451: Return to Zhongyang
Alante’s voice was hoarse and her face was heavily lined, so her crazy laugh made her seem even more creepy. Her love had left her and she wondered if she regretted the manner she had received it. In any case, she was not reconciled. But it didn’t matter if she regretted it or not, she couldn’t say anything about it anyway.
Nigusu, the only man she had ever loved, looked at her with cold, indifferent eyes. Whatever she was searching for from him, she didn’t find it. She took one final gaze at him before closing her eyes forever.
In the distance, a woman wearing a gorgeous blue gown angrily broke the globe in her hand causing the picture it displayed to instantly disappear without a trace.
“What a mistake! Useless thing! She couldn’t even do such a simple task.”
“I told you not to pick her. I said earlier that that woman wouldn’t be able to do it, but you didn’t listen.” A noble bearing and handsome man stared at the chess piece in his hand as he spoke.
“Oh that’s enough, giving me advice after hindsight. Our plan to infiltrate Rain city failed and now Star Marshall hall has even taken notice. We can’t stay here anymore.” The woman glared at the man.
He nodded. “It’s time to go.” Both figures turned into bats and flew off into the night, disappearing without a trace.
Feng Wu sensed something so she glanced out into the distance, but she didn’t see anything. Was it just an illusion?
Count Nigusu was successfully rescued. Though specifically it was Scarlet who rescued him, the guys on the Masters team contributed a lot and had successfully dealt with Alante, so the old lady was satisfied.
They had no interest in staying, so after happily splitting the bonus money amongst themselves, Feng Wu and the rest of the Masters team left the city.
Scarlet tagged along with them. Unlike the Masters team, she had not completed her mission. She failed to find any trace of the mastermind behind the gu worms, so on the trip back, she was silent and distracted trying to think of possible candidates.
Rain and Wind exchanged glances. They were both very excited about Scarlet. Eventually Rain took the opportunity to go up and chat with her.
“Scarlet, can you tell me how you rescued Count Nigusu? His qi was so depleted, I didn’t think he would live for more than three days. I never expected you to be able to save him. How did you do it?”
Rain was really curious about it. She clearly saw the count had lost nearly all his qi vitality and wouldn’t have much longer to live, so that was why she had originally agreed to leave the count with her.
Who knew Scarlet would be successful? She learned later that Scarlet was one of the four holy envoys, but still, it was an amazing feat.
“Oh, all I did was inject spring’s vitality into his body. Then I used the divine weapon to kill the male worm. That was all.” Thinking about it, Scarlet didn’t think she’d done much.
She was the successor to the Seal of Spring and her weapon was the Hundred Flower Staff so she had access to Spring’s vitality. It was fortunate for Nigusu. His ailment was easy for Scarlet to fix, but had it been any other envoy, the skills would not have been a good match and he would have probably died.
It turned out Scarlet had used Spring’s vitality to save the count. She really deserved to be the successor to the seal. Truly amazing! thought Rain.
The siblings continued chatting with Scarlet some more after marveling at her amazing feat.
Wind, Rain, Pei Qing, and Feng Wu returned to Zhongyang while Scarlet continued on toward a nearby city to investigate further and try to find a clue.
Back in Zhongyang, the four guys went to the Adventurer’s guild to report the completion of their task. Once done, Wind, Rain, and Pei Qing went to the house they were renting to catch up on the sleep they lost while working hard at the count’s castle. They had been up from dawn to after dark so it was time to catch up on some sleep!
Feng Wu decided to fill her belly. She hadn’t had a single good meal while in Rain city. She had to get up early every day to work and ate all the same foods the other servants ate. The free meal at Xingguang Holy academy was better than the food at the castle for the servants.
Feng Wu needed to console herself with a good meal at a delicious shop so she headed towards the streets.
Ming Xi frowned as he watched the figure of the women walking past him. It was Yifu and Ann[notes] He didn’t know what was going on with them, but they had been pestering him every day and it was getting tiresome.
He couldn’t go to the normal places he liked to go to on the weekends because they always showed up. He had even stopped going to the school cafeteria just to avoid running into them. Most days now he just stayed in his dorm.
He wanted to rest a bit and prepare for the individual portion of the extreme challenge, but time alone was turning into a luxury.
Today, he wanted to go out and purchase some blank magic scrolls. He thought he could avoid them, but it seemed he failed. If it weren’t for his quick reaction, they would have spotted him.
He was used to boys and girls pursuing him equally, but this kind of stalking was super annoying. He stepped out of his hiding spot and switched streets. Fortunately there was a shop that sold scrolls here as well. He wouldn’t need to backtrack onto the original street which the girls were stalking him on.
It was a busy street, so it was inevitable he would get stares from the passersby. He was used to it so he wasn’t bothered.
Soon enough he came upon a pastry shop. The shop had delicious pastries that he knew Elena liked a lot. He was known to eat a few on occasion as well. Today was strange though. The shop did good business, but the crowd in front of it today was unusually large. Was something wrong?
It was a fleeting thought and Ming Xi had no intentions on interfering. It was Zhongyang and Star Marshall’s headquarters. No one would dare make trouble here.
Ming Xi was about to turn around and leave when an all too familiar petite figure caught his eye.
He walked through the crowd and finally saw a banner that proclaimed the shop was celebrating its 40th anniversary. Below it were instructions for an eating contest.
Eat 70 cakes in an hour and the cakes will be free PLUS get free cakes for a year PLUS receive a bonus free gift.
452: Eat Cake
There was an additional line that said if everyone forfeited then the one who stays to the end will be declared the winner as long as that person eats one more cake than the runner up.
After reading the text, Ming Xi understood why he saw Feng Wu.
Yep, the person he saw had been Feng Wu. She was sitting at a long table in front of the shop entrance along with another contestant.
“Come on! Come on! You can’t lose to a girl!”
“Brother! You have to fight for our male reputation!”
“All our manly hopes are pinned on you!”
“We are totally gonna beat you up if you lose! So, don’t lose!”
“Come on little girl we’ve got our hopes on you!”
“Little girl, you can out eat that guy!”
The man sitting next to Feng Wu mentally complained. How can they pin all their manly hopes on him? Have him not lose? Horseshit! If they had the ability, then they could come up and eat! He was crammed to the limit; even his back hurt!
He rubbed his belly which was looking four months pregnant at this point. The girl next to him didn’t have a reaction at all. Her belly was totally flat! Did this girl have a dimensional space in her tummy or something?!
He was sweating profusely from trying to eat so much. His face was pale and he wanted to vomit.
The girl next to him was completely calm after all she ate. She didn’t have a single drop of sweat on her skin. And talking about her skin, her face was still nice and prettily flushed. Why was her complexion so good?!
“Urgh!” The guy couldn’t hold it in anymore and rushed to the side to vomit.
“OK! We have a winner! This cute girl is our winner!” The shop boss pointed excitedly at Feng Wu as he announced.
That was the cue to stop, but Feng Wu kept eating at the same pace. The fact that she kept going was greatly distressing to the boss. The contestants who didn’t win would get 30% off their total bill, while the winner would not have to pay anything. Feng Wu had already won, having eaten more than 70 cakes, but she kept going.
This was too much for the boss and he really regretted doing the contest. He didn’t expect anyone to actually eat 70 cakes, after all their cakes were very filling. Even if a very hungry swordsman came in to eat cakes after an intensive bout of practice, they would, at most, eat 50 before being stuffed. That was why he chose 70 cakes, and although he said 70, he didn’t think anyone would actually be able to eat that much. Which was why he would call whoever ate one more than the other contestants the winner.
Unexpectedly a little monster named Feng Wu came to his store. She didn’t just win, she really ate 70 cakes.
It was over. It was over. If she really came to eat 70 cakes every day, their shop would go bankrupt.
“Xiao Wu!” Ming Xi couldn’t watch anymore so he called out. If she kept eating like that, what would happen to her stomach?
Feng Wu looked up to see Ming Xi. Immediately her eyes lit up. The boss’s eyes also lit up even more brightly.
“Young man, you know this girl?!” The boss was excited.
“Yes.” The corner of Ming Xi’s mouth twitched invisibly.
“That’s great! That’s great! Come on over! Your girlfriend just won the cake eating contest! She can come and eat cake anytime she wants for a year. Here is a free coupon and gift. Come on over and hug your girlfriend!” The boss couldn’t wait to hand the items over.
He immediately reached for Feng Wu’s hand to pull her up. “Everyone, give this young lady a hand of applause!”
Thunderous applause sounded as the boss pulled her up and nudged her into Ming Xi’s arms.
“Wow! What a match. That cute girl and boy are such a natural pair!”
“It’s ridiculous how handsome that guy is!”
“I agree! I’ve never seen such a good-looking guy in my life!”
“That girl must be so happy to have such a wonderful boyfriend! Even if she stuffs herself, he’ll still like her!”
“What are you talking about! Isn’t it good to eat? What’s there to dislike?!”
Ming Xi pulled Feng Wu out of the crowd amidst the sound of people gossiping about them. He found she was furrowing her brow after they had walked for awhile.
“What’s the matter? Is this pace too fast? Is your stomach uncomfortable?”
Ming Xi was a little upset he’d forgotten how moving too much was hard after eating a large meal.
“Yes, my stomach is really full.” Feng Wu said a little aggrieved at her stomach.
“If you were full, why did you keep eating?” Ming Xi patted her head dotingly.
Feng Wu was confused. “I didn’t have to eat? I thought I had to eat all the cakes on the plate!” In order to get the free coupon, she kept eating even though she was full.
“Fool. Didn’t you hear the boss announcing you had won? You didn’t read the rules carefully.” Ming Xi gently knocked Feng Wu’s forehead.
Feng Wu blinked adorably. “I didn’t see it.” She’d only heard there was free cake and if she won, she could visit the shop and eat free cakes for a year.
“Let’s go; we’ll walk around to help you digest all that food.”
Ming Xi took Feng Wu’s hand and walked forward but this time his pace was much slower.
They walked around for half an hour. Ming Xi bought his scroll and Feng Wu's stomach stopped being so bloated. She felt much better so she took Ming Xi’s hand and led him to a small ice cream shop for some ice cream.
Zi Cheng was the one who introduced the world to ice cream. Later on other people also mastered the French way of making ice cream using custard, but these were not as delicious as the ones Zi Cheng made.
The owner of the shop Feng Wu went to was a guy who figured out how to make ice cream on his own.
“I want what they have.” Feng Wu pointed to a young couple who was in front of her.
“OK, taro ice cream it is then.” The boss accepted the money and handed Feng Wu a big taro ice cream. It was purple and had a lump of soft taro on top.
Feng Wu held the ice cream in one hand and took small nibbles while Ming Xi held her other hand as they continued walking behind the young couple.
The couple was also holding hands and looked really close.
Feng Wu looked at them sharing an ice cream. Did eating it that way make it tastier? She looked suspiciously at the ice cream they were holding, then she looked at the one in her hand.
“You have some too!” She suddenly turned to Ming Xi and commanded as she held the cone out to him.
Ming Xi wasn’t sure how to react to the already clearly bitten into ice cream being held out to him.
“Young man, eat quickly! Your girlfriend is taking the initiative!” said the man selling meat skewers.
“Don’t be shy young man!” said the old lady selling sweet juice.
453: Love Quandrangle!
Those passing by who heard Feng Wu’s words all turned to look at Ming Xi and Feng Wu with an ambiguous eye. Feng Wu wasn’t bothered; she wasn’t the type to notice these things. On the other hand, Ming Xi was much more affected.
He wasn’t bothered by people staring at him or at being the center of attention; he had been accustomed to these things since he was little, but being teased by so many people at the same time was different. This was the first time he was being forced to show affection. It was very new and he was overwhelmed.
“Have some.” Feng Wu encouraged as she looked at him seriously.
The crowd watched on with expectant smiles. They had seen plenty of young couples, but it was rare to see such a good looking one, especially the boy; he was really good looking! They could say for certain they had never seen a more beautiful boy in their lives.
Ming Xi ducked his head down in embarrassment, then took a really small bite from the ice cream being offered from Feng Wu’s hand.
It was milky and sweet but he hurriedly swallowed it without the chance to savor the flavor.
Feng Wu pulled the ice cream back and took a big bite where Ming Xi had bitten. Her delicate brows wrinkled slightly. “It didn’t get tastier!” The taste wasn’t any different. Why did those two people eat it so happily before? She was so confused.
Ming Xi grabbed Feng Wu’s hand, took a few large steps and managed to leave the street they were on. He didn’t think he could return to that particular street for a while. He breathed a sigh of relief once he was clear, but it was short lived. Having left the street, he ran into the two people he was trying to avoid earlier.
“Senior Ming Xi!” Yifu and Ann looked at Ming Xi in surprise.
Ming Xi sighed. He was having really bad luck today.
Yifu glared at Ann angrily. She didn’t know what the girl wanted, but she had been following her like a shadow all day.
Ann blinked with hurt showing in her eyes. She was usually a ditz, but she could recognize when someone was showing malice toward her. She knew Yifu didn’t like being followed, but she couldn’t change how she was. If she didn’t follow Yifu out, she would get completely lost! She’d had a horrible sense of direction since she was little.
“Senior Ming Xi, where have you been? I was looking for you for such a long time.” Ann sniffed. Her eyes were red and she wanted to rush into Ming Xi’s arms.
Ann had been a little princess in her family since she was born. When had she ever been scorned by someone? But she was just scorned by Yifu just now. If she hadn’t been bent on finding Ming Xi, she would have gone crying back home to find her sister already.
Damn bitch! Yifu was not going to let Ann monopolize Ming Xi. She wasn’t going to get left behind so she rushed up too.
The corner of Ming Xi’s mouth twitched. He and Ann had grown up together because she was a daughter of one of the nobles in the ancient Silver Moon kingdom. He had no romantic feelings for her and had only thought of her as a younger sister, but Ann didn’t seem to understand.
Yifu was a junior fellow student who he had gone through a few shared experiences with. He didn’t have a good impression of her at all, but he was used to being polite, so he couldn’t be rude and directly say he wasn’t interested. All he could do was strongly hint.
A pity she didn’t seem to understand. She hadn’t picked up on any of his hints, obvious as they were. It was annoying how every day she tried to get involved with him.
This was the first time he’d met such a persistently brazen girl. As he looked at the two of them running toward him, he wondered if he should just grab Feng Wu and run away.
Before Ming Xi could think of a path, two figures, one white and one red, flew out with a scream. They fell to the ground 16 feet away (3meters).
Ming Xi:. . .
Feng Wu pulled her leg back from having just kicked both girls. “Senior Ming Xi,” she pointed to Ming Xi then to herself before finishing her sentence, “is mine.” Her meaning was obvious.
The audience was dazed at the intense public display, especially the men.
They were thinking how they could compete with a guy that was even prettier than most girls. I mean really, this guy had three girls chasing after him. What was the point of a loser single dog like them even existing?!
Ming Xi silently closed his mouth and wiped at the sweat that didn’t exist on his brow. Great. He was certain the entire school would know about their love quadrangle before tomorrow’s end.
Don’t think he missed those two gossipy sisters in the crowd. Their excited faces left him feeling helpless. If they weren’t afraid to be spotted, they would have probably screamed already at the juicy show.
The scream from the Yifu and Ann were hard to bear; you could feel the pain just from the sound. The men wondered why the beauties were fighting over the guy. He looked so pretty; he was surely a sissy! It was better if the girls picked one of them instead! They would surely never stray and give the girls rivals!
A few big, beefy men thought sourly in their hearts.
“Feng Wu! You dare lay your hands on us?!” Yifu shouted angrily the moment she got up off the ground.
Ann stood up looking aggrieved. She turned to Ming Xi, her eyes nearly overflowing with tears.
Ming Xi calmly looked away without saying anything.
“Brother Ming Xi~,” Ann was so hurt she slipped and called Ming Xi informally. She had always addressed him as brother for as long as she could remember, but since entering Xingguang Holy academy, because of school regulations, she took to addressing him with the senior title. She was still unused to it.
But now she was wronged, and in her current state, she really didn’t are about proper etiquette.
“I didn’t use my hands, I used my feet.” Yifu couldn’t tell the difference between hands and feet. She was so dumb, thought Feng Wu.
Yifu nearly had an apoplexy when she heard this. Little did she know, Feng Wu had labeled her an idiot. But even if she did, she wouldn’t have been able to fight Feng Wu.
This woman! This woman! She was doing it on purpose?! thought Yifu. “Why did you kick us?!” She wisely changed the topic.
“Are you Feng Wu?” Ann was slow on the uptake, but she finally reacted. So, this was her rival in love. Ann was extremely threatened. Her sister had said Ming Xi treated Feng Wu differently. Though she didn’t know what the difference was, Ann believed her sister unconditionally. Feng Wu was her most serious rival!
“You wanted to hug Senior Ming Xi.” Feng Wu replied automatically.
Ming Xi was going to be Xiao Ye’s father, so Feng Wu was not going to let anyone hug him.
“You. . . Senior Ming Xi, look at Feng Wu!” Yifu was so angry that she stomped her feet and shouted out in anger as she complained to Ming Xi.
“Cough, cough.” Ming Xi uncomfortably faked a cough as he turned his head away pretending to be blind and deaf. He couldn’t take sides and fight with the girls. He was a guy!
Feng Wu turned to Ming Xi and grabbed his face between her hands, forcing him to look at her. “She said to look at me.”
OK, now what? What are you trying to do with what you’re trying to say with that serious face of yours? Ming Xi wondered in his head.
“Do you see me?” Feng Wu asked.
“Yes!” Ming Xi replied promptly.
“OK, he’s done it.” Feng Wu turned to Yifu and reported. As soon as she said it, the crowd of movie watchers coughed a storm.
This girl. . . was she being intentional? Her face was so serious, she had to be serious, otherwise that was some great acting!
“You. . . you. . . ” Yifu was shaking with anger. Anyone who didn’t know better would have thought she’d gone crazy.
“Are you making me mad on purpose?! You’re a vicious woman! Senior Ming Xi, don’t be deceived by her!” Yifu couldn’t best Feng Wu so she turned to Ming Xi.
“She’s a good person.” Ming Xi imitated Feng Wu and kept his face serious.
His words shocked Yifu so much that she ran away crying.
Feng Wu looked at Ming Xi with bright eyes. Senior Ming Xi had praised her! So happy~!
Ann stared blankly at Ming Xi as though he was a heartless scoundrel. “Brother Ming Xi, you’ve changed. Don’t you like me anymore?” Ann asked sadly.
“I’ve always thought of you as a sister. I thought you knew.” Ming Xi secretly wiped away a cold sweat. He had no romantic affections for Ann and he wished the audience would stop looking at him like he was the worse scumbag in the world.
To make such a beautiful girl cry: you’re a scumbag!
Sure enough good-looking men are scumbags!
Scumbag! You should let that sister go. I’ll swap places!
The single dogs watching were super jealous as they mentally talked smack about Ming Xi.
Ming Xi: I don’t know anything.
“What? You clearly said you would marry me once I grew up!” Ann was so distraught that she burst into tears.
“When did I say such a thing?!” Ming Xi couldn’t recall having dug such a pit for himself.
“You did; when I was three you visited me and we played house.” Ann said with conviction.
