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766 Old Friends 2 in 1

 Mario felt that nothing was going his way recently, as if someone was deliberately playing dirty tricks on him and Sharmie. The two of them couldn't do anything about it. Even Wang Zhong needed to put up with it, let alone them. This caused both of them to feel powerless and frustrated, clearly not as ambitious as when they first came to the Holy City. As a result, when they arrived at this place that was famous for being the most luxurious restaurant, they didn't even dare to step into it.

Did Wang Zhong tell them the wrong place? Typically, only Holy Disciples who were celebrating a special occasion would go to this type of restaurant opened by dimensional gourmets, he...

\"What are you guys looking at? You just going to stand outside?\" Wang Zhong smiled. In this place, he considered Sharmie and Mario to be 'old friends.' Ultimately, Wang Zhong was afraid of loneliness.

They didn't go to the wrong place after all. Sharmie heaved a sigh of relief. Reality was a cruel hammer that crushed one's dreams. She had really become more cowardly recently. It was just a meal; there was nothing for the Ball Queen to be so tense about. She wasn't an ignorant girl who lived under a rock.

Sharmie rolled her eyes, feeling unsure about the situation. \"Well, you know what kind of place this is, right? I heard that to eat here, you have to make reservations a week beforehand?\"

\"That's an exaggeration.\" Wang Zhong came here for taste-testing a few times previously and knew how it worked. You only needed reservations for special dishes that required certain ingredients. They wouldn't be eating such dishes today; those were still way above Wang Zhong's pay grade even with his 'small fortune.' \"Let's go. Oh wow...\"

Wang Zhong noticed that Sharmie was holding on to Mario's arm. Although he knew there was something going on between them already, it was the first time he saw them behaving so intimately in public. Wang Zhong smiled, giving them a meaningful glance. \"You two...\"

It was all thanks to that lecherous team captain, Hale, that both of them got together. Previously, after Mario pulled Sharmie away from him, he decided to man up and confess to her. After that, things just progressed naturally.

Before this couple arrived at the Holy City, they were already on close terms. Sharmie had always been leading a fun and interesting life, and her personality didn't allow her to be quiet for a second. She was somewhat into him, but Mario had an inferiority complex and often wasn't firm enough. That was a barrier in their relationship, and it was only until the Hale incident that Mario finally mustered up the courage, which hit the soft spot in Sharmie's heart. The person she liked might not necessarily be the strongest, but he definitely mustn't be a coward.

Mario seemed rather shy upon seeing Wang Zhong's meaningful smile, while Sharmie was more poised and confident, squeezing Mario's arm tightly. She looked at Wang Zhong in a boastful manner. \"You still can't tell? What's there to even ask? In fact, I have a question for you. When are you going to woo my sisters?\"

Wang Zhong stared dumbfounded. When women went all out, they really came up with all sorts of nonsense. \"Sisters?\"

\"What a heartless person!\" Sharmie shook her head. \"I'm already supportive of you having more than one lover, yet you're still acting over here.\"

\"Ahem.\" Wang Zhong came back to his senses. He knew that Scarlet, Laura, and Sharmie became sworn sisters recently, but he wasn't used to it yet. About Scarlet and Laura, how should he put this? It wasn't that both of them weren't outstanding, but he just didn't feel that spark with them. Perhaps his lonely childhood made Wang Zhong more mature, making Scarlet and Laura seem more like little girls to him.

Noticing Wang Zhong's awkwardness, Mario changed the topic as the three of them entered the restaurant.

As expected, there weren't many people in the restaurant. The staff serving them were official Holy Disciples at the Heroic Soul Stage and also members of the Gourmets. If they weren't in the restaurant, Mario and the others would have to greet them politely, but now that they were customers, they could just sit back and enjoy the warm hospitality of their seniors.

Ella was the person in charge. Their teacher had made it clear to treat them nicely; it was apparent that their teacher was very satisfied with this taste-tester. It was a pity that he came into the Holy Land as the number one expert of the CHF and ended up as a taste-tester, but at least, he had integrity. Originally, the Gourmets wanted to accept him into their team on their teacher's account, but they didn't expect him to reject the offer. This made Ella change her opinion of him for the better.

\"This Junior Brother is pretty rich today, huh? I've reserved a private booth for you. Special treatment!\" Ella smiled.

\"Thanks, Senior Sister!\" Wang Zhong and Ella had met a few times before, and Ella was an assistant who Teacher Lan Daier valued highly. Great Teachers could accept disciples directly, while teachers accepted assistants. Similarly, being a teacher's assistant had a lot of advantages and conveniences as you could widen your outlook while following your teacher. Once a teacher was promoted to a Great Teacher, the assistant's status would rise too.

