncomfortable.
“Don’t worry; I’ll see it soon enough.” Rui Baby was also anxious. He didn’t want to die in a place like this either. It was so hot. He was worried about getting roasted as he slept in Feng Wu’s hair.
Rui Baby wanted to find the city’s location so he tried hard to foresee the future. After some effort, he finally saw a few images: sandstorm, quicksand, whirlpool, anunderground city filled with bones. . .
After seeing the fragmented images in his mind, Rui Baby understood why no one had found the city.
The whole place had submerged into the yellow sands over ten thousand years ago. You couldn’t dig a random pit and hope to find it, unless of course, you were really lucky.
Good thing Feng Wu and the others were all lucky people.
“Don’t worry, we’ll find it soon.” Rui Baby spoke with certainty.
“OK.” Feng Wu was happy.
Right then the king’s ghost spoke out, “Wait!”
“What’s wrong?” Feng Wu turned back to look at him.
“I sense the Czar. He’s nearby.” The kings, every one of them, had the ability to sense one another. It wasn’t their souls that they sensed, but rather each other’s qi. It was the type of qi only kings who surpassed all others in their time had – supreme ruler qi.
“Where?” Feng Wu asked. Rui Baby was amazing, so accurate! They did immediately find it.
Rui Baby was confused. No this had nothing to do with him.
The king pointed in a direction, but it was not the direction they were walking.
Feng Wu believed the king and immediately walked over and tugged at Ming Xi’s clothes.
“This is the wrong way. We should go this way,” said Feng Wu as she pointed out the direction.
“That way?” Ming Xi was surprised. It was the first time Feng Wu gave any input about which way to go. She had never participated in the group discussions before. Had she found something?
Of course Ming Xi would believe Feng Wu. To him, she was a ball of miracles.
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded.
“Let’s go that way.” Ming Xi thought about it for two seconds before announcing the direction change to the group.
“Wait, Senior Ming Xi, why are you listening to her? This wasn’t what we discussed yesterday.” Yifu was uncomfortable with the idea of going along with Feng Wu. It was the entrance exam all over again.[notes] Back then, everyone had ignored her advice and instead had listened to Feng Wu. She did not want the same thing to happen again.
“Yes, why should we listen to her?” Mayleen pointed at Feng Wu rudely.
“Those who object can continue on in the original direction.” Ming Xi replied indifferently. The girls’ criticism didn’t matter to him.
Mayleen and Yifu looked at each, neither daring to say anything more. They didn’t like Feng Wu, but they never considered leaving Ming Xi.
Caesar and the others didn’t have an opinion on the matter. They’d been searching for ten days without success so maybe changing directions would be good.
403: What Routine?
No one else voiced any objections so the group changed course. Every so often, Feng Wu would give directions such as turning this way or that. For all intents and purposes, it looked like she was leading the way, but she really wasn’t. She was simply following the king.
And so, they walked like this for most of the day.
The sun got higher and brighter in the sky. They had to find shelter soon or they were going to succumb to heat stroke. It had like this for the past ten days: hurry out in the morning and rest through the afternoon and evening hours.
They couldn’t do it any other way because weather conditions prevented them from traveling much in the daytime.
“Are we there yet?” The lackluster question came from Rui Baby.
“We should be there soon. My connection to the czar grows stronger with every step. The city is not too far away.”
“Everyone, let’s find a place to rest. The sun is too strong for us to go much farther.” Zi Cheng’s head was covered in sweat; she wiped what dripped from her forehead off.
“Xiao Cheng is right. It’s too hot. I can’t walk anymore.” Yifu’s cheeks were red like a drunk’s and she looked like she was getting heat stroke. She took a gulp of water from her water bag.
“That big tree there, let’s go over and camp under it.” Caesar offered the suggestion because he was concerned about Zi Cheng.
No one had an opinion about it so they all agreed to go.
Green plants were rare in the desert, especially so a tree as tall is the one they were under. They didn’t know what species of tree it was, but by the sheer fact it could grow such lush leaves meant it had to be very hardy.
Though Feng Wu was disappointed she couldn’t hear the tree, she nevertheless cheered up and set her tent up along with everyone else’s
The tents were also something she had sold for a high price. It was just like her to have miscellaneous things like that in her storage ring.
Feng Wu stayed in the same tent with Ming Xi. Everyone else had split up into groups staying with the ones they each trusted. Those who wanted a solo tent purchased one at their own expense.
It was such a hot day, so staying inside the tent was even more stuffy. But it was a world of magic so changing the temperature was feasible with magic items.
It only took using a small magic tool to make the air bearable enough inside the tents to allow everyone to rest comfortably.
“Xiao Wu, there’s a lake nearby. Do you want to take a bath with us?” Fang Li asked from outside Feng Wu’s tent. She stood outside with Zi Cheng, Yifu, Mayleen and Ailuna.
The question brought both Ming Xi and Feng Wu out of their tent.
“Is there a lake nearby?” Ming Xi was surprised at their good fortune.
“Yes, Xiao Cheng and I were scouting the terrain when we came upon the lake behind the sand dunes. It’s not big, but the water clarity is really good.” Yifu answered Ming Xi joyfully.
The discovery of the lake got everyone’s attention. They had lacked food and water, but now that there was a viable water source nearby, the guys wanted to grab the opportunity and replenish their supplies.
On the other hand, the girls were most interested in enjoying a dunk in the lake.
Feng Wu was interested in taking a bath, even if it was a superficial thing to do. People who practiced magic or martial arts could use their internal energy to clean themselves, but it felt strange to clean without water. This was especially true for Zi Cheng and Feng Wu – who was used to bathing in water ever since she was a little toddler.
The guys didn’t object to it, but they did request the girls wait until they refilled their water supplies before bathing in the water, otherwise wouldn’t it be like they were drinking the girls’ bath water?
Once they reached the lake, they could see it was pure enough to use for resupplying. The guys quickly refilled their water bags while the girls waited to the side for them to finish.
The girls immediately stripped and jumped in the lake after the guys left. The water was cool despite the hot sun beating down. It was a super refreshing soak.
“Ah. . . I feel like I’m alive again.” Ailuna relaxed into the water as she happily enjoyed the feeling.
“Me too. I can finally bath properly. I’ve been using magic to clean myself the past couple of days, and I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but I still feel sticky all over.”
“Oh my god! My hands and neck got tanned!” Fang Li wailed as she touched her darkened hand.
“Me too!” cried out a distressed Zi Cheng. The parts of her body that were covered were much lighter than the parts that had been exposed to the sun. It was going to take time for her skin to return to its natural color.
“Huh? Feng Wu, you haven’t tanned at all!” Fang Li looked in disbelief at Feng Wu’s hands.
All the girls had sunburn on the necks, hands, and faces. They burned to different degrees, but they were tanned one way or another. Well, that was except for Feng Wu. No matter how you looked at her, she wasn’t tanned in the slightest.
On top of that, her skin didn’t express any signs of dehydration or dryness.
This. . . what was this?! Feng Wu immediately became the focus of attention. She needed to confess! They were very interested in the secret to her skin care regime.
What woman wasn’t afraid of turning ugly? It didn’t matter how powerful or rich she was, she would always be interested in the secrets to maintaining beauty.
“OK, spill it. What’s your beauty routine? How do you take care of your skin to keep it looking so good?!”
Yifu and Mayleen couldn’t ask because they had a bad relationship with Feng Wu. They were certain she would never share her secrets with them, but Fang Li had no such issue. She easily asked Feng Wu for her secrets.
“Feng Wu, tell us. We’re very interested.” Zi Cheng chimed in as well.
Feng Wu blinked. “What beauty routine?”
What was that? Could she eat it? Feng Wu wondered.
She dared act as if she didn’t understand?! “Stop pretending. If you don’t want to share, just say so. Isn’t it just a beauty routine? What’s so amazing about that?” Yifu complained after witnessing how Feng Wu wouldn’t give Zi Cheng any face even though Zi Cheng had asked so respectfully.
Feng Wu was a really cheap person, to not share something as simple as a beauty routine.
Yifu wasn’t the only one resenting Feng Wu. Mayleen and Ailuna were also hostile towards Feng Wu because of Ming Xi. Only one of the girls showed it actively on her face though.
“Yes, why pretend? Just say you don’t want to share if you don’t want to share. No one would want your secret even it if was free anyway.” Mayleen also looked disdainfully at Feng Wu. She hadn’t intended to pay anything for it in the first place.
“Enough, Mayleen. Feng Wu probably doesn’t want to say it because it’s proprietary and part of her family’s business. We shouldn’t force her. Why don’t we do it like this. How many skin care products do you have on you Feng Wu? How about we buy all of them?”
Ailuna always tried to look rational and considerate in front of people. She had to maintain that demeanor even in front of Feng Wu.
Mayleen sneered quietly in her heart when she saw this. She pretended not to know Ailuna’s true colors.
“Alright Feng Wu, this time you can’t say no.”
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” Feng Wu threw them a confused look after shaking her head.
In truth, you really couldn’t blame Feng Wu, the girl never used any high-end skin care products. How could she share what she didn’t have?
This made all the girls a little angry. “What do you mean Feng Wu? We said we would pay you. Are you worried we won’t pay?” Yifu glared at Feng Wu.
“Hey, are you trying to say you won’t sell any to us?” Mayleen was angry as well.
Both Zi Cheng and Ailuna’s faces turned a smidge ugly, but they were very conscious of their image, so they wouldn’t try to force Feng Wu to sell to them if she didn’t want to sell. They would never do something so foolish to ruin their image.
Fang Li was disappointed but she wasn’t angry, however Feng Wu’s act of ignorance annoyed her enough that she chose to sit on the sidelines and not interfere. Well, truth be told, maybe she was a little ticked.
It was strange to not get tanned from daily sun exposure, but that was because Feng Wu wore White Lotus on her wrist every day. This guy came with his own cooling and UV protection assets, so of course Feng Wu wouldn’t get tanned. Unfortunately the girls didn’t know this. They were sure Feng Wu had to be using some kind of magic sunscreen item.
Because of the disagreement, the other girls isolated Feng Wu. But Feng Wu wasn’t the kind of girl to run off crying just because she was being shunned.
The girls were busy discussing skin care products and didn’t notice the dark clouds rapidly approaching in the distance. Suddenly they heard a shout.
“Everyone, hurry! Something big is coming!”
The girls got out and dressed as fast as they could.
The yell had come from one of the seven strange guys. He was sweating like crazy as he looked at the girls, waiting for them to get closer.
“Quick! Let’s Go! Something bad is approaching!” He immediately ran back to camp after warning Feng Wu.
It looked like something big was happening. Zi Cheng and the others were nervous and ran back to camp as fast as they could.
Once they got back, they saw the bad expressions on the guys’ faces. All the tents had also been packed away.
“Everyone’s back! Let’s get out of here!” Ming Xi yelled. He stepped forward and grabbed Feng Wu’s hand, then hurriedly ran off.
Caesar also grabbed Zi Cheng’s hand and ran off.
“What’s going on?!” Ailuna was completely perplexed. She was following behind several of the other guys.
“There’s a sandstorm coming! We have to get out of here fast!” Olifuman yelled back.
“Sandstorm?!” Ailuna and Mayleen were both startled, but they instantly quickened their pace.
No one dared stop. If they didn’t leave immediately and found a place to shelter, they would be buried alive.
“Whoooosh. . . ”
They were all panting as they desperately ran forward.
“This is the direction. I can feel it getting closer.” The king’s spirit and his thousands of attendees ran behind Feng Wu in a mad hurry.
“Really?!” Rui Baby was pleased. Finally, they were getting to the end!
“Senior Ming Xi, it’s just ahead.” Feng Wu gave the good news.
Ming Xi was shocked but he didn’t ask how she knew. He just nodded to let her know he heard and kept moving. They increased their speed. Everyone behind them also sped up.
A dark cloud was fast approaching the group from behind. If they didn’t find shelter soon, they would be in danger.
They were just cresting a sand dune when they got yanked into a quicksand whirlpool below it. Feng Wu and every one else only had time to let out a scream before being sucked in completely. They didn’t even have the chance to escape.
“Drip. . . ” Feng Wu heard the sounds of water as she came awake. She opened her eyes, but couldn’t see anything. She summoned a light item and immediately the space was illuminated.
White bones. . . endless white bones.
Feng Wu saw that she was lying on some bones. The guys from the team were also there not too far away from her.
Ming Xi looked around as soon as he woke up, then upon spying Feng Wu, immediately went to her side. He breathed a secret sigh of relief upon finding her safe and sound.
“We’ll talk after we wake everyone up.”
Feng Wu nodded, and together they walked around and woke everyone up. Zi Cheng and Caesar woke up on their own, third and fourth. Naturally, as the main characters of the novel, they didn’t need anyone to wake them up.
405: Desert City
Ze Ye woke up because someone was slapping his face. The first person he saw upon waking up was Feng Wu. He wanted to ask her some questions, but she had already moved on and was slapping the other girls awake as well.
“What is this place?”
“How did we get here?”
“Oh my god! So many bones!”
“I want to leave! I don’t want to stay here!” Mayleen shouted in fear.
Yifu was so scared, she was almost in tears. To think she had been laying on top of all these bones; the whole thing made her ill. “I don’t want to stay here either! It’s terrible! I’m leaving!”
“This is the desert city.” Feng Wu’s clear and unwavering voice was calming.
“The ancient desert city? This is the ancient desert city?!”
They were shocked. No one thought the ancient city was a city full of bones.
“What do we do now? Are we going to leave Xiao Cheng?” At this point Yifu was crying. The fear was obvious in her eyes and her entire body exuded a listless energy.
“No, if this is the desert city, then we can’t leave.” Zi Cheng was firm.
That wasn’t to say Zi Cheng was unaffected; no matter how calmly she behaved, the bones still bothered her. Even if she did have a golden cheat, she was still an ordinary girl from another world.
But she was the main character, and as such, she adjusted her mental state and quickly regained her composure.
In contrast, it was a lot harder for the others to calm down, especially the girls, who were quite spooked.
Determination flashed in Caesar’s eyes. “Yes, we finally found the city. There’s no reason for us to leave.”
Yifu’s heart was uneasy but she didn’t say anything else after that. She could only hang on to Zi Cheng’s hand as tight as she could and hope to get a little courage from her friend.
As they stood there, fog coalesced and formed words.
-Welcome to the second level. Please find the exit and leave the ancient desert city.-
“Find the exit and leave!”
“Wow, then this really is the right place!”
It was good news, but it also meant things would get more dangerous.
“Strange, there are bones, but no evil qi. This shouldn’t be possible!” Rui Baby looked around at the bones confused.
It was reasonable to expect a high density of evil qi in a place filled with so many remains. It was abnormal for there to be none at all.
Just because evil qi was absent didn’t mean it was a good place. On the contrary, it made Rui Baby even more suspicious. The danger level had to be higher than the first tomb Feng Wu visited.
“Senior Ming Xi, what are you looking at?” Yifu noticed Ming Xi inspecting the bones on the ground. It was surprising enough for her to ask.
Ming Xi looked at her and answered frankly. “I’m inspecting the cause of death. These people died very strangely.”
“Strange? Ming Xi, did you find something?” Ze Ye leaned over out of curiosity.
Most of the other guys did the same.
The girls were still a little scared. Only Feng Wu, Zi Cheng, and Fang Li dared look.
Ming Xi answered without looking back. “Look at the bones. Do you see problems with them?”
“Problems?” Ze Ye picked up a bone and inspected it, but he didn’t see anything strange. It wasn’t until he looked at the other bones from head to toe that he realized something was indeed odd.
“There isn’t a single injury on any of these bones. This way of dying, it’s just to weird.” Ze Ye’s face was solemn now.
“What, no injuries?!”
“Then how did they die?”
“Did they succumb to a plague?”
“No, it must have been poison!”
The group began making guesses about how the people died.
“Let’s get out of here first. There’s a gate up ahead; we can talk after we get there.” Ming Xi pointed to a city wall up ahead that was about ten meters (32 feet) tall. The city had to be beyond the walls.
And indeed the name of the city was engraved above the gate.
They all knew, that in order to leave, they would have to find clues inside the city. So with that in mind, they lifted their feet one in front of the other and walked forward.
Ming Xi took Feng Wu’s hand and walked in front as usual. The king kept glancing at the city gates, an unsightly expression on his face.
“I never expected he would use this method to get eternal life.”
Feng Wu missed the king’s mutter.
As they walked, they saw that there were several people already at the gates. It was clear the group had been there for a while, so the fact that they remained outside signaled trouble.
“Oh good! There are more people coming up. Everyone’s been trapped here.” A middle-aged man spoke up.
“Hey!” An expressionless young man called out a greeting to them.
The other people just looked strangely at them without speaking.
“You guys are all here for the city right? Why aren’t you going in?” Xier asked.[notes]
“Huh? How would you know we didn’t go in? We did you know. Nearly half of us died too. We’re the left-over survivors.” The middle-aged man said.
“You entered?! Is it that dangerous?!”
“What is it like? Are there are lot monsters?”
“Tell us about it! The more we know, the higher our chances of getting through it together.”
They were peppering him with questions trying to learn as much as they could.
“Uncle, can you tell us what happened in the city?” Ming Xi asked.
Everyone turned to look at the middle-aged man.
“My temporary team and I got here two days ago. We were the first ones to get here so we entered the city as fast as we could. Obviously there shouldn’t be anyone alive inside, but we felt like we were being watched the entire time.
Later on people started disappearing. We decided to withdraw because the city felt too strange, but then something even worse happened. . . ”
406: Blood Moon
The group found the city two days ago. They had to enter the city to get to the next level, so they entered it even though they felt the city was ominous.
It didn’t look like a city that had disappeared ten thousand years ago. There wasn’t a speck of dust and all the buildings look well preserved.
Something strange happened after they split up to search the city – one by one, people disappeared. There were no traces of a struggle and no clues as to where they’d gone. It was incredibly strange and the group didn’t dare split up after that.
They stayed together, but that niggling feeling of being watched persisted. None of them could figure out why despite all being masters. At this point, it seemed like a good idea to exit the city.
The feeling disappeared as soon as they stepped out beyond the gates. They didn’t get to enjoy their relief for long before something else strange happened.
Red light appeared in the space outside where all the bones were piled up. It seemed to animate the bones and filled them with murderous aura. The once jumbled pile of bones moved and formed into individual skeletons. It was as if they could actually hear the roaring of the battle horn sounding across the battlefield.
The skeletons stood with swords in their hands and red lights burning in their eye sockets, and soon enough, they rushed toward the group standing outside the city.
The men were understandably frightened and panicked. There were so many skeletons! They would be overwhelmed in no time! They had no choice but to rush back into the city.
The moment they stepped inside, that feeling of being watched came right back and they started losing track of people again. A guy could be next to you one second, then you turn your head away, and poof! He would be gone the next. How did people keep disappearing?
They couldn’t remain in the city – they had to leave. Fortunately, without the red light, the bones outside were just ordinary bones.
It had only been two days, but their original group of twelve had shrunk to six. They were at their wits end and about to collapse.
“Red light? Did you see where the red light came from?” Ming Xi had a suspicion the red light wasn’t just any ordinary red light, but he wasn’t sure what it was. He could only try to find out by asking questions.
The man shook his head. He hadn’t seen much and didn’t know the source of the light.
“I remember seeing a blood moon above the bones right when the light appeared.” The young man spoke up hesitantly.
“Blood moon?!” Ming Xi and everyone else looked at the young man in disbelief.
There were records of a blood moon. It wasn’t a real moon, but rather a moon-like object formed by taking a tiny trace of the moon’s essence and mixing in a lot of evil qi.
It only formed in places with a tremendous amount of negative qi. So if there was a blood moon, then that place was a forsaken place. Ten out ten, odds were you wouldn’t come out alive from a place like that.
Monsters bred well and strong under a blood moon. This was why everyone was surprised.
“Blood moon! It was definitely a blood moon you say?!” The middle-aged man shouted as he grabbed the young man by the collar and shook him angrily.
The young man only dared to nod his head.
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?!”
“I didn’t want to alarm everyone even more!” The young man complained, feeling a bit aggrieved by the response. He had only wanted to keep everyone calm and not make them even more fearful than they already were.
The older man let the younger one go. He was right. If anyone else had known about the blood moon, the few still alive would have probably lost the will to keep fighting.
Suddenly someone shouted, “Not good! Red light!”
The response was immediate. The guy who shouted, opened the gate and rushed inside. Ming Xi and his group looked back and they saw the mysterious light the middle-aged man had been talking about.
Ming Xi also saw that what the young man said was true. There was a red moon in the sky which was releasing evil qi into the bones on the ground.
This was why Feng Wu hadn’t seen any evil qi. It had all been absorbed by the blood moon.
“Go!” Ming Xi herded everyone inside.
The bones disappeared from sight after they closed the city gates.
They breathed a sigh of relief while they pressed their backs against the gate. They felt lucky to escape so no one noticed the change in Feng Wu’s expression.
For everyone else, it was a deserted city filled with buildings, but for Feng Wu it wasn’t empty at all. There was a sea of people in front of her. So many souls were staring at them coldly, and every one of them was identical!
Yes, every one of them had the same face. It wasn’t possible, and yet there they were. It was happening right in front of her, so Feng Wu could not not believe it.
“Who are you?” Feng Wu asked them quietly.
Why were there so many identical people staring at them? She was puzzled so she asked the question of the first person in front of her.
“Xiao Wu?” Ming Xi took Feng Wu’s hand and worriedly looked in the direction she was staring at.
Feng Wu turned to Ming Xi and seriously said, “There are many people here, many identical people.”
As if in unison, the spirits displayed an identical ugly expression while Feng Wu and Ming Xi talked.
Instead of answering Feng Wu’s question, the spirits disappeared.
“You mean there are evil spirits here?!”
For evil spirits to come out under the red moon was incredibly rare.
Feng Wu shook her head and said, “No, they are not evil spirits. There is nothing entangled around them.”
“Not evil spirits?” Ming Xi wanted to ask Feng Wu what was going on, but their location was too dangerous for questioning.
“Did you just say there are evil spirits around us?! Is this place actually a ghost town?” Ghost town, yes, the name was very appropriate thought Rui Baby.
Yifu broke out in a cold sweat upon overhearing.
They were all afraid of the unknown and ghosts were something they all feared. Except for necromancers, no one would voluntarily want to see the departed spirits of the dead.
“Little girl, you’re a necromancer?!” The middle-aged man looked at Feng Wu with bright eyes.
They had mages, sword masters, and pharmacists in their group, but no necromancers. He had felt eyes watching him as soon as he entered the city. Now with Feng Wu’s revelation, he knew there really were eyes watching him.
A bunch of ghosts had been staring at all of them the entire time they were in the city! No wonder they felt jittery every time they entered.
“No, it’s that I can see some things.” Feng Wu was honest. She had the qualifications to be a necromancer but she preferred being a sword user.
“It’s good you can see, it’s good you can see. Can you tell us what you saw?”
Feng Wu didn’t think there was anything she needed to hide so she repeated everything she saw.
The spirits of the king’s attendants began to gossip wildly.
“Oh my goodness, the legends were true. I never expected the czar was this kind cruel, heartless person.”
“That’s why I say people can look good but still be dogs. This czar guy was a dog through and through, completely inhuman.
“That’s too much. It’s just excessive, holding all these people accountable just because of one person.”
“That czar guy was an abomination; he would do something like that.”
The spirits gossiped and bad mouthed the czar.
“What’s going on? Do you guys know something?” Rui Baby flew over when he saw the furious conversation the spirits were having.
They didn’t hide anything and spilled all the czar’s affairs to Rui Baby.
Rui Baby’s mouth puckered more and more the more he heard about the atrocious czar.
“I thought it was a just a tale people imagined, but it turns out it is true after all.” Ming Xi took a deep breath and spoke.
“Ming Xi, do you know what’s going on?” Ze Ye looked over at Ming Xi, hoping the other could explain.
Ming Xi coughed before speaking. “If I’m guessing correctly, the spirits of the dead Xiao Wu saw were the original citizens of the Kingdom of Sand.”
“And everyone in the kingdom looked exactly the same?” It was just too unbelievable.
It was hard to find two people who looked identical in everything from height, weight to coloring. To say the people in the kingdom were born the same, was too hard to believe.
“Of course it is impossible. The reason why they became like so was because. . . ”
And Ming Xi proceeded to tell them the tale.
Ten thousand years ago, before the kingdom was unified, most of the people living there were just ordinary people. But one day a demon person became stranded in the desert. He was just a normal foot soldier in the demon realm, but in front of these ordinary people, he was practically a godly existence.
The demon forced people to pay tribute with wine and women, and for a people with precious few food resources, this made their lives even more difficult. On top of that he also demanded the most beautiful women.
He was cruel by nature and killed people for every little thing. Later, one of the tribute beauties became pregnant. She died during childbirth when the baby sucked her life and burst from her body.
No one dared harm the child because the demon was there. But one day everything changed when a passing master killed the demon.
The dead woman’s brother adopted the child. He didn’t do it to care for the boy though; he did it to get vengeance for his dead sister. He just wanted to torture the child and make it pay.
This was a price that should have been exacted from the demon, but the demon was no longer there, so the brother took out all his anger and hate on the child.
The child, who didn’t understand anything, was beat from his head to his toes every day from then onward.
Everyone looked at the child like it was a dirty thing, an object to be used as an anger outlet, so of course no one interfered.
Unsurprisingly, the child grew to hate everyone, especially his uncle. And as the boy grew, the demon blood in his body eventually awoke and caused his cultivation to explode.
He ruthlessly murdered his uncle in a most cruel manner with his newfound strength. Afterwards he forced everyone to wear his uncle's face with a demon curse. Let them see the face he saw every day.
Soon after this, the Kingdom of Sand was established and every citizen inside had the same face as his uncle. None of them ever regained their original appearances.
408: The Palace
The imprisoned became the czar’s anger outlet. Anytime he was in a bad mood, he would pick a random person that had his uncle’s face and vent his anger on that individual, abusing them in every way imaginable. He went through as many people as needed until his anger was completely spent.
It was his favorite game and those that supported him called it the “Czar’s Game”.
The group’s expression changed after listening to Ming Xi. For a moment, they didn’t know what to think.
“So the czar was actually half-human half-demon.” Mayleen whispered.
“Exactly the same faces though? This czar really lived up to his ruthless reputation as a half-human half-demon.” LeChen had never even heard of the czar until now, but the more he learned, the more he didn’t like the man.
“The people here are so pitiful to have such a master.” Yifu sighed.
“He probably had something to do with the people who recently disappeared.” Caesar guessed. Though the citizens of the Kingdom of Sand were worthy of being pitied, he didn’t feel any particularly way about it.
“That’s quite possible.” Ze Ye agreed.
“Be careful everyone. The city is full of the spirits of those who used to live here. We don’t know what they’re capable of.” Zhaki warned everyone.
“Yes, be careful everyone.”
There was a flash of understanding on the middle-aged uncle’s face. He sighed as he said, “Turns out it was the spirits of the departed that was responsible for all the disappearances. Don’t know if the disappeared were the subject of vicious attacks or not.”
They were all uncomfortable knowing there were so many spirits watching them.
“Let’s go farther in. We still have to find a way out of this place.” Zi Cheng reminded everyone.
The others nodded in agreement with Zi Cheng.
The group walked along the empty streets through the silent city. There wasn’t a soul in sight. If they didn’t know they were surrounded by ghosts, they would have thought the city was deserted.
“Xiao Wu, if you can see the dead, maybe you can communicate with them, maybe they know where the exit is.” Zi Cheng turned and asked Feng Wu.
Her words reminded everyone how useful Feng Wu’s ability to communicate with the dead was. It would save them a lot of effort if they used it well.
“I’ll give it a try.” Feng Wu didn’t refuse and agreed automatically.
She walked off in a random direction and said a few words to the empty air. She came back to the group two minutes later.
“So? What did they say?”
“Did they agree to lead us to the exit?”
Feng Wu shook her head. “They ignored me. They’re very strange and won’t talk to me.” It was the first time she met spirits who didn’t want to talk.
Though the group was disappointed, no one blamed Feng Wu for not being able to do it. They expressed their understanding and told her not to take it to heart.
It was a big city but they managed to walk all around it. They did not encounter any instances of anyone disappearing like the middle-aged uncle had talked about.
But they didn’t dare linger in the houses.
Their goal was the palace. If there was a way out, it had to be in there.
It was the biggest, grandest structure in the city with an interior befitting a king. They entered through the now unguarded gates and were met by a stunning garden filled with beautiful enchanting flowers in full bloom – a rare sight in a desert.
They passed through the garden to get to the great hall that housed the throne. The resplendent hall was lit with night pearls while the throne itself was richly decorated with so many jewels and gems, that if sold, would have allowed ordinary people to live a life of comfort many times over.
The throne was attractive but no one touched it or even thought about taking it. The city wasn’t a good place and any small mistake could lead to catastrophe. No one was foolish enough to move the throne, which was the symbol of rule.
“Let’s all split up and search the palace for clues.” Ming Xi said.
It was such a big place; they wouldn’t be able to search it properly if they stuck together as one group. It was more productive to split up.
Caesar nodded. “Let’s all meet in the main hall in half an hour.” He was confident of his strength so he wasn’t afraid of any dangers that could come up from moving on his own.
No one else had an opinion on the matter so they broke into smaller groups to investigate the palace.
Feng Wu stayed with Ming Xi. With her simple mind, there was no way he was going to let her form a team with anyone else.
“This man is really good. Xiao Wu has good eyes.” Ming Xi’s appearance gave him a lot of bonus points with some of the minor maids. They liked his good looks very much. They liked his looks so much, they were practically drooling. Who knew what Ming Xi would have thought if he knew a bunch of spirit maids were eyeing him like candy.
