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"Lingyun? Are you inside?"

"Yes, I'm coming, are you here for the mission Yimo?"

"That's right, also Elder Zhang wanted me to tell you that she was very satisfied with the formation disc."

The two started heading to the mission hall. "I'm relieved then. So did you find the treasures you were looking for?"

Wang Yimo smiled. "You will struggle at our next duel, Han Lingyun."

"Haha we will see about that, Wang Yimo. I am now better equipped as well. Can you reveal your new treasures to me? We are going on a mission together after all."

"Only if show your new equipment as well."

"Deal! We are taking a mission together, so it's best if we know our respective tools beforehand."

"Well, teacher wasn't satisfied with the defensive treasures there was at the Thousand Treasure Pavilion and some other shops. She either described them as useless or too good for me, in the sense that I would gain bad habits by relying too much on them. So, in the end, master gave me this pendant she had kept.

It will automatically activate if a qi attack threatens my life. But it will break after 3 uses."

Han Lingyun was taken back, it sounded very similar to the plate he had.

Wang Yimo whispered the next part. "Master had to put a high-grade crystal inside."

1 high grade crystal had the equivalent qi of 100 medium grade crystals or 10000 low grade crystals. This pendentive was quite expensive to use!

"Also master gave me this talisman that can defend from the attack of one foundation establishment cultivator, and another talisman that can release an attack at the foundation establishment level just in case. However, I am especially warned to only use them if I find myself in a desperate circumstance."

"Elder Zhang was very thoughtful."

"It's your turn to show your treasure now."

Han Lingyun took out the plaque-formation and explained its details back.

Wang Yimo complained. Didn't that mean he would nearly have 1 minute of immunity with that array activated? How could she break that? Perhaps they would have to change the rules of their next duel…

"How about your new trump card treasure? Can you reveal it to me, or do you want to keep it secret?"

She hesitated. "I guess I'll say because I know of your thread. Well, I'm not really proficient in it yet to make a true difference."

Wang Yimo took out from her sleeve what Han Lingyun first thought was a short stick, then she unfolded it to reveal a beautifully decorated fan.

"This fan can launch qi darts with the right technique. From now on I will be using it as a tool for my everyday life. It's actually a relatively easy weapon to use for a surprise blow and I found the refined design pleasing to the eyes."

 

The 2nd year's Mission Hall was now standing imposingly in front of the duo which entered without further hesitation. The simultaneous arrival of the 2nd and 3rd ranked disciples raised some heads at the mission hall.

The situation was quite different to the 1st year's mission hall. There was a lot less disciples inside and very few were waiting for new missions to drop. There was already a vast selection to chose from. The mission inside the sect that 1st years considered as paying highly were now at the bottom of the barrel.

There were some alternatives with a very slim risk outside the sect that where far more worth the time, for example, taking care of some herbs at some mountain that had an array protecting it from magic beasts.

 

Wang Yimo and Han Lingyun settled on the following mission:

 

Mission Rank C+.

Recommended for a group of 5 qi condensation disciples.

Description: Hunt down the Red snake bandit group. They have been targeting rogue cultivators and young disciples near the Qiao mountain range. Their leader is known to suck some of his victim's blood.

Known contingent: 2 qi condensation cultivators, around 20 Body strengthening cultivators, all former members of the Snake Island Sect.

Caution: Bandits could use poisons including black mamba's venom, crane's red-crown, three-laughter death powder and scaled viper venom.

Total Reward: 5000 Ps.

 

Before leaving, Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo went to buy detoxifying pills at the market road's pill hall as a precautionary measure. It didn't take long; everything felt closer now that flying around on a flying sword had become their new norm.

They bought a small bottle of detoxifying pill for every listed possible poison on the mission's notice, plus one more expensive one that was meant to detoxify all poisons that couldn't kill a foundation establishment cultivator.

With all the preparations done, Han Lingyun and Wang Yimo followed their badges northwards to the Qiao mountain range.

They had to try to locate the bandit group without being spotted first. Unlike for Han Lingyun's previous mission, this time his badge stopped pointing to a direction when they arrived near the mountain range. The search was therefore a major part of the mission.

A different idea was to act like low level disciples and be bait for the snakes. They would rather not as this method presented too much uncertainty. In the end, they decided on a dumb approach: they would just search for traces in the mountain. Han Lingyun would scout with his merging capability on while Wang Yimo would mostly have a passive role to follow at a distance.

