Chapter 509 - Sounding Out, Footprint
Lemon Camping Ground.
Qiao Meiqi looked at the desolate camp before him and sighed. He’d been to Lemon Camping Ground before and although it was tattered and small at that time, it was full of vitality. Now, not a soul was in sight.
Only the influential higher-ups were concerned about Lemon Camping Ground. Nevertheless, they were only paying attention to that wooden board and the remnant objects.
Yet, not many were interested in the massacre of Lemon Camping Ground.
To those powerful figures, Lemon Camping Ground was just a small territory with a small population. Dead or alive, it didn’t matter to them.
This was times of chaos.
Qiao Meiqi asked himself how many people would care if he died. His eyes regained their coldness. In this chaotic world, there was nothing more important than surviving. Sympathy was worthless.
He was waiting for Ai Hui.
They agreed on Lemon Camping Ground for their transaction location.
Gaining Ai Hui’s trust wasn’t an easy feat. They had a friendly cooperation, but Ai Hui still had reservations.
Qiao Meiqi praised Ai Hui inwardly. He was young, but handled things in a very mature and experienced manner. It was difficult to believe that such a capable fellow had been a laborer.
Still deep in thought, he caught sight of Ai Hui and cried out in alarm, "Your injuries are this bad? I heard you were injured, but did not expect it to be this serious!"
Ai Hui was completely wrapped in bandages except for his eyes, and even then, he looked frail. In the past, Ai Hui’s breaths were long and deep like those of powerful dire beasts. People could feel the force contained within.
Now, his breaths were brief and delicate, a clear sign of his feebleness.
What kind of injuries would have led to this?
It was beyond a Master’s level…
Qiao Meiqi’s heart thumped. He forced a smile. "You look pretty good."
Ai Hui’s clear and tranquil eyes had the ability to attract gazes, as if possessing a strange force.
Although he tried his best to disguise it, Qiao Meiqi’s change in expression did not escape Ai Hui’s notice. Ai Hui did not get angry. Instead, he said frankly, "Yes, I’m back to the same old me overnight."
Qiao Meiqi was a wealthy merchant after all, so his expression quickly returned to normal. He said, smiling, "As the saying goes, a thin camel is still bigger than a horse. You’re still able to cause such a scene despite being severely injured."
He pointed to the wooden board with his mouth.
Among the influential higher ups, this wooden board was even more well known than Ai Hui. The big bloody words did not have the intensity of drawn swords and drawn bows, but it did not conceal its intention to threaten and intimidate.
This was precisely Ai Hui’s style of doing things.
Ai Hui shook his head and spoke, not in an unhappy tone, "It’s already our mistake that they got involved. This is all we could do."
Qiao Meiqi said half seriously, "You’ve outdone yourself. Five Masters. I was shocked stupid and thought that the news was being spread and distorted. Who knew it was actually true. Knowing that I was coming, many have requested news about you."
Beneath the bandages came Ai Hui’s soft laughter. "What news would I have?"
Ai Hui did not spend any more time on this topic. He asked, "Did you bring the stuff?"
The playful look on Qiao Meiqi’s face disappeared as he turned serious. "I’ve gotten most of the goods except for a few materials that are harder to purchase. I’ll need more time for those. This is the list of items I’ve yet to obtain. Take a look. I’ll continue thinking of solutions."
Ai Hui retrieved the list and looked through it carefully.
Qiao Meiqi watched him attentively in attempt to obtain clues from his face. However, it was to no avail since Ai Hui’s face was covered in bandages. His eyes were expressionless and indifferent.
Ai Hui’s list included many types of ingredients. Qiao Meiqi had specially hired somebody to analyze this list, but was still unable to get a clear idea of what these ingredients were for.
Having looked through the list, Ai Hui nodded and kept it. "I’ll trust you to get hold of the remaining items."
QIao Meiqi hurriedly replied, "Definitely, definitely."
Ai Hui added, "The snow lava is ready and in a larger quantity this time. I’ll trouble you to get these listed items as soon as possible since it’s more urgent."
Qiao Meiqi took the list and scanned through it. Seeing that the ingredients were all medicinal he immediately understood. "No problem, I’ll get them as quickly as possible."
Seems like Ai Hui’s injuries are pretty serious.
Ai Hui expressed his gratitude. "Thank you, Mayor."
Qiao Meiqi laughed, "We’re old friends, so it’s what I should do! When are you going to take me on a tour around the Central Pine Valley?"
Ai Hui looked at him, half smilingly.
Qiao Meiqi did not know why, but seeing Ai Hui’s eyes jolted him. He burst into laughter, saying, "Just a joke, just a joke. I, too, lead a tiring life since I’m short on money."
Ai Hui laughed. "If you’re short on money, everyone else is a beggar."
Whatever awkwardness dissolved in this instant.
Qiao Meiqi understood that from a business point of view, working with Ai Hui brought many benefits. He hoped for this to carry on. It was not his place to get involved in other matters.
He couldn’t afford to provoke the others, but neither could he afford to provoke Ai Hui.
If Ai Hui could chop up five Masters, who was he?
This thought soothed his heart and relaxed his posture.
