Chapter 239: The Sparring Field
Xia Fei happened to bump into a group of disciples from the Assassin Sect after making his way out in a twisting and turning journey through the heart of the mountain.
This location at the foot of the mountain was where the disciples who were unable to join the Assassin Sect formally resided. The rules were strict to be part of the inner disciples, and these fringe disciples did not have the right to stay on the Nameless Mountain proper. The squat dormitory, located in the forest around the base of the mountain, was where they lived.
The living conditions here were not bad. After all, the Assassin Sect did not lack what little funds to provide their disciples with daily necessities. What made these young men unhappy was their awkward position. While they were part of the Assassin Sect, they were unable to get themselves a master and learn any combat techniques. All they could do was spend their days doing chores, such as sweeping the ground, cooking food, and running messages, et cetera, which was no different from doing the odds and ends around the sect.
It would be fine if it was just the hard work and the fact that they could not learn any combat techniques, but it just so happened that these disciples also had no access to any entertainment of sorts. As these adolescents had to juggle with their restlessness and bodies full of hormones while having no way to vent, they could only deal with what they were given to expend what energy they had.
Thus, sex became the most favorite pastime among the disciples of the Assassin Sect. Those who were good-looking could hook up with their fellow sect sisters, while those who were lacking could give themselves a hand. The word was that most of the yearly expenditure on drugs and medicine for the Assassin Sect was not laxatives or painkillers but rather contraceptive pills.
Therefore, it was to be expected for Xia Fei’s sudden appearance to draw the attention of the nearby fringe sect disciples. Any outsider would instantly become a hot topic in the isolated Assassin Sect, so plenty of them were able to recognize Xia Fei.
However, the Xia Fei of today looked very different from the Xia Fei from several days prior. Dressed in a grey combat suit and dragging a longsword of over two meters long with one hand, he was aggressively massaging his temples with his other as he staggered out of the cave that these disciples were very familiar with.
Xia Fei left a deep furrow behind him as he walked past. Bloodthirsty Screech seemed to be really screeching, making an ear-splitting sound as its blade cut across the gravel and rocks.
“Brother Xia Fei!”
From amidst the crowd, Manatee recognized Xia Fei and came running out as he hastily asked, “What happened to you? Why did you come out from there?”
Manatee knitted his eyebrows together. All these fringe disciples in the Assassin Sect knew that the cave Xia Fei had just emerged was one of the locations where they would go to get busy. The not-too-clever Manatee was still ignorant to such things, but he knew a bit of what happened there, which was why he mistakenly thought Xia Fei had come out of the cave after doing the same things his fellow sect brothers would do, having secretly gone into the cave to engage in some illicit exercises.
Xia Fei, who had no clue about this matter of the Assassin Sect and was still feeling dizzy after taking an underground rollercoaster ride, did not really notice the strange expression on Manatee’s face and merely softly replied, “It’s nothing. I just went in for a wild ride. Where are you guys going?”
Manatee anxiously answered, “Something bad happened. Someone went to challenge the sect, and our sectmaster has ordered everyone to head to the sparring field to watch.”
Xia Fei did not really share his concern for the sect, so he was unperturbed upon learning this. Phantom was the opposite, though. The moment he heard that someone was coming to wreck his sect’s good name, his expression changed; it was as if he had just been kicked in the crotch.
“Quick! Ask him just what’s going on and who was bold enough to challenge the Assassin Sect!” Phantom anxiously pestered.
Xia Fei pouted before proceeding to ask about what had happened from Manatee. As he was simply a fringe disciple, the latter naturally did not know too much and was unable to give a satisfactory answer.
This was when a middle-aged man shouted from the crowd a distance away, “Manatee, quickly get back here! We’re about to set off.”
“Big brother Xia Fei, I have to leave now. You should come along and watch as well.”
With that, Manatee jogged back to the crowd of disciples, going together with that middle-aged man to the sparring field at the foot of the mountain.
“Let’s go take a look as well,” Phantom whined.
Xia Fei furrowed his brows. “I’m a little tired. Why don’t we head on back and rest, instead?”
Phantom rolled his eyes at Xia Fei. “How could you be in the mood to rest after something major transpired?! No, we must go and watch this. It’s an order from the sect master, and since you’re already a part of the Assassin Sect, you must heed it, too!”
Phantom was being very serious as he said this. Xia Fei gave the matter some thought and felt that there was no reason for him to argue with Phantom over something so minor, so he slung the two-meter-long Bloodthirsty Screech across his shoulders, then followed Manatee and his fellow disciples to their destination.
The distance from the fringe disciples’ dormitories to the sparring field was apparently not far as a huge structure soon appeared within the forest.
This sparring field was square-shaped, built in such a way that it had no unique characteristics at all. The trees around were tall and lush, enclosing the sparring field so that if anyone was gazing at it from the sky, it would look like a white embellishment in a sea of green.
Because Xia Fei had been conferred with the position of an envoy by Craneshadow, no one sought to stop him and easily allowed him entry.
The large sparring field could sit an audience of about thirty thousand. During its heyday, the Assassin Sect would have a hundred thousand disciples, and only people of a certain standing would be able to gain entry to the site to watch the fights. Now that the sect was but a shade of its past, even if all the disciples in the sect were to gather, there would still be seats left empty.
