The sky had completely brightened and the air had grown cooler. The sun, the size of a disc, was slowly rising in the sky. A resplendent sunrise stood tall and upright over the inky blue clouds and sparkled with a soft red light, ripping apart the clouds that covered the heavens.
Small groups of people traveled on the morning streets in the Valley of Sunshine as they wandered out of the dens of temptation from the various alleys off the streets, yawning with sleepy expressions. It was apparent that they’d expended great effort on the bodies of women last night.
“There are truly so many disgusting fellows with no taste!” Emily wasn’t in the best of moods as she flicked a cold glance at those walking out of the alleys with untidy clothing, a look of distaste on her face.
Han Shuo wasn’t overly tired by the chase that had lasted all night. He looked around interestedly but didn’t respond.
“Oh, right, Phoebe came to find you last night, I said you were out on business!” Emily drew her coat together tightly by the neck and turned her head to speak to Han Shuo.
“She didn’t say anything?” Han Shuo started slightly and thought of what Phoebe had gone to do.
“No, she likely doesn’t have anything to say to me!” Emily responded, paused, and suddenly drew close to Han Shuo in a gossipy fashion. She lowered her voice, “Did you do… that to her?”
Shaking his head, Han Shuo was all business as he said righteously. “How could I do that? We’ve only met for a few months. Am I someone in that much of a rush?”
“Pfft, you violated me the day you met me through raping me, you shameless villain!” Emily was quite disdainful of Han Shuo’s response and snorted with contempt.
Han Shuo couldn’t help but laugh at her words. He didn’t feel awkward, but rather retorted, “Our circumstances were rather special. Besides, you were so alluring, how could my hot bloodedness withstand your temptations?”
“Villain! All you know is how to talk nonsense!” Emily’s breath was caught in her anger, but she was rather satisfied by his answer and didn’t continue the conversation.
When he saw some happiness marking Emily’s brows, Han Shuo knew that she wasn’t actually angry. He suddenly thought of a problem and asked, “Oh right, how did the Cairo mercenary band know of that place? Do they know that Dark Mantle controls the shop?”
Contrary to Han Shuo’s expectations, Emily actually nodded. She explained when she saw his look of befuddlement. “The Valley of Sunshine is different from a town or city of the Empire. The Cairo mercenary band holds sway here. Since there’s limited land around here, they’ll thoroughly investigate any comings and goings. It’s a completely unrealistic thing to want to stay here and remain a secret.”
“However, although they know that we’re the Dark Mantle, they don’t interfere with our operations at all, because we target those with designs against the Lancelot Empire and won’t purposefully make trouble for them.”
“Bryan!” Han Shuo and Emily were walking towards the Cairo mercenary band when they heard Trunks’ voice.
Han Shuo turned his head to see the manticore riding Trunks appear from the direction of the entrance to the valley. There were some indistinct traces of blood on him and the manticore. Behind them, the Rainbow Sickle experts had on looks of anger. It seemed like they’d come off worse in a fight.
Han Shuo ran sharp eyes over Trunks’ body, but didn’t discover any traces of ripped clothing. It looked like the fresh blood on him and the manticore were from those of the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band.
“Are you alright?” Han Shuo asked with a slight smile when Trunks had made it over on his manticore.
“Just a few cowardly traitors, how could they possible harm me? Oh right, how did it go on your side? Did you kill that pathetic Florida?” Trunks responded confidently and looked closely at Han Shuo.
Spreading his hands out with a resigned expression on his face, Han Shuo sighed, “His men saved him at the entrance to the valley. However, I think he’ll have to spend at least a month or two to fully recover from his injuries!”
“Haha, that’s good enough. I came to the Valley of Sunshine for his life this time, and it looks like you’ve already done half the job for me, I thank you!” Trunks laughed heartily and then looked back at the Rainbow Sickle members behind him with an imposing expression. “Traitors, go back and tell Florida that I, Trunks, have returned again. I must take revenge for Annie this time, he’ll die by my hands!”
The Rainbow Sickle mercenaries all had looks of hatred and anger when they heard these words, but they seemed to know that Trunks wasn’t someone to be trifled with. They only snorted coldly a few times and circled past Han Shuo and the others, moving towards another direction.
“Trunks, why are you here, and what enmity do you have with Florida?” Han Shuo couldn’t help but ask at this point.