Three?! Ming Xi did remember playing house with her, but it was only because her sister, Grace, hadn’t been there and the other children didn’t want to play with her because she cried too much. Ming Xi was older, so it was normal for him to look out for the younger ones the other kids didn’t like. He never expected Ann to remember their game.
“It was just a game.” Ming Xi was afraid Ann wouldn’t understand so he made his face as serious as possible.
“Wa! Brother Ming Xi is heartless and disloyal!” Ann ran away crying.
How could you treat a girl who’s had a crush on you since she was three so heartlessly? Why are no girls like that with me?!
Truly casting pearls before swine.
The barrage of insults grew in the audience’s mind.
The corner of Ming Xi’s mouth twitched. He took Feng Wu’s side and moved away from the crowd. He was not going to go shopping for a while.
As for Feng Wu, she was sad her ice cream had melted.
“Hello everyone, your beautiful senior sister here. Today is the day you’ve all been waiting for: the individual segment of the extreme survival challenge! But before we start the competition, I would like to introduce today’s guest commentator. The person next to me is none other than our very own vice principal! A hand of applause for the vice principal everyone!”
Applause came from all over. Some, afraid they weren’t clapping hard enough, clapped extra hard.
Don’t you know these guys were the ones who were talking about the vice principal before? Another reckoning was possible if the old man thought they were clapping too slow. They were still suffering from the last bout.
The vice principal was suitably pleased with the warm welcome. He really was the most respected person in the entire school, well just below the principal anyway. Yes, very appropriate.
“Will the vice principal reveal some of the competition’s details to us? The competition has been under such tight wraps no one’s been able to get any hints. None of us even know what form the individual challenge will take. Can you tell us the inside story?” Tamansha turned her head and asked the vice principal.
“Of course. . . not. If I say it now, it won’t be a surprise.” The vice principal was clear.
Sighs of disappointment came from below. And here they thought they would get the scoop at last.
Feng Wu and a few others were waiting in the preparation room, so they weren’t aware what was going on in the outside world. It was a big room, large enough to accommodate many people. The battle in the individual challenge would be brutal.
The requirements for the individual challenge were different from those of the team challenge. Everyone was given a chance to participate in the individual challenge despite most people doing poorly in the team segment.
In the team segment, the lord of the virtual world monitored their progress and gave each person a personal score based on their performance. Anyone who scored 60 or higher had their score recorded as a part of their overall ranking and was as also given the opportunity to participate in the individual challenge.
It was good news for everyone. Feng Wu scored 85, which was relatively high. Those who dragged their team down were given accordingly lower scores. This was very satisfying for those watching the challenge on screen.
Feng Wu didn’t know the contestants were being observed and scored in the team challenge. She had thought she would participate as long as she signed up. It was only after she returned that she found out it wasn’t the case.[notes]
“Hello contestants, I will now explain the rules. In the individual challenge, you will not be given any additional supplies. The only things you can bring in with you are those items you had from the team portion of the challenge.
Everyone will receive a map once the challenge starts. It is the same map for everyone. Whoever gets the item at the end of the map first will be the winner of the individual challenge.
And as usual, the lord of the virtual world will give out scores based on performance. I hope you all perform well and strive for good results.”
455: Lucky Girl
The teacher’s figure disappeared, leaving the contestants to look at each other in dismay. Most found it troublesome to only have access to what they used in the team challenge. At the time, they had chosen things that weren’t suitable because of inexperience, but now they knew better and were looking forward to picking better items. Unexpectedly, they wouldn’t have the chance.
Feng Wu was not hit hard by it though. She had chosen things that were useful to her and she would have picked the same items again if given the choice.
She and the others were teleported to the arena. It was a cold location filled with ice and snow. The contestants would freeze like popsicles.
“As you can see, our challengers have landed on the challenge field. The temperature is very low and our contestants have had their magic an qi sealed so they are just ordinary people now. Can they withstand such a terrible place and survive the challenge in a place that is 10 degrees below 0?”
Tamansha looked at the black people specks on the screen. Her voice was filled with excitement and worry.
“Possibly, but wait! What was that that just flew down?”
Keys and large iron chests suddenly appeared on the viewing screen, falling from the sky.
“Vice Principal, can you explain to everyone if those chests and keys will be useful to our contestants?” Tamansha turned to the vice principal and asked.
“Of course. Within those chests are thermal supplies and other daily necessities. They can only be opened with the keys.
Contestants who want warmer clothes will have to use the keys to open the chests in order to get the items they want. Not all the chests are filled with supplies however; it is possible to find nothing at all or just useless junk.”
The audience understood what the chests were for after the vice principal’s explanation. If they understood it correctly, there were more participants than chests, so a war would likely break out as participants fought for limited resources.
At the time, Feng Wu was standing on top of a frozen lake. She had hard ice beneath her feet and an endless field of white around her.
“It’s so cold.” Feng Wu frowned. She had no inner qi to protect herself from the cold but her physique was better than ordinary people, so the cold was bearable.
She took out the map and puzzled over it for several minutes. It was a clearly drawn map, but Feng Wu didn’t know how to read it.
She bit her lip before muttering. “I don’t understand.”
After looking at the map, she chose a direction and started walking. As soon as she did, an iron chest and key landed directly in front of her.
Feng Wu stupidly looked at the key then at the chest. She clumsily grabbed the key and walked around the chest. . . and kept walking. . .
The audience nearly fell over at the sight.
Sister! Don’t you want to open the chest and check out if it has any supplies inside? There might be clothes in there! If there’s a chest, and you have the key, why wouldn’t you open it?!
Feng Wu kept walking in the direction she picked and came upon another chest not long after. She glanced at the chest, then at the key, then back at the chest again. “It turns out the chest can be opened!” Feng Wu said suddenly.
Girl, can you be any more dense, muttered the audience. They watched as she used her key to open the chest. Inside was a thick cloak made from fire fox fur. It promised to be a very warm accessory!
The corner of Feng Wu’s mouth bent just a little bit. Her lips were a little purple from the cold, but the image was still cute.
She wrapped the cloak around her and put the hood up and immediately felt warmer. She walked away with lips still slightly bent in a smile.
Shortly after she left the area, a tall man walked to the spot she had first landed.
“Shit! A chest!” exclaimed the man excitedly. His face was full of happiness as he held the key up, ready to open the chest. “My luck is good to have found a chest so soon. There must be something good inside!”
The audience gathered to watch were also very curious. What good things did the sister leave behind?
The box opened to reveal, shocking to every one there, a zombie, the kind encountered during the team challenge! The tall guy had his throat bit before he could even react.
It was tragic; it had only been ten minutes into the challenge, and he was the first person to get knocked out.
“What kind of luck was that!” The audience sighed in shock.
“Luck is also a kind of strength.” Someone else said.
“That girl was lucky.”
So, unbeknownst to Feng Wu, she became a lucky girl in the eyes of the audience.
But what was the lucky girl currently doing? She was going in the wrong direction. . .
The person who drew the map made it too complicated so it was beyond Feng Wu’s understanding.
She encountered two more chests ten minutes later. One had a large box of jerky and bread; it was the kind of thing contestants were desperate for. Feng Wu wanted to open the other box, but her key didn’t fit, so she regretfully left.
Another girl came by soon after Feng Wu left and she opened the remaining chest. Inside was a cotton coat, though it wasn’t near as warm as the fire fox cape Feng Wu found, it was still a welcome addition.
Because the key didn’t open both chests earlier, Feng Wu knew her key wouldn’t be able to open every chest. She didn’t come across any other chests after an hour of walking.
This made her a little sad. She found that she liked this game of opening chests. There were many people playing the game, and a chest disappeared soon after it was opened.
Feng Wu had seen several people near her opening chests. She would turn around and leave, but had it been anyone else, a fight for possession would have ensued.
456: Treasure Chest
The chests fell from the sky with much needed supplies, but it wasn’t without risks. The possibility of death, though small, was very real.
So far, five people had died from opening the chests. Each of the five had carelessly opened the chests and were subsequently bitten to death by the zombies that erupted out.
Feng Wu didn’t know about the zombies, no one did really, except for a few people who witnessed one of the five dying. They knew it was a risk and that they could die opening one of those chests.
Some people were lucky and found warm clothes while others found food. They wouldn’t have to worry about freezing to death or dying of starvation.
It was hard to get a bearing in all the snow and ice. Food was also scarce because there were no wild plants to harvest or animals to hunt. It was freezing and most of the animals were sleeping in their burrows. Which of them would want to come out and be food for humans?
It began to snow, and as the storm intensified, visibility dropped. The contestants had no magic or qi so it became difficult for them to continue.
Feng Wu found a place and set her tent up. The inside was nice and cozy when compared to the outside storm. Feng Wu had lots of pillows and quilts to keep warm while she chewed on her jerky.
She was lucky she could use her equipment to escape the snow; unfortunately, Ming Xi was not as lucky. Although he didn’t have a tent, he did have food and clothing appropriate for the climate, having found a set of warm fur clothes and a bag of dried biscuits and water inside two different chests. For housing, he built a thick igloo out of snow cubes. He successfully kept himself insulated from the snow and cold outside.
Most people weren’t as lucky as Feng Wu or as smart as Ming Xi. The rest of the people found holes and caves to shelter away from the wind and cold, otherwise if they stay exposed to the elements, they would surely become human popsicles.
It snowed all night but Feng Wu slept restfully and awoke refreshed.
When some of the audience members saw how their seniors were abused by the weather, turning into popsicles, an interesting feeling arose in their hearts, but they were smart and didn’t voice anything out loud. After all, they didn’t know if anyone around them were fans of some of those very same senior competitors. It was best to be careful. The lesson learned from the vice president was still fresh in their minds.
“Look everyone, chests are falling from the sky again! Vice Principal, we want to know, will chests fall from the sky every day or will they only fall at certain times?” Tamansha asked a question everyone wanted to know.
There were too many unknown variables in the individual challenge. The participants had to explore and discover on their own. Though the secrecy made the challenge more interesting, it also made those watching hunger for more inside intel. Or at the very least know a little more than those participating.
How could the audience feel superior if they only knew as much as the participants?
The vice president laughed. “The chests are benefits we gave to all participants and will be available for the first three days. In those days, chests randomly drop. There will be no more chests beyond the third day.”
The audience was satisfied with his explanation. It turned out the chests would only drop once a day for three days. That was good. If the chests dropped every day, then they would have signed up!
The contestants did not know the chest drops were a limited time event that would stop after the third day. But there were some smart people in the group who suspected it wouldn’t last indefinitely.
Whether they suspected or not, the contestants were enthusiastic when it came to opening the chests. Often times this would lead to fights between contestants.
Feng Wu had kept her chest and taken cared of two big guys who thought she would be an easy target to bully.
The situation with the chests became more pronounced on the second day. Yesterday, everyone was still getting accustomed to the arena, but now that they knew about the contents of the chest, they were eager to get their hands on as many as they could.
The chest drops weren’t limited to a specific location; they fell all over the arena, so if you wanted to get them you had to have the strength and stamina to do so.
Feng Wu opened one of the three chests in front of her. The other two would not open with the key she had.
Fortunately though, the chest she opened had snow boots inside. She immediately swapped her leather shoes for the snow boots. Her old shoes were doing OK in the cold, but they weren’t near as cozy as the new boots. Both her feet felt like they were encased in warmth as soon as she put them on and it was wonderful walking in them.
Feng Wu was satisfied even though she couldn’t open the other two chests. She was putting her old shoes away in her dimensional storage space when she felt murderous aura behind her. She jumped to the side and neatly dodged.
She looked down after dodging to find an arrow lodged in the ice where she had originally stood. She would have been knocked out of the challenge if the arrow had hit her.
“You dodged!” said a voice from behind.
Feng Wu turned around to see a girl and two guys, one of which had a bow, walking to her. It was obvious he was the one that shot.
“What are you staring for? Hurry up and hand over your keys. Do we need to shoot at you again?” The woman ordered Feng Wu.
All three had on leather jackets, but the woman had a leather hat as well. Based on how the two guys were looking at the woman, it was obvious she was the leader.
Feng Wu blinked, then ignoring them altogether, raised one foot in front of the other to keep walking.
“Stop! Who said you could leave?! Hand over your keys right now. And all the things you got from the chests too, otherwise we are going to send you out of the arena.” This came from the man standing next to the woman. He was holding a sword.
The method of delivery was obviously murder.
Feng Wu turned back and replied with, “These are mine," when she heard them.
It was clear she didn’t intend to hand anything over.
“It doesn’t seem like we’re going to get anywhere talking to you.” He suddenly notched an arrow and aimed it at Feng Wu as he looked at her contemptuously, certain her dodge earlier was luck and not skill.
“Do you want to fight me?” Feng Wu was a little excited. She had recently broken through a new level and was looking for someone to practice her skills with. Now here was someone right at her door. She squinted her eyes in happiness, feeling pretty good.
Was he seeing things? Why did the expressionless girl in front of him suddenly look happy? He shook his head. It had to be an illusion. Yes, definitely. There was nothing to be afraid of.
The man with the sword was disdainful. “Fight? As if you are worthy of fighting us. This is just us unilaterally killing you!”
The woman in the middle giggled so hard she had a difficult time talking. “Hahaha, oh my god, I’m gonna laugh to death. Who does this girl think she is? Actually wants to fight. Hahaha. What nerve!”
Feng Wu wasn’t annoyed at the ridicule; she was just distressed at their ambiguity. Did they want to fight or not?
“Since you don’t want to fight, I’m going to leave.” Feng Wu cherished her time. Now she wanted to get first place. Master had said she could try hard and do well so she wasn’t going to let her master down.
Thinking of this, she realized she was wasting time. Other people may have already passed her! She turned around and ran in the direction she picked earlier.
The robbing trio didn’t expect someone to run away right under their noses. Of the three, the two men were in the Sword division while the woman was in the Pharmacy division. After they formed a party, they were able to target a lot of other competitors using their bow. It worked to intimidate and steal because everyone had their abilities sealed.
They didn’t steal from just anyone; they picked their targets carefully and made sure to avoid any well-known figures or masters in the school. Though it was easy to steal while inside the arena, they had to consider the possibility they would suffer retaliation once they left the arena.
After observing Feng Wu for a while, they were certain she was a lone contestant with weak strength; at most she was a second or third year, so their robbery would be a surefire success. What they never expected was for her to be uncooperative and immediately leave.
“Go after her or not?” The man with the bow asked the woman calling the shots.
She gritted her teeth. “After her!”
The three of them immediately gave chase, but after travelling a certain distance, they realized they were lost.
“Look for her footprints. It’s only been a little bit so they should still be visible.” The woman spoke through gritted teeth.
They looked all around but failed to find any. Their faces were a little ugly when they proclaimed, “Can’t find any!”
The woman screamed, “How is that possible?!”
How could the girl have left no footprints in such thick snow? Looking around, it was clear the only footprints around were their own. None of the prints were from the girl they were chasing.
How absolutely absurd and ridiculous!
The trio had to give up.
“Quit searching. We go back!” The woman hated to give up but they had to.
“Go back... go back...” the bow guy had an odd look on his face.
Without noticing, they had somehow gotten lost.
“What’s wrong?” asked the woman when she noticed his strange look.
“We seem to be lost...”
Feng Wu had no idea three fools got lost because they were chasing after her. She was, herself, running farther and farther down the wrong direction. Without someone giving her directions, she would have gotten lost all the way to the other end of the world.
A group of people watching her on the screen wondered about her.
“If I’m not mistaken, that junior sister has circled the same place three times already.” A fourth-year boy said incredulously as he pointed to her on screen.
“You just figured that out? I realized she had a lousy sense of direction a while ago.” Another brother boasted pridefully.
What was there to be proud of? Tamansha was speechless as she silently listened to the conversation between the two guys. But the little girl, Feng Wu, was really interesting.
As a broadcaster, it was impossible for Tamansha to focus on only one person, but when another scene appeared a moment later, she took the opportunity presented to narrate with charm and mystery, broadcasting the challenge with lively flair.
Feng Wu didn’t actually have a bad sense of direction. She had grown up in the mountains and had never gotten lost before; it was just that the map was too abstract for her. She studied it for a long time, but still couldn’t understand it, so she gave up and picked a random direction to go in. That was why she was lost.
She did realize she was walking in circles. Once she noticed, she stopped by the edge of a frozen river. Her eyes lit up because if there was a river, then there was food.
She knocked a hole in the ice then stood happily watching the water through the hole as it flowed.
How to catch fish. Feng Wu thought about the usual ways.
Method One: Catch them in the water. However, this method involved taking her clothes off and getting into the water. With qi, she wouldn’t have cared and would have jumped right in, but right now even if she did have a really fit physique, she was still just an ordinary girl. She had enough self-awareness to know it would be a bad idea to go in the water.
Method Two: Fishing. It wasn’t a bad method, but the sad news was she had no fishing rod.
Feng Wu lowered her head and bit her lip. After thinking about it, she came to a solution and ten minutes later she managed to fill her dimensional storage with lots of fish.[notes]
458: The Reappearance of the Robbery Trio
Feng Wu had warm clothes on her body, warm boots on her feet, and plenty of food in storage, so being lost didn’t make her feel any panic.
She walked for two more hours before finally breaking free of her endless circle. Three hours after that she was sitting atop an alpaca and relaxing her feet. Another hour later and she was finally on the right path, but now she was far behind everyone else.
“Xiao Wu, the place you want to go to is very far away. You have to climb over the Great Snowy mountain in front of us. I don’t know what’s beyond it so, once you get to that point, I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else to ask for directions.” The little alpaca beast spoke to Feng Wu.
To everyone else it just sounded like the little beast was making some trumpeting sounds. They would not have understood what the little beast was saying.
“Thank you, Flower.” Flower was the name of the little alpaca sister. She had been thrown there by the virtual god; it would not have been easy for the her to go to a land of snow and ice otherwise.
Luckily she made friends with Xiao Wu. A lost Feng Wu and a lonely confused alpaca unexpectedly met each other. One human and one beast quickly bridged the divide between species and became good friends.
Feng Wu happily enjoyed some jerky and bread as she sat atop Flower. It felt good not having to walk alone. Feng Wu nodded earnestly at the sentiment.
Other contestants did not have it as easy. They didn’t find a magical beast to travel with so they had to walk on their own two feet. Wading through deep snow took a lot of time and energy. It was tiring!
Somewhere nearby, the trio of robbers was at it again. They picked a girl who was clearly traveling solo. The girl was a third-year water magician with low offensive powers but she made up for it with excellent potion refinement abilities.
In fact, her refinement abilities were so good, they were on par with serious third-year pharmacy students. She had quite a reputation amongst the third-years because of it.
It was just a pity that she came from a family with little consequence. They were a small noble clan with no power or influence, so they were no better than an ordinary family when compared to other aristocrats.
She had been on a mission and single-mindedly focused since she entered the academy. She, like other people, entered the academy for a chance to make it. In order to achieve her goal, she put in tremendous effort toward her studies and work. It was not in vain as she was relatively successful.
Though she claimed to be as skilled as a third-year pharmacy student when it came to refining potions, her family knew better. Her strength wasn’t as strong as she pretended them to be.
