Chapter 221: Strike

“Qingxue, stay with your sisters. My decision is firm, and I’m going to go find the first and sixth elders now.”

Zhuo Yifeng walked out of the cottage.

“Brother Zhuo!” Lin Qingxue followed him out.

“Qingxue…” Lin Qingchen was worried that Lin Qingxue would really switch colleges with Zhuo Yifeng in a fit of passion, then regret her decision later. She reached out to pull her back, but Yun Ruoyan stopped her.

“Let her go, or she won’t stop trying.” Yun Ruoyan looked at Lin Qingchen’s anxious expression and comforted her, “Don’t worry, Zhuo Yifeng surely won’t let Qingxue transfer colleges with him.”

Yun Ruoyan watched on as their silhouettes vanished into the distance, sighing. Once Zhuo Yifeng had set his mind on something, he wouldn’t ever change his mind. The day they were choosing their colleges, everyone’s gaze was on her. She was so occupied that she hadn’t thought about the grudge between Zhuo Yifeng and Li Mo.

After thinking back about the event, she had even thought that Zhuo Yifeng was relieved to have chosen the southern college in the end. Had something happened over the holidays?

Lin Qingxue ran forward to catch up with Zhuo Yifeng, who was walking away at a rapid pace. “Brother Zhuo, won’t you stay? Isn’t it good to have all of us together?”

“I can never forgive Li Mo for slaughtering my tribe,” Zhuo Yifeng said resolutely, not slowing down. “Initially, I thought I would be able to accept having Li Mo as my instructor, but I overestimated my own tolerance.”

“But Brother Zhuo, Sister Ruoyan said that the Slaughtering King wouldn’t be the only instructor! Couldn’t you learn from the other instructors? You don’t have to change your college!” Lin Qingxue tugged on Zhuo Yifeng’s sleeve, not wanting to give up.

Zhuo Yifeng had no choice but to stop.

“The central college is so far away from the southern college! It’ll be hard for me to go see you in the future, and I still want to learn more about archery from you, and…”

“Qingxue, let go.” Zhuo Yifeng steadied his resolve and replied firmly, “I didn’t have to tell any of you about my decision, but since we’re all friends, I felt obligated to do so. Qingxue, if you still treat me as a friend, please respect my decision.”

“Who wants to be your friend?!” In her anger, Lin Qingxue found the courage to bare her heart to Zhuo Yifeng. “Brother Zhuo, after so long, haven’t you noticed that I like you?! I want to be with you, now and always!”

Lin Qingxue’s loud proclamation left Zhuo Yifeng shell-shocked. His large eyes, bright and clear, grew even larger and brighter as he stood in stunned silence. Although Lin Qingxue was carefree and outgoing, she was still a girl. Revealing such a personal secret had caused her to blush immediately.

Although Zhuo Yifeng was shocked by her confession, he wasn’t surprised. After all, he wasn’t a fool: anyone could tell that Lin Qingxue liked him, and even Lin Zainan had spoken with him about the matter.

Lin Zainan told Zhuo Yifeng that, if he would be willing to treat Lin Qingxue well, the Lin family wouldn’t care for his status or ancestry. Zhuo Yifeng had refused him politely; Lin Zainan then advised that he not keep stringing her along.

However, Zhuo Yifeng wasn’t adept at interacting with others, and he didn’t know how best to reject Lin Qingxue’s advances. From then on, he had tried to distance himself from Lin Qingxue, but she continued latching onto him as though she hadn’t noticed his actions. This had frustrated Zhuo Yifeng for quite some time.

It seemed time to end things once and for all.

“Qingxue, I’m only an orphaned beastkin. Being friends with all of you has been a great fortune to me,” Zhuo Yifeng began. “But I can’t accept your liking me.”

“You’re you, no matter what! I like you just for being yourself, and I don’t care if you’re a beastkin or a human!” Lin Qingxue hurriedly interjected.

“Qingxue, don’t be foolish.” Zhuo Yifeng chuckled bitterly. “Not only am I a beastkin, I’m willing to give up my life for revenge. Someone like me doesn’t deserve to be liked. My heart’s dead, my emotions locked away—how can someone driven by revenge reciprocate your love? Please, let go.”

“But… but… B-Brother Zhuo, I still like you no matter what!” Lin Qingxue’s eyes were filling with tears.

“You’re a lovely girl.” Zhuo Yifeng pried away Lin Qingxue’s fingers, one at a time. “I’m sure you’ll find a perfect man for you, but that man won’t be me.”

He began walking away at an even more rapid pace.

“Brother Zhuo!” Lin Qingxue called out to Zhuo Yifeng’s fleeing form. “Brother Zhuo, you’re the only one I like! You’re the only one I care about!”