Half an hour later, everyone was back in the main hall. There was no teleportation point in the palace anywhere, but LeChen and Fang Li were lucky and found a notebook in a maid’s room.
A few things of interest were recorded inside.
In hopes of finding some clues, everyone gathered to listen to LeChen read from the notebook.
One entry: “My face changed again today. It looks more and more like everyone else here. I don’t know how long I can remain clearheaded. When will I forget who I am? When will I become just like them?”
Another entry: “Someone recently entered the city. Watching them desperately risk their life to escape reminds me of me when I first came here, but they, like I, will become like everyone else in this city. No one can leave, no one can die.”
Another: “Big news! Our king was killed today. Will this release us? Without our king’s curse, will we finally return to our original selves?”
Another: “The king is dead but everyone will be buried as a sacrifice along with him. I don’t want to die. . . I don’t want to die. . . ”
409: Strange Spirit Body
There were only those few entries in the notebook. It didn’t look like the person who wrote it had been in the city long enough to write much.
They were able to infer some things from the entries however. The people who came to the city eventually turned into the czar’s most hated person, his uncle. It wasn’t just their appearance that changed, but most likely their sense of identity also changed. In essence, their previous memories were erased and they became someone else entirely.
It wasn’t different from dying.
“Finding these things aren’t helping us locate the exit.” Yifu was discouraged.
Everyone’s mood overall was bad.
“Did everyone search carefully? Palaces tend to have secret rooms. Maybe the exit is in one these rooms?” Zi Cheng offered after thinking it over.
“I searched very carefully; I practically dug up the floor. There were a few hidden rooms, but none had the exit.” Olifuman said.
It was about leaving the city. Who wouldn’t search as diligently as they could? The other people weren’t fools and had already considered the possibility of a secret room in the palace. Many of them came from powerful families, so the concept of a hidden room wasn’t unusual to them. There was no way they would have missed it in their search.
But they had searched everywhere in the palace and couldn’t find the exit, so perhaps it wasn’t in the palace?
It was possible it was so somewhere else in the city. If it was, it would significantly increase their scope and would be much more time consuming.
The ancient city was strange so it was unwise to stay in it for too long, but unfortunately, they had no other choice.
“Wait, there’s a place we haven’t looked.” Ming Xi said suddenly.
“That’s right! There is one place we haven’t checked.” Caesar quickly picked up on Ming Xi’s train of thought.
“The garden!” both said in unison.
Suddenly, everyone realized it was true. They had completely overlooked the garden. They all rushed over to the garden.
As everyone did so, the king spoke to Feng Wu.
“Xiao Wu, there’s a spirit watching you from the corner over there. I already sent someone to contact her. She says she has something to tell you and would like to speak to you alone.”
Feng Wu agreed after thinking it over. She looked at the group rushing to the garden. She didn’t tell Ming Xi, but instead followed behind the king to find the spirit that wanted to talk to her.
The spirit was a strange thing to see. It was the first time Feng Wu had seen such an entity.
The transformation was clearly incomplete. Her face was split with one side being male and the other side being female, even the hair was two different colors. It was a scary image to behold.
But Feng Wu was not frightened, just surprised.
“You’re here. Can you see us? I heard from someone that you can see us. I didn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it! You can really see us!” The strange woman cried so hard. It should have been a pitiful image, but with her, it turned into an image from a horror movie.
“Don’t cry.” Feng Wu didn’t like people crying in front of her. Master had said crying never solved anything. Crying was just a way to avoid something and the strong never avoided.
Feng Wu, who had striven to be a strong and powerful person since childhood, never liked other crying children.
“Who are you? You’re different from them.” Rui Baby flew around the girl.
“My name is Small Jade and my family and I have lived in the desert for generations. It wasn’t until the czar unified the desert people and created the desert city that I wanted come here to find a job. I was just an ordinary girl. I never expected the city to be like this. My thoughts are completely different, and now I won’t ever get to see my parents again.” Thinking about it made Small Jade cry even more.
Feng Wu wasn’t good with comforting people and this strange girl seemed possessed by some kind of weeping god – she cried so much!
Feng Wu stared. This girl had to be very weak if she cried so much.
“Why do you look different from those others?” Rui Baby was curious.
“If you can see us, then you must know all of us look identical. Do you know about the king’s curse?”
“Some. . . ” Feng Wu told her the story she heard from Ming Xi.
“What you know isn’t the full story; it isn’t entirely correct.”
“Not correct?” Rui Baby asked.
“It isn’t the people who are cursed, but the city itself. Once you enter, you begin to change into that person. We’re trapped here by the king. Until the transformation is complete, no one is allowed to leave.” Her weeping intensified.
Rui Baby’s expression changed and his eyes got big. “What do you mean by the people who enter will become like those people? It includes Xiao Wu and the others?”
The woman nodded timidly. “Yes. Including you. The only way to stop it is to kill the one who made the curse, the king.”
White Lotus transformed into a tiny snake and climbed up Feng Wu’s shoulder. He starred hard at the spirit. “You want us to kill the czar?”
“Yes, please help us. We have no other options. If he is not killed, then all of us will remain imprisoned here forever. We can’t leave and must keep bearing this face!” The woman begged softly.
“Hold it right there! You still haven’t told us why you’re different from the others. You’ve just been rambling on and on about other stuff.” White Lotus kept his cold gaze on her and successfully forced her gulp down her tears.
“I. . . the reason I’m different from the others is because I died before my transformation completed. The king’s two most loyal servants sealed all of us inside the city after he died. We were trapped as funerary objects, forced to remain in here forever.
At that time, I was only partially changed, so that’s why I look the way I look now.”
410: Catching Sight of Something
“Are there any others like you?” Rui Baby asked suddenly.
“No, there isn’t. Why?” She looked at Rui Baby in confusion.
Rui Baby didn’t reply. There was a bit of mockery in his eyes as he looked away.
She told them how the other spirits rejected and bullied her because she looked different from them. It was a hard life and she desperately hoped someone could save them all, the people who had been killed by the czar.
She was a pitiful thing, having died miserably and still not at peace even in death.
Feng Wu agreed to take her to the others so they could find a way to kill the czar and save all of the dead.
The group in the garden, who were desperately looking for a way out, finally noticed Feng Wu wasn’t with them. Ming Xi was the first to notice. It never occurred to him she could have run off on her own, so when he noticed she wasn’t there, his first thought was that something had happened to her. He was so anxious that he organized everyone to search for her.
He was shouting Feng Wu’s name as soon as he entered the hall. “Xiao Wu! Xiao Wu!” Ming Xi was blaming himself to death. He’d never forgive himself if his momentary negligence caused her harm.
Her name rang out all across the palace as everyone yelled out her name trying to find her.
“Are you looking for me?” Feng Wu didn’t know how worried Ming Xi was after leaving without saying anything.
As soon as she made a peep, Ming Xi zoomed in on her and rushed over. He took her in his arms and checked her to make sure she was OK. Then he checked again. Then again just to be sure.
He was so relieved.
“Where have you been?! How could you run around like that?!” Ming Xi was worried and angry at the same time so his voice was stern and his face serious.
It made Feng Wu blink. She was taken aback and felt quite wronged in her heart. But Ming Xi was angry and she didn’t dare argue with him, all she dared do was tug at his finger pitifully.
Ming Xi couldn’t stay angry in the face of such a pitiful expression. He sighed and softened his tone. “Do you know, you shouldn’t do this kind of thing again? If you have to leave, next time make sure you tell me.”
Once she saw Ming Xi was no longer mad at her, Feng Wu’s eyes curved in a smile and she obediently promised to listen in the future.
“Xiao Wu, where did you go just now? Do you know how worried everyone was? You can’t just run off on your own like that.” Zi Cheng waited until Ming Xi and Feng Wu were done with their reunion before voicing her own worry and disapproval. She had already sent Yifu to tell everyone that they had found Feng Wu.
In fact, she was quite surprised Feng Wu ranked so highly in Ming Xi’s heart. She expected him to care about Feng Wu, but he was without a doubt, from a prestigious and powerful family. Would his family accept someone like Feng Wu, someone who already had a child?
The school said Feng Wu’s baby came about because of a fruit called the Motherhood fruit, but the fruit itself was incredibly rare, not to mention the instances of successful pregnancy and delivery were even rarer still. Did Feng Wu really eat the fruit by mistake? She wasn’t convinced.
Zi Cheng had already marked Feng Wu’s relationship with Ming Xi as doomed from the start.
“Yes.” Feng Wu replied simply. She wasn’t interested in talking to Zi Cheng, but Jier had told her it was impolite to ignore someone who was talking to you, so she replied out of courtesy.
But Jier ignored other people often, so did that mean he was impolite?
Feng Wu couldn’t figure it out, but she was obedient. So as long as someone talked to her and they weren’t being malicious, she would always respond, even if it was just a single word answer.
“It turns out Feng Wu was OK. You made us worry, but it’s good that you are OK.”
“In the future please do not run around. This place is unsafe.”
“So many people disappeared from our team before. I feared Miss Feng Wu had also disappeared. I’m glad to know you’re all right.”
Those looking for Feng Wu slowly returned and expressed their concern for her.
Feng Wu’s reply was brief and to the point, generally just a, “Yes, I’m OK.”
Once that was all said and done, people finally came around to asking her where she had gone.
In order to let them understand and see Small Jade, Feng Wu gave them the spirit eye drops. The king and Rui Baby had agreed to her doing this after thinking about it for a few minutes. The imperial spirits couldn’t be kept hidden all the time. Plus it would be more convenient to speak with Feng Wu and they would save time by not needing explain things more than once.
The drops were very effective, just one drop and their entire vision changed and they saw things they otherwise never would have been able to see. Suddenly a creature, that was neither male nor female, appeared in front of their eyes. Behind Feng Wu were even more apparitions. There was a press of translucent people wearing ancient aristocratic clothing and ancient war armor. It was obvious from a glance that they were not normal people.
“These. . . these. . . ”
Many of the people were frightened and could barely form coherent words. No one suddenly confronted by a group of undead spirits would have behaved any better. The thought that so many spirits had been moving around them was weird, to say the least.
Ming Xi looked at Feng Wu with understanding. He had had his suspicions because she would stare out in a daze and talk to herself, so though he was surprised at the sight of the spirits, he wasn’t scared.
Feng Wu proceeded to tell everyone about the king and his retinue as well as about Small Jade. The unbelievable tale amazed and surprised everyone. They were disgusted upon finding out the truth behind the sea god’s tomb and so they agreed to help Small Jade defeat the czar.
The czar was half-human half demon, so he was cruel by nature and a horrible person in life; he was much different from the king and his retinue who were traveling with Feng Wu.
“Wait, there’s one thing that doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the czar already dead? Why do you need our help to kill him?” It didn’t make sense to Fang Li.
The czar had been dead for thousands of years, but Small Jade talked about him as though he was still alive.[notes]
Fang Li wasn’t the only one confused, the others were just as puzzled. The dead czar, like the king, should have been creating an endless stream of evil qi to protect the sea god’s tomb.
411: Where is the Czar?
So why was she asking them to kill the czar? No matter how you looked at it, it was strange.
“His Royal Highness has been alive living in the city.” Small Jade’s face was pale as she spoke.
“You say! The czar is still alive?! That’s simply impossible.” Caesar shook his head.
“Yeah, everyone knows the czar is dead. It’s impossible for him to live over ten thousand years and not become a god.” Even Zi Cheng, the transmigrating heroine, knew this.
Small Jade bit her lip, but because her face was neither male nor female, the gesture was a little scary. “His Royal Highness has been alive and living on the moon.”
The moon. Was it. . . ? Ming Xi came to a startling realization.
“The moon you’re talking about is it. . . ?” Yifu wanted her to clarify but Small Jade’s face suddenly changed.
“It’s too late! I have to leave! They’ll find out if I stay any longer!” Small Jade quickly disappeared in a puff of smoke.
She wouldn’t reappear no matter how much they called for her. She really was gone.
“What should we do?” Mayleen asked.
“We’ve been here for a long time now. Will our appearances really change like Small Jade’s?” Ailuna touched her pale face. She was a popular beauty amongst the boys and the thought of losing her beauty terrified her. She would rather die than live as a man.
“It must be true. Look behind you and you’ll understand.” Zi Cheng pointed outside the main hall.
Ailuna silently turned her head to look. What she saw outside was a large group of identical spirits watching her and the others.
Ailuna and Mayleen screamed so loud they nearly took down the roof. Yifu was so frightened that her body trembled as she hid behind Zi Cheng. It was just too creepy of a sight.
“They must be the kingdom’s people!” Zi Cheng swallowed. It was the first time she had seen so many people who looked exactly the same. It was an unnerving sight because it wasn’t just their appearances that were the same.
They were all in sync with the same movements, the same breathing, the same expressions. It wouldn’t have been scary if it was just one person, but a large group. . . it was definitely scary!
“I think so too. Those poor souls. They were tortured by the czar just because they didn’t save him when he was little. It’s just too cruel. You know, compared to the czar, I don’t think I’m not that bad a person.” One of the seven strange guys clicked his tongue in amazement at the realization.
“Say what?” Fang Li gave him a blank look.
“We’ll have to go to the moon to see.” Ming Xi said suddenly.
“Moon? Do you mean the red moon outside?” Zi Cheng asked.
Ming Xi nodded but didn’t say anything.
Zi Cheng knew there was no way she could get Ming Xi to like her, not after what happened on Demon Wind island. It was a pity she would lose out on favorability points with him and his people, but she couldn’t see a way to salvage her image with him.
Well whatever, as long as he was willing to talk to her, she would take it one step at a time. Who knows? She may find an opportunity to establish a new friendship with Ming Xi’s group.
“I guess it has to be there. Other than the moon, where else is there?” Xier’s[notes] expression was solemn as he looked out of the palace main hall.
Caesar clenched the staff in his hand and spoke clearly. “Let’s go meet the czar on the moon then.”
Everyone agreed to go to the moon to find the czar. They had failed to find a way out, so it was probable the exit was where he was. Killing him could make it appear.
The moon only appeared outside above the pile of bones, so to get to it, they would have to leave the city.
They walked across the silent streets again, but this time they could see it wasn’t empty. Identical faces stared at them coldly and without emotion while some kind of hidden meaning flickered in their eyes.
The identical spirits didn’t pounce or didn’t stop the adventurers from leaving, so what were they after?
No one could answer the question.
Those who expected a tough fight were relieved. They were outnumbered and the only one with any abilities regarding the dead was Feng Wu, and she wasn’t even a serious necromancer.
The odds of them getting any of the dead spirits to communicate with them was low. According to Small Jade, once the transformation was complete, it wasn’t just the appearance that changed, but the personality as well. Who knew what a group of distorted group like that would do?
After thinking it through from all angles, the group decided to keep walking. They made it out of the city and into the desert. Outside were just a pile of white bones; it was hard to believe the red light would bring them to life as skeletons.
The adventurers walked over the hill made of bones intending to enter the moon. But upon cresting the hill they couldn’t find the moon at all.
“How can this be?! How is the moon gone?!” This was the most scared Mayleen had ever been in her life. Her courage had almost entirely fled her. The moon’s disappearance just made it worse.
“Where’s the moon?! Where did it go? What to do? What to do?” Ailuna was talking to herself absentmindedly. For her, the scariest thing was to go back and wait, to slowly turn into the monsters in the city.
“Don’t panic. I don’t think the moon is gone. It just appears at certain times. Don’t worry.” Zi Cheng’s soft voice helped soothe the girls’ agitation.
“All we can do right now is wait for the red light to appear again. That is likely the time we can enter the moon.” Ming Xi’s words also helped the girls feel better.
412: Blood Sacrifice Technique
They were fine with waiting as long as they could enter the moon. What mattered was going in and killing the czar so the curse could be lifted. None of them wanted to turn into a man or a monster of neither genders.
They returned to the city gate to wait for the red light to appear.
Feng Wu yawned as she leaned on Ming Xi’s shoulder. Her eyes became a little moist from the yawn and she had to blink the tears away. Afterwards she pulled out a chicken leg and happily gnawed at it. For her, eating was more important.
The king’s spirit attendants talked nonstop as they investigated the bones. Sometimes they would circle around Feng Wu before making a circuit back around the bones again. The adventurers weren’t able to see them before, but now that they could, the spirits were becoming a pain in the behind.
“Wait, be careful. There might be a trap for us on the moon.” Rui Baby flew over and whispered in Feng Wu’s ear.
“What do you mean?” asked a confused Feng Wu.
“You fool! You didn’t think to wonder that Small Jade’s appearance was too obvious? She keeps saying how the czar harmed all of them, but have you heard her curse him even once? Instead she keeps addressing him respectfully as her king.”
Feng Wu was simple, but she wasn’t stupid; it was just that she didn’t often use her brain. Now that she was thinking about what the baby said, she easily connected the dots. She nodded in agreement as she stared at Rui Baby in admiration.
Rui Baby was amazing. Why didn’t she think of it?
Rui Baby enjoyed the star struck look on Feng Wu so he decided to share some more of his discoveries with her.
“Another thing. Didn’t you think it was strange how apart from Small Jade none of the other spirits talked? All they did was surround us.
When we entered the palace, Small Jade appeared, but all the other spirits lingered outside. And it wasn’t that they didn’t want to go inside, it was because there was a protective barrier keeping them out.
So the question is, why can Small Jade and the king[notes] enter but the other spirits can’t? If the enchantment blocked the cursed, then Small Jade should have also been blocked from entering.
The curse is still there, even if her change was only partially completed. It’s reasonable to assume she shouldn’t have been able to enter, and yet, she not only entered, but was able to talk to us for a reasonable amount of time.
Another point, if Small Jade can pass through the barrier, then the other spirits shouldn’t be able to bully her. After all spirits don’t need to eat, so if she wanted to, she could have just stayed inside the palace. None of them would have been able to bully her then.
The strangest thing of all was how what she said didn’t match what was written in the diary. Several people entered the city after her, so their changes should have been even more incomplete if they started at all. She says she was stuck midway after death because she died before completing the transformation.
If things are really as she says, then the transformation should have stopped, but she never mentioned the others who came to the city after she did, the people who should have presumably not been changed.
There are so many suspicious points and you guys didn’t even notice. Just. . . I’m just too amazing.” Rui Baby felt his IQ was just too dang overpowering.
Point after point, Rui Baby showed how Small Jade was suspicious. He didn’t if know the smarter people of the group, like Ming Xi, Caesar, Ze Ye, LeChen and Zi Cheng had noticed it as well or not, but he did know for certain the foolish Feng Wu would not have.
“These bones are the result of sorcery. You don’t need to investigate anymore.” The king saw Ming Xi inspecting a bone intently in his hand, so he stepped forward to explain.
“Sorcery? Do you know how they died?” Ming Xi turned to look at the king.
The king saw Ming Xi’s respect for him, so he was inclined to help. He was in a good mood and so didn’t mind sharing more information.
The adventurers were very interested so they perked their ears to listen. On the other hand, while Feng Wu was looking at the king, she was also biting into her chicken leg with relish.
The others looked at her enthusiastically eating her chicken, then they turned to look at the pile of bones, then back to her. How was she able to eat without feeling sick?
They felt sick just watching her eat. Now wasn’t the time to wonder about Feng Wu though. Those who had been looking at Feng Wu turned their attention to the king and what he had to say.
“They died as a result of the Art of Reincarnation Through Blood Sacrifice.”
“Art if Reincarnation Through Blood Sacrifice? What is that?”
The group looked at each other. It was the first any of them had heard of such an art. Based on the name, they had a suspicion what it was, but they weren’t completely certain.
The king didn’t bother leaving them in suspense and instead told it to them simply. “In our era, it was an expressly forbidden spell that gave the spellcaster a chance to be born again. It worked by absorbing the blood and essence of those sacrificed, and forcing their souls to dissipate. It was a most cruel and evil technique because it destroyed all chances for the souls to reincarnate.
The spellcaster then has the opportunity to take over the victim’s body. He can do it if he successfully overwhelms and overpowers the victim’s spiritual sea.
You should be extra careful upon entering the moon. That man sealed himself inside and has been waiting thousands of years, waiting for that one specific person that fits his criteria to come along. If he succeeds in overwhelming you, I don’t think I have to tell you what will happen.”
“So, then, the czar isn’t really dead?” LeChen asked confused.
“In a sense you can say he is dead, and in another sense, you can say he is alive.”
“What does that mean?” LeChen was not any clearer.
“Once this type of heaven-defying spell is cast, the spellcaster can forcefully remain in the world as a walking corpse, a person without a pulse or heartbeat, even after death. He must remain in the red moon. Leaving the seal of the red moon would cause his body and spirit to suffer a serious decline. When that happens, you won’t have to exert any effort to kill him, he’ll likely die on his own.”
413: Entering the Red Moon
The king’s words unsettled everyone’s hearts. To defeat the czar meant facing the possibility of losing their soul, spirit, and body. Or becoming like those spirits inside the city who had lost their sense of self and remained stuck in the desert forever.
Whether it was being taken over or turning into someone else, neither outcomes were desirable.
“It doesn’t matter. Whether or not he takes us over, we still have to fight if we want to get out of here. If we can’t get out, then we may as well die clean.” Unexpectedly, the seven weirdos were the first to think it through. They dressed weird and they talked weird, but they had the right idea.
If they didn’t go, they’d be dead. If they stayed in the city, they’d be dead. Either way, the end result was the same, so may as well gamble with the fight and see if they could win.
They weren’t as sad after thinking it over.
Some time later, who knew how long, but the red light appeared again and the red moon loomed above the bones. And soon enough, the bones animated and formed individual skeletons.
The group exchanged glances before flying to the moon.
Inside the moon, a handsome young man was sitting quietly on a throne. The corner of his mouth raised in a sneer as he sensed something.
“Have you come? After waiting for ten thousand years this king’s opportunity is finally here. . . ” The one speaking was none other than the man Ming Xi and the others hoped to eliminate, the king of the Kingdom of Sand, the czar.
Entering the moon was unexpectedly easy, but because it was so easy, the group became even more anxious. They were shocked to find a desert city that closely resembled the one below. In fact, the two cities could have been duplicates of each other: same streets, same palace, same buildings, same everything.
The czar had to be in the palace.
They knew their opponent was a powerhouse from ten thousand years ago, so they tightened the grips on their weapons as they firmed their resolve. They knew they would die if they lost the battle.
Ming Xi and the others got closer to the palace with every step they took. Upon reaching the gate, they didn’t even have to open it, it opened for them.
“Hahaha! This king has waited so long. Now finally someone is here and this king can see the sun again. . . ”
He had been waiting for ten thousand years for this opportunity. If it weren’t for the sea god dragging his city into the tomb, he would have had a new body and been born again ages ago. As it was, he had to feed on the negative qi harvested from below in order to maintain his powers as well as keep himself sealed on the moon to keep his mind and soul from deteriorating.
The czar’s laughter greeted the group as they entered the main hall.
Feng Wu frowned as she looked at the thick miasma of negative qi around them. That was why she hadn’t seen any below, it was all gathered in the moon.
“Czar, prepare to die.” Zi Cheng grasped her staff tightly as she stared at the czar, her face completely serious.
“You want to kill this king? You weak things overestimate your own abilities.” The czar sneered disdainfully at Zi Cheng and the others.
He was an ancient czar, half-human and half-demon. His strength was so great, it was on par with a real demon. Of course it was impossible for him to take Feng Wu and the others seriously. They were like babies compared to him.
“All together now!” Caesar yelled as he took the lead in raising his staff to attack.
Zi Cheng followed suit and thus did the battle start.
The king and his attendants had not followed Feng Wu inside the hall, but were watching the scene solemnly from outside. They had indecipherable expressions on their faces.
“Your Royal Highness, are we really not going to help Xiao Wu?” A general stood respectfully beside the king.
“We have more important things to do.” The king took a deep breath and his eyes darkened.
“What do we have to do?” The other spirits inquisitively looked to their omnipotent king for answers.
“There is something we must find and destroy.”
“The Art of Blood Sacrifice Reincarnation.”
“The Art of Blood Sacrifice Reincarnation?! Isn’t that supposed to be on the czar’s body?”
“No, it is somewhere else.”
Feng Wu was unaware of their conversation but she knew the king’s intentions. The king was worried that if the technique was remembered and proliferated by those present, then the consequences would be unimaginable. In order to prevent the technique from returning to the world, the king wanted to find the technique and destroy it.
Feng Wu was the only one who knew his plan. Everyone else was solely focused on killing the czar and leaving the Kingdom of Sand.
The czar truly deserved his reputation as a powerhouse. Even everyone working together couldn’t touch him. The contrast between their strength was disheartening. It was unimaginable how strong powerhouses of ten thousand years ago were compared to today.
Golden light flew from Ming Xi’s sword and attacked the czar.
The czar was unphased and didn’t even leave his throne. He negated the attack with a single wave of his hand.
“Boy, you are the strongest amongst your people. Your bloodline is not bad. This king will take your body.” The czar looked at Ming Xi like he was admiring an unparalleled treasure. It was perfect and he wanted it.
The czar had chosen his potential candidates from the most talented out of the group: Ming Xi, Feng Wu, Zi Cheng, and Caesar.
Ming Xi’s appearance, talent and excellent bloodline made him shine the brightest. Feng Wu’s constitution was natural and flawless with an aura that was incredibly comfortable. The czar could see she had the innate talent to be a master of the laws of nature. This kind of talent was incredibly rare even in ancient times. So much so that if one was ever born, the person would be given their own country or be given the honorary title of holy maiden or holy son of their country. It went to show how special an existence a master of the natural world was.
Zi Cheng and Caesar were also both extremely talented, but what the czar liked about them wasn’t so much their talent as their luck.
Both were children of luck in the current era, so there was an excessive amount of luck inside them. All children of luck were born with a mission: either to save the world or destroy it. It didn’t matter which, the children of luck would always have the protection of the world’s great luck. No one could kill them until they completed their mission. To displace either of them would result in being cursed by the world’s consciousness.
A curse like that wasn’t something the czar could bear. For this reason, they were removed from the czar’s list of potential candidates, which then left Ming Xi and Feng Wu. Feng Wu’s ability to be a master of the natural world was extremely enticing, but she was a girl, so he had to give up on her and choose Ming Xi.
Ming Xi’s luck was also fantastically high.
A red chain flew from the czar, and in the blink of an eye, Ming Xi was bound and his abilities sealed. The czar’s movement had been so fast, Ming Xi failed to defend against it.
“Senior Ming Xi!” Zi Cheng was shocked but immediately reacted. She sent a golden spell towards the chain, but unfortunately, it had no effect.
Feng Wu frowned in worry at the sight of Ming Xi being bound. She called out to Xiao Chun,[notes] who immediately flew out of her dantian and attacked the chain. The blood-colored chain did get thinner and the miasma of the negative qi was reduced by half.
LeChen and the others were stunned, having never expected the ever-quiet Feng Wu to be so powerful. The others all knew Zi Cheng’s strength, and even she was unable to move the chain in any way, so the fact that Feng Wu was able to do what Zi Cheng couldn’t meant that Feng Wu was the stronger of the two.
As soon as Xiao Chun flew out, the czar panicked and wanted to retreat because it felt like a natural enemy had appeared, but the czar was the czar so he calmed down. His eyes glittered as he glanced at Xiao Chun, then he suddenly turned into a stream of light and rushed into Ming Xi’s forehead.
The move shocked everyone. They knew it was the czar making a move to take Ming Xi over.
“Now! Everyone, kill him! If the czar succeeds in taking over his body, we all die!” One of the group members who joined last shouted.
The middle-aged uncle, who looked like a leading member of the group, looked uncertain. Should he take advantage of Ming Xi in order to kill the czar?
“Let’s do it!”
Without waiting for the middle-aged uncle to decide, the other group members had already raised their weapons to attack Ming Xi.
Simultaneously, both Zi Cheng and Feng Wu’s group surrounded Ming Xi in a protective circle.
The attacks against Ming Xi were all blocked. Meanwhile, Ming Xi’s face was turning blue and white. It was clear he was engaged in a fierce battle internally.
“Get out of the way! We can kill the czar if we kill him while he’s trying to take over the guy’s body! Why are you all stopping us?!” A young man yelled out.
Killing one guy to save everyone, it was a good thing! As long as the guy died, everyone would be saved. Why were they being stopped?
The people from the uncle’s group had the same idea. They stared at Feng Wu and those blocking the way in dissatisfaction. Clearly Feng Wu’s group was trying to drag everyone to their deaths, all for one person.
“Since you’re blocking us, don’t blame us for being ruthless!” The middle-aged uncle had made up his mind. He looked at Ming Xi like he couldn’t bear to do it, but he quickly resolved his internal conflict and firmed his resolve. He wanted to get out alive, and no one was going to stop him.
How could this new group understand the despair of watching those beside you disappear one by one day by day. They just didn’t understand.
“No!” Feng Wu pursed her lips and yelled out seriously.
“We’re not stepping aside. Don’t think you can harm Senior Ming Xi!” Zi Cheng righteously glared at the middle-aged uncle. She was steady as she spoke.
“What’s going on with you guys?! Ming Xi will definitely survive! You shouldn’t try to hurt him!” Both Mayleen and Ailuna had firm expressions on their faces as they stood in front of Ming Xi protecting him. They had a good impression of Ming Xi, so of course they wouldn’t want him to get hurt.
While the two groups were stuck in a stalemate, a battle raged in Ming Xi’s spiritual sea. The czar’s consciousness was so powerful, Ming Xi was unable to fight it and could only dodge and run away.