Pharmacy was an expensive endeavor in the early stages, so she had been refining potions with simple methods and formulas using inexpensive materials. Those more costly, high-valued herbs? She had never touched them, never mind practiced with them. It was just too expensive and impossible for her to do without support from someone with more resources.
She was rushing so she could be a part of the quota for entering Star Marshall hall. She was being really sneaky as she moved about the arena because she knew her combat strength was weaker than a chicken. She still entered the challenge despite knowing full well her water magic abilities would be useless in a cutthroat arena like this. She entered because it was a one in a million opportunity; getting into Star Marshall hall would open up so many more doors for her.
She never expected to be blocked by bad-intentioned people on the second day.
“What do you want to do?!” She screamed; her voice sharp with panic.
“Stop talking nonsense. Hand over the keys and everything you got from the chest.” The guy with the bow said impatiently as he notched his arrow.
Her eyes widened in disbelief. “You guys want to steal?! You’re not afraid of being disqualified?!”
“She’s funny, hahaha!”
“She’s an idiot. What a stupid question.”
The robbers were laughing so hard they nearly had to hug their stomachs. Was this girl sent to be funny?
She glared angrily at them with her beautiful apricot eyes. It was true she couldn’t compare to the dazzling geniuses at school, but she was still an ordinary genius in her own right. She wasn’t that famous, but she would never be lost in a crowd.
The little beauty who had always been loved by her classmates and teachers, suddenly felt that the world was thick with malice.
Once they trio finished laughing, they got back to business; thieves had to thief after all. If they were determined enough, they would definitely get their loot.
“All right, we’re done playing. Hand everything over!” The bow guy was getting impatient.
“Stop wasting time and just get to it already.” The woman in the middle was worried about encountering another runaway like last time. It was only a few hours ago, so the feeling of loss was still fresh in her heart.
Anxiety flashed in the girl’s eyes as soon as she heard this. She promptly turned around and ran away.
“Running away?! Do you think a magician can outrun a swordsman?!”
The sword and bow guy both chased after her. Their last robbery failed so they couldn’t let another target escape and lose any more face in front of their goddess!
The girl ran desperately ahead as the two guys chased her from behind. Her face dripped with sweat and her breathing became labored from running in the thick snow. Luckily, her body was light, so she didn’t get bogged down, unlike the two guys chasing after her; however their strength more than made up for any disadvantage. They certainly had more stamina than a magician and would be able to outlast her.
A gust of cold wind blew and she shivered.
She was running out of strength but she knew she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t let herself be defeated here if she wanted to get into Star Marshall hall.
She could not lose. . .
459: I’d Suffer If I Formed an Alliance with You
Her conviction was the only thing keeping her up. Though it propelled her forward, her pursuers were closing in and the distance between them shortened and shortened to the point she could hear the sounds of their heavy breathing behind her. They were only a few steps away and she was expecting them to close in on her any moment. No, she didn’t want to be eliminated!
Just when her desperation reached a peak, a girl riding an alpaca came into view.
Her eyes lit up like a drowning person who was tossed a life jacket.
“Help! Help! Save me!” She screamed desperately, hoping to grab the person’s attention and be saved.
Even if the stranger couldn’t save her, it would be helpful if it meant her pursuers would be stalled for a few moments. They could all see the stranger had warm clothes, food on her body, and a mount under her. Everything the stranger had, must be more valuable than anything she had on her. Since a more lucrative target appeared, maybe the three villains will switch targets and give her a chance to escape.
Feng Wu turned to look when she heard the screams, but she quickly turned back around after a glance and continued on her way.
Before she started the challenge, Jier had told her it was an individual competition where the scores were based on personal results, so she should not pay attention to anyone she wasn’t familiar with. And even if she did meet an acquaintance, because everyone was an opponent in the arena, she shouldn’t think about helping them. Helping opponents would do her no good.
Feng Wu had always been an obedient girl.
The girl is an opponent so I won’t help her, Feng Wu thought. She nodded her head and decisively made her decision to ignore the other party.
What?! The stranger pretended not to hear! The girl was so furious! But maybe there was still hope, since the ones chasing her had seen the new arrival as well.
“Hey, look! Isn’t that the girl who got away from us this morning?!” The guy with the bow exclaimed when he saw Feng Wu. His eyes lit up and he looked like an eagle just spotting its prey.
“It’s that girl that ran away last time! It’s definitely her!” The woman glared fiercely at Feng Wu with eyes filled with resentment.
They were angry with Feng Wu for giving them their first taste of failure. They had had to wander around the area for three hours before finally finding their way back on the correct course. Feng Wu, the person who made them suffer, was of course the person they hated the most.
With Feng Wu in the picture, the three of them lost interest in the other magician girl.
The girl’s mouth dropped when she realized they weren’t chasing her anymore. She really was going to escape disaster! She immediately fled in the opposite direction. It didn’t matter if she had the strength or not, she had to run as fast as she could. Luckily, her pursuers were already focused on Feng Wu and were completely ignoring her.
It wasn’t like she was a Madonna. If she was, she would never have considered using Feng Wu as bait for an escape. After running a sufficient distance, she glanced back with a pitying look in Feng Wu’s direction. Then she left without another backward glance.
“You little trickster! Stop right now!” The woman yelled at Feng Wu’s back.
“Don’t even think of escaping again!”
“Don’t think you can escape! Last time we were careless so you got away!”
All three yelled at Feng Wu.
Feng Wu, sitting atop her alpaca, turned around to see three people running toward her. After staring for three seconds, she came to the conclusion she didn’t know them, so she signaled the alpaca and together they jogged through the now.
The four-legged alpaca ran light and fast, barely leaving an indentation at all.
Before the thieves could reach Feng Wu, the alpaca had already whisked her far away. The thieves stood in the snow empty-handed once more.
“She got away again!” They shook their heads in anger and regret.
They looked back, trying to find the other girl they were chasing. Since they couldn’t get the main course, might as well try to get the appetizer. Unfortunately, they had completely lost sight of her as well.
They stood in the snow cold and annoyed. The day was a disaster with three failures in a row!
Feng Wu, having left in her usual oblivious style, had no idea what was happening behind her. She rode Flower happily toward the finish line.
After another half an hour, Feng Wu ran into two other girls who were in the class next to her. She couldn’t remember their names but she did remember seeing them when the classes combined for practicals.
Their eyes lit up when they saw Feng Wu, but lit up even more when they saw the beast she was riding.
“Xiao Wu, I didn’t expect to see you here. It must be fate that we met. Why don’t we form an alliance to work together?” They stared at Feng Wu enthusiastically. . . it would be so good to ride on an alpaca!
“No.” Feng Wu shook her head and refused without giving them any face.
“What?! Are you looking down on us?!” They stared at Feng Wu angrily. It looked like they were offended.
“You’re too weak. It won’t do me any good to form an alliance with you.” Feng Wu said seriously as she looked down on them from her alpaca.
Feng Wu wasn’t stupid. Both Jier and her master had told her that if she needed to find someone to form an alliance, then she should find someone as strong or stronger than her. Forming an alliance with people weaker than her wouldn’t do her any good.
Feng Wu was an obedient girl so of course she followed their advice.
The two girls were so angry they nearly saw red. They knew they weren’t as strong as Feng Wu, but it wasn’t like anyone in the challenge could use magic or qi. Everyone had to fight using their physical strength and stamina. With that in mind, it was possible they were stronger than Feng Wu in the arena.
The two girls couldn’t accept the fact that they weren’t performing well in the Sword division. They had always been treated as unique, young geniuses in their families, but the academy was a different world and it was full of geniuses. So it didn’t matter if they didn’t accept their ranking at school.
Honestly, if it weren’t for Feng Wu being top ten in their grade, they wouldn’t have cared at all for someone with such a bad reputation.
Because of everything that happened last year, a lot of people at school had a poor impression of Feng Wu. She had been the center of so many rumors. Even if the school clarified the issue with her baby, there was still the matter of her public proposal to Ming Xi, and the stories of her bullying other students.
It was no secret that Jasmine’s[notes] nudity ordeal in the girl’s dorm was related to Feng Wu, so many of the girls had a bad impression of Feng Wu.
Certainly, there were people who didn’t believe Jasmine’s story about the whole affair, but those people were in the minority. Of those that did believe, few actually had a bona fide hatred for Feng Wu. Most just had a bad impression of her. They were too busy with their own lives to bother with other people’s trivial affairs that didn’t involve them directly.
Though most people were either envious or jealous of those in the top ten, none of the top ten were connected to any bad rumors except for Feng Wu. Her reputation was a huge flaw in people's eyes.
460: Ai Lin in the Challenge
Anyone dissatisfied with the tenth position holder could issue a challenge. There were plenty who had challenged Feng Wu, but they all failed, and she remained unseated.
If it weren’t for her abysmal grades, some people thought, based on her strength, she would have ranked in the top three of their class. Other people disagreed with the assessment. The two girls in front of her now were of the latter group.
“What do you mean? Apparently good intentions aren’t rewarded. If it weren’t for the fact that we pitied you, we wouldn’t have gone to the effort of inviting such an antisocial person like you!”
With a completely straight face Feng Wu said, “Oh, I don’t need your pity. You’re too weak so you should pity yourself first.”
Damn it! Don’t cut people down so fiercely!
How can you be so strong? No matter how strong you think you are, you only just moved into your second year. There are five other grades above you. The strong people in those grades are gathered here as well you know! You’re just a top ten in the second-years! The girls complained furiously in their minds.
They wanted to say something, but Feng Wu didn’t give them a chance. She was already riding off on her alpaca.
“She just left!” One of the girls was so shocked she nearly fell on her butt.
Sister Alpaca was much more familiar with the terrain than Feng Wu. She took Feng Wu all the way up to the mountain. They would be able to leave the region as soon as they crossed over.
The tree branches on the snow-capped mountain were laden with snow and there wasn’t a single bit of green in sight.
After rushing for an entire day, Feng Wu found a spot to start a fire and settle down for the night.
It was the end of the second day. The map the school gave covered a huge area.
After contestants passed through the snow-capped mountains, they would have to travel through a desert, then grassland, before finally reaching the final destination in a volcanic region.
Feng Wu was troubled about what to do with the fish she had in storage. Jier had specifically told her she wasn’t allowed to cook for herself.
He was afraid she would poison herself and be ejected from the challenge. It would certainly be a strange story, one remembered and used as a cautionary tale to all the students that would come after.
Feng Wu didn’t know about Jier’s thinking. She only knew what was promised had to be kept. Master had said it was part of being a decent human being.
But what was she supposed to do with all her fish? She went to sleep without coming up with a solution. The matter with the fish was still on her mind as she rode Flower up the mountain the next day.
Shortly after lunch, more treasure chests dropped from the sky. Of course this immediately caught the attention of all the powerhouses who were already on the mountain.
Feng Wu got a chest with ten water bags filled with purified spiritual water. It was the most common, ordinary type, but drinking it would alleviate physical weariness and restore stamina. She carefully collected and stored them away but didn’t find any more chests after that.
A couple of screams rent through the air. Apparently, someone found a zombie chest. Who knew if the person fell to the zombie or not.
Ai Lin[notes] killed her zombies without even blinking an eye. She walked alone; there was no need to team up with people who would just hold her back. She was intent on going on the special mission.
She was top five in her class, but if she had wanted to, she could have definitely tried for first place. It was only because she didn’t want to attract the heroine’s attention too early that she laid low.
The heroine was in the top three because of Jier. He was a complete surprise and so powerful, he forced the heroine into the second position.
Seeing Zi Cheng miss first place made Ai Lin so happy. She knew Zi Cheng wasn’t the kind of person who tolerated being subservient well. Zi Cheng could bend and stretch to fit the situation, but ultimately, she disliked being pressed down by anyone.
In the original story, Jier didn’t participate in the rankings. Ai Lin didn’t know what made him try for it this time, but she was delighted to see Zi Cheng deflated.
So far Ai Lin had opened five chests, four of which were quite useful, while the last one was the zombie one.
She cursed Longzi’s bad taste. She was now more certain than ever he was another transmigrator, who before transmigrating, had read a lot of fiction. Just look at what he made. Wasn’t this exactly like a virtual world in a holographic online game? There were even zombies!
Fortunately thousands of years had passed since he was in the current world. If he was here now, she was afraid things would get too lively. There was already two female transmigrators and a reborn man. How was a cannon fodder girl like her supposed to survive if a guy like Longzi was added to the mix?
Ai Lin moved ahead after taking care of the zombies. She’d only taken a few steps when she saw someone riding a ___.[notes] Was she seeing right? Was that the legendary divine beast ___?
She was so startled! Damn it! Seriously what badass managed to do that? Was it from a chest? If it was, then that was some serious luck. Ai Lin was in awe.
She thought she was lucky, having opened five chests in three days. With the exception of the last one, all her chests had been filled with necessities: food, shelter, clothing, shoes, and weapons. She never expected someone to get a legendary divine beast from a chest.
Was it that someone managed to steal the heroine’s halo and open a chest that belonged Zi Cheng? Haha! How absolutely fantastic!
Ai Lin didn’t know who the rider was, but she knew it wasn’t Zi Cheng! She had been focused on the beast___ before, but now that they were closer, Ai Lin was able to get a better look at the rider.
The person was actually someone she knew! It was Feng Wu, the girl who was close to Jier.
Ai Lin knew Jier was one of the four divine seal holders so she had tried to get close to him, but he was simply too hard to approach. She heard Zi Cheng had also tried with similarly poor results.
461: Trade Your Alpaca with Me
Ai Lin, who had been frustrated with all the setbacks she experienced, had been feeling better when she saw even Zi Cheng could fail. She wasn’t as worked up about things anymore and she didn’t try to cozy up to Jier either. She and Jier could be considered passing acquaintances in the magic division.
Ai Lin had lived in the world long enough that she lost some of her initial foolishness. She used to think about how to change her fate every day so she wouldn’t be used and destroyed by the heroine. As a result, most of her interactions with people involved how best she could use them for her purpose. When she sat down and really thought about it, she realized what she was doing wasn’t right.
It was the old “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” sentiment. Other people may not appreciate your heartfelt sincerity if they couldn't tell where you stood because you were too secretive. Whether you had a hidden motive or not for befriending someone didn't matter.
It was easy for Zi Cheng to make friends using a favorability rating system that allowed her to hide her true feelings from those she interacted with. The system helped people believe in her sincerity. Ai Lin didn’t have the advantage of such a cheat system, so if she wanted to make real friends, she couldn’t be a fraud and a cheat.
After some self-introspection, Ai Lin changed a lot and became less utilitarian in her way of thinking. It was a good change.
She knew Jier wasn’t an easy person to get close to, so that Feng Wu was on such good terms with him meant she couldn’t be an ordinary or simple person, after all, what kind of ordinary, simple person would be able to handle Jier?
As she watched Feng Wu approach, she wondered if she should say hello. Well whatever, Feng Wu was someone she knew. She should speak up.
“Xiao Wu, what a surprise to see you.” Ai Lin took the initiative to say hello after thinking about it.
“Oh, hello.” Someone she knew. This person was strong too.
“Your ___ is really good. Did you get it from a chest?” Ai Lin was very taken by the ___.
“This is an alpaca beast.” Feng Wu looked at Ai Lin seriously as she corrected the mistake.
The corners of Ai Lin’s mouth twitched. Wasn’t a ___ an alpaca? What was the difference?
“Well an alpaca is an alpaca. They’re all the same anyway.” Ai Lin wasn’t going to bother quibbling over the minor detail. “Was this what you got from a chest? I’m jealous.”
Ai Lin wasn’t being polite, she really was jealous. How much less troublesome would it be to have a mount to ride? And it was a ___ to boot. It barely left any imprints in the snow even. It truly was a divine beast!
“No, I met Flower on the rode.” Feng Wu didn’t hide the matter, but she didn’t give any details either.
“You met on the rode?!” Ai Lin exclaimed in surprise. Meeting one on the rode. What kind of ridiculous luck was this? Wasn’t this what a female protagonist would get?
Feng Wu nodded.
“You are so lucky.” Ai Lin could only say it enviously. How was she not as lucky as Feng Wu?
A voice interrupted them. Not too far away, a man and a woman were walking toward them. The man was tall and had an extraordinary appearance. The woman was delicate and an exquisite beauty with a face that others could only envy. She looked weak but had a sweet temperament that made you want to take care of her.
Ai Lin only needed a glance to see the girl was a green tea white lotus.[notes]
Feng Wu didn’t feel anything particular. Jier had told her it didn’t matter what anyone else did, she just needed to mind her own business.
Once the two newcomers reached them, the woman looked enviously at the alpaca Feng Wu was sitting on. Love nearly flowed out of her eyes.
She would use a very familiar tactic: force a low sale which she would then turn around and sell at huge profit.
“Hey you two, hand the alpaca over right now, otherwise don’t blame this senior for being rude.”
The guy was obviously one of the woman’s suitors. It looked like they were both fifth years.
Feng Wu didn’t know them. Ai Lin knew about them, but had never dealt with them personally.
The guy was a well-known powerhouse in the upper grades and though he didn’t make the cut into the top ten, he was eleventh in his class. The woman was even more famous. Considered the flower of the fifth year, she was sought after by many suitors. Her weak appearance and mysterious eyes captivated many of the tough guys.
This guy in particular had to be the flower’s top person, and as the eleventh seat in the fifth year, he was going to grab what the flower wanted.
Feng Wu’s things shouldn’t be easy to steal though. Ai Lin had been with Feng Wu on a few different occasions, and she knew Feng Wu was a puzzle. If all the bites she sent Feng Wu’s way about transmigration and reborning into a world hadn’t been ignored, she really would have thought Feng Wu was a transmigrated person like she was.
“Flower is my friend and I won’t give her to you.” Feng Wu refused with a serious face.
Those who wanted to steal her friend were all bad people. In the past, the hunters under the mountain had nearly killed her good friend, Méi. Méi was lucky and managed to run away. She had said the people under the mountain were terrible and had wanted to eat them.
Feng Wu felt the two people in front of her were the kind of bad people that would eat Méi and her friends, so she looked at them with a weary eye. If they dared grab Flower, she would hit them. As her master said, always hit back hard.
“Junior classmate, I like this alpaca very much. Can I trade a bag of water for it? Please trade with me. I will definitely treat it well,” pleaded the flower of the fifth year pitifully.
That pitiful look, it was designed to make Feng Wu look like a villain if Feng Wu didn’t agree with her.
A bag of water?! Ai Lin complained so much in her heart. This girl wanted to trade a bag of water for an alpaca? Where did she think they were, in a desert?! The least scarce thing on the snow mountain was water. The fifth-year flower had to know this. To use water as a trade. . . What a black hearted white lotus. And her skill of pretending to be weak and kind was almost on par with the heroine.
“No, I won’t trade. Flower is a friend. I won’t trade a friend.” Feng Wu’s small brow wrinkled. She already said she wouldn’t trade; these two people were annoying.
The guy shouted. “How dare you not cherish the blessing given you! Instead of doing things the easy way, you want to do things the hard way. Even if you are a member of our Sword division, I can’t allow it to pass!” How dare a mole insult his goddess!
