Chapter 41: Friendship
The next month of the trip went without a hitch. No bandits appeared to attack them, and no Fierce Beasts emerged to fight them either.
Li Jian was getting more and more nervous as they came closer and closer to the recruitment camp. Xue Wei was still alive, and the closer they got, the more likely he was to stay alive, which was something that he could not accept.
Xue Wei was aware that something was agitating Li Jian, and he was observing him with vigilance from time to time.
Xue Wei knew that he could not afford to be careless. The woman that had appeared when they were about to leave Tiankong City was indeed not someone he could disregard.
Since not much had happened in a month, the previously nervous and worried youngsters had relaxed significantly and were now talking together while marching.
Strangely enough, neither Luo Zhirou nor Shen Mu came to talk with Xue Wei; it was clear that they were still scared by his display of bloodthirst during the battle with the Sand Snakes and the bandits.
Although he was observed with reverence from some, he was also feared by everyone. They had all been brought up in a safe environment, but now they had seen real fighting for the first time, and they had also understood the difference between them and Xue Wei.
No one was comfortable when comparing themselves to Xue Wei. It was as if he was a real warrior. The kind of expert that they had read about and heard about, the type of warrior that would go on and catch Primordial Beasts.
There was a bit of jealousy in the hearts of some, as they too wished to be as fierce in battle, but most were scared and rightfully so. How could someone who had been trash for so long have such an innate killing intent?
Everyone was puzzled and the rumors that had started spreading about Xue Wei and his killing intent, merged with the imagination of everyone made them all fear that he would take his vengeance because there had been a time they had looked down upon him.
He was without a doubt the strongest expert in the group of youngsters. If he wanted to take revenge, even if he did not kill them, he would at least be able to make their lives a living hell.
This was especially so if Xue Wei went to the Genius Camp at the recruitment camp. If he was considered a real genius, then their lives would become hard to predict.
"We ought to go and apologize," someone whispered to his friend, who nodded his head but spread his arms. "We should," he agreed, "but even though we ought to do so, do you want to go and talk with him when you saw him chop down ninth layer Ordinary Warriors as if they were weeds?"
"You think he will take the chance to take revenge?" the first youngster shivered as he thought about it. "Maybe we should wait for someone else to test the waters. If they survive, we will do the same, but if they get slaughtered, then they can only blame their luck."
The second friend nodded his head. "We don't have any other option. Although it might seem less sincere only to try after others have paved the road for us, it is better than risking our lives."
Unfortunately, it seemed that everyone shared these thoughts; even Shen Mu and Luo Zhirou were uncomfortable about Xue Wei's sudden display of bloodthirst and his combat ability.
Although they knew that Xue Wei was continually increasing his strength, they had not been able to comprehend that he had overtaken them in strength completely.
He had been trash for so long, and although he was no longer trash, he had been lower ranked than them. He had not been able to threaten them, and they had never fought him, resulting in them slightly looking down on him.
Now that he had displayed a power stronger than theirs by a lot, they did not know how to deal with it.
Although Li Jian was Xue Wei's enemy, he was the one who was the most aware of Xue Wei’s strength. He had fought against Xue Wei and knew from early on that not only did Xue Wei have abilities that made it hard to counter him, he also had physical strength superior to other cultivators of the same layer.
At the start, Luo Zhirou and Shen Mu had not contacted Xue Wei at the beginning because they had been stunned by how he suddenly was much stronger than what they initially thought. Time just passed and slowly it became more and more awkward.
Finally, Luo Zhirou could not endure it any longer. With a wail, she rushed towards Xue Wei when they were having a break.
"Brother Xue!" she called out. Although her voice was not too loud, every youngster and even many of the guards quieted down and discreetly listened in on the conversation.
"Zhirou, what can I do for you?" Xue Wei asked as if it was just yesterday they had last spoken, and his question made Luo Zhirou both feel calmer but also guilty.
"I'm sorry," she said while bowing to Xue Wei. "I did not mean to wait this long before talking to you, but you are horrifying!" she exclaimed as she rose her head.
"How can you be so fierce? Attacking and killing as if it was nothing. I killed one bandit, and I felt so bad about it that I had nightmares for weeks afterward, not to mention the physical pain and me vomiting!"
"I don't know... but I am not too averse to death or blood. Instead, it ignites something within me, making me feel a thrill as if I am walking on a tight line... and the smallest mistake will prove that I die. while winning means I live. To be frank, those are the moments i feel the most alive.”
Xue Wei decided not to say anything about the trance-like state he had been in, and just described how it had been for him when fighting the bandits.
