Chapter 50: Test Your Mind, Not Your Muscles
As soon as Mentor Anlie declared the start of the examinations, trees began to sprout, cracking the ground as they grew into a long corridor. It was pitch-black within, and it led into the heart of Whitespirit Mountain.
Leading the Southwind contingent were Lin Feng and Xu Shanyue. The two waved to their students behind them.
As they spoke, the students’ silhouettes glowed with an assortment of resonant powers. Finally, they all charged into the corridor.
At the same time, the other schools were stirring as well. The tension was electric.
The silver-robed Mentor Anlie from the Astral Sage College walked into the pavilion. Both Governor Shi and the dean dipped their heads slightly in acknowledgment. “Thank you, Mentor Anlie.”
Although Anlie was slightly below them in terms of strength and influence, his title as a teacher and representative of the Astral Sage College demanded some respect from them.
Besides, Anlie was young. Although he was just a Silver Spark teacher, he had the potential to rise to the Gold Gleam rank. Once he was promoted, he would be an influential person within the Xia Kingdom.
The Astral Sage College divided their teachers into three tiers: Silver Spark, Gold Gleam, and Violet Vibrance. The hard requirement for Silver Spark teachers was to reach the Earth Fiend level, while for Gold Gleam teachers the standard was Heavenly Dipper General. The highest ranked teachers, Violet Vibrance ones, had to be at the Duke Stage. But even in the arcane depths of the Astral Sage College, a violet-robed teacher was a rare sight indeed.
Anlie bowed back smilingly in response. He then sat down. “Many crouching tigers and hidden dragons sleep in the Tianshu Province. This year’s examinations are especially intense. I wonder if Southwind Academy will continue to hold their lead, or if a dark horse will gallop ahead.”
His question was one that neither Governor Shi nor the old Dean could answer. They could only smile politely in response. They then directed their attention to the crystal wall, which was divided into many separate mirrors. When the time came, the photographic rocks embedded in Whitespirit Mountain would stream information to them. At the same time, they would be recording the ranks and points of all the students, updating them in real time.
As the students got fired up outside, Li Luo followed the crowd into the tree-enclosed corridor. He realized that the more they advanced, the more forks appeared in their way. It seemed to be separating the crowd up.
With each division, more and more were separated, until those around him were mostly strangers. However, Zhao Kuo was still with him, as well as a few other Southwind students.
This continued for a few dozen minutes, before Li Luo and the others finally came to a dead-end, marked by a wooden door.
In response to their arrival, the gigantic wooden door began to open slowly.
Li Luo and Zhao Kuo shared a look, then they cautiously followed the small party forward.
After the last person entered, the wooden door closed and light bloomed within. They saw that they were in an enormous hall, seemingly made completely out of wood, and with a sturdy feel to it.
All of them looked about warily, hushed.
Li Luo and Zhao Kuo were off to the side, also looking all around them. They had heard from the Astral Sage College teacher that they would first meet two basic challenges to test their foundations. This was probably the first of them.
But what sort of test would it be?
Just as Li Luo thought this, a sound suddenly came from the side. He looked upwards sharply and saw two yawning black holes above.
The voices were coming from within.
The voices steadily grew louder, and soon enough everyone was on their guard against the two holes.
Suddenly, two streams of black mass gushed out from the holes, the cacophony deafening. It was an unending stream of four-winged bats!
These bats were robust-looking. About the size of a person’s face, they had a sinister look to them, sharp teeth and claws as well as red eyes.
Without any pause, they swarmed the students below.
The students scrambled to bring their resonant power to bear, dealing with the four-winged bats in all kinds of manners. It was obvious now that they would have to defend against the four-winged bats for their first test.
Li Luo began to channel his resonant power as well. He did not dare to let them get close, and so employed long-range attacks to snipe them out of the air.
As the bats continued to grow in number, there was suddenly a shout of alarm from one of the students. They had been slashed across the body by a bat, and their point crystal flickered red.
“Don’t let the bats hit you, or your basic points will decrease!” someone hollered.
