The autumn breeze rustled across the plain that was originally full of life, and a strong bloody smell permeated the area.
The green plain had been stained red with blood, and there was a messy pile of bodies on the ground. Many of them were even frozen into ice sculptures. Frozen together with their spilled blood, those ice sculptures appeared extremely red.
Scarlet was shaking. She could feel the rush of adrenaline in her body at the moment when she did it. However, this feeling gradually subsided when she saw an alien child, frozen in a pool of his own blood. He was clearly just an innocent child, and he was the size of a normal human boy. He was dead. His eyes were frozen in a state that revealed the terror and helplessness he felt before his death.
Scarlet suddenly lost control over her body and limbs and fell to her knees.
For some, dealing with the consequences of killing was always more difficult than the killing itself.
A bout of nausea suddenly rose from her stomach, and she retched, yet unable to vomit out anything. Great Teacher Sophia just watched quietly at the side. As Scarlet's mood grew more stable, she spoke lightly, \"Good job. Your control of your Dharma Idol is gradually maturing.\"
\"Are they really evil?\" Scarlet suddenly asked. She looked at Sophia eagerly, perhaps hoping for a reaffirmation to slightly reduce her guilt at this moment.
\"Evil?\" Sophia laughed. \"What do you mean by evil? There will never be a true distinction between good and evil in this world. There only exist differences in one's strength and demarcation between the enemy and ourselves.\"
\"They are Miluo People who also call themselves Yashenians. They are the indigenous people of this secret realm. Perhaps the strongest of them once killed many humans. But as the party getting invaded, there is nothing wrong with putting up a fight,\" explained Sophia as she ignored Scarlet's stiff eyes and trembling body. \"So according to your understanding, they are not evil. The Miluo people are on the verge of extinction. Being ruled by the Holy Land for many years, this once glorious tribe has long lost its pride and glory. They have all become lowly and weak; thus, they will not initiate any attacks on humans. On the contrary, they often try to please humans and the people of the Holy Land, They even honor us by giving us the title of 'Holy People.' It's really funny. As the defeated and the ones being ruled, they are asking for peace with the Holy Land. Haha… But to the people of the Holy Land, they are just a bunch of captive lambs waiting to be slaughtered.\"
Scarlet could not believe her ears. She had heard about many other similar conquered secret realms. Putting aside the discussion of whether the Holy Land was right or wrong as an aggressor, at the very least, these remaining natives were not at fault. Most of them were already rather docile and even yearned for peace with the Holy Land even though they were enemies. They also provided various types of labor and resources in the form of offerings to the Holy Land. However, it was clear that many people in the Holy Land did not think so, because, in their minds, the two parties were far from being of equal status.
Anger rose from the bottom of Scarlet's heart. She killed those people without considering their identities just now due to her trust in her teacher. This was the first time that she felt great discontent and indignation at her teacher, who had been extremely caring and like a mother to her. Scarlet had originally thought that although her teacher was strict, she at least had a sense of righteousness. She truly did not expect her teacher to act like this. \" You— How did you—? Why? Why did you make me kill them? Why?!\"
\"Shut up!\" Sophia interrupted Scarlet's angry inquiries coldly. \"Have I been too kind lately? You seem to have forgotten your place these days!\"
The Mystic Sect's 7-star Great Teacher had terrifying Soul Power. Just a little anger was enough to make others tremble; just a little release of her emotions was enough to make others fall to their knees. Scarlet felt a very deep sense of fear. There was an extremely powerful Soul Power suppressing her, as though a mountain had been dropped on her, but she stubbornly refused to submit.
\"You really want to know why? It's because of you,\" said Sophia without a trace of emotion. \"It's because of your incompetence, your emotions, and your lack of resolution. That's why I had to use their lowly lives to remind you.\"
\"What is spiritual cultivation? Do you think it's just talent and hard work? You're wrong,\" Sophia added. \"Heaven and Earth are heartless, treating all lives like straw dogs. Only when you abandon everything and plunder everything, then can you achieve something! Since you have chosen the path of cultivation, there is only a cruel path of loneliness ahead, and there is no possibility of turning back. If you don't move forward, you will become a stepping stone for others. Do not become these wastrels that have just provided you with experience and eventually die in a pool of your own blood!\"
\"Yes, there are people who would rather be stepping stones for others than to stain their hands. You think you have a choice? Don't be stupid. That's just what you think.\" Sophia's voice gradually softened, toning down from her previously harsh tone. She was not trying to destroy Scarlet. On the contrary, she wanted her to advance to further stages of cultivation. \"When fate befalls you, a weakling, you will have no choice but to submit. Your only choice is to keep moving forward. When you are powerful enough, then you will be entitled to your own decisions.\"
\"Am I still not direct enough? Haha…\" Sophia stared at her without speaking. With a smile on her face, she added another sentence, \"I'll give dumb you a hint. When you become more powerful than me, you can probably go against my orders then.\"
The wind began to howl, and the bloody smell permeated the surroundings. After a long while, Scarlet gradually stopped shaking and stood up slowly.
