Chapter 45: Turned Traitor
"You are protecting Xue Wei?!" Li Jian asked with disbelief in his voice, but the woman just snorted. "Who wants to protect a measly human child? I pretended to make a deal with you because I had to check certain things, but now that my examinations are finished, I truly have no use for you anymore."
"I never thought that you would be so stupid as to leave the camp, but now that you have, killing you will ensure that I keep my promise."
"I don't care about keeping promises to humans. On the other hand, killing you should make me feel some joy."
The woman was talking slowly, but Li Jian felt his blood turn cold, and the world started distorting around him as he got dizzy.
"I need to escape!" Li Jian yelled as he turned on his heels and started running away. Though the moment he tried taking his first step, he felt a strange pressure pushing him, keeping him in the same position and same place as before. It was impossible to move.
"Think you can already leave?" the woman grinned. "You should have already realized that I am a Primordial Beast. Anyone who has seen my human appearance has to die!"
"I cannot afford to lose my cover as a young rich lady from the middle of the continent. Fortunately, I was wearing that ridiculous outfit whenever the others saw me, so you are the only one who has seen my beauty."
"Still, I am not sure if I should let the others be. Oh well, I will decide on that later. First, I have to deal with you."
"Now, if I just kill you, I will get hunted down by your father. That would prove rather troublesome, so I will need you to make a testimony and sign it with your blood."
"I have pen and paper here. Now write everything you have done, every agreement you made with me, and that you were aware that I was a Primordial Beast, but you did not hesitate to make the deal anyway."
"Also, make sure that you do not describe my appearance. If you do, you will suffer greatly."
"If you do not write this testimony, then you will also suffer terribly. But if you write it, I will let you die so fast that you won't even notice the pain."
Li Jian was shivering and scared. He knew that there was no way to escape. He had invited this calamity, and now he had to face the consequences.
He regretted. He regretted so much that his insides turned green, but although he regretted, he could not change the past.
Gritting his teeth, he picked up the pen and paper. He was afraid of death, but he was even more-so afraid of dying in pain. Li Jian did not doubt for a moment that when this Primordial Beast said that she would make him suffer, his life would become a living hell.
"Who cares about honor when I am dead?" Li Jian asked himself as he began to write. He wrote exactly what the woman had asked him to write, the entire experience, but he did not dare leave even hints to the woman's appearance or gender. He feared that she would look for a reason to punish him.
As soon as he finished, Li Jian cut his finger with a nail and pressed a bloody fingerprint on the paper. A light shone, and then the paper seemed to dry the bloody fingerprint on top of it.
The woman waved her hand, and a small breeze appeared that made the testimony fly from Li Jian's hand to the woman's.
"Thank you," she grinned. A moment later, the entire area froze. Ice appeared from underneath the woman, and everything it touched was frozen within seconds.
Li Jian looked at this frost and its rapid advance. His heart was beating fast, and he knew that his death had arrived.
Moments after, a scream escaped his lips and then frost grounded his feet to the soil. His legs froze moments after, and following this his entire body turned into an ice statue.
"Better hurry up and scram," the woman laughed. "If I stay here, I would just want to kill all the humans when I see them, but they still have some use."
"Oh well, I managed to kill one human, although it is far from satisfying me; it will have to make do for now."
Having said that, the woman vanished into the shadows. Moments after she had vanished, a group of guards appeared in the distance.
Previously, when Li Jian had screamed, everyone had heard him, even the group of youngsters and guards.
The group who had already felt comfortable and started to come to terms with having survived the beast horde tensed up and looked scared at one another.
"Guards, form teams of ten and examine the surroundings. Find the young master of the Li Family!" The captain ordered, and the guards all acknowledged his order before splitting into groups and descending into the forest in front of them.
"Everyone else stays here with me," the captain ordered, and the youngsters nodded their heads, the majority of them looking worried.
The guards went away, and suddenly a loud whistle sounded through the forest. Soon, the guards returned to the group of youngsters.
Most of the guards observed the others, but one group headed straight for the captain. Two of the guards were carrying a frozen Li Jian, while another was carrying a piece of paper that he quickly handed to the captain.
The captain accepted the piece of paper with a frown on his face and a glance at Li Jian.
"I, Li Jian of the Li Family within Tiankong City, hereby declare myself guilty of colluding with a Primordial Beast."
"I was blinded by greed and a wish to get vengeance, and thus I colluded with the Primordial Beast to exterminate Xue Wei."