“Wû Xiu, don’t be like that. This junior just can’t bear to part with her pet is all. Don’t scare her.” The fifth-year flower said with an expression like she was pretending to be strong even though she was being wronged.
462: I’ll Teach You to Be Decent
What the hell?! This girl had the audacity to take that kind of expression in front of two second-year juniors?! Ai Lin looked at the white lotus closely. There were a lot of skilled people!
“Shamei, don’t bother talking to them. These two guys clearly don’t know how to behave. Let me, a senior, teach them.” Wû Xiu said as he smiled at them threateningly with his sword raised.
When he rushed at Feng Wu, the little white lotus named Shamei actually gave a panicked cry of surprise before giving the guy named Wû Xiu a worried look, then she looked to Feng Wu with an overwhelmed expression. She appeared completely at a loss.
But Ai Lin didn’t have time to watch her act. She and Feng Wu were together in their eyes, so she would be next to suffer if anything happened to Feng Wu.
She couldn’t act alone anymore and had to firmly stand with Feng Wu. Together, they would teach the pair of scumbags a lesson.
Ai Lin was fast to respond. She pulled her sword out of her space storage, intending to help Feng Wu.
The scene that unfolded told her she was overthinking. No one needed her help.
All she saw was Feng Wu lightly jumping off her mount onto the snow. But here was the thing, there were no footprints!
Everyone else was intent on watching to see if Feng Wu would be killed soon so no one else noticed this incredible feat other than Ai Lin.
The guy’s sword was so threatening, Ai Lin could feel the weapon’s qi across her face. [notes]
Feng Wu didn’t block his attack; she just kicked him right in the stomach. Wû Xiu saw her aim, but he didn’t care. How much force could a little girl’s kick have? It looked like it was just for show. The girl couldn’t use any magic or qi, so he wasn’t scared at all. With all this flashing in his mind, he didn’t even bother blocking.
But the moment the kick made impact, Wû Xiu slid out in the snow a full 6.5 feet (2meters) before stopping.[notes]
“Ah!” Shamei screamed in fright. Even a blind man could see the shock in her eyes. She never dreamed a powerful person like Wû Xiu would be kicked so far out by a little girl from a junior class. It was unbelievable. She was so surprised, she forgot to check on Wû Xiu.
Feng Wu calmly pulled her foot back and looked at Wû Xiu, who was lying on the ground moaning. “Weren’t you going to teach me how to a be a decent human being?”
She was puzzled. Why did he attack her in order to teach her? Could his sword art have held the answers to being decent?
She had grown up learning the truth of being a decent human being from her master. This guy didn’t have any rules and he wasn’t even a master; he was not qualified to teach her! He was a bad guy that would definitely not be able to find anyone willing to be his disciple and learn the art of being a decent human being from him.
Wû Xiu was so angry, he nearly coughed up blood. Was this girl mocking him?!
He never dreamed a girl in the lower classes could be so strong. The power of her kick nearly shattered his organs. What kind of crazy strength was this?!
Ai Lin’s mouth had dropped wide at the scene. So much power. A guy over a hundred pounds was sent flying by a kick from a little girl. Girl, do you have the strength of a bull or something?!
“Stinking girl! I was careless just now. Come at me again!” Wû Xiu got up from the ground and dusted the snow of his body. He looked at Feng Wu with angry and unwilling eyes.
Feng Wu tilted her head, confusion tinted her eyes. “I already have a master. You can’t teach me how to be a decent human being. You should find your own disciple.”
She said it so seriously, it was hard to tell if she was being sarcastic. Her face was blank and hard to read.
Wû Xiu nearly vomited blood again. Damn girl! Wasn’t it just that I accidentally let you kick me? What are you so proud of? Just wait, once we go back outside, it’ll only take me a few minutes to teach you a lesson!
He was about to say some words, but didn’t get a chance. He never expected Feng Wu, this stinking girl, wouldn’t play according to the rules. She had gotten on her alpaca beast and left! What the hell was she doing running off so fast! He wasn’t done talking to her yet!
Chase an alpaca with human legs? It would be impossible!
Ai Lin wasn’t stupid. She scampered out of there before Shamei and Wû Xiu came to their senses.
Shamei felt bad about the alpaca she lost. She must get it next time. . .
Feng Wu didn’t know what the two people thrown off by her behavior were thinking. She kept on riding her alpaca beast freely and easily through of the mountain and accidentally made it through to the front of the pack.
She had moved, passing one person after another, until she ended up in the lead. A few tried to take her alpaca from her, but after seeing her terrifying speed and strange powers, most backed away from the idea.
Little Sister, you are too savage!
Feng Wu didn’t see too many people. The mountain was vast and there were many routes to the top, so there were plenty of people who did not cross paths with Feng Wu.
As night fell, Feng Wu met another friend.
“Xiao Wu!” What kind of coincidence was this? Ink couldn’t believe they were meeting so soon on such a large arena map.
“Ink!” Feng Wu blinked twice upon meeting a friend.
Images flashed from time to time on the halo screen. Some showed people competing for chests while others showed people forming temporary alliances. It was the third day into the challenge and those lucky enough to meet friends had already met and formed alliances. Some unlucky ones had to fight alone, having not encountered any friends.
Shamei had no idea the screen had displayed their confrontation. The boys watching the show were ashamed of the whole affair.
“Going ahead and trying to steal someone other people's stuff is normal, but to try and fail, aren’t you losing face for the fifth years?” lamented a boy in the fifth year.
“Yeah, I know. Wû Xiu usually just does what he wants, but today he actually lost to a second year. Seriously, can’t even beat a second-year girl. I’m embarrassed to say he’s our eleventh seat. Now let’s see what he can crow about in the future.”
“Yeah, he’s usually so arrogant, but in the end, he couldn’t even beat a second year, and he has the nerve to claim the eleventh seat.”
463: Two People Who Have Very Bad Relations with Others
Who knew if it was because Wû Xiu, was a jerk or not, but seeing him lose to Feng Wu made many of the students, who were often on the receiving end of his anger, look at the scene with a happy expression.
There were some criticisms of his martial art skills, about his domineering and unreasonable personality, and the fact that he often resorted to using his fists whenever he had a disagreement with someone. His fights often landed the other party in bed for days, months, or even longer. He was a shady and ruthless guy who often took his lackeys to teach anyone who disagreed with him a bitter lesson.
After considering it all, was it any wonder he was unpopular with the boys? The boys resented Wû Xiu and the girls resented Shamei.
“If I were to say it, Wû Xiu’s biggest fault isn’t his temper; it’s his eyes. He has lousy vision if he can’t see how fake Shamei is.”
Shamei was their fifth year’s class flower but she was a black hearted white lotus. Her interactions with the other girls did not highlight her beauty or kindness in anyway.
As much as Wû Xiu failed as a man amongst the boys, Shamei failed as a woman amongst the girls. Except for a few other brain-dead white lotuses who were attracted to Shamei, who was also a white lotus like them, none of the other girls liked Shamei. Their faces were never good when she was around.
“I really don’t see what you men see in Shamei. Other than her face and that attitude of her’s as though she’s being wronged at every turn, what the heck is so attractive about her?!” said a girl angrily. She and Shamei weren’t in the same class, but it didn’t stop Shamei from doing her wrong.
She had just begun to properly date her boyfriend at the time when Shamei entered the picture. Somehow or other, after becoming friends with her boyfriend, Shamei framed her and made her look like a jealous and intolerant woman who was trying to harm a fellow student.
She wasn’t the type to degrade herself for a guy, so several fights later, she broke it off with him.
Naturally she hated Shamei. The worst thing of all was how Shamei wasn’t even interested in her boyfriend. No, Shamei just enjoyed having men be obsessed with her and having them force their girlfriends to lose face for her.
Of course, Shamei would never say something like that out loud. These deductions were made by her victims. It was because of this understanding that the girls affected by Shamei hated her so much.
“Well said, well said. Men are so stupid. A few tears and a few aggrieved glances are all it takes to confuse them. Men really are beasts who only think with their lower parts!”
“Yeah, you say it girl.”
“Shamei, that type of girl, I can only wish her a good death!”
A group of boys silently retreated to the side. They didn’t feel Shamei had done anything wrong, and had in fact been very caring to her juniors and fellow classmates who were bullied by Wû Xiu. If not for her, Wû Xiu would have surely bullied people even harder.
A fourth-year boy couldn’t stand it and decided to speak up for Shamei. “You’re jealous of Miss Shamei. She is the kindest and most gentle girl I’ve ever met. She’s nothing like what you say!”
The boy was a magician with average strength in the fourth-year Magic division. He had the bad luck of meeting and being taught a bitter lessen by Wû Xiu once. Fortunately Shamei passed by and was kind enough to give him medicine and told Wû Xiu not to give him anymore trouble.
And though Wû Xiu still found him and beat him up every now and again, with each successive encounter more fierce than the last, Shamei always rushed to his aid each time. He had a lot of gratitude toward Shamei because of this.
“Another dope blinded by beauty.”
The girls stared at the fourth-year brother disdainfully. This kind of guy who was easily led by the nose was the worst.
“No, that’s not true. . . ” He shared his encounters with Shamei, hoping to cleanse her reputation from the vilification of the girls.
After telling his story, the boy came to the conclusion. “Miss Shamei is a good person. She came to save me every time!”
“That’s right. Miss Shamei helped me too! If it weren’t for her, I don’t know how I would have handled Wû Xiu!”
“Yeah, same here!”
“Me as well. . . ”
A chorus of support rose up from other boys eager to share their stories about being rescued. The other guys nearby sighed. Shamei truly was a kind and gentle soul.
The fourth-year magician looked to the girls, hoping they would apologize for slandering his goddess’s name, but he was in for a shock.
Never mind an apology, the girls couldn’t even contain their laughter.
“Ah my god, you’re such a fool. . . ”
“I’m laughing so hard, I’m crying here! These guy gets sold out and he’s actually grateful for it!”
“Ha, ha, I can’t even!”
The girls’ disdainful laugh angered the boys.
“What do you mean by that?! You’re all just jealous women! Jealous that Miss Shamei is such a wonderful person. How can you have the heart to destroy her reputation?!”
“All right, let’s think about this a bit then. Wasn’t it that after each time Shamei “helped” you, Wû Xiu would beat you up even more severely than the previous time? Every time she went to you, you were made even more miserable,” explained one of the girls who managed to stop laughing enough to talk.
Now that the boys thought about it, it did seem to be the case.
“That’s just a coincidence! Wû Xiu likes teaching people lessons, even Sister Shamei can’t stop him every time.” The retort came from a Shamei fan who was unconvinced by this reasoning.
“OK, let me say one more thing then. Wû Xiu likes to bully people, that’s a fact, but as long as you don’t do anything in particular to offend him, he won’t go after you tenaciously. Go ahead, ask other people who have been bullied by him. Would he go out of his way to find them and bully them like he with did you?”
The boy turned his head and looked to the other guys in the crowd who had also been victims of Wû Xiu’s bullying. It was true, Wû Xiu only bullied them if they accidently met up, but otherwise he wouldn’t go out of his way to track them down just to bully them.
Only the boys treated by Shamei got the special treatment.
Hearing this, the boys’ faces turned bad. They never expected the senior sister who they had so much gratitude towards was actually the one who made them into targets.
“If she was really kind and wanted to help you, she wouldn’t have gone about it in the way she did. She knows Wû Xiu’s temperament. How could she not know the kinder she was to you, the more Wû Xiu would target you?
The answer is she’s always known. She just really likes watching guys fight for her. She enjoys pretending to be a Madonna in front of outsiders who don’t know any better, so that brainless men like you guys will like her. It’s her MO. And you consider her a goddess, tch.”
The girls snorted coldly as they glanced at the guys standing stunned by the revelation. The girls flicked their sleeves, turned around, and left. It could be considered a good deed for the day if they made Shamei fans see her for what she really was.
464: Snowy Night
Back to Feng Wu. . .
Feng Wu ended her days of eating dry food now that she found Ink. She was finally able to enjoy the grilled fish that weighed on her mind since she caught them.
Ink’s skills were good and the grilled fish came out great. Feng Wu stuffed a dozen fragrantly cooked fish in her tummy then washed it all down with a few bowls of fish soup. The two friends ate well. It was a wonderful feeling to feast on such warm food in the middle of the cold snow.
Feng Wu was very conscientious and gave half the fish to Ink, which in turn embarrassed him a little.
It was true, there were a lot of fish on the mountain, but they were really hard to catch. He knew because he had tried several times himself. He could swear the fish here swam faster than rabbits on land. More often than not, the fish disappeared before he could even make a move.
Seeing Feng Wu’s huge catch was already a shock to his heart. He didn’t expect to get half her inventory just for helping her cook them. There were a lot of fish OK. Catching fish was much more difficult than prepping and cooking them. He kept grilling and grilling and once done only took a third of the pile, returning the rest back to her.
Feng Wu gave him a strange look, as though she didn’t understand why he would return food, but she accepted and placed them back in her storage space.
Visibility dropped dramatically when snow suddenly began coming down. Their fire was snuffed out under the heavy pile of white that accumulated, so they decided to turn go to their respective tents and rest in order to prepare for the early dawn tomorrow.
They had climbed up the mountain but there was still the matter of climbing down the other side.
The snow was coming down really hard so they had to clear the roof of the tent every so often to prevent it from collapsing under the weight.
Not everyone was lucky to have a tent to shelter from the wind and snow.
A girl was frozen stiff as she walked through the night against the elements. There was no place for her to shelter and she was becoming desperate. What could she do? She didn’t want to freeze to death. She had gotten so far; she didn’t want to stop now.
She pepped herself back up and kept trudging forward. Finally, she saw a faint light ahead.
She hurried forward toward the light. Under normal circumstances, she would never have rushed to a populated place, not after her ordeal with nearly being robbed. She had little faith in humanity and didn’t trust her seniors or fellow classmates anymore. But circumstances demanded she try to reach out. If she didn’t find help, she would die, and if she died, she would be disqualified. She didn’t want to get herself in that situation.
She rushed forward and finally reached the tents. . .
Ink never expected to meet a contestant that would ask for help. If he remembered correctly, the current challenge was an individual challenge that didn’t rely on unity and friendship. They were all rivals. Asking a rival for help, was there something wrong with the girl’s brain?
But she looked so pitiful, Ink decided to ask if Feng Wu was willing to take her in. If Feng Wu wasn’t, then he would drive the girl away.
Feng Wu was buried deep in her comforter asleep when Ink called her out. She opened her tent and stepped out to find a pitiful girl standing around in the heavy snow.
She looked bad with lips that were nearly purple. If it weren’t for her warm clothes, she would have definitely frozen to death and been ejected from the challenge already.
“It’s you!” The girl spoke out in surprise when she saw who it was that walked out. If Feng Wu hadn’t appeared when she did, the girl would have lost all her things to the three thieves.
Puzzled by the exclamation, Feng Wu wondered if they knew each other. She searched her memory before a familiar picture finally came to mind. Yes, she remembered where she had seen the girl now.
“Xiao Wu, do you know her?” Ink was a little surprised. If it was someone Feng Wu knew, then they would have to take the person in for the night.
“I don’t know her. We only met.” Feng Wu said with a blank expression.
This made the girl think Feng Wu was angry at her for leading the robbers over and nearly getting Feng Wu robbed. But it wasn’t her fault. And besides, after walking away, she was certain she saw Feng Wu ride off on the alpaca. So, it wasn’t like the thieves succeeded.
Don’t know each other, but have met before. . .
Ink wasn’t stupid. He figured out the girl must have met Feng Wu on the road, but other than that, they didn’t have a relationship. So if the two weren’t familiar with each other, should they save the stranger? Ink decided to leave the decision up to Feng Wu. He explained to her that the girl wanted to spend the night with them and left it at that.
The girl’s eyes were expectant and bright. Feng Wu would definitely agree. They were both girls after all!
“No, this is a competition.” Feng Wu shook her head firmly. Jier had said everyone on the field was an opponent and she should not agree to help other people.
Feng Wu had nodded her head at the time.
Therefore, when this girl entered the arena, she became an opponent. Feng Wu wouldn’t take the initiative to attack, but she wouldn’t take the initiative to assist either. It was a rule Jier had asked her to abide by.
Naturally Feng Wu wouldn’t break her promise in order to help a girl she had no relationship with.
“OK, I got it.” Ink thought the girl was pitiful, but this was a competition. You could certainly help each other out if you wanted to, but there was no obligation to do so. No one would fault anyone for it.
He wanted the girl to find someplace else to avoid the wind and snow, but before he could say a word, he noticed her looking at Feng Wu with such a look of resentment, as though Feng Wu had done something monstrous, that he was surprised.
Ink lost any sympathy he had for the girl. Who did she think she was, staring at Feng Wu like that? Like Feng Wu was some kind of hated enemy. Too unreasonable.
“How can you do this? We’re both girls. How can you bear to watch me freeze to death in this weather. This game is very important to me. Help me please! I know you hate me because of what happened last time with those robbers, but it wasn’t my fault! I was a victim too! Why would you do this to me?!”
The more she talked, the more her initial guilt faded and the more justified she felt. She really had nothing to do with the thieves. To retaliate against her like this was petty and malicious.
“Leave already. Xiao Wu said this is a competition and we have no obligation to help you.” Ink glanced at the girl who was now full of resentment. This kind of person who couldn’t handle things, it was better that they kept their distance. He didn’t want either of them to be entangled with her.
She shot daggers at Feng Wu as she was driven away. Too bad though, it was a waste. Feng Wu didn’t even notice.
The next day, Feng Wu and Ink packed up and started on the road together. Ink made a small sleigh out of wood and Sister Alpaca – she was indeed a monstrous beast – was able to pull both of them easily.
They only rode on the sleigh for a minute before running into people they knew.
Neither of them realized they had camped so close to another party. The people in that campground were also packing up for the morning. They had a mount as well, a fast and strong demon wolf, with a toboggan tethered behind it.
“Xiao Wu, Ink. It’s you guys. How lucky, you also found a mount? My demon wolf came from a chest too. I didn’t think mounts were available in other chests as well.” Zi Cheng greeted Ink and Feng Wu with a smile.
Seeing the alpaca made Zi Cheng wonder. Her system had clearly said there was only one mount in all the chests inside the arena, and that was the demon wolf in her possession. So where did this other one Feng Wu have come from?
The demon wolf raised its head and glanced at the alpaca. It had been unlucky and was chosen by the lord to be this woman’s here mount. On the other hand, the Sister Alpaca had voluntarily chosen to be mounted. Why did she do that?
The demon wolf never imagined there was a beast that stupid.
The Sister Alpaca gave the wolf a cold glance. I’m helping a friend. This is different. I’m doing this voluntarily. You were forced to let people ride you; it’s not the same.
Voluntarily. . . what difference does that make? You’re still letting people ride you! The demon wolf couldn’t understand what the Sister Alpaca was thinking.
“I didn’t know we had camped so close to each other last night. You guys are really good to get here so fast.” Ink could see Zi Cheng wanted to ask about the alpaca. How was he going to let her get her way? He changed the conversation topic easily.
“Well we were also blessed with a mount, so of course we got here in good time; otherwise we’d still be at the base of the mountain.” Zi Cheng could see Ink wasn’t going to say anything else so she didn’t ask further and instead kept to his topic.
