[Edited by: StarFly]
The next day.
It was a rare occasion, as Adept Anderson had called all the Apprentice Adepts of the Swampy Tower together. In front of everyone, he announced the new statuses of Acteon, Mary and Greem. From now onwards, the three of them would no longer be bound by the system of apprentices, and could arrange their lives according to their own will. Also, they had become the people who had the highest authority in the entire tower, under Adept Anderson.
Within the crowd, the newly appointed Apprentice Leader, Ellen's expression turned extremely awful, but at the same time, was mixed with a helpless look.
They were a group of monsters standing between Apprentice Adepts and official Adepts!
It was tough to predict which of them would have a greater chance to become an official Adept smoothly. Therefore, for all the lower ranked apprentices, offending any one of them could turn into a future catastrophe!
But… but Ellen had deeply offended one of them.
Hence, right when the meeting was dismissed, Ellen immediately paid a visit to Acteon, while bringing along all the resources he could find.
Since Acteon, Mary and Greem had moved their residences to the fourth level of Adept Tower, even Ellen, the Apprentice Leader, had to send a visiting request prior to meeting Acteon. Then, he had to stand mortifyingly at the entrance to the fourth floor, waiting for approval from Acteon.
And this was still considering nothing! What angered him the most was that that damn Greem had actually brought his contracted creature, a goblin, to the fourth floor without feeling ashamed, and made it one of the residents there. This had further stirred up Ellen's hatred!
A goblin, a cheap, insignificant, dirty, cowardly… goblin, how could it rise above his head? Whenever this thought came into Ellen's mind, he felt like his heart was filled with weeds and felt extremely depressed!
No one knew what had happened during the secret meeting between Ellen and Evil Bugs. But when Ellen left Acteon's room, he was seen holding his head high and once again resumed the arrogant and lofty manner he had previously.
While Ellen's mood had transformed, a small meeting was carried out inside of Madwoman's room. There were only two participants, Madwoman and Hawkeye Clutha.
It was not long before this, in order to keep the same pace and protect the interest of their minions, the strongest three of the Swampy Tower had a regular meeting like this. But today, after Evil Bugs Acteon had become a Pseudo-Adept, the once harmonious circle of strongest three had become a past tense. Everything had changed from the root!
"How is it? Is your circle still stable?" A shivering glow could be seen filling Madwoman's eyes. She had shed off her previous violent and reckless attitude and was now portraying the calm and intelligent nature of a proper Advanced Apprentice.
"Benson and Carl made the call for a meeting, those few fence-sitters used the excuse of conducting an important magic spell experiment and didn't turn up. Looks like they are going to switch sides." Hawkeye Clutha let out a helpless and bitter smile, before continuing, "One of the hardcore fans of Evil Bugs, Chris, is recruiting new followers, those fence-sitters might have been getting in touch with him secretly. Hmph…"
Having finished saying that, Clutha raised his head and gazed at Madwoman, asking, "How about you? What is the situation from your side?"
"Hmph… not any better than yours! Donna can't make those few subordinates listen to her anymore and was complaining to me just now!"
Both apprentices sat facing each other in silence, with their minds filled with disconsolate emotions.
At the beginning of the compulsory mission, they had been underestimating this training mission, and didn't push themselves too hard. Madwoman only chose a Red mission, which was not really dangerous. On the other side, Clutha even chose a lower risk Orange mission. Now, faced with two new Pseudo-Adepts who had raised up abruptly, as the veteran Advanced Apprentices, they felt discontented and helpless about changing the situation.
After remained silent for a brief moment, Clutha finally spoke again.
"Judging from the current situation, the relationship between Acteon and that Mary is rather hostile. In your opinion, do we need to decide which side we should join?"
"Between the two of them, who do you want to join?" Madwoman's face darkened. As the most experienced and oldest Advanced Apprentice, asking her to put down her face and became a minion for someone else, she… she just couldn't imagine the horrifying and humiliating life she was going to face.
"Perhaps, if we wait for a few more days, we'll not be able to make the decision ourselves." Clutha was rather calm and realistic. "Mary is too arrogant. Besides her peacock, she never cares about other people's feelings and face, and she won't be taking care of our current interests. So…"
"So you want to get in touch with Acteon?"
"Yes! Although Evil Bugs has a slightly extreme mind, after all, we had been getting along for a long time. As long as we give up some of our interest, I think he'll accept us. No matter what, if he wants to deal with that Mary, he will need the help from both of us. No matter how many insignificant apprentices he recruits, they are completely useless in fighting when with a Pseudo-Adept. We are the only ones he could use!"
Madwoman snorted depressingly, holding back her anger, as she nodded in agreement to Hawkeye's opinion.
However, before she could say anything, the deep, hoarse voice of Evil Bugs suddenly rang out through the secret room that only the both of them were in.
"I certainly didn't expect that Hawkeye could still judge the hour and size up the situation so accurately. You're right, I really do need the help from both of you!"
Both apprentices were aghast.
