Over the next three days, Zu An busied himself with taking over the businesses and connections of the Plum Blossom Sect under the aid of the academy.
Shi Kun was aware of his movements, but he chose not to make a move at all. That fellow is dead meat once we enter the Ursae Dungeon anyway. There’s no reason for me to deal with him right now.
Meanwhile, the academy also began holding selections for the dungeon slots. All fifth rank cultivators received a free pass whereas the others had to undergo an intense tournament to prove themselves qualified.
The dungeon was filled with dangers after all. A weakling who couldn’t protect himself in the dungeon was likely to end up dying in vain.
At the end of the selection, the weakest cultivator to get selected to enter the dungeon was at third rank.
The world of cultivation was truly pragmatic.
Just like what Jiang Luofu had mentioned, chances were reserved only for those who proved themselves worthy. The round of selections ensured that those who could enter were all experts, and the opportunities offered in the dungeon would only further widen the disparity between the strong and the weak. This meant that the weak would never be able to catch up with the footsteps of the strong.
It looks like it’s the same for all worlds, huh? Lag behind others for one step, and you’ll lag behind them your entire life.
Once again, Zu An was gladdened by the connections he had. He was able to reserve a slot for himself without having to undergo the selections at all. Wahahaha!
The morning of the third day, the selected students marched off to the mountain at the back of Brightmoon Academy, a place which was usually forbidden to both students and teachers alike.
A major reason why the royal court had been able to monopolize the dungeons was because most major academies were established in the vicinity of dungeons. There were even some academies where a dungeon was located on the academy compound, and such was the case for Brightmoon Academy.
Dungeons had existed in this world since time immemorial, and the ki around them tended to be far richer. Having academies established near dungeons created favorable cultivation conditions for the students.
There was a clearing in the middle of the bamboo forest behind Brightmoon Academy, where several straw huts stood. In each of these straw huts resided a senior teacher of the academy. It seemed like they were camping out here to guard something.
At the very center of the clearing was a gate-like structure that somewhat resembled a door. Space in the center of this door appeared a little distorted, creating something reminiscent of a vortex.
“This is the entrance into the dungeon. This door usually looks no different from the gates you would see in the city, and only on specific days would you see it in its current state. It should take a while longer before the portal is fully opened.” Chu Chuyan was here with Zu An today. Noticing the curious gleam in his eyes, she began explaining to him how things worked here.
“You seem to be very knowledgeable about all of this. Have you entered this dungeon before?” asked Zu An.
Chu Chuyan shook her head and replied, “This dungeon only opens once every few decades, so it’s my first time here too. It’s a pity that Huanzhao is missing this opportunity due to her injuries.”
Chu Huanzhao wanted to come too, but the injuries she had sustained at the Clans Tournament were simply too severe. Her fighting prowess was only so-so even at her peak condition, let alone in her weakened state. Out of worry for her, Chu Zhongtian and Qin Wanru forbade her from entering the dungeon.
Due to this, she threw quite a huge tantrum. In the end, she forced Zu An to bring back some ‘local specialties’ from the dungeon for her before finally revealing a smile.
“I still don’t understand why you insist on entering this dungeon. You should have heard of the dangers that lurk within dungeons, right?” asked Chu Chuyan.
A smile formed on Zu An’s lips as he replied, “Are you worried about me?”
Chu Chuyan replied impassively, “I’m just giving you a warning lest you die foolishly in there. It would be troublesome for our Chu clan to find another son-in-law!”
“Rest assured, I’m a person born under a lucky star. I’ll definitely be able to walk out of the dungeon alive,” replied Zu An cheekily.
Chu Chuyan turned her head away with a cold harrumph.
“Chuyan, your husband is going in too? Do you need us to look after him as well?” a seductively sweet voice suddenly sounded.
Zu An turned around to take a look, only to find himself faced with huge racks.
Pei Mianman keeps strutting around parading that good figure of hers. Does she not know how embarrassing it is for men to have a bleeding nose in public?!
