Zu An rubbed his eyes in confusion, wondering if he was seeing things. However, he soon figured that there was likely to be a cavern there that was just slightly out of his sight, thus creating the earlier illusion that they were disappearing into the hill.
This hill was not too big, spanning just a hundred meters in height and several hundred meters in width. However, there was something unusual about it. Naturally formed hills tended to have ridges, making them look rugged, but this hill actually had a smooth surface. The trees growing on it looked oddly orderly too. It felt more like a carefully managed garden instead.
Once the zombie army was gone, Zu An carefully made his way over to the foot of the hill to take a look, only to realize that he was mistaken. It was actually not a cavern but a pair of majestic stone doors. There were quite a few bizarrely-shaped stone creatures standing by the sides of the stone doors, which he was unable to recognize due to his lacking knowledge about the world.
It looks like I need to find Shang Liuyu to hold some nighttime remedial lessons for me.
He noticed that the stone doors were closed, so he tried to push it open. However, as soon as his palm came into contact with the doors, he immediately felt a chilling vibe racing through his arm, making him shudder.
This place is too sinister!
He took a look around the area, and he soon had a rough understanding just what kind of place he was at. The surroundings looked very reminiscent of a grave, and he was starting to think that the little hill before him wasn’t actually a hill but a massive mound.
During the Qin and Han Dynasties, they used to bury members of the royal family in mounds. It was only in the Tang Dynasty that they began building mausoleums. As for the other dynasties, due to their lacking wealth, their graves weren’t as impressive.
Zu An examined the area carefully, but he was unable to find a way to open the doors. In the end, he was left with no choice but to give up.
I doubt that a treasure like the Evanescent Lotus would appear in a place as sinister as this, Zu An consoled himself
He realized that the sun had already risen by now, so he felt that he ought to head back now to meet up with Ji Xiaoxi. I should ask her if she knows what kind of environment the Evanescent Lotus tends to thrive in.
On the way back, Zu An couldn’t help but wonder how the stone doors were meant to be opened. All of a sudden, he felt goosebumps rising all of his body as warning bells rang in his mind. He immediately executed Sunflower Phantasm to dodge to the side.
A cold gleam of light shot out from behind a boulder right after and struck down on him.
Thanks to his timely execution of Sunflower Phantasm in the nick of time, Zu An barely managed to escape with his life. Nevertheless, there was still a glaring cut on his chest that was bleeding profusely. It was caused by the earlier strike from the enemy. Had it not been for him dodging in time, he would have been split into two.
“Hm?” The enemy was perplexed to see his sure-kill strike falling empty.
On the other hand, Zu An assessed the enemy who nearly took his life just a moment ago. Instead of a zombie or a ferocious beast, he was actually a living human. The clothes he wore and the slightly familiar face he had was telling of his identity. “You’re from the academy!”
“Ah, so it’s Teacher Zu! My apologies, I realized that there were many zombie carcasses along the way, so I’ve been on the edge all this while. As soon as I noticed some movements, I thought that it might be a powerful zombie, so I made a move out of panic. I didn’t expect that it would be you!” That student’s voice was as sincere as it could be.
Zu An sneered coldly in his heart. It was obvious that the earlier attack was planned out, so how could you have possibly not seen me? You must be taking me for a fool!
However, he didn’t allow his thoughts to show on his face. Instead, he put on a smile and asked, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Shi Shangfei from the Earth class,” replied the student.
“Shit Shangfei?” Zu An burst into laughter. He slapped the student’s shoulder and laughed, “You have an interesting name there!”
That fellow’s cultivation should be around late third rank based on his earlier attack.
“You’re too kind.” Shi Shangfei’s body tensed up as soon as Zu An began slapping his shoulder, afraid that the latter would try to make a move on him. He was so nervous that he didn’t even notice that Zu An was making fun of his name.
“Oh right, what are you doing alone here? Shouldn’t you be traveling in a teacher’s group?” asked Zu An.
