“Yanfeng, don’t worry about it, I’m sure Qianyang can clear the entrance exam easily. It may be difficult for him to make it to Heaven’s Sanctum, but at his level he definitely outshines most others here.” Liu Qing said with Li Yanfeng’s hands in hers.
“Then all is well. Qianyang sure is a good kid.” Li Yanfeng nodded.
“He couldn’t have reached this step without you. Your connections that let him take the slot for Zirrihaven’s Flameyellow Order this time really saved him.” Liu Qing hugged him even closer to her.
“Don’t mention it.” Li Yanfeng screwed up his eyes, trying to find Liu Qianyang amongst the crowd.
“Yanfeng, ever since my father passed away from an accident, my family lost our footing in the Lightning Manor. Now that you are part of the family too, our whole family will have to depend on you.” Liu Qing said tenderly.
“Of course. You are my wife and this is the least I can do for you.” Li Yanfeng smiled as he ran his hand through her hair. The pair was drawing plenty of attention from others, especially the envious looks targeted at Li Yanfeng. That made Li Yanfeng even more reassured about his past decisions. He had gained a beautiful wife and also power in Ignispolis, and things could only get better from there on.
“Oh, that Li Tianming will definitely be here right? How will he react when he realises that for this year’s test, they will be testing the lifebound beast’s grade first?” Liu Qing frowned when she thought of that youth that gave them so much trouble.
“What a waste of a Flameyellow Order. A one-star lifebound beast appearing on the Flameyellow Stadium will only make him a bigger joke than he already is.” Li Yanfeng said with a straight face.
“Thankfully you have already cut all ties with that brute, or he would have spoiled your reputation as well.”
“Hm.”Li Yanfeng nodded in agreement. Coincidentally, he spotted Li Tianming in the crowds at the same time.
“Yanfeng, what are you looking at ?” Liu Qing asked curiously when she saw Li Yanfeng squinting his eyes.
“Look there.” Li Yanfeng pointed Li Tianming out.
“So he really is here. Looks like we can anticipate a good show with his one-star lifebound beast.” Liu Qianyang snickered sinisterly.
Li Yanfeng did not react. Even after cutting ties with Li Tianming, he was still worried that his own reputation would be harmed if Li Tianming made a fool of himself.
The Flameyellow Stadium was split into five different sections, for the five different halls to do their respective tests. A brief look told Li Tianming that the Hall of Phoenix and Hall of Manibeasts had the most people.
He had received the pamphlet specifying the rules of the admission test. The test was split into two segments, the first being a test of the lifebound beast’s grade and cultivation level. The beast’s cultivation level was bound to its master’s, and was tested by measuring the beast ki of the beast.
Out of the one thousand six hundred students reporting under Hall of Phoenix, only a thousand of them could make it into the next segment, the practical test. The practical test was conducted by pitting a pair of disciples against each other, and the teachers of Hall of Phoenix would then grade the disciples accordingly. Winning wasn’t necessary to clear this segment, as the teachers considered factors such as age, talent and resilience when grading. This made sure that all decisions made were unbiased and justified when they picked the final five hundred people who could make it into the hall.
Out of these two segments, each would eliminate around five hundred students, meaning that holding a Flameyellow Order did not guarantee a place in the institute. The rules were about the same in the four other halls, the only part differing being the final intake. The Hall of Manibeasts recruited five hundred, the Hall of Deepblue three hundred, and the other two halls recruited only two hundred disciples each.
Only when disciples cleared the two segments of the test would they be an official member of the institute, marking them as the most exceptional youths of the nation in the past four years. Considering that there were more than two thousand cities the size of Flamehaven in Vermilion Bird, it was an honor for a city to produce just one Flameyellow disciple.
For Li Tianming, both segments were no kick, and he just wished for his turn to be done and over with.
“My only demerit is my age, and that can lose me quite a lot of marks. After all, if I’m fighting someone of the same level but five years younger than me, the teachers may still fail me.” Li Tianming thought to himself.
A short while later, the five halls have moved on with the first segment of the test. At the corner allotted to the Hall of Phoenix, the invigilators for the test were ten ‘chief mentors’. The chief mentors had more power and experience than the regular teachers of the institute, and each of them was in charge of an entire class. For example, in the Hall of Phoenix, the five hundred new students would be split into ten different apprentice classes under the ten respective chief mentors. Each chief mentor would then assign regular teachers or senior students to teach them the various aspects of cultivation.
Four years ago, Li Tianming joined one of the ten apprentice classes, the Muwan class, named after their chief mentor, Mu Wan. Both Fang Zhao and Lin Qingyu used to be part of the Muwan class with him.
Li Tianming wasn’t surprised to see her as one of the invigilators today. Chief Mentor Mu Wan was a dream date for many in the institute, her figure tall and alluring. It was said that her strength was inestimable, and she would only get more suitors if it wasn’t for her strict personality and her icy expressions.
It had been four years and the Muwan class had entered the journeyman class, which was why she would be recruiting new disciples today. Chief mentor was one of the most prestigious positions in the institute, and there were only thirty of them in the Hall of Phoenix. Rumors had it that all the chief mentors, Mu Wan herself included, were graduates from the exclusive Heaven’s Sanctum.