Qiao Meiqi did not stay long. After checking the inventory, he bade farewell and left.
Looking at the disappearing caravan, Gu Xuan spoke up. "This guy seems problematic, Boss."
Ai Hui nodded in agreement. Of course he could tell that something was not right with Qiao Meiqi today. Instead of exposing it, he sighed meaningfully. "Mayor is an intelligent man."
Gu Xuan asked, somewhat puzzled, "Why have you come personally this time, Boss? Your injuries…"
Ai Hui smiled. "How can they feel assured if they don’t see me in this state? How else can we gain more time?"
Gu Xuan pondered over his words.
Along the way, Zu Yan had been observing the Spear of Heavy Cloud.
Having lost his family and struggling to survive in the cold, Zu Yan was no longer a willful and arrogant hedonist. He was much more mature now. He had managed to survive and become a Master all because he had a good teacher.
He knew not how to repay his teacher, but knew that his teacher wasn’t in need of his reciprocation.
Teacher had helped him choose this path, so he would continue walking down this path.
In terms of allocation, the Spear of Heavy Cloud was still quite behind the elite battle divisions he’d seen. The member’s abilities weren’t too great and they were inexperienced, probably their biggest weakness.
Other than these, they had more merits than he’d imagined.
Although the members weren’t of a high level, they were willing to work hard without complaining. The fire elementalists were especially hardy, never once complaining about the hardship and weariness they faced.
Having a sturdy and capable backbone served as the basic guarantee of the team’s combat power. He could already imagine how these key experts would step out and make the right choice when met with a predicament during battle.
In terms of powerful experts, however, Spear of Heavy Cloud wasn’t lacking. Shi Xueman as an individual had strong combat power and, with Yang Xiaodong and Zu Yan, there was a total of three Masters keeping watch. Jiang Wei, Sang Zijun, Qian Dai, and the others were all at the pseudo Master level.
Other than them, there was Wang Xiaoshan, a earth elemental master proficient in construction, who could greatly expand the battle tactics of the Spear of Heavy Cloud.
The most praiseworthy person was Shi Xueman.
The former goddess of the Induction Ground had grown beyond his imagination. Shi Xueman was steady, calm, and spoke eloquently like a general. People in the division had only respect and adoration toward her.
"Down below is the designated region."
Sang Zijun’s words captured everybody’s attention.
Two days ago, they had met scouts from the Infantry Division and received Silver Soldier’s plan. After some discussion and consideration, Shi Xueman had agreed to his battle plan.
They traveled day and night at double speed toward the designated district. According to Silver Soldier’s plan, they were going to lie in ambush together with the Infantry and Sky Edge divisions to surround their enemies.
The lush mountains ahead carried a certain desolation and loneliness. Man had only left the Silver Mist Sea for a few years, yet Nature had already eagerly claimed and expanded its territory. The wild grass and trees had already started to take root in the old cities.
Trekking along the wild made everybody’s heart feel heavy. All of them had at one point lived in the bustling cities of the Avalon of Five Elements. Those splendid lights, endless streams of people, and vehicles like bamboo carts had yet to be forgotten.
Suddenly, Jiang Wei pointed to the valley before them. "Look, there!"
Everybody followed his fingers and saw a huge footprint that was over a mile long. Amid the mountains it formed a low-lying valley.
Everyone became solemn.
Zu Yan mumbled to himself, "Glorious footprints…"
When An Muda died, Zu Yan had been unconscious and wasn’t able to witness it for himself. Now that he’d finally seen it, he couldn’t help but fall into a daze.
Shi Xueman stared absent-mindedly at the big footprint, her eyes turning red.
Teacher had drawn out the Silver Mist Sea’s elemental energy, causing it to become increasingly tattered. Even those who came over from the Old Territory had no interest in it.
It was said that citizens of the Old Territory had already constructed a bridge over the Lava River and that many of them came pouring in like the tide. Now that the elemental energy in the Silver Mist Sea and Cloud Palette Village had withered, they gradually returned to the Old Territory.
Without elemental energy, the Silver Mist Sea and Cloud Palette Village were no longer appealing.
Furthermore, dire beasts would occasionally make their way into the Silver Mist Sea and Cloud Palette Village, resulting in major casualties. This was another factor that spurred citizens to return to the Old Territory.
There was no elemental energy in the Old Territory, but there weren’t any powerful dire beasts either.
The Silver Mist Sea was now completely empty and in ruins. Would the city remnants still be around in the times to come?
She recalled what her teacher had said about leaving the Pearblossom Pavilion to her. She decided to tidy up the place after this battle.
Shi Xueman clasped her Cirrus tightly as she looked at the footprint between the hills with a steady gaze.
The first battle was about to unfold beneath Teacher’s footprints. Perhaps it was fate. Teacher must be watching over her in heaven.
In that case, she was going to claim her first victory in memory of him.
She shifted her gaze toward Wang Xiaoshan. "I’ll leave the rest to you, Xiaoshan."
Wang Xiaoshan nodded sincerely, "I’ll do my best."
Today, Wang Xiaoshan was a mason who played with mud. His unremarkable looking clothes were still covered in dust, but between his brows lay an indescribable vigor and confidence.