As they were talking, Yifu came out of the tent with another woman.
The woman glared at Feng Wu and Ink with hatred like they had killed her father. “Why are you here?”
“Zhu-en, what’s wrong? Do you know them?” Yifu asked curious, but in her heart she could already guess.
The girl named Zhu-en nodded fiercely. “They were the two who refused to help me and drove me away into the snow storm last night. If I hadn’t met you, I would have frozen to death and been forced out of the arena.” Zhu-en thought of how ruthless Feng Wu and Ink had been with her; the more she thought about it, the more resentful she became.
“These were the guys?!” The moment she learned this, Yifu looked at Zhu-en even more kindly. Anyone who hated Feng Wu was a friend of hers.
Yifu couldn’t wait to find fault with Feng Wu. “You were in the wrong Feng Wu. Do you even have any care at all for your fellow students? Senior Sister Zhu-en is a third year and you dared drive her away?! You’re too disrespectful towards your seniors!”
“Are you sick in the head, to talk like that? If, according to your statement, then don’t we all have to directly let the seventh-grade seniors win? As junior brothers and sisters, wouldn’t we be disrespectful if we accidentally won and caused them unhappiness?” Ink had been unhappy with Yifu for a long time so he clapped right back at her. He wasn’t worried about possibly offending any seniors with his words.
“What do you mean?! When did I even say that?!” Yifu glared angrily at Ink. “Feng Wu, do you always have to hide behind a man? Before it was Jier, who stuck around you all day, now it’s Ink all day long! It’s no wonder you became a mother at such a young age!” Yifu was vicious.
“Wah? That girl is too poisonous. What a vulgar thing to say,” said a guy watching the show on the screen. You really couldn’t judge people by their appearances. . .
Yifu had no idea her every word and expression were being transmitted on screen for the audience to watch. It was transmitted in full 3D too.
“Wasn’t it?” Someone agreed readily.
“No. That Feng Wu really was too cruel. She threw that poor girl, Zhu-en, out in the snow. If someone hadn’t taken her in, I’m afraid that would have been the end of Zhu-en. She would have failed and been booted out of the challenge.” One of the girls felt pity for Zhu-en, who had been driven away into the cold.
“What the hell? Are you possessed by the Virgin Mary or something? This is a competition. Who would be fool enough to save their opponent? Feng Wu was right; a competition is a competition. You have no duty to save anyone.” This came from a much more sensible person.
Most of the students agreed with the statement, but a small minority felt Feng Wu didn’t care enough about her fellow students. Even if it was a competition, locking out a senior was too unsympathetic and cold-blooded a thing to do.
“You are jealous of me.” Feng Wu declared while looking at Yifu seriously.
Master said people who spoke ill of her were jealous of her and that she should pay them no mind. A person who was jealous and small minded would never learn and therefore would never become great.
“Jealous? Of you?! Dream on!” Yifu’s body was electric and about to explode; she was like a cat who’d just had her tail stepped on.
You’re a bitch who hook up with men and have children out of wedlock. Like hell I’d be jealous of you! Yifu raged furiously in her mind.
“Master says people who are jealous will not achieve great things. I suggest you clear your mind. If you continue like this, your strength will never reach the highest realm.” Feng Wu kindly shared some advice.
“You. . . ” Yifu was practically spasming. She suspected Feng Wu was sent to make her blood boil. The girl had to be doing it deliberately to make her mad!
“That’s enough Yifu!” Zi Cheng stopped Yifu, who was getting worked up by Feng Wu.
“Xiao Wu, I’m sorry. Yifu isn’t malicious. Please don’t take it to heart. But you know, what you did yesterday was wrong. I hope you can apologize to Senior Sister Zhu-en. . .
466: Moving Towards the Desert
. . . even though it’s a competition, Senior Sister Zhu-en is still a senior. Why don’t you apologize and we’ll all move on. What do you think?”
Zi Cheng looked kindly at Feng Wu. Her proposal was a good one. It would increase her favorability score with Zhu-en while reconciling the two parties. Zhu-en wouldn’t bear a grudge against Feng Wu, so things wouldn’t be an issue for Feng Wu after they left the arena. It was good wasn’t it? And all Feng Wu had to do was apologize.
Neither parties would suffer a big loss and there wouldn’t be any hurt feelings. She never expected to encounter disagreement from Feng Wu though.
“I did nothing wrong; I won’t apologize. No one here is special and everyone is an opponent.” Feng Wu blinked and replied with a straight face.
“You’re right Xiao Wu. I support you!” Ink didn’t want Feng Wu to suffer under Zhu-en’s anger. It was obvious Feng Wu hadn’t done anything wrong, so there was no reason for her to apologize.
“Flower, let’s go.” Feng Wu ignored Zi Cheng’s group and called her friend to leave. Promptly enough, the Sister Alpaca pulled her and Ink away.
Zi Cheng looked on in disbelief as Feng Wu and Ink left. They actually left! Without so much as a by your leave!
It had been a long time since anyone treated Zi Cheng this way. She stood unbelieving for a moment. Why did Feng Wu reject her proposal? It was beneficial for everyone. Wasn’t Feng Wu afraid of offending a third year?
Did Feng Wu care? This girl didn’t consider things like that. The imaginary line between offending people and not offending them wasn’t something she could read.
“Xiao Cheng! Look at her! She didn’t give us any face at all!” Yifu notched another mark against Feng Wu in her mental book of grievances. One day she was going to collect.
Zhu-en looked gloomily at Feng Wu’s back. Who did that junior think she was? Acting so condescending toward her. Dared to not give her any face at all. Just wait until the challenge was over and they were all outside the arena. She would make sure Feng Wu understood the ramifications of offending a senior sister.
Zi Cheng was uncomfortable with the whole affair as well, but she still tried to comfort Zhu-en with some consoling words. Feng Wu just had a careless temperament and Zhu-en shouldn’t take it to heart. There was no real harm meant and so on and so forth.
Zi Cheng didn’t really care if Zhu-en believed her or not. It was Feng Wu’s decision to offend a senior sister; the girl would have to handle the consequences on her own. Zi Cheng was only a classmate, so all she could do was try to alleviate the situation with a few words.
Feng Wu and Ink ran to the front of the challengers, then sat down and grilled fish and drank fresh fish soup. Zhu-en had already faded from Feng Wu’s thoughts. Unimportant people were like passersby, and Feng Wu rarely spent energy to remember them.
“Xiao Wu, we should be able to reach the desert after today. But there won’t be much water there, so we should make sure we have enough food and water before entering.” Ink came to this conclusion after thinking about their situation.
It wasn’t a big deal to enter the desert one day later. The real difficulty lay in leaving the snowy mountain prepared for the next location.
“Catch fish!” Feng Wu’s eyes were bright when she spoke. She had been in love with eating grilled fish since yesterday.
“Yeah.” Ink replied absentmindedly.
After determining what to do, Feng Wu asked Sister Alpaca to find if there was a frozen lake or something similar nearby.
Sister Alpaca hadn’t been on the mountain long, but she already had a firm grasp of the layout. They found a frozen lake easily under her guidance.
They quickly broke through the frozen surface of the small lake and proceeded to fill their bags with water after catching a bunch of fish. They easily caught fish but it took them a long time to prepare their catch. Ink spent half the day roasting everything over the fire.
There was a lot of fish to cook but Feng Wu couldn’t help, so Ink was left to do all of it on his own. By the time he finished and they managed to pack everything away, it was already noon.
Sister Alpaca carried them down the mountain. From their vantage point, they could see the vast desert ahead. It was so unbelievable. The mountain was directly connected to the desert, truly worthy of being a virtual world.
While Feng Wu and Ink were gathering food, Zi Cheng’s group had rushed ahead. Zhu-en didn’t want to stay with Zi Cheng so they came to an agreement that she would part ways and each person would take a different path.
Zi Cheng didn’t object to the idea. She was not familiar with Zhu-en and didn’t want to risk someone stabbing her in the back.
On the other hand, Yifu was reluctant to let Zhu-en leave them. She and Zhu-en had bonded really well over shared commiseration about Feng Wu. As the saying went: an enemy of an enemy was a friend.
Other than Zi Cheng’s group, many others rushed from behind and entered the desert. This included Ming Xi, who had gone in along with Tian Ya.
Luis, Gerasi and Elena were approaching the base of the mountain as well. Feng Wu and Ink had fallen to the end of the pack.
Feng Wu didn’t know this, but even if she did, she wouldn’t have cared. She and Ink had already decided to enter the desert tomorrow anyway. They weren’t in a hurry and were slowly taking their time descending the mountain. It would be easy to get lost in the desert, so the first to enter wouldn’t necessarily be the first to leave. Other people also knew this, but the opportunity to enter early was too good to lose.
As more and more people poured into the desert, the number of those on the mountain dropped.
The next day, before dawn, Sister Alpaca took Ink and Feng Wu into the desert.
They put their thick clothes and heavy shoes away as these were inappropriate for the desert. The sled wasn’t usable anymore either without the snow. Feng Wu ended up riding on Sister Alpaca while Ink pulled them forward.
Ink was in charge of navigating and reading the large and complicated map. They couldn’t afford to make any mistakes; even a little error could mean being stuck in the desert. Ink felt better taking care of it himself; if left to Feng Wu, he was afraid they’d end up in a ditch or worse.
Unlike Feng Wu, Ink was able to quickly analyze the map and find the most efficient route for them to take.
The two people and one alpaca went deep into the desert.
467: Day and Night in the Desert
The sun scorched painfully on a person’s body and left a tingling sensation all over.
Ink and Feng Wu walked slowly in the desert. It was a huge space and they walked for a long time without finding water or shelter. Eventually Ink made some shade using his cloak and some framing.
“The sun is too fierce.”
They drank some water as they sat together resting away from the blazing sun.
Ink wiped the sweat from his forehead as he looked at the sun that could dry a person to a husk. Most of the things they got from the previous area were thick, heavy furs and cloaks, none of which were suitable for such desert heat and would result in heat stroke for anyone desperate enough to wear them. But not having proper cover meant getting sunburned. In fact, both Ink and Feng Wu had arms full of blisters from the heat. How much worse would things get?
“It hurts.” Feng Wu wet a kerchief with some water, then placed it on her face. The tingling immediately faded with the cool contact.
“We have to find something to cover our bodies. If we keep going like this, it’s only going to get worse.” Ink sighed in resignation.
Sunburn like this wouldn’t have bothered them normally, but now that they were ordinary people, it was incapacitating. Such a bright sun in their faces was incredibly uncomfortable.
“The clothes we have are too thick.”
They didn’t have anything suitable to wear as all their clothes were geared for cold weather.
“It’s OK. One of the chests I opened had two cotton filled coats. If we take out the cotton batting, we can use them like summer jackets.” They just needed something to block out the sun; it didn’t matter if it wasn’t pretty.
They immediately got to dismantling the heavy coats, peeling away all the heavy cotton batting and only leaving the outer shell fabric. Though it was still thicker than a summer coat, it was an improvement.
They covered their bodies from head to toe with clothes and dressed their burns with ointment.
Ink had been very lucky. Every chest he found had been filled with clothes, shoes, hats, medicine – all useful things. He had opened many chests and never encountered a single trap. Even Feng Wu wasn’t as lucky.
They were much more comfortable now that they were covered and protected from the sun. Sister Alpaca didn’t have any issues. She was a monster with thick flesh and skin.
It was hot, but Ink still recommended rationing their water. The desert was vast, and they didn’t know when they would come upon a water source to refill their water. He was afraid they’d die of dehydration if they didn’t start rationing.
Jier would definitely laugh to death at him. And that. . . was definitely not something Ink was willing to take.
Ink planned a strict water consumption plan for them so they wouldn’t die of thirst.
The temperature reached between 102-122°F (30-40°C) in the day, but once night fell, the temperature dropped to 14°F (10°C). Fortunately they had kept their winter clothes, so they came in handy.
The temperature dip wasn’t the only danger at night; there was also danger from nocturnal beasts that came out once the sun set.
The contestants could hear the sounds of magical beasts running rampant across the desert. It made their heads numb and their hearts tremble. They were just ordinary people; how were they going to survive a night with beasts roaming wild?!
The participants secretly cursed out the instructors in their hearts. Why make things so difficult?!
Those planning to rush at night and rest during the day, had to rethink their plan. They would have to be foolish to try to rush out with so many wild beasts about.
Feng Wu and Ink didn’t dare take out their tents, and instead rested in between a pile of rocks. They wrapped up in fur cloaks to stay warm and took turns being on look out.
They heard many wolves howling, but managed to pass through their first night without incident.
In the morning, Ink and Feng Wu switched to their lighter clothes and went on their way. The temperature was once again high enough to roast.
It didn’t matter if it was roasted fish or dried food, on such a hot day, nothing had any taste. But not eating would mean not having energy to leave the desert.
Feng Wu and Ink ate a few random things, then after a short nap, they began moving again.
It was too dangerous at night, so they had to hurry on in the day even if the sun was bright and made things unbearably hot.
Feng Wu and Ink saw another group of people two hours later. It was a team of five that obviously knew each other, otherwise they wouldn’t have formed an alliance in an individual competition.
The five people looked wretched with their heavy winter clothes. Even though they were sweating profusely from the heat, they didn’t want to take their winter clothes off and bare their flesh to the sun. They were surprised for a moment when they saw Feng Wu and Ink.
One of the two girls in the group was very interested in Feng Wu’s Alpaca. Her eyes had not strayed from the alpaca since they met.
They bumped into each other walking the same path, but neither party wanted to start anything, so they kept to themselves.
Feng Wu and Ink weren’t going to start trouble; they were more interested in hurrying out of the desert.
Both teams rushed forward silently not communicating with each other at all, that was until the one girl eyeing the alpaca pulled the tall guy in her group aside and whispered something in his ear.
The guy looked thoughtful for a moment before approaching Ink and Feng Wu.
“I want to borrow your mount; can you lend it to us? My sister can’t walk anymore and really needs to rest. I’ll return it right after.”
The guy looked serious and quite imposing. It was obvious from a glance he was some kind of big shot at school.
“If your sister is tired, she should find a place to rest. We won’t lend our alpaca out.”
Ink knew how much Feng Wu loved her new alpaca friend, so naturally he refused.
468: Algernon and His Sister
Besides, Flower had an interesting temperament. It wouldn’t let anyone ride it other than Feng Wu.
“You guys, we’re all classmates. Our boss’s sister just wants to borrow your mount for a bit; we’ll give it back right after. Why be so stingy?” The other guys in the group called out after hearing what Ink said.
“Flower isn’t a mount; flower is a friend. You don’t lend out friends.” Feng Wu replied back seriously.
“It’s obviously just an alpaca; it’s not a friend! If you don’t want to lend it, just say it straight. Don’t give such outrageous excuses.” The boss’s younger sister spoke out in a weird tone.
Feng Wu did not like her tone and thought the girl was annoying. She turned her head away and ignored them after that.
The girl couldn’t find trouble even if she wanted to. She hummed indignantly but didn’t try to rush out and make trouble for Feng Wu.
“You two, if you’re willing to lend the alpaca today, once the game is over and we leave the arena, I’ll owe you a favor and if you have any difficulties in the future, you can come to me and I’ll help you.” Their boss was reasonable and didn’t start a fight just because he didn’t get his way.
As the seventh seat, his swordsmanship skills were excellent and only a few people in the fourth year could beat him. He was born into a big family and was well educated at an early age. At the same time, he wasn’t like those other aristocrats who used privilege to bully other people.
He was known as a good sort and was very popular at school. There were people who wanted to follow him, which was why there were two guys calling him boss now.
A favor?! Ink didn’t expect the fourth year, seventh seat to make such an offer. The guy was famous at school so Ink knew who he was. He had never heard anything bad about him.
Feng Wu didn’t know the boss, nor would she have recognized any other possible school celebrities even if they stood in front of her. The one person she knew was Ming Xi.
Though Ink was surprised at the offer, he stood his ground. This kind of favor would have been tempting to most other people. Having a senior look out for you made life a lot easier, and there wouldn’t be any fear of being bullied.
But Ink knew Feng Wu didn’t need such benefits. Ming Xi was a sixth year and on top of the student pyramid. Feng Wu, who was under Ming Xi’s care, certainly did not need the protection of a fourth year, tenth seat.[notes]
The guy was surprised to be rejected again, but he didn’t start a fight and rob two second-years.
His younger sister, Pamela, was still upset though. She wanted to say something, but kept her mouth closed when she saw her the look in her brother’s eyes.
She was normally stubborn and willful, but she knew proper order. Her brother had told her their performance in the game would be broadcast live for the school to see. She knew her brother would never forgive her if she dared to display her temper in front of the entire school.
Their family clan was really big. If it weren’t for her gift and her brother’s position as tenth seat, it would have been impossible for them to have the valued position they had in the family. She didn’t dare provoke her brother.
He normally appeared gentle and courteous in public, but he was no joke when provoked. Pamela thought about the consequences of his anger and obediently shut up. It was clear from her face she hadn’t given up though.
The only other girl in the group of five looked at Feng Wu. She opened her mouth a few times, but ultimately didn’t say anything.
They were strangers and Pamela wanted their mount; it was better not to say hello.
After rushing all day, both teams found a place to rest before the sun set. They weren’t as lucky this time and had to pitch their tents because they couldn’t find a ready made shelter.
Feng Wu and Ink set up one tent and took turns being on watch. Flower wanted to join Feng Wu when it was Feng Wu’s turn, but Feng Wu resisted the idea.
The Sister Alpaca had been walking with them all day and Feng Wu wanted her to get some rest.
“Melis, what did you get for us? It’s so unpalatable. Can’t you find something else?” Pamela spit out a few times to get rid of the dry, hard bread in her mouth. Then she drank half a bag of water to get rid of the dry feeling.
“I’m sorry Pamela, I got this out of a chest. Although it doesn’t taste good, it is still edible.” Melis was used to Pamela’s temper so she talked softly and gave her a look of regret.
“You can keep such a tasteless thing for yourself.” Pamela threw the brown bread at Melis’s face in disgust, before pulling some jerky out of storage and eating that with relish.
“I’m sorry, Pamela is still young and has been spoiled since she was little. Please don’t take it to heart.” Algernon apologized.
Melis clenched her fist discreetly then released them. She casually said, “It’s OK, Pamela is just impatient. I’m not offended.”
Pamela put the jerky back in her storage space after Melis left the tent. “Brother, why did you apologize to her? She didn’t deserve it!” Pamela didn’t hide her disdain for Melis at all.
Melis was a second-year sword division student. Her performance wasn’t bad, but she had a poor background. She always kept a low profile in the dorms. Of the four girls in their suite, two were in the same division and had known each other since they were children. They hugged and greeted each other warmly the moment they entered the dorm and worked to suppress both Pamela and Melis in an effort to take over the suite. Obviously, Pamela wouldn’t let them succeed. She reluctantly united with Melis and thwarted them at every turn.
If it weren’t for Melis’s usefulness, Pamela wouldn’t have bothered having her hang around.
“I told you a long time ago, don’t underestimate people. This Melis girl, even though she comes from low birth, success is within her grasp. She might prove useful in the future.” Algernon smiled slightly, his eyes distant.
