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"How's the preparation?" A voice rang within the voidness of the sealed room.

"Everything had been prepared, only at your order now, master." Sincerely the other voice replied.

Sharp whispers were heard then diminished.

The voices faded as the room regained its dead silence.



...

"I fear..." The voice echoed once again 10 minutes later, "that all our forces would be retreating after the raid this time..." Lethargic and unwilling the voice sounded, "and all our efforts for the past decades would go to waste..." It then took another few minutes of silence for the person to make up his mind.

...

"Go... just go."

"Yes sir!" The sincere person bowed and hurried out of the sealed room.

...

Emerald City remained much livelier as ever, since things had been happening for the past few days and they were pretty intriguing, be it the martial arts superstar Luo Shi or that mysterious alchemist, those were the topics after dinner.

But little the folks knew that, a battle in alchemy was brewing soon.

Very soon.

"Qi Wei, the master of Qian System, represents the folks of Dankwood, invites you for a meeting.*" Qi Wei's voice was not restlessly loud, rather it sounded pumped, as he stood next to Fei Lidu, whose expression remained stiff with hands in his sleeves.

Ye Chong walked towards the window upon hearing the call.

It was bright summer day as Ye Chong stood by the window back then, behind the frames of fences made out of polished, sculptured wood. One should be aware that the appearance of alchemists would always be deceiving as they were the group of people who adored disguises using their tricks. Nobody knew the actual look of the mysterious alchemist as the potion had probably given him an unrecognizable mask, and no one of the city looked down upon this alchemist because of his youth.

"The heck..." Ye Chong had no idea what was going on at the porch, but he immediately withdrew his alarmed eyes after that, as he convinced himself to better spend the time on some researches rather than having a staring contest with strangers by the window.

"H-" Two red lines zapped towards Ye Chong the moment he lifted his lips. The one man in black launched an attack near Qi Wei.

Ye Chong reacted promptly as his waists pulled him all the way down to the ground, forming an arc to dodge the attack.

Crack. Crack!

The two beams struck the fence and vanished in the darkness of the room. Dust began dancing in the air as the frames were crushed.

Ye Chong witnessed the broadness of the fired beams and almost tasted them. His action grew rapid as he tumbled to the carpet and picked up his wooden lance.

Qi Wei's eyes were large, he only planned to have a talk with the mysterious alchemist, he just wanted to know the truth but Fei Lidu eventually initiated an attack. He looked at Fei Lidu, who looked rather relaxed, "Qi my brother, don't look surprise. We should strive for the end, rather than the mean. We had made our move, so it would be better to look for victory and not mercy." He probably meant if they planned to do something on the alchemist, it would be better to achieve an ultimate outcome, and it would be very unwise to hesitate.

Qi Wei was unpleased by Fei Lidu's inappropriate behavior, but he had to admit that Fei Lidu was right. It would be a dead-or-alive battle once they clicked the START button.

"You're wise indeed, brother," replied Qi Wei briefly, as he took out bottles from his rucksack.

The other alchemists stood quietly, with bottles in their grip. Guang Wei was at the back, for some reason his body was shaking.

What did I just see? Guan Wei could not believe his eyes, as they somehow perceived an accessory on the neck of the mysterious alchemist. The sight only lasted for 3 seconds but he was pretty sure he did see a Silver Strand Pendant, the accessory he dreamed day and night, resting round the neck of the alchemist.

Ye Chong watched the moving red beams, as his forehead was wetted by cold sweats.

Whipper Snake? Dang, they actually sent two Whipper snakes? The beams were about thickness of his thumbs and had a dark brownish horn at the head. and dark red stripes over the bodies. They were called Whipper due to their elasticity and bounciness, they would roam the place at an unpredictable direction and an unforeseeable pace.

The two snakes were slithering on the ground, making aggressive hisses as their crimson eyes focused upon Ye Chong.

Ye Chong dared not to lift his eyes, never once he would imagine any human would raise such horrible beast. For real, like how? Even Lunatic Guan's encyclopedia did not have a record on ways to tame these madness.

His body was tense, the camouflage on his lance had been torn, he swung the lance and faced the dark head at his foes.

Snap! Klink! The Whipper Snakes suddenly zapped to both sides.

Darn it. Cursed Ye Chong, he did predict the moves and he launched himself on one of the snakes.

He had observed how the snake moved just now, and those movements convincingly defined danger at a whole new level. They were Whippers for their springy nature, they would bounce with their abdomen as they squeezed themselves like springs at the tightest. The momentum was so insane that even Ye Chong the speed master almost tripped himself in surprise.

