Night. Joyce, Sea God Academy’s captain, walked inside the athlete village with a lunchbox in hand.
He’d just completed an exerting training mere moments ago and worked up a good sweat, then had had a nice bath. As a result, even if all the muscles in his body felt a little sore, he felt relaxed and comfortable, a feeling every vigorous young person should be familiar with.
“Joyce.” He heard someone call him all of a sudden.
He stared in a daze when he turned his head around.
Audrey’s dainty figure that still radiated the domineering aura of a queen came his way not far away behind him. Her pure-white hair seemed to flutter slowly like snow, and her two thin eyebrows seemed to radiate a heroic aura like two tiny daggers.
While Joyce stood, a little dazed, Audrey actually took the initiative to say, “What, haven’t had dinner yet?”
“I ate already, but I have a pretty good relationship with these guys from Fire Mountains Academy. Sloan, the teacher leading them, he’s a foodie… The stewed venison he makes is particularly famous in their city, so I went and freeloaded some,” Joyce said, a little embarrassed.
Audrey nodded. She said without taking any gloves, “Sloan, Fire Mountain’s gourmet master. I’ve heard of him, but I heard the seasoning he uses for his barbecue and stewed meat is some sticky liquid made from shredding snails and aromatic herbs. It looks very much like green snivel.”
Joyce sweat. He suddenly had the urge to retch. He said with a bitter face, “Audrey, couldn’t you use a prettier comparison instead… Oh right, are you just passing by, or did you come to find me for something?”
“I was just passing by originally, but I happened to see you and remembered I wanted to find you for something,” Audrey said. “We didn’t fight to our hearts’ content in the tournament field. Let’s fight another bout, how about it?”
“It seems you still can’t accept losing to me in the match,” Joyce said with a wry smile. “Just like the rumors say, you’re the queen of challenging people to private fights.”
An impatient look appeared on Audrey’s face. “How about it, are you fighting or not?”
“I’ll progress a lot by fighting with the one dubbed the strongest girl, the queen of ice and snow.” Joyce suddenly turned solemn. “Everything I could wish for.”
Audrey nodded in satisfaction. She turned around and took the lead.
On the quiet grassy patch, there were only two figures, one tall and one short.
Joyce looked at Audrey walking in front of him, his mood soaring. “Say Audrey, if others saw the two of us walking like this, would they think we’re a pair of lovebirds?”
“They wouldn’t.” Audrey stayed impassible. “No one would think that after I beat you up black and blue.”
The athlete village was very big, with a very complete set of facilities. Apart from some large-scale training installations open to the public, there were also quite a few open-air training installations simulating all sorts of terrain, as well as quite a few closed-off fighting gyms.
There was nothing that said these training venues and fighting areas were reserved for any team in particular usually. People usually followed a first come first serve rule. If someone happened to be using a training venue nearby already, then they could simply go somewhere else. To prevent injuries before the match, most teams would avoid intense fighting anyway, so a shortage of venues would basically never happen.
“There’s already someone?”
Audrey had merely looked for a random fighting gym. Neither she nor Joyce heard any sound when outside, and they didn’t see any team members keeping watch outside and protecting their secrets. But when they pushed the doors open and went inside, they suddenly saw two people already standing in there.
At the first glance of the very obvious pink hair on one of them, then seeing that he also had a strange pink-colored eye, Audrey and Joyce suddenly blinked.
“Divine Shield Academy’s uniform… Is it Ivan, Divine Shield’s captain?”
“Ferguillo, Ivan, what are you doing here?”
They weren’t familiar with them, but they were both figures who’d participated in last year’s nationals. Audrey and Joyce immediately recognized who the other one was.
“It’s nothing. I just got dragged here. We’re going to help someone with a little training.”
Ferguillo looked as calm as ever, his voice faint when he spoke.
“Help someone with some training?”
“Does that guy have so much clout?”
Joyce looked at the two of them in astonishment. Iron Forest Academy and Divine Shield Academy hadn’t had any outstanding results, but, other than someone like Rinsyi with eyes growing on top of his head, everyone was keenly aware that Ivan and Ferguillo were definitely two big shots. On top of that, the two of them weren’t even from the same team.
“It can only be a team from St. Lauren. After all, results will influence St. Lauren’s reputation as a whole no matter what, whether good or bad.” For some reason, the first thing that popped into Joyce’s and Audrey’s minds was Ayrin’s figure.