“She’s a commoner. What can she possibly help us with?” Pamela asked indifferently.
“Who knows when that day will come. And even if it doesn’t, what do we have to lose?” Algernon didn’t care about a mere commoner.
The two siblings knew conversations in the tent wouldn’t be recorded so they spoke freely. They never expected there to be a glitch in their assumption.
Unbeknownst to them, a tiny sapphire earring was hidden within the folds of one of the blankets.
Melis had the other earring in one ear as she talked to the other two guys following Algernon. They had no idea the shy and quiet girl in front of them was multitasking and eavesdropping on the siblings while holding a conversation with them.
The sapphires weren’t ordinary earrings, but were alchemically produced and had long-range capabilities.
Melis had chosen them during the team challenge because she thought they would be useful, unfortunately her team was weak and she didn’t get a chance to use them at all. Instead, the earrings were proving useful now in the individual challenge.
She was low-born daughter of a hunter. And in a place filled with nobles, her humble background was only marginally better than that of an orphan. When room assignments were made, she was assigned to a suite with three other noble girls.
All the girls were bossy and wanted to be in charge. Two of the girls knew each other, so they formed an alliance right away. The pressure forced Pamela to form an alliance with her, even though she was a low-born commoner. She had only agreed to team up because she knew it was impossible for her to stand alone; but the moment she did, Pamela started treating her like a servant and constantly vaunted her superiority, acting as though having Melis around was a form of charity. It was rich because it was Pamela who approached her for an alliance. She wasn’t the one who stuck to Pamela.
Pamela was willful and arrogant but also generous. Sometimes she would give Melis her discarded items, which were actually quite good.
Plus having Pamela as a supporter did make life a little easier for Melis.
Algernon, on the other hand, was a whole other story. She knew he wasn’t as kind and gentle as he presented himself to be. Pamela didn’t use her brain much, but Algernon did, and this made him the more terrifying of the two siblings. Algernon only associated with people he deemed useful.
She didn’t want to offend either of them, but she didn’t want to be their pawns either.
Overhearing their plan in the tent gave her some peace of mind. Growing up a commoner had taught her patience. Though it could take time, she would find a way to get out the of bondage the two siblings trapped her in.
Later that night, Feng Wu abruptly woke up from her dreams to the smell of blood in the wind. Something was wrong... She threw off her quilt, put on her clothes and rushed out of the tent to where Ink was standing on watch.
“Something is coming.”
Ink’s face sank. He didn’t doubt her words. As far as he was concerned, Feng Wu was a magical girl who rarely made mistakes. “How far away is it?”
“Not far,” replied Feng Wu expressionlessly.
“Pack and let’s get out of here.” Ink made an decisive decision instantly.
They put their tent away and warned Algernon’s people before leaving. They were not in conflict with each other and warning the other party could be considered an expression of school patriotism.
But unfortunately Ink’s kind intentions went unappreciated.
Though Algernon’s two subordinates didn’t take Ink’s warning to heart, they still reported it to Algernon.
When Algernon heard the news, he had to think about it for a moment. Should he listen to Ink? They were rivals and there was absolutely no reason for Ink to warn him of danger. Was it possible Ink was setting a trap?
Ink: . . . You think too much.
That was the problem with smart people. The smarter they were, the more they thought about stuff. Their brains whirred with what-ifs. Algernon was undecided because there were too many possibilities to consider.
Pamela was a lot less ambiguous about the situation. “Brother, do you really believe what that guy said? What can he possibly know; he’s just a second year. I think he’s trying to trick us. We have to be careful!”
Pamela didn’t normally think much, but because Ink and Feng Wu refused to give her any face earlier, she was inclined to think badly of them.
While Algernon was waffling about what to do, Feng Wu and Ink had already hopped on Sister Alpaca’s back and were racing away from the area as fast as they could.
It was the first time Flower had let a guy ride on her back; she was a cute girl so how could she have a guy riding on top? But this was an emergency and time was of the essence, so Sister Alpaca made an exception and let the male, who she viewed as useless, ride on top. Without her help, it would have been hard for them to escape.
All the while, a large group of wolves moved closer to their camp site. The blood and murderous aura Feng Wu sensed came from them.
If it weren’t for Feng Wu’s childhood growing up in the mountains, she would not have been able to sense the change in the air.
Soon enough the wolf pack reached the camp site and surrounded Algernon’s group. Pamela was so frightened she nearly peed herself.
470: The Tragic Pamela
The siblings regretted not listening to Ink’s warning, but fortunately, though they didn’t leave, they had been on guard since, so when the wolves came, they noticed immediately.
At level one, the wolves would not have normally been a problem for Algernon. He could have killed them with a single slash of his sword. But he was currently an ordinary person with ordinary strength, and had no advantages over the wolves.
Wolves increased the difficulty of the arena as they appeared throughout the night hunting in groups and killing contestants from time to time.
“Hu... hu...” Melis gasped for air as she ran with her sword in hand.
She had been leading Pamela away in an escape just a moment ago when the other girl shoved her into the wolves. Luckily, the wolves weren’t as interested in her as they were in Pamela, who they converged on and devoured before the other girl could even take a step away.
Melis used a drug she picked from the team challenge to stun the wolves. It bought her just enough time to run away in the opposite direction. She didn’t dare stop. If it weren’t for the drug, she was sure she would have been bitten to death in the same way Pamela had been.
Melis felt relief at Pamela’s death. She had wanted to be rid of the siblings for a while, but was unable to do so because there was no way for her to defeat a tenth seat with her weak strength.
Pamela’s selfish act of shoving her into the wolves gave her a fair reason to part with them. So being pushed out as bait didn't end up being that bad. She had been careful to stay alive and had not suffered any losses yet.
She didn’t know how long she ran for, but she knew she succeeded when the first rays of light fell. She saw a cluster of large stones ahead. She needed a place to rest so she clenched her teeth and headed in.
Feng Wu and Ink, after escaping the wolves with the help of Sister Alpaca, were resting under a big rock.
Unexpectedly, a person arrived not long after they fell asleep.
Melis looked at Feng Wu and Ink, not sure what to say as she never expected to run into them again. She really wasn’t sure if Feng Wu would recognize her from having been on the same team for the entrance examinations.[notes]
She’d heard a lot of rumors about Feng Wu since starting school, most of which were negative. She would see Feng Wu walking around campus, usually with a friend or two, fearlessly facing head on those who pointed fingers at her, completely unaffected by everyone. Melis couldn’t help but admire her courage. She couldn’t imagine how she would bear it if she had been the one in Feng Wu’s situation.
There were times when she suffered regret and wished she was as strong.
They had been on a team together once, but other than that, she and Feng Wu weren’t familiar with each other, so there was no reason for her to approach Feng Wu and try to be friends.
She never expected to have anything to do with Feng Wu again, but here they were, face to face. She felt a little lost as it didn’t look like Feng We remembered her. It was to be expected; it had been a over a year after all. Yes, it was normal for Feng Wu to have forgotten. Melis understood, but she couldn’t help feeling disappointed anyway.
“Melis?” Feng Wu asked uncertainly.
Feng Wu thought the other girl looked familiar when she first saw her. After a night, Feng Wu finally remembered the girl was someone she had formed a team with in the virtual world.
It had been a while, so Feng Wu wasn’t sure she remembered correctly. In her memory, the Melis she knew was a restrained girl with low self-esteem. The girl standing in front of her now wasn’t bursting with confidence but she wasn’t carrying herself like she was inferior to everyone. She didn’t look perpetually ill at ease either. The change in temperament left Feng Wu uncertain.
“You remember me?!”
“We were in a team together.” Feng Wu nodded in the affirmative when asked.
Ink relaxed his guard since she wasn’t an enemy, but he was still on the alert. “You’re injured!” he said upon noticing the row of bite marks on Melis’s arm. It looked like the injury was from a beast, which reminded him of the wolves that had prowled around last night.
“It’s OK, just some skin damage.” Melis wasn’t a delicate girl and she didn’t give much thought to the superficial wound.
She dampened a kerchief with some water after finding a spot to sit down, then wiped her wounds clean before applying some medicine powder from her space storage. She didn’t make a sound despite breaking out in a cold sweat.
This kind of rare strength among women gave Ink a better impression of her.
While Melis escaped the wolves, Pamela was standing outside the arena in disbelief. She was depressed that she had failed and died. People were looking at her strangely as she stood in the resurrection area.
“It’s her. Yeah, she deserved it. To push a companion to the wolves like that, man. . . Too vicious! Good thing she didn’t pass. Glad to see her fail.”
“Right?! She’s lucky she’s Algernon’s sister. Honestly, I don’t understand how such a kind person can have such a selfish and vicious sister.”
“I would cut off relations with her immediately if she was my sister, that way I can avoid being used by her in the future.”
“That’s Pamela all right. I don’t understand how such a black sheep could appear in our noble ranks.”
“I’ve seen that proud appearance of hers, and I always thought she had something good to brag about; never expected it would be this kind of thing. . . ”
“When I marry in the future, I will tell my family, I can not marry a woman like Pamela. I don’t want such a vicious wife. . . ”
Pamela’s face turned pale between all the talking and pointing people were doing. She knew the game was being transmitted live, but at the time she shoved Melis, she had forgotten.
471: Three Modes
Algernon was still in the game and was unaware of Pamela’s situation. He had the good luck to escape disaster but his two followers weren’t as lucky and had died under the wolves’ claws.
Feng Wu and her group slept in the stone quarry. It was uncomfortable because it was stuffy and hot during the day, but it was safer to sleep during the day than at night.
Melis had a lot of energy and was like a whole new person after getting some rest.
Ink learned Melis could identify plants and refine medicine after chatting with her. In fact, Melis made most of the medicine she had on her. She was definitely a genius when it came to refining pharmaceutical components. But pharmacists needed a lot of money to start up and her family’s situation wasn’t optimal for learning a field that required so much funding.
Melis was a hunter’s daughter. It took her family ten years just to save for her tuition. Where would they have had money to spend on learning something as expensive as pharmacy?
But she really did have a natural talent for it. Just by using the knowledge she got from being a hunter, she was able to tweak basic prescriptions and make them better. She chose a pharmacy elective course when she entered Xingguang Holy academy and became stronger at drug refinement than most of her peers. Of course, there was also a lot of effort on her part, but raw talent helped tremendously.
She spent a lot of time practicing swordsmanship. Had she entered the Pharmacy division from the start, the division would have had another genius in their class.
Ink didn’t object to her joining their group because Melis was skilled at refining medicine. Besides, Feng Wu knew Melis, so it wasn’t an issue for her join them.
It was easier with her around.
Whenever Melis spotted a useful herb, she would grab it and process it into powder later that night for future use. She knew perfectly well why Ink had agreed to let her join the group.
She hadn’t refined any medicinal potions before because she didn’t have the special instruments needed for the process. This set of alchemical tools was a set she picked up at the beginning of the group challenge earlier.
Because she was in a lower grade, she had wanted to prove her value to the team and show she wouldn’t hold them back on the team challenge. It was a pity her team got wiped out before she got to use any of the items she picked.
The current Feng Wu alliance was a slow-moving group of three people. It was clear from the broadcast screen they were far behind the lead group.
The contestants didn’t know their three days of peace was about to be shattered with new challenges that would eliminate many.
“Vice Principal, may I ask if there is a significance to the vote we are about to take? Between Sandstorm mode, Great Escape mode, Quicksand Trap mode, is there a difference?”
Tamansha turned her head to look at the vice principal. Everyone was confused by the options that appeared in front of them in the large square. The options listed were: Sandstorm mode, Great Escape mode, Quicksand Trap mode.
The vice principal cleared his throat then plastered a smile on his face, but it was impossible to tell if it was a kind smile or not because of his fluffy, white beard that obscured parts of his face.
“The three modes are tests our contestants will encounter in the desert level. Going forward, they will encounter a new test at each new map, with each test being more difficult than the last.”
“So will they have to go through all three modes?”
The vice principal shook his head as a hint of joy tinted is voice. “Only one will be selected as the challenge mode. Those who fail will be eliminated immediately. The other two modes not selected will be discarded and won’t appear again.”
So Vice Principal, are you looking forward to the contestants’ bad luck?
How could the crowd not be excited to chose what challenge the contestants would go through?
Tamansha asked the vice principal to introduce the three modes, but unfortunately the vice principal was tightlipped and refused to share any information.
The audience had to chose based on their feelings. All three surely had their own levels of difficulties, so no matter which they picked, the challengers would face difficulties.
“OK, the numbers have been tallied and the final result is in, the mode the contestants must face is. . . ” Tamansha opened the envelope with the results. “Great Escape with 40% of the total votes!”
Tamansha’s excited announcement from on stage surprised the audience.
“What did you choose buddy?” asked someone from offstage.
“It goes without saying, of course I picked Quicksand Trap.”
“I chose Great Escape. Just the name alone sounds difficult.”
“I chose Sandstorm. I didn’t understand what the other two were about, so I picked the one I understood.”
Of course the people who voted didn’t know. . .
It was night time, the most dangerous time, in the arena. The temperature plummeted and all kinds of monsters came out to hunt. Any contestant not careful would be bitten to death.
The wound on Melis’s body healed after a few days rest in part because her medicine was effective and in part because wounds healed faster in the virtual world.
It was really strange how they hadn’t encountered anyone else on the road. Ink took out his map and studied it carefully for a long time. There were several routes they could take to get to the next area, and though the one they took was the shortest and fastest, he never expected it would be so untraveled. How could they be they only ones to use it?
If Ink had come from a different generation he may have called it out for being unrealistic!
472: Great Escape
Ink didn’t have time to wonder why they weren’t running into anyone else because an unfamiliar voice rang out from the sky.
“Attention all contestants! Great Escape mode will start in half an hour. Contestants need only survive until morning to pass to the next map area. The top ten will be entered into a lottery drawing.
The drawing is very important for the next area, so all students are encouraged to try their best to enter the top ten. Announcement end!”
The voice fell to silence.
Were all the contestants enemies now? Great Escape mode? What hell was that?!
“Pack up and prepare for battle!” Ink yelled out.
The challenge was crazy so this new mode wouldn’t be anything easy to deal with.
Everyone readied their weapons as soon as they finished packing away their tents.
Ink led the two girls to the remains of a large nearby beast. Who knew how long it had been there, but it was so old that only the skeletal remains where left. They quickly hid inside.
The giant white bones were huge and gave them adequate cover so they couldn’t be seen from the outside.
The half hour passed by quickly. Everyone wondered what the mode entailed when it finally activated.
“Kill. . . ”
“Kill, kill, kill. . . ”
Fierce murderous aura filled the arena and the entire desert came alive with activity. A great number of zombies and low-level monsters rushed out from out of nowhere and ran rampant across the desert. Their eyes were red and their mouths looked ferocious.
It was terrifying!
“Crap!” Ink took a deep fortifying breath and stayed silent after that.
“That’s insane!” Melis was scared. She clapped her hands over her mouth and didn’t dare make another sound for fear they would be discovered.
“So many.” Feng Wu frowned. There were so many monsters. What should she do?
It was a good thing they thought ahead and found a good place to hide inside the skeleton. The original monster’s aura still clung to the carcass, so the advancing monsters outside wouldn’t be able to detect them for a while. They didn’t dare make a sound and risk discovery.
Feng Wu hid obediently with her mouth shut. She couldn’t feel any sentience from the monsters.
The monsters outside appeared in groups and acted on instincts alone so it didn’t look like they had any sense of self. Feng Wu was disappointed. If she could have talked to them, then they could have been friends and she wouldn’t be as afraid.
Virtual Space God: In your dreams! They’re specifically guarded against you!
Sister Alpaca stood beside Feng Wu and peeked out through the gaps in the bones at the scene in the desert.
So many monsters! Poor baby girl was going to be scared half to death! Terrifying! Terrifying! Woo. . . woo! Baby girl was so scared she wedged her body tight into Feng Wu.
The display screen outside showed the entire desert area. The audience could see the contestants desperately running away from the large amount of monsters on the map, but it was no use. Those standing in the open were quickly chased and killed.
Had Feng Wu’s group been unlucky and not found a place to shelter, they would have been out there now, targeted by the siege and surely dying a horrible death!
Ming Xi and Tian Ya were among the few people at the forefront of the group. Without exception, everyone picked the more dangerous, narrow path.
Powerful monsters came out even in the day time to block their way. But unfortunately for the monsters, Ming Xi and Tian Ya were so ridiculously strong, the monsters faced a guaranteed death.
Both Ming Xi and Tian Ya hid in the desert before the Great Escape mode was activated. On top of that, Ming Xi sprinkled both of them with powder to cover their smell so they remained hidden from the first wave of monsters.
Ai Lin hid inside a box. The box was something she found in one of the chests she opened. It gave complete immunity to all dangers and could even hide a person’s smell.
It was a unique item, but Ai Lin had been disappointed at its uselessness. Such a box wasn’t for her. She would have appreciated something to increase her attack of magical abilities more. What was she supposed to use the box for? Hiding away when someone said mean things to her?
She had refused to hide in the box initially, but when the announcement about the Great Escape was made, she knew what was going to happen.
It was when she looked around and failed to find anything to hide in that she remembered the box. She took it out and went inside without hesitation.
She was certain the challenge mode would be terrifying so hiding was the safer action to take.
Zi Cheng and Yifu hid in between two large rocks and carefully eliminated their smell. The demon wolf was a magical beast, but for the sake safety, she used some on the beast as well.
Once the mode was activated and the two girls saw the scene outside, they were quite grateful for their quick wits and action. Had they been foolish enough to hold their weapons and wait to fight, they would have been completely overwhelmed.
Zhu En, the girl who recently held a grudge against Feng Wu, was wearing a red cloak. It was a unique item that made the user invisible, however, the stealth function ceased the moment the user attacked or suffered an attack. So unlike Ai Lin’s box that was immune to all attacks, the cloak made Zhu En invisible, but it did not protect her.
Zhu En was careful to not touch anything as she tried her best to avoid the monsters.
Those who didn’t get special items, couldn’t find a place to hide, or didn’t think to hide were in poor shape. The display screen showed a large number of contestants being killed. Only a few managed to escape. But even with a successful escape, they still had to be careful because they could still get killed by other romaing monsters.
473: Killing Monsters
Screams filled the night. Countless contestants died under the claws and jaws of monsters that roamed night while bringing with them endless slaughter. From time to time, contestants would appear in the resurrection area with a bewildered expression.
Only half of the original contestants were active in the arena now. The number kept dwindling as more lost their lives and were booted out.
The same time the monsters appeared, a leaderboard also appeared next to the display screen for the audience. The names of contestants and the number of monsters each killed were tallied on the board.
The rankings changed throughout the night, but the gap between contestants was minimal. No one had managed to break out and dominate the board as the difference was generally less than ten kills between the contestants.
Feng Wu touched her belly; her eyes were a little aggrieved. She was hungry. . .
Both Ink and Melis stood stock still next to Feng Wu as they stared at the enemies outside.
The monsters were no longer concentrated in certain areas, but had spread out all around the desert. There weren’t as many monsters guarding the demon skeleton as there was at the beginning. Most had wandered off to other places, but were still close enough to cause distress.