Li Tianming always had a good impression of Chief Mentor Mu Wan, who had helped him greatly during his cultivation. During the incident three years ago, she didn’t despise Li Tianming like most other people did, but instead asked him if he needed any help. She was also the one who suggested he leave the institute voluntarily, and helped him settle the paperwork. Without her, he would be expelled from the institute instead, which would have banned him from the institute for the rest of his life.
“Every single disciple will have to go through the admission test and join one of the apprentice classes. The ranking test only happens after that, so I better join the Muwan class first before thinking about joining the sanctum.” Li Tianming had come to a decision.
Then again, Chief Mentor Mu Wan was the most popular among the boys. Even as she seated cross-legged at the invigilator’s table, her face as expressionless as usual, her fair and slim legs were enough to make the boys drool.
“Oh Li Tianming, your lust is leading you astray.” The little chick and him knew what each other was thinking about, even if it was still in his lifebound space.
“Screw off, I’m being grateful for everything she did for me.” Li Tianming was keeping a poker face.
“Ha, then why are you looking at her legs?”
“Well, everyone’s looking at it, so why can’t I?” Li Tianming claimed righteously.
As he was chatting with the little chick, Li Tianming could suddenly sense two people glaring at him. He turned around to find a bulky teenager with a girl much smaller than his size.
“Li Tianming, what are you doing here?” Chen Ding scoffed, with Chen Ying standing beside him. Li Tianming knew them from the encounter at the Xing & Chen Repository, but didn’t expect to see these two here. Since they were both queuing for Hall of Phoenix, it implied that their lifebound beasts were avians as well.
Li Tianming shrugged.“What, am I not welcome here?”
“Isn't your lifebound beast dead? Don’t tell me you used a blood pact to get yourself a rubbish wildbeast.”
“Kudos for getting it right on the first guess.” Li Tianming gave him a thumbs up.
“Do you really know no shame? How dare you bring a filthy beast obtained using a blood pact into the Flameyellow Scions Institute?” Chen Ying chimed in at one side.
“And aren’t you overaged?” Chen Ding’s expressions turned even fiercer.
“Stop sticking your nose into other people’s business. My presence here means I’m qualified and that’s all you need to know, so just shut up and leave me alone.” Li Tianming had enough of these two rude brats.
“Are you looking for a fight?!” That was enough to enrage Chen Ding.
“If you attack me here, it’s you that’ll get thrown out of the institute by the chief mentors.” Li Tianming sneered.
“I will deal with you Li Tianming, mark my words. Brother Yao may not bother himself with trash like you, but I’m a lot less forgiving. I can crush you the moment you step out of the campus.” Chen Ding growled like an infuriated beast.
“How brainless of you to provoke the Chen family,” said Chen Ying.
“Sorry, what did you say? My ears automatically filter out the voices of clowns.” Li Tianming laughed. In terms of trash-talking, Li Tianming was just way better. If it wasn’t for Chen Ying stopping him, Chen Ding would really have attacked Li Tianming by now, which will likely result in his own expulsion.
“Not happy with being called a clown? How about you take a good look in the mirror?” Li Tianming added.
“What about yourself, a pervert who tried to drug others? Have you no shame at all?” Chen Ying scolded while still held on to Chen Ding.
“So you do remember my hobbies! Then you’d better watch out, because young ladies like you are my preference.” Li Tianming leered at Chen Ying, causing her to shriek in terror. Chen Ding’s vessels were close to bursting, but there was nothing he could do.
“Don’t worry. With your looks, it’ll be a waste of my drugs anyway.” Li Tianming shrugged, before walking off in a much better mood after teasing those two brats, leaving the two cursing and swearing behind.
Li Tianming was more concerned about the test, as it was about to be his turn soon. The procedures were rather simple. Each chief mentor had a special spirit ore known as the ‘star orb’, which was capable of detecting the grade of lifebound beasts. While this could have been done by just looking at the number of stars in their eyes, the star orb was much more precise.
When their blood dripped onto the star orb, the orb would change its color to reflect the lifebound beast’s grade. There were a total of seven different colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, corresponding to lifebound beasts from one-star to seven-stars. It would also split each grade into three different tiers. For example, a lighter shade of blue would represent a low-tier five-star beast while a darker blue would represent a high-tier five-star beast. This wouldn’t be possible from just looking at the number of stars in their eyes.
After that, the chief mentor would also test the stage and level of cultivation the beasts were at by personally inspecting the beast. From what Li Tianming could see, any lifebound beast below five-stars had been rejected, no matter their level of cultivation. It was a new rule added this year that made the selection even more stringent.
Just then, a commotion sparked in the stadium, coming from the Hall of Manibeasts. Even from where he was, Li Tianming could see the dark blue light shining from that direction.
“Chen Yao, your lifebound beast is the Hex-starred Clinquant Lion, a high-tier six-star lifebound beast at third level of the Spiritsource stage!” That statement sent the crowd exclaiming in envy. So far, he had the highest level of cultivation as well as the highest grade lifebound beast.
Chen Yao stood at the center of attention, an undisturbed smile on his face. It was as if he had anticipated the reaction as one of the most talented youths in the nation.
“Like father, like son. Sage Chen must be proud of him.”
The Chen siblings caught up with Li Tianming moments later, and Chen Ying laughed, ”Do you see that Li Tianming? Look at the difference, and big brother is just sixteen!”
But Li Tianming couldn’t be bothered with her, because he was the next in line at Chief Mentor Mu Wan’s table.