Chapter 11-Codename Reaper
Sky Academy became livelier as the beginning of school drew closer.
Even so, that was only relative to the academy.
The sprawling campus stretched far into all directions, with dozens of kilometers between east and west as well as south and north. There were less than 3,000 teachers and students scattered across such a large territory. It was no exaggeration to call this a vast but sparsely populated place.
In the absence of unified action, the campus appeared largely deserted day and night as the teachers and students were concentrated in one area. With an increasing number of freshmen arriving on campus, their presence added a great deal of liveliness to the atmosphere.
This was a scene that Li Tianlan had never seen before.
Besides the massive crowd he saw at the station when he first arrived in Huating, it was his first time encountering such an environment.
This place was unlike the mind-numbingly dull border. The campus overlooked the sea and was dotted with spring blossoms. Here, there was sunshine and breeze. Here, grass grew wild and tall and flowers bloomed beautifully. The smiles he encountered here were bright and the vibrancy of youth was on full display.
The competitive environment of Sky Academy was cruel but for Li Tianlan, this place was like heaven.
He felt a sense of peace and joy as if returning after being isolated from the world.
It was now the sixth day since his admission.
Li Tianlan would allocate some time each day to take a look around the campus.
When he first arrived, he felt an almost instinctive desire to learn about this legendary Special Warfare Academy. Subconsciously, he enjoyed the feeling of mastering everything. He was unsure if this would help him in the future but knew that it would at least bring him no harm.
The meticulous and cautious Li Tianlan had set near-morbid standards for himself since young.
His sole regret was not seeing his two other dorm mates even though school would officially begin tomorrow.
The new dormitory that Qin Ke placed him in also had three bedrooms and one living room, though it was much larger and luxurious. In fact, the entire residential building was much more extravagant than the rest. Li Tianlian had particularly paid attention to this. It was now less than 24 hours before the beginning of school but he remained the only resident in the building.
This gave Li Tianlan a bit of a headache. He did not fear loneliness, but rather, it was obvious that the freshmen occupying this building were different judging from the timing of their arrival. Just their arrogance alone made them stand out from the rest. Out of this group of schoolmates, how many would he be able to befriend? He suspected that this building would become boisterous once everyone gathered. Qin Ke obviously had malicious intentions when she placed him here.
That woman seemed to hate him.
Standing in front of the window, he recalled his experience in the Sky Academy for the past six days. He shook his head helplessly and walked out of his bedroom to go out and grab a bite.
Suddenly, a crisp voice that sounded both familiar and not came from outside the door.
Then, he heard the door being unlocked.
Li Tianlian, who had just walked out of his bedroom, stared dumbstruck as a tall, stalk-like figure walked into the dormitory.
Yes, the man was stalk-like.
That was because he was exceedingly thin.
He was at least 185cm tall but he appeared to have no excess meat whatsoever on his body. He loomed over the space with his tall stature but exuded no threatening aura. Instead, he resembled a bamboo pole and gave the impression of being weak.
The man wore a set of black sportswear but they were so loose on him that he looked like he was donning a robe instead. There was a long wooden box of a dark brown color that sat on his back at an angle. His back was so narrow that the box was swaying precariously. This young man with long hair and a lethargic temperament was stunned to see Li Tianlan but a smile immediately appeared on his pale and thin face. He took the initiative to extend his hand. “Nice to meet you. I’m Li Baitian.”
“I’m Li Tianlan.”
Li Tianlan extended his hand to shake the man’s hand, which was as slender as his figure. It was all bones.
“Li Tianlan? Wow, we have the same family name and we share two characters of our names as well. To be honest, an old Taoist came to my house early this year and told me that I’ll meet a noble person before or after Ching Ming Festival. F*ck, meeting a noble person during Ching Ming Festival! I nearly unsheathed my sword to kill that bastard’s entire family! Wasn’t he cursing me? I finally believe his words after meeting you. Whether you’re my noble person or not, I know we’re fated from our names alone. Should I change my name? I’ll call myself Li Tianbai. Do you think people will assume we’re biological brothers?
“Forget it. Li Tianbai is such a hideous name. Li Baitian is so much more domineering. Don’t you agree? Why don’t you change your name to Li Lantian? That works out better.”
Li Baitian shook Li Tianlan’s hand hard enough that their hands were swaying. The man’s bright smile lit up his entire face as he continued to babble.
Li Tianlan’s expression was stiff. It was his first time meeting such an overfamiliar stranger and he felt like he had learned quite a bit from their encounter. However, an overfamiliar person was much more welcomed than proud and haughty people.
His mouth twitched before forming a wary smile. “There’s no need for any name change. Even without it, we’re already fated. Moreover…”
Li Tianlan hesitated briefly before deciding that he could not ignore such an obvious innuendo and teased, “Moreover, if I start calling myself Li Lantian, then what day are you trying to worship?”
“Hm. Makes sense.”