Some began to panic, having already been hit a few times. Clearly, they would not emerge from this first round with a good score.
Getting a feel for the battle, Li Luo fought in close coordination with Zhao Kuo, fending off the bat attacks from all directions.
However, the flock seemed limitless, coming on again and again.
Finally, Zhao Kuo roared in frustration, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I’M TOO TIRED!”
Li Luo’s gaze swept the field. He saw a wall of four-winged bats, with no gap in between. His eyes flashed. He then seized Zhao Kuo by the hand and dragged him in a retreat to the side.
“Don’t move, or my resonance art will dissipate,” he said, then he called forth his resonant power. A thin veil of flowing light covered their bodies.
Under the flowing light, both of their silhouettes began to grow fainter and fainter.
“Is this the Water Shadow Art, a mid-grade resonance art?”
Zhao Kuo was amazed. But as the bats swarmed them, he could not help but question, “Brother Luo, this isn’t going to help. Shouldn’t we cut down the bats?”
Li Luo said nothing. He continued to apply his resonant power until both their bodies were glowing in a pool of light.
With no response from Li Luo, Zhao Kuo could only grit his teeth and resist the urge to strike out at the offending bats.
But just as he braced himself for the attack, the four-winged bats suddenly froze as though they had lost their target. Confused, they finally milled around and turned to attack the others.
Zhao Kuo’s eyes were bulging. “You can do that?”
He could not believe it. A middle-grade Water Shadow Art could shield them completely?
He looked down and saw that he had turned completely invisible. He marveled, “Brother Luo, your Water Shadow Art is sick! It’s like an invisibility cloak!”
“Just a simple trick of the eye. It utilizes refraction through water to hide us within the light rays. A small trick. If someone concentrated hard enough, we would be seen…” Li Luo said without much pride.
“Wow! That’s still very impressive. I’ve never seen anyone use the Water Shadow Art so skilfully before,” Zhao Kuo praised.
Li Luo smiled in response. What he had glossed over was the fact that ordinary Water Shadow Art users could not use it this well. Only he, with his light resonance imbued within it, could affect it thus.
“No need to fight now. Just wait here until it ends,” Li Luo said calmly.
“Brother Luo, you’re not only a handsome face, you’re pretty smart behind those pretty looks. The Astral Sage College must be going blind since they didn’t extend a special invitation to you.” Zhao Kuo whooped with good cheer.
“Ha, please! It’s going to be our school soon enough. We’re so good, they’ll open the door for us! No need to worry now,” Li Luo said generously.
“Wew, and a big heart under that fine brain too,” Zhao Kuo said. Suddenly with time to kill, he was intending to butter up his dear Brother Luo a little more, when he suddenly spotted a familiar figure being harangued by four-winged bats.
“Brother Luo, that guy looks a little familiar,” he said.
Li Luo looked over and winced. Who else would it be but Yu Lang, screaming as he scrambled away from the bats?
“Hmm…? Him again? Nothing to see here, let’s go…” Li Luo said dryly.
Yu Lang was a sixth-grade wind resonance user, and swiftness was his specialty. Although he was yelling desperately, he was still managing to keep abreast of the bats.
“Something’s not right, Brother Luo. That dog is charging over to where we are. Does he know we’re here?” Zhao Kuo asked tensely.
Li Luo looked. Damn, he was right. What a real pain in the ass.
As Yu Lang neared, his ratty little eyes locked onto them. With a terse voice, he called, “Brother Luo, Brother Luo, save your brother.”
Li Luo feigned death.
“If you don’t save me, I’ll attract a whole horde of bats to collide with you.” Getting no response, Yu Lang immediately threatened them.
“Damn it, Yu Lang, you bastard! Don’t you have any morals? Just you wait… Someday, someone will club you over the head when you least expect it. And I can’t promise it won’t be me!”
Grumbling, he reached out a hand and seized Yu Lang by the shoulder. With a flash, he hid him within the light as well.
In the direction Yu Lang had come from, the four-winged bats froze again and then headed off in another direction.