Chapter 100: Student
The voice reverberated through the entire audience. Everyone was stunned speechless by these words, yet their silence did not last long. Soon after, a murmur erupted as everyone began discussing the rewards.
The first place reward was simply inconceivable. To think that the famous and secretive Immortal Valley Guardians were going to allow an outsider to enter among them was something they had never thought possible. Had they known that this was the prize, then they would have told their geniuses to win at any cost. However, in hindsight, they could only sigh, knowing that it was highly unlikely for them to defeat Xu Min and take his ranking as number one.
"Perhaps the prize was chosen based on the fact that this guy was unaffiliated with the major powers within the Immortal Ruins. It could be that they refuse to take in someone who is part of a sect or a family, which would cause someone to have split loyalties." Somebody mused. His voice was just audible enough for others to hear, and many felt that this was logical.
Getting past their surprise over the reward for the first rank, the congregation was also surprised by the items that the second and third place were granted. "The prizes this year were simply outstanding. Considering all the wealth they had most likely accumulated through their travels in the Immortal Valley alongside these pills or heavenly treasures, they will turn into true peerless geniuses that can fight even those above their rank."
Many sighed in despair. Dong Qi and his Swordsplitter Sect were allied with the Ouyang Family, and both of these geniuses would traverse the world unlike any had before them.
"To have gained a hundred spirit pills, it would not be impossible for Ouyang Xiu easily to break into the sixth star. It might even be possible for him to become a seven-star Warrior," an Ouyang member said excitedly. His words sent waves through the audience, causing some to feel pressure and others to feel excitement depending on their relationship with the Ouyang Family.
"Spirit pills raised a cultivator’s base level of strength, but a heavenly treasure can burst out with strength and increase their offensive or defensive power. Some heavenly treasures can even protect the user against an immortal's attacks for ten breaths of time!" Someone from the Swordsplitter sect exclaimed.
"It is a shame that younger brother Dong was unable to acquire the spirit pills. Nevertheless, acquiring two heavenly treasures will be able to help him survive when he goes out traveling."
While everyone in the audience was either discussing the prizes and what effect it would have on the future for the Immortal Ruins, Xu Min was quiet and contemplative. He was thinking about what to do. He had hoped to ally himself with some major force and seek tutelage from them, but now it seemed he had been offered a position in one of the most prestigious schools in the entire Immortal Ruins.
However, Xu Min was rather cautious when it came to his future. He could not understand why he had been offered such a high position when he had done nothing to deserve. If it had been standard practice for them to accept students, then he would not have hesitated. Nonetheless, hearing that they never before had allowed for outsiders to enter made him worried about what exactly could be the cause of this sudden interest in him.
By his side, Ye Ling was standing still. He looked at the cloaked Guardians, and a pondering look appeared in his eyes. Seeing this expression, Xu Min was curious as to what his companion was thinking, but he did not ask. This place was not the best location for conversation.
To gain something, I need to give something, Xu Min thought to himself and sighed. Let us try and see what these Guardians of Immortal Valley can do for me. Then I will decide if we are going to stay in this school or not. "If it can benefit me and help me improve, then I am more than willing to become part of their school. If they limit my future progress and try to keep me from getting revenge, then I will leave this school!" He pondered the pros and cons.
Having reached a decision, Xu Min no longer lingered on the thought of what to do. Instead he focused fully on what was happening around him. He saw many joyful faces, some troubled, and others that were filled with grief and hate.
A Guardian appeared with three storage treasures within his hands. One was a bottle that he gifted to Ouyang Xiu, with the number of spirit pills promised inside.
The second item was a bracelet of some kind; Dong Qi accepted it humbly.
The final item was a ring, and this ring was gifted to Xu Min. It was a slim ring with a black stone embedded on the top. Accepting the ring, Xu Min did not know if he was supposed to look through it or not, but he refrained from expecting it after seeing how the two others also refrained from searching through their storage treasures.
"I declare this Immortal Valley Ranking as ended. You can come and collect the corpses of your participants if they are in a decent condition. Those who are dismembered or have in other way been impossible for us to identify will be burned and have their ashes scattered over the Immortal Valley."
He turned around. The unceremonious ending was apparently the same every time. The audience started to stand up. Everyone was extra slow as they watched the guardian move to Xu Min's side and gesture for the younger man to follow him.
Xu Min, who had made his decision to follow the Guardians and see what this school was like, respectfully tagged along. He nodded a goodbye to Ouyang Xiu, who gave him a thumbs up and a pearlescent smile.
