24 Chapter Twenty-Four
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 24)
*"I had no idea that the difference in power between the first two levels could be so great! This feels…wonderful!"
Ignoring the gasps of shock and awe, Mo Fan looked down at the hand he'd used to burn the giant wolf, almost unsure of his own capabilities.
*"Are all the power differences this large between levels? It's no wonder we had to rely on impeding the wolf's movements rather than injuring it. It was so much more powerful from the beginning at just level two! This adds to my hypothesis that this is a test, because it could probably have killed us without much trouble earlier."*
Finished contemplating the nature of magic and his group test, Mo Fan turned to his classmates and motioned for them to stop yapping so that he could speak.
"Quiet, please! As you all saw, I'm now level two. However…that doesn't guarantee our safety. In the slim chance that this isn't part of our test, we're still not ready to take that beast on without losses on our end."
Mo Fan's harsh tone easily got the point across to his peers, who carefully listened when he spoke, hopeful that he had a plan.
"I have a plan."
Smiles bloomed on the students' faces.
"But we still suffer from many disadvantages."
The smiles quickly fell apart.
"Despite my magic being at level two and being able to injure the wolf, my spells consume quite a lot of magical energy, which will require us to stay trapped here for a while because my stores of energy now take longer to fill…which I definitely don't have time for. Since that monster's entire body is as strong as my spells, it can still take the time to attack us while I'm trying to recoup on enough energy to attack it. I'm not sure whether we can win that battle of attrition. Especially because…"
The boy turned to the top of the stone staircase, where a large pile of rubble blocked the exit. The beast had trapped them in the stairwell.
"Since the wolf blocked our way out of this valley, we can only find another way to flee."
Frightened murmurs and whispers spawned from the students as they recalled how much trouble they had just getting to the stone stairs, before Mo Fan silenced them again.
"Quiet! This is the only way! I could take the time to blast apart those rocks, but not only would my attacks affect all of you due to our close proximity, but I'd expend a lot of energy doing so! If the wolf attacked during that window of opportunity, it'd be completely up to you all to hold it off!"
Unable to argue with his point, and unwilling to face off against the monster again, everyone quieted down.
"Had the exit not been blocked, we could have lured the wolf into the bottom of the valley before escaping to the top through the stairs, forcing the beast to have to take the long route around again before it could resume its attack. That would have given us time to find somewhere else more advantageous for us to fight it, or to hide altogether. But now, that option is closed off to us."
Ears perked up as Mo Fan's classmates impatiently waited for him to get to his grand plan.
"That being the case, I will fight it alone."
Zhankong and his officers asked at once.
"I-I don't know!" Baiyang stuttered. "I-I m-mean, I know t-that I lost my connection t-to it, but I c-can't be sure how!"
The man's lack of control over his own voice added to his claim.
"Damn it, Baiyang!" Zhankong roared. "We'll discuss this later, but fo-"
Quickly cutting in with an urgent tone, one of Zhankong's men, whose face was to a pair of binoculars, called for his attention.
"Boss! One of the students suddenly left the passageway and reentered Herbage Valley! I think it was the level two student, but surely he can't fight off Baiyang's summoned monster alone in his current state!"
His long hair flowing in the wind, Zhankong quickly darted to the edge of the cliff he and his men watched the students from.
"I'm going first. Baiyang, assemble a squad to follow after me ASAP! And notify the medical team to be on standby!"
Then, Zhankong jumped. Yet, rather than plummeting to his doom, the man confidently met the sky with determination in his eyes as a pair of large eagle's wings sprouted from his back, catching the wind and lifting him upwards.
Four voices raised protests at once.
"Mo Fan, y-you can't…" The weakest voice continued, coming from Xiao Hou who was laid against one of the stairwell's walls and tried to sit up. "You're not…"
"It's okay, no need to push yourself." He Yu said, putting a hand on Xiao Hou chest to stop him from moving.
"Xiao Hou's right, Mo Fan!" Zhou Min shouted, pointed to the injured wind mage. "Like you just said, you don't have the time to reach your top shape. Going out there alone would be suicide even if it's you!"
"I'm siding with Zhou Min, here." Xu Zhaoting agreed. "You'll just get yourself killed. Worst case scenario, I don't mind putting myself on the line to get you as much time as you need to refill on magical energy."
Mo Fan was about to interject when Mu Bai stood up, his arms folded in front of his chest and a sneer on his face.
"Even assuming you don't try to run off with your new level two speed, if you uselessly die out there, our chances of survival plummet."
Happy that his friends cared about him and irritated at Mu Bai, Mo Fan waved a hand dismissively.
"I'm going regardless of whether you all agree, because on the way to this point, I saw a cave I could hold my last stand in. I have confidence that I'll win this and I don't have much time to explain."
The boy ignored the protests of his classmates as he stood up and walked down the stone stairs, keeping his senses wide open in search of the wolf. It seemed to be watching from afar.
"Mo Fan! Don't be arrogant and stupid!"
"We have more options, Mo Fan!"
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Then, he slipped away, casting a level two speed spell that made him faster than even Xiao Hou.
Racing back to where he saw the cave, Mo Fan wiped away a few drops of sweat.
*"Lying so convincingly like that was quite difficult."*
Indeed, Mo Fan had spilled a barrel of his lies to his friends with a straight face. Firstly, the ratio of mana he processed to the mana he expended in spells wasn't nearly as bad as he made it out to be, both because of his natural talent and the pendant hanging around his neck.
Secondly, blasting apart the rubble blocking the top of the stairway without injuring his peers would not be very difficult when taking into consideration how spacious the stairwell actually was. Mo Fan knew that his classmates understood as much and wanted to add onto that the "fact" that because he just leveled up, he couldn't control his spells' power very well, yet none of them brought the matter up, resulting in one less lie.
"And the last lie…" Mo Fan thought to himself as the large cave came into view. "Was that I wanted to kill the beast to protect them, because it is clearly being controlled for the purposes of the test."
The boy left behind a flash of red light as he finally entered the huge cavern, taking in the sight of the sprawling mountain cavity and all its glory. The entire cave even faintly sparkled blue.
"In reality, I will kill the beast to obtain its soul essence for the sake of my pendant."
A roar resounded from outside the cave, shaking its walls slightly. The wolf had caught up faster than Mo Fan expected, confirming to him that the monster had also been limiting its speed.
The boy sneered at his adversary's arrival.
"But most importantly, killing it will be revenge for Xiao Hou's severe injuries."