A leaderboard, eye-catchingly gold and sparkly, had also appeared inside the arena. Names and kills were listed in numerical order. The order constantly shifted because of the competitive players.
They understood that the top ten was calculated on the board. If they wanted to get into the top then, they would have to kill as many monsters as they could.
“Do we kill the monsters to get out?” Melis asked uncertainly.
She knew her strength. With so many seniors in front of her, there was no way she could break into the top ten. Her goal would be to live to the end of the challenge. And if she wanted to join Star Marshall hall, surviving to the end would be an achievement she could point to when making her case.
Ink thought for a few seconds before nodding.
He wanted to compete for top ten, but the possibility of him making it was so low, it was practically nonexistent. Feng Wu, on the other hand. . . He knew how strong she was. Maybe she could do it?
Even if neither of them could break into the top ten, they could always retreat back to their shelter. There was no loss or danger in the action.
Ink turned to Feng Wu and asked, “Xiao Wu, do you want to kill some monsters?”
“I’m hungry. . . ”
“Er. . . eat after killing the monsters?” Ink suggested uncertainly.
Feng Wu nodded her agreement. Then she took her sword, jumped out of her hiding spot, and began slashing at the zombies in her vicinity.
Even if her martial qi was gone, Feng Wu still had excellent swordsmanship, physical strength, and stamina. She dispatched two zombies easily.
The zombies in the arena were easier to deal with because their heads were a weak spot. All you had to do was cut off their heads and they were done for. Monsters, on the other hand, were more dexterous and had thick skin.
Feng Wu laid into the zombie group and easily dispatched them with a graceful and fluid sword art. This combined with her agility meant she killed many more than Ink did.
Though Ink managed to kill some monsters, he wasn’t as talented as Feng Wu, so it was only natural his kill count would be less than hers.
Ming Xi and Tian Ya were also making their move. They rushed in after choosing a group of monsters, which they quickly dispatched with their smooth swordsmanship. In a short period, dead monsters littered the sand.
Ai Lin gave her best because she knew how useful the rare lottery would be for the next part of the challenge.
Zi Cheng was the heroine, so it was natural she would take part and try to earn points.
Yifu didn’t dare move out from her hiding spot. The monsters were so scary that she was shaking in fear. Their mouths were open and the smell of blood and gore radiated off of them. She was far too frightened to dare compete for the top ten. Her only goal was to stay alive to the end.
However, because of her 100% rating with Zi Cheng, she watched in awe and amazement, completely forgetting about her own safety, as Zi Cheng killed one monster after another.
It was one of the benefits Zi Cheng had for reaching 100% with a person.
Yifu would always put Zi Cheng first even if she was scared to death herself. She would have gladly died for her friend and would have rushed out to save her without hesitation if she thought Zi Cheng was in danger.
Aside from these guys, other strong fifth and sixth years were also fighting to get into the top ten. How could they, as seniors, cower and hide away when their juniors were out there fighting. They’d be a laughingstock if they hid like that!
After observing the situation from their hidden positions, the seniors came out and began scoring points.
The battles became fierce as everyone was rushing to get into the top ten. Their martial qi and magic were sealed so it was a hard fight and even the fifth and sixth years suffered heavy casualties.
Despite it being a rare opportunity, few seventh years entered the challenge. The few that did, only did so out of boredom. They were the graduating class and didn’t need to prove their strength. The fact that they were graduating was proof enough. Most seventh years stayed behind to help the teachers or to watch the event from the sidelines.
In the arena, most people chose to fight, but there were plenty who chose to ride it out in their hiding spots. They wanted to continue on in the challenge, so they needed to survive until the morning. Their method of choice was hiding.
Feng Wu didn’t think about what anyone else was doing; she was immersed in fighting monsters and zombies. These creatures couldn’t talk and had no sentience so she didn’t feel bad about killing them one bit. She was a lolli who liked cute animals, and these guys did not fit the bill, so she was merciless in killing them.
The spring water she picked up from the chests also kept her energy level up. She had given some to Ink to use as well. Though he did not squeeze into the top ten, with her help, he did do well.
Half an hour before dawn, a silver light shot out from the sky and changed the earth. It caused all ground cover to disappear and effectively exposed everyone to the monsters and zombies.
Those who originally sought safety in hiding turned pale. They hurriedly picked up their weapons to fight.
474: The End of the Great Escape
Melis’s reaction was good. She drew her sword the moment the bones around her disappeared. Sister Alpaca was also on alert, scraping the ground with her hoof.
Fortunately, most of the monsters had been cleared away, but that wasn’t to say all danger was gone.
Yifu was unlucky. She thought she had hidden away very well so she took no precautions and thus was taken completely by surprise. Zi Cheng was surprised by the geography change as well. She was focused on killing monsters and never thought the ground cover would disappear so there was no way for her to protect Yifu.
She was too far away. As a result, Yifu barely got a scream out before she was scratched and then chomped on by the monsters.
The final part of the desert challenge had been activated. Everything that could be used as shelter or hiding spots were taken away. The contestants had to survive the last half hour on their own.
The delicate magicians in the Magic division wanted to cry. They were just little magicians with fragile skin and thin blood. Why did they have to use weapons to fight these monsters?!
Woo! So unfair! They protested in their hearts.
“So unfair! Our Magic division has poor physique but we’re expected to compete in killing those monsters by hand alongside the Sword division guys?! There’s no reason for this!”
“This is not fair! Why should our Magic division kill these monsters the same way as the Sword division?! Why can’t we use magic?! How can we kill anything?!”
The two magicians began complaining to their friends as soon as they left the resurrection area. They felt the school was biased in favor of the Sword division. Otherwise, how could the challenge be shaped the way it was shaped?
Putting sealed magicians in the same arena as sword users where they had to fight monsters was unfair. Even if Sword division students couldn’t use their martial qi, they still had their stupid, strong, bodies, so obviously, their odds of surviving would be greater than any of the magicians.
And yet the administrators expected Magic division students to do the same thing as Sword division students! The magic students were not satisfied!
A chorus of dissatisfied voices rose from amongst the crowd. The loudest came from the Magic division students. They normally felt superior to the Sword division, after all, having the ability to become a magician was practically godly.
The Sword division guys were just a bunch of guys with no latent magic talent who had to resort to curating martial qi.
Who didn’t know magicians were the most respected? Pharmacists and alchemist chose to learn magic and rarely did any chose to learn sword mastery.
Because they had been endowed with talents others didn’t have, students in the Magic division felt they were more noble, a fact they were quite proud of. Their future achievements would most assuredly be greater than other departments.
But now they were being trampled on and by the Sword division no less! Most contestants still on the field were sword users and the only magicians still left were the dual magic/sword users.
They were all geniuses who stood on top of the school as all the average people had been eliminated.
It was just the second map and so many people were already out. Things could only get worse.
The half hour passed quickly. At the end of it all, only one person managed to make it through without killing a single monster. She had managed to stay hidden the entire night.
Thanks to her invisibility cloak, Zhu-en was the most relaxed that night. It helped her a lot. The God of the virtual world took away all the ground cover but he did not touch any of the contestants’ personal items. The invisibility cloak was an item Zhu-en found inside a chest, so the god left it alone and allowed her to use it on the field.
Zhu-en was the only person still on the field who managed to do so with zero points. The zero didn’t look good, but as long as she could stay in the challenge, she didn’t care.
“That invisibility cloak is too overpowered! How can such a cheat object be allowed?!” Someone in the audience who noticed Zhu-en’s invisibility cloak called out.
“Isn’t it? She can survive to the end as long as she has her cloak. That’s unfair to the other contestants.”
Some people began questioning whether the cloak should have been counted as a personal object. It was too much of a cheat item and really unfair to everyone else in the challenge.
Others thought luck was a kind of strength. A lot of people got chests as well, but it was Zhu-en who managed to get the chest with the invisibility cloak. It was fair; she was lucky!
Wasn’t luck a criterion in the school’s entrance exams as well? Therefore Zhu-en’s invisibility cloak was fair.
People on both sides argued.
Tamansha also asked the same question.
“Vice Principal, many in the audience question whether the invisibility cloak should exist as a personal item. The cloak’s ability is too powerful within the challenge and they are concerned if the person can use it to go all the way to the end of the challenge by wearing it, after all with it on, the person won’t have to worry about dangers such as monsters..”
“Actually, although the invisibility cloak seems advantageous at the beginning, it won’t be useful in the subsequent parts of the challenge, so the students need not worry. Various possibilities have already been taken into consideration.
We would never let someone win just because they had a powerful item. This is a very serious challenge and no such possibility was allowed to exist,” said the vice principal as he stroked his beard solemnly. He was thinking what a dignified and solemn image he must present. The students must admire him so much.
The audience: . . . Principal, we want to report the vice principal for posing again!
The audience was relieved to know the cloak wouldn’t be as useful in the later maps and that the challenge would be fair.
They believed what the vice principal said. He was often unreliable, but he wouldn’t cheat when it came to big events.
The smaller things though, you couldn’t be sure.
Those in the school who knew the vice principal were careful because they knew he liked to stab you with the trivial things. Anyone who offended him always suffered.
In the arena, the first rays of sunlight appeared in the sky and the contestants felt like they had survived a calamity when they saw it.
OMG! I thought I was going to expire! was a constant refrain from the contestants.
The guys nearly cried manly tears of relief. The girls were exhausted. Well, everyone was exhausted. They couldn’t remember how many monsters they killed or how many times they had been injured. It didn’t even feel like their bodies were their own anymore after everything they went through.
475: Desert Wasteland
The battle actually caused seven or eight of the contestants to get booted out. The strong and the lucky survived. There were also those who survived by chance, but the numbers of those who did could be counted on one hand.
The leaderboard stabilized after one last refresh.
1st place was Tian Ya with 780pts.
2nd place was Ming Xi with 775pts.
3rd place was a seventh-year with 670pts . . .
5th place was Feng Wu with 620pts . . .
10th place was xxx with 560pts
Each monster was worth 5pts. Even the person who had the most points couldn’t kill two hundred monsters.
The top ten was finalized. And as was mentioned earlier, they were allowed to draw in a special lottery drawing. Those who didn’t make it to the top ten felt variations of envy, hate, and regret.
Interestingly enough, three of the girls who made it to the top ten of the challenge were second-year top ten rankers in the second years themselves – Feng Wu was first in her class; Zi Cheng was sixth in her class; and Ai Lin was seventh in her class.
Their scores were very close and it was a tight match between them.
That three second-year girls could get into the top ten of a challenge would have been inconceivable in the past. It was amazing to see one dark horse, but to see three dark horses?
Moreover, two of the dark horses were from the Magic division. The thin-skinned and brittle magicians were at a severe disadvantage in the beginning. Who would have thought two such girls would make it to the top ten? Those in the Magic division were so proud. It was unfortunate Jier didn’t join the challenge, otherwise they would have surely had three from the Magic division in the top ten.
The students in Feng Wu’s grade also expressed their surprise. None of them suspected their little second-year would be a black horse.
All the ground cover was returned to their original positions after that segment of the challenge ended.
Feng Wu and her group found a shaded spot to nap. They slept for several hours, and instead of using the daytime to travel, decided to rest.
Feng Wu squinted happily now that she could finally eat roasted fish and drink fish soup.
By the time Ink finally woke up and started eating, it was already dark. He’d slept all day. He was thinking about what to do when Feng Wu tossed somethings at his feet.
“This. . . where did all this come from?!” He nearly spat out the fish soup he was drinking.
He stared at the bodies of the wolves in front of him. Weren’t these the wolves they’d killed earlier? Weren’t they taken away by the god here? Where did they come from? Ink was dumbfounded.
“Collected them.” Feng Wu looked expressionlessly as she answered.
“Collected. . . them. . . ”Yes, yes. The question was when did she pick them up and how had he missed it?!
“What are your expectations in giving these to me?” Forgive him for not being smart, but he could not for the life of him figure out what Feng Wu wanted.
“Barbeque.” Feng Wu’s eyes were sparkling and there was a suspicious glistening of water at the corners of her mouth when she answered.
Ink was speechless. Had he been starving her?
“I’ll roast it.” Melis covered the smile on her lips and took the meat from Feng Wu.
Melis came from a family of hunters, so she was great at barbequing. The wolf meat, which wasn’t delicious to start with, became mouthwatering after she roasted it.
It was a lot of meat though, and Ink felt bad having her do all of it alone, so he went over and helped. The entire night, all they did was roast meat.
All the dead bodies disappeared after the end of the battle, so how did Feng Wu get these? Ink didn’t understand so he asked.
Feng Wu tilted her head and answered. “You can pick them up after you kill them. There were too many to fit.”
Wait. Did she go and pick up and all the monsters so she could eat them later?! Ink tilted his head 45 degrees and looked at the sky.
Early the next morning, they left with space bags filled with wolf meat.
In a distant country, a young man walked through the entrance gate and went inside a magnificent, old mansion.
“Master Zo,[notes] you’ve returned!”
“Greetings Master Zo.”
“Greetings Master Zo!”
As soon as the young man entered, many people moved to greet him.
“That’s Master Zo! He looks so powerful! Just looking at him, it’s like he’s almost caught up to Master Caesar!” said a young man admiringly.
“Master Zo is young still. He became an ice magician and a peerless genius after returning from the sea god’s tomb![notes] Master Zo is the second most powerful next to Master Caesar!”
“I wonder if Master Zo needs any more servants. I want to sign up.”
Zo had no interest in the goings-on of the front yard. He nodded cursorily then walked alone toward his own courtyard. Inside, Plum was directing the new maid on how to clean. Originally when Zo didn’t have any cultivation talent, none of the maids wanted to serve him, but now that his cultivation had improved, his courtyard was lively and full of people.
Who knew how many maids wanted to climb up the ladder by serving Zo. But though they wanted to, few were selected.
How could the butler let people with bad intentions serve Zo?
“Master Zo, you’re back!” Plum ran over happily when she saw him enter.
“Yes, I’m going to my room first so bring my lunch there,” said Zo as he rubbed her head.
Once in his room, Zo walked to the window and looked toward a specific direction as he muttered to himself. “It’s almost time for the Heart of Wood to form. I must prepare. . . ”
There were no plants in the water scarce desert. People didn’t normally go there, but recently people had been venturing into the wasteland.
All entrances to the wasteland, except for one, were hazardous with layers upon layers of poisonous miasma filling the air. Anyone caught inside it would surely catch their death.
The only safe way in was through an inconspicuous town with a population of 20,000-30,000 called Anle. It stood before the wasteland, so if anyone wanted to enter, they had to go through there.
476: Ten Names
Few people ever visited the town and most of the residents were natives, but lately traffic had been increasing and people were showing up asking questions about the wasteland.
“Auntie, can I ask if anything strange has happened in the wasteland recently? Why are there so many people here?”
Ten people, all wearing different styles, were on the streets.
The residents had gotten used to strangers appearing and weren’t as bothered as they used to be.
“I don’t know, but there have been a lot more strangers lately. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.” A plainly dressed auntie sighed.
People didn’t visit their out of the way town, so to have such an influx all of a sudden was worrying. Was something about to happen? It didn’t feel like they could do anything about it.
“There is nothing bad that will happen. Please be at ease Auntie.” A purple-haired girl gently reassured the auntie.
“I hope so.” She sighed one more time before stepping inside her house and closing the door.
“She didn’t tell us anything! Why did she just up and leave?!” A blue-haired girl muttered in dissatisfaction.
A gray-haired man who was walking in front turned his head and said, “Let’s find a place to stay first. We’ll talk afterwards.” The others had to keep up as he did not slow down.
A black-haired girl saw a puppy as she looked around. She wanted to play with it but was pulled away by the golden-haired guy beside her.
“I’m so sorry, but we only three rooms left. Will that work?”
“No way! I don’t want to share a room with these people! I refuse!” The blue-haired girl immediately was not OK with it.
“I will take the three rooms. Here is the fee.” The gray-haired man paid the boss without hesitating.
“No! Why don’t we go to another inn and see? Maybe they will have more rooms there?”
“There are only two hotels in the town and not that many rooms. These three were only available because the occupants entered the wasteland today. Another shop isn’t going to have any more vacant rooms than here.” Ai Lin was fed up with the seventh year. The woman complained so damn much! She had an opinion about everything. You’d think she was on a vacation!
“How would you know? You haven’t checked. And besides that, what qualifications do you have to dare talk to me this way?” The seventh-year, blue-haired girl looked at Ai Lin coldly with dissatisfaction on her face.
Ai Lin pretended not to see. She was done with this girl.
Zi Cheng looked at them worriedly, unsure how to persuade them to stop fighting. “Senior Sister Yaoyue, Ai Lin, please stop arguing.”
Yaoyue used her family background and status as a seventh-year student to complain about everything. If it weren’t for wanting to make a good impression, Zi Cheng wouldn’t have paid her any attention.
“It’s none of your business. What do you think you are? You’re just a drag. I simply do not understand why the school would let a bunch of second-year girls join the mission. You’re all just a hinderance!” The more Yaoyue talked, the more dissatisfied she became. She glared at Feng Wu and it made her feel better.
“You can leave anytime you want.” The guy with the gray hair was named Mogefei and his eyes were cold as ice.
Yaoyue shut her mouth. She dared be angry at Zi Cheng and the other girls because they were second-years, but Mogefei was a seventh-year top ten. He was far stronger than she was. In front of such strength, she could only shut her mouth.
The group looking for lodgings consisted of:
tenth year Mogefei,
seventh year Yaoyue,
seventh year Huozhou,
sixth years Ming Xi and Tang,
fifth years Tian Ya and Geente,
and of course the second-year girls, Feng Wu, Zi Cheng, and Ai Lin.
They were the top ten rankers in the the extreme survival challenge. In that rank, Ming Xi was 1st while was Tian Ya 2nd. The three second-year girls ranked in 6th, 7th, and 8th with Zi Cheng in 6th, and Feng Wu in 8th.[notes]
In the original story line, Elena[notes] died in the realm battlegrounds inside the god’s tomb, so Ming Xi and his group did not participate in the challenge.
Without Ming Xi and Tian Ya, powerful players like Mogefei had no interest in joining, so in the original text, Zi Cheng created a shock by placing first.
There was an incredible amount of unexpected factors this time around, with many powerful players who should not have appeared, appearing.
Zi Cheng couldn’t use her cheat and could only place sixth. The results irked her, but with so many seniors in the challenge, she was completely eclipsed. It was difficult competing for first place, so she tried to get into the top ten instead.
Ai Lin had the same idea but her goal was to grab the Heart of Wood from the heroine. She was especially determined now that she knew the world would be destroyed because of Zi Cheng. She would try her best to limit Zi Cheng’s impact. If she couldn’t stop Zi Cheng before Zi Cheng ascended then that was it. Game over.
This, how could she let it be? She hadn’t even lived yet.
Yaoyue, the girl quarreling with them earlier, was an outstanding seventh year, who just barely scraped into the top ten. It rankled her to see juniors placed higher than her. And when she was in a bad mood, she liked making trouble.
Along the way she had tried to make trouble with Feng Wu and the other two girls. Her main target wasn’t Feng Wu, but Zi Cheng and Ai Lin. That wasn’t to say she didn’t try to make trouble with Feng Wu, it was just that she failed every time. Feng Wu didn’t get any of her insults or ridicule. Even when she said something blatantly bad, Feng Wu would just stare at her silently with a blank expression.