“There’s no need for that. How can he mature under the protection of others? Besides, he’s entering the dungeon as a teacher. It wouldn’t do for him to be taken care of by his students instead,” replied Chu Chuyan.
“Oh? You’re finally acknowledging that I’m a teacher now, uh? Come, call me Teacher Zu~” said Zu An.
Chu Chuyan choked on her breath. Unable to stand this fellow anymore, she ignored him and stomped away.
“How does it feel to have a beautiful wife whom you can see but not touch?” Pei Mianman walked over to Zu An’s side and asked teasingly.
“Why don’t you let me touch you, and I’ll give you an answer to your question?” replied Zu An.
“Are you cheating on your wife in public? What a horrible man you are~” Pei Mianman giggled softly.
Seeing their interactions, Chu Chuyan frowned a little. “Mianman, what are you doing over there?”
While she didn’t think that she was fond of Zu An, he was still her husband in-name. How could he flirt together with other women right in front of her?
“I’m coming~” replied Pei Mianman. She blinked at Zu An and said, “Your wife is getting jealous. This is a good start. Don’t forget our deal. You need to help me look for my accounting book.”
Leaving behind a peal of seductive laughter that seeped right into one’s bones, she turned around and took her leave. The men in the vicinity felt their hearts tingling in response to her laughter, which induced them to direct irked looks toward Zu An.
Just what’s so great about this guy that he’s able to win the fancy of so many beautiful women?
Shi Kun had also been watching their interaction, and his eyes flickered in worry. “I didn’t think Pei Mianman is on such good terms with that scoundrel. Will she get in the way of our plans?”
Shi Lezhi shook his head and replied, “I don’t think so. However, to be safe, we can get someone to lure her away first before making a move.”
Shi Kun nodded in agreement. “It’s a pity that you aren’t able to enter the dungeon with us, or else assassinating Zu An would have been a walk in the park.”
Shi Lezhi looked at the teachers guarding the dungeon’s portal and said, “Jiang Luofu will be personally standing guard with these teachers while the portal is active in order to prevent unauthorized cultivators from entering the portal and threatening the students. I don’t think it’s possible for me to sneak in under their eyelids. However, the squad we have prepared is more than enough to kill Zu An ten times over, so I reckon that nothing will go wrong.”
“It’s fortunate that we spent a great deal of effort to slip Snow into the academy back then. It looks like we’re finally reaping the fruits of our labor,” replied Shi Kun with a nod.
“Speaking of which, the cultivation technique Snow practices is rather queer. It’s bizarre how no one in the academy has found out about her yet,” remarked Shi Lezhi.
“It seems to be a special ability of her clan. We should ask her more about it after this.” Shi Lezhi looked at a slender figure standing amidst the students with a satisfied smile on his lips. He was confident about his preparations too.
More and more people were gathering in this clearing, and all of them had excited looks on their faces. They were looking forward to entering the dungeon and stumbling upon all sorts of fortuitous encounters. If things go well, it might just spell their rise to greatness.
Zu An noticed that there were quite a few familiar faces amidst the crow, such as Bai Susu, Lu De, Xie Xiu, Wu Qing, Zheng Dan, Ji Xiaoxi, and many others. Of course, there were many more students that he didn’t recognize, but they were likely to be students from the Sky class or Earth class.
Spotting Zheng Dan amidst the crowd, Zu An couldn’t help but wonder why she hadn’t been using her honey trap on him in recent days. News of Mei Chaofeng’s death had already spread far and wide, so it should have been an opportune moment for her to strike so as to claim the businesses of the Plum Blossom Sect. Or was she remaining idle because she thought that the 7,500,000 silver taels debt note had become scrap paper?
Ji Xiaoxi still looks as adorable as ever; it’s just a pity that she’s lathered with poison all over. I can’t even touch her hand.
