A Mysterious Enemy
“Nian Bing, can I come in?” Feng Nu asked from outside the tent.
The tents the mercenaries used weren’t big; there was only one space for one person to lie down. When he heard Feng Nu’s voice, Nian Bing immediately sat up. “Please, come in.”
The flap of the tent was pulled back, and Feng Nu stepped in and took a seat. Her pink hair spread like a shawl over her shoulders, framing her devastatingly beautiful face. A desire to embrace her perfect form rose up in his heart, flushing him with warmth. “Feng Nu, why are you looking for me?”
Feng Nu’s expression betrayed her anxiety. “Nian Bing, things are far from well!”
Nian Bing smiled cooly. “Then you should tell me now what exactly this clan is.”
Feng Nu sighed. “Sorry, I cannot violate the agreement my predecessors. I’m afraid now that we are here, we can only go forward. I didn’t get a clear look at other person from last night, but I saw the appearance of the person who attacked you. It was exactly as I had thought; it was a member of that clan. Do you know why they didn’t reappear today? It’s not because they let us go; they still intend to kill you. Once we truly enter into the inner mountains, they will strike.”
Nian Bing’s brows creased slightly. “That is to say, this is the calm before the storm. Our path won’t go so smoothly tomorrow.”
Feng Nu nodded. “Yes, that is so.”
Nian Bing said, “Unfortunately, I’m unable to persuade President Ka Luo. Without any solid proof they won’t give up. I’m afraid I must trouble you with what I said to you last night.”
Feng Nu nodded. “I can only try my best. After all, plans cannot keep up with change.”
Nian Bing suddenly laughed lightly. “You smell very good! You haven’t bathed for at least two days; how can you smell so good.”
Feng Nu was first stunned, then her pretty face reddened. “You’re always in the mood to joke, without heed for the occasion.”
NIan Bing smiled. “The more nerve-wracking it is the more we must relax so we can better face what’s ahead, no? And you still haven’t answered my question.”
Feng Nu snorted. “My kinsmen and I have the ability to clean our bodies. Even if we haven’t washed in months and our clothes are all dirt, our bodies definitely won’t be. Enough of this. I only came to remind you to be careful, not to abandon the quest. As soon as things turn bad, you must run as fast as you can.” She stood up and rolled her eyes at Nian Bing before leaving.
Even after she left, the fragrance still lingered. Nian Bing inhaled deeply. His infatuation with Feng Nu had increased. From his space pouch he took out the unused, little flute Feng Nu had given him. A warmth suffused through his heart. Although ‘friendship’ forever separated them, he could still feel Feng Nu’s sincere concern.
Again, the tent curtains suddenly lifted and a slender figure slipped in. Nian Bing thought Feng Nu returned, but when looked up he found it was actually the icy Zi Qing Meng.
“Miss Zi? What business do you have with me?” Nian Bing asked in surprise.
Zi Qing Meng saw the flute Nian Bing was holding, then sat herself down in front of him without any politeness. “There are two things. First, about my brother, and second, about when we reach the treasure trove tomorrow.”
Nian Bing’s interest was piqued. “In specific?”
Zi Qing Meng answered. “I see that your relationship with Feng Nu isn’t ordinary, and that is your private matter; I have no right to interfere. But as you surely know, ever since Feng Nu appeared, my big brother hasn’t been able to extricate himself from his infatuation. If Feng Nu is your girlfriend, I hope that you can officially tell him and save him from his delusions. I really don’t want him to suffer the pain of unrequited love.”
Nian Bing smiled lightly. “I’m afraid I can’t help you with this task. It’s not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t have the right to. Feng Nu and I remain only friends, so how could I say she’s my girlfriend?”
Zi Qing Meng snorted. “You’re only friends? You lying bastard. Do you think I didn’t see you two hugging so tightly? If you were only friends would she let you do such a thing so easily? If you were only friends, would she let you lean against her shoulder and sleep?”
Nian Bing’s heart jumped. What Zi Qing Meng said was true. When he thought of that day, it was sort of accidental on his part, to be honest. He never imagined that Feng Nu would actually indulge him so. Could it be really has feelings for him? “Miss Zi, we have temporarily set aside this matter. Tomorrow, we are to arrive at the treasure trove site; unknown danger awaits us. How about this? If we all return safely, I will talk to Feng Nu. If she agrees, we’ll put on a show. How’s that?”
Zi Qing Meng fell silent for a time. Her voice strange, she then asked, “You and Feng Nu aren’t really in a relationship? What about that female mage? Not with her either?”
Nian Bing was growing impatient. “You seem to want every beautiful girl to be my girlfriend. Then you might as well be my girlfriend. Honestly, I’m single right now. For a long time in the future, I will still be single. I have only friends, no girlfriend. I hope that you won’t nag me about this. Now, tell me about the second thing.”
For some unknown reason, Zi Qing Meng’s face turned red. Lowering her head, she said, “Sorry, it was my mistake.”
Nian Bing stared blankly. This was the first time he had seen such an expression appear on Zi Qing Meng. She was apologizing! His tone immediately grew softer. “It’s nothing. I just don’t want to be agitated by people misunderstanding my own issues.”
Zi Qing Meng raised her head to give Nian Bing a look. “Last night, after that thing happened I had a vague premonition. Feng Nu is strong and can protect herself, but Big Brother and I definitely cannot. You know that I’m just a swordmaster. If I encountered such a sudden attack, I’m afraid… So, in case we meet the enemy, can you use magic to take care of Big Brother and I?” Seeing Nian Bing’s surprised expression, she hastily explained, “We aren’t afraid of dying; Big Brother doesn’t even know I came to find you. But Big Brother and I are the Orchid Dream College’s successors. Father only has us two, so no matter when, our lives have always been most important to us. So I came to find you, can you help us?”
