Chapter 99: The Unexpected (1)

The entire atmosphere was silent.

All of the Hunter-class experts who were participating in this seemingly unceremonious tournament, whether young or old, were currently moving their bodies and warming themselves up. From time to time, one could even see the appearance of a copper bell or a talisman gleaming with the faint white luster of true energy.

Qin Ye raised his eyebrows. He interlocked his fingers and straightened his arms to crack his knuckles.

Listen up, slags! Today, I’m going to open your eyes to the prowess of a true expert who has devastated nine hunting zones in just one night!

Just as he was stretching out his body, a voice suddenly called out from behind, “Mr Qin.”

Qin Ye turned around, only to realize that Su Feng was already standing behind him. Su Feng snapped his fingers.

“Looking for something?”

Su Feng didn’t respond. Instead, he glanced about his surroundings, and then leaned in closer as he whispered, “Do you know why everyone is so enthusiastic about today?”

Before Qin Ye could respond, he continued, “It’s just a ranking competition, and it’s perfectly fine if they gave it a miss. So why do you think everyone is here today?”

“Of course it has got to do with the fact that the ranking is related to the eventual distribution of resources.” Qin Ye frowned at Su Feng, “You didn’t come over just to apprise me of something so obvious, did you?”

Su Feng smiled and shook his head as he whispered, “That’s only one aspect of things. The gist of what I’d wanted to say is this: there are a number of unwritten rules that undergird the operations of the First Academy of Cultivators. This place may have the appearance of paradise, but the truth of the matter is that it’s no different from a breeding pot of fodder, albeit a gentler version of that.”

“For instance, there is the system of tallying up and aggregating all credits and points awarded each and every semester; or the fact that points are given for every single assignment and task completed; or how the management keeps a close watch over each student’s improvement under a specific instructor. And then, there’s also the assessment of an instructor’s performance on a daily basis, including their pedagogy, etc. The academy hasn’t said a single thing about these things, but if you think that life is going to be a breeze in here, you can’t be more off the mark.”

“The leaders have a yardstick in mind. We’re the first batch of instructors. Our job is to assess and grade the students, and the leaders’ job is to assess and grade us. Core instructors… might even be able to earn themselves some preferential treatment under these rules. And whether you’re considered a competent instructor will depend entirely on the final examinations of the first semester. Trust me. Quite a number of the people you see now will be gone by that time, and you’ll naturally see a whole other batch of incoming fresh faces.”

Preferential treatment under these rules?

Su Feng’s words were laden with implications. Qin Ye squinted his eyes and probed further, “Such as?”

“For example… there might be further discounts on the redemption of points from the school.”

Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed brightly. He suddenly had a better understanding of the true purposes of the First Academy of Cultivators.

The academy only disclosed the big picture, conspicuously leaving out the finer details so that instructors would of their own volition dig and probe deeper at it. Those who chose to muddle through would never understand and be able to capitalize on the true rights and authority that came with their appointment as instructors.

“Is this your conscience speaking?” He smiled at Su Feng, “Is this your belated apology for the false news earlier?”

Su Feng’s heart was swamped with bitterness.

Do you know that some things are best left unsaid? Why do you have to raise it explicitly? Aren’t you just giving me a tight slap to the face now? You… Do you know that you’re truly an ill-mannered person?

“This is just a friendly reminder. Do bear in mind that the entire Blaze Squad is in the same faculty as you. Incidentally, we happen to be the only five within this faculty right now.” Su Feng muttered coldly.

“Oh?”

Su Feng added, “Mr Qin, we know that you’re strong, but we’re still going to give it our all. And you don’t have to worry about giving us face either.”

With that, Su Feng took his leave.

Qin Ye shrugged his shoulders.

You’re thinking too much, dear. Why would I possibly give you face? I’m a calculating scrooge… No, rather, I’m a person who keeps a clear boundary between work and personal affairs. How could I possibly leverage my official status for personal gain?

“Don’t worry. I’ll never resort to more than a single move if I can help it.”

9.00 a.m. Two figures slowly made their way to the arena. They were none other than Principal Xu Anguo and Vice Principal Li Tao.

Xu Anguo calmly scanned his surroundings, and then unleashed his Hellguard-class true energy across the entire plaza. Suddenly, the entire atmosphere was silent.

“Very good. Everyone is present.” Li Tao revealed a profound smile on his face, “It seems like everyone’s got keen senses.”

