The exciting ranking battles held every four years had finally arrived.
The five hall overseers would personally supervise the battles, which showed the importance the Flameyellow Scions Institute placed on it. For the admission tests, only chief mentors would supervise.
The five overseers arrived jointly. This time, the Hall of Phoenix had been placed in charge of the ranking battles, which meant authority had been ceded to its overseer, Wei Zikun.
“I, Wei Zikun, and my fellow Overseers are glad to welcome your presence here today.” The opening remark was met with much applause, a sign of just how excited everyone was.
“Before we begin, on behalf of the institute, I extend our warmest welcome to the VIPs who have come to spectate today. Your presence has brought glory to our ranking battles today and contributed to its fairness! Everyone isn’t yet aware of which VIPs have come here today, so permit me to introduce them.”
The audience indeed couldn’t see all the VIPs with them being in private rooms.
“Firstly, let’s welcome King Xuan of the royal Vermilion Bird Clan!”
“Greetings, King Xuan.” When people heard King Xuan had personally come, they hurriedly sent their regards. King Xuan was the younger brother and right hand man of the Vermilion Bird King. He was amongst the most exalted personages of the royal clan.
Wei Zikun leading with his introduction was a testament to that.
A gentle voice drifted out from among the most luxurious of the private rooms. “You may dispense with the greeting. The main characters of today are the youngsters. Don’t feel uncomfortable, I’m just here to spectate.”
The rumour that King Xuan had a good temper seemed to be true.
Wei Zikun continued his introductions.
The second VIP was from the Occult Athenaeum. Technically, the Occult Athenaeum wasn’t an actual power but rather an auxiliary faction of the royal clan.
Many of Vermilion Bird’s officials were all nurtured by the Athenaeum, which had a dual focus on cultural and martial education. Unlike Flameyellow Scions Institute, they raised geniuses of officialdom.
The current prime minister of Vermilion Bird was the head of the Athenaeum.
According to the introduction, the Occult Athenaeum’s representative was the prime minister’s daughter, the Occult Athenaeum’s Pavilion Mistress of their Book Pavilion, Qin Xuanyu.
The third VIP was from the Lightning Manor. He was the current Lightning Seigneur’s son and the next generation Lightning Seigneur, Lin Tianjian.
Lin Tianjian had already inherited his father’s position as marshal for the Tempest Regiment. He had become Vermilion Bird’s commander-in-chief of the army and was one of the top experts of the nation. In terms of reputation, he was even beyond Qin Xuanyu.
However, Vermilion Bird had always had the custom of ranking the Occult Athenaeum that waited upon the royal clan ahead of the Lightning Manor.
For many years, both the Occult Athenaeum and the Lightning Manor had worked hand in hand to safeguard the nation’s longevity. The former specialised in the nation’s administration, the latter the nation’s defence.
Lin Tianjian was of the same generation as the Starry Twins and the chosen of the Lightning Manor’s previous generation. Rumour had it that in the competition within that generation, he hadn’t been any inferior to the Starry Twins.
Furthermore, Li Tianming knew he had another identity. He was also Lin Xiaoting and Lin Xiaoxiao’s father! Hence, Li Tianming wondered if Lin Xiaoting and Mu Qingqing were sitting by his side when he heard that name announced.
If so, would they be trying to pick him out from among the crowd?
When his gaze landed on that private room, Wei Zikun continued introducing the other VIPs.
From Xing & Chen Merchantry, there was Sage Chen’s wife Xue Lan and Sage Xing’s wife Madam Yuan Yum, Fateshaven’s governor Zhang Yunji, the Punishment Bureau’s vice-head Zhao Danhong and so on… Over twenty influential figures in the nation were introduced.
These powerhouses of that age stood at the apex of strength. Together, they held the lifeline of the country.
“It’s about time. Now, let us uncover a new Flameyellow Leaderboard!”
A massive stele stood beside the Flameyellow Stadium. It was thick and ancient, having experienced the vicissitudes of the ages. It was the spiritual symbol of the institute, the Flameyellow Leaderboard.
The rankings of the apprentice class decided from the ranking battles would be displayed on this leaderboard.
