Mysterious Treasure Trove
Zi Qing Jian lifted his head, giving Feng Nu a look. Seeing both the latter and Nian Bing looking at him, and his bronze face suddenly flushed. Coughing he said, “Ah! Okay, let’s rest for a moment.” When they saw his embarrassed expression, Nian Bing gave Feng Nu a strange look, but Feng Nu just frowned. Zi Qing Jian was an honest and straightforward person, who was unable to hide his feelings. They all knew what this sturdy lout was thinking. Even Zi Qing Meng wasn’t satisfied with her brother’s attitude. She hit him, snapping him out of his daze.
The four people weren’t far from the edge of the forest and sat down facing the road. The ancient trees reached to the sky, however, there was no shade provided by the bald trees. The sounds of crows could be heard faintly as the cold wind brushed past. It was currently the coldest time of the year. Though Nian Bing was no martial artist and only had an ordinary constitution, he also had ice and fire magic protecting him. He only needed to circulate his magic power, and he could use the rank 2 ice body spell to block the cold.
As for Feng Nu, this level of cold was negligible.
Zi Qing Jian was a healthy young man and had exquisite qi, so this cold was nothing to him. This only left Zi Qing Meng, whose martial arts still hadn’t obtained a higher level and cultivated wind qi, shivering because of the cold wind rushing past.
They had left the college in a hurry. Zi Qing Meng was always cooped in the college, the majority of her time spent in a room. Walking around outside was of a load on her mind, so she had only brought very simple clothing. When she realized that it was cold out it was already too late. She put on a jacket, but it would barely alleviate the onslaught of freezing air.
Zi Qing Jian’s mind was on his worries, varied emotions were displayed on his face. He didn’t notice his sister’s plight at all. With Zi Qing Meng’s arrogant personality, she definitely would n’t ask her big brother for help. However, her face betrayed her wishes.
Nian Bing sat between Feng Nu and the Zi siblings. He wanted to talk to Feng Nu about what happened to them while they were apart, but because of Zi Qing Jian’s move, he couldn’t say much. He inadvertently glanced at Zi Qing Meng and saw her twisted expression and quaking body, and he couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Miss Qing Meng, are you cold?”
Zi Qing Meng had been patient while they were walking, but now they stopped. The cold easily pierced her body, making her uncomfortable. When she heard Nian Bing, her heart stirred. She nodded. “Yes, I’m a bit cold.”
When Zi Qing JIan heard their conversation, he awoke from his own thoughts. His head whipped around to look at his sister and was surprised to see a tinge of blue on Zi Qing Meng’s lips. He was immediately frightened and speedily stripped off his outer clothes to cover his sister. “Little Meng, if you were cold why didn’t you tell me?”
Zi Qing Meng snorted bitterly, “I don’t need your clothes. You aren’t wearing much either, you should use them.”
Nian Bing thought about using magic to summon up a ball of fire to warm all of them when Feng Nu suddenly stood up and walked over to Zi Qing Meng. “Elder Sister Zi, enduring the cold is bad for your body. If you damage your body’s meridians, you’ll fall ill.”
She was smiling, making it easier for people to trust her. The bitter and jaded Zi Qing Meng had a change of mood after hearing Feng Nu’s gentle and caring tone. She was about to say something when Feng Nu dropped a hand on her shoulder.
Warm qi flowed from Feng Nu’s slender, jade-like arms into her body. This warmth steadily drove away the cold. Gradually, the warmth became scorching hot. No matter how the cold the wind was, none of it could enter her body. This warmth was indescribably comfortable.
Lifting her hand, Feng Nu smiled. “Okay, my qi at least can prevent you from feeling cold for two hours. And all of the cold air in your body has been completely dispelled.”
Zi Qing Meng stood and excitedly grabbed Feng Nu’s arm. “Thank you, Miss Feng Nu.”
Feng Nu smiled. “What is there to thank? We are all travelling companions; we should help each other out.”
