Xue Ying Territory, Snow Rock Castle, study room.
Dong Bo Xue Ying was sitting at his desk, while Zong Ling and Tong San seated close by.
"Xue Ying, you called for us?" Tong San asked, a little puzzled.
"I went to visit the great mage today. He agreed to accept Qing Shi as his personal disciple, but mentioned two requirements: we must either bring him the Silver Moon Wolf King’s heart, or 50,000 gold coins. If we satisfy either requirement, he will accept Qing Shi." Xue Ying said.
"50,000 gold coins?" Tong San scowled."He really is black-hearted. Your parents, Uncle Zong and I risked our lives numerous times, but only obtained a few scraps of treasure. If it weren’t for that one big windfall after your mother got pregnant, how could your father possibly have bought the title of Earl and the Xue Ying Territory? And this great mage dares to ask for 50,000 gold coins as if it is nothing?"
This amount was truly excessive. Even a Meteor Knight could generally only afford to pay this amount by selling all of his worldly possessions.
Adventurers often visited dangerous places, so the death rate was extremely high. Xue Ying’s parents had the good fortune to survive, and even managed to buy a noble title and the lands that went with it! The reason that the other nobles in Water Rites Town never dared to plot against the Snow Eagle Territory, despite the possible profits, was because Xue Ying’s parents were adventurers; no adventurer feared death, and all of them were extremely cruel.
"Getting the wolf king’s heart is even more difficult," Zong Ling said with a frown. "If it was merely a rank four Silver Moon Wolf King, with Xue Ying’s current strength, he could probably take it down if we assisted him. However, the wolf king leads a large pack of weaker wolves… Their group attacks are far more frightening than the attacks of the king on its own!"
The wolf king wasn’t very formidable when fought alone, but its strength lay in the fact that a gigantic pack of wolves followed its every command!
Even though the Silver Moon Wolf King was only a rank four magic beast, its corpse was no less valuable than that of a rank five magic beast!
"I’m preparing to go to the Mountain Range of Desolation." Xue Ying said.
"It’s way too dangerous!"
Tong San and Zong Ling shouted in unison, alarmed by his words.
What was the Mountain Range of Desolation?
It was the largest mountain range in the world, bordering four provinces! It housed numerous magic beasts and even some transcendent existences. Even after trying for generations, the human empires were unable to erase this large threat. Therefore, armies had been positioned around the base of the mountains in order to defend the human realm. Its troops often slaughtered the lower ranked beasts at the edge of the mountains on a large scale, so many low rank materials were sold in markets.
As a result, materials from magic beasts from the first to third ranks were relatively cheap; materials from ranks 4 and higher, however, would see the prices rise exponentially! This was because rank 4 magical beasts couldn’t be killed by ordinary soldiers. Only the elite of the elite could kill them.
"Even if a massive army was dispatched, they wouldn’t reach much farther than the outer 1500 kilometer perimeter of the mountains," Zong Ling continued to say. "Even Silver Moon Knights and Legend Knights are unwilling to enter the Mountain Range of Desolation. There isn’t much to be gained from the entering the mountains, and the deeper you go, the more likely you are to meet even more frightening magical beasts."
"That’s right Xue Ying," Tong San interjected. "In our past adventures, we didn’t even think about entering the Mountain Range of Desolation! We wanted to kill a rank 4 magical beast just like you, but if you are unlucky, you might encounter rank 5, or even 6 magical beasts instead of a rank 4 magical beast! You’ll lose your life for sure if that happens!"
They were both very anxious.
The Mountain Range of Desolation?
It was the nest of the greatest enemies of the entire human race, ‘magical beasts’! To enter it would really be to gamble on one’s life!
"You two didn’t let me finish," Xue Ying replied with a smile. "I intend to enter the Mountain Range of Desolation, but only the outer 1,500 kilometer perimeter of it. Hunting magical beasts is merely secondary; my main purpose is to go hunt the Bent Blade Union!"
"The Bent Blade Union?" Zong Ling and Tong San said simultaneously, eyes wide with surprise.
Within the 1,500 kilometers, because the army regularly wiped out magical beasts in the perimeter, the magical beasts were pushed back. Generally, only a mass of low ranked magical beasts would be left. The struggle between the army and the beasts was endless, because every time the soldiers managed to wipe out the magical beasts, they would once again emerge from the depths of the Mountain Range of Desolation in even greater numbers.
This 1,500 kilometer stretch was the grave of many fallen soldiers, but it also served to temper these soldiers into formidable experts.
"The Bent Blade Union? Those bandits are also hiding in the Mountain Range of Desolation, but they don’t dare to venture any deeper than the perimeter." Zong Ling lightly nodded. "Moreover, the Head of the Bent Blade Union is a Meteor Knight. He often greedily plunders, so the number of treasures he’s hoarded shouldn’t be small. I’m afraid that the more treasures there are in the bandit’s nest, the harder it will be to attack them."
"The enemy is out in the open while I am invisible. Uncle Zong, how does my strength compare with Ge Bin’s?" Xue Ying questioned.
"You are much more powerful than him. I would be able to stand my ground for only a while against him, but if I were to fight you… with your full strength, even I wouldn’t be able to hold my ground." Zong Ling said with a bitter laugh.
