The waning moon hung high in the sky as cold moonlight spilled down, casting a silvery white layer across the world and brightening up the night.
All was very quiet without the slightest bit of sound. Even bugs weren’t willing to venture out on this cold winter night, not to mention humans or beasts.
When they walked out of the cave, they could immediately feel that the outside temperature was much colder than it had been within the cave. Even though they’d been prepared, they couldn’t help but wrap themselves more snugly in their clothing and huff out a breath.
“Things shouldn’t be delayed. We should leave here as soon as possible and return to the Empire.” Han Shuo looked at everyone and spoke solemnly.
After such a huge disturbance, they didn’t know if Bob Ascher had discovered that the important items within his secret chamber had been stolen. When his search came up empty handed, he would discover this sooner or later when he returned to Valen City, he’d be beside himself with panic then.
Therefore, Han Shuo and Emily had to use the shortest amount of time possible to deliver the intelligence to the upper levels of the Dark Mantle and take care of Bob Ascher as soon as possible, in case he got up to any trouble before they could make their report.
“Some towns in the Kerlan Grand Canyon belong to no jurisdiction. The Dark Mantle has some strongholds there and a magical apparatus to communicate with the senior executives is in the largest one. Bryan and I need to head there as soon as possible. We’re in very little danger now, it looks like it’s time to go our own separate ways!” Emily thought for a moment and then raised this suggestion with a smile.
“Those who were accompanying the shipment with me all left Valen City before we entered Elaine’s hotel. I’m moving alone now and also left instructions previously, so the guild won’t need me for a while. I’ll return to the Empire with Bryan.” Phoebe expressed her stance whilst standing next to Bryan.
Caspian and Lawrence both thought for moment and expressed their intentions to leave. Caspian thanked Han Shuo solemnly, and Lawrence’s gaze patrolled the captured Belinda before saying, “Bryan, if you can get the secrets behind refining that golem, I’d be willing to buy it from you for a high price!”
Nodding, Han Shuo indicated his understanding and smiled, “I’ll ask her, but I’d say don’t get your hopes up. I feel that even if we obtained the method, you wouldn’t be able to mass produce them. Otherwise, with the Calamity Church’s deep pockets, they would’ve produced a golem army a long time ago!”
Lawrence started and once again opened his mouth to say, “It would be of great help if I can even refine one or two of them.”
“Alright, I’ll try my best!” Han Shuo said with resignation when he saw that Lawrence wasn’t giving up.
“Big bad guy, will we meet again?” Angelica suddenly turned to speak to Han Shuo when Caspian was about to leave.
Shrugging, Han Shuo said dashingly, “I think we will, we’ve already met up twice in not too long of a period. We seem to have quite a bit of shared destiny!”
“Alright, many thanks to you this time. If you have a chance to, come be a guest at the elf tribes within the Dark Forest in the future. Angelica will host you well!” Caspian bowed towards Han Shuo and smiled.
Lawrence and the others didn’t linger after Caspian and Angelica had left. The former left in the opposite direction of Caspian and Angelica. Han Shuo started worrying what might happen if Caspian and Angelica learned of his identity as the leader of the forest trolls. What if the two of them hated him? It was probably best not to pay the elves a visit then.
The Battlefire mercenary band’s senior swordsman Davis was saddened after Angelica had left. The fierce warrior’s gazed still stared dumbly in Angelica’s direction.
“Candice, how much does that Belinda owe you? How about I pay for her? We have use for her and can’t give her to you!” Emily looked at Candice at this moment and took out her crystal card, seeming to want to pay Candice’s fees.
“Forget it sister Emily, we’re not short on money anyways. We’ll treat this mission as a failure, no worries!” Candice immediately responded hastily when she saw that Emily wanted to pay and looked at the mercenaries behind her. “Alright, alright, we’re going to leave as well. We have more missions to execute!”
Candice didn’t wait for Emily to transfer the gold coins after she’d finished speaking and hastily left with the mercenaries. Only Han Shuo, Phoebe, and Emily were left in front of the cave, as well as a bizarrely quiet Gilbert.
“Eh, why are you so quiet?” Han Shuo finally remembered that Gilbert hadn’t spoken up in quite a long time when he saw this and couldn’t help but ask in surprise.
Gilbert had been standing there with closed eyes and immediately spoke with a long face after hearing Han Shuo’s question. “Disloyal master, I was injured on the way and have been recovering whenever I had time. Why have you only thought of me now?”
Han Shuo finally recalled that when they’d rushed out of Valen City, Gilbert had been hit by attacks from two archmages and a horde of knights. He’d then dragged along a group of people and flown for so long, no wonder he’d been so quiet.
“No worries, you’ve got thick skin anyways!” Han Shuo chuckled and thought for a moment. “How about this, go home first and rest up, I’ll bring you out again once you’ve recovered.”
“I’ve only come out for a few days and you’re sending me back already?!” Gilbert immediately complained loudly when he heard that Han Shuo was sending him back to the cemetery of death.
