Chapter 12-Wait and See
Overall, Li Tianlan was pretty happy with his two dorm mates.
Li Baitian was a happy-go-lucky person without an ounce of seriousness in him. He could befriend everyone and showed no arrogance or resistance whatsoever. Such a person was undoubtedly the easiest to get along with.
Ning Qiancheng, a major of the Border Control Corps and one that Li Baitian dubbed Drunbility Cheng, might be a little arrogant, but he was also well-mannered. He was not a bad person.
It was comfortable sharing a dormitory with them.
Previously, Li Tianlan was truly worried that the Sky Academy would force two arrogant, contemptuous young masters with formidable backgrounds on him. That would have given him a great headache.
Even though he wanted to strive for the top position in the world and return the Li family back to the peak of Zhongzhou State, it did not mean that he wanted to dominate Sky Academy. His wish was to obtain the precious graduation diploma of the academy. He would rather keep his head down and earn his credits. Even if he could not stay out of the radar, it was a good idea to cultivate a network of friends.
If the academy had forced two egotistical young masters on him, their dormitory would definitely be rowdy each day. He would not be able to keep a low profile even if he wanted to.
Li Baitian and Ning Qiancheng suited him perfectly.
Lunch was Li Baitian’s treat and the three of them went to a decent-looking restaurant. Sure enough, Li Baitian managed to find a beautiful girl out of his contacts and convinced her to come. She was also a freshman and was named Ye Huayu. It was a very characteristic name.
The way Ye Huayu addressed Li Baitian was astonishing. She kept calling him Little Uncle Master and behaved very deferentially to him.
This affirmed Li Tianlan’s suspicion that their building was not just any other residential building. One of his dorm mates was a young talent who had received the recognition of the leader of the Border Control Corps. The other was some sort of Uncle Master, who was certainly no ordinary person. Evidently, aside from him, everyone placed in their building was no commoner.
When they were done with lunch, Li Baitian put on airs as a righteous elder and said he wanted to visit Ye Huayu’s dormitory.
Ning Qiancheng said he would be visiting several of his comrades.
Li Tianlan returned to their dormitory alone. He shut himself in his room and began to meditate.
There were many forms of introspection: dhyana, vipassana, correct mindfulness, and meditation. The names might be different but their effect was the same. The ultimate form of introspection was when one could forget both oneself and other things and when one was absolute in one’s pursuit of will.
In martial arts, introspection was no less important than the speed of one’s power enhancement. Perhaps, it might even be more important.
The more skilled one was, the more one would focus on introspection.
It was no exaggeration to say that introspection was a part of martial arts and the most crucial core of martial arts at that.
To freeze something with a wave of the hand, to ignite flames with a lift of the hand, to cause thunderclap with a snap of the fingers — to accomplish all these, he would have to push his power and speed to a certain extent. However, his willpower must be absolutely concentrated. Without this, his strength would be for naught. How could he then create an outbreak of the most destructive power and fighting strength?
There was a limit to one’s willpower and strength. Some people spent their lives stuck in the Ice-condensing Realm, unable to advance into the Fire-flaming Realm. Perhaps it was because their strength was not up to par but it could also be because the concentration of their willpower did not reach the required level. In the pursuit of martial arts, one without concentrated willpower would find it impossible to enter the Fire-flaming Realm, much less the Invincible Realm.
The day swiftly came to an end with him in meditation.
Li Tianlan opened his eyes at three in the morning and started exercising his lower half. He then laid on the bed and listened to the sound of waves crashing on the shore outside while waiting for dawn.
Several hours later.
School had officially begun.
Six in the morning.
Li Tianlan, who had less than three hours of sleep, was awakened by a burst of knocking on his door.
Ning Qiancheng’s calm yet haughty voice came from outside the door.
“Tianlan, it’s about time for the assembly. Get ready for it.”
Li Tianlan checked the time and voiced his acknowledgment. He put on his camouflage uniform and hastily washed up in his private bathroom before walking out.