The czar’s consciousness had existed for ten thousand years and had been nurtured by endless amounts of negative qi nearly the entire time. The qi had expanded his spiritual consciousness to terrifying levels. Ming Xi was only twenty. How could he compete?
“Boy, stop running away. It’s useless. Just obediently become one with this king and you will become immortal with this king. That isn’t so bad right?” The czar whispered to Ming Xi in a cold, smug voice.
Ming Xi didn’t turn around to look behind him. He just kept running, his face a pale ash color.
“It’s beyond your control!” The czar smiled confidently as he suddenly appeared in front of Ming Xi after doubling his speed. “Come now, become one with this king. I will be you and you will be me. We’ll have eternal life together.” The czar’s voice was full of temptation.
Ming Xi had no where to run. He could only watch as the czar pounced. . .
415: Body Protected by Divine Blood
The middle-aged uncle was shocked that Feng Wu blocked his attack with one hand. Although he knew she was strong based on what he saw earlier, he didn’t expect her to be so powerful. His own school’s sword art couldn’t even touch her. If word got out, it was doubtful anyone would even believe it.
“Get out of the way! We’ll all die once the czar completes his takeover of that boy’s body!” The middle-aged uncle was frantic. He could feel how much more chaotic Ming Xi’s aura was becoming. Would they have a way out if they waited until the czar completed his takeover?
“No, Senior Ming Xi will be fine. The czar can’t take him.” Feng Wu had complete confidence in Ming Xi.
It was a pity no one else did as well. Even Zi Cheng didn’t dare speak out loud her belief that Ming Xi would be taken over by the czar. She was protecting him now because they were both students at Xingguang Holy academy, and everyone there knew it. On top of that, Ming Xi was her senior, so she was obligated to protect him. If she didn’t do so, and the matter spread at school, her popularity would be affected, and without her popularity how would she raise her favorability?
Her image couldn’t be destroyed so she had to stand with Ming Xi. At the very least, she couldn’t make a move against him until it was clear he was taken over.
On the other hand, Caesar was acting based solely on the fact that Zi Cheng and Ming Xi were students at the same school, and that Ming Xi was her senior.
Feng Wu didn’t care about their motives; she was only interested in protecting Ming Xi. This middle-aged uncle wanted to hurt Ming Xi. How could she back down?
“You have the soft heart of a woman. When the czar completes the takeover, you won’t have a place to go crying to.” The middle-aged uncle was so angry he nearly screamed in her face. The girl refused to listen and he didn’t know what to say to get through to her. Her Senior Ming Xi wasn’t going to make it. He didn’t know where her confidence in her senior came from. After all, the other party was the czar, a person thousands of years old. Did she think the czar was just some no-name passerby?
“Senior Ming Xi will be fine!”
The middle-aged uncle was speechless at the sentence. If it weren’t for the fact that he couldn’t best Feng Wu, he would have rushed over and ended Ming Xi with a slash of his sword already.
He wanted to rush over, but there were only a few people on his side. Most chose to protect the beautiful boy who was in the process of being possessed by the czar. His small numbers wouldn’t be able to defeat their much bigger force. All he could do was stare blankly at them.
He had switched from brute strength to fighting with logic, in the hopes that Feng Wu and the rest would come around and see reason. But unfortunately, in the face of her determination, his words were absolutely useless.
Suddenly Ming Xi opened his eyes. When he did so, a gold stream, that was both beautiful and strange, flashed from his eyes.
LeChen reached out to pull Feng Wu away from Ming Xi. He couldn’t know for sure if the boy was still the same boy or if he had been overtaken by the czar. Feng Wu was a bit of a silly girl. He didn’t want to see her be killed by the czar.
Too bad Feng Wu didn’t get his intentions. She threw his hand off her sleeve and rushed into Ming Xi’s arms.
“Senior Ming Xi!” Feng Wu’s heart, which had been beating nervously, was finally at ease once Ming Xi woke up.
“I already said he’d be fine.” Rui Baby telepathically spoke to Feng Wu.
Feng Wu had no time to pay attention to the rui; she was entirely focused on Ming Xi.
“I made you worry, but I’m fine now.” Ming Xi lightly touched Feng Wu on the head while speaking gently.
“Are you really Ming Xi?” the middle-aged uncle asked while still holding a firm grip on his sword.
No one was sure either and they had stepped back by at least three meters, resulting in a big open space around Ming Xi and Feng Wu.
Ming Xi smiled helplessly at everyone. “I am the real Ming Xi. I have not been overtaken.”
“How is that possible? The czar clearly entered your spiritual sea, but you claim he did not manage to possess you? You think we’ll believe that?” The young man from earlier spoke up with a clear look of disbelief on his face.
It wasn’t just the middle-aged uncle and his group, even the people who had chosen to protect Ming Xi were hesitant to believe he had truly escaped the czar.
After all, who was the czar? Only the person who dominated the desert for over ten thousand years. How strong was that kind of person’s spiritual power? They couldn’t even imagine. Was it really possible for someone like that to fail at possessing another?The answer was an obvious no!
Therefore, Ming Xi’s statement was suspect.
Instead of believing Ming Xi had defeated the czar, everyone chose to believe he was possessed. It was possible the czar was weakened from the fight to possess Ming Xi, so he was stalling for time in order to recuperate and escape any possible fighting.
Yes! That had to be the case.
Ming Xi would have been dumbfounded had be been aware of their logic. He had almost been possessed, were it not for the fact that the czar missed a crucial point – Ming Xi had divine blood.
How could he, a person with a body protected by divine blood, be subdued by a half-demon, half-human entity?
In order to prevent the czar from noticing the abnormality in his spiritual sea, Ming Xi had pretended to run away so that the czar would be kept busy.
He hoped the power of his blood would eventually absorb the czar’s consciousness if he stalled long enough. . . and it did.
He wasn’t sure how powerful he would become once his spiritual sea completely assimilated the czar’s consciousness, but his powers would definitely be raised to new heights.
The protection of his divine blood was not something he could share with strangers. Rui Baby had shared it with Feng Wu in order to allay her worries, so she knew, but it wasn’t something Ming Xi would have voluntarily shared.
“My spiritual sea is a little special. The czar can’t possess me.”
“I’m not going to believe it just because you said it.” The young man voiced his distrust.
Zi Cheng had also been doubtful, but the system had assured her that the person standing before them now was the real Ming Xi.
The system rarely helped her voluntarily; she normally had to use points to buy things like items and information. But in this instance, it actually was very quick in helping.
416: Leaving the Kingdom of Sand
Everyone else was looking at Ming Xi suspiciously. They weren’t sure if it was really him standing in front of them or the czar trying to fool them. Fortunately the king’s spirit and his attendants appeared, and they were able to confirm Ming Xi was truly Ming Xi.
This was a relief to everyone.
“So now that the czar is dead, does that mean the curse is lifted?” LeChen thought out loud.
“The curse was placed by the czar, and now that he is dead, the curse will naturally disappear,” affirmed the king.
The king sighed sadly at the death of the czar. He had originally followed Feng Wu in order to release the spirits of the other kings; he had not expected things to end as they did, so naturally, he was sad.
Meanwhile, in the city below the moon, the shackles holding the spirits there released. Their bodies, once duplicates of one another, finally reverted back to their true forms. They cried in excitement.
“We’re changed back! We’re changed back!”
“The czar is dead at last! We’re free!”
“Finally! I had waited so long for this day!”
“What. . . ”
The spirits cried and shouted in happiness; they hadn’t felt so light and relaxed in such a long time. They could be reborn now that the curse entangling them was lifted.
The spirits bowed to Feng Wu and the others on the moon in thanks before disappearing into the world one by one. None of them had been interested in staying in the ancient desert city filled with so many painful memories.
The sea god wasn’t the one binding their souls to the tomb; it was the czar’s consciousness. He had, in fact, resolved the methods used by the sea god long ago. Thus, the spirits were free to leave once the czar’s curse was lifted.
Small Jade was among the spirit bodies. She, like the others, had regained her original appearance as well. If the middle-aged uncle and the rest were there, they would have recognized her as one of their team members, and one of the first missing from the group.
The others missing from the group were there as well.
“Let’s leave, leave and be reincarnated.” A young man next to Small Jade suggested. He was from the same group and had also returned to his original appearance.
“I don’t know what happened to them.” She muttered to herself.
Their group was the first to enter the ancient city, but they were unfortunate and died under the hands of the spirits. All they knew was, when they opened their eyes, they were already dead. They had no idea how they died.
The world they saw after dying was completely different from the one they saw while alive. They were surrounded by the same souls with the same faces.
It was a terrifying world, but the most terrifying was yet to come. Small Jade was favored by the czar, and asked to convince Ming Xi and the others to go to the red moon. He had promised to let them leave after restoring the bodies of her and her group members if she succeeded.
The czar had made them inhuman and they were on the verge of a mental breakdown. His promise was like a life raft.
Though Small Jade felt sorry for Ming Xi’s group, she still went ahead and agreed to the deal. She soon regretted it, but there was nothing she could do because spirits like her couldn’t enter the moon.
She couldn’t stop them and could only watch as they fell into the czar’s trap.
Fortunately, nothing happened to them, so she didn’t feel as guilty.
“They will be fine.” An old man sighed.
He had been mentally prepared to not make it out even before entering the tomb, he just didn’t expect his last moments to end the way they did. The only good thing was that he wouldn’t be the czar’s slave and be forever trapped in the city.
Having the opportunity to reincarnate was already pretty good.
Their eyes were complicated as the group looked up at the red moon. Eventually they turned into a ray of light and flew to the sky.
Feng Wu and the others knew nothing of this.
The palace had no owner once the czar died. The middle-aged uncle and everyone else began rummaging through the palace looking for treasures. In the end, they found some good magical tools, but all the really valuable items had already been put away by the king and his attendants.
The most valuable of which was the Blood Sacrifice technique.
Zi Cheng was very interested in it. She didn’t intend to practice it; she had planned on selling it to her system for points. The amount she could trade for the technique would have been tremendous, so of course she didn’t want to let the opportunity go.
The group searched everywhere but couldn’t find it.
Zi Cheng suspected the technique wasn’t recorded on anything physical, but was most likely memorized by the czar. Since Ming Xi defeated the czar’s consciousness, it stood to reason, Ming Xi knew it as well.
Zi Cheng was disappointed. There was no way she could get it, because even if she asked Ming Xi, he would never tell her.
Feng Wu took the opportunity, while everyone was searching for treasures, to have Xiao Chun clear away the air in the blood moon.
Xiao Chun was ecstatic. As soon as he heard there was food to be eaten, he flew out immediately. Once his purification began, the buildings on the red moon began to collapse and the ground shook like it was being torn apart.
At this point, a black transfer point appeared and people began to immediately jump in.
After Xiao Chun returned to Feng Wu’s dantian, Ming Xi grabbed Feng Wu’s hand, and together they jumped into the transfer point.
The Kingdom of Sand sealed off completely once the red moon disappeared.
Time passed by in the blink of an eye, and before long, ten days had passed since Ming Xi and the others entered the tomb.
Jier, Ink, and Leo, the three guys who
stayed behind and acted as fathers, every day, either played with Little Bun or hung out at the stern of the boat fishing.
They couldn’t leave if they wanted to. It was a boring life, and all they did was chat.
The people waiting on nearby boats were facing the same struggle.
Jier would never have expected, that in the course of waiting for Ming Xi and the others, he ended up, by default, waiting for Oleen, Milty, and Yanran as well.[notes]
Milty, uncaring of the trouble it would cause everyone, had run off with the boat Ming Xi chartered, in order to save Oleen.
417: The Three Annoying People
Milty’s luck was pretty good. She sailed the boat around looking for her fiancé and actually found him washed up on a desert island.
He’d been there for several days together with Yanran, and after all that time together, he was certain he was in love with her. She was kind-hearted and delicate.
The two of them were lucky, having found the abandoned residence of an ancient magician. They found many precious magic books and several magic items that weren’t available in the current era. Oleen gave everything to Yanran and only kept a few items that he needed for himself.
Neither of them said anything about what they had found to Milty and Milty never suspected her fiancé was hiding anything from her.
Her efforts to find him hadn’t moved Oleen in the slightest, after all, how could he be moved by a fiancée he had no affection for? The only one in his thoughts was Yanran.
Milty sensed the change in his feelings, so she her attitude became worse and she was much more aggressive towards Yanran, who she suspected had stolen the man she loved.
There was a lot of pent up animosity between them by the time they reached Jier.
“Can the two of you stop arguing! People can’t sleep!” Jier was holding Little Bun while yawning.
Since the three of them returned, all they did was quarrel. They were so loud it was annoying!
If it weren’t for the fact that they all went to the same school, Jier would have already roasted them to cinders.
“Wu. . . I’m sorry Jier. I’m sorry. . . wu, wu.” Yanran’s eyes were red from crying. She didn’t have any special feelings for Oleen so the whole situation was hard for her.
Oleen was a great guy, but it wasn’t enough for her to like him, however she was always ambiguous regarding his overtures to her. Despite this, he was still good to her. Of course, Milty was not happy and gave her a hard time whenever possible.
Yanran felt like she was suffering unjustly. She obviously hadn’t done anything wrong, so why was she being treated like this?
Yanran, who had been a pampered princess wherever she went, was unused to the hostile treatment and was unable to adapt to the situation where people were making her life difficult.
The more she thought about it, the more aggrieved she became.
“Stop crying already. Ever since the three of you got back, none of us has had a good night’s rest. Seriously, what the hell are you trying to do here?!” Ink tossed his jacket over his shoulder and left.
“Hey. . . ” Leo sighed. He felt powerless over the current noisy situation.
“Milty, what are you doing to me? Why do you keep troubling Yanran? Yanran is so kind, how can you bear to hurt her like this? You’re such a vicious woman. When we get back, I will make formal request to break our engagement immediately!”
Oleen was distressed as he looked at Yanran. He couldn’t stand his beloved being troubled by a woman like Milty. When he returned, he really would break the engagement with Milty and get together with Yanran.
Yanran was aggrieved as she stood to the side and cried.
“Break the engagement with me?! Do you think it’s that easy? This engagement was decided by both our families. It’s not something you can break just because you want to.” Milty sneered though there was a chill in her heart. She had tried her best to get Oleen more influence ever since they got engaged. His excellent standing today was a direct result of her efforts.
It could be argued that if it wasn’t for the engagement, no matter how talented he was, he would have been doomed to be pushed down. There was no way his family could have had access to her family influence to bolster their own standing as they did today.
Unexpectedly, for another woman, he would ignore all she had done for him, and then to actually say he would break their engagement.
Break the engagement? Dream on! She, Milty, was not the kind of woman who went running to man at the wave of a hat.
“You should give up, just give it up. I’m willing to give up anything for Yanran’s sake.” Oleen didn’t hesitate to speak and the look on his face was full of affection.
He was really willing to do it for Yanran!
Milty’s face paled. She never expected her fiancé to be so ruthless to her.
Jier sighed. “Everyone, return to your rooms; there’s nothing else to talk about here. If anyone dares be noisy, you better believe I will toss you off the ship.” He had had enough of their drama and just wanted to get some sleep!
Even Xiao Ye’s[notes] little head was dipping.
After giving the trio his warning, Jier carried Little Bun back to the cabin to rest. The trio didn’t make a sound after that and the rest of the guys on deck were finally able to get some rest.
Jier was in a good mood after a good night's rest. He freshened up, then took Little Bun to get some breakfast, but a terrified scream rang out before he entered the dining cabin.
Now what?! Jier was losing his patience. He grabbed a food packet then rushed to the deck to see what was going on.
Milty lay in a pool of blood on the deck while Oleen stood not too far away with a staff in his hand. It was easy to figure out what had happened since there was still magic residue floating around Oleen’s staff.
“Damn it! Are you all going to die if you don’t make a fuss?!” Ink and Leo came running out. Ink couldn’t help but send a greeting to his ancestors when he saw the scene.
Oleen’s face was pale because he knew he had made a huge blunder, but it didn’t stop him from standing by Yanran’s side, who was obviously on the brink of tears.
“If you want to come, then come at me, but don’t hurt Yanran!” Oleen shouted at Jier and Leo. He looked at them like they were two unreasonable villains dead set on hurting his poor beloved.
Jier wanted to split Oleen’s head open; did the guy have grass for brains? He handed Little Bun to Little White[notes] and asked her to take Little Bun for some breakfast. He, Ink, and Leo would stay to figure out what happened.
Oleen kept saying it had nothing to do with Yanran, and that it was entirely his fault.
They only figured out what happened after Yanran broke down in tears and explained the matter clearly.
418: The End of the God’s Tomb
The guys finally understood. What happened was this.
Yanran had got up early and wanted to make breakfast for everyone. Unexpectedly, Milty had also awoken early, and the two of them met. Naturally, they quarreled.
Yanran didn’t insult Milty back, she tried hard to explain that she harbored no romantic feelings for Oleen and that she would never get in between the two of them.
Well, Milty didn’t believe her and the quarrel became more intense.
This got Oleen’s attention and he went to take a look. The sight of Milty abusing his sweetheart made him lose his mind for a moment, and he ruthlessly used magic to attack Milty from behind. He didn’t hold back. It was only after he saw Milty laying in a pool of blood unconscious that he realized he’d created a disaster.
It didn’t bear mentioning, if Milty died because of him, her family would never let him go. Then there was the fact that students at Xingguang Holy academy weren’t allowed to hurt each other. Grave injuries would be dealt with seriously; there was even the risk of expulsion.
After he calmed down, even though he didn’t like Milty, he prayed she would live. As long as she lived, everything would be fine. He knew how much she loved him, so she would definitely forgive him and not allow anyone in her family to seek vengeance, nor would she allow the school to punish him.
Yanran never thought Oleen would hurt Milty so badly. She was one of the main characters in the disaster, so she was scared to death. She could only imagine what would become of her reputation if Milty died and news of it reached school. Oleen had done her a disservice. She did not want her reputation, something she had worked hard for, be ruined by him.
“Alright, you two, leave first. Oleen, we’ll discuss your affairs after Milty wakes up.” Jier had no sympathy for Oleen. The guy willingly attacked his fiancée, a woman who helped him tremendously, for another woman he only just met. How ungrateful.
Leo and Ink felt the same way. The three of them made Oleen and Yanran leave then they used life potions to heal Milty's injury. They were using high quality potions, so they managed to save her life.
Oleen went to see Milty in private after she finally woke up. Who knows what he said to her, but at the end of it all, Milty agreed not to pursue recourse for his attack.
Oleen was relieved to hear it. He didn’t bother with Milty again after that, and spent all his time chasing after Yanran.
For her part, Milty didn’t go after Yanran and make a fuss, instead she was unusually quiet and well-behaved. This was a relief to Oleen and Yanran, but Jier thought it was strange and a harbinger for trouble ahead.
Jier didn’t worry about it though; it wasn’t his business. As long as they didn’t quarrel with other people, he really didn’t care, although at times like this, he did miss Ming Xi.
If Ming Xi had been there, he wouldn’t have had to deal with the stupids at all. Leo and Oleen were both second years, so it wasn’t a given Leo would be able to make them listen. Jier was in an even worse position; he was only a first year!
Senior Ming Xi, Xiao Wu hurry and come back! When you do, don’t get too sour about having to watch a sadomasochistic love triangle play out in front of you. . .
Ming Xi and Xiao Wu, who were being called back by Jier, had been traveling through one king’s tomb after another.
Feng Wu was lucky and hadn’t encountered another imperial tomb as dangerous as the czar’s. In the past few days, she had sent a lot of souls to reincarnate, including all the different kings she rescued and various spirits she met along the way. That wasn’t to say the tombs were good places to be; it was just that their clear requirements were simpler.
Feng Wu’s trip was relaxing because she had Xiao Chun, the first king with all his attendants, and several new spirit additions to keep her company. Other people had it much harder. For them, it was a desperate fight for survival every time they fell into a new map.
There were either corpses to battle or layers upon layers of secret doors and traps to find and survive. Any carelessness resulted in death.
One day, Feng Wu was teleported to an island with a palace made of crystals. The island was surrounded by crystal blue water and had many intriguing plants that weren’t found in the outside world. The palace itself was also blue and had a shiny luster that was both mysterious and beautiful.
This was the sea god’s burial chambers no doubt.
Those gathered there eyed each other cautiously. They were the ones who had survived to the end.
The sea god’s artifacts and his godhead were the two most important treasures.
People with incredible aptitude could coalesce a godhead themselves, but few had that talent.
So for these guys, the only way to become a god was to get the godhead and hope to successfully integrate with it. However, it took time to do and wasn’t something that could be done in a day or two.
Many of the adventurers came specifically for the godhead of the seagod. It was a natural one and would therefore be much more powerful than one that was acquired through talent. Successful integration with the godhead meant the lucky person would become the new sea god, and their time on earth thereafter would be wonderful.
No one would have been able to survive to the end if they were weak. Everyone here was an enemy; even friends in good standing couldn’t be trusted. A godhead was simply too much of a temptation for ordinary people.
“Feng Wu! You’re still alive!” Zo brought Plum[notes] and his butler over to Feng Wu. He had a genuine smile when he saw Feng Wu. He had been worried about this friend of his who had taken cared of him. Fortunately, all the people he cared about were unhurt.
Eliza was fine. Feng Wu was fine. Both Plum and his butler were alive and well. As for Caesar, with his luck and abilities, it would have been impossible for him to have an accident, so Zo wasn't worried about his eldest brother at all.
419: A Nouveau Riche Sea God
Feng Wu looked up but didn’t expect to see Zo,[notes] who she had been separated from for quite a long time. Feng Wu was about to say something when she saw Margaret and her brother[notes] waving from a distance.
They looked in good spirits and were just hanging around. It didn’t look like they had suffered any hardships while climbing the tomb.
Ming Xi also came over. Feng Wu and Ming Xi had been separated after teleporting out of the Kingdom of Sand and hadn’t met up again in any of the later teleportations.
Finally seeing Ming Xi made Feng Wu smile. Her eyes lit up and she waved at him.
As for Zi Cheng and Ai Lin,[notes] they were both fine. The original heroine and her partner in the story had natural gold finger advantages. Though their journey had been thrilling, neither of them suffered injuries.
Eliza was also lucky. She ended up with people she knew every time she teleported, either to Caesar, Ai Lin or her own attendants.
She only ran into Zo and his butler once. There were so many imperial tombs inside the sea god’s tomb, it was natural they wouldn’t meet often.
In contrast, Zi Cheng and Caesar had the blessings of the fates and ended up in the same imperial tomb three out of five times.
Yifu and Jasmine were both lucky to survive. There were strong men in all the imperial tombs they fell into. The strong guys always rushed off ahead so the two girls managed to keep relatively safe by keeping to the back. When the tomb was solved, they would jump along with everyone else into the teleportation.
Thousands of people had poured into the tombs together, but in the end, there were only two or three hundred who made it to the final level.
So man people made it through because Feng Wu cleared away so much of the negative qi in the sea god’s tomb, otherwise only the ones who were very powerful or who had gold fingers would have made it.
It was a huge island and an equally huge palace. The blue crystals of the palace exuded a holy light and were dazzling in the sunlight.
People looked at the blue crystal palace with greedy eyes, impatient to rush in and get the treasures inside.
While thinking this, some people did rush in. Wasn’t the whole reason for enduring all the hardship they had endured recently just so they could get to this point? Now the treasure was right there. If they didn’t rush in, they’d lose out!
The inside of the palace was sumptuously decorated. A man, twice the size of an ordinary person, sat on a huge crystal throne in the center. His rugged face exuded strength and might, so much so, that despite knowing he wasn’t alive, those looking at him wanted to bow and kneel down in subservience.
He was like an aloof god and they didn’t have the qualifications to even look directly him.
His identity needed no guessing. He was clearly the sea god!
The sea god, the owner of the tomb, ordinary mortals couldn’t look directly at his face. They barely glanced at him before quickly looking away. Just that small glance gave them the illusion their innards would explode.
Feng Wu and the others were careful to avert their gaze and not look directly at him.
He wore a crown of gold filled with precious stones on his head and magic items on his body like they were accessories. His neck was loaded with more than a dozen necklaces while his wrists were weighted with bracelets, probably more than a dozen there too! His clothes were made of some unknown material that was probably impossible for the human world to get and were decorated with buttons and brooches all over. He had multiple belts. And sashes. If it weren’t for the inconvenience of having things hang from his feet, he probably would have hung some there too! The group was convinced he would have accessorized from head to toe.
Was he really the sea god? They needed reevaluate this. It had to be a joke, a trick created by the sea god. There was no way the real sea god would be so nouveau riche tacky.
No one dared believe the sea god was really a guy who would hang ornaments on himself like he was a Christmas tree after he died.
No, no, no. They were not going to be deceived. This guy was a trick for sure!
This was what most of them believed.
A few people, who were more discerning, recognized the things hanging from his body weren’t ordinary magic items. The lowest were holy legendary items while the highest were quasi-heavenly class items.
It was inconceivable. Who would have thought these extremely rare legendary and heavenly items had been squirreled away by the sea god and treated as mere accessories?
LeWuji[notes] had fire in his eyes as he looked at the items on the sea god’s body. He would try to grab as many pieces as he could.
As people were hesitating, the sea god opened his eyes. They were blue like the sea.
It was frightening and every one took a huge leap back.
Though his eyes were open, there was no life in them. He turned his attention to Ming Xi, LeWuji, and Caesar.
Their hearts quickened. Being singled out and stared at by a god, it was like the grim reaper was after them.
While they were in shock, keys flew out from them, one from each person.
The three keys radiated golden light as they flew to the sea god. They stopped in front of him and a blue gem flew out from his body. Then in full view of everyone, the gem and the keys fused together and a scepter gradually emerged.
The scepter was golden with gold vines threaded all around the outside and a huge sapphire embedded inside.
The item’s pressure pressed down on everyone once it was fully formed.
The sea god’s quasi-heavenly scepter. . .
It should have been a heavenly class item, but it was severely damaged in the war and was now only a quasi-heavenly item. Repairing it to a fully-fledged heavenly item again was possible, but it would be very slow.
Though quasi-heavenly items weren’t as precious as true heavenly items, they were still incredibly rare and were sought after by those on the continent. Only a few heavyweights even owned quasi-heavenly items.
They treated their quasi-heavenly items like family treasures, normally stored away in a secure location and only taken out to be used in a catastrophe. It was more like a family symbol that most children in the family never got a chance to see in person.
420: Human Nature
Everyone was incredibly excited because a quasi-heavenly item just appeared in front of them.
Feng Wu remained by Ming Xi’s side; she had no interest in the sea god’s array of accessories and didn’t care about any heavenly or quasi-heavenly items. She had no interest in fighting for things that she didn’t need. She had Xiao Chun, so all these other weapons were useless to her.
No one shared her opinion though.
Most of the people present were just waiting to strip the items away from the sea god.
By the end of it, he might not even have pants left.
“A bunch of idiots.” Rui Baby suddenly spoke out from Feng Wu’s hair.
Puzzled, Feng Wu reached up to touch his eggshell.
“That sea god jerk is notorious for being stingy. He’s not going to give his things away. Just wait and see. The ones who rob him are going to suffer soon.” There was a bit of gloat in Rui Baby’s voice.
The sea god was notoriously bad. If he had been a good or kind god, he wouldn’t have used human tombs to guard his own. So anyone thinking the sea god was generous was making a big mistake.
Feng Wu and Rui Baby were talking telepathically so no one heard their conversation.
Feng Wu knew how smart Rui Baby was, so she always listened to him. He hadn’t been wrong about a single thing since they entered the sea god’s tomb.
Feng Wu grabbed Ming Xi’s hand tightly and refused to let it go.
Ming Xi thought she was afraid so he lightly patted her on the head to comfort her.
Zo, the only other person uninterested in the sea god’s accessories, came for one thing and one thing only: the Heart of Water. He had to get it and keep out it Zi Cheng’s hands.
Zi Cheng’s former friends had told him where it was, so he planned on using the opportunity when everyone was distracted and fighting for the treasure to run and get the Heart of Water.
The Heart of Water was in a special place, outside the main hall, in a lotus pond.
Originally, Zi Cheng had fallen into the pond upon entering the tomb. She was waving her arms around when her hand touched something soft, round and ice-cold. She knew it was the legendary Heart of Water the moment she picked it up.
Had it not been absorbing the weak divinity occasionally emitted in the sea god’s tomb as it grew, the heart would have taken much, much longer to fully form, and it would not have had spiritual intelligence.
The Heart of Water Zi Cheng picked up initially was intelligent, but it did not possess self-awareness.
Zo didn’t know why Zi Cheng didn’t fall into the pond this time, but he wasn’t going to miss his opportunity. He had to take advantage of the chaos and get the Heart of Water. Just as he made up his mind, several people gave in to their temptations.
They lunged forward and stretched out their hands to reach for the treasures on the sea god’s body. When they did this, blue lights flew out from the sea god and they were knocked back like something had hit them hard.
Even though this sea god had been dead for thousands of years, stealing his things would not be easy.
Those knocked back yelled and cursed out in pain. The blow brought them back to their senses and they remembered the body in front of them wasn’t just some corpse, but a divine body.
Even if the body’s consciousness was gone, it was still a divine and they couldn’t afford to act recklessly.
They were so focused on the sea god and his attack that they didn’t notice a few figures disappear from the hall.
Fortunately, the sea god did not make a follow up move. He remained seated on his throne with the scepter in his hand. His eyes closed and he looked like he had fallen asleep.
After the earlier results, people were more leery of a second attempt.
