Chapter 77: The Right to Enter Dungeons

“The hell! The royal court is actually that domineering?” remarked Zu An. 

He didn’t have any notions of the royal court’s power thus far, but Divine Physician Ji’s words gave him some gauge of just how powerful the Great Zhou Dynasty was.

Just from the sound of it, dungeons were likely to be places filled with fortuitous encounters and treasures. Cultivators who went in probably had a good chance of significantly raising their prowess. Yet, the royal court actually monopolized these invaluable resources.

This tyranny would probably be met with great objections from sects and unaffiliated cultivators, and there would likely be many fights over it. Nevertheless, the royal court still managed to hold control of it, and everyone else was forced to acknowledge it.

Either you submit to the royal court and join the academy, or else don’t even dream of coveting the treasures in the dungeons.

“Why do you think most of the experts in the world decided to take on roles in the royal court?” Ji Dengtu chuckled in response.

“Wait a moment, that isn’t right.” Zu An suddenly noticed a gap in logic. “Based on what you’ve said, the dungeons have already existed for a long time now. If cultivators have been visiting dungeons since the inception of time, surely all of the resources should have been emptied out by now?”

Ji Dengtu shook his head and explained, “You’re underestimating the scale of the dungeons. These dungeons are independent worlds with rules of their own, and many of them are of a size comparable to our world.

“They have their own complete ecosystems, so many of the items in dungeons would regrow over time. It’s similar to how an apple tree doesn’t stop bearing fruit just because you pluck off an apple from it.”

“But if cultivators abuse the resources, they would still eventually run out,” said Zu An. 

If the dungeons were under his control, he would have made sure to scrape out all of their resources to benefit himself. He didn’t believe that there was no other cultivator before him who harbored such thoughts.

“As I have told you, these dungeons are complete worlds of their own. There are even dungeons with different maps appearing randomly at times, such that only a very small part of them had been explored to date. It’s simply not possible to empty out their resources.” Ji Dengtu rolled his eyes. “Besides, dungeons don’t just remain constantly open. Most of them only open once in several years, and the duration they remain open can range from several days to several months.” 

Zu An nodded in realization. “So, you want me to enter the Ursus Dungeon to find the Evancescent Lotus? Based on what you’ve said, the Evanescent Lotus should be an incredibly valuable resource coveted by many experts. How could someone like me possibly snatch it under the eyelids of those experts?”

Ji Dengtu waved your hands. “You really are ignorant. In dungeons, it’s not the strongest person who stumbles upon fortuitous encounters; it’s the one who is blessed with luck. As long as you’re lucky enough, the item will naturally appear right before you.

“There are strong people who are born with bad luck, resulting in them missing by many fortuitous encounters. That being said, most experts do have good luck, or else they wouldn’t have been able to attain the strong power they boast.”

A bitter look surfaced on Zu An’s face. Had he known that this would be the case, he would have never wasted his Fortune Pill on the casino. He was really feeling deeply regretful.

Noticing the look on Zu An’s face, Ji Dengtu thought that he was worried about this matter, so he consoled, “Don’t worry, I can tell that you’re a person with great luck. After all, despite being an utter good-for-nothing, you were still chosen by Chu First Miss as her husband. As long as you can earn the rights to enter the dungeon, you might just be able to get something good out of it.”

One thing that Ji Dengtu had neglected to mention was that something as valuable as the Evanescent Lotus was bound to be extremely rare. The chances of finding it were equivalent to trying to find a single needle in the vast ocean. In fact, he didn’t think that it was possible for Zu An to obtain it at all. The only reason why he was saying all of this was so as to not tarnish his reputation.

I have already given you the treatment method. There’s nothing I can do if you can’t find the last ingredient required, so don’t point your fingers at me.

Ji Dengtu thought about the booklet he had just received, and he suddenly felt a bit conscience-stricken. So, he took out a blue pill from his robe and passed it to Zu An. “This is the Spirit Root Unsealing Pill that I forged using the other 80 medicinal herbs. All that’s lacking is just the Evanescent Lotus. It’d be hard for you to bring the Evanescent Lotus to me before it withers, so you should bring this blue pill around with you instead. All you have to do is to swallow the blue pill and the Evanescent Lotus simultaneously, and you’ll be able to release your seal.”

Zu An carefully received the blue pill before looking at Ji Dengtu warily. “I don’t know much about medicine, but are you sure you aren’t toying with me? Aren’t you supposed to forge the ingredients together in a cauldron together for it to work properly? Will it really work if I just eat the two of them simultaneously?”

“Are you casting doubt over my professionalism as a physician?” Ji Dengtu glared at Zu An imposingly. “Who do you think I am? Don’t put me on the same level as those inept physicians out there! Medicinal herbs like the Evanescent Lotus shouldn’t be refined. Trying to do so would only cause it to lose its medicinal properties for nothing!”

Zu An was still a little skeptical about this all. “Is it possible that the Evanescent Lotus is all it takes to release my seal, and your so-called Sealing Pill is just for show?”

Ji Dengtu was deeply offended by Zu An’s words. His hand swiped forward to snatch the blue pill back. “If you don’t want it, give it back to me!”

“I’m just joking~” Zu An quickly stowed the blue pill away in his robe before smiling back at Ji Dengtu.

Ji Dengtu harrumphed impatiently. “If not for the booklet you have offered me earlier on, I wouldn’t have even given you the pill! Speaking of which, do you have more of such stories? Why don’t you give them to me as a sign of respect for your elders?” 

You old pervert, Zu An thought. Of course, he didn’t allow his true thoughts to show on his face. “Why don’t you finish this story first, and I’ll think of more later on?”

Naturally, he shouldn’t give out everything in one shot. There could be occasions where he would require Ji Dengtu’s help in the future, so it would be better to drop the bait slowly.

