Chapter 548 - Dreams of Rank 40

 Chapter 548 - Dreams of Rank 40

Half a year flew by like the wind. 

Na’er sat at a stone table tucked away at the edges of Spirit Ice Plaza, swinging her legs gently in the air. Her dress, long and well-fitting, allowed a glimpse of the fair skin below her thighs. Her hair was draped over her back, silver strands gently swaying as a breeze passed by. She angled her face toward the twilight sky. “Big Brother, when are you leaving?” 

Also enjoying the view above, Tang Wulin turned to Na’er and answered, “I’m not sure. Probably in the next few days.”

“Oh… Teacher wouldn’t let me go with you.” Na’er pouted. 

Tang Wulin chuckled and ruffled her hair. “It’s not like I’m going away forever. I’ll be back in a year.” 

But that didn’t seem to alleviate her concerns. Her expression became morose. ”Are you really going to leave me all alone here? We don’t know what things are like in Star Luo either. I’m worried.”

Tang Wulin’s playful smile melted into one of warmth as he began stroking her hair. “Na’er, be good for me. Everything has already been decided.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, how’s your one-word battle armor coming along?” 

Na’er shook her head and sighed. “I’m still missing the last piece.” 

“Good luck with it. I know you can do it! And who knows, by the time your Big Bro returns, maybe I’ll already be a one-word battle armor master!” Tang Wulin grinned, and Na’er couldn’t help but grin as well. 

“No way that’ll happen,” She cocked her brow. “You still only have one piece of armor! How could you possibly finish a complete set in one year?”

“Psh. Ever heard of talent?” 

Na’er giggled. “Big Brother, when did you become so arrogant? You haven’t even reached rank 40 yet. And you’ve been so busy lately that you haven’t even had any time to play with me. Jeez. How far are you from breaking through?” 

Feeling the heat on him, Tang Wulin nervously laughed. “I’m at rank 38. Still got two more ranks to go. Uh… I’m a late bloomer, you know? That’s why my cultivation is slow.” This matter had been giving him a headache for the past six months. Despite all his efforts, he was still chasing after rank 39. He had hoped to make rank 40 by the time he left for the exchange. That way he could officially become a sixth-rank blacksmith and nab a second spirit soul for a fourth soul ring. But looking at the few days he had left, that hope was impossible. Which was a shame, since simply by raising his soul power rank, these strength bottlenecks would have been eliminated. 

Meanwhile, his comrades had all made good progress. Yuanen Yehui had the highest cultivation at rank 45. Gu Yue and Yue Zhengyu tied for second at rank 44. Ye Xinglan sat comfortably at rank 43, and Xie Xie, Xu Xiaoyan, and Xu Lizhi all achieved rank 42. In contrast, he the captain was a whopping four ranks below the weakest of his friends! 

Ever since they had broken rank 40, his comrades saw their strength skyrocket. On the other hand, Tang Wulin made little progress even after pushing himself hard to grow his soul power. The only significant growth he saw was in his blood essence, which became even more vigorous than before. As time passed and he continued making little progress, his fear of getting left behind grew greater and greater. Thinking about this was a surefire way to depress his mood.

“Don’t worry about it! I’m sure you’ll break through soon enough! Just think about how awesome you’ll be once you get your fourth ring!” Na’er beamed. 

Tang Wulin perked up immediately, her words hitting their mark. As he broke more of the seals on the Golden Dragon King, his soul power evolved. Although it didn’t increase quantitatively, it grew more dense and solid. The pure white soul power he cultivated with the Mysterious Heaven Method was now a golden liquid energy. So even though he was only at rank 38, his combat strength was no weaker than that of his companions. The real problem was that although his foundation was solid, his low soul power rank prevented him from breaking through to the next level in any of his other skills. 

“Then I’ll take your words to heart and be hopeful.” Tang Wulin had been thirsting for rank 40 for a long time now, eager to become stronger and gain the qualifications to become a one-word battle armor master. 

At that moment, Tang Wulin’s communicator rang. He whipped it out and smiled when he saw the number of the caller. It was Mu Chen. 

“Hello Teacher Mu,” Tang Wulin answered. 

“Are you on campus?” Mu Chen asked in his clear and calm voice. 

“Yes, Teacher.” 

“Come to the front gates,” Mu Chen said.

“Okay. I’ll be there in a moment.” Tang Wulin hung up the call, turning to Na’er. “Teacher Mu is here so I need to go see him. You’re going back to the inner court now?”