Li Baitian pondered for a moment before nodding in agreement. “You’ll turn me into a joke if you change your name. Which is my room?”
Li Tianlan could still somehow keep up with people with racing thoughts. He pointed at two other bedrooms. “We’re the only ones here. You can take your pick from the two empty rooms.”
Li Baitian nonchalantly entered the nearest bedroom, dragging his close-to-death body with him.
He placed the box strapped to his back on the bed and carelessly tossed aside the weekly planner in his hand. Without even sparing the student handbook on the bed, he smiled and asked, “Let’s go and have a meal, brother. I saw quite a few restaurants in this wretched place. Since you came here earlier than I did, do you have any recommendation? It’s my treat. When classes officially begin tomorrow, we’ll have to pay with credits. When that time comes, I’ll no longer be able to afford to treat you.”
“I always eat somewhere nearby.”
Li Tianlan’s tone was serene. He was not picky about food, as long as there was meat and he was full. The cafeteria food might be ordinary for others but it was delicious for him.
“You really don’t know to enjoy life.”
Li Baitian rolled his eyes and took out his phone. “Hang on. I’ll get a girl to eat with us and we’ll go eat something good. I’ll ask her to book us a table. Will it just be three of us? Do you have any friend you’d like to invite?”
Li Tianlan’s heart tugged and he immediately thought of Yu Qingyan. Though they shared relationships with Qin Weibai and Yu Donglai, they were not close. In his six days here, he had only had one meal with her. He should invite her now but hesitated as he looked at the cheerful bamboo pole in front of him. Would he be sending Yu Qingyan into a tiger’s mouth if he asked her to come?
He subconsciously shook his head but before he could speak, their doorbell rang again.
A young man about 22 years old entered the dormitory with a large bag.
Their new dorm mate looked much more reliable compared to the bamboo pole Li Baitian. He had a medium-sized stature, short hair, thick eyebrows, large eyes, and tanned skin. He was oozing masculinity at first glance.
His was not a handsome face but his facial features were sharp and angular, giving him a sturdy and powerful look. He stood in stark contrast with Li Tianlan and Li Baitian in his dark green military uniform, with his body as straight as an arrow. He exuded a robust aura just by standing in place.
Li Tianlan nodded at him and took the initiative to introduce himself. “Hello, I’m Li Tianlan.”
The young man in military uniform nodded with an aloof expression.
Li Baitian rushed out of his bedroom after hearing noise in the living room and raised an eyebrow when he saw their new dorm mate. His pupils seemed momentarily frozen before he began smiling. “Not bad, brother. You’re already a major at your age? You don’t look any older than me. Which unit are you from?”
“Border Control Corps. Ning Qiancheng.”
This major cherished his words like gold but his voice was full of pride when he mentioned the Border Control Corps.
Li Tianlan narrowed his eyes. Being at the border all year round meant that he knew very little about the world outside. Nevertheless, he still knew a thing or two about the Border Control Corps. The unit was also called Zhongzhou State’s Border Praetorian Corps, responsible for the security of every frontier of the state. There were more than 600,000 members in the unit, making it the most elite large-scale army of Zhongzhou State. Their combat power was second to none. In the event that a war broke out, the entire Border Control Corps would be the state’s military front.
The camp that he grew up in was close to the border between Zhongzhou State and Annan State. There were border patrols stationed about dozens of kilometers away from the camp.
“Keke! How impressive, a major of the Border Control Corps whose words as precious as gold. Which troop are you from, brother?”
Li Baitian marveled as he happily walked toward Ning Qiancheng.
“Thunderbolt Battalion. Deputy Commander of the Guard Camp.”
Nian Qiancheng’s tone was indifferent but his pride was becoming more apparent.
“Marshal Dong Cheng’s men?”
Li Baitian was dumbstruck but before long, a cheeky grin appeared on his face as he asked the question.
The Thunderbolt Battalion of the Border Praetorian Corps was a unit under the direct command of the leader of the Border Praetorian Corps and the unequaled marshal, Dong Cheng. The Guard Camp of the battalion was responsible for guarding the high-ranking officials of the battalion. Nian Qiancheng most certainly had the trust of Marshal Dong Cheng to be able to serve as deputy commander at such a young age. He would also be a young talent that the marshal of the Zhongzhou State Military had the most anticipation for.
The members of the Border Praetorian Corps numbered nearly 600,000 and of those, nearly 550,000 were combat troops. They were stationed in the provinces where Zhongzhou State shared borders with other states. Their internal hierarchy was complex and the de facto power heavily concentrated. They were known as the Little Military Department. How could Nian Qiancheng be an ordinary person, having earned the favor of the leader of the Border Praetorian Corps?
Ning Qiancheng glanced at Li Baitian, his tone growing more and more indifferent.
Li Baitian raised an eyebrow. Looking as if he was deep in thought, he muttered, “Border Control Corps, Nian Qiancheng… This name sure sounds familiar…”
With an eyebrow raised, Nian Qiancheng looked at Li Baitian with a haughty look.
