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Weren’t you one of the first ones out to criticize Zu An just a few days ago? Yet now, you’re changing so quickly?
Zhao Xi’s personality was the most direct. He first apologized to Zu An. “Sir Zu, I’m a crude person who believes there’s rain when I hear wind. I’ve offended you considerably in the past few days, so I solemnly apologize. I hope that your distinguished self won’t remember the offenses of someone so petty like me.”
Meng Pan continued to curse inwardly. What do you mean, ‘believes there’s rain when you hear wind’? Who’s the wind and who’s the rain? Aren’t you throwing shade at me right now?!
He quickly said, “This one is also blind despite having eyes. I was misled by the Gu clan brothers, and that was why I doubted Sir Zu. This humble one was only doing everything for the sake of public good and not to target Sir Zu, so I offer my apologies. The only reason the rest of us were able to survive is because of your distinguished self’s grace. Please receive three kowtows from this humble Meng.”
Zhao Xi’s face twitched. In terms of shamelessness, it seemed he couldn’t win against this bastard Meng.
Then, all of the other young masters apologized one after another. The group of people offered the precious gifts they had on them to Zu An to express their apology.
There was no other choice. When they learned that Zu An had just killed an expert at the peak of the eighth rank, the six ranks of cultivation that they had originally been immensely proud of seemed completely worthless. When they remembered how badly they had all offended him earlier, they could only give him gifts to feel a bit more at ease.
Zu An was going to refuse, but Bi Linglong secretly warned him that he should take the gifts to appease them, or else something bad might happen later.
Zu An had to admit that Bi Linglong was naturally suited to be someone of high status. She indeed understood human nature better than him. However, he wasn’t too fond of these two-faced people who changed so quickly, so he told Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun to help him receive the gifts.
When they saw that the crown princess didn’t mind Zu An using public servants to complete these personal acts, they were even more convinced, and their attitudes toward Zu An became even more respectful. Furthermore, with how these two guards had spoken up for Zu An earlier, they knew that the guards’ relationship with him was extremely good, and thus didn’t dare to look down on them either.
Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun both stuck out their chests. They had been mocked by everyone earlier when they spoke up for Zu An, but now these arrogant young masters were trying to curry favor with them with smiles. Such a feeling was incredibly refreshing.
“You guys are so noisy it woke me up.” The crown prince yawned as he came out of his tent lazily, completely aware that his life had almost ended just now.
Bi Linglong had to show him respect in front of so many people. She walked up and reported everything that had happened to him.
The crown prince continuously sighed when he heard the report. “The two of them died? Sigh, I don’t have anyone to catch rabbits with me in the future.”
For the sake of getting closer to Bi Linglong, the two brothers had spent quite the time buttering up the crown prince. They had done all sorts of fun things with him. When had the crown prince, who was usually locked up in the palace, ever seen these new and exciting things? He had quickly befriended them.
That was also one of the reasons why Bi Linglong hadn’t suspected the Gu clan brothers before. If they really had traitorous thoughts, why would they exert themselves so much to serve the crown prince?
All of the clans’ young masters felt incredibly conflicted when they heard what the crown prince said. This kind of simple-minded crown prince really was…
Unfortunately, their fates were already tied together. They could only brace themselves and walk this path down to its end.
After a night of rest, Gao Ying and Pei You’s conditions gradually improved. The next day, their group continued their advance into the mountain.
Pei You told everyone how to track the Jade Moon Serpent’s aura. Someone from the Meng clan had entered the dungeon before and ended up obtaining one of the Jade Moon Serpent’s scales. Then, they had a rune master turn it into a magic artifact. The scale could be used to track down the original owner.
With this magic artifact in hand, the group slowly advanced toward the mountain depths. There were many dangerous beast nests along the way, but because of Zu An’s warnings, they avoided practically all of them.
No one voiced any objections this time. On the contrary, all of them praised him in a cringeworthy manner.
Zu An sighed. The same words had been met with mockery and ridicule, yet now, these same people who had previously mocked him were eager to lick his boots. This society really was something.
The group continued advancing for three days in a row. Pei You’s expression became grave as he said, “We’re almost there!”
