Chapter 403 - Great Waves
The news of Ai Hui heading towards Asakusa City spread like a hurricane. Bandit brigades of all sizes on the borders of Palette Cloud Village and Jadeite Forest knew of this news.
Before this incident, even though the Lightning Blade was rather reputable, everyone merely viewed him as a hero whose image was built by Elders Guild. Three years ago, Ai Hui’s base level and strength was still very low. Furthermore, he was still a student. His achievements might be impressive, but the ones who’d really put the last nail to the coffin in the Battle of Central Pine City were actually Wang Shouchuan and Han Yuqin.
Many had believed that Central Pine Faction’s absolute allegiance to Ai Hui was due to his outstanding charisma.
Until this battle happened.
Grass Bandits and Ai Hui had come face to face and a grave conflict ensued between the two sides. Ai Hui was not injured at all, while the Grass Bandits suffered disastrous losses and sustained over two hundred deaths. This was the first time the Grass Bandits had encountered such a situation since their establishment. Furthermore, the death of Cao Ning by Ai Hui’s hands awed various outstanding heroes and raised Ai Hui’s reputation to a new level.
Everyone had no choice but to see the legendary Lightning Blade in a completely different light.
The strength of the famous Lightning Blade was actually so powerful!
He single-handedly took on all of the Grass Bandits and slaughtered them with total disregard for their lives. He’d slain one of their key commanders and routed his men. These accomplishments had certainly shocked everyone. The number of deaths in this battle also demonstrated another side of the Lightning Blade. Similarly, this result also shocked everyone.
A lot of people had realized that the Lightning Blade was somebody that was not to be provoked.
Another person who became famous from this battle was Mingxiu.
Lu Mingxiu led a low-profile life in Asakusa City. Furthermore, the Lu family was under secret protection. Very few people knew of Mingxiu’s true background.
In the past, the area surrounding Asakusa City was like a tranquil and peaceful lake. However, Ai Hui threw a huge rock into it and swept up great waves. The sensation caused by Ai Hui caught various powers, that were hiding in the dark, off guard. The serene lake had been disturbed.
Before Ai Hui even reached Asakusa City, the impact of this battle had already spread across the state.
The stronghold of the Grass Bandits was very far from Asakusa City. One would need to fly for two days and two nights straight to get there. For the last two years, in a time of chaos, the expansion of the Grass Bandits had been very fast. From the initial thirty members, their numbers had grown to over four thousand members.
The current Grass Bandits had become an influential powerhouse on the border of Jadeite Forest.
The stronghold of the Grass Bandits had grown from a few tree houses to a heavily-guarded stockade that had a perimeter of over five kilometers.
The canopy of numerous tall and imposing trees had covered the sky. If they were to be invaded by their enemies, the canopy would emit a protective light screen that possessed outstanding defensive capabilities.
Additionally, the branches that were near the canopy were overgrown with bone umbrella reishi.
The bone umbrella reishi was a type of reishi mushroom that was specially cultivated for defensive purposes. Its cap looked like a round plate and was covered with veined patterns. Since it looked like an umbrella made up of bones, it was called bone umbrella reishi. Each bone umbrella reishi had five to ten bone arrows grown within it. Whenever they encountered enemy attacks, they would fire these bone arrows continuously.
Vines could be seen everywhere on the trees, and calabashes of various colors were also hung on some of these vines. These calabashes were the famous calabash cannons. They could shoot out the calabash seeds within them. The color of a calabash cannon represented its elemental type.
Beneath the thick and dense canopy, the houses were neatly built. Pumpkin lamps that emitted a gentle glow could be found everywhere. As such, the stronghold was not at all dark even if it was beneath the thick and dense canopy.
If a stranger came to this place, he or she would have thought this was an encampment of a wood elemental combat division. In reality, this stronghold was in fact built based on the standards of a combat division.
The discussion hall was formed by four extremely sturdy and durable diamond fleabane trees. Their trunks and branches had completely fused together to form a gigantic hall.