“Yeah…” Na’eer said somewhat reluctantly. 

“Great!” Flashing a smile, Tang Wulin waved goodbye and ran off for the campus gates without another glance. 

As Na’er watched Tang Wulin leave, a voice snapped her out of her longing gaze. “It’s impossible for you to go with him.”

Na’er turned around. Standing right before her was Gu Yue, the latter’s eyes shining bright. Na’er pushed down on the stone table and rose to her feet. She climbed on top of the table. “Why not? Don’t you know what love is?” Her words dripped with ire. 

Gu Yue met Na’er’s gaze in silence. Faced with no counterattack, Na’er quickly regained her calm. She shot Gu Yue a glare then jumped down, her hair waving as she stormed off. 

When Na’er’s figure could no longer be seen, Gu Yue finally moved from her spot. Alone in this corner of the Spirit ice Plaza, she allowed herself one soft muttering of a sentence.

“Do I know what love is?” 

☀ 

Tang Wulin reached the front gates in a flash. To his surprise, it wasn’t just Mu Chen waiting for him at the gate. Zhen Hua was present as well. Upon seeing Tang Wulin, Zhen Hua grinned, his eyes lighting up with his face. Tang Wulin hurried over to greet them. “Teacher! Uncle-master!” 

Mu Chen smiled. “That was fast. I thought you would be another couple of minutes.” 

Tang Wulin laughed bashfully. “Why are you two here? If there’s something you wanted, you could have just called me and I would have went over to you.”

“Private matters shouldn’t be discussed at the Association,” Mu Chen said. 

“Private matters?” Tang Wulin raised a brow. 

Mu Chen glanced at Zhen Hua, passing the ball to him. 

“We’re here this time to give you a gift,” Zhen Hua said as he held out his right hand to Tang Wulin. Sitting in his palm was a white badge. Six twinkling stars graced its surface. 

“This…” Tang Wulin’s jaw dropped as he looked back and forth between the badge and Zhen Hua. “But Uncle-master, I haven’t reached the sixth rank yet!” 

Zhen Hua smiled wryly. “Actually, common sense would dictate that you’ve long since earned the qualifications to call yourself a sixth-rank blacksmith. It was only because of your weak soul power that you haven’t been able to make the last step. Once you achieve a breakthrough, spirit refining should be easy for you. Your foundation is more than sturdy enough now. You’re about to leave for Star Luo for a whole year, so I’m sure you’ll be able to break rank 40 sometime during that. That’s why I decided to award you your badge now. I’m certain you’ll have earned it by the time you return.” 

“Take it,” Mu Chen urged. “Your Uncle-master personally forged it for you.” There was a sour note in his voice with the last few words. He had no choice but to admit that he couldn’t compare with Zhen Hua as a blacksmith. There was no competing with the only living Divine Blacksmith!  

“Thank you, Uncle-master! Thank you, Teacher!”  Tang Wulin bowed his head low. It was unprecedented for the President of the Blacksmith’s Association to personally forge the badge for a sixth-rank blacksmith. And to award it early too! 

“Be safe and quickly make a breakthrough in your cultivation,” Zhen Hua said, tone hardening. “Again, your foundation is superb, but your soul power is lagging behind. If your soul power is still growing so slowly when you return from Star Luo, we’ll help you think of a method to fix that.”

“Thank you, Uncle-master.” Tang Wulin understood just what methods Zhen Hua was alluding to, but he didn’t want to walk that path. He still wanted to progress solely with his own efforts. 

In the past year, Tang Wulin may not have increased his soul power much, but his soul power perception skills had improved and his understanding of his bluesilver grass had deepened. If he used heavenly treasures to boost his cultivation, the cultivation foundation would definitely suffer. 

Zhen Hua’s stern expression melted back into a kind smile. “I’m sure you’ll encounter a few nice surprises during your trip to Star Luo.” 

“Nice surprises? What?” Tang Wulin furrowed his brow inquisitively. 

Zhen Hua smirked. “I shouldn’t ruin the surprise for you. You’ll find out soon enough, so just be patient.” 

Tang Wulin looked to Mu Chen in an appeal for help. Unfortunately for him, Mu Chen merely shook his head and gave a mysterious smile of his own.

“Well then, that’s about everything. We should get going now,” Said Zhen Hua. “Have a good trip!” With that he and Mu Chen left together.

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