Zu An had already sensed a strong water elemental power even before Pei You said anything.
The group walked out of the jungle. An open and clear view suddenly stretched before their eyes. A large waterfall flowed into a massive pool, causing water to splash everywhere. As rays of sunlight scattered down, even faint rainbows that could be seen.
Zhao Xi said with a smile, “This serpent really knows how to enjoy itself; no wonder it changed homes. This place’s scenery is far better than that Cold Jade Pond.”
Gao Ying said with a frown, “Something’s not right. There are formidable beasts everywhere in this mountain, and they’re quite protective of their own territories. This place might be better than that Cold Jade Pond, but the Jade Moon Serpent is a seventh ranked beast. Does it have the qualifications to occupy a territory like this?”
Zu An nodded in agreement. The Gu clan’s rebellion had been seen through by Gao Ying. Even though this person was habitually silent, he was meticulous in thought and quite the talent. No wonder the Liu clan was willing to send their second son here. It was because he had enough to make up for his shortcomings.
Meng Pan asked, “Could it be that there are no other water element beasts here, so it just happened to have found its niche?”
Gao Ying hesitated. “That’s not entirely impossible.”
Bi Linglong remained quiet for a bit, and then said, “Since we’re here and still can’t figure those things out, let’s prepare for battle.”
The young masters moved in a methodical and thorough manner. After all, these were the clans’ elites. Even though they had almost been killed by the Gu clan brothers before, they were prepared this time. They all displayed high levels of skill.
Bi Linglong kept the crown prince at the very back. No one dared to let him run around at the front, because if something happened to him, no one would be able to shoulder the responsibility.
Gao Ying and Pei You had been wounded. Even though they had managed to recover a bit, they were still in no shape to engage in intensive combat. That was why they were kept by the crown prince’s side.
For added security, Bi Linglong had Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun bring the Eastern Palace’s guards over as well. She remained with Zu An and led the young masters as they began to encircle the waterfall.
“Linglong, good luck!” the crown prince exclaimed as he sat on a large rock. He ate the fruits the guards prepared for him while cheering happily. For him, this was nothing more than a sightseeing journey. He had no idea what kind of dangers they were going to face and merely treated it as a performance.
Bi Linglong sighed inwardly. She quickly focused and brought their group to the pond beneath the waterfall. The pond was full of mist. Together with the rippling surface of the water, she couldn’t see inside at all.
Soon afterward, someone tossed bait that had been previously prepared into the pond. The water gradually turned red, and then a voice roared furiously. “Who dares to contaminate my dwelling?!”
The pond water instantly surged. Then, a towering figure several dozen zhang tall rushed out, floating in the air. Its shining eyes stared at everyone furiously. Its brown vertical pupils were intimidating, making all who saw them shiver.
“You’re all sure that this thing is at the seventh rank?” Liu Xian’s voice shook when he saw this massive creature.
Zhao Xi gulped. “Why is it so big? According to the intelligence we had, it shouldn’t have been that big.”
Meng Pan couldn’t help but take a step back too. “Its pressure is also a lot greater than what the information stated.”
Bi Linglong’s voice turned cold. “Wait, it can speak. This is the sign of a creature at the eighth ranked at the very least…”
Zu An corrected her. “It’s not at the eighth rank, but rather the ninth rank.”
Bi Linglong’s expression changed. She quickly ordered, “Retreat!”
Everyone knew that a beast was much stronger than a human at the same level. Zu An might be able to defeat a person at the peak of the eighth rank, but there was almost no chance of success against a beast at the ninth rank.
They quickly retreated. Bi Linglong was incredibly confused as she wondered, “Why is it so much stronger than what the information said?”
Her first reaction was that King Qi had colluded with the libationer. However, she recalled that the beasts they ran into along the way had all been stronger than what their information stated. This dungeon wasn’t exclusive to the academy; there were others who visited it before. Their clans had also entered it three years ago, so they had an idea regarding these beasts’ strength. There was no way King Qi had the ability to make so many powerful beasts become stronger.
“You want to escape? Do you think it’ll be that easy?!” the serpent roared. Waves of water rushed out, forming a transparent curtain that blocked off their path of retreat.
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