Every freshman of Sky Academy would have to gather at the Entrance Square not far from the residential area and participate in their first entrance maneuver. The first one to pass would obtain 80-course credits as a reward. Since this was written in the student handbook, Li Tianlan naturally would not forget about it.
“Where’s Tianlan? Drunbility Cheng, hurry up and wake Tianlan. It’s almost time to gather.”
Inside the living room, Li Tianlan had just poured himself a glass of water and was about to take a sip when Li Baitian’s frantic voice came from the entrance hall. Then, he heard the door being closed and saw Li Baitian’s figure inside the living room.
“You didn’t come back last night?”
Li Tianlan and Ning Qiancheng spoke in unison.
“The girls of the Sky Academy are all too enthusiastic. I’ve been on an all-night conquest. Where would I find the time to come back?”
Li Baitian grinned. The expression on his thin face was of him savoring last night’s memories. He could not look more vulgar if he had tried.
“Skinny, just who exactly are you? The girls of the Sky Academy are all proud and arrogant. Who among them are ignorant? You’re really something to be able to bed them when you want.”
Ning Qiancheng narrowed his eyes as he sized up Li Baitian.
“Naturally, they like me because I’m handsome and confident. It’s common for men and women to get together!”
Li Baitian spoke in an upright manner as he straightened his clothes.
“Bullshit! You’re handsome and confident? With your looks? The girls might as well go find a cucumber.”
Ning Qiancheng wore a mocking expression.
“How can a cucumber compare? I’m a cannon. A cannon, okay? I can succeed in one go! How can a cold cucumber compare with my large cannon?”
“Succeed in one go? Cannon? I say you’re probably the kind to draw blood on the first prick. You look just like a bamboo pole, but you still dare compare yourself to a cannon? I think you’re closer to a needle, the embroidery kind.”
“Drunbility Cheng! I’m going to end you today! Let’s see if you’ll keep being this ostentatious!”
Feeling a headache coming, Li Tianlan rubbed his temples. “That’s enough. We don’t have time for you to kill each other. Let’s go,” he said, smiling wryly.
Li Baitian and Ning Qiancheng scoffed at the same time. The former used his skinny, boney hand to stop Li Tianlan. “Tianlan, you must listen to my advice. It’s not enough for a man to be ostentatious. In fact, it’s completely useless. When I inspected the female dormitory yesterday, I noticed that the quality of the freshman girls is quite high. Follow me for a spin around the female dorm next time and I’ll introduce you to some. I promise you a good time,” he said, making an indirect jab at Ning Qiancheng.
Ning Qiancheng clenched his teeth in resentment. He glared at Li Baitian but said nothing.
Li Tianlan shook his head and said casually, “I’m not interested in those who wear cosmetics.”
He thought of the dreamy figure who was by now far away in Bruchsal.
What was the woman who was both real and illusory, both near and far, doing right now?
Li Baitan looked as if he had more to say when Ning Qiancheng said impatiently, “Are we leaving or not? We’ll be late if we don’t go now. Did you think the school bus will wait for you?”
“Let’s hurry up and go then.” Li Baitian laughed.
The three of them left their dormitory and boarded the school bus together, heading straight for the Entrance Square.
When they arrived, the square was already filled with innumerable indistinct figures dressed in camouflage uniforms. They lined up to form an extremely neat square. Since they arrived together, Li Tianlan and his two mates stood at the rear of the crowd.
Right in front of the square was an exquisite platform that was nearly three meters tall, with a table as well as a row of chairs placed on it. Several academy heads were seated in their respective spots, engaging in idle chatter.
“See that, Tianlan? The one in the middle is the headmaster of Sky Academy, Headmaster Zhuang Huayang. He’s one of the top ten contemporary masters of Zhongzhou State.”
Li Baitian, who stood next to Li Tianlan, swiftly pointed at the platform and took the initiative to make the introductions.
Nodding, Li Tianlan glanced at the platform with a serene expression.
Zhuang Huayang was close to his late years yet still looked young enough to be a middle-aged man of no more than 50 years old. His temperament was gentle and refined like a learned scholar. With the elegance he exuded, he did not look like a master at all.
