The manor’s steward was a friendly-looking elder. His back was somewhat stooped and he had a bit of mustache. However, his eyes flashed with cold light. It seemed that, given that he’d become the steward of the city lord’s manor, he was no ordinary man.
“So, you must be the elites Skyspan Academy sent to our aid.” As soon as they stepped into the city lord’s manor, the steward stepped forth to greet them.
“We’re the team from Skyspan Academy. Your honorable city issued us a mission request, which is why we’re here,” said Xue Mo resolutely.
“You’re finally here.” The steward sighed, then looked at the deathly-smog-filled sky. “I’m afraid our Barren Sands City has invited our doom.”
“Steward, why do you say that?” asked Jiang Yong.
“The mission request mentioned that everyone in ten of the surrounding villages perished. Well, let me tell you, over the past few days, the death rate has only increased. Furthermore, we’ve already sent out over a dozen groups to investigate, but they’ve yet to come up with any results. More importantly….” The steward paused, and his expression darkened. “None of the teams we sent out to investigate ever returned!”
Ye Zichen and the others froze. The city lord’s personal guards were all sky supremes, yet none of them had returned….
“When we requested assistance from Skyspan Academy, we deemed this mission suitable for sky supremes. However, given the death rate over the past few days, I’m afraid this is no longer a sky-supreme-level mission. We’ve already sent a request for aid to the Sea of Innocence and the neighboring divine mountains. Children, we’re very grateful that you came all this way here to help us, but this is no longer something you can investigate. Please, return home!”
The mission’s difficulty level had increased.
A solemn light flashed through the students’ eyes. Their gazes met, and they saw the same expressions in their companions’ eyes as well.
“What should we do?” asked the two flowers of the Appearance Association. “Should we go back?”
This was a group transmission message, so everyone from Skyspan Academy heard it. However, they fell silent. After a long while, Jiang Yong knit his brows and transmitted, “If the steward says we can’t complete this mission, there’s more than an eighty percent chance he’s right. I’m sure the academy has heard this news too. Xue Mo, did you receive a message from the academy telling you to return?”
“I didn’t,” said Xue Mo. When the steward first told them the difficulty level had gone up, she immediately checked her transmission device but saw nothing from the academy.
“So, are we leaving or not?”
“Xue Mo accepted this mission, and we’re only here because she invited us. It’s up to her. If she says we leave, we leave. If she wants to keep going…. We members of the Appearance Association will go with her,” said Murong Xue, suddenly decisive.
Everyone’s gazes landed on Xue Mo. This whole time, she’d gnawed her lower lip but said nothing. Finally, she glanced at Ye Zichen. “Ye Zichen, what do you think?”
The Appearance Association and Aspiration Society never would have guessed that in the end, this important decision would fall into the hands of the only one among them who wasn’t a sky supreme.
Ye Zichen frowned as well. In truth, he’d been considering this the whole time.
The steward wouldn’t trick them. Skyspan Academy had definitely received news of the difficulty increase.
And yet, they didn’t cancel the mission, nor did they request their group return to the academy. The academy wouldn’t just let a group of top-notch talents they’d raised up throw themselves to their doom. Therefore, it seemed likely that the academy had reached the conclusion that they were qualified to handle this bounty mission.
After a moment’s hesitation, Ye Zichen explained his thoughts to the group.
Jiang Yong nodded in approval. “Brother Ye, I think that makes sense. The academy wouldn’t just let us rush to our graves. Given that they haven’t sent us a message, they must be certain we can handle this. Alternatively, they might have already sent someone to protect us in secret.”
“Please don’t just repeat what Little Brother Ye said.” Murong Xue rolled her eyes. “This just proves you have no brain. That said, I agree with his analysis.”
“In that case, let’s continue with the mission.” Given that their companions had already expressed their approval, Xue Mo made her final call. “Of course, if any of you want to quit, you can say so. None of us will think you cowardly. After all, no matter what else we say, this mission really isn’t fit for sky supremes.”
“We’ll do what Big Sister says,” said the two golden flowers of the appearance Association.
Pang Sheng said nothing, but the resolute look in his eyes already made his intentions clear.
“This was our Anti-Upheaval’s mission to begin with. Our external support isn’t backing down, so how can we?” Li Hu greened. “Besides, Luo Zi and I only just transferred over from the Grizzly Bears. We’d best put on a good show!”
In the end, the only one who wanted to back out was Chen Guangfa. When he heard that the difficulty level had increased, his reaction was stronger than the others. However, when he heard that none of his companions were going to quit, he thought it over and said disconsolately, “I won’t back down either.”
The team of ten was still complete. Xue Mo nodded firmly and gratefully at Jiang Yong and Murong Xue and the others. Next, she turned to the elderly steward and said, “Mister Steward, we’d still like to attempt this mission. Barren Sands City is connected to our Skyspan City. Furthermore, as students of Skyspan Academy, we’ve only reached our current mastery and obtained the opportunity to study in peace due to support from the countless cities of the Northern Divine Mountain. Now that you’re in peril, we’d like to end what little aid we can.”
“This…” The steward hesitated, but when he saw their resolute expressions, he couldn’t help but nod. “The path toward becoming strong is riddled with thorns. Your fearlessness reminds me of my youth. Protecting you too much will only restrict your future prospects. Fine…. Then I’ll take responsibility for granting you permission to carry on with your mission. If you succeed, we’re willing to offer three times the reward we promised earlier.”
“Thank you for your recognition.” Xue Mo cupped her hands. “However, we don’t know where to start. Is there any chance you could point us in the right direction?”
“Not long ago, the city lord led his elite troops to a village in the northwest to investigate. You can head that way to meet up with him and hear his report,” said the steward.
Little did they know, back at Skyspan Academy…
“Have you reached Xue Mo yet?” The dean furrowed his brows at another middle-aged man, who held a transmission device. He’d already sent who-knows-how-many messages.
When he heard the dean’s question, he shook his head. “Not yet.”
The dean slammed his fist into the divine-wood desk, leaving behind a hand-shape input. This startled the other man, who immediately started trembling.
“Go! Immediately send someone to Barren Sands City. If you see Xue Mo and the others, bring them back to the academy right now!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter