Chapter 230: Closure of the Beastmaster Institution

“That I can do,” Yun Ruoyan said, stretching out a hand, gathering her spiritual energy on her right palm, and shooting out a lime-green flame. Its sudden appearance and unusual color were particularly eye-catching.

“Well?” Yun Ruoyan turned proudly to Li Mo. She had once used a similar technique against Wang Meng’s lackey, scorching his face.

This time, she noted the similarities between that technique and the fireball that Li Mo had produced, and she was unable to help herself from demonstrating her capabilities in front of him.

“Very good, Yan’er!” Li Mo smiled. “Generally, most pillmasters have a strong fire attunement. Although this spiritual flame of yours hasn’t taken on the right form, it’ll certainly be startling to less advanced cultivators. However, it won’t work against the likes of Rong Yueshan, who has already begun studying external techniques.”

Li Mo then proceeded to explain the intricacies behind the fireball technique to Yun Ruoyan and helped her analyze the differences between the spiritual flames that she used for pillmaking and the spiritual flames used in external techniques. 

“While pillmaking, you convert the fire-attuned spiritual energy in your spiritual vortex into a spiritual flame, then release it. However, when you use the fireball technique, you have to gather and contain the fire-attuned spiritual energy in your palm.”

Li Mo demonstrated the technique as he spoke: the fireball in his hand grew larger, then smaller, then began to revolve, all while keeping a perfect, spherical core.

“What the fireball technique requires most is the ability to manipulate the flame to your desire,” Li Mo emphasized, then tossed the fireball out the window.

Yun Ruoyan saw the fireball burst apart upon hitting the sea of clouds, seemingly lighting even the clouds on fire.

“Amazing!”

“The fireball technique is only a low-rank fire-attuned external technique, and you’ll be able to learn it quickly after a little practice.”

“Yes, I definitely will practice!”

Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo continued gazing at the sea of flaming clouds before them, their eyes stained with the brilliant blaze of flames.

During the next few days, after she was done with her lessons, she would spend her evenings practicing the fireball technique in her little cottage, as well as her ability to control her spiritual flames.

After a period of practice, Yun Ruoyan managed to grasp the fireball technique, and her control over her spiritual flames and fire-attuned spiritual energy had increased greatly. Rather than going to class, Yun Ruoyan much preferred learning from Li Mo. He would demonstrate a concept or technique, then she would attempt to learn and master it on her own. 

However, she was still a member of the southern college, and it would be very difficult to raise her rank without attending her classes. The first elder imposed strict requirements on his students, and he would never raise his students’ ranks as arbitrarily as did the sixth elder. Even Li Mo couldn’t help her cheat.

Li Mo had told her that she would need to get to the green rank before entering the three specialized institutions of Kongming Academy. Even after entering one of the institutions, her rank would easily help her secure rare materials and access to restricted areas. As a result, Yun Ruoyan had no choice but to obediently attend each of her classes.

Kongming Academy had three specialized institutions and five colleges; the three institutions were for blademasters, pillmasters, and forgemasters. Before entering the three institutions, the students had to master the collegiate curriculum. This included fundamental blademaster lessons, as well as somewhat more mysterious lessons in pillmaking and smelting.

Each of the three types of lessons were taught by specialized instructors. Because the students were all at different levels of mastery, the classes always began with the most basic content.  Yun Ruoyan was very familiar with blademaster and pillmaster fundamentals, so she would often find it difficult to bear those classes. Only the relatively unfamiliar forgemaster class was of some interest to her.

There was another thing that caught her interest: the Chenyuan continent had four cultivator-type professions, not three. Why did the Kongming Academy have an institution for blademasters, forgemasters, and pillmasters, but not beastmasters?

Only after she had asked an older student about this did she finally receive an answer. Apparently, three years ago, there had been a shocking event. Over the years, using the all-seeing mirror, Kongming Academy had found countless small parallel dimensions for use as training grounds.

These parallel dimensions tended to be relatively small, but were rich and replete with treasure and beasts on account of their relative isolation. Three years ago, the elders had found a new parallel dimension, filled with large quantities of low-rank, mid-rank, and even a few high-rank beasts.

Many of the beasts possessed quite valuable cores, especially those whose cores could be used to make pills. Furthermore, they were relatively weak for their rank and hence easy to kill. Essentially, the parallel dimension was a treasure trove.