All the official disciples were seated by the south-viewing platform, while Xia Fei, as well as Manatee and the other fringe disciples, was seated by the north-viewing platform, leaving the east and south sides devoid of any spectators.
At the heart of the sparring field was an arena a hundred meter in length and breadth. There were even four screens hanging above it facing all four sides, allowing live, slow-motion playback as the fight proceeded, making the entire setup look very professional.
“Sky Eradicators Sect!” Phantom blurted out.
“What organization is it?” Xia Fei curiously asked.
Phantom knitted his eyebrows. “The Sky Eradicators Sect is also a killer organization, one belonging to the Hitmen Syndicate, just like the Assassin Sect.”
“Hitmen Syndicate? There’s such a group like that in this universe?” Xia Fei found it somewhat hilarious. Hitmen were killers, doing things that would hardly see the light of day. This was the first time he had heard that such people had actually managed to form a syndicate together.
“Yes, in the Pan-Human Alliance, The Adjudicator Union, Monastic Order, and of the ilk are powerful forces that stand in the light of day, while the Hitmen Syndicate and other such organizations hold control over the seedy underworld. Neither side has been offending or interfering with the other since ages past,” Phantom explained.
Xia Fei nodded. It was similar to how societies on Earth worked. The light and the dark each had its role to play, and the absence of either side would result in social instability. After all, a society was a complex entity and the power of governmental bodies was not enough. This was of course the same for the vibrant intergalactic society.
“I once read in the Archives that the founders of Sky Eradicators Sect and the Assassin Sect started off as fellow sect brothers. To think that these people would actually neglect the shared past and come challenge our sect—what a distasteful lot!” Phantom yelled indignantly.
Time always passed very slowly when waiting, and Phantom’s incessant nagging at the other party did not cease, even as Xia Fei got somewhat bored waiting for the fighting to start.
As more and more people filled the seats in the sparring field, practically every single disciple of the Assassin Sect was present for this event. Of course, those Deathguards were nowhere to be seen, since it was their duty to act as the security for the sect. They not only bore the responsibility for the most difficult assassination assignments but also oversaw the monitoring of the people within the sect, much like the KGB of Soviet Russia.
Facing an unfamiliar face like Xia Fei’s, many looked over with puzzlement. Especially the Bloodthirsty Screech beside him, its brutish appearance garnered plenty of attention from the people around.
The news that Xia Fei had become their sect’s latest envoy soon spread among the crowd, and their gazes then turned somewhat softer. While an envoy was not a fellow disciple per se, he was still considered part of the sect, and now that they shared a common enemy in the Sky Eradicators, they no longer showed as much hostility toward Xia Fei, though a measure of disdain directed at him remained.
An envoy did not hold a high position in the Assassin Sect, and they lacked any sort of standing even though they were considered one of their own. They could not be called outsiders, either, as they were truly doing work for the sect. The relationship was similar to that between an employer and employee, so even the most unwelcomed disciple would see themselves as better than Xia Fei.
Fortunately, Xia Fei was not at all concerned with such things, nor was he interested in the ongoings of the Assassin Sect. He lit a cigarette and slowly enjoyed it, looking like any spectator waiting for a good show to begin.
After about half an hour later, the chattering audience suddenly became quiet, as Craneshadow and a hook-nosed, elderly man stepped onto the sparring field, entering to take the top seats on the east.
Right behind them were not just Darkshadow and the other two elders but also a chubby lad, his body shaking with every step he took. If not for the ground being paved with metal alloy, Xia Fei was really worried that this youth would be leaving deep footprints in his wake.
As if he was deliberately being provocative, that dark-skinned chubster held his head aloft like a proud fighting cock. His eyes contained this look of scorn as he gazed at the audience gathered on the sparring field, behaving superciliously.
The disciples of the Assassin Sect were all rubbing their fists as they threw angry glares at the proud fatty. Sadly, the person was not only thickset, but his skin was equally thick as well, completely dismissive of the rage and anger directed at him.
Xia Fei yawned as he rubbed his eyes, forcing himself to pay attention. He was quite tired after waiting so long for the matches to start, and now that the combatants finally took to the stage, Xia Fei could not help but finally show interest. At the end of the day, it was not often that he could witness experts exchanging pointers like this, and he was still quite fascinated by the various martial arts out there in this universe.
The disciples around quietly passed along several old-fashioned tablets. Each of them glanced at the screen a few times before passing it along to others. From their expression, it was not hard to tell that some important information was being shown on the screen, for all who had seen it quickly had a change in expression.
After some time, one of the tablets was handed over to Manatee, who was presently seated beside Xia Fei. Manatee stared at the screen for quite some time before he arched an eyebrow and muttered to himself, “Oh no! What are we going to do?”
Xia Fei curiously poked his head over and looked. He saw a picture of that chubby youth on the screen, along with a few lines of information below, which was his resume.
Xia Fei read what was displayed there once and wondered to himself, ‘So that guy’s called Fangyuan, and from the information stated, he appears to be quite the peculiar opponent,.”