“There are no frills this time. No ceremonies, no salutations, and no audience cheering. Everyone can relax, because it’s just an internal competition. There’s no need to take things too seriously. The only thing you’ll need to do is to adhere to the rules of the competition. It seems like everyone has already warmed themselves up, so… bear with me as I explain the two simple rules of engagement.”

“Firstly, touch and go. We don’t want any serious injuries here.” Li Tao stroked his beard as he grinned widely, “Secondly, you are not to engage in private duels, no matter what reasons you may have. Private duels are strictly prohibited in the First Academy of Cultivators. We don’t want you to harbour a grudge just because of a simple sparring match today, or have private grievances affect your work in future. Principal Xu…”

He looked at Xu Anguo and smiled, “Shall we begin?”

Xu Anguo turned around and nodded with an amiable smile on his face, “Let’s begin. This old bag of bones can’t wait any longer. Everyone here are Hunter-class experts under the age of thirty-five, and possess S-class potential to boot. I’d very much like to witness the performance of the next generation of geniuses.”

Both men headed down the arena together. Then, just as they arrived at the last of the steps leading out of the arena, Xu Anguo suddenly added, “Oh, that’s right.”

“We’ve just finished printing the invitations for the enrollment of the first batch of students here. The first enrollment isn’t open to the public. Instead, this batch of invitations is targeted at the sects, lineages, and underworldly craftsmen. Sects and lineages only require a letter of recommendation from their respective affiliated organizations. Cultivators with differing classes of potential ranging from B to S will be pouring into our campus. That said, there are far too many underworldly craftsmen out there. Apart from the few major clans, the rest will all have to show proof of their qualifications, including proof that their potential is at least B-class. If any of you have someone in mind, there’s no harm in writing them a letter of recommendation.”

Qin Ye looked at the two old men before lowering his head once more.

Life was fraught with competition.

This was a universal truth he had already known for a long time. But with a life span as long as his, there was simply nothing worth fighting for.

With that, the First Academy of Cultivator’s sparring competition had officially begun.

The two cunning old men had set up a competition with completely no frills, be it decor, opening speech or any opening ceremonies.

Everything seemed to allude to the fact that this sparring competition was hardly important at all, and that it was merely a routine competition. It even seemed to encourage its participants to go with the flow and not take it to heart.

But…

Qin Ye might well have bought the lie had they not added the final few statements.

“The students that are arriving possess differing classes of potential ranging from B to S… If that were the case, would the lowest ranked instructor possibly be assigned S-class students?” He chuckled coldly as he glanced warily at the two cunning old men who were chatting and laughing casually.

There were no exceptions to the rule.

Even teachers in ordinary schools knew that students with good grades were always assigned to be nurtured by the core group of teachers in their school. If that were already the case in ordinary school, wouldn’t the situation be even worse in the cultivation world, which prided itself in the laws of the jungle?

“There’s a gap between various students as well. Compared with A-class, B-class and C-class students, S-class students tend to achieve far more results with minimal efforts, whether in terms of breath control, controlling the energy in their meridians, or otherwise. And the only thing that matters at the end of the semester is results. Furthermore, there are also regular assessments throughout the course of the semester. If one’s access to resources are lacking to begin with, and they consequently fail to show results at the periodic assessments, the amount of resources that they will be allocated might very well decrease even more - perhaps even to the point where one only receives the baseline remuneration. It would become an endless vicious cycle… How is this asking us not to fight for the crown? This is clearly a signal to us that the present competition represented the top spot in each faculty…”

Everything began to click in his mind, and he continued contemplating the implications.

Why would the school do this?

Simple. This competition isn’t just about one’s individual prowess. Rather… it also has got to do with the individual instructor’s perceptiveness!

Perceptiveness with regard to both people and affairs.

After all, there were millions and millions of ghosts in the world, and one could only expect to meet the most unexpected and unpredictable of circumstances. Therefore, over and above mere individual prowess, perceptiveness was naturally one of the most fundamental traits of a good instructor. Only cultivators who possessed such characteristics could be entrusted with greater responsibilities in the future.

Going even further, why was there a need to groom such talent to be able to take on such responsibilities?

“It seems like this isn’t done with the sole purpose of nurturing freshmen. The leadership has an intention of grooming instructors as well. This… might very well be the Whampoa Military Academy[1] of the Special Investigations Department and the SRC, isn’t it?

So should he fight?

Qin Ye smiled faintly.

Absolutely!