The then-provost of the beastmaster institution had naturally requested to lead an excursion into that parallel dimension, bringing the instructors of the institution and a crop of the best students. Not only would they be able to train the students, they could also obtain large quantities of beast spoils and cores.

The elders approved this request, but after the instructors and students had entered the parallel dimension, the link between that dimension and the academy suddenly snapped. Even the all-seeing mirror was no longer able to find any trace of them.

The provost, instructors, and students of the beastmaster institution were ultimately declared to be lost in spacetime, and there didn’t seem to be anyone who had both the talent and inclination to take over for the missing provost. As a result, Kongming Academy had temporarily suspended its program and closed the corresponding institution.

“Isn’t Kongming Academy ever going to reopen the beastmaster institution?” Yun Ruoyan sighed. “If it doesn’t, wouldn’t the academy end up overlooking many potentially talented beastmasters and summoners?”

Yun Ruoyan’s brother, Yun Moxiao, was a highly talented beastmaster who had the potential to become a summoner, so Yun Ruoyan herself was very interested in this affair. In fact, she was relieved that her brother hadn’t ended up joining Kongming Academy and gotten caught up in this affair.

“To rebuild the beastmaster institution is a rather complicated affair,” another senior, Zong Yang, interjected.

Not only was there no suitable provost for the responsibility, the old provost who had gone missing had been universally respected within Kongming Academy. Those instructors from the beastmaster institution who hadn’t gone into the other dimension would often petition the elders to keep on searching for the missing provost and the instructors and students who had gone missing. Only then would they support re-opening the beastmaster institution once more.

Even if everyone missing had died, those instructors wouldn’t relent until the corpses of the missing had been found. However, trying to search for such a small parallel dimension among the countless that existed in the universe was no easy feat.

Yun Ruoyan was startled by how resolute the remaining beastmaster instructors were. The provost really seemed to be revered by everyone, or they wouldn’t have gone as far as to shut down the beastmaster institution in commemoration.

After the morning’s classes were over, the students all headed to the academy’s cafeteria. Because of what had happened in the plaza yesterday, everyone knew of the relationship between Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo. Everyone in the southern academy—even those a few years above her—would be relatively polite to Yun Ruoyan.

As Yun Ruoyan entered the cafeteria with her cousins, the older students would volunteer information about the best dishes and locations to eat. Of course, she also felt quite a few envious and jealous glances directed at her from afar, but Yun Ruoyan paid those students no mind.

As a result of her newfound popularity, she and the two Lin sisters had already made quite a few friends with her upperclassmen. One such was a beautiful, willowy girl, Guan Ruliu. She was already a green-rank student, and she would be able to enter one of the specialized institutions in the spring.

Except for the upperclassmen, she also got to know some other students from her cohort who had always been very interested in Yun Ruoyan’s performance: they felt that she was a strong, talented student even without Li Mo’s support, and they wanted to form connections with her.

A great many trials would await all the students of Kongming Academy, so it was important to establish a small circle of cultivators with whom to take on these trials. Even Yun Ruoyan, who didn’t much like associating with others, tacitly approved of their presence.

“What are the three institutions like? Are they similar to the five colleges?” Yun Ruoyan asked Guan Ruliu, who was sitting opposite her.

“No, not at all.” Guan Ruliu swallowed and wiped daintily at the side of her mouth. “Once you enter an institution, you don’t have to attend classes daily anymore. You’ll have more freedom afforded to you, and you’ll be able to do whatever you want with your time once you’re done with the tasks that the instructors have set out for you.”

“Furthermore,” Zong Yang added, “once you enter the three institutions, you can form your own parties to explore various trial grounds, kill beasts, and hunt for spiritual herbs and treasures. Of course, you’ll have to report this to your instructor and have your instructor get approval from the elders, but it’s not a difficult task.”

Zong Yang had remained in Kongming Academy for quite some time, but he had never managed to get into one of the three institutions because of his low rank. From the other upperclassmen, Yun Ruoyan found out that the trial grounds were likewise divided based on difficulty. The higher the difficulty, the more valuable the spiritual treasures within; conversely, the lower the difficulty, the scarcer and the less valuable the treasures.

Students from the three specialized institutions could apply to venture into one of these trial grounds together. There would occasionally also be such expeditions for students from the five colleges, but those trial grounds tended to be lower in difficulty.

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