Chapter 111 – Lineup
Ye Wei and Cao Ning went to a quiet corner at the back of a hill on the South Star campus. He was going to bring Cao Ning to Crouching Dragon Hall, but he couldn’t make his injured friend limp so long. He sat Cao Ning down by a rock and took out a red pill.
Ye Wei handed the pill over.
“No, I don’t need this. It’s just a scratch!” Cao Ning waved his hand nervously, and his pupils dilated when he saw what Ye Wei was trying to give him.
“Is this a Blood Prime pill!? I am not feeling that bad! No, I can’t accept this!” Cao Ning said when he recognized the red glow. He couldn’t believe Ye Wei would offer him a rare pill that was very hard to find anywhere on the market.
“Just take it! If you turn this down you are not my friend anymore!” Ye Wei laughed and stuffed the pill in Cao Ning’s hand.
“Okay… Fine!” Cao Ning hesitated and ground his teeth.
“That’s right!” Ye Wei smiled and patted Cao Ning’s shoulder.
The pair then started catching up on what they had been up to these three years. Ye Wei felt dry and boring when he compared what he had been doing with the eventful life Cao Ning had been living.
It wasn’t before the sky was completely dark when Ye Wei stood up and said his farewells to Cao Ning.
“Wei, do you really want to participate in the tournament?”
“Yeah.” Ye Wei paused and nodded.
“That’s great!” Cao Ning was excited to hear his decision. “I will bring the class to cheer for you!”
“Okay, I have to be on my way now!” Ye Wei did not know much about the tournament; he just wanted to ensure the South Star students’ safety considering these recent developments. He wanted to go back to ask his master about the details of the tournament.
After parting ways, Ye Wei headed deeper into the woods to a secret passage, deep into the hill where Master Yi’s hideout was where he spent the last three years getting stronger.
“Master, I would like to know more about this cultivation tournament everyone has been talking about!” Ye Wei went straight into Master Yi’s room when he came back.
“Why would you want to participate in that?” Master Yi smiled, “With your talent and all you’ve learned these past few years you are more or less guaranteed to pass the Runemaster entrance exam. Why would you waste time on a silly tournament?”
“I heard that there would be many strong cultivators from different schools attending, and I want to see how I stack up against others. I think I just put my schoolmates in danger…” Ye Wei said with determination in his eyes. He had been training alone this whole time and wanted to apply what he learned to real combat, to improve himself.
“Do you know why the Zhou dynasty holds a tournament every year?” Master Yi sighed and asked.
“To keep the school rankings up to date? To strengthen the dynasty by encouraging positive competition between young cultivators?” Ye Wei asked tentatively. He was aware that they dynasty distributed more resources to higher ranking schools.
“Correct, that is one of the reasons. The dynasty will not admit it publically, but they are actually doing it to for recruitment purposes, more specifically they are recruiting for the Green Army.” Master Yi answered in a low voice.
“The Green Army!?” Ye Wei was startled. The royal armed force was a household name. They were the strongest troops of the Zhou dynasty, and they were formed almost exclusively by condensed prime Warriors with a few exceptions of talented individuals who had potential.
Their duty was to deal with the threats posed by demons, wild beasts, and most importantly to protect the royal families.
“Among all armed forces, the Green Army’s authority reigns supreme within the borders. Furthermore, if you commit ‘Acts of Valor’ when you’re in service you could be given plots of land. This could be a city or even provinces if you’ve done something really flashy.”
“If you die while in the line of duty then the army will protect your family for at least a decade in case enemies of the state seek revenge.” Master Yi spoke slowly.
“Their families will be protected too…” Ye Wei mumbled. He never knew about the perks and details.
“But once you join the Green Army, you can never leave. In comparison, you will have a lot more freedom as a Runemaster!” Master Yi continued, “We are free men!”
“If you become a Runemaster and enter the union you will have as many benefits as the Green Army!” He laughed contentedly.
‘Haha! I don’t think Master wants me to join the Green Army…’ Ye Wei got the hint and chuckled. “Master, will they force people to join them?” He continued asking curiously.
“No, if you do not will to join then they will not force you to!” Master Yi shook his head. He had watched Ye Wei grow up for three years, and they had developed a father-son like relationship.
“If that’s the case then I would like to go and challenge people from the other schools!” A fighting spirit grew in Ye Wei’s heart.
Hearing Ye Wei’s wish, Master Yi smiled and said. “Okay then, I will ask the principal to reserve you a spot! And I will write you a letter of recommendation so you can file your application for the Runemaster Union’s entry exam while you’re at Ning City!”
“The tournament is divided into three stages,” Master Yi continued.
“The first stage is an inter-provincial selection. Only the ten strongest people from each province will be chosen to enter the next stage.”
“The second stage, of course, is the inter-state selection. Here the top ten contestants of each state will be qualified to join the Green Army.”
“And the third stage is the most interesting. If you rank in the top ten in that stage, you will have a chance to get into the Holy Conservatory. You might even have a chance to meet Zi Yan again if you get to that point.”
Ye Wei startled after hearing Master Yi’s words. ‘It had been three years since she… I wonder if she’s okay…’
“But with your current level, it will be difficult for you to reach those heights!” Master Yi gently shook his head.
Thirty-six outskirt cities were just the province of the Qing state, and there was a total of eighty-one provinces in the state which contained eight hundred and ten schools. There were over three hundred states in the Zhou dynasty!