“Go on, be a good boy or you’ll be in for it. I have two companions now and it will be quite an inconvenience to travel with you, not to mention that you’re injured!” Han Shuo cackled as he set up the magic sticks and kicked Gilbert in whether he wanted to or not.
Han Shuo mobilized his mental strength and activated the transportation matrix. Gilbert vanished without a trace afterwards. Gilbert wouldn’t be able to emerge from the cemetery of death without the Eye of Darkness, so Han Shuo’s wasn’t worried that he’d get into any trouble.
Phoebe, on the other side, exclaimed softly in surprise when she saw Han Shuo set up a small transportation matrix and send Gilbert away. Her clear eyes looked at Han Shuo with even greater surprise.
“Heh heh, just a transportation matrix, nothing to be surprised about. Let’s go, we can leave now!” Han Shuo chuckled softly and stored the sticks in his space ring, rushing Phoebe and Emily onwards.
Having two companions on his trip wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The usually coldly aloof Phoebe seemed to have adopted a very intimate attitude with Han Shuo on this trip. Whether she was doing this on purpose or not, this made Emily cast some aggrieved looks at Han Shuo.
As a mage, Emily was wrapped warmly in thick furs but still shivered regardless. Han Shuo couldn’t help but feel a bit pained. However, Emily was purposefully keeping some distance between Han Shuo, as if deathly afraid that Phoebe would discover their relationship.
Han Shuo had been flying through the air with Phoebe in his arms along the way, and Emily had been expending her mental strength by using the levitation spell to hover above the ground. However, as an archmage, Emily could only sustain this type of flight for a limited duration of time. Han Shuo noticed that her lips were turning white towards the end of the night.
He suddenly decreased his speed and moved next to Emily, saying, “I’ll be fine even if I’m flying carrying with two people!”
Han Shuo reached out a hand and wrapped it around Emily’s soft waist, disregarding whether or not Phoebe would agree. He had Phoebe under his right arm and Emily under his left arm as he flew through the air. He also silently started circulating magical yuan and warmed up Emily’s chilled body.
Emily struggled briefly under Han Shuo’s arm and attempted to extract herself from his embrace, but discovered that she was firmly pinned beneath his arm. When Emily turned her head to look at him, she noticed the pain and resolution in his eyes. Sweetness flooded her heart.
Whether it was because the warmth was flooding into her body or not, Emily’s body suddenly started heating up and all of her previous chills were instantly dissipated. She seemed to be encompassed in warmth.
“I feel like your actions in holding her around the waist seem to be quite well practiced!” Phoebe brought her lips close to Han Shuo’s ears and spoke lowly with a hint of jealously, seemingly unafraid that Emily would hear these words.
“We need to hurry and make it to the Dark Mantle stronghold. We’ll be in a lot of trouble if we’re late, so me flying with the two of you is the fastest way!” Han Shuo’s expression was remote and he didn’t express anything because of Phoebe’s words.
He deployed his “Art of the Demonic Ninth Heavens” to it’s maximum effect along the way and also split out a portion of magical yuan to warm up Emily’s body. He shot towards one of the mountain ranges in the Kerlan Grand Canyon according to Emily’s instructions.
Even with Han Shuo’s magical yuan, having to fly for so long and help Emily warm up meant that he suffered greatly beneath the energy drain. He was already sweating and panting profusely towards the end of the night.
“Let’s take a break, you look so tired!” Although Phoebe had been a bit jealous, her feelings for Han Shuo were real and her heart went out to him when she saw him sweating.
Emily also felt quite bad for Han Shuo. She’d planned on opening her mouth to tell him to rest, but since Phoebe had already spoken up, there was no need for her to say anything.
He was indeed a bit tired now. Han Shuo had been going non stop since last night, running after the battle, using all the time within the cave to digest the strength of Johnny’s soul afterwards.
A pair of sharp eyes patrolled the area as Han Shuo discovered a hole in a tree. He landed in front of it with Emily and Phoebe, brushing aside some accumulated snow and discovering that there was some space within the tree.
“Let’s rest inside!” Han Shuo suggested.
The trunk itself was quite solid, with only a tall, narrow hole in the roots. The three of them discovered that the cold wind couldn’t make its way all the way inside. Han Shuo plugged the hole with his body whereas Phoebe and Emily occupied the two sides.
Although there was some space inside, it was a bit cramped with the three of them. The three of them were pressed tightly against each other. Their arms and legs were pressed against the others and it was a bit difficult to move around.
Han Shuo took a deep breath in after relaxing and circulated the magical yuan in his body, recovering swiftly from his depletion just now.
Emily and Phoebe were pressed against Han Shuo’s front, and Emily’s chest and stomach were resting against Phoebe’s back and butt. Han Shuo’s chest was at their shoulders, and his hands were resting on his thighs. There was a small sliver of space between his legs and the two girls.
It was night, and the only source of light was blocked by Han Shuo’s back, making the cave ink black.
Apart from Han Shuo, the two females basically had no vision of their surroundings.
Han Shuo’s chest was pressed against their delicate shoulders as he started circulating his magical yuan to transport some warmth to Emily. His left hand on his thigh twitched a little as he started placing it on Emily’s.