"This is great," Ouyang mumbled, "To think that I will have a good relationship with someone from the Guardians of the Immortal Valley. This will prove to be even more beneficial in the future than when he was a wandering cultivator." Pondering for a little and looking around, Ouyang Xiu still saw reverence and slight fear in the eyes of people as they looked at Xu Min. Ouyang Xiu could not help but wonder what exactly was the reason for this look. He made a note to ask the elders of his family later on when they were on their way back home to the Ouyang Family.
Xu Min and Ye Ling were both following behind this cloaked man, keeping a slight distance and saying absolutely nothing. It was not that Xu Min had no questions, but he was uncertain of how and when to ask them.
What Xu Min had most in mind was thoughts of Cao Cao. They had been separated for a whole year, and he was worried how this snake friend of his was doing. Had he been mistreated while the Immortal Valley Ranking had been underway? Had he been given enough food? Where was he? There were many questions. But no matter how much he thought about it, there was no polite way to ask these questions. As a result, Xu Min kept quiet.
Glancing behind him, the Guardian had an approving smile on his face, hidden beneath the cloak; he led Xu Min to a few old buildings. These old buildings were tightly protected by Guardians, and their auras were so overwhelming that Xu Min had never experienced anything like it before.
The style of these buildings was similar to that of the Blood Pagoda. All of them were multiple stories tall, and a powerful aura was permanently emitting out from each one. Xu Min was amazed at the sight of this. However, he keenly understood even though it was grand and beautiful, it was far from big enough to house a whole sect. This was likely just the entrance into the real school.
In tow behind the Guardian, they easily entered the middle mansion, the largest of them all. Many Guardians were stationed outside this mansion, and all of them were looking at Xu Min. It was impossible for him to decipher their expressions since everyone of them hid beneath a cloak, completely covering their faces. Nonetheless, he felt no hostility only curiosity.
They went through one corridor after another, past door after door. Finally, they reached a large room where the Guardian in front stopped, causing both Xu Min and Ye Ling to stop in their tracks as well.
"Please enter," the Guardian said as he stepped aside. His voice was playful and contained some excitement. From the voice, it was clear he had a favorable opinion of Xu Min.
Xu Min instantly felt much more at ease hearing the friendly voice. Without delay, he and Ye Ling entered through the massive set of double doors.
His mouth opened upon entering. He was standing in a chamber where the ceiling was a complete manifestation of the sky above; the sun shone, and the clouds gently flowed. Even the heat this sun radiated was as real as the one outside the mansion.
The floor was filled with rows of meditation mats on either side of him. As he walked forward, he saw that the prayer mats were occupied by Guardians here and there, meditating silently.
The end of the chamber was raised by fifteen steps, elongating up towards a platform housing a conclave of Guardians. Six guardians were standing on either side. In the middle was a throne-like chair where a final guardian was seated.
While most of these guardians, except the masked ones, had black hair, this one person had hair that was as silver as the most beautiful rays of moonlight.
From this, Xu Min could guess that the man was older than the others. The imposing aura that he possessed was so overwhelming even Xu Min felt it impossible to breathe.
Reaching the foot of the stairs, Xu Min did not ascend them. Instead, he knelt down. These were his elders; all of them had the power to kill him with but a thought. Showing respect to such astonishing figures was no disgrace.
"Arise, Child," the seated figure spoke out. His voice did not contain any Qi, but it still felt as sharp as a knife that cut deep into Xu Min's body, filling him with a boundless strength.
Xu Min did not ask any questions but quickly followed the order. He stood upright and looked on at these experts, uncertain as to what was expected of him.
"We have invited you to join our faction. Although we have never done so before, you have something that we are searching for. Furthermore, you will be able to truly flourish in our school."
"We will not force you to join us. It will be hard for you, both mentally and physically. However, I believe you have what it takes to become an unmatched expert soaring in the skies." The elder kept talking. Every word of his caused Xu Min's blood to boil.
A place where he could flourish? A place with not only benefits but also challenges. Was this not what he had been looking for all this time?
"Honorable Elders, please allow for this lowly one to become a disciple of the Guardians of the Immortal Valley," he said as he bowed three times towards the ground.
Seeing this reaction, they were all initially stunned, yet they soon smiled in approval beneath their cloaks. Even a few of the elders physical showed their approval by nodding.
"Follow Master Mu Zi. He will take you to the academy and teach you all you need to know." The seated elder beckoned Xu Min to come with his hand. One of the twelve elders by his side stepped forward. This elder bowed to the others and turned to leave. Around this man’s neck was a small green snake with an indescribably excited expression on its face.
This is it, Xu Min thought to himself. This is my new beginning to life; a new chance to become strong enough to get revenge!
As Xu Min thought so to himself, his fists clenched. With a bow to the elders, he turned around and followed obediently behind the elder named Mu Zi.