Although Ye Wei was improving very quickly, he had started too late. Many of the young talents began their training with great teachers since they could walk, and even before that they were fed pills and herbs since their birth.
Master Yi had been training Ye Wei for three years, and therefore he knew exactly how strong Ye Wei was. However, even the Runemaster had no idea that his legacy apprentice knew how to use the Supernova stance, as Ye Wei promised himself that he would never reveal his identity as the Glacial Emperor’s apprentice unless lives were at stake.
Now that Ye Wei was a peak ten-star Warrior with the help of the Supernova stance he could beat a one-star condensed prime Warrior and challenge a two-star condensed prime Warrior.
Ye Wei was very close to finishing the second evolution of the Supernova stance, and on top of that, his body was ready to breakthrough. He needed different kinds of energy to stimulate his body; he needed to fight.
That very night, Ye Wei used his jade trinket to enter the Glacial Temple and practiced stances.
The tournament was going to start soon, and the students were feeling the extra pressure. Everyone at South Star Academy was training in their free time hoping that would increase their chances of getting chosen as representatives. And the top students were training even harder as they knew their pride and the Academy’s reputation would be on the line.
In a bamboo forest at another corner of South Star Academy, people were having a conversation regarding the tournament inside a luxurious loft.
The oldest of them was a sage-looking, white haired and bearded man then there was a middle-aged man in a gray robe. The other two were smart-looking teenagers.
The sage-looking old man was Gu Qing, the principal of South Star Academy, who lived like a hermit. The grey-robe man was his right hand man, vice-principal Xu He.
The white-robed teenager was Liu Jian, and the other boy in a faded gold robe was Chen Mo.
“Principal Gu, it came to my attention that we are lacking another suitable candidate. Out of our students, we only have Liu Jian and Chen Mo who are seven-star Warriors or above, all the others are just lackluster! If we really are aiming for the top ten in our county, we will need at least three seven-star Warriors…” Vice-principal Xu He spoke in a worried tone to the old man who sat in the lotus position; he wasn’t sure if the principal was awake or asleep.
The principal’s eyes were close when he nodded.
There was no limit to how many representative each school could send for the initial group stage selection matches as long as they were registered students; however, schools usually only send Warriors to not waste others’ time.
But once the group stage is over, each of the top ten schools were only allowed to send three students to compete in the placement fights. That was the reason why the leaders of South Star, and every other competing school, were having headaches assembling their squad that could actually be able to contest the other schools in the fights.
The vice-principal started worrying after checking the tournament results from the past years. He noticed that out that all the high-ranked students on the school’s ranking it did not contain anyone higher than a six-star Warrior. He didn’t want the school to make a fool of itself.
“Vice-principal, just put Mu Feng on the roster. It’s okay that we don’t have a lineup with three seven-star Students or higher. I will carry the team. I guarantee that we will reach top ten; nobody will think little of us!” Liu Jian displaced the confidence of the best student of South Star Academy in his speech.
“Are there any chances that Mu Feng will breakthrough within half a month?” The gold-robed teen sounded more calm and mature when he asked the vice-principal.
“There is a slim chance, but Mu Feng just got injured by people from Polaris Academy, and now his body is not in the optimal condition to push his cultivation more…” The vice-principal signed and shook his head.
‘Of course, I want to trust you, Liu Jian, I have seen you fight… But what if we don’t get into top ten? Our reputation is on the line! It would be humiliating if we failed to advance in front of thirty-six other schools! I am almost certain that people will talk about how we don’t even have three seven-star Warriors to put on our roster…’
“They sure were good at choosing the best time to pick a fight… Only if I wasn’t training behind close doors…” Liu Jian grunted.
“I might have a suitable candidate. Give me a minute.” Gu Qing stood up and stepped out of the building; he then walked towards Master Yi’s hideout. He was taking little slow steps but was traveling at a great speed; his figure was moving in a ghostly manner.
“A suitable candidate? And the principal is fetching that kid himself?” Xu He was confused. He mumbled as he watched the principal disappeared into the woods.
“He is not going to get just some random kid to fill the spot right?” Liu Jian frowned.
“Are you questioning the principal? I wouldn’t be this strong and standing here next to you if it wasn’t for him!” Chen Mo glared. He was not pleased with Liu Jian’s attitude.
Liu Jian was from a martial family, more specifically one of Green Moon City’s Big Three. Having grown up with all the resources his family could provide, the talented youngster was not taught to be appreciative. Meanwhile, Chen Mo was from an ordinary family, and before meeting principal Gu, his family had no ways to develop his talents. Because of that, Chen Mo was very sensitive when it came to the subject of South Star Academy’s principal.
“Maybe I am! Anyway, I would like to meet whoever he brings here, and I will have to see for myself if he or she is worthy.” Liu Jian said with pride. He had always been the undisputed strongest cultivator of the academy for years now.
The competition would not be easily convinced.
After a cup of tea’s time has passed, Gu Qing walked into the loft with a handsome young man.
“Principal, is this the suitable candidate you spoke of?” Xu He was surprised by Ye Wei’s lack of Qi disturbance as he widened his eyes and stared. ‘Does he think we are picking students for a public speaking competition?’
What Xu He didn’t know was that since Ye Wei started practicing the Supernova stance most of his Qi now was held in his bones and hidden under the runes on them instead of inside his dantian.
“Hahaha! He can be the leader of our cheerleading squad!” Liu Jian said while casually looking at Ye Wei. He could also not sense any Qi coming from Ye Wei.