Sophia didn't bother to ask Scarlet how she was feeling. Some things needed time to be accepted, but Sophia believed that Scarlet could do it. Sooner or later, she expected Scarlet to accept reality and become numb in the process. Eventually, Scarlet would turn into someone like herself.
Sophia resumed her usual indifferent expression and spoke her next orders in a calm tone. \"Let's go to the next place.\"
There was never a shortage of innocent and fragile humans in the Holy Land. For this case of a Great Teacher holding an apprentice in high regard, it meant that the apprentice had gained a strong backer. However, had she thought about it? Why was that? What's so special about her?
Admittedly, some teachers do it to pass down their legacy or simply because they liked their students. However, this was absolutely the minority in the Holy Land. This was a world that followed the law of the jungle. Everyone who could manage to climb to the position of a Great Teacher was definitely not just gifted; they had to be ruthless in removing their obstacles. Also, they had to be careful of others who might try to kill them. Then, they would finally reach this stage.
Innocents? There truly weren't many left.
In this world, no one would hate or love another without rhyme or reason. Scarlet was simply useful to her…
Cellular Cosmology. Although he had already known that practicing it would be filled with complications, Wang Zhong still did not expect that the creation of the Micro Mirror device — merely an early-stage preparation for observation and understanding the purpose of Cellular Cosmology — would cause so much trouble for him. He had also long noticed which parts of this divine book had gone wrong in various aspects, and for this, he had even become a laughingstock in the Tyrants.
In the Queen's Bar, Oscar looked like he was doing rather well. After almost a month of recovery, he was full of vim and vigor again. However, there was no way to remove the blue marks left on his body, and his hair seemed to have lost its regenerative function. An originally handsome guy, he looked a little weird now, but Oscar himself seemed rather relieved. It had to be admitted that with Wang Zhong's help, he felt as though he was absolved of his responsibilities. It was the salvation of his soul.
\"Captain, is there an urgent matter? Why did you call me over in such a hurry?\" Wang Zhong accepted the wine Oscar had handed over.
\"Look at you. You look like you are in a rush. Are you still looking for the Glazed Crystal Glass?\" Oscar definitely belonged to the category of people with very high emotional intelligence. Most things couldn't escape his eyes. It was just that he disdained some people.
He actually had a great deal of admiration for Wang Zhong's choice. The people of the Holy Land basically all knew about that divine book. There were many people who had been fooled by the book before, but they often gave up in the beginning. Wang Zhong was obviously someone who knew his stuff. If he still insisted on doing so, one could only say that his heart was indeed loftier than the sky. Also, in the view of the Wanderlust Team, if there was anyone in the Tyrants who could practice that divine book of Cellular Cosmology, then it was most probably Wang Zhong.
\"Don't talk about it. Now, I have truly widened my knowledge on scarce resources in the Holy Land. This stuff is really difficult to find. There is stock, obviously. But you just can't buy it.\"
\"Ha, you'll slowly get used to it.\" Oscar laughed out loud. \"I know a few seniors in the Alchemy Union. I will help you to ask them later. Maybe it'll be available, but it might not be fresh goods. I estimate that only old stocks are available. They will certainly not be cheap either. It all depends on whether you're willing to spend the money.\"
\"I'm fine with it as long as it can be used!\" Wang Zhong's eyes lit up. He was definitely not picky about this. Who cared whether it was new or old goods?
\"Okay, then leave it to me.\" Oscar nodded. \"Let's talk business now. I've asked you to come because I have accepted a mission for you.\"
At the same time, he dug out a scroll from his pocket. It was a Dimensional Team exploration mission scroll. The yellow color on the surface of the scroll represented its rank, B-rank. For most exploration teams, B-rank missions were standard missions. Its difficulty would not be too low or too high. In addition to the mission rewards, there was often some extra cash up for grabs, which made missions like this popular among the teams.
