The group headed deeper into the orchard. After crossing several more peaks, they saw fruits of the eighth rank and up.
Zhou Qiushi and the others had no chance but they still tried to test their luck. What if an eighth or ninth-ranked fruit were to drop for them?
Just a single ninth-ranked fruit would surpass everything they have gotten so far, the entire group combined. That’s why trying despite being aware of the futility was warranted.
Every student here shared this thought, not just Zhou Quishi’s group. Coming here was a rare opportunity so they needed to cherish every moment.
Unfortunately, the probability of success was pitiful to the point of being negligible.
After all, the higher the rank, the more light power the fruit contained. One needed either overwhelming strength or a firm dao heart in order to knock a ninth-ranked fruit down.
According to previous research, knocking down a ninth-ranked fruit required a starting point at the realm of True Emperor or Eternal. These masters could do so with near certainty. Of course, a slightly weaker expert had a chance too, albeit minuscule.
The group overheard a few students talking about successful fruit knockings.
“I saw Goldpython True Emperor take down an eight-petal Sacred Lotus Fruit, the really good stuff. Just one bite and the light turns into delicious fruit juice.” One person swallowed their saliva during the description.
“Goldpython True Emperor is here too? Looks like several big shots from Lightless are here then.” People shuddered after hearing this title.
A young emperor with three palaces always incited respect and admiration.
“Stonecarver True Emperor is here as well. He took down a ninth-ranked Rocking Vermillion Fruit then went to the top, I believe.” A person from Sacred Bank added.
The four great academies were part of the system but their students have always been contentious with each other. Everyone believed that their academy was the best one.
“Please, our Dawn has a magnificent being here too, Goldtypha True Emperor.” A student from Dawn noticed those other students acting smug and reminded them. 
“Goldtypha True Emperor is present too?” All eyes turned towards this student from Dawn.
“Oh… at least that’s what I’ve heard so far…” This student became embarrassed due to the spotlight and spoke without confidence: “My seniors said that they saw him during their departure. He might already be in the Beast Garden now instead of the orchard.”
“Anyone else besides him?” Everyone had a serious expression now.
Goldtypha was an eight-palace True Emperor from Dawn, far stronger than Goldpython and Stonecarver True Emperor.
Most importantly, he was the disciple of Orchid Sage, an existence that everyone looked up to. 
In the contemporary young generation, only Orchid Sage was comparable to Luminous Master.
“Hmph, so what? Our lady, the marvel of heaven, is here too.” A student from Sacred Bank snorted.
“Who? Flying Sword Marvel?” A student from a different academy asked.
“Who else is worthy of this title besides her.” The student proudly laughed: “She’s already a half-step Everlasting!”
“The younger sister of the king of Purification Creek.” People became serious after hearing this.
She wasn’t only one of the youngest half-step Everlastings. Her background was very frightening too.
“Yes, she’s amazing and all, but don’t forget about our Spiritheart True Emperor!” A student from Lightless said.
The students from Lightless, Sacred Bank, and Dawn didn’t relent in their conversations. However, Northern Academy seemed relatively quiet.
“Who is here from Northern Academy, Holyfrost True Emperor?” The members of the other academies asked.
“No, only Three-eyed Prodigy is here. Her Majesty Holyfrost doesn’t come to these minor events.” A northern student responded.
“Three-eyed Prodigy, the youngest half-step!” Of course, this northern student was trying to play it up but the crowd still became shaken.
Three-eyed Prodigy was even younger than Flying Sword Marvel. Even other emperors praised his peerless talents and thought that his future was extremely bright. Perhaps he could become a Fardao Everlasting.
“Damn, I wonder if they will go try to get the supreme fruits?” Someone else said.
The students exchanged glances. Everyone desired these supreme fruits.
The starting point was the True Emperor or Everlasting realm. However, not all of them could get these fruits.
“Who will win this time? Previously, Holyfrost True Emperor, Brightking Buddha, and Metalkin War God were rumored to have gotten some. I hope this group is just as good with at least three successful people.” Another said.
“I think there is a dark horse in play.” One student jumped in.
“Who? A new talent?” Everyone became interested.
“Li Qiye. He might be able to do it.” The student said seriously.
“Who is that?” This was their first time hearing this title.
“A student from Repentance Institution.” The student elaborated: “I think he’s here for this fruit specifically.”
“Are you mad? A Repentance student trying to pick a supreme fruit?” The group erupted in waves of laughter while shaking their head.
“I’m pretty sure that since the foundation of that academy, not a single student from there has been able to do it. What’s so special about this Li Qiye fella?” One student asked.
“Because he has been recognized by the Sword of Repentance - the personal sword of our progenitor. So many people desired it to no avail, only Holyfrost True Emperor was able to lift it. Remember, she had eleven palaces back then, only one step away from twelve.” The student didn’t look like he was joking at all.
“Recognized by Repentance? A bit devilish indeed.” The crowd looked at each other, perplexed.
“I think it’s just a coincidence, a touch of fate.” One immediately retorted: “No one can predict this stuff. Maybe he just got lucky like a dog swallowing a fly while yawning.”
“Okay, let’s say that he really did get lucky, but, he flicked his finger once and several dozens White Hair Fruits fell down. They are fifth-ranked fruits, who else can get so many in such a short time? Even a True Emperor has to go all out to do so.” The student revealed.
This sparked an internal reflection in everyone’s mind. They also wore an expression of doubts. After all, they couldn’t do something like this despite being from the four great academies.
They were excellent students too; some were already Eternals.
“I saw it in person. He really knocked down several dozen fruits. It’s very bizarre but I can’t pinpoint it exactly.” A senior who was there explained: “Zhang Dingyu didn’t want to accept losing and accused Li Qiye of cheating. But now that I think about it, maybe it has something to do with the Sword of Repentance.”
He paused for a bit and looked at everyone: “The sword belongs to the progenitor and contains plenty of light energy. Meanwhile, the fruits here are the fusion of light and the worldly essences. Li Qiye must have used the light power of the sword to knock down the fruits, not his own strength.”