In the worst case, they would have checked all the mountain range in 2 weeks, and that counted for all their time spent on cultivating as neither one nor the other was planning on falling behind their personal cultivation schedule during the mission. They just had to make sure to never be cultivating at the same time to react rapidly in case they were attacked.

The two didn't talk much as they followed a mutual understanding to never let their guard down during the mission.

On the 3rd day, Han Lingyun spotted a cave with some traces around. He and Wang Yimo observed from afar during the day but there was no movement. They were planning on exploring at night.

 

When the time was as its darkest hour, the pair were readying for their exploration when suddenly a man came out of the cave, followed by another two. Soon a group of a dozen young men had emerged from the cave. One had a flying treasure and led the small group. The snakes were hunting at night.

This was Han Lingyun's and Wang Yimo's chance. The bandits were now separated into two groups with one leaving their lair.

Now they had wonder how they were going to kill off the bandits without letting one escape. As the bandits came from the same sect, it wasn't unlikely that they had a method to communicate between the two groups.

In the end, they decided that Han Lingyun would hunt those that left and Wang Yimo would watch other the cave and wait to ambush those that had stayed inside.

 

With the plan in action, Han Lingyun took off and followed the slow group of bandits from high up in the air. He waited for the group to stray far enough from the cave to attack, just in case.

The qi cultivator among the group decided to take to the skies, probably to do some scouting. Han Lingyun decided that the time was right and took off from a distance. He approached the qi cultivator from above and slashed with his hand to release a qi blade.

Han Lingyun couldn't use his sword to attack as he was currently riding on it. This awkward situation made him realize that perhaps he needed an additional weapon.

The qi disciple died before even noticing any danger, a qi blade through the head. Evidently, he had no active defensive treasure at that time which somewhat surprised Han Lingyun who was already planning for dozens of possible follow up moves.

What Han Lingyun didn't realize is that by being part of the White Tiger Sect, and one of its highest ranked disciples in the promotion, he was among the absolute richest cultivators of his level and that not only were defensive treasures exceedingly rare for the majority of qi condensation cultivators, it was also often too costly to keep activated when not in battle.

Han Lingyun caught the falling body and sword before softly placing them on the ground for now.

Still keeping his serious and careful attitude, Han Lingyun used his merger art and edged towards the group of body strengthening cultivators who were chatting and laughing. "Where did that bastard Tao Jie fly off to now?"

"Gosh that lucky piece of shit, I wish I could fly as well."

"Hehe if all goes well, I'll become a qi condensation cultivator in 3 years."

"That soon? Don't tell me you're grade 3?"

"Yes brother, I'm not even kidding. Maybe I'll even be accepted in a sect as an outer disciple when I reach that realm."

"Damn our little bro is actually an elite."

"Haha, he's just spouting nonsense again."

 

Han Lingyun had laid his thread on the group's path, he just waited for them to walk to him.

One wrist movement, a second wrist movement and Han Lingyun tensed the thread that had encircled the group. The grating sound of flesh being cut apart announced the death of 11 body strengthening cultivators.

Han Lingyun had missed one who hadn't yet comprehended what he just witnessed under the darkness but a qi blade quickly cut him out of his confusion.

 

Han Lingyun limply sat down and took some deep breaths.

He just killed 13 cultivators in cold blood. From the tidbit of conversation he had heard, they weren't monsters. He didn't feel very well after the fact but he was alive and they were dead.

Because he was stronger.

If the strength were reversed and the group happened to spot him, perhaps he would be the dead one.

The fact that they were cultivators, and not mortals, made him a lot less remorseful as well. It was as if they had been tainted by this world already. Well, they also robbed and killed. In the end, it was always the strong preying on the weak.

Han Lingyun didn't crave for a true death fight, on the contrary that would mean putting his life at risk and he couldn't tolerate it.

Cultivation was a very long road. Even if every time he fought to the death, he had a 90% certain of winning, the odds of surviving 10 fights were only 35% and the odds of surviving 100 fights were 0.003% or basically null. And how can one have a 90% certainty of winning every fight?

For Han Lingyun, he should fight with lives on the line only if he had absolute certainty he would survive.

This night it wasn't even a fight, just a slaughter.

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