Ming Xi knew the current calm would be short lived. They weren’t going to be able to resist the temptation of the treasures in front of them, so it was only a matter of time before someone rushed to try again.
Sure enough, someone rushed out five minutes later. Others followed closely. The second wave of people was even bigger than the first wave, but this time they were better prepared. They used various means to protect themselves.
Blue light flashed again, but this time the number of people it rebuffed was small. Most kept their momentum and successfully snatched items from the sea god’s body.
“Whoa! Holy item!” shouted one man.
“Teleportation magic?! Why didn’t I snatch a more valuable item!” complained someone unhappily.
“I didn’t even get anything!” The one who got nothing were even more unhappy.
The success roused everyone’s enthusiasm. One by one, they rushed forward like they would die if they didn’t try. Every person there wanted to grab something. Even the most common legendary item was still legendary!
They were going crazy grabbing things from him.
Ming Xi didn’t join in on the craze. He was royalty and had seen more treasures than he could count, so he had no interest in competing with everyone for the treasures here. Instead he took Feng Wu to a corner and stayed out of the way.
Both Ai Lin and Zi Cheng were in the wave of people running forward. Many tried snatching an item, but few succeeded. Most were knocked out before even reaching the sea god, while those who did manage to grab anything immediately became targets.
The hall was quickly stained red and the air filled with the heavy sent of iron as people attacked one another.
Human greed was on magnificent display as people zealously killed each other. The sea god didn’t have to lift a hand.
The sea god sat on his throne expressionlessly as his palace became splattered with blood. His eyes remained closed but as the smell of blood built up, his heart appeared. No one noticed the beating sound it made because they were all too preoccupied with fighting.
Only the few staying out of the melee noticed. Their expressions immediately changed and they moved even farther back as those who fought kept fighting.
“Mine! This one is mine!”
“No way! I saw it first!”
“Don’t try to snatch it from me! It’s mine!”
“Hand it over or I’ll kill you!”
Badump, badump, badump. The beats soon came faster and even those blinded by treasure noticed.
“What is that sound?” Someone timidly asked.
“It sounds like a heartbeat.”
“Yes, it is a heartbeat, and it’s coming from the sea god. . . ”
“Could the sea god still be alive?!”
The guess successfully frightened a bunch of people.
“Stop guessing crazy. The sea god died thousands of years ago. If he was still alive, why would he build this kind of tomb in the human world instead of going to the heavenly realm?”
It was a reasonable argument. At least now they knew for sure the sea god wasn’t buried alive.
“But then how does a dead person have a heartbeat?!”
The beats were getting louder and stronger and perhaps it was just in their minds, but their own heartbeats felt like it was speeding up as well.
In any case, why would a dead person have a heartbeat? Only the living had heartbeats. Once dead, the heart stopped beating and became silent.
“Yeah, that’s weird. Why is that?”
They didn’t understand and because they were frightened by the heartbeats, they didn’t dare move to grab any more items off the sea god’s body. Their eyes were uneasy as they took another step back away from the throne.
“Ah! How is this happening?”
“Make it stop! The throbbing hurts!”
People held their hands protectively to their chests as the heartbeats got louder. Quickly afterwards they collapsed to the ground in a cold sweat from the pain. The pain was so strong it felt like their hearts were exploding! It was like they could see death approaching.
Ming Xi and Feng Wu weren’t much better but they did manage to stay upright. All their hearts were beating abnormally fast. They would die if this kept up!
Ming Xi had the blood of gods, so although he wasn’t a god himself, it did shield him from the full impact of the sea god’s power. His face and lips were pale, but the pain was bearable.
Feng Wu was worse off. She had Xiao Chun, but Xiao Chun’s ability was purification, so he couldn’t do anything about the current situation. The sea god wasn’t using any kind of evil power so there was nothing Xiao Chun could attack and purify. All he could do, though it didn’t lessen her pain, was send out a pure white light to protect Feng Wu’s heart.
Unlike Ming Xi, Feng Wu didn’t have the protection of divine blood, so she experienced a lot more damage than he did. Too much more and her heart would give out.
Ming Xi looked at Feng Wu with a pained expression. He knew if he didn’t do something, she and the others would all die inside the tomb.
He used his long sword for support and pulled himself up. Just as he was about to do something, two unexpected voices sounded beside him.
The familiar voices were the two siblings: Margaret and Matheson!
Ming Xi turned to look and saw both of them had markings between their brows. Margaret had a peach while Matheson had a camelia. Their appearance was completely different as well.
The corner of Margaret’s lips was curved in a charming smile. She was now wearing a white cheongsam and her hair had turned deep red. A green staff engraved with exotic flowers and plants fell from above and into her hand. It was the Hundred Flower staff, the physical representation of the God of Spring.
Matheson’s appearance also got an upgrade. He changed from a good-looking young man to a handsome looking young man with deep-brown hair. He had on a long magic robe and the sword he previously carried was gone. In its place was an entirely gold staff completely engraved with gold vines. Each leaf had power representative of the God of Fall.
“Spring flowers and autumn moon!” A slight breeze blew into the hall and carried a peach blossom to the sea god as Margaret recited her chant.
The sea god opened his vacant eyes. It didn’t matter how awesomely he behaved just a moment ago, he was still dead. A dead person. . . how could there be emotions behind their eyes?
“Fall! Take these guys and get them out of here first!” Margaret frowned slightly as she spoke to Matheson without looking over her shoulder.
“Alright Spring. You be careful!” Matheson responded. Then with a wave of his staff everyone else in the hall disappeared.
Matheson took a small jump and was about to leave the tomb when he sensed something and changed course. He landed by a lotus pond in the garden.
Zo held the Heart of Water excitedly in his hands. He’d done it! He succeeded in getting the Heart of Water before Zi Cheng.
This time, he would make sure she would never get her hands on it. Not just the Heart of Water, but any of the other hearts as well. He would not let her people get them either.
422: Holy Envoy: Fall
The success gave Zo the confidence he could change the future. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to and that his journey back would be futile, but now he knew it was possible to make a change.
The butler and his maid, Plum, were also excited for him. They knew the heart could improve a person’s constitution. In their minds, as long as he got the heart, he would be able to improve his aptitude and he wouldn’t have to see the supercilious eye rolls of the so-called geniuses of the family.
“Huh. So the Heart of Water was actually in a place like this.” A soft voice came from behind the group.
Someone was here?! The three turned their heads sharply and saw a handsome man holding a staff as he stared at the Heart of Water in Zo’s hands. His eyes were full of surprise but were devoid of greed.
“Who are you and what do you want?!”
The butler and Plum stared at the intruder as if facing an enemy. They didn’t dare underestimate him. He had somehow appeared behind them without either of them sensing a thing.
It was strange though. Someone that strong should have been conspicuous, so why hadn’t they noticed him earlier? They couldn’t figure it out and they didn’t dare relax their guards.
“Holy Envoy of Fall!” Zo breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the newcomer.
Zo certainly didn’t know the man in front of him now, but he would know him a hundred years in the future. The man was one of four season successors and a holy envoy of Star Marshall hall: Fall.
He controlled Falling Scepter, a divine item from the upper realm. Legend had it that the Holy Envoy of Fall was an orphan who came from an ancient country in the east. He was twelve and living in a temple when the Divine Seal of Fall resonated with him. It descended to the lower realm and came to him.
Just like that, a regular orphan boy became a successor of the divine seal and one of the four holy envoys of Star Marshall hall.
At twenty-three, Fall was the oldest of the four seasons and was already operating in full capacity as an envoy.
In the previous life, he had died after turning himself into energy to mend the cracks, effectively buying humanity more time to figure out what to do about the world ending.
Had Fall not made the sacrifice, it was probable the world would have been destroyed before Zo would have had the chance to go the past.
Naturally, Zo admired Fall greatly.
“You know me?” Fall had only taken over the position two years ago, so he didn’t expect anyone to recognize him. Plus he was the only seal holder of his generation on active duty.
He’d been on several missions and resolved a few issues, but there shouldn’t have been that many people who could recognize him on sight. So, how did this young man know him?
Of course, Zo couldn’t answer the question truthfully. It was impossible for him to say he was from the future; the less people who knew, the better.
Luckily for him, the situation was urgent, and Fall didn’t have time for minor details.
“Forget it. Just leave the place with me first.” With a wave of his staff, all three instantly found themselves in a peculiar dimensional space. There were several villages and lots of camellia flowers.
Many people were under a big tree, rubbing their chests, as though their hearts were really hurt. Zo’s own heart restricted for a moment and he rushed to find Caesar, Eliza and the others in the crowd.
Outside, Jier felt two pure and holy auras pierce the sky before plunging into the sea to the sea god’s tomb. His eyes widened in surprise. “This aura. . . could this be. . . ?”
Soon after a beautiful man with brown hair broke through the surface of the water. He flew out and easily landed on Jier’s boat.
“Who are you?!”
“Who gave you permission to land here?!”
Leo and Ink were wide eyed as they looked at the newcomer nervously. This guy looked really strong. Please, please, don’t let him be here to make trouble! They cried in their hearts.
As soon as the other boats saw someone come out of the water, they all turned to stare at the water, hoping the people they were waiting for would also come out. But wait as they might, no one else came.
“How did you get here?” Jier had been speculating if the two guys would show up, but he didn’t actually expect them to really do so.
“Wait a moment.” Fall smiled and waved his staff and suddenly a large group of people appeared on Jier’s boat like a stack of falling dominos.
Jier’s boat wasn’t that big, and now there were more than two hundred extra people, so it was no wonder they were all tumbled on top of each other. Feng Wu and Ming Xi were lucky to not be on the bottom.
“Senior Ming Xi!” Leo cried out excitedly. He’d been exhausted recently because of the love triangle between Oleen, Yanran and Milty. He was so happy to see the guy in charge back!
If the occasion hadn’t been so inappropriate, the normally serious and earnest Leo would have done a lap dance.[notes] He was so happy! He was finally out of the abyss of suffering the three jerks were putting everyone in.
“Oh my god! Whoever is on top of me, better just get off already!”
“Argh! Whose butt is in my face?!”
“Get up already!”
A bunch of yells sounded out at the same time. The guys on deck had pulled Feng Wu and Ming Xi off the pile of people as soon as they appeared, so they weren’t stuck in the jumble with everyone else.
The one boat next to them immediate reached out to take their people.
Gradually, everyone was picked up by their respective parties and taken off the boat. Everyone thanked Fall for saving them. If he and another girl hadn’t saved them, they would have been out of luck and dead at the bottom of the ocean.
It wasn’t likely anyone would return to the tomb a second time.
Jier finally had a chance to talk to Fall after everyone returned to their ships.
“Come on. Why are you here?” Jier rudely poked Fall on the chest as he spoke. As one of the future envoys himself, of course Jier would know who Fall was.
Fall smiled helplessly. Jier was still as impatient as ever.
Leo and the others had a lot of questions they wanted to ask, but it was obvious Jier, Ming Xi and the mysterious person had a lot to talk about, so they left to give the three some privacy.
Yanran really wanted to stay and listen to their conversation but since everyone else left, she couldn’t be the only person to stay. She reluctantly left as well.
Ming Xi and Jier understood why the holy envoys for Spring and Fall ended up at the tomb after talking to Fall.
“It turns out the two of you were sent here to be my side because the High Priest foresaw I would be in danger.” Ming Xi never expected they were there because of him.
The High Priest of Star Marshall hall had foreseen Ming Xi’s trip was doomed, that he would end in grave trouble if no one was there to help him. Though he wouldn’t die, his vitality would be severely depleted.
The four great emperors were vital figures in the human world, so their successors were protected by Star Marshall hall. Anytime the hall knew a successor was in mortal danger, assistance would be immediately sent.
The high priest dispatched two envoys from the hall to help Ming Xi, the future king of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom, after he foresaw the danger Ming Xi would be in.
This was why the two envoys pretended to be siblings and had a “chance” encounter with Ming Xi. Scarlet was the Spring Envoy and Mojia was the Fall Envoy and both had put in a lot of effort to keep their identities secret.
They had nearly rushed in back when Ming Xi’s soul was on Death island. But the two refrained after contacting the High Priest and learning the island was not where they would be needed.
It was a good thing they waited, because Ming Xi did return alive.
Jier was not sure how he felt when he found out the two pretend siblings were his future colleagues and that they had hidden under his nose without him suspecting who they really were. He had suspected they were hall agents from the start, but he never suspected they were holy envoys.
Future colleagues! He did not feel good about it at all!
A huge water cyclone popped out after Fall finished his explanation. The water column was meters high and quite impressive looking. It remained for several seconds and caused the boat to capsize before disappearing. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
A young lady with deep-red hair and wearing a white cheongsam appeared in the sky after the cyclone faded away. She slowly descended onto Ming Xi’s boat. Such an entrance, of course people wondered who she was.
“Phew. All settled.” The red head entered the cabin with a relaxed expression. This was of course Scarlet, the Spring envoy.
“What did you do to the sea god?” Jier was still behaving quite familiarly with Margaret, despite her secret identity as Scarlet, and didn’t hesitate to ask her.
Ming Xi had explained some of what had happened inside the tomb. His story telling was much better than Feng Wu. His simple words managed to convey the tension and drama so well that Jier could picture everything in his mind. He was anxious for them, even though he knew the ending.
“Everything is fine. I sealed the tomb back up. This time, it should be locked up tight and no one should be able to find it.” Scarlet blinked indifferently while she playfully smiled as though what she did was not a big deal.
The tomb was sealed again. As expected of a holy envoy for the four seasons who succeeded to the throne. Jier knew he couldn’t have done it, seal a tomb back up.
Ming Xi was relieved to hear the news. The sea god’s tomb was too dangerous and it was better to keep it locked and lost beneath the waters.
Feng Wu was worried about her friends, the king and his attendants. He had held off on reincarnating because he wanted to save all the other kings inside the tomb, but now Feng Wu didn’t know how he was.
“Don’t worry Xiao Wu. All of them reincarnated already.” Rui Baby telepathically reassured Feng Wu.
“That’s good.” Feng Wu was relieved to know everyone was all right.
Rui Baby had let the kings and everyone around him reincarnate when they entered the last level of the tomb. They were all spirit bodies that should have reincarnated long ago, but the selfishness of the sea god forced them to remain and suffer in the world for thousands of years.
The last level wasn’t something they could help with anyway. No matter how powerful a spirit was, it had no advantages when standing before a god. Not only would the spirits be unhelpful, but they would have only gotten injured standing before divine aura. It was senseless to have them stay after considering all this, so Rui Baby had let them all reincarnate when they entered the final level.
“By the way, this. . . ” Scarlet said as she took out a staff with a sapphire embedded from her space ring.
Ming Xi and Feng Wu knew what it was with one glance. Wasn’t that the sea god’s scepter?
Though it had downgraded to a quasi-heavenly item, it was still a rare treasure. So many people would have fought over it if they knew of its existence.
Scarlet had her own divine item though, so the staff was worthless to her. She brought it out to see if Feng Wu wanted it, but before she could finish her sentence, the staff turned into a stream of light and escaped to the sky.
She shrugged as she looked at it flying away. “I wanted to give the staff to Xiao Wu to play with, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.”
“Looks like it developed spiritual consciousness. A creature like that will find its own master. It must be looking for a new owner.” Mojia explained.
Feng Wu didn’t have any particular feelings about losing the sea god’s scepter even though she knew Scarlet had wanted to give it to her.
And with that, trip to the sea god’s tomb finally came to an end.
Ming Xi was noncommittal when Jier told him about Yanran, Oleen, and Milty’s return. He would report the facts as they stood. As for what the school planned to do about it, he had no interest whatsoever.
Standing in front of the academy gates made Leo feel refreshed! There had been small disasters, big disasters, and the trio pig teammates who managed to come back alive. He must have done something in his previous life to get this kind of karmic reward.
“We’re finally back! Let’s have a big meal together!” Leo felt he had to eat more to make up for the courage damaged by the excessive worry he had.
“I’m coming with. Senior Leo won’t mind inviting us fellow junior brother and sister for a meal right?” Jier didn’t miss his chance to mooch of off his senior. Of course he made sure to include Feng Wu in on the deal.
Feng Wu: Delicious food!
Leo’s mouth twitched. This was going to be an expensive meal, but he wasn’t stingy; so though he was worried about the money, he nodded and agreed.
424: Zi Cheng’s Group of Three Returns
Only asking Jier and Feng Wu to join seemed poor manners, so he extended the invite to the rest of the group as well.
Unsurprisingly, Ming Xi, Yanran, Oleen, and Milty said they had other things to do, and refused the invitation. In contrast, Ink agreed heartily.
They said their farewells at the gate and went to their respective dorms to wash up and rest.
Feng Wu held Xiao Ye in her arms as she opened the dorm room with her key. It looked recently cleaned, probably because someone recently did some housekeeping.
Xi[notes] came down as soon as she heard the door open. Her eyes lit up when she saw Feng Wu.
Annika had also returned earlier so the three girls sat, had tea, and ate snacks.
“Xiao Wu, how come you only returned now? Class starts in two days and everyone else returned earlier. Only you and Jasmine weren’t back yet. We couldn’t contact you so we were really worried. I was afraid something had happened to you and you couldn’t return for some reason.”
Annika ate the snacks Feng Wu brought back from Bilou island happily. The snacks were delicious – sweet, crispy, and fragrant. Compliments!
“We went to a god’s tomb.” Feng Wu was like a little squirrel as she nibbled on her piece at a fever fast pace.
“God’s tomb! You mean the sea god that’s in all the gossip lately?! I heard it was dangerous and a lot of people died. Why would you want to go to such a dangerous place?! Tell us everything that happened!” It was obvious Xi was very curious about what had happened to Feng Wu and her group.
Even though Feng Wu’s storytelling was as monotone as water dripping, the girls were nonetheless spellbound.
“Did you meet Jasmine inside the tomb?” Annika drank some more fruit tea after asking her question.
Feng Wu thought for a moment. “We met once, but not again since then.” Feng Wu had gone through several king tombs, but had only run into Jasmine once in all that time.
“She’s probably OK right?” Annika was a little worried.
Though Jasmine had a bad attitude, was too competitive and arrogant, she and Annika had been close once because they were classmates. Annika was the most worried about Jasmine not returning.
“She is OK, still alive.” Feng Wu said seriously.
Annika’s mouth twitched. She was relieved, alive was good enough she supposed.
After chatting for a while longer, Xiao Wu took Little Bun out for Leo’s dinner. She held him in her arms while Little White[notes] followed along behind them.
Leo, Ink, and Jier were already there and waiting, having been there ten minutes earlier. They had already ordered from the menu. Feng Wu was a little late because of her chat with the girls.
“Xiao Wu, come, sit down. I ordered all your favorite dishes.” Jier waved her over.
Ink’s mouth twitched. What favorite? Was there even anything Feng Wu didn’t like to eat? It wasn’t like she was a picky eater.
Leo didn’t pay them any mind and had the waiter serve the food up. There was only four of them, but they somehow ordered twenty dishes. These guys were determined to stock up on their food stores.
Feng Wu’s heart did a little skip. Someone was staring at her viciously. But she quickly ignored it when she didn’t see anyone after turning around to look. Instead she sat down and focused on stuffing herself silly with the food in front of her.
In a private box where Feng Wu couldn’t see, Yifu was staring at her through a crack in the door. She had wanted to find an opportunity to kill Feng Wu while in the tomb; sadly, she never got the chance.
Her group had encountered a huge crisis while in the tomb; fortunately they were rescued by a mysterious figure. However, after rescuing them, the man remained on Feng Wu’s boat, which made Yifu very unhappy. She didn’t like the idea such a strong person could be friendly with Feng Wu.
Yifu knew a lot of elusive people but the only reason any of them gave her any consideration was because they were giving Zi Cheng face. If it wasn’t for Zi Cheng, none of them would have cared about the first daughter of the main wife of some small family.
She wasn’t jealous of Zi Cheng’s popularity but she was unwilling to lose to Feng Wu, who she looked down on.
Jasmine had survived the trip and was fortunate enough to come away with a legendary magic ring for water mages. She had gotten it herself and wasn’t a gift from Zi Cheng.
Yifu got a legendary defense necklace from Zi Cheng, which she wore happily for several days.
As for Zi Cheng, she managed to snatch the crown from the sea god’s head. It was semi-magical and it was amazing that she managed to get it from everyone else.
Most people who entered the tomb were lucky enough to leave the tomb with their lives, never mind magical items. So, the fact that all three left with something was outstanding and would have made so many people envious.
“Yifu, what are you looking at?” Jasmine casually glanced in the direction Yifu was looking at.
“A nasty person.” Yifu said in disgust.
“Yifu, don’t be like this. Feng Wu isn’t a bad person. Why do you hate her so much?” Zi Cheng said helplessly. She knew Yifu harbored strong animosity towards Feng Wu, but she didn’t understand why.
“I just can’t stand the way she pretends to be all innocent. Look at her, hanging around all those guys all day long, pretending to be all pure. It’s disgusting.” Yifu poured a glass of red wine and drank it down in one gulp.
Zi Cheng shook her head and looked at the glass in Yifu’s hand.
“Don’t drink so much. We have to go back to school later.”
“Yes, of course.” Yifu obediently put down the glass.
“We’ll just have less contact with her since you don’t like her. Don’t think of ways to plot against her. We go to the same school. If you harm her without just reason, the school could take action against you.” Zi Cheng coaxed softly.
Jasmine’s eyes darkened. “Zi Cheng is right. If you move on Feng Wu, it’ll only fall back on you. It’s not worth it.”
“But I can’t let it go. I don’t want to let her off the hook. I want her dead.” Yifu made no secret about her desire to kill Feng Wu.
Yifu was never a big-hearted person. If it weren’t for Zi Cheng’s god-defying favorability system, the friendship between the two girls would have ended as Zi Cheng became more popular. But because of the absolute control the favorability system exerted, it was impossible for Yifu to think badly of Zi Cheng.
425: Jasmine the Advisor
Zi Cheng had asked Yifu several times before why she hated Feng Wu so much. Her answer was always the same: that Feng Wu wasn’t pleasing to her eyes and therefore had to die. Zi Cheng didn’t know what to say to an answer like that.
If it weren’t for Yifu’s 100% favorability rating, Zi Cheng wouldn’t have chosen to deal with her at all. Yifu was extreme. People like her were small minded and difficult to control. If she accidentally hurt Yifu’s glass heart, she knew Yifu wouldn’t hesitate to bite her back like a poisonous snake and kill her.
Luckily for her, because of the favorability system’s effect, Yifu’s craziness wasn’t a problem.
Jasmine, on the other hand, was a problem. Zi Cheng looked at her with a neutral eye. It felt like Jasmine had discovered something about her. Jasmine's favorability rating had gone down from seventy to sixty, despite all Zi Cheng’s efforts.
While she hadn’t been as unreserved with Jasmine as she had been with Yifu, she had been good to her. So why was her favorability so low? Could Jasmine have discovered something?
Zi Cheng’s heart skipped a beat at the thought. If that was the case, then Jasmine had to go. Regardless what Jasmine may have discovered, it was abnormal for a rating to drop so much. Perhaps she should find an opportunity to make Jasmine disappear.
Jasmine, oblivious of Zi Cheng’s plan to murder her, narrowed her eyes slightly as she savored the flavor of red wine spreading across her tongue.
“I have a way for you to kill Feng Wu without being punished by the school.” Jasmine said after casually putting her glass down.
Yifu grabbed Jasmine’s hand in excitement. “You have a way?!” Her mood soared.
“My method is both easy and hard, both complicated and simple.”
“Stop the suspense already! Just say it!” Yifu was nearly on her feet.
“The school metes out punishment for student-on-student issues, but if she’s no longer a student here, then wouldn't the issue be nonexistent?”
Yifu’s eyes lit up. “You mean get her kicked out of school for breaking some kind of school rule?”
But would it be possible? It was unlikely Feng Wu would make such a big mistake.
“What’s so difficult about it? Doesn’t the school have rules about hurting fellow students? The punishment varies based on the severity of the injury. All we have to do is create an incident where she tries to kill another student. Then she’ll definitely be expelled.”
Jasmine sneered. She also hated Feng Wu, but unlike Yifu, she didn’t go around wearing her feelings all over her face. Having someone else who wanted Feng Wu dead so badly was great for Jasmine. It was like a tailor-made weapon.
She still remembered the humiliation she suffered from Jier’s illusion magic because of Feng Wu. Now, if she did it right, she would be able to return all the hurt and humiliation Feng Wu gave her.
“You’re right! This method is really good. Now, we’ll see how she dies.” Yifu was so excited.
Jasmine’s eyes softened. An enemy of an enemy was a friend, and Jasmine would be friendly towards Yifu as long as the other girl could help her with Feng Wu.
Watching the scene made Zi Cheng even more determined to kill Jasmine. The other girl was too smart, and having someone that smart have doubts about her would be problematic. She had to find a way to get rid of Jasmine without it being linked back to her.
Jasmine didn’t know her behavior just then had cemented Zi Cheng’s resolve to kill her. What would her expression be like if she knew?
After dinner, Jasmine returned to her assigned dorm, where upon entering, saw Annika and Xi[notes] sharing snacks.
“Jasmine! Why are you back?!” Annika exclaimed in disbelief.
Xi was just as confused.
Jasmine had become closer to Zi Cheng and her group after the humiliating incident she had with Jier’s illusion magic. She moved out of their dorm and usually hung around Zi Cheng and Yifu.
She wasn’t as close to Annika anymore so none of them expected to see her back. Did she have a fight with Zi Cheng?
Annika thought about what could have brought Jasmine back. She still had feelings for her, after all they were very good friends that first semester. They didn’t just share a dorm, they also shared the same classes and the same school worries. They had only drifted apart after Zi Cheng entered the picture.
“Why can't I come back? I’m a part of this dorm too.”
“Didn’t you move to Zi Cheng’s suite?” Xi was curious about Jasmine’s sudden return.
“And now I can’t come back?” Jasmine turned around and went upstairs.
Annika and Xi looked at each, unsure what to say.
“I’ll go check.” Annika was worried and wondered if her friend was having difficulties.
“Yeah, go. Remember to come back down and tell me the deets.” Xi said.
Three lines appeared on Annika’s forehead. This was no time for gossip!
Annika went upstairs and knocked on Jasmine’s door before entering. Jasmine was sitting at her desk lazily doodling in her notebook. . .
By the time Feng Wu returned to the dorm, it was evening and the sky was dark.
Xi pulled her aside as soon as she entered.
“Xiao Wu. Big news. Jasmine is back.” Xi announced mysteriously.
Feng Wu blinked in confusion. “So what?” What was so surprising about Jasmine’s return? Jasmine lived there, so wasn’t it right she returned? Xi was weird.
“Dummy! You should know, after what happened that time Jier stood up for you, you and Jier are her number one enemies! She moved to Yifu’s suite because she didn’t want to see you. And suddenly she’s back? I think she came for you. It’s definitely nothing good!” Xi’s face was full of disappointment; Feng Wu was not living up to expectations.
Came for her? What was that? Feng Wu didn’t understand what Jasmine came to the dorm for her for. She blinked her big eyes in confusion.
426: Oleen’s Death
Xi was about to say something but Annika came back down with an odd, somewhat thoughtful expression. Xi took two steps forward and took Annika’s hand.
“How’d it go? Did you ask what’s going on?”
A distracted, but clearly worried Annika replied with, “Jasmine didn’t tell me anything, but she seemed strange, like something was on her mind.”
“Don’t worry. She’s on good terms with Zi Cheng and Yifu. Even if she does have something she’s worried about, I’m sure they’ll help her.” Xi said offhandedly.
If it had anything to do with Feng Wu, then it was high odds it was something bad.
“Is that so. . . ” Annika was still worried, but she didn’t say anything else.
“Forget about her. Let’s talk about the competition coming up. For the new semester this year, everyone in the Sword division has to participate in the largescale Extreme Survival challenge. All the grades are jumbled together in the same arena, so our class is at a disadvantage. I don’t understand what the school is thinking; it’s such an unfair way to conduct it.” Xi snorted.
“All of you from the Sword division have to participate?” Annika had also heard about the competition, but participation for those in the Magic division was voluntary. It was the first she heard about mandatory participation for Sword division students.
“Yeah, second years and onward have to participate. It’s so unfair. We just passed freshman year, and we haven’t even started our sophomore year officially yet, but they’re already making us compete against the upper classes.”
“There’s another competition?” Feng Wu asked from behind Xi.
“Yeah. You don’t know because you just got back, but this time the school organized a special competition. I heard the top ten are going to be sent on a special extra dangerous mission.”
Special mission? Feng Wu couldn’t guess what the mission could be so she didn’t bother speculating about it.
The three girls sat on the sofa and talked about the competition.
“I heard the mission is very dangerous and if you want to survive, you’ll need more than just strength. You have to have luck and the ability to survive. They made the competition just to select people for the mission, but no one knows what the mission is. All we know is the benefits are extraordinary – if selected. I heard it’s the chance to join Star Marshall hall.” Annika looked wistful when she talked about Star Marshall hall.
“Why don’t you go to seminary? Those guys either become government officials or saints after they graduate. Some of the really lucky ones get to directly work at Star Marshall hall even.” Xi said.
To which Annika replied angrily. “You don’t think I’ve tried?! I went back when they were recruiting, but the teacher there said I had no divinity and that I couldn’t communicate with the gods, so he couldn’t accept me.”
Speaking of this, Annika was unwilling to concede. She had wanted to join Star Marshall hall ever since she was a little girl and had worked hard to be a saint to further that goal. But in the end, she was rejected because she lacked divinity. Though she did apply for Xingguang Holy academy and got accepted into the Magician department, she was still bitter about the entire thing.
