Ling-style killing arts! That was one of the Ling family loyalists' specialised combat arts — why would it appear here in this mission space? Doubt rose in Ling Lan's heart. If it could be said that she wasn't particularly concerned about this legacy mission at the start, now that she had seen this set of killing arts, Ling Lan had no choice but to take it seriously.
Ling Lan did not hesitate — she quickly followed the figure's lead to go through every punch and kick of the Ling-style killing arts perfectly. Having grown up practising these arts in combat training with the Ling family loyalists, Ling Lan had long had it ingrained in her memory.
Once Ling Lan had gone through the full set of the killing arts perfectly, the grey figure dissipated once again. At the same time, Ling Lan felt as if the surrounding fog and mist were gradually melting away, and soon, she could clearly see the scenery before her.
She was standing on a lush and green lawn. In the distance, there were the highs and lows of mountain ranges, circled by clouds and mist; nearby, a stream was trickling, and the air was filled with birdsong and the scent of flowers. A lovely and tranquil mountain valley scene had just appeared so abruptly before Ling Lan's eyes.
Ling Lan had never seen scenery as beautiful as this, which caused her heart to become unbelievably quiet in an instant. At that moment, a sheet of white paper suddenly descended from the skies, drifting down leisurely to float miraculously at her eye level and unfurled itself.
On it was a line of writing. It was a request: This is a beautiful mountain valley, but unfortunately, till now it still has no name. Please give it a nice name now.
Ling Lan had just finished scanning these words when an exquisite Chinese writing brush appeared beside the white paper.
That's strange. Why would such an ancient thing appear in this modern place?
Ling Lan's brows furrowed. Her gaze was fixed on the writing brush — the more she looked at it, the stranger it seemed. This was because the design of the brush actually seemed somewhat familiar to her, but she just couldn't recall where she had seen it before.
The academy? Ling Lan silently shook her head, eliminating this possibility. The academy was too advanced — if you told her that there were some things that defied reality there, Ling Lan might still believe you, but for an almost extinct antique such as a Chinese writing brush to appear there was almost impossible.
In that case, the only possibility was her house.
When and where would she have seen a writing brush like this one in her house? A writing brush would typically appear in a study room, but the study in the old Ling family mansion belonged to her father. Thus, the writing brushes in there were all bold and simple in design — there was no such elegantly exquisite writing brush there, which was clearly meant for women ...
For women? The study? Ling Lan suddenly recalled an incident ... That was back when she had first started learning how to read and write. She had been dragged into the study by her mum to practise calligraphy. Her mum had said that this was a Ling family tradition — every descendant of the Ling family must learn how to do it well. Back then, Ling Lan had been miserable. Her tiny fingers hadn't been able to hold any of her father's large writing brushes in the proper grip. In the end, she could only pretend to be clueless and innocent, and just grip the writing brush as if it were a mop.
Seeing Ling Lan's put-out expression, Lan Luofeng had been giggling with amusement. However, she also knew then that she had been careless, not having prepared a small writing brush more appropriate for Ling Lan. In the end, in order to let Ling Lan grip the brush correctly, she had taken out a small writing brush that she treasured dearly, lending it to Ling Lan. She had also told Ling Lan with a tender look that this was a love token given to her by her father Ling Xiao.
She remembered that she had reflexively complained right then that her dad was really such a cheapskate, while her mum was just too gullible. Lan Luofeng hadn't known whether to laugh or cry, and had knocked her smartly on the head. Still, that little writing brush had really been so pretty and exquisite that Ling Lan had played with it curiously for a good long while that day. But starting from the second day, that delicate little writing brush had once again been secreted away by Lan Luofeng. In its place was an extremely common small writing brush. From then on, Ling Lan had never again seen that love-token writing brush.
Five years had passed since then, and Ling Lan had almost entirely forgotten that event as well as that brush.
Ling Lan suppressed the emotions roiling within her. Carefully, she picked up the exquisite writing brush before her and twirled it in her palms. A phoenix with its wings outstretched in flight was carved on the shaft of the brush. It was exactly like the one she had seen in the past — sure enough, this brush was the one from her memory.
Could it be that this legacy had something to do with the Ling family? Something to do with her dad? Or perhaps this legacy was from her dad?
Ling Lan felt as if she were going mad, otherwise why would she even have these kinds of thoughts? Legacy missions could only be issued by someone at the level of a royal operator or beyond. And anyone at that level would undoubtedly be a terrifying existence, almost a symbol of immortality. How could that short-lived dad of hers fall into this category?
But what if it were true? Ling Lan's heart started pounding violently ...
Right then, another line of writing suddenly appeared on the paper: You still have one minute to think. The countdown begins now. 60, 59, 58 ...
F*ck! Ling Lan's emotional feelings fled instantly. She started thinking hard on what name she should give to this valley. At this moment, Ling Lan was somewhat regretful that she had gotten distracted by the writing brush, and had not used her time wisely to think about this problem.
"A beautiful valley, an exquisite brush? What exactly is this legacy mission trying to tell me with this imagery?" The CPU of Ling Lan's little brain was whirring at full speed, trying to find any hint she could from her surroundings.
The writing brush was her mum's love-token? In that case, could this lovely valley also have something to do with her mum? Ling Lan began scouring through the conversations she had had with her mum, hoping that she would be able to find some clue there.