The merchants had already awakened on the streets of the valley and the streets had begun to bustle a bit. Trunks looked around with a slightly dismal expression, saying, “This isn’t a place to speak, let’s find a place where we can chat and I’ll tell you in greater detail!”
“Alright!” Han Shuo nodded.
“Wait, Laureton of the Cairo mercenary band has reached out to us. Why don’t you have a good chat after we return?” Emily couldn’t help but speak up in reminder when she saw that Han Shuo and Trunks seemed to want to immediately find a quiet place to chat.
Han Shuo only reacted after Emily had spoken and said to Trunks apologetically, “Laureton of the Cairo mercenary band sent people to find us early this morning, asking us to pay a visit. Why don’t we chat later?”
Nodding understandingly, Trunks walked side by side with Han Shuo and said dashingly, “Let’s go, I happen to know Laureton as well, let’s go together.”
“You know him?” Han Shuo started and asked Trunks with surprise.
“Of course, I spent some time in the valley back in the day and I know many people here!” Trunks responded matter-of-factly. Emily revealed a surprised expression and looking thoughtfully at Trunks.
There were no established streets of shops within the valley, just a few soaring cliff faces and some towering trees that blocked the sky. Trunks seemed very familiar with this area as he led Han Shuo and Emily inside.
“The terrain is quite precarious within the depths of the valley, but there’s a vast plain after making it through a narrow tunnel in the cliffs. The strongest power within the valley has always lived there. It used to be the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band living there a few years ago, but if it wasn’t for Florida’s evil scheme in killing the old chief, the Cairo mercenary band wouldn’t be forced to live elsewhere at this very moment!” Trunks started introducing the area around them as they walked.
There were members of the Cairo mercenary band standing guard at certain intervals along the path. However, the distance between the guards was large enough, and they weren’t afraid of others hearing their words.
“Right, Trunks, just what kind of enmity is there between you and Florida?” Han Shuo couldn’t help but ask when he saw that the surroundings were quiet enough.
“I was actually part of the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band to begin with, and I was a senior swordsman then. The old chief had always taken care of me and the chief’s daughter Annie treated me like a brother. I was very comfortable in those days, until Florida appeared. The young Florida brought with him a dazzling aura and enjoyed special treatment as soon as he joined. Not only did the old chief value him highly, but even Annie quite admired him. I myself had good relations with him as well.”
“However, Florida’s goal in coming to the Rainbow Sickle mercenary band was to fully control it. Even though the old chief had already given Annie over to his care, he still felt that the old chief had too many days in front of him. He colluded with robbers and revealed our movements to them, causing great losses to the band. The old chief died when surrounded by the robbers, and Annie vanished as well. It’s likely that she met with a bad fate as well.”
“I was lucky enough to escape and personally witnessed the conversation between Florida and the head of the robbers. That was when I understood everything. From that moment forth, I swore to get rid of Florida one way or another. Sadly, when Florida took control of the Rainbow Sickle mercenaries, he also invited a source of power from the Church of Light and consolidated his influence over the situation in an exceedingly short amount of time, thoroughly grasping the mercenary band.”
“I was only a senior swordsman then and attempted to assassinate Florida with some injured mercenaries loyal to the old chief. We ended up getting thoroughly defeated and fleeing for our lives. Many of my closest friends died in that battle. I entered the Dark Forest to train myself, ever nursing the determination to take revenge. I waited for three years, and when I heard that the fight over the title of the strongest in the valley was about to take place, I knew that Florida wouldn’t shy away. He would certainly contend with the Cairo mercenary band. I thought that I had a chance, and so I’ve come back!” Trunks unemotionally recited the tales of a time gone by as they walked.
His expression was indifferent from beginning to end, as if describing something that had nothing to do with him. However, as the audience, Han Shuo and Emily could discern from the events themselves the endless hate buried deep within Trunks’ heart.
When Trunks had finished, Han Shuo looked deeply at Trunks and flashed a brilliant smile, “It looks like we can team up again. Without a doubt, Florida’s going to die this time!”
“Of course! He’s definitely going to die.” Trunks said confidently, and then looked at Emily interestedly, switching his gaze to Han Shuo afterwards. He asked a bit oddly, “And what’s the deal with the two of you? If I recall correctly, this lady was captured by you, but why are the two of you walking together now?”