“Are you going to participate in the Extreme Survival challenge then?”
“Of course! I have to grab this opportunity! It might be the only one I’ll ever get to join Star Marshall hall!” Annika fisted her hands in front of her stomach in determination.
Star Marshall hall? Feng Wu felt like she had a friend there. Was Star Marshall hall that amazing? Why did Annika want to go there so much?
Feng Wu, who wasn’t a native of the world, didn’t understand why people worshiped and yearned to join the hall so much.
News of the challenge spread all over school, so by the time classes resumed a few days later, all the students were looking forward to the event.
It was in this expectant atmosphere that the school issued a notice of punishment to several students: Zi Cheng, Feng Yanran, Milty, and Oleen. All four were given major demerits for disobeying their captain’s orders while traveling abroad, for acting without their captain’s explicit approval and for personally releasing a demon.
Yanran and the other two weren’t so bad. There had always been students who didn’t listen to their captain’s orders, but they generally behaved once they were reprimanded.
But what the hell was “personally releasing a demon” all about? Who would do that?! It was a miracle they didn’t get expelled.
“Say, why do you think Zi Cheng would purposefully release a demon?”
“Who would have thought? She always looked so sweet and gentle. Just goes to show, appearances can be deceiving,” said a chubby girl with freckles.
A group of boys heckled from the side.
Zi Cheng’s face was pale as she walked past the group. Ming Xi had reported her upon returning to campus.
Fortunately, because of the good relationship she had with the teachers, it was easy to convince them she didn’t know the sword was suppressing a demon when she pulled it out.
The school couldn’t prove she knew the sword was suppressing a demon general, so her punishment was just a major demerit. Had they been able to prove it, she would have been expelled immediately.
Yifu wanted to rush up and tear into the people giving her friend a hard time and talking nonsense. But Zi Cheng didn’t want a public display, so she pulled at Yifu and they quickly walked away from the area.
The hoopla over Zi Cheng releasing a general demon hadn’t faded when another unexpected event happened.
A student on campus was murdered, and both the victim and murderer were on the recent demerit list: Milty had killed Oleen.
It only took a day to create a huge stir on campus. Both Milty and Oleen were relatively well known around school. Though both were nobles, Oleen’s family was on the decline. If Milty hadn’t fallen in love with him and asked her family to help, it was unlikely Oleen’s family could have regained their influence.
Any man would have envied the kind of love Milty had for Oleen: a woman willing to do anything to help elevate her man and his family. She was a guy’s dream.
However, because Oleen had such a lukewarm attitude towards her, many of the girls felt Milty wasn’t worth it.
Milty didn’t have many friends and she alienated the few friends she had after she met Oleen because she suspected them of being interested in him.
427: All Dead
Milty’s love for Oleen burned as hot as the sun in the middle of July. No one expected their story to end the way it did.
“Oh my god! Milty really killed Oleen?! Didn’t she love him like crazy? Why would she kill him?”
“Who knows. Could it have been the deep craziness of love?”
“Did Oleen find another girlfriend behind Milty’s back so he wanted to break up with Milty? And Milty couldn’t take it so she killed Oleen?”
“Possible. It’s definitely possible with Milty’s personality.”
A few people who knew Milty and Oleen better than most came up with different scenarios for what could have happened.
“You’re all wrong! Let me tell you what really happened. . . ” A female voice spoke up mysteriously.
“You know?” The crowd was skeptical.
“Ha. Please know that my elder brother, Leo, was in the same group as Oleen. The love-hate relationship between Oleen and Milty, no one knows it better than me. Guaranteed.”
The speaker was Leo’s sister. He had chatted with her a bit after returning to school and had used the ridiculous love triangle between Oleen, Milty, and Yanran as a warning to his sister. If he knew his sister was using his words as gossip, he would have surely beat her behind.
“Oh yes. This kind of thing happens after trips. Hurry up and tell us what happened!”
What she said made sense, so the crowd hurriedly made room for her in the center.
Leo’s sister walked proudly to the center of the crowd and described in vivid detail the triangle between Oleen, Yanran, and Milty. After she finished, the crowd felt like they’d watched a movie.
Yanran went from being a goddess to a shameless third wheel who caused the death of a good man. And the other party? Who knew what would happen to Milty.
Regardless what their relationship was, Oleen was a student at the school, and students killing each other wasn’t allowed. Milty would definitely be expelled. In the meantime, she was being held in the reflection room.
The reflection room wasn’t just for self-reflection. It was dangerous and time passed differently inside – days felt like years.
A senior was once shut in the reflection room for ten years for killing another student out of jealousy. He had to reflect for ten years before being expelled from school. By the time he completed his punishment, he had been tortured to the point of madness. It was terrifying; he didn’t even look human.
Ever since then, no one wanted to enter the reflection room and they all thought of it as a dangerous place.
Because Yanran interfered and took Oleen’s love, Milty lost him, which in turn caused her to kill her scum bag fiancé. Now Milty would suffer a tremendous loss.
Though she was the third wheel that broke the relationship, Yanran wasn’t hurt at all. This was deeply dissatisfying to the student body. The number of students who hated Yanran quickly increased, with more than half the student body hating her.
It was quite a blow to the much sought-after beauty who had boys chasing her as soon as she entered school. Yanran became a detested rat and nearly died under the hateful eyes of the girls. For a moment in time, life was very hard for her.
Not more than two days after Oleen’s death, another major incident shook the school: Milty committed suicide.
The entire school was in an uproar when the news came out. No one thought Milty would kill herself.
How much did she love Oleen that she was willing to commit suicide for him?
It was a huge deal. School only just started and two students were already dead. A teacher was specially assigned to investigate.
The final investigation revealed no foul play; Milty did commit suicide.
The whole affair ended with Milty’s death. The relationship between Milty’s family and Oleen’s family was irretrievably broken and the two became sworn enemies.
“I heard Milty left a suicide note explaining her murder and suicide.” Jier and Feng Wu were in the student restaurant on the third floor enjoying a delicious meal.
“Why did she commit suicide? Oleen didn’t like her. It’s better to find someone who does. Master said you can’t force a relationship. You won’t be happy if you force two people together.” Feng Wu spoke seriously.
“Probably loved too deeply. That Milty woman was extreme. She loved so hard that she had no dignity in front of Oleen. A smart woman would never hold herself so lowly.”
Jier didn’t particularly have good feelings for Milty. A crazy woman in crazy love was nothing but a lunatic.
“Xiao Wu, don’t be like this in the future. No matter how much you love Senior Ming Xi, don’t become like Milty.” Jier took the opportunity to teach.
Feng Wu nodded. She wasn’t Milty so how could be like Milty?
The gossip about Milty and Oleen only circulated for a few days before it died out and was eclipsed by opening registrations for the Extreme Survival challenge. The only division that didn’t need to register was the Sword division. Everyone else had to sign up, and boy was there a rush of people to do so.
They were all vying for the ten spots that would allow them to enter Star Marshall hall. The hall rarely recruited people, so this was an exceptionally rare opportunity. No one with a heart was willing to give up without a fight.
The challenge was divided into an individual component and a team component. The team portion was assessed in groups of ten while the individual portion was assessed individually.
The challenge would take place in the virtual world with different courses and levels that changed with time. It would be 100% authentic and true to life.
The red-hot registration easily made everyone forget about Milty and Oleen.
As a member of the Sword division, Feng Wu didn’t need to sign up; she only needed to show up at the competition.
Jier had no interest, so he didn’t sign up.
On the other hand, Zi Cheng, Yifu, and Ai Lin all signed up.
Zi Cheng wasn’t interested in joining Star Marshall hall, but she was interested in the secret mission. She wanted to know what about it made the school spend so much time and energy just to prepare for it.
As for Ai Lin, it was a given she’d grab any chance to hinder the female protagonist. She knew the secret mission had to do with the Heart of Wood, and since she was a wood magician, it would be perfect for elevating her skills.
428: Extreme Survival Challenge
She had to get into the top ten in order to get the chance to get it.
It was a test of adaptability and survivability and wouldn’t be easy, but she had confidence in herself.
There were many who were just as determined as Ai Lin. For them, it wasn’t so much for the special mission, as it was for the opportunity to enter Star Marshall hall.
“Tian Ya,[notes] here’s your chance to show off your skills. No one can rival you in the Sword division. Eh? Eh?” Luis elbowed Tian Ya as he smiled teasingly.
Tian Ya focused on wiping his sword with a cloth and didn’t even bother looking at Luis.
“Stop making trouble. Did you sign up already? I plan on showing off.” Gerasi said eagerly.
“That goes without saying!” Luis patted his chest proudly.
Suddenly Gerasi asked, “Are you going Ming Xi?”
“Of course; we’re all going. Everyone’s registered already. Our entire team, even Elena, is going. Let’s see who can stop us from entering the top ten. Hahaha!” Luis had no doubts about their strength as a team.
Though the teams were randomly generated, those lucky enough could end up together. So aside from Ming Xi’s crew, there were several other teams as well. If lucky they wouldn’t be split up.
Finally, the long-awaited survival challenge started!
“Good morning dear classmates! The time is 8:00am and I am your seventh-year senior sister, Tamansha! I will be your host for the Extreme Survival challenge! The person next to me, I’m sure you all recognize, is the vice principal! Let’s all give him a big welcome!”
Thunderous applause broke out.
“Fuck! It’s really the vice.
“The vice principal is actually co-hosting?! Am I dreaming?”
The vice principal waved from the stage.
At the same time, the vice principal and Tamansha appeared on a green magic screen, midair in the virtual world. The image was so crisp and clear that the corners of the vice principal’s mouth could be seen even through his mustache.
A large group of people, not affiliated with the school, were spread out all around on top of the walls and gates. They weren’t students, but were there to watch the fun and were very interested in the activities.
“. . . The Extreme Survival Challenge will be divided into a team section and an individual section. Teachers from each respective division will send their students out into the arena. Please memorize the rules as soon as you enter the arena. Fouls will be grounds for immediate disqualification.” Tamansha’s playful wink made many of boys in the audience howl in delight.
In the virtual world, after passing through the light gate, the students participating found themselves in a large square, which had a variety of tools they could use for survival.
A teacher explained the rules for the team competition from the stage.
There were ten people per team, and for a team to win, every one in the team had to reach the finish line. If even a single person failed to cross the line, the entire team would be eliminated.
The team formations were random and generated by the god of the virtual world, so they were fair and unbiased. But that wasn’t to say there wouldn't be outliers; luck was a kind of strength too. So those unlucky and placed in weak teams only had themselves to blame.
Before getting into their assigned teams, each person had to pick five things out of the items in the square. They could choose to take less than five, but they weren’t allowed to take more than five.
Feng Wu picked a tent, flint, dagger, a metal pot and a water purification item. Water purification items were valuable in the outside world, and were only mass produceable in the virtual world.
While most of the other people were indecisive about what to pick, Feng Wu picked hers quickly.
Most people also chose flint, a few chose tents, and a bunch chose weapons. Because magic and qi were banned, items like magic tents and magic weapons could not be summoned.
The weapons in the square were all ordinary items that included knives, daggers, bows, axes, and even plain wooden sticks.
Some picked swords or daggers, but no one picked the wooden sticks.
After everyone made their choices, the god of the space announced the team rosters.
Feng Wu ended up in a group of several boys and girls who were strangers to her. Her team was a mix ranging from as high as fifth-year seniors and as low as second-year juniors. It was quite skewed. The seniors looked at the juniors like they were going to drag them down.
There were six boys and four girls. The boys were made up of one fifth, two fourth, and three third years. The girls were made up of a fourth, a third, and two second years, of which Feng Wu was one. The other second year was a magician.
Aside from those divisions there were three people from Music, Alchemy, and Pharmacy as well. Their combat potential was so low, would they survive combat with another team?
Ober, the only fifth year present, scratched his head. It was hard to feel confident with a group makeup like theirs.
Well no matter how unwilling they were, this was the team they had so they began introductions.
“I’m Xinda, fourth-year Sword division.”
“I’m Luo, fourth-year Alchemy division.”
“I’m Meijen. I’m a third year in the Sword division. My hobby is cooking, so you can leave the cooking to me.” Meijin said cheerfully with a smile on his face.
“I’m Kaibu, third-year Sword.
“I’m Sandy, third-year Music.” The girl named Sandy spoke shyly.
“I’m Anma, fourth-year Pharmacy.”
“Hello seniors and sisters. I’m Camille, a second-year in the Magic division.”
“I’m Feng Wu. Second-year Sword division.”
“I’m Bowen, a third-year magician.”
“I’m Ober. I’m a fifth year in the Sword division.”
429: The Challenge Starts
The introduction helped the group get to know each other’s skill and class. Next up was to share what each person picked as their items.
Since they weren’t allowed to use magic or qi, everyone chose flint and or weapons. Seven of the ten had chosen flint but Feng Wu was the only one who chose a tent.
They immediately saw her as dead weight and hated her when they saw her pot. What use was a tent and pot? Such wasted opportunity. You could just shelter in a cave or sit under a tree if you were tired. Then there was her pot. Who would pick a pot for a challenge?! Another stupid choice.
The competition banned personal storage equipment so the only storage the participants had were the ones supplied by the school.
The storage equipment had twenty slots, five of which were filled with the start up items they chose. This left fifteen slots available, but there was still food to consider, which would take up space in storage as well.
Rations for three days would be supplied to each person. Once depleted, participants were expected to forage for their own food inside the arena. There were a lot of poisonous plants, so they had to be careful what they chose. Choosing the wrong one and being unlucky could mean being poisoned to death.
When that happened, the contestants would be booted out of the field, but they wouldn’t suffer any real world damage.
Rations prepared by the school were quite adequate and included meats, breads, biscuits and steamed buns. Most chose bread and jerky and a few bags of water, of which each person was allotted three bags.
Once they ran out, they were expected to find their own water supply. Failure to find drinkable water in time would mean severe dehydration, and therefore automatic disqualification from the challenge.
Feng Wu was the only person on the team who chose the water purification tool. This contribution made the others see her in a better light.
She chose meat buns, steamed buns, and jerky. Once she filled her three days worth of food and stocked up on her water supply, she was ready to go.
Once they were done with their selections, the students were sent to their field in their respective groups.
Not only would all the members of the group have to survive and cross the finish line, each person had to find a school badge hidden throughout the arena.
The last component made the challenge even more difficult and dangerous, as the badges could be stolen from one person to another.
The participants found themselves in a large inhospitable space upon entering the arena proper. Staying overly long would be dangerous, especially if they encountered another more powerful team.
“Dear classmates, we can see the participating students are all ready. We now ask that teachers send their students to the correct challenge venue!” Tamansha’s elegant voice rang out.
The screen displayed all the students falling through a hole in the ground. It was so sudden, none of them had time to mentally prepare for the drop.
“Wow! I see our teachers are quite good at practical jokes. All our participants fell into the pit without warning!”
The students watching the challenge from inside the virtual world smiled knowingly when they heard Tamansha’s words.
“Vice principal, can you tell us a little about the environment the students will face next? I heard the challenge will test their ability to survive in extreme environments. Is this true? And if so, what’s the point?”
“As our students rise in grade and grow in strength, they will face all kinds of difficulties. There may be places they can not use magic or qi, in which case they will be just like ordinary private citizens who can not do anything.
They must think of ways to survive and escape the danger. This competition is meant to help our students hone those skills. . . ”
The vice principal talked a lot, but the students weren’t buying anything he said.
“Didn’t he say he wanted to chose people for the special mission and that’s why the challenge was designed the way it was?”
“The vice principal is talking nonsense. If the challenge was held for the reasons he says, then we would have had one every year for thousands of years. We wouldn’t just have one now.”
“The vice principal becomes more and more ludicrous every year. Why give such a noble justification for the challenge?”
“As expected, the vice principal’s ability to talk nonsense grows stronger and stronger.”
“Hey! Who threw a hidden weapon at me?!”
“My ass! Which bastard just kicked me?!”
The teachers on stage looked at the students who were searching for the culprit. Then they looked at the students sitting on the stage who were talking about how great of an idea the games were. None of the students had seen the vice principal secretly teach the students who had badmouthed him a lesson.
You guys are too careless! Don’t you know the vice principal is very powerful. He can hear what you’re saying even if he’s not paying attention to you! There’s no difference between gossiping down there and insulting him to his face!
Do you just not know how petty the vice principal is? He will happily make your lives difficult for an entire year!
Tamansha didn’t dare ask further questions after the vice principal’s lofty answer. “Yes, thank you for such a detailed answer Vice Principal. Now we must ask the teachers to switch us back to the field screen. Let us watch the each group’s performance through the screen. . .
We can see the contestants are safely on their way. . . ”
The viewing screen opened to show people screaming as they fell from the sky. They landed with a thud in a variety of different positions. Had this been in the real world, 80% of them would have been seriously injured.
They landed in a dilapidated and deserted old mountain village. The buildings were decaying and clearly rotted through. Every now and again, skinny little mice would scamper across the ground as if the new human intrusion was alarming them.
Feng Wu controlled her descent and landed without any issues. Though her strength was sealed, she still had good muscle memory and thus was able to land easily enough.
Aside from Feng Wu, fifth-year Ober and fourth-year sword user Xinda also managed to land safely.
There were groans of pain all around the village from those who didn’t land well, but they quickly faded as people adjusted themselves. They regrouped and began looking around the village.
The village was deserted and the houses were so damaged they weren’t habitable. It was doubtful there would be any food in any of them.
The group didn’t see anybody from any of the other teams around so the arena itself had to be large.
“Haha! Look at them all fall one by one! So fun!”
“Haha! Fortunately I was smart and didn’t sign up, otherwise, with my lousy physique, I would have probably fallen to my death.”
“What kind of place is that? It looks so dead. I don’t see any people, only empty, rickety, old houses. Even the plants look malnourished!”
The contestants didn’t know their performances were directly projected on screen for the audience. It wasn’t just the image, but the sound as well. Because there were so many participants, the screen only highlighted a few individuals at a time for direct observation.
“No way! Junior Ming Xi and Junior Tian Ya are on the same team?! That team is an overpowered team!” Tamansha whispered in shock.
Tian Ya just became a fifth year and Ming Xi just became a sixth year. People familiar with the school knew the higher the grade, the slower the leveling. It was difficult to break through to the next level because the exam difficulty increased so much. You had to study for three, or sometimes, four years if your strength was too low.
If you knew you couldn’t make it into the seventh-year class, you could request early release and the school would issue a graduation certificate. The certificate wasn’t the same as a diploma earned through normal graduation though.
Both Ming Xi and Tian Ya were geniuses and important figures at school. Provided there weren’t any accidents, both would surely graduate normally and not have to repeat any of their courses.
“Dang! That is one lucky team!”
“The other teams aren’t so bad off either. Some of them have seventh-year seniors leading them. I don’t care how strong Ming Xi and Tian Ya are, there’s no way they’d be stronger than a seventh-year senior.”
On the screen now were Ming Xi and his Extreme Challenge team. Ming Xi and Tian Ya were pretty lucky. Out of the hundred people in combat, they managed to get the only girl in the pharmacy division.[notes] They would be able to rely on her ability to refine medicine and assist with injuries.
The other members of Ming Xi’s crew weren’t so lucky. Take Elena. She was assigned to such a weak team that she saw red.[notes]
The challengers didn’t know this, but the screen followed their teams around because they were all mismatched in terms of strength.
Feng Wu’s team walked around the village but didn’t find anyone.
A group of starving mice ran out in front of Feng Wu looking dizzy and pitiful, so she took out a steamed bun and fed them a little bit.
“Senior Ober, look! Feng Wu is feeding the disgusting rats!” The shrill cry suddenly cut through the air.
It came from Camille, the female magician who was in the same year as Feng Wu. She pointed a finger at Feng Wu in shock. Her exaggerated expression, if you didn’t know the situation, made you think Feng Wu had done something monstrous.
“How can you feed food to the rodents?! We only have three days worth of food to eat! Don’t expect any of us to share our food with you if you run out early!” Camille said righteously.
The others nodded in agreement as they also didn’t like Feng Wu’s practice of wasting food.
“This is mine. I won’t ask to eat yours.” Feng Wu said seriously as she looked at Camille.
Translation: I’ll feed myself and even if there isn’t enough food, I won’t ask for yours. So me feeding the mice with my food is none of your business.
Camille’s eyes turned red when she understood Feng Wu’s meaning.
“You say that, so don’t regret it!” Camille turned away angrily.
The others didn’t intend to interfere. As long as she didn’t ask them to share their food with her, they didn’t care who she shared her food with.
Feng Wu wasn’t fond of animals like mice and didn’t normally interact with them, but these mice were so pitiful she couldn’t ignore them. Plus, she could ask the mice questions and learn from them. Those were the two reasons why she shared her steamed bun.
The mice ate the fragrant steamed bun happily and finally regained some strength. They thanked Feng Wu for the food because they were polite mice.
“Thank you, little beauty. We would probably die like those humans if you didn’t feed us.”
They seemed to have some kind of lingering fear when they talked about dying.
“Are all the people in this village dead?” Feng Wu asked.
“They all died long ago. There’s no one left.”
“Why did they die?” Feng Wu asked suspiciously.
“They died from the plague. All the people died. The city lord gave the order to lock all the infected people in their homes until they died. Fortunately, we were clever and hid away in time, otherwise we would all be dead of the plague too.”
431: Plague Village
And so Feng Wu learned why the village was abandoned from the mice.
What was the plague? Feng Wu had heard about it before coming to this world. Sometimes when she went down the mountain, she would catch the villagers talk about it, and whenever they did, their expressions would turn strange. She was curious and so asked her master.
He said the plague was a kind of extremely contagious disease. Anyone who caught it would most likely die if they had no effective treatment.
“Where is this place? There isn’t anyone around. Where’d everyone go?” Kaibu had circled around the area but had only found wildlife like spiders, mice and cockroaches.
“Look around and see if you can find a school badge.” Luo said as he opened a half-broken door.
“No, there’s no way it’s here. How can we find it so easily?” Anma spoke hopelessly.
Most of the others in the group felt the same way. It was impossible for level clearing items to be found at the starting point. But though they agreed, none of them wanted to give up hope.
One by one, they got up to begin searching and see if they could find anything.
“There was a plague epidemic here. We should leave.” Feng Wu knew the plague was very contagious. Even though the village looked like it had been abandoned long ago, they would be in danger if any of the bacteria still survived.
“How do you know?”
A torrent of surprise and questions came all at once. Some people couldn’t believe there had been an epidemic.
“It told me.” Feng Wu pointed to the mouse on the ground that was happily nibbling at the steamed bun in its paw.
“You can understand what animals say?” Ober asked in surprise.
Being able to communicate with animals wasn’t that fantastic an ability to have. Most adult beasts could learn to speak the human language and all holy beasts were born with the ability to speak. Therefore, the ability to understand animals was a relatively useless skill.
However, even lame abilities were useful in the right time and place, and right now all their magic and qi were sealed, so Feng Wu’s ability to talk to animals would make it much easier for them to complete the group task.
Wait, understand animal language? Wasn’t that an innate ability? Was this girl actually an innately gifted person?!
Though the people in the group were surprised Feng Wu had an innate ability, they weren’t too jealous because of how useless it was when compared to other innate abilities.
“Yes.” Feng Wu answered honestly and freely. Her master had told her being able to understand animal language was not a big deal in their current world so she didn’t have to worry about being discovered like she had before.
“Is there really a plague here?” Xinda frowned while looking around at the village.
“Yes.” Feng Wu nodded again.
“Wow! Then we need to get out of here fast. Even if it is just the virtual world, it’s still very dangerous. The plague has little effect on people who practice the arts like we do, but currently we’re just ordinary people and we can get sick easily.”
“Yes, true. Senior Ober, we should leave immediately.”
No one thought Feng Wu would lie about it, after all, what good would the lie do her?
“Feng Wu, ask them how we can get out of here.” Ober said to Feng Wu.
She asked the little mouse the question and it answered right away but. . .
The little mouse answered in a worried tone. “You want to leave here?”
“Yes.” Feng Wu said to the little mouse.
“The way out of here was sealed long ago by the lord. You’ll have to go through the big woods in the east if you want to leave, but there are a lot of monsters there. If you go in, you may not come out alive.”
The little mouse thought of all the villagers who wanted to escape through the woods. All of them probably died because none of them ever came back alive.
Feng Wu relayed everything the mouse said.
The group never expected the village to have a lord or that the lord would lock the place down.
A few people were sent out to check; obviously they weren’t going to blindly believe the words of a mouse.
The news they shared when they returned was that there was indeed a strong seal around the village. They wouldn’t be able to leave.
The only way out of the plague infested village was through the dangerous woods the mouse mentioned, so out of desperation, the group decided to go through the woods in the east.
Meanwhile, images of the teams were posted on the screen for the audience to view. The contestants fell from the sky and landed in different places, some were tangled in tree branches, others were caught in the water, while some landed in the nest of powerful beasts.
The landing point was very important. Unlucky contestants could conceivably die, being eaten by beasts, before even getting an idea of their surroundings.
Feng Wu and her group landing in a plague village wasn’t fantastic, but they did better than some of the other groups who had also landed in plague villages like they did. Her group discovered what was wrong with the village and left immediately.
“Vice Principal, I would like to ask, are there any differences between the plague villages? I saw you laugh when you heard one of the teams were going to enter the houses to inspect. Are there perhaps some kind of trap awaiting these contestants?”
Tamansha, with her acute observation, pointed to a screen and asked her question upon discovering the vice principal’s off expression.
“In fact, the plague villages are a test. As long as the contestants enter a home and remain in the village for an hour, they will immediately become infected.
This plague is exceptionally contagious. A team member will automatically infect the other team members as soon as they spend more than half an hour with each other. . . ”
432: The Woods
“Unless they find the medicine that treats this specific plague, they will become severely tired from blood loss. Eventually they will die and naturally be booted from the challenge.”
The vice principal touched his white beard as he smiled.
“No way! Untrue! That’s too much. There should at least be a sign in front of the village, otherwise how would anyone know people had been infected with the plague?!”
Many students discussed in low tones after hearing the explanation from the vice principal.
“That’s right! It’s way too hard!”
“Vice Principal, do you hear that? Some students think there should be a sign in front of the village, otherwise it would be too difficult. After all, none of the students know the affairs of the village. Is it right to put an epidemic like this in there? Isn’t this being too unfair to our contestants?”
Tamansha sat on stage with a graceful smile on her lips.
Unruffled by the question, the vice principal laughed as he spoke. “There is no injustice. Each village is seeded with information by the lord of the area. The contestants’ skill of observation and intuition for danger will be tested the moment they enter the village. If they can not find the clues left behind by the lord, then being eliminated can only show their lacking observational skills.
We made it very clear at the start of the competition that this would be a test of survival. Those who win are those who will survive to the end, but luck alone will not get them there. They must also have strong comprehension and synthetical abilities.”
“I see, thank you for the explanation Vice Principal. Let us continue to watch the games. Oh! A team is already leaving the plague village? Don’t they want to explore inside and see if they can find a badge?”
Tamansha was talking about Feng Wu and her party. They had exited the village and were entering the eastern woods.
The eastern woods were a strange place filled with oddly shaped plants and fruits never before seen.
“They’ve entered the woods! Vice Principal, are there any traps in the woods?” Tamansha asked with interest.
“Yes, the forest is a large maze and we have asked the lord to impose multiple diversions. So the students, who are now just ordinary people, will have a difficult time leaving the maze.
Their current stores will only last three days, after which, they will have to analyze which plants are edible and which are not. It will be a difficult task for them as we asked the lord to make 80% of the plants in the area poisonous. They are a mix of plants created based on the lord’s personal preference and extinct plants from ancient times. This will hinder those contestants looking for food tremendously.”
“Eighty percent poisonous plants. . . that means there is an eighty percent chance they will get poisoned to death in the woods.”
“The vice principal is too much! It’s already difficult enough that the plants are so rare. Even a pharmacist would have to reference a book, no way can they memorize an entire book on plants!
But now the contestants have to chose from ancient extinct plants which are poisonous and which are not. Some of them aren’t even real plants, just made up ones from the area lord. That’s crazy!”
The students in the audience had a heated discussion about how devious the vice principal was.
Tamansha looked at the calm vice principal, then to the poor students in the audience. She sighed, wondering if they were unaware just how petty their vice principal was.
Honestly, they needed to be more careful, otherwise the vice principal would sort them out.
Even the teachers standing on the sides cast the students pitying glances.
Little guys, you are still too young. Don’t you know not to speak ill of the vice principal in front of his face?
Feng Wu and her party were unaware what was waiting for them inside the woods. They walked inside the devious forest and quickly discovered a problem.
“These plants are so strange! I’ve never seen them before!”
“Anma, can you tell what plants these are?” Ober, the only fifth year in the group, asked.
“These. . . ” Anma walked closer to the front to take a look. Rows of colorful plants lay in front of her. The colors were vibrant and very beautiful but were all unfamiliar species she had never seen before. “These may to be extinct plants from ancient times. Be careful, don’t touch them, they’re highly poisonous.” Anma said sternly.
Poisonous?! The girls immediately stood up and backed away from the plants they were about to pluck for a closer look. Even the boys took a few steps back.
“Everyone, be careful. This place is really strange. I don’t know what most of these plants are, so don’t walk around carelessly.”
“Even you don’t know them?”
“Sister Anma, you’re a genius in the fourth-year pharmacy division! How can you not know these plants?!” Camille said with eyes wide in disbelief.
“Yeah Anma, do you really not know these?” Ober looked at the unfamiliar plants around him. He started worrying. If even Anma didn’t know what the plants were, what would happen to them when they ran out of food?