The discussion hall was not really spacious. It could only hold up to seventy to eighty people. Out of these people, twenty of them were Zhen Xiaoman’s trusted comrades that had been part of the Grass Bandits since the beginning.
"Who exactly is the one that leaked out the news?"
"How did Ai Hui know that we want to target Lu Mingxiu?"
"It must be that Ai Hui had already gotten the news beforehand and he rushed over just for her."
Everyone was talking at once and all of them were in the state of panic. The plan to kidnap Mingxiu was devised by them meticulously. However, before the plan was even carried out, it had been leaked to the outside world. How could everyone stay calm?
Bang! Smashing her fist on the table, Zheng Xiaoman roared angrily, "Everyone shut up!"
Zheng Xiaoman was around twenty-five years old. She was tall and thick. She could not be considered a beauty. However, her coarse and wild temperament, as well as her outstanding stature always made her the focal point of everyone’s eyes.
The Grass Bandits was single-handedly established by Zheng Xiaoman and she was highly respected. Everyone shut up and the discussion hall was so quiet that one could even hear the sound of a pin dropping on the floor.
When Zheng Xiaoman thought of Cao Ning, a tinge of sadness flashed across her eyes. She raised her head and spoke with a voice that was filled with hatred, "We will put aside the issue of Lu Mingxiu first. We can’t let Old Cao die for nothing and we have to seek revenge for him! Until we have sought our revenge for Old Cao, don’t talk to me about other issues!"
After finishing her sentence, she stomped out of the discussion hall without turning back.
Everyone in the discussion hall looked at each other blankly.
A lean man seated at one corner of the hall swept his gaze across everyone occasionally while a pensive look appeared on his face.
Boss’s words had made everyone feel ashamed and embarrassed. Subsequently, all of them dispersed from the discussion hall.
Remaining calm and collected, the lean man returned to his home. Upon checking that no one was following him, he closed and locked the door.
"Why could Ai Hui get this news?" a voice suddenly sounded off behind him
The lean man already knew there was somebody behind him. Upon hearing these words, he sneered, "I should be the one asking this question. For the past few days, the stronghold has been completely disconnected from the outside world and no news or information could travel out of this place."
Hiding his face in the shadow, the cloaked figure replied coldly, "My side will never divulge this information."
"Nevermind, it’s not the time to talk about this. So what do we do now? Boss has already made it clear that we will not do anything if we don’t seek revenge for Cao Ning. Our deal is going to fall through soon," the lean man replied with impatience.
"A mere Lightning Blade is enough to scare all of you to this extent?" the cloaked figure in the shadow mocked.
"Alright then, you shall go and kill the Lightning Blade and I will pass his head to Boss. We can immediately start planning now." The lean man laughed coldly.
The cloaked figure was speechless.
Cao Ning was slain and his three hundred followers were either killed or severely wounded. This was indeed an impressive accomplishment.
The cloaked figure muttered to himself irresolutely. Following which, he softened his tone, "We really have to think of a way. We can’t blankly watch on as this great deal falls through."
The lean man’s facial expression became solemn as well. He knew this deal was something that the Grass Bandits definitely could not give up on.
A Fiery Floating Cloud that bore the emblem of the Lu family was flying at top speed in the sky. Apparently, heading for Asakusa City. Upon seeing that the Fiery Floating Cloud bore the emblem of the Lu family, the bamboo carts along the way quickly got out of its way. One could see how powerful the Lu family was in Jadeite Forest.
Within the Fiery Floating Cloud, in a simple and unadorned study room, an imposing man was immersed in his work. An old servant was standing in one corner of the room.
An unending stream of subordinates were entering and exiting the room, stacking his tables with countless reports. Everyone that entered or exited his room was extremely careful. They tried to make as little noise as possible for fear of disturbing their division leader.
The person who was immersed in his work was the current division leader of Deathgrass Division, Lu Feng.
Without raising his head, he asked, "Have you prepared the gifts for Mingxiu?"
The silent old servant standing in the corner of the room quickly replied, "The gifts have already been prepared. All of them are Miss Mingxiu’s favourite items. Textiles that have been passed down for past generations, some famous paintings and an ancient artifact remnant."