Needless to say, the interior of the booth was decorated with lavish ornaments, including things from the Dimensional World. A painting on the wall was 'alive.' According to their teacher, it was a marine Dimensional lifeform with exceptionally strong vitality.

Sharmie had really gained some insight from this. Previously, her knowledge of gourmet restaurants was only from a few seniors boasting about their experiences. She didn't expect to be dining inside a booth on her first visit. \"Wang Zhong, aren't you having a bad time here? If this is what you consider bad, aren't me and the others living in hell then?\"

Wang Zhong didn't know whether to laugh or cry. \"I was quite pitiful for a period of time, but after extreme bad luck comes good luck. I've been quite lucky recently, so I thought I would share my joy with you guys.\"

\"You're a true brother! Loyal indeed!\" Sharmie slapped Wang Zhong's shoulder casually. This certainly released all the depressed emotions inside of them recently; this made Laura and Mario feel like they were reborn, validating their existence, which they had not felt in a long time.

The two of them were talented, but this place was where all the elites gathered. Although they weren't completely drowned out by the others, it wasn't easy for them to stand out either, or at least, they would need time and luck.

Not long after, Grai arrived. Grai was the only one who didn't change much after coming to the Holy City: he was still handsome and ever ready to adapt. We are made great by our tolerance; we are made strong by the absence of desire. This saying was an apt description of Grai. His Blood Race talent was not a taboo in the Holy Land at all, and several teachers from the Tyrants were pretty interested in him. They wanted to invite him to participate in some experiments since Blood Race bloodlines were quite flexible to work with. Grai led quite a comfortable life here, which was also because of his strong adaptability.

\"Senior, you look good. Seems like you've gained something recently.\" After everyone exchanged greetings, Grai sized Wang Zhong up. Grai did not believe the rumors circulating outside in the least. Perhaps casting a Heroic Soul was hard, but it definitely wouldn't be a problem for geniuses like Wang Zhong and Mo Wen; this was not only because of their talent but also due to their earnest attitude. People like Gui Hao who were so arrogant could already cast such a great Heroic Soul, let alone those two. Also, a person's strength depended on their luck too.

It was indeed true that people like Wang Zhong and Mo Wen were born lucky, so their luck was never too bad.

Wang Zhong smiled. \"Yes, but I still need some time to reflect on it.\"

Grai guessed correctly that Wang Zhong was pretty lucky recently, but he definitely didn't know just how lucky he was.

\"This girl Laura sure likes to take her time. She seems to be leading quite a good life since Molton holds considerable power here,\" Sharmie said. Among the Holy Disciples, it would certainly be more convenient if there was someone here to stand up for you; you could avoid many mistakes. Molton was a well-known figure even among Holy Disciples, so helping Laura live comfortably here was undoubtedly an easy task for him.

Wang Zhong nodded. He didn't want Laura and Molton to be affected just because of him. \"I called Napier and Mo Ling too. They were a great help to me a few days ago.\"

\"Napier and Mo Ling?\" Sharmie opened her eyes widely. \"I don't think those two are in the mood to come over and eat with us?\"

\"Oh really? Why?\" Wang Zhong was curious. He sent Skylink messages to Napier, Mo Ling, and Gui Xinying, but other than Gui Xinying who replied that she couldn't make it, the other two didn't respond. He was busy the whole day and didn't have the time to look at his Skylink. When he looked at it now, there were no replies from them indeed.

\"I heard that Napier and Mo Ling have withdrawn from the New Holy War Team. The Mo Family was quite disappointed in them, and a senior from the Mo Family declared that they should survive on their own power. Perhaps this is training or a punishment for them, but who knows for sure? The New Holy War Team is an exploration team created by the 10 Great Families. After offending them, their family won't go easy on the two of them for sure. I guess both of them are in terrible shape now.\" Sharmie shook her head.

\"I've heard of this before.\" Grai, who was from the Sparta Clan, knew more about what was going on. \"It seems that Napier offended a vice-captain of the New Holy War Team. Originally, he had financial assistance from the Mo Family and the New Holy War Team, but both are gone now. His elective subject is alchemy, the one that requires the most money, so he's unable to continue on with it. I think he's prepared to give up that elective as I haven't seen him during alchemy lessons in the Sparta Clan these few days.\"

Every newcomer, or rather Holy Disciple, would choose a main cultivation route and an elective subject; this was not only to earn money, but also because if you invested too much time on cultivation solely, it would put you at risk of narrowing your own paths, limiting your capability. Learning from something similar to your situation and adjusting your mind was imperative in helping you overcome some difficult bottlenecks. Building your foundation was very important during your initial time in the Holy Land. It was no use to rush things. As you reach higher levels of power, you require more resources. Unless you had a Sacred Teacher to back you up, good preparation was the key to success.

