The Whitespirit Garden was nestled in the outskirts of the City of Southwind, back against Whitespirit Mountain. It had been the location for many College Final Examinations before this.
On the second day, Li Luo and the others prepared to head to the Whitespirit Garden together, led by Lin Feng and Xu Shanyue.
They were greeted by a huge crowd milling around. Many stalls had organized themselves into long avenues that stretched out endlessly. It was a bustling sight.
However, this was to be expected. A major event such as the College Final Examinations might only formally involve the elite students of each school, but in reality, everyone had an interest in it. Everyone wanted to see which young brave would leap ahead of the pack and become the foremost leader of the new generation in the Tianshu Province.
It was the highest honor.
As they filed into the Whitespirit Garden, the atmosphere heated up a notch, the cacophony of the crowd greeting them from all sides. Their arrival was immediately noticed—the reputation of Southwind Academy in the Tianshu Province was quite something after all.
"These are the top 20 from Southwind Academy?"
"Wow, that long-haired beauty must be Lu Qing'er. I heard she's the best in Southwind Academy."
"She's probably going to get first place in the College Final Examinations this year."
"Maybe not. Eastpool Academy's Shi Huang is also unreasonably strong. I don't think he's any weaker than Lu Qing'er."
"Which is Southwind's Li Luo? I heard Jiang Qing'e is his fiance. Disgusting. How dare he sully my goddess."
"There! The handsome one. That's Li Luo."
"Money, status... he's the Young Lord of House Luolan."
"Hmph. Not impressive, family power. The respectable youths build their own reputation."
"I heard he fought the second-place Song Yunfeng to a draw in the Southwind Academy preliminaries."
"Damn, you're irritating. Shut up, will you?"
Snatches of speculation occasionally floated across to the ears of the Southwind students. Both Lu Qing'er and Li Luo were featured prominently in the gossip, the former for her ability and the latter for his special reputation.
A ways away, there was a stone pavilion on an elevated ground. Three figures could be seen within, eyes locked onto the Southwind contingent as well.
Two young men, one young woman.
One of the young men was strappingly built, his fiery-red hair especially prominent under the sun. The other was a more scholarly-looking type, and noticeably thin.
The young woman was clad in green, a dainty little thing with picture-perfect features. Her most distinctive characteristics were green, vine-like tattoos on the back of her hands.
These three were not at all no-namers. The red-haired youth was Xiang Liang, from the Tianshu Province's Dawn Academy. He was their first seed, and a power to be reckoned with.
The skinny scholar was Zong Fu, first in Zenith Academy.
The petite girl in green was Chi Su, first in Dusklight Academy.
All three were hot favorites to reach the top ten in the examinations.
"That's Lu Qing'er? Looks strong." Xiang Liang's voice boomed out, the fiery battle will in his eyes trained on Lu Qing'er.
"I sense a dangerous aura from her," Zong Fu said neutrally, frowning.
"The one ranked first in Southwind Academy has never been an easy opponent. But we have to be glad that we're not in the same cohort as Jiang Qing'e; otherwise, we would be flushed out in a trice." Chi Su laughed.
Xiang Liang and Zong Fu nodded with deep feeling. "Jiang Qing'e is a terror. A ninth-grade light resonance is terrifying. I pity those in her batch."
"But in this Southwind batch, only Lu Qing'er and Song Yunfeng need watching. We have nothing to fear from the others," Xiang Liang said confidently.
Although his school could not compare to Southwind, that was precisely why Dawn Academy could concentrate much of its resources on him.
Although there were not many like him in the Tianshu Province, he was definitely not the only one. In order to secure such talented students, each school would go to great lengths.
"What about Li Luo? I heard he fought Song Yunfeng to a draw in the preliminaries," Chi Su said.
Xiang Liang scoffed. "That's because he used some special move to play for time. In the end, his resonant power was completely spent as well. Another second and Song Yunfeng would have done him in."
"A clever trick, but it won't work in these exams."
Chi Su said a little regretfully, "A pity, him being so handsome."
It was the intellectual Zong Fu who reminded, "Arrogance is a flaw. The fact that Li Luo managed to beat Song Yunfeng shows that there is an odd streak to him. To be safe, there is a need to test his true strength. Only then can all unknowns be negated."
"Don't worry about that. I'll think of something."
Xiang Liang made a face. "Whatever."
Chi Su turned. "Have you two received Shi Huang's message? He wants us to meet him tonight to discuss something."
Xiang Liang nodded. He was a little apprehensive about meeting the governor's son, the only one who could stand against Southwind Academy's Lu Qing'er in a straight fight.
"That is a reputation we have to respect."
Zong Fu nodded slightly as well. "His target must be Southwind Academy, coincidentally ours as well. After all, Southwind Academy has relaxed on their best-school laurels for too long. They always get the most entrance placements. If we can beat them down, that would be good news for all the other schools."
Chi Su smiled as well. "If not for such an important person, we would not have been able to join forces."
Although Southwind Academy was the ultimate rival for many other schools, there was a lot of internal competition amongst themselves as well. Without a strong anchor to rally around, such unity was hard to build.
Therefore, Shi Huang's initiative was welcome indeed.
Li Luo and the others followed Lin Feng and Xu Shanyue into the accomodations in the Whitespirit Garden. Li Luo was coincidentally matched with Zhao Kuo.
The two were tidying up their room when there was suddenly a knock on the door. Li Luo opened and saw a hyperactive face pop up close to him. The person had a book in his arms.
"Buy some information, Brother?"
Those words immediately called to mind the sneaky illegal peddlers hanging around furtively at the gates of Southwind Academy, selling dodgy books.
"Yu Lang, when did you transfer here?" Li Luo laughed.
It was none other than Yu Lang, who had vomited blood in exaggerated fashion after losing to Li Luo.
He grumbled, "This is firsthand information about all the top students from the famous schools. Plus, the top 10 predictions are featured."
"Oh?" Li Luo's brow creased. Quite some foresight on this guy, to know that such information would fetch a pretty penny. And it seemed like he had worked on it for a long time.
"Quite a talent for money-making."
Li Luo praised him. He bought one out of support.
"Of course. I've put blood and sweat into the information. I guarantee it's useful," Yu Lang vowed.
Li Luo flipped it at random. The smile on his face froze at seeing his own name.
Li Luo, Southwind Academy. Young Lord, House Luolan. Once trash, now a genius on the comeback, seems to have a fifth-grade water resonance. Specialties: Very handsome, but good looks never won anyone placements. Low chance of entering the top 10.
Li Luo roared with angry laughter. He was about to unleash his fury on Yu Lang, but the wily merchant was already gone like the wind. A voice came from far away.
"I'm just protecting your information!"
Li Luo gritted his teeth. “As if, you little rascal. Don't let me catch you again.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter