The Flameyellow Scions Institute was the most reputable school for beastmasters in the entire Vermilion Bird, with a history even richer than the nation itself. It wasn’t just a place for learning and cultivation, but a symbol of strength and talent. To Li Tianming’s knowledge, even powerhouses like the Lightning Manor, the Xing & Chen Merchantry, and even the Vermilion Bird Clan, the royal family, had to pay their respects to the institute.
Throughout the nation’s history, countless princes and princesses of the nation had spent their youth in the institute. Word on the streets was that the institute had such influence because it had backing beyond anyone's imagination. And at the center of the institute, it was rumored that Heaven's Sanctum was its true ruler.
Needless to say, the institute had nurtured endless generations of beastmasters in Vermilion Bird. It occupied almost half of the northern district of the capital, its dimensions even greater than that of the imperial palace.
Today was the day of the quadrennial entrance exam, and Li Tianming had arrived at the break of dawn. Even then, the place was already packed to the brim.
“It’s just the admission test and not the ranking test, and there’s already so many people here. This is way more crowded than four years ago.” It wasn’t just the owners of Flameyellow Orders that were waiting here, but many more parents and servants as well. The sheer number of cultivators present there was a mark of Ignispolis’s robustness and prosperity.
The gate of the institute was not as magnificent as people would expect it to be. The simple design, with only stone slabs used in its construction, gave the gate a timeworn vibe. As simple as it may be, the gate was a reflection of the institute’s rich heritage, the goal for any and all beastmasters in the nation.
Four years ago, Li Tianming arrived before this gate, eager to study as a disciple of the institute. And today, he stood at the exact same spot, but with a completely different emotion. He knew that the two people who destroyed his life three years ago were crowned as the best disciples of the institute. They would never imagine that Li Tianming was back to haunt them.
The admission test should be quite simple for Li Tianming. All he needed to do was to join the queue and display his Flameyellow Order, and after registering his name with the counter he could enter the compound to prepare for the test.
There were a total of five registration counters outside of the institute, each of them with a long queue of people. Li Tianming took a look around, and found most people in the queue to be teenagers about the age of fifteen, eager about their future as a disciple of the institute.
Li Tianming was lucky that his birthday was next month. Had the exam been held a month later, he would be disqualified for being over the age of twenty.
Out of the five counters, Li Tianming picked the counter for the Hall of Phoenix. Other than the exclusive Heaven’s Sanctum, the Flameyellow Scions Institute was split into five different halls, the five being the Hall of Manibeasts, Hall of Phoenix, Hall of Deepblue, Hall of Rudiment and the Hall of Uniquities. They recruited disciples with terrestrial, avian, fish, bug and unique lifebound beasts respectively.
The phoenix was crowned the king of all avian beasts, and that was where the Hall of Phoenix got its name from. Together with the Hall of Manibeasts, the two halls had the richest heritage and also the largest intakes of disciples.
The Hall of Phoenix recruited exactly five hundred disciples each time but there were more than one thousand five hundred youths aiming to register under the hall this year. That means only less than a third of the youths could get in.
As the queue shortened and it was soon to be Li Tianming’s turn, he was pleasantly surprised to see that the people manning the counter was none other than his old classmates from four years ago. After losing his lifebound beast, Li Tianming was no longer able to cultivate and therefore he left the campus. As for his old classmates, they should have made it into the journeyman class by now.
Every four years, the institute would take in a new batch of disciples and the previous batch would graduate into their next class after clearing certain requirements. There were three different levels of classes, the apprentice class, journeyman class and elite class, each of them lasting for four years. After twelve years of study, the students could either choose to graduate or to apply to be a teacher of the institute should they qualify. Being a teacher in the institute was a prestigious position that most disciples of the elite class sought after.
During these three years that Li Tianming was away, the classmates in his batch had cultivated hard and probably made it to the journeyman class with Spiritsource stage already. Those who haven’t cleared the requirements would be retained in the apprentice class.
In the institute, being retained was an extremely disgraceful thing. Not only would you waste another four years of precious youth, you would also be a laughing stock to people around you. The institute also ruled that students could only retain once, and those who failed to clear the requirements a second time would be expelled from the institute.
The two students manning the counter right now had both cultivated alongside Li Tianming for a year. But they had moved onto the journeyman class and were Li Tianming’s seniors now, tasked with the role of registering thousands of youths with the Flameyellow Order.
Li Tianming still remembered their names, but wasn’t so sure whether they still remembered his own. The boy was called Fang Zhao, and the girl Lin Qingyu.
