Xu Zhenyan was standing in a peaceful Xu Family courtyard.
This courtyard was precisely the one his father, Judicial Sector Supervisor Xu Tianwang previously had a conversation with him in several months ago.
Inside this courtyard was a large and tall pomegranate tree that was planted many years ago.
Back then, this pomegranate tree’s pomegranate fruits still hadn’t matured, but now, the fruits of this tree were already overripe, already a bit dark and dried out as they hung on the branches.
Xu Zhenyan stared at this pomegranate tree for a long time. At the time, Xu Tianwang precisely ate a bitter pomegranate seed in front of him and then ruthlessly sent him out to Jadefall City. After he was wounded by Wenren Cangyue’s troops, he experienced many nightmare filled nights, he even dreamed of the brain matter-like slightly white, slightly red under ripe pomegranate juices trickling out from the corners of Xu Tianwang’s lips.
At that time, he only felt fear. However, when he saw this pomegranate tree now, there was a bit of gloominess and coldness that was hard to detect. There were some things within his mind that he instead thought through even more clearly.
Sounds of footsteps transmitted from the outer courtyard, approaching this inner courtyard. Following a bit of cold wind, Xu Tianwang dressed in Judicial Sector high ranking official’s gray-brown long cloak once again crossed through the tall doorstep, entering this courtyard, appearing before Xu Zhenyan’s face again.
Xu Zhenyan didn’t feel the slightest hesitation, showing his father who was outwardly graceful, but carried powerful pressure a deep respectful bow. “Father.”
Xu Tianwang expressionlessly looked at Xu Zhenyan who greeted him respectfully, without the slightest trace of warmth as he indifferently said, “What, did you forget what I said before? I believe I told you before that you don’t need to appear before my face again before you’ve reached late stage Soul Master level.”
Xu Zhenyan’s head was lowered a bit further, becoming even more respectful. “Of course I didn’t forget father’s instruction.”
“You didn’t establish much contributions in Jadefall’s chaos. It was instead the enemy in your eyes, Li Xi who did so, moreover, despite failing to protect the crown prince, incurring the emperor’s wrath, he was still protected. His name is already echoing through the golden Imperial Palace. Even more so, everyone knows he cut down Qin Qinghuang, they know that the casualties of the men and armies he led were fewest. Compared to him, you are still trash.” Xu Tianwang looked at Xu Zhenyan, saying with cold mockery, “After Jadefall City’s army has been completely purged, they might truly establish Jadefall Province, so staying behind in Jadefall City is a great opportunity. Even though your cultivation has made some advancements, it is still rather far from my requirement. I am actually quite curious why you actually dared to leave Jadefall City and returned to Central Continent City to see me.”
“I obviously know that what father wants isn’t just that bit of cultivation.”
Xu Zhenyan still bowed respectfully, saying, “It is precisely because I am too far from that person, as well as Wen Xuanyu and the others that even if I stay in Jadefall City, there is still no way I can catch up, my help to father still not great. That is why I came to ask father, asking for father to help me… I want to ask father to let me go to Ghost Prison.”
Xu Tianwang had a pensive look on his face, giving Xu Tianwang an indifferent look. “You dare go to Ghost Prison?”
Xu Zhenyan showed him another respectful bow. “If I didn’t dare, then I wouldn’t have dared to come and see father.”
Xu Tianwang still didn’t have any expressions on his face, but his tone instead became considerably warmer. “It seems like you learned some things after going to Jadefall City this time.”
Xu Zhenyan’s expression didn’t change, only continuing to hang his head and wait.
“Fine.” Xu Tianwang looked at him. When he saw his respectful appearance and calmness, he slowly nodded. “I will make arrangements.”
Xu Zhenyan revealed a sincere smile. “Many thanks to father.”
Xu Tianwang didn’t say anything else. He only gave him a look, and then with his hands behind him, walked out of this courtyard.
Xu Zhenyan looked at this figure that gave him huge pressure, his pale and waxen face flushing with a redness of strange excitement. The palms of his hands were filled with sweat from excitement and nervousness.
Ghost Prison was Yunqin Empire’s deepest and darkest strategic prison, locked up within were cultivators with extremely powerful wills or criminals who are related to many important secrets. For the sake of breaking down these criminals’ wills, not only did they carry out endless corporal punishment, not giving them a moment to rest, the torture methods used were also things those of the outside world couldn’t imagine either.
That was why every day in this Ghost Prison’s depths seemed to have endless ghosts waiting, even experienced old jailers finding it hard to endure. Guarding this type of place, for a normal person, was as unendurable as constant torture.
Even if one was a true sadist, after staying in Ghost Prison for too long, they would still easily go crazy, in the end start to mutilate themselves. Suicides done in the cruelest methods happened more than just once or twice. That was why for normal Judicial Sector officials, when this type of place was mentioned, their expressions would greatly change, let alone anyone taking the initiative to say they want to manage it.
However, this step, for Xu Zhenyan, possessed extraordinary significance.
Most of the convicts in Ghost Prison were powerful cultivators, so there was a chance of extorting out some useful cultivation methods from them, forcing out some useful secrets. The most important thing was that Ghost Prison was always a place Jiang Family paid close attention to. As long as someone outstanding appeared here, they would naturally become a trusted aide of Jiang Family behind the heavy layers of curtains.