From then onwards, anyone who entered the institute would first notice this leaderboard. The glory being ranked at the top, receiving the adoration of the masses… such was the appeal of the title of prime disciple.
Four years ago, Lin Xiaoting of Lightning Manor had fought off the outstanding heroes of his age to occupy the top spot, shocking the nation. Before him, the prime disciple had always been geniuses from the royal clan for dozens of years.
That year, Li Tianming had personally witnessed Lin Xiaoting’s glory. He himself had been ranked towards the bottom. However, his vision then had been limited, so he had been giving himself a pat on the back for a job well done.
His background was worlds apart from Lin Xiaoting after all.
Today, the Flameyellow Leaderboard had already been wiped clean. The following ranking battles would see name after name climb onto it. New legends would be born this day.
The glory of being the prime disciple would be thirsted for by any faction. Otherwise, people like King Xuan, Lin Xiaojian and Qin Xuanyu would never have come personally.
The leaderboard’s reveal was enough to show the ranking battles had begun. All eyes were now focused on it, the blank stele prompting one’s imagination to run wild.
Thousands of fireflies encircled the stele, each with a golden flame lit on their rear. Li Tianming had witnessed them using that exact golden flame to engrave the names of disciples in gold on the leaderboard.
The fireflies were all spawned from a broodmother-type lifebound beast, a Heavenly Firefly, which supposedly belonged to a chief mentor from the Hall of Uniquities.
The burning golden words were undeniably very stylish!
“I declare that the ranking battles hereby commence!”
The following battles would be arranged by the chief mentors. For example, Mu Wan would be in charge of her fifty students.
“Li Tianming, why are you late?” When Li Tianming returned to the Muwan class, Mu Wan glared at him.
“Chief mentor, important people always have to be fashionably late, right?” Li Tianming chuckled.
Mu Wan was dressed particularly formally today, that noble but aloof get-up was a beautiful sight in the stadium.
“Confident, aren’t you? I look forward to you getting beaten up later.” Mu Wan said, displeased after trying to find him for so long to no avail.
“How could that be possible? I’m here to fight for my chief mentor and the Hall of Phoenix’s glory!”
The rest of the disciples of Muwan class shook their heads. In their eyes, Li Tianming not only lacked morality, but was also glib-tongued and cocky. They didn’t understand why Chief Mentor Mu Wan was putting so much effort into nurturing him.
“Be more obedient, and I’ll choose a good opponent for you when I make the arrangements with the other chief mentors. Just wait.” Mu Wan rolled her eyes at him before hurrying off.
The rules behind the ranking battles were complicated, and could be boiled down to a rating system. All admitted students would be comprehensively evaluated by their chief mentors with a thousand points as the perfect score.
All ten chief mentors would judge and estimate a disciple’s abilities and give a rating. After the best and worst was removed, the average would be taken as the preliminary rating.
The Flameyellow Leaderboard would be initially arranged using these preliminary ratings. Of course, the preliminary rating wasn’t the final rating.
Disciples would then participate in battles to raise their chief mentor’s evaluation of them and be reassigned a rating. However, if the conclusion drawn by over half of the chief mentors was that their strength was quite similar to their given rating, that would become their final rating.
The chief mentors were all old hands. Once they saw a fight, they could basically tell the potential of that disciple. Many preliminary ratings did end up being accurate.
However, Li Tianming didn’t care so much. His main takeaway was that he just needed to keep beating up people until he reached the top.
There were many participating disciples and the chief mentors had done a lot of behind the scenes preparations for the students to fight for their preliminary rating. The process was long, but fair.
Li Tianming listened to Mu Wan’s arrangements and slowly waited for a suitable opponent to be chosen.
“I just need to show my very best in the first round. I’ll give myself a top ten preliminary ranking so I don’t need to slowly fight my way up from the bottom,” Li Tianming mused.
The aggression from yesterday still lingering in his heart — perhaps, the person who had ordered the hit was in this very stadium. Hence, his rage was boiling now.
When the fighting started, he would rampage!
Over ten battles started simultaneously. Golden words quickly appeared, which the chief mentors worked together to give a rating.
For example, the current number one - Chen Yao, 870 points!
To be given such a high preliminary rating in this system was very rare, and that glittering name immediately drew the crowd's attention.