Shi Shangfei respectfully answered, “Teacher Zu, my group encountered a pack of wolves along the way. We got separated while running away in a fluster.”
“This dungeon seems even more dangerous than I expected,” remarked Zu An.
“Indeed.” Shi Shangfei nodded in agreement. “Speaking of which, how did these zombies in this mountain valley die?”
Zu An thumped his chest and said, “Needless to say, I valiantly slew them down with my sword!”
“…” Shi Shangfei.
Would it kill you to stop bragging? If you really are that capable, I’ll swallow my sword down right here right now! But again, if he wasn’t shameless, he should have realized that someone of his caliber isn’t worthy of Chu First Miss and backed down by now!
You have successfully trolled Shi Shangfei for +300 Rage!
“Teacher Zu, you came here with Ji Xiaoxi, right? Why don’t I see her around?” Shi Shangfei had to tread carefully here. He was confident of dealing with Zu An alone, but he couldn’t say the same if Ji Xiaoxi were to get involved too.
“She went off to gather some wild fruits. Ah, there she is!” Zu An gestured to the area behind Shi Shangfei with a slight jerk of his head.
Shi Shangfei subconsciously turned his head around, only to realize that something was amiss right away. He immediately tried to retreat, but it was already too late. A sharp pain on his neck caused him to hurriedly wrap his hands around it, but even so, he was unable to stop his blood from flowing out.
He couldn’t believe that a teacher would actually kill a student so easily. He was confident in his acting skills earlier, and his explanation made sense too. Even if the other party harbored some doubts, he shouldn’t have resorted to a killing move right away!
Zu An sighed deeply. “You must be dreaming if you think that you can play off as a goody two shoes after throwing me a tight slap. You could have still held your own against me if you had chosen to fight me directly, but you simply had to flaunt your acting skills here. Don’t you know that people used to call me Sanlitun’s Liang Chaowei?”
While Shi Shangfei had no idea who Liang Chaowei, he could tell as much that he had been seen through right from the start. He was trying to make Zu An put his guard down, but in the end, he was the one who put his guard down instead. It made him feel enraged and remorseful.
You have successfully trolled Shi Shangfei for +723 Rage!
“You… Wipe that smug look off your face! I’ve already told my companions… You will die soon!” Shi Shangfei’s face reddened as more blood flowed out of his neck.
“Oh? I should thank you on behalf of your companions then. That’s such a relief. I had already put my guard down, and if not for your warning, I might have just fallen for their assassination! But now, they’re going to be the ones to die.” Zu An chuckled mockingly.
“Y-you…” Shi Shangfei felt that he was going to pass out from anger. Is he not going to at least let me die in peace?!
You have successfully trolled Shi Shangfei for +856 Rage!
“Stop wasting time over there! Why aren’t you dead yet? Have some self-awareness here as an insignificant cannon fodder character! People like you should die within a minute of screentime, or else you’re going to slow the pace of the film! Besides, isn’t it uncomfortable for you to wrap your hands around your neck like this? Come, let me help you.”
Zu An stepped forward and pried Shi Shangfei’s hands away from his neck, causing blood to spurt out of the deep cut in his neck right away. In just a few moments, Shi Shangfei had breathed his last with his eyes widened in indignance.
You have successfully trolled Shi Shangfei for +1024 Rage!
Zu An proceeded to search his body, but he was only able to find some dry rations, silver pieces, and ki stones. The saber which Shi Shangfei wielded was only so-so in terms of quality, severely lacking in comparison to the weapon the Chu clan had prepared for him.
Eek, he’s poorer than I thought.
There was no way a millionaire like Zu An would be interested in such low-level loot.
While feeling disappointed by the lacklustre gains, he began reflecting on the earlier situation. This was not the first encounter he had with danger; his battles with Pei Mianman and Snow had nearly taken his life too. However, those two were fifth rank cultivators, so it was only normal for him to be threatened by their prowess.