Once you started on your elective subject, it meant that you invested much effort in it and treated it as an interest and hobby too. Giving up on your chosen path was definitely a forced choice that would be a heavy blow to both your mind and body.

Did it really have to come to this?

Wang Zhong was rather surprised. Did this happen because Napier helped him at the Dimensional Hostel previously?

Considering how the hierarchy in the Holy Land was far worse than on Earth, this might really have happened because of Napier and Mo Ling challenging their seniors for Wang Zhong's sake. In the Holy Land, the 10 Great Families were just a means of connection to the Earth and could be easily replaced, serving no real purpose. Everything was about profit.

\"Not only did they lose their source of income, but the exploration teams in the Holy City also hold considerable power, affecting them in more ways than they can see.\" Grai shook his head. \"If they're not strong enough and don't have someone backing them up, things will get pretty tough for them.\"

Beside him, Sharmie and Mario nodded vigorously, relating to this on a deep level. This really was the case for everyone when they just arrived in the Holy Land initially. Many Holy Apprentices and Holy Disciples wanted to get into their seniors' and teachers' good books, as a little help from them could possibly save them a few years' worth of mistakes. Showing off and maintaining your dignity were things that you could afford only if you had enough power since not everyone was like Wang Zhong.

\"Do you know where they are now?\" Wang Zhong frowned. Regardless of whether he needed help then, Napier and Mo Ling stood up for him, and he appreciated it. If both of them were in a difficult situation because of him, Wang Zhong felt a responsibility to help them since he was in a position to do so.

The others shook their heads. Grai was someone who minded his own business, and he wasn't very close to Napier either. He only heard the news about Napier when other people were talking about it in the Sparta Clan from time to time. As for Sharmie and Mario, they were struggling with life themselves and didn't have the time to care about other stuff.

\"Oh right, the three of you are not in any Dimensional Exploration teams, right?\" Laura was not here yet, so Wang Zhong cut straight to the point.

\"Are you trying to ask us to join the Gourmets?\" Mario heard about Wang Zhong being a taste-tester and immediately refused. Anyone who knew about taste-testing jobs knew that it was certainly not a good job, and no one lasted long in it. \"I know you can earn quite a fair bit from it, but I really... wouldn't be able to take it.\"

Wang Zhong laughed. \"I'm talking about the Wanderlust Team.\"

The others stared at each other. None of them had heard of that team before. Grai seemed very interested. Although Grai received invitations from some exploration teams, he didn't have much interest in them and didn't feel like associating himself with them and having to suck up to them. From the very start, his goal in life was to enjoy freedom.

Wang Zhong briefly introduced the Wanderlust Team to them. \"The scale of the team is rather small, but it has great potential, and the people there are easy to get along with. They have no special requirements for newcomers, and of course, if newcomers go on a mission, the rewards will be divided according to your individual contributions.\"

\"There's such a good deal? I want to sign up. Save two spots for us! Two!\" Sharmie bellowed, her face full of excitement. Joining a Dimensional Exploration team was extremely important to the development of the newcomers. Even if they were still at the learning stage, they needed some hands-on training to improve faster. There was another benefit that newcomers couldn't resist, which was earning money.

\"Wang Zhong... Are you sure this will work out?\" Mario was quite worried. It wasn't easy to be accepted by exploration teams, and this team treated newcomers fairly well, which was rather rare. Most small exploration teams would extort the newcomers.

\"I'm the vice-captain, so I have authority over this, rest assured.\" Wang Zhong smiled.

Sharmie and Mario were stunned. This... seemed really different from what they heard outside.

\"That's good then.\" Grai smiled. \"Looking forward to the next time I get to work alongside Senior.\"

Grai hadn't made his choice all this while as he had been waiting for Wang Zhong subconsciously. He had a feeling that Wang Zhong would call him soon. There was a type of person who was born to be a leader and would never leave his friends behind.

\"The Wanderlust Team?\" The door opened, and Laura arrived. She heard the last bit of their conversation and smiled. \"A pretty good team that's been in the spotlight recently. News of the Wanderlust Team has been circulating all around the Dimensional Hostel. I heard that they explored an S-rank secret realm, and there are only a few exploration teams that are able to deal with an S-rank secret realm.\"

Unlike Sharmie who was having a bad time here, Laura was in the pink of health and seemed to be leading a good life in the Holy City. She was already a small celebrity in the Mystic Sect, which proved that having an impressive brother brought a lot of benefits indeed.

\"Our team is so awesome. An S-rank secret realm?\" Sharmie opened her eyes widely, finding it unbelievable. She looked at Wang Zhong. \"I thought you said that the scale of the team isn't big? It's just a small exploration team?\"

Wang Zhong smiled, spreading his arms. \"I said that it has potential. Having a small scale doesn't necessarily mean it's not strong.\"