Chuckling heartily, Han Shuo winked at Trunks and said, “Sometimes, it’s an easy thing for enemies to become friends, particularly between men and women!”
“I understand, haha!” Trunks burst out laughing and nodded in understanding.
“Two silly fellows!” Emily was a bit angered and embarrassed by their words. She rolled her eyes at them and huffed.
They’d passed through a narrow tunnel as they chatted, arriving at an open plain. Black boulders dotted the landscape in abundance, alongside tall buildings. These buildings were neither exquisite or beautiful, they just extremely practical. They seemed durable, sturdy, and would hold up well under an assault.
There was a large parade ground on the way to the buildings and several muscular mercenaries were practicing with various weapons. Some mages were releasing spells in a dense forest not too far away, and there were others meditating in the distance.
“This place is large enough and the buildings sturdy enough. Because there’s only one path leading here, it’s very safe, and has always been the valley’s last line of defense throughout the years.” Trunks kept explaining on the way over.
“Eh, Trunks, what are you doing back here?” Harris of the Cairo mercenary band was standing on the parade ground in great spirits, seemingly waiting for Han Shuo and the others. He was quite surprised to see Trunks and couldn’t help but call out.
“Harris, long time no see! You look even more fierce now! But Florida is still thriving throughout these years, it looks like you didn’t get your revenge!” Trunks spoke to Harris from afar with some mockery on his face.
“Humph, you also fled with severe injuries, what right do you have to talk about me?” Harris’ expression was stiff as he said irritably.
“Forget it, I have nothing to say to you. Let’s go, take me to Laureton!” Trunks frowned as he twitched his lips, urging Harris to lead the way. Harris led the three of them through the parade ground to a tall building. Rumbling crashes traveled from the inside of the building, and the three of them were greatly surprised by the scene in front of them when they walked in.
A bald, fierce man about two meters tall stood in front of them, wearing only a pair of shorts. The muscles of his naked upper body were raised upwards, each as tough as iron ore. The blood vessels over his body throbbed as they filled with frightening explosive power.
There was a black boulder the size of a small mountain on his back. It was three times the size of him as he shouldered the boulder. He leaped backwards, sending the boulder crashing against a stone pillar that was as thick as three people wrapping their arms around it.
Sweat flowed like rivulets down the lines of his muscles as his dark skin sparkled with healthy vigor. His gleaming head didn’t have a single strand of hair on it. His body trembled continuously amidst the thunderous collisions, and the entire building shook from the violent impacts, making one worry that it would collapse at any time.
After Han Shuo and the others arrived, he collided five more times before finally throwing away the boulder on his back away to the side. The ground trembled like an earthquake had struck it, and the thunderous roaring sounds permeated the entire building.
He raised his head and focused his eyes in their direction. A crushing force of presence slammed down on Han Shuo. Han Shuo’s heart couldn’t help but seize a bit, seeing how strong this person’s body was. He had used only external training methods to train his body to the point where it naturally produced such a thick, forceful presence. This alone fully explained the frightening aspects of this person.
“Trunks, what are you doing back here?” A strange light shone in the big man’s eyes as he looked askance at Trunks.
“Long time no see Laureton, it looks like your physical body has almost been trained to the pinnacle. You could become berserk twice over previously, and it looks like you’ve improved even more. I wonder if you can become berserk thrice over to reach the legendary third realm of the berserkers?” Trunks revealed an interested expression as he stared at Laureton.
Grinning oddly, Laureton didn’t respond to Trunks’ question and switched his attention to Han Shuo. “You’re the fellow who almost killed Florida?”
Nodding, Han Shuo smiled faintly. “That’s right, what might Chief Laureton be summoning me for?”
“I want to discuss a spot of business with you, but you need to eat one of my punches first. I need to see if I can measure your strength and see if you’re worth me handing over that shop to you!” Laureton laughed loudly as a fist the size of a fan blasted towards Han Shuo with a fierce, dominating aura.
Han Shuo was slightly startled at the suddenness of his actions, but quickly realized that this punch embodied a berserk force as it drew closer. This greatly shocked him, and what was even more surprising, was that when this strength surged forward, it blocked off all his avenues of retreat, making it impossible to dodge.
Han Shuo was struck dumb with amazement as he immediately focused and deployed his magical cultivation to the maximum, planning on directly taking this punch.