The serious problem hadn’t occurred to most of them yet; only Ober and Anma had thought of it.
Anma shook her head heavily. As the top fourth-year pharmacy student, she was confident she had completely memorized the herbal medicine encyclopedia.
There were a few plants she didn’t recognize. She suspected 80% of the plants were extinct and not recorded in any books. This would make their progress much more difficult. If they failed to find food after three days, odds were extremely high they would starve to death or consume the wrong plant and be poisoned to death.
433: Can’t Leave the Woods
Food became a big problem for Feng Wu’s party, but fortunately they still had enough rations for three days. They began searching for a way out of the woods.
At first, they didn’t think it would be difficult, but after walking in circles for five hours, they changed their minds.
Feng Wu quietly listened to the wind.
“Look, those guys are back again. The lord is indeed the most powerful. These guys don’t even know they entered the maze set up by the lord.” The mangrove tree with red fruits talked loud and proud.
“It’s impossible for these foolish humans to escape these woods,” said another big tree with purple fruits.
“The lord is powerful and domineering!”
“The lord is the best!”
“Let these foolish humans wander the forest for the rest of their lives!”
Many flowers, plants, and trees gloated nonstop about their lord. This was the first time any of them had seen any humans since their lord moved them to their new home here. They were all happy about and interested in the new arrivals.
Boss-level creatures and plants, excepting mob plants that refreshed at intervals, were self-aware. They existed with their own set laws inside the virtual world.
The excited words from the plants soundlessly entered Feng Wu’s ears. and she stared curiously at them.
While inside the sea god’s tomb, she had seen many plants, but none of them had any self-awareness; it made her happy to see so many plants with a sense of consciousness. She felt they were very cute and a sense of familiarity flooded her.
“We’re back here again!”
“Damn it! What’s going on?!”
“I think we’re trapped in a formation and if we don’t get out soon, we’re all going to die here.”
The others in the group felt the same way. There were poisonous plants everywhere, and now they were stuck in a formation. If they didn’t find a way out and resolve their food problem soon, it would turn into a crisis situation.
They were getting frustrated with being trapped for so long. They eventually found a spot to sit down and snack on their dried goods. They didn’t eat much because they were trying to conserve their supply and make it last more than just three days.
Feng Wu’s party wasn’t the only one caught in a crisis. Many of the other teams had also fallen into the same trap prepared by the school. They would be eliminated if they didn’t pay attention and stay on alert.
In fact, some unlucky ones had already been eliminated in the short period of time since the challenge started.
According to the rules of the team competition, everyone had to make it to the end. If even one person on the team were to be eliminated, the entire team failed.
Feng Wu’s team set out again after finishing their light snack. It was already noon and they had to find a way out before night fell. The woods at night would be far more dangerous than the woods during the day. They wanted to find a place to safely rest before nightfall, but an hour later and they were still no better off. Feng Wu asked the plants for directions but it was useless.
The plants were tasked with trapping the humans inside the forest, so even though Feng Wu gave them a familiar feeling, they would not go against their lord’s order.
Their lord was the master of the virtual world. If it had not gone against his direct orders, the plants would have gladly helped Feng Wu, but the two requests were in direct conflict, so although they wanted to help Feng Wu, they could not.
Feng Wu was a little frustrated at not being able to find a way out, but she wasn’t angry with the plants for their refusal to help. They were still adorable to her.
The sky got dark quickly so the group started a fire before turning in for the night.
Feng Wu took out her tent and swiftly set it up. Everything in the tent, from the pillows to the quilt, would be warm and cozy to sleep in.
There was a chill in the night air, something the group of magic and qi practitioners were unaccustomed to. No matter how cold or windy it got, they had always used magic or qi to create a barrier and shield themselves from the worst of it. But now, as ordinary people, all they could do was pull their collars a little higher and edge closer to the fire.
The other nine in the group looked in admiration at Feng Wu as she set up her tent. Earlier, when they were choosing their start up items, they felt a tent was useless. They only realized now how useful it was for maintaining stable body temperature.
Camille, a student from the Magic division, sidled over to Feng Wu and spoke coquettishly. “Feng Wu, it’s so cold. Why don’t us girls squeeze in together?” Camille had exhibited talent for magic at a young age, so she had grown up pampered by her family.
It sounded like she was making a request of Feng Wu, but really it was a foregone conclusion in her mind. Feng Wu wouldn’t dare refuse. How could Feng Wu take a whole tent to herself when there were three other girls in the group?!
It never crossed her mind all their items were individually chosen nor that there was anything wrong with her using other people’s things.
“Camille, forget it. Don’t make it difficult for Feng Wu. The tent can sleep three people at most. There are four girls; how are we going to all fit in there?” Sandy was a little envious, but she was practical and knew the tent wouldn’t fit all the girls.
Camille was indifferent to the logic. “What does that matter? Feng Wu is in the Sword division so she must be in good physical shape. Neither of my two senior sisters are, so our health is more delicate. We’re a team, so Feng Wu shouldn’t mind giving us use of her tent right?”
434: Camille’s Hostility.
She was sure Feng Wu wouldn’t refuse and risk offending three people at once. There were four girls in the team; how was she going to get by if she offended three of them?
Feng Wu looked at Camille and blinked. Then she looked at Sandy and Anma. Sandy’s face was a little red from embarrassment. Anma knitted her brows at Camille, but she didn’t say anything.
“Does your health have something to do with me?” Feng Wu didn’t understand why Camille said it. If the three of them had health problems, shouldn’t they go see a doctor? What was the use in talking to her?
“You. . . how can you be so unreasonable?! We’re a team! But you’re being so selfish!” Camille shouted red faced at Feng Wu.
Unexpectedly, Feng Wu ignored her and went inside her tent without a backward glance.
“Come out right now, do you hear?!” Camille was losing it. She was a genius that everyone loved everywhere she went. This girl dared ignore her like this? It was just as Yifu said, this girl had no upbringing! Of all the people Camille knew, Yifu was the only one who had a grudge against Feng Wu.
She and Yifu[notes]shared the same classes as students in the Magic division. Overall their relationship was good. In fact, she was Zi Cheng’s number two fan – she was a huge Zi Cheng supporter and had a 95% favorability rating. She would reach 100% soon.
In order to improve her goodwill in class, Zi Cheng had worked hard and helped her classmates as often as possible. She willing lent an ear to anyone who wanted to talk and was always the picture of patience. If her classmates had any problems, they were always welcome to find her for help.
Though a lot of people in the school criticized her for pulling out the Demon Suppression sword and releasing a demon general, her reputation and influence in her class was unaffected.
Camille had heard a lot of bad things about Feng Wu from Yifu. She never expected to have the bad luck of being on a random team with Feng Wu.
Yifu had said Feng Wu refused to ever give Zi Cheng any face, had a vicious mind, and used her innocent appearance to deceive people every chance she got.
Camille didn’t express an opinion about it but she did believe most of what Yifu said, after all there wouldn’t be such animosity without a reason.
Because of this, she was unhappy with Feng Wu and had tried to find trouble with her. It was just that she never expected Feng Wu to dare offend three girls at once. She didn’t know what to do given the situation.
She kept yelling from outside Feng Wu’s tent and her voice carried through the silent forest.
“Enough! Junior Sister Camille, if you want to yell, then do so somewhere else. Don’t cause all of us trouble.” Anma was displeased.
Ober was frowning as he looked at Camille. This girl was going to cause trouble. He was anxious because her self-righteous attitude could potentially hold the team back and bring them problems later.
Camille had no idea she was on Ober’s watch list, and after being yelled at by Anma, she didn’t dare misbehave and go on with her screaming.
Feng Wu slept soundly in the tent without giving the outside noise a thought.
Eventually the night passed and a new day dawned with birds chirping as the first rays of sunlight shone through the tree leaves. The group outside were awakened by the light hitting them in the face.
None of them had slept restfully. The night had been cold even with the fire nearby. The boys were OK, but the girls, unable to stand the cold, had huddled together to stay warm.
At the time, Camille had suggested they go to Feng Wu’s tent and sleep in there, but no one agreed. Sandy was too embarrassed to do something as brazen as to take a junior’s tent and Anma was a fourth-year genius so such a thing was distasteful to her.
The idea didn’t go anywhere and quickly turned into a one-man tent robbery monologue by Camille.
In the morning, after settling her tent away, Feng Wu energetically followed everyone on their journey.
Feng Wu was the only one in good spirits. Everyone else had slept poorly because they were cold and felt vulnerable sleeping in the open in the woods. It had been hard for them to get any rest.
As they walked, Feng Wu would climb a fruit tree here and there to pluck some fruits. She would also pluck wild herbs and vegetables from the ground to store in her dimensional storage bag.
It wasn’t that Feng Wu knew the plants were edible; she figured it out based on the plant conversations around her. From that she could tell which ones were safe to eat and which ones weren’t.
It was a curious sight and eventually Anma asked, “Junior Sister Feng Wu, aren’t you afraid these fruits are poisonous? You fearless dare to pick them so randomly.”
Anma was a fourth-year genius in the Pharmacy division. She was confident, that amongst the group, she was the most knowledgeable about the plants around them.
Watching Feng Wu pick wild plants at random, her thoughts weren’t that Feng Wu knew what she was doing, but rather that Feng Wu would accidentally get poisoned.
She was worried. It was a team challenge where one person’s death meant elimination for everyone. So if Feng Wu died, then everyone on the team would accompany her and be booted out of the challenge as well.
Ober and the others had the same thought too. They were worried Feng Wu would poison herself to death and ruin it for all of them.
“Junior Sister Feng Wu, if you are not sure if something’s edible, please don’t go randomly picking them. If they’re poisonous, all of us will be affected.”
“Yeah, please think about the rest of us.” Camille didn’t like Feng Wu, so when she saw someone chiding Feng Wu, she happily joined in, not wanting to be left out.
“Don’t eat indiscriminately. This is a team challenge. One person dying means the entire team will die. I hope you can remember this.” Ober said sternly.
Feng Wu’s eyes widened and she looked at them seriously. “I didn’t pick randomly. These are all obviously edible.”
Camille sneered. “You say it’s edible, but Senior Sister Anma is a fourth-year genius and even she doesn’t know if these plants are edible. Don’t tell me you’re even more amazing than Senior Sister Anma?!”
Feng Wu had refused to give her any face so she wasn’t going to give Feng Wu an easy time. It was best to make Feng Wu the most hated person in the group.
435: Food Issues
Camille turned and asked Anma, “Senior Sister Anma, are these fruits and plants Feng Wu picked edible?”
“I don’t know either.” Anma knew little about the plants in ancient times. Most were extinct in the modern day and few were ever recorded in any books, so she really couldn’t tell which ones were poisonous and which ones were edible. She could only answer that she didn’t know.
“See? Even Senior Sister Anma doesn’t know. You think you know which ones are edible. Stop joking,” snorted Camille.
Feng Wu’s only reply was to pull out a fruit, rub it against her clothes, open her mouth and take a big bite.
Their faces froze at the unmistakable crunch. If Feng Wu was poisoned, then all of them would be booted from the challenge. No!
But Feng Wu had already eaten the fruit. It was too late even if they wanted to stop her, so no matter how unhappy they were, there was nothing they could do. Why couldn’t she think of the group?! They blamed her wholeheartedly in their hearts.
They could only hope the fruit she ate wasn’t poisonous. When Feng Wu didn’t exhibit any signs of a negative reaction after an hour, they began to wonder if perhaps, if maybe, the fruit really was edible. . .
They could eat it! They might not starve after all!
“The fruit is really edible!” Sandy was the first to exclaim. She was worrying about what to do after their rations ran out.
It was a huge problem that pressed on all their hearts, but everything would be fine because now they had food they could eat.
Feng Wu unknowingly completed a counterattack and went from being the team deadbeat saboteur to the team’s hero.
They climbed the trees and picked the fruit Feng Wu had eaten, while outside the arena, the team’s conflict was broadcast to the audience.
“Wow! That Feng Wu girl is too awesome! She can recognize ancient plants!”
“What? Maybe she’s cheating somehow?”
“Cheat?! Where do you see she’s cheating huh?”
“But that girl named Camille sure has a bad attitude. Feng Wu never did anything to her. Why’s she targeting Feng Wu so much?”
“Che. I don’t know. But hearing the name Feng Wu, doesn’t it remind you of something?”
“Remind me of what?”
“Oh, she’s one of Senior Ming Xi’s suitors. There was that huge deal where she proposed to him in the school cafeteria. Afterwards, there were a bunch of allegations concerning her, but they were eventually debunked because there was not credibility.
Camille is in our class and she has a huge crush on Senior Ming Xi. She never liked Feng Wu’s splashy proposal. Oh yeah, and for the end of year excursion[notes] Senior Ming Xi brought Feng Wu. Camille is definitely targeting Feng Wu out of jealousy.”
“I see. But how do you know all this?”
“How do I not know? That girl’s got a serious case of Princess Syndrome. So annoying every time I look at her.”
Poor Camille, she didn’t know her whole story was being let loose in a flood of gossip by a bunch of girls who’d gotten together to talk about her.
“As you can see from the screen, this girl, Feng Wu, can identify edible plants. I did not expect that. I didn’t think the team would last long when I saw them enter the woods. Things have really turned around for them; now there’s a chance they could make it out. What their performance will be like, we will have to wait and see. . . ”
Everyone, even the onlookers outside the school, could hear Tamansha’s voice clearly. A few of Feng Wu’s friends were among the people watching the excitement.
“That woman is unbelievable! She dares trouble Xiao Wu like that. I’ll have to correct her attitude the next time I see her!” Wind[notes] said as he glared.
“Count me in! Let’s beat her up together!” Rain wholeheartedly agreed with her brother.
“I haven’t seen you in so long Xiao Wu and you’re still as foolish as ever.” Pei Qing shook his head of hair and sighed as he stared at the screen.
The three were members of the Masters team. They hadn’t seen Feng Wu or Jier in a while, so when they heard Xingguang Holy academy would be holding an extreme survival competition, they thought they would go and watch and maybe get to see them. They hadn’t expected to see Feng Wu’s game so soon.
Feng Wu didn’t know three old friends were complaining on her behalf, and that they were planning on getting justice for her.
Feng Wu’s party didn’t have to worry about food after she found the edible fruits. The group’s perception of her changed a lot. Her ability to recognize edible plants was incredibly useful. As long as they could find food, they wouldn’t have to worry about poison or starvation.
Their mood was a lot better with the pressure gone. They could finally focus on how to escape as they made their way slowly out of the woods.
They tried marking trees, but no matter where they walked, they ended back at the start. They had been walking in circles the entire time! What bad news! They needed to leave the woods as soon as possible in order to search for badges. They needed the badges to pass the team competition.
They couldn’t see any birds or insects though they could hear them. There weren't any around so Feng Wu couldn't ask the small animals for directions even if she wanted to.
They did end up finding two school badges along the way. With that, they only needed eight more to pass the challenge. They wandered around trapped for ten days but finally found the exit on the eleventh day.
They were on a straight, flat path heading away from the woods. Ahead of them was a village with many people walking about.
“Fantastic! There are people up ahead!” Camille was excited.
436: Zombies Appear
For days now, they had had nothing to eat and drink but wild edibles and purified water purified with Feng Wu’s water purification tool. Her tool and pot had been so useful.
With it they were able to make “soup” with the wild plants. It was a good thing because eating fruits all day would have given them indigestion and made them vomit.
They were looking forward to having a filling meal and a good night’s rest in bed. It would be great if they could find more badges in the village too. Although they were a bit on edge, they were joyed at the sight of the village filled with people.
As they got closer, they got a better look at the villagers.
This place. . . Feng Wu frowned. She hadn’t noticed it before because of the distance, but now that she was closer, she could see strong grievance all over the village. The grievance was filled with fear, panic, despair and other similar feelings.
She didn’t know what was going on, but this kind of powerful resentment told her the place was dangerous and not a place they should be.
After analyzing the danger presented by the village, she took several quick steps forward and blocked the group from moving forward.
“What are you doing?” Camille stared at Feng Wu suddenly blocking their way. She wanted to get to the village as fast as possible. She didn’t have time to waste on Feng Wu.
“The village is very dangerous! You can’t go in.”
“Ha, so what if you say there’s danger? You can’t stop me from going in!” Camille waved Feng Wu’s hand away and strode forward.
“What’s the matter?” Ober was a sensible captain. After spending so many days with Feng Wu, he knew she wasn’t the type to talk nonsense. If she said there was danger ahead, then the probability was high that there was some as yet undiscovered danger in the village.
“There is strong grievance in the village ahead. Though I don’t know what’s going on, I know it is dangerous.” Feng Wu replied seriously.
“Grievance?” Ober hadn’t expected her to say this was the danger that had her worried. Could she really see grievance? Wasn’t it the kind of thing invisible to everyone but necromancers? How could Feng Wu see it?
If she had the talent to be a necromancer, why was in the Sword division? It was much better to become a famous magician than a famous swordmaster.
“Ah! Monsters!” The scream came from Camille.
Ober was about to ask a few more questions but the scream interrupted him.
No one had noticed Camille running to the village while Ober was talking to Feng Wu. She screamed miserably within a minute of entering.
Before their brains could register the situation, their bodies had instinctively moved on their own and they rushed toward the village.
The group believed Feng Wu about the village being dangerous, but Camille was trapped inside and they had to rescue her.
It was all because of the awful rules! They wouldn’t be able to move forward in the challenge if they didn’t save her.
Once they got to the village, they realized what they thought were villagers were in fact terrifying monsters!
The monsters looked humanoid but they were not humans! Their movements were stiff, their skin dry and flat without any luster, their eyes were red, and they had prominent fangs in their mouths.
Had either Zi Cheng or Ai Lin been there they would have screamed “Zombies!” in their hearts.
Yes these monsters were zombies. In the beginning, Longzie[notes] had designed the zombies to be like those found in popular modern 21st century apocalyptic literature. They were to act as dungeon monsters in the virtual world.
The contestants didn’t know it, but zombies would be the central theme of the field they were in.
“What are those?!” Anma cried out.
“It doesn’t matter. We need to get Camille out first.” Ober drew out his long sword as he spoke. He went after and slashed at the zombie chasing Camille, but he encountered an unexpected obstacle.
He had been confident he could cut down the zombie with this sword, but he had not expected its skin to be as hard as stone. All he managed to do was get the zombie to chase after him.
Ober had to rely on his physical strength and muscle memory to fight because his internal strength was sealed. Without qi, his combat abilities were reduced by an entire level. It took him a long time to rescue Camille, but he finally did. She was lucky to survive with just a scratch.
Ober got the group out of the village before the other zombies could converge on them.
They retreated several meters away from the village and were relieved the zombies didn't give chase. .
They ran a bit farther to the nearby river that was as black as ink.
“Well, let’s rest here. It doesn’t seem like they can leave the village!” Anma looked back.
“What were those things? You can’t kill them with a sword; their skin is as tough as stone!” Luo was relieved to escape, but he was really puzzled by the monsters.
“Yeah, they were way too scary.” Meijian was also relieved.
“Never mind that. Come here and look at Camille. I think something’s not right with her!” Sandy’s voice came out sounding really anxious.
“What’s the matter?” Anma was the only one in the Pharmacy division so she immediately stepped over and asked Sandy what was wrong.
“Senior Anma, look! Camille looks sick. She’s got a fever but we don’t have any medicine. What do we do?!” Sandy was really worried.
“So what if she has a fever? It was her fault for running off to the village. We wouldn’t have had to go in there if it weren’t for her.” Kaibu didn’t have anything nice to say about Camille, and was in fact rather angry and red in the face. It was her fault the team nearly got kicked out of the competition.
437: Failure and Conclusion
“Deadweight.” Bowen didn’t even bother looking at Camille.
None of the boys looked kindly upon her. Camille had nearly killed the team because of her rash behavior.
There were four girls on the team. Anma was a pharmacist, so her role was clear-cut. Sandy didn’t have any special skills but she was sensible.
Amongst the girls, even though she was only a second year, Feng Wu was the most useful. She could understand animals and could distinguish between poisonous and nonpoisonous plants and because she was in the Sword division, had combat abilities. Plus, she was well-behaved and didn’t cause trouble.
Camille, despite having no abilities, made trouble every day and constantly tried to isolate Feng Wu from the group. Moron was the best word to describe her.
It was like she was a professional dead weight.
Anma didn’t like Camille either, but as a pharmacy student, she couldn’t ignore a person in distress, so she walked over to inspect the deep scratch on Camille’s body.
Anma’s heart froze at the sight. Camille’s scratch had turned black. This was not good.
“She’s been poisoned!” Anma cried out.
“Poisoned?!” The exclamation came from multiple people in the group.
It wasn’t that they cared about Camille; it was just that the rules of the challenge meant if one person died, then the whole group lost. It was no joke.
“Is there a way to detoxify the wound?” Ober frowned.
“I can give it a try, but I don’t have much hope. The toxin is so strange and I don’t have my tools with me, so I can’t analyze the components of the poison.” Anma didn’t have high hopes for detoxification.
There were many of types detoxification compounds available in the outside world, but in the virtual world, they had to formulate their own. To complicate matters, their current location was full of mutated plants.
Anma couldn’t tell if any of them had medicinal properties. And even if they did, there was still the question of how strong the properties were. Refining medicinal herbs into a compound wasn’t just a matter of putting herbs to fire; knowing the medicinal properties of each herb and how potent said properties were was also very important.
Only by knowing these things could refinement be successful.
The place they were at was filled with mutated plants. Anma couldn’t tell what their components were so there was no way for her to successfully refine a detoxification compound out of them for Camille.
Though Anma couldn’t create a compound, she could still make a tincture. She walked around and collected several herbs then borrowed Feng Wu’s big iron pot to brew it.
The luminosity in Feng Wu’s eyes returned after she blinked a few times. The others in the group were ashen and glaring at Camille as though they wanted to kill her.
Camille smiled bitterly while avoiding everyone’s eyes. They looked like they wanted to tear her apart. But they couldn’t really fault her for failing the challenge. She was an innocent party too! It wasn’t like she wanted to be scratched by the monsters in the village.
Five minutes earlier. . .
“It looks like Ober and his team are facing a crisis. Camille is showing signs of being poisoned from the attack from the unknown creature. Fortunately fourth-year genius Anma is on their team! The poison shouldn’t be a big problem for them. . . ?” Tamansha’s voice came out through the speakers.
Presently. . .
The screen showed Anma boiling a tincture after the team rescued Camille.
Camille was frowning as though she was in pain.
“You are incorrect. The challenge ended the moment one of their team members became injured.” The vice principal said.
“Is there some kind of secret? I believe viewers would like to know what kind of difficulties the school has set up to test the contestants in this village.”
“Yes, the monsters in the village were originally villagers who lived there. The background story for this field is that of a kingdom destroyed by some unknown virus.
The virus, much like the plague, is extremely dangerous. Anyone infected will become a brainless walking dead controlled by the virus.
Let’s call these people zombies. Their consciousness disappears and only the desire for human flesh and blood remains.
Zombies carry a high virus load. Anyone scratched by one will immediately become infected and will gradually become a zombie themselves. The antidote for the zombie virus does not exist in this world, so when Camille was scratched, the team’s exit was a foregone conclusion.”
The audience understood the insidious trap awaiting the contestants in the village once the vice principal explained it.
Those not participating were truly glad in their hearts, otherwise if they had participated, they would have been scratched by those monsters and died a disgusting death.
Sure enough, not long after the vice principal finished speaking, a clear scream sounded from the screen. Sandy, who had been taking care of Camille, had been bitten! Camille had turned into a zombie, and craving human flesh, had bitten Sandy! Sandy only had time to scream before the system declared her dead.
A voice sounded above Ober’s team. “Two members of your team are dead. You’ve lost the challenge.”
Ober and the rest of the team were sent out of the arena immediately.
They lost! They actually lost!
No one in the team could believe it, but in the blink of an eye, their challenge was over. They had wanted to get the slots for Star Marshall hall, however losing the challenge meant their chances were gone. It was a huge blow to Ober and the others.
Camille exited the virtual world as fast she could, not daring to meet anyone’s gaze. The group could not reconcile with the results, but it wasn’t like they could hunt her down at school. The best they could do was to engrave her name in their hearts.
Sandy was especially bitter and hated Camille the most. Being bitten to death, it was a feeling she would hold onto for a long time. She was never going to forgive Camille for giving her such a terrible and terrifying memory.
438: Bloodlines Repulsed
The others in the group left the virtual world in low spirits soon after as well. Fortunately, the individual challenge had not started yet, so they still had a chance.
Even though they failed the team challenge, they could still be picked for the special mission if they performed well in the individual challenge. Then from there, they could try be recruited to the hall and be a member.
It was just that faring poorly in the team portion meant their odds were that much lower. If everyone started with a 50% chance of being selected, then with the team loss, those odds dropped to 20%.
There team results were poor, and although the individual challenge ranked higher, it was still going to be difficult to get chosen for the special mission.
Unlike the rest of the group, Feng Wu wasn’t feeling down about it. Wasn’t a failure just a failure? She had no interest in entering Star Marshall hall and didn’t care about the team challenge at all.
But now that she thought about it, what was her master doing? She hadn’t seen him in a while. She went to look for her master.
At a hotel room in Zhongyang. . .
A slightly overweight man and a beautiful woman sat opposite each other.
“You failed.” The woman’s eyes were cold.
“There was a situation and I underestimated the danger level in the sea god’s tomb.” He replied with an expressionless face.
“Why did you auction the key I gave you?” She asked coldly.
“It was safer to mix with the crowd than to stand out.” Hart,[notes] who was the slightly overweight man, responded.
“Your mission to was to obtain the Heart of Water, but you failed. His Royal Highness is deeply dissatisfied with you. I hope you don’t make any more mistakes.”
“You spent a lot of effort to get me into the tomb, but instead of vying for the artifacts, you wanted me to get the Heart of Water. Since when did your kind need any of the elements to develop?”
“There is no need for you to worry about that. We have received word the humans have found where the heart of wood is located and that they will likely send someone to retrieve it soon. You must find a way to seize it and atone for your failures.”
“I understand.” Hart nodded.
Partnering with the blood clan wasn’t a once and done thing. From the day he decided to cooperate with them, Hart knew it would be impossible for him to ever sever ties.
Feng Yanran was in an exquisite villa in Xingguang Holy academy’s courtyard watering some tiny flowers. The already blooming flowers gave off a wonderful fragrance that was quite relaxing.
“Yanran, why don’t you participate in the extreme survival challenge? You can’t just stay home all day!” Feng TianXing carried a plate of refreshments to the round table in the garden to sit down.
“Mom, my classmates have changed since Milty and Oleen’s death. It wasn’t as though I made Oleen like me. It’s clear I did nothing wrong! Why are they treating me so badly?!”
Feng Yanran felt the gossip at school was unfair. She didn’t dare go back to her dorm and had taken to staying at her mom’s house when not in class. She really hadn’t done anything. Was it her fault Oleen liked her?
It wasn’t as though she could stop someone from liking her, so why were people trying to blame her for their deaths? Clearly it was all Milty’s doing. The problem was between Oleen and Milty.
Oleen and Milty’s families had even appeared at school and asked for her to be expelled. The school didn’t agree with the request but the matter still boiled over. Most of the boys stopped chasing after her, while those students she had a good relationship with began avoiding her.
It was a change Yanran, who had been popular since entering school, found hard to accept.
“Silly girl, you don’t have to pay attention to them. What do they know? Mom knows it wasn’t Yanran’s fault and Mom has already explained everything to the school. There is no evidence you had a relationship with Oleen. So rest easy. No matter what those other students think, as long as you don’t violate any school rules, you will be fine.”
Feng TianXing coaxed her daughter as she pulled her to her side.
“I’m not worried about being punished, I just don’t want them to look at me like that.” Yanran gave a long drawn out sigh.
“Darling child, you’ve been wronged. Rest assured, soon they will regret treating you this way.”
“I. . . ”Yanran was about to say something when a weak spell suddenly hit her. Her entire body ached and the blood on her face drained away. The pain was so powerful she felt like she was in hell.
“Yanran!” Feng TianXing hurriedly pulled her daughter to her and walked her back to her room. She gave Yanran a cup filled with bright red liquid.
Yanran’s color returned after drinking it.
“Mom, it hurts so much! When will my body get better? I don’t want this anymore!” Yanran cried out sadly.
She had been tortured since she was a child because she was of mixed blood. The human and nonhuman blood were similar, but weren’t of the same race. Combining them together resulted in a cursed blood.
The clash between the two bloodlines made her miserable because it created a phenomenon called mutual blood rejection, which made her weak and suffer unbearably. She would have surrendered to the pain and died long ago if it weren’t for the fact that she didn’t want to worry her parents.
Feng TianXing moved the cup away once Yanran finished drinking. The cup had been filled with the blood of virgins.
Since she’d been little, Yanran had drunk virgin blood in order ease the pain caused by the conflict between her two bloodlines.
The pain grew more intense as she got older. To deal with it, she had to drink more concentrated blood.
TianXing kept several virgins below the grounds of her home specifically to provide Yanran with blood. They were all rural women with ordinary backgrounds that no one would miss, so even if they went missing, they wouldn’t attract attention.
439: A Better Goal
She raised the women underground specifically to alleviate Yanran’s pain. She fed their blood to Yanran each time Yanran suffered from an attack, so no one knew Yanran was different, only that she was physically weak.
Feng TianXing was a smart woman, otherwise she would not have been able to keep her relationship with Yanran’s father a secret from the ancient eastern countries for so long.
“Silly girl, just be patient. Our Feng family has the strongest bloodline when it comes to sword masters. As long as you drink the Feng family blood, you will be fine.” TianXing’s eyes were full of love as she stroked her daughter’s hair.