Nian Bing’s expression was stern. “Miss Zi, we haven’t known each other for long, but we are, at the very least, friends. You don’t need to worry. As long as I’m safe, I will protect my friends.”
Zi Qing Meng smiled. Nian Bing found that her smiling face was much more pleasant to look at than her usual chilly expression.
“Thank you, Nian Bing.” Zi Qing Meng stood up, about to leave the tent.
“Miss Zi, don’t you think my answer was too selfish?” Nian Bing asked curiously.
Zi Qing Meng’s back was to him as she shook her head. “No, of course not. At least, this confirms that you are not a hypocrite. If you yourself are in danger, how can you protect us? Thank you for your promise.” Having said that, she lifted the curtains and was on her way.
“So she was actually this reasonable. It seems that you cannot belittle anyone. I hope that they will able to leave here with their lives,” Nian Bing muttered to himself.
“Nian Bing, can I come in?” A soft voice came from outside.
Nian Bing groaned inwardly. How come beautiful girls kept coming in one after another? The mercenary troop definitely saw this; what were they thinking? However, this is the last one, but this was the one he couldn’t refuse. It would be more accurate to say he had somewhat anticipated her coming. “Ling’er, please enter. It’s cold out.”
The curtains were lifted once more, and he was faced with the girl who refused to talk to him walking in. She wasn’t wearing her customary, thick fur coat, and the ice mage’s robe looked thin. Paired with her pale face, her appearance would elicit feelings of pity.
Long Ling sat down in front of Nian Bing, her pretty face smiling slightly. “Nian Bing, we’ve been apart for several months. How are you?” She looked at him gently, but the distress deep in her eyes remained unchanged.
“Ling’er, I’m very well. How about you?” After he said this, Nian Bing nearly slapped himself. Did Long Ling look well?
Unexpectedly, Long Ling nodded. “I’m feeling very well! Did you know? Since you left, I used the spirit training method you taught me and advanced to the great mage realm. If I had more time to cultivate, I think that I could become a magic scholar before you.”
Nian Bing lowered his head. “Then I must congratulate you.”
Long Ling smiled. “There is nothing to congratulate. In terms of talent, you are far above me. Oh, that’s right, I still haven’t congratulated you. When are you and Miss Feng Nu getting married? If I’m still here, remember to give me an invitation.”
Nian Bing felt his heart squeeze. “If you’re still here? What does that mean? Feng Nu and I are just normal friends, just like we are. Please, do not mistake anything.”
“Ordinary friends?” Her distressed expression intensified. “Then I have misunderstood. However, Miss Feng Nu is very beautiful. You aren’t pursuing such a beautiful girl?”
Nian Bing sighed lightly. “As you might remember, I already told you I don’t have the right to love. That wasn’t an excuse, but my true, heartfelt words.”
Long Ling smiled. “This has nothing to do with me. Oh, that’s right, Father wanted me to pass on to you to not forget to represent the association in the mage tournament. It’ll be here in just half a year.”
Nian Bing nodded. “Since I promised Teacher, I definitely will go.”
Long Ling’s eyes lit up significantly. “Then you must live through this task. You must always attach the utmost importance onto your life. I’m giving this to you, please wear it.” While saying this, she fished out some clothes from from her magic robe. What looked like a vest sparkled with red-gold light. It seemed to be made of a very light material, like gauze. Nian Bing asked, “What is this?”
Long Ling’s eyes crinkled. “As you already know, we mages have very weak bodies. Father wanted me to give you this vest. When you wear it, it can block a large portion of the attack power from even a expert of the martial saint realm. It’s the best defensive item for mages. I have no idea how it was made, but Father already tried it. It wasn’t even destroyed by a rank 10 spell, and it was specially made for qi attacks. I came to find you to complete the task Father gave me. Take it and then I will leave. We will probably encounter danger tomorrow, so please, be careful.” Long Ling stuffed the red-gold vest into Nian Bing’s hands then flashed a smile at him before leaving.
The reddish gold vest felt like he wasn’t even holding anything. He shook it out gently, and a faint fragrance assailed his nostrils. Nian Bing concentrated on the vest and used a flame spell. In comparison to the firelight, the vest sparkled faintly. Nian Bing had never seen such a material before. With just a light tug, the superbly elastic vest was stretched out. When he let go, it resumed its original form. So that’s why Long Ling said that the president gave him this small vest.
Gaining another item that could save his life was a happy thing. Nian Bing immediately took off his own clothes and shimmied into the vest. As expected, the vest was wonderfully elastic and fit him like a skin, while he still felt very well-ventilated. Nian Bing used a flame spell on himself to test it out and couldn’t feel a scorching sensation. The vest didn’t have a single mark. It seemed to be a true treasure.
The fragrance from before had intensified on the vest. Caressing it softly, Nian Bing suddenly trembled. His brain seemed to be struck by lightning as his entire person became dull.
He pulled up a corner of the vest and pressed it carefully next to his nose. His body shivered slightly. What do you mean Master gave him this vest, what do you mean he was afraid that he would be in danger. Teacher Long Zhi couldn’t possibly have guessed that Ling’er would meet him here. What’s more, people were selfish. Ling’er was also a mage. With such a protective treasure and as a father, he would naturally give this to his own daughter. This fragrance was indeed familiar because it was LIng’er’s! She had obviously been wearing it. Long Zhi gave her this protective treasure, but she had given it to him. This was the world’s biggest idiot. Ling’er, you truly are too stupid. Why are you so good to me? I am not worth such kindness! Ling’er; I’m sorry for being so unworthy of you.