20 Chapter Twenty
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 20)
"Surprising. I didn't think you guys would survive long enough to get here." Mu Bai scoffed, irritated at the fact that his ice vine had been canceled out by Mo Fan's fire strike.
Before Mo Fan could give his own snarky reply, Xiao Hou pointed a finger at Mu Bai. "If it weren't for that damned lapdog of yours slowing us down, we would have reached Herbage Valley ages ago!"
Xu Zhaoting stepped between the three knuckleheads, eyebrows awkwardly furrowed, fearing a physical confrontation between the two groups. "Anyway…since we've run into each other, why don't we travel as a single group and work toget-"
"YOUNG MASTER MU BAIIIIIIIIIIIII!" From afar, the "lapdog" Zhou Kun San came running, arms outstretched, primed and ready for a flying tackle hug. "You're finally her-" Both Mo Fan's and Mu Bai's groups idly watched as Zhou Kun San tripped over a vine on his way to them, just barely preventing his face from smashing into the ground. "Young Master Mu Bai!" He called again, seemingly unfazed by his accident.
Then, to everyone's bewilderment, Zhou Kun San's body began rising into the air foot-first. The vine he tripped over turning out to be something they didn't expect.
"He- HELP ME!" To no one's surprise, several snacks fell out from Zhou Kun San's backpack as he was lifted into the air by the ankle.
"Mu Bai, let's not bother with them. The valley is just up ahead." One of Mu Bai's group members, the one holding their map, ignored the screaming sycophant and suggested they leave. "Let's get there first so we can secure our grade."
Mu Bai was clearly put in an awkward place at that moment and hesitated, looking between his group members and his loyal follower. "I…"
Yet, before he could make his decision, Xiao Hou grabbed his shoulder, pulling him back. "Why aren't you doing anything? Help us get him down from the vines!" Usually, the rude tone would offend Mu Bai, but at that moment, he couldn't help but think deeper, asking himself why Xiao Hou cared, why Xiao Hou would look at him so earnestly immediately after telling him off.
"Stop wasting our time!" Mu Bai's group member yelled at Xiao Hou. "If you aren't coming, Mu Bai, then we'll be going first!"
"Gaah! They're here too?!"
"AGHHH! SAVE ME!"
In a matter of seconds, new vines crept up to Mu Bai's group members, ensnaring them and flipping their attitudes one hundred eighty degrees.
"Mu Bai, save us!"
"Young Master Mu Bai!"
"We're a team, right?!"
While everyone was shocked at the new development, Zhou Min began blasting away at the vines closing in on her, turning them to dust.
Zhou Min turned around to see He Yu wrapped in vines, thin tears appearing on her skin as the plant tore at her.
"Xiao Yu! Damn it! Fire-"
"HEY! STOP!" Mo Fan stopped Zhou Min from firing her spell at the last second. "Don't be rash! Your fire could easily end up burning her!" Then, he turned to the still-stunned Mu Bai to his left. "Hurry and use your ice to protect everyone!"
It was Mo Fan's voice which snapped Mu Bai out of it, allowing him to take a good look at his surroundings to gauge the right move. "O-okay! I got it!"
Mu bai extended his arms straight out to his sides with his palms out, concentrating, gathering his magical energy and causing the surrounding temperature to plummet. "Permafrost!" A wave of blue exploded outwards from Mu Bai, covering everything in frost, tremendously restricting the vines' movements. The magical technique also hit his classmates, but they could somewhat resist its effects enough to outlast the vines, which were near frozen and much easier to destroy.
The rest of the two groups needed no further prompting as they cast their spells, obliterating the slowed vines and freeing the captured students. After everyone was liberated from their living shackles, the vines attempted to retreat but were still too slow to escape the young magicians. They quickly followed the vines to their source, a large stump of plant mass which wriggled as it retrieved its vines. It was soon annihilated.
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From then, no one objected to traveling together seeing as there were, in fact, dangers present in the forest and were heading to the same destination.
After a while longer, the two groups finally arrived at Herbage Valley—a large, open area of mostly flat land surrounded by cliff walls.
"Finally… We're finally here!" He Yu immediately sat down and sighed.
"I suppose this means we've completed the task, right?" Zhou Kun San laid down face first on the ground, deflating.
It was then that Mo Fan noticed a peculiar structure in the side of one of the cliff faces—an unnatural-looking cave. Its walls looked as though large chunks of stone were taken out all at once, giving Mo Fan a bad feeling. Yet, before he could call out to his classmates…