The snakes were very intelligent too. They did not attack Ye Chong with pure brute aggression, rather they utilized their bouncy body as they threw themselves to walls at both side, landed with their abdomen and launched themselves again - a reflective shot!

Snap! The momentum intensified!

Both snakes headed towards Ye Chong.

Never would Ye Chong expected the snakes wing cable of such drastic direction change, it was a horror to see these Whipper Snakes accelerating themselves using the conservation of momentum and fired themselves like an arrow as they straightened their body and faced their horns at Ye Chong after redirection.

Ye Chong had no time to take any action than guarding himself with his lance.

Snap! The red beam struck body of Ye Chong's lance. His hands were making a shudder that he almost dropped his lance, as the red beam went itself to the back.

The snake actually made a reflection even on my spear? Ye Chong was shocked but there was no more time for shocker. He intended to destroy one of them before they reunited at one point and launched a combined attack. But the snakes turned out to be more unpredictable than he thought... He looked almost doomed in this battle.

He remembered seeing information on Whipper Snake back in the 5 major galaxies. It was a visit to one information center somewhere in the Virtual World. He read the entries out of mere curiosity and was certainly terrified by it but he never foresaw the day that he would meet such monstrosity alone...

A tip to the ground as Ye Chong made an arch with his shaking eyes seeing a red beam traveling by his waist.

The scene grew beyond comprehension as two beams of light zapping around the house, accelerating at a horrendous rate, to a point that a network of red web seemed to have formed in the room. The ends of the web were fading but soon they were covered by newer lines. There was a silhouette jumping around at too an insane rate... what in the Dankwood happened?

The Whippers kept throwing themselves at the walls so they would conserve momentums again and again. They were dexterous as they aimed the back of our protagonist. The velocity was increasing and it was harder for Ye Chong to even identify where the snakes actually were.

The afterimages became longer and longer, as their body turned blurrier each time.

In a never-before-experienced dangerous situation, the strength of Ye Chong's focus was also never-before-experienced.

It almost felt like he had been sent back to the past, back to the time when he still spent his days piloting Tissot, blocking those strange white glowing orbs as he did his NR training in the Virtual World. Well, he did not have a mech now unlike before, as he wielded only a piece of wood, and the foes he had to face were not the harmless virtual orbs but two wickedly vicious snakes that wanted his life.

There was still... a vast difference between a dummy training and an actual fight.

The afterimages lost the stack as the contour grew clearer.

Ye Chong had been cornered, he could no longer make further movement within the diminishing seconds. Whipper Snakes had accelerated to a point that his eyes could distinguish no more.

He would love to make another pointless attempt of repositioning himself within the dancing beams, but his mind reminded him to maximize his vitality to demonstrate movements the most concise possible. His respiration, his blood circulation, pace of his entire body had reached an astonishing rate.

He was wetted by his sweats, while being unaware of it. Within that brief second as that one drop of sweat fell, he got to perform over 70 times of self-guard technique. He was unaware if that was the maximum for humanity to reach, but he was well-aware that it was already his very best.

Yet...

Pant... pant...

Every guard was a gamble. The momentum created by the snakes was impulsive. Ye Chong could feel his arms aching as every crash on the lance felt like as heavy as a hammer slam.

Ye Chong was relying his intuition in this fight, like always.

"Need not to worry, my brother," said Fei Lidu, with an unexpected smile, though sadistic. "The Whipper Snake would be one horrendous foe even a martial arts practitioner would be doomed to defeat, and the snakes are fighting an alchemist this time." Pointed he, at Ye Chong's accommodation.

One keyword of Lidu's line caused Qi Wei to stagger. Whipper Snake. "Did he actually send two Whipper Snakes?" Cries of shocker were heard among the underlings, "Oh my Dankwood, those beams were Whipper?" No one had expected the two red lights were the repulsive reptile.

Fei Lidu was silent, with his hands crossed behind, looking proud in his eyes.

Qi Wei gave a stare at his ally, his expression was indescribable as he quietly kept the reagents back into his rucksack.

The alchemist was practically a done-for once the Whipper Snakes were sent. And thanks to this kill, words would be spread, about how the Incense branch had eradicated the evil and saved the day. Thought Qi Wei, as his underlings also put their bottles back into their inventories, though they seemed confused.

If Fei Lidu could handle the alchemist himself, what was the hassle of sending everybody to the scene?

And that was when Guang Wei looked at the happening, with a drained face of his.

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