One of the top ten contemporary masters of Zhongzhou State?
Li Tianlan stood where he was, deep in thought.
“Our Marshal is also one of the top ten contemporary experts. He’s also one rank higher than Headmaster Zhuang.”
Ning Qiancheng, who stood on Li Tianlan’s right, wore an arrogant and cold look.
Li Baitian seemed determined to cross Ning Qiancheng and said mercilessly, “Why didn’t you mention about 10 years ago? 10 years ago, your Marshal wasn’t even ranked.”
“A hero doesn’t speak of his past glory!”
Ning Qiancheng sneered.
Li Baitian shook his head while patting Li Tianlan’s shoulder. “Let’s ignore Drunbility Cheng. Look at the person on the Headmaster’s left, the old lady in red. That’s the Faculty Director, Gu Yunxia. She’s dubbed the Old Witch. She has powerful backing and is incredibly fierce. You must never offend her.”
Li Tian nodded once again.
“The beautiful woman on the Headmaster’s right is his granddaughter. She uses her mother’s surname with her name Qin Ke. She’s the deputy director of teaching and is also renowned through Zhongzhou State as a top genius. She’s one of the youngest experts in the Thunder-shocking Realm. Isn’t she awesome?”
“She wears cosmetics.”
Li Tianlan looked disdainful.
Li Baitian was speechless. Then, he glared at Ning Qiancheng and turned around to say, “Stay away from Drunbility Cheng from now on. It’s just been a day but you’re already ostentatious.”
A clear-sounding cough came from the direction of the platform.
Neither a speaker nor a microphone was used.
The seemingly casual coughing sound was clearly transmitted through the air and reverberated in all directions. It seemed to be ringing in everyone’s ears.
Below the platform, everyone fell into silence.
No one noticed when the old lady in red left her seat and stood in front of the podium.
She was about 50 years old. Despite her petite stature, she exuded a sharp and fierce momentum. She did not have much of a figure to speak of and one could even say that she looked shriveled. There were wrinkles that lined her face, ones that grew naturally due to the passage of time. She stood at the podium and looked around with a pair of cold eyes. Everyone subconsciously straightened their backs.
“Hello, everyone. I’m Gu Yunxia, the Faculty Director of Sky Academy.”
Gu Yunxia appeared pleased with the reactions of the freshmen below and a smile appeared on her face. However, due to her looks, her smile made her look harsh and bitter.
Li Tianlan looked at Gu Yunxia quietly. He had disliked her from the moment he set eyes on her but it was not because of her hideous appearance or shriveled figure. It was a feeling that he could not find words for. He found her to be sinisterly cold like a viper. She must not be a good person. His negative impression of her deepened after seeing her distorted smile.
“Firstly, I’d like to welcome all of you new students to Sky Academy. I hope you’ll treat this academy as your pride and glory from the first day of your enrolment.”
Gu Yunxia’s voice spread throughout the square, audible to each of the students. “Sky Academy is the earliest Special Warfare Academy established in Zhongzhou State. It’s also the most legendary Special Warfare Academy in Zhongzhou State.”
“There have been hundreds of generals, countless high-ranking agents, and several leaders of the underground emerging from the academy over the years. While the glory of this Special Warfare Academy isn’t publicly-known, its impact is everywhere. It has the power to influence the Special Warfare System of the state as well as the ability to change the fate of every freshman here!”
Gu Yunxia paused for a moment and her smile faded. “I can’t get to know all of you but I know your origins. Some of you come from military backgrounds. Some of you are already elites of the Special Warfare System. There are also those of you who are inheritors of various folk sects. There are cold-blooded soldiers, elite agents, sect disciples, as well as commoners. However, I can confidently tell you that wherever you come from, you’ll learn something at Sky Academy. The instructors here are willing to help you to the best of their capabilities. They will help you become the backbone of the Special Warfare System of the state!”
