After Southwind Academy's graduation ceremony today, this cohort of students would be considered to have formally graduated. They would be heading to other college-level institutions all across the Xia Kingdom, continuing their cultivation or turning to other occupations. They might never meet again.
After the ceremony, Li Luo, Lu Qing'er, Yu Lang, and Zhao Kuo received a private summons from the dean to his garden.
"Thanks to you four, Southwind Academy has managed to keep the best school title this year. I guess I owe you thanks," he said, smiling at them over the bush he was pruning.
Zhao Kuo made a non-committal incline with his head. He knew that he had not done much other than ride Li Luo's coattails to glory.
Yu Lang, on the other hand, was smiling as bravely as though he had bled and fought for Southwind Academy.
"Sir, it seems unnecessary to call us here just for thanks,” Li Luo said.
"Am I really such a dead plank to you?" the dean replied irritably.
"Dean, Sir!" Yu Lang burst out. "You are my most respected person. I won't let you speak about yourself that way. Take the word ‘dead’ out!"
The dean brandished his shears threateningly at Yu Lang, who leaped back in alarm.
"From now on, you’re not students of Southwind Academy. In two months, all of you will be headed for the Astral Sage College. That is the place where you young ones can chase your dreams. But regardless of where you eventually land, you will always be my Southwind Academy alumni.
"Although you all did quite well in the exam, that's no basis for arrogance. When you get to the Astral Sage College, you'll learn just how vast the Xia Kingdom is. There are plenty of crouching tigers and hidden dragons.
"Of course... If you can become like Jiang Qing'e, you can ignore what I just said."
They nodded. Besides the more flighty Yu Lang, the other three were solid, grounded characters. Especially Li Luo. If not for this final exam, he would still be happily burrowed in anonymity, his bottomline untested.
After his short parting speech, the dean reached into the folds of his clothes and pulled out pale-yellow pills. Puffs of fragrance came from them.
"These are Bitter Lotus Pills. When your resonant power reaches the Tenth Seal level, you may use one. They will accelerate your resonance consolidation, increasing the chances of success. Take these as an additional reward from the exams."
The four were delighted. Pills were a rare sight, unlike spirit liquids and purifying lights, which were consumed in large quantities. They were more pricey, and it was an extremely generous gesture on the dean's part.
They had heard that Bitter Lotus Pills were distilled from the sap of trees of resonant power. Only large schools could cultivate such things. And for beginners still in the Ten Seals Stage, there was no better medicine than the Bitter Lotus Pill.
Many people failed multiple times when condensing their resonances. This cost them precious cultivation time. The Bitter Lotus Pill could steady their transition.
"Sir, if anyone calls you a plank to my face, I'll be the first to teach them a lesson!" Yu Lang vowed fervently.
The old man shot him a sideways look but decided against replying to this slippery character. He handed over the pills.
"Go, then. I hate to admit it, but the Astral Sage College is truly an elite school, peerless in all of Xia.
"You'll only come in touch with the true reality of this world after you enter the Astral Sage College.
"Your futures are bright. I will be eagerly listening out for news of you here in Southwind Academy."
Hearing the grudging honesty in his voice, the four were a little moved. They bowed to him and turned to leave.
He laughed, calling after Li Luo, "Boy, you’ve made your parents proud."
Li Luo halted. Looking up to the clouds rolling by above, he felt a lump in his throat. He had thought himself impervious to what others said, but the old dean's words had touched something within him. Perhaps all his hard work had not been for naught.
Deep down, he knew that it was not that he wasn’t concerned with the opinions of others, but simply that he cared too much about not letting his parents down.
He loved those seemingly unreliable parents very much.
And they loved him as well.
After the Southwind graduation, Li Luo again returned to his previous rhythm. Just as he had said, he did not slack off just because of his victory. In the larger scheme of things, the exam was nothing but a small skirmish.
After two months of holidays, he would head for the Astral Sage College. There, he would see the true crop of talent that existed in the Xia Kingdom.
But this time, he swore to be even more anonymous at the Astral Sage College.
In these two months, Li Luo set himself a target. He wanted to reach the Tenth Seal. If he could, he might even try consolidating his resonances and entering the Resonant Master Stage!
He had heard of other province winners being Tenth Seals. In another two months, the truly elite students could be at the first tier of the Resonant Master Stage already. Li Luo felt that he could not let up.
Of course, this was not the most important thing... His life was already ticking down from its five-year limit!
Although it was important to keep his head down, it was also important to survive!
The holidays slowly rifted by. After about half a month, Li Luo found that he had reached the Ninth Seal, as he expected.
Besides that, his practice with spirit liquids and purifying lights had seen swift improvements. He could already brew second-grade liquids and lights, and he could be considered a qualified second-grade resonance artificer.
All in all, Li Luo was pretty satisfied with the progress that he had made in this half a month.
As his resonant power inched ever closer to the Resonant Master Stage, Li Luo started to leaf through the Acquired Resonance Godly Forging Art that his parents had left him. There was another important question to consider. After he reached the Resonant Master Stage, what primary and secondary resonance should he fill his second palace with?Previous Chapter Next Chapter