Normally, Xue Ying had strength that reached the peak of a Meteor Knights’.
But if he were to use all his energy for a burst of power, his strength would rise to the realm of a Silver Moon Knight!
His spear technique was approaching the realm of a Great Master, and his Dou Qi circulation method was inherited from the Dark Ice Knight, Gu Yuan Han!
"Your only weak point is that you’ve seen too little blood," Zong Ling reasoned. "Although you’ve executed all of the criminals within the Snow Eagle Territory, you still haven’t experienced enough life or death battles. When you spar with us, it’s just sparring after all."
"I know, which is why I’m going to the Mountain Range of Desolation in search of the Bent Blade Union’s hideout. During my search, I will definitely encounter many magical beasts. This will allow me to temper myself in battle," Xue Ying said.
"It won’t be easy to find the Bent Blade Union’s hideout."
Zong Ling felt slightly uneasy. "You’ll definitely encounter many magical beasts during this task… There’s even a small chance that you might encounter a formidable magical beast."
Although it was the outer 1500km perimeter, those who were insanely powerful—for example a Transcendent—or a rank 6 magical beast would hardly ever appear. However, a rank 4 or 5 magical beast… Every once in awhile, one would definitely appear. These magical beasts knew instinctively that they stood no chance against the army and would escape whenever the army raided the perimeter, but if Xue Ying went into the mountain range alone, the beasts would ambush and kill him without hesitation!
"My luck shouldn’t be that bad," Xue Ying said. "Furthermore, my spear technique is rather good for defense. It should be able to save my life."
"Moreover, if I want to earn the 50,000 gold coins….. what other way is there to earn such a sum except for heading to the Mountain Range of Desolation?" Dong Bo Xue Ying said as he shook his head.
Earning money without risks?
If a Meteor Knight became a high-ranking bodyguard for a rich family, he would be very safe. However, one’s annual salary would only be about three to five thousand gold coins as well. If he wanted to get ahold of several tens of thousands of gold coins? Then he definitely had to take great risks.
"Fine then." Said Zong Ling. "I’ll go with you. At the very least, I’ve been to the perimeter many times."
"You’ve been there before Uncle Zong?" Xue Ying asked, his eyes wide in astonishment.
"En. After your parents bought Snow Eagle Territory, I went to the outer area of the Mountain Range of Desolation to temper and cultivate myself." As a Serpent Demon royalty, Zong Ling possessed his own pride. He was very harsh on himself, and he always wanted to breakthrough from the Heaven rank into the Meteor rank.
"When you go to the Mountain Range of Desolation, you must listen to your Uncle Zong and be very careful." Instructed Tong San.
After preparing for five days, Xue Ying and Zong Ling set off in the morning, bringing 100 soldiers with him.
The castle’s drawbridge had already been lowered.
"Big brother, come back home soon!" Qing Shi yelled from the hilltop while Tong San stood by his side.
"Qing Shi, don’t worry. Just stay home and obediently listen to what Uncle Tong says," Xue Ying yelled back from the distance.
"I know already!"
Qing Shi heavily nodded his head, but within his heart, he was reluctant to part with Xue Ying.
Ever since he was young, he had never separated from his older brother for too long. This time, his brother had to go out for at least ten days to half a month!
However, he didn’t know that this time, Xue Ying’s outing was for the sake of obtaining his ‘tuition fee’.
Xue Ying and his cavalry division were very relaxed during their journey. When night fell, they were already only about 50 kilometers outside the edge of the Mountain Range of Desolation.
The cavalrymen began pitching camp.
They started hanging pots to cook.
Xue Ying and Zong Ling were currently with a person whose face was covered in a huge beard. This person was called Yang Cheng. He was an Earth Knight loyal to the Dong Bo Clan, as well as the captain of this troop of a hundred men.
Zong Ling said, "Tomorrow morning, the Lord and I will be entering the mountain range. I’ll leave this camp to you."
"Master Zong Ling, Lord, you can leave it to me without any worries. I can definitely handle this small matter to your satisfaction, but my lords, you must be careful," Yang Cheng worriedly said. "When I was in the army, although the army wiped out the beasts in the outer areas, it was an entire army that was dispatched. No one ever went anywhere by themselves. Moreover, magical beasts that could hide the heavens and cover the earth would fearlessly rush forth and kill the enemy… Of the ten brothers who had joined the army with me, only three or four safely retired. All the others perished in the Mountain Range of Desolation."
Xue Ying nodded.
The Mountain Range of Desolation... It truly was a forbidden land. Only the army and exiled bandits dared to enter its outer areas, and even fewer dared to venture any deeper!
Morning of the next day, as the sun started to rise.
While carrying the weapon box, Xue Ying quietly entered the Mountain Range of Desolation with Zong Ling. It was impossible to ride horses within the Mountain Range of Desolation because even the slight noises from horses would attract frightening magical beasts.
"My lord, you must be careful!" Captain Yang Cheng and all of the other soldiers anxiously watched the distant figures of the black-clothed youth and the silver-haired serpent man leave. They continued to watch until the two figures disappeared into the forest of the Mountain Range of Desolation.