Just then, Joyce and Audrey heard a series of footsteps behind them.
“Is that Audrey?”
When the musclemen clearly saw who Joyce and Audrey were, they couldn’t help but start mumbling to themselves, “Does Ayrin have so much pull? He can even invite the Queen of Ice and Siren’s Song to come train with him?”
“It’s really Ayrin!”
Joyce and Audrey shared a look, this thought flashing in their minds at the same time.
“What about Ayrin and Charlotte?” Ferguillo asked, looking at the musclemen.
“Aren’t they here yet?” Standing among the musclemen, Wilde glanced across this venue in astonishment. “They clearly left earlier than us.”
A tremendous rumble rose in the sky far away just then, like the strike of thunder.
The athlete village’s ground also seemed to sway and tremble.
“What’s going on?”
Wilde and the others were suddenly scared. When they subconsciously turned around, they saw Audrey, Joyce, Ferguillo, and Ivan already all rushing outside the building.
There was a strange mottled light in the sky to the west.
“What a formidable undulation of arcane energy!”
“We can feel such a powerful vibration even from so far away. What happened?”
Audrey and the others were immediately certain there were arcane masters fighting at that place, ones that had already opened four arcane gates at least and who possessed genuine taboo skills to boot. It wasn’t only one of them either, far from it.
“It’s an arcane team at the level of the Office of Special Affairs at the very least,” Ivan said in a grave voice. “Something huge definitely happened.”
Just then, an even louder rumble suddenly came from the sky in the south.
“Rustle… Rustle… Rustle…”
Wild gusts of wind blew past them not long after the burst of this tremendous rumble. On top of that, rustling sounds came from the woods, from the ground in the athlete village, together with tiny gravels sprinkling down to the ground.
“What on earth happened?”
Exclamation rose from everywhere in the athlete village. The whole village was clearly in chaos.
“Due to particular circumstances, the athlete village is temporarily closed off. Before the incident is resolved, no one is allowed to leave the athlete village.”
Shouts and warnings suddenly came to their ears.
Outside the athlete village, some figures so fast one couldn’t even clearly see them quickly stood guard at the exits.
“This is the time of the year with the highest concentration of powerful masters in Eichemalar. How could a fight of this level break out, how could an incident like that happen?”
“Could it be the Evil Dragon followers?” Ivan and the others suddenly shouted these words at the same time amidst the strange disturbance, starting tightly at the faraway sky.
“What about Ayrin and Charlotte? Last time you saw them, which way did they go?” Ferguillo immediately said.
“What the hell happened?”
“Utter chaos and a fearsome raid, even the athlete village is temporarily closed off?”
At the same time, Ayrin and Charlotte were on a small remote path inside the village. Both of them looked utterly stunned.
A deathly still building stood near them inside the darkness: the athlete village’s Exhibition Hall. Inside were palm imprints and pictures of every champion team in the past several dozen years, as well as the tournament uniform of the champion teams throughout various eras.
“What are you guys doing here?”
They heard a stern and strict voice. Like a ghost, a black shadow appeared not far away from Ayrin and Charlotte. “There’s a special emergency. Everyone outside has to state their identity, then return to their respective teams as quickly as possible.”
“Its a member of a patrol team in the athlete village.” Ayrin immediately recognized this middle-aged arcane master with a goatee wearing a pure-black arcane robe, as well as the sword and shield symbol representing the village defenders. So he immediately let out a sigh of relief, and quickly said something to Charlotte, then looked at this arcane master and said, “I’m Holy Dawn Academy’s Ayrin, she’s Divine Shield Academy’s Charlotte.
“The reason we’re here is that we’re on the trails of a suspicious person.”
After stating his identity, Ayrin suddenly lowered his voice and pointed at the Exhibition Hall near them. “The suspicious person went inside there, I think they went down into the sewers underneath.”
“A suspicious person?” A cold light suddenly flashed in the middle-aged man’s eyes.
“It’s a substitute member of team Hawkmoon.” Ayrin nodded. “I already thought him suspicious before. Today we happened to see him rushing on his way, looking like he was sneaking around and covering his tracks, so we followed him here. I wonder what he’s trying to do now that he went alone in the sewers under the Exhibition Hall.”
“Is that so?”
This middle-aged arcane master’s eyes suddenly glinted red.
Ayrin and Charlotte suddenly feel a lethal danger, one that they had no time to react to. Two red lights shaped like willow leaves quietly fell on their chests.