As the schools moved into the elimination phase, the scores on the crystal wall began to change more and more rapidly, reflecting just how intense things were.
Numerous pairs of eyes were all riveted on the wall. Occasional gasps or groans could be heard as they each monitored their own students.
Cai Wei and Yan Lingqing were also watching their Young Lord's score. When they saw his score increase, both relaxed into a smile.
"The Young Lord is doing his best," Cai Wei said coyly, gently fanning herself with an intricate, flower-patterned fan.
"He probably hasn't met any strong enemies yet. As the round wears on, all that will be left are the stronger survivors. Then his true mettle will be tested," Yan Lingqing reminded her.
Cai Wei's smile was still bright as a flower. "Still, I believe the Young Lord can do it."
"Because handsomeness is justice," Cai Wei said piously.
"You and your nonsense." Yan Lingqing propped her silver-rimmed glasses higher and turned away.
In the dense forest.
Li Luo and the others had surrounded one unlucky bastard. Before his desperate eyes, they cleaned out his points, leaving a tearful, dejected slump in their wake.
"We're at 1,500 points already."
Li Luo looked at their crystal medallions. They had spent most of the morning gathering these points, farming them off a school of greedy and unfortunate fish.
"Seems like the river's running dry though," Zhao Kuo fretted. In the last hour, that unlucky chump had been their only catch.
"Word of our fishing reputation's getting around," Li Luo said.
Their morning of fishing had not gone without its own hiccups. Some fish had slipped away due to their uncommon ability. They would definitely spread the word about the Li Luo Fishing Company.
Pre-warned students would not take the bait.
"Well, fishing was never going to get us the win. As more and more people get eliminated, the time will come when we have to fight," Li Luo said, unconcerned.
Zhao Kuo and Yu Lang nodded. They knew this too.
The three were biding their time, even while on the move. They continued a cautious foray forwards, but they soon realized that there was a thin mist building around them the more they moved forward.
It started to thicken rapidly.
Li Luo paused, frowning. "Something's off. We're retreating."
They turned immediately, retracing the path they had come from.
After a few minutes, Li Luo turned around and saw that Yu Lang and Zhao Kuo had mysteriously vanished.
Li Luo thought for a moment. He searched the nearby bushes and found clumps of a grey mushroom. These fungi were responsible for emitting the disorienting mist.
Li Luo gnashed his teeth. The mist from these mushrooms could cause one to confuse directions and even lose track of time and space.
Yu Lang and Zhao Kuo must have stumbled off, and now they were lost.
"What a pickle."
Li Luo stomped down on the Misleading Mushrooms. Although the fog was troublesome, it should be finite. If he waited for it to clear a little, he should be able to find the others.
At the same time, some distance away in the fog.
Zhao Kuo and Yu Lang were together, and they had also discovered that Li Luo had gone missing. Uncomfortable as it was, they could only advance cautiously.
After some time, they heard footsteps from up ahead and perked up happily. Zhao Kuo called out tentatively, "Brother Luo?"
The footsteps got crisper, and soon a figure appeared before them. Their faces changed.
It was not Li Luo. It was, however, a familiar face.
The one who had tried to snatch their Spectral Face fruit, Eastpool Academy's Lian Zhong!
He smiled coldly at them. "No Li Luo, but instead the two lackeys."
Zhao Kuo and Yu Lang wasted no time in beating it. They had walked into his trap, even though it was meant for Li Luo.
But just as they turned, two others dropped down into their path of escape, cutting them off.
There were four others.
And from their crystal medallions, they were all from Eastpool Academy.
"We'll have to duke it out!" Zhao Kuo's eyes flashed.
But Yu Lang raised his hands hurriedly. "Surrender! We surrender!"
Lian Zhong was taken aback, his lips quickly lifting in a sneer. "Are Southwind Academy students all this spineless?"
Zhao Kuo bellowed, "YU LANG! What are you doing?! You think they'll let you off just like that?!"
"Zhao Kuo, Brother, they're targeting Li Luo. That has nothing to do with us," Yu Lang wheedled.
"Damn it, you wretch!"
His face contorted with rage, Zhao Kuo's fist flew out.
Yu Lang dodged it hastily, his face a little troubled. "You're going too far. We're not even Li Luo's actual brothers."
He turned to Lian Zhong, who was enjoying the show. "Come on, let me off."
Lian Zhong snickered. "Didn't you say you and Li Luo were bonded by life and death or something?"
Yu Lang gave him a sheepish smile. "A joke. Rhetoric, is all. But if you're willing to let me off, I can help you find Li Luo. He gave us a special way of communication just now."
Zhao Kuo's eyes bulged as he charged over to bludgeon Yu Lang. But two Eastpool students held him down.
Lian Zhong's eyes narrowed. "And I'm supposed to believe you?"
Yu Lang's eyes were wet. "If you listened out for information, you would know that Li Luo and I actually have a deep enmity. In the Southwind Academy preliminaries, he was merciless, wounding me deeply. I was bedridden for many days, and even now my body hurts when it rains.
"I was unlucky enough to run into them earlier and was coerced to join up. That's all it was."
An Eastpool student whispered to Lian Zhong, "I've heard of this guy before. He's a real money-grubber. He would do anything for profit. He was indeed beaten badly by Li Luo in the Southwind preliminaries. I heard from a friend in Southwind that Li Luo beat him to a pulp. It was so gory, it brought the spectators to tears."
Lian Zhong frowned. Yu Lang piped up again. "Actually, I hinted to you previously."
Yu Lang gave a sly smile. "I asked you to up the price... If you did, I would've helped you."
Lian Zhong started. Indeed, Yu Lang had said that. But how could he have believed it? And yet it was all in character for Yu Lang. Could it really have been a hint?
This guy was truly despicable if it were true.
Lian Zhong crossed his arms. "If you can really lure Li Luo here, I'll let you go," he said casually.
Whether he was lying or not, if Li Luo could be baited here, all was good.
Yu Lang leaped up. "No problem!"
"Zhao Kuo is good friends with Li Luo. We can use him as a hostage. When Li Luo comes, threatening Zhao Kuo will render him helpless."
He was even proactively setting up the trap.
Lian Zhong could not help but reel a little. "Aren't you betraying your teammates a little too easily?"
Another sheepish grin from Yu Lang.
"Yu Lang, you good-for-nothing. Just wait! I'll never forgive you!" Zhao Kuo howled as he struggled.
"Truss him up and gag him," Lian Zhong ordered with a wave.
Four Eastpool Academy students crowded up to tie Zhao Kuo.
Lian Zhong stood beside Yu Lang and placed a chopper on his neck. "Now, use your communication method to get Li Luo here.
"If he doesn't come, you're both eliminated immediately."
Yu Lang thumped his chest proudly.
"No worries, Boss. Li Luo will fall for it for sure! When you catch him, please give him a harsh beating on his face. I've suffered beside that devastating handsomeness for all too long!"
Lian Zhong absently reached up to touch his own coarse and plain features. A wave of hatred rose in him.
He also hated those pretty boys who had the world eating out of their hands!
Yu Lang's words had struck a nerve.
Fights could be lost, but pretty boys had to die!
And the prettiest of boys like Li Luo had to be cut up into a thousand pieces!Previous Chapter Next Chapter