While scanning through the students, Zu An caught sight of a slender figure dressed in light green. Despite having concealed her face with a translucent veil, the faint outline of facial features left hardly any doubt that she was a beautiful woman.
Who is she? I don’t recall having seen her in the academy before. She’s ravishing.
Hm? Her facial features look a little familiar…
It was also about then that he heard whispers coming from the students around him.
“Waaa, is that the mysterious tenth place of the Sweetheart Ranking?”
“It’s extremely rare to see her at the academy. It looks like she’s finally making an appearance due to the dungeon.”
“Hmm, what’s her name again? Why can’t I remember it?”
“I think she’s called Qiao Xue-something?”
“Isn’t it something Xueying?”
“Nonono, I remember it to be Qiao something-Ying.”
Zu An burst into laughter upon hearing their discussion. Those dunces. If you put it all together, isn’t it just Qiao Xueying? Ah? Why does this name sound so familiar?
Wait a moment, what’s her name again? Why can’t I remember it all of a sudden?
Zu An’s mind suddenly fuzzed out. Many names suddenly popped up in his mind simultaneously, and every single one of them seemed right yet not really so to him, leaving him utterly muddled.
You have successfully trolled Qiao Xueying for +233 Rage!
The sudden notification from the system cleared Zu An’s mind in an instant.
It’s Snow! What is she doing here?
When he spotted Shi Kun earlier, he scanned the latter’s entourage and noticed that Snow was conspicuously missing. It was weird why her name was popping up here all of a sudden.
He began to scan the entire clearing for anyone who could possibly be Snow, and eventually, his eyes fell upon the mysterious tenth place of the Sweetheart Ranking.
For a moment there, he seemed to see rage reflected in her eyes, but it vanished in a split moment that it left him wondering if he was seeing things.
He thought about how Wei Suo was unable to recall the name of the tenth beauty while introducing the top ten of the Sweetheart Ranking to him, and he suddenly noticed something really queer about that. Given Wei Suo’s personality, it was nigh impossible for him to forget the name of a beauty.
Just earlier on, the whispering students knew all of the characters to her name, but for some inexplicable reason, they weren’t able to piece it all together with certainty. Even Zu An himself ended up forgetting the name in a sudden moment of daze.
If not for the system’s notification, he could have ended up like the other students too.
So, the elusive tenth beauty of the academy is actually Snow?!
No matter how wild Zu An’s imagination could have been, there was no way he could have fathomed such a plot development. She’s a maidservant in the Chu clan, but at the same time, she’s also a student in the academy too? How in the world did she manage to do it? Shouldn’t the Chu clan be aware of it too?
In fact, it’s bizarre how someone as meticulous as Chu Chuyan failed to realize that her personal maidservant was her classmate too!
While he was still shocked over this matter, Jiang Luofu suddenly began walking toward the portal. As per usual, her legs veiled in stockings swiftly drew heated gazes from the nearby men. For some reason, she was wearing a pair of glasses today, which had the effect of mellowing down her usual domineering aura to draw out an air of elegance instead.
The crowd immediately fell silent. Other than Zu An, there was hardly anyone who would dare to act unruly in Jiang Luofu’s presence, especially not with that imposing disposition of hers.
Jiang Luofu walked to the front of the crowd and shot a sweeping glance across the students before saying, “There’s still an hour before the Ursae Dungeon opens. Before then, there are some things which I have to remind you of.
“You are elites of the academy, chosen through careful selections. Most of you are ambitious and bear great expectations for the dungeon, hoping to stumble upon all kinds of fortuitous encounters inside. There’s no doubt that there are many opportunities awaiting you, but you ought to know that there are all kinds of dangers lurking within there too. Despite our warnings and the measures put in place, we would still have several casualties each time the dungeon opens. I don’t expect it to be any different for your group. There are bound to be some who would lose their lives inside the dungeon for good.”
Unease appeared on the faces of the crowd as they began whispering softly to one another.Previous Chapter Next Chapter