“No, no. Of course I must thank you. On behalf of my little sister, thank you. From now on, if there is something I can do to help, I will give it my all.” Zi Qing Jian spoke somewhat incoherently as he got to his feet.
Nian Bing couldn’t help but smile. He wasn’t worried about Zi Qing Jian pursuing Feng Nu, it was just that he felt that his bumbling appearance was very adorable. “Feng Nu, I’m cold. Warm me up too, okay?”
Feng Nu shot Nian Bing a look. “Don’t’ think that I’m completely ignorant about magic. Come on, both ice and fire magic can block out cold.”
Nian Bing grinned embarrassedly. “When I made food at the college, I consumed almost all of my magic power. How could I block out the cold?”
Feng Nu responded ill-temperedly, “Then use your True Sun Knife. If you wear it on you, then nothing could make you feel cold.”
Nian Bing saw Feng Nu not getting fooled and shook his head smiling. When he saw that head of pink hair, he became foolish.
Right at this moment, the crisp sound of horse’s hooves came from the road. Right now, it was freezing outside, and Orchid Dream City was a rather isolated city, so there hadn’t been many people on the nearby roads.The sudden sound of thudding horse hooves would attract everyone’s gazes. There were ten riders speedily making their way over. They were also riding exceptional horses; although they were moving forward very quickly, no clouds of dust formed beneath their feet. As they drew closer, it became obvious that these people were wearing heavy cloaks to defend against the cold. Each of them were in high spirits. Their figures atop their horses backs remained steady, displaying exquisite horsemanship.
“Eh,” said Nian Bing in suspicion as he stood. As the nearest four horsemen drew near, he called out, “President Ka Luo, is that you?”
“Halt!” The leader suddenly yanked back on the reigns. The steed whinnied and raised its legs in the air. As the galloping lead stopped, the following calvarymen also showed their long years of training. Without any disorder, they stopped right behind the lead rider.
“Ah! Nian Bing, it’s you! This is really a great coincidence.” The head rider jumped off his horse. It definitely was the president of the Ice Moon Empire Mercenary Association, Ka Luo. Underneath his large cloak he wore black armor and carried a long sword on his back. On the left chest portion of his cloak was a golden moon insignia.
Nian Bing went up to greet him and laughed. “Yes! It is very coincidental, President Ka Luo. Are you carrying out a mercenary mission?”
Ka Luo laughed heartily and went to meet Nian Bing. “Someone submitted a rank 1 mission which is extremely difficult for ordinary mercenaries to complete. I took it and brought my own mercenary group to complete it. What are you doing here? Last I heard, you said you were going to Profound Orchid City?”
Nian Bing smiled. “I was going to Profound Orchid City, but because of something I was delayed for some time. Right now, I’m headed there. Have you gone to Ice Snow City yet?”
Ka Luo turned to signal to the mercenaries on horseback. “Move. We are going over to talk to the side; don’t block the road.” All of the mercenaries fluidly dismounted and moved to the side, one of them pulling Ka Luo’s mount.
Ka Luo saw Feng Nu and the others, his eyes flickering in surprise. “Nian Bing, are these your friends?”
Nian Bing saw the doubt in Ka Luo’s eyes and knew it was because of the women by his side. But how could he could explain? He merely answered, “Yes, let me introduce you. This is Feng Nu, and these two are siblings Zi Qing Jian and Zi Qing Meng. Feng Nu, Big Brother Qing Jian, and Miss Qing Meng, this is the Ice Moon Empire Mercenary Association’s President, Ka Luo.
The three and Ka Luo nodded in acknowledgement. Nian Bing took advantage of the opportunity to survey the mercenaries Ka Luo had brought with him. He was surprised to find that these mercenaries were wearing the exact same attire as Ka Luo, except their moon badges which were blue. Additionally, each of them had solemn expression and were over thirty years in age. They didn’t talk amongst themselves, each leading their horse to the side for a rest. Several of the mercenaries separated to stand in a regular pattern and acted as guards. From their temperaments, he could discern that these mercenaries were at least stronger than the Silver Feather Cavalry that he saw before.