He had, as far as he was aware, never before killed anyone, either. But when he searched his body and memory for any vestiges of the feeling he had when he first chopped down a bandit, he found nothing.
It had felt the exact same way as when he had sliced up the Sand Snakes. To him, humans and Fierce Beasts were the same – there was simply no difference between them.
"Am I inhumane?" Xue Wei asked himself aloud, but Luo Zhirou was by his side, and she answered him with a shake of her head. "No," she said seriously. "You are not inhumane; you are just realistic. If we want to survive in today's world, we need to be able to sacrifice others, and we need to be able to kill when the need arrives."
"I am too weak." Luo Zhirou's hands were tightly clenched, and her face was serious as she looked at the heavens above, "I wish I too could transform into some sort of bloodthirsty warrior who would not even look twice at the ones I killed, but I know it is not possible. I am too soft and too weak, and I will always be like this."
"I am very proud to have a friend like you," she continued. "I know that you will become someone big within The Kingdom of Heping! While I, on the other hand, might not even survive this decade in the army – and if I do, then I won't be used as anything else than a chess piece for my family to marry me off to other families when I go home."
Luo Zhirou sighed, and Xue Wei felt somewhat sorry for her, but he could say nothing against it. This was the nature of their culture.
"You could always forge a way to marry Shen Mu," Xue Wei leaned close to Luo Zhirou and whispered in her ear so that no one else could hear what he said, but Luo Zhirou's face turned beet red instantly. It made everyone curious as to what he had said.
The majority assumed that he had offered himself as the marital partner, but a few were certain that this was not the case. They knew about the rumor with Xue Wei and a certain wayfarer woman, and it would be strange if he replaced this wayfarer woman that easily.
Also, some were just hoping that they would be picked as Luo Zhirou’s partner. She was one of the beauties within Tiankong City, and she was also able to fight. More importantly, she enjoyed doing chores like cooking and baking, something every wife should excel at in their opinion.
Shen Mu, who had spent a lot of his time together with Xue Wei and Luo Zhirou previously, felt a little odd at seeing his two friends chatting like this, and a pang of pain passed through his heart when he noticed that Luo Zhirou turned red from something Xue Wei said.
"No need to wait any longer, or else it will just get more awkward," Shen Mu mumbled to himself and went over to talk with Xue Wei.
"Hey, long time no see," Shen Mu said with a hushed voice. He felt guilty for treating Xue Wei differently.
"Hey," Xue Wei beamed at Shen Mu, which further aided guilt in taking root in the latter’s heart.
"I'm sorry for not coming earlier," Shen Mu sighed, but Xue Wei just waved a hand at him. "How many times have I not ignored you in the past? No matter what I did, you would always come back like a leech, trying your best to get to know me. For you to ignore me once, is this not considered okay? I mean I am not in any position to blame you at least."
"Also, I have very few friends," Xue Wei had a self-mocking, self-deprecating smile on his face. "Two people I would consider friends, and those two friends are the two of you. Apart from you, I only have Uncle and Manager Su close to me."
Xue Wei sent a warm smile to the two people in front of him, who both looked incredibly relieved and smiles also started spreading on their lips.
"Honestly, I understand your fear," Xue Wei said with a low voice. "I am not too comfortable with my sudden bloodthirst either, and I can imagine it must have been very terrifying to see for others. I am sorry you had to witness it, but in the end, I have to do anything I can in a life-and-death battle."
Xue Wei was honest with his two friends, and both Luo Zhirou and Shen Mu finally started feeling that some of the walls surrounding Xue Wei were beginning to crumble, allowing for them to get to know who he was inside.
"You should not worry about it," Luo Zhirou said fervently. "You have been saving a lot of our group members. Without you in the team, I fear that at least double the number of deaths would have occurred during the bandit attack. So although you are pretty frightening, you are our comrade who makes it reassuring instead of scary."
Hearing Luo Zhirou say so with a stern voice, Xue Wei could not help but laugh at her. It was as if she tried to convince him that it was indeed a good thing that he was bloodthirsty and cold-blooded when it came to murdering their enemies, even though she would still tremble in fear from just looking him in the eye as soon as he entered the blood-soaked stage.
"Well, nothing good will come out of being too friendly with our enemies," Xue Wei finally sighed. "I wish to become someone my uncle can rely on. I want to be a person that he can look at with pride. To do so, I will become a blood-soaked demon if I have to. I will shed the blood of humans, Fierce Beasts, and Primordial Beasts alike. Anyone who becomes my enemy will have to die!"