“What’s the matter, Qingxue?” Zhao Xu, who had been taking a morning walk, came over upon hearing Lin Qingxue’s sobbing. She was sitting on the ground, paralyzed.

Beside Zhao Xu were two other students: Zhao Xu’s brother, Zhao Qiang, and Zhao Xu’s good friend, the young Miss Li, Li Furong.

“Sister, where did this little spotted cat come from? Crying out here so early in the morning!” Zhao Qiang glanced at Lin Qingxue, chuckling.

“Go away!” Lin Qingxue choked out, wiping away her tears as Zhao Xu helped her up.

“Oh? The cat’s quite fierce, isn’t she?” Zhao Qiang continued making fun of Lin Qingxue.

“Brother Zhao, didn’t you say that you were going to show us around your residence? Let’s go!” Li Furong smiled as she tugged on Zhao Xu’s hand, but her attention was focused on Lin Qingxue. “What’s so interesting about this little crybaby?”

Lin Qingxue was in a terrible mood, and Li Furong’s jab had caused her to thoroughly lose her patience.

“Do you want to fight?!” Lin Qingxue rolled up her sleeves and stepped forward.

“I’m not scared of the likes of you!” Li Furong naturally wouldn’t back down, and she too stepped forward.

“Ah, don’t fight!” Zhao Xu wanted to stop them, but Zhao Qiang pulled her back. “It’s not a big deal, Sister. Let’s just watch on.”

Zhao Qiang wasn’t the only one interested in the fight. As soon as Li Furong and Lin Qingxue looked as though they were about to start fighting, another seven or eight students quickly gathered around them.

Although it was still early in the morning, many male youths had arrived at the females’ cottages. They were often very curious about each other’s residences, and the female cottages were only forbidden to the male students in the night. In the morning, the students were free to roam around. As a result, there were quite a few male youths who had gathered around to watch the two girls fight. 

“Haven’t these two had enough during the trial? Why are they fighting so early in the morning?”

“Who do you think is stronger?”

“I think they’re both rather average students. What’s so interesting about watching them, anyway?”

Just then, Miss Li unsheathed her sword and thrust it at Lin Qingxue, who revolved and dodged the blow. Then, she pulled out her twin daggers and attacked Miss Li, who barely defended against the blow.

Both girls were fifth-rank blademasters, and they weren’t yet able to exude spiritual energy from their bodies. As a result, they clashed only with their blades, producing quite a clatter as they struck each other. There were quite a few higher-ranked blademasters watching on, treating the battle as nothing more than a diverting show.

Although their cultivations were similar, Lin Qingxue was slightly superior in terms of combat. After some time, Miss Li began to falter.

“I didn’t expect that that spotted cat would actually have some skill with the blade…” Zhao Qiang murmured at Zhao Xu.

“Brother, shouldn’t we stop them? What if they get injured? The school term starts tomorrow!” Zhao Xu was far more anxious than her brother.

“Oh, it’s no big deal. It’d be boring to just laze around anyway, so we might as well have them provide some entertainment.”

Suddenly, Li Furong made a small gesture right before receiving Lin Qingxue’s blow, catching Zhao Qiang’s attention. He narrowed his eyes and was contemplating whether to step in when a shadow emerged from the crowd.

At the same time, a beam of light flashed past Li Furong’s finger and stuck into a rock behind her.

“Ouch, my hand!” Li Furong yelled out, looking at her finger. There was a rather deep gash on her middle finger which bled profusely.

“Yun Ruoyan, how dare you attack me from the back!” Li Furong clutched her finger as she glared at Yun Ruoyan. “Are you trying to bully me with numbers?!”

The crowd’s gaze shifted from Lin Qingxue and Li Furong to Yun Ruoyan, who had suddenly appeared. Beside her was Lin Qingchen, and it really did look as though they were ganging up on Li Furong.

“Isn’t this Yun Ruoyan, the student that was taken as disciple by the first elder’s head disciple?”

“Yes, it’s her! She possesses the sage-grade treasure from the secret realm, and she’s at least a seventh-rank blademaster!”

“She’s Lin Qingxue’s cousin, isn’t she?”

“It wasn’t as if Li Furong could beat Lin Qingxue, so why did she step in?”

The crowd was confused by her sudden attack.

“All of you are ganging up on me! Don’t think I’ll be scared of you—at worst, I’ll lodge a complaint with the first elder!” 

Bullying between students with too great a disparity in their cultivation was strictly prohibited in theory, but there were many cases of weak students having somehow offended stronger ones, being dragged away to clandestine locations, and returning grievously injured.

However, few would dare to step in amidst a crowd, like Yun Ruoyan.

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