After approximately two hours of queuing, it was finally Li Tianming’s turn. He handed over his Flameyellow Order, and filled his name on the form. Both Fang Zhao and Lin Qingyu were focused on the paperwork and did not notice Li Tianming at first.
“Next, Li Tianming of Flamehaven.” Fang Zhao read off the name list, and was visibly confused for a moment. And when he finally looked up and saw Li Tianming’s face, a perplexed look crept up his face.
“Li Tianming, it’s you?” Lin Qingyu was dressed in an orange robe, beads of sweat flowing down her head from the burning heat.
Back then, everyone were newbies from faraway cities, and they helped each other as much as they could. Li Tianming could still remember when Fang Zhao was bullied by others because of his timid personality, and he was the one that helped Fang Zhao fight back. But there was no joy of reunion on the two’s faces right now, only shock.
“Tianming, are you serious?” Lin Qianyu must have thought of the scandal three years ago as she questioned.
Li Tianming smiled. “Why not? I’m still qualified for the exam, and I did manage to get the Flameyellow Order from Flamehaven again. The school didn’t regulate that I can’t take the entrance exam a second time.”
“But you lifebound beast is dead!” Fang Zhao looked up, a deep frown on his face. “It’s been three years. Did you know how much our class got laughed at because of you during these three years? If you are still going to mess around here we will have no choice but to chase you away.”
“For what reason? I am qualified, just register my name already.” Li Tianming was as calm as ever. After all the things that have happened, he was used to being treated like this.
“How can I let someone without a lifebound beast in? Li Tianming, three years have passed and we are already in journeyman class now. If you still want to screw around, don’t expect us to show mercy just because we used to be classmates.” Fang Zhao threatened.
“Oh, so a senior from journeyman class now, how terrific.” Li Tianming raised his thumb.
“Last chance, are you leaving or not?” Fang Zhao didn’t want to entertain his old classmate any further.
“Qingyu, do you think the same way?” Li Tianming turned to the girl.
Lin Qingyu bit her lips, and said after a while, “Never mind, I have no reason to reject you. You have the Flameyellow Order and I have information here that yours is valid, so you may enter. ”
“Qingyu, why are letting this joker in…...” Fang Zhao was clearly not happy about it.
“And what does that have to do with you?” Li Tianming chipped in.
“Li Tianming how dare you! Don’t forget the difference between us now!” Fang Zhao shot up from his seat. After three years of cultivation, he was way stronger than what he used to be.
“Awesome, please do show me our ‘differences’ when I’m free next time.” Li Tianming was not going to waste his time on Fang Zhao, as he cleared the registration and walked into the institute.
“If it wasn’t for my task here, I would have shown you what three years of cultivation looks like, you perverted scum!” Fang Zhao couldn’t leave his post as there were still hundreds of people queuing in front of his table, so he could only curse behind Li Tianming’s back.
Li Tianming wasn’t going to react to that. Such people would remain as wimps, no matter what their cultivation level was, and Li Tianming had nothing to fear. He could only lament the time they used to study as a class, and wonder whether the rest of his class would treat him the same way as Fang Zhao did.
Li Tianming followed the crowd into the gates, where the first thing that entered his sight was the landmark of the institute: the Flameyellow Stadium! Not only was it the place where disciples honed their battling skills, it also staged all kinds of major events, one of them being the famous ranking test.
Inside of the stadium, hundreds of stone arenas were placed beside each other, every single one covered with damage from prior battles. The stadium was enclosed by a cyclic stand with hundreds of thousands of seats meant for spectators. All of the institute's trials were open to the public, and it was quite a common hobby for the rich and famous of Ignispolis to spectate a battle here. Of course, regular citizens could also purchase a ticket and witness the glories of the disciples here.
Other than the open-aired seats, the stadium had hundreds of private rooms meant for the elites of the nation. These rooms had a better angle than regular seats and could see all the arenas clearly.
Throughout Flameyellow Scions Institute’s history, countless heroes had their tale begin in this very stadium, and simply standing in this stadium could make any disciple’s blood boil. Today’s admission test, as well as the ranking test to be held soon, were all to be conducted here.
As Li Tianming entered the stadium, he could see plenty of people seated in the stand already, most of them being parents or seniors of those taking the test. He expected some private rooms to be occupied by big shots as well. That being said, the admission test wasn’t as big an event as the ranking test, so the stadium would only be more busy during the ranking test.
However, Li Tianming would never imagine that there were two very familiar faces sitting in the spectator stands right now. They were a couple, a stately middle-aged man with a gorgeous woman by his side. The woman was especially eye-catching, her seductive figure drawing the attention of those sitting around them.
Had Li Tianming noticed them, he would recognize them at once. They were none other than Li Yanfeng and Liu Qing.