“Mom, do you want me to drink Grandfather’s blood? That’s not good, Grandfather treats me so well. I can’t do it!” Yanran was alarmed and instinctively recoiled from the thought of taking her grandfather’s[notes] blood. Her grandfather had been better to her than anyone else. She did not want to take his blood.
“This child. Your grandfather would hurt the most if something happened to you or me. If your grandfather knew that sacrificing himself would save either of us, he would most assuredly be happy to do so.
TianXing didn’t doubt her father’s love for her. It was completely different from how he felt about her older sister, Jiao. She was reassured every time she saw his indifference towards her older sister.
Her mother had been extremely cold towards her because of a divination, so cold in fact, that her mother even tried to kill her.
She would never forget that night. If her father and the others had not rushed home, she was certain she would have died under the hands of the woman she called her mother and her older sister, whom her mother cherished and pampered.
Fortunately her father didn’t believe the divination and loved her even more in spite of it. Jiao, on the other hand, earned their father’s disgust for trying to kill her. Their identities reversed after their mother died. She became the beautiful girl loved by everyone, while Jiao became known as an ignorant, willful, and cruel woman, even to her own sister.
She thought Jiao would crumble and cry from the pressure of everyone’s disgust, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Jiao didn’t have a reaction at all. She neither cried nor made a fuss, not even when their father openly favored her more. It was like the only thing that mattered to Jiao was their mother.
She thought Jiao would understand from everyone’s attitude, that she was the favored, beloved daughter of Feng house. She never expected Jiao to persist in trying to kill her, nearly succeeding several times.
She had to flee to Blood Moon forest just to escape Jiao, otherwise if she had stayed, she was afraid Jiao would have ruined her. It was in Blood Moon forest that she met Yanran’s father, the only man she had ever loved.
Her father had ignored Jiao for her sake, so wasn’t it only obvious he should sacrifice his life for his favorite granddaughter?
Fortunately Feng Wuliu[notes] didn’t know about his daughter’s determination to have Yanran drink his blood and eat his flesh.
“No! I can’t have Grandfather sacrifice himself for me! Grandfather is an elder; it would be unfilial of me!” Yanran shook her head in rejection of her mother’s proposal.
“You must. If you don’t absorb all of your grandfather’s bloodline powers, you will die.” TianXing looked seriously at her daughter as she spoke.
“No, I won’t die because I have a better target.” Yanran smiled mysteriously.
“Don’t tell me you mean Feng Wu or her bastard?” TianXing asked suspiciously.
Don’t be fooled by TianXing’s outward display of affection for Feng Ye. In reality, she was quite disgusted Feng Wu was unmarried and had a child with someone unknown.
Yanran was her daughter and the daughter of the man she loved the most, while Feng Wu’s bastard was certainly not a child born of love but a child born of some sordid affair. How could she, a proud woman, care for a child born from an affair?
“My target is Feng Ye.” Yanran said.
“Feng Wu’s son?!” TianXing didn’t expect Yanran’s goal to not be Feng Wu, but Feng Wu’s child. “Feng Ye’s blood is not pure enough. Drinking his blood won’t do you any good.” TianXing said worriedly.
“No, Feng Ye’s blood is very good. I’ve never met a child with so much spiritual power or such massive qi before. His is incredible. I’ve never seen one so strong. I’ll get better if I drink his blood and consume all the energy within it. I know it. I’ll be even stronger than you or father could ever imagine.”
Yanran didn’t know if it was an ability she had because she was a mixed child of the human race and blood race, but she could see into Feng Ye’s body and glimpse the formidable power it held. She instinctively knew it would be beneficial for her if she absorbed his life.
Because of this, she was always enthusiastic every time she saw him. She really wanted to get close to him. That way she could suck up his life without being noticed.
“Is this true?” TianXing could not imagine Feng Ye would be so useful. She had been thinking of whose blood to get for her daughter ever since she returned to the family estate. Her father, her brother, and her nephew where all good candidates. She had even considered Feng Wu and Feng Ting.[notes] But Feng Ting was concubine born. There was no way she was going to let her baby absorb the blood and flesh of such a person.
As for Feng Wu, though everyone said she had no talent and was a waste, TianXing knew better. Feng Wu’s talent was in fact no worse than Feng JunTian[notes] It was just that TianXing had already categorized Feng Wu as food for Yanran.
In order to stop Feng Wu’s powers from getting stronger and before Feng Wu could be tested, she had fed Feng Wu a potion that destroyed Feng Wu’s cultivation. From then on, a super genius dual-cultivator of magic and martial arts became crippled in both.
No one in the family suspected anything and fully believed Feng Wu was born a talentless waste in the arts.
Though Feng Wu’s talent was destroyed, her bloodline wasn’t. So Yanran would be able to reshape her body and become a blood emperor if she could absorb Feng Wu’s blood and flesh.
In the original storyline, Feng Wu would have died during labor. Without her, Tianxing and Yanran shifted their target to Grandfather Feng, but just to be on the safe side, Yanran ingested the flesh and blood of her uncle as well.
JunTian was the only surviving member of the Feng house. Yanran signed a peace treaty with the human race on behalf of the blood race, so in the end, Jun Tian couldn’t even pursue her for revenge. He had to live with that pain for the rest of his life.
440: The Black Sheep
In this storyline, because of Feng Wu’s arrival, Feng Ye was born. The child that should not have been born, was born, and was born with an incredible power. It was a power that would only continue to grow stronger with time.
Because of how special Feng Ye was, he replaced Feng Wuliu and Feng TianHang[notes] and became the target for Yanran and her mother.
Feng Wu didn’t know this. She was headed to her master’s residence in the virtual world.
Out of nostalgia, he had built a special place that resembled Yuehua mountain from his old world. It wasn’t just the mountain either, he even included the little village that used to be at the foot of the mountain and all the little animals Feng Wu played with.
After playing with the little rabbits for a while, Feng Wu happily ran to the little bamboo house her master lived.
Feng Wu easily found her master in his study because the furnishings were exactly the same as when they had been on Yuehua mountain.
“Master!” Feng Wu’s eyes lit up at the sight of her master, who she hadn’t seen in a while. She rushed into his arms.
“You, girl, it took you so long to come visit your master? What did you get from the trip?” White put the book in his hand down and fondly patted the top of his disciple’s little head.
Feng Wu told him everything from going to sea and leaving the sea god’s tomb. White listened quietly without interrupting.
After Feng Wu finished he said, “Stay away from that Zi Cheng in the future. That girl’s thoughts are too heavy. She is not suitable to be your friend.”
“OK.” Feng Wu agreed without thinking. She and Zi Cheng weren’t friends anyway; they were just classmates.
White nodded in satisfaction. Sure enough his precious little disciple was the cutest. “This extreme survival challenge for the special mission, you can try hard for it. I’m afraid they may have a very difficult time completing the mission if you are not there with them.” White continued.
“OK, I will work hard.” Feng Wu’s serious voice came from White’s chest.
“What a good child.” White generously praised his precious little disciple.
She was praised by master! Feng Wu’s eyes curved in happiness.
Feng Wu told him about all the things she picked up along the way, some of which were actually useful in rebuilding her master’s body.[notes] More praise! Her mood soared. She made a firm resolution to get all the things her master needed so she would get even more praise!
That evening back at the dorms, Feng Wu’s suite was empty. She went to see Feng Ye. Little White[notes] had been taking very good care of him. Rui Baby was also quite fond of Little Bun and had been by his side constantly since the first day they met. He had not clung to Feng Wu in awhile.
Little Bun really liked Rui Baby. One human baby and one beast baby played together all day everyday.
Little White made a delicious meal with rice which Feng Wu ate happily. Feng Wu returned to the virtual world after finishing her meal.
The team competition was still ongoing. More than half the students had been eliminated and only about a dozen teams were still in the competition.
Tamansha sat next to the vice principal on the stage. “As you can see, one month has passed inside the arena and 80% of the teams have been eliminated for one thing or another. Only eleven have survived thus far.
Each of the eleven teams have strong combat strength. In the end, which team will win? Let’s ask for the vice principal’s opinion.” Tamansha turned to look at the vice principal.
The vice principal coughed lightly before replying. “All eleven teams are very strong. Each has strong members of comparable strength. Who will be the victor? It’s hard to say.” He touched his long, white beard and smiled.
Who wants to hear you say that? Tamansha slowly pressed a finger to the vein pulsing on her forehead.
“OK, we are in the arena and it is currently nighttime here. Let’s use this time to interview our classmates and get their opinions. . .
Hello everyone. I’m your Senior Sister Olivia and I will be conducting these interviews.” A blonde beauty with golden eyes came over holding a microphone type device. Behind her was another senior carrying a bulky magical tool. Despite carrying such a heavy tool, it was clear he would still be able to move nimbly and quickly. Anyone could see he was from the Sword division.
The audience wasn’t sure what the device was for until they saw an image display on the light screen. The screen was divided in half, with one part showing the challenge participants sleeping, while the other half turned into an interview screen.
“Hello classmate. Are you a contestant in this competition?” Olivia stopped a male sword user and raised the microphone to his face. She smiled as she asked the question.
“Me? Yes. I participated in the team competition.” The guy stared blankly for a moment before answering.
“May I ask how you lost the competition?” Olivia asked again.
Hearing the question made the guy really angry and his expression changed.
“Isn’t the reason we lost the team competition because we had a useless magician? This woman was nothing but a pretty face. We didn’t expect her to charge into battle, but she didn’t do anything all day. She has no abilities, but somehow still manages to bait monsters into attacking her.
I don’t know if she killed a whole family of monsters in a previous life or what, but the monsters, when they see her, they chase and won’t stop! Our team was dragged down by this rotten woman. Let me see her again and I swear to god I’ll beat her so hard her mom won’t recognize her.”
The guy scolded the woman for ten minutes straight. Olivia didn’t dare ask any other questions. She hurriedly ended the interview and ran away with the senior and the magic device.
She interviewed several other people who lost the team challenge. Every one of them scolded the black sheep of the group with a vengeance.
It was hard finding a contestant that didn’t scold a black sheep in their group. The only person who didn’t do any scolding had a weird change in expression before promptly running away. Olivia didn’t understand why until someone reminded her the guy she interviewed was a black sheep himself. No wonder he was running so fast!
441: Bye Bye Masters Team Members
Olivia’s interviews didn’t go well. Every person she interviewed had a list of complaints they wanted to get off their chest. She wasn’t there to hear their complaints though.
Feng Wu stood in the square watching the broadcast screen.
The eleven teams had not met each other yet because they were all in different locations. Most of the teams had been eliminated because they were unfamiliar with zombies.
All of the eleven teams that survived, survived because they were strong and cautious.
Of course, the challenge had more than one level of difficulty. The zombies went up a level to level 2 and knocked out those teams that miscalculated the zombies’ attack powers.
Three teams were eliminated. It wasn’t easy to survive to that point so it was a pity they were eliminated at the last minute.
The ousted teams had nearly collected all ten badges. Given a little more time, they would have gathered all ten and completed the challenge. But a competition was a competition and a failure was a failure. There were no if’s and’s or but’s.
Ming Xi noticed the longer they stayed in the arena, the more difficult it was to move forward. Other people in other teams had also noted the same phenomenon. Such changes made it difficult to win the challenge.
Ming Xi’s team had already found eight badges. They only needed two more, but the last two were the hardest to find. The most difficult part of the challenge was still to come.
Feng Wu left school and went out to the streets to find something to eat. Outside, many people were watching the broadcast screen, which was showing the teams as they went through the level. The challenge was taking place in the virtual world, so as long as the bystanders weren’t interrupting anything, they were welcome to watch from outside the school.
Feng Wu bought a cup of sour pickled plum when she unexpectedly ran into three friends.
“Xiao Wu!” Rain waved her hands excitedly. She rushed over and sat down next to Feng Wu.
Wind and Pei Qing followed behind her with big smiles on their faces as well.
Rain slammed her hand on the table and bellowed out loud. “Boss, three cups of pickled plum drinks please!”
“Coming, coming.” The Boss looked over and got up to serve them the drink.
“Che, thought you were going to order something good when you called over like that. Turned out it was for a cheap drink like pickled plum.” The other guests nearby muttered.
It was a small shop that sold all kinds of drinks. Pickled plum was the cheapest. A cup cost two coppers because the plums themselves were so inexpensive. It was impossible to mark to price up high.
The judgmental eyes of the other guests didn’t phase the group at all. The three guys were so excited to see Feng Wu again that all the guest chatter just went in one ear and out the other.
“Rain, Wind, Big Brother Pei Qing!” Feng Wu was surprised to see three friends she hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Xiao Wu, we haven’t seen you in so long. Where have you been? We couldn’t find you or Captain Jier.” Rain whispered.
“Yeah, we couldn’t find you guys.” Wind took a big gulp of sour plum.
“We went to see your competition. It was looking good. If it weren’t for a certain somebody messing you up, you would have definitely succeeded Xiao Wu.” Pei Qing felt bad for Feng Wu. If it had been an individual challenge, she would have definitely performed better. A pity it was a team challenge, and so unfavorably too.
Feng Wu answered Rain’s question and told them all about her trip at sea.
Pei Qing and the others never dreamed she would have had so many experiences. All her encounters sounded extremely dangerous, but she managed to get through everything. If it had been them, they wouldn’t have had the confidence to survive.
They were amazed at her misfortune. After learning what she went through, it put things in perspective for them. The tasks they took on didn’t seem so dangerous anymore.
Pei Qing told her about the tasks they picked up and all the interesting things they encountered. Their lives had also been filled with excitement from finding lost pets to catching adulterers and bandits. As long as the tasks were profitable, they took them.
Of course they only signed up for things within their abilities. The three cherished their lives, so they would never take anything too challenging.
“By the way Xiao Wu, we have a new task we’re taking. Do you want to do it with us? It was assigned by an old lady who suspects her daughter-in-law isn’t human. So she’s inviting adventurers to discover the truth. Do you want to go in on it together?” Rain cutely tugged at Feng Wu’s hand.
A mission? Feng Wu blinked. The individual competition was in ten days so she could go. She nodded and agreed.
Wind, Rain, and Pei Qing all cheered.
They made an appointment to meet in front of the school tomorrow morning.
Fortunately, teachers in the Sword division didn’t burden their students with memorizing spells; they only cared that their students score high on their text and combat exams. The teachers did not care if their students went out and took tasks from the guilds.
Those who wanted to be sword masters could only grow from real combat experience.
After Feng Wu and Rain figured out a meeting time, Feng Wu went to the virtual world to ask her teacher for a leave of absence. Her teacher was happy to grant her the leave because it was an Adventurer’s guild task.
Feng Wu didn’t plan on taking Little Bun with her for the trip, but who could she leave him with? Jier was a good candidate, but he had classes, so it would be inconvenient for him to bring Little Bun.
442: New Task
Feng Wu thought about giving Little Bun to Tian Yue[notes] for a while. The vice principal, once he learned of this, expressed with great enthusiasm that he would be interested in helping Feng Wu with Little Bun.
Because the vice principal was always active and engaged whenever he took cared of Little Bun, Little Bun was familiar and comfortable with him. Feng Wu didn’t mind leaving Little Bun with the kindly old grandpa.
Little Bun had a place to stay, and he would be cared for by one of the two strongest people at school. Feng Wu was 120% reassured.
The next day Feng Wu dropped Little Bun off in the vice principal’s arms. She and Rui Baby waved goodbye before heading out.
Jier wanted to go as well, but he couldn’t leave school for some reason. He watched with a depressed heart as Feng Wu left with three unreliable beasts.
Not many people noticed Feng Wu’s departure; most people were focused on the extreme survival challenge.
Yanran and her mother were interested in Little Bun, but they couldn’t do anything because he was under the vice principal’s care and he was, aside from the principal, the strongest person on campus. Though no one had ever seen the old man show his hand, no one dared aggravate him enough for him to do so.
The vice principal didn’t let Little Bun leave his side from the moment Feng Wu left. People noticed he brought Little Bun with him every time he went on stage to give commentary.
Little Bun was cute with a lady killer face.
“Do you think the kid is the vice principal’s grandchild?”
“No way! I’ve never heard the vice principal had any children.”
“Maybe the child is his son?”
“That’s even more impossible. The vice principal is so old; how can he have a baby son now?”
“Then whose child is it?”
“Maybe it’s a friend’s child?”
There were many opinions about who Little Bun Feng Ye was. Only a few people recognized he was Feng Wu’s illegitimate child.
Was it possible the child was an illegitimate child of Feng Wu and the vice president?!
No way! Out of the question! This way of thinking was too filthy! If the vice principal knew they even had these thoughts, he would definitely kill them! He would definitely kill them for sure!
Perhaps the vice principal saw something splendid in the child and was raising it to pass on his legacy to?
The last guess was accepted by many to be the correct one even though they couldn’t see what was so special about Little Bun that he would be given special consideration by the vice principal, a man who had seen countless geniuses before.
The vice principal said nothing about the speculations. He had already made up his mind to not say anything. If they had what it took to guess, then they could guess.
Feng Wu was unaware of the interest Little Bun was creating at school when she and her group arrived at Count Nigusu’s castle in Rain city through the teleportation array.
The city got its name because it rained most of the year. This made the crops grow fast and in turn made the city rich.
Outside the castle, a butler met the group and took them to a high tower via a very secret pathway.
“Madam, the adventurers for the mission are here.” The butler knocked on the door before walking inside and respectfully reported to a lady.
“Please come in.” A voice tinged with vicissitude came from the lady.
The group had waited by the door quietly until a maid led them inside. They followed behind her.
“Hello honorable madam.” Pei Qing was the default representative.
“No need to be so polite,” replied the old lady.
Feng Wu and the others looked to the sound of her voice and were surprised at the sight. The lady was actually in her fifties. Though her face only showed fine traces of time, her hair was fully gray. Worry shown in her eyes.
“Since you’ve accepted my request, I will go through my requirements again one more time. I hope you will not disappoint me. The reward I attached to the request was meant to not attract too much attention. If you complete my request, I will increase the reward to 120,000 gold.
An additional 20,000 gold?! As expected, as the mother of Count of Nigusu ,she was indeed rich.
Speaking of the count, he was a well-known eligible bachelor. He didn’t just have money, but also had a lot of power, and as mayor of Rain city, held a great deal of influence and status in the city as well. On top of that, he was also young, being only thirty, and very handsome. All these qualities combined meant he was much sought after by the ladies.
Yet despite being so popular, he was never linked to any kind of sex scandal. Those who knew him were baffled by it.
It didn’t matter what people thought though; the count wasn’t interested in women. He didn’t interact with them unless it had to do with city affairs.
That was until Nigusu met a dark-haired, enchanting beauty. The two married less than a month after meeting.
The speed with which they married shocked society. Even Pei Qing had heard about it. People had wondered what kind of beauty she was, that the count, a man who had previously been unmoved by countless beauties before, would be so smitten that he rushed to marry her.
No one ever thought Count Nigusu’s mother would post a task related to her daughter-in-law less than a year after the wedding.
Was it possible she and her new daughter-in-law were enemies? That she feared losing her position in her son’s heart and so she wanted to cause trouble for her daughter-in-law?
Or was there something wrong with the newly appointed countess?
But it didn’t matter what the possibilities were. The adventurers who took up the task only needed to find out the truth and collect their payment.
The old lady explained her doubts about the countess to Feng Wu and the group.
The count changed dramatically after his new wife took up residence as the countess in the castle. He refused to go out and stayed indoors with his wife all day. He avoided handling city affairs. Previously, though he didn’t love the city, he was a responsible and diligent official who took his responsibilities seriously.
Now a days, he refused to do any work and handed all his duties to his deputy mayor.
The deputy mayor was a good man who grew up with Count Nigusu. He was the one who first noticed something was wrong.
Additionally, the count stayed with his wife locked in his room all day. His body had grown so frail as the days passed that he had recently taken to staying in bed sick. Even the old lady, his own mother, was not allowed to see him.
443: Disguised as Servants
Nigusu was so infatuated with his new wife that he couldn’t bear to be apart from her. His mother couldn’t even have a private conversation with him without him saying extremely callous things to her just because she requested his wife leave the room.
How could a mother not know her own child? Nigusu had always treated her with utmost respect. She had raised him after his father died when he was a young child so she knew he wouldn’t disregard her the way he had just because he loved another woman.
His behavior toward her, when combined with what his deputy mayor said about his strange behavior, made her wonder if Nigusu was plotting something.
The old lady began to suspect it all started with the new countess, her daughter-in-law.
She had initially been quite satisfied with the woman her son had chosen. He had been unmarried for so long, and as a mother, she had been worried. Her son finally fell in love so of course she wasn’t going to stop him from marrying the woman.
This was one of the things the old lady regretted the most. Everything would have been different if she had just investigated the woman’s background a little bit.
The old lady’s hair had turned completely white and she was exhausted from all the pressure from the problems involving her son.
Feng Wu’s group was not the first to be invited by the old lady. Several other groups had investigated previously, but all their results were the same: there was nothing wrong with the countess; she was human.
They all said the same things but the old lady couldn’t accept it. Her mind was firm; she was not the type to give up easily. How could she have raised her eldest son into such a fine man by herself if she was?
She began looking for other adventurers to take up the task. There had to be people with real skills who could see through to the heart of the problem.
So ultimately, the task wasn’t just to investigate her daughter-in-law, but also to explain the reason for how her daughter-in-law was related to her son’s change in personality.
If the problem with her son could be resolved, she would increase the reward by no small amount.
It was such a big reward, of course the group accepted. All the previous adventurers had entered the castle as guests, but this time Pei Qing took the initiative to request they enter as servants. What better role to snoop through a master’s household affairs than that of a servant? Guests would be observed, but servants were practically invisible. After all, what master would be so bored as to pay attention to the movements of servants in his house?
And thus, were they were arranged to enter the castle as servants in order to investigate.
It just so happened the castle was in need of additional help. There were vacant positions because several young servant girls had gone missing, so the castle needed to hire additional help to make up for the staff shortage. The disappearances had been kept hush hush and few outside the castle knew about it.
The count was bedridden while servants went missing one after another. It was no wonder the old lady suspected the daughter-in-law. The new countess really was suspicious.
A total of six servants were recruited: four females, two males. Naturally Rain and Feng Wu took two of the female servant positions while Pei Qing and Wind took the two male servant positions.
The four recently hired girls were assigned a shared room. The other two girls, formerly a fish monger and a farmer, were local girls. They were hired because they were fresh, young looking girls with good moral character.
Aside from having good appearance and moral character, servants needed to be quick workers. Many girls dreamt of getting the job because the stringent requirements meant they were treated very well.
The girls began organizing their personal belongings inside the room. They wouldn’t need to wear their own clothes because uniforms would be supplied. Each girl had been given four sets of uniforms, two identical ones for spring and two identical ones for autumn.
They had just finished sorting their clothes when a female servant arrived to usher them to dinner.
Servants ate in the dining hall after the family ate. They were assigned their own personal bowls, which they labeled with their names. Rice was the staple food, so every person was allotted a bowlful of rice at every meal.
Stir fry the rice with some vegetables and meat, then add in some seasonings, and the meal was ready.
A group of men and women, who were attired differently, sat at the opposite end of the table from them. They looked arrogantly at Feng Wu’s group of servants while her group looked back at them enviously.
“Who are those people?” Rain asked quietly.
“You don’t know them?!” One of the new maids who joined at the same time as Rain was surprised.
“They’re servants one rank above us. They serve the master and mistress directly as lady’s maids and valets, so their identities are much different from ours.”
“If only I could be promoted to a lady’s maid. Their salary is several times higher than us lower ranked servants.”
“Yeah, my life would be so worth it if I could get their jobs.”
The maids replied in unison. Moving up from a house maid to a lady’s maid was a goal many of the girls shared, but with their backgrounds and talents, they were destined to remain as ordinary house maids. Being ordinary as they were, just having such desires was already aspiring high.
Rain’s background was good so she failed to understand why being a lady’s maid was such a lofty goal. A lady’s maid was still a servant. Weren’t they all the same?
Rain noticed the other servants glaring at her upon exiting her reverie.
“What happened?” Rain asked Feng Wu nervously.
“You said it.” Feng Wu replied.
Rain had inadvertently spoken her thoughts out loud.
“No. . . ” Rain wailed. They entered the castle as servants in order to keep a low profile. Wind and Pei Qing would scold her to death if they knew she had attracted attention on the very first day!
444: You Won't Be Able to Live If You Bring Disaster to Yourself
The dining room was in an uproar at Rain’s remark. Who knew there was someone who would dare speak such words in front of the other maids. Must be unafraid of dying. Wasn’t she aware the lady maids were higher ranked than she was? A few words from them, and her life would be miserable. Nothing good was going to come out of offending them.
The thought obviously occurred to Rain. She felt a headache coming on. She suddenly understood what it meant to shoot yourself in the foot. The realization showed on her face.
“Who is this girl? Really does not have a brain. Even the lady maids, will dare offend!”
“Looks like new arrival. What was the housekeeper[notes] thinking hiring her?”
The maids pointed at Rain and whispered.
You don’t have to whisper! I can still hear you, Rain thought.
Compared to the five maids, Rain, because she had cultivated since she was a child, had hearing that was beyond what the maids could imagine.
Their deliberately lowered voices were still as clear as day to Rain.
“Look who it is. Turns out to be a low-class maid. A maid is a maid indeed. She doesn’t even understand the most basic etiquette, and she dares speak so rudely about us maids.” A beautiful, young maid glanced disdainfully at Rain.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. This girl is a new arrival; she just arrived yesterday. Please for my sake, don’t harass her!” A woman in her thirties came over. She was the butler’s daughter-in-law and was essentially head of all the house maids.
“Big Sister Tingli, it’s not that we aren’t considering you, but this kind of girl, with her attitude, sooner or later, she’s bound to create problems. It’s better if she’s dismissed right away.” The maid who spoke was a little intimidated by Tingli’s rank, but she was unwilling to let Rain off the hook.
“I know, I know. Rest assured I will give you a proper account.” Tingli wasn’t head of the house maids for so many years for nothing. She immediately turned around and gave Rain a stern look.
“Rain, for punishment, you will not eat today and you will not sleep until you finish chopping all the wood in the back. Hurry on!”
“Yes, I’ll go Big Sister Tingli!” Rain enthusiastically replied before running out.
“See, I’ve punished her, so don’t worry about it OK? That child just entered the castle so doesn’t understand anything. Give her a chance to make amends.”
The maid wanted to say something, but someone reached out a slender hand, pulling at her. She looked back, and upon seeing who it was, stopped talking.
“Big Sister Tingli already explained, of course we won’t bicker about it, it’s just that the girl’s temperament is unstable. Big Sister Tingli must watch over her carefully so she doesn’t offend the master.”
“Of course, I will take good care of her. Now everyone, continue with your meal.” Tingli left with a smile.
Feng Wu had been watching the entire scene play out without saying a word. Pei Qing said they were there to investigate the countess, so they had to endure whatever they may encounter in order to not alert the enemy.
Because of this, Feng Wu, Pei Qing and Wind all stayed quiet. They couldn’t risk drawing attention to themselves now that Rain had been noticed. So the group watched from the sidelines and didn’t interfere.
After eating a meal that wasn’t very tasty, Feng Wu left the dining hall to find Rain. The maids who were looking to make trouble for Rain also left shortly after.
“Lamia, why did you stop me just now? That girl named Rain, I don’t want to let her go.”
“Krishgova, I stopped you for you own good. Tingli is the butler’s daughter-in-law. You’re not going to gain anything in offending her.” Lamia explained.
“Lamia is right. You were too impulsive just now Krishgova.”
“Getting rid of a lowly servant is the easiest thing. You don’t need to have a confrontation with Tingli over it.”
The maids on the side gathered around Krishgova to speak sense into her.
“Who cares about the butler? Who doesn’t know the real master of the house is the countess? The butler is the old lady’s person, and her power is already usurped by the countess.” Krishgova’s face had tensed at the mention of the butler, but it cleared up quickly once she thought about the situation.
The expression on the other maids drastically changed at her words. They quickly rushed to pull her away.
Once they reached a private spot, Lamia shook Krishgova’s hand away.
“Are you crazy Krishgova?! You dare talk like this out in the open? If you don’t want to live, that’s fine, but don’t drag the rest of us down with you.” Lamia never expected Krishgova to be so brainless. The countess suppressing the old lady through her butler, which of them didn’t already know?
But it wasn’t something they could speak out loud or bring attention to. If they ever brought out in the open, as servants, they would not end well.
Whether it was the old lady or the new lady, neither were to be trifled with. The old lady might look weak, but she was the count’s mother and the countess would never allow any of the servants to disrespect her mother-in-law nor would she allow anything to besmirch her own reputation. One or two servants dying wouldn’t even make a ripple, nor would anyone speak on their behalf.
In fact, Rain hadn’t said anything wrong, it was just that the maids had a shortsighted view. It didn’t matter what kind of maid they were; their lives were forfeit the moment they made a misstep. In the end, their lives were subject to the whims of their masters.
The complexions of the other maids had also paled. How could the same thoughts that occurred to Lamia not have occurred to them? It was because they thought of it that they were angry at Krishgova.
Krishgova knew she spoke inappropriately, so she dejectedly apologized and didn’t dare speak so casually again.
In the end, whether the butler was pushed out or not, getting rid of an insignificant maid was a simple matter. Krishgova had been too angry just now and spoke carelessly. It was all that maid, Rain’s, fault. She needed to humiliate that girl as soon as she got the chance. . .