In this kind of place, regardless of whether it was cultivation or position in the royal court, the speed of advancement should be much faster than if he, who wasn’t good at military strategy, were to remain in Jadefall City.
“Lin Xi, I heard your injuries are quite serious? ...Even if your injuries aren’t serious, with the death of the crown prince and his majesty’s thunderous wrath, you definitely have to remain hidden from Yunqin’s royal court for a long time. During this period of time, you can only watch as I catch up.”
“Father, since I am going to walk down the same path, it isn’t guaranteed that I won’t be able to go as fast as you.”
As Xu Tianwang’s figure disappeared during this late autumn day, Xu Zhenyan was a bit satisfied as he looked at the pomegranate tree in front of him, saying this to himself coldly.
He picked up a pomegranate that was outwardly black and gray, peeling it open. The seeds inside were a bit dried up, but they were exceptionally bright red. He coldly chewed on this handful of pomegranate seeds, the juices flowing from the corner of his lips bright red like blood.
While Xu Zhenyan was chewing on the blood red pomegranate seeds like he was chewing on flesh, Zhang Ping was currently sitting in a Green Luan Academy Natural Arts Department small classroom.
In front of him were several sheets of rune blueprints and several ordinary pieces of tempered steel with similar runes engraved on them.
Because only some students, under the academy’s intentions, returned to the academy, the previously already secluded and aloof Green Luan Academy seemed even more cold and secluded.
Right now, Zhang Ping stared at the blueprints and steel plates in front of him, but what he was thinking about weren’t these runes that he was normally fascinated with, but rather Qin Xiyue’s almost flawless face.
What was she doing right now?
Just this single thought alone immediately turned into a flood in his brain, hard to control.
There was someone who purposely made some sound, walking into this classroom where Zhang Ping sat alone.
Zhang Ping turned his head. When he saw the gray-robed, extremely aged, but extremely kind faced single-armed elder, he was first stunned and then he was shocked, followed by panic. He pushed away the wooden table in front of him, at a loss for what to do as he greeted this person.
“Vice Principal Xia.”
“There is no need for excessive courtesy.”
Even after obtaining this type of reply from Vice Principal Xia, Zhang Ping’s brain was still filled with a type of unreal feeling.
Someone like Vice Principal Xia… why would he come to seek him out alone?
“All of you have done extremely well.”
Vice Principal Xia’s warm gaze seemed to be able to penetrate his soul. He smiled, saying, “I came to seek you out precisely because you all did better than even what I imagined. There is a matter on which I wish to ask your opinion on.”
Zhang Ping’s heart was pounding fiercely. When facing this elder, he only felt as if he was facing a sun, his entire body bathed under its dazzling radiance. His mind was shaking fiercely as he said, “Vice Principal Xia, what kind of matter is it?”
“You likely also already know that previously, in Dragon Snake Border Army’s decisive battle, there was a Sacred Expert who appeared, that he was someone from Purgatory Mountain.”
Vice Principal Xia said warmly in a slow manner, “That Sacred Expert’s armor and a soul weapon he carried have great value, possessing important research value towards some of Green Luan Academy’s research… Now, both Thousand Devil Nest and Purgatory Mountain have made some movements, so we have the chance to arrange for some people to enter Great Mang, enter Purgatory Mountain. To put it simply, we feel that you are a good choice for taking on this mission. Only, you know that this is even more dangerous than heading into Jadefall City, so we need to first ask about your opinion.”
Zhang Ping’s body couldn’t help but become a bit cold and rigid. To serve as a spy in Great Mang, try and obtain some secrets after entering Purgatory Mountain, this was naturally extremely difficult and dangerous. However, what appeared mysteriously in his mind at this time was actually Qin Xiyue’s face.
“Why was I chosen?” His hair was quickly drenched in sweat. He raised his head to look at Vice Principal Xia, asking with a trembling voice.
“Because your cultivation aptitude isn’t actually especially good, harder to draw suspicion… but your nature is extremely steady, very suitable for doing this type of thing.” Vice Principal Xia looked at Zhang Ping and said, “Moreover, you have great interest in studying runes. In my opinion, what determines one’s future accomplishments isn’t talent, but rather other things. I feel like you are just like Li Kaiyun and the others, all of you will have great achievements in the future.”
“Vice Principal Xia, your respected self really feels like I will have great achievements in the future?” Zhang Ping looked at Vice Principal Xia with a bit of an absent-minded expression, asking this.
Vice Principal Xia nodded.
Zhang Ping thought of Gu Xinyin, thought of Lin Xi… thought of the powerful and mysterious Purgatory Mountain, thought of Qin Xiyue… He lowered his head to look at his own hands.
His hands were just like others, extremely ordinary.
He inwardly thought that at Summer Spirit Lake, during Green Luan’s entrance examination, if it wasn’t for Lin Xi’s reminders, he might not have even been able to enter Green Luan Academy, let alone enter the Natural Arts Department he was so fond of.
Without waiting in silence for too long, Zhang Ping raised his head. He looked at Vice Principal Xia who originally prepared to give him some time to think about this and said, “Vice Principal Xia, I am willing. I will do my best to complete the things the academy assigns me.”
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