Upon learning that Zu An had more of such stories in his arsenal, Ji Dengtu’s face immediately blossomed into a smile. “Wonderful! Even though you might be inept in certain aspects, your weaknesses are made up by your talent in this field. I see a brilliant future ahead of you, lad!”

Zu An’s face darkened. Are you sure you aren’t insulting me here?

“Ah, I nearly forgot.” Ji Dengtu suddenly recalled something. “Rather than worrying about whether you’re able to find the Evanescent Lotus inside the Ursus Dungeon, I believe that what you should be worrying about is whether you can even enter the dungeon at all.”

“Ah?” Zu An was taken aback. “But I’m a student of Brightmoon Academy though. There are still restrictions despite that?”

“Of course!” Ji Dengtu stared at Zu An as if he was an idiot. “Even though dungeons tend to be fraught with dangers, it’s filled with fortuitous encounters, so it’s a place where almost all cultivators look forward to. There are simply far too many people coveting a limited resource here, so naturally, some restrictions have to be put in place.

“A prefectural dungeon is usually controlled by the academy nearest to it, but as you say, a prefecture has many academies. These academies would usually send their students over prior to the opening of the dungeon, and out of fairness, they would hold a selection tournament to decide on the slots.”

Zu An immediately raged upon hearing those words. “Aren’t you making a fool of me here? A selection tournament? How can I possibly have the ability to win something like that?”

He had managed to secretly raise his cultivation to the third rank thus far, but he was well aware that there were plenty of fifth rank and fourth rank cultivators in Brightmoon Academy. Furthermore, the students from the other academies in the prefecture would be participating in the selection tournament as well. Unless he were to reveal all of his trump cards, he stood no chance at all.

However, it wasn’t his way of life to reveal all of the trump cards he had. Doing so would only expose his means to his enemies.

On top of that, Ji Dengtu wasn’t aware that Zu An was able to cultivate. In other words, the other party had told him about the Evanescent Lotus knowing that it was hopeless for him.

“Calm down, calm down!” said Ji Dengtu sheepishly. “Even though it’s not too possible for you, you do have a capable wife. Chu First Miss can be said to be one of the most outstanding cultivators amongst the younger generation. There’s no doubt that she would be able to get into the dungeon. So, you can just get her to find the Evanescent Lotus for you.”

Black streaks crossed Zu An’s face. “As you said, the Evanescent Lotus is an incredible treasure which even a single petal could raise one’s cultivation by a step. Even if she manages to find it, she would just eat it for herself.”

“Aren’t you her husband? If her husband is ailing, it’s her duty to help you. Does she really intend to live her life as an old maid?”

Zu An glared at Ji Dengtu sharply. If he was strong enough, he might have just slit the latter’s throat there and then. This bastard was really stabbing at all of his sore spots.

“But again, it probably isn’t a wise decision to count on your wife. Couples tend to split up in the face of adversary after all.” Ji Dengtu suddenly changed his tune. “However, you do have other means. Take for example, big-breasted Pei from Brightmoon Academy… Ah, I mean Pei Mianman, isn’t she interested in you too? If you can’t count on your wife, you should turn to your lover instead then. She’ll surely be willing to help you.”

Ji Xiaoxi had told Ji Dengtu about the events that had transpired in the academy, and to be honest, he was quite impressed with Zu An. “I must say, you are quite a wild guy. Despite being inept down there, you were still able to win the affection of so many beauties. If you don’t mind, why don’t you share your secret with me?”

Zu An’s veins began popping out of his temple. You just have to keep mocking me, huh? Just you wait! I’ll remember this! Once I recover from my affliction, I’ll make sure to dig up all of your old wounds and slather salt over them! 

Of course, he dared not to say these words right in front of him.

Ji Dengtu realized that Zu An wasn’t responding well to his teasing, so he gradually grew bored of it. “Oh right, I nearly forgot. The Chu clan invited me here to treat your injuries.”

As he spoke, he began to inspect Zu An’s body while clicking his tongue in wonderment. “There’s really something weird about your body. Ordinary humans would have already died by now if they were to suffer such severe injuries, but you’re still alive and kicking. On top of that, the speed of your natural recovery seems to be much faster than average too.”

Zu An was a little surprised to hear that. This should be the effects of the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra, I guess. This is a skill that relies on getting hurt to grow stronger, so it’s bound to have some effects relating to recovery too. Otherwise, practitioners of this skill would never live to the day they become strong.

Ji Dengtu prescribed some medicine before leaving with an excited look on his face. He was in a rush to enjoy the little booklet he had just obtained.

After Ji Dengtu’s departure, Zu An fell into deep thoughts. How can I earn the right to enter the dungeon and find the Evanescent Lotus?

A while later, his lips gradually curled into a smile… 

… 

The following morning, Zu An struggled up from his bed, insisting on heading to the academy. Chu Zhongtian and Qin Wanru were very pleased to see his proactive attitude toward learning, and for once, they felt that there was hope for him. However, they were still quite worried about Zu An’s injuries, so they called the estate’s physician over to take a look at him.

Astonishingly, they found that Zu An had already mostly recovered from his injuries.

“Hm. It looks like Ji Dengtu’s reputation wasn’t just hearsay.” There was no way Chu Zhongtian could have imagined that this was the result of Zu An’s cultivation technique, so he attributed the credit to Ji Dengtu.

Qin Wanru chuckled softly and said, “But you weren’t willing to let him enter the estate back then.”

“That fellow keeps eyeing you with a licentious gaze. How can I possibly allow him to enter the estate?” Chu Zhongtian harrumphed coldly.

“Aiyo~ Are you getting jealous over here?” Qin Wanru gently nudged Chu Zhongtian as her cheeks burned up slightly.

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