"Huh?" Nuwa looked at the stranger girl with a raised eyebrow. "Does anyone know her?"
Everyone shook their heads and glanced at Xuefeng, expecting an explanation.
"Why are you looking at me? I don't know her…" Xuefeng muttered innocently with a shrug. "You act as if I wasn't famous everywhere in the Heaven Realm."
After the King of Heaven's announcement, it would be strange if someone didn't know his name. Not to mention the Tournament that was broadcasted all around the Realm. There were many who knew his features already.
"Don't worry, we never met before but I know you very well," the woman in leather armor assured as she flew up to meet with them, her face full of hope and relief. "I'm Dandan, Jiao's best friend. She told me a lot about you over the years."
Xuefeng definitely didn't expect to hear Jiao's name but watching Dandan's clothes, she happened to wear similar flexible body armor like Jiao. Thinking about it deeper, Jiao wouldn't enter the Hellhole alone so her group should still be inside.
"If you are Jiao's best friend then where is she?" Nuwa asked as she appeared next to Xuefeng's side.
"That's why I was happy to see you. Jiao is in danger and I can't find her," Dandan explained urgently. "We were training in the Hellhole but when we reached the second level, she got swallowed whole by some gigantic worm. I tried to find her but I got lost and ended up here. Now that you are here, we need to search again and find her before it's too late."
"Calm down, Miss," Xuefeng relaxed her. "Jiao is safe and sound. We met her when she was leaving the Hellhole."
The news stunned Dandan on the spot.
"So she got out safely on her own? That's great," Dandan sighed in relief. "But why didn't she follow you? She was so in love with you that I thought she won't leave your side when you two meet again."
"Well…" Xuefeng paused, not knowing how much he should reveal. "She had her own reasons for leaving. We will meet up with her later once we are done with the matters here."
"What could be more important than a man she has been thinking about for the last couple of years?" Dandan questioned confused before cursing, "Fuck, I'm pissed. I have been searching everywhere for many hours to save her ass and she just left? She didn't even tell you to find me and inform me about it? I'm definitely adding more training to her schedule when I see her again."
Xuefeng didn't know what to comment on that so he changed the subject while glancing at his team. "Did you collect all the loot?"
"All cleaned!" Drakos reported happily while crushing a Fate Stone with his teeth. "Some of them must have stayed here for a long time since they had some fat stash."
"Alright, let's get going then. The sooner we finish the better," Xuefeng decided as he waved at Momo who observed them from the river. "Thanks for leading us. We will see you soon."
"You are welcome! Good luck!" Momo called back and disappeared underwater.
Xuefeng didn't really think of adding another member to their already big group but Dandan didn't seem like someone who cared about that.
"Hey, hey, don't leave me alone. I'm coming with you!" Dandan called out after them. "How else can I reunite with Jiao if I don't follow you? You are my only link to her."
"The place we are going to is dangerous so maybe it's best if you say here," Xuefeng suggested. "What will Jiao say if you get hurt? I can't guarantee your safety there."
"Who said I need protection?" Dandan asked back with a roll of her eyes. "I am a strong, independent woman. I don't need a man to take care of me."
Just as she spoke, they saw multiple beetles-like beasts come out of the exits. They approached the dead bodies scattered around and began their feast without caring about Xuefeng's group. ...
"I guess you won't believe me unless you see for yourself," Dandan muttered as she pulled out a black bow. It didn't seem any special but Ming immediately showed interest.
'This bow seems weird… I don't recognize the runes on its body,' Ming reported.
Dandan casually pulled on the bowstring and thick Qi flowed out, forming an arrow. Two out of ten runes lit up and Dandan looked at Xuefeng with a smug, releasing the arrow without looking.
To everyone's surprise, the arrow vanished right after it left the bow and a second later they heard an explosion. The beast didn't even have the chance to cry before it was blown away to bits.
"I call it a Ghost Arrow," Dandan introduced while keeping the bow. "I also only used two-tenths of my power so I don't think you need to worry about me. I can protect myself well."
"Alright then. You can follow us but only at your own risk," Xuefeng agreed, knowing they lacked in the ranged power anyway. "We are going to the third level."
"No problem. I wanted to reach there at some point anyway," Dandan replied unbothered and approached the girls cheerfully. "Hey, girls~ Let's be friends!"
She was still Jiao's friend so it would be bad to just leave her there, especially after how worried she was for her. Thankfully, she didn't create many problems on the way and easily intergrated into their group.
"So you are telling me you two went to the tournament and didn't meet with us?" Xuefeng questioned speechlessly after hearing Dandan's story.
She didn't care as she exposed Jiao right away. "Yeah, Jiao decided to train more first so she can prove she is worthy of you. I proposed we go to the Hellhole and here we."
"I'm honestly not surprised," Xuefeng replied casually when he paused, feeling some presence ahead. "Watch out. I think we have a company."
They have been traveling for a few hours since they left the base and finally found other humans. They were almost a thousand of them all cramped some far away from the exit. When they approached from behind, a black cloak spotted them and stopped their way.
"Stop and state what team do you belong to."
Dandan only smiled and came forward while pulling out a badge. "We are from team eight but we separated some time ago. We only managed to reunite now. Is the leader here?"
"Oh, team eight? You are lucky. I heard their whole group got wiped out so you must be the only survivors left," the Dark Fate member explained as he placed an 'X' in his notebook. "I guess you can join the groups extracting Fate Stones. Your job is simple. Get as much Fate Stones as possible and retreat at the signal."
"Alright, sounds good," Dandan nodded politely and the man left, flying over to a man hovering about the whole group.
'How about we kill them after they collect the Fate Stones?' Drakos asked excitedly, his nose smelling the Fate Qi in the air.
'I would like to see Thunder Goddess' power from up close so let's wait and see,' Xuefeng suggested. 'We can rob the survivors afterward.'
Just as he decided, the leader of the group glanced at them and raised his hand to silence everyone.
"Alright, everyone! It seems like we have more than enough people for the raid! Remember, there is only one rule you have to follow to survive," the leader called out sternly. "When you see the thunder lady, don't look back and run for your life. Maybe there is a chance you will reach the exits. Good luck!"