"The Giant Sand Snake, the bandits, and the beast horde were all controlled by this Primordial Beast."
That was where the testimony ended. There was nothing of begging for forgiveness, not even a sorry to his father for letting him down. At the time when Li Jian had written the testimony, the only thing on his mind was that he would die.
He had no space for anyone else. He felt no remorse, nor did he feel guilty towards his father. The only thing on his mind was regret because he had ended up paying the ultimate price.
The captain’s face was at first rather peculiar when he looked at the letter, but when he got further down the text, , filled with disbelief and finally rage.
"That bastard!" he yelled out with a voice filled with Qi, and everyone shook. No one had heard what he had read, but they could tell from the rage in his voice that it was something that made him livid.
"Leave his corpse to be gnawed upon by the beasts!" the captain ordered. "We have to leave right away! This bastard conspired with a Primordial Beast, and considering the ice that has been used, it seems as if he has been working with one of the most dangerous Primordial Beasts of our region, the Ice Harpy!"
Xue Wei raised an eyebrow when he heard this. The Ice Harpy was the Primordial Beast that the Wayfarers had been chasing.
She was known as one of the most terrifying Primordial Beasts in the entire Heping Kingdom. No one knew her actual strength and anyone who had tried to capture or kill her had died in the attempt.
"Let's move!" the captain continued forward. He did not pause at all for the rest of the day, and even when it turned dark he pushed the group forward.
"If we allow for this Primordial Beast to gather another beast horde, we are in a terrible position."
"I know that we will encounter danger traveling through the night, and I am also aware that we will be exhausted, but we have no choice!"
No one questioned him. They had heard that Li Jian had betrayed them, and had thrown his lot together with a Primordial Beast, and everyone who had known him was filled with disgust towards him.
They feared for their lives, they feared for their friends, and they feared for their future. Having worked together with a Primordial Beast could cause the execution of one’s entire family, as it was simply the most frowned upon taboo of the world.
These friends knew that they too would be judged by the others. They had befriended a traitor! Although the reason behind it was due to their families being under the banner of the Li family, they had still happily followed Li Jian's orders, and some of them had done so with pride.
Now they all wished that Li Jian was someone they had never known before. They wished that their families had thrown their allegiance towards Shen Bingwen instead.
Xue Wei felt puzzled. This Primordial Beast clearly wanted to kill him from the killing intent he had felt earlier, but he was still alive.
Not only this, Li Jian was now dead. He had been frozen to death. And not only that, he had been left in the wilderness to be eaten by the beasts.
Like this, the group rushed through the land. At the start, they all had energy, but as they got further and further, more and more of them lost their focus and succumbed to tiredness. After four days of constant travels, they finally had to take a small rest.
The captain was no longer calm and collected. He and the other guards were looking around them continually, observing the surroundings and never letting their guards down.
That night, everyone thought that something would happen, and many dared not sleep, while the weaker experts were so overwhelmed by exhaustion that they slipped into sleep instantly as they laid down on the ground.
Xue Wei was not scared about whatever might come for them during the night, but he was not willing to spend the night sleeping either. As a result, he sat down and cultivated.
He knew that if the Ice Harpy wanted to kill them, they would have long since been dead. If she had wanted to continue to complicate their trip, then it would not have been as painless as it had been the last four days.
As soon as the sun rose in the sky, the captain once more forced them all to start moving onward again. They would then travel for four days and four nights straight before they finally took another rest. This way, their trip was many times faster than planned, but all of them, including the guards and the captain, were exhausted, both physically and mentally.
They rushed through villages and all kinds of landscapes, but their group avoided all major cities before finally they all looked in front of them. After traveling for one and a half month, Xue Wei was the first of the youngsters to see a massive city towering in the distance.
"We are heading for the capital first," the captain said. "There, we will stay for a week before we make it to the recruitment camp. You will be able to sell your beast cores, but you have to pay for accommodation yourself. Those who do not show up at the appointed position seven days later will be treated as a deserter!" the captain warned.
Everyone was filled with excitement as they looked at the towering city in front of them. They had finally managed to get through the hellish journey – and although they expected it to be hard in the army, it was still a new chapter in their lives. A chapter they had all looked forward to begin.
Xue Wei unconsciously clenched his hands into fists. He could not help but feel both excited and intimidated. Now he would be able to take the first step towards becoming worthy of Wang Xiaoyun and someone who would make his uncle proud.