Chapter 0247: Fairness & Justice's Independent Mission


On the slope, Li Luo and his squad were still staring at Jiang Qing'e in disbelief.

Qiu Bai and Tian Tian were taken aback as well. A level one purification tower was easy peasy for them, but for Li Luo's squad? They were first years, in the Umbra Cave for the first time, and fighting Others for the first time, for goodness’ sake.

They were filled with confusion and panic during their first encounter as Two Star Hall students. Without seniors to guide them along, they would have been in trouble for sure.

How would a One Star Hall team fare?

Jiang Qing'e had been looking after Li Luo better than a baby, and then suddenly she was yeeting him out into the forest. The difference was uncanny.

"Well? Is there a problem?" She regarded them with cool, golden eyes. "You might be first years, but are you too scared to deal with some Eroding Class Others? It's no small risk, I'll give you that. But... are we here to do risk-free purging?

"I can definitely protect you throughout. I can make it so that you don't need to lift a finger at all. Is that what you want?"

The disbelief in Li Luo's eyes slowly faded away into understanding. "Got it, Qing'e." She couldn't always be keeping him safe. It would rob him of his edge, and his courage.

No wonder she had been giving them a crash course along the entire way. It was to prepare them for this.

A test for Li Luo.

See how much value this newcomer team was going to bring.

He swung around abruptly to study the dead forest with eager eyes.

"Scared?" he asked his butterfly girl and shadow boy.

She blinked back at him innocently. "Well, I'm just the support. Good luck out there in front, Leader!"

Xin Fu's head lifted up an inch, letting the light fall on his pale but determined face.

"A keen blade fears no Others," he said, voice raspy with tension.

"Look here, Xin Fu," Li Luo said. "We're just going to cleanse a teensy, weensy, measly, puny level one purification tower. If you sneak around whispering like that, the Others are going to think we're planning to swallow the spirit beast in the forbidden zone or something."

Xin Fu was speechless.

"The Fairness & Justice squad rides out to take the tower, my fair lady," Li Luo declared grandly.

Jiang Qing'e nodded. "We'll be watching from here. We'll move on when you reactivate the tower. If you don't, we won't move."

Li Luo grimaced. The swan was a real hen when she decided to get pecking.

He nodded in acknowledgment and started down the hill towards the forest.

His team came with him.

Tian Tian looked over at Jiang Qing'e. "You really intend to let them take the level one purification tower alone? Both Li Luo and Xin Fu are First Patterns, and Bai Mengmeng is not even at the Pattern Genesis Tier. There are at least five white eroders at the Pattern Genesis Tier down there, stronger than any of them individually. Plus, you know how the Others fight."

Qiu Bai nodded in agreement. "You should test them more cautiously. An entire level one purification tower might be more than they can chew."

Jiang Qing'e broke into a radiant smile, first at her team, then at the advancing figures ahead.

"Oh, don't look down on our young lord."

Qiu Bai almost blushed at the sheer power of her beauty, and Tian Tian gave way as well. "Alright, Leader, you win. Your smile's too cute. We love you deeply and you are correct. Say… do you think Duze Honglian's pitted herself against you because she's secretly smitten too? Maybe she's being contrary because she wants your attention."

Jiang Qing'e rolled her eyes.

...

Li Luo's trio soon reached the forest.

Dark mist hung on dead branches in a dystopic imitation of cotton candy trees, and the ever-present whispers continued to eat away at their resolve.

Again, they couldn’t shake off the impression that they were being watched.

Shing.

Li Luo unsheathed his swords, then he moved noiselessly into the unwelcoming forest.

Xin Fu and Bai Mengmeng followed closely.

The moment he stepped into the treeline, he could sense a cold wave of hostility. Their enemies were somewhere... above.

He looked up just as a shadowy streak of energy flew out from behind him, pinning a creature down. It was a bird-like Other with a sickly, white plumage. He looked closer at the strange wings... Of course. They were made of rotten fingers.

The shadowy power had come from Xin Fu.

"Leader, are we going straight to the purification tower?" Bai Mengmeng asked, looking around anxiously.

Li Luo shook his head. "Once the reactivation process begins, the Others within the forest will swarm and attack. Given our current strength, we can't possibly deal with them all if they flock, so we'll have to pick off stragglers and thin some numbers. We can only reactivate the purification tower when we're sure we can handle the rest."

They were not going to hide from the Others, but take the fight to them instead.

Still, Li Luo's decision was the most rational one. Weaker leaders would have chosen the more dangerous and cowardly route of hiding instead.

"Alright." They concurred with his decision.

They moved ahead swiftly for a few more minutes, until Li Luo sensed something and halted.

His resonant power swirled in readiness around him, Water Edge flowing on his shortswords.

He peered ahead worriedly at the disturbed fog ahead, then a creature several zhang tall strode out.

It had extremely long hands and legs but no head. Instead, all of its limbs were attached to a single, large eyeball.

The sclera was especially wide, and the eye turned on them with malicious attention.

They had no time to guard themselves. The black pupil swirled like a vortex, and they found themselves freezing up.

It was an immediate firsthand lesson regarding the dangers of the Umbra Cave.

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