The moment such missions were released, they would often be highly sought after by the Dimensional Exploration teams, and they would compete for them. First, one had to submit an application; second, the Dimensional Hostel would collate the name list of the teams; third, a few teams would be selected that they felt would be up for it. Finally, the person who released the mission would personally select his preferred team. In such situations, the rank and the placement of the exploration teams would come into consideration, and some teams would have an advantage over others. Most mission releasers often chose higher-ranking exploration teams as their partners. After all, the higher the ranking, the more powerful they were, which meant that the possibility of completing the task was higher. In fact, they did not care about the well-being of weak teams. Even if a weak team perished during the mission, it was not their concern. Their main concern was whether there would be a delay in the mission completion.
\"Magma secret realm, B-rank mission: to collect some Fire Quartz. Small Eye's injuries have yet to recover, and the rest of the team is busy trying to internalize what they have learned from the previous mission. As such, we won't accept missions that require large numbers for the time being. This mission is specially prepared for Sharmie and the others. These guys have asked me several times already. Anyway, the newcomers must also have a chance to practise their skills. If you're free, I think it would be better if you could lead the group.\"
\"Are you coming? I'm a standard newcomer, and I don't even know what the normal process is like. You know that, right?\" Wang Zhong was half-joking, half-serious. For dimensional exploration teams to leave the city for missions, they had to handle many administrative matters. If a newcomer is asked to handle such stuff, he would definitely be at a loss.
Oscar laughed. \"I will follow the group. They are the future of our team after all, but I think it is better for you to lead the mission.\"
\"Alright, when do we leave?\" Wang Zhong nodded his head. He naturally knew that this was a mission Oscar specially picked for them. It would definitely be very helpful for their growth, and even the best commanders had to get to know their team members. Of course, Oscar also wanted to see how strong these newcomers were. This was vital as it would help him decide the team's future work distribution.
\"Tomorrow morning. I was actually waiting for the confirmation on your end before notifying them.\" Oscar tossed Wang Zhong a set of information regarding the Magma secret realm and smiled. \"Anyway, this mission will not be counted in the team's proceeds. You guys can make some extra cash.\"
\"I bet those guys will be thrilled.\"
Sharmie was indeed thrilled at the news, and she couldn't stop shaking Mario in excitement. She was so excited that she could not believe her ears. \"Wang Zhong! Are you serious? We're going on a mission? A B-rank mission?! Just the few of us?\"
Going on a mission in a secret realm? This was something they had never thought of before joining the Wanderlust Team. Most of the newcomers' jobs after joining exploration teams were to help the Holy Disciples with odds and ends. These included doing laundry, running errands for others, etc. There were a lot of unpleasant tasks to handle. Maybe there was a guaranteed minimum salary every month, but if they wanted to go on a team mission or occupy a spot on the team, it was basically a pipe dream.
Grai's reply was a refined one as usual. \"Of course, no problem, Senior. I have always looked forward to fighting alongside you again.\"
\"Ha, Wang Zhong. I knew that you were reliable!\" The last one to speak was Napier. A few days after joining the Wanderlust Team, he became rather energetic, as though he had found his past sense of willfulness. It was said that he even performed once at the Queen's Bar and made quite a sum of money. Of course, his earnings were counted in Federation Credits. \"I'll just follow your lead!\"
Naturally, only Wang Zhong was suitable to lead. Except for Napier, who had just borrowed a large amount of money from Wang Zhong, the other newcomers obviously could not afford to share the cost of a Pioneering Order. Including Oscar, there were only seven people in total; thus, each person had to fork out about 150 Holy Coins. Oscar had just repaid the Wanderlust Team's debt as well. Now, there was basically zero Holy Coins in the Wanderlust Team's fund, and Oscar was also penniless. As such, Wang Zhong could only pay for everyone in advance. In addition, Wang Zhong had already carefully read the mission's details.To visit the Magma secret realm, the team had to prepare some other extra things — such as some cooling measures or first-aid fire-detoxification agents — as that realm could get rather dangerous. Although it was said that the cost of these things would eventually be charged to the team's fund, it was obvious that the only option currently was for vice-captain Wang Zhong to pay for these items first.
Staring at his empty wallet, Wang Zhong instantly grew speechless. Sure enough, there was a type of person who only appeared to be rich. Five thousand Holy Coins… He had not even gotten used to them yet. He was determined to ask Mu Zi about the Samsara Wine no matter what after he returned from the mission. It would be wise to start up the business early.
Being their first time on a mission, everything was of incomparable novelty to everyone, and they were really looking forward to it. Wang Zhong had also temporarily hit a pause on all other matters and devoted himself to the various preparations for the mission. He did it for everyone.
When they gathered at the city's gate the next morning, the shadows beneath Sharmie's eyes were rather dark. It seemed that she did not manage to get a good night's sleep. As such, the one who was the most excited about this mission seemed to be in the worst condition.
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