Shi Shangfei, on the other hand, was only a third rank cultivator, but he, too, nearly took his life away with that very first strike.
This made Zu An realize that he was still being too careless at the moment. He would have to be far more attentive to his surroundings, or else he would make an easy target for others.
Ah, Shi Shangfei mentioned earlier that he had already called his companions over…
A sharp piercing sound suddenly echoed above as a black shadow swiftly whizzed toward Zu An.
This time, Zu An was prepared. He took a step sideward, but he didn’t just stop there. He quickly followed up with a roll to escape even further away.
Right after he completed that set of movements, the ground where he was standing, along with the places where he could have evaded to, were pierced with three arrows each.
Judging from the speed and strength of the arrows, the enemy was likely to be stronger than the zombies he had faced earlier, but that didn’t mean that he would be harder to deal with. After all, he was facing a whole army of zombies earlier whereas there was only one archer right now!
As common sense dictated, in order to defeat a long-range enemy, the first thing one had to do was to arrow the distance first.
So, as soon as Zu An dodged those arrows, he immediately rushed in the direction where the enemy had come from. As long as he could close the distance, he was confident that he would be able to overpower his enemy with his ‘Bixie Swordplay’.
However, just as he was about to reach the archer, another three more people suddenly appeared by his side. One wielded a sword, one wielded a saber, and the last one wielded a spear. Their weapons were different from one another, but their attacks were incredibly coordinated. Each of them was able to accurately aim at his vitals from different directions.
So, Zu An did the wisest decision anyone could do in that situation—run.
Based on the aura emanated by these people earlier, the weakest of them were at early fourth rank, and the spear user had already reached late fourth rank. As powerful as his ‘Bixie Swordplay’ was, his cultivation was simply too low at the moment. If it was one-to-one, he might still stand a decent chance, but that wasn’t the case right now.
If he pushed himself, he probably could kill one or two of them, but he would also end up sustaining grievous injuries, possibly getting killed even.
Please, my life is worth much more than yours! How much of a waste would it be if I traded my life for mere small fry?
The enemies also didn’t expect Zu An to suddenly turn tail and flee either. There was a moment of awkward silence amongst them before they hurriedly chased him. The archer had also managed to recover by this point, and he swiftly nocked an arrow and aimed it at the fleeing Zu An.
He released the arrow with utmost confidence that it would strike its target. Yet, it was as if Zu An had eyes behind his back. At the very last moment, he twisted his body sideways and dodged it impeccably.
Zu An patted his thumping heart in relief. He had been guarded against this archer from the very start, so as soon as he heard the arrow, he immediately began taking evasive measures. Of course, part of the credit went to the Sunflower Phantasm’s elusive footwork, or else it would have surely taken far more effort.
As for the other few fourth rank cultivators chasing him, they were alarmed to find that Zu An was much faster than they had expected.
At fourth rank, a cultivator’s agility would be significantly boosted, allowing him to cover great distances with a single leap. Theoretically speaking, they should have been able to catch up with a mere third rank within moments. Yet, while they hadn’t shaken off yet, they were unable to close the distance at all!
Zu An was also feeling incredibly pressured too. He finally understood why martial artists could easily leap ahead of their opponents and intercept them in the movies. He was getting a firsthand experience of it at the very moment.
Every single time the fourth rank cultivators behind him leaped, they would be able to close the distance significantly. If not for the fact that they needed to land on the ground and build up momentum for the next leap, they would have already caught up with him by now.
Even though Sunflower Phantasm did increase his speed significantly, this movement skill was focused more on the element of ‘phantasm’ instead of ‘fleeing’. Due to that, he was unable to shake them off despite having run quite a while now.
2. Silver taels actually have fairly high purchasing power in ancient China, such that even a meal at an average restaurant wouldn’t even cost a silver tael. Silver pieces are a more irregular, smaller denomination of it, consisting of pieces of silver stones