"Our secondary commander can decide," Claire replied, looking completely exhausted. It was simply too uncomfortable to sleep in the carriage. Strangely, she felt even more tired. She longed for a hot shower.
"Then tell them we'll go together tomorrow," Camille said quietly.
Even after Claire's group went upstairs, Jackson was still staring at Claire's figure from behind.
"Perverted wolf, come back already."
"You ruffian, what are you looking at?"
"Your eyes are about to fall out."
The ruckus in the corner were Jackson's underlings.
"F*ck, you group of animals, I still haven't gotten back at you guys yet." Jackson shouted as he ran over and then grabbed one of their necks tightly.
"Commander, why does that golden haired green eyed girl look so familiar? I feel like we've seen her before. She was a bit far, I didn't see clearly," one of the young magicians asked.
"It was the beautiful miss we met at Gale Gorge." Jack smiled. "I never expected to bump into them here. They even became a mercenary group."
"Which mercenary group?" someone nearby asked casually.
"Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps." Jackson smiled as he spoke, but then his smile froze. Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps?! They were actually the Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps? The newly created, powerful mercenary group?
A few people at the table were also frozen, all staring at their commander with wide eyes.
"Yuan.. Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps?" Jackson's mouth twitched, squeezing out these words. It would be considered normal for a commoner in a distant areas to not recognize this name, but it had already spread within the mercenary world. Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps, a strangely named small mercenary group that had never taken on a mission before suddenly exploded within one night in the mercenary world. With the strength of a few people, they drove away sea beasts, averting the crisis of Placid Waters being flooded. And then right after that, they eradicated the notorious Red Skull pirates with one attack. The problem the imperial army was powerless again, the headache for mercenaries, the Red Skull pirates, was actually eradicated. Although later on it was said that the captain escaped successfully, there was absolutely no way he could revive to such a level ever again. What Jackson never expected was, the Yuan Bao Mercenary Corps was Claire's group?
"Sir, I think you shouldn't even think about it. Careful that they might pierce you through with holes like a honeycomb. Also, with this bear-like body of yours and your old age, tsk tsk... she's a petite little girl, after all," a nearby group member said, eliciting nods of agreement. Seeing this, Jackson became angry. The lounge became louder than before.
At night, Claire held her breath as she drank the blood-enriching medicinal drug Li Yuewen had been pestering her to drink recently, about to go to sleep.
Only after Li Yuewen left Claire's room and her room was fully shut off did Claire calmly look down towards her right hand. She was still wearing the glove that Feng Yixuan had given her. Claire slowly stroked the glove, envisioning the resolute expression Feng Yixuan had before leaving. He wanted to become strong, but what about her? She slowly took off the glove and stared at the Dark mark. She stiffened. The mark had darkened significantly.
"Squawk squawk!" the round ball crouching on Claire's left should cried out seeing the mark and then started flying. He landed on the back of Claire's hand.
"Chirp chirp!" White Emperor jumped down, kicking away the black ball.
Another battle ensued......
"Old Ma, Old ma..." Suddenly, Golden Lotus's voice appeared.
"Golden Lotus?" Claire was confused. Golden Lotus hadn't appeared in a while, so why was Golden Lotus speaking up today?
"I just work up from my long slumber. What exactly is that black ball? It feels really similar to White Emperor with potent hidden power but unable to release it at will. It also feels like this isn't his true appearance. It's intellect could also be classified as immature." Golden Lotus yawned.
"Sleeping? You had been sleeping this whole time?" Claire watched the two little guys tumble around as they battled with interest.
"I need to cultivate too. I needed to digest the heavenly lightning that I swallowed to convert it into power," Golden Lotus replied self-righteously.
Only then did Claire suddenly realize it. No wonder Golden Lotus didn't appear when Li Yuewen was trying to kill her; he was asleep.
Claire slipped the glove on and brought out the Treasured Lotus Style grimoire*. She thought back to Li Mingyu's words: the monstrous group of five were actually considered low level members of an organization! How strong was the Black Lightning organization? How vast was this continent? And how many of the strong cared to make their existences known? Claire squinted at the Treasured Lotus Style grimoire. She understood deeply that she had to become powerful as fast as possible.
**TL: using the word grimoire now, it sounds so much better than book, can't believe I never thought of it before
"Golden Lotus," Claire called out.
"Huh?" Golden Lotus said questioningly.
"Why can't I sense the Earth element like last time nor order them?" Claire finally asked this question that had been constantly in the back of her mind. She had never been able to sense the earth element ever since she battled Alice's elder cousin.
