The next day, Li Luo and Jiang Qing'e handed over all their affairs back to Cai Wei, and then followed Yu Lang, Bai Mengmeng and the others back to Astral Sage College.
Li Luo immediately felt much freer upon entering the school compound. He felt safe there.
At the same time, there was a marked tension among the more senior students, and worried faces were to be seen everywhere.
Probably because of Umbra Cave.
After all, if the sweeping missions were activated, these senior students would be sent into Umbra Cave. Death and injury awaited within.
Casualties. It was a simple word, but when it applied to your peers that you had been through thick and thin with, it hit different.
Jiang Qing'e and Yan Lingqing split from Li Luo's group the moment they reached school. Soon enough, it was just Li Luo and Bai Mengmeng heading back to their tower.
Li Luo's bright laughter and Bai Mengmeng's giggles filled the air, as they moved with light steps towards their tower.
The pair came to an abrupt halt at the stone steps before the tower. The tree's shadow was unnaturally large.
Li Luo had almost stepped in it when he realized what it was, catching Bai Mengmeng before she stepped on it.
"Xin Fu," he said kindly. "Why are you squatting here? You look... pitiful." He looked like an orphan waiting to be adopted.
Bai Mengmeng jumped backwards in alarm. "Sorry, Xin Fu, I didn't see you there."
Xin Fu looked up glumly from under his hood.
"Er..." A thought occurred to Li Luo. "You wouldn't have spent your entire holidays here, would you? Don't you have friends to go out with? Xin Fu shook his head mutely. He had barely spoken a word to anyone here at Astral Sage College. Of course he didn't have friends.
Li Luo had guessed as much. The man was reticent to a fault, perhaps because of his shadow resonance. One barely noticed his presence, and he was often overlooked.
"That's really pitiful." Li Luo sighed.
Bai Mengmeng looked at him with sympathy as well. "Xin Fu, we'll definitely take you with us when we go out next time. I did walk around trying to find you before I left. I walked all around, but didn't see you anywhere." She explained.
"When you left, I was sitting right here," he said morosely.
Bai Mengmeng's face froze. "Erm, well, I really didn't see you."
Xin Fu shook his head and gave a suffering sigh.
"Oh, you're all here."
The three looked over to see Chi Chan walking over, her slender frame clad in her usual veils.
The three students hastily greeted their teacher.
Chi Chan nodded to them. "Well, since you're all gathered let's begin today's lesson. I have important news for you today."
She turned and walked to the garden with a seriousness in her bearing that made Li Luo pretty sure what she was going to talk about.
He'd bet a sixth-grade spirit liquid it was going to be Umbra Cave.
All three hurried after her to the spacious pavilion, and the four seated themselves.
"Well, you might have heard bits and pieces of what I'm going to talk about, which is Umbra Cave." Chi Chan said immediately.
She went over some basic information about Umbra Cave. Li Luo took it a bit more calmly, having heard it from Jiang Qing'e. Bai Mengmeng and Xin Fu needed a little more time to deal with it. Especially the former, whose fair skin was looking even paler than ever. She looked scared enough to faint.
They too were struck by how close the Others really were.
"This month, the school will organize purging missions. The Two, Three, and Four Star Hall squads will all participate. We received news that the pollution this time is especially bad, and even some of the most peripheral areas have been contaminated. This time, the One Star Hall Violet Vibrance squads might also be called."
She looked at them gravely. "The summons are compulsory. If you reject, you will be expelled."
"Umbra Cave not only threatens Astral Sage College. The school protects all of Xia Kingdom from Other Disasters. Whether you do it for school or family, you should have no reason to refuse."
The three students nodded stoically, showing the steel and perseverance that had helped them win their positions as Violet Vibrance students in the first place.
"However, even though you are called, senior squads will accompany you, imparting experience and protection." She said, nodding with satisfaction at how well they were taking this.
"Mentor, can you tell us more about the Others?" Li Luo asked.
Whether they were called up for the purging missions this time or not, they now knew that it was inevitable in the near future.
"It is about time to tell you," Chi Chan concurred. "I told you before that the shadow world was born of the evil of humankind. These others are those evil thoughts incarnate."
"Others are deadly and strong, and come in all shapes and forms. They are largely divided into four classes. Eroding class, Disaster class, Catastrophe class, and Other Kings. Eroding class others eat away at your character, allowing your evil thoughts to surface and take control of your body. Eventually you will succumb to their control; become their puppet."
"Erosion is a classic power of the Others... in all these years of culling at the Umbra Cave, many have fallen to their own comrades, corrupted by the evil influence of erosion."
Even Li Luo felt clammy when he heard this. Not only did they have to be on guard against the Others, but also against their own squad mates?
If it came at a critical moment, they might well be doomed.
"The Eroding class Others are also dichotomized into white and red eroders.... as their evil wills grow stronger, they gradually transit from white to red."
"White eroders are roughly second-tier Resonant Master in strength, while the red eroders are at the third tier... If you are assigned to purging missions, these will be the ones you take on."
"The Disaster class Others are at the General stage in strength, while the Catastrophe class Others are as strong as our Dukes. Once such an Other appears, it can turn a prosperous city into carnage in the blink of an eye."
"As for Other Kings..."
A moment of dread, as Chi Chan's voice wavered slightly.
"I hope we never meet those. Each one is truly a reckoning on its own. They have enough corruptive power to turn an entire country mad."
Her three students shared a collective shudder.
Although she had not said it explicitly, it was implied that Other Kings could only be dealt with by human King stage cultivators.
She took a deep breath. "The Others normally have grotesque appearances, but the more they resemble humans the stronger they get. So if you see one that looks exactly like us, whether in Umbra Cave or elsewhere..."
The three students nodded fervently.
"And now, let's continue the lesson for today. There is no news confirmed on the purging missions yet, so you may continue cultivating for now." She said with a small sigh.
"Hopefully you will not be called upon."
If they were activated, it indicated the Umbra Cave pollution was very serious. That was not good news at all.Previous Chapter Next Chapter