43, 42, 41 ... time continued to slip away bit by bit. Ling Lan's forehead began to bead up with sweat — Goddammit, if only Little Four were here.
"Boss, looking for me?" Little Four's voice suddenly rang out from within her consciousness. Ling Lan was startled, "Little Four, you're here?"
"Yup, I've been watching all this time. It's just that I was sealed by an energy force and couldn't talk to you. But when you thought of me just now, that energy just disappeared," replied Little Four.
"Enough about that for now. There's still about 30 seconds left. Quick, help me think, when I talked with my mum before this, did she ever mention a place like this?" Ling Lan was burning with anxiety, throwing out the question hurriedly.
"That's a bit too broad. Are there any more hints?" Little Four also became anxious, and his core processing chip started running in overdrive.
"Whatever location for my parents' engagement, dating, or proposal, or perhaps a marriage spot or a honeymoon destination ... or maybe some country that she has a deep impression of, or even an ideal country to build a home?" Ling Lan ran through anything she could think of — all she could do now was gamble.
"Dating spots ... other than the Ling estates, it was military camps. Your dad is really unromantic!" muttered Little Four. How in the world had Mama Lan been wooed by this? "Engagement? Proposal? Marriage? Honeymoon? Huh?! The family estates? Military camps? Hells, did your dad only know how to run between the family grounds and the military camps?! Did he never even consider exploring other places?!"
Little Four was infuriated. No matter how hard he looked, Ling Xiao and Lan Luofeng's romance history only went back and forth between military camps and the old Ling family estates. There was nothing at all connected with this beautiful valley before them right now.
"Then what about dreams? Or ideals? Didn't my mum have any places which she really wanted to visit?" Ling Lan saw the number on the paper dropping from double digits into single digits, and couldn't help but yell.
"I've got it! It's Belief! Mama Lan most wanted to go to Belief ..." Little Four finally located the place that Lan Luofeng missed the most.
At this point, the countdown had already reached 3. Ling Lan didn't hesitate, quickly writing down 'Belief'. The moment the final 'f' was written, the countdown timer hit zero.
Ling Lan stared blankly at her answer. She honestly had no idea what kind of place 'Belief' was, so she didn't know if this answer that Little Four provided was right or not. Whatever the result, she had already tried her best.
The words on the paper slowly faded away, including Ling Lan's answer, and the paper turned back into a completely white sheet. Ling Lan took in a deep breath and waited for the final determination of the legacy mission.
You Pass! Two words in bold and vigorous cursive writing emerged on the paper. When Ling Lan saw the two words, the tension in her heart eased, and she soon started to feel fatigue settling into her body and mind. The intense pressure and anxiety within that short one minute had really taken a toll on her mental resources.
When the two words disappeared once more, new questions appeared. However, these questions were not at all difficult, because they were clearly a type of self-introduction.
"Name: Ling Lan!"
"Father: Ling Xiao!"
"Mother: Lan Luofeng!"
"Age: 7 years!"
"What does your father like best?" The fifth question made Ling Lan pause. She stopped the brush in her hand, thinking back on what Lan Luofeng had said.
"Baby Ling Lan, do you know what your father likes?" Lan Luofeng was hugging Ling Lan, showing her a photo of her and Ling Xiao together, as she asked Ling Lan this.
Ling Lan rolled her eyes mentally. If her mum didn't tell her, how would she know?
"Your father really, really likes mecha. You could even say that, in his life, besides mecha, there is still only mecha. Mummy was sometimes jealous of his mecha, but your daddy was the coolest when he was piloting his mecha. No one else could compare." Mama Lan was starting to get lost in her fantasies again, her face dreamy with recollection. This made the one-year-old baby Ling Lan whack Ling Xiao's charming smiling face in the photo with a small hand.
"You menace!" scolded Ling Lan internally. The moment her dad was brought up, her mum would become unsteady.
"Still, what your dad loved most was me. Did you know that? Your daddy told me once ... if he had to choose between me and mecha, he would abandon mecha without question, and choose me." At this point in her story, Lan Luofeng blushed. "Wait till I meet him again. I will definitely make him throw away his mecha, and accompany me forever ... like he promised."
Ling Lan felt a faint sense of melancholy from these words. Loving so deeply that she just could not accept the other's death ... whenever Lan Luofeng mentioned Ling Xiao, she spoke of him as if he were just on a long journey away, as if he hadn't truly departed.
Wasn't mum the one dad loved the most? This was probably also what her mum wished for ... Ling Lan sighed, and behind the question of 'what does your father like best' , she wrote down 'Lan Luofeng'.
However, the next question gave Ling Lan yet another headache — why were the questions of this legacy mission so bizarre?
"Your mother's sleeping habit?" Ling Lan's face couldn't help but twitch at this question. Without hesitation, she put down 'grinding her teeth'.
When Ling Lan stopped writing, a final question appeared on the paper. "Do you need to modify your answers?"
Ling Lan resolutely wrote 'no'. At the final stroke, the brush in Ling Lan's hand instantly turned into black mist and dissipated into the air. The words on the paper also disappeared once again.
And then, very quickly, a new line of writing emerged on the paper.
"Congratulations on advancing to the next round!"