Ka Luo drew Nian Bing over to the side. He spoke excitedly, “Nian Bing, thank you very much for last time. I already went to speak with President Long in Ice Snow City and have come to an agreement on cooperation. We also came to a decision on the two association’s problems. Right now, our mercenary association and your Ice Moon Empire Mage Association have entered an alliance.”
“An alliance?” Though Nian Bing had thought that Long Zhi would choose to cooperate with the mercenary association, he hadn’t that they would make an alliance. This was because the mage association was considered to be the most noble of associations, while the mercenary association was a lower tier association. For Long Zhi to be able to throw away preconceived notions and firmly decide to work closely with the mercenary association could be said to be great foresight. This truly was the mage association’s best choice. “President Ka Luo, is it possible for you to tell details about what the alliance includes?”
“It includes everything you would think about cooperation,” said Ka Luo with a grin. “Our mercenary association will supply your distinguished association with all the necessary funding and resources. Your distinguished association will provide us with magic scrolls in return. The best thing is, twenty of your distinguished association’s mages will join my mercenary group which will greatly increase our mercenary troop strength. They’re also all advanced mages and higher and are led by Magic Scholar Li De.”
“This time, we weren’t sure about being able to successfully complete a rank 1 quest, but with Magic Scholar Li De and two other advanced mages participating, I am confident it will be successful. They went on up ahead; we were going to join them later. Nian Bing, President Long thinks very highly of you! How about it? Any interest in completing this task with us? No need to worry; the pay won’t be a problem.”
Nian Bing smiled back. “Not this time. My friends and I have to get going. There won’t be any effect without me anyway.”
Ka Luo showed his disappointment. “A pity, as it wouldn’t have taken up much of your time either. Our goal this time is a treasure trove. According to the employer, not only is the treasure trove filled with any kind of riches, it also has many different rare treasures like lost magic spells and martial arts books.If you will come help us, I will duly reward three items of your choice. How about it?
Gold and silver and riches couldn’t move Nian Bing’s heart, but lost magic spells stirred him up greatly. As Long Zhi had said, the realm of magic was gradually declining in part because many of the magic cultivation methods and stronger magic incantations from ancient times had been lost. If he could find a powerful spell useful for him, it would be highly advantageous. He exchanged looks with Ka Luo. “What sort of requirements does the employer have? Since there’s that much treasure, why doesn’t he go find it himself instead of employing you? Could it be that he’s not scared of you taking it all for yourself?”
Ka Lou’s expression darkened. “Nian Bing, you look down on us too much. I established the Ice Moon Mercenary Group and it’s renowned throughout the empire. It’s the only first rank mercenary group in the Ice Moon Empire. Our reputation is our guarantee. Honestly speaking, the employer decided to give us the map and have us complete the task because the map is damaged. Moreover, according to the map, the treasure trove is cursed. This is also just one copy out of twelve of the map.
“We found that the other people with maps have assembled groups to find the treasure trove, but none were able to return alive. You can imagine how dangerous the treasure trove is, so that’s why the employer was able to give us the map so easily. It could be said that this map is the reward he provided. If we find the treasure trove we can take all of the precious treasures. The employer only wants a legendary bottle. The other treasures will belong to our mercenary group.”
“A legendary bottle?” Nian Bing looked at Ka Luo with suspicion.
“The employer is a very mysterious middle-aged man. He only said that there was a black bottle in the treasure trove but didn’t say what was so secret about it. He only wants us to give him that bottle. Besides giving us the other things in the treasure trove, he would also give us an additional 10,000 purple gold coins as remuneration. I think this bottle must be a magic item. To complete this quest, I brought all of the elite of the mercenary group. This is just one portion of people; the others are accompanying your association’s three mages.
“Our Ice Moon Mercenary Group has in total, mobilized thirty-two Great Swordmaster, and including me, three Martial Masters, as well as three mages. We are very strong. I think that no other mercenary association on the continent could match up to us. I am confident we can complete the task. If you come too, I can say so with unshakeable certainty.”