Li Baitian patted his forehead. “Nian Qiancheng of the Border Control Corps. You’re Drunbility Cheng! “You’re Drunbility Cheng, aren’t you?”
The mouth of Li Tianlan, who stood watching on the sidelines, twitched. He nearly burst out laughing.
Li Baitian ignored Nian Qiancheng’s raging gaze and cried excitedly, “I’ve long heard of your name! You’re Drunbility Cheng, aren’t you? I heard you’re particularly pretentious. Whatever you do, you’re sure to make a show out of it! The folks out there call you Drunbility Cheng or Brother D. Now that I’ve met you today, I see that you’re really worthy of your nickname.”
Nian Qiancheng looked exasperated. Worthy of the name? What the f*ck did this guy mean? Was his behavior earlier that ostentatious? Where did this damned bamboo pole learn of this nickname? Shouldn’t it only be used within a small circle?
“Who are you?!”
Ning Qiancheng glared at Li Baitian while gnashing his teeth. He wanted nothing more than skin Li Baitian.
“Me? Oh, I’m Li Baitian. I don’t think you’ve heard of me.”
Li Baitian patted Nian Qiancheng’s shoulder and made a casual greeting. “Come, come. Tianlan, let me introduce you to Drunbility Cheng. You can also call him Brother D. Brother D’s reputation precedes him! He’s an absolute master at being pretentious but of course, his strength is also unfathomable! He’s one of the top ten masters of the younger generation, much stronger than me.”
“My name is Ning Qiancheng!”
Major Ning’s eyelids twitching wildly and he was almost shouting. Let me introduce you to Drunbility Cheng? What kind of screwed up introduction was that?
“Yes, yes. It’s also the same to call him Drunbility Cheng. Brother D, stop being ostentatious for a moment and join us for a meal. Tianlan is reserved and doesn’t understand your enigmatic artistic behavior.”
Li Baitian laughed out loud as he threw his arm over Li Tianlan’s shoulders.
“Nice to meet you, Major Ning.”
Li Tianlan extended his hand with a smile. His gaze was amiable and limpid. He had no problem showing his utmost respect to a true soldier, much less one who dared to kill at the border.
“Nice to meet you, Tianlan.”
Ning Qiancheng’s expression eased when Li Tianlan did not call him Drunbility Cheng. He became very fond of Li Tianlan.
The nickname ‘Drunbility Cheng’ was a pain in his ass but it was his friends who used this nickname and he did not feel comfortable demanding them to stop. To him, this was absolutely a dark stain on his history.
“Drunbility Cheng, you…”
“Don’t call me Drunbility Cheng!”
“That’s fine. Brother D, then.”
“Don’t call me Brother D! I’m not your brother!”
Li Tianlan shook his head with a smile. Even though he did not move, he felt a vibration from the phone inside his pocket.
He took out the phone and turned it on. A photo of him and Qin Weibai nestling against each other while holding hands appeared on the screen.
His gaze softened.
The screen displayed a message from Qin Weibai.
It was not a text, but rather a Wechat message, something that appeared very high-tech to Li Tianlan.
“I’ve reached Bili State. The air is great in Bruchsal and the sunset here is gorgeous too. We should come and watch it together.”
Li Tianlan’s gaze was gentle but after tapping away on the screen in a daze for some time, he realized that he did not know how to write his reply.
Suddenly, he noticed the change in Qin Weibai’s profile picture.
She once used a photo of a snow land so white that it was glaring but it was now a photo of a piece of white paper.
Li Tianlan subconsciously zoomed into the new photo.
Two lines of words were written gracefully on the paper with a pen. The words were like floating clouds and flowing water in their elegance.
Right at that moment, all he could think of was Qin Weibai’s face as she wrote down those words.
“Who are you to me?”
“You’re everyone and anyone to me.”
Li Lantian took a deep breath. He was in Sky Academy at the moment, but his mind was always flying toward Bili State thousands of miles away, toward the sunset in its capital Bruchsal.
The sunset there was gorgeous but the beautiful person next to him was even more beautiful.
It really was…
It really was a strange, yet very comfortable feeling.
Clutching his phone, he looked at Qin Weibai’s new profile picture. For a moment, he was reluctant to put away his phone.
Li Baitian’s babble continued to ring next to his ears.
“It’s fine if you don’t want me to call you Drunbility Cheng, but Drunbility Cheng, why would you reject a friendly name like Brother D? That really confuses me. Tell me, what should I call you? Oh right, I heard everyone in the Border Control Corps have codenames? Come on, tell us yours. What’s your codename?”
Next to Li Baitian, Nian Qiancheng took in a deep breath.
He glanced at Li Tianlan, who was still preoccupied with his phone, without expression. He then said placidly, “My codename is Reaper.”
“You’re Drunbility Cheng, aren’t you?”