Madwoman widened her big eyes and quickly gazed at surroundings of her own room.
Under the restless glances of both apprentices, some noises suddenly came out from the shadow behind Clutha's back. Soon, a strange looking scorpion with peculiar appearance squeezed out from the shadow, waving its huge pincers towards both of them. On the black crust behind of this scorpion, a pale human face emerged, it was the ugly face of Acteon after his mutation.
"Hello, long time no see! How come you never informed me about your meeting?"
Madwoman and Hawkeye remained silent and didn't respond to Acteon's question. However, their flickering eyes had betrayed the nervous emotions hiding in their mind. They hadn't expected this at all, with just a small tier difference between them, they could no longer detect Evil Bugs' magic spell approach.
"You don't have to be panic. Just as Hawkeye said, I'm in urgent need of your help. If you can condescend to me and join the Evil Bugs's alliance, I, Acteon, will welcome you with open arms!"
The corner of Madwoman's lips twitched violently a few times.
She was not an idiot, since this so-called alliance was named after Acteon's title, then he would be the true master. To say the least, they were his allies, but as the matter of fact, they were just his advanced level hatchet men! Though they were discontent by this, Madwoman still wanted to hear the true motives of Evil Bugs.
"What do you need us to do for you?"
"Help me watch every single move of those two. When times come, help me in fighting against them. Don't worry, I won't make you fight face-to-face against that Mary. If we really engage in a fight, I'll just need the two of you to pin down that Greem. I'll handle Mary myself!"
After hearing what Acteon said, a hardly concealed shocking expression emerged on their faces. Clutha couldn't bear himself and asked, "You only need both of us to pin down that Greem? He… he only just became an Advanced Apprentice! For a newbie like this, even I alone should be able to defeat him, right?"
"Hehehe…" The human face on the back of the scorpion let out Acteon's signature gruesome laugh, "Hawkeye, don't think so highly of yourself! Perhaps, both of you haven't found out this. In that team of Mary and Greem, it is obvious that Greem is the mastermind behind everything. Or, put this way, he is the key person on their team!"
The response Madwoman and Hawkeye gave out was exactly the same as the one they had when they first heard Evil Bugs had become a Pseudo-Adept, extreme shock. Evil Bugs Acteon, who was now a Pseudo-Adept, actually gave such serious consideration to the once little Beginner Apprentice. This… this was really out of their expectations.
Could that Greem really have some strange abilities?
"Don't you forget this, after all, Mary is just an inferior vampire who had her bloodline mutated! With such a lousy bloodline and innate talent, wanting to have quick progress in her rank is just like a fat hope. So, the only possible reason that brought her such a mystical transformation would be that strange boy whose overall strength had skyrocketed. This Greem is the only person on their team whose true strength I can't tell!"
Clutha remained silent for a while, before asking, "Mary is now a Pseudo-Adept, will Master Adept agree to your behavior of publicly attacking her?"
Right after he finished his words, Hawkeye immediately heard the arrogant and gruesome laugh of Acteon.
"Hehehe… I've signed the family contract, yet she only signed on an employment contract. So, if something really happens, who do you think the family would help? Also… if there aren't any orders coming from the top, why do you think I would be so passionate about fighting against a Pseudo-Adept, who is the same rank with me?"
"What you are saying is… the person who wants to deal with Mary is Ander…" Clutha cried out involuntarily.
"Shut up! Hawkeye, if you don't want to get killed in the dark, then stop these damn words in your mouth. There are things you just have to do and don't have to get to the bottom of and will bring no good to you!" Evil Bugs Acteon hurriedly interrupted Clutha, a threatening expression finally showing up on his ugly bug-like face.
Clutha arduously swallowed a lump in his throat. He exchanged a glance with Madwoman and eventually, nodded his head silently.
"Hehehe… I knew you'd make the smartest decision. Alright, when the time comes, I'll contact you again. Hawkeye will keep an eye on them, as for Madwoman, you'll train those Intermediate Apprentices, so we can put them to good use later. Hmph, once I find the right opportunity, we'll teach both of them a good lesson!"
After saying that, the evil and arrogant cries of bugs echoed out in the room. In an instant, the black scorpion exploded into a puddle of poisonous liquid, before slowly submerging into the floor and disappearing without a trace.
Inside the room, Madwoman and Hawkeye sat facing each other in silence!
Meanwhile, inside a secret room within the fourth floor of the Swampy Tower, the scorpion who had suddenly disappeared from Madwoman's room squeezed out from the floor, climbing onto a somber looking figure who had his body completely covered in a black cloak.
The somber figure suddenly stretched out a bizarre looking huge hand, half flesh and half shell, picked up the scorpion and shoved it into his mouth. After the scorpion was crushed into a puddle of blood and fragments by his razor sharp teeth, only then did Evil Bugs tilt his head up and reveal his face.
Within just a few days, one could tell that the degree of bug transformation on his body had gone deeper.
Now, rather than referring to him as a human apprentice, he was more like a bug man who had the identity of a human.
He had transformed into 'it'!