"Last time I was helping you. Old Ma, don't fret. The first nine levels of the Treasured Lotus Style can only increase the might of your flames. You haven't seen anything yet. You will understand the vastness of the Treasured Lotus Style after you comprehend the last levels," Golden Lotus said mysteriously.
Claire did not question anything, understanding that she wouldn't be able to get anything out of Golden Lotus if he was purposefully baiting her like this. What an arrogant child. Claire couldn't understand how she was the one who "gave birth" to him. How was she similar to her? Claire opened the grimoire and infused Lotus power into the pages, starting to practice the fourth level of the Treasured Lotus Style. Claire truly wanted to learn to the seventh level in one go, however, there was heavenly lightning. The Lotus power traveled through her body energetically. She smoothly arrived to the highest point of the third level, stopping just from reaching the fourth because of heavenly lightning.
"Old Ma, let's go out of the city. Might as well cultivate to the seventh level all at once. Fortunately, I've already absorbed all of the heavenly lightning from last time," Golden Lotus chuckled. "Don't worry, just focus on breaking through. Leave the rest to me. I won't let you get hurt at all. The amount of magic and Dou Qi you have right now is more than enough to help you learn to the seventh level. Then you'll understand how profound the Treasured Lotus Style is."
Claire thought about it. "Yes." Even though she was feeling a little tired and unwell, there weren't any major obstructions. Becoming strong as fast as possible was her greatest desire. Claire rose. The meat ball and round ball who had been wrestling with each other immediately stopped and lept onto Claire's shoulders.
Claire went to Jean's room and knocked on the door. Jean opened it with surprise, not understanding what Claire came to see him for.
"I'm going out of the city. Do you remember how when we battled with the golden dragon and after I ascended in power there was lightning? I'm going to break through again. Guard me," Claire said plainly.
Jean was frozen, but internally, he was filled with indescribable joy.
Claire came to ask him to protect her!
"Yes ma'am." Jean said concisely, and nodded. He immediately prepared to leave with Claire.
Cold wind blew outside the city. Claire and Jean both rode the wind leopard, bounding out of the city. The wind lifted Claire's long hair, and a sweet scent drifted into Jean's nose. Jean rigidly watched Claire before him, falling into a daze.
The wind leopard casted Wind magic on its feet, dashing out quickly. A bright, full moon hung in the sky, occasional bird calls sounding in the distance.
When they arrived at a desolate area, Claire glanced around. Right ahead was a precipice and the area was empty. Claire looked up towards the bright moon.
"This place will do." Claire dismounted. She was very satisfied with the surrounding terrain. The precipice was surrounded by an endless abyss, deathly dark. Nobody would be able to come up from there, so Jean wouldn't need to cover as much ground.
"I'll guard over there. I won't let anyone close," Jean said quietly. Promptly, he turned back towards the area leading to the precipice. His low voice was filled with resolution and determination. The wind leopard lapped its tongue, preparing to leave.
"You two should also go." Claire tossed the two little guys on her shoulder towards the wind leopard. The two landed on the wind leopard's back stably. Then the wind leopard left with Jean.
"Old Ma, now it's up to you. You just need to break through. Give me a feast, haha," Golden Lotus urged impatiently.
In truth, Claire longed to break through even farther than that. How mysterious was the Treasured Lotus Style? What kind of surprise would it give her?
Claire stood serenely on the high precipice. A cold wind blew, lifting up her golden hair, her sleeves rippling in the breeze. She looked ahead calmly. Slowly, she sat down in the lotus position and started to use Lotus power. She broke through into the fourth level immediately!
The cloudless, refreshing night sky instantly changed. Dark clouds surged from all directions, lightning flashing from within as they speedily amassed overhead more and more. The moon was immediately covered by dark clouds, the surrounds now all dusky. Meanwhile, the moon shone still everywhere else.
Seeing the strange scene from far away, Jean's expression was somewhat complex. What was Claire training in? Why would it instigate such a strange scene?
At this moment, lying on a bed far away, Leng Lingyun suddenly opened his eyes. He swiftly made his way to the window and saw the black clouds assembling in a direction outside of the city. There was even lightning flashing within them. This strange scene compared to what he had seen when he had just arrived back at the capital was exactly the same! Then......
Leng Lingyun immediately went to knock on Claire's door. But there was no response.
"Claire? Claire?!" Leng Lingyun called out in a low voice as he knocked the door. But again, there was no response.
As expected! The strange scene in the sky was caused by Claire. Claire wasn't inside. Leng Lingyun frowned. He thought about it for a while and then turned around, preparing to leave, but was faced by Li Yuewen, Li Mingyu, and Camille, all with their doors open and looking towards him.