"Artifact remnant?" Lu Feng’s hands trembled.
"It should be a flag and it is badly corroded. However, the embroidery on the flag is extremely exquisite. I think Miss Mingxiu will like it and I made my own decision to add it as one of the gifts," the old servant replied respectfully.
"Well done," Lu Feng praised the old servant.
After staying silent for a while, Lu Feng continued, "Since you have worked diligently in handling your daily chores, I will not treat you unfairly. Ask that nephew of yours to report to the division next month."
A look of happiness appeared on the old servant’s face and he quickly thanked Lu Feng, "Thank you, Sir!"
At this moment, one of Lu Feng’s subordinate ran into the room hastily, "Sir, this is the report that I have just received and it’s related to Miss Mingxiu. I sent it over here as soon as possible."
"Related to Mingxiu? Pass it to me now!" Lu Feng stopped what he was doing and raised his head. He had a majestic appearance. His lips were thin and long and his nose bridge was high and imposing. His forehead was sparkling and prominent and his eyes were bright and full of expression.
After taking the report, Lu Feng began to read it carefully. Following which, he could not help but let out a gasp of surprise, "Cao Ning was killed?"
The more he read the report, the more shocked he felt. More than two hundred out of Cao Ning’s three hundred followers were either killed or severely wounded. This forced Cao Ning to use a move that ensured mutual destruction. However, in the end, not only was Ai Hui uninjured, but all of Cao Ning’s trusted subordinates were killed.
Lu Feng definitely knew about Cao Ning.
The Grass Bandits were Deathgrass Division’s arch-enemy. Lu Feng had been thinking of ways to deal with them. However, the Grass Bandits’ fighting capabilities were outstanding and they were swift moving. Cao Ning was one of the Grass Bandits’ generals but Ai Hui was actually able to take him down single-handedly. From the number of casualties, Lu Feng could tell that Ai Hui was a vicious and merciless individual that killed people with total disregard for their lives.
Without raising his head, Lu Feng ordered the old servant, "Go and bring me Ai Hui’s file."
"Yes!" the old man quickly replied.
Very soon, the file containing information about Ai Hui was placed before Lu Feng. After comparing the file to the report, Lu Feng discovered that there was a huge difference between what was being reported on both of them.
On the file, it was written, "Base Level: First Elemental Realm. Evaluation of Strength: Weak. Strengths: Charismatic, good at winning over people’s hearts, well-supported by many people."
Lu Feng ripped the file to shreds and instructed the old servant, "Rebuild the file on Ai Hui."
"Yes!" A cold shiver went down the old servant’s spine.
Lu Feng sat down and delved deep into his thoughts. He began to strum his fingers on the table subconsciously. Of course, he knew about Ai Hui. He knew everything about Mingxiu and the people around her. Ai Hui and Mingxiu had a close relationship. However, a few years back, Ai Hui was still very weak and he did not think of making friends with Ai Hui.
He did not expect Ai Hui to become so powerful in such a short period of time!
He picked up the report again. He knew everything that was written in it by heart without even looking at it. This report had given him a huge shock.
He let go of his emotions and pondered over this issue carefully. Very soon, he came to a decision.
The report had stated that Ai Hui had reached Second Elemental Realm and the speed of his progress was terrifyingly fast. However, the thing that shocked Lu Feng the most was that Ai Hui single-handedly killed Cao Ning and slaughtered more than half of his subordinates.
The talent for combat that Ai Hui had displayed was extremely powerful. Taking his age into account, Lu Feng predicted that the possibility of Ai Hui becoming a Master in future was very high.
Suddenly, he raised his head and said, "Prepare a gift for Ai Hui."
"Yes, what standard should the gift be of?" the old servant asked.
"The highest standard," Lu Feng replied without any hesitation.
The old servant was stunned by Lu Feng’s words. He looked slightly troubled and replied, "I’m afraid… it’s a bit too rushed."
Lu Feng cast a glance at him and said, "Get it done."
The old servant trembled. He summoned his courage and replied, "I will get it done right away!"