She couldn’t get a rise out of Feng Wu, so she focused on Zi Cheng and Ai Lin. If the two girls weren’t so emotionally strong, they would have already broken down and cried from all the bullying Yaoyue did.
477: The Mission: Bring Back the Heart of Wood
Yaoyue could ignore everyone else, but Mogefei was a stronger seventh year and the team captain to boot; so, no matter how unwilling she was, she had to give him face. There were a lot of stronger people in her class and she knew how big a role luck had played in her being able to join the special mission. It was only because they had not joined the challenge that she was able to rank high enough to get into the top ten.
She didn’t dare offend Mogefei, who was a well-known seventh year.
Don’t let her harassment of Feng Wu and the other girls fool you; she only dared do so because they were second-years and weaker than she was.
There were ten people, but only three rooms. They ultimately divided the rooms up with six guys to two rooms and four girls to one room, which, considering there were more guys in the party, was a fair division.
Even though Yaoyue wanted a private room, she didn’t dare provoke Mogefei and could only agree unhappily to sharing a room.
The girl’s room wasn’t big, but it had two beds of adequate size to fit two per bed. The question was, who would share a bed with Yaoyue?
“I’ll take this one. You three take that one.” Yaoyue, having no intentions on sharing a bed with anyone, promptly declared ownership and laid down on her bed.
“Senior Sister Yaoyue, that’s going too far!” Ai Lin exclaimed.
“I am your senior sister. Do you listen to me or do I listen to you?!” Yaoyue said with a smirk. She couldn’t handle Mofegei, but she could certainly handle these girls.
“You...” Ai Lin wanted to keep arguing, but Yaoyue ignored the girls, pulled out a romance novel and began to casually read in bed.
Ai Lin was livid. What kind of person was this girl? Was she really a seventh-year senior? Weren’t seniors supposed to take care of their juniors? Why was a bed even something to fight over?!
Zi Cheng stopped Ai Lin and shook her head when she saw Ai Lin about to rush up to Yaoyue. “Forget it, listen to Senior Sister Yaoyue.” Zi Cheng also felt Yaoyue was excessive, but it wasn’t worth it to argue over such a trivial thing and possibly make things more difficult later.
Ai Lin understood fighting against a seventh year wouldn't be any good for them as second years, so she took a deep breath and resolved to get back at Yaoyue in the future. She asked, “What should we do now? It’s a little difficult for all three of us to sleep in one bed.”
Wasn’t it? The bed was a small and could barely fit two, never mind three. Even though the girls were slender, there was no way for all three to sleep in it.
Zi Cheng thought about it and offered a solution. “Why don’t I put a spread for Feng Wu and myself on the floor to sleep? You can take the bed Ai Lin.”
Ai Lin scoffed mentally. The heroine never forgot to show how caring and compassionate she was. Had Ai Lin not known better, she may have been moved. Realizing this, she turned to look at Feng Wu a little worried Feng Wu might be deceived. She had learned from their interactions that Feng Wu was a simple girl.
One glance was all it took for her to realize her worries were unfounded. It was clear Feng Wu had no idea what Zi Cheng was doing.
“You sleep in the bed; I have this.” Feng Wu said before producing a hammock from her space ring. It was something she had purchased a long time ago. Though she normally bought things to eat, she would occasionally buy things that caught her interest, so there were many miscellaneous items in her space ring other than food.
She secured the ends of the hammock to the sides the room and placed a blanket on top. The setup looked even more comfortable than the beds.
The beds were basic, just wooden planks on top of a base and a quilt covering over top. It was by no means a luxurious spread.
After Feng Wu made her hammock, took of her shoes and laid down, she squinted her eyes in satisfaction.
And just like that, the bed drama passed without further issues.
Ai Lin left the room to search for a secluded spot to message Zo. She breathed a sigh of relief upon learning he had already arrived.
The individual challenge ended and the final results came out fifteen days ago. A lot of people were in shock that a group of second-year girls triumphed over so many seniors. If it weren’t for the live broadcast, no would have believed it. The girls had somehow succeeded where many seniors failed.
After the challenge, they were brought to the vice principal’s office and personally assigned the mission.
The school wanted them to enter the desert wasteland and find the sealed Heart of Wood.
Legend had it, a thousand years ago the wasteland was a beautiful area filled with grass, but then something happened and the grassland turned into a desert.
The Heart of Wood was the most precious artifact for wood magicians. When it physically manifested in the world a thousand years ago, it had a weak consciousness, but that didn’t stop magicians from fighting over it. How many entered the lush grassland to get it? They fought to the point the land became barren and the once sprawling oasis became a desert, forcing the Almighty to seal the Heart away. No one had seen it since.
But the seal was soon to be lifted and the Heart would appear again. Who knew how many powerhouses would vie for it this time? Though both Star Marshall hall and Xingguang Holy academy knew a lot of powerful people would fight to the death for it, they didn’t know how to prevent it. They existed to protect humanity from external forces and were not good at protecting humanity from itself.
This was why the school chose to send students instead of their more powerful teachers. There were also several people from Star Marshall as well.
Ai Lin knew from having read the book that the school wanted to get the Heart, not for ambition or power, but to restore the desert and turn it back into the grassland it had once been.
478: Entering the Desert Wasteland
Though the process could be slow, it would benefit the people once complete. It was a pity the heroine contracted with the Heart of Wood in the original story. Once contracted, the Heart couldn’t return to the desert wasteland, so the school’s plan couldn’t be realized.
But with so many variables this time, Ai Lin no longer believed the heroine’s halo would be as all powerful.
The students had rested after a simple dinner and went out the next day to shop for supplies. They wouldn’t be able to replenish their daily necessities once they entered the desert so they had to buy everything they needed beforehand.
The people in town both hated and loved the sudden intrusion of outsiders. It was great for the local economy but it was horrible for public safety.
Several fights had broken out and the girls were being openly molested. The girls with higher status refused to go out and were hiding in their homes. Only the ordinary girls dared walk outside for chores and errands, but even they didn’t dare visit each other.
Though the adventurers wouldn’t kill ordinary people on a whim, they didn’t think twice about taking advantage of and bullying the residents. It was hard for the residents to think well of the adventurers.
The residents grew to quickly resent the visitors and were eager to be rid of them. They hoped the adventurers wouldn’t return after entering the desert.
Rumor had it, strange treasures would appear in the world soon. It was just speculation and no one could definitely confirm it, so though some adventurers had already entered the desert, most were just waiting and watching. They planned on waiting for several more days in the hopes that confirmation would come, before heading into the desert themselves.
It didn’t matter what the adventurers planned; there were a lot of them in town and they were troubling the residents. There was a certain amount of fear and dissatisfaction in the air.
This was why Feng Wu’s group asked if something had happened recently in town. They had wanted to ask further, but decided against it.
They entered the desert wasteland on the third day after they finished shopping.
There was no sign of life in sight. Anyone who wanted to enter the desert had to do so on foot as no living creature would set foot in the desert. It was a mystery why, but it seemed like there was something terrible inside.
A few days ago, a soldier had wanted to ride in with his horse, but his horse refused to move forward. It had a look of horror on its face. No matter how much it was beat, it refused to move. There were many such cases. In the end, everyone had to walk.
The desert was filled with endless yellow sand and scorching heat. There wasn’t a single monster anywhere.
The people in the group felt a suffocating pressure the moment they stepped into the desert. A disturbing panic set in, it was as though they were all facing a man-eating monster and the monster was waiting to swallowing them whole.
Feng Wu looked at the endless sand then touched the bag that held Rui Baby. A flicker of doubt flashed in her eyes.
“This place is strange. The moment I walked in, it felt like I was entering hell.” Tang said.
“Yeah, it doesn’t feel like a good place.” Huozhou nodded in agreement.
“Be careful everyone. This place isn’t as it seems.” Mogefei warned expressionlessly.
Their hearts grew solemn as they became aware how difficult their mission would be. But upon reflection, the school created an extreme challenge just to pick who would go. It would have been strange if it wasn’t a difficult mission.
“This place is full of evil aura, so much so there are clouds of it. Everyone be careful not to disturb anything.” Yaoyue’s face was ugly as she looked off into the distance.
“Is it the undead?” Mogefei asked.
“It might be, or it might be something else. We won’t know until we see it.”
Both Ai Lin and Zi Cheng looked at Yaoyue in admiration. They thought she would only cause them trouble and put on airs as a senior. Turns out she was actually capable! Although they were students in the same division, they had different teachers guiding them.
Yaoyue was one of the rare necromancers at school. Necromancers were the most mysterious. Yaoyue’s character was bad, but she was the strongest in the group of necromancers. That was how she successfully got a spot amongst the top ten.
With Yaoyue’s reminder in mind, they all walked carefully toward the spot marked on the map they had been given before leaving campus. The spot marked was the location of the Heart of Water. All they had to do was get the Heart and bring it back to the vice principal.
It would take more than a couple or days to reach the sealed area with the Heart. It was hard to know how big the wasteland was without having been in it before. It was possible to not exit even after walking a couple of years. The sealed area was also hidden inside the desert and would take a minimum of three months of walking to reach.
They couldn’t risk getting lost and losing time.
Days were long and hot while the nights were cold with temperatures below 10. They felt like human popsicles when the wind blew on them. Fortunately they weren’t in the arena and their abilities weren’t sealed. Though they still needed heavy coats, it wasn’t unbearable because they had fighting qi and magic for protection.
They didn’t have to hunt or search for food because they brought plenty of provisions. At night they camped and rested because they couldn’t hurry in the cold.
479: Ancient Mansion in the Rain
Their hearts were heavy and depressed from the deep sense of loneliness that permeated the atmosphere in the wasteland. They couldn’t rest well at all night night.
They set out early the next morning and quickly enough encountered other teams on the road, which really wasn’t a surprise considering the recent uptick in traffic to the wasteland.
The groups eyed each other warily and stayed on the alert for an attack. No one was in a mood to chit chat. The treasure hadn’t been spotted yet, but they were all there for the same thing. Fortunately, few people were stupid enough to start trouble so early on.
The wasteland was a massive area and the treasure’s location was unknown, but most headed toward the center because the popular guess was that it would somewhere in that area.
Two months later and they were most of the way there. Their otherwise normal day was upended when a dilapidated and clearly damaged mansion appeared out of nowhere in front of everyone.
“Why is a mansion here in the middle of nowhere?” Geente looked suspiciously at the mansion.
In the two months since they started their journey, they hadn’t come across a single creature, any buildings or even any kind of building debris. A mansion out of nowhere was naturally suspicious. It was a dilapidated mansion, but it was a substantial building.
“Should we go in and take a look?” Tang asked Mogefei.
To this Mogefei shook his head. “I have a bad feeling about it; it’s safer to not go in.”
As captain, Mogefei prioritized their safety above curiosity.
“There’s something not right about that building. We haven’t seen any kind of structure for two months and suddenly this mansion appears out of nowhere? It’s strange no matter how you look at it.” Ming Xi voiced his opinion.
“Yaoyue, what do you think?” Huozhou turned to Yaoyue.
Instead of answering, Yaoyue took out her staff and chanted a spell. Brilliant white light rushed into the mansion. She frowned when the light failed to trigger anything.
The lack of reaction was odd. She for sure felt dense yin energy coming from the mansion.
“What’s the matter?” Mogefei asked.
“I don’t know. My magic didn’t sense anything.”
“Are we going in then?” Ai Lin asked. She remembered the heroine faced great danger from a mansion just like this one in the original story line. The heroine would reunite with her leading man inside and the shared experience would deepen their feelings for each other.
This time though, the team make up was different. Would they still go inside the mansion? She had wanted to complain when she read the original story. A mansion out of nowhere in such a dangerous place, it was just too weird. On top of that, the heroine and her group went inside to rest without even thinking about it? Did they have eggs brains or something?
“No, we leave.” Mogefei said.
Ai Lin breathed a sigh of relief at his words. It looked like they would escape disaster this time. It was too dangerous in the mansion, so as long as they didn’t go in, they would be fine.
They were about to leave, when without any warning, they sky turned dark and heavy rain poured down. It wasn’t ordinary rain. Whatever kind of rain it was, it was working through their shields made of magic and qi. They had to find shelter before their shields completely disintegrated. Who knew what would happen if the rain touched them!
They had no choice but to take shelter in the mansion they were trying to avoid.
The interior was in the same condition as the exterior – dilapidated and dusty from neglect. Clearly the mansion had been abandoned long ago.
Zi Cheng and Ai Lin used magic to tidy a spot for them to rest. The group sat down without a word. There was doubt in Feng Wu’s eyes as she swept her gaze around from time to time. She didn’t say a word though. Ming Xi silently took Feng Wu’s hand.
The sudden rain made them uncomfortable. It was like the rain was designed specifically to keep them in the mansion. But who was behind it?
“It’s raining so much! Luckily we ran fast, otherwise our shields would have melted!” A man, carrying a light sword and obviously flustered by the rain, rushed into the mansion. The people behind him cut sorry figures.
“This rain isn’t right,” said one of the men.
“No kidding! What kind of rain damages shields made from qi and magic?” The man in the front said disdainfully.
“You know what I mean. . . ” The guy frowned a little and was about to say something back when he noticed they weren’t alone inside the mansion.
Other people in his group also stopped talking when they noticed other people were there. They found an unoccupied corner and silently sat down as a group.
Mogefei ignored the newcomers. His group didn’t own the mansion, so they had no right to tell anyone to leave. His only concern was the people in his team; what anyone else did, didn’t matter to him.
Two minutes later another group rushed in.
Ai Lin immediately recognized the male protagonist.
“Zi Cheng!” Caesar found Zi Cheng easily.
Ai Lin touched her chin as she locked eyes with Zo. His face was neutral but his eyes were definitely disturbed.
Her eyes said: Look at that. Your brother is about to become the heroine’s puppet. Are you sure you can stop it?
I can only try my best, was Zo’s silent reply.
Zo wanted to get his big brother back. He wanted Caesar to forget about Zi Cheng and he wanted Caesar to treat his fiancée better, but unfortunately Caesar was stubborn. And he knew it would only backfire if he forced it.
480: Caesar and Zo
No one noticed the brief non-verbal communication between Zo and Ai Lin.
“Caesar!” Zi Cheng never expected to see Caesar there. There were a lot of guys who were impressed by her, but she wasn’t interested in any of them. Caesar was the one exception. She was really happy to see him there.
“What a coincidence! You’re here too!” Caesar stepped forward.
“Yes, what a coincidence.” Zi Cheng smiled.
“Miss Zi Cheng, how nice to see you.” Zo gave a tepid greeting.
There was no way Zo would be happy to see Zi Cheng. Ai Lin was willing to bet on that.
“Hello Master Zo.” Zi Cheng greeted Zo with a friendly attitude. The fact that she had zero favorability points with him made her wonder.
It was a real mystery! She was sure she had never offended him before, so she didn’t understand the extremely low score. Did Zo hate her?!
She didn’t know where the problem lay, so she was going to ask Caesar when she had the chance.
“Xiao Cheng, who are these people with you?” Caesar looked at Ming Xi and the others. Each individual was imposing and unlike ordinary adventurers. He had a guess where they were from.
“These are my classmates and seniors from school. I heard rumors about a treasure materializing in the desert, so I tagged along.” It was impossible for her tell him about their mission.
She couldn’t share that detail right away him no matter how big a crush she had on him. Besides, the mission was a secret. Aside from them, only a few other teachers even knew about it. Zi Cheng couldn’t share information about the mission in such a public place with so many people around. She wasn’t stupid.
“Then we have the same goal.”
All the major families knew about the Heart of Wood and the seal’s expiration. The Heart was set to reappear soon and many were interested in getting it. The Heart was equivalent to a saint level or god level item.
None of the families wanted their rivals to get it.
“Feng Wu!” Zo hadn’t seen Feng Wu since the sea god’s tomb. They had been separated and he never got the chance to repay her for her grace in saving him.
“Zo. . . ?” Feng Wu tilted her head a little puzzled. “You’ve become amazing.” She offered the praise after sizing him up for a few seconds.
Zo wondered what was up with her relieved expression. Did she feel like an elder? Zo was a little embarrassed. They hadn’t seen each other in a while, but she was still the same.
Feng Wu wondered why Zo wasn’t happy. Every time she got stronger, what she liked most was her master praising her. Didn’t Zo like being praised too?
Feng Wu lowered her eyes in disappointment.
Seeing Feng Wu unhappy, Zo didn’t dare remain silent. “Thank you, you’ve become even more powerful.”
Sure enough, her eyes lit up immediately.
Feng Wu: I’ve been complimented, so happy!
Feng Wu pursed her lips and a glow of happiness shone all around her.
“Zo, it’s been a while. Your strength has grown a lot.” Ming Zi had also met Zo and knew Zo was a friend Feng Wu had made while in the sea god’s tomb. If it weren’t for Feng Wu’s guardianship, it was unlikely the teenager would have survived the tomb.
He had learned that Zo couldn’t cultivate despite coming from a family of cultivators. The teen had to be under immense pressure even if his family cloth and fed him well.
In a world were force was respected, it was difficult for a young man like that to not become dark.
“Ming Xi, you are here too. I apologize, I hadn’t noticed until just now.” Zo said a little embarrassed. His attention had been focused on Zi Cheng and Ai Lin initially. After that he was distracted by the sight of Feng Wu, so he hadn’t noticed Ming Xi until Ming Xi spoke.
Apparently Zi Cheng could still rattle him. Even though he knew she wasn’t a major player on the continent yet, he was still unnerved by her presence.
“It’s no matter.” Ming Xi didn’t mind. “You’ve made a lot of progress. It’s hard to imagine how far you’ve come since we last saw each other.” Ming Xi remembered when he first met Zo. Back then, the teen wasn’t strong enough to defend himself and had to rely on others for protection.
Now there was a certain strength emanating from Zo. Ming Xi guessed Zo must have found an opportunity, but he didn’t ask for details. Who didn’t have secrets? As the prince of the Ancient Silver Moon kingdom, Ming Xi didn’t need to pry into other people’s business and be envious.
“I found some opportunities back when we were in the sea god’s tomb. It allowed me to have the strength I have now.” Zo left it vague and didn’t go into details. The Heart of Water was important and the fewer people who knew, the better it was.
The Heart of Water not only gave him affinity for water, it mutated his talent into ice magic. Unexpected, but welcome since ice was more powerful than water.
“So it was.” Ming Xi nodded with a smile.
Caesar brought more than a dozen people, all of whom were strong members. Amongst them were a few ladies who were romantically interested in the brothers. Daggers flew when the ladies saw Zi Cheng and Feng Wu interact with Caesar and Zo. If looks could kill, both girls would have already died a dozen times over.
“Master Caesar, Master Zo, we’ve cleaned a place for us to rest. Please go and rest for a while.” Two beautiful girls came over. The sweet shyness in their eyes when they looked at their masters disappeared the moment they looked at Zi Cheng and Feng Wu. It was replaced with a look of bitter hate, the kind reserved for enemies.
Zi Cheng:. . . What did I do?
Feng Wu:. . . Hm?