Rain, still chopping wood in the back, didn’t know she had been targeted by a mean-eyed maid. She had been studying swordsmanship since she was a child, so her physique was excellent. If it wasn’t for her disguise and the possibility someone was watching her, she would have used her qi to chop all the wood already.
It took Rain an hour to finish chopping the wood after Feng Wu walked over to help. Afterwards, they returned to their room.
Their roommates had been talking, but the moment Feng Wu and Rain entered, they became quiet and immediately broke away from each other to go to their respective beds, completely ignoring Rain and Feng Wu.
Rain wasn’t like them. She was only at the castle to complete the task and get her bonus, so of course she didn’t care how the other maids saw her.
The four girls were divided into two factions: Feng Wu and Rain were one, and the two girls were the other.
Neither of the girls wanted to be dragged down with Rain after the trouble earlier that day, so they chose to keep their distance from her. As a result, their first night was tense and awkward.
The four girls got their assignments the next morning. Feng Wu was assigned clean up duty. Her primary responsibility would be the second floor.
Rain was assigned kitchen duty. Her main responsibility would be to help out in the kitchen doing whatever odds and ends needed doing.
The other two girls were assigned yard duty in the back. As long as they diligently stayed on top of sweeping the leaves everyday, it would be an easy task.
They thought Rain would be assigned heavy work, that the lady maids would pull some kind of trick behind the scenes to make her suffer because of what happened yesterday, so they were surprised when this was unexpectedly not the case.
Could the maids have generously forgiven Rain?
No, thinking like that gave the maids too much credit. Servants getting along like that during normal times in a home like the count’s was rare enough. Letting a lower ranked servant get away with insult would be even more rare.
Sure enough, a few days later the maids showed up in the kitchen to give Rain trouble, assigning her random extra tasks, then deliberately looking for fault with Rain so they could justify asking Tingli to punish her.
Rain, who had a constant stream of trouble, had no time to investigate the countess. It took all she had to suppress her anger and not reveal their disguise.
The original plan was to have Rain do most of the legwork, but with her being the center of so much attention, it was impossible. She would only draw unwanted attention if she were to start asking questions about the countess.
This meant Wind, Pei Qing, and Feng Wu had to take over and do all the work. Unfortunately, Wind and Pei Qing were men, so it was hard for them to ask about and get information on the countess. Which meant in reality, the only one who could investigate was the socially inept Feng Wu.
Feng Wu was allowed to clean the guest rooms and corridors but wasn’t permitted to work near the masters because she was too new.
In the three days since entering the castle, they hadn’t found anything. In fact, they hadn’t even laid eyes on the count or countess. The husband and wife were almost always locked away in their rooms, doing who knew what.
Though there was gossip the countess occasionally came out to delegate tasks, Feng Wu herself had never seen the elusive lady.
Feng Wu only had ten days to complete the task before the individual challenge started. She worked hard to investigate the countess because she was on a tight schedule. Let’s look at all the ways she tried.
“Why are you here? This floor is the masters’ private residence. No one comes up unless they’ve been summoned! How did you get up here?!” A maid with a wary face stopped Feng Wu.
“Sister Tingli asked me to come to the fourth floor to clean.” Feng Wu replied with a deadpan expression while raising her rag and bucket.
“This is the fifth floor! The fourth floor is below this one!” The maid angrily pointed to the floor.
“Oh.” Feng Wu nodded and went downstairs with her bucket and rag.
The plan to pretend to clean the count’s room failed.
“The countess didn’t say she wanted to eat snacks. Who asked you to bring those here without permission!” A maid asked Feng Wu after stopping her.
“These are the new pastries from the kitchen. The old lady asked me to bring some to the count.” Feng Wu replied.
“The old lady asked you to bring them over? Eat one and show me.” The maid looked suspiciously at Feng Wu.
Without a word, Feng Wu ate one of the pastries. . .
After awhile the plate bottomed out.
Maid:. . .
Feng Wu: Delicious.
The plan to approach the target with snacks failed.
And so on. . .
The fifth floor was guarded by those loyal to the count and countess. Feng Wu tried really hard using many different methods, but none worked and she couldn’t get in to see either of her targets.
But luckily, because she kept persisting, the fourth day brought a reward. Feng Wu was cleaning the corridor when she saw a beautiful woman escorted by a lady’s maid. She didn’t know who this person was, so when she saw her approach, Feng Wu stood with a blank look on her face without performing the customary greeting.
“How brazen! Not greeting even though you see the countess approach?!” Lamia berated Feng Wu loudly.
Was this the countess?! Feng Wu was a little surprised, but she stepped aside and offered her greetings.
“It’s quite all right Lamia. Don’t scare the girl. Come, don’t be afraid, tell this lady your name.” The countess said kindly to Feng Wu after addressing her maid.
“My name is Feng Wu.” Feng Wu had lowered her head, so it was impossible to read her eyes.
“What a fine name for such a beautiful girl. It’s rare to see one so beautiful amongst the servants,” praised the countess before walking away with her maid.
Feng Wu had a thoughtful expression as she looked at the countess walking away.
Although the servants were all young, beautiful women, their beauty was separated into different grades for rank. Feng Wu’s beauty was a rarity amongst the women.
The countess sat quietly in front of her dresser as she combed her hair in the room she shared with her husband. She smiled while stroking the smooth skin on her face.
“Alante.” An emaciated and withered man struggled to call out her name from the bed.
“My dear Nigusu, are you uncomfortable?” Alante asked her husband tenderly.
“I am fine Alante. Where did you go just now? Why didn’t you stay by my side, my love. I don’t want us to be apart even for a moment.” Nigusu’s eyes were lit with affection.
“I won’t ever leave you. We’ll be together forever, and ever. . . ” Alante promised with a smile.
446: Feng Wu is Targeted
After Nigusu fell asleep, a sudden breeze blew apart the curtains by the window. An incredibly beautiful and curvy woman appeared in the room. The long, black dress she wore caressed against her body sinuously under the cloak she had on. She only needed to glance at a man and he would be willing to die for her.
“Alante, do you have a new target?” The woman smiled, completely unconcerned about Count Nigusu being in the room.
“Yes, she’s a new servant, young and very beautiful with a body full of vitality. I will be able to stay with my precious Nigusu for a while longer if I absorb her blood.” Alante glanced at the man she loved with all her heart. She would gladly have sold her soul for him.
The woman played with her porcelain-like fingers as she casually said, “I like women like you, you’ll ignore everything and do whatever it takes to pursue your goals. But don’t forget, I got you the man you love, but you still have not completed what you promised me you would.”
“Don’t worry. I will do what I promised. I won’t fail.” Alante poured herself a glass of wine and sipped it carefully.
“All right. I will wait for the good news then.” The woman smiled before transforming into a bat and flying off into the night sky.
Alante walked over to her husband and gently laid down to sleep next to him.
Until the day she encountered Nigusu, she had thought it was her lot in life to remain a commoner.
She was born a noble lady, but became a commoner through a trick of fate.
As a child, her family hadn’t liked her because she lacked beauty. She was eventually pushed out to fend for herself by her beautiful half sister from her father’s concubine wife.
Before being pushed out, she had endured constant eye rolls and condescending glances. Having suffered this since she was young, it made her hungry for a beautiful face and the perfect romance.
She would never forget the day Nigusu helped her despite her appearance.
Her half sister, afraid she would return and usurp the favored daughter position, had hired a group of thugs to destroy her beyond recognition. There was no need for it though. Alante knew better than anyone else, her parents cared more about their reputation than they did about their daughter.
So that day, a group of men, intent on rape then murder, had surrounded Alante. Fortunately, Nigusu rescued her, so their plan failed. She fell in love with Nigusu on sight, but it was a hopeless love because she was so ugly.
Just when she wanted to die from the pain, the woman appeared. She was told her dreams could come true if she was willing to pay the price.
Alante didn’t care about the cost, as long as her dreams came true, she would accept.
She did as told and drank a drop of the woman’s blood. The next thing she knew, she had somehow transformed into a peerless beauty. However there was a catch. Her beauty was temporary and needed to be maintained with the blood of beautiful, young girls.
The first girl she drank was none other than the girl who stole her identity, her beautiful half-sister. She would never forget the horror and disbelief in her half-sister's eyes before dying.
It was a rush. Alante loved how satisfying her new strength felt, for she had gained more than just beauty after drinking the woman’s blood, she had also gained extraordinary power.
Her beauty grew so that any man who saw her fell in love with her, however, she wasn't interested in any of them. There was only one man she wanted.
In order to create a chance encounter with Nigusu, she reverted to being a commoner and from there successfully made him fall in love with her. But just as she thought they would be happy together, Nigusu began exhibiting health problems. His once handsome face grew haggard as he became weaker every day. didn’t matter to Alante though. She loved him regardless of how he looked.
She knew his change had to be connected to her somehow so she confronted the woman who gave her beauty and power to find out.
The woman easily admitted to it. She explained that ordinary humans couldn’t withstand the power of the transformed qi in her blood. It was only because Nigusu had practiced the arts for so long and his strength was good, that he was still alive, otherwise he would have already died some time ago from being in her vicinity.
She would have to leave him forever if she wanted him to live.
This, she was unwilling to do. She didn’t want to leave the man she had loved for so long. If he had to die, then she would kill herself too. Then they would be together as a loving couple even after death.
It didn’t matter whether it was life or death. They would always be together. They loved each other so much, they shouldn’t be separated. Who would even think of separating them? Perish the thought!
Feng Wu didn’t know it, but she didn’t need to spend energy to investigate the countess anymore because the countess already had her eyes on Feng Wu.
The next day, Lamia found Feng Wu and told her to go to the countess’s room, that the countess wanted to see her.
Lamia didn’t take Feng Wu up through the servant stairs; instead she took her up via a secret stairway.
Feng Wu was skeptical Lamia would bring her to the countess’s room so she took note of the route they took and secretly told Rui Baby to send a message to Pei Qing.
Rui Baby hadn’t dared come out and had been hiding in her sleeves the entire time they were in the count’s castle. He was antsy from being cooped up for so many days. He flew off immediately after Feng Wu told him the message.
Lamia was just an ordinary person, so she was incapable of seeing Rui Baby fly away.
Feng Wu followed behind Lamia around until they came to door. Faint red light seeped through the opening.
“The countess is inside; you can go in alone.” Lamia gestured with her eyes as she spoke.
Feng Wu silently nodded before pushing the door open. She’d only taken a single step when Lamia shoved her from behind.
It would have been easy for Feng Wu to escape but Pei Qing had said they couldn’t reveal their identities, so because of this, she didn’t resist or dodge and Lamia was able to easily shove her into the room.
The door clang shut immediately behind her.
447: Inside the Room
Feng Wu staggered a few steps but didn’t fall down. She got a better look at the room after regaining her balance.
It was clear the room was used for nefarious deeds. Several people, presumable women based on the length of their hair and the clothes they wore, were tied to wooden stakes. They were dried, bloodless husks, nearly completely mummified.
It was easy to imagine they must have suffered and before dying. Their eyes exuded panic and despair and their mouths were open wide.
Feng Wu could tell they were all maids from the count’s house based on their clothes. She thought about the news from the old lady, about how there were a lot of girls missing. They were girls from inconsequential backgrounds who no one gave much thought to. Coupled with the countess’s deliberate cover up, few would know the truth. Most people would just assume the girls had returned home after getting a small reward from the countess for their services.
Anyone clever enough to piece the puzzle together would be too smart to say anything about it. The difference in their identities would make them too fearful of the consequences.
Aside from the corpses, there was a chair draped in leather. Feng Wu looked at the dead girls and their spirits that hovered nearby. She walked toward them.
Their faces were full of desperation.
“Go! The countess is not a good person! She will kill you!”
“Get out of here! Run away!”
“Leave as fast as you can!”
Feng Wu could hear their voices clearly as they tried to persuade her to run away. They knew it was useless, that only a necromancer could see or hear them, but they still tried anyway.
They were just small, weak spirits. They weren’t aggressive or powerful so they couldn’t reveal the countess’s true face.
Feng Wu was about to speak when the door opened. The sound didn’t come from behind her, but from in front of her.
There was a secret door inside the stone wall. Feng Wu could see a staircase behind it as a beautiful woman stepped through the door and into the room. It looked like the staircase led directly to the fifth floor.
“Mrs. Alante.” Feng Wu instantly recognized the woman was the countess.
Tonight, the countess departed from her usual dignified dress. Instead she contrasted her pale skin with an all red dress and bold, sultry makeup. There was a big difference between her normal dignified look and the look she had now.
Alante slowly walked in and sat down on the chair.
“So beautiful and such excellent complexion. But most importantly, the amount of life energy you have is tremendous. Absolutely fascinating!” Alante licked her lips as she looked at Feng Wu. She looked at Feng Wu like Feng Wu was something delicious to enjoy.
“You want to drink my blood?” Feng Wu didn’t scream in fear or ask for mercy.
It was such an unexpected reaction that Alante quickly realized something was amiss.
“Very clever. It seems you have realized my intention.” Alante giggled.
“Why did you drink their blood?” Feng Wu could see how thick the blood qi was around the countess. Ordinary people would not have been able to feel it, even magicians were unlikely to sense anything wrong. It was only because Feng Wu’s eyes were unique that she detected anything at all.
Feng Wu suspected the countess wasn’t human based on their first encounter. It was just like the old lady said, the countess wasn’t human.
It wasn’t possible for a human, even a murderous one, to have such a bloody aura. Feng Wu didn’t know much about the spirit body, but she knew someone who did. Should she call Lydia[notes] over to take a look? Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen Lydia in a while.
If it weren’t for Mrs. Alante, Feng Wu would have forgotten all about the contract she had with Lydia.
“It seems I let a little mouse in this time. Did that old lady send you to investigate me? The old thing still hasn’t given up? After checking so many times, I would have thought she’d give up. Didn’t think she’d get smarter and send someone as bait to lure me out.”
The only person the countess could think of who would do something like this was the old lady. Damn her. If it weren’t for the fact the old lady was Nigusu’s mother, she would have killed her ages ago.
The countess secretly hated the old lady. The happier she and Nigusu were in their own little world, the more she was disliked by her mother-in-law. The old lady even found someone to investigate her, but fortunately she noticed and was able to keep her secret.
The old lady refused to give up and kept sending more people. She could send as many people as she wanted, but Alante wasn’t going to let anyone who discovered her secret leave alive, so this maid had to die.
“That old thing, so what if she finds out? I’m the only one Nigusu loves now. Does she think Nigusu still even cares about her?” Alante sneered dismissively as she thought about her mother-in-law.
Feng Wu didn’t have any interest in the grudge between the countess and the old lady. “Are you not human?” Feng Wu tilted her head as she thought about it. She couldn’t figure what the countess was.
“Of course I’m human.” Alante snorted coldly.
She was human, but not completely human. She didn’t hesitate to become a demon in exchange for beauty and strength.
“All right, little girl, no more nonsense talk. Since you found out something you shouldn’t have, I’m going to have to kill you now!” With a loud shout, Alante’s fingers sprouted sharp, deadly, black fingernails.
“Die and go to hell!” Alante snapped her hands out inhumanly fast.
Feng Wu blocked with her sword, but Alante’s nails were so strong, they left dents on the blade.
448: Gu Parasite
Alante used the same attack with such high speed that her motions were a blur. Feng Wu would have had her heart carved out if she was any slower.
Feng Wu frowned she didn’t expect Alante’s nails to be so strong.
In the meantime, Rui Baby had successfully delivered Feng Wu’s message to Pei Qing while Feng Wu and the countess were fighting.
Wind and Pei Qing went to help Feng Wu while Rain went to the fifth floor to find out what was going on with the count.
There were many maids guarding the fifth floor, but they were ordinary people so they were no match against a sword user like Rain. She didn’t have any problems knocking them out.
After she knocked everyone unconscious, she walked to the master bedroom and opened the door.
A scrawny man lay on a bed in the center of the room. His eyes were bruised black and blue and his body was best described as withered.
“Fuck! Too vicious!”
Rain had a special ability from her mother, and because of it, she easily saw what was afflicting the promising young count.
Count Nigusu was caught in a long lost evil gu[notes] seduction spell.
Rain didn’t know how the count ended up being caught in one, but it was one which was extremely unusual. In fact, the seduction spell that bound him wasn’t a pure seduction spell. It was clear he wasn’t the only source of sustenance for the gu, that there was an external source feeding it as well.
Seduction spells powered by external forces were far more harmful to the body so that was why Nigusu looked on the brink of death.
This kind of seduction spell needed one male and one female gu. The female gu rejuvenated its host, making the host appear beautiful and attractive. Men would fall in love with her easily. The male gu made its host love the female gu host beyond reason with single-minded devotion. He would not have to ability to deny her anything.
A female gu like this could help a woman get the man she wanted. But ultimately it was the wrong way to go about doing it.
Once the two worms have helped their hosts consummate their love physically, the male gu will absorb the life force of the male host until there is none left and the male host dies. Once that happens, the male gu will burrow out of the host’s body in search of the next host.
It was a rare spell. Long ago, there was a woman who couldn’t get the affection of the man she loved so she turned to seduction arts. She had lousy talent and failed to get any advanced arts so she didn’t progress far. Finally, out of desperation, she used two gu worms.
She snuck the male one into the man’s meal then took the female one herself.
It worked just as the woman expected. The man fell madly in love with her and would have done anything for her. Eventually she began to feel physically uneasy. The gu worm gave her a beautiful face but she needed to feed it the blood of young, beautiful woman to maintain it, otherwise she would lose her prettiness.
In order to keep her appearance, she began murdering women in the area for their blood. Things went well and she thought she would be happily in love forever, but things took an unexpected turn. Her lover’s body began to weaken and his vitality dissipated as the days wore on. She tried everything she knew to prevent his decline, but nothing worked and he eventually died.
In the end she died a martyr for her love. It was a sad story that managed to popularize the the refinement technique for the gu worms.
Rain couldn't imagine anyone still knew how to refine the worms. It had been a over a thousand years since the worms were extinct.
Using gu worms for seduction was an evil art. Those who understood true seduction arts would never use a technique that left such undesirable side effects. For example, Chiba’s Holy Maiden, a well-known practitioner of seduction arts, held the title of Most Beautiful Woman in the World.
Gossip was, any man who saw her, would involuntarily fall in love with her. As for other women, even if they didn’t fall in love with her, they certainly would not hate her or feel any sense of jealousy toward her. As long as they met her face to face, it was impossible for them to control their hearts and not be moved by her beauty.
This was the embodiment of a master of seduction arts. She would never use a gu, which had unsavory side effects, to force someone to love her.
Those who used the gu had to continually kill people to feed it, otherwise the worm would eat them to death instead. It wasn’t an easy way to die.
Because the worm did so much harm to both parties, only the truly desperate used the technique.
After sighing at the madness of it all, Rain tried to think of a way to save the count.
In reality, Rain misunderstood. Alante didn’t know her change was related to the worm, then by the time she did learn about it, it was far too late to stop. Besides, she wouldn't shed any tears over dying if it meant getting the man she loved.
As long as Nigusu belonged solely to her for eternity, she was willing to give up everything. Even if it meant dying, what did it matter? As long as they were together, she didn’t care what happened to her.
Alante never considered whether Nigusu, who was controlled by the worm, would be willing to die with her.
How to save him. . . Rain was uncertain how to go about doing it. Her uncertainty made her anxious. In the end, she decided to have the old lady come over first, they could figure it out together afterwards.
She was about to leave when a breeze blew the curtains. Rain immediately raised her sword and yelled out, “Who’s out there?”
A pink haired girl stood on the balcony. She had a very pretty dainty little peach imprint on her forehead between her brows. The flower seemed to light up her whole face and made anyone looking at her feel reenergized.
“You go downstairs first; I’ll save him.” Her smile was like a playful spring breeze.
“You haven’t said you are. I don’t know if you were sent by that crazy woman, Alante.” Rain did not sheath her sword.
“There’s no time to explain. The more time we waste, the more helpless his situation will be. Believe that I am a friend of Feng Wu. I’m not a bad person. Now please leave first. I must save him now.”
The girl was Spring Envoy, Scarlet, one of the four Holy Envoys from Star Marshall hall.
449: Gu Worm Recoil
The count was not breathing well. Scarlet frowned as she looked at him. He could be considered a leader of the younger generation so it would be a shame to lose him.
For her part, Rain was confused and wondered if she should believe the stranger. Was the girl a friend or enemy? If she was an enemy, then handing the count over to her would be like leaving a lamb for slaughter. The count would have no chance.
Weighing life and death was so hard!
Well, in the end the count probably wouldn’t make it anyway, so gambling and leaving him with the girl wasn’t a bad option.
Yeah, good idea!
Rain stopped worrying about it once she came to a conclusion. She nodded her head and said, “OK, I will believe you. I hope you can save the count.”
The prize money would be double if he stayed alive! Thinking about it got Rain all excited. She immediately walked out and gently closed the door. Hopefully she hadn’t made a mistake.
Meanwhile the battle between Feng Wu and Alante was nearing its end.
Alante’s movements were faster than Feng Wu’s but her attack was weaker. She was losing stamina only after a few rounds.
Wind and Pei Qing arrived and quickly joined Feng Wu in the fight after subduing Lamia who was guarding outside the door.
Pei Qing easily hit Alante with his dimensional space magic. It didn’t matter how fast Alante was, she was no match for Pei Qing and his ability to control dimensional space.[notes]
It was difficult for Alante to use her speed to her advantage in her attacks. She had barely stood her ground against Feng Wu alone, now there were two others for her to fend against. She was seriously injured by Pei Qing and Wind’s combined attacks.
Just as the three of them were about to subdue her in order to hand her over to the old lady, Alante let out a shriek of pain.
The three of them looked at each other. They couldn’t understand why she was screaming; they hadn’t done anything to her to cause it. There was no logical reason for her to be suffering as much as she was.
Was she pretending? Pei Qing, suspicious though he was, realized he was wrong as soon as the thought crossed his mind.
Alante fell to the ground and convulsed so uncontrollably she looked like she’d gone crazy. White foam flowed out of her mouth and within the stream or bubbles was a pink bug. The bug’s miserable chirps filled the air.
“Be careful!” Wind yelled out before stomping on the bug that crawled out of Alante’s mouth with one foot.
The worm dying made Alante wail out even more miserably. Her facial features went through a dramatic change and in under a minute she went from being a stunning beauty to a below average looking woman.
It was a bad look. She wasn’t just unpretty she was plain ugly. It was no wonder she was so obsessed with beauty. Her change in appearance was just the beginning though. Her hair turned gray then white. Then wrinkles formed on her face in real time. She went from a stunning beauty to an old lady in less than a minute.
Feng Wu could feel Alante’s life was a lot weaker than before.
“What happened?!” Pei Qing was so puzzled. How could this happen to a person?
“The gu must have eaten away at her from the inside.” Wind looked in disgust at the worm he stomped on earlier. He really wanted to get new shoes now.
“Gu worm recoil?! No way! There are still people in the world who know how to create such evil things?!” Pei Qing was surprised. The worms had been so vicious that the authorities had classified using them a form of evil art. The method for refining them had died out long ago, so he never thought he would see the worms in a place like Rain city.
He was disgusted looking at the worm corpse. And he wondered how a lady like Alante could stoop to making such a decision. Gu worms didn’t just harm other people, it also harmed the user. What kind of deep hatred did she have for the count to want to kill him this way?
If the male worm was destroyed before it finished sucking away the life of the male host, the female worm will immediately begin to eat away at the female host.
It was obvious Alante had been eaten away from the inside by the female worm. She lost her vitality so it was unlikely she would live for much longer.
“What kind of grudge do you have against Count Nigusu? Was killing him worth all this?” Wind didn’t understand how much hatred someone had to have to do this to another person.
His words agitated Alante beyond reason and she yelled out, “What nonsense are you talking about?! How could I ever kill Nigusu? I love him so much I’m willing to die with him! How could I ever hurt him?!”
Her voice wasn’t musical and beautiful, but was old and hoarse, like an old lady.
“You love Nigusu?! Couldn’t tell that. . . ” To think there was a person who would treat their loved one in such a cruel way. It was beyond anything the group could understand.
Feng Wu didn’t understand what love was, but Ming Xi said loving someone meant wanting to make them happy. Loving someone meant thinking about the other person and wanting to be with them. Although Feng Wu didn’t understand it, she knew loving someone was not about hurting them. People who loved one another didn’t hurt each other.
“If this is your love for Nigusu, then I can only say your love is really scary. It’s a good thing I have better luck than him and have never met a lunatic like you.” Pei Qing got goosebumps just thinking about someone using a gu on him to get his love. The more he thought about it, the more terrible it was!
“I think so too.” Wind agreed.
Feng Wu nodded along with the guys. This kind of love was really terrible. She would tell Ming Xi about it when she got back.
“What do you know?! The count and I are truly in love. Our love isn’t something you’d understand!” Alante yelled out righteously.
She could endure defeat by the group and pain the caused by the worm eating her, but she couldn’t bear to be questioned about her love for Nigusu.
450: The Man Behind Them
“Are you sure the count loves you of his own accord? And not because of the influence of the gu?”
They weren’t in a hurry to finish her off since they knew she was doomed to die anyway. They could spend some time and listen to this horrible woman explain her reasoning.
“Of course he loves me! I’ve become so beautiful how could he not?!” Alante’s roar was followed by a series of coughs. Her body was actually really weak so strong emotional fluctuations were hard on her.
The words, “I don’t love you,” came from the secret stairway leading to the fifth floor.
Everyone turned in the direction of the voice to see the door to the secret stairway was open. A man, about 6.2” (190cm) stood in the doorway. He looked out of shape and obviously recovering from a serious illness. His facial features would have made him good looking, but he was too gaunt.
Two beautiful girls, both of whom were familiar to Feng Wu, stood behind him. The girls were of course Scarlet and Rain.[notes]
“Xiao Wu!” Scarlet waved happily at Feng Wu upon sighting her. She ran past the man in front of her and went to Feng Wu’s side. Not to be left behind, Rain also ran over.
The two girls left the man alone by the doorway.
“Nigusu!” Astonishment flashed in Alante’s eyes.
“I don’t love you. I have never loved you.” Count Nigusu slowly walked over to Alante. He looked at the old woman in front of him with a complicated expression. She had turned into an ugly, old woman after losing her beauty. He hated her for everything she’d done to him, but at the same time, seeing her like this, he couldn’t find any joy from revenge either.
It felt like he was looking at a stranger so he was unexpectedly calm.
“No! No! You must love me! I was so beautiful! I became so beautiful! How could you not love me?!” Alante shook her head violently. She couldn’t believe her husband, who had been so incredibly loving towards her, would say such heartless words to her now.
“Loving someone isn’t whether or not they are beautiful. Although appearances are important, it’s not the most important thing. How do you not understand this?” Rain looked at the crazy Alante with disdain. There had to be something wrong with the woman’s head.
“What you don’t understand is you can’t have a beautiful love without a stunning appearance. Didn’t Nigusu fall in love with me because of my beauty?” She’d always believed Nigusu loved her. He had to have loved her!
“I’m speechless at your reasoning. I don’t know who could have given you such an idea.” Wind really didn’t know what to say.
“Nigusu, you love me right? You must love me. Did the two cheap girls there say something to you to rouse discord between us? Don’t believe anything they said!”
Alanta clung to Nigusu’s pant leg like a drowning woman. It didn’t look like she would ever let go.
Nigusu looked at the crazy Alanta and sighed. His eyes were cold and ruthless when he spoke. “I have nothing to say to you.”
Not killing her personally was already self-restraint enough. He had no interest in talking nonsense with the woman.
Scarlet and Rain both rolled their eyes. What did they just tell her?
“Never mind that. Let me ask you, where did you get the gu worms? I’ve looked into your background, and you’re just an ordinary girl from a normal family. It’s impossible for you to know the gu refinement method. Who gave them to you, and where is the person now?”
Figuring out the matter was the main reason Scarlet was there. She was on a mission as one of the four holy envoys. The deputy mayor had asked for help from Star Marshall hall because he suspected the mayor was involved in some kind of evil art because of how drastically Count Nigusu’s personality changed.
In fact, the request for help was a direct result of the old lady and the deputy mayor discussing the matter. While waiting for a reply from Star Marshall hall, the old lady had gone to the Adventurer’s guild and posted the task to distract Alante.
The old lady didn’t expect the adventurers she hired to actually do anything. The main reason for having them work was so Alante would not suspect they had secretly contacted Star Marshall hall for help.
The old lady and the deputy mayor’s plan went off perfectly. After Star Marshall hall received the request, it launched an investigation into Alante and sent Scarlet to help the old lady’s estate to resolve the matter.
From the investigation, Star Marshall hall found a big issue with Alante. Alante was an ordinary child and the eldest daughter in the direct family line, but she was later kicked out of the family because she was so ugly and her position was usurped by her half-sister.
Even though Alante was driven out of the family, her half-sister was ruthless and still sent people to destroy her. Soon after this, Alante’s physical appearance changed dramatically and she became incredibly beautiful. Her sister, on the other hand, died inexplicable with all the qi and blood drained from her body. It had to have been a miserable death.
Alante became a high-ranking countess by marrying the count not long after that. With her new identity, if it weren’t for the hall’s ability, it would have been near impossible to find out what her experience growing up had been like.
There had to be a reason behind Alante’s transformation. What the hall really wanted was to catch the person who helped her change. Alante was just a small fry, the one they really wanted to catch was the mastermind behind it, and that was why Scarlet was there.
“I won’t talk. You want to find out, figure it out yourself. Hahaha...” Alante laughed pleased with herself. Even if she was defeated, so what? These interlopers had destroyed her happy life with Nigusu. They were fools if they thought anything useful would come out of her mouth.