The Special Investigations Department was his greatest asset and treasure trove in the reestablishment of Hell! He couldn’t remain in the same place for too long. After all, a person who had consumed the fungus of aeons was an undying person. At best, he could only stay for approximately five to eight years before he absolutely had to leave. Since that was the case, he had to make the best of the time to get as much out of them as he could!

Even if I can’t seize all of the assets hidden in the treasury, I should still do my level best to seize a small corner of it… otherwise, I’d be letting myself down.

Even hamsters had their dignity!

“The first series of competition would be among the five instructors from the Faculty of Combat.” Xu Anguo smiled radiantly as he announced, “The Faculty of Combat is one of the most important faculties in the academy. Everything that our students learn from their lectures and books are all for the purposes of practical application in combat. In turn, it is the duty of the instructors within the Faculty of Combat to ensure our students’ safety and facilitate the process of internalization of their head knowledge. This is why we have especially selected five instructors who have a wealth of combat experience under their belt.”

“Without further ado, the first battle shall be between S9527, Instructor Qin Ye, versus S8541, Instructor Lin Han.”

I’m involved in the very first match?

Qin Ye took a breath and made his way to the arena. Lin Han also walked over with a heavy expression on his face.

Li Tao smiled, “Instructor Lin belongs to the Blaze Squad. As everyone knows, the Blaze Squad boasts one of the highest efficiency ratings in completing their mission among all S-class squads. I’m sure you don’t need much more introductions from this old man.”

Him?

Qin Ye’s lips twitched discreetly. This is a man who couldn’t even defeat a Hunter-class ghost after half an hour of arduous battle. Are the cultivators in the mortal realm truly this weak?

“And Instructor Qin Ye is most well known for his amazing feat of breaching nine hunting zones in the span of just one night. His speed and efficacy are unprecedented. That’s why he’s been given the classification of S-class…”

Before he finished speaking, the audience below was set abuzz with clamor and chattering. Innumerable gazes landed on Qin Ye all at once.

“With that… Begin!”

With one loud command, the entire scene was silent once more. True energy erupted from Lin Han’s body as he glared at Qin Ye like a ferocious tiger hunting its prey.

Whoosh… With a fine rustling sound, hundreds of copper coins suddenly flew out from his sleeves, spinning around in the air as they locked on their target - Qin Ye.

“I won’t hold back.” Lin Han gritted his teeth, “Even though I know I’m not your match, but… I don’t want to rank last.”

Qin Ye smiled and curled his finger in provocation.

I’m not underestimating anyone.

It’s just that everyone here… is trash!

Just then, Lin Han’s body suddenly vanished from where he had been standing. Qin Ye’s eyes flickered, and he immediately noticed that Lin Han had already appeared by his side. Lin Han sent a powerful kick whizzing through the air, aimed straight towards Qin Ye’s shoulder.

Faced with such an opponent, Lin Han knew that there was no room for conserving his strength.

Boom!!! Krrrrrrrrrr...

A muffled sound rang out, followed quickly by the soft sound of grinding against the ground. Qin Ye had lifted his right arm to block the attack.

Silence.

Dead silence.

Lin Han was dumbfounded. Xu Anguo and Li Tao opened their mouths wide and stood up from their chairs immediately.

“No way…” Su Feng blinked vacantly, “I… did I just see an imposed S9527?”

Qin Ye was likewise stunned.

Nothing had changed about the arena.

And the people were still the same.

But… he had just been sent flying a distance of well over ten meters! A deep crevice that was tens of meters long had appeared on the ground, and his right hand… was burning! The pain was excruciating!

Bloody hell… something’s not right…

How did… the talents of the mortal realm suddenly become so strong?

Hang on… have I gotten the wrong script over here? Even Hunter-class ghosts aren’t able to send me flying such a long distance, right? There’s absolutely no way they can! So how did some slag like you who struggled so hard against these ghosts send me flying for such a long distance? Your speed and strength is well beyond that of the average Hunter-class ghost!

Lin Han blinked his eyes, and his face quickly turned red.

“Qin Ye!!” He growled as though he had just been humiliated, “I know you’re strong… but you don’t have to give me face like that!!”

“Are you… insulting me?”

Then even before he finished speaking, the innumerable coins around him suddenly condensed into a gleaming golden whip that quickly zipped through the air with a whirring sound, smacking Qin Ye on the waist.

Qin Ye’s heart was filled with bitterness. Wait a minute… can’t you read the atmosphere right now?!! I’m already doing my best! Why is this happening?!


1. This is a famous military academy in China that is known to have produced many prestigious commanders who had fought in many of China’s conflicts in the 20th century.

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