“This academy has the best growing environment as well as the cruelest competition. From today onward, you’ll experience a bloody, painful, and even deadly test continuously for three days. Sky Academy is a place for the strong to thrive, not a place for the weak to survive. Thus, I ask that every one of you remember the motto of Sky Academy — To advance with courage! Tell me, are you all afraid of die?”
A brief silence followed.
A tsunami of cries swept the Entrance Square, the voices converged to form a soaring, uniform voice.
“To advance with courage!”
Everyone tried their best to roar the four words, their faces turning red and blood pumping wildly in their veins.
Their reaction was not a result of Gu Yunxia’s words but of the motto of the academy. It was because of the four words: To advance with courage!
These four words were the true portrayal of Sky Academy for decades. The countless thrilling stories and powerful legends had crowned this Special Warfare Academy with innumerable glory.
There were people who charged toward their deaths while roaring the four words.
There were people laughed in the face of advancing enemies while saying those words.
There were people who remained in guard while silently mulling those words.
The history of Sky Academy was paved in the flesh of blood of its heroes. That was why the light of its glory was so far-reaching.
Gu Yunxia nodded with a smile. “I’m willing to walk with you on your journey. I hope you’ll all become the pillars of the state and the pride of Sky Academy and the entire Zhongzhou State, and not its shame.”
The audience was quiet again.
Gu Yunxia’s voice was the only one echoing in the square.
“Sky Academy has garnered countless honors in its history but only one shame. I want to mention a name here, a name that makes me and everyone else feels disgusted.”
Behind her, the expressions of other academy heads changed drastically.
Headmaster Zhuang Huayang lowered his gaze.
“His name is Li Kuangtu.”
Gu Yunxia’s eyes swept the audience, her voice turning sharper and harsher. “The shame of Zhongzhou State, the shame of Sky Academy! Perhaps many of you have heard of this traitor’s name. He was once the most illustrious talent of Zhongzhou State. He had entered the Invincible Realm at the age of 35 years old but just when everyone was optimistic about him, this damned bastard chose betrayal! He colluded with the Night Spirit Organization and betrayed Zhongzhou State, directly causing all 120,000 members of the most elite army in Zhongzhou State to die! The death of a despicable traitor like this was a matter of course!
“And this asshole was a graduate of Sky Academy. He humiliated the entire academy and made everyone sick to their stomachs. He could not atone for his actions even with his death. This trash that even wild dogs wouldn’t look at eclipsed nearly half of our glory. His miserable death was something he had asked for, but his disgusting and shameless actions would forever be engraved as a shame of Sky Academy. This is a warning as well as a reminder that it was because of a half-breed like him that we were unable to lift our heads for many years.”
Bastard, asshole, trash, half-breed…
The appearance of such words during the opening ceremony of Sky Academy were unbearable.
Yet, nearly all the freshmen neglected the words Gu Yunxia used out of excitement.
“Li Kuangtu deserved his death! No, death was too easy for him! How could his death be enough to atone for the destruction of the 120,000-strong elite army?”
“The strength of Zhongzhou State had been on the decline in recent years because of these damned issues!”
“Li Kuangtu, I pray that you can’t find peace even in death! I pray that all your family members die! F*ck!”
Curses seemed to be resounding in every corner of the square.
Gu Yunxia narrowed her eyes as she stood at the podium, a hint of cold mockery in her gaze.
The audience was either cursing or keeping silence.
Yet Li Tianlan was laughing.
His laughter was silent but the corners of his mouth were tugging furiously and his body was trembling. Just about anyone could tell how humiliated and sorrowful his smile was, but he continued to smile. He used all of his strength to keep smiling.
No one knew Li Kuangtu, the man they were all cursing at.
The traitor who had been dead for many years.
No one knew that he was Li Tianlan’s father.
Li Tianlan gritted his teeth, causing a trace of blood to flow from the corner of his mouth. He glanced meaningfully at Gu Yunxia before quietly lowering his head to wipe the blood off his mouth.
In his heart, a clear voice was roaring restlessly.
“Wait and see!”
“Wait and see, every one of you!”