Both Zhao Xu and Miss Li seemed to be somewhat familiar with the other female students, and there were a group of girls gathered around them, including Lin Qingxue.
“Sister Ruoyan, Sister Qingchen, you’re both here!” Lin Qingxue ran over as soon as she saw them.
“What’s the matter with Miss Zhao and Miss Li?” Lin Qingchen asked before Yun Ruoyan could speak.
When she and Lin Qingxue had been caught by the Chen kingdom team, Zhao Xu was the one who fed them and gave them water. As a result, the Lin siblings didn’t have a bad impression of her. However, the Chen kingdom team had all perished within a beast horde, so how had they emerged unscathed? And how had they managed to gather enough spoils to pass the trial?
According to Lin Qingxue, Zhao Xu and Miss Li had gotten separated from the Chen kingdom team while hunting beasts, and had managed to avoid their fate as a result. The two girls had gotten lost in the forest and wandered deep into it. Even when all the students were sent back to Kongming Academy at the end of the trial, the two girls had somehow been missed.
No one noticed a problem until last afternoon, when Zhao Xu’s brother, Zhao Qiang, was unable to find the two girls among the wounded or the dead. Only when he explained the situation to Cang Song and ended up launching an investigation was it finally determined that the two girls were still within the trial grounds.
Because this was a problem on the academy’s part, both students had been allowed to join the academy as official students.
“Since everyone’s here, let’s head to the great hall now. Follow me.” Shui Yun led the girls toward the great hall—the same location as yesterday, where the induction ceremony would be held.
Having been told that Shui Yun worked with Li Mo, Yun Ruoyan began to get closer to her. “I’d like to see Li Mo. Senior Shui Yun, could you help pass a message for me?” Yun Ruoyan stepped up to her side.
“Of course,” Shui Yun replied. “During the induction ceremony later, Junior Sister, don’t forget about what he told you!”
Miss Li and Zhao Xu were walking behind Yun Ruoyan. As Miss Li’s gaze landed on Yun Ruoyan’s back, she turned to Zhao Xu and commented, “Look at that Yun Ruoyan—she looks like a reserved girl, but she’s just a bootlicker! It’s really quite impressive how close she’s gotten to that senior after such a short period of time.”
“You must be overthinking it,” Zhao Xu replied.
“Miss Zhao, you really are too kind,” Miss Li rebutted. “Whether or not I’m overthinking matters, you’ll find out soon.”
Lin Qingxue had been conversing with some girls next to her and didn’t overhear the conversation, but Lin Qingchen did. She frowned, and her opinion of this Miss Li dropped even further. She didn’t hurt her or Lin Qingxue while they were hostages, but she was indifferent to their plight. Now, it was clear that she was both cold-blooded and narrow-minded!
The six elders remained seated on stage, but the host of the induction ceremony was now Rong Tianhai instead of Cang Song. Seated beside Rong Tianhai were the head disciples of all six elders, along with the instructors of the five colleges. Today, however, an unfamiliar man had joined their ranks. To her surprise, Yun Ruoyan found that this new stranger was none other than Li Mo.
“That instructor wasn’t there yesterday, was he?” a girl exclaimed.
“That’s true, we didn’t see him yesterday. He looks so young!” The female students gradually began to discuss the mysterious stranger. Amidst a crowd of instructors in their thirties, Li Mo’s appearance was particularly eye-catching.
He finally changed his outfit. Yun Ruoyan smirked.
“Sister Ruoyan, isn’t that the Slaughtering King, Li Mo?” Lin Qingxue leaned in close to her and asked.
“You have good eyes, Qingxue,” Yun Ruoyan replied.
“It really is him?!” Lin Qingxue’s eyes widened in shock. “The Slaughtering King’s really impressive! Not only is he a master at fighting, he’s even an instructor at Kongming Academy—and he’s so young, too!”
Few of the male students had seen the Slaughtering King, but Pei Ziao and Wang Meng had both had a close encounter with him. When they entered the hall and saw Li Mo, they were easily as shocked as Lin Qingxue.
Luckily, I didn’t target Yun Ruoyan during the trial. Wang Meng was very grateful that he’d exercised appropriate caution. Otherwise, even if I were lucky enough to end up with the amaranthine sun, I might not be alive to use it…
He’d witnessed for himself how indulgent and protective Li Mo was of Yun Ruoyan, and planned on establishing good relations with her so as to approach Li Mo. Li Mo was a god of slaughter renowned across the entire continent, nobility of the Li kingdom, as well as the head disciple of an elder of Kongming Academy. Was there anyone on the continent who didn’t want to be on good terms with him?
Wang Meng glanced at Pei Ziao, whose face was particularly ugly—partly because he was still recovering from his injuries, but partly from the shock of seeing Li Mo present. Pei Ziao was looking at Yi Qianying from afar, and she turned back to glance at him. The two of them communicated silently with their eyes.
Wang Meng was starting to pity the two of them. After all, he’d investigated their dealings with Yun Ruoyan. Neither Rong Yuehong nor Rong Yueshan had been able to best Yun Ruoyan, and even Wang Meng had lost the amaranthine sun to her. He was certain that, even without Li Mo’s presence, Yun Ruoyan would easily be able to deal with the two of them.
Li Mo sat impassively, not seeming to register the curious glances that almost the entire incoming cohort was shooting at him. From start to finish, he never looked directly at a single person, including Yun Ruoyan.
When Yun Ruoyan saw his behavior, she too did the same. Everyone could pretend to be aloof and uncaring!
“The induction ceremony will now begin.” Rong Tianhai was far more severe than Cang Song, and he got straight to business. Each student would walk to the front of the great hall and deposit their identification token in one of the four crystal jars present: north, south, east, and west, one for each of the cardinal directions.
“Where’s the central college?” a student asked.
“You may choose which college you would like to join, but whether you ultimately end up in the college is at the discretion of that college’s instructor. All those who fail their instructor’s examination will be assigned to the central college,” Rong Tianhai continued.
“Ah? Doesn’t that mean the central college is for failures?” someone squawked. “I don’t want to be in that college!”
None of the incoming students knew of this rule, and Yun Ruoyan had never heard Li Mo bring it up. However, given that he had advised her to pick the southern college, she would follow his advice. Likely, Li Mo would be the instructor of the southern college.
Confident of her hypothesis, Yun Ruoyan told the Lin cousins to pick the southern college as well. Zhuo Yifeng was quite some distance away, but Yun Ruoyan didn’t have to worry about him; she knew he would pick the same college she did.
Yi Qianying raised her head and glanced at Rong Tianhai, who stood at the podium, before turning to Pei Ziao. She stepped forward and placed her token in the jar for the northern college, and Pei Ziao followed suit.
Yun Ruoyan was just about to place her own token in the southern college’s jar when a white-robed elder called out, “Hold on!”
The tall, thin second elder walked to Rong Tianhai’s side, glancing at Yun Ruoyan with eyes like a hawk’s. Perhaps because he didn’t tend to smile, his facial features were stiff and menacing. That severe face then burst into a sudden smile.
“Little miss, you might be unfamiliar with the rules of Kongming Academy,” the second elder began. “Since you received the amaranthine sun, then you have to join my pillmaster institution. The northern college is led by my head disciple, Rong Tianhai. You’ll have to study under him before joining my tutelage, so choose the northern college.”
Yun Ruoyan was a little stupefied by the sudden announcement, and her hand stilled above the southern college’s jar.
“Second Elder, you can’t be serious.” The fourth elder also stood up. Somewhat corpulent, he looked like a wintermelon when he stood, but his voice rang loud and powerful.
“There’s no rule that claims that all pillmasters must join the northern college, nor that all students talented at pillmaking must join your pillmaster institution.”
“No formal rule, perhaps, but all students should focus on their specialties. Those possessing talent in pillmaking naturally should choose to join the pillmaster institution,” the third elder interrupted. He and the second elder were jointly responsible for the pillmaster institution.
The fourth elder strode forward. “All six of us are talented in at least three different areas, and I believe my accomplishments in pillmaking aren’t far inferior to yours, Second Elder. Particularly talented students should focus on multiple disciplines, not just one. In that case…”
The fourth elder turned to Yun Ruoyan with a grand flourish. “In that case, young lady, you should join the western college. I can teach you in any cultivation-related discipline you might be interested in.”
“Young lady, you might also consider my eastern college,” the kindly fifth elder added.
Yun Ruoyan was keenly aware that these elders were all interested in her sage-grade amaranthine sun, not in her own potential as a student. In Kongming Academy, all students’ spoils in trials of any sort were to be considered their own, so no matter how precious the amaranthine sun was, it was hers and hers alone. However, Yun Ruoyan could circumvent the rule by handing over the herb of her own accord. She was certain that, no matter which college she ultimately entered, the elder in charge would find some reason to ask for the herb.
Naturally, it would be most advantageous for her to join the southern college, as Li Mo had advised. However, doing so